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Ciphers – Grand Lodge policies on ritual books

Printed Rituals

The information on this chart comes from various sources. If anyone has definiteinformation for additions or changes on this chart, please send email to Paul M. Bessel so I can update this chart.

State Does the Grand Lodge use or allow Ritual Books?
Positive Attitude Negative Attitude
Alabama Strictly forbids ciphers
Alaska According to Freemasonry Universal, by Kent Henderson & Tony Pope, this Grand Lodge has a ritual cipher
Arizona At our 1999 GL Session, Arizona approved having one copy of the printed ritual (either clear text or cipher) open in
Lodge for use by a designated prompter. We have had an
approved cipher for over 50 years and a clear text ritual
since 1998.
Arkansas Strictly forbids ciphers
California According to an email message to me, the California Grand Lodge adopted a cipher ritual at its 1989 Annual Communication.
Colorado Has a ritual cipher
Connecticut Has a plain text ritual, with only essential secrets omitted
Delaware Has a ritual cipher
District of Columbia Yes. The Ritual Book usually has 3 letter ciphers for each word. All the work is in the cipher book. 1994
Florida Florida has instituted a first letter cipher which is available to all Master Masons. The only restriction is that it cannot be used in open lodge.
In Fla. each District is entitled to a copy of the work (all written out) which is kept in a safe on a property owned by a Masonic organization. In  Miami, it is kept in the Scottish Rite. The Zone Chairman of the Committee on Work can request dispensation from the Grand Master to open the safe on a limited basis during the year for review by the Brothers. The safe has 2 combinations and no one should know both combinations. The books are on display anywhere from 1 to 0 times a year. In Miami there are approximately 5,000 brothers. This past year (1999) they averaged about 8 -10 Brothers each time these books were available.
Georgia According to Freemasonry Universal, by Kent Henderson & Tony Pope, this Grand Lodge has a ritual cipher, but with strictly limited access
Each of 12 District Custodians of the Work have one copy of the ritual which has initial letters only. Lodge Directors of Work ask the District Custodians for clarification when needed.
The Grand Lodge of Georgia has one copy of the ritual, which the Custodian of the Uniform Work can access if he needs clarification on a question. District Custodians come to him for clarification when needed.
Hawaii Has a ritual cipher
Idaho Has a ritual cipher
Illinois Entirely written out, without the words, grips, and specific penalties, dated 1986
Indiana Cipher, dated 1990
Iowa Cipher, last revised in 1996
Kansas Cipher, dated 1992
The Kansas Cipher, approved by GL of Kansas, was adopted in1992, revised in 1994.  It is available through most lodges as a supply item for $10, and his first copy is generally given to a new Mason by his sponsor or the lodge. It is called “The Extended Cipher” and is a combined first and last letter cipher, with portions, generally prayers and lectures of the degrees, being in full text, with a few ritual phrases in cipher.  Prior to 1992 it was a first letter cipher for all ceremonies, lectures, prayers, etc.  (A fact often told the newer members by the older members, who proudly carry their older ciphers!)
Kentucky Kentucky printed a cipher book several years ago called “Th Ky Rtl” It was put together by a committee of members but was never enforced as THE ritual of Kentucky. It doesn’t agree with the current Kentucky Monitor (which is almost a ritual itself). Both are available to Brothers from the Grand Lodge.
Louisiana From an email to me: The Grand Lodge of Louisiana has recently (as of 2005) allowed the use of ciphers for the learning of esoteric work.
Maine Cipher, 1992
Maryland According to Freemasonry Universal, by Kent Henderson & Tony Pope, this Grand Lodge does not have a ritual cipher
Massachusetts Has published a ritual cipher book for many years. It is called the Official Cipher. The current edition is dated 1992 and is published by the GL of Massachusetts. It is said to be a combination of cipher and words.
Michigan One letter and whole word cipher, said to be very difficult, dated 1982.At the 1998 Annual Communication the voting Delegates approved Resolution No. 3 allowing the use of fully printed out
rituals minus the words, grips, etc.:
To the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Michigan: WHEREAS several different Masonic Rituals may be purchased any time from several locations throughout the State, and WHEREAS they are written out entirely, but many words, phrases and etc. are incorrect as per the Michigan Masonic
