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Entered Apprentice Requirements

January 17, 2007

EA Learning Since I have been Initiated, the task has now been my education into everything Masonic.  My lodge follows the Canadian Rite, although I understand that about half of the lodges here follow the York Rite.

I now need to be able to show proficiency in my current degree level of an Entered Apprentice Mason before I can proceed to the second degree of Fellow Craft. 

The first thing that I need to be able to do is answer a answer a series of questions.  These need to be memorized exactly as they are written.  There are 14 of them and I haven’t found it too difficult to do.  I believe that these questions are very similar to most lodges around the world.

The second thing that I need to memorize is my Obligation.  This is the same Obligation that I repeated at my initiation ceremony.  This is a lot harder to learn than the questions.  It is just over 350 words long and needs to be memorized exactly word for word.  The copy of the Obligation that I have is partially in code.  Many of the words only have one or two letters of the actual words, some are simply symbols, and the “penalty section” is actually blank. 

One of the Brothers who is helping me with my education, has been a Freemason for more than 50 years.  He told me that when he was an Entered Apprentice, no written material was ever given to the Initiates.  Everything was taught and learned by word of mouth.  I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been to learn the entire obligation that way.  When he was an Entered Apprentice, they also met 3 times a week. 

I have used every trick that I can think of to learn the Obligation.  I first started by writing it out and then breaking it into small sections.  I planned to learn two lines per day and this made it manageable.  I even recorded the sections that I was currently learning on my computer so that I could listen to them on my mp3 player or in the car. 

I did a search on the Internet and found an Entered Apprentice Obligation, and I also found one in a book while browsing in a bookstore.  Both of the Obligations were different from the one that I was learning.  The concepts were the same in each section, but the choice of words were different.  The Canadian Rite Obligation seems to be more modern than the other two ones that I found.  In many cases, each sentence was exactly the same in meaning, except many of the words were substituted with older similes that are no longer in our current vocabulary.  Another Entered Apprentice in my lodge was Initiated in a lodge in Ontario, Canada and his obligation was even slightly different from mine.  They all seem to be the exact same candy, buy just slightly different flavors.

Besides the things that I need to memorize, I also need to demonstrate the signs, tokens and modes of recognition.  These are the only real secrets in this degree.  I’ve heard, and I’m starting to realize, that there is more to Freemasonry than just knowing the small secrets.  Its one thing to read about the rituals and another to experience them and start to understand them.

The last thing that I need to learn is a basic understanding of the workings of the lodge itself.  It is a completely new world and there is quite a bit to absorb.  Things like when to sit or stand, which way to walk around the lodge, how to address other brethren etc.  It is however a very friendly and supportive environment and every single member is happy to help out.

This is my 9th post on Freemasonry and my experiences as a Freemason.  Here is the Table of Contents of my Masonic Journey.

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18 comments

  1. Are you sure that you need to learn the obligation itself? In Conn, we don’t. We do, however, learn the “lecture” that essentially walks you around the lodge and describes what happened.

    I found it helpful to record myself on a microcassette and play it in the car on the morning and evening commute. I’d play two or three lines, repeat them until I got them down, then go on to the next. I did that all through my officer’s chairs to learn the various parts.

    I also typed them out to install on my Palm, so whenever I had a few minutes I could look them up and read a few lines.

    Good luck to you. It does get easier, BTW.


  2. Hey Tom,

    Things must be a little different from Alberta to Conn with our respective rituals and requirements. Our “lecture” that walks us around the lodge is right around 1400 words long!

    If our “lectures” are similar, you guys have it pretty tough!


  3. As a FC, I’ve memorized the required material for two degrees now. At first I found it daunting. However, after continuous practice several times a day, I find my ability to memorize getting better. One thing I did was do a small sheet of just the questions, as they are in the cipher, to help guide me. I found that knowing the question helps in remembering the answer. For me, repetition is key. In the bathroom, shower, car, waiting rooms, during lunch break, before bed…it didn’t take long to get it down. For my EA test, a PM asked me if I wanted to take the test in lodge or one-on-one with him. I absolutely wanted it according to tradition, and that’s what I got. For some reason, seasoned Masons seem to think us newbies want the fast-track. Nothing could be further from the truth!


