Beyond the Master Mason Degree

September 9, 2007

lodge-entrance.jpg As a teacher, my life begins in the fall with a crazy amount of work and activity, and slows down during the summer.  It also seems to be true for many Freemason Lodges.

The building where our Lodge resides has two seperate rooms for Masonic meetings and a large banquet area.  There are four Masonic Lodges, one Masonic research Lodge, as well as the Eastern Star and Job’s Daughters that share the same facilities.  I noticed the other day that the booking calendar for the Lodge was packed.  Almost every calendar day had one or two events booked.  It’s great to see that all the groups are keen to get started up again and fresh from a summer break.

In the next couple of weeks, myself and another Brother will be “proving up” as Master Masons.  The date isn’t finalized yet, but we are not too worried as we have already had over 3 months to prepare.

We met the other day to review our material with our Mentor/Teacher who has been with us since our first degree.  He has been a Mason for more than 50 years and has also been involved with the Scottish Rite for almost as long.

The conversation changed to our options regarding the appendant or concordant Masonic bodies, now that we are Master Masons.  The 3 basic choices here in Alberta are The Royal Arch, The Scottish Rite and the Shriners.

I believe The Royal Arch is the same as The York rite in the United States.  It offers four more degrees to take.  It is a little confusing here in Canada because our Blue/Craft Lodges, which offer the first three degrees, have two distinct flavors themselves.  I belong to a Lodge that follows the “Canadian Rite” ritual, but there is also the “Ancient York Rite” ritual that many Lodges follow.  Because information is so freely available on the internet, most new candidates who do Masonic research on the internet come into the Lodge very confused regarding the difference between the “Ancient York Rite” at the Blue/Craft Lodge Level, and the “York Rite” appendant body in America.

The Scottish Rite offers up the the 32nd degree and there is a 33rd degree that can be given to someone for a lifetime of exceptional service.  Our Mentor/Teacher is a 33rd degree.  We were both invited to what sounded like an “open house” in October for potential new recruits. There we will be able to watch portions of several of their degrees.

The Shriners, as I understand it, are more of a charitible and social group.  It does sound very interesting.  In Canada in the past, you had to be a 32nd degree Mason before you could become a member of the Shrine.  As membership in the Shriners started to decrease, that rule was changed so that a candidate could be admitted after attaining the 32nd Scottish Rite degree or the 4th Royal Arch degree.  This caused membership in the Scottish Rite to fall, because Masons who wanted to join the Shriners, now joined the Royal Arch because it was quicker to go through their four degrees.  Eventually, that rule was relaxed and now any 3rd degree Master Mason can join the Shriners.

At this point in my Masonic Journey, I am not very comfortable at all with the procedures and rituals of the Craft Lodge.  I feel that I have memorized a lot of material, but I am still just trying to go through the motions without making mistakes and have not had time to become comfortable with anything yet.  Myself and my Master Mason partner will most likely check out the Scottish Rite because the opportunity was offered to us, but I don’t think that I am going to jump into anything new quite yet. 

There are very few members of my Lodge that actually belong to an appendant Masonic group, so on one hand, I will not get bombarded by brethren trying to recruit me, but on the other hand, I will not be able to hear about all of my choices.  And of course, I have no idea where or even whether I should move…

This is my 27th post on Freemasonry and my experiences as a Freemason.  Here is the Table of Contents of my Masonic Journey.



  1. It took me 9 years to decide to join an “appendant body” for reasons my own. Now i am looking at joining my second. I had decided on the Scottish Rite first, as it seemed to me to contain more of the philosophical ideas that resonated with me. I suppose it does still, but it seems to lack the spiritual tones which I have been told exist in the York.

    The irony I found is that even with receiving the degrees, my level of enlightenment was only marginally increased, as I still was required to “read”, and seek more light. In the end, perhaps that was the point.

    What ever your choice, if there be one, enjoy the experience. It seems the different “Rites” attract different people, which is kind of cool.

  2. I found that joining a concordant body has many of the same choices to make as my joining the Craft at the outset. Likewise, each man will look towards one of them with a different viewpoint on what he wishes to attain from it/them. I concur with Greg that taking the time is part of my game plan. 4 years and I haven’t considered anything beyond the Blue Lodge. It’s completely a personal choice on my behalf. I know a couple others that had their minds set on the Shriners, blew threw their 3 Craft degrees, concordant body, and right into the Shriners, never attending any of the groups that they left in their wake. Are they truant Masons? Again it depends on what your personal viewpoint is.

    My viewpoint is that I’m looking to become a better man to everyone around me. Until I get a handle on that in the Blue Lodge, I will continue there.

  3. At this point, I’m not prepared to join either the Scottish Rite or York Rite. Each contains certain elements that do not mesh well with my personal philosophies.

    However, were I to join one of the two, it’d be York Rite. I would participate in the Royal Arch and Cryptic Rite, but not the Knights Templar. I simply cannot meet certain requirements to join the KT. Still, I believe both Rites improve their members and society in general with their charitable works.

    I will, however, petition the Shrine. My raising is September 19, and the incoming Worshipful Master has approached me about joining the line. I believe he plans to appoint me Junior Steward. After this time, I’ll be eligible to join the Shrine when the Temple in my town holds its Fall Ceremonial (in October).

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