A Focus on Masonic Research, News, and other Tidbits

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Higher or Side Degrees?

Many Masons are familiar with the charts that show a hierarchy in the Freemasonic family. Two examples are shown here and both place the Craft, or “Blue,” lodge degrees at the bottom of the scale. These types of illustrations and trains of thought have often led to the misconception that the degrees and orders offered in the York and Scottish Rites are the higher degrees of Freemasonry.

Of course, any learned Freemason is aware that there is no higher degree in Freemasonry than that of the Third Degree, which can only be provided by a Craft lodge. The degrees and orders of the two Rites, or any other appendent body, are actually side degrees. The following chart – in my opinion – better illustrates that concept than do the two previous.


47th Problem of Euclid said...

Thank you! That misperception annoys me to no end! Your graphic helps correct things.

Chris Hodapp said...

The round illustration appeared in Mark Tabbert's "American Freemasons: Three Centuries of Building Communities," and I agree, it is the best illustration of the degree structure without being misleading.

The Palmetto Bug said...


I was wondering where that chart came from.

Ozman said...

On your last chart, there is the "Luncheon Club". I've not heard of that before. Is this a US setup or is it universal?
Also, could you elaborate on the "Luncheon Club" and how it works?

The Palmetto Bug said...


I believe the luncheon clubs are a general term for a variety of bodies. The Square & Compasses clubs are what I am most familiar with. Sometimes they are called Masters & Wardens clubs.

In my Grand Jurisdiction, S&C or M&W clubs are normally organized in a Masonic district and serve as a vehicle to discuss or help organize district-wide events. Sometimes these clubs have their own charities. In my opinion, they exist primarily for the purpose of promoting and providing good fellowship. The meetings are rather informal as compared to a lodge communication.