Freemasonry is a road traveled by many, but it’s the journey that makes it our own.

June 16, 2007

What does it all mean

Filed under: Uncategorized — onthelevel @ 7:15 pm

So It’s been a while since I posted anything. I’m admittedly not an inspired writer. Having performed my Entered Apprentice proficiency, I find myself 2 weeks away from my second degree. As part of this experience I’m required to answer some questions, fortunately in written form, to be turned in prior to the proceedings. What’s interesting, to myself at least, is that before diving into the questions in question, I was trying to figure out what it meant to be an Entered Apprentice. What was I to have learned and taken away from the whole experience. What is it, other than memorizing more than a few words, that makes me qualified to to hold this degree and progress to the next.

You would think that the very name “Entered Apprentice” would be a sufficient enough definition. However given that I tend to over think a great many things and look for meaning beyond what is in front of me, or what may even really be there, it wasn’t enough. I felt that there was supposed to be some deeper meaning behind everything that I had experienced so far. It was with all this in mind that I began to go over the questions that were given me. It was these same thoughts that kept me to date, from putting an answer to paper that I was happy with.

Questions aside, I believe that I have found the answer to my own questions about what it means to be an Entered Apprentice. I believe that like most things in life, the true meaning of something is greatly determined by personal experience. For my self being an Entered Apprentice is obviously a beginning in the craft, but also where you form the foundation of what you want your Masonic experience to entail. It is the point where you decide whether it’s all about dinners and titles or finding a deeper understanding and meaning of the craft. I realize that by the very questions I posed to myself, that I want my experience to be more than simply attaining the titles that accompany the rituals and proficiencies. I want to have a deeper understanding of the reasons and meanings behind all that I experience. This self reflection has made me feel comfortable, not only with my understanding of being an Entered Apprentice but, with moving forward in the craft and my Masonic journey.

Freemasonry is a road traveled by many, but it’s the journey that makes it our own.

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April 10, 2007

My Obligation

Filed under: Freemasonry — onthelevel @ 10:31 pm

It’s been nearly a month now since my initiation into Freemasonry. As an Entered Apprentice my main goal is to study the material presented to me, in order to prepare for my next degree. While not an immensely difficult undertaking, it does take a great deal of time, practice and help from my fellows brother(s). In fact without the help from my fellow brother(s) it would be impossible to achieve. The studying is of the type that requires you to interact with another person , in that the knowledge is imparted orally. Could there be a better example of Brotherhood and Masonic education. I think not.

Often, when left to my own devices, I found myself frequently at a loss in deciphering my readings. I thought what would Google do, as if the almighty search engine were a person. So I would search for answers to my questions. What I found was a wide range of useless information. The reason I say this is that, while there are many examples of the translation I was looking for out there, I quickly came to realize that it varies greatly from Country-to-Country and even State-to-State. What I found even more interesting, was that the method of teaching this information varied so greatly. At my lodge Island City no.215 (plug), and I believe that this is true for the State of California, we are required to memorize our obligation be reading a particular encrypted document. Cryptic huh!?

Well this is not the case every where. I discovered that some in some lodges you are allowed to copy the deciphered text in order to ease the memorization of the obligation. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I wanted to do just that. I know how valuable a practice that is to memorization. But then I look at my own experience with this learning process so far. I have learned the obligation in the way that those before me have and have gotten to spend a great deal of time with a friend and brother learning it in the manner that it was intended. I believe that doing it in this manner has made me really focus on the meaning behind that which I was studying. I also believe that by having someone there, willing to help me, fostered a greater sense of belonging and Brotherhood. Anyone can be given a bunch or words and told to go home and memorize it, but is there any challenge, sense of accomplishment or Brotherhood in that? How can one truly hope to understand what lies beneath it all. The meaning, history or reasoning without the experience of those who have been there, understand themselves and are willing to share that.

I know that in my own lodge, there is an active movement to try to engage and encourage both newer and older members to be more active participants. Personally, when I’m in the position to do the same for the newly initiated, I will look back to my own exeperience and hope to be able to do the same.

Freemasonry is a road traveled by many, but it’s the journey that makes it our own.

March 16, 2007

The Entered Apprentice

Filed under: Uncategorized — onthelevel @ 6:35 pm

I had originally planned to begin witting about my perceptions and experiences with freemasonry prior to my initiation. I found this difficult to do, as I was no longer really in the same frame of mind as the events that led up to my initiation. I, in fact, just last night became an entered apprentice in Island City lodge no.215. Last night a fellow brother asked me more than once, after the initiation had ended, how it was. Given how instrumental his role in my becoming a Mason has been, I didn’t feel that I had answered his question in the manner he was hoping for. To be honest, I feel that the enormity of it all is only hitting me at this very moment.

While during the ceremony there were very audible clues that made me feel that I was in another place, it was not until this morning that it began to feel as though I had been both in another place and time. It was a feeling that I had been transported and was living or reliving, to a degree, the experiences of all those men who had been through this initiation before me. There were certain parts of the initiation, in conjunction with the language used, that not only lent itself to that feeling of another time and place, but also made me want to learn more about motions and meanings behind what I was going through.

It’s hard to explain all that is involved with the initiation. This is not solely because it is a secret ceremony. I think it is because that while all before have been through the same steps, it truely is an individual perception of the event that you are left with. Based on the advice of a friend and now brother, I did my best to avoid readings that dealt with any sort of explanation or description of the initiation so that I could truly experience it as it should be. Granted along the way I came across certain bits of ignorant information that most were likely put out there to install fear or misgivings about Masonry. For the record I fail to see how anything thing that I have I experienced in my initiation could have elicited such a response.

I truly feel like I have become a part of something larger and greater than just myself. It’s a long road ahead but it’s a journey that I look forward to continuing.

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