Mark Master Mason’s Degree
Mark Master Mason’s Degree has its origins in and takes its name from the historical practice of stonemasons choosing a unique mark for themselves, which when displayed on a stone that they had worked upon, would identify the particular craftsman who had completed the work. There were other marks which identified its destined place in the intended structure.
Furthermore, in bygone ages, workmen were often illiterate and their individual marks were used to identify each one individually when claiming their wages or dues. Within Freemasonry members are considered to be speculative masons, rather than operative masons and in a modern society are well able to read and write. The Mark Degree continues to follow this tradition and every Mark Master Mason will be in possession of his own unique and distinctive mark, which he adds beside his name in a Lodge’s registration book and may use it when in written communication with another brother Mark Master Mason.
As with other ceremonies within Craft Masonry which sees a new member, or apprentice, eventually become a Master Mason, this mark and other stonemasons’ practices are used allegorically to teach us important lessons in life and how to conduct ourselves. The ceremony of admission is called ‘Advancement’ rather than ‘Initiation’, because the Candidate is already a Freemason and so both he and his Masonic knowledge are being advanced.
The Degree comprises two parts, both of which are conducted at the same meeting. In the first stage the Master Mason is acknowledged as a ‘Mark Man’ and subsequently advanced to the Degree of ‘Mark Master Mason’ during the same Ceremony.
The regalia of a Mark Master Mason comprises an apron and breast jewel. The apron is of white kid leather with a triangular flap bordered with a two inch ribbon of light blue with crimson edges.
It has rosettes of a similar colouring whilst Masters’ and Past Masters’ rosettes are replaced with silver levels.
The jewel of the order is a keystone appended to a ribbon which matches the apron. The keystone bears certain characters and forms an integral part of the ceremony.
In Masonic terms, the Degree of Mark Master Mason is considered the fulfilment of the Fellow Craft Degree; that being the case it is still necessary for the Candidate to be a Master Mason before he can be Advanced to the Degree of Mark Master Mason.
The Advancement of a Fellow Craft within a Mark Masters’ Lodge to the Degree of Mark Master is based on a mixture of historical fact and key principles of morality, and its real message is one of contemplation of human strengths and weaknesses. The Degree contains many messages for the discerning man and illustrates that the wisest of men can be mistaken, that the experts are often wrong, that the weakest can display greater perseverance than the strongest, that the insignificant have the potential for distinction – and that we all have a part to play in Life.
The Degree of Mark Master Mason can be described as a keystone of understanding, an important piece of a jigsaw, so that once Advanced the Mark Master Mason begins to learn what it truly means to be a Mark Master, and no longer considers that a Mark Master Mason is what he is but rather who he is.