Our Supreme Council has in its Archives copies of the Degrees of the Rite of Perfection and of additional Degrees, including the 33°, which were in use at Charleston in 1801. Some of these old Degree documents are fragmentary, and some Degree manuscripts have not survived the centuries.
In the mid-19th century, Grand Commander Albert Pike revised these Degrees. He retained the original titles, substance, and sequence. Out of his own great scholarship and knowledge of ancient philosophies, he added new substance and significance to the Degrees, which enhanced their importance. The Southern Jurisdiction has continued to use the basic Albert Pike Rituals. While the Rubrics permit variations in the manner of their rendition, the Degrees have remained otherwise relatively unchanged. The Pike versions are also widely, although not exclusively, used elsewhere. For the past several years, as authorized by The Supreme Council and its Committee on Ritual and Ceremonial Forms, Dr. Rex R. Hutchens, 33°, Grand Cross, author of several authoritative books about Pikes writings, has worked with a resource team of experienced Brethren to modernize the language, accent the significance, and enhance the dramatic performance of the Pike Degrees. The Revised Standard Ritual maintains the moral vision and philosophical integrity of the original Pike Degrees while making them more accessible to contemporary Brethren. The new Degrees are being honed through authorized trial performances in Valleys throughout the Southern Jurisdiction and will, at an appropriate time, be sanctioned by unanimous vote of The Supreme Council as the official Ritual of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A.
The Subordinate Bodies usually confer the Degrees in one of two ways: in a Class which meets once a week over a period of several months, in the spring and in the autumn; or at a Reunion at which the Degrees are conferred or communicated over a period of one or more days.
The candidates are not required to memorize any portion of the Degrees. Every member is encouraged, however, to witness the Degrees thereafter as frequently as possible so that he will become more fully aware of the nature of each Degree and the lessons it teaches.
A comprehensive and concise book, A Bridge to Light by Dr. Hutchens, summarizes our Scottish Rite Degrees and assists in a ready understanding and appreciation of our Ritual. Also, it frequently returns to the great cornerstone of our Order, Albert Pikes Morals and Dogma, by presenting eloquent quotations that clearly fix the meanings of each of the Degrees and places them within the context of the modern era.
Having become a valuable aid, A Bridge to Light may be used by the Ritualist desiring to improve his work and as a cordial guide to the Brother reaching for a better understanding of the beauty and significance of the Scottish Rite Degrees. A copy of this book is provided to each new Fourteenth Degree initiate in the Southern Jurisdiction and is available from The Supreme Council to any interested party.