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Royal and Select Masters

This Order of Freemasonry, was founded in England in 1873 being an import from America. The qualification to join is to be a Craft Freemason and a member of the Royal Arch and Mark degrees.

The Cryptic Degrees are four in number and are ruled by a Grand Council of their own which, however, in reality is in close alliance with Mark Grand Lodge, whose Hall is their Head Quarters.

They are "The Most Excellent Master," "The Royal Master," "The Select Master," and "The Super-Excellent Master," and their legends bridge the gap, historically, between the first Temple and its destruction.

The "Most Excellent Master" must not be confounded with the "Excellent Master" which is worked in Scotland and is really the "Passing of the Veils" in the Royal Arch, although it is kept separate and given first. Its Legend, therefore, is associated with the Second Temple, while the "Most Excellent Master" on the contrary deals with the completion and dedication of the first temple.

The apron, which is seldom worn, is white edged with purple, and there is a purple collar. The colour refers to the grief felt by the Brethren for the loss of the third Principal, whose chair is vacant.

The most striking feature in the Lodge room is a small replica of the Ark of the Covenant. In theory the qualification for the "Most Excellent Master" is only Mark, but as it is always followed by the "Royal Master," for which the Qualification is Mark and Arch, in practice the Candidate must hold both these degrees. The Ceremonies fill the gap between the Mark degree and the Royal Arch and complete the Ancient Circle of Freemasonry and the Hiramic Legend.

The various ceremonies last between 25 and 45 minutes depending on the degree and it is usual to go through the first three degrees at one meeting, followed by the fourth degree at the next.

Having understood this, it will become evident that the Cryptic Degrees, along with the Mark Degree, fill in the spaces between the Third Degree of Craft Masonry and the Exaltation ceremony of the Royal Arch. This is not the only reason for recommending the Cryptic Order; there are some very moving and beautiful passages in the ritual and some good lessons to be learned.

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