The Council (Cryptic) Degrees
Royal Master – This is the first of the Council degrees. It is conferred in a place known as the council chamber, which represents the private apartment of King Solomon’s Temple, where he and his two associates met for consultation and deliberation during the construction of the Temple, and the drama portrayed in it sheds additional light on both the Master Mason and Royal Arch degrees. It and the following degree are essential to a clear understanding of the events of one section of the Royal Arch.
Select Master – In the Select Master’s degree which is the second of the Council the place of meeting represents a “Secret Vault” or crypt beneath the Temple. Fidelity is rewarded and the candidate is taught to guard the secrets of the degree with sleepless vigilance. The degree also commemorates the deposits of an important secret or treasure which, after the preliminary preparations, is said to have been made by our three Grand Masters.
Without the Royal and Select Master degrees, neither the Master Mason degree nor the Royal Arch degree is complete, for they rationally account for the concealment and preservation of the treasures revealed in the Royal Arch.
Super Excellent Master – This degree was not originally a part of the Cryptic system, and is not in all jurisdictions as yet. It has one of the best written rituals in Masonry. It deals with the incidents in the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar when Zedekiah, the last King of Judah, was conquered and carried captive to Babylon. It enlarges upon the section of the Royal Arch having to do with the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonian King, and teaches in most dramatic fashion the lesson of fidelity. The ritual teaches beautiful lessons on the death and ascension of our Savior and the candidate is at last received into full fellowship in the most solemn manner.
The Super-Excellent Master is an honorary degree, to which any Cryptic Masons is entitled by virtue of his being in good standing in his Council. This is classed as the most dramatic and spectacular degree in all of the Masonic systems.