My Initiation Ceremony into FreemasonryJanuary 11, 2007
About a week and a half after my “Investigation”, I heard the good news that I had been voted on and accepted. I was now starting to get excited. It was near the start of October now, and the only bad news was that I might have to wait until January to be initiated – that was three months away! In mid November I was scheduled for a double hernia operation (I guess just one hernia wasn’t “manly” enough for me) so the timing seemed that it would work out anyway.
However, a week later I found out that I could be initiated in November, exactly 8 days after my surgery and that there was going to be another candidate initiated at the same time. I jumped at the chance and hoped that I would be recovered enough.
The day of my initiation rolled around and I was determined to be initiated and not wait until the New Year. I was quite sore and swollen, but I took some extra pain meds and put some extra tape over the Steri-strips that were holding my incisions together. I had some sort of idea about what would happen, but I figured that the initiation ceremony couldn’t possibly last longer than a half hour or so. I mean what could take longer than that? Little did I know…
The one thing that I was told before hand was that everything about the ceremony would be very dignified and respectful, and I didn’t have to worry about being made fun of or anything of that sort. As well, I was warned that I would be exposed to an incredible amount of information, and that I shouldn’t worry if most of it went right over my head. The analogy that was used was one of a tidal wave. Most of it would pass right by me, but in the end, I would still be quite wet. The most common comment to me before the ceremony began was “Don’t worry, everyone here went through the exact same thing.” Another comment was “This entire night and everything that happens is for you guys”.
I wasn’t quite sure of how comfortable I was going to be being the centre of attention for the whole night. I was getting quite nervous about what was going to happen. I had never actually seen the inside of the lodge room. I had seen pictures of what lodge rooms looked like, but I had no idea of how big it was or how many people were in there waiting for me.
Since there were two Initiates, part of the ceremony was done separately and other parts were done together. I was the first to enter the lodge room, so I only had to wait about a half an hour to begin. I was changed into a new outfit provided by the lodge, and sat in a chair just outside the lodge room door to wait. The one thing that really stuck out in my mind as I waited, was that there was an Outer Guard who literally guarded the outside of the lodge door with a sword. I had read about that, but I guess it never really occurred to me that he actually stands there all night each night and doesn’t get to participate in whatever goes on in the lodge room. At the time, I remember thinking that it couldn’t be a very fun job, but at the same time, I was also impressed at the seriousness of the whole affair.
I’m not going to go over all of the details of what happens in an initiation ceremony, but I will give my impressions about it. My Sponsors told me at the start not to look too deeply into the details of the ceremony itself, because it would take away some of the mystery and strip away from my enjoyment of the night. While I was reading “Freemasons for Dummies”, there is actually a part where it tells potential candidates to skip the next section of the book for that exact same reason. I knew some of the details before hand about what generally would happen, but it turned out that I didn’t really know anything substantial.
The initiation turned out to be an elaborate ceremony that was actually a huge work of memorization by what I later learned was the “Degree Team”. In sections of the initiation, I was quite “off balance” by the enormity of the whole experience. In one part of the ceremony, I repeated an Obligation that was being spoon fed to me in 3 or 4 word bits. Even so, I stumbled over my words in a few places. The Brother who was doing the spoon feeding, had an English accent, so I was also trying not to repeat the words in his accent and also listen to and understand what was being said.
I did have some initial moments of indecision right at the start of the ceremony. Everything that was going on was so new and strange that I was questioning myself as to whether this was a good idea. I remember thinking that “at the very worst, this will be a good story for the Grandchildren one day”. I became much more comfortable as the ceremony progressed, although it was still a little unnerving to be the focus of everyone’s attention for so long.
When the ceremony ended, everyone was asking me what I felt about it. People were constantly asking me if I thought it was very exciting. That wasn’t quite the right word for it right at the time. At the time, the words that popped into my head were “surreal” and “a little strange”. I think the enormity of the entire ritual was very unexpected to me. I was amazed that the Brethren had memorized speeches that must be averaging over 1000 words, and that every single word and step was choreographed and precise.
In hindsight, I guess it was exciting. I was quite nervous at the start and the experience was definitely in my dreams and on my mind for the next few days. When one of my Sponsors told me earlier that this would be “an adventure into the unknown”, he was right.
A Festive Board was held in the basement of the lodge, and it was excellent. I really enjoyed the conversation and meeting new people, although probably only 1 in 10 names stuck. At the end of the night, I was glad that I was now officially an Entered Apprentice Mason. The entire night was about 4 hours long including the meal and conversation. As I was leaving and looked around, it struck me that every single person in that room had gone through the exact same ceremony, and that shared experience brought every Brother just a little bit closer.
This is my 7th post on Freemasonry and my experiences as a Freemason. Here is the Table of Contents of my Masonic Journey.