Sunday, October 21, 2012

Lodge of Perfection

The first body of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry is called the Lodge of Perfection. This body consists of the 4° through the 14°, and are referred to as the Ineffable Degrees because their principal purpose is the investigation and contemplation of the ineffable name of Deity. Ineffable comes from the Latin 'ineffibilis' which means something that should not be spoken. Here is a brief description of the degrees:

4° - Secret Master 

This Degree deals with the concepts of duty, fidelity, reflection, and study.  To a Mason, duty embraces an obligation to take an interest in the problems of his environment,  learn the social problems of his community,  country, and even the World; and try to contribute solutions to these problems. The lessons of this degree teach one to practice silence, obedience, and fidelity.

The jewel is a small ivory key with a black 'Z' upon the wards. It is worn suspended from a broad white ribbon edged in black. The jewel of the Master is a small equilateral triangle of gold emblazoned with the Greek letters: Iota, Alpha, and Omega at the apexes. Pike tells us, "The Name of Deity, in many nations, consisted of three letters: among the Greeks, [Iota, Alpha, Omega]; ..." (p. 632). On its reverse are the Samaritan characters Yod, He, and Vau; these three letters, with He duplicated are used to form the Ineffable Name of Deity, called the Tetragrammaton, usually pronounced as 'Yahweh'. Pike, though he uses the Hebrew forms, also explains their significance as representing three of the ten Sephiroth, or emanations from Deity, of the Kabalah: Gedulah, Geburah, and Tephareth; that is, Mercy, Justice, and Beauty.

The apron, like the cordon, is white, edged with black, and has black ties. These two colors symbolize the grief suffered by the Mason's upon hearing of Master Hiram's death and the loss of the word. As well, they are illustrative of the dualist nature of the universe, containing light and darkness, good and evil, truth and error. The flap is of sky blue with an open eye embroidered upon it in gold, denoting the sun as the great archetype of light, the Ineffable Deity. In its center is a 'Z' embroidered in gold and around it are the two crossed wreaths of laurel and olive.

5° - Perfect Master

The moral teachings of this degree are that we live in peace with our own conscience and are honored by good people when we perform our duties honestly and diligently. When honesty, diligence, justice, and brotherhood do not exist, freedom and independence are meaningless. Masonry values man as a person. 
The lessons of this degree to us to be industrious, and cultivate honesty, sincerity, and good faith.

The jewel is the compasses, opened to sixty degrees, the points on a graduated arc. Masonic compasses are opened to sixty degrees because this is the number of degrees in each of the three angles of an equilateral triangle, always a symbol of Deity. It is suspended from a broad grass-green watered ribbon worn from the right shoulder to the left hip. This jewel, absent the square, indicates that the candidate is moving away from the earthly and toward the heavenly: "[The Square] ... is an emblem of what concerns the earth and the body; [the Compasses] of what concerns the heavens and the soul." The color of the ribbon symbolizes the attainment of this transition by the renewal of virtue.

The apron is of white lambskin. The lining, border, and flap are light green. Two crossed columns with three concentric circles and a golden cube superimposed from the center design of the apron. The outside circle is crimson, the center one blue and the inner one orange. There are two letters upon the top face of the cube; the one on the left black and the other white. The cube represents the finite universe and the three circles symbolize the wisdom, power, and beneficence of God; the great trinity of His attributes. The letters are Phoenician and are the first two letters of the ancient name of God.

6° - Intimate Secretary

The principle lesson of this degree is that decisions should not be made only on appearances. To be curious is a good quality when directed toward the examination of social miseries, their reasons, and how they can be eliminated. A Mason should not remain detached from the world around him; he should not be an indifferent person. To keep and restore peace, he must be involved in the events of his world. It is the duty of a Mason to provide that men live in peace and harmony. 
The lessons of this degree teach us to be zealous, faithful, disinterested (unbiased, tolerant, free from selfish motives), benevolent and act as the peacemaker.

