What is the Scottish Rite?

The Scottish Rite is a branch of Freemasonry to which a Master Mason may, upon invitation, proceed after he has obtained the Sublime Degree of Master Mason.

The Scottish rite includes the Degrees 4° to the 33°.

The use “Scottish” has led many Masons to believe that the Rite originated in Scotland. Actually, the first reference to the Rite appears in old French records where the word “Eccossais” meaning Scottish, is found.

During the latter part of the 17th century, when the British Isles were torn by strife, many Scots fled to France and resumed their Masonic interests in that country. It is believed that this influence contributed to the use of the word “Scottish” (It should be noted that some Supreme Councils do not use the word “Scottish” in their heading, for example, England & Wales and Australia refer to the “Ancient and Accepted Rite”)

In 1732 the first “Eccossais”, or Scottish Lodge was organised in Bordeaux, one of the oldest and most influential Masonic centers in France. The membership included Scottish and English Masons. The years 1738-1740 saw the formation of the first “Hauts Grades” or advanced degrees. In 1761 certain Masonic authorities in France granted a patent to Stephen Morin of Bordeaux to carry the Advanced Degrees across the sea to America. In 1763 Morin established these degrees in the French possession in the West Indies. What he established consisted of 25 so-called Higher Degrees which flourished in France and were known as the “Rite of Perfection”.  Within a few years after 1763, other degrees were added, until the Rite had a ritual structure of 33 degrees.

On May 41, 1801, the Supreme Council of the Thirty Third and Last Degree for the United States of America, the first Scottish Rite Supreme Council in the world, was founded in Charleston, South Carolina. Its aim was to unify competing groups and to bring Masonic order out of chaos (Ordo ab Chao). The founding membership of their Supreme Council consisted of 11 Grand Inspectors General (33°). Of these eleven, nine were born outside the USA, only two were native born. In religion, four were Jews, five were Protestants and two were Roman Catholics.

An important point that must be recognized by all Masons the fact that the Scottish Rite shares the belief of all Masonic organisations that there is no higher degree then that of Master Mason., The Supreme Council acknowledges the Masonic Supremacy of a Grand Lodge and the Grand Master is recognized as the ranking Masonic Officer present.

The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite degrees are in additions to and are in no way “higher” than the Craft degrees. The Rite Work amplifies and elaborates on the lessons of the Craft. It should never be forgotten that termination of a member’s Craft Lodge standing automatically terminates his Rite membership, whether his rank may be 4th or 33rd Degree.

Originally Scottish Rite Degrees in South Africa fell under the Supreme Council for the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The First Chapter, de Goede Hoop, was founded on 26th of June 1851.

The Supreme Council for South Africa was formed on 28 November 1992 and has presently the following divisions of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite:

4° to 18°           =  Philosophical Grades

19° to 32°         = Chivalric Degrees

33°                   = Active / Honorary Members

The following Degrees are currently worked:

4°            Secret Master

18°          Knight of the Rose Croix

28°          Knight of the Sun, Prince Adept

30°          Knight Kadosh

31°          Grand Inspector Inquisitor Commander

32°          Sublime Prince, Master of the Royal Secret

33°          Sovereign Grand Inspector General

All intermediate Degrees are conferred by communicationThe Rite’s stated purpose is to offer the interested Mason: The philosophical background to enhance his understanding of Masonic Tenets and Teachings

  • A forum in which he is encouraged to advance ideas, concepts, and proposals to stimulate research and personal development
  • The pursuit of the ideals which form the motto of our Order;  UNION, TOLERANCE, PROSPERITY

By Most Puissant Bro Mauro Milanesi  33°,  Past Sovereign Grand Commander(Updated to include the 4° which he adopted for this Supreme Council after writing this)