What Is The Difference Between Scottish Rite And Masons?

Are you puzzled by the nuanced differences between the Scottish Rite and Masons? If so, join the club. Like many, I was once perplexed by these two intriguing facets of Freemasonry. So, I’ve gathered comprehensive information that illuminates these distinctions remarkably well.

In this article, we’ll dig deep into not only what separates the Scottish Rite from Masons but also what binds them together in shared history and purpose. Take a step into the esoteric world of Freemasonry with me – it’s more fascinating than you might imagine!

What Are the Main Differences Between the Scottish Rite and Regular Masons?

The main difference lies in the additional degrees offered by the Scottish Rite. While regular or “Blue Lodge” Masonry typically consists of three degrees (Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason), the Scottish Rite includes an extended series of higher degrees that explore deeper philosophical concepts.

The Masons: An Overview

Freemasonry, a centuries-old fraternity, has a rich history and serves as the foundation for various Masonic organizations worldwide.

History and Purpose of Freemasonry

As a secret society, Freemasonry traces its roots back centuries as an order of Free and Accepted Masons. The term ‘Free Masons’ was adopted because these were men unbound by indenture, free to travel and explore their individual interests.

This fraternal organization weaves ancient teachings into the fabric of modern-day practices. Freemasons delve deeply into philosophical discussions aimed at personal growth and embracing brotherhood among its members–a key tenet embedded within its history.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, Freemasonry is not synonymous with religion. It’s more aptly described as a moral system imbued with the philosophy that champions self-improvement over dogma or creed.

Matters related to politics or religious beliefs are respectfully kept out of lodge discussions in order to foster harmony within the fraternity. Despite this demarcation, it’s worth noting that historically the Catholic Church has condemned Freemasonry due to doctrinal differences.

Therefore, while being shrouded in secrecy and often misunderstood by many on the outside looking in, understanding freemasonry requires one to grasp its core principles – encouraging personal growth through brotherhood based on ancient teachings – which have vastly influenced not just the structure but also the purpose of Freemasonry throughout history.

Structure and Degrees of Masonry

Freemasonry, one of the world’s oldest and most renowned fraternal organizations, boasts a rich historical tapestry. The structure and degrees of Masonry are intentionally organized to pass on moral lessons steeped in allegory and symbolism.

As a quintessential part of this revered institution, each mason embarks on a progression through three basic degrees: Entered Apprentice (the initial stage), Fellowcraft (the intermediate degree), and Master Mason (the highest core degree).

These rites of initiation pivot around teachings that uphold honor, virtue, and morality.

There is also room for advancement beyond these foundational degrees within Masonic organizations. After achieving their Master Mason status, masons can opt to join additional bodies like the Scottish Rite or York Rite, expanding their learning with new rituals hailing from different regions or periods in history.

Within the celebrated Scottish Rite, for instance, a journey continues through 29 more degrees—from 4° to 32°—each cultivating deeper wisdom via diverse legends and themes.

The Scottish Rite: What Sets It Apart

The Scottish Rite, also known as the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, stands out in the world of Freemasonry due to its unique origin, development, degrees, and regional differences.

Origin and Development of the Scottish Rite

The historical narrative surrounding the Scottish Rite is steeped in intriguing mystery and misconceptions. Contrary to general belief, it did not originate in Scotland, but rather in France.

This deviation from expectation has stirred historical research concerning its French origins. The moniker “Scottish” is a mere homage to legends that came from Scotland during its formative years.

Interestingly enough, the Scottish Rite shares nearly as old an age as Freemasonry itself. This longstanding fraternal association boasts a rich tapestry of traditions and practices unique to itself while being underpinned by civil religion.

Given its particular moral and religious understandings, this progressive series of degrees offers profound legitimacy for members keen on exploring deeper levels of Masonic knowledge.

Notably distinguished are the rituals performed at every degree along with specific passwords symbolizing progression within this esteemed branch of Masonry. From famous Freemasons to committed practitioners pursuing additional degrees beyond basic Freemasonry, many have been drawn into the Scottish Rite’s fold due to these nuanced elements.