The jewel is a triple-delta superimposed upon an equilateral triangle of gold. Each delta has a center design composed of one of the astrological signs for the Sun, Moon, and Mercury. As explained in the degree summary, the form of the jewel is utterly derived from Pike's favorite source of Masonic Symbolism, the Pythagorean Tetractys.

The apron is of white lambskin bordered in bright crimson; on the flap is an embroidered equilateral triangle. The designs on the flap are Phoenician letters; in the center are the two letters which are on the apron of the 5th Degree. Three additional letters at the upper corners and one at the center near the bottom are represented in English by 'B', 'N', and 'Sh'. These are the initials of words meaning a covenant, agreement, or Divine Law; a vow; and, completion, performance, and offering in the accomplishment of a vow, perfect, salvation. The Phoenician characters serve to remind us that Master Hiram, though of a Jewish mother, was himself considered a Phoenician. He served as a Phoenician king and presumably worshiped the Phoenician expression of the Deity.

The cordon is a broad watered crimson ribbon, worn from right to left, or a collar of similar material, with the jewel suspended from it.

7° - Provost and Judge

This degree teaches us to judge righteously. A law voluntarily accepted by a community should be a kind of lifestyle for the individuals comprising that community, and justice must always be observed. For a law to be considered as being accepted voluntarily, it should have been freely examined, discussed, and voted by the people. A man who is not free cannot be considered as being just, and the unjust cannot be considered as being free. Masonry teaches man to avoid evil behavior and to not do injustice to others. 
The lessons of this degree teach us to let justice be the guide of all our actions. 

The jewel is a gold key that unlocks the ebony box seen in the ceremony. The ebony box represents the human heart where the candidate is to lock up the secrets of the order and as Mackey says, "... in the human heart are deposited the secret designs and motives of our conduct by which we propose to erect the spiritual temple of our lives" (Vol. 1, p. 307). This key is especially emblematic of that justice and uprightness that alone can unlock for us the mysteries contained in the higher degrees and enable us to advance toward perfection. 

The apron is of white lambskin edged in red. In the center is a red-edged pocket with a red and white rosette just below the opening. This pocket holds the plans for the Temple. On the flap is embroidered a hand of justice holding a scale. 

The cordon is a broad, watered crimson ribbon, worn from right to left and from which is suspended the jewel.

8° - Intendant of the Building

This degree investigates the necessity of acting on what we learn and that we should freely transmit our knowledge to others. The strength of the Temple depends on both hard work and ownership. When a man attains a title or position based on his own earning of it, he becomes both knowing and free; he is not indebted to anyone, his reward is attained by his own qualities and diligence. Masonry believes that balance and Brotherhood is established and maintained between the two principles of work and charity. 
The lessons of this degree teach us to be benevolent, kind, moral, and charitable. 

The jewel is a delta of gold. On one side is engraved or enameled a Phoenician word meaning 'nobles' or 'freeborn'; on the reverse, the letters are Samaritan and stand for Achad, or 'our only God, chief, and source of all'. Pike derives this interpretation from its root which means 'first'. The triangular shape is the most fundamental symbol of the Deity. 

The apron is white, lined with red, and bordered with green; in the center is an embroidered nine-pointed star and over that a balance. On the flap is a triangle, with Phoenician letters at each angle. The three colors white, red, and green, the chief symbolic colors of Scottish Rite Masonry, teach us to imitate the purity of morals and zeal for the service of Masonry which has made our deceased Master immortal in the recollection of men. 

The cordon is a broad watered crimson ribbon, worn from right to left; the jewel is suspended from it by a green ribbon.

9° - Elu of the Nine

Fear and ignorance are the two major enemies which enslave men. It is important that we do not become slaves of certain ideas; that we have the power to fight against ignorance and intolerance for the sake of civilization and our own intellectual freedom. It is our duty to morally raise our own conscience, to enlighten our souls and minds so that we may actively participate in instructing and enlightening others. The lessons of this degree teach us to enlighten our souls and minds, to instruct and enlighten people, and to be vigilant to the interests and honor of our country.

