First off, yes a Shriner is a Freemason. A Shriner is a Freemason that helps the community. A Shriner does this by getting involved in a club or unit which the Shrine. From being part of the clown unit which helps in the Shrine Circus or a local Parade to motorcycle groups, horse patrols, marching bands, veteran clubs, photographers, Past Masters, classic-car owners, and the list goes on. A Shriner intention is to very social while giving back to the community . By getting involved in a unit that appeals to their interests or hobbies, a Shriner will be excited to help with big events that help the community.
Is the Shrine an appendant body of Freemasonry?
Yes, the Shrine is an independent appendant body part of the Masonic organization. The Shrine offers ceremonials for it’s candidates versus the traditional degrees offered by the Masonic Blue Lodge. The local organization is called a Shrine Temple. All Shriners must be Master Masons in good standing within a Blue Lodge in the Grand Lodge where the Shrine Temple is located. No Master Mason can be a Shriner if fails to pay his Blue Lodge Dues annually or if he suspended from the fraternity for any reason by on that Grand Lodge’s Masonic Law.
Why is the Shrine called the “Playground of Freemasonry”?
Many brothers in the fraternity call the Shrine – the “playground of Freemasonry.” Here is why they that. The Shrine does not make Masons. All the hardwork of making Masons via the three degrees is done in the Blue Lodge. Further, all the higher degrees of the Scottish Rite and York Rite are done in those appendant bodies. Lastly, the AMD handles other ancient degrees which the Shrine does not confer either. A Shriner goes his initiation via the Hot or Cold Sands. But before a man can become a Shriner, he must be raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. No Entered Apprentice or Fellowcraft can become a Shriner.
Let’s continue looking at the Shriner’s being the playground of Freemasonry. First, the Shrine Temple has a full bar available for it’s membership. Many Grand Lodges forbid the sale or consummation of alcohol in a Blue Lodge especially within the lodge room. Thus, when in the Shrine, a brother can enjoy drinking anywhere and anytime within the property of the Shrine Temple. In the Shrine Temple, the membership hosts parties and social evenings for brothers and their wives to hang out. From Halloween Parties to playing bingo, the possibilities are endless.
Since, they do not make Masons – the Shrine is more focused on fundraising activities. They host fundraising events to support both themselves, special community initiatives, and their hospitals. Again, for many years the most recognized fundraiser has been Shrine Circus. But here in Florida, our local Shrine hosts an amazing Charity Auction which raises a lot of money for their preferred causes. These events were designed to be a hospital fundraiser and many Shrine Temples send 100 percent of the proceeds to Shriner’s Hospitals.
But the Shriners are also active in community Parades and Motorcycle Poker Runs too. Each Shrine Temple has developed it’s own rich traditions of annual fun events to do in the community. Parades have become part of the Shriners ethos, why? Because anybody in the community can march in a parade, and Shriners pride themselves on their marching bands, driving mini cars, dressing up as clowns, creating cool looking parade floats, walking their camel in the parade, and rumbling down the street in with their motorcycle unit.
What is the History of the Shrine?
As we have learned, the Shriners is, at its most basic level, a sub fraternal organization of the Freemasons. Now the full name — Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine — you can rearrange the letters A.A.O.N.M.S. and spell “A MASON.”
In the beginning, it all started in Manhattan in 1870 when some members of what’s considered the world’s oldest fraternity – Masonry – were hanging out at their favorite tavern. They felt that Masonry, which traces its roots to stonemasons and craftsmen of the Middle Ages, was way too focused on the ritual. These guys wanted a fraternity that stressed fun and fellowship.
The Masons who gathered at this table were noted for their good humor and wit. They often discussed the idea of a new fraternity for Masons, in which fun and fellowship would be stressed more than ritual.
Who were the founders of the Shrine? Walter Fleming & William Florence
Dr. Walter M. Fleming, and William J. Florence, where regular attendees of the tavern and the conversation to start a more social focused appendant body of Freemasonry. Both men took the idea seriously enough to do something about it. Billy Florence was a well known actor. After becoming the toast of the New York stage, he toured London, Europe and Middle Eastern countries, always playing to capacity audiences.
While on tour in Marseilles, France, Florence was invited to a party given by an Arabian diplomat. The entertainment was something in the nature of an elaborately staged musical comedy. At its conclusion, the guests became members of a secret society. Florence, recalling the conversations at the Knickerbocker Cottage, realized that this might well be the vehicle for the new fraternity. He made copious notes and drawings at that initial viewing and on two other occasions when he attended the ceremony, once in Algiers and again in Cairo. When he returned to New York in 1870 and showed his material to Dr. Fleming, Fleming agreed. Two of those gentlemen – Walter M Fleming, M.D., and Billy Florence, an actor – took that idea and ran with it.
Dr. Walter Millard Fleming was a prominent physician and surgeon. Born in 1838, he obtained a degree in medicine in Albany, N.Y., in 1862. During the Civil War, he was a surgeon with the 13th New York Infantry Brigade of the National Guard. He then practiced medicine in Rochester, New York, until 1868, when he moved to New York City and quickly became a leading practitioner. Fleming was devoted to the fraternal ideology. He became a Mason in Rochester and took some of his Scottish Rite work there, then completed his degrees in New York City. He was coroneted a 33° Scottish Rite Mason on September 19, 1872.
Fleming took the ideas supplied by Florence and converted them into what would become the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (A.A.O.N.M.S.). While there is some question about the origin of the Fraternity’s name, it is probably more than coincidence that its initials, rearranged, spell out the words “A MASON.”
With the help of other Knickerbocker Cottage regulars, Fleming and Florence:
drafted the ritual,
designed the emblem and ritual costumes,
created a organizational structure,
formulated a salutation,
drafted the fraternity’s name, initiation rites, rituals and rules.
designed the fraternity’s emblem,
determined that the red fez with the black tassel would be the group’s official headgear.
The initiation rites, or ceremonials, were drafted by Fleming with the help of three Brother Masons: Charles T. McClenachan, lawyer and expert on Masonic Ritual; William Sleigh Paterson, printer, linguist and ritualist; and Albert L. Rawson, prominent scholar and Mason who provided much of the Arabic background. .