Ritual, and WHEREAS these incompatibilities in many cases change the meaning of the Michigan Masonic Ritual, and WHEREAS they demonstrate pictorially the signs, tokens, grips, words, passes and other means of recognition the
Fraternity has and very clearly, and
WHEREAS these Rituals are unauthorized and illegal according to Michigan Masonic Law, and WHEREAS the Members continue to purchase these Rituals, thus learning the work incorrectly, therefore causing the work to vary extensively throughout the State of Michigan, and
WHEREAS the Ritual was never meant to be secret in the first place, and
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this Grand Lodge authorize the Most Worshipful Grand Master, Right Worshipful
Grand Lecturer and Ritual Committee to prepare and print the now authorized Michigan Masonic Ritual out in its
entirety, EXCEPT the Signs, Tokens, Grips, Words, and Passes, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that each Lodge be issued and be responsible for one (1) of these Rituals, and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that these Rituals may be purchased by any Master Mason at a price yet to be determined, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the present coded Ritual continue to be made available. Respectfully Submitted,
Ritual Committee
Minnesota Has a ritual cipher
Mississippi According to Freemasonry Universal, by Kent Henderson & Tony Pope, this Grand Lodge does not have a ritual cipher
Missouri Missouri publishes the “Missouri Cipher” (adopted 1990) It is a several letter cipher and includes the entire work, Opening/Closing, three degrees, lectures, etc. Copies are available to Brothers at a cost of $10 for the Grand Lodge
Montana According to Freemasonry Universal, by Kent Henderson & Tony Pope, this Grand Lodge has a ritual cipher, first letter mneumonics
Nebraska Has a ritual cipher
Nevada According to Freemasonry Universal, by Kent Henderson & Tony Pope, this Grand Lodge has a ritual cipher
New Hampshire Has a ritual cipher
New Jersey There is a cipher with characters.
New Mexico The Grand Lodge of New Mexico has had a ritual cipher since 1996. It was done using a word processor by essentially removing the vowels and giving special treatment to words beginning with vowels. There are a few special characters used, but not many. For one year (1998?) the Grand Lodge approved a plain text public ritual with only the words and obligations enciphered. That was rescinded one year later.
New York There is a cipher/word combination, dated 1996.
North Carolina Has a ritual cipher
North Dakota Has a ritual cipher
Ohio According to Freemasonry Universal, by Kent Henderson & Tony Pope, this Grand Lodge has a ritual cipher
Oklahoma Does not have a ritual cipher
Oregon Has a ritual cipher
Pennsylvania All ciphers are prohibited
Rhode Island Has a ritual cipher
South Carolina According to Freemasonry Universal, by Kent Henderson & Tony Pope, this Grand Lodge has a ritual cipher
South Dakota Has a ritual cipher
Tennessee Does not have a ritual cipherWhile the entirety of our ritual is not written down, a great deal of it is in our “Tennessee Craftsman.” There are blanks in the Craftsman that are taught to the brethren but, in this case, it could be considered a cipher.
Texas From an email message in June 2008: Texas at last Grand Lodge approved the use of ciphers to help, but NOT in the lodge or on lodge property.  And it did not officially approve any specific cipher, just that use of them in training and memory aids were OK. old policy (?): In Texas it is considered a Masonic offense to have or use a cypher or code book. Art. 506. 24. To use cypher work relating to the esoteric work of any of the three degrees, or to have and retain in his possession such cypher work within this Grand Jurisdiction, or to sell, give, barter or exchange, any code book or other publication, the use of which is prohibited by the laws of the Grand Lodge, or be employed in the business of doing so.  Art. 648. Inquiry Into “Cypher Work.” It shall be the duty of the District Deputy Grand Masters to strictly inquire into the use of any “cypher work” in the possession of the Lodges or members thereof, and report the same to the Grand Master.
Utah Has a ritual cipher
Vermont Has a ritual cipher
Virginia No. Strictly prohibited.
Washington Yes, cipher and monitor.
West Virginia Does not have a ritual cipher
Wisconsin Has a cipher book
Wyoming Has a ritual cipher
SUMMARY 42 U.S. Grand Lodges have a positive attitude toward ritual ciphers or plain text ritual books (2 U.S. Grand Lodges have ritual ciphers but limit access, and thus cannot be said to be positive about them) 10 (or 9)  U.S. Grand Lodges do not have ritual ciphers and prohibit their members from having them

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