The jewel is a dagger, its hilt of gold and its blade of silver. These two metals in combination symbolize the brilliance of the combined light of the sun and the moon. We also see this meaning in the ancient Han characters of China where the character for 'sun' is merged with the character for 'moon' to form the character for 'brilliant.' This dagger is not an emblem of false bravery but of the weapons of legitimate warfare, which an Elu of Nine may lawfully use, and especially of the two-edged sword of truth with which every Mason should be armed. A reference to the dagger is also found in the lecture for the Knight of the Brazen Serpent Degree, "Even the dagger of the Elu of the Nine is that used by the Mysteries of Mithras [a Persian deity]; which, with its blade black and hilt white, was an emblem of the two principles of Light and Darkness" (pg. 506). We shall see this symbol repeated in the poniard of the 30th Degree.

The apron is white lambskin spotted with red; it is lined and bordered in black. An arm holding a  dagger is painted or embroidered on the flap. In the middle is an arm holding a bloody head by the hair. The apron is an emblem of Masonry and  Truth sprinkled with the blood of those who have been persecuted for the sake of both. It is also representative of the darkness of ignorance, error, and intolerance, with which the world is shrouded,  and through which Masonry moves like a star,  dispensing light and knowledge and toleration. The arm holding a dagger reminds us of the execution of the sentence registered in heaven against ignorance and error. The hand holding the bloody head represents the just punishment of those who degrade and brutalize the human soul,  by hiding from it the light of knowledge.

The cordon is a broad, black watered ribbon, worn from the right shoulder to the left hip; from the end of the cordon hangs the jewel. At the lower end are nine red rosettes, four on each side and one at the bottom. The rosettes symbolize the original nine Elus or 'Elected' who were chosen by King Solomon to seek out the assassins of Hiram. They also represent the nine virtues taught in this degree; disinterestedness, courtesy, devotion, firmness, frankness, generosity, self-denial, heroism, and patriotism. The color of the cordon reminds us ever to lament the prevalence of ignorance, oppression, and error. We should strive to overcome them by means of the above excellent qualities of an Elu of Nine.

10° - Elu of the Fifteen

Masons will always be opposed to ignorance, fanaticism, and tyranny. While it is our duty to continuously fight against these oppressive forces, we must ourselves be educated, tolerant, and open to freedom of thought. The war against fanaticism and terrorism is won with education and enlightenment. The lessons of this degree teach us to be tolerant and liberal (not the political ideology of the "modern liberal" or rather egalitarian), and to war against fanaticism and persecution with education and enlightenment; destroy ignorance.

The jewel is a dagger, its hilt gold, and its blade silver; it hangs from the end of the cordon.  The cordon is a broad watered black ribbon, worn from right to left; on the front of which are embroidered three heads. The heads upon the cordon also represent ignorance, tyranny, and fanaticism or intolerance, smitten by the sword of freedom.

This degree depicts the capture of the two remaining murderers of Master Hiram. "This degree is a continuation and conclusion of the punishment inflicted upon the two remaining traitors for their atrocious crimes. King Solomon added six more craftsmen to the nine already elected and these fifteen then set forth in search which succeeded in capturing the two remaining murderers, who were found working in a quarry. They were taken to Jerusalem for trial, where they pleaded guilty and were hanged and beheaded." Symbolically these men represent the enemies of all freedoms, but mostly uncontrolled emotion, out of which arises tyranny and despotism; and fanaticism from which intolerance and persecution are born.

The apron is white, lined, edged, and fringed with black; the flap also is black. In the center are painted or embroidered three gates, and over each gate is a head impaled on a spike. The black represents the sorrow caused by the deed of those men whose heads now grace the arches. The heads themselves represent ignorance, tyranny, and fanaticism. It is against these vices that Masonry is particularly opposed.

11° - Elu of the Twelve

This degree emphasizes that life is a school for moral and spiritual training; that the entire lesson is a course in virtue, happiness, and future existence. As Masons, we are to view ourselves and the entire human race as one great family. We are a champion of the people.  Our work is never done, and our examples in life must be such that no man will have cause to repent because he has relied on our resolve, our profession, or our word. The lessons of this degree teach us to be earnest, true, and reliable; and be the advocate and the champion of the rights of the people.