What is the official emblem of the Shrine?
The Crescent was adopted as the Jewel of the Order. A Freemason can use any materials to form the Crescent. But, the most desirable would be the claws of a Royal Bengal Tiger that is united at their base in a gold setting. In the center is the head of a sphinx, and on the back are a pyramid, an urn and a star.
The Jewel bears the motto “Robur et Furor,” which means “Strength and Fury.” The modern day Shrine emblem includes a scimitar from which the crescent hangs, and a five-pointed star beneath the head of the sphinx.
What is official salutation of a Shriner?
The founders of the Shrine created a salutation which is still used today. A Shrine Masons says to another Shrine Mason: “Es Selamu Aleikum!” which means, “Peace be with you!”
After this statement, the other Shrine Mason is required to return a response salutation: the gracious wish is “Aleikum Es Selamu,” which means “With you be peace.”
What does the Shrine Fez look like?
The red fez with a black tassel is the official headgear of a Shriner. It derives its name from the place where it was first manufactured in the holy city of Fez, Morocco. It said that it is been handed down through the ages. and some historians claim it dates back to about A.D. 980. Yet the name of the fez (or tarboosh) does not appear in Arabic literature until around the 14th century. One of the earliest references to the headgear is in “Arabian Nights.” So the academic debate will continue of the origin of the Fez in the Morocco.
When was the first Shrine Temple Established?
On September 26, 1872, in the New York City Masonic Hall, the first Shrine Temple in the United States was organized. The first temple, Mecca Shriners, met in New York City in 1872. Brother McClenachan and Dr. Fleming had completed the ritual and proposed that the first Temple be named Mecca. The original 13 Masons of the Knickerbocker Cottage lunch group were named Charter Members of Mecca Temple.
Noble Florence read a letter outlining the “history” of the Order and giving advice on the conduct of meetings. The officers elected were Walter M. Fleming, Potentate; Charles T. McClenachan, Chief Rabban; John A. Moore, Assistant Rabban; Edward Eddy, High Priest and Prophet; George W. Millar, Oriental Guide; James S. Chappel, Treasurer; William S. Paterson, Recorder; and Oswald M. d’Aubigne, Captain of the Guard. Many of these Masons made it a point to lunch at the Knickerbocker Cottage, a restaurant at 426 Sixth Avenue at a special table on the second floor.
What is the Imperial Council in the Shrine?
At a meeting of Mecca Temple on June 6, 1876, in the New York Masonic Temple, a new governing body was established and it was called “The Imperial Grand Council of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for the United States of America.”
Brother Fleming became the first Imperial Grand Potentate, and the new body established rules for membership and the formation of new Temples. The initiation ritual was embellished, as was the mythology about the fraternity. By 1878, within two years, there were 425 Shrine Masons in 13 Temples. Five of these Temples were in New York, two were in Ohio and the others were in Vermont, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Iowa, Michigan and Massachusetts. The Shrine continued to grow during the 1880s. By the time of the 1888 Annual Session (convention) in Toronto, there were 7,210 members in 48 Temples located throughout the United States and one in Canada. By the year 1898, there were 50,000 Shrine Masons, and 79 Total Temples chartered under the Imperial Council.
Are the Shrine Temples Really Dedicated to Fun and Philanthropy?
Yes, the shrine has been active in supporting the children of the community. From children with serious burns to children with birth defects, the Shriners have been raising money to help these children since the 1800s. Thanks to the men of the Shrine – there is the Shriners Hospitals for Children. And Shrine Masons help fund work being done at their burn hospitals. Feel free to Google stories about their hospitals and read about them saving kids with burns on 90 percent of their bodies. There are 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children providing care for orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate. These hospitals have helped more than 800,000 children — at no cost to the parent or child — since the first Shriners Hospitals for Children opened in 1922.
If you enjoyed this blog article keep reading more about Freemasonry’s other appendent bodies now.
Does Freemasonry have it’s own Motorcycle Clubs? Yes, Freemason Motorcycle Clubs do exist. Not every Grand Lodge acknowledges every one of them. The most popular Masonic MC’s are: The Widows Sons; The Low Twelve; The Temple Guard; The Seekers of the Light; The Ruffians; The Free Runners; Hiram’s Travelers; Stone Templars; & The Stolen Souls; plus numerous others not listed. Also, the Shrine has a big Harley Motorcycle unit in each of their regional locations around the country.
Why does Freemasonry allow Motorcycle Clubs?
Simply, the Freemasons are a caring friendly group of men interested in doing fun things together. Riding a motorcycle is just another way for Masons to meet and have fellowship with each other. All Masonic MCs are not ‘one percenters’ and they generally don’t have 3 part/piece patches on their jackets. No Freemason club is an outlaw club. They are good men who enjoy riding with their brothers.
How the Masonic Membership setup for a Masonic Motorcycle Club?
Membership in a club is defined in numerous levels. These are similar to most mainstream biker / riding clubs. They are defined as – Full Patch Members, Associate
Members,Prospects, and Hang Arounds. Each club will define these in detail but this article is simply sharing the norm. It is wise to ask for the membership levels / dues and sharing your Masonic Membership card prior to joining any club. It is also important to understand what the bylaws and code of conduct for the members in the club would be as well. Most clubs require a minimum bike’s engine size to be a club member too.
The average code of conduct for a Freemason Biker Club is very straightforward. It will tell all it’s members that they are expected to conduct themselves in a manner so as to bring honor and respect to the club at all times. Further, any actions, by a member, deemed detrimental to the organization, shall be cause for review under the disciplinary procedures and could result in discipline up to or including suspension or expulsion from membership. Lastly, if the actions very un-Masonic in nature – a brother can be brought up on charges in his blue lodge or grand lodge.
Masonic motorcycle riding clubs are not like the Sons of Anarchy show from the television. At no time should any Master Mason become associated with 1% or “outlaw” organizations. Such association shall be deemed grounds for immediate suspension and possible revocation of membership. Further, it could be deemed as un-Masonic in some Grand Lodges. This could cause the Brother Mason to be removed from the fraternity if he is found guilty of these charges. Further, MC members may join or be associated with other charitable Riding Clubs. Such as the Patriot Guard, Bikers Against Child Abuse or Bikers Against Animal Cruelty. Each club has the right to grant approval of the Club’s Membership or by the club’s leadership. Other clubs may request the member surrender his patch and resign the club. So it is good to ask these questions prior to joining.
