One of the things that often causes brethren concern is the need to memorize various parts of the ritual. Many brethren have exclaimed, "But I just can't memorize things and I get so nervous when I try to recite them." You are not the first to have this concern and you will not be the last. There are many methods that you can use to memorizing and the article below is one approach.

Brother To Brother Nuggets - How to Memorize Ritual

Memorization techniques are not a gift. Knowing the ritual well comes from many hours learning it. Memory is a fickle thing. We need to try to understand it. We often compare our brains to a computer. Although we understand more than ever how a human brain works we really only know a tiny fraction. We are beginning to realize however that it is entirely different from, and much superior to, an artificial computer. The study of memory is one example of that.

We do NOT have a tape recorder in our brain! Our thoughts and ideas are stored in particular areas. Different concepts are stored in different places. We know this from experience with people with damaged brains (from injury or disease such as a stroke). They have widely disparate and often bizarre patterns of memory change.

In simple terms we can divide memory into short–term and long–term storage. In reality there are probably more subdivisions than this but two will suffice for the purpose of this paper.

If you tell me the directions to your house in a new location, I"ll probably remember it if I"m already on my way there. If I return in a few days, I may have some difficulty but will probably get there with a few wrong turnings. If I go there every day for 3 months, I will never again forget where you live as long as my brain remains healthy.

Ritual is like this. I could learn a short piece of ritual, or even several parts of a long piece, and repeat it tomorrow. All the time I’m repeating it however I will be furiously trying to remember the next word, the next sentence or the next phrase. There will be frequent pauses and probably a lot of prompts. If I repeat it enough times however I will eventually be able to speak the whole piece without pausing.

That phrase, or set of phrases, however is still only in my short term memory and, with time, it will fade. Next week I will again be pausing: next month pausing (much) more and, next year, I'll have to start learning the whole thing over again.

If I repeat the piece over and over again however it will become part of long term memory and will stay in my memory for ever. Most of us remember the words to "O Canada": we have repeated them thousands of times.

Actors and musicians call this "embodiment". It seems as if it no longer is in our heads but in our bodies. We do not have to use brain to remember the words; they just seem to come out. We can then use our brain to think of other things. Things such as emphasis, breathing, volume, speed, pauses. In other words, we can add meaning to the words we speak through body language. We can also receive feedback from our audience and integrate it into our delivery.

Here is a recipe then for learning ritual.

First. Read through the whole piece. If you can, read it aloud several times. Better yet have someone else read it to you over and over again (Make sure he's a Mason though!) This is important. What the Brain HEARS is remembered better if you are not using another part of the brain for speaking. I use this a lot when I am learning the melody of a song. Playing the notes over & over on the piano but NOT singing them "fixes" them in your brain more quickly.

Second, begin with the first sentence and repeat it over and over until you can do so without reading the text. Go to the next sentence and do the same. THEN say aloud the first and second and repeat them until you no longer have need of the text. Now go to the third and repeat the process.

There are some who start with the LAST paragraph but I have never tried this for ritual. It does work however with a song

When you reach the end of that paragraph you will be able to recite the whole of it from memory. Do this at least 10 times before you start the next paragraph.

If you think this is going to take a lot of time you are right! However, it is going to take more. A lot more!

By now however you are going to be feeling more confident. Also, there will be many more opportunities to repeat aloud what you have already learned, as now you will be working on things you have in your head and not be reliant on reading. For example, I repeat longer charges while driving alone.

Third, comes the easiest but also the longest part. Once you have memorized the whole piece (and now you think you "know" it) you must repeat it a MINIMUM OF 200 TIMES before performing it in public. (There's no need to count however – 199 times will probably be more than enough!)

After your first public performance keep repeating it for a day or two integrating any feedback you had from your audience.

This is a LOT of work. However, if you start learning the ritual when you are first appointed as an officer, you have years in which to learn the ritual. As you progress through each office you should learn AT LEAST the work of the next one. On the night you are installed as Master you will be able to perform perfectly every word in the book, except perhaps the IPM charges. Better however to have learned those as well as you journey through the chairs.

