Royal and Select Masters (R. and S.M.)

From HistoryWiki

The Royal and Select Masters (R. and S.M.) are part of the York Rite of Freemasonry. This branch is referred to as "Cryptic" Masons, or the Cryptic Rite.

The Cryptic Rite derives its claim to the word "Cryptic" because the scene of the Royal and Select Master is laid in the underground Crypt beneath the Solomonic Temple. The word "Cryptic" means hidden. Hence its use in describing these degrees.


The Council of Royal and Select Masters, known as the Cryptic Rite fills what would be significant void in the complete story of the York Rite. The degrees controlled by the Grand Councils in the United States are, The Royal Master, The Select Master, and The Super Excellent Master. The first two have been named The Degrees of Preservation.

While Lodges, Chapters, and Commanderies predate the 19th century, Councils were not formed until the early 1800's, and in the United States. The degrees, however, had been conferred in Lodges and Royal Arch Chapters prior to the organization of Councils. At this writing, the Royal and Select degrees are still conferred in Royal Arch Chapters in Virginia and West Virginia and the Super Excellent degree does not exist in those states except when conferred under authority of Grand Councils of neighboring jurisdictions, with the approval of the affected Grand Chapter.


The Degree of Royal Master symbolizes a Fellowcraft in search of additional Masonic Light. His efforts are eventually rewarded and he is admitted into a select fellowship that has been entrusted with Cryptic secrets not yet available to the majority of the craft. However, as Divine truth can only be perceived by those who have attained an advanced state of spiritual awareness, the Fellowcraft, now a Royal Master, must continue his quest until the Temple is completed.


When the Temple of Solomon was completed, a number of secrets of the craft had been lost. The craftsmen were advised that future generations may rediscover them if they properly applied themselves with fervency and zeal. Future generations did discover these secrets and the Select Masters degree reveals how they had been preserved. This degree completes the education of the craftsman with regard to the concealed mysteries of Ancient Craft Masonry. It is the Omega of the Symbolic Rite. However, while the candidate has received this additional knowledge, he has also been confronted with additional symbolism which requires future application by him in perfecting his spiritual building.


The last or third degree in the Cryptic Rite is The Super Excellent Masters degree. The origin of this degree is unknown. It was not listed as a side degree of European Masonry in a catalog of over 700 known degrees which was published in the 19th century. ... The moral and spiritual lessons conveyed in the degree are: To Walk in Faith, Promote Friendship, and Practice Fidelity. These lessons are presented to the candidate in a clear and forcible manner.

Excerpted by permission from:

The York Rite of Freemasonry A History and Handbook by Frederick G. Speidel, page 40-41

Copyright purchased by Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America 1989

5097 Elston Avenue, Suite 101

Chicago, Illinois 60630-2460

Full text copies available from the above address


The General Grand Council has formed a foundation whose charity is Research in the Prevention of Arthritis.

The Grand Council of Royal and Select Masons of Ohio provides camperships to five summer camps which provide camping experience for diabetic children while also receiving support for their disease.

Members and Lodges

Palestine Council

William Emmett Buehler, 1911.

Unknown Lodge

Charles F. Lowy