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Today’s reader’s question is: I would like to know more about after the master mason degree, meaning explanations of York Rite, Scottish Rite, etcetera. Well, there is certainly a lot of information to attempt to cover in a question like that, but I think for the purpose of this episode I’m going to try to keep it as simple of an answer as I can. You mentioned what is after the masters degree, but you did specify that you’re interested in some of the pendant bodies like the Scottish Rite and New York, right? One piece of advice I was given after I had received my master’s degree was that I take the time to learn the different chairs and positions in the symbolic lodge or the blue lodge before I involved myself in the dependent bodies. That is a piece of advice.
After the Master Mason Degree
I wish I had taken it a little bit more to heart. But having received your master masons degree, it’s very easy to be, to become involved in the idea of what more can I learn, what other information is out there that can help me see things in a bit of a different way that can help me be a better person, Like the things I learned in my 1st 3° and so perhaps you quickly becoming your great mason or quickly become a Scottish Rite mason or now these days even quickly become a member of the shrine and perhaps you lose something because you become so involved in your a pendant bodies that you lose the time that is available for your Blue lodge. Now, that is certainly not true for everybody, there are plenty of Freemasons who managed to be equally involved in all of their different a pendant bodies from their home Blue Lodge all the way to whatever a pendant body that it might be.
So I don’t mean to say that you can only have the time to put effort into one thing or not, but for me personally, that seems to be where I get stuck. I have the time for one of them, I have five young kids and usually, whenever the York Rite or the Scottish Rite is meeting, I have something to do involving my family, so I find myself unable to attend even the regular meetings. And so what I have personally decided to do is focus my time on the Blue Lodge to tell myself that since my lodge meets on monday nights, I will be available that night and not have to worry about, “Well, on this Monday I’m going to the Blue Lodge and on this Thursday I’m going to the Eastern Star and on this thursday I’m going to New York right, and on this thursday I’m going to the Scottish Rite and on this weekend I have to be available for these degrees and on this weekend, some other degrees and and those many things that for a relatively young guy with a family can get very hard to juggle.”
You have to remember that Freemasonry itself teaches you that there is a proper order to things; you have to put the deity God first; you have to put your family and your country before Freemasonry as well; then comes the lodge. So I think one important part of this conversation is that while we can discuss some of the things that are involved in these pendant bodies, you want to be sure that you’re not overloading yourself. If you do become involved, be upfront with your brothers. These are also master masons, and if you’re just simply there to attend and get your degrees, and learn, but you know you’re not going to be available to participate in learning the degree work or anything like that, then just let them know so that they understand what your position is and what your availability is. There is a lot of work to be done in these dependent bodies, and they want to see every able-bodied man able to help.
If your time is your limiting factor, then just be honest with them and let them know. So what can I tell you about it? Well, first off, let me tell you that there are a lot more pendant bodies out there than you might think. I didn’t really become fully aware of how many pendant bodies there were until I became involved in the internet committee for my grand lodge and started to hear about all these different organizations that I had never even heard of before. So let me take a half step back. What is an independent body? Well, to be a Freemason, you have to ask to become a Freemason and study and learn your way to your Master Mason degree. But then there are other organizations that require you to have either an affiliation with Freemasonry or to be a Freemason. Typically, a master mason yourself in order to be able to join that organization or that fraternity.
So that’s sort of what we’re talking about here with an independent body. They require that affiliation or that membership with Freemasonry first, and then you can be a part of this other body. Typically, with something like the York Rite and the Scottish Rite, we’re talking about building out and expanding the knowledge that we received in the Blue Lodge, so we can understand even more than what we learned in our entered apprentice, fellow craft, and master mason degrees. So, I personally am a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, a member of the Scottish Rite, and a member of the York Rite. I am not a Shriner, nor do I belong to any other a pendant body. And really, the only reason for that was once I had gotten into the York Rite and the Scottish Rite, and out of the timing of things.
I was a Scottish Rite mason first and then new york, right mason. I realized I was overburdening myself and decided not to become a Shriner or join any other a pendant body because I knew I wouldn’t be able to put any time into it. So I stopped myself. It’s the only reason I haven’t chosen any other pendant body. I don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with those bodies. So what can I tell you about them? Well, I know you didn’t specifically ask about the Eastern Star, but it’s an interesting organization. This is an organization that is both women and men, predominantly women. that was originally formed. The ceremonies were originated by a man here in the state of Mississippi, if I understand the history of the Order of the Eastern Star properly. The man saw what women were interested in and what the men were doing and wanted to get those same kinds of moral lessons.
