The experience of becoming a member of a Masonic lodge is divided into three ceremonial stages known as “degrees.” These three degrees are loosely based upon the journeyman system, which was used to educate Medieval craftsmen. At each educational stage, a craftsman was required to achieve proficiency before moving to the next stage. Symbolically, the degrees represent the three stages of human development: youth, manhood, and age.
As a candidate’s ﬁrst experience with the ceremonies of the fraternity, this degree is intended to be an introduction to Masonry. It is, like all Masonic ceremonies, a solemn and meaningful event. The Entered Apprentice is entrusted with secrets of the Masonic Order, which are all moral and ethical in nature, and is expected to honor them in accordance with Masonic law.
Once a candidate completes the Entered Apprentice degree, he takes his ﬁrst step as a Freemason and enjoys the title of “Brother.”
Fellowcraft is a term used by the ancient Guilds of Operative Masons that refers to skilled members of the craft – a literal ‘fellow of the craft.’ Within Freemasonry, the Fellowcraft references a more advanced search for Masonic wisdom, symbolism, and philosophy. For skilled craftsmen, this degree would have marked a person’s progress from an apprentice to a journeyman, which brings with it increased responsibility, learning, and work. Once completed, the candidate may advance to the third and final degree.
The third degree symbolizes man’s maturity in life or age and his increase in knowledge and wisdom. The last of the lodge ceremonies, the Master Mason degree completes the initiation ceremonies into the fraternity, and the new Master Mason may enjoy both the rights and responsibilities of membership. A Master Mason has the right to visit lodges throughout the world, sharing in fraternal fellowship with like-minded men who now share a common bond.