In this fourth installment in my series on Pike's views on Freemasonry we are going to look at his understanding of the Scottish Rite and where it fits in the "big picture" of Freemasonry. The following is adapted from Pike's address to the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction in 1866.
When Freemasonry appeared in Europe in the Middle Ages, it had a mission that exposed it to persecution, and that accounts for the solemnity of the obligations of its Lesser Mysteries.* If it had been only what Blue Masonry now is in England and America, its obligations, being out of all proportion to its objects, and unnecessary, would have been inexcusable or absurd.*Frequently in Pike's writings you will see him refer to the Blue Degrees as the "Lesser Mysteries" of Freemasonry.
The Freemasonry of the Ancient and Accepted Rite is "The Royal and Sacerdotal Art." It teaches "The Holy Doctrine" of Pythagoras and Plutarch. It conceals the profoundest mysteries in its words and symbols, as the Alchemists and Hermetic philosophers did in their seeming jargon. It is Isis, wearing her mask impenetrable except to the adepts. Those whose Master "is clad in blue and gold" ought to know why it is termed "Scottish" Masonry and understand the meaning of the Kadosh, and know why that leads to the mountain of Heredom, Heredom, or Heroden in Scotland.
Our instruction and discoveries ought to be jealously retained within our Sanctuaries. Our degrees are not mere commentaries, or commentaries at all, on the Blue Degrees. Legitimate commentary upon these indeed, would be but brief. That the Master Mason obtains only a substitute for the True Word is exceedingly significant and suggestive for everyone who will reflect. If the old Masters have in those degrees concealed the profounder meaning of the symbols, I will not be wiser than they and reveal them. If the true meanings have been lost by time, like those of the Assyrian hieroglyphs, and the keys contained in the Higher Degrees enable us to solve the enigmas of the sphinx, I will not lessen the value of those degrees by transferring that which belongs only to those who receive them to the Brethren who do not choose or are not permitted to ascend; and still less to those who treat us with a rude discourtesy.
Assuredly we have no apologies to make to Blue Masonry for daring to devote ourselves to so holy a cause. ... We do not reply to the ridicule or invectives of those, nor seek to confute or enlighten them, who are content with the Masonry of the Blue Lodges. What they write against the Higher Degrees can deter none from seeking our Sanctuaries who are fit to enter them and are wanted.
You style yourselves "Sovereign Grand Inspectors-General, Grand Elect Knights of the Holy House of the Temple, Grand Commanders of the Holy Empire. You are so, if you know the Royal Secret and understand the Holy Doctrine. You claim to hold all the powers of the first and last Grand Masters of the Templars, within this jurisdiction; and that claim is valid, there is ample internal evidence in the degrees, to those who understand them. The Kadosh are the real "Soldiery of the Temple."