The fourth through thirty-second degrees are conferred during an event called a “degree reunion.” Reunions are usually held in the fall and in the spring. All twenty-nine degrees can be performed over an entire weekend or during the course of a few weeks. Most valleys confer the degrees in an abbreviated fashion. Usually in the Valley of San Francisco, the fourth, thirteenth, fourteenth, eighteenth, thirtieth, and thirty-second degrees are performed, and the remaining degrees are communicated by the valley’s orator to the candidates.
Scottish Rite members are encouraged to attend, and better, to participate in degree reunions. The Scottish Rite degrees are presented in gatherings called, reunions, because all members are encouraged to attend this reunion organized for our newest Scottish Rite freemasons.“It is the mission of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, SJ, to improve its members and enhance the communities in which they live by teaching and emulating the principles of Brotherly Love, Tolerance, Charity, and Truth, while actively embracing high social, moral, and spiritual values, including fellowship, compassion, and dedication to God, family, and country.”
Valley of San Francisco’s Midsummer’s Day Virtual All Degree Communication – June 18-19
The weekend of Midsummer’s Day or the summer solstice, on Friday and Saturday, June 18-19, 2021, San Francisco Valley will present in three 2-hour Zoom gatherings the communication of all 29 degrees, 4th through 32nd. At the conclusion, the candidates receiving the communication will be 32nd Degree Master Masons, with the responsibility to attend a live reunion, and even better, participate in the live conferral. Scottish Rite masons are invited and encouraged to attend in support of our candidates and degree teams. This will be a first for the San Francisco Valley, and we invite you to be a part of it.
Master mason candidates are directed to download an application for degrees on this website and return it to General Secretary Mike Salazar, together with degree fees, prior to the dates. Scottish Rite members may attend after registering with the general secretary. Links for the three gatherings will be provided upon application for degrees or member registration.
Friday, June 18 – 7:00-9:00 PM – 4th through 14th Degrees
Saturday, June 19 – 9:00-11:00 AM – 15th through 23rd Degrees
Saturday, June 19 – 12:00-2:00 PM – 24th through 32nd Degrees
Valley of San Francisco’s Fall Degree Reunion – September 22-November 20
We are planning a live degree reunion for the fall of 2021 should all masonic operations and ceremonies be permitted to resume. The degree reunion will consist of six of the degrees being performed and the remaining degrees will be communicated. The following dates are tentative and definitive dates will be announced when possible.
September 22 – Autumn Equinox – 4th Degree
October 20 – Full Moon – 13th & 14th Degrees
November 10 – 18th Degree
November 20 – Full Moon – 30th – 32nd Degrees
The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, 33°, Southern Jurisdiction, USA
The jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry comprises the high degrees beyond master mason, the fourth through thirty-third degrees. A master’s masonic journey may lead him through the Scottish Rite degrees. The primary source of study for the degrees is Albert Pike’s, Morals and Dogma, however, the textbook of the Scottish Rite degrees is Arturo de Hoyos’, Scottish Rite Ritual Monitor & Guide. It is suggested that the Scottish Rite mason acquaint himself with these texts.
The Scottish Rite degrees are divided into four lodges – the Lodge of Perfection, Chapter of Rose Croix, Council of Kadosh, and the Consistory of the Royal Secret.