Therefore, understanding its origin and development goes a long way towards appreciating what sets this fascinating rite apart within the broader scope of Masonic practice.

Degrees and Rituals in the Scottish Rite

As a Freemason exploring the Scottish Rite, you’ll encounter a fascinating world of degrees and rituals that offer further education and knowledge in Freemasonry beyond the basic degrees.

As mentioned, the Scottish Rite consists of a series of progressive degrees conferred by various Masonic organizations, starting from the 4° all the way up to the 32°.

These additional degrees build upon the first three degrees of Freemasonry – Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason. Each degree within the Scottish Rite has its own unique ritual and symbolism, providing deeper insights into our shared principles and beliefs as Masons.

From initiation rites to authentic documents used for specific degrees like the 32nd degree ritual, every aspect is designed to deepen your understanding while embracing enlightenment and self-improvement.

Regional Differences in Scottish Rite

I’ve come to appreciate the unique regional differences that exist within the Scottish Rite. While the Scottish Rite is an organization with a unified purpose – to help good men become even better – it’s fascinating to see how practices and traditions can vary from one region to another.

These regional nuances add depth and richness to our Masonic experience.

For example, in the Southern Jurisdiction of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, which represents Masons in 35 states, there are certain customs and rituals that have evolved over time. This includes specific ways of conducting degrees and ceremonies, as well as distinct symbols and teachings that hold special meaning for members in this region.

Comparing the Masons and the Scottish Rite

When comparing the Masons and the Scottish Rite, it is important to consider their membership requirements, organizational structure, rituals, and symbolism.

Membership Requirements

In Freemasonry, the membership requirements are fairly straightforward, while in the Scottish Rite, they are more specialized, requiring a deeper commitment to Masonic education and philosophy. Here’s a comparison:

Freemasonry (Blue Lodge)Scottish Rite
1. One must believe in a Supreme Being.1. Must be a Master Mason in good standing.
2. Must be a man of good reputation.2. A deeper commitment to learning and furthering one’s Masonic education is required.
3. Must be free-born and of mature age (usually 21).3. Members are often expected to participate in elaborate rituals and ceremonies.
4. Must apply of his own free will.4. Engagement in philanthropic activities and community service is encouraged.
5. Must be unanimously approved by the lodge’s members.5. Members need to explore and comprehend the higher degrees, such as the 33rd degree.

While the base requirements for Freemasonry and the Scottish Rite are similar, the specific expectations and commitments vary greatly. The Scottish Rite offers a more profound exploration of Masonic principles, making it an exciting next step for Master Masons.

Organizational Structure

The organizational structure is a key distinguishing factor between the Masons and the Scottish Rite. Freemasonry, or simply Masonry, operates under central control, with the Blue Lodge being the fundamental unit. Scottish Rite, on the other hand, maintains a decentralized structure, where different bodies operate independently.

The MasonsThe Masons have central control, with the Blue Lodge as their fundamental unit. This centralization allows them a streamlined approach to their operations, with a focus on God and inspiration for knowledgeable citizens. The Founding Fathers of the United States participated in this organization, evidence of its influential role.
The Scottish RiteThe Scottish Rite operates under different bodies, each functioning autonomously. It’s a progressive series of degrees conferred by various Masonic organizations. This structure allows for a diverse range of themes and legends within the degrees conferred.

Understanding these differences can help you better grasp the unique characteristics that set the Masons and the Scottish Rite apart. It’s interesting to note that while their structures differ, individuals can potentially be members of both the Scottish Rite and the Masons – an aspect that further highlights the complexity of these organizations.

Rituals and Symbolism

As a Freemason or someone interested in the history and traditions of Freemasonry, you may find the rituals and symbolism within both the Masons and the Scottish Rite intriguing. These aspects play an important role in conveying moral teachings, fostering a sense of brotherhood, and preserving centuries-old traditions.