The jewel is a sword of gold, suspended from the cordon, and represents truth. The Elu of the Twelve have been given the title of Prince Ameth or Prince of Truth, for "Truth is sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12). In this degree, we are informed that the previous Elu Degrees (9th and 10th) symbolize an independent legislature, an indispensable feature of free government. The nine Elus (from the 9th Degree) represent the upper house; they are fewer in number, more mature in wisdom, and elected for longer terms than those of the lower house, symbolized by the Elu of the Fifteen. This degree should remind us of another institution necessary for true liberty -- the trial by a jury of twelve men whose unanimous verdict is necessary to convict someone of a  crime.

The apron is white, lined, edged, and fringed with black and the flap is black. In the middle is an embroidered flaming heart.  The flaming heart upon the apron and cordon are symbols of that zeal and devotedness that ought to animate all Masons and of those noble and heroic souls that have in all ages suffered and sacrificed themselves for their fellows or their country. The motto is a solemn pledge that one would rather die than betray the cause of the people or be overcome through his own fault.

The cordon is a broad black watered ribbon, worn from right to left. Over the flaming heart on the cordon are painted or embroidered the words 'Vincere aut Mori'; literally, 'Victory or Death'.

12° - Master Architect

This degree forces the Mason to consider the problems of his social life; that the life we have and the world we live in are what we make them by our own social character, by our ability to adapt to our fellows, our relationships, and our circumstances. It is important that we gain wisdom so that we may add dignity to the human race. The lessons of this degree teach us to seek wisdom through knowledge.

The jewel is a heptagonal medal of gold. On one side, in each angle is a five-pointed star, enclosed by a semicircle. In the center, on the same side, is an equilateral triangle, formed by arcs of circles. On the reverse side are five columns, representing the different orders of architecture, arranged from left to right, with the initial of the proper order below each, in old English letters - [T]uscan, [D]oric, [I]onic, [C]orinthian, [C]omposite. Above these columns are a sector and a slide-rule; below them, the three kinds of compasses, the plain scale and the parallel ruler. Between the second and third and the third and fourth columns are Phoenician letters equivalent to the English or Roman letters 'R' and 'B'. These letters have two meanings, one exoteric and the other esoteric. The exoteric meaning all may know; it is simply the initials of Rab Benaim, the Semitic name for the degree. You should pay particular attention to the symbolic meanings of the jewel and its designs in the ritual.

The apron is white, lined and bordered with blue, and fringed with gold. On the flap is embroidered a protractor; and in the middle of the body a plain scale, a sector, and the compasses arranged to form a triangle. The colors are to remind us of the degrees of the Symbolic Lodge, the foundation of Masonry.

The cordon is a broad, blue watered ribbon, worn from the left shoulder to the right hip.

13° - Royal Arch of Solomon

Men must find the truth within the caverns of their own conscience. There is one great arch, or bridge that makes the passage achievable, and allows us to master our own vices and passions. That bridge is the will of  God. By seeking knowledge and moral character and being guided by faith and reason, the Mason will know how to combine science and religion, philosophy and theology; and recognize that these notions do not 0contradict each other, but form a harmonious whole. The lessons of this degree teach us to seek knowledge and be motivated by duty and honor.

The jewel is a circular medal of gold, around which, on one side are the following letters, words, and numbers: R, S, R, S, T, P, S, R, I, A, J, et S,  ANNO ENOCHI 2995. On the same side is an engraving of the ground with a rectangular hole in it into which two men are lowering a third with a rope. On the reverse side is a triangle emitting rays and in the middle of it the same letter as is on the apron. This medal is to be worn upon the chest, suspended by a narrow, white watered ribbon. The letters stand for:

