The Entered Apprentice Degree
The candidate must be prepared; mind body and soul.
The first and most crucial preparation as an entered apprentice is the preparation of the heart. The heart is the center of man; it allows blood to flow and emotions to clear. Beginning with the heart is the only way to truly work towards the goal, for if the heart is not ready, there is no way the mind is ready. Because the entered apprentice is going in looking for character building and strength, it’s vital to have an open heart prepared as the foundation for the building. Light cannot be found on a path carved by fear. Seek light with an open heart.
The candidate must be duly and truly prepared.
As an entered apprentice candidate, the candidate must be duly and truly prepared. This refers to the wearing of special garments specifically picked out by the Lodge. Rather than demonstrating qualifications such as money or worldly accolades, these garments are worn as an expression of humility. By wearing these garments, the entered apprentice is sincere in his intentions.
The candidate’s first requirement.
The first requirement of the apprentice is to offer himself up to the Masonic laws. By doing this, he is willingly becoming a rough stone to be shaped under the Brotherhood of Masonry. He MUST be willing and sincere in his willingness to abide by the laws and regulations of the Brotherhood.
If he does not choose to comply with these laws and ordinances, he will not be welcome within the Brotherhood. The candidate must also develop an open mind and willingness to learn what is presented to him. He must be available to learning new symbols, rituals, ceremonies, allegories, and emblems that he previously did not know.
If the apprentice does not understand and accept learning as part of the process, he will fail to assimilate Masonic teaching. He is required to spend his time learning and becoming educated through the process.
Brotherhood of masonry terms the entered apprentice must become familiar with:
The Hoodwink is a representation of total darkness. It is a symbol of the darkness in life and the existence of dark in the world. It is removed at a specific time, commonly known in the Brotherhood as the ‘moment of enlightenment.’
The hoodwink is a powerful symbol, and once removed, it’s a sign that the apprentice has crossed into the Brotherhood. It suggests that goodness, light, and truth don’t always find us. However, they can be sought out, specifically through this Brotherhood.
The Cable-Tow is a rope that can be used as a restraint or a tow. It represents complete acceptance and consent, such as would be used to restrain. It is also generally respected as a symbol of the voluntary and complete acceptance of and pledged compliance with whatever the Brotherhood deems best. The cable-tow is released when the apprentice has earned their way into the Brotherhood.
The entire meaning of the Degree is to take the Entered Apprentice out of the darkness, the helplessness of the world, into this light of Brotherhood and connection. The entrance is a symbol of this new world the apprentice is entering. This is the apprentice’s beginning, the beginning of a new life, new world, new responsibilities, new duties, new everything. He will now be a Craftsmen in the Brotherhood, no longer a lost soul in the outer world. Once they step through the entrance, it will be the beginning of a brand-new life, a serious undertaking.
The reception is when the Senior Deacon stops the entered apprentice and tells them of the prestige and how and why the apprentice is being received into the Brotherhood. The reception symbolizes the obligations and expectations ahead, reminding each apprentice that every action has a consequence, good or bad. Choose your activities carefully.
The holy saints john:
John the Baptist and John, the Evangelists, are the patron saints of Freemasonry. In choosing patron saints for the Brotherhood, they had also to determine the location where the Holy Saints had once manifested into human form. Jerusalem was the city of choice, and by this tradition, all lodges of the Brotherhood symbolically come from Jerusalem. Both Jerusalem and the Holy Saints John are valuable symbols used throughout Freemasonry.
Form of a lodge:
The Lodge is formed in the shape of a rectangle. Directionally speaking, it is built from East to West, and right between North and South. The Lodge’s far East area is where the Worship Master is stationed to dispense light and knowledge to all who seek Freemasonry. The Master must always be symbolically in the far eastern quadrant of the house.
The rite of perambulation:
Perambulation is the act of walking around a central point or object. In Masonry, the rite of perambulation is performed in a clockwise manner around the Altar from East to West. In this direction, the pattern of the sun serves as inspiration for the movement of the Freemasons. In this act, the entered apprentice is taught that life is a progressive path through knowledge and truth.
In the very center of the Lodge rests the Altar. On the Altar rest the Holy Bible, Three Great Lights of Masonry, a square, and a compass. The Altar symbolizes the worship and faith required to be a Freemason. It is located in the center to demonstrate the importance of having God as the center of one’s life.
Once the candidate approaches the Altar, he must perform his duties and offer himself to the Supreme Architect of the Universe. This Altar is the very symbol of faith itself, which is a powerful driving tool of Freemasonry. The Altar is the very central focus of the Lodge, reminding each brother that faith is power.
