Candidate Education

The Entered Apprentice Degree

Freemasonry Defined

Freemasonry is a system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. Not a religion but religious in character; it is a philosophy of ethical conduct which imparts moral and social virtues and fosters brotherly love. Its tenets have endured since man turned the first pages of civilization. They embody the understanding by which man can transcend ordinary experience and build "a house not made with hands" in harmony with the Great Architect of the universe.

Freemasonry is the oldest and most prestigious fraternal organization for men in the world concerned with moral and spiritual values. Its members are taught its precepts by a series of ritual dramas, which follow ancient forms, and use stonemasons' customs and tools as allegorical guides.

Its organizational structure shows its age. The basic organizational unit of the fraternity is the lodge. We believe the term comes from the lodges (shelters) constructed at the building sites of cathedrals and castles during the Middle Ages. Masons worked and lived in these shelters.

Each lodge is headed by an officer called the "Worshipful Master." "Worshipful" means "highly respected" or "honored." The term comes from the judicial system of England and carries no religious implication. "Master" means "leader “or” best qualified," as in "Concert Master" or "Master Architect."

Masonic lodges still retain self-sufficiency over their finances, activities, officer election, fundraising, and joining ceremonies. But administratively, each State or Province has a Grand Lodge which co-ordinates activities, serves as a central source of record keeping, and performs other administrative and policy functions for the fraternity. The state president is called the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge. He has extensive powers in managing the growth of the fraternity and while there is no national spokesperson for the fraternity, within his own state (Jurisdiction) he is the chief spokesman.


The Purpose of Freemasonry

What is the purpose of Masonry? One of its most basic purposes is to make good men even better. We try to place emphasis on the individual man by strengthening his character, improving his moral and spiritual outlook, and broadening his mental horizons. We try to impress upon the minds of our members the principles of personal responsibility and morality, encouraging each member to practice in his daily life the lessons taught through symbolic ceremonies in the lodge. One of the universal doctrines of Freemasonry is the belief in the “Brotherhood of Man and the Fatherhood of God.” The importance of this belief is established by each Mason as he practices the three principal tenets of Masonry: Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
Masonry is also the custodian of a tradition of initiation. It is the duty of every Freemason to preserve and perpetuate this tradition for future ages. This is a heavy responsibility and should give pause to any who would seek to make changes in the body of the Craft, except those with the highest motives and deepest understanding of the principles involved.

Origin of Freemasonry

How did Freemasonry originate? We are not sure when our craft was born. We do know it goes far beyond written record and we believe it was not always called Freemasonry. It is obvious that some of the ancient Mystery Schools of Egypt, Greece and the Near East influenced the ceremonies that are used today. These ceremonies were designed as tests, and admission was granted only to those who passed and were worthy of further instruction. Our ceremonies have some of the same elements, though probably of a less physical nature, while still maintaining its spiritual form. Specifically, there are points of similarity between our Fraternity and the society founded by Pythagoras and the Fraternity of Hermes at Hermopolis in Egypt. We can also find affinities in the great Mystery Schools of Isis and Osiris of Egypt, the Dionysiac/Orphic and Eleusinian Mysteries of Greece, and the Mithraic Mysteries of ancient Rome.
Other groups that carried on like traditions include: the Jewish eschatological sect of the Essenes - from whom some believe John the Baptist came; the Roman Collegia of Artificers - an organization of builders - that Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (under the Emperor Augustus) led in the first century; and, the Comacine masters who flourished at the fall of the Roman Empire. The last group provides some link with the cathedral building projects of the medieval ages that were virtual bibles in stone. Our connection with these great schools of the past and other organizations is tenuous at best, but nevertheless, a study of them yields deep insight into our own Fraternity. We will refer again to these august institutions within these booklets at appropriate places. It is generally thought that the medieval craft guilds gave rise to the operative lodges that in turn became the birthplace of Freemasonry as we know it today.

Transition From Operative to Speculative

What is the difference between Operative and Speculative Masonry? Operative refers to the time in our history when Masons actually performed the physical labor of building. They were the best at their craft, and they kept secret their methods of building. Speculative refers to the period of time when men were accepted into the Craft as “non-operative” members. They were not “physical builders,” but “builders of character” instead. We are unable to accurately pinpoint the time when we transitioned from operative to speculative masonry. The change was gradual and probably stretched over a period of more than 50 years. It began early in the 1600's and may have begun with the acceptance of patrons into the operative lodges, as was mentioned in the Entered Apprentice Degree instruction. Other members who were not interested in becoming stonemasons, followed the patrons. Those who were admitted by consent of the operative masons became “Accepted Masons.” Membership was desired because of the spiritual, social and cultural advantages. During this time, our Craft grew rapidly in numbers.
The decline of Gothic architecture and the reduced demands for great building projects greatly lowered the number of skilled operative craftsmen needed to carry on construction during this period. If we had not become Speculative Masons, our Craft would have been faced with extinction. Many of the institutions of that day did pass into oblivion; but by becoming Speculative, the Craft has grown to a point never envisioned by its founders. Much of this growth can be attributed to the formation of the premier Grand Lodge of England, when four old Lodges in London held a meeting at the Goose and Gridiron Tavern in June of 1717. At this meeting, a brother by the name of Anthony Sayer was elected Grand Master. From there, Masonry quickly spread over much of the world, and other grand lodges were established.