  4. Greetings Brother,

    I am not a Mason and we have never met, but I come to you in the sprit of the brotherhood and brotherly love shared by all men. My name is Eric. I have been faithfully married to my wife for over 10 years, and I have two children. I consider myself to be a man of faith, whose character and morals are beyond reproach. For a few weeks, I have been reading the many blogs listed in King Solomon’s Lodge. I found blog to be especially interesting because prior to yesterday, you seemed to be just a few steps ahead of me on our walk down the same path. Please allow me to share my experience with you.

    Like you, I too found Freemasonry interesting. I enjoyed the idea of coming together with other men who shared a belief in God. I looked forward to the day that I would become a Master Mason, my wife an Eastern Star, and my daughter a Rainbow Girl. I imagined us being one happy Masonic family. I had even started looking at Masonic rings. I was completely energized. As a result, I searched the internet day and night attempting to learn all I could to reassure myself that I was making a wise decision.

    Throughout our individual internet searches, I am sure we have encountered many of the same websites. Websites hosted by those who strongly supported Freemasonry, as well as those that for various reasons expressed strong opposition are not hard to find. I took neither of them too seriously, because I wanted to make my own well informed decision. I’d even found websites that exposed many of the rituals, handshakes, and passwords of Masonry. Therefore, I found myself reading my Bible, the story of Solomon and the Temple, the legend to Hiram Abiff, as well as tracing the genealogies of many well know and some lesser known biblical characters. More information was available that I could have possible imagined.

    In reflection, part of the personal discomfort with Freemasonry was the belief in just a “supreme being”. I began to question if I should even be considering an organization that recognizes “a supreme being”, without not acknowledge of the sacrifice of or the existence of Jesus as the Son of God. Nevertheless, yesterday (1/17/07) my search for greater understanding lead me to the Book of Revelations. I completed reading the book online at http://www.biblegateway.com , but later that evening I wanted to quickly review what I had read. Rather than restarting my computer, I picked up my hardcopy of the Bible.

    My Bible seemed to be under the guidance by a “supreme being.” It opened just prior to the Book of Revelations, and so that I ended up reading the books of 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and Jude. It was there I finally found guidance on the issue of my concern, and confirmed what I knew in my heart all along. I would like to encourage you to read it for yourself, and based on your own personal beliefs, rationalization and faith draw your own conclusions. For me, I believe the following text to be relevant to Freemasonry and its non-acceptance of Jesus.

    “ 7 Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. 9 Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. 11 Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.” 2 John 1:1-11 (NIV)

    I, by no means, believe that all Masons are bad people. There are many famous and important people among their membership. Furthermore, since the very beginning of my research, all the Masons that I have corresponded with seem to be nice people. Based on a free will, it will be you that determines where your search leads. It is my hope that in your search for “light,” study of you obligation, and interpretate the oaths you take, that you please consider the source and its possible meanings. I bid you good luck in following the path you choose, and I trust that you will wish me the same. I truly hope that you find all of that which you seek.

    God bless you, my brother.


  5. Well said Eric. I’ve been pondering this myself. Here’s my current rationale. True, good-faith Masons do not deny Christ. Out of respect for non-Christian brothers, it is not a topic for lodge to avoid conflict. That said, I believe there are organizations that fashion themselves after Freemasonry that are clearly anti-Christian. These are in no way affiliated with regular and duly constituted lodges operated under official Grand Lodges.

    I was very, very skeptical when I first started on my journey about a year ago. Being the curious guy I am, I have spent hundreds of hours researching primarily and secondary material to be better informed, and to shore up my convictions in this fraternity. I have much, much more to learn, but I am at greater peace with it today than when I first began. A true understanding takes a diligent student. I found the internet to be a good starting point, but I’ve received most of my hard knowledge from books.

    Best wishes!


  6. Congratulations on your progress, Brother. As to your means of study and memorization… You might want to check with your candidate’s coach to see if it is allowed to record or write down any portion of your proficiency. Here in Washington or the state of California it is not.
    Please keep in mind that once you digitize any portion of our work you make it that much easier to be disseminated to those who have no reasonable claim upon it.
    I am candidate’s coach for my lodge in Washington. Years ago when I took my degrees there was a cypher, but a candidate was not given it until he had taken his 3rd degree. My EA and FC candidates now are given a cipher covering the degree they have just taken, and are enjoined never to reproduce it’s contents in any way, shape or form.