- The Ineffable Degrees of the Lodge of Perfection
- Secret Master
- Perfect Master
- Confidential Secretary
- Provost and Judge
- Intendant of the Building
- Elu of the Nine
- Elu of the Fifteen
- Elu of the Twelve
- Master Architect
- Royal Arch of Solomon
- Perfect Elu
- The Chapter Degrees of the Knights Rose Croix of Heredom
- Knight of the East
- Prince of Jerusalem
- Knight of the East and West
- Knight Rose Croix
- The Philosophical and Chivalric Degrees of the Council of Kadosh
- Grand Pontiff
- Master of the Symbolic Lodge
- Noachite or Prussian Knight
- Knight of the Royal Axe or Prince of Libanus
- Chief of the Tabernacle
- Prince of the Tabernacle
- Knight of the Brazen Serpent
- Prince of Mercy or Scottish Trinitarian
- Knight of the Sun or Prince Adept
- Knight Commander of the Temple
- Knight of St Andrew
- Knight Kadosh
- The Consistory of Masters of the Royal Secret
- Inspector Inquisitor
- Master of the Royal Secret
- Inspector General
The High Degrees and “Scotch Masons’ Lodges”
When we consider the creation of the master mason degree—the first “high degree” added to craft masonry—it is a remarkable fact that high degree masonry is virtually as old as speculative freemasonry itself. Other high degrees also followed quickly on the footsteps of the master mason degree. As early as 1733, a reference to a “Scotch Masons’ Lodge” appeared in a manuscript list of lodges by Dr Richard Rawlinson, and the following year, it was again mentioned in a printed list of masonic bodies. The early designations “Scotts,” “Scotch,” and “Scottish” refer to a type of masonry practiced, rather than referring to native Scotsmen. [This point in masonic history is widely debated, and recent further evidence points to “Scottish” masonry beginning in Scotland and being transferred to France, where it was perfected.] Thus, we read that from 1733–40 the “Scotch Master Masons” degree was being conferred on “normal” master masons. For instance, on July 18, 1740, at the lodge at the Rummer, Bristol, it was “Order’d & agreed That Bro Tomson & Bro Watts & any other member of this Lodge. that are already Master Masons may be made Scotch Master. . . .” By 1734–35 additional degrees were invented, two of which were the “Excellent Mason” and “Grand Mason.” These early “Scotts” (or Scottish) degrees are ancestors of the Scottish Rite in both name and tradition, and represent a type of masonry almost as old as the master mason degree. The tradition of “Scotts” (or Scottish) masonry is the second oldest type of high degree masonry known, even surpassing the antiquity of the Royal Arch degree. [Recent evidence has been found in the journals of Scottish explorer, Prince Henry Sinclair, that the master mason degree and high degrees were in use prior to 1365 CE. Henry refers to being instructed by “Secret Masters” in the significance of the chapel and “in the old religion,” being “raised to the next degree by the Craft,” and that he learned of the burial of H.:.A.:..]
French Haut Grades Masonry: Stephen Morin and the Order of the Royal Secret
If the high degrees originated in Britain, they flourished in France. In 1732, an English lodge, appropriately named Loge L’Anglaise, was founded in Bordeaux, France. This lodge was later chartered by the English modern grand lodge and still exists today. An early offshoot of Loge L’Anglaise was the Loge la Française which, as the name implies, was French. The latter lodge had a penchant for the so-called hauts grades (high degrees), then coming into vogue, and it founded Loge Parfaite Harmonie in 1743. Étienne (Stephen) Morin, who would become important in the history of high degree masonry, was among the founders of Loge Parfaite Harmonie. The book Le Parfait Maçon, published in 1744, has particular relevance to the development of high degree Freemasonry. In a section on the “Secret of the Scottish Masons” (Secret des maçons écossaise), it introduces another direct ancestor of the high degrees, whose theme remains the basis for the Scottish Rite’s 15°, Knight of the East, and 16°, Prince of Jerusalem:
It is said among the Masons, that there are still several degrees above that of the masters, of which I have just spoken; some say there are six in all, & others go up to seven. Those called Escossais [Scottish] Masons claim that they form the fourth grade. As this Masonry, different from the others in many ways, is beginning to become known in France, the Public will not be annoyed if I relate what I have read about it . . . which seems to give the Escossais a degree of superiority above the Apprentices, Fellows, & ordinary Masters.
Instead of weeping over the ruin of the temple of Solomon, as their brethren do, the Escossais are concerned with rebuilding it. Everyone knows that after seventy years of captivity in Babylon, the Great Cyrus permitted the Israelites to rebuild the temple & the City of Jerusalem; that Zerubabel, of the House of David, was appointed by him [Cyrus] the Chief & leader of that people for their return to the Holy City; that the first stone of the temple was laid during the reign of Cyrus, but that it was not completed until the sixth year of that of Darius, King of the Persians.
It is from this great event that the Escossais derive the epoch of their institution, & although they are later than the other Masons by several centuries, they consider themselves of a superior grade.
