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Lodge of Perfection

The first portion of the Scottish Rite system of degrees is called The Lodge of Perfection.

This series of degrees includes the 4° through to the 14° and are referred to as the ineffable degrees. Ineffable comes from the Latin ineffibilis which means something that should not be spoken.

These eleven degrees investigate spirituality, focusing on the unutterable name of God and frequently referencing the three symbolic degrees of the Blue Lodge and applying them to everyday situations. Despite being the introduction to Scottish Rite Masonry, these degrees are anything but mundane. As with any Masonic degree, it takes years of revisiting and deliberate contemplation to grasp the lessons and significance of these degrees.

The symbol of the Lodge of Perfection is gold colored and depicts a compasses, open to sixty degrees, resting upon a graduated segment which bears the Roman numerals III, V, VII, IX. Suspended from the hinge is a radiant five pointed star, and on the summit of the compasses is a crown. The compasses remind us that science, united to honor and virtue, made the architects of the temple the companions of kings; and that the men of intellect and learning, the great kings of thought in all ages, should be, as Plato taught, the rulers of the world.

In the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction the Degrees of the Lodge of Perfection are:

4th Degree – Builder:

A Master Mason seeks divine guidance. Philosophy: Brothers grow together in Scottish Rite.

Core Values: Reverence for God, Integrity, & Service to Humanity

5th Degree – Perfect Master:

Two sons of Aaron, corrupted by greed and ambition, allow the sacred flame to extinguish. Philosophy: Trustworthiness is more valuable than life and is the basis for Masonic honor.

Core Values: Reverence for God, Justice & Integrity

6th Degree - Master of the Brazen Serpent:

When the children of Israel encounter a rough and dangerous journey through the desert, they rebel against Moses and God. Philosophy: The answer to the spiritual problems of humanity is faith in ourselves and God.

Core Values: Reverence for God

7th Degree - Provost and Judge:

A dispute among the workers where honesty and justice prevail. Philosophy: We should render justice to all mankind.

Core Values: Justice & Integrity

8th Degree - Intendent of the Building:

Based on the Old Testament story of King David and his assignment to his son, the future King Solomon. Philosophy: The degree reminds us that each honor we receive requires attention to a particular duty.

Core Values: Service to Humanity, Integrity, & Reverence for God

9th Degree - Master of the Temple:

The Temple of King Solomon is dedicated by priests of many religions. Philosophy: We should not be too zealous in executing justice.

Core Values: Reverence for God & Service to Humanity

10th Degree - Master Elect:

King Solomon learns of his sentence from which there is no appeal. Philosophy: The violator of his obligations to God will not go unpunished.

Core Values: Reverence for God & Justice

11th Degree - Sublime Master Elected:

King Solomon's tax collector violates the public trust. Philosophy: When confronted by corrupt, unjust, or illegal behavior on the part of a person in authority, the nation should remain loyal and courageous.

Core Values: Integrity

12th Degree - Master of Mercy:

Joseph forgives his brothers for selling him into slavery. Philosophy: We learn forgiveness, compassion, and Brotherly love.

Core Values: Justice & Integrity

13th Degree - Master of the Ninth Arch:

The degree dramatizes the dangers encountered as men search for the lost word. Philosophy: We are reminded that difficulties and dangers should not deter us from pursuing moral perfection.

Core Values: Reverence for God

14th Degree - Grand Elect Mason:

The essence of Symbolic Masonry is compiled in lessons of the Lodge of Perfection. Philosophy: Members are encouraged to worship God at the altar of their choice.

Core Values: Reverence for God

These 11 degrees teach essential practical lessons that relate to the Core Values of the Rite:

  • Secrecy and silence in all confidential relationships

  • Reverence and obedience to God

  • Faithfulness to family and country

  • Justice tempered by mercy

  • Universal Brotherhood

  • Honesty in business relations

  • Forgiveness of past injustices

  • Perseverance in overcoming the difficulties encountered in our progress toward perfection


In the Southern Masonic Jurisdiction the Degrees of the Lodge of Perfection are:

4th Degree– Secret Master

This degree investigates the concept of duty. 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.

5th Degree – Perfect Master

The moral teaching of this degree is 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.

6th Degree – Confidential 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.

7th Degree– Provost and Judge

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.

8th Degree – 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.

9th Degree– 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.

10th Degree – 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.

11th Degree – 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 a 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.

12th Degree – 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.

13th Degree – Royal Arch of Solomon

Men must find the truth within the caverns of their own conscience. There is one great arch, or bridge, which 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 contradict each other, but form a harmonious whole.

14th Degree – 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.

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