    Best of luck.
    Br. David


  7. In Maryland, we had to learn a shortened description of the entire EA ritual as our catechism. It sounds similar to what Tom’s describing as a lecture–except we did have to repeat the entire obligation. I just stood competency this last week. The obligation and remembering the sequencing of everything was the hardest part for me. We have to learn the wording EXACTLY. My understanding is that this requirement differs state to state…I got to watch an EA in DC this last week, and theirs was very different than MD’s.

    MD doesn’t allow writing of any of it, nor do they provide anything–even a bit–to help study. I and my fellow apprentices had to learn it orally through repetition…it took me about 2 months to do it, spending about 2 hours/week with the instructors. I found myself repeating it to myself on my way to work or when walking the dogs…which helped a lot, although it did reinforce some of the stuff I remembered wrong from classes. I’d suggest asking your older brother for some mnemonic tips for the wording…our instructors gave us some and they were a tremendous help.


  8. Eric,
    Masonry predates Christ by some accounts some 1500 years. There have even been some Masonic symbols found in the Inca and Mayan ruins. Most predate Christ.
    From your studies about and around Masonry I am sure you have found that the fraternity does not descriminate against any person except that they must be of age and have a belief in a “Supreme Being” and be of good moral character.
    Your references to the 2nd Bok of John would necessitate Masonry to be only Christian in its nature. That is not the case as Masonry accepts those who are Hebrew, Hindu, Muslim, Bhuddist or any other religeon that recognizes God or a Supreme being by any name. I know of Lodges that have rather diverse memberships made up of many races, cultures and religeous sects. To me that is what gives Masonry the strength to continue and teach the precepts of our Fraternity.
    To not associate with or fraternize with another group of men because of their non-christian beliefs I believe is counter to what Freemasonry is about. Cristianity certainly espouses the same beliefs that are the foundation of masonry: Faith, Hope, Charity, Brotherly Love and Relief.
    Entering Freemasonry is and always has been a decision based upon your own free will and accord. If you find that the Fraternity does not meet your needs and desires on this important topic of religeon then make your decision accordingly.
    Despite some of the criticism made against Freemasonry as to religeous content of any kind, I have found that only the reference to a “Supreme Being” or “Architect of the Universe” to be referenced or stated. God is known by many names throughout humanity. Much of the teachings of Freemasonry is purveyed through the use of symbols. But none of those symbols should be construed as anti any religeon, religeous doctrine or belief.
    For myself, I have found Freemasonry to be very rewarding and helpful in my journey through life and it has had a huge influence on the way I now approach life. I belive that any man can experience much of the same through Freemasonry… the choice is yours and yours alone.
    Lastly, your reference to the passage of the 2nd Book of John is such that is open to interpretation as it sounds to me that passage refers more to teachers or ministers who teach religeon. As Fremasonry refers to the Holy Saints John; St. John the Evangelist and St. John the Babtist it is easy to understand that the teachings of Christainity are paralell and concordant to the teachings of Freemasonry. Freemasonry teaches a good man to be better!
    The differences I have tried to point out is one reason why Masons do not get into deep discussions about religeon. It can be the cause of discord among the Fraternity that can devide and cause it it to fail. So I must disengage at this point. I just wanted to point out a different perspective.
    So Eric, God Bless you on your search for the light of wisdom that will enrich your life.


  9. In the US, the states have different requirements, and even those change over the years. Conn did not have a written monitor at one time, then there was an unofficial one (our lodge has a copy someplace), and at some point in the early to mid 1900s they had a 2-book system: one in code, the other having the cypher. That changed to one book in mostly English, and in the 90s the entire book was English, with the Obs in code. We are giving some thought to changing everything again, since the entire work is being revised.

    I know that some states are mouth to ear only. Some unrecognized jurisdictions actually read the work during ceremonies. I’ve been told that this is more common in the Droite Humane lodges in Europe.

    Our newly raised brothers are given a cypher of the “walk around” lecture. In theory, they are supposed to memorize it before the next degree. However, what with degrees being only a month apart some members barely even have time to meet with a mentor. We do, however, expect them to be able to answer some questions on what happened and when.

    Not knowing any better, I memorized the entire thing, including the EA obligation (I figured out the code by checking the Anti-mason sites that had various rituals published). I was tested, and someone asked me why I’d learned the Ob. “You’re not supposed to memorize that part!” I said that it was in the little pamphlet that they handed out, so I went at it. That’s okay – it made things much easier on me a few years later when I gave the EA degree as a Junior Warden on a move-up night!