Adapted from a lecture by R.W. Bro. John Forster PDDGM Ottawa 2

Before we leave this topic,
A couple of other things that you may wish to keep in mind:
  • Remember that every single member in the room has had difficulty memorizing material to a more or less degree.
  • Just about everyone get nervous when public speaking and reciting material because he/she wants to do a good job.
  • Every brother in the room wants you to do the best you can and is pulling for you to do just that
You are among friends. You are with your brothers


EA - Content Page


Initiation – what does that word really mean? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as "Admit a person into a society, an office, a secret especially with a ritual". In Masonry we often refer rather obliquely to the Eleusinian Mystery cult. This cult originated in Greece and here, briefly, is the story.

In 547 BCE, Peisistratos constructed a new cult hall in the city of Eleusis, twenty miles west of Athens where it was said, the goddess Demeter had stayed while searching for her daughter Persephone. The Eleusinian mystery cult now became an integral part of the religious life of the Athenians. It was an initiation in which participants experienced a transformed state of mind. Because the rites were shrouded in secrecy, we have an incomplete idea of what went on, but it seems that initiates followed in the footsteps of Demeter; they shared her suffering – her grief, desperation fear and rage – at the loss of her daughter. By participating in her pain and, finally, the joy of her reunion with Persephone some of them found that, having looked into the heart of darkness, they did not fear death in the same way again.

The candidates (mystai) fasted for two days; they stood in the sea and sacrificed a piglet in honour of Persephone; and then in a huge throng set off on foot for Eleusis. By this time they were weakened by their fast and apprehensive, because they had no idea what was going to happen to them. The ones who had been initiated the previous year made the journey with them and their behavior was threatening and aggressive. The crowds called rhythmically and hypnotically upon Dionysus, god of transformation, driving themselves into a frenzy of excitement so that when the mystai finally arrived in Eleusis, they were exhausted, frightened and elated. By this time the sun was setting; torches were lit and in the unearthly flickering light the mystai were herded to and fro through the streets until they lost their bearings and were thoroughly disoriented. Then they plunged into the pitch darkness of the initiation hall. After this the picture becomes very confused. Animals were sacrificed, there was a terrible "unspeakable" event, which may have involved the sacrifice of a child who was reprieved only at the eleventh hour. There was a "revelation" ; something was lifted out of a sacred basket. But finally the reunion of Kore and Demeter was re-enacted and the mystery was concluded with rhapsodic scenes and sacred tableaux that filled the initiates with joy and relief. At Eleusis they had achieved an ekstasis, stepping outside their normal workaday selves and experienced new insight. (Karen Armstrong: "The Great Transformation")

Initiation means a whole lot more than simply admitting a person into a society – if it did not, then simply paying a fee would suffice. As in Eleusis, the idea of Masonic initiation is that the candidate is in some way transformed by the experience, entering a higher plane of awareness, especially of himself. He is expected to feel uplifted as though he was in some way purged of his old bad habits and renewed as a better man. He enters the lodge in the first degree with personality traits developed over many years, many of which may be unpleasant or antisocial. His initiation is intended to drive home the need to rise above that former personality, leaving it at the door and adopting a new one, more gentle and considerate of others. In the first degree he enters in darkness and is perambulated about the lodge thus inducing in him confusion and apprehension, before the bright revelation at the altar when his hoodwink is removed. In the third degree he is again in darkness and indeed, dies metaphorically which is symbolic of killing his old personality and rising with a new one.

Masonry serves a twofold purpose. Firstly it attempts to help a man improve his own character by giving him the tools to do so, if he will only use them. Secondly, it gives him the opportunity to make contact with that part of the eternal being that resides within him, the sanctum sanctorum in his head. Throughout the ages men have tried to make contact with the Supreme Being through contemplation and self-denial. This has been as true in China as it has in India, Israel and Greece: and now in Canada, Freemasonry offers the same opportunity to those who are willing to undertake the journey. The ritual, which we practice and the symbols we use are all directed to these two ends. The Eleusinian mystery cult had a system designed to achieve ekstasis (ecstasy) and we do also. Let us try to understand our system and take advantage of the many opportunities it puts in our way.

by V.W. Bro. Iain B. Mackenzie, Past Asst. Grand Chaplain, Georgina Lodge No. 343, GRC, 2008

