The Six Major Themes of the Scottish Rite
We often get so wrapped up in the minutia of the lessons which are taught in the Scottish Rite Degrees that it is easy to overlook the over-riding themes which are presented in the Rite. Almost every Mason knows that the Degrees of Freemasonry represent the journey of a man’s life. For example, it is often said that the Entered Apprentice Degree represents the journey of youth; the passage a young man takes as he begins to consciously weigh the differences between right and wrong, ignorance and knowledge, good and evil, and starts to mold the character he will fashion for himself, using the influences of his life as his guide. He has, in a real sense, been initiated by the circumstances of his life; for good or bad. Freemasonry provides him a stable image for life building, and admonishes him to start over if his first attempt didn’t go so well.
Likewise, we think of the passage of the Fellowcraft as one where the initiate takes stock of his progress in life; a kind of a review of what he knows, and doesn’t know, what has worked for him, and what still remains to be done. He makes an accounting of what he has learned from his experience, his upbringing, friends and acquaintances, education, culture, and community. If he is like most men, he reaches a point where he has studied just about everything in his life but himself. He becomes consciously aware that life is not just about outward appearances, tasks, money, and relationships. He feels a hunger for additional meaning. Masonry informs him that, to feel complete, he ultimately has to affirm himself. This requires a different kind of journey all together.
In Masonry, we think of this more intimate and deeply engaging step in the journey to manhood an important awakening for each man. In ritual terms, it is called “passing the outer door of the temple.” As one of the oldest institutions serving men today, we also know this is a stage of the journey that four-fifths of the male population in the world will never choose to take. Yet the consequences of not knowing oneself are staggering. One of the goals of Freemasonry is to help men take this most significant step forward with their own life.
The journey to mature masculinity doesn’t stop for the rest of us just because some guys choose to exit the train. For the man who sincerely sees Freemasonry as a transformative art, everything it suggests to, and instructs him from that point in his life where he consciously decides to work on himself, has to do with his awakening consciousness.