First Degree – Entered Apprentice
In all cases of difficulty and danger, in whom do you put your trust?
This statement at the introduction to the first or Entered Apprentice degree is the basis for all subsequent activity in freemasonry. An abstract idea that God exists is not sufficient for a Freemason. God is being in whom trust can be securely placed. All actions of a Freemasons are built on faith in God, to whom we pray and who has provided sacred writings to govern our faith. The integrity of the faith of a Freemason is demonstrated by his actions.
Etymologically initiation stems from Latin initiationem or initialis the “participation in a rite” or “pertaining to a beginning” and was first recorded in the 16th century. Today it refers to a ritual or rite of passage, marking a transition in the life of an individual from one state or status to another.
All human beings experience a series of such transitions in the course of a lifetime. Transitions can reflect biological or maturational progressions such as birth, puberty or death. Individuals may also experience a variety of other transitions pertaining to educational, occupational, legal, social or spiritual progressions. Human societies have always tended to mark such life transitions with rites or rituals such as baptisms, bar mitzvahs, graduation ceremonies, induction rituals, weddings or funerals.
Typically any initiation begins with a formal separation of the transitioning individual from the old state. The initiate then remains for some period of time in a marginal or transitional state divorced from both past and future. Then the actual transition occurs and the transitioning individual enters into the new state. Finally the rite or ritual is incorporated or reaffirmed.
Second Degree – Fellowcraft
The Fellowcraft is expected to study the liberal arts and sciences; grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. The hidden mysteries of nature and science are discovered and understood by an trained mind.
Third Degree – Master Mason
During the third or Sublime Degree of a Master Mason the candidate is raised from the darkness of ignorance and isolation into the light of truth and fellowship. This recognises the progress made in the improvement of the mind with the seven liberal arts and sciences, and the capacity to constructively focus emotional energy. Our personal happiness and the well being of society depend on the balanced use of intellect and motivation to the glory of God and the well being of all people.