The Mark Master Mason Degree follows on and expands upon the Fellow Craft Degree.
During the building of King Solomon’s Temple, a workforce of some 113,500 is employed, and a system of promotion based on industry and skill is established.
A qualified Fellow Craft is permitted to select a personal mark by which his work is recognised. Such marks have since been found in the ruins of ancient buildings and they can be found on many Churches, the Tower of London, Heidelberg Castle and many others too numerous to name.
The Mark Master Degree is believed to have originated as a ceremony of registering a Craftsman’s Mark in those years in Freemasonry distinguished by operative Craft Masons. It was later developed into a Degree by the Masonic fraternity as we know it today.
As mentioned, during the building of King Solomon’s Temple, a system of promotion based on industry and skill was established.
The Mark Degree chronologically follows the Fellow Craft Degree and is one of the oldest degrees of Freemasonry. The Degree has grown out of an ancient ceremony in which each Craftsman selected a private Mark which would designate his work. In the era of operative stonemasons, each “Fellow of the Craft” would place his unique mark on the stones he cut, in order to identify his work and receive the wages due him for his labours. These Marks would be used also as the Mason’s signature on documents. Following the ceremony for this Degree, each new Mark Master Mason is obliged to choose a distinctive mark and to draw it in his Chapter’s Register of Marks. It is also recorded by United Supreme Grand Chapter against his name and included on his Certificate.
The story of the Degree is based on the preparations for the building of King Solomon’s Temple and follows the fate of an ambitious Craftsman (the Candidate) seeking promotion in his trade by demonstrating his skill and ability by fashioning a particular stone. In the early part of the ceremony, his talents go unrecognised and his hopes are dashed but eventually he triumphs over adversity and is justly rewarded for his work and made a Mark Master.
The symbolism of the Mark Master Mason Degree is that it teaches us that we should work with perseverance and commitment with a purpose to procure the inculcation of order, regularity, and discipline in life. It teaches us that we should be always good and true workmen in our life – not unfinished and imperfect.
Contact us today to learn more about how you can enrich your understanding of Masonic history and traditions through the Royal Arch Degrees, available to you upon becoming a member of the USGC.
By RtEx Comp William (Bill) RICHARDS OAM PDGZ
Within this jurisdiction, it would appear that most Freemasons are aware of the Royal Arch Degree but many do not know the significance or even in many cases that the Mark Degree existed at the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1813. In recent times this situation has been addressed.
As a consequence of an education program initiated by United Supreme Grand Chapter and supported strongly by the current Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Derek Robson AM, more and more Freemasons are asking questions about “Pure Ancient Freemasonry” and the Degrees that comprise it. A frequently asked question is why does The United Grand Lodge of NSW & ACT only recognise the three Craft Degrees administered by Grand Lodge and the Mark Degree and the Holy Royal Arch under the jurisdiction of the United Supreme Grand Chapter of Mark and Royal Arch Masons of NSW & ACT in its Constitution and not the any of the other Associated Orders of Freemasonry?
The “special place” within Freemasonry occupied by the Royal Arch came about at the time of the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1813 when with the Union of the two opposing Grand Lodges, the Antients and the Moderns was achieved with the signing of the Articles of Union on 27th December, 1813. On that occasion and after much debate and argument, 21 Articles were drawn up and agreed upon by the Duke of Sussex and the Duke of Kent. Article No 2 provided:-
“Pure Ancient Masonry consists of 3 degrees and no more; viz:- Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch. But this article is not intended to prevent any lodge or chapter from holding a meeting in any of the degrees of the Orders of Chivalry according to the Constitutions of the said Orders.”
It was the wording “3 degrees and no more” which proved disastrous for the Mark Degree in England as many Lodges at the time were happily working the Mark Degree on a regular basis under their existing warrants. The end result was those Freemasons who wanted to retain the Mark Degree were subjected to a sequestration which ultimately led to the formation of a Grand Mark Lodge of England of which Lord Leigh, who was a Grand Lodge Officer at the time of Union, became the first Grand Master of Mark Master Masons.
By the time The Grand Lodge of NSW was formed the Mark Degree had regained its prominence and was accordingly given an equal status with the Holy Royal Arch Degree within our jurisdiction which it has retained until this day.