The worshipful master:
The brethren of the Freemasonry handpick the Worshipful Master. They choose someone who has sufficient integrity, wisdom, and knowledge of the ways of Freemasonry. Worshipful is an Old English word that means ‘worthy of respect.’
He is stationed in the East because as the sun rises in the East and sheds light on all who live, as does the Master on all who enter the Brotherhood. He wears a hat inside the Lodge to demonstrate superior rank.
As people often take their hats off as a symbol of respect in church or school, the Brethren uncover in the presence of the Worshipful Master. He also wears the hat as a symbol of his extensive knowledge. Because he is capable of teaching and bringing light to others, he wears a hat as a sign of high dignity.
The great light of freemasonry:
The Great Light of Freemasonry is a book used in the Brotherhood as a Volume of Sacred Law. In the United States, Grand Lodges will usually use the Holy Bible upon their Altars. Elsewhere, candidates often have their own substitutions. Some Lodges have multiple books; some have just the Holy Bible.
In California, there is a rule for the Freemasonry society that states no Lodge can remain open unless the Holy Bible is open on the Altar with the square and compass beside it. An opened bible on an altar signifies the importance of the teachings concerning Freemasonry.
The square symbolizes truthfulness, honesty, and morality. “Acting on the square” means acting with integrity. The compass symbolizes the duty that brethren owe themselves, as well as the restraint, skill, and knowledge this duty will require. The square and compass have long been a symbol of Freemasonry.
Once a candidate enters the Brotherhood in search of Freemasonry, he signs up to receive a degree through the intensive and lengthy learning process. At the heart of the Degree lies the Obligation – the Obligation that the candidate agrees to follow and live their existence by.
By receiving the Degree, the brethren have bound himself to Freemasonry and must assume specific duties for the remainder of his life. Taking in this Obligation is visible to everyone in the Brotherhood, and it serves a dual purpose.
In addition to binding the candidates to their role in the Brotherhood, it serves to protect the Brotherhood against someone who leaves or someone who reveals the Brotherhood’s secrets. The great truths themselves are no secret, but how it is taught through Freemasonry is a secret. No Brother shall expose the Freemason society through their wrongdoings, or else there will be severe consequences.
Penalties for violation of the obligation:
The penalty for violating the Obligation will result in either suspension or expulsion. The brethren who violate his Obligation will have to face the disciplinary board. They will then decide if the brethren in question will lose his membership or not.
He will also be the subject of contempt and disdain for all other Masons. This is a severe violation, and Obligations must be taken seriously. There will be no physical torment, as that is not how the Mason’s see fit to punish. However, that does not mean it won’t be a brutal penalty.
The lambskin apron:
The Apron symbolizes innocence and purity. It is now an emblem upon the badge of a mason. By purity, this means clean living, clean thinking, pure actions, loyal obedience to the Brotherhood, and goodwill bestowed upon the other brethren. The badge symbolizes the Masons’ working and building mentality, not a mentality of destruction and turmoil.
The rite of destitution:
The symbolism of the Rite of Destitution acknowledges ancient times when man believed that the planets controlled human fate and forced human desires. Within this belief lies ancient metals that each world controls. In ancient initiations, candidates were told to leave all metals behind.
No metals were to enter the Lodge in order not to disturb planetary influences. While the planetary symbolism has since died off, the impact remains. Candidates are still not allowed to bring anything into the initiation ceremony, including their passions, desires, and prejudices. He must be full of harmony and acceptance.
The northeast corner:
Traditionally speaking, the northeastern most corner is where the Lodge’s cornerstone is laid out. The apprentice must head to the Lodge’s northeast corner to receive instruction on which to build his Masonic edifice. This also symbolizes the new brethren providing a solid foundation for himself and the entirety of the Fraternity. He has a new foundation for himself, and the Fraternity has a new foundational member.
The working tools:
The Working Tools, presented to the candidates, are symbols of those used by the ancient operative craftsman in the Lodge on which he was working. These working tools represent forces and habits that shapes and reshapes the entirety of our society! By presenting them to candidates, it means there is still more work that needs to be done. The tools symbolize all that has been built and all left to be built.
In each Degree, at the end of the ceremony, the candidate is led to beginning his Masonic duties. The Charge explains these duties to each Brethren.
The Worshipful Master leads the candidates in a variety of lectures to discuss phases of the Ritual and insight into what to expect. Lectures on Freemasonry are also given to candidates.
King Solomon’s temple:
There is often a reference to King Solomon’s Temple, which leads some to the inaccurate conclusion that King Solomon himself founded the Brotherhood. Freemasonry started long before King Solomon’s time. However, there are rituals based on legends that connect with Solomon as well as the Temple of Jerusalem, which is why the symbol is used.
