What is the Scottish Rite?
The Scottish Rite is an appendant body of the fraternity of Freemasonry whose purpose is to expound upon the lessons first presented in the Blue or Craft Lodge, and offer an opportunity for our Masonic Brethren to increase their understanding of our ”beautiful system of morality” through a series of lectures and presentations, styled as degrees, and numbered from four through thirty-two.
Although there is one additional level within the Scottish Rite hierarchy, known as “the thirty-third and last degree,” it is more properly an honor, because it is not readily attainable by all. This singular dignity is reserved for those members who have rendered especially notable or meritorious service to the Rite, and only a limited number of Brethren are proposed to the Supreme Council at its biennial sessions to receive it.
The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite goes so deeply into the past for much of its symbolism and philosophy that its origins are lost. We know that during the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Masons in France researched early Masonic materials to produce twenty-five degrees. They were aided by many Jacobean Scots who were exiled in France due to the Scottish revolution. This culminated in 1762 when the first of its Constitutions was framed, These, with the later Constitutions of 1786, are regarded as the fundamental law of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
In the United States
One Stephen Morin, an active French participant, was deputized to spread the Rite to the West Indies where he settled in Santo Domingo. From the West Indies the Rite was introduced into the United States, the first lodge having been started in Albany, New York. The first permanent organization of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite came into being on May 31, 1801, when the original Supreme Council of the Thirty-third Degree for the United States of America was established in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1813, one of the Active Members of the Supreme Council at Charleston was delegated to New York City with the authority to establish a new Supreme Council for the Northern Jurisdiction of the youthful American nation. The incomplete and inadequate transportation network necessitated a second Supreme Council, as it was impossible to operate exclusively from Charleston. The Northern Jurisdiction, now headquartered in Lexington, Massachusetts, covers fifteen northeastern, middle Atlantic and Midwestern states. The Southern Jurisdiction from its Headquarters in Washington, D.C., covers the remaining thirty-five states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories and possessions.
The Scottish Rite is sometimes called Continental Masonry because it had its origin as a system on the Continent of Europe through the Constitutions of 1762 and 1786. It is known and practiced on every continent and thus may be termed the universal rite. Of the thirty-three degrees included in the Scottish Rite, only twenty-nine are actively exemplified in its bodies in this country. The Supreme Councils of the Southern and Northern Jurisdictions of the United States disclaim any jurisdiction or control over the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason, and accept as applicants for the Scottish Rite degrees only those who are Master Masons in good standing in lodges recognized by the Grand Lodge of the State in which the applicants are citizens. In some locations, Scottish Rite is the only Masonry known, and the three craft, or symbolic degrees are conferred under the auspices of the Supreme Councils, acting there as Grand Lodges do in this country.
Degrees of the Scottish Rite are numbered from one to thirty-three. Of these, the first three are not conferred in this country except in the Blue Lodge. The Scottish Rite Lodge of Perfection confers the degrees from the 4° through the 14°; the Chapter of Rose Croix confers the degrees 15° through 18°; the Council of Kadosh confers the 19° through the 30°, and the Consistory completes the series by conferring the 31° and 32°. The 33° is controlled by the Supreme Council. It may not be requested, directly, and if asked for, it shall be refused.
Government of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States is vested in a Supreme Council of a maximum of thirty-three active Thirty-third Degree Masons, entitled, Sovereign Grand Inspectors General. They are elected by their fellows on the Supreme Council. Locally each of the four bodies, the Lodge of Perfection, the Chapter of Rose Croix, the Council of Kadosh and the Consistory has its own set of elected officers.
There are also general officers, such as the Secretary, Treasurer and Almoner who serve all four bodies. A Sovereign Grand Inspector (an active member of the Supreme Council) or, if there is none in the state, a Deputy of the Supreme Council, is assigned to each orient. Illustrious Leonard Proden, 33° is a Sovereign Grand Inspector General and member of the Supreme Council in the District of Columbia.
What the Fees Pay For
For the fees, the elected applicant receives all the degrees up to and including the 32°. Additionally he receives: Fourteenth Degree Ring - Once a brother receives the fourteenth degree he is entitled to wear a ring, the significance of which is explained in the degree. It is presented several months after the Reunion.
Scottish Rite Publications
Members of the Washington, D.C. Scottish Rite Bodies receive the Scottish Rite Bulletin (issued at least twice a year) and the Scottish Rite PROGRESS newsletter, published bimonthly. The newsletter contains current information on activities taking place at the Scottish Rite. All members also receive the Scottish Rite Journal published bimonthly by the Supreme Council.
Each candidate who has attained the Thirty-second Degree receives from the Supreme Council a Patent certifying his attainment in the Fraternity.
Members are encouraged to enjoy the fellowship of the weekly meetings held on Tuesday evenings at 7:30 PM (except July and August). There are no meetings on the fifth Tuesday of any month.
Members are encouraged to join a committee and/or take part in degree work. Special Events - Many special events are frequently open to wives and family members. No additional charge is made for these events.
Our Foundation operates the following charities:
- Scottish Rite Center for Childhood Language Disorders Clinics
- Scottish Rite JROTC & ROTC Education and Americanism Awards
- DC Scottish Rite Foundation Scholarships Program
- DC Scottish Rite Community Hero Awards Program
The Center and Parking
The Scottish Rite Center is located at 2800 Sixteenth Street, NW, near the intersection of Sixteenth and Columbia Road. Parking is accessible by taking Fuller Street off of Sixteenth, then right on to Mozart Place to the parking lot. If you take Metro use either the Columbia Heights station on the Green Line or the Woodley Park station on the Red Line.
Who May Apply?
Any Master Mason in good standing in a Blue Lodge recognized by the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia may seek the Scottish Rite Degrees. The Blue Lodge may be outside the District of Columbia.