The Cryptic Degrees of the York Rite
Only the first two degrees are regularly worked, the third degree, that of Super Excellent Master, is worked as an honorary degree, not being required as a requisite for membership in the Council. It is also somewhat peculiar in its association with the Cryptic degrees, as it is more closely allied in theme and character with the Royal Arch and the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross.
The history of the body as a whole is also shrouded in uncertainty and controversy. Though there is early evidence of Councils of Royal and Select Masters being worked in the United States, the degrees were worked variously by their own Councils, Royal Arch Chapters, and even Lodges of Perfection of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
Though the Scottish Rite has long relinquished any claim to these degrees, several Grand Jurisdictions (VA & WVA) still confer them as a part of Capitular Masonry. In England, the degree of Most Excellent Master is grouped with this body.
In the United States, all business is conducted in the Select Masters Council, the other two bodies only being opened for the conferral of degrees. Some jurisdictions hold "table councils" in similar manner to "table lodges" as a social focal point of their local York Rite bodies.