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York Rite

The York Rite is one of the two main branches of Freemasonry after the Blue Lodge, the other branch being the 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 3°, that is raised to the degree of Master Mason.

As in other Masonic bodies, 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:

Table of 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 2° of the 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.

    • Virtual Past Master: this degree is conferred because of the traditional requirement that only Past Masters[?] of a Blue Lodge may be admitted to Holy Royal Arch (HRA). Because there are so many applicants for HRA, 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.

    Holy Royal Arch[?]: Possibly the most beautiful degree in all of Freemasonry. In the UK it is conferred in a Lodge[?] of Master Masons, in keeping with an article in the constitution of the United Grand Lodge[?] that the Craft Masonry of Blue Lodge consists of the three degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason and the Holy Royal Arch.

Royal & Select Masters (Cryptic Masonry)

    The Council is not required for membership in the Commandery that follows, so it is frequently skipped. It is called Cryptic Masonry because of a crypt or underground room figures prominently in the degrees. They 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.

    • Ark Mariner Degree: This is an optional degree, which in the UK is conferred on Mark Master Masons.

Knights Templar

(This body is called a Commandery in the United States and a Preceptory in Canada)

It has 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:
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 32°, Scottish Rite
      • Knight of the Red Cross of Constantine

      • Knight of the Holy Sepulcher

      • Knight of Saint John the Evangelist

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