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York Rite

From Academic Kids

The York Rite is one of the two main branches of Freemasonry in the United States which a Master Mason may decide to join for further exposure to Masonic knowledge, the other branch being the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. Some obediences of the Scottish Rite may confer some of these degrees in countries where the York Rite is not active. The divisions within the York Rite and the requirements for membership differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the essentials are the same. In all the workings the one requirement is that all applicants be in possession of the third degree, that of Master Mason.

As in other Masonic bodies, the York Rite uses drama to demonstrate the lessons and special qualities of the degrees and has several various means of identification, such as grips or tokens (handshakes), signs and words.

The bodies of the York Rite are:

Contents

Royal Arch Masonry

The Chapter works the following degrees:

  • Mark Master Mason: In some jurisdictions this degree is conferred in a Fellow Craft Lodge, that is, the second degree of the Blue Lodge.
  • Past Master (Virtual): this degree is conferred because of the traditional requirement that only Past Masters of a Blue Lodge may be admitted to Holy Royal Arch. Because there are so many applicants for this degree, Virtual Past Master is required to qualify them for it. Much of the secret work is the same given to the new Worshipful Master of a Blue Lodge.
  • Most Excellent Master: In this degree the building of King Solomon's Temple which figures so prominently in Craft Masonry, has been completed.
  • Holy Royal Arch: Possibly the most beautiful degree in all of Freemasonry. In the UK it is conferred in a 'chapter' attached to a Craft Lodge which is in keeping with an article in the Constitutions of the United Grand Lodge of England. The constitutions describe the Royal Arch being part of ‘pure and ancient Masonry’ this is defined as the three degrees of the Craft viz. Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason with the additon of the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch.

Cryptic Masonry

The Council of Royal and Select Masters is not required for membership in the Commandery that follows, so it is frequently skipped. It is called Cryptic Masonry because a crypt or underground room figures prominently in the degrees. This Body is also called the Cryptic Rite. The degrees are:

  • Royal Master
  • Select Master
  • Super Excellent Master: Actually the legend of this degree has nothing to do with a crypt. It is an optional degree.

Knights Templar

(This body is called a Commandery in the United States and a Preceptory in Canada) It has three orders:
  • Illustrious Order of the Red Cross
  • Order of Malta
  • Order of the Temple, consisting of three portions:
    • Novice
    • Installation
    • Consecration


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:

Knight of York


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

  • Knight of the Red Cross of Constantine
  • Knight of the Holy Sepulchre
  • Knight of Saint John the Evangelist
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