The candidate is shown the secret handshake - the 'lion's paw' grip, the 'Due Guard' and
four further signs of Horror, Sympathy, Grief and Distress, and Joy and
passwords are 'Machoben' and 'Tubal Cain'
During the oath taking the candidate will have held the 'Volume of Sacred Law' (VSL)
which for most UK/USA Blue Lodges would be the Bible.
Ceremony involves enacting out a drama whereby the candidate becomes 'Hiram Abiff' the
(mythical) architect of King Solomon's temple. The candidate as Hiram Abiiff is
attacked by three Juwes (Joo-ees) who kill him by three violent blows to the body and head
(or sometimes all three blows are to the head, right and left temples and forehead). The
first blow is with a 24" gauge to the throat, the second with a square to the chest
and the third (death blow) with a maul to the head. The candidate then falls onto an open
stretcher and is shown a black coffin shaped cloth with skull and bones, and is then buried
temporarily under the temple rubbish, then moved to burial under the
In the drama the candidate is attempted to be raised back to life by the 1st degree
secret grip but this fails. The second degree grip also fails, and it is then that the
worshipful master, impersonating King Solomon, steps forward and applying the third degree
'lion's paw' grip succeeds in raising the candidate from death into new life in
lion's paw grip..
Lion's Paw in the Pyramid Mysteries
The picture shows how the grip of the
Lion's Paw was given in the Pyramid Mysteries. The priest
wore over his head the mask of a lion. By this grip the
spirit in man, long buried in the sepulchre of substance, is
raised to life, and the candidate goes forth as a builder
entitled to the wages of an initiate.
the inside cover of 'The Lost Keys of Freemasonry' by Manly P.
Hall 33rd degree
The candidate is then given the five points of fellowship. Foot to foot, knee to knee,
breast to breast, hand to mouth and mouth to ear.
At this point the Grand Masonic Word 'Mah-hah-bone' is revealed under penalty of death
of revealed, as is the secret word 'Machaben'
The traditional penalties alluded to [see note
below] for revealing Masonic secrets to the profane (outsiders) includes the words
". . . being severed in two, my bowels burned to ashes and those ashes scattered over
the face of the earth and wafted by the four winds of heaven so that no trace or
remembrance of so vile a wretch as me may be found among men."
The square and compass will be placed on top of an open Bible at Ecclesiastes chapter
12, and the candidate will kneel before the altar and kiss the
'Volume of Sacred Law' three times.
He will finally be asked to seal the ritual oath with the words 'So mote it be' (used
only in Freemasonry and Witchcraft)
The candidate is given working tools (as in witchcraft)
appropriate to the degree - gavel (maul), chisel,
square, pencil, level, plum line. tracing board, ashlar, skirret,
compasses and trowel.
The second degree apron is replaced with the third degree apron - which the Mason keeps.
Other regalia may include the Junior Warden's jewel, sashes, fur collars and cuffs.
Note: In 1986 The Grand Lodge of England removed the candidate's
speaking out of the traditional physical penalties. However they are
still within the wording, only more subtly.. The pledge now states 'Do
you likewise pledge yourself that you conceal what I shall now impart to
you with the same strict caution as the other secrets in masonry?'
The worshipful master explains to the candidate '..to the symbolic
penalty at one time included in the Obligation in this degree (as
below) had he improperly disclosed the secrets entrusted to him,
which implied that, as a man of honour a Master mason would rather have
been severed in two, the bowels burnt to ashes and the ashes scattered
over the face of the earth and wafted by the four winds of heaven so
that no trace or remembrance of so vile a wretch may longer be found
among men, particularly Master Masons'
The full line by line wording for the Master Mason degree is available by