By the experience of his various senses, combined with
the knowledge gained of the liberal arts and sciences, the
candidate is called to advance up the winding staircase to
a position that is the balanced wisdom of life in which the
senses, emotions, intellect, character, habits and soul of a
man knit together in a balanced unity.
Such are the secrets and mysteries of the Degree of a
Fellowcraft that a man discovers that he need not shirk from
his toil, nor faint from the heat and burden of the day, because
he has learned that his competency as a human being will be
equal to the demands made upon him.
The striking and important allegories peculiar to this Degree
lead the Fellowcraft to act the part of a man approaching King
Solomon’s Temple. He is led into the outer precincts, passing
between the two pillars. He climbs the winding staircase and
at last enters the Middle Chamber, the place where our ancient
brethren received their wages. It is here that the Fellowcraft’s
attention is drawn to making the liberal arts and sciences his
It will soon become clear to the Fellowcraft that the
underlying lesson to be learnt is the development of maturity
and manhood through the acquisition of knowledge and
This is why the scientific facts and the theories of art that
are so beautifully contained in the explanation of the Second
Tracing Board, but more importantly, in the various sections
of the Second (or Middle Chamber) Lecture that should
become the vital source of his future study.
Ignorance is one of the greatest evils to mankind,
enlightenment is one of the greatest goods. It is this reverence
for knowledge and its moral teachings and usefulness which
are the real secrets and mysteries of the Second Degree.
The ritual stresses the need for studying and for learning
throughout the period of manhood. It illuminates the idea
that you must search for knowledge about the liberalising
ideas of morality and brotherly love.
A brother thus far in his journey through the Craft of
‘Speculative Freemasonry’ has reached the stage when, if
he does pursue his studies, he can truly become a Master
engaged in building “a house not made by earthly hands”.
He will then have learnt and understood the meaning
of achieving a universal tolerance and understanding of
the world around him. Such is the meaning of the symbolic
entrance into King Solomon’s Temple as a candidate for
the Second Degree.As knowledge and understanding grows
of this remarkable Degree, the whole becomes a living power
by which to shape and build our lives, not only in the Lodge
room, but also into the world of human experience of which
the Lodge room itself is a symbol.
The first duty of a Fellowcraft is to live according to the
Obligations of the Degree, to be obedient to the Master,
his Wardens and the officers of the Lodge, and to learn to
observe the rules, regulations and laws of the Fraternity.
The ideals and the teachings of the Second Degree, as with
the other degrees of the Craft, continue always to be binding.
If a Mason is to understand and to possess Freemasonry
in its entirety it is necessary for him to have a full grasp
of Fellowcraft Masonry, and to begin in earnest to make
a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge.
Running through all degrees in Freemasonry are the
privileges of fellowship, goodwill, kindness, brotherly love,
benevolence and charity that we all try continuously to
cultivate and develop in our own character. The method
of teaching in Freemasonry is unlike that of schools, colleges
and universities. Instead of employing teaching staff and
textbooks, our lessons take the form of ritual, expounding
its teaching in words and actions, almost like a play.
Our stories are full of symbolism and what we call
allegories – these are stories or fables in which the characters
are in fact symbolic. This is not as easy to follow as ‘the
school room method’, but it has a unique advantage.
It makes a Brother study and learn for himself, forcing
him to search out the truth, even compelling him to take
the initiative, as a grown man should, so that the very act
of learning becomes of educational value.
The purpose of secrecy is not to keep the candidate in the
dark, but to stimulate him to seek the light. The symbols and
emblems of our Order do not conceal the teachings – they
reveal them – but in such a manner that a man finds truth
for himself. It is only when this happens to the individual
that such findings will remain with him as a cherished
A Fellowcraft should ask his Proposer, Seconder or Lodge
Mentor to provide him with a copy of the Second Degree
ritual, including the Tracing Board – he should not have to
wait until after taking the Third Degree.
The Fellowcraft may find that the former explains very
little, and the later only adds to his confusion – take it slowly,
try to understand, and do not be afraid to ask questions.It will
not be until the Fellowcraft has extended his personal research
to read and understand the Second Degree Lecture – often
called the Middle Chamber Lecture (it runs to 40 pages) that
he will be able to fully comprehend the secrets and mysteries
of the Second Degree.
From what appears to be at first view but a ‘stepping stone’
from the First to the Third Degree, will surely become a
spectacular learning experience.
Ray Hollins is the author of A Daily Advancement in
Masonic Knowledge: 100 short talks on the Craft.
For further information contact The Freemason Ltd,
t. 0870 922 0352, or go to: www.masonicshortalks.com
Web site created by Mark Griffin