The System of Degrees

Each Valley has up to four Scottish Rite bodies, and each body confers a set of degrees. These degrees teach the moral codes of a Mason. In the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, the bodies are the:

Lodge of Perfection (4° – 14°)
Council of Princes of Jerusalem (15° – 16°)
Chapter of Rose Croix (17° – 18°)
Consistory (19° – 32°)

How Many Degrees Are There in 32° Freemasonry?

There are 29 regular degrees, which follow the three degrees conferred in blue lodges. The 33˚ is honorary and is conferred only by the Supreme Council, the governing body of Scottish Rite Masonry.

What Are the Degrees Like?

The degrees of the Scottish Rite are plays, often staged with costumes, scenery, special effects, and the full rigging of a dramatic production. Their purpose is to present Masonic philosophy so that men might understand the reason and purpose of life, and thereby gain the knowledge and inspiration to better themselves and society.

How Are the Degrees Organized?

The degrees of 32° Freemasonry are organized within four bodies:

The Lodge of Perfection (4°-14°)

These degrees are called Ineffable Degrees. Their principal purpose is the investigation and contemplation of the ineffable name of Deity.

4° – Master Traveler

Here begins the Scottish Rite adventure that leads to the thirty-second degree, which is more a beginning than an end, only a milepost on a man’s path of personal growth. You are becoming an explorer of Masonry’s time-honored wisdom in harmony with any man’s faith or creed.

5° – Perfect Master

The lesson of this degree is of the corrupting and destroying nature of selfish thoughts and unworthy ambitions. If allowed to dwell in a man’s mind, they poison his whole being until he forgets his duty to his family, his country, and his God. Then moral and spiritual destruction overtake him.

6° – Master of the Brazen Serpent

The sixth degree is a drama of the human spirit, caught between its own discouragement and fear, and the will and purpose of Almighty God. It teaches that a willing and courageous acceptance of life’s disciplines and loyal obedience to lawful authority make us strong and secure.

7° – Provost and Judge

The lessons of the Seventh degree are of the utmost importance for the right conduct of our daily lives. We are told that King Solomon, upon the death of Hiram Abif, found it necessary to appoint seven judges in order that justice might be administered among the workmen on the Temple, giving them an opportunity to have their complaints heard and their disputes settled. We should not be severe, passing judgment hastily. It is an imperative duty to be just, fair, and merciful.

8° – Intendant of the Building

In the lessons of the Eighth Degree we learn by Solomon’s example that each new honor is a step toward moral perfection and that each honor earned demands attention to a particular duty.

9° – Master of the Temple

Universal brotherhood is the message of the Ninth Degree. All through the ages men have been seeking God, each in his own way, and have worshiped Him, each in his own tongue. A Master of the Temple is taught that God is best served by those who best serve their fellowmen and who reveal in their own lives the compassion of the Eternal.

10° – Master Elect

The lesson of this degree is taken from the testament of Solomon, written by him during his latter years when he was undergoing the terrible torment of the sentence of the Lord for his transgressions. The ancient lesson of this degree insures that the violator of his obligations will not go unpunished.

11° – Sublime Master Elected

The lesson of the Eleventh Degree is that the true and faithful brother sooner or later will receive his just reward. The Drama depicts an incident during the reign of King Solomon which condemns, in the strongest and most uncompromising manner, improprieties by those holding public office. It reminds us that public office is a public trust, and that public officials owe a special obligation to those whom they are chosen to serve

12° – Master of Mercy

The purpose of the Twelfth Degree is to teach the quality of forgiveness. Forgiveness means a spirit of compassion and a tenderness of heart which dispose a person not just to overlook the opportunity for revenge, but to cease to feel enmity or resentment toward an offender.

13° – Master of the Ninth Arch

The lesson taught in the Thirteenth Degree is that the true and faithful Brother should not be deterred by difficulties and dangers, however great, from pressing onward toward Perfection.

