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Initiation ceremony Major points How the 'temple' is ritually desecrated
1st degree Tracing Board

Initiation to the First Degree up to the end of the Obligation

The Tyler prepares the Candidate in a room outside the Lodge room where he is to be initiated by divesting him of all metal articles.

The Candidate removes his outer clothing until he stands in socks, his left shoe, trousers and shirt only.

His shirt is unbuttoned to reveal his left breast, his right sleeve is rolled up to reveal the elbow, his left trouser leg is rolled up above the knee and a slipper is placed on his unshod foot.

A hangman's type noose called a 'cable tow' is then placed around his neck, the end of the rope hanging down behind him. He is blindfolded - with a mask called a 'hoodwink'

He is then led by the Tyler to the door of the Lodge and the Tyler knocks. (see Tyler's staff)

The Pocket Encylopedia of Masonic Symbols states, 'Blindfolding a candidate in any rite is not for practical but spiritual reasons. The temporary blinding is a symbol of present darkness, which will be displaced by light when and if the initiate succeeds in penetrating the mysteries before him.

The inner Guard, moving with the prescribed step and making the First Degree sign, says, 'Brother Junior Warden, there is a report.' After several ritual responses, the Inner Guard opens the door and asks the Tyler, 'Whom have you there?'

'Mr John Smith, a poor Candidate in a state of darkness,' says the Tyler, 'who has been well and worthily recommended, regularly proposed and approved in open Lodge, and now comes of his own free will and accord, properly prepared, humbly soliciting to be admitted to the mysteries and privileges of Freemasonry.'

There follow several repetitious exchanges, the Inner Guard places the point of a dagger to the Candidate's left breast. He is asked, 'Do you feel anything?'


The Inner Guard raises the dagger in the air, and the still blindfolded Candidate is led by the right hand by the Junior Deacon to the kneeling-stool before the Worshipful Master, who then addresses the Candidate for the first time.

'Mr John Smith, as no person can be made a Mason unless he is free and of mature age, I demand of you, are you a free man and of the full age of twenty-one years/'

'I am'.

'Thus assured, I will thank you to kneel, while the blessing of Heaven is invoked on our proceedings.'

The Candidate kneels. The Brethren move in the prescribed manner, the Lodge Deacons crossing their wands above the Candidate's head, while the Worshipful Master or the Chaplain prays aloud, 'Vouchsafe Thine aid, Almighty Father and Supreme Governor of the Universe, to our present convention and grant that this Candidate for Freemasonry may so dedicate and devote his life to Thy service, as to become a rue and faithful Brother among us. Endue him with a competency of Thy Divine Wisdom, so that, assisted by the secrets of our Masonic art, he may be the better enabled to unfold the beauties of true Godliness, to the honour and glory of Thy Holy Name.'

The Immediate Past Master says or sings, 'So mote it be.'

'Mr Smith,' continues the Worshipful Master, 'in all cases of difficulty and danger, in whom do you put your trust?', and the Candidate replies, 'In God.'

'Right glad I am to find your faith so well founded. Relying on such sure support you may safely rise and follow your leader with a firm but humble confidence, for where the name of God is invoked we trust no danger can ensue.'

The Candidate rises to his feet with the help of the Deacons. The Worshipful Master and the Brethren sit. The Worshipful Master then gives a single knock with his gavel. 'The Brethren from the north, east, south and west will take notice that Mr John Smith is about to pass in view before them, to show that he is the Candidate properly prepared, and a fit and proper person to be made a Mason,' says the Master.

There then follows various ritual motions and the Candidate is led in a procession around the Lodge. Arriving at the place where the Junior Warden stands, the Junior Deacon takes the Candidate's right hand and taps the Junior Warden's right shoulder with it three times.

The Junior Warden asks, 'Whom have you there?'

'Mr John Smith,' replies the Junior Deacon, 'A poor Candidate in a state of darkness, who has been well and worthily recommended, regularly proposed and approved in open Lodge, and now comes of his own free will and accord, properly prepared, humbly soliciting to be admitted to the mysteries and privileges of Freemasonry.'

