Upon joining the Freemasons Wilmette, IL, the new member is ‘initiated’ and has to go through three different levels (known as degrees) before being regarded as a full-member. Those degrees are:
1st Degree: Entered Apprentice;
2nd Degree: Fellow Craft; and
3rd Degree: Master Mason.
At each ‘degree’, ceremonies are performed whereby the new member is exposed to moral teachings and wisdom developed over the years. As an Entered Apprentice, the new member will observe that those teachings are incorporated into rituals and ceremonies. The new member will soon realize that in Freemasonry, he is given the means and are left to make discoveries himself.
In the First Degree, the ‘candidate’ is received into the Wilmette Lodge for “initiation” with a caution; in the Second Degree, he is no longer a candidate but a brother, so he is received into the lodge for “passing” with an instruction address: 1450 N. Lehigh Glenview, IL 60026-2027.
The First Degree of the Entered Apprentice was symbolically representing the birth and entry into light and knowledge from darkness and ignorance. Today Freemasons meet not as operative but as symbolic masons; as such, an explanation of the tools and workings of an operative mason is explained at each degree. The tools of an Entered Apprentice are the 24-inch gauge, the common gavel, and the chisel; the Fellow Craft are the plumb, square, and level.
The Second Degree of Fellow Craft is a title derived from operating masons in the past. After a period of apprenticeship in ancient days, you are advanced from an Entered Apprentice to a Fellow Craft, meaning that you are able to work without immediate supervision. Today the Entered Apprentice has to gain promotion to a Fellow Craft by being examined by the Lodge through a proficiency test and voted in favor by the members. As the First Degree represents birth, the Second represents advancement to adulthood.
The teachings of the Second Degree are an extension of the First. In the Second Degree, the member is encouraged to pursue self-education (in the liberal arts and sciences) as a duty to his personal development, and the practice of goodwill, charity, and tolerance as a duty to humanity.