14° – Grand Elect Mason

The Fourteenth Degree, the final and climactic lesson of the Lodge of Perfection is revealed, a belief in the one living and true God and a deep reverence for His Holy Name. It is a profoundly religious degree, not promoting a particular doctrine, but encouraging each of us to worship God at an altar of our individual choice. It is expressive of the deep spiritual roots of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite and of our constant endeavor to attain that perfection of character embodied in the concept of a loving Heavenly Father.

Council of Princes of Jerusalem (15°-16°)

The Degrees of the Council of Princes of Jerusalem are known as the historical degrees. They take place during the rebuilding of Jerusalem by Zerubbabel follow the release of the Israelites from Babylon.

15° – Knight of the East

In the year B.C. 586, by order of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, thousands of the more prominent Jews were deported from Palestine and settled in colonies in various parts of Babylonia. Cyrus the Great, who conquered Babylonia in B.C. 538 and founded the Persian Empire, issued a decree permitting the captive people to return to their homeland and to rebuild their shrines. Darius I continued this generous policy and gave substantial aid to the returning exiles. Both Cyrus and Darius were disciples of Zoroaster. They believed in one God, who demands righteousness from his worshipers. These religious beliefs, similar in many respects to the faith of the Jews, motivated their considerate attitude toward the captive people.

Inspired by such leaders as Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah, groups of Jews endured the hardships of the long journey, and joined with their loyal brethren in Jerusalem to rebuild the Holy City and the Temple of their God. The second Temple was completed and dedicated in B.C. 516.

In the Allegories of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Degrees, we are taught, by the example of Zerubbabel, the important lessons of loyalty to conviction, fidelity to duty and devotion to Truth.

16° – Prince of Jerusalem

A Council of Princes of Jerusalem presents two degrees, the Fifteenth and the Sixteenth. These degrees are called “Historical” because they deal with events connected with the closing period of the Babylonian captivity of Israel, the return of the exiles to Jerusalem, and the rebuilding of the Temple.

In the Allegories of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Degrees, we are taught, by the example of Zerubbabel, the important lessons of loyalty to conviction, fidelity to duty and devotion to Truth.

Chapter of Rose Croix (17°-18°)

The Degrees of the Chapter of Knights of Rose Croix are known as the philosophical degrees. They are complex, as they attempt to invest the candidate with a deeper understanding of religion, philosophy, ethics, and history. The intellectual challenges presented in these degrees can take years to master.

17° – Knight of the East and West

The 17° presents a picture of the conflicts which confronted one man, King Herod the Great, as he labored with the whimsical actions within his family, his court and his kingdom. Although the scene itself is fictitious, the facts relating to the intrigue within the court and King Herod’s renovation of the Second Temple, which had been erected by Zerubbabel, are historically correct. The attitudes of the three factions of the Jewish religious population reflect the conflicts which continue, even today, as we try to understand our places in the plan of the Grand Architect. This degree teaches that we must seek truth in our path through life, and that we should learn from, and avoid repeating, the errors of the past.

18° – Knight of the Rose Croix of H.R.D.M.

The Rose Croix Degree teaches that the new Temple is in the heart of man where God is worshiped in spirit and in truth. The new Law is a law of love which all men everywhere may understand and practice. The Word is found and the Sealed Book is opened.

The Rose Croix Degree bears the impress of its deeply religious background. It is not concerned with theological or ecclesiastical controversies. It is not dogmatic. It uses events from the life of Jesus of Nazareth to teach the lesson of this degree. It affirms the broad principles of universality and tolerance — principles which were confirmed by the Nazarene as He taught both Jew and Gentile that they were children of the same Heavenly Father.

Consistory (19°-32°)

The degrees conferred in the Consistory are known as the traditional and the chivalric degrees. The traditional degrees are those from 19 to 29. The chivalric degrees are the 30th to the 32nd.

19° – Brothers of the Trail

The 19th degree expresses the Scottish Rite core values of Reverence for God, and Integrity. You decide how these concepts of God and integrity are important not only in this drama, but also to your life.

