THE ENTERED APPRENTICE
Prepared by THE GRAND LODGE OF SCOTLAND
In the belief that you would welcome some additional "light" upon
the Fraternity to which you have just gained admittance, and upon
your own place therein, this booklet is presented to you for
In its long experience Masonry has established many things that go
beyond the realm of experiment and mere opinion; among these is the
established fact that one's appreciation of Masonry grows with the
increase in his understanding of its history, its symbolism and
philosophy, its worldwide character, its ethical standards and the
ideal of genuine Brotherhood fostered among its multitude of
In your own interest, therefore, give thoughtful attention to this
THE ENTERED APPRENTICE
You are now an Entered Apprentice. You have taken first step on the
journey to becoming a Master Mason.
The ceremony of your initiation is something which we hope you will
never forget, for it should not be looked upon as an isolated
experience, but rather as an enduring privilege. You can now, and
for all time to come, sit in your Lodge and observe, study and
participate in the ceremony through which you have just passed.
You will naturally want to know something more of the Degree of
Entered Apprentice before you present yourself for promotion to the
Degree of Fellow Craft. The ceremony of initiation itself must
have seemed strange to you and at its conclusion you may well have
found yourself somewhat bewildered. It may, therefore, be helpful
if you are given a brief explanation of the term "Entered
The builders of the remarkable cathedrals and churches in Europe,
from six to nine hundred years ago, we call "Operative Masons"
because they were builders in the literal sense.
It was necessary for the Operative Masons to recruit new members to
replace those lost through removal, accident, illness or death. To
do this they used the apprenticeship system, which was in vogue in
all crafts for many centuries.
The word "apprentice" means "learner," or "beginner," one who is
taking his first steps in mastering a trade, art or profession.
The Operative Apprentice was a youth, usually from ten to fifteen
years of age. He was required to be sound in body in order to do
work requiring physical strength and endurance. He had to be of
good habit, obedient and willing to learn, of unquestioned
reputation and be well recommended by Masons already members of the
When such a youth was chosen as an apprentice he was called into
the Lodge where members could assure themselves of his mental,
moral and physical qualifications. If they voted to receive him,
he was given much information about the Craft, what it required of
its members, something of its early history and tradition, and what
his duties would be. He gave a solemn promise to obey his
superiors, to work diligently, to observe the laws and rules and to
keep the secrets.
After being thus obligated, he was bound over, or indentured, to
one of the more experienced Master Masons. As a rule he lived with
this Master Mason, and from him day by day learned the methods and
secrets of the trade. This apprenticeship usually lasted seven
years. When he was able to give assurance of his fitness to master
the art and to become an acceptable member of the society, his name
was entered on the books of the Lodge and he was given a recognised
place in the Craft organisation; and because of this official
entering of his name he was given the title "Entered Apprentice."
It is difficult to exaggerate the care our Operative Masonic
forbears devoted to these learners. The Intender, as the Master
Mason to whom the Apprentice was indentured was called, was obliged
by law to teach him theory as well as practice. Not until the
Apprentice, after many years, could prove his proficiency by
meeting the most rigid tests of skill, was he permitted to advance
to a higher rank in the Craft. Other Master Masons with whom he
was set to work at the simpler tasks also were his teachers. He
was given moral instruction; his conduct was carefully scrutinised;
many rules were laid down to control his manner of life. When we
read the Old Charges and ancient documents that have come down to
us, we are impressed by the amount of space devoted to Apprentices.
As time passed, therefore, there grew up about the rank and duties
and regulations of the Apprentices an organised set of customs,
ceremonies, rules, traditions, etc. These at last crystallised
into a well-defined unit, which we may describe as the "Operative
Entered Apprentice's Degree." When, after the Reformation,
Operative Masonry was gradually transformed into Speculative
Masonry, the Entered Apprentice's Degree in a modified form was
retained as one of the Degrees of the Speculative Lodge.
As an Entered Apprentice you are a learner, a beginner, in
Speculative Masonry. You have taken the first step in the mastery
of our Art. And it is because you have this rank that certain
things are expected of you.
