The fraternity of Freemasonry, also known as "Free and Accepted Masons," is organized by private groups of members variously known in English as lodges, chapters, councils, commanderies, consistories, etc., which can be collectively referred to as Masonic bodies.
The basic unit to which an individual member belongs is the Masonic Lodge, which alone can "make" a Mason. This is done by conferring the three masonic degrees, being those of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft (or Fellow Craft), and Master Mason.
Many masonic bodies use numbers as an informal way of referring to or identifying the degrees they confer, but the most important and therefore "highest" degree is the third, or Degree of Master Mason. Whilst there is no degree in Freemasonry higher than that of Master Mason, the degree of the Holy Royal Arch is of great antiquity, and has a special importance in many masonic systems, including those of all three of the oldest 'Constitutions' (masonic authorities), namely the Grand Lodges of England, Scotland, and Ireland, in all of which it is considered (by varying constitutional definitions) to be the completion of the mainstream masonic structure, A number of related organisations which have as a prerequisite to joining that one be a Master Mason, such as the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, and a large number of 'stand-alone' Orders and Degrees.
There are also organizations affiliated with Freemasonry which admit both Master Masons and non-Masons who have some relation to a Master Mason, such as the Order of the Eastern Star, International Order of Job's Daughters (Job's Daughters International) and the Order of the Amaranth. Still other affiliated organizations like the Order of DeMolay and the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls admit non-Masons and have no requirement that an applicant be related to a Master Mason.
A number of terms, such as "appendant," "affiliated," "concordant," or "in amity" are used, sometimes interchangeably, to describe these bodies.
Until the first two decades of the 18th century, Freemasonry in the British Isles seems[weasel words] to have consisted of only one degree, although there have survived some references to symbolic elements that now appear in both the second and third degrees. Following the introduction of the second and third degrees in the 1720s, the Premier Grand Lodge of England, formed in 1717, frowned on anything beyond the first three degrees, viz. the Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason.
However, the Antient Grand Lodge of England, formed in 1751, claiming to be of an older tradition, with strong ties to the Freemasonry of Ireland and Scotland, allowed a wider range of more elaborate rituals to be worked. The Antients believed, rightly or wrongly, that their possession of the Royal Arch Degree gave them the older, more complete tradition, and they derisively called the Masons of the Premier Grand Lodge "the Moderns." When the two Grand Lodges merged in 1813, Article Two of the Articles of Union agreed that "pure ancient Masonry consists of three degrees, and no more," although by semantic wordplay that agreement included the "Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch" and allowed some "chivalric degrees" 
The period from 1740 to 1813 saw a host of Masonic rites, orders and degrees emerge. These new rituals enlarged the scope of Masonry and encompassed many elaborations, some of which included elements which had previously been practiced within the craft. Many rites proved to be transient and died out (some being no more than a written record without evidence of having been practiced), but some proved more resilient and survived.
Different Masonic jurisdictions vary in their relationships with appendant bodies, if any. Some offer formal recognition, while others consider them wholly outside of Freemasonry. This leads to some such bodies not being universally considered as appendant bodies, but rather separate organizations that happen to require Masonic affiliation for membership.
Each Masonic body sets its own Membership requirements, which vary greatly. Many of these, especially those that actually confer additional Masonic degrees and orders, limit membership to Master Masons only. Others require the candidate to either be a Master Mason or have a familial relationship to one. Some require the candidate to be a Trinitarian Christian, which is more religiously specific than Craft Masonry, which accepts candidates of any faith as long as they declare a belief in a Supreme Being. Others require prior membership of other groups, or having held specific office in a group.
Membership is sometimes open, and sometimes invitational. In the United States, the York and Scottish Rites make petitions available to all Master Masons but reserve the right to reject petitioners, while other groups, such as the Knight Masons, require that one be asked to join by a current member.
Rites, orders, and degrees
In England after the degrees of craft freemasonry there are a large number of separately administered degrees and orders open only to craft freemasons, of which the following are some of the most popular:
- The Holy Royal Arch. Under the English Constitution, the Royal Arch degree is conferred only by Royal Arch Chapters (which are each attached to a Craft Lodge) under the governance of the Supreme Grand Chapter, which has many officers in common with the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE). The Holy Royal Arch is the only degree formally recognised by the UGLE as part of "pure, antient Freemasonry" along with the three degrees of Craft Freemasonry, and membership is widespread. Other orders and degrees are however referred to and acknowledged by the Grand Master, and all their members are necessarily masons subject to UGLE.
Two principal groups of degrees each administered from their own offices are:
- The Order of Mark Master Masons. Under the English Constitution this degree is only conferred in independent Mark Masters' Lodges; some of which are also warranted to hold Royal Ark Mariners Lodges.
