The Rings of the Scottish Rite
To our ancient Brethren, who were members of Knightly Orders, three things in this life were prized above all others — even above life itself — with the loss of any, life’s aim had failed.
These three things so dear to the ancient Knight were the purity of his honor, the integrity of his sword and the spotlessness of his shield. Honor that never broke faith with anyone, whether man or woman; the integrity of the sword in never failing to draw it in defense of innocence and right; the shield never to be sullied by protecting oppression and wrong.
At the death of a Knightly owner, he bequeathed his sword and shield to one nearest and dearest to him, the one he believed would maintain both unblemished.
The Scottish Rite has adopted symbols that represent the sword, shield and armor of our ancient brethren, and as clearly marks the profession of Knighthood as did those: they are the rings of the Fourteenth and Thirty–second Degrees.
The oldest of these is the ring of the Fourteenth Degree with its motto — “Virtus junxit, mors non separabit” — “Virtue has united, and death shall not separate” — to be worn through life and, at death, as it was the custom of our ancient Brethren, to be handed down to the one most dear in the belief that it would be kept pure and unsullied. The ring of the Fourteenth Degree is a plain flat band of gold, having imposed thereon and engraved or enameled plate in the form of an equilateral triangle and within the triangle the Hebrew word “Yod.”
A signet ring of the Thirty–second Degree, however, was commissioned and approved by the Supreme Council’s Ritual and Ceremonial Forms Committee during the 1993 Biennial Session. The new Thirty–second Degree signet satisfies the Brethren’s desire for a tasteful, quality ring as an alternative to commercially available, possibly inaccurate products. It carries the double–headed eagle Scottish Rite with the Latin motto of the Thirty–second Degree: “Spes mea in Deo est”—“My hope is in God.”
This new ring should also be honorably worn through life and, at death, may be handed down to one most dear as is custom.
Scottish Rite Caps
You may wonder when you see the different color caps being worn by various members what they denote.
The great majority of the members wear a black cap which denotes a 32° Mason.
The red caps are worn by those members who are 32° K.C.C.H. K.C.C.H. stands for Knight Commander of the Court of Honour. It is not a degree but an Investiture. At its biennial session certain 32° Masons who have been 32° Masons at least four years and who have rendered signal service to the Rite, are chosen to receive the Rank and Decoration of Knight Commander of the Court of Honour. The decoration is conferred in a very impressive ceremony of investiture in the local Bodies. This is a rank and decoration and not a degree. The members who hold it are designated 32°, K.C.C.H. A member must be a K.C.C.H. for at least four years before he can be nominated for election to receive the 33°.
The white caps are worn by those who have been honored with the 33° Inspector General Honorary. The Thirty-third is a Degree conferred by the Supreme Council upon members of the Rite in recognition of outstanding service to the Rite, or, in public life, to the principles taught in the Degrees. The 33° cannot be asked for and if asked for must be refused. At its biennial session the Supreme Council elects members of the Rite to receive the Degree. These 33° Masons are Inspectors General Honorary and honorary members of the Supreme Council. The active members of the Supreme Council are chosen from among them.
The white caps with the blue border are worn by those 33° members who were unanimously elected by the Supreme Council to receive its highest honor, the Grand Cross, for outstanding service on behalf of Scottish Rite, Freemasonry, and humanity.
The blue caps are worn by those Masons who have held membership in the Rite for at least fifty years.
The white cap with a red border denotes a Deputy of the Supreme Council.
The purple cap denotes a member of the Supreme Council.
All these caps are prayer caps. They are always to be worn during prayer and may be worn at our meetings and throughout the Reunions. Since they are prayer caps, they must not be worn on the street, at any bar and on other similar occasions.
Additionally, members of the Knights of Saint Andrew (KSA) are allowed to wear a glengarry bonnet. The glengarry bonnet is a traditional Scots cap made of thick-milled woollen material, decorated with a black toorie on top, The vast majority of members of the KSA are 32nd degree members, the glengarry is black. There are members that have been given honors and are wearing a red glengarry.