FULL PATCH MOTORCYCLE CLUB MASONIC BROTHERS:
There are requirements to be a Full Patch Member in the club. Here is a list of some generally accepted requirements for a Brother Mason to be ready for prior to joining:
He shall be a Master Mason in Good Standing with his Blue Lodge.
The Brother Mason must possess a valid motorcycle operator license.
He must possess current motorcycle registration and insurance.
Proof of ownership of a 500cc or larger cruiser style motorcycle.
Successfully completed or passed the minimum time as a prospect.
The brother must be elected to membership by a unanimous vote of the members.
The Master Mason status does not automatically make a member. Final determination of membership shall be based on meeting all the Full Patch requirements.
PROSPECT MOTORCYCLE CLUB MASONIC BROTHERS:
There are requirements to be a Prospect Member in the club. Here is a list of some generally accepted requirements for a Brother Mason to be ready for prior to joining:
He should be a Master Mason, Fellow Craft or Enter Apprentice in good standing with his Blue Lodge.
The brother needs to be sponsored by a Full Patch Member of the club.
Proof of owning and riding a 500cc or larger cruiser style motorcycle that is in good working order.
Agreeing to requests during the prospect period
Understanding that as a prospect, he still must be voted on for this status by a unanimous vote of the members.
Successfully complete all hang-around requirements.
HANG-AROUNDS MOTORCYCLE CLUB MASONIC BROTHERS:
Any man that is recommended by a Full Patch Member. Some clubs use this as recruiting tool for the Blue Lodge
He should possess a valid motorcycle operator license.
The man should possess current motorcycle registration and insurance.
He needs to show an dedicated interest in joining the Club
The man wants to obtain more information by riding with and attending Club functions. If he not a Freemason, he should inquire on how to join.
ASSOCIATE MEMBER MOTORCYCLE CLUB MASONIC BROTHERS:
He shall be a Master Mason in Good Standing with his Blue Lodge.
The Brother Mason must possess a valid motor vehicle operator license.
He must possess current vehicle registration and insurance.
The is brother should be willing to help and assist any member with cycle issues.
Successfully completed or passed the minimum time as a prospect.
The brother must be elected to membership by a unanimous vote of the members.
The Master Mason status does not automatically make a member. Final determination of membership shall be based on a voting meeting of all the Full Patch / Associate Members.
Does Freemasonry have it’s own Motorcycle Clubs? – Leadership of the Masonic Biker Club
Understanding who are the Officers and What responsibilities is important to understand prior to joining too. The main club officers are elected by the club. Normally, these officer roles are as follows – President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Executive Board Members . Furthermore, the requirement of an elected position is normally one year in the office, on time with dues payments, and the brother should be a full patched member. But, some clubs are smaller or have dedicated Masons with longer terms of office. Lastly, any valid challenge for office is made by a full patched member or by a vote of no confidence is held based on gross negligence if necessary.
Additional officers appointed can be a Sergeant at Arms, a Road Captain, and a Tail Gunner. Some clubs have several brothers serving in these roles while other clubs mandate only one man can be appointed in a given 12 month period. These positions are generally appointed only by the President and/or the Vice President.
What does the Masonic Motorcycle Club President do?
Here is a brief overview of what some of his executive duties normally are:
To preside over meetings of both the Executive Board and the Club as a whole.
To judge items not covered in the rules and regulations.
To act as the personal representative of the Club in the area of public relations, as a liaison between the MC and Grand Lodges, blue lodges, local law enforcement agencies and as a connecting link between motorcycle Clubs.
To represent the Club in any Club business contacts and to supervise major economic transactions unless delegated to another member for business purposes only.
To assist officers in the interpretation of their Club responsibilities, and to promote Club life among member in general.
To be a member of the Combined Executive Committee.
What does the Masonic Biker Club Vice President do?
Here is a brief overview of what some of his executive duties normally are:
To assume the responsibilities of the presidency when the President is unable to do so.
To oversee Prospect progress and present a report during the regular meeting.
To be a member of the combined Executive Committee.
To manage committees and report on their progress
What does the Masonic Biker Club Secretary do?
The executive duties of the secretary are as follows:
To record and safeguard the minutes of the Club meetings.
To maintain the Club Bylaws, recording any additions, deletions or modifications.
To handle any Club correspondence.
To collect all money from the membership, create a receipt and pay the same to the Treasurer.
To Record beginning and ending balances monthly for reporting at church.
To act as a connecting link between motorcycle Clubs and solicitors.
What does the Masonic Biker Club Treasurer do?
The executive duties of the treasurer are as follows:
To receive all money from the Secretary and deposit upon receipt.
To monitor and record the Club’s income and expenditures.
To collect the dues and fines owing by members.
To Maintain full accounting details and present full reports with bank statements for audit.
What does the Masonic Biker Club Executive Board Member do?
The elected board members shall constitute the Executive Committee along with the all the elected officers and sometimes the Sergeant at Arms. All members of the Executive Committee shall constitute a quorum present. Electronic meetings shall be authorized. The executive committee is responsible for:
The monitoring of conflicts within the Club.
The application of disciplinary procedures.
The evaluation of prospects and their progress.
Presentation of the state of the Club to all members.
To make minor decisions on behalf of the Club when approval from the membership is not readily available (ex. Flowers for a funeral or other function).
What does the Masonic Biker Club Sergeant at Arms do?
The duties of the Sergeant at Arms are as follows:
To maintain order at Club meetings in particular, and Club activities in general.
To ensure that members adhere to Club rulings, policies, and expected models of conduct when dealing with other members or outsiders.
To defend Club members and Club property from outside threats.
To enforce Club rules.
To protect and serve the President.
Is the only Club Member allowed to break rank while riding to protect the Club.
Responsible for storing and maintaining Club paraphernalia (ex, Patches).
What does the Masonic Biker Club Road Captain do?
The executive duties of the road captain are as follows:
To plan the travel routes and organize the basic itinerary of the Club prior to going on a “Run”.
To lead the Club in formation during a run.