King Solomon's Temple

The frequent references to King Solomon's Temple in this and other Degrees, has led to the false conclusion that the Fraternity was founded by him. Freemasonry became an organized craft many years after the reign of Solomon. However, our ritual is based upon Masonic legends connected with both Solomon and the Temple at Jerusalem, which has helped enrich the symbolism. The Biblical passages regarding the Temple can be found in the First Book of Kings, Chapters 5 to 8, and the First Book of Chronicles, beginning in the second chapter.

The Origin of Our Ritual

Where and when did the Ritual work originate? The origin of our Ritual cannot be traced much beyond the years of the 18th century, or around 1700. The Ritual of Freemasonry was a continuation of the practices and customs of the day-to-day work of the Operative Freemason. The emphasis gradually shifted from the practical to moral and spiritual virtues as the Accepted Masons began to outnumber the Operative Brethren in the Lodges. In early Speculative Masonry, there may have been but one degree and a Master's part. After a few years, three Degrees were used.

Origin of the First Grand Lodge

By the first part of the 18th century, there were many lodges in England. By the year 1716, most of the lodges had only non-operative members. In December of 1716, on St. John's Day, a number of members met in London and had an informal meeting. As a result of this meeting the members of the four Lodges met again in London on June 24, 1717 on St. John the Baptist's Day and formed the first Grand Lodge. This became one of the most important dates in Masonic history, because it marked the start of modern Freemasonry as we know it today. With the exception of a few Lodges, every regular Masonic Lodge today was granted a charter or warrant from a Grand Lodge, and every one ultimately traces its origins back to Grand Lodges in England, Scotland, or Ireland. Every Grand Lodge has a certain territorial jurisdiction, or an area to represent. In the United States, every State, and the District of Columbia, is governed by a Grand Lodge.

Grand Lodge Titles

Titles of Grand Lodges in the United States also vary. Some are called A.F. & A.M., which means Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. The other most commonly used title is F. & A.M., or Free and Accepted Masons. The reason for this difference is that in England, when Grand Lodges first started, there was a rivalry between two different factions. One faction adopted the title “Ancient” and the other was called “Modern”. This carried over to the United States, where Grand Lodges were styled either A.F. & A.M. or F. & A.M.. However, because of the complex situation of charters in the U.S., there is currently no logical connection between either of the terms and the origins of American Grand Lodges. In California, we call ourselves F. & A.M: Free and Accepted Masons.

The Title “Free and Accepted”

How did the term “Free and Accepted” originate? Ancient craftsmen were very skilled, and their craft was considered to be indispensable to the welfare of both “Church” and “State”. For this reason, they were not placed under the same restrictions as were other workers - they were “free” to do their work, travel and live their lives in a manner befitting their importance. In England during the Middle Ages this freedom was rare. Most workers were under bond to the owners of the land on which they worked. Our legendary history carries this freedom for the Operative Mason back to the year 946, in York, England.
The word “Accepted” also goes back to the time of the operative mason. During the latter years of the Middle Ages, there were few educated men outside the monasteries of the world. Naturally, men wanted to become Freemasons to obtain the advantages the craft had to offer. These men did not necessarily want to build buildings; they wanted to belong to the organization. These were “Accepted” Masons, rather than operative masons. This practice probably originated when some of the people for whom the craftsmen were working asked to be admitted. This was an important transition for the Craft, because the secrets of the building trades were becoming more widely known, architecture was changing and membership was declining. By becoming “Speculative,” the Craft grew rapidly. As time went on, there became many more “Accepted” members than there were operative members, and eventually we became a Speculative rather than an operative organization.

Is Freemasonry a Secret Society?

