Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Rituals and Degrees in Freemasonry

Rituals in Freemasonry are what Freemasons use to make new members and teach simple lessons about morality and conduct.  They may be performed on a regular meeting night, but they're usually done by themselves at a special, or called, meeting.
The rituals are designed around the symbolic story of the building of a temple and a new mason goes through three degrees and three different parts of the temple.  To a Freemason, the temple is his own character; the designs are the virtuous and moral lessons sacred to his own religion, and the architect is the Grand Architect of the Universe.   The three degrees are as follows.
  • The Entered Apprentice: First Degree
A new Mason becomes initiated and made into a mason (after taking an oath) with The Entered Apprentice degree. This degree represents youth.  It teaches the most basic lessons of the belief in God, the necessity of charity, truth and the value of keeping one's word. 
  • The Fellow Craft: Second Degree
Once a Mason has made suitable proficiency in the Entered Apprentice Degree (usually by memorizing a part of ritual, the grip, password, sign etc), he can then be passed to the degree of Fellow Craft.  This degree represents manhood, the middle period of life.  The importance of education and work and the power of God are taught to the Mason in this degree. 
  • The Master Mason: Third and Last Degree
The Master Mason degree represents age.  Death is a big theme in this degree.  The brother is encouraged to reflect on the most important messages the degrees teach, on his deeds and to make peace with his God.  After being raised to Master Mason he is now called "brother" within the fraternity.

Is there no degree higher than the 3rd?    Though there is no degree higher than Master Mason in a Masonic Lodge, you've probably heard of 32° or 33° Masons.  They exists, but not in Masonic lodge.  There are appendant groups like Scottish Rite and York Rite that have higher degree numbers, but they don't "outrank" a Master Mason, nor are they any more important than a Master Mason. 
I will talk more about some of the many appendant bodies in the future.

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