  10. My understanding is that you can’t reproduce any of the words in any fashion i.e., record it, type it etc. I was given a catechism booklet that I have to use to study. 8 pages worth of text. As much as I know it would help me memorize it, I won’t record it or type it. I have to memorize the entire book and return all of its content in a few weeks. Wish me luck.

    JD


  11. Some jurisdictions require a person to burn the paper he’s written on, if he needs to write it down to help him memorize it.

    I typed mine, and then trnasfered it to my Palm so I could read it every chance I had. I encrypted the file, and set it so that it could only be opened in one particular program.

    Of course, anyone could download a copy of Duncan’s Ritual from the web…


  12. Here in Scotland i have just went through my 3rd degree,we have 52 questions for the first then 46 for the second.also we stand up in an open lodge were a large number of masons are present and get asked the questions,were we have to give the answers word for word,and i can tell you its nerve racking.i found only hard work was the key to remembering our answers i have the booklet in my hand constantly,after they are done we are then duly prepared for the next part of the degree,most of the lecture is done in the 2nd part


  13. Greeting to all. I am a Christian man who is about to be an E.A. I have prayed and thought about it for a while and was shown the light by God. Have any of you served in the armed services? I have been in the US Army for ten years myself. Well the is a thing called the chaplains corps in all branches of services. These chaplains have to hold not only a masters in relion or divinity but have to have pastored a church for 2 yearsand be approved by their chosen faith I’.E. baptist, catholicism, or jewish. What elses is intersting besides these men being masters of their faith they also have to know rituals and rights for others faiths and denominations. When a Chaplain prays to God he is Praying to his god everyone in every unit I have been in bows their head non believer and believer alike bows in repsects to our individual vision of our personal saviors.

    My question to you is that would you call a chaplain a backslider because he prays in the open with a generalized prayer even though in his heart he is praying his prayer to his God and savior. I would gather 90% of the people here would not.

    So when you go to the lodge and hear you universal prayeruse what is in your heart to pray to your God and not let people put their own convictions in your heart. It is your judgement not theirs.

    God Bless in your walk


  14. I am an EA in Virgina Logde 185. We have no written material that we use, and are forbidden to write it down .All taught by a coach , (a fellow brother), we meet at least 3 times a week a hour each session to go over the degree work. I live on the border of North Carolina and A Mason that works for me has told me they are also supplied written material to study. We are also restricted by time allowance, you are given six months to complete to Master. Not sure if that can be extended. I believe that I have learned alot about masonry by meeting so many times. Good luck to all .


  15. North Carolina absolutly does not allow any assistance either written or recorded when memorizing the complete catachism. Also, the response above by brother Bill to Eric is correct. Since all faiths are welcome it would be inappropriate to make reference to the name one religion uses for God and not the others. So whether you call him God as do we Christians, or Allah, or anything else, he is by all acounts the Great Arcitect.


  16. Greetings,

    I am a new EA, and have been very glad to find likeminded men in many walks of life. I have to say that the concepts of acceptance appealed to me in very important ways. My great Grandfather was a Mason and I was interested in it as well, but lived under the misaprehension that since I was not a Christian that I was not welcome in the degrees. As an active Buddhist find many of the ideals of my faith are mirrored in Masonic sentiment. It is my belief that when the brothers of my lodge provided for me a book of the teachings of Buddha for my obligation that they did not cheapen or betray their faith by acknowledging mine. I personally bow my head during any religions prayer as faith is a true and beautiful thing embodying the best of mankind most of the time.
    I am a student of religions eastern and western and believe in my heart that there are lessons to be learned in any holy book or writ that is based in love, compassion and personal growth.

    I feel, from my limited experience that the obligation I took precludes me from writing down any portion of my catechism or recording it to a digital or audio format.
    Thanks guys,
    Bear


  17. In Georgia, you better not be caught writing printing painting or by any other means having your obligation recorded.


  18. Please do not write anything down or record it. It shouldn’t matter if your state allows it or not. Because in all reality no state should allow it. Do they not remember the oath they took?
    And you should remember on that first night you took the very same oath and said you would not do the very thing that you are now doing.
    I am learning everything the way it was intended to be and so should everybody who has been properly vouched for.



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