I made it! Six months after being Initiated as an Entered Apprentice I was raised to the sublime Degree of a Master Mason.
It was a very memorable experience and I enjoyed this Degree Ceremony the most of the three. When I was initiated as an Entered Apprentice, everything was just too surreal and strange for me to really enjoy the experience. I really had no idea of what I was getting myself into at that point. My Fellowcraft Degree Ceremony was somewhat similar to my Initiation, and was memorable, but the Master Mason Degree was very interesting…
As I have said in earlier posts about my Masonic Degree Ceremonies, I am not about to reveal the juicy bits of the ceremony that would take away from the enjoyment of anyone who has not been through them. Nor am I going to reveal any of the secrets of the Degree. I’ll just relate my experience and impressions here.
I will have to admit that I have recently read several books and watched a few documentaries on Freemasonry. I intentionally skipped sections that showed portions of the Degrees that I hadn’t gone through yet, but I still had accidentally gained some knowledge of some things that were going to happen in the Degree. I’m glad to say that the limited amount of information that I knew beforehand didn’t really made a difference to my enjoyment of it.
An analogy would be someone who says that they know what Olympic Athletes go through because they have watched the Olympics on T.V. The real life experience is always much better, complete and rewarding. Just like an Olympic Athlete, a new Freemason goes through much more than just the “Final” event. There is all of the preparation, learning, practice, dedication as well as the friendships and social activities that happen along the way.
Here is my account of my Raising.
I arrived at the Lodge about 40 minutes early and I was surprised to see that there were a lot of cars there already. There were a number of guests there from other Lodges as well as some faces that I hadn’t seen in a while. I went downstairs with a Brother to go over my material that I would have to “prove-up on” one last time. I was sure that I knew it all, and it would only be my nerves that might mess me up.
When the Lodge opened, I was sitting in my regular seat beside the Senior Deacon. He mentioned to me that once I was a Master Mason, I could choose to sit anywhere in the Lodge. I think that I’m going to try the opposite side at the next meeting.
After about ten minutes, I was called to approach the Altar to start my examination. Just like in the Fellowcraft Degree, I had to stand in a very upright and straight-legged position. The questions that I had to answer took only a few minutes, and they were not a problem for me. Having gone through the Fellowcraft Degree already, and knowing what to expect, helped out quite a bit.
I am used to speaking in public infront of groups and I am good at appearing calm, but when you are standing straight-legged and not moving at all, there is no place for any nervous energy to go. I couldn’t walk around any or even give hand gestures as I answered the questions. Right in the middle of the first question, my legs started shaking. I tried to reason with myself that there was nothing to be nervous about since I knew everyone in the room, but I knew I would just have to wait it out. I tried bending my knees a little bit and this helped. By the end of the questions, my nervousness had almost faded away.
When I finished the questions, the Worship-full Master asked if anyone else wanted to hear anything else. I hoped that the “billion to one” chance would happen and nobody would ask to hear my Fellowcraft Obligation, but I wasn’t in luck. I made it through my Obligation with only one little hiccup, where I paused for a second or two, but I still nailed it.
I was then asked to retire from the Lodge Room and get into the spiffy pajama outfit that I had worn for the previous two Degrees. After I changed, I still ended up waiting about ten minutes before the next part of the Degree would start.
The Brethren who were outside of the Lodge Room with me, tried to “helpfully psyche me out”, before we went back in. If I could summarize all of the warnings that they had for me, they would include the words: handcuffs, full frontal nudity, goats, lube, being sore for a week etc. The more positive and excited I seemed about these possibilities, the more outrageous their warnings seemed to be. I’m not going to reveal any secrets, but I will let the uninitiated know that some of those words weren’t in the Degree.
When I was led into the Lodge Room again, many things had been changed and I knew that this was going to be very different from the other Degrees. Some of the elements of the ceremony were the same, but the overall ambiance was more similar to the initiation ceremony in the movie “The Skulls” than the other two degrees.
I was awkwardly moved around the room by two Brethren who held my arms and brought me to various places in the room throughout the ceremony. The awkwardness was mostly my fault, as most of the time I guessed wrong in the direction that I thought we were going to move. I was brought before the Junior and Senior Wardens to prove my knowledge of the passgrips, passwords, grips and tokens of the previous degree. I was well prepared and everything went well.
My Master Mason obligation seemed to be very long. There were some lines that were similar in all of the obligations like “I’m gunna do this here stuff that I’m promisin’ to do”…. or something similar to that, but it was much more indepth than the previous obligations. The pieces of it were fed to me in small bits, but I did struggle at times to be able to understand what I was saying. I was more concerned at hearing all of the words correctly, so that I could repeat them back. Some of the words I mumbled back a little bit, because I wasn’t sure if I had heard the word incorrectly or whether I simply had never heard the word before and it wasn’t in my vocabulary.
There were the parts where I was taught the “secrets” of the degree, but I was very confused. The signs and grips were all very strange to me. The passwords were all very odd as well. They were not any common words or even English sounding words and were only whispered in my ear. I managed to whisper them back, but it was more like a whisper/mumble of hopefully similar sounding syllables… I’ll have to get more clarification later.
I was not prepared for the following events in the Degree. There were similar lectures and accounts of legends and history as in the previous degrees, but there was much more “drama”. I had heard that this was the favorite Degree for the Degree Team to put on, because there was much more for everyone to do, and I now see why. While the other degrees were more similar to lectures, this was more similar to a production, and I was one of the actors – totally unprepared, but part of it anyway.
Once the “production” was over, I was allowed to retire from the Lodge Room again and change back into my regular clothing. We then took a break and went downstairs for pizza and refreshments. The energy of everyone was very high at this point and it truly had been fun for the brethren who were putting on the degree so far.
The second part of the Degree was more similar to the other Degrees. Before I was led back in, I had to give the Master Mason password. I was a little overwhelmed with knowledge at this point and really didn’t have a clue as to which one to use. Thank God the Tyler gave me a hint.
Once inside, there was the Master Mason tracing board, where I was instructed on the various symbols of the degree. I was also given a lecture on the Working Tools of the Degree and some other short lectures from various Brethren.
The most memorable part of the Degree was when my Fellowcraft Apron was removed and my Master Mason Apron was put on. It seemed very heavy and thick and also seemed quite large compared to what I had been wearing before.
After the ceremony, we went back downstairs for more refreshments and to celebrate.
My Lodge follows the Canadian Rite and some of our guests were from Lodges that follow the York Rite. We discussed the similarities and differences between the two Rites and it seems to me that they are very similar in content. The difference is in how much is done in the “theatrics and production” of the degrees while delivering the content to the candidate.
The Master Mason Degree was definitely a good and memorable experience for me and will forever be remembered as one of my life’s major milestones.
This is my 24th post on Freemasonry and my experiences as a Freemason. Here is the Table of Contents of my Masonic Journey.