Some Questions for you to Ponder

Question 1: Was your initiation anything like this?
Question 2: Reflecting on your initiation into Freemasonry, what insights did you learn?
Question 3: Do you think Freemasonry could have evolved from the ancient Mystery cults?
Please feel free to discuss these questions with your Mentor

Interested in reading more about the meaning behind your initiation ceremony? (link to little yellow EA booklet)

Next - Brother to Brother Nuggets - How to Memorize Ritual -->

EA - Content Page

A Masonic Minute to the Newly Made Mason

The ceremony of initiation can be somewhat overwhelming. There is much speaking – too much to take in, to fully comprehend in one session. In the days and weeks ahead you will think back on certain aspects of this evening that particularly impressed you. Let me share a few observations and salient points for your consideration.

Every man comes to Freemasonry with high expectations. We must make two basic assumptions: that every man who seeks admission hopes to fulfill a personal quest, and that he is looking for something to satisfy a personal longing, perhaps undefined, seeking something that he has not yet found elsewhere in life.

When you were presented with the Constitution of Grand Lodge and the By-laws of the Lodge, you were informed that you were this evening made a member of the Lodge. However, the process of becoming a Mason is more complex and demanding.

This process of becoming a Mason may be simplified by identifying three parts. First, you were made a Mason ritualistically when you took the solemn Obligation of an Entered Apprentice Mason kneeling at the Altar. Second, you were made a Mason legally when you signed the By–laws at the Secretary's desk. Third, and the most important, you are now exhorted to become a Mason philosophically. That is an endeavour that will occupy you for the rest of your life. To state it simply: It takes about an hour to make a member – it takes a lifetime to make a Mason.

There is nothing 'magical' about Masonic initiation. Masons do not indulge in such 'hocus–pocus.' Nothing we do in these Masonic rites and ceremonies automatically confers knowledge and wisdom. It is no coincidence that what we do here in the Lodge is referred to as 'The Work.'

You were informed that although we inherited many traditions, signs and symbols from our ancient 'operative' brethren, the stonemasons of the medieval period who built the magnificent cathedrals, abbeys, and castles that are the architectural glory of Europe, we by contrast are 'speculative Masons.' You will come to understand that 'speculative', means we are 'thinking' men. In the lodge, we enter the world of the mind. I suggest to you that Freemasonry is really a gentlemen's philosophical society, dedicated to 'the cultivation and improvement of the human mind.'As such, we are both a learned society and a learning society. In the company of like–minded men – fellow travellers – we have the opportunity to explore the world or human knowledge and the accumulated wisdom of the ages. That is the intellectual challenge that Freemasonry presents.

I must warn you that to fully understand the profound meaning that Freemasonry conveys requires effort – concentrated and continuing effort. I remind you that "the rude material receives its fine finish from repeated efforts alone." The lectures and charges offer hints and point you in the right direction, but you yourselves must tease out the inner meaning of the symbols and allegories presented. Let us begin at the beginning.

As you study the Entered Apprentice degree under the guidance of your sponsors and mentors, you will be coached in a few questions which you must answer in open lodge before proceeding on to the next level. The first of these questions is, "Where were you first prepared to be a Mason?"

That is the symbolism of stone. The sculptor goes inside the stone to reveal its inner beauty – shaping, polishing, refining. Freemasonry regards the inner qualities, not the external. We are concerned with discovering and exploiting one’s inner potential. Freemasonry is dedicated to the improvement of man as an individual and society as a whole.

You have probably heard the old cliché about Masonry "making good men better." Freemasonry is a vehicle for self–improvement, but the truth of the matter: Masonry can only provide the roadmap and point the way; only you as an individual can become a better man – not better than your fellows, but better than yourself – to realize your potential, to reach for the top. By that I do not mean the ego–centred scrambling after rank and title that is sometimes evident in certain individuals in any corporate body. I mean the striving after excellence in everything we do.