The answer is no. A secret society is one in which the membership is concealed, the meeting places are kept secret, and knowledge of its organization and principles is unknown to the public. True, we have a few secrets in Freemasonry: a part of our ritual, our modes of recognition and the business of the Lodge. Portions of our ritual have been handed down within Freemasonry for centuries and form a part of our tradition. However, our purposes, ideals and principles may be learned by anyone who inquires. There are numerous books on these subjects available to the public. All printed Masonic information, with the exception of our esoteric work, may be freely discussed in public. As Masons, we wear lapel pins and other Masonic jewelry, march in parades with our distinctive aprons, advertise the time and place of our meetings and openly sponsor charities. We can hardly be called a secret society. We do prefer to keep our rites confidential, because keeping them sacred and solemn can only enhance their initiatory value.
It should also be mentioned that the true secrets of Freemasonry are contained within the repository of the faithful breast and cannot be revealed to those who are not duly and truly prepared to receive them.

Is Freemasonry a Religion?

Again, the answer is no. Because of the nature of the teachings of Freemasonry, we require our candidates to acknowledge a belief in a Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul. Otherwise, the ceremonies would be meaningless. But there is no requirement that one belong to a particular religion or a particular church. That choice is a personal decision. It is the opinion of our Order that membership in our Fraternity will only enhance a man's experience in whatever religious community he chooses to belong. An atheist cannot become a Mason, because he cannot express a belief in a Supreme Being.
Masonic ideals are not set forth in written creeds. For the most part, the individual Mason must interpret the rituals for himself and come to whatever understanding will satisfy his own mind and conscience, allowing others to do likewise. This is an example of Masonic tolerance, one of the primary principles of the Craft. It is a foundational principle and can be traced all the way back to Anderson's Constitutions of 1723 and 1738, which forbade all sectarian discussion in our assemblies. There is no Masonic dogma. Our Order seeks only to unite good men for the purpose of brotherhood - not to promote a specific religion. 
Can a Catholic become a Mason? There is nothing within Masonry that prohibits a Catholic from becoming a member. There are many misunderstandings by the public, and sometimes even our own members, concerning this issue. These misunderstandings have led to many false conclusions and created barriers where none exist, so far as Freemasonry is concerned. Some Catholic Popes regarded Masonry with disfavor and have issued edicts that condemned Freemasonry and prohibited membership to all Catholics. In spite of this, many prominent Catholics have become Masons. Our organization generally has given no official recognition to these edicts. We have chosen to follow a course of “silence and circumspection” since the first edict was issued in 1738 by Pope Clement XII.

The Use of Symbolism and Allegory

Freemasonry makes extensive use of symbolism and allegory. A general study of symbolism is recommended to every Mason. Research into the historical uses and meanings of symbols utilized in the rituals, as well as a comparative study of mythology, provides a sure foundation for Masonic education. Especially recommended to Masonic researchers is a working knowledge of the stories from the Bible. Whenever a person or story is explicitly mentioned or alluded to in the rituals of our Fraternity, it is our task to find out why.
In Masonry, the Lodge is the center of activity. It is symbolically the Temple of Solomon. All degree work (ritual) and advancement is done within the Temple. The Temple is considered to be an exact replica of the divine world. It is sacred; it is the center of the universe. Its structure, furnishings, dimensions, and proportions - its architecture - are a mirror image of the Divine. Usually a temple is high upon the mountain (to be closest to God) and is considered the center of the cosmos. It is sacred space, a place out of the ordinary. The Temple is the place where the human is most likely to encounter the Divine. 
Being Masons, we might expect that the symbolism of stones would be important. The importance of stone symbolism is pervasive in religious thought. We can find references connecting stones with the gods back to the remotest times. It has been considered by some religious historians as being an archetypal image representing absolute reality. Many of the old gods (i.e. Mithras) were thought to be born from stones (petra genitrix). Stones possess the qualities of stability, solidity, and everlastingness which are also qualities attributed to the gods. There are numerous references to stones throughout the Bible which allude to a link between the stone, the sacred, and spirituality. In Isaiah 28:16 we read: “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: ...” In Psalm 118: 22 we find: “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” Also, in Revelation2:17 we read: “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” We also read (Genesis 28:11) that when Jacob had his vision of the angels and the ladder reaching to heaven, he used a stone as a pillow. After he awoke: “Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Beth-El (God's House).”

Qualifications of a Petitioner

The qualifications to be a Mason are clear and distinct. There are physical, moral and spiritual qualifications. In California, the petitioner must be a man of at least 21 years of age. He must be free of any previous felonious criminal convictions and be of good moral character. He must also believe in a Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul.
The physical qualifications are necessary because the person must be free to make his own life decisions and be responsible for himself. The moral qualifications are self-evident for the viability of any brotherhood and the lofty ideals of our society. The two spiritual qualifications not only inform the entire structure of Freemasonry but also align the Fraternity with the great Mystery Schools and religions of the world. It is the transition from belief to knowledge that seals the mark of true spiritual initiation.