- The Ancient and Accepted Rite (colloquially called "The Rose Croix"). In England, this Rite has no reference to Scotland. Although it is derived from the Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction of the U.S.A., the Mother Supreme Council of the World, and the names of its degrees are the same, it has different requirements for membership and the progression through its degrees is much more restricted.
Amongst many others are
- The Knights Templar
- The Masonic and Military Order of the Red Cross of Constantine and the Orders of the Holy Sepulchre and of St John the Evangelist, colloquially known as the Red Cross of Constantine. (This is an entirely different order from the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross in the U.S. Knight Templar system.)
- Order of the Secret Monitor
- Royal and Select Masters colloquially known as "the cryptic degrees".
- The Allied Masonic Degrees
- Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests
In Scotland after the three degrees of craft freemasonry most Master Mason are advanced as Mark Master Masons, this Royal Arch degree is worked in Craft lodges thanks to a special agreement between the Grand Lodge of Scotland and the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland. there are a number of additional orders open only to craft freemasons, of which the following are some of the most popular:
- The Royal Arch This order consists of three Degrees, the Mark Master Mason, Excellent Master and Royal Arch Degree. In addition the Royal Arch in Scotland also administers the combined order of Royal Ark Mariners and Knight Masons (usually called the Lodge & Council) as well as the three Cryptic degrees of the Royal and Select Masters.
- The Knights Templar, properly called the United Religious, Military, and Masonic Orders of the Temple, and of St.John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes, and Malta.
- The Masonic and Military Order of the Red Cross of Constantine and the Orders of the Holy Sepulchre and of St John the Evangelist, titled the Imperial, Religious and Military Order of Rome and the Red Cross of Constantine, Holy Sepulchure and St. John the Evangelist work five degrees.
- The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite - work similar degrees to the English and American orders but only confer the 18,30,31,32 and 33 Degrees, in Scotland they order is controlled by the Supreme Council for Scotland and all the degrees above the 30th are conferred in small numbers.
The following orders are administered in England, but have Conclaves and Units in Scotland
- Order of the Secret Monitor
- Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests
In the United States there are two main Masonic appendant bodies:
- The York Rite (sometimes called "The American Rite"), which, aside from the craft lodge, comprises four separate and distinct bodies: the Royal Arch Chapter (Capitular Masonry), the Council of Royal & Select Masters (Cryptic Masonry), the Commandery of the Knights Templar, and the York Rite College. The York Rite also includes Priories of Knights of the York Cross of Honor.
In Canada there are two main Masonic appendant bodies:
- The York Rite, being the older of the two, which, aside from the craft lodge, comprises four separate and distinct bodies: the Royal Arch Chapter (Capitular Masonry), the Council of Royal & Select Masters (Cryptic Masonry), the Commandery of the Knights Templar, and the York Rite College. The York Rite also includes Priories of Knights of the York Cross of Honor.
- The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.
In Ireland, after the Craft degrees conferred under the authority of the Grand Lodge of Ireland there are a number of degrees and orders that are administered separately and are open to Master Masons either by petition or by invitation.
- The Royal Arch in Ireland is unique, and regarded widely as being the oldest Royal Arch working in the world. Members of Royal Arch in England, Scotland or America would notice a great many differences in the theme of the degree from what they are used to. Royal Arch Chapters in Ireland also work the Mark Master Mason degree, which a Mason must obtain before being made as a Royal Arch Companion. Irish Royal Arch chapters operate under the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Ireland and both the Mark Master Masons and Royal Arch degrees are recognised by Grand Lodge as being part of "pure, ancient Freemasonry."
- The Knight Mason degrees make up the last part of "Universal" Irish Freemasonry. They are open to any member of the Craft and Royal Arch. They are frequently known in other constitutions as the Red Cross Degrees, namely, Knight of the Sword (formally Red Cross of Babylon or Red Cross of Daniel), Knight of the East (formally Jordan Pass), and Knight of the East and West (formally Royal Order). These degrees had previously been administered by Knights Templar Preceptories and some Royal Arch Chapters. In 1923 the Grand Council of Knight Masons was established to support and preserve the Degrees and the Councils that confer them. Irish Knight Masonry is now a worldwide masonic body and is continuing to grow. The Red Cross Degrees practiced under the Grand Council of Knight Masons are conferred in the correct chronological order and are given in far greater detail than any similar body anywhere else in the world. In other jurisdictions, it is invitational.
- The Military Order of the Temple, often known as the Masonic Knights Templar, confers Templar and Malta degrees. Membership of the Order of the Temple is strictly invitational.
- The Ancient and Accepted Rite of Ireland has strict requirements for membership. It is by invitation only and membership of Knight Templar is required. The degree structure is extremely close to the more famous Scottish Rite in America; however, as in the Ancient and Accepted Rite in England, progression through each individual degree is strictly by invitation only.