At this early period, the French masonic strongholds were in Bordeaux and Paris. On August 27, 1761, the French grand lodge at Paris (the Grand and Sovereign Lodge of St John of Jerusalem), acting with a body of the superior degrees (the Council of the Emperors of the East and West, Sovereign Écossais Mother Lodge), issued a patent to Morin as a grand inspector, “authorizing and empowering him to establish perfect and sublime masonry in all parts of the world.” Around 1763, Morin created and promulgated a masonic rite of 25 degrees which he called the “Order of the Royal Secret” or “Order of Prince of the Royal Secret” (sometimes mistakenly called the “Rite of Perfection”). This order included many of the most popular degrees worked at the time. Although it was once commonly believed that the Council of the Emperors of the East and West created the Order of the Royal Secret, recent research suggests that Morin was personally responsible for its organization. There also is compelling evidence that, to bolster his authority, he created and backdated documents known as the Constitutions and Regulations of 1762—an act that was not discovered for more than 220 years. About 1763, Morin introduced the Order of the Royal Secret to Kingston, Jamaica, and by 1764, high degrees were brought to North American soil, when they were established in New Orleans, Louisiana. About this time, Morin empowered an enthusiastic Dutch mason, Henry Andrew Francken, to establish masonic bodies throughout the New World, including the United States. Francken soon sailed to New York, and in 1767, he began to confer the high degrees in Albany. Fortunately, he also transcribed several manuscript copies of the rituals of the Order of the Royal Secret, some of which survive today. These copies are known as the Francken Manuscripts. On December 6, 1768, Francken appointed Moses Michael Hays (or Hayes), of Dutch parentage, a deputy inspector general of the rite, for the West Indies and North America. The Hays patent granted authority to confer all the degrees of Morin’s Order of the Royal Secret. The following year, Francken returned to Jamaica, and by 1780, Hays immigrated to Newport, Rhode Island. In 1781, Hays traveled to Philadelphia, where he met with eight brethren whom he appointed deputy inspectors general over given American states, with the exception of Samuel Myers, who presided over the Leeward Islands in the West Indies in the Caribbean. Barend Moses Spitzer, one of the deputy inspectors general, lived in Charleston, South Carolina, from 1770 to 1781 and moved to Philadelphia where he was appointed deputy for Georgia and, after traveling briefly abroad, returned to Charleston by 1788. On April 2, 1795, Spitzer appointed the Irish-born John Mitchell, then living in Charleston, a deputy inspector general of the Order of the Royal Secret. Colonel Mitchell had served as deputy quartermaster general of the Continental Army, and was an acquaintance of George Washington.
High Degrees after 1801
Birth of the Scottish Rite: Charleston, May 31, 1801
On May 24, 1801, John Mitchell made the Rev Frederick Dalcho (a Prussian, born in London) a deputy inspector general of the Order of the Royal Secret, and one week later, on May 31, “the Supreme Council of the 33d Degree for the United States of America, was opened . . . agreeably to the Grand Constitutions” in Charleston, South Carolina, with Col Mitchell and Rev Dalcho presiding. The Supreme Council was a superior system to Morin’s Order of the Royal Secret; it administered 33 degrees, including all 25 of Morin’s rite. The traditional authority of the Supreme Council stems from the “Grand Constitution of the 33d degree” (also Grand Constitutions of 1786), ostensibly ratified by Frederick II (“the Great”), King of Prussia. The earliest known copy dates from about 1801–02, and is written in Rev Dalcho’s hand. Its 18 articles are preceded by the title “Constitution, Statutes, Regulations &c. for the Government of the Supreme Council of Inspectors General of the 33rd and for the Government of all Councils under their Jurisdiction.” The Circular throughout two Hemispheres, or “1802 Manifesto” (the first printed document issued by the Supreme Council), also asserted that Frederick the Great instigated its creation:
On the 1st of May, 5786 , the Grand Constitution of the 33d degree, called the Supreme Council of Sovereign Grand Inspectors General, was finally ratified by his Majesty the King of Prussia, who as Grand Commander of the order of Prince of the Royal Secret, possessed the Sovereign Masonic power over all the Craft. In the new Constitution this high Power was conferred on a Supreme Council of nine Brethren in each Nation, who possess all the Masonic prerogatives in their own district, that this majesty individually possessed; and are Sovereigns of Masonry.
The involvement of Frederick II, King of Prussia, was repeated in the “History” which was delivered in the original 33° ritual:
The Most Puissant Grand Sovereign—Grand Master Commander in Chief—Sovereign of Sovereigns of the degree of Prince of the Royal Secret, was our Illustrious brother, Frederick the 2:nd King of Prussia. He established this degree, in concert with our brother, his Serene Highness, Louis of Bourbon, Prince of the Blood Royal of France, and other Illustrious characters, who had received the degrees of K.H. and prince of the Royal Secret. . . . This new Degree he called “Sovereign Grand Inspectors General, or Supreme Council of the 33:rd”
Like Morin’s Constitutions and Regulations of 1762, many modern Masonic historians view the Grand Constitutions of 1786 as “traditional” rather than historical documents. After a detailed investigation into its possible origins, Albert Pike accepted the tradition regarding the king’s involvement, and his reputed role in the creation of the Supreme Council, even though there was no direct evidence that he did so. Pike did argue correctly, however, that whatever the origin, the formal adoption of any law forms a legal basis for government. Modern opinion agrees with the latter and maintains that, at a minimum, the stories regarding the origins of the Constitutions of 1762 and 1786 are akin to the legends preserved in the Old Charges, providing a traditional environment for the degrees, just as the Biblical account of King Solomon’s Temple forms the symbolic setting for Craft Freemasonry’s origins.