To enforce Club rules and procedures for group riding.
The Road Captain is in charge while riding.
What does the Masonic Biker Tail Gunner do?
The executive duties of the tail gunner are as follows:
To follow and start the requested action from the Road Captain when safe to do so.
To assist in Club safety when performing road maneuvers.
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What is York Rite Freemasonry?… Good news I have the answer for you! The York Rite (or the American Rite) is one of two popular Freemason Rites in the USA. the other being the Scottish Rite. The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite claims to hold the power of conferring the first three degrees of Masonry in addition to those under its jurisdiction but the York Rite does not. York Rite is flavored with more of a Christian message, but is open to all denominations. Freemasonry in the York Rite is based on the early remnants of Craft Masonry that were practiced in the early 1700’s. All brothers in the York Rite are Master Masons. No York Rite Mason can be a Fellowcraft or Entered Apprentice – they all must be 3rd Degree Freemasons.
Why is that important? The first Grand Lodge of England in 1717 specified that the lodges were to confer only the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason or the first three degrees of Freemasonry. The thinking was that all other degrees being considered spurious. However, many lodges had been conferring other degrees that they considered an integral part of Masonry. In 1751, the Masons of these ‘spurious’ degrees formed their own Grand Lodge for the purpose of conferring the Royal Arch Degree. These Masons called themselves the “Antients” and the other Grand Lodge founded in 1717 were called the “Moderns.” York Rite Masonry, which takes its name from the old English city of York in the United Kingdom has been described as the oldest and purest of the Rites.
Within York Rite Masonry, the Royal Arch Degree is described as the Master Mason’s Degree completed. This is due to the fact that up until 1767, the Master Mason Degree of the Blue Lodge contained the secrets of the Royal Arch. Nowadays, these same secrets form a part of the teachings of the Royal Arch. In England, the Royal Arch Mason degree is automatically included in the Master Mason’s Degree.
It took close to 75 years before the two Grand Lodge decided to merge. In 1813, it was official that merger of the two Grand Lodges would become the United (known by some as: Mother vs. United) Grand Lodge of England. This new Grand Lodge had all the particular lodges agree that only the three accepted degrees of Masonry would be used. Further, the degree of the Royal Arch would be attached to Chapters allied directly to these lodges. Thus, the Chapter and Lodge would have and use the same number even it was a separate body. Also in 1813, the United Grand Lodge of England stated it in no uncertain terms: “Ancient Craft Masonry consists of three degrees and no more, namely, those of the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason including the Holy Royal Arch.” It is a natural progression of the Freemasonry’s primary theme. Therefore, brothers who are in the York Rite have rightfully acknowledged the fact that they are considered appendant body to those of Ancient Craft Masonry. It is still the practice in English Masonry that a Masonic member is not considered to be in possession of all the degrees of Ancient Craft Masonry until he has been exalted to the Royal Arch.
Did you know that in England. no other degree has been officially recognized by the United Grand Lodge? Why because to that Grand Lodge it is a landmark remains to this day. No additional Rites and Degrees can be bestowed upon a Master Mason until he has received the Royal Arch Degree. It is logical actually because a man is not a Master Mason until he receives the Master’s Word. This is something a Mason can only receive in the Royal Arch. Within Capitular Masonry are contained the essentials of symbolism, allegory, and philosophy that a Master Mason requires in order to understand those teachings which have only been partially given to him in the Blue Lodge.
Why is it called the American Rite by some Masons if it was founded in England?
Why do some Freemasons call the York Rite the American Rite? Well, in the early days of the American Colonies and the founding our the nation which would become the USA. Some American Lodges operated in a similar manner until the establishment of the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons. The Sublime Degree of Master Mason is often thought of as the ultimate degree of Freemasonry. However, many Masonic scholars agree that there is more to story as illustrated in the three degrees and that the first three degrees are not the whole story. The Degrees of York Rite Masonry complete the story and provide answers to many questions that the newly-raised Master Mason may have. Therefore, in the USA, an individual Chapter is not directly connected to an individual lodge but more of a territory of multiple lodges which have simply indirect ties.
For a period in US history, the Cryptic degrees were controlled by various state Grand Chapter jurisdictions, until the establishment of the General Grand Council. The Chivalric Orders have been controlled by the Grand Encampment since the early 19th century in the United States. All three bodies are technically autonomous Masonic entities, only the requirement of membership in the Royal Arch connecting the Cryptic degrees and Chivalric Orders together. Many are found in other jurisdictions outside of the United States, but several are uniquely American in their origin.
Is York Rite Freemasonry a religion?
Like other forms of Masonry, the York Rite is not a religion. Nevertheless, it does develop Biblical themes in addition to themes based on the Medieval Crusades. In the York Rite, any Master Mason may become a member of three bodies — actually a group of separate Rites joined in order. These include: a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons; a Council of Royal and Select Masters; a Commandery of Knights Templar. Appendant to the York Rite Bodies are several additional Masonic bodies, most of which are invitational in nature. Membership in many of them is predicated on membership in the Royal Arch, though some have memberships predicated on other bodies of the York Rite, or membership in all of the York Rite bodies.
Knight Templars in the York Rite are not a religion either. The Knights Templar is a Christian-oriented fraternal organization that is based on the history and myths surrounding the 11th century Order. Originally, the Knights Templar were laymen who protected and defended Christians traveling to Jerusalem. These men took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and were renowned for their fierceness and courage in battle. Today, the Knights Templar display their courage and goodwill in other ways. They organize fund-raising activities such as breakfasts, dinners, dances, and flea markets. They support Masonic-related youth groups and they raise millions of dollars for medical research and educational assistance. Currently, Templar membership consists of members from all walks of life, including doctors, lawyers, clergy, businessmen and entertainment personalities, all of whom profess a belief in the Christian Religion. The Knights Templar operates on a local, state and national level. But their religious activities extend across international borders as well. Nationally, there is The Grand Encampment of Knights Templar. This unit defines the rituals and laws governing state and local level organizations.
What are the degrees of York Rite Freemasonry?
