My Masters Mark
Being newly exalted as a Royal Arch Mason, there is much I do not understand completely about Chapter or the York Rite in General. Unlike many Masons, joining chapter for me is not just something I had to do because it is required to join Council which is then required to join Commandry and become a Knight Templar.
On the contrary, at this point in life, I could care less about Council or Commandry, as I have not fully understood the basics of Chapter yet. There is no doubt that someday I will rise through the bodies of the York Rite and become a Knight Templar, but for now I have no interest, and to be honest with you, I sort of view the idea of a strictly Christian Masonic body to be un-Masonic in practice. I am speaking as a Christian and a Mason here too by the way. This is a story for another time.
With that said, for now I am trying to learn a little more about Chapter. I purposely put off joining Chapter until I finished my year in the East in Blue Lodge and became a Past Master. I feel that I have a very good grasp on most things from the symbolic lodge and also hold a pretty good understanding of the Craft degrees in general. I received the Pennsylvania proficiency award for being certified in all three degrees in 2011, although at this point in my life I would have difficulty conferring a second degree, and would most likely need major prompting with the first if it was just dropped on me last minute, as I have not conferred those two degrees in quite some time. I could, however, tell you about the allegorical stories and working tools of each degree in detail.
I have been interested in Chapter for some time, and I have always had an interest in Royal arch Masonry as I understood it to be a continuation of the third degree. I joined a Chapter that was slightly closer to my home than my blue lodge which I hope will offer me more opportunity for attendance.
Right off the bat, the first step or degree in Chapter is the 4rth degree or Marked Master degree. In a nut shell, chronologically this degree would follow the Fellow Craft Masons degree of Blue Lodge as the lessons taught in it are appropriate to what a candidate is taught in the fellow craft Masons degree.
In the course of this degree the 3,300 Fellow Craft masons are passed to a Mark Masters or overseers. In this degree each of them collects his symbolic wage for good work, true work, and square work. Again, as my current understanding goes, this brings the working tools of the Fellow Craft Masons degree, the Plumb, Level, and Square, into practice.
The Candidate is also to adopt a Masters Mark. This is to be an individual mark specific to only the holder of it. The individual is supposed to adopt a mark that he will use for all time, and will also be recorded in the “Book of Marks. “
I have thought about this Mark, and I think I have come up with one that is both meaningful to me personally, as well as symbolic of both my name, and important Masonic elements.
For my mark (Shown Here) I have used a combination of the Compass, an Inverted Level, and the Point within a Circle. They are two working tools and a Masonic symbol. Each of these also represents an initial of my name A.T.O.
The compass obviously teaches me to circumscribe my desires and keep them in due bounds to all man kind, more especially my brethren in Freemasonry. For me, this is a tool that I try to use, but sometimes fail to execute. It should tell me to not take on more than I can handle. I try to tell myself that if I am not ready or prepared for a task I should not attempt it until I have the resources to do so. This tool alone has helped me in my Masonic journey, as I now know to not join a bunch of Masonic bodies just to get a title. You will see this exemplified in the opening few paragraphs of this paper. I am not ready to be in Council, or Commandry, and joining them now would do nothing but place an unwanted burden on me, so I will keep my desire in due bounds until I am ready to move on.
The next working tool that I have incorporated here is the level, or more apparently used here, an inverted level. As Freemasons we are taught that the level represents equality. We are all on the level and the same within lodge. Color, Race, Creed, Politics, Religion, and other social, spiritual, and special interests attractions from your personal life are not visible in lodge. As Masons we are all on the level and operate with equality. It also reminds us that we are traveling on that level of time toward that undiscovered country.
Moreover for me, the way I chose to use this tool not only visually adds to the mark as it makes my middle initial “T”, but also reminds me of my failings as a human and a Freemason. When properly using the level a Freemason is not only blind and unbothered by other individual opinions, religious, and political affiliations within the lodge, but he is also to respect each other’s opinions outside of the lodge. For anyone who knows me in my daily life, they also know that I usually have an opinion on most things I disagree (or agree) with. As much as I try to let things pass by me and go about my business unbothered, I fail most times. As some would put it, I tend to “Fly off the handle.” This is not proper Masonic action, and until I can curtail and correct my short comings I am stuck observing the true meaning of the level, but continually using it improperly. Hence, the level is upside down.
The third element of my mark is the “Point within a Circle.” For me, this may represent something slightly different from what another Mason may see. A google search will give you a million explanations and go into great detail of the “Point within the Circle.” As you can see, although I use the point within the circle, I do not include the parallel lines on the left and right side, as typically seen in with this symbol.
Operative Masons used the point within a circle to make sure their square was accurate. With his compass he would draw a circle, with his rule he would draw a straight line through its center past the circumference. He would then place a dot someplace on the circumference and draw a line from that point to where the line through the center intersected the circumference. By doing this it would produce a true 90 degree angle, and make sure the square was accurate.
For me, I also use it to help me be a square person. I am a point within a circle. Everything I know and believe in surrounds me. While becoming a square person I also strive to be kept in due bounds to what I can handle (using the compass), but at the same time, I know that the circle is infinite, it is never ending. So while I may get better and be able to handle more and more, the circle only grows bigger and bigger. I realize that I can learn to handle more and more, but life will always be bigger than anything I can completely handle. For me, the circle represents the great destination beyond that I will never reach in life, but will strive to journey towards making use of all the tools at my disposal. For me, the only way to reach this is to be a true and square person.
While I still have to submit this to my Chapter, I feel I have created a tremendously meaningful mark.
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