The Secret Ballot

After a man has applied for Masonic membership, and his background has been thoroughly investigated, the lodge members vote by secret ballot to accept or to reject him for membership.
Masonry's secret ballot is another of its ancient customs. It has been rather aptly said that when a petitioner is voted upon for Masonic membership he undergoes the 'Ordeal of the Secret Ballot'. To be elected, he must receive an affirmative vote from each and every member present at that meeting. Just one member out of all present - there could be twenty, or fifty, or a hundred members in attendance - can drop the black cube and deny him membership. When you consider the moral yardstick by which Masons measure membership applicants and that only one negative vote can reject a petitioner, it would seem reasonable to assume that a large proportion of petitioners would be rejected for membership. But that is not the case. Many, many more are elected than are rejected. That fact is testimony to the generally good judgment of those who recommend applicants, and it also indicates that the fraternity, by and large, attracts good men. 
Much has been said and written, pro and con, about the secret ballot. Some argue, not without logic, that it is not fair for just one member out of all those who may be present at a meeting to be able to deny a petitioner membership. Others argue, also logically, that if even one member knows something negative about a petitioner, then that one member should have the right and the opportunity to prevent the entrance into Freemasonry of one he feels would bring discredit to it. 

It goes without saying that the secret ballot is occasionally abused by a member who rejects a petitioner for mere petty reasons having nothing to do with moral fitness, but such instances are rare and in almost every election the good man is elected to membership. 

It is also undeniable that despite the requirements as to recommendation, as to background investigation, and as to unanimous secret ballot, an occasional undesirable person attains Masonic membership. Again, though, these instances are relatively rare. It should be remembered that if a member ever acts contrary to the rules and regulations of Freemasonry, he can be suspended or expelled from membership.

Preparation For Initiation

Ideally, the candidate should find his way to the door of Freemasonry on his own. If a man senses the stirrings in his heart for a deeper understanding of life than that he has heretofore found, he will seek until he finds the Fraternity. This turning of the heart is really the beginning of his initiation. Therefore, each candidate who comes seeking light is said to be first prepared in his heart.
While Freemasonry is not a religion, its ceremonies are of a serious nature, dignified in their presentation and impart teachings that, if properly understood, obligate a man to lead a better life. To get the greatest good from the ceremonies, a candidate should first prepare his mind to understand and absorb these teachings. The candidate should pay strict attention to every part of the ceremony, in order that he may gain some understanding of the teachings of Freemasonry. The methods we use in teaching may be new and unusual to the candidate, but these methods have been used for many centuries and have not changed significantly since they originated. Finally, he should remember that every Mason in the Lodge room is his friend and brother.

Duly and Truly Prepared

Being duly and truly prepared refers to the wearing of special garments furnished by the Lodge to emphasize our concern with man's internal qualifications, rather than his worldly wealth and honors. By wearing these garments, the candidate signifies the sincerity of his intentions. The symbolism of the Rite of Destitution reverts to those ancient times when men believed that the soul descended through the planetary spheres and vested itself with the qualities attributed to each sphere before birth. Each planetary quality corresponds to a specific metal. In ancient initiations, candidates were compelled to leave all metals behind, lest they bring into the assembly disturbing planetary influences. While this symbolism may no longer have an astrological character, the old point about excluding disturbing influences remains. The candidate is not to bring into the Lodge room his passions or prejudices, lest that harmony, which is one of the chief concerns of Masonry, be destroyed.
Being duly and truly prepared also refers to the state of a man's heart and soul as he seeks admission into our Order. “Seek and ye shall find. Ask and it shall be given unto you. Knock and it shall be opened unto you.” 
There are other factors involved in the preparation of the candidate that we will address in the next degree.

The Hoodwink

The symbolism of the hoodwink is twofold: first, it emphasizes the veil of secrecy and silence surrounding the mysteries of Freemasonry; secondly, it represents the mystical darkness, or ignorance, of the uninitiated. It is removed at the appropriate time; that is, when the candidate is in the proper attitude to receive Light.

The Cable-Tow

The Cable-Tow is a rope such as would be used to tow or restrain. It is also generally regarded as a symbol of the voluntary and complete acceptance of, and pledged compliance with, whatever Masonry may have in store. To many, the Cable-Tow is symbolic of the umbilical cord, which is necessary to begin life; but is severed when love and care replace it, and the individual grows on his own. The length of the Cable-Tow is frequently referred to in the language of Freemasonry, but many of the new Brethren do not understand its meaning. Formerly, a Cable-Tow was deemed to be the distance one could travel in an hour, which was assumed to be about three miles. In California this is any reasonable distance from which a summons may be answered, health and business permitting. Each Mason is bound to all other Masons by a tie as long and as strong as he himself determines his ability will permit. One may also consider the idea of the silver cord (Ecclesiastes 12:6) and the Cable-Tow.