The York Rite provides additional Masonic teachings and confers additional relevant degrees. It is organized as follows: Royal Arch Freemasonry, The Holy Royal Arch, Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, Mark Master, Virtual Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and Royal Arch Mason – R :. A :. M :; Cryptic Masonry, Council of the Royal and Select Masters, Royal Master, Select Master, and Super-Excellent Master; Commandery of Knights Templar, Order of the Red Cross, Order of the Knights of Malta, and Order of the Knights Templar.
But please be aware that the degrees included within the framework of Royal Arch Freemasonry of York Rite Freemasonry are: The Mark Master Mason degree, which is sometimes said to be expansion of the Fellow Crafts’ second degree. The Past Master degree is bestowed because of the old requirement that only Past Masters of a Symbolic Lodge may join the Royal Arch. Now in the present day , it is a virtual degree created to conform with tradition, and it confers no rights as a Past Master in a Blue Lodge. The Most Excellent Master degree, wherein the building of King Solomon’s Temple has been completed. The Royal Arch Mason degree, said by many to be the most beautiful degree in all of Freemasonry. By joining the York Rite, a Master Mason may proceed to supplement and expand upon the degrees of the Blue Lodge.
York Rite Freemasonry begins with the Royal Arch Chapters. Councils of Cryptic Masons form the center body of the York Rite of Freemasonry. A Master Mason may join a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons and receive the four degrees of that organization. After which he may seek further knowledge in Freemasonry and join a Council of Cryptic Masons. The Commandery of Knight Templar is the final set of degrees and all members need to have received the Chapter and Council degrees prior to joining a commandery.
The symbolism of the Royal Arch picks up where the Symbolic Lodge leaves off. The symbolism of the Blue Lodge degrees emphasizes the building of King Solomon’s. Royal Arch Masonry (known as Capitular Masonry) continues in this vein by emphasizing symbols and allegories of the Second Temple, the Ark of the Covenant, further symbolism of Solomon’s temple completed, and the Lost Word (also called the Master’s Word) — which is given to the Royal Arch Mason. This is one reason why the Royal Arch Degrees are first for every Master Mason to experience in the York Rite.
The Capitular Degrees of York Rite Freemasonry
The Capitular Degrees are a set of four degrees controlled by the Royal Arch Chapter. They center on the construction phases of Solomon’s Temple, with the exception of the degree of Past Master, hence the title of Capitular. The degree of Past Master is the vestigial remnant of the former custom that the degree of the Royal Arch could only be conferred on a Past Master of a Symbolic Blue Lodge. In the United States, these degrees are considered as proprietary to the Royal Arch, while in England there is no Past Master degree as found here, and the Mark Master degree is controlled by its own Grand Lodge. The Most Excellent Master degree is also part of the Cryptic Degree in England. As stated in the forward, the Royal Arch overseas is controlled by Chapters attached to English Blue Lodges. The Royal Arch Chapters have occasionally been referred to as the “Red lodge” in older Masonic publications, though they should more accurately be described as the “Red degrees.” In the United States, all Chapter business is conducted in a Royal Arch Chapter, the other bodies being only opened for the conferral of degrees. Some jurisdictions open Mark Master Lodges as “table lodges,” which act as a social focus for the local York Rite bodies
Mark Master– A Degree that emphasizes the lessons of regularity, discipline, and integrity. It is a most impressive Degree centered on the story of the Fellowcraft of the quarry and their role in the building of the Temple. Its importance in English Craft Masonry can be judged by the fact that it operates as a separate Grand Lodge, and is highly sought by members of the Craft in that jurisdiction.
Past Master (Virtual) – A Degree that emphasizes the lesson of harmony. This Degree is conferred because ancient custom required that a Mason must be a Past Master in order to be exalted to the Royal Arch. In some Grand Jurisdictions this Degree is conferred upon all sitting Masters of the Blue Lodge. The Degree confers no actual rank upon the recipient, but is exemplified to maintain the ancient custom.
Most Excellent Master – A Degree that emphasizes the lesson of reverence. This Degree is centered on the dedication of the Temple after its completion, particularly the consecration of the Sanctum Sanctorum and the descent of the Host into the Temple. It is complimentary to the Mark Master Degree and completes the symbolic lessons introduced in that Degree.
The Royal Arch – The completion of the Master Mason Degree and the summit of the original Degrees of the Blue Lodge as practiced in the Antients Lodges of England before 1820. The Degree explains the origins of the Substitute Word found in the Master Mason Degree, the recovery of the Ineffable Word, and its concealment within the Royal Arch Word. This Degree, together with the Master Mason Degree, may have once been exemplified as one large or “super” Degree, with the Master Mason Degree explaining the loss of the Master’s Word and the Royal Arch explaining the recovery of the Master’s Word. The presiding body is a Chapter, and the presiding officer is a High Priest (titled Excellent).
In architectural symbolism, the capstone is the crowing stone of an entire structure or wall. It is for this reason that Royal Arch Masonry is called “the Capstone of Ancient Craft Masonry” or the Capitular Rite.
After the degrees of Royal Arch Masonry, the second set of degrees within York Rite Masonry encompasses the degrees of the Council of Royal and Select Masters. These degrees expound upon the Royal Arch degree and, to a lesser extent, the Master Mason degree. They are often said to be among Masonry’s most beautiful and impressive ceremonies, complete one’s education in Ancient Craft Masonry. The degrees of the Council comprise what is called Cryptic Masonry or the Cryptic Rite because a crypt or underground room figures prominently in the degrees. The symbolic foundation of these rites is the subterranean Vault constructed by King Solomon as a stockpile for certain secret knowledge which was guarded by a select priesthood.
The degrees of the Council include:
The Royal Master degree examines in more detail the story of recovery of the “lost” word and the Holy of Holies of the Temple of King Solomon.
The Select Master degree is concerned with the construction and embellishment of the subterranean vault introduced in the Royal Arch degree of the Chapter.
The Super Excellent Master degree concerns the story of the Babylonian Captivity, and of Zedekiah and his betrayal.
Through these ceremonies, a Mason learns more details concerning the building of the first temple. He discovers why the word was lost, and the secret of its preservation and recovery.