First, you are expected to learn certain portions of the Degree, so
as to prove your proficiency in open Lodge. But you are not to
learn these parts merely to pass this test; you should master them
so thoroughly that they will remain with you through life, because
you will have need of them in the future.
Second, you must learn the laws, rules and regulations by which an
Entered Apprentice is governed.
As you stood in the north-east corner of the Lodge during your
initiation you were taught a certain lesson concerning a corner
stone. The meaning of that lesson should now be clear to you. You
are a corner stone of the Craft. The day may come when into your
hands will fall your share of the responsibilities of the Lodge.
It is our hope and expectation that you will prove a worthy part of
the foundation on which our great Fraternity may safely build.
AN INTERPRETATION OF THE RITUAL OF THE FIRST DEGREE
The Masonic Lodge Room is represented in the Ritual as a symbol of
the world. The particular form in which this symbol is cast harks
back to early times when men believed the earth to be square and
the sky a solid dome. While this no longer represents our idea of
the physical shape of the world, the significance remains the same.
The world thus represented is the world of Masonry; the Masonic
career from beginning to end, including all that lies between. The
West Gate through which the candidate enters represents birth. In
the First Degree the candidate is ushered into Masonic life. To
become a Mason is a solemn and serious undertaking.
Masonry is systematic, well proportioned, balanced. Duties and
work are supervised, regulated and controlled through laws written
and unwritten, expressed through landmarks, traditions, usages,
constitutions and bye-laws, guided and directed through officers
vested with power and authority. The candidate obligates himself
to uphold that lawful system. When he salutes the Master he
signifies his obedience to the legally constituted officers; when
he follows his guide and fears no danger he expresses his trust in,
and loyalty to, the Fraternity.
The Entered Apprentice's Degree is not an idle formality, but a
genuine experience, the beginning of a new career in which duties,
rights and privileges are real. Freemasonry offers no privileges
or rewards except to those who earn them. She places Working
Tools, not playthings, in the hands of her members.
Freemasonry is certainly not a religion, but is vitally religious.
Its entire philosophy, all its teachings, are predicated upon the
existence of God, the God in whom men can place their trust and
from whom strength and wisdom flow in response to prayer.
The Principal Tenets of Freemasonry are Brotherly Love, Relief and
Truth. It is necessary not to overlook the word "Principal," for
it signifies that, while our Fraternity lays the greatest emphasis
on these three teachings, yet there are others which must not be
By a "tenet" of Freemasonry is meant some teaching, so obviously
true, so universally accepted, that we believe it without question.
Freemasonry considers Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth to be
teachings of this kind, true in the sense that no man can question
them: they are obvious, self-proving, axiomatic. It is not
uncommon for men to consider Brotherly Love, while highly
desirable, as not practicable, and therefore but a vision, to be
dreamed of but never possessed. It is challenging for Freemasonry
to call these "tenets," thus stating that they are both obviously
and necessarily true. Unless you grasp this, and see that the
principles of Freemasonry are self-evident realities, not visionary
ideals, you will never understand Masonic teachings. For
Freemasonry does not tell us that the principles of Brotherly
Love, Relief and Truth ought to be true, that it would be better
for us all if they were true - she tells us that they are true.
They are tremendous realities in human life, and it is as
impossible to question their validity as to question the ground
under our feet, or the sun over our heads. Our problem is not
whether to believe them, but what are we going to do with them?
What, then, is Brotherly Love? Manifestly, it means that we place
on another man the highest possible valuation as a friend, a
companion, an associate, a neighbour. By the exercise of Brotherly
Love, we are taught to regard the whole human species as one
family. We do not ask that from our relationship we shall achieve
any selfish gain. Our relationship with a Brother is its own
justification, its own reward. Brotherly Love is one of the
supreme values without which life is lonely, unhappy, ugly. This
is not a hope or a dream, but a fact. Freemasonry builds on that
fact, provides opportunities for us to have such fellowship,
encourages us to understand and to practise it, and to make it one
of the laws of our existence; one of our Principal Tenets.