Entering the Lodge

As an Entered Apprentice takes his first step into the Lodge room, he enters into a New World: the world of Masonry. He leaves the darkness, destitution and helplessness of the world for the light and warmth of this new existence. It is not an idle formality, but a genuine experience, the beginning of a new career in which duties, rights and privileges are real. If a candidate is not to be an Apprentice in name only, he must stand ready to do the work upon his own nature that will make him a different man. Members are called craftsmen because they are workmen. Lodges are quarries because they are scenes of toil. Freemasonry offers no privileges or rewards except to those who earn them; it places working tools, not playthings, in the hands of its members. To become a Mason is a solemn and serious undertaking. Once the step is taken, it may well change the course of a man's life.

The Method of Reception

The reception of the candidate into the Lodge room is intended to symbolize the fact that our rituals are serious and confidential and that there are consequences for violating this confidence. It also reminds a man that his every act has a consequence, either in the form of a reward or a penalty. The method of reception also points out the value of a certain virtue needed to gain admission into the mysteries of Masonry.

Prayer in Lodge

No Lodge can be opened or be closed without prayer, which is offered by the Master or Chaplain. The prayer is universal in nature, and not peculiar to any one religion or faith. But the act of invoking the blessings of Deity is a central Masonic practice. At the end of prayer, each member responds with the words “So Mote it Be"; which means in Modern English, “So may it ever be.”

The Practice of Circumambulation

Circumambulation means to walk around some central point or object. In Masonry, the act is performed in a clockwise manner, patterned after the movement of the sun as it is seen from the earth, moving from East to West, by way of the South. The candidate's journey around the Altar also enables the brethren to observe that he is properly prepared. Circumambulation is an ancient practice found all over the world. Much the same idea as the labyrinth, it portrays the path of initiation as that of a journey. In another sense, it symbolically aligns one to a proper relationship with the order of the universe. There are references to circuitous routes in Psalms 26:6 and Job 22:14. And one may remember the action at Jericho.

Kneeling at the Altar

The central piece of furniture in the Lodge is the Altar. The Altar is symbolic of many things. As a temple symbolizes the presence of Deity, the altar symbolizes the point of contact. Its location in the center of the Lodge also symbolizes the place which God has in Masonry, and which he should have in every Mason's life. It is also a symbol of worship and faith. The candidate approaches the Altar in search of light and assumes his obligations there. In the presence of God and his Brethren, he offers himself to the service of the Supreme Architect of the Universe and to mankind in general. The Altar is the point on which life in our Masonic Lodges is focused and it should be accorded the highest respect.
The wisdom of the Master is said to flow from his station in the East to the Altar. Thus, one should never cross between the Master's Station and the Altar when a Lodge is in session.

The Obligation

The Obligation is the heart of the Degree; for when it is assumed by the candidate, he has solemnly bound himself to Freemasonry and assumed certain duties which are his for the rest of his life. The taking of the Obligation is visible and audible evidence of the candidate's sincerity of purpose. The Obligation has a two-fold purpose. In addition to binding the candidate to Freemasonry and its duties, it also protects the Fraternity against someone revealing the modes of recognition and symbolic instruction. The candidate should understand that the great truths which Masonry teaches are not secret, but the manner in which Freemasonry teaches these truths is considered secret.
Like much in the Fraternity, the roots of this practice are ancient. Making vows was a common practice in the Mysteries and was even a form of personal religion to the general populace. In many ways the vow defined their relationship with the deities of their homeland. Many vows were expressed in terms such as promises to a deity in return for safe voyages, successful crops, healing and so on. Although the nature of making vows and obligations has changed in modern times, it remains a very powerful method for setting direction in one's life and the building of character. The Latin obligato literally signifies a tying or binding. The relationship between the Cable Tow and the Obligation, along with the changing nature of this relationship as the candidate progresses, should not go unnoticed.