One of the most vivid occurs during the Super Excellent Master degree contains an impressive dramatizations of truth and fidelity. The degrees of the Cryptic Rite emphasize teachings that are instructive for a positive and gratifying life: “Let uprightness and integrity attend your steps; let justice and mercy mark their conduct, let fervency and zeal stimulate you in the discharge of the various duties incumbent on you.”
The Cryptic Degrees of York Rite Freemasonry
The Cryptic Degrees are a set of three degrees controlled by the Select Masters Council. The degrees get their name from the reference to a hidden or secret vault in the degrees, hence the term Cryptic. Only the first two degrees are regularly worked, the third degree, that of Super Excellent Master, is worked as an honorary degree, not being required as a requisite for membership in the Council. It is also somewhat peculiar in its association with the Cryptic degrees, as it is more closely allied in theme and character with the Royal Arch and the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross.
The history of the body as a whole is also shrouded in uncertainty and controversy. Though there is early evidence of Councils of Royal and Select Masters being worked in the United States, the degrees were worked variously by their own Councils, Royal Arch Chapters, and even Lodges of Perfection of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. Though the Scottish Rite has long relinquished any claim to these degrees, several Grand Jurisdictions (Virginia & West Virginia) still confer them as a part of Capitular Masonry. In England, the degree of Most Excellent Master is grouped with this body. In the United States, all business is conducted in the Select Masters Council, the other two bodies only being opened for the conferral of degrees. Some jurisdictions hold “table councils” in similar manner to “table lodges” as a social focal point of their local York Rite bodies.
Royal Master – A Degree emphasizing the lessons of patience and fortitude. The Degree centers around the Fellowcraft Masons who were artificers fabricating the fittings and furniture of the Temple. It is unusual in that the first part of the Degree depicts events taking place before the death of the Grand Master Hiram Abiff, and the last part depicts events occurring after his death.
Select Master – A Degree emphasizing the lessons of devotion and zeal. The Degree centers on the construction and furnishing of a Secret Vault beneath the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Temple, and the deposition of those secrets pertaining to the Craft by the three ancient Grand Masters of the Craft. This Degree bridges the events surrounding the concealment and loss of the Ineffable Word and the events leading to the recover of the Word in the Royal Arch Degree. The presiding body is a Council, and the presiding officer is a Master (titled Illustrious).
Super Excellent Master – A Degree emphasizing the lessons of loyalty and faithfulness. The Degree centers around the events leading to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple at the hands of the Chaldeans. The Degree is narrated by small interludes of biblical prophecy that highlight the end of the first Temple and the construction of the second Temple. It is noteworthy for its scenes of the Jewish court of Zedekiah and the Chaldean court of Nebuchadnezzar. This degree is an honorary one, and a member of the Council not needing to have it in order to hold membership or office.
The rich history of York Rite Masonry is undeniable. The York Rite is historically the oldest and purest of the appendant Rites. Every Master Mason should be fascinated by the lessons and mysteries of Freemasonry provided by the Blue Lodge. Hopefully, all Master Masons will consider those lessons and mysteries available in the York Rite of Freemasonry — in order to complete their Masonic knowledge and the teachings that are mentioned as landmarks of the Master Mason. All brother Masons should be advised to continue their historical and educational view of Masonry. Every Master Mason should be a member of the Royal Arch, and every Christian Mason should be a Knights Templar. The state groups are organized into A Grand Commandery of Knights Templar. This organization represents members of a state or an area of equivalent size.
The Knights Templar contains three degrees called Orders which elucidate a Christian interpretation of Freemasonry:
The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross illustrates the preparations for building a second Temple.
The Order of the Knights of Malta (or simply Order of Malta) explains the history of the Knights of Malta, relates the story of Paul’s arrival on the island of Malta. It is a Christian Order that seeks to perpetuate ideals of love and mercy.
The Order of the Temple. The Order of Malta and the Order of the Temple have a Christian orientation and their teachings are based upon the crusades of the original Knights Templar.
The Knights Templar is based upon the practice of the Christian virtues, moral values and spiritual lessons. Members are urged to live their lives as Christian Knights.
The completion of the York Rite Bodies is the Commandery of Knights Templar—the degrees of which comprise what is known as Chivalry Masonry because they are based upon the Chivalric Orders of knighthood that fought to protect Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land during the Middle Ages. Unlike other Masonic bodies which only require a belief in a Supreme Being regardless of religion, membership in Knights Templar is open only to Royal Arch Masons who promise to defend the Christian faith. Local level groups are called Commanderies of Knights Templar.
Grand Encampment, KT, USA of York Rite Freemasonry
The Chivalric Orders are a set of three Orders culminating in the grade of Knight Templar, and controlled by that body. This body is markedly different from its foreign counterparts, in that it exhibits a paramilitary structure and outlook on Masonry, being the only branch of Masonry in the world that is a uniformed body. Its requirement that its members be professed Christians has led to calls of condemnation from other Masonic bodies and organizations both inside and outside the United States, claiming that the body is more of a Christian organization rather than a Masonic body. These have had little effect on the body, however, as many of the organizations criticizing the body have similar degrees among themselves.
The American body is also arranged different from its nearest relatives in England. The American body includes the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, which is not conferred in any other organization, though it has very close cousins in the Irish and American Order of Knight Masons and in the English Allied Masonic Degrees grade of the Red Cross of Babylon. Also, in the United States, the Order of Malta is conferred on members before being eligible to receive the Order of the Temple, whereas in England, the Order of Malta is an honorary grade bestowed on Knights Templar. In the United States, all business is transacted in the Order of the Temple, the other bodies only being opened for the conferral of the Orders. In England, the Order of Malta meets and operates as a separate body in addition to the Order of the Temple.
Illustrious Order of the Red Cross – An Order emphasizing the lesson of truth. Elements of this Order were practiced in Ancient Lodges before the final form of the Master Mason Degree came into use. It is still practiced in the full ceremonial form by the Knight Masons of Ireland and the Knight Masons of the United States, and as the Red Cross of Babylon in the English Order of the Allied Masonic Degrees.
Order of Malta – An Order emphasizing the lesson of faith. This Order requires the Mason to profess and practice the Christian faith. The pass degree of the Mediterranean Pass, or Knight of St. Paul prepares the candidate for the Order by introducing the lesson and example of the fearless and faithful martyr of Christianity. The Order is centered on allegorical elements of the Knights of Malta, inheritors of the medieval Knights Hospitaller.