And so he drew up a beautiful ceremony that includes biblically based lessons that revolve around the women in the scriptures. And it’s a beautiful degree. I think that’s something that is constantly repeated and is one way for you to know if you haven’t received that, that degree, just how true it is. It’s very involved, very integrated. And I think that that the depth of the lesson is what adds to the beauty of the Order of the Eastern Star. Now with the order of the Eastern Star, that’s it, you’re initiated and you are a member, but just like in symbolic lodge, there are several different chairs or positions for you to expand your knowledge and your involvement in the Eastern Star. Now the Scottish Rite in new york right, are probably the two most well known a pendant bodies here in the United States of America.
And typically, the way people describe the differences between the York Rite and the Scottish Rite is that the York Rite is more biblically based and the Scottish Rite is more based on thought. Or perhaps another way to say it is that the York Rite is theological, while the Scottish Rite is philosophical, and I think there’s a certain amount of truth to that. And, and probably the easy way to describe the differences between those two different bodies. Perhaps something of added interest is the New York Rite. You do have to profess to have been baptized as a Christian and that you will defend the Christian faith. Now, that might seem a little odd to you because in Freemason, we constantly talk about how it is not a religion that you simply have to process, profess a belief in deity. But what we’re talking about here is an independent body.
They’re saying you have to be a Freemason and you have to be a Christian in order to be a part of the York Rite So it’s not that you can’t be a free mason unless you’re also a York Mason, which requires you to be a Christian. This is a second, not really separate, but ancillary, thing to Freemasonry. So that’s, that’s probably the most interesting thing about the York Rite and it does, because of that requirement, fully rely on the holy scriptures, the holy bible, the King James Version of the bible, and the stories that are wholly contained within it. And you’re going to build off of the story and the information that was conveyed to you in your first 3 degrees in the blue or symbolic lodge. So how does that differ from the Scottish Rite? Well, the Scottish Rite also relies heavily on the King James Version of the Christian Bible.
However, it is also going to bring up topics from other religions. Examples of how we can apply morality to our lives are little nuggets of information that we can use to gain examples of how we can apply it. So that information is going to come from the Torah, the Koran, and other historical documents as well, things that we can bring into and consider as a whole. And so I think that’s another reason why we talk about it being more philosophical. It’s not set up for one religion and one belief, but it encompasses many different beliefs and says, “Well, we’re not trying to say that any of these religions are the only ways to reach deity or to find salvation.” But what we are saying is that we can find information in each of these faiths that applies to all mankind, that we can apply moral lessons to or gain moral lessons from, might be a better way of saying it.
So that to me was where the differences are between the York Rite and the Scottish Rite and most likely depending on where you live, where I live in the United States, I’d say that 80% of the time if you find a brother who is a member of the Scottish Rite, he is also a member of the York Rite. And if you find a member that’s of the York Rite, 80% of the time, he’s going to be a member of the Scottish Rite. Sometimes a brother only pursues one or the other and there is no rhyme or reason usually behind it. It’s just their decision. Sometimes it is simply because it costs money to be a part of a fraternity and that one more dues would be something that would be too much of a burden for them. And so they decided not to receive any extra degrees.
So I hope that gives you some information on the differences between the Scottish Rite and New York, right? But remember that there are so many different pendant bodies out there that just about any way you want to try to apply masonry and morality lessons to your life, any particular interest or faith that you have that you want to build upon, there’s going to be an independent body out there that speaks to those specifics. However, I want to come back to my original point and say that you should gain that foundation at your blue lodge, take the time to receive your master’s degree, turn in your Master’s proficiency, and learn a few of the chairs in your blue lodge so that you can always come back home and help with the work there. Whether or not you ever decide to go and join any of the other dependent bodies.
I hope that answers your question well enough, but if you have any further questions that you’d like to ask, please don’t forget to leave them down in the comments below. I appreciate all the questions that you guys ask and give me the opportunity to do my best to answer them. I will answer them for you here in these articles. Thank you so much for reading. We’ll see you next time.
By Brother Jared, a Master Mason of Grad Lodge Mississippi