Originally posted by 23rd_Degree
Okay, so I've now read that the Master Mason degree (3rd degree) is the highest there is and the other degrees, even though numerically higher, are
not really a ranking system. Is this correct?
Yes. Degrees received after the Third are considered elaborations on the first three. The Three Degrees of Ancient Craft Masonry are the basis of our
Fraternity; other degrees choose various points from first three to explore further.
Also, what is the basic process for advancing from one degree to the next beyond the Master Mason degree? How long, on average, does it take to
go from one degree to the next? The reason I ask this is because I met a Mason a few years ago that told me he was a 32-degree Scottish Rite AND a
Knight Templar. He looked to be about 50 or 55, and it seemed like it would take a long time to work your way up both sides of Masonry.
In my jurisdiction, there is a minimum 28 day waiting period between the three degrees of the Blue Lodge, although this varies from state to state.
After becoming a Master Mason, there is no waiting period for other degrees. If you want to then join the Scottish Rite, you would fill out an
application, requesting the 4° - 32°. Scottish Rite Degrees are usually conferred twice per year in Scottish Rite Temples (spring and fall) in all-day
marathons that usually span two or three weekends. My Temple begins on a Friday night, and does the 4°-10°, then back early Saturday morning for the
11°-18°. We take the next weekend off, then back the next Friday evening for 19°-29°, then again all day Saturday for 30°-32°, which includes the
banquet for new members and ladies.
The York Rite is a little different. It begins with the Chapter, which confers four degrees (Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, Royal
Arch Mason). Most York Rite Temples confer the first three of these in one night, then come back a few days later for the Royal Arch. After this, the
Council degrees (Royal and Select Master) are conferred in one night.
Next are the three chivalric orders of the Commandery (Order of the Red Cross, Order of Knights of Malta, Order of Knights Templar). The first two are
usually conferred in one night, with Knights Templar degree being conferred alone a few nights later. It usually takes 4 – 6 weeks to complete the
York Rite cycle.
The York Rite also has many honorary and side degrees. Those who have served as High Priest of a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons are eligible for the
Order of Melchizadek. Those who have served as Thrice Illustrious Master of a Council of Cryptic Masons are eligible for the Order of the Silver
Trowel. And those who have served as Commander of a Commandery of Knights Templar are eligible to receive the Order of Knight Crusaders of the Cross.
Past Commanders of exceptional ability and service may also be received into the Order of Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests, one of the highest
honors in the York Rite, sort of equivalent to the 33° in the Scottish Rite.
But back to your question: it takes only as long as you want, depending on how much time you have to devote to it. If you ever to decide to become a
Shriner, this usually takes a Friday evening and all day Saturday session, including banquet and parade.