Relief is one of the forms of charity. We often think of charity
as relief from poverty. To care for the helpless or unemployed is
deemed usually a responsibility resting on the public. As a rule
the public discharges that responsibility through some form of
organised charity, financed by general subscriptions or out of
Our conception of relief is broader and deeper than this. We fully
recognise the emergency demands made by physical and economic
distress; but we likewise understand that the cashing of a cheque
is not necessarily a complete solution of the difficulty. There
sometimes enters the problem of readjustment, of rehabilitation, of
keeping the family together, of children's education, and various
other matters vital to the welfare of those concerned. Through the
whole process there is the need for spiritual comfort, for the
assurance of a sincere and continuing interest and friendship,
which is the real translation of our first Principal Tenet:
Masonic Relief takes it for granted that any man, no matter how
industrious and frugal he may be, through sudden misfortune or
other conditions over which he has no control, may be in temporary
need of a helping hand. To extend it is not what is generally
described as charity, but is one of the natural and inevitable acts
of Brotherhood. Any conception of Brotherhood must include this
willingness to give necessary aid. Therefore Relief, Masonically
understood, is a tenet.
By Truth, the last of the Principal Tenets, is meant something more
than the search for truths in the intellectual sense, though that
is included. Truth is a divine attribute and the foundation of
every virtue. To be good and true is the first lesson we are
taught in Masonry. In any permanent brotherhood, members must be
truthful in character and habits, dependable, men of honour, on
whom we can rely to be faithful fellows and loyal friends. Truth
is a vital requirement if a brotherhood is to endure, and we
therefore accept it as such.
Thus Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth are the Principal Tenets of
Masonry. There are other tenets, also; teachings so obvious that
argument is never necessary to sustain them. With this in mind we
urge you to ponder the teachings of the Craft as you progress from
degree to degree. You may not find them novel, but novelty is
unimportant in the light of the knowledge that the truths upon
which Freemasonry is founded are eternal. The freshness of
immortality is on them because they never die; in them is a
ceaseless inspiration and an inexhaustible appeal. They are tenets
of Freemasonry because always and everywhere they have been tenets
of successful human life.
SYMBOLISM OF THE FIRST DEGREE
The symbolism of Masonry is the soul of Masonry. Every symbol in
a Lodge is a teacher, the mute teacher of morals and philosophy.
It is in its ancient symbols and in the knowledge of their true
meanings that the eminence of Freemasonry consists. By its symbols
it will reign without a peer when it learns again what its symbols
mean, and that each is the embodiment of some great, old, rare
Without specifically reviewing, one by one, the various symbols you
have observed, their general significance may be summarised, and at
the same time perhaps made even more clear in their personal
All through Masonry you will find that "Light" has a great
symbolical meaning. Light as opposed to darkness suggests many
opposites, with light always symbolising the principles for which
Masonry stands; and its opposite - darkness - typifying those
things which are antagonistic. Moreover, before your initiation,
you were in darkness concerning much of Masonry, but later were
partially enlightened, and in this sense light is a means of
discovery. Mental or spiritual blindness cuts off the individual
from all that makes life worth living, but as light comes with
increasing intensity he finds himself entering a new existence.
Light has made this possible, but it remains for him to explore, to
understand and to conform.
Your complete acceptance and pledged compliance with whatever
Masonry may have in store justified your release from the
symbolical restraint of the Cable Tow.
One symbolic ceremony in which you participated, and which was not
fully explained at the time, holds a number of meanings; one, that
your passage from station to station may remind you that Masonry is
not a static experience, but one of progress; a journey not
solitary, but enriched by the guidance and fraternal spirit of your
In the centre of a Masonic Lodge is the Volume of the Sacred Law
and without its presence no Lodge is regular. It should be noted
that the book is referred to as the Volume of the Sacred Law as no
matter what a man's religion may be, provided he believes in the
Supreme Being he may become a Mason. We therefore see in our
Lodges various volumes of the Sacred Law as for example, the Bible
for the Christians, the Koran for the Mohammedans, the Gita for the
Hindus and the Torah for the Jews. No one religion has exclusive
rights within the Fraternity. In any faith its Sacred Book of the
Law is the symbol of man's acknowledgment of and his relation to
the Deity. In that university of Masonry we find one of our
greatest lessons, namely Toleration.
