What is Scottish Rite?

There are more than fifty Freemasonry rites in the world, with a very different number of degrees and different size in membership. The Scottish Rite is nowadays most numerous among the fifteen Freemasonry systems of higher degrees. Every second Freemason's master in the USA is included in one of the higher degrees' systems: In the USA during the 1970, more than one million members were working in the Scottish Rite, more than half a million in the Royal Arch, and more than three hundred and seventy thousands Brethren in the Knight Templar's Rite.

One of the reasons why the Scottish Rite strongly attracts Brethren, and the reason of its numerousness, is that, in comparison with other rites, it possesses ancient, well designed rituals and intelligible elements, and it possesses the historical authenticity and consistence as well. For the former mentioned, the Rite is thankful to Albert Pike, who, during the nineteenth century, developed the rituals of higher degrees and who deepened and expanded esoteric knowledge within the degrees - for the later the Rite is thankful to its founders acting one century earlier to Pike.

The Scottish Rite originated in the first part of the eighteenth century, in France. Its name, Scottish Rite, shows that the rituals originated from within the Anglo-Saxons' Freemasonry. Many historians associated the origins of the rite with the English Royal House of Stuart and Jacobites, with members of the King Jacob's II family, who was in the same time Scottish King Jacob VII. Serious investigations deny such standpoints, but it seams that the Lodge L'Anglaise, that was founded by the Irish, Martin Kelly, on April 27th 1732, worked in English (the Lodge still works in the system of the Grand Lodge of France and holds the No 363). Kelly's Lodge worked as the Mother Lodge, meaning that its founders were founding members of different other new lodges. One of them was La Francoise that founded on her side the Lodge Perfect Harmony (Parfait Harmonie) in Bordeaux, in 1749. The Worshipful Master was Stephan Morin, French by birth, born in New York, who later on played an important role in the development of the Scottish Rite and founded lodges in Paris (1774), San Domingo, New Orleans and other colonies in America (1736). Pieces of information tell us that the Lodge Perfect Harmony worked according to a new ritual that was named "Rite Ecossaise" (Scottish Rite) and that higher degrees were assigned within it. The centre of the new rite, understandably, quickly moved to Paris. The embryo of the new supreme body appeared in 1756, and was named "Knights of the East, Princes and Sovereigns of Masonry". Then, they embodied within their rite the Chapter of Clermont, Knights of the East and the Rite of Perfection.

Out of these mentioned rites, very soon, a new consistent system of the first fourteen and a little bit later of the twenty-five degrees appeared, known as the Lodge of Perfection. Until 1751 the rite had fourteen degrees that were thematically tied with the building of the Solomon's temple. Later on still eleven degrees were added that were referring to Zerubabel's temple and the Third Mystical temple of Jesus. The Council of supreme Princes assigned Stephen Morin a patent that entitled him to be their Grand Inspector. A similar patent was achieved by the Deputy Grand Inspector Lamolier de Feuilland. They both left for French colonies in America in a designed "missionary mission" where they started installing new lodges. Stephan Morin carried with him the first written Constitution (1761): two amended Constitution were edited additionally (1762 and 1786), which, even today, present the real corner-stones of the Scottish Rite.

In Charleston, South Carolina, Br De Grasse-Tilly (1765-1845) organised a system of 33 degrees in 1796: he elected himself and other twelve Brethren to the highest and ultimate degree (as a curiosity let us mention that there were three Irish, two American, two French, two English and one Czech, Danish and Polish among them).

These thirteen Brethren founded in Charleston, USA, the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Freemason's Scottish Rite in 1801. The first Sovereign Grand Commander was John Michell (1801-1816). The ninth Sovereign Grand Commander from 1859 to 1891 was a famous Freemasons' theoretician and historian Albert Pike (he edited an extremely important book "Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite" in 1871, where he had analysed the content and importance of higher degrees).

The Scottish Rite returned very quickly to Europe: The Supreme Council for France was already established in 1804, The Supreme Council for Italy in 1805, The Supreme Council for Spain in 1809, The Supreme Council for Belgium in 1817. The Scottish Freemasonry found its like-minded persons in most of the developed European countries: in Portugal (1872), England (1845), Turkey (1861), Hungary (1871), Greece (1872), Switzerland (1873), Serbia (1912), Czech and Poland (1922), Romania (1923), Austria (1925) Germany (1930 and renewed in 1947), ...

The Supreme Council for the Ancient and Accepted Freemason's Scottish Rite for Slovenia were founded on March 25th 2000, while the Croatian Freemasons achieved its first Supreme Council in the history on March 22nd 2003.