Our Masonic Family
The Masonic family is a loosely defined grouping of those with practices and beliefs complementary to Freemasonry that also either restricts their membership to regular Freemasons in good standing or to relatives of regular Freemasons in good standing. Those organizations restricted to Freemasons are generally termed concordant while those restricted to relatives, or requiring a Freemason as sponsor, are generally termed appendant. There is little agreement on the use of these terms; in the narrowest sense only the Scottish and York Rites are styled concordant while the Shrine and Grotto, not conferring degrees, would be defined as Masonic clubs.
Adding to the confusion, some Craft Grand Lodge jurisdictions will recognize those bodies by constitutionally recording that they are simply "in amity" with them. Not all Grand Lodges will recognize the same bodies. The important point is to understand that these bodies, and the various degrees they confer, are auxiliary or additional, and not superior to Craft Freemasonry.
Following are a few of the many organizations (which include youth organizations), within the family of Freemasonry. More detailed information is available on the following pages.
The Scottish Rite is one of the two largest concordant bodies of Freemasonry in which a Master Mason may proceed after he has completed the three degrees of Craft Lodge Masonry. The Scottish Rite work expands and elaborates on the lessons of the three Craft Lodge Degrees. As with Freemasonry, the Scottish Rite is not a religion, and is nondenominational, although it does require a belief in a Supreme Being.
The Scottish Rite, sometimes called the "University of Freemasonry," uses extensive dramatic plays and allegory to emphasize the messages of its degrees. A Freemason, after viewing these dramas, will eventually attain the 32nd Degree in Scottish Rite Masonry. To a non-Mason this may sound like the member is a high ranking Mason, however, this would be a misconception. The highest degree in Freemasonry is the 3rd, or Master Mason Degree. Degrees, as they relate to the Scottish Rite, indicate the level of experience that a Master Mason has attained. In the Scottish Rite, the 33rd Degree is an Honorary Degree, bestowed upon members who have given outstanding service to Freemasonry or their communities.
In the Scottish Rite, a Master Mason may become a member of four bodies — Lodge of Perfection, Rose Croix, Kadosh and Consistory.
The York Rite is the other major concordant body of Freemasonry in which a Master Mason may proceed to supplement or amplify the Craft Degrees, affording historical background on the work and meaning of Freemasonry.
Within the York Rite, a Master Mason may become a member of three bodies — Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, Council of Royal and Select Masters, and Commandry of Knights Templar.
The York Rite takes its name from the old English city of York. It is said that Athelstan, a British king, was converted to Christianity in York and that he granted the original charter to the masons guilds in that city nearly a thousand years ago. The York Rite is not a religion. Like the Craft Lodge, the Chapter and the Council are based upon the building of King Solomon’s Temple. The Commandry has a theme of Christian chivalry.
The Shrine was formed by Dr. Walter M. Fleming and William J. Florence in 1870 in New York, NY. In 1920 the Shrine founded what has become known as the "World’s Greatest Philanthropy", Shriners Hospitals for Children. Strictly speaking, the Shrine is not an appendent body, but rather a club for Freemasons.
Shriners are distinguished by an enjoyment of life in the interest of philanthropy. The approximately 300,000 member organization has a buoyant philosophy which has been expressed as "pleasure without intemperance, hospitality without rudeness and jollity without coarseness." The most noticeable symbol of the Shrine is the distinctive red fez that Shriners wear at official functions.
Shriners are Freemasons who enjoy life. They participate in parades, trips, circuses, dances, dinners, sporting events and other social occasions together. Every effort is made to be sure a Shriner has a variety of activities from which he may choose.
Related Organizations Allowing Women to be Members:
The Order of the Eastern Star is the largest fraternal organization, for men and women, in the world. Started in the mid 1800s, today there are over two million members worldwide.
Membership in the Eastern Star is open to women who are related to Master Masons. The members of the Eastern Star are dedicated men and women who sincerely reflect the spirit of fraternal love and the desire to work together for good. The moral and social purposes of the order are designed to build character, to promote friendship and harmony among members, and to practice charity
Formed in 1913, The Daughters of the Nile is an international, non-profit organization, comprised of women who are wives, widows, mothers, sisters or daughters of men who are Shriners. The purpose of the order is to assist the Shriners with their charitable work; to promote social, friendly fellowship within the order; and to advance and elevate the standard of Womanhood. The Order has grown to 148 Temples within United States and Canada, with approximately 75,000 members.
The Order of the Amaranth is a fraternal organization composed of Master Masons and their properly qualified female relatives. In its teachings, the members are emphatically reminded of their duties to God, to their country and to their fellow beings. They are urged to portray, by precept and example, their belief in the "Golden Rule" and by conforming to the virtues inherent in Truth, Faith, Wisdom and Charity they can prove to others the goodness promulgated by the Order. The extent of its charitable work and overall benevolence is limited only by the opportunities that exist and the ability to secure adequate funding. Its philanthropic project is the Amaranth Diabetes Foundation.