Difficult for non-Masons to comprehend, completion of the first three Masonic degrees represents the attainment of the highest rank in all of Masonry. Any third degree Master Mason stands as an equal before every other Master Mason, regardless of position, class, or degree. For this reason, the higher degrees are sometimes referred to as appendent degrees. Appendent degrees represent a lateral movement in Masonic Education rather than an upward movement.
The core of the Scottish Rite is a series of 29 degrees, numbered from 4 to 32, which expand upon the morals, teachings, and philosophy of the first three degrees. These are not degrees of rank, but rather degrees of instruction.
The 33rd degree is an honorary degree in recognition of outstanding service. It is conferred on brethren who have made major contributions to society or to Masonry in general.
The titles of the degrees are as follows:
(This body is called a Commandery in the United States and a Preceptory in Canada) It has three orders:
The York Rite Sovereign College
An invitational Masonic body open to members who are members of
all four York Rite Bodies and who have shown exceptional proficiency in them.
The College confers only one degree:
The following is outside the system of degrees of the York Rite, but is considered closely allied to it.
Order of the Red Cross of Constantine
The Conclave is an invitational Masonic body open to members of York Rite Masonry and by special dispensation to Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
The Shriners often participate in local parades riding comedy versions of cars and motorcycles. They are recognizable by their elaborate red fezzes. If one researches further, it will be discovered that the Shrinershave been instrumental in community projects throughout its domain. Countless public projects have been supported by the local Shriners who are committed to community service.
Once a year, the fraternity meets for the Imperial Council Session in a major North American city. It is not uncommon for these conventions to have 20,000 participants or more, which generates a handsome revenue contribution to the local economy.
The Shrine's charitable arm is the Shriners Hospitals for Children, a network of twenty-two hospitals in the United States, Mexico and Canada. They were formed to treat young victims of polio, but as that disease was controlled they broadened their scope. They now deal with all pediatric cases, most especially with orthopedic injuries and disease and the damage caused by burns. The Shrine has pioneered new treatments for these conditions.
There is never any charge for treatment at a Shriners Hospital. There is no requirement for religion, race, or relationship to a Freemason. Patients must be under the age of eighteen and treatable. Local Shrine temples most often provide free transportation to the nearest hospital.
Until 20034, the Oscars were held at the Shriners temple/auditorium in Hollywood / Los Angeles. Legendary silent film comedian Harold Lloyd was a Shriner and served as Imperial Potentate in 1949. He did much to promote the fraternity within the entertainment industry.