'How does he hope to obtain those privileges?'

'By the help of God, being free and of good report.'

The Junior Warden then takes the Candidate's right hand, and says to him, 'Enter, free and of good report,' and he is led to the Senior Warden, before whom a similar exchange takes place. 'Worshipful Master,' he says, making the appropriate sign, 'I present to you Mr John Smith, a Candidate properly prepared to be made a Mason.'

'Brother Senior Warden,' replies the Worshipful Master, 'your presentation shall be attended to, for which purpose I shall address a few questions to the Candidate, which I trust he will answer with candour.' He turns to the Candidate, 'Do you seriously declare on your honour that, unbiased by the improper solicitation of friends against your own inclination, and uninfluenced by mercenary or other unworthy motive, you freely and voluntarily offer yourself a Candidate for the mysteries and privileges of Freemasonry?'

'I do.'

'Do you likewise pledge yourself that you are prompted to solicit those privileges by a favourable opinion preconceived of the Institution, a genuine desire of knowledge, and a sincere wish to render yourself more extensively serviceable to your fellow creatures?'

'I do'.

'Do you further seriously declare on your honour that, avoiding fear on the one hand and rashness on the other, you will steadily persevere through the ceremony of your initiation, and if once admitted you will afterwards act and abide by the ancient usages and established customs of the order?'

'I do'.

'Brother Senior Warden, you will direct the Junior Deacon to instruct the Candidate to advance to the pedestal in due form.'

'Brother Junior Deacon, it is the Worshipful Master's command that you instruct the Candidate to advance to the pedestal in due form.'

The Junior Deacon complies, leading the Candidate to the pedestal and instructing him to stand with his heels together and his feet at right angles, the left foot facing east and the right foot south. He continues: 'Take a short pace with your left foot, bringing the heels together in the form of a square. Take another, a little longer, heel to heel as before. Another still longer, heels together as before.'

The candidate is now standing before the pedestal, with the junior Deacon to his right and the Senior Deacon to his left.

'It is my duty to inform you' says the Worshipful Master, 'that Masonry is free, and requires a perfect freedom of inclination in every Candidate for its mysteries. It is founded on the purest principles of piety and virtue. It possesses great and invaluable privileges, and in order to secure those privileges to worthy man, and we trust to worthy men alone, vows of fidelity are required.

But let me assure you that in those vows there is nothing incompatible with your civil, moral or religious duties. Are you therefore willing to take a solemn Obligation, founded on the principles I have stated, to keep inviolate the secrets and mysteries of the order?'

'I am'

'Then you will kneel on your left knee, your right foot formed in a square, give me your right hand which I place on the Volume of the Sacred Law, while your left will be employed in supporting these compasses, one point presented to your naked left breast.'

This done, the Candidate is then made to repeat the 'Obligation' after the Worshipful Master, 'I, John Smith, in the presence of the Great Architect of the Universe, and of this worthy, worshipful and warranted Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, regularly assembled and properly dedicated, of my own free will and accord, do hereby (WM touches Candidate's right hand with his left hand) and hereon (WM touches the Bible with his left hand) sincerely and solemnly promise and swear, that I will always hele, conceal and never reveal any part or parts, point or points of the secrets or mysteries of or belonging to Free and Accepted Masons in Masonry, which may heretofore have been known by me, or shall now or at any future period be communicated to me, unless it be to a true and lawful Brother or Brothers, and not even to him or them, until after due trial, strict examination, or sure information from a well-known Brother, that he or they are worthy of that confidence, or in the body of a just, perfect, and regular Lodge of Ancient Freemasons. I further solemnly promise that I will not write those secrets, indite, carve, mark, engrave or otherwise them delineate, or cause or suffer it to be so done by others, if in my power to prevent it, on anything moveable or immovable, under the canopy of Heaven, whereby or whereon any letter, character or figure, or the least trace of a letter, character or figure, may become legible, or intelligible to myself or anyone in the world, so that our secret arts and hidden mysteries may improperly become known through my unworthiness. These several points I solemnly swear to observe, without evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation of any kind, under no less a penalty, on the violation of any of them, than that of having my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by the root, and buried in the sand of the sea at low water mark, or a cable's length from the shore, where the tide regularly ebbs and flows twice in twenty-four hours, or the more effective punishment of being branded as a wilfully perjured individual, void of all moral worth, and totally unfit to be received into this worshipful Lodge, or any other warranted Lodge or society of men, who prize honour and virtue above the external advantages of rank and fortune. So help me, God, and keep me steadfast in this my Great and Solemn Obligation of an Entered Apprentice Freemason'.

