This, of the most honored initiation, is mostly performed by the Senior Deacon, Senior Warden and Worshipful Master. The candidate is lead around the room 3 times by the Senior Deacon as a prayer is said. This is to prove again that he is able bodied. It also symbolizes him crossing each degree of masonry. During the first lap, the Junior Warden, Senior Warden, and Worshipful Master each rap their gavels one time in that order. They rap twice for the second lap, and three times for the third. After the third lap, the candidate and Senior Deacon arrive at the Junior Deacon’s station in the south of the room. The candidate gives the Junior Deacon the password and sign of the first degree, “Boaz” and is gives the password for the third degree. The Senior Deacon takes the candidate to the west where the Senior Warden asks the second degree password “Jachin” and received the third degree password before instructing the candidate to the Worshipful Master in the east. Upon passing the same test, the Senior Deacon informs the Worshipful Master that they travel west to east seeking further light in Masonry.
As in the Fellow Craft initiation, the Master Mason ceremony starts out with an introduction and a pass through word, sign and grip. The candidate enters the room and receives a blessing from the Worshipful Master (WM). The candidate is stripped of all worldly possessions. Before entering the room, the Junior Deacon confirms that the candidate is worthy of the Third Degree and gives him the password “Tubal Cain.” The candidate is dressed with both shoulders and chest exposed and both pant legs rolled up. The candidate also has a cable tow tied to him. For this, his third degree, it is tied tightly 3 times around his waist. The previous two ceremonies were mostly performed by the Junior Warden, Junior Deacon, and Worshipful Master.
At that request, the WM instructs the candidate to approach again from the west after receiving instructions on three “upright regular steps” from the Senior Warden. The steps are all 90 degree angles representing the square. The candidate steps left foot first and brings the right foot 90 degrees with the right heel on the arch of the left foot. This motion is repeated with the left heel on the right arch and finally both heels touching while retaining a 90 degree angle. Now that the candidate has properly approached the Worshipful Master, he is instructed to lay both hands on the bible, compass, and square on the middle alter. The candidate is asked to take the oath of Master Masonry after being informed that there is nothing that will interfere with the candidate’s duty to his neighbor, his country, or to God.
The oath basically says that the mason will:
- Not share any Freemason Secrets
- Abide by all masonic rules
- Abide requests of Master Masons
- Not be part of initiating women into Freemasonry
- Not cheat, lie, or fraud a Master Mason or a Lodge
- Not fight or raise anger with a fellow Mason
- Not engage in illegal intercourse with a Master Mason’s Wife, Sister, Mother, or Daughter
- Aid Master Mason’s in Distres
any violation would result in “my body severed in two, 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.”
After receiving the Oath of Master Masons, the Candidate expresses his desire for further knowledge in the light of Masonry. The Worshipful Master has his hood and cable tow be removed and instructs the candidate to further learn of the Freemason’s three guiding principles brotherly love, relief (or friendship in some lodges), and truth (or morality in some lodges).
The Candidate is challenged with the real grip of the Fellow Craft again and the pass grip of a Master Mason and the accompanying word Tubal Cain. The Worshipful Master instructs the Candidate to pass the same test with the Junior and Senior warden, then he returns to the Worshipful Master. Upon his return, the WM instructs that the Senior Deacon to take the candidate to the Senior Warden and put on his Master Mason apron. The WM then instructs the candidate to receive the tools required of a Master Mason. The candidate is given a trowel, symbolic of spreading brotherly love like cement spreads over bricks. The candidate is taken out of the room as the room is prepared for the remaining portion of the ritual. The candidate is brought back into the room and given congratulations from all Master Masons in attendance very unceremoniously. The intent is to deceive the candidate into thinking the ritual is done.
Deception and Obtaining Knowledge
The Worshipful Master asks different members if they are finished, and they all reply that they are. At that point, the WM asks the candidate if he considers himself a Master Mason. After the deception, he answers with an affirmative response while the Senior Deacon stands behind him with a hood. The Worshipful Master informs him that not only is he not yet a Master Mason, but that the road ahead is dangerous and beset with murderers, thieves, and robbers. The WM advises the candidate to remember who to trust and the Senior Deacon tightly ties the hood back over his eyes blindfolding him.
The SD informs that candidate that it’s customary for Hiram Abriff, the Grand Master, to enter into the unfinished King Solomon’s Temple each day while the Masons are enjoying their high twelve refreshments. He would draw out designs and practice his devotions to God. He would then retire through the south gate, which the Senior Deacon and Candidate will now do in his honor.
Walking in the steps of the Grand Master
As they pass by the Junior Warden’s station on the south end of the room, the JW silently stands and confronts the candidate very aggressively. He violently grabs the Candidates color and addresses him as if he were Grand Master Hiram. The JW, playing the part of “First Ruffian,” tells him that the Grand Master promised to reveal the secrets of Master Masonry once they finished the temple so that they may obtain Master’s Wages and work in foreign lands as Master Masons. He demands the secrets from the Grand Master. The Grand Master informs him that not only is this the wrong way to make such a request, but he can not comply as the secrets require the presence of King Solomon and King Hiram. The Ruffian threatens the Grand Master’s life and still the Hiram Abriff does not give into the demands. The Ruffian then swipes his hand across the candidates throat and steps out of the way. The Senior Deacon then leads the candidate to the west. The Senior Warden, playing the Second Ruffian part, steps out and even more aggressively than the Junior Warden demands the Secrets of a Master Mason. Again, the Grand Master says no. The Second Ruffian threatens his life but the Grand Master still refuses his request. The Second Ruffian swipes his hand across the candidates left breast and allows him to pass toward the Worshipful Master at the east. The WM, playing the third Ruffian, again demands the secrets from the Grand Master. After refusing, having his life threatened, and refusing again, the Third Ruffian strikes the candidate on the head with a soft weapon knocking him backwards, murdering the Grand Master.
