The Rites in Freemasonry

Freemasonry, being an Initiatic Order, is based on Rites whose roots come to us from the most ancient times. The Rite consists of the set of rules and ceremonies constituting a whole, coherent and defined in different degrees. Apprentice, Fellow and Master for example, for the three that make up ‘blue’ Freemasonry or Symbolic Freemasonry.

The set of Masonic Rites has been codified and has evolved over time to correspond with the very evolution of the societies and men that compose them. The rituals thus define the specific practices of each Rite, for the opening and closing of the Works in the Lodge, for example, in each degree, as well as the particular ceremonies of each of these: Initiation of a profane, passage from Apprentice to Companion and elevation from Fellow to Master. Therefore, it can be said that each ritual and ceremony make up the Rite as a whole, within Symbolic Freemasonry.

Masonic Rites have no hierarchy and one could not say which is better than another. Each of them corresponds to a sensitivity and a particular approach to the history of spirituality. But they do all have in common the fundamental principles of Freemasonry, such as Tolerance, love of Humanity and the search for truth.

The Lodges of the Grand Lodge of Cyprus mainly practice the following Rites:

  1. Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
  2. Rite of Emulation.
  3. York Rite.
  4. French Rite.

You will find in this section a brief presentation of the most practiced Rites.

What is a Rite?

The Latin word Ritus from which the translation is taken rite means ‘a practice’ or ‘approved custom’ or an ‘outward observance’. Vesius derives it by transposition from the Greek, where it comes from and literally means ‘a trodden path’, and, metaphorically, ‘a long-lasting custom’. As a Masonic term its application is therefore apparent. Means the method of conferring Masonic light by a collection and distribution of degrees. It is, in other words, the method and order observed in the government of the Masonic system.

The original system of Speculative Masonry consists of only three Symbolic Degrees. Such was the situation of Freemasonry in the year 1717, at the time known in England as the Art Renaissance. This, therefore, was the original Rite or approved practice, and thus continued in England until the year 1813, when the union of the two Grand Lodges was effected, and when “the Holy Royal Arch” was declared to form part of the system.

But on the European continent the organization of the new systems began at an earlier time, and by the invention of what are known as higher degrees a multitude of Rites was established. All these are in accordance with an essential and important Rite. They were established on the basis of the three symbolic degrees, which in any case constituted the fundamental base on which they were established. His design was the expansion and development of the Masonic ideas contained in these degrees. The degrees of Apprentice, Fellow Mason, and Master formed the portal through which every initiate had to pass in order to obtain entrance into the interior of the temple that had been erected by the founders of the rite. They constituted the text, and the higher grades the commentary.

From here comes the law, that whatever the constitution and teachings of any Rite regarding the superior degrees that are peculiar to it, the three symbolic degrees being common to all the Rites, the Master Mason, in any of the rites, can visit and verify their labors in the Lodge of the Master of any other Rite. It is only after the degree has passed that the exclusive privilege of each Rite begins to exert its influence.

But there have been some of them that have survived solely through the influence of their authors, and have disappeared as soon as the parental energy that created them ceased to exist. Others have had a more permanent existence and still continue to live in the Masonic family, providing only various methods of acquiring knowledge for the same great purpose, the acquisition of Divine Truth by Masonic Light. Ragón in his work Tulier General, provides us with the names of one hundred and eight, under different titles of Rites, Orders and Academies. But many of these are not Masonic, being only social, political or literary. The following catalog comprises the most important of those which to this day continue to attract the attention of the Masonic student:

  1. York Rite.
  2. Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
  3. Modern or French Rite.
  4. American Rite.
  5. Philosophical Scottish Rite.
  6. Primitive Scottish Rite.
  7. Reformed Rite.
  8. Reformed Helvetic Rite.
  9. Fessler’s rite.
  10. Schroeder’s Rite.
  11. Rite of the Grand Lodge of the Three Globes.
  12. Rite of the Chosen of Truth.
  13. Rite of the Purple Veil.
  14. Rite of the Clermont Chapter.
  15. Pernetty Rite.
  16. Rite of the Flaming Star.
  17. Chastanier Rite.
  18. Filaletes Rite.
  19. Primitive Rite of the Philadelphians.
  20. Rite of Martinism.
  21. Rite of Brother Henoch.
  22. Mizraim rite.
  23. Memphis Rite.
  24. Rite of Strict Observance.
  25. Lax Observance Rite.
  26. Rite of the African Architects.
  27. Rite of the Brothers of Asia.
  28. Rite of Perfection.
  29. Rite of the Chosen Cohens.
  30. Rite of the Emperors of the East and the West.
  31. Primitive Rite of Narbonne.
  32. Rite of the Order of the Temple.
  33. Swedish Rite.
  34. Swedenborg Rite.
  35. Zinzendorf Rite.
  36. Egyptian Rite of Cagliostro.
  37. Rite of the Knights Benefactors of the Holy City.

In Freemasonry no Rite has supremacy over another and if the Rite has been recognized, it is the brother of all the Masons of the Universe.