The words 'KNOW THYSELF' were inscribed over the entrance to the chambers of initiation in ancient time. This is the challenge of initiation into the secrets and mysteries of Freemasonry that has been set before you during your Initiation. You have embarked on a life–long journey of self– discovery. The goal of every true Mason: to be a good man and a good citizen. Ordinary men called upon to do extraordinary things. You are now sworn and obligated to play out the game of life with different rules – timeless, yet timely old–fashioned values based upon virtue and morality. Thomas Paine (1737-1809) wrote, "We see with other eyes; we hear with other ears; we think with other thoughts, than those we formerly used. The mind, once enlightened cannot again become dark." That is the transformation effected by Freemasonic initiation.

If there is one thing I urge you to take from this once–in–a–lifetime experience of initiation it would be this:

In the final charge you were urged – exhorted is the word the ritual uses – "to make a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge." , that Admonition is really about learning, improving yourself, as I emphasised earlier. "Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest" the ideas and ideals, the core values of Freemasonry in order to share in this vast store of accumulated knowledge and wisdom. The subject is inexhaustible and the resources are limitless.

We must question our teachings to enable us to understand them better. That great physicist and thinker of the last century, Albert Einstein (1879-1955) articulated it thus: "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity."

RSJD, September 2014

Some Questions for you to Ponder

1. What were you looking for in joining Masonry?
2. Did you feel like there was too much to take in? I would think so. See if you can find out when another lodge is doing an initiation and arrange for your Mentor or one of your sponsors to take you to see it.
3. How else might you add to your Masonic knowledge?
Please feel free to discuss these questions with your Mentor.

Next - The Men's House -->

EA - Content Page

Our Purpose

Making Good Men Better.

Freemasonry is the oldest and largest fraternal organization in the world. Its members share a common goal of helping each other become better men. Its body of knowledge and system of ethics is based on the belief that each man has a responsibility to improve himself while being devoted to his family, faith, country, and fraternity.

Its roots go back centuries and its members are diverse: high profile leaders, physicians, construction workers, farmers…and maybe you.

Ancient…and modern.

We’re united by three ancient and fundamental principles—brotherly love, charity and truth—that are made relevant to the 21st century through the personal development, good works and social connections available to our members in the 550+ lodges across Ontario.

Great benefits…for you and the world.

Freemasonry offers much to its members—the opportunity to grow, the chance to make a difference and the means to build a better world for our children. It offers the chance to socialize and work with men who have the same values and ideals.

We strengthen and improve our character by learning and practicing basic virtues of fraternal love, charity, and truth. Our principles extend far beyond our interactions with each other, and we strive to apply them to our daily lives.

And there’s so much more.

It's easy to learn about Masons—starting with the pages of this website. Need more details? Looking for a Mason in your community to share his personal perspective? Send an email, call or drop by your local Masonic lodge.

Who are Masons?

Masons are spiritual and moral men who choose to associate with groups of like-minded individuals for mutual benefit. What they find in Freemasonry is a disciplined and systematic course of self-improvement based on the Golden Rule: always do to others what you would like them to do to you.

There are 3.2 million masons across the world and more than 40,000 in Ontario.

Everyone is welcome, regardless of race, colour or creed.

Masons are spiritual and moral people, but there’s no room for discussion of sectarian religion or partisan politics in freemasonry. Members are free to follow their own path, as long as it fits with the ethical principles of integrity and virtue symbolized by the square and compasses—the icon most commonly associated with Masonry.

Masonry stresses the principles of kindness and consideration at home, honesty in business, courtesy towards others, dependability in one’s work, compassion for the less fortunate and being a good citizen of the world. Masonry recognizes that each man has obligations to his family, his work, his religious beliefs, his community and himself - these must take priority and Masonry does not interfere with his ability to meet these obligations.

Masons participate in three progressive degrees, each one teaching an important lesson through the use of symbols. The degrees help a Mason think about the big questions: Where did I come from? What am I doing here? And what comes next?

A lodge is not a building…it’s the men that form it.

The foundation of the Masonic family is the Masonic lodge. It is here that Masonry teaches its lessons: kindness in the home, honesty in business, courtesy in society, fairness in work, concern for the unfortunate and respect for one another. Most lodges are clearly signed and located on main streets in communities small and large across the globe.

With over 550 Lodges in Ontario, there should be a lodge that meets in a location near you.

Masonry is not a secret society…we’re happy to share what we know.

Any information