The degrees in the Council are termed "cryptic" because their storylines are centered on the legendary crypt believed to exist under King Solomon's Temple. While the Craft Degrees taught of the loss of The Word, and the Chapter degrees taught about the recovery of The Word, the Council Degrees teach about The Word's initial preservation.
In the Royal Master degree, the candidate steps into the role of a certain Fellowcraft named Adoniram who presents a piece of work—one of the Holy vessels of the Temple—for the inspection of Hiram Abiff. It is accepted, and after the Craft is called from labor to refreshment, Adoniram decides to linger behind and inquire of Grand Master Hiram Abiff to know when the secrets of a Master Mason will be given.
In the Select Master degree the Candidate represents Zabud, a particular friend of King Solomon who is permitted to enter the Council Chamber within the Ninth Arch located beneath the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Temple and is there privileged to observe Solomon, King of Israel, Hiram, King of Tyre, and Hiram Abiff as they furnish this newly completed chamber with the items which would be discovered 470 years later during the events depicted by the Royal Arch Degree.
This honorary degree is conferred upon members based on their continued labors as active members of a Council of Royal and Select Masters. The story of this degree takes place after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and although it is conferred by authority of the Council of Cryptic Masons, the story of this degree does not involve the Crypt beneath the Temple.
The Officers in a Council of Cryptic Masons are similar to the officers in a Symbolic Lodge, with the main difference being that the three principal officers all sit on the dais in the East, and some of the ritual duties of the Wardens and Deacons in the Symbolic Lodge have been redistributed to the Captain of the Guard in the West, and the Conductor of the Council in the South.
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