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Over the years, there have been published several charts or plans of the degrees and orders of Freemasonry. Masonic editions of the Bible, presented to newly raised members, often include such a chart. There is also one that overlays a plan over an image of the square and compasses. Others will follow the same general design. Perhaps the best-known, and most widely reprinted, is one from Life magazine 1 which depicts the grades or degrees as a staircase.
What all these charts do is create the erroneous impression that regular Freemasonry is composed of many degrees and that either the 33° of the Scottish Rite or the Shrine is somehow pre-eminent or superior.
It is claimed as an Ancient Landmark of Freemasonry that there are but three degrees in Freemasonry: Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason, including the Holy Royal Arch. Freemasons know that this "landmark" only dates from the union of the Grand Lodges of England in 1813, 2 but—with rare exception such as the Swedish Rite—the convention holds that a regular and recognized Grand Lodge of freemasons only recognizes these three degrees as "pure Antient Masonry" and holds itself sovereign and independent of any self-styled body conferring or awarding other degrees.
That said, Craft Freemasonry in North America has developed a close relationship with the Royal Arch and Scottish Rite. These, and other bodies, confer additional—not higher—degrees. Grand Lodges will also recognize a number of organizations that practice and profess the same ideals and beliefs as Freemasonry. These organizations are generally termed Appendent Bodies or Bodies in Amity, although they have also been termed Concordant. Sometimes they will be called Auxiliary Bodies. The following list is not definitive, nor does it claim to represent the policies of any or all Grand Lodges.
“In the United States, various terms have been applied to the high degrees, such as appendant, appurtenant, concordant, supplementary, allied, associated, and finally, one that is descriptive but inconvenient: degrees for which the degree of Master Mason is a prerequisite. Some oppose the term high degrees, because they dislike the implication that the Master’s degree is not the highest, but the name is simple and convenient and its long usage would seem to preclude any possibility of avoiding it.”
Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia, Henry Wilson Coil.
Richmond, Virginia : Macoy Publishing, Revised 1995.
p. 312.
Masonic orders and degrees
The structure of Freemasonry can often appear confusing to the non-mason for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Freemasonry has evolved from a two-degree system to a three-degree system and then, as it spread from England into Europe and North America, it either evolved into various multi-grade systems or else recognized other organizations conferring degrees and imparting lessons which were believed to compliment or supplement the first three. Whilst members of the philanthropic club, the Shrine, may style themselves "Shrine Masons", and members of the Scottish Rite will call themselves "Scottish Rite Masons", it is only the fact that they have received the first three degrees, and continue to be members of a Craft lodge, that permits them to call themselves freemasons.
Adding to the confusion, in North America there are three Scottish Rite bodies, the Canadian Jurisdiction, Southern Jurisdiction and the Northern Jurisdiction, which have slightly different titles for their degrees. In South America and Mexico the Grand Lodges will have absorbed variations of either the York or Scottish Rite degrees into their systems and often there will be two or more Grand Lodges in one geographical jurisdiction—generally one styled a Grand Lodge and the other a Grand Orient—each conferring a different set of degrees.
In Europe, what they term the Scottish Rite more closely resembles various eighteenth century European rites than it does the North American model.
To complete the confusion, historically in the United Kingdom there were some lodges working what was once termed the York Rite which included the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch. The numerous degrees and orders of the York or American Rite, that is those of the Chapter, Council and the Temple, exist in the United Kingdom, but are organized quite differently than in Canada and the United States. For example, the Mark Master degree is conferred by either lodges or Royal Arch Chapters in Scotland and in lodges of Mark Master Masons in England.
Craft Freemasonry
Entered Apprentice
Master Mason
Concordant or Appendant Bodies
York Rite
Royal Arch Masons
Mark Master
Virtual Past Master
Most Excellent Master
Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch
Council of Royal and Select Masters (Cryptic Rite)
Royal Master
Select Master
Super Excellent Master
Royal Ark Mariner
Preceptory of Knights Templar
Illustrious Order of the Red Cross
Order of Saint Paul
Order of Saint John or Malta
Order of the Knights Templar
The Scottish Rite organisation is a little different in Canada, as are the Capitular and Cryptic systems (often mislabeled, as above, as the York Rite), while the Allied Masonic Degrees is quite different. The Templar system is about the same in USA and Canada. The Province/State/National organisations are rather different between the two countries and more different than England, Scotland and Ireland. One interesting feature of Ireland is that one must be a Knight Templar for seven years before one can be invited to join the AASR. In England one must be a professing Christian to join the AASR where for simplicity the whole 4-18 is just called the Rose Croix. For information on how these degrees are administered in your jurisdiction, contact your local Grand Lodge.
Scottish Rite
Lodge of Perfection
Secret Master
Perfect Master
Confidential [Intimate] Secretary
Provost and Judge
Intendent of the Building
Elu, or Elected Knight, of the Nine
10° Illustrious Elect or Elu of the Fifteen
11° Sublime Knight Elect, or Elu, of the Twelve
12° [Grand] Master Architect
13° Knight of the Ninth Arch, or Royal Arch of Solomon
14° Grand Elect, Perfect and Sublime Mason, or Perfect Elu
Chapter of Rose Croix
15° Knight of the Sword [of the East]
16° Prince of Jerusalem
17° Knight of the East and West
18° Knight [Prince] Rose Croix
Council of Kadosh
19° [Grand] Pontiff
20° [Grand] Master of Symbolic Lodges
21° Noachite or Prussian Knight
22° Knight of the Royal Axe
23° Chief of the Tabernacle
24° Prince of the Tabernacle
25° Knight of the Brazen Serpent
26° Prince of Mercy
27° Knight Commander of the Temple
28° Knight of the Sun, or Prince Adept
29° Grand Scottish Knight of St. Andrew
30° Knight Kadosh
Consistory of Sublime Princes
31° Inspector Inquisitor Commander
32° Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret
Supreme Council
33° Sovereign Grand Inspector General
Appendant or Adoptive Bodies
Women’s Orders
Order of the Eastern Star
Daughters of the Nile
White Shrine
Youth Orders
De Molay
Job’s Daughters
Rainbow Girls
Masonic Clubs
Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine
Grottoes of North America
High Twelvians
National Sojourners
Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia
Tall Ceders of Lebanon
Bodies in Amity, also termed Appendant
Royal Order of Scotland
Rosy Cross
Red Cross of Constantine
Knight of Rome
Knight of the Red Cross of Constantine
Knight of the Holy Sepulchre
Knight of St John the Evangelist
Secret Monitor of Canada or
Brotherhood of David and Jonathan
Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees
Excellent Master
Grand Architect,
Masters of Tyre
St. Lawrence the Martyr
Knight of Constantinople
Grand Tyler of Solomon
Ye Antient Order of Corks
Masonic Order of the Bath
Royal Order of the Red Branch of Eri (additional six degrees)

1. "The Structure of Freemasonry." Life. Vol. 41, No. 15. October 8, 1956. Time Inc., Chicago. [from a painting by Everett Henry] printed size: 21" x 14".
2. The Articles of Union were signed on November 25, 1813 by the Duke of Sussex and the Duke of Kent, and confirmed on December 27, 1813 prior to the constitution of the United Grand Lodge of England: Article II "...declared and pronounced that pure Antient Masonry consists of three degrees and no more, viz., those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch."


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