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:
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
The 4° emphasizes duty, fidelity, integrity, and the necessity for secrecy in all confidential relationships.
5° – Perfect Master
This degree teaches that honesty and trustworthiness are the cornerstones of the foundation of Masonic honor. These virtues should be in all of our undertakings. The lessons of the 5° are honesty, sincerity, and good faith.
6° – Master of the Brazen Serpent
Duty, charity, and toleration are the lessons presented in the 6°. We are encouraged to be charitable, exercise self-control, work for peace, and be successful. This degree teaches that devotion to one’s friends and zealousness in performing one’s duties are rewarding virtues.
7° – Provost and Judge
This degree teaches us to judge righteously, and that one law and one custom shall apply to all. Let justice be impartial, tempered with mercy.
8° – Intendant of the Building
Honor is crucial in perfecting the moral code, and benevolence and charity are necessary virtues of leadership.
9° – Master Elect of Temple
This degree reminds us that through the ages, man has searched for God in many ways, and worshiped in many tongues. Universal worship, however, is found in service to our fellow man.
10° – Master Elect of Fifteen
The 10° posits that a violator of his obligations and commitments will be punished, and, further, excuses, rationalizations, and other evidence of lack of repentance will likely increase the severity of the penalties.
11° – Sublime Master Elected
This degree focuses on good citizenship. Honesty and respect for others should be rewarded. We are called upon to be earnest, honest, and sincere.
12° – Grand Master Architect
The Mason, as he learns to use the tools and instruments of his trade, also learns to contemplate the many aspects of life. The Mason steadily advances to heights of experience that we call perfection.
13° – Master of the Ninth Arch
This degree teaches that difficulties and dangers, however great, should not deter the true and faithful brother from striving for perfection. It teaches the great truth that the finest things in life come only as the result of constant and often painful effort.
14° – Grand Elect Mason
This degree represents the apex of the ancient craft Masonry. As the crowning degree of the Lodge of Perfection, its essence is the holiness of God and reverence for His holy name.
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 or Sword
This degree teaches the important lessons of loyalty to conviction and devotion to all that is right.
16° – Prince of Jerusalem
Loyalty to truth and fidelity to duty are the lessons of the 16°.
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 lessons of this degree are that loyalty to God is man’s primary allegiance, and if temporal governments are not founded upon God and His righteousness, they will inevitably fall.
18° – Knight of the Rose Croix of H.R.D.M.
Man must have a new Temple in his heart where God is worshipped in spirit and in truth. He must have a new law of love that all men everywhere may understand and practice. This degree affirms the broad principles of universality and tolerance.
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° – Grand Pontiff
This degree proclaims the spiritual unity of all who believe in God and cherish the hope of immortality, no matter what religious leader they follow or what creed they profess. It is concerned primarily with the perennial conflict between light and darkness, good and evil, God and Satan.
20° – Master ad Vitam
This is a drama of the American spirit confronting the challenge of disloyalty and treason. Masonic principles and leadership are subjected to a crucial test. The degree demonstrates the Masonic condemnation of all who conspire against the security of the nation and the happiness of our people.
21° – Patriarch Noachite
This degree teaches that Freemasonry is not a shield for evildoing and that justice is one of the chief supports of our fraternity.
22° – Prince of Libanus
The dignity of labor is celebrated in the 22°. It is a privilege for man to be allowed to earn his sustenance by work. It is idleness, not labor, that is ignoble.
23° – Chief of the Tabernacle
This degree teaches that those with faith in God and love for their fellow man are those who make great sacrifices to help others.
24° – Brother of the Forest
The 24° brings forth the lesson that a mutual belief in a supreme power will bind all men together in a worldwide brotherhood.
25° – Master of Achievement
Every life faces stretches of barrenness. The same is true in the life of every nation. Often there is a resultant breakdown of discipline and loss of faith. This degree is a clarion call to have faith in ourselves, in each other, and in God.
26° – Prince of Mercy
This degree teaches the importance of being merciful. A spirit of compassion and a tenderness of heart disposes us to put injuries into perspective and to treat an offender in a righteous way.
27° – Knight of Jerusalem
32°Freemasonry teaches the concept of a free church in a free state, all existing in cooperation for the common good.
28° – Knight of the Sun
The symbolism of the tools and implements of architecture is central in this degree. By building high moral character among its members, Freemasonry may carry humanity’s quest for unity and goodwill throughout the world.
29°- Knight of St. Andrew
Masonic teachings of equality and toleration are emphasized here. We are reminded that no one man, no one church, no one religion, has a monopoly on truth. While we must be true and faithful to our own convictions, we must respect the opinions of others.
30° – Grand Inspector
This degree sets forth the tests and ceremonies that symbolize the experiences we must undergo in the building of excellence in character.
31° – My Brother’s Keeper
A Brother’s Keeper deals with the core values of service and integrity. It is based on biblical accounts of the story of Cain and Abel and the parable of the Good Samaritan. The degree deals with fulfilling our obligation to aid and assist our brothers in distress.
32° – Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret
This degree describes the victory of the spiritual over the corporal. It describes the conquest of appetites and passions by moral sense and reason. The exemplar in the degree represents every Freemason who is eager to serve humanity, but is caught between self-interest and the call of duty. Duty often requires sacrifice—and sometimes it is the supreme sacrifice.