Masonic Degrees

One of the most complete description of Freemasonry is; “Freemasonry is a very beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.”

Allegories are used to develope moral and spiritual lessons, while symbols, such as working tools and other objects are given moral values to impress upon the lessons taught by the allegories.

The degrees of the symbolic lodge or Craft Masonry during the centuries of cathedral building were only two; Apprentice and Fellows of the Craft or journeyman.  A Master was in a class by himself and few workmen attained this position.  Therefore, after 1700, when the ancient ceremonies of advancement became degrees for Speculative Freemasonry, only two degrees were practiced, those of the Entered Apprentice and the Fellowcraft. The earliest extant record of a conferral of a Master Mason Degree in a chartered lodge was in 1732. 

The symbolic lodges of the early colonies conferred not only the first three degrees of Craft Masonry but also the Capitular Degrees of Royal Arch Masonry.  Sometime after the English Union of 1813 between the “Moderns” and “Ancients”, the government of the Royal Arch Degrees were taken from the Craft, or symbolic lodges, and given to Chapters to make up the first step in York Rite Masonry.

Because we believe in the importance of the historical connection of Craft Masonry and Royal Arch Masonry it is our intention to confer the Past Master and Mark Master, the fourth and fifth Degrees of Masonry, with the assistance of Kern Valley Chapter Number 75, Royal Arch Masons, thus encouraging our members to complete their masonic education that can only be achieved in the Royal Arch Degrees.     

First Degree: Entered Apprentice

The primary purpose of the First Degree is to prepare the candidate to understand ethical, moral, intellectual and spiritual instruction.  It is also designed to impress upon him the “secret” or esoteric nature of Masonry that he is embarking upon.   The degree conveys the principal tenets of Freemasonry, which are Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.  These are the necessary ingredients for a well ordered life and are the foundation for additional lessons in moral and spiritual development.  The Entered Apprentice begins to utilize the working tools that will bring spiritual, moral and philosophical light to his future endeavors.

Second Degree: Fellowcraft

The Fellowcraft Degree introduces the candidate to the importance of the liberal arts and sciences and seeks to explain the connection between Geometry and Morality.  While not yet equipped with the secrets and wisdom of a Master, it was the Fellows of the Craft who performed the major part of the construction on the ancient cathedrals.  

Third Degree: Master Mason

It is based on an event in “Masonic History” during the building of King Solomon’s Temple and teaches the importance of integrity.  The Master Mason Degree, while symbolically imparting additional wisdom, endeavors to direct the candidate towards a daily search for additional light and wisdom.  The degree reveals the sublime truths necessary for a well grounded life and hope for eternal life in that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”   

Fourth Degree: The Mark Master

The Mark Master degree very impressively illustrates the inherent values found in honest employment and charitable activity.  This degree has a direct connection to the Second Degree as the candidate represents a Fellow Craft working in the stone quarries. 

Fifth Degree: Past Master Degree

The degree of Past Master is not rooted in antiquity.  It was developed not only to satisfy restrictions regulating the Royal Arch Degrees after the government of the Royal Arch was taken from the Craft Lodges and given to York Rite Chapters, but was conferred to all Master-elects before being installed as Master of their lodge.   

(Note: the Mark Master degree has been in recent years the fourth degree, however the Grand Chapter of California Royal Arch Masons has granted Chapters the option of conferring the Past Master before the other Royal Arch degrees for candidates that petition to join a Royal Arch chapter.) 

Sixth Degree: Most Excellent Master Degree

This the only degree that deals with the completion of the Temple.  The craftsman is confronted with many valuable lessons for his future development.  

Seventh Degree: The Royal Arch Degree

The first six degrees deal with the building and completion of the original King Solomon’s Temple in approximately 1000 B.C.  The Royal Arch Degree deals with the return from exile in Babylon of the Jewish people and the building of the second temple 470 years later according to Masonic History.