ENTERED APPRENTICE MASON
THE CRAFT AND ITS SYMBOLS
Michael H. Koplitz, PM
The Entered Apprentice Mason's degree is the starting point of any Masonic career. It is in this degree that the candidate is initiated into Freemasonry and made a Brother of the Craft. It is in this degree that he begins to learn about the Mystic Tie that binds all Freemasons together. This degree is the first building block, the corner stone, of a new Brother of the Craft. The Entered Apprentice will now begin his search for knowledge and as he travels toward the east he will acquire the knowledge and experience to eventually enjoy the wisdom of the East.
At the end of the degree the Entered Apprentice signed his name in the Lodge book of Entered Apprentices. This action dates back to a ceremony performed in the Mason guilds of yesteryear. The young man who desired to become a stone Mason would become an apprentice to a Master Mason for 7 years. At the end of the 7 years he would be "entered" on the roles of the Lodge that the Master Mason belonged to (or ran himself, some Lodges had one Master Mason). The Apprentice would be entered into the Lodge and he would sign his name on the roles. A part of this ceremony could be to see that the Apprentice did know how to read and write. It was considered in ancient times that if a man who could sign his name certainly could read and write.
As you can see every action taken in the Masonic degrees have a link to the antiquity of the guild Masons and that of biblical times. The robe that the Entered Apprentice wears is to teach his that wealth could not have purchased his admission into the Lodge; that his outward appearance (the clothes or jewels he wore) did not influence his admission; that nothing controversial is ever brought into the Lodge. Every Freemason wore a garment similar to the one worn today.
The entrance into Freemasonry should be a dramatic experience. The candidate is about to enter an unknown world. The candidate learns from his entrance that he should trust his fellowman, one soon to be his brother. His guide holds onto his arm tightly to help guide him through what will be. The Junior Warden places the instrument to the candidate and makes sure its prick can be felt. This feeling is to remind the candidate of how solemn and important an undertaking he is about to take.
A prayer is offered before the degree begin. Masonry has its basis in religion but Masonry itself is not a religion. A man must believe in a Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul to be made a Mason (also at least 21 years old).
You will find in Masonic literature references made to the Northeast corner of the Lodge room. During the degree, in other jurisdictions, the candidate is taken to the Northeast corner of the Lodge room when the prayer is given. The Northeast corner is generally where the cornerstone of a building is placed first. The northeast corner of the Lodge room would be the appropriate place for the candidate, not yet a Mason, to find solitude and the strength to start this new learning experience.
True Masonic Light is what each of us is in search of. Masonic light is equivalent to knowledge. It is knowledge and experience which will lead us to the east toward total wisdom. During the degree the candidate is brought from darkness to true Masonic light. The candidate is made an Entered Apprentice Mason when he takes his obligation.
Symbolically the candidate is made a Mason when he is brought to true Masonic Light. Each degree (up to the third and beyond) is an experience in acquiring knowledge. An analogy to the degrees would be our school years. First we went to grade school. This time was meant for us to learn about ourselves and the basic skills. Then off to Junior High School where we learn more and matured. Finally, High School, were we learned what we need to go out into the work world.
Every Mason in the world goes through the same principle in each degree. The degree itself will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the meaning of the symbols and actions in the degrees are universal. Part of the Mystic Tie of Freemasonry is that which all Freemasons share; that of a common experience and knowledge base. Each Freemason knows what it means to be a Freemason. Masons go out of their way to assist their Brethren whenever possible.
Jacob's dream is explained in Holy Scripture and in some jurisdictions is a part of the ritual. Jacob dreamed of a ladder which extended from Earth to Heaven. In the Masonic sense we can examine the rungs of the ladder and develop an understanding of what virtues a Mason will demonstrate. These virtues will help him reach the ultimate pinnacle, that of becoming a stone in the temple of the Supreme Being.
The three principles of Freemasonry are faith, hope, and charity. These principles are the corner stones of Freemasonry. From these principles we derive the tenets of Freemasonry, Brotherly love, relief and truth. Finally the cardinal virtues of fortitude (or courage), temperance, prudence, and justice.
The Entered Apprentice Mason's degree holds knowledge and beauties far beyond the Lodge degree ritual. This paper hopefully wet your lips and excite your appetite to learn more about this degree. There is more information about the Entered Apprentice degree. Contact any Master Mason!
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