Scope and authority of the early Supreme Council
The “Supreme Council at Charleston,” as it was sometimes called, was the first Supreme Council of the 33° in the world. It continues to exist today as the Supreme Council, 33°, Southern Jurisdiction, and its see remains in Charleston, although its residence was moved to Washington, D.C., about 1870, and it now sits at the House of the Temple. As the premiere Supreme Council, it naturally exercised authority over the entire country, and Col. Mitchell was referred to as “Grand Commander in the U[nited]. States of America,” as well as “President of the Supreme Council of Masons of the United States.” In its early days, the Supreme Council issued “warrants of Constitution” to create Sublime Grand Lodges of Perfection (which administered the 4°–14°), and Grand Councils of Princes of Jerusalem (administering the 15°–16°), but it did not involve itself directly in their government or administration. The Supreme Council only exercised direct control above the 16°, Prince of Jerusalem. This was explained in the Circular throughout two Hemispheres as well as Dalcho’s manuscript copy of the Grand Constitutions of 1786:
[Article] 6th The power of the Supreme Council does not interfere with any degree below the 17th or Knights of the East and West. But every Council and Lodge of Perfect Masons are hereby required to acknowledge them in quality of inspectors General, and to receive them with the high honors to which they are entitled.
This limitation was repeated in the original manuscript ritual of the 33°:
The King on the first of May 5786, formed and established the 33:rd Degree to give some elucidations of the K.H.—The King was conscious, that agreably [sic] to the common course of human nature, he could not live many years; & he conceived and executed the glorious design of investing the Sovereign Masonic power which he held, as Sovereign Grand Commander of the order of Prince of the Royal Secret —in a Council of Grand Inspectors General—
that they might, after his decease, regulate, agreably [sic] to the Constitution and Statutes which he then formed, the government of the Craft in every degree, from the 17:th or Knights of the East & West inclusive, leaving the control over the symbolic Lodge—the Grand, Ineffable and Sublime Lodge of Perfect Masons, and the Knights of the East or sword— to the Grand Council of Princes of Jerusalem, whom he conceived to be justly entitled to that Honor and power.
According to the Circular throughout two Hemispheres, at the time of the Supreme Council’s creation, the 30°, 31°, and 32° collectively constituted the Degree of “Prince of the Royal Secret, Prince of Masons.” This means that only 15 degrees were under direct control of the Supreme Council. The government of the entire system, from the 4°, Secret Master, to the 32°, Royal Secret, inclusive, was not assumed until after the revival of American Freemasonry in the 1840s, following the “Morgan Affair.” Although not previously exercised, the authority to govern the entire system resided with the officers of the Supreme Council, who were “Sovereigns of Masonry,” and “possessed the Sovereign Masonic power over all the Craft.” The high degrees often were referred to as the Ineffable and Sublime (or Superior) Degrees. In the earliest days of the Scottish Rite, the high degrees were conferred only on Past Masters, or virtual Past Masters, of Blue Lodges. Frederick Dalcho’s 4°, Secret Master, ritual (dated 1801), noted, “The Blue Past Master or Candidate, must be examined in the Antechamber (by the Master of Ceremonies) in his three first degrees, and in the secrets of the Chair”; and the Circular throughout two Hemispheres explained that Sublime Masons “communicate the secrets of the Chair to such applicants who have not already received it, previous to their initiation into the Sublime Lodge, but they are at the same time informed that it does not give them rank as Past Masters in the Grand Lodge.” A similar requirement exists in the American York Rite, where candidates become virtual Past Masters prior to receiving the degree of Royal Arch Mason. In 1804, Alexandre-Auguste de Grasse-Tilly, a member of the Supreme Council at Charleston, organized a Supreme Council for France. In an agreement made that year between this newly-created Supreme Council and the Grand Orient of France (which operated as a Grand Lodge), the title “Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite” (Rite Écossais Ancien et Accepté) was used for the first time. Beginning with the administration of Grand Commander Albert Pike in 1859, the name came into general use in the Southern Jurisdiction.
Contents of this brief history of Scottish Rite freemasonry and contents relating to the Supreme Council, 33°, Southern Jurisdiction has been reproduced from the website for the: