The initiation into the second degree of freemasonry starts with the Worshipful Master (WM) asking all Masons below the Second Degree to leave the room. Only Master Masons and other Fellow Craft Masons are allied to witness this level of initiation. The Mason enters the room with his right breast bare, right pant leg pulled up, and a rope tow wrapped tightly around his waist twice. The Worshipful Master reminds him that he entered initiation for the first degree with a compass pressed against his left breast and informs him that he now has a square pressed against his left breast. The candidate is led around the room two times before being stopped by the Junior Warden. He is asked to prove himself worthy by passing the Entered Apprentice grip as well as the pass grip and password given for the Fellow Craft. The pass grip of the Fellow Craft is done by pressing the top of his thumb against the space between the first and second knuckle joints of the first two fingers. The word is “Shiboleth.” The Candidate informs the Worshipful Master that he is traveling west to east in search of more light. The candidate is still blindfolded. The Senior Warden teaches the candidate how to approach west to east by keeping his feet at right angles. He then kneels at the altar in the middle of the room to receive the Oath of the Fellow Craft. The candidate vows to never reveal any secrets of the Fellow Craft in addition to:
- Follow the constitution of the Grand Lodge
- Aid and assist any requests from fellow Masons
- Provide for penniless widows and orphans of former Masons as they provide for him
Any failure to hold true this oath would result in having “my left breast torn open and my heart and vitals taken from thence and thrown over my left shoulder and carried into the valley of Jehosaphat, there to become a prey to the wild beasts of the field, and vulture of the air, if ever I should prove willfully guilty of violating any part of this my solemn oath or obligation of a Fellow Craft Mason; so help me God, and keep me steadfast in the due performance of the same.”
Teachings of the Fellow Craft
The Second Degree word is Jachin, meant to be said one syllable at a time. Jachin is derived from the Temple of Solomon, specifically the Assistant High Priest and means “To Establish.” When conjoined with the earlier word “Boaz”, and in the context of King Solomon’s Tomb, the meaning is ‘In strength I will establish this mine house to stand firm for ever.’ The Grip of the Fellow Craft, second degree of Freemasonry, is to apply pressure directly on the second joint on the hand, on the index finger, by the thumb.
The sign of the Fellow Craft alludes to the penalty of the Fellow Craft obligation. The sign is made by cupping the right hand over the left breast, drawing it quickly across the body, then dropping the hand to the side. The penalty that the sign alludes to is “having my left breast torn open, my heart plucked out, and given to the wild beasts of the field and the fowls of the air.” Explanation of the Fellow Craft sign: The action of cupping one hand over the left breast and drawing it quickly across the body signifies the heart being ripped out if the candidate should violate his Fellow Craft obligation.
The candidate presents all of those teachings to the WM and is presented with the tools of the second degree, the Square, which is to try and test, the Level, which is to prove, and the Plumb Rule, which is to adjust. He is escorted out of the room and returns wearing the Fellow Craft insignia. This completes the ceremony of the Second Degree.