The candidate trips on a sheet that is held by other members of the lodge. The candidate falls safely to the ground, even though he is typically quite frightened. The Ruffians realize that they have killed the Grand Master before obtaining the secrets of a Master Mason and decide to hide the body in The Temple before giving a proper burial. The lodge falls silent for a few moments and a triangle rings out 12 times signifying Midnight. The Ruffians agree to bury the body in a hill to the west, and the candidate is carried within the canvas on the shoulders of other members around the lodge three times stopping on the west side. They lower the candidate to the ground and place a small plant as a headstone. The Ruffians agree to flee the country and encounter a Sea Captain who agrees to take them to Ethiopia, assuming they have a pass from King Solomon. Upon learning that they do not have a pass, the Sea Captain refuses to take them. They decide that they will flee to the interior of the country and avoid being put to death. They all retreat to different ends of the room and prepare for the next section of the ritual.
The Worshipful Master, now dressed as King Solomon back at the construction of the Temple, asks why the Masons are not working as usual. When being told that there is no work drawn on the board, King Solomon demands to find Grand Master Hiram Abiff. The King orders him found and the lodge gets loud with commotion. The Masons can not find the Grand Master and the King orders roll to be called. They discover that the three ruffians, brothers Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum are missing. At that point, 12 Fellow Craft (Second Degree) Masons are admitted and inform the King that 15 of the Fellow Crafts plotted to extort secrets of Master Masonry out of the Grand Master by threatening his life. They appear with white gloves and aprons, kneel, and beg for the King’s pardon. He advises them to divide into 4 parties and find the 3 missing brothers. A group of the 3 Fellow Craft Masons come across the Sea Captain who informs them that 3 brothers had fled into the country after he had denied them passage for not having a pass from King Solomon. The 3 Masons end up finding the grave site where the 3 brothers are hiding by noticing the weak plant. The 3 brothers are discovered while they are expressing concern for their fate. The brothers plead guilty and are executed. The Master Masons conducting the ritual convince the candidate of this with a series of 3 sharp stomps on the ground. The candidate is still wrapped in a cloth and laying on the ground. After the execution, King Solomon commands the 12 Fellow Craft Masons to find the body. The group that found the 3 brothers returns to the grave site where they find the body. They return to the King who orders all 12 Fellow Craft Masons to dig up the body.
They express concern that they will never learn the word of a Master mason. They all agree that the first word spoken and the first sign given will become that of the Master Mason. They give the sign of a Master Mason, which is done holding the right arm across the body with the thumb remaining inward. The Masons surround the body and sing:
“Solemn strikes the funeral chime,
Notes of our departing time;
As we journey here below,
Through a pilgrimage of woe!”
“Mortals, now indulge a tear,
For Mortality is here:
See how wide her trophies wave
O’er the slumbers of the grave!
“Here another guest we bring.
Seraphs of celestial wing,
To our funeral altar come:
Waft this friend and brother home
“Lord of all! below–above–
Fill our hearts with truth and love;
When dissolves our earthly tie,
Take us to thy Lodge on High.”
Master Mason Grip and Password
King Solomon expresses expresses concern that the Master’s word is lost forever. He asks that the body be raised with the grip of the Entered Apprentice, but the body is so decomposed that the grip slips. The King asks that the grip of the Fellow Craft be used to raise the Grand Master, but again the grip slips due to the condition of the body. The Masons decide to pray around the body and they all kneel around the candidate. The King then gives the Senior Warden the order to “raise the body by the strong grip, or lion’s paw, of the tribe of Judah.” The Senior Warden then lifts the candidate to his feet with the true grip of the Master Mason. The ring and smallest fingers wrap below the wrist and the middle and forefinger above.
Completing Master Mason Initiation
As the candidate is lifted, the Worshipful Master gives him the word of the Master Mason ‘Mah-hah-bone” and instructs him to always communicate the word within the 5 points of fellowship. The 5 points of fellowship are foot to foot, knee to knee, breast to breast, hand to back and cheek to cheek. The Candidate is instructed to return to the east while he receives the Historical Account of the reenacted take of Grand Master Hiram Abiff from the Worshipful Master. The WM then goes over all of the symbols of Masonry including those within the Lodge itself. The Worshipful Master gives 3 raps of the gavel and all stand. He gives a charge to the Lodge which repeats the 3 guiding principles of Masonry, Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. The initiation is ended with the Worshipful Master giving the Charge to the Candidate. The charge instructs the candidate to always preserve the reputation of Masons by living his life according to the principles of masonry. The candidate is instructed to approach the Secretary’s desk and sign his name on the constitution of the Lodge. This seals him as a new Master Mason.