Order of the Temple – An Order emphasizing the lessons of self-sacrifice and reverence. It is meant to rekindle the spirit of the medieval Knights Templar devotion and self-sacrifice to Christianity. The history of the Masonic Order is long and convoluted, with the Order’s ritual differing between that conferred in England and in the United States. That practiced in the United States has a slight militant zeal to the lesson of Christianity, whereas the English ritual is more allegorical. However, the American ritual is most impressive, and more emphasis is placed on the solemnity and reverence associated with the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ. The presiding body is a Commandery, and the presiding officer is a Commander (titled Eminent). Local level groups are called Commanderies of Knights Templar.
Chair Degrees in York Rite Freemasonry
The “Chair Degrees” of York Rite masonry, so called as the candidate must be the installed or a past presiding officer of the respective York Rite body. They may also differ somewhat in name or character from one jurisdiction to another.
Order of High Priesthood – A chair degree conferred upon installed or past High Priests. Sometimes referred to as the Anointed Order of High Priesthood. In antiquity, this degree was known as the Order of Melchizedek.
Thrice Illustrious Master – A chair degree conferred upon installed or past Illustrious Masters. It is also known as the Order of the Silver Trowel from the jewel of the degree.
Knight Crusader of the Cross – A chair degree conferred upon installed or past Eminent Commanders.
Sovereign Order of Knights Preceptor – All present and Past Commanders of Constituent and Subordinate Commanderies of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America in a jurisdiction where there is not any Chapter of the Order may petition for membership in the Order of Knights Preceptor. The Grand Chapter of the Order of Knights Preceptor meets annually at the time and place of the Annual Meeting of the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States of America.
The Scottish Rite is what many Master Masons call the “University of Freemasonry”. Scottish Rite Freemasonry begins once a Brother Mason has completed his 3rd Degree and is considered a Master Mason. It includes the degrees from the 4° to the 32°. Each degree in the Scottish Rite has meaning and offers a life lesson to the brother.
Why do they use the word Scottish?
The use of the word “Scottish” has led many Masons to believe that the Rite originated in Scotland. There was also a false belief which persisted for many years, that a man had to go to Scotland to receive the 33°. Neither of these statements is true. Actually, the first reference to the Rite appears in old French records where the word “Ecossais,” meaning Scottish, is found. During the latter part of the 17th century, when the British Isles were torn by strife, many Scots fled to France and resumed their Masonic interests in that country. It is believed that this influence contributed to the use of the word “Scottish.” In 1732, the first “Ecossais,” or Scottish Lodge was organized in Bordeaux, one of the oldest and most influential Masonic centers in France. The membership included Scottish and English members.
What is Scottish Rite Logo a Double Headed Eagle?
Did you know, that the double-headed eagle was probably first accepted as a symbol of Freemasonry in 1758. In that year the body calling itself the Council of Emperors of the East and West, was established in Paris. The double-headed eagle was in all probability adopted by this body, which claimed a double jurisdiction. The eagle, one head inclined to the East and the other to the West, to guard any and all who might approach from either direction.
The accepted symbol of our Rite is the Double-Headed Eagle of Lagash. It is the oldest crest in the world, according to fraternal scholars and was a symbol of power more than two thousand years before the building of King Solomon’s Temple. This impressive double-headed eagle features the white-ribboned motto, pendant from the hilt to the point of the sword, containing the words SPES MEA IN DEO EST, which translates My Hope Is In God.
At this early period, the French Masonic strongholds were in Bordeaux and Paris. On August 27, 1761, the French Grand Lodge at Paris (the Grand and Sovereign Lodge of St. John of Jerusalem), acting with a body of the superior degrees (the Council of the Emperors of the East and West, Sovereign Écossais Mother Lodge), issued a patent to Morin as a Grand Inspector, “authorizing and empowering him to establish perfect and sublime Masonry in all parts of the world.” In 1761, certain Masonic authorities in France granted a patent to Stephen Morin of Bordeaux to carry the advanced degrees across the sea to America.
In 1763, Morin established these degrees in the French possessions in the West Indies. At that time, Morin promulgated a Masonic rite of 25 degrees which he called the “Order of the Royal Secret” or “Order of Prince of the Royal Secret” (sometimes Freemasons call it the “Rite of Perfection”). What he established consisted of a system of 25 so-called higher degrees which flourished in France, and which were known as the “Rite of Perfection.”
Was there always 33 degrees in Freemasonry?
It was not until a few years after 1763, other degrees were added, until the Rite had a ritual structure of 33 degrees. The first three degrees being exemplified in a Symbolic Lodge, if a Grand Lodge with subordinate Lodges existed in the area. Although it was once commonly believed that the Council of the Emperors of the East and West created the Order of the Royal Secret, recent research suggests that Morin was personally responsible for its organization. There also is compelling evidence that, to bolster his authority, he created and backdated documents known as the Constitutions and Regulations of 1762—an act that was not discovered for more than 220 years. About 1763, Morin introduced the Order of the Royal Secret to Kingston, Jamaica, and by 1764, high degrees were brought to North American soil, when they were established in New Orleans, Louisiana.
About this time, Morin empowered an enthusiastic Dutch Mason, Henry Andrew Francken, to establish Masonic Bodies throughout the New World, including the United States. In 1767, Henry Francken, who had been deputized by the Grand Inspector Morin. Soon after, Francken sailed to New York and organized a Lodge of Perfection in Albany, New York. This was the forerunner of what was to become the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in the United States., and in 1767, he began to confer the high degrees in Albany. Fortunately, he also transcribed several manuscript copies of the rituals of the Order of the Royal Secret, some of which survive today. These copies are known as the Francken Manuscripts.
How did the Scottish Rite Grow?
During the Colonial Period, other deputies, appointed by Morin, organized Masonic groups which conferred the advanced degrees at other important points along
the Atlantic seaboard, including Charleston, South Carolina. On December 6, 1768, Francken appointed Moses Michael Hays (or Hayes), of Dutch parentage, a Deputy Inspector General of the Scottish Rite, for the West Indies and North America. The Hays patent granted authority to confer all the Degrees of Morin’s Order of the Royal Secret. The following year, Francken returned to Jamaica, and by 1780, Hays immigrated to Newport, Rhode Island. In 1781, Hays traveled to Philadelphia, where he met with eight Brethren whom he appointed Deputy Inspectors General over given American States, with the exception of Samuel Myers, who presided over the Leeward Islands in the West Indies in the Caribbean.
