What Is A Past Master Mason?

Today’s reader question is a tricky one. The reader asks are you going to go Past Master Mason? This is a tricky question because there are at least three that I know of ways to describe Past Master Mason.

Please understand the wording of the question when somebody is interested in whether or not you’re going to decide to become. For example, a Scottish Rite Mason or a Shriner or a York Rite Mason. They usually ask the question are you gonna go Scottish Rite? Are you going to go to York Rite?

What we’re talking about here is basically am I going to receive the Past Master Mason degree. Well, let’s talk about those three possibilities for being a Past Master Mason. And to start this off, I am all three of these so it’s a little bit of complication between the differences between these three, but I can give you some insight into how I feel about all three of them.

Now Let’s start:

Past Master Mason
Past Master Mason

What is a Past Master Mason?

The First

The first is the strict title of the Lodge’s worshipful master that you have been won in the past, so you are a Past Master mason. That means that whenever your Lodge elects officers and you are elected to be the worshipful master of a lodge. 

In my Lodge, that’s the only thing I know for sure in the second that you are installed into that position, you are also then a Past Master. Because from that moment, if you were to leave, you have been the master, so you also retain the title of a Past Master.

And it even has a certain special emblem that goes with it and the ring I bought when I was elected to become a worshipful master. The first time is a past master ring. I opted not to get any kind of ring until after I had become elected as the Past Master. So, I went several years of being a master mason before I got into having a ring, and I was just personal preference. 

Past Master Ring
Past Master Ring

The Second

So then what are the other two options in my state? Once you have been elected to be a worshipful master, you are eligible to receive what is called the actual pass master degree. This is a degree; this is a ceremony, a ritual, a lesson that is put on for you to learn more about the duties of a master of the Lodge.

Now there’s something to be said for this because there are some great lessons to be had in that degree but with two hundred and thirty-some-odd lodges just in our state. You can imagine the difficulty of trying to put that degree on in the time between when you are elected to be the master of your Lodge and the time that you are installed, which for my Lodge is the very beginning of December and the very end of December. So you have perhaps three weeks in which to receive that degree if you were to receive it before you were installed.

I think ideally would the information that is presented in that degree. You would want to receive it before you are installed. But in our state, the way it is currently offered is at the next Grand Lodge meeting, which is usually in March. You can go and receive that degree at the Grand Lodge meeting. All of the newly elected worshipful masters, anybody who hasn’t received it in the past. That is a Past Master can decide to get the degree at that time.

So it leaves you running your Lodge from January and February, potentially March before you receive that extra bit of instruction. That can help you run your Lodge more efficiently, but that’s not to say you have to have it, which is probably why it’s just an optional degree. But once you receive it, you become an actual Pass Master. In my state, they even give you a special dues card showing that you received that degree of actual pass master.

The Third

So then what is the third? Well, the third is a degree that is inside of the York Rite in the York Rite degrees. The very first degree is the mark master, and then the second is the virtual Past Master degree. So this has some valuable lessons inside of it again, but it does not confer any particular title on you as a past master. You received a degree with some information about being the master of a Lodge, but it does not grant you the title of being able to say. I am a past master, or I am an actual past master or anything like that you received a degree in the York Rite. 

Now another interesting little tidbit here and again for the sake of disclosure. I’m no historian. I’m saying I’m going to repeat something that I have heard. I do not know of its validity, but as I am given to understand that once upon a time in the York Rite. You did have to have been a master of a Lodge or the past master of a Lodge before you could receive that degree and go further in the York Rite. Overtime was changed. That degree was turned into a virtual Past Master degree where they could learn some about it and continued their studies in the York Rite and keep Brothers moving forward and not have to wait until they were eligible or elected be masters of their Lodge. 

I think that there’s probably a couple of different reasons that could be I’m not going to speculate on those any further. Still, those are the three different past master titles or degrees that are involved in Freemasonry that I am aware of. There’s the recap the virtual past master in the York Rite degree. The actual past master which is a special and set apart degree. Then there is being the past master past sitting master of a Blue Lodge. It’s hard to try to think of another way to say that, but where you have actually been elected to the position of worshipful master in the past. Maybe that clarifies things, so I personally again have been through all three of them. I think they’re wonderful so to answer the initial question. I’m not going to receive those degrees I already have. So I hope that answers your question and for anybody out there. If you have been elected to be the worshipful master or whenever you reach that distinction.

I hope you look for that degree, look for the actual Past Master degree, ask about that in your jurisdiction, find out what’s available and how it’s done and how quickly you can receive it after you’ve been elected. Because I think it would be of tremendous benefit to you. If you go through it in the York Rite degrees and receive that well, then all the better to get a little more in about conducting business as the master of a Lodge.


Thank you so much for reading. If you have any other questions, please leave them down in the comments below. I will do my best to get to them.

by Bro. Andre M. Noble

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