This post explains why is not always possible to answer many such queries and why it is often possible to answer them only in part. This is because there are so many alternative answers within Scottish Freemasonry (both historically and consequently modern Scottish Freemasonry). The history and development of Scottish Freemasonry, although well documented, is complex and is is one of the main differences between Freemasonry in Scotland (and also Scottish Lodges outwith Scotland) and that which exists elsewhere. This is more fully explained below and is augmented by the information contained in the downloadable PDF files.
As many Freemasons know, the Grand Lodge of Scotland is unique the the world of Freemasonry. However, the increasing use of the internet, other instantaneous means of communicartion (e.g. Skype) and more frequent and regular international travel, means that the exchange of information regarding Freemasonry has led many to believe (including non-Masons) that Freemasonry is the same all over the world.
This has caused a number of individual Freemasons to argue that every element of Freemasonry is the same wherever it exists and this may be the case for a few places and for a few Grand Lodges but it is certainly not so in respect of Scottish Freemasonry. This is especially true given that Scottish Masonic origins and history is very different from that in other counties such as England and Ireland. A great many historians now acknowledge that Scotland is the birth-place of modern Freemasonry but there is no space here to provide extensive information.
In order to make it clear that Scottish Freemasonry is so very different from that which exists in other countries especially regarding the interpretation, understanding and purpose of the various elements of the Scottish form of Freemasonry (for example; the Ancient Landmarks, Ritual, the 'meaning' of Masonic Words, Masonic Symbols, Regalia and Masonic history) a letter has now been sent to the Secretaries of every Scottish Lodge which is to be READ IN OPEN LODGE. The letter (which can be downloaded here or from the previous links) refers to a paper entitled 'The Essence of Scottish Freemasonry' which every Scottish Freemason is encouraged to obtain and read. Please note that these documents are PDF's and require PDF Reader software to be installed on your computer to be able to open and read the documents.
To download the documents the links are repeated here for ease of access:
Yours sincerely and fraternally
David M. Begg, CA,