Regnante Solomone, Rege Sapientissimo, Thesaurum Pretiosissimum Sub Ruinis Invenerunt Adonirum, Joabert, et Satolkin ... Anno Enochi 2995; or 'In the reign of Solomon, wisest of kings, Adonirum, Joabert and Satolkin found under the ruins the most precious treasure'. Let the emblem on the reverse side of the jewel always remind us that the good Mason reveres and adores the Grand Architect of the Universe, and endeavors, by pursuing the path of honor and duty, to perform the part assigned him in the world well and faithfully.
The apron is of crimson velvet. Upon it is embroidered a triangle emitting rays and in the middle a letter, an archaic form of the Semitic Yod. The color denotes the zeal and devotedness of a Royal Arch Mason. The triangle is the emblem of Deity, or Infinite Wisdom, Infinite Power, and Infinite Harmony; the letter represents the Tetragrammaton, the Name of God made known to Moses.

The cordon is a broad, watered purple ribbon worn from the right shoulder to the left hip from which is suspended a triangle of gold bars.

14° - Perfect Elu

This degree is considered the Degree of Perfection and is the most mysterious of all. In it, the Mason finds the meaning of the concept of Deity in his own conscience, and thus opens for himself the gate to true knowledge. Knowledge has two sources. One is human and is obtained by intelligence and labor. The other is divine and revealed only to those who have prepared themselves well. Until these two sources are united, one cannot be perfect. But to the Mason who truly becomes a Perfect Elu, he will recognize no frontiers in this life. 
The lessons of this degree teach us to assist, encourage and defend the Brethren; protect the oppressed; relieve want and distress; enlighten the people; serve the common good, and be fruitful of all good works.

The jewel is a pair of compasses, opened upon a quarter of a circle, and surmounted by a pointed crown. Within the compasses is a medal, representing on one side the sun, and on the other a five-pointed star, in the center of which is a delta, and on that the name of Deity in Phoenician characters. This jewel is gold and worn suspended from the collar. On the segment of the circle are enameled, at proper distances from each other, the numerals III ... V ... VII ... IX. The compasses remind us that science, united to honor and virtue, made the architect of the Temple the companion of kings; and that the men of intellect and learning, the great kings of thought, are in this age the rulers of the world. The sun as the source of light to our system was once worshiped as a god. The star as a type of the myriad suns that light other countless systems of worlds are an emblem of that Masonic Light in search of which every Mason travels - the correct knowledge of the Deity and of His laws that control the universe.

The apron is of white lambskin, lined with crimson and edged with blue. Around it, on the inside of the blue edging is a delicate embroidery in crimson representing a wreath of flowers. In the middle of the apron is painted or embroidered the jewel, and on the flap is a representation of a flat square stone to which is attached a ring, representing the entrance to the secret vault of the preceding degree. Of its three colors, white, like the snowy purity of the ermine, represents justice; blue, the color of the perfectly symmetrical and changeless arch of the sky, represents right; and crimson, the color of fire which tries and purifies all things, represents truth.

The cordon is a collar of crimson velvet, worn over the neck and coming to a point on the breast. On the left side is embroidered, in green, a branch of acacia, symbolizing immortality. On the right is embroidered, in silver, a five-pointed star, with a Phoenician word meaning 'perfection' in the center. The five-pointed star, as a type of all-stars, is representative of Masonic light. The five points also stand for the five points of fellowship and remind us of the other interpretations of this number given in the lecture of the 2nd Degree of the Symbolic Lodge.


1. Lodge of Perfection. (n.d.). Retrieved from Scottish Rite of California:

2. Scottish Rite Degrees: Lodge of Perfection. (n.d.). Retrieved from Master Mason:

3. Scottish Rite Lodge of Perfection. (n.d.). Retrieved from

4. What Are The Scottish Rite Degrees? (n.d.). Retrieved from Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in Jacksonville, Florida:


  1. Why, in the 14th degree, s the right hand positioned at the waist when rising in the Lodge of Perfection? I can't find anything in the ritual, Clausen's commentary, A Bridge to Light, or Morals and Dogma. Can anyone tell me and point me in the right direction to read about it for myself?

  2. Beautiful read and basis for study!

  3. Where can I find the origin of the Delta and what does the squiggly line in the middle symbolize?