What are the 3 main degrees of Freemasonry?
In Freemasonry, degrees define the status of Freemasons. In lodges, they mimic the steps through which a person ascends to a higher condition of knowledge. However, if you are a new candidate, it won’t be so easy to acquire them!
The degree system of Freemasonry also often appears confusing to the non-mason.
This is the story of the 3 Degrees of Freemasonry.
When the Craft spread in different parts of Europe, it evolved into multi-grade and degree systems, like the symbolic degrees, chapter degrees, ineffable degrees, historic degrees, philosophical and chivalric degrees, official and ceremonial degrees, and honorary degrees.
All of these degrees, which are 33 in total, are given on specific merit and ability. For example, you have to be a ‘Master Mason’ for 14 years in order to acquire the 32nd degree, which is ‘Sublime Prince of The Royal Secret’.
But the three main and symbolic degrees accepted in almost all regions, are:
- Entered Apprentice Degree.
- Fellowcraft Degree.
- Master Mason Degree.
You can’t access other parts of Masonry or acquire more degree until you don’t have these above three Blue Lodge Degrees.
Allow us to explain each of them in a tad more detail.
The Entered Apprentice Degree
This first degree teaches many important lessons to new candidates. It includes all the basic lessons, such as the presence of one God, the importance of charity, speaking truth, etc.
For that reason, it is represented as ‘Youth’.
You simply can’t just apply for the first degree – it’s an acquired qualification with a qualification procedure.
For example, you must be 21 years old to join Entered Apprentice. Furthermore, there shouldn’t be any kind of previous felonious criminal record.
The Freemasonry lodge is particularly strict about the character. Their main goal is to allow only those who have good moral characters in the lodge. For that reason, your background is researched.
Also, the primary officers of the lodge ask you a series of questions which you have to answer in a proper form to prove that you belong to the chain of Brothers who have passed the ritual down through centuries.
After the qualification procedure, there is a secret ballot in which the lodge members accept or reject your membership.
All in all, you begin your first journey in Entered Apprentice by learning about the basics and showing dedication. You also take part in the study of the lodge and comprehend its workings.
What do you study in Entered Apprentice?
You study and do many things in the first degree, some of them are:
- Learn the language of Freemasonry.
- Memorize the structure and teachings of the degree.
- Know which subjects are not proper for discussion in the lodge.
- Have a point of contact with established members.
- Understand the actual lodge responsibilities.
The Fellow Craft Degree
The second degree is known as the ‘Fellow Craft Degree’.
In this degree, you are focused on education and work. However, in order to be in the Fellow Craft, it is imperative for you to properly learn the rituals of the first degree.
This degree can’t be acquired if you haven’t spent enough time in the Entered Apprentice.
In Fellow Craft, you learn about adulthood and responsibility. That’s why acquiring education and working hard is immensely important here.
You build your character in a way and learn how to improve the society you live in.
They specifically explain and educate you about Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Orders of Architecture, and etc. In addition, your duties increase too. You promise to help your brothers and obey the rules of the lodge with unbounded enthusiasm.
There are some additional benefits of the Fellowcraft degree:
- You learn about the teachings of Fraternity.
- Discover how to achieve things and change your destiny.
- You are not a candidate anymore. You are a Brother.
- Develop lasting and endearing friendships.
- You are allowed to enter the Middle Chamber.
The Master Mason Degree
This degree has significance in Freemasonry. It has the crown status in Blue Lodge and represents ‘wisdom’.
Perhaps, that’s why it can only be acquired by time, patience, and perseverance. Master Masons are taught the principles of morality and virtue.
How long does it take to become a Master Mason from initiation?
Well, there isn’t any specific answer. According to some experts, you have to spend 2-3 years in the Blue Lodge. But, some Freemasons claim that it can be achieved within a few months too – this highly depends on your lodge and jurisdiction.
Furthermore, there are lots of other factors that play an important role, such as how long it takes you to prove your proficiency, the number of candidates in the lodge, and the regulations of the area, to name a few.
The Master Mason degree can also be divided into multiple sections.
The first section is like a ceremony and an explanation that defines the duties and tools of a Master Mason. In other section, you learn about the utmost importance of the Order.
They affirm your faith in the resurrection of the body and immortality of the soul. But this is just the tip of an iceberg.
There are some advantages to becoming a Master Mason too:
- You have a right to voice in the administration of the affairs.
- The physical nature is purified and developed to a high degree.
- You can apply for affiliation under different circumstances.
- An affiliate Master Mason also has the right to a Masonic funeral.
In general, the Blue Lodge degree proves your proficiency and status in the Freemasonry.
Besides, as we have mentioned earlier, if you want to access the other parts of Masonry, it is essential to receive all these three degrees of the Blue Lodge.
In a way, this is the beginning of your Masonic career.
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