Why a 32° Mason?
You took the necessary steps to become a Master Mason. You earned the right to become a part of the oldest and greatest fraternal organization in the world. Now, you have an opportunity to expand upon your knowledge of Masonry, to widen your circle of acquaintances, and to serve humanity in unique ways.
You may approach a 32° Mason to take the next step into the Scottish Rite, or he may approach you to suggest that you continue your Masonic journey, which should be a never-ending path. There is always room for improvement in our lives.
Although there is no higher degree than that of Master Mason, the 29 degrees of the Scottish Rite serve to enrich the philosophy of the Symbolic Lodge. A Mason who chooses to further his Masonic experience by becoming a 32° Scottish Rite Mason will be expanding upon the fundamental principles of Freemasonry. The moral and ethical lessons will allow him to be constantly reminded of his duty to God, family, country and fellow man.
Whereas a Symbolic Lodge appears in almost every community in the United States, the Scottish Rite units tend to be regional and are called “Valleys.” Most Valleys have four distinct parts or bodies.
The Lodge of Perfection confers the 4° – 14°. These degrees are known as the Perfection Degrees because the last of its series is called Perfect Elu, or “Perfect Elect.” The Hebrew word shalamot or shelemuth which means both “perfect” and “complete,” is a significant word in the Fourteenth Degree. The French word Elu, meaning “elect,” refers to the candidate’s representation of a person elected to a specific honor or task. The Perfection Degrees were once commonly referred to as the Ineffable Degrees. The word Ineffable means “incapable of vocal expression,” or “unspeakable because of its sacred character.” They were so named because in their primitive form these degrees alluded to names by which the Great Architect was known. This was intended to remind members of His omnipresence. It also alluded to the legend of the 13°, wherein the Ineffable name of God was recovered.
The Chapter of Rose Croix confers the 15° – 18°. The name Rose Croix refers to the symbol of a rose blooming upon a cross, one meaning of which is self-sacrifice and suffering in the cause of humanity. But it also has esoteric meanings to be discovered by study and reflection. The first two degrees of this series are notable as they include some of the oldest haut grades material in the Scottish Rite, that is, the story of Zerubabbel’s intent to rebuild the temple following the Babylonian captivity.
The Council of Kadosh confers the 19° and 30°. The Hebrew word Kadosh means “holy,””consecrated,” and “separated,” and the word is used throughout the Bible in connection with sacred spaces. In Exodus 25:8 the word M’Kadosh is translated as “sanctuary,” or “holy place,” and in Psalm 79:1 the words Haikal-Kadoshik are rendered “holy temple.” A Knight Kadosh is, therefore, a Knight of the Termple, or Knight Templar. This series of degrees deals primarily with chivalric and philosophical traditions, and presents examples of religious devotion and heroic courage. It is sometimes said that the Knights Kadosh meet in an Areopagus. This word originally referred to “Mars’ hill,” which is northwest of the Acropolis in Athens, and was the site of a speech made by the Apostle Paul (Acts 17:22-31). However, the hill was also the regular meeting place of the city’s council of judicial officials, which were collectively called the Areopagus. In some versions of the Knight Kadosh ritual the candidate is brought before a tribunal, appropriately called the Areopagus.
The Consistory confers the 31° and 32°. These degrees portray many memorable lessons that range in settings from the days of chivalry through to the 20th century. Prior to Albert Pike’s ritual revisions the final degree was known as Prince of the Royal Secret. It was renamed to better reflect the philosophy of the Rite, wherein one must master himself as well as the lessons of Freemasonry.
A Scottish Rite degree can offer a new reflection each time it is performed or observed. The lessons are taught through parables in the form of plays, allowing Masons the opportunity to bond through theater, stage work, costuming, makeup, set design and musical activities. Cast members present the lessons, which are taken from Biblical and modern historical events, to candidates who learn from observing the performances.
How long will it take?
A Master Mason may become a 32° Scottish Rite Mason in one day, or he may take each body of degrees separately over a period of time. Each degree requires elaborate stage preparation, so not every degree is presented in full form during a degree-conferring session. The lessons for degrees not performed are summarized for the candidates. Every 32° Mason should strive to witness in future years as many degree presentations as possible.
Is memorization required?
A candidate is not required to commit to memory the Scottish Rite degrees, signs, passwords, tokens or grips. No examinations are given either during the degree work or for admission to the meetings of other Valleys.
Following initiation, a member gains entrance to the meetings of any Scottish Rite Valley by presenting a current dues card.