Today’s reader’s question is: can you explain whether or not 1st and 2nd degrees are acknowledged as masons? Why can they not wear the Masonic symbol? Well, they absolutely are freemasons, plain and simple, and it’s a great question, and I appreciate this question because I asked it on the very first day, when I was initiated as well. I walked out and everybody was starting to go out to their cars, so I walked up to the guy that I knew who I had gotten the petition from and I said, “So am I a mason?” Or is that after I get the third degree and he says, “Oh no, you’re a mason.” And he pointed out to me where in the ritual where it flat out says that you’re a mason, so that was very beneficial. So yes, the entered apprentices and the fellow crafts the first and second degree are absolutely freemasons.
Are Entered Apprentices and Fellow Crafts Masons
Now, what about that symbol? I think this is where we might see some differences from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, on the one hand. I think any free mason would be excited that a brother, whether he’s an entered apprentice or a fellow craft or a master mason, feels comfortable enough about his association with the fraternity that he wants to wear something that says that maybe he even wants to put something on his vehicle or on his desk at work or something to say, “I’m a free mason.” Well, the challenge with that is that there are different emblems, different symbols for each of the degrees. So the primary thing you’re going to find, if you just go search for a Masonic ring or a Masonic T-shirt or anything, the symbol is going to be displayed in what’s known as the master mason’s emblem.
So what we don’t want to do is have an entered apprentice wearing the symbol of a master mason. He’s falsely representing himself if he does that. And there are even places in the United States, including here in the state of Mississippi, where it is a crime, not a Masonic crime, but a crime of the state of Mississippi, to falsely represent yourself as a freemason. So you have to be very careful with that. There are, however, places where you can find jewelry or other paraphernalia that has the symbol done properly for an entered apprentice or for a fellow craft. So, that is something that you could look for. And if you are of one of those appropriate degrees, then it would be appropriate for you to wear that. But just as you wouldn’t walk around, and I realized that Masonic degrees are not akin to collegiate degrees, let me make a point: that’s like walking into my office at work and me putting a doctorate on the wall even though I’m still working on my associates degree.
You know, there are some more steps I need to take, even though I might be working towards a doctorate. Maybe I’ve obtained my associates and I’m working on my bachelors or I’m working on my masters, but I’m not yet a doctorate. So why would I put a doctorate certificate on my wall? So that’s just a way to think about why that would be an issue. You would be falsely representing where you are in the fraternity. So now I’m curious to find out what you have to say about it. What do other jurisdictions do? Does your lodge provide something for an entered apprentice? Do you provide something for a fellow crafter? How do you let them know? Hey, just don’t buy anything until you receive your master mason degree. Or what kind of counsel or guidance do you give somebody?
Because most people are really excited when they get their entered apprentice degree, they want to ring, they want to put a decal on the car, or they want to grab a shirt, and you have to sit there and say, “hey look brother, I’m sorry, you just spent $20 on this t-shirt, but you’re an entered apprentice and it’s got the symbol on it for a master mason.” I really can’t have you doing that. Just put it in the drawer and come back. You know, it’s like whispering into a brother’s ear, but it’s awkward at the same time, and you don’t want somebody going out and spending that money. If they shouldn’t be So tell me how you approach those kinds of situations in your jurisdiction and at your lodge. Thank you all so much for taking the time to read.
By Brother Jared, a Master Mason of Grad Lodge Mississippi
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