Barend Moses Spitzer, one of the Deputy Inspectors General, lived in Charleston, S.C., from 1770 to 1781 and moved to Philadelphia where he was appointed Deputy for Georgia and, after traveling briefly abroad, returned to Charleston by 1788. On April 2, 1795, Spitzer appointed the Irish-born John Mitchell, then living in Charleston, a Deputy Inspector General of the Order of the Royal Secret. These groups were independent and without supervision or control; however, they all agreed that their authority came from Stephen Morin in Jamaica in the West Indies.
Why is the Supreme Council Important in Scottish Rite Freemasonry?
On May 31, 1801, the Supreme Council of the Thirty-third degree of the United States of America was established. It was the first Scottish ‘Rite Supreme Council in the world. Further, it was founded in Charleston, South Carolina. The Supreme Council was a superior system to Morin’s Order of the Royal Secret; it administered 33 degrees, including all 25 of Morin’s rite. The traditional authority of the Supreme Council stems from the “Grand Constitution of the 33rd degree” (also Grand Constitutions of 1786), ostensibly ratified by Frederick II (“the Great”), King of Prussia.
It’s aim was to unify these competing groups and to bring Masonic order out of chaos. The full membership of this Supreme Council consisted of 11 Grand Inspectors General. Of these eleven brother Scottish Rite Freemasons included: John Mitchell, Frederick Dalcho, Abraham Alexander, Emanuel De La Motta, Thomas Bartholomew Bowen, Israel De Lieben, Isaac Auld, Le Compte Alexander Francois Auguste de Grasse, Jean Baptiste Marie Delahogue, Moses Clava Levy and James Moultrie. Did you know that nine Scottish Rite Freemasons were born abroad? Leaving only Brothers Isaac Auld and James Moultrie were native born citizens of the United States of America. In religious backgrounds of these brothers was vast as well, four were Jewish, five were Protestants, and two were Roman Catholics.
Why is there a Northern Scottish Rite and Southern Scottish Rite in the USA?
On August 4, 1813, Emanuel De La Motta,33°, of Savannah, Georgia, a distinguished Jewish merchant and philanthropist, and Grand Treasurer General of the Supreme Council at Charleston, organized in New York City the Supreme Council of the Thirty-third degree for the Northern District and Jurisdiction of the United States of America.
The first Sovereign Grand Commander was Daniel D. Tompkins, 33°. He filled this office from 1813-25. He was at the same time Vice President of the United States for two terms, under president Monroe. Both the Northern and Southern Jurisdictions were created to make progress in unifying the scattered degree-conferring groups, and in standardizing the rituals.
They unfortunately were handicapped by the pride in the local organizations; by leadership jealousies, the American Civil War and by other matters. The process of unification, however, was completed in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction by the Union of 1867, when the last irregular Supreme Council finally acknowledged the authority of the regular Supreme Council. From that Union, there arose what is the present Supreme Council for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States of America. The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction specifically covers the 15 states east of the Mississippi River and north of the Mason-Dixon Line and the Ohio river, including Delaware. Its headquarters is in Lexington, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.
At the present time, the Supreme Council for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction officially recognizes and enjoys friendly relations with the Supreme Councils of the Scottish Rite in 39 other jurisdictions, and the higher degrees systems (Swedish Rite) administered by the Grand Lodges in the four Scandinavian countries, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden). There are Scottish Rite centers, called “Valleys,” in 110 cities and towns in the fifteen states of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.
The other Supreme Council in the United States is that of the Southern Jurisdiction. It has its headquarters at Washington, D.C., and covers the remaining 35 states, the district of Columbia, and the United States territories and possessions. Yet, it is now officially recognized as being established in 1801 in Charleston, South Carolina. Today, the Scottish Rite has spread throughout the world.
How important is a 33rd Freemason?
One important point which must be recognized by all Masons is the fact that the Scottish Rite shares the belief of all Masonic organizations that there is no higher degree than that of Master Mason. The Supreme Council and its subordinate bodies acknowledge the Masonic supremacy of the Symbolic Grand Lodges, and the Grand Master of Masons is recognized as the ranking Masonic officer present when in attendance at any Scottish Rite meeting.
The high degrees often were referred to as the Ineffable and Sublime (or Superior) Degrees. In the earliest days of the Scottish Rite, the high degrees were conferred only on Past Masters, or virtual Past Masters, of Blue Lodges. The Scottish Rite degrees are in addition to and are in no way “higher” than the Blue Lodge degrees. Scottish Rite work amplifies and elaborates on the lessons of the Craft. In the Scottish Rite, all brothers seek to develop society and themselves. They teach new brothers the importance of becoming more patient, generous, tolerant, compassionate, and thoughtful.
So what makes the Scottish Rite so special?
What makes Scottish Rite Freemasonry special today is that they help society develop by supporting education, funding museums, benefiting the arts, assisting with medical research, and aiding the needy. Scottish Rite Masons are giving both time and money to many projects, which helps the community were they live and the society, which is made up of the communities citizens, to grow and develop. It is fundamental teaching of the Scottish Rite that we build our community and our nation, while focusing on benefiting all its citizens.
They sponsor 165 Scottish Rite Childhood Language Disorders Clinics, Centers, and Programs nationwide. Our efforts have been recognized by national awards for our work in speech and language development in children. The Scottish Rite Brothers selected childhood language and learning disorders because they affect more children than all other childhood conditions combined. To hear, to speak, to understand these are the essentials in the development of every young mind.
The Scottish Rite Mason studies mankind’s greatest questions and problems. They have fun doing things together as men in fraternity sharing dramatic, philanthropic, and social events. The Scottish Rite Freemasons strives to ask himself daily to consider just how those principles relate to his everyday lives. Once again, the Scottish Rite is often called the ‘University of Freemasonry” because it’s important lessons and teaching to help a man become the best he can be.
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