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What is the better Path? Scottish or York

I have been contemplating what is the best continuation of the 3rd degree. I have heard alot about the Scottish rite degrees and the York rite. I am wondering which on seems to be the best continuation.
I read a article that Albert Mackey said the York Rite was not correct because it refered to 3 entrances to the Temple of Solomon which in fact there was only one entrance which was the eastern entrance. This is about as much as I read into it. After reading the York Rite it seems to be the best continuation in my honest opinion. I will have to read more about Scottish Rite to make a better assessment.

4 comments:

JasonJ said...

The York Rite is definitely the best continuation of the lessons of the first three degrees. In fact, the third degree ends with an incomplete story. Hints of its continuation are scattered throughout the degree work. The degrees of the Chapter and Council are historical in nature and relate directly to the story of the Temple.

Lessons from the Fellowcraft degree are further emphasized and expounded in the Mark Master degree. The degree of Past Master is virtual, and qualifies the candidate for the Royal Arch. The Most Excellent Masters degree represents the completion of the Temple built by King Solomon. The Royal Arch degree finds the Temple destroyed and relates the recovery of lost secrets. It is a tale of rebirth and renewal.

The Council degrees further explain the history and story behind those lost secrets, especially how they were preserved for future generations to find. After the degrees of Royal and Select Master, the Craft Mason is said to have passed the "Circle of Perfection" in Ancient Craft Masonry.

Even Albert Pike himself said that the degrees of the Scottish Rite are essentially Templar degrees. Therefore, it is only right that the Commandery of Knights Templar stand at the pinnacle of the American York Rite degree system. While recognizing the connection with Ancient Craft Masonry, the Commandery encourages the Christian Mason to stand by his faith and live as a true follower of Christ. There is no requirement for a non-Christian to join the Commandery. You can stop with the Chapter and Council.

I have had both York Rite and Scottish Rite degrees, although not all of the Scottish Rite degrees. It would be difficult to find someone nowadays who has seen EVERY Scottish Rite degree. Many SR valleys only confer the "terminal" degrees - meaning those at the beginning and end of the Lodge of Perfection, Chapter of Rose Croix, Council of Kadosh, and Consistory degree groups. Sometimes an extra degree or two is thrown in, depending on the capabilities of the SR valley. Every York Rite Mason sees EVERY York Rite degree.

In the history of the Scottish Rite, especially between the Civil War and the beginning of the 20th Century, the Scottish Rite almost died. It wasn't until Albert Pike rewrote and reworked the degrees and when SR valleys began conferring degrees on stages in elaborate costumes that SR numbers began to increase.

As a past Grand High Priest of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter for the State of Arkansas, Albert Pike was very familiar with the York Rite when he took over the Scottish Rite. When he rewrote the degrees, there was apparently so much reference to the York Rite degrees, especially the Royal Arch, that there was a conflict between Pike and members of the York Rite who wanted him to confer the SR degrees only on those who had already received the Royal Arch degree!

The following are my limited observations about the Scottish Rite as a not-very-active member.

The Scottish Rite is a very top-down organization. There is only one Sovereign Grand Inspector General. That seems to be a paid position that a person can hold as long as he likes. There is a Supreme Council of 33 active Inspectors General. Each state has an administrator and each valley has his personal representative. An executive committee runs the valley, no matter who sits in the East for the four bodies. There are limits to the number of 33rd degree Honorary Inspectors General based on the size of a particular valley. There are limits on the number of "Red Caps", or 32nd degree KCCH, that can be awarded. All of those honors are awarded only by recommendation, and not necessarily for service to the Scottish Rite or Masonry. While I do not doubt that most all red and white caps are earned after years of hard work and dedication, the possibility still exists for favoritism.

The York Rite is more similar to your local lodge, and is democratically-run. Each town or area has its own Chapter, Council, or Commandery and elects its own leaders. States have Grand Chapter, Grand Councils, or Grand Commanderies, with leadership elected by the state's members. Many states are affiliated in the General Grand Chapter or the General Grand Council of the USA, while the state Grand Commanderies are represented by the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar USA. All of these leaders are elected and serve a definite term.

Honors and awards in the York Rite seem to be earned primarily through service to the Rite. For example, after serving in the East for your lodge, chapter, council, and commandery, you are eligible to be nominated for the honor of Knight York Cross of Honor (KYCH). The Order of High Priesthood, Order of the Silver Trowel, and Knight Preceptor degrees are available for those who have been installed or are past officers. There are many honors bodies such as AMD, Knight Masons, Red Cross of Constantine, etc. that require prerequisite membership in a Royal Arch chapter and recommendation from a member. Often, you are nominated and voted favorable before you are asked if you would like to accept membership. Local bodies are encouraged to confer their own degree work, although there are York Rite festivals for those who can't.

The Scottish Rite degrees do have similar characters and themes that relate to the Blue Lodge work, but many of the degrees are more philosophical in nature. It is these Scottish Rite degrees specifically that many anti-Masons latch onto when they speak and write against the Craft. I have noticed that you won't find many anti-Masons writing about the York Rite degrees.

The York Rite is representative of what Masonry is all about - local members, local leaders, local control, honors earned through service.

I have rambled long enough. I would encourage you to do both. Just choose York Rite first. Make sure you get involved, learn the degree work, become an officer. You will never regret it.

binaryburn said...

Thanks for the informative article. This really sheds some light on the work. I am really looking forward to these degrees.

Justa Mason said...

Shane wrote:
I have been contemplating what is the best continuation of the 3rd degree. I have heard alot about the Scottish rite degrees and the York rite. I am wondering which on seems to be the best continuation.

Shane, if you mean continuation of the legend of the three degrees, then you will find it in several of the York Rite degrees.

I've always compared concordant bodies to Star Wars. The original movie stands on its own; you can see it and be satisfied, just as people were when it came out and that was all. The various Star Wars prequels and sequels are not essential to the main movie, but may be found interesting as they further explore its characters and scenarios. So it is with the Chapter and Council degrees.

I don't know about where you are, but in Canada, only the first of the Templar orders has anything remotely to do with the Craft legends. And the only reason we confer that order in the KT Preceptory is because the Americans had it in their system Webb set up and Commanderies in the late 19th century refused to allow Canadians kts. to visit unless they had the order.

As for the Scottish Rite, each of the degrees consists of a play and a lecture. Some of the lectures used here are beautifully written and I was fortunate to hear them done by some of the real old-timers who knew their work. Locally, 4 through 18 are conferred in full, it takes a year to do them all and if you miss one, you wait a year. No fast-track, no short-cuts.

Each body has its champions. I was active in the YR because the SR meets on my Lodge night.

My advice is if you have the time—and concordant bodies can sop up lots of it because they're hurting for officers—and you've been in the Lodge for a few years and have a good grounding in the meaning of the ceremonies, then join whatever you'd like and feel most comfortable with.

Justa Mason
PZ, PTIM, KT, 32°

Masonic Traveler said...

Having just taken the R.A. and having already attained a 32nd, I'd say eventually do both. the Y.R. is an interesting traditionalist perspective to English masonry, and the S.R. is a unique amalgam of English, French, and American perspective.

Having the perspective of both now, I tend to favor the S.R., but recommend as your time permits follow both paths. The symbolism and allegory in both is worth learning.