The Latin word ritus, Whence we get the English Rite, signifies an approved usage or custom, or an external observance. Vossius derives it by metathesis, a transposition of letters or sounds, from the Greek whence literally it signifies a trodden path, and, metaphorically, a long-followed custom As a Masonic term its application is therefore apparent. It signifies a 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 a Masonic system. The original system of Speculative Freemasonry consisted of only the three Symbolic Degrees, called, therefore, Ancient Craft Masonry. Such was the condition of Freemasonry at the time of what is called the Revival in 1717. Hence, this was the original Rite or approved usage, and so it continued in England until the year 1813, when at the union of the two Grand Lodges the Holy Royal Arch was declared to be a part of the system; and thus the English Rite was made legitimately to consist of four Degrees.
But on the Continent of Europe, the organization of near systems began at a much earlier period, and by the invention of what are known as the advanced degrees a multitude of Rites was established. All of these agreed in one important essential. They were built upon the three Symbolic Degrees, which, in every instance, constituted the fundamental basis upon which they were erected. They were intended as an expansion and development of the Masonic ideas contained in these Degrees. The Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master's Degree were the porch through which every initiate was required to pass before he could gain entrance into the inner temple which had been erected by the founders of the Rite. They were the tent and the advanced degrees the commentary.
Hence arises the law, that whatever may be the constitution and teachings of any Rite as to the advanced Degrees peculiar to it, the three Symbolic Degrees being common to all the Rites, a Master Mason, in any one of the Rites, may visit and labor in a Master's Lodge of every other Rite. It is only after that Degree is passed that the exclusiveness of each Rite begins to operate. There has been a multitude of these Rites. Some of them have lived only with their authors, and died when their parental energy in fostering them ceased to exert itself. Others have had a more permanent existence, and still continue to divide the Masonic family, furnishing, however, only diverse methods of attaining to the same great end, the acquisition of divine Truth by Masonic light Ragon, in his Tuilier General, Supplies us with the names of a hundred and eight, under the different titles of Rites, Orders, and academies But many of these are un- masonic, being merely of a political, social or literary character. The following catalogue embraces the most important of those which has e hitherto or still continue to arrest the attention of the Masonic student:
1. York Rite. 2. Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite 3. French or Modern Rite. 4. American Rite. 5. Philosophic Scottish Rite. 6. Primitive Scottish Rite. 7. Reformed Rite. 8. Reformed Helvetica Rite. 9. Fessler's Rite. 10. Schrder's Rite. 11. Rite of Grand Lodge of Three Globes. 12. Rite of the Elect of Truth. 13. Rite of the Vielle Bru. 14. Rite of the Chapter of Clermont. 15. Pernetty's Rite. 16. Rite of the blazing Star. 17. Chastanier's Rite. 18. Rite of the Philallethes 19. Primitive Rite of the Philadelphians. 20. Mite of Martinism. 21. Rite of brother Henoch. 22. Rite of Mizraim. 23. Rite of Memphis. 24. Rite of Strict Observance. 25. Rite of Lax Observance. 26. Rite of African Architects. 27. Rite of Brothers of Asia. 28. Rite of Perfection. 29. Rite of Elected Cohens. 30. Rite of Emperors of East and West. 31. Primitive Rite of Narbonne. 32. Rite of the Order of the Temple. 33. Swedish Rite. 34. Rite of Swedenborg. 35. Rite of Zinnendorf. 36. Egyptian Rite of Cagliostro. 37. Beneficent Knights of the Holy City.
These Rites are not here given in either the order of date or of importance. The distinct history of each will be found under its appropriate title.
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