An introduction to the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry
The Third Degree, for all Craft freemasons, is the highest degree able to be conferred in any Craft Lodge (known as the "Blue" Lodge).
The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (the "Rite") is an Order providing all Craft masons with the opportunity to advance well past the Craft degrees; to expand and extend their knowledge, understanding and indeed their lives in the mysteries and sciences of freemasonry generally.
The Rite in Australia is, generally, perceived to be divided into two distinct sections:
1. Rose Croix Freemasonry
Fourteen Intermediate Degrees commencing with the Fourth Degree and closing with the Eighteenth Degree (The Rose Croix Degree). These Degrees deal with the circumstances of "H's" death, the subsequent actions taken by King Solomon to complete the Temple and the legend of the Secret Vault and its contents; and
2. The "Higher" Degrees
The Degrees from the 19th to the 30th inclusive are conferred in a Sovereign Council. These Degrees expand Masonic knowledge and teaching into the cryptic, philosophical and Knightly aspects of the Order. Thereafter, there are three additional degrees (31st to 33rd inclusive); the latter being the highest Degree of the Order.
Looking at a little background on rituals in Freemasonry and the Scottish Rite in particular. --- When the Grand Lodge of England was formed in 1717, it may have had only one degree - two at most. Certainly there were two within a short space of time and then- three by the time that Grand Lodge had a Constitution. Some of the changes to the basic degrees in those early years had particular relevance to the Scottish Rite:
"H", the Principal Architect at the construction of King Solomon's Temple, was barely mentioned in early Craft rituals. By 1730, in these Craft degrees, "H" had been murdered, his body hidden and the manner of his death explained. It took another 80 years for the full story of "H A" to be explined as we know it today.
This is especially important to appreciate, because the Scottish Rite, which evolved from the Order of the Royal Secret, or as it is commonly known, the French Rite of Perfection, by 1786, already contained the full story of "H A".
Further, The name Scottish is actually derived from the French "Ecossais Degrees" and is not a result of any connection with Scottish Freemasonry.