The working tools of our ancient Operative Brethren still survive
in both actual and symbolic form. We are concerned only with the
latter, but in them lie some of the most significant lessons
Masonry has to teach. Their application is spiritual, ethical and
moral; and their application is also unfailingly practical, in that
they claim admittance to our commonplace, everyday routine, and
their influence should rest thereon with considerable weight.
It should be helpful to have a brief reminder of the working tools
already presented. Your attention was directed to our recognition
of the Supreme Being; to a realisation of service to our fellowmen,
with especial emphasis on our fraternal ties; to a steady adherence
to our chosen vocation, implying both present and (hopefully)
future independence; and to proper conservation of our energies -
the sum of all these being a well balanced chart for living.
One of the Great Lights is the Compasses - as truly a working tool
of the Operative Mason as any of the rest. While it assisted in
making accurate measurements so vital to the architect's plans in
assuring proportion and stability (both necessary also in character
building), its symbolical use likewise excludes beyond its circle
that which is harmful and unworthy.
You will recall the exalted symbolism of the Apron. There is yet
another concept of profound significance: the Apron has always been
the badge of a worker; and underlying the lesson of industry is the
great principle of constructive work as opposed to that which is
destructive. Our ancient Operative Brethren were builders, not
wreckers; let it be remembered that the creative impulse has always
been the soul of progress.
Other working tools are yet to be presented; their very presence
will declare that there is constructive work to be done, and their
nature will indicate the direction this work is to take. You will
also encounter other symbols, each one with a depth of meaning
which will challenge your interest and reveal still more of the
character and purpose of our great Fraternity.
DUTIES, PRIVILEGES AND LIMITATIONS OF AN ENTERED APPRENTICE
As an Entered Apprentice you have an immediate and personal
interest in this subject, but you should also realise that it has
a permanent and important interest for every Mason, however long it
may have been since he received the First Degree. In a sense we
always remain Entered Apprentices: the teachings of the Degree
remain always in effect; its obligation and charge, subject to
additions in the succeeding Degrees, continue to be binding. As
Masons we associate with Apprentices, work with them, perhaps are
sought by them for counsel. Therefore it is important to have as
clear an understanding as possible of the duties, privileges and
limitations of Apprentices.
An Apprentice cannot vote or hold office. An Apprentice may not
visit or sit in a Lodge except when opened in the First Degree.
Nevertheless he possesses certain important rights and privileges.
He has the right to be instructed in his work and in matters
pertaining to his Degree. If charged with violating his
obligation, he is entitled to trial. He has the right to apply for
advancement to a higher Degree. Also the Apprentice possesses
modes of recognition by which he can make himself known to other
Apprentices, as well as to Brethren who have taken additional
Degrees, and he has the privilege of using them.
Complete faithfulness to his obligation and implicit obedience to
the charge are among his important and lasting responsibilities.
It is also the duty of the Apprentice to learn the required
portions of the Degree with thoroughness, not only because he must
prove himself proficient in order to advance, but also because it
contains Masonic teachings of fundamental importance that remain
forever binding on every Mason. In a measure the Degree is
complete within its own field, and its teachings should be
permanently incorporated in his own Masonic life.
Freemasonry preserves a secrecy about all its work; it meets behind
tyled doors; it throws over its principles and teachings a garment
of symbolism and ritual; its Art is a mystery; a great wall
separates it from the profane world. Nor is its work easy to
In asking you to learn well the duties, privileges and limitations
of an Entered Apprentice, we also urge you to conceive of
apprenticeship in the larger sense. It is not particularly
difficult for a worthy candidate to become a member in name only,
but we want your own ambition to extend far beyond that perfunctory
stage. We believe that you wish to become a Mason in reality and
that no idle desire for the honour of bearing the name has been
your motive for seeking our fellowship. If this be true, we
urgently advise you not to be content with the letter and outward
form in this your beginning period, but to apply yourself with
freedom, fervency and zeal to the sincere and thorough mastering of
our Royal Art.
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