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Mark Master Degree
The Operative to Speculative Connection
Tom Hendrickson P.G.M.
The Mark Master degree is the first degree in the Royal Arch Chapter. It is an extension of the Fellowcraft degree.
The Fellowcraft degree contains a great amount of wisdom and knowledge. Its symbols and lessons can take a lifetime to learn. Though the degree itself may stand on its own merits, the candidate can be left with many unanswered questions. The Mark Master degree compliments and illustrates, in a practical manner, many of those questions.
The Mark Master degree takes the candidate to a time immediately before the death of Hiram Abif at a setting within a working stone quarry near King Solomon’s Temple. The candidate is now a workman as a Fellowcraft laboring in the quarries and presenting his work for inspection.
The Mark Master degree is explicitly related to working and building with stone. It takes its name from the medieval term Masons Mark. The Mark Master degree explains the moral and ethical lessons of life such as the values of integrity, honesty, charity, taking pride in your own work and individual responsibility. The working tools of the mallet and chisel are introduced along with the wages being paid by coin.
When the Operative Mason became a Fellowcraft, he selected a distinctive symbol known as the Masons “Mark”. This mark would serve as his signature, logo or trademark. This unique mark would be recorded and registered in the lodges “Book of Marks” and this mark would be used for his lifetime. It was and remains common that a father would pass their mark onto their son.
In a historical context, the Masons Mark had many practical purposes. The Mason’s employment was effectively piecework. He was given credit for the work completed and paid based upon his marked stones. He was also held accountable for the quality of this work as each Mason’s stones were marked
Without exception Freemasonry has always been associated with stone masons. It has borrowed much from the medieval operative stone masons such as the symbolism of the working tools, gauges and the use of marks.
In the ancient records of operative masonry, dating back over three centuries, there is mention of the Masons Mark. As early as 1598, the Lodge of St Mary’s Chapel Scotland speaks of a Masons Mark and of the Mark Degree.
By reviewing old Scottish records it is clear that the speculative masons selected their marks just as the operative masons chose marks. In the Mark book of the Masonic Lodge of Aberdeen dated 1670 it shows forty nine marks and the members names opposite the marks.
And finally, the Mark Master degree uses symbols, scriptures, links to other degrees, lectures, rituals and some drama to communicate a very powerful message that the Brother experiencing the Capitular Degree is going to be transformed from a Master Builder to a Spiritual Builder. The Mark Master degree is his first step towards the revelations of the Holy Royal Arch Degree.
The Mark Master degree is another valuable piece of the puzzle you need to become a complete Freemason. You have already started your journey in the pure and ancient craft by joining your lodge and advancing through the degrees.
If you are interested in learning more, and completing you journey, you may want to consider talking to a member of the Royal Arch for more information.