The Three Great Lights of Masonry

The Three Great Lights of Masonry are the Holy Bible, Square and Compass. The Volume of the Sacred Law (no matter what religion) is an indispensable part of a Lodge. The Grand Lodges of the United States use the Holy Bible as the V.S.L. on their Altars. In our jurisdiction, a candidate may request to have his own sacred book present on the Altar with the Bible during his degree ceremonies. In Lodges in other countries, other sacred texts are placed on the Altar in place of the Holy Bible, but no Lodge in California may stand officially open, unless the Holy Bible is opened upon its Altar with the Square and Compass displayed thereon. The open Bible signifies that we should regulate our conduct according to its teachings because it is the rule and guide of our faith and is a symbol of man's acknowledgment of his relation to Deity. The Square is a symbol of morality, truthfulness and honesty. To 'act on the square' is to act honestly. The Compass signifies the propitious use of action and is a symbol of restraint, skill and knowledge. We might also properly regard the Compass as excluding beyond its circle that which is harmful or unworthy. The Square and Compass are recognized by the general public as the symbol of Freemasonry.
The symbolism of the square and compass is seen in many ancient carvings and artwork. A stonecutter's square has been seen to represent the earth, while the compass has related to the arc of heaven. Thus their union has represented the union of heaven and earth. The Volume of Sacred Law can also represent God's communication to man through scripture and inspired writings. The triple symbol can also be seen as representing God's expression through the creation of heaven and earth. 
The Three Great Lights are also consistent with the three tier system of Blue Lodge Masonry. One way of interpreting the triple symbolism is seeing human nature as divided into three parts - body, mind, and soul with a Degree for each part. In the same way, the Three Great Lights are the guiding principals of the three natures: the Square to the body, the Compass to the mind, and the Volume of Sacred Law for the soul.

Presentation of the Lambskin Apron

The Apron is at once an emblem of innocence and the badge of a Mason. By innocence is meant clean thinking and clean living, a loyal obedience to the laws of the Craft and sincere good will one's Brethren. The Badge of a Mason signifies, among other things, that Masons are workers and builders. Other aspects of this most visible vesture of our Fraternity should be mentioned. The apron as a mark of distinction has been found in many similar organizations of initiatory nature including the Essenes and the Mythraic Mysteries, and has been conspicuous on statues of some Egyptian and Greek deities. The lamb has always been a symbol of innocence and sacrifice. There are two senses in which innocence is being used here. Innocence in one sense is free from moral defect. The other sense used is that of being new born.
Another consideration of the white lambskin apron is that the Sign of the Ram begins at the Spring Equinox - the time of year that life is renewed. The Masonic Apron is made up of two parts: a square and a triangle, representing four and three respectively. The symbolism of these numbers, as well as their sum, should be studied in connection with the form of the apron in the different degrees. Finally, it should be mentioned that the word candidate comes from the Latin candidatus which means, “clothed in white.”

Working Tools of an Entered Apprentice

The Working Tools presented to the candidate were those used by the ancient operative craftsman in the erection of the building on which he was working. To the Speculative Mason, these represent the moral habits and forces by which man shapes and reshapes the essence of his human nature. By these symbolic tools, he also fits his own behavior to society and community. While they do not contain the whole philosophy of Masonry, the various Working Tools allocated to the three degrees, by their very presence, declare that there is constructive work to be done; and by their nature, indicate the direction this work is to take.
The Working Tools of this degree are specified as the twenty-four inch gauge and the common gavel. The symbolic description of these tools is provided in the ritual and the Monitor, so there is no need to repeat that here. It is interesting that one tool (gauge) is used passively and the other (gavel) is used actively. One is a tool of measurement and calculation, while the other is one of force. One tool decides what to keep, while the other gets rid of the rest. 
The three parts may also be seen to represent the tripartite nature of the soul defined by Plato: the desirous, emotional, and mental. When properly cultivated, they embody the virtues temperance, fortitude, and prudence. These three virtues combined in proper order promote the supreme virtue of the whole self: equilibrium or justice.

The Northeast Corner 

The Northeast Corner is traditionally the place where the cornerstone (the first stone) of a building is laid. The Apprentice is thus placed, because from here he will erect his own temple by the principles of Freemasonry. Other considerations on the northeast corner are the following. The north in Masonry is attributed to darkness and the east to light. Therefore, the northeast is a place midway between darkness and light. Being midway, it is also symbolic of equilibrium. Furthermore, this spot representing equal light and darkness corresponds with the point of the Spring Equinox when the nighttime is equal to the daytime. There is some evidence that the lambskin apron was presented to the candidate at one time in the northeast corner of the lodge. 

It needs to be mentioned that there is a seeming contradiction of this symbolism with physical reality. If we imagine the lodge's boundaries to be the eastern and western horizons, with the north and south walls being the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn (where the sun reaches it northern and southern limits), then the day that the sun rises in the northeast corner of the “lodge” is the Summer Solstice near St. John the Baptist's Day. Sometimes symbolism overlaps, but in many cases it is a hint at a deeper meaning.

