After receiving the Master Mason degree in the Blue Lodge, several doors are opened which a Mason may pursue to increase his knowledge of The Craft. In the United States, the York Rite system is one of the paths that a Master Mason may choose to take to further his Masonic education. It is comprised of three separate bodies, which confer the following degrees:
Most of these degrees also exist outside of the United States in much the same format, but are often found under separate governing bodies instead of as part of a single unified system. Several of the degrees conferred in the York Rite provide further explanation and legend relevant to the symbolism of the Blue Lodge degrees. The origin of the various York Rite degrees is shrouded in mystery and many of their customs date from time immemorial. It is known that the Mark and Royal Arch degrees in particular were once conferred under authority of the Blue Lodge, and became separated into independent bodies as part of the mutual agreement made following the schism between the Antients and Moderns Grand Lodges in England as they reunited and became the United Grand Lodge of England. The ancient landmarks of 1813, emanating from the mother lodge indicated "that pure Antient Masonry consists of three degrees and no more, viz., those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch." This should serve to demonstrate the importance and high esteem which these degrees hold in Freemasonry.
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