In Freemasonry, rituals serve as powerful metaphors for personal growth and self-improvement. Symbolism is abundant throughout Masonic ceremonies, with various tools, architectural symbols, and allegorical figures representing virtues such as wisdom, strength, and integrity.

On the other hand, within the Scottish Rite specifically, there is an even greater emphasis on rituals and symbolism. The Scottish Rite incorporates dramatic presentations known as degrees that are conferred upon its members.

Each degree represents a particular stage of spiritual enlightenment or knowledge attainment. The use of regalia in these degrees adds to their visual impact while also symbolizing rank and status within the organization.

It’s essential to note that while both Freemasonry as a whole and the Scottish Rite share common principles in their rituals and symbolism – such as charity work or promoting personal development – they do have distinct differences worth exploring further.

Key Differences Between the Masons and the Scottish Rite

The Masons and the Scottish Rite have distinct focuses, varying degrees, and different rituals – uncovering these key differences will give you a deeper understanding of their unique traditions.

Focus and Emphasis

As a Freemason and a researcher, one of the key differences that I have discovered between the Masons and the Scottish Rite is their focus and emphasis. While both organizations are rooted in the principles of Freemasonry, they approach them in distinct ways.

The Masons view their organization as an important source of inspiration and training for strong knowledgeable citizens, with an emphasis on personal growth and self-improvement. On the other hand, the Scottish Rite takes this pursuit to another level by placing a stronger emphasis on allegory and drama in their degrees.

This is why it is sometimes referred to as the “College of Freemasonry.” Through extensive use of allegorical teachings, ceremonies, rituals, and intellectual pursuits, Scottish Rite Masons delve deeper into the mysteries and philosophical aspects of Freemasonry’s principles.

Scope of Degrees

The Scottish Rite is known for its progressive series of degrees, which are conferred by various Masonic bodies.

These degrees provide a hierarchical structure within the organization and serve as markers of an individual’s progression and knowledge within Freemasonry.

Unlike other branches of Freemasonry, such as the Blue Lodge, which typically offers three degrees (Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason), the Scottish Rite expands upon this with additional degrees that delve deeper into philosophical teachings and esoteric subjects.

Each degree carries unique symbolism and ritual practices designed to impart specific lessons to members as they ascend through their journey in Freemasonry.

This expanded scope of degrees sets the Scottish Rite apart from traditional Masonry but also provides a rich opportunity for personal growth and exploration within this distinctive branch.

Rituals and Practices

Both organizations place great importance on ritualistic ceremonies, with specific roles assigned to individuals responsible for carrying out these traditions.

For Masons, these rituals are an integral part of their organization’s symbolism and teachings. On the other hand, the Scottish Rite takes this even further by offering a progressive series of degrees that are explained and conferred through dramatic presentations and ceremonies.

These rituals and practices serve to deepen one’s understanding of Masonic principles as they progress through the organization. From regional differences to variations in governing principles, exploring these unique aspects will help shed light on what sets the Scottish Rite apart from mainstream Masonry.


While both the Masons and the Scottish Rite are branches of Freemasonry, there are key differences that set them apart. The Scottish Rite, specifically the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in the United States, offers additional degrees beyond the three symbolic or blue degrees of Freemasonry.

These degrees delve deeper into philosophy and provide a different focus within the organization. Understanding these distinctions is essential for anyone interested in exploring the world of Freemasonry.


The Scottish Rite is a branch of Freemasonry that focuses on furthering the teachings and philosophies of Masonry through its degrees, rituals, and educational programs. It offers additional levels of initiation beyond the three degrees of Craft Masonry.

Yes, it is common for individuals to be members of both regular Masonic lodges as well as affiliated with a local branch or Valley of the Scottish Rite. Joining one does not preclude participation in another.

To join the Scottish Rite, you must first become a Master Mason by completing your third degree in a recognized Grand Lodge jurisdiction. Afterward, you may seek out a local Valley or chapter of the Scottish Rite to pursue further membership and initiation into their higher degrees.