Difference Between York Rite and Scottish Rite

Among all the social groups that human beings have, secret societies are one of the most interesting terms used in this aspect. Secret societies are organizations that operate secretly.


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No one outside this organization knows who the members are; induction is usually a very weird process. Secret societies usually serve a purpose. All the members believe in or help each other in business, politics, etc.

Among these societies, Freemasons are one of the most famous and prominent societies. They have been around for a long time and supposedly have quite a few members, and that to prominent members of the society. 

In Freemasonry, a rite is a series of progressive degrees conferred by various Masonic organizations and bodies. The York Rite, also known as the American Rite, is a group of bodies that follow the masonic structure.

However, these bodies would have functioned independently if this rite were not present. The Scottish Rite, similar to the York Rite, is another rite of Freemasonry that refers to the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.

Key Takeaways

  1. York Rite and Scottish Rite are both appendant bodies of Freemasonry.
  2. York Rite has three bodies: the Chapter, Council, and Commandery, while the Scottish Rite has four degrees.
  3. While York Rite is more common in the United States, Scottish Rite has a wider reach internationally.

York Rite vs. Scottish Rite

York Rite is a collection of three separate Masonic bodies, each with degrees and rituals to achieve spiritual enlightenment and understanding. Scottish Rite is a collection of 33 degrees, each representing a different level of knowledge and understanding. It builds on the principles of the first three degrees of Freemasonry.

York Rite vs Scottish Rite

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonYork RiteScottish Rite
BodiesYork Rite has three autonomous bodies in it.Scottish Rite has four coordinating bodies under it.
CountryConferred separately in the city of York, where the first meeting of Masons took place in England.Predominant in the United States.
RecognitionIt is accorded officially everywhere.Not accorded official recognition by the Grand Lodge.
PolityDemocratic polity.Hierarchical polity.
OfficeProgressive office posts are held by different people from time to time.One post can be held for a lifetime.

What is York Rite?

York Rite is one of the many rites of Freemasonry, which primarily contains three autonomous bodies that would have otherwise functioned independently.

These bodies are the Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, the Council of Royal and Select Masters, the Council of Cryptic Masters, and the Commandery of Knights Templar.

Since they are autonomous, they are governed independently. However, they all come under the York Rite. Other than these three, some other organizations, such as the York Rite sovereign college, come under the York Rite. But these three are considered to be the major ones.

One important thing to note is that one should already be a master mason before joining the York Rite. The York Rite does provide additional degrees, but they are not deemed more important in any way than the main three ones it already provides.

The Royal Arch Masonry is the first step into the York Rite. After that comes the Mark Master, this degree revolves around the construction of King Solomon’s Temple. This virtue teaches the person the values of workmanship, charity, kindness, honesty, etc. 

The title of the Past Master is given to someone who has already served as a Worshipful Master of a lodge. The Cryptic Rite provides three degrees. However, it is worth noting that some US jurisdictions provide four too.

The degree Royal Master is about the days before King Solomon’s Temple was constructed. Then there are others, such as the Select Master, Super-Excellent Master, and the Thrice Illustrious Master. 

Finally comes the Commandery of Knights Templar. Here, it is worth noting that there has not been a connection between these and the Knights of Templar of the Crusades. The degrees included are The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, Order of Malta, and Order of the Temple.

What is the Scottish Rite?

Scottish Rite is also a rite of the Freemasons, which has four coordinating bodies under it. One usually joins the Scottish Rite to get further exposed to Freemasonry’s ideals, ways, and principles.

However, the Scottish Rite has not been awarded official recognition by the Grand Lodges, but only a freemason is allowed to join the Scottish Rite, and there are no bars in doing so. This means that joining the Scottish Rite is optional and depends upon the candidates’ will.

The Scottish Rite is a concordant body. This is because some of its degrees continue to the building of King Solomon’s Temple, which had been started in the first three lodge degrees.

There are degrees 4 to 32 here, but sometimes the rite can also award someone with a 33rd degree. This degree is given regarding special service. The Scottish Rite ceremonies are theatrical and usually held in auditoriums.

There are short plays, makeup, lighting, sound effects, etc. The Scottish Rite is divided into chapters, and in the United States, a single state usually has no more than two or three chapters. These chapters are also known as Valleys. 

In each of these valleys, there are smaller divisions, which are a kind of in-house lodges. They are the Lodge of Perfection, Council Princes of Jerusalem, Chapter of the Rose Croix, Council of Kadosh, and the Consistory.

Main Differences Between York Rite and Scottish Rite

  1. The main difference between York Rite and Scottish Rite is that York Rite has three autonomous bodies, while Scottish Rite has four coordinating bodies.
  2. York Rite was conferred separately in the city of York, where the first meeting of the Masons took place in England, while the Scottish Rite is predominantly in the US.
  3. The York Rite is recognized as official everywhere, while the Grand Lodges do not accord the Scottish Rite official.
  4. York Rite has a democratic polity, while the Scottish Rite has a hierarchical polity.
  5. York Rite has a progressive culture, and a certain post gets assigned to different people over time, whereas in Scottish Rite, a person can hold an office for a lifetime.
  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=TAEZopwOKNYC&oi=fnd&pg=PR11&dq=york+rite+masons&ots=sy8SCc_XSm&sig=Il1oT0_dRS3Hn_SWDrdFIFxB3Ds
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3509938
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