In northern Europe Freemasonry exists mostly in the form of the Swedish Rite.
Other orders and degrees
The following affiliated and/or appendant bodies confer Masonic degrees. Those who petition or are invited to membership must be at least Master Masons, although each body may have additional qualifications for membership:
- Allied Masonic Degrees. In the U.S., councils of the A.M.D. exemplify twelve Masonic degrees. In Canada, councils exemplify nine degrees in addition to the installation ceremony. In England, councils confer only five degrees.
- Royal Ark Mariners. In the U.S., it is part of the Allied Masonic Degrees. In England, separate lodges of Royal Ark Mariners are administered by the Mark Lodges under the Mark Grand Lodge. See Mark Master Lodge. In Canada, the degree is associated with the Cryptic Rite. In Scotland the degree is worked in the combined order (along with the Knight Mason degrees) titled the Lodge and Council, and is controlled by the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland.
- The Order of the Secret Monitor. In the U.S., the degree is exemplified as a part of the Allied Masonic Degrees. In the UK, separate conclaves of the Order confer three degrees.
- The Red Branch of Eri and The Order of Eri. In the U.S. and Canada, it is part of the Allied Masonic Degrees. In England, the Order of Eri consists of three degrees.
- Ye Antient Order of Noble Corks. A part of the Allied Masonic Degrees. In Scotland, and in some other countries, it is conferred separately, usually on Royal Arch Masons.
- The Knight Masons. Councils of Knight Masons confer what are sometimes known as the three Green Degrees: Knight of the Sword, Knight of the East, Knight of the East and West. In the U.S., the Grand Council of Knight Masons of the U.S.A. charters councils in amity with the Grand Council of Knight Masons which is based in Dublin, Ireland and is the Grand Council for all Irish Knight Masonry across the rest of the globe, In Scotland the degrees are worked in the combined order (along with the Royal Ark Mariner degree) titled the Lodge and Council, and are controlled by the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland.
- Royal Order of Scotland. The Grand Lodge of the Royal Order at Edinburgh, Scotland, controls approx. 85 Provincial Grand Lodges around the world, and confers two degrees.
- The Rectified Scottish Rite, known as CBSC from its highest exoteric rank, Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cite Sainte, or Knights Beneficent of the Holy City.
- The Rite of Baldwyn at Bristol. Practiced only in the city of Bristol, UK, the camp confers five degrees.
- The Holy Royal Arch Knights Templar Priests. A rite of 33 degrees, of which only the last degree is conferred in full form in "tabernacles."
- Societas Rosicruciana. Colleges confer nine degrees, or "grades."
- Order of St. Thomas of Acon. A commemorative chivalric order. Organized in "chapels."
- The Order of the Worshipful Society of Free Masons, Rough Masons, Wallers, Slaters, Paviors, Plaisterers and Bricklayers. Colloquially known as "The Operatives" and formed of seven degrees or "grades."
- The Hermetic Order of Gnosis, known as H.O.GN, organised in "Temples", confers two degrees, and is ruled by a council of seven. This Order is by invitation only.
- The August Order of Light. Temples of the Order confer three degrees. In England only.
- The Masonic Order of Athelstan. The Order is invitational, organised in "courts."
Other affiliated bodies
- Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, (A.A.O.N.M.S.). Shriners, as they are known colloquially, meet in Shrine "temples," and are well-known for their maroon fezzes, lavish parades, and sponsorship of children's hospitals.
- Royal Order of Jesters (R.O.J.) Colloquially known as "Jesters," local "courts" are limited to thirteen initiates yearly. Initiation, by invitation and unanimous ballot, is limited to members in good standing of the Shrine. 
- Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm. Colloquially known as "The Grotto;" members wear black fezzes.
- National Sojourners. An American patriotic organization for Master Masons who served as officers, warrant officers, or senior non-commissioned Officers in the U.S. Armed Forces.
- Heroes of '76. An American patriotic side order of the National Sojourners; see above.
- Tall Cedars of Lebanon.
- Order of the Sword of Bunker Hill. An American patriotic side order, focusing on Revolutionary War heroism, open to Master Masons in good standing in certain jurisdictions.
- Order of Quetzalcoatl. Colloquially known as "The Q", a group mostly in the West and Southwest United States.
The following affiliated organizations admit both Masons and female relatives of Masons:
- Order of the Eastern Star. Membership is limited to Master Masons and their close female relatives. The Chapter is run by the women; the Master Mason is just there to help open the Chapter. The female relatives are wife, sister, daughter, mother, and various grands, step relatives and in-laws Masons who are members of lodges under the United Grand Lodge of England are prohibited from joining this quasi-Masonic organization.
