The path you will follow in your initiatory degrees will be identical with that trod by every other Mason who has come before you. You will be asked the same questions. You will be required to take the same vows. Likewise, you will be accorded the same honors. Whatever you experience here, be assured that every Master Mason has experienced it before you.
We tell you this so that you may better understand the reason for that which is soon to be unfolded to you. For Masonry is a great philosophic system of morality, or ethics, interpreted by allegory and by the use of ancient symbols. Its great teachings are brotherly love, relief and truth — and these will be further explained to you as you progress through the degrees.
In keeping with the traditions of the operative masons of the middle ages, you will enter our craft as an entered apprentice. Ancient apprentices served a term of seven years, during which their performance was evaluated to determine who would be advanced to the rank of Fellow of the Craft. Their initiation provided certain information to prepare them for their period of apprenticeship and to enable them to identify themselves as members of the fraternity. Wise and serious truths were taught to them using symbols to impress upon their minds the importance of adherence to these principles.
Every object, every word, every item displayed in the lodge has symbolic significance. We encourage you to pay particular attention to every detail of the ceremonies you are about to witness. Bear in mind that you will not learn the meaning of every symbol today and you will not be able to remember every detail of the lessons which are presented. But your faithful attendance at our meetings in the future will provide the answers to the many questions which will arise as you witness these ceremonies.
You will find that Masonry is dignified and inspirational in its manifestation to you who will soon knock at the inner door of the Lodge. It should, and will, play a vital part in all your future life, if you will but open your heart and mind, and let it be.
Well meaning, but thoughtless, friends may have suggested that there is contained within your initiatory work some phase which you will find embarrassing. You may have been regaled with stories of "riding the goat," and similar practical joking at the expense of the candidate. Have no fear. There is nothing in a Masonic Lodge which does not have a direct bearing upon the lessons to be unfolded for your instruction. There is no mental or physical anguish awaiting you; no levity; no horseplay, and no embarrassment. Be alert to all that happens as you progress upon your way. Remember that you have entrusted yourself to friends — friends whom you will soon call brothers — and in whom you can safely place the utmost trust and confidence.
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