The Masonic rituals are rooted in secrecy. The group that started as a craft guild maintains it’s roots through their rituals. Although the Freemason reach is far beyond only craft work, the life lessons and standards are taught through their symbols very relevant.
There are 3 main degrees of Freemasonry, each with their own initiation ritual. The degrees are 1st Degree, or Entered Apprentice, 2nd Degree, or Fellow Craft, and 3rd Degree, or Master Mason. The qualifications to enter the 1st degree are:
- Belief in a Supreme Being
- Born a Free Man and joining of your own Free Will
- Be of age (18-25, depending on the Grand Lodge)
- Be committed to the service of mankind
- Some lodges require a petition from 1 or 2 existing masons, others require that no mason can actively recruit but must wait until the recruit asks the requirements to join.
Each degree has different Rituals associated with them and a Mason must pass through them in order. The rituals of freemasonry are truly fascinating. They combine the use of historical record, lore, and storytelling to enlighten new Masons. The ritual regalia include daggers, a noose, and a large canvas cloth to wrap candidates. The ritual even includes a very gruesome warning for anyone who reveals the secrets concealed.
Oath of Initiation in Masonic Rituals
“I, [Candidate Full Name] (Master gives three raps with his gavel, when all present assemble round the altar), of my own free-will and accord, in the presence of Almighty God, and this worshipful Lodge, erected to him and dedicated to the holy St. John, do hereby and hereon most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, that I will always hail, ever conceal, and never reveal any of the secrets, arts, parts, point or points, of the Master Masons’ Degree, to any person or persons whomsoever, except it be to a true and lawful brother of this Degree, or in a regularly constituted Lodge of Master Masons, nor unto him, or them, until by strict trial, due examination, or lawful information, I shall have found him, or them, as lawfully entitled to the same as I am myself.
I furthermore promise and swear, that I will stand to and abide by all laws, rules, and regulations of the Master Masons’ Degree, and of the Lodge of which I may hereafter become a member, as far as the same shall come to my knowledge; and that I will ever maintain and support the constitution, laws, and edicts of the Grand Lodge under which the same shall beholden.
Further, that I will acknowledge and obey all due signs and summonses sent to me from a Master Masons’ Lodge, or given me by a brother of that Degree, if within the length of my cable-tow.
Further, that I will always aid and assist all poor, distressed, worthy Master Masons, their widows and orphans, knowing them to be such, as far as their necessities may require, and my ability permit, without material injury to myself and family.
Further, that I will keep a worthy brother Master Mason’s secrets inviolable, when communicated to and received by me as such, murder and treason excepted.
Further, that I will not aid, nor be present at, the initiation, passing, or raising of a woman, an old man in his dotage, a young man in his nonage, an atheist, a madman, or fool, knowing them to be such.
Further, that I will not sit in a Lodge of clandestine-made Masons, nor converse on the subject of Masonry with a clandestine-made Mason, nor one who has been expelled or suspended from a Lodge, while under that sentence, knowing him or them to be such.
Further, I will not cheat, wrong, nor defraud a Master Mason’s Lodge, nor a brother of this Degree, knowingly, nor supplant him in any of his laudable undertakings, but will give him due and timely notice, that he may ward off all danger.
Further, that I will not knowingly strike a brother Master Mason, or otherwise do him personal violence in anger, except in the necessary defense of my family or property.
Further, that I will not have illegal carnal intercourse with a Master Mason’s wife, his mother, sister, or daughter, nor suffer the same to be done by others, if in my power to prevent.
Further, that I will not give the Grand Masonic word, in any other manner or form than that in which I shall receive it, and then in a low breath.
Further, that I will not give the Grand Hailing Sign of Distress, except in case of the most imminent danger, in a just and lawful Lodge, or for the benefit of instruction; and if ever I should see it given, or hear the words accompanying it, by a worthy brother in distress, I will fly to his relief, if there is a greater probability of saving his life than losing my own.
All this I most solemnly, sincerely promise and swear, with a firm and steady resolution to perform the same, without any hesitation, mental reservation, or secret evasion of mind whatever, binding myself, under no less penalty than that of having my body severed in two, 1 my bowels taken from thence and burned to ashes, the ashes scattered before the four winds of heaven, that no more remembrance might be had of so vile and wicked a wretch as I would be, should I ever, knowingly, violate this my Master Mason’s obligation. So help me God, and keep me steadfast in the due performance of the same.”