- Order of the Amaranth. An American androgynous order for Master Masons and their female relatives.
- Social Order of the Beauceant (S.O.O.B.). An American androgynous order for Knights Templar, their wives and widows.
- White Shrine of Jerusalem. An American androgynous order for Master Masons and their female relatives.
- Daughters of the Nile. Membership is limited to wives of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.
- Scottish Amaranthine Order is a Scottish androgynous order for Master Masons and their female relatives.
A number of Masonic-affiliated youth organizations exist, mainly in North America, which are collectively referred to as Masonic Youth Organizations.
- DeMolay International is the most common. Young men from 12 to 21 are eligible.
- Order of Boy Builders, formerly folded into DeMolay, now apparently revived in Kentucky.
- A.J.E.F., Asociacion de Jovenes Esperanza de la Fraternidad, for boys aged 14 to 21, active in México, the United States, and Latin America.
- Knights of Pythagoras, for boys aged 8 to 18; sponsored by the Prince Hall Masons.
- International Order of the Rainbow for Girls. Young ladies from 11 to 20 are eligible. Rainbow, though not active in all of the United States, is active in Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the Philippines.
- Job's Daughters. Young ladies from 10 to 20, who are daughters of Master Masons or daughters of a majority Job's Daughter, are eligible. The "Jobies" have Bethels in Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Philippines, as well as in many states of United States.
- Order of the Constellation of the Junior Stars, for girls, a junior affiliate of the Order of the Eastern Star.
- Gleaners are the Youth Department of the Order of the Eastern Star Prince Hall Affiliated. The local units are Branches; the members range in age from 8 to 18.
- Girls of the Golden Court, for girls 12 to 18, sponsored by the Order of the Golden Chain.
- Organization of Triangles, confined to New York State, for girls and young women aged 10 to 21.
- ^ Coil, Henry Wilson; "Degrees," pp. 165–168; Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia; 1961, 1996, Macoy Publ. Co., Richmond, Va. ISBN-0-88053-054-5
- ^ http://www.grandlodge-england.org/pdf/cr-rule-update2-141205.pdf Aims and Relationships of the Craft
- ^ In the United Kingdom, Article II of the 1813 Articles of Union between the "Antients" and "Moderns" declared that the Holy Royal Arch degree is the completion of the Master Mason degree. http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/england_grand_lodge.html
- ^ Jackson, Keith B. Beyond the Craft: The Indispensable Guide to Masonic Orders Practised in England and Wales, 2005. ISBN 0-85318-248-5
- ^ This is discussed in detail in the Prestonian Lecture (annual official academic lecture of the United Grand Lodge of England) of 1926, The Evolution of the Second Degree, by Lionel Vibert, published 1926 by Quatuor Coronati Research Lodge, London; re-published in 1965; again re-published in 1984 by Lewis Masonic in "The Collected Prestonian Lectures" (page 47ff).
- ^ This is discussed in detail in the Prestonian Lecture (annual official academic lecture of the United Grand Lodge of England) of 1925, The Development of the Trigradal System, by Lionel Vibert, published 1925 by Quatuor Coronati Research Lodge, London; re-published in 1965; again re-published in 1984 by Lewis Masonic in "The Collected Prestonian Lectures" (page 31ff).
- ^ Coil, Henry Wilson; "England, Grand Lodges, Union of 1813," pp. 241–242; Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia; 1961, 1996, Macoy Publ. Co., Richmond Va.
- ^ http://www.masonicdictionary.com/rites.html][http://www.themasonictrowel.com/Articles/Symbolism/rituals_files/rituals_7_doors_to_freemasonry.htm
- ^ http://www.orderofthesecretmonitor.org.uk
- ^ Grand Council of Knight Masons
- ^ http://www.sria.info
- ^ http://www.orderofstthomasofacon.org
- ^ http://www.operatives.org.uk
- ^ http://www.the-order-of-light.org.uk
- ^ http://www.athelstan.org.uk
- ^ http://iroj.org
- ^ http://www.easternstar.org
- ^ http://www.okpdc.org/?q=node/12
- ^ http://home.att.net/~district30/kop.html
- ^ http://www.iojd.org
- ^ http://home.att.net/~district30/gleaners.html
- ^ http://www.nytriangle.org
Masonic bodies associated with the York Rite Primary Bodies Honorary or Invitational BodiesKnights of the York Cross of Honour · Red Cross of Constantine · Allied Masonic Degrees · Royal Ark Mariners · Knight Masonry · York Rite Sovereign College · Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests · Sovereign Order of Knights Preceptor · Grand College of Rites · Masonic Order of the Bath · Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis · Reformed and Rectified Rite · Commemorative Order of St.Thomas of Acon · Royal Order of Scotland
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