Order of Royal
and Select Masters
The Grand Council of
Royal and Select Masters of England and Wales etc, was formally constituted on
29 July 1873 by four Councils chartered just two years earlier by the Grand
Council of New York. They organized themselves into a sovereign body under the
patronage of the Rev Canon G. R. Portal, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of
Mark Master Masons, who was installed as the Grand Master of the Order.
This Grand Council had its
vicissitudes but continues to prosper and today has many Councils overseas which
are controlled by District Grand Councils. The degrees in this group are
frequently referred to as ‘Cryptic Degrees’ but this description is not
strictly correct, as only two actually refer to a crypt. It is somewhat
surprising to note that to many, these ceremonies constitute nothing more than
interesting side degrees or a random collection of unrelated incidents in the
story of King Solomon's Temple, but to the serious and understanding masonic student, they prove
to be the essential link between the degrees of Master Mason and Royal Arch
Administered from Mark
Masons’ Hall, Grand Council governs over 160 Councils and exercises authority
over the following degrees:
Master. This degree is
supposedly held in the secret vault which has been constructed beneath the
Temple, consisting of several arches, into one of which the secrets were
deposited and later discovered. It relates how a well-known mason employed by KS
accidentally intrudes into the crypt where the three GMs were wont to meet and
confer, and illustrates the consequence of this intrusion. The symbolic colors
are red and black. (A similar legend may be found in the Allied group and is
also in one of the degrees under the A & A Rite.)
Master. This degree is
set in time just prior to the completion and dedication of the first Temple; it
highlights the completed vessels pertaining to the House of the Lord and refers
to a certain fellow craft making diligent enquiry of HA as to when he might
receive the secrets of a MM. The subsequent disquisition by our Grand Master on
the subject of death is one of the most enthralling pieces of ritual in
freemasonry. It also shows how the secrets came to be deposited in the crypt
where they were subsequently found. The symbolic colors are black and red.
Excellent Master. This degree deals with the completion and dedication of
the first Temple; it celebrates the completion of the whole edifice and mentions
the installation of the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy Place. It constitutes a
fitting ceremonial and dramatic preface to the Cryptic Degrees. The symbolic
color of the degree is purple.
Master. The legend around which this degree is built brings the story of’
the first Temple down to the time of its imminent destruction and refers to the
siege of Jerusalem by the troops of the enraged Nebuchadnezzar, following the
rebellion of the tributary Jewish king, Zedekiah. The symbolic color of the
degree is crimson.
Besides these degrees, there is also a Ceremony for
the installation of a Master of the Council.
Since January 24th 1990 this order has a 'Council' in the Netherlands: the
Council The Netherlands, number 163. The number of
members of this council is not known.
Dutch Grand Orient has allowed this Council upon the condition that this type of
freemasonry is not to be spread in the near future by the founding of new
councils. The RSM are open for freemasons that are Mark master masons and Royal
On the CD-Rom York Rite Library we have
published more rituals and other texts of this order.