The Lecture of This Degree

The Lectures given to the candidate by the Worshipful Master are intended to elaborate certain phases of the ritual, giving a broader explanation of the ceremonies in order for the candidate to understand the lessons of Freemasonry. The four cardinal virtues of Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice are explained here as well as the three tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
The lodge is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist. Freemasonry long ago chose as its patron saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. By doing this, the Brethren arrived at the conclusion that their patron saints belonged to a Lodge and that it must have been in the city in which they lived - Jerusalem. By this tradition, all Lodges symbolically come from one at Jerusalem. By tradition, also, every Mason hails from such a Lodge. By claiming to come from this mythical Lodge, he proves that he hails from a “just and legally constituted Lodge.” The form of a Lodge is an oblong square, or a rectangle. It extends from East to West (horizon to horizon) and between North and South. The covering of the Lodge is the canopy of heaven. It is not a coincidence that the two major patrons of the Masonic Lodge have their birthdays near the Summer and Winter Solstices where the sun reaches its most northern and southern limits. The East in a Masonic Lodge does not necessarily mean the actual point of the compass. The East in the Lodge is the station of the Worshipful Master whence he dispenses light and instruction to all his brethren. Some Lodges may actually have the Master sitting in another compass location, but the important point is that the Master is always symbolically located in the East and the other symbolic points of the West, South and North are located in proper relation to the station of the Master. Further instruction is given in the long form of the lecture regarding the Supports of the Lodge: the three pillars of Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, which also relate to the three immovable Jewels of the Lodge: the Square, Plumb and Level, which still further relate to the three principal Officers and three Lesser Lights of the Lodge. 
The three movable Jewels of the Lodge consist of the Rough and Perfect Ashlar and the Trestleboard. The Rough and Perfect Ashlars are precise symbols of the process of initiation. In a Hermetic sense, the Rough Ashlar is the prima materia, while the Perfect Ashlar is the Philosopher's Stone. The Ornaments of the Lodge consist of the Mosaic Pavement, the Indented Tessel, and the Blazing Star. We walk in a world of opposites: good and evil, night and day, hot and cold, love and hate. The Mosaic Pavement symbolizes this fact. Again, all of these symbols should be studied further to find out what they conceal and what they reveal.

The Charge

At the end of the ceremony and instruction in each degree, the candidate is charged to perform his Masonic duties. The Charge given him explains these duties especially in their relation to the particular Degree. These Charges should not be ignored as mere conventionalities.

Masonic Decorum and Advancement

The Proficiency

The Proficiency is a series of questions and answers which the candidate is required to commit to memory prior to being advanced to the next degree. Among other things, it is intended to:
  1. Teach each candidate the language of Freemasonry. 
  2. Fix in his memory the teachings and structure of the Degree. 
  3. Impress upon his consciousness the different points of the Obligation. 
  4. Give each candidate an ancient method to contemplate the meanings behind the degree. 
  5. Give the new candidate a point of contact with an established member. 
The long form Proficiency became optional in 1998. Currently, a candidate must only demonstrate proficiency in the Obligation and Modes of Recognition of each degree. However, each candidate can still choose to complete his Proficiency in the long form.

The Language of Freemasonry

Why is the language of Freemasonry so different from that which we normally use? This question is often asked by new members of our Fraternity. The Ritual of Freemasonry is a product of the early decades of the 18th century. It contains much of the language of that time period and other words and phrases from the very old work have been incorporated. This is why the language is written and spoken as it is. If the time and effort is spent to study the words of our Ritual, one will discover that the thoughts and teachings imparted cannot be put in fewer words and still retain their meaning.

When to Rise and When to be Seated

The gavel in the hands of the Master of a Lodge is one of the symbols of authority by which he governs. When the gavel is sounded once in the East at the beginning of Lodge, the Brethren must come to order. Two raps call the principle Officers to their feet, and three raps mean that all Brethren must stand. If everyone is standing, one rap seats everyone in the Lodge. If the Worshipful Master addresses you by name, arise, face the East, give the due guard and sign of the degree and listen to his instructions. If you wish to speak, arise and wait until the Master recognizes you. Give the due guard and sign of the degree, and then address your remarks to him.

Subjects Not Proper for Discussion in Lodge

Sectarian religion and politics should not be addressed in Lodge, and there are good reasons for this. When we meet in a Lodge, we are all on a common level, and are not subject to the classes and distinctions of the outside world. Each Brother is entitled to his own beliefs and convictions. Our objective is to unite men, not to divide them. These subjects create honest differences of opinion that might well cause friction between brethren.
There will also be subjects concerning the Lodge's business that should not be discussed. All deliberations should be kept within the bounds of propriety and everyone should show tolerance for the opinion of others. Every Master wants harmony in his Lodge. Once a matter has been put to vote in the Lodge and a decision is made, the decision should be accepted by all members, regardless of how they voted. We try to teach every Mason to be a good citizen and to perform his civic duties. We do not try to keep anyone from expressing his opinion or from serving his city, county, state, or nation, in an honorable manner. Anyone who serves in political office should not act politically as a Freemason, nor use the name of Freemasonry in exercising his political rights, such as showing affiliation with any Lodge in his campaign advertising.