The proficiency is an arrangement of questions and answers that each candidate is required to commit to memory once a degree is received. These questions and answers are memorized to teach candidates the language of Freemasonry, teach about the received Degree, teach about the different points of the Obligation each individual has assumed, and prove that he is a Mason, part of the Brotherhood.
The origin of our ritual:
Around the year 1700, the Ritual originated from a man named William Preston. Interestingly enough, over the years, the Ritual has been refined and polished so much without changing the Ritual’s character. Before this, the Ritual was simply a continuation of practices and customs of the Freemasonry brotherhood’s day-to-day work.
Day to day tasks is soon to be replaced with symbology in a ritualistic sense. By the turn of the 19th century, Accepted Masons began to outnumber Operative Brethren within the Lodges. In the early years, there might have been one Degree; now, however, there are three degrees and no more.
The language of freemasonry:
A question commonly asked by candidates is why is the language of Freemasonry so different from the language and tones used in everyday life? Because the Ritual of Freemasonry was formed in the early decades in the 18th century, much of the language used is incorporated into the Ritual. If the time and resolution are spent to study the words of our Ritual, you will come upon that the thoughts and teachings imparted cannot be put in fewer words and still retain their meaning.
The emblems of an entered apprentice mason:
Each Emblem of the Degree is essential for the entered apprentice to study. Each emblem should be well-known and describable. The lamb, for example, is an emblem of innocence and suggests truth and valor or min. The twenty-four-inch gauge is an emblem of the twenty-four hours in a day. The gavel reminds the apprentice that as rough stones, their characters can be made into perfect polished stoned (ashlars) by utilizing and understanding Freemasonry’s teachings in daily actions.
When to rise and when to be seated:
The gavel in the hands of the Master of a Lodge is used as a guiding tool and symbolizes the ever-present authority and power of the Master. When the gavel sounds once in the East, the Brethren must all come to order at the beginning of Lodge.
Two raps of the gavel bring the Officers to their feet, and three raps of the gavel mean that all Brethren must stand. If everyone is standing, one rap of the gavel seats everyone in the Lodge. If you are addressed by name from the Worshipful Master himself, arise and face the East, give the due guard and signal of your Degree, and listen closely to the instructions given to you.
If you need to speak or wishing to communicate with the Worshipful Master, you must wait to be recognized until giving the due guard and sign of Degree. You’ll then be able to address remarks to him.
The Tyler is essentially a guard figure that watches the avenues approaching the Lodge. A Tyler is used to protect the Lodge against cowans, eavesdroppers, thieves, and other unauthorized personnel. They are particularly on the look for Cowans. A cowan is one who tries to disguise and dress up as a Mason.
He has not done the work but lies to gain admittance to the Lodge. An eavesdropper is one who tries to find the secrets and steal them. In order to enter the Lodge, a Brother must come properly clothed and qualified to enter. The Tyler must then inform the brethren about which Degree the Lodge is working and inform the Junior Deacon when a qualified brother wants to enter the Lodge.
The lodge prayer:
In order to open and close the Lodge, a prayer must be held by the Master or the Chaplain. The prayer is universal, not particular to any faith or religion. At the end of the prayer, all members respond by “So Mote it Be,” which translates to “so may it ever be” in modern English.
The rights of an entered apprentice mason:
Because an entered apprentice is still on his learning journey, he a not yet vote or hold office. He’s not entitled to organized Masonic charity yet but is allowed to receive all the assistance given from any Brother. He is entitled to a Masonic funeral. He can attend any lodge where Entered Apprentice Degrees are being presented. He has a right to receive instruction in his work and all matters regarding the Degree.
He won’t be able to receive the Degrees of Craft Masonry anywhere else without the home lodge’s consent. So if he were to move and wanted to continue his apprenticeship work, he must request a transfer from the Lodge Secretary at his old location.
They will then write the secretary of the Lodge at his new place, informing of his standing and requesting he be able to perform the remainder of his ritualistic work. He has the right to a trial if he violates his obligations. He also has the right to apply for advancement in the Lodge or a higher degree. An entered apprentice Mason can also make himself known to other masons by modes of recognition.
The responsibilities of an entered apprentice mason:
An Entered Apprentice Mason has limited Lodge responsibilities. He must keep everything entrusted to him a secret, conduct himself with proper attire and work hard and tediously to learn his proficiency and as much about the Craft as possible.
He must be committed to learning all the words and meanings perfectly. If he needs help learning or interpreting, he should seek help from others. He must be faithful to his obligations and obedient to the order of things.
He is responsible for himself and his learning path. He must keep the order of things in complete secrecy; as Freemasonry’s society provides a Brotherhood for life, he must swear to protect it and his fellow brethren. The work is not easy, and there will be things to give up. However, if you apply yourself with freedom and diligence, you will master this royal Art with ease and gratitude.