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 Worshipful master tells the candidate '.But the danger which, traditionally, would have awaited you until your latest hour had you improperly disclosed the secrets of Freemasonry, that of having the throat cut across, the tongue torn out by the root and buried in the sea at low water or a cable's length from the shore where the tide regularly ebbs and flows twice in 24 hours. the inclusion of such a penalty is unnecessary, for the obligation you have taken this evening is binding upon you for so long as you shall live'.

The Worshipful master explains 'Entustment' by telling the candidate '.to the symbolic penalty of the degree, which implied that, as a man of honour, a mason would rather have had his throat cut than improperly disclose..' and then in an exchange with the Senior Warden when he asks the candidate to what does it allude the candidate answers..'the symbolic penalty of the degree, which implied that, as a man of honour, a mason would rather have his throat cut across than improperly disclose'

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Major points involved in the 1st degree, called the 'Shock of Entrance'..
  • All metal objects are removed from the candidate. This may include his wedding ring, symbol of the covenant with his marriage partner. From now on she will be classified as being 'profane'  (Outside the camp)
  • The candidate is declared to be 'A poor candidate in a state of darkness'
  • He is given a Masonic penny and told 'he will need this'. He is then asked to the penny into the Masonic poor box
  • He is dressed in 'pauper's clothing'. with bare left leg, bare right arm, bare left breast and heelless right slipper.
  • The blue blindfold, called a hoodwink, is placed over the candidate's eyes.
  • A blue noose (called a cable tow rope) is placed around the candidate's neck (threatening strangulation or asphyxiation).
  • The point of a dagger (or compasses) is placed against the heart area of the chest and sometimes also on the bridge of the nose or under the chin (threatening death or injury).
  • The candidate is reminded that he has been received into the craft "poor and penniless"
  • The candidate is shown the secret handshake/grip, the 'Due Guard' and 'Penal Sign', and is given the password "Boaz".
  • 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.
  • The traditional penalties alluded to for revealing Masonic secrets to the profane (outsiders) includes the words ". . . having my throat cut across from ear to ear, my tongue torn out by the root, and buried in the sand of the sea at low water or a cable's length from the shore where the tide regularly ebbs and flows twice in 24 hours."
  • Compasses will be placed on top of an open Bible at Psalm 133 and the candidate will kneel before the altar and kiss the VSL.
  • 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 may have had the deacons' wands held over his head whilst kneeling. The wands would form a symbol of the generative part of woman known aa a lozenge, to indicate that the candidate is being born again.
  • When the hoodwink is taken off he is declared as having been brought 'into the wisdom and light of Masonry'.
  • The candidate is given working tools (as in witchcraft) appropriate to  the degree   - 24" gauge, gavel, chisel, square, level, plum line, tracing board, ashlar & skirret.
  • The candidate is presented with a white apron which covers his genital area
  • The Worshipful Master of the Lodge conducting the degree may be seated on / under an effigy of SET the Sun God, when the candidate bows the knee towards the east for the oath taking..
  • The candidate is told that the Masonic temple is an exact replica of Solomon's temple. Solomon's temple faced west. Every Masonic temple faces east
The full line by line wording for the traditional Entered Apprentice degree

is available by clicking

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