In addition to the degrees of Freemasonry within the Blue Lodge (Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason) there are other Masonic organizations and groups that are affiliated with mainstream Freemasonry that you can join.
Each of these groups teaches people about the interesting elements of Freemasonry that are not necessarily covered in the Blue Lodge ceremonies. Many of the rituals of the affiliated groups offer unique insight into a particular aspect of Freemasonry.
Within Masonry, these affiliated groups are referred to as appendant bodies, and many of them started appearing in the mid-1800s, as Freemasonry began to expand its influence in cultures across the world.
Some of the early appendant bodies were created for the benefit of the wives and children of Masons. In contrast, others came into existence to offer a unique insight into a particular realm of Freemasonry. Let’s take a look at some of the appendant bodies of Freemasonry.
As always, this writing does not reflect the official views of Freemasons Community, but is merely the views of one Mason.
The York Rite
The York Rite is the descriptive term that is used to represent three cooperative groups that confer a total of ten degrees of Masonry in the United States. The three groups are:
- Royal Arch Masonry
- Cryptic Masonry
- Knights Templar
Each of the bodies within the York Rite offers a unique insight into Freemasonry and is a popular avenue for many brothers’ progression through the fraternity. The degrees that make up the York Rite are concordant with the degrees of Blue Lodge Freemasonry.
This means that they enlarge and expand on the first three degrees of the Blue Lodge and provide Masons with additional insight. In order to join the York Rite, you must already be a Master Mason.
The Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite
The Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry has a somewhat misleading title, as it isn’t particularly ancient and didn’t originate in Scotland. Like the York Rite, it is also considered a concordant body, because some of its degrees continue the story of the building of Solomon’s Temple.
Moreover, the Scottish Rite’s degree structure is complex and often misunderstood by those on the outside. Thirty-three degrees make up the Scottish Rite, and several controlling bodies confer them. The Scottish Rite builds upon the ethical teachings and philosophy offered in the Blue Lodge, and brothers are educated through dramatic presentation within the individual degrees.
Read more: York Rite vs Scottish Rite
Shriners International was formerly known as the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. Their headquarters are in Tampa, Florida, and they practice Freemasonry with a slight twist. Members of The Shriners wear red fezzes and are often distinguished in this way.
Over the years, they have raised an incredible amount of money for more than twenty children’s hospitals in North America. Their members pay significant attention to the core Masonic value of charity.
The Mystic Order of the Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm
The Mystic Order is a fellowship association of Master Masons founded in 1889 by LeRoy Fairchild in New York. While members are encouraged to participate in their respective lodges’ ceremonies and rituals, The Mystic order is not associated with any lodge in particular, and their activities are purely for fun.
The Order’s unique ritual is an elaborate stage production that offers lessons in optimism, brotherhood, and the benefits of Freemasonry’s fellowship. Like The Shriners, members of the Mystic Order wear a fez, and they also receive a membership card.
The Order of the Eastern Star
The Order of the Eastern Star is an incredibly unique Masonic organization because it is open to both men and women. The Order is open to men who are Master Masons and their spouses, female relatives, and any other female descendants of Master Masons.
The teachings of The Order are based on some of the stories within The Bible, but membership is open to anyone regardless of their religion. It is a hugely popular appendant body of Freemasonry, with approximately 10,000 chapters in twenty countries, and approximately 500,000 members.
The Order of the Amaranth
In many respects, The Order of the Amaranth is similar to The Order of the Eastern Star. It is a Masonic-affiliated organization that is for Master Masons and their spouses and female family members. The Order promotes a strong religious message, and members are constantly reminded of their duties to God, their country, and their fellow beings.
The Order of the Amaranth is organized into sects known as courts. Within the structure, women are addressed as ‘honored lady’ while men are referred to as ‘sir knight.’ Like many of the other Masonic appendant bodies, they have raised many millions for charity.
The Social Order of the Beauseant
Perhaps the most unusual group in American Masonry, The Social Order of the Beauceant does not permit men and is restricted to women only. The only women allowed to enter the group are the wives and widows of the Knights Templar.
The Beauseant has adopted the Knights Templar Eye Foundation as their official charity, and they have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the activities of the foundation.
The Tall Cedars of Lebanon
One of the most colourfully named relatives to Freemasonry, the Tall Cedars of Lebanon was founded as a fraternal organisation to promote ‘fun, frolic, and friendship.’ The fraternity’s name is derived from the cedars of Lebanon that King Solomon used to build his temple, which is perhaps the most important Masonic link.
While The Tall Cedars is predominantly for fun, they have undertaken a considerable amount of charitable work, and they have a long-standing agreement to sponsor the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Conclusion: the groups affiliated with Freemasonry
As we have explored, there are many groups affiliated with Freemasonry, that have been set up for different purposes and to attract additional members. At their crux, they all attempt to increase one’s understanding of Freemasonry, but they do so in very different ways.
Several groups permit women related to Master Mason’s and are very often charitable in nature. These appendant groups are incredibly popular and show the sheer scope and appeal of Freemasonry across the world.