Wow, almost a quarter of the way through the 100 Days, sounds scary, but relax, there’s still 11 weeks until your Installation, and we’ve already got the Installation ceremony learnt and revised (don’t worry, we’ll be revisiting it again so you’ll be word perfect on the night) and about half way through learning the First Degree, we’ll even have plenty of time to get familiar with the other two ceremonies.
I still feel like I’m playing “catch-up” due to getting a little behind the other day because of my continued problems with the Declaration questions. I even spent some time looking at them this morning. I’m now about 95% with the first, 80% with the second one, and 60% with the third. Importantly though, it’s having an impact of later days because part of me doesn’t want to move on until I’ve nailed it.
Unfortunately this means I’m not putting in the time on the subsequent pieces, a nasty knock-on effect! I’m now having to force myself to make that day’s learning the priority otherwise I will get behind. At the moment we aren’t trying to get ready to perform a first degree, just build a foundation to get familiar with it.
So, yesterday was the First Degree Obligation. It’s a big – and important – piece of ritual to learn. Now, I know I said we are just getting familiarity with the First Degree at the moment, not necessarily trying to get word perfect straight away; however, being quite a key piece of Ritual, today it’s…
Learning Masonic Ritual, Day 23 of 100: First Degree Obligation – Again!
Yes, I know, we did this yesterday (in my book of Emulation Ritual the First Degree Obligation is on pages 81-83), but as I said, it’s a very important piece. We have time on our side (don’t worry, I’ve allocated time for everything else over the next 100 days – trust me!) so getting a head start on this now will pay dividends down the line.
It is a very important piece of Ritual, and the eyes of the Lodge will be on you for it. You also owe it to the candidate to do this well.
Because the candidate is repeating it themselves you need to be speaking it clearly and of a good pace for the candidate to absorb and repeat.
I recall my Initiation, and the Master (who confesses he “isn’t good at ritual”) had clearly not learnt the piece adequately. All I remember is him stumbling, getting prompts and corrections on every line. I ended up listening to the IPM (who was reading from the book!) who read a line, which was repeated by the WM, then by me.
Instead of making the impact on me as it should, it became a piece that we got through as quickly as possible. At the time I didn’t know any difference, but with hindsight I feel sorry for the WM who must have felt bad, and for the rest of the Lodge members who witnessed it.
I guess that this experience is what has fired me to create my study plan, and to promote it publically as I know the Master’s Work is achievable – as long as it is tackled in a planned and consisent way.
Why does the First Degree Obligation create such a lasting impact (whether good or bad) on the Candidate, it’s only a small part of the entire ceremony?
Well, I think that this is really the first time the candidate really has a chance to relax and focus on what’s going on. When the candidate enters they are nervous, their senses heightened whilst their brain tries to take in all that’s going on around them. Before they have a chance to know what’s going on there are marched around in circles. Hardly anyone remembers any of this come a few years (or even hours!) down the line.
The Obligation is a shift of gears, it gives the candidate a moment to absorb the surroundings, and during the Obligation you, as candidate, really have the sense that you are the centre of the attention. I remember wanting to repeat the words clearly and confidently, even if the WM wasn’t. That’s why it’s the first bit of ceremony you can probably remember if you think back to your Initiation.
Ok, lecture over.
Please, spend another 15 minutes reading over the Obligation, look at how we broke it into parts yesterday and get familiar with it. Although I don’t expect you get the Obligation down word for word today, I want you to finish today’s session at least knowing the structure of the piece.