20° – Master ad Vitam

The Allegory of the Twentieth Degree is presented as a drama of the American spirit confronting the challenge of disloyalty and treason. Masonic principles and leadership are subjected to a crucial test. Well-known historical characters are accurately portrayed but the action is not historically accurate.

21° – Patriarch Noachite

This Degree portrays a meeting of the Grand Chapter of Patriarch Noachites, and makes clear that Freemasonry is not a shield for evil doing and that the pillar of Justice is one of the chief supports of our fraternity.

22° – Prince of Libanus

In this degree, a brother seeks further advancement by reason of birth and rank in Masonry. He learns that these alone are not sufficient. He is taught that work is honorable, and that the laboring man is his equal. He is admonished to realize that honest work is noble in the sight of man and God.

23° – Knight of Valor

This degree is the story of four men of God. A Jewish Rabbi, a Roman Catholic Priest, and two Protestant Ministers were called in a time of emergency and catastrophe during World War II to leave their respective Houses of Worship and to serve God and Country in a more Universal House of God.

24° – Brother of the Forest

The Allegory of the Twenty-fourth Degree explores some of the misunderstandings between the white man and Native Americans. Few men in years past, and perhaps even today, have fully appreciated the history and customs of the American Indian. Although they knew nothing of the Hiramic Legend and the Temple of Solomon, Native Americans were known to practice the “Masonic” virtues of charity, justice, belief in God, and hope of immortality.

25° – Master of Achievement

Every man learns that in this life he must work if he is to receive the wages of life, food, clothing, and shelter. The wages of life must also include those elements essential to life’s satisfactions: zest for life, happiness, and contentment. This drama focuses on the life and achievements of our famous Brother Benjamin Franklin. His public life epitomizes the Scottish Rite Core Values of Devotion to Country and Service to Humanity.

26° – Friend and Brother Eternal

The Twenty-sixth Degree teaches us that partisan strife, even when it descends to the level of armed conflict, does not dissolve our obligations as Masons. There is a second lesson to be learned. The virtues of brotherhood give rise to the practice of good citizenship. When the guns fell silent, Masons, North and South, joined hands to heal the wounds of conflict. They devoted their efforts to reunite and rebuild the war-torn nation.

27° – Knight of Jerusalem

Separation of Church and State always has been a tenet of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. This is the theme of the Twenty-seventh Degree, Knight of Jerusalem. The degree is based on an historical incident in the lives of Emperor Frederick II and his former tutor, Pope Honorius III.

28° – Knight of the Sun

The allegory of the Twenty-eigth degree directs your attention to the development of our Masonic heritage. It shows the fraternity in transition from an operative craft guild to a speculative moral science. This transition was largely completed during the seventeenth century and was an indispensable prerequisite to the formation of the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717. It demonstrates the inability of the moral philosophies of the period to become meaningful in the daily lives of man.

29°- Knight of St. Andrew

The Twenty-ninth degree emphasizes the Masonic teachings of equality and toleration. It represents an incident in the long wars between the Turks and the Christians of Europe. The story relates that a group of Knights of St. Andrew, a Scottish Order of Chivalry, was brought as captives before the Sultan.

30° – Grand Inspector

The drama of the Thirtieth Degree is a trial scene in a Civil Court in England in the 14th century, during the reign of Edward II. A Knight — who represents each member — aspires to be advanced and finds himself a defendant at the bar of justice. The lesson which he learns in the hard school of experience.

31° – My Brother’s Keeper

This degree is a fictional adaptation of lessons found in the Old Testament and a parable in the New Testament. It dramatically exemplifies two of the Scottish Rite Core Values; Integrity, and Service. It serves to remind us of our Masonic obligation which all of us have taken in some form, “…that I will help, aid, and assist all brother Master Masons…”

32° – Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret

The 32nd degree teaches that Man has the Royal Secret. It is the eternal gift of God—LOVE. It cannot be imparted to mortal men by others. It was incarnate when the Father breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul. Cherish this love as a divine attribute, a precious birthright, a witness that all men are, indeed, the sons of God.