The Worshipful Master

Why is the presiding officer of the Lodge called Worshipful? This is an Old English word meaning, “worthy of respect.” Since he is chosen by the Brethren, they deem him to have sufficient wisdom, integrity and Masonic knowledge to govern the Lodge properly. Why is the Worshipful Master's station in the East? In the world of nature, the sun rises in the East to shed light and luster on earth. In a like manner, it is the province of the Master to be the source of Masonic knowledge for his Brethren as they “approach the East in search of light.” Why does the Master wear a hat in the Lodge? He wears the hat, and the remainder of the Brethren remain uncovered, for several reasons. Keeping the head covered while others are uncovered has long been a symbol of superior rank. Men, as a mark of respect, usually uncover in the presence of those they deem to be of superior rank. Also, it is possible that the Worshipful Master wears a hat because King Solomon wore a crown as a mark of dignity. The title Master is not unlike the Master of a ship or one who has received a Masters Degree in his chosen discipline. He is capable of teaching his subject - thus imparting “light” or knowledge.

The Tiler

The Tiler guards the avenues approaching the Lodge. A Lodge is said to be “duly tiled” when the necessary precautions have been taken to guard against intrusion by cowans, eavesdroppers or other unauthorized persons. (A cowan is one who tries to masquerade as a Mason. He has not done the work but says he has in order to gain admittance. An eavesdropper is one who tries to steal the secrets of our Society. He would forge a dues card or may find one and try to masquerade as the owner.) If a Brother comes to Lodge late and wants to join the meeting, the Tiler sees that he is properly clothed and then vouches for him as qualified to enter. It is the duty of the Tyler to inform the Junior Deacon when a qualified Brother wishes to enter the Lodge and to let the Brethren know in which Degree the Lodge is working.

No Horseplay or Hazing

There is no place for horseplay or hazing during our ceremonies, and the candidate can be assured that there will be none. The rituals are serious and solemn, and we try to teach moral lessons with great dignity. Anything which is told to the candidate in a joking manner serves only to desecrate the honorable purposes of Freemasonry. The candidate should have no apprehension about entering a Lodge. He is always entering a society of friends and brothers where he will be treated with dignity and decorum at all times.

The Heart of the Masonic Family

Freemasonry is not just another fraternity or association of men banded together for social, political or economic advantages. Our foundation is built on a philosophy of friendship and brotherly love. We also make many worthwhile contributions to our society and community. For example, the California Grand Lodge manages two magnificent total care homes in Union City and Covina for our aged Brethren and their widows. In addition, the Masonic Home in Covina cares for disadvantaged children, both those who are related to a Mason and those who are not.

The Rights of an Entered Apprentice Mason

These are very limited, since he cannot vote or hold office. He is, however, entitled to a Masonic funeral. The Entered Apprentice is not entitled to organized Masonic Charity, but this does not bar him from receiving assistance from a Mason, as an individual. He can attend a Lodge while an Entered Apprentice Degree is being presented. He has a right to be instructed in his work and in matters pertaining to his degree. If charged with violating his obligation, he is entitled to a trial. He is entitled to apply for advancement to the Second Degree, when proficient in the Entered Apprentice Degree. He may not receive the degrees of Craft Masonry elsewhere without consent of the Lodge. Also, the Apprentice possesses modes of recognition by which he can make himself known to other Masons.

Responsibilities of an Entered Apprentice

An Entered Apprentice Mason has very few actual Lodge responsibilities. He must keep secret everything entrusted to him, conduct himself with proper decorum and diligently work to learn his proficiency and as much about the Craft as possible. He should not be content with learning the words letter-perfect, but should study the meanings also. If he cannot interpret these for himself, he should seek help from others. Complete faithfulness to his obligations and implicit obedience to the charge are among his important and lasting responsibilities. Freemasonry preserves a secrecy about all its work in the Lodge: it meets behind closed doors; it throws over its principles and teachings a garment of symbolism and ritual; its Art is a mystery; a great wall separates it from the world. Nor is its work easy to understand. If this be true, we urgently advise you not to be content with the letter and outward form of this, your beginning period, but to apply yourself with freedom, fervency and zeal to the sincere and thorough mastering of our Royal Art.


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