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How long to become a Master Mason?

January 24, 2007

Fast Mason How fast can you become a Master Mason?  That seems to be a common question from potential candidates and Entered Apprentices.  I know that I asked it. 

Does the fastest person to become a Master Mason win?  Does the speed of progression through the degrees have any real impact on the experience of a new Freemason?

I know that a couple of jurisdictions are doing “one-day classes” where a new Candidate can become a Master Mason in a single day.  I’m not talking about those guys here, I’m talking about the 99% of Freemasons who do it the “old fashioned way” like me. 

I’m trying to find out what is a reasonable amount of time to spend as an Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft before becoming a Master Mason.  I’ve done some research, and I have found that it can take anywhere from 3 months to 3 years to become a Master Mason.  This seems to be based on the regulations in the area where you happen to join, the number of Candidates, and to some extent, the amount of material to learn before you can prove your proficiency.

I looked up my Grand Lodge’s Constitution and Regulations, and found out that in Alberta, “a candidate shall not be passed or raised at a shorter interval than four weeks.”  When I looked at the Degree History of several older Brothers in my lodge, most of them were in fact Master Masons in only 3 months. 

One of my Brothers who is helping me with my Masonic Education, was Initiated in 1954.  He was in a group of 9 Candidates – 5 were initiated one week and 4 the next.  He said that he actually joined when Freemasonry in Canada was starting to slow down.  He told me that historically Freemasonry has a “boom time” right after major conflicts or wars.  He joined right at the tail end of the WWII boom in Masonic membership.

Back then, they all had one month to learn and study each of their degrees.  3 months later, another group of around the same size would be Initiated.  I wonder if they had the same experience that I am getting by taking a little more time, or if they felt they were being pushed along on an assembly line?

Currently, my Lodge goes through each of the three degrees once per year, so technically it should take about a year to become a Master Mason. 

I was told yesterday that my Lodge was planning to have two Fellow Craft Degree ceremonies since we have 4 Entered Apprentices right now.  They are going to be at the end of February or the first week in March.  So it looks like I have about 5 more weeks to make sure I have everything memorized.  If everything works out, it will have taken me just over 3 months from Initiation to the Second Degree of Fellow Craft.

My concern right now, is not my ability to memorize and learn the material for each degree, but whether I will understand it, and REALLY see what “moral instruction” I am supposed to get out of it. 

I guess I’m not sure if I should try to understand all of the symbolism right now, or just memorize my requirements and try to absorb more things as I progress and experience Freemasonry in the future.

This is my 10th post on Freemasonry and my experiences as a Freemason.  Here is the Table of Contents of my Masonic Journey.

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7 comments

  1. More good thoughts and pretty much the same that I share.

    In my lodge, the minimum time seems to be 3 months from start to finish. However, the max may be up to the individual. I’ve been given many opportunities to move my next degree work to a later date, depending on my readiness. I’m always ready, so my response is that I’m ready to go whenever the lodge is. As it turns out, they’ve had to reschedule a couple of times to take care of other important business. Makes no difference to me…I’m just riding the wave. In the meantime, I spend hours reading up on any material I can get my hands on and trying to make sense out of what is real and not so real, who is authentic and who is a pretender.

    Like you, I’ve read “Freemasons for Dummies” and found it very enlightening. It does a good job of summarizing most of the key topics and answering most of the key questions.

    As for understanding the symbolism, my philosophy is that this will take time and will be gained by your own personal journey. I think it’s impossible to have a full comprehension even after attainment of the third degree. Perhaps a good source for understanding more about symbolism would be Albert G. Mackey’s book called “The Symbolism of Freemasonry.” Some of the concepts are a little obscure, but still it’s a good read. You might also want to check out Albert Pike’s “Morals & Dogma”.

    I enjoy reading your blog and sharing thoughts. Please keep posting and good luck!

    Fraternally,
    Carter


  2. In Conn, lodges typically run one or two “sets” of degrees each year, with a month between degrees. Last year, we had an EA in Feb, our FC in April, and the MM in June (yes, that’s 2 months in between), but in the fall we had an EA in Sept, the FC in Oct, and the MM in Nov.

    Often, a lodge will take a candidate to another lodge to receive the degree there because of scheduling issues. If three cadidates present themselves a week after the last EA degree, a lodge might take them to an EA degree being held in another lodge so they can take the rest of them in the mother lodge.

    One candidate missed the April FC degree, and so took it elsewhere. I was not able to have him at the June MM degree, so he waited until Nov, when we had 2 or 3 others, one being from yet another lodge.

    I’m not concerned by the time issue; if a member takes the degrees in 3 months and doesn’t feel like he’s gotten all the symbolism, well, that’s natural – there’s a lot of stuff and 3 months – or 3 years – isn’t enough time. Take the degrees and show up regularly, help out when needed, and perhaps volunteer to memorize some small parts to deliver them to new candidates. The symbolism can be read about in books, but to really internalize it, one needs to experience the work.

    It’s a Zen/Tao kind of thing, really.


  3. The rules of a Jurisdiction aside I say it takes the better part of a lifetime to become a Master Mason. In taking the FC Degree, you are in no way saying that you have completed your EA Degree – only that you have made the necessary proficiency. The Degrees are guide posts, they tell you about the challenges on the path in a symbolic and dramatic form. What is accomplished in the Degree is not necessarily accomplished in real-life simultaneously. Certainly there are Master Masons by title, who have no learned to circumscribe their desires and keep their passions in due bounds – I struggle with this lesson every day.

    That being said I agree completely with Brother Tom, the symbols need to be internalized via direct experience of the Work. Until the internalization occurs the transformation doesn’t begin. How long it takes the transformation is up to the individual – Freemasonry is not a competitive sport, there are no winners. Only Masters and Apprentices.

    J.


  4. To Tom and Jason,

    I believe you 100%. Although I’m reading anything I can get my hands on, I truly believe my true growth will come only with experience, the passing of time, and lots of introspection.

    Thanks for bringing it home.


  5. Great blog. I plan on keeping up with it. I’m an EA and sometimes I go over and over the material and I have noticed that i’m beginning to understand it more and more as I go along. I have a few weeks till returning my 1st and I know absolutely I will have the memory work proficient and have a pretty good understanding of what it is i’m memorizing. The number one thing I’ve learned since I began this journey is to have patience and not rush anything.

    JD


  6. JD said, “The number one thing I’ve learned since I began this journey is to have patience and not rush anything.”

    I am not a Mason yet, having turned in my completed petition just last week. But I can say that so far the process, for me anyway, has been a real test of patience. I don’t know if other lodges do it similarly, but I get sometimes the feeling that the process has been drawn out to really see if I’m devoted. (It’s been probably about a month from first contact to petition.) I’m of course speculating here because I don’t know anything more than what I’ve read here and on a host of other sites. But I can say that I am learning that patience is definitely a virtue. I have simply mentally stepped back, and am letting things happen as they will happen. If this is the path I am to follow, then doors will open for me. If not, then I’ll seek other paths.

    Thanks for a great site!!!


  7. I wonder if the purpose of joining a lodge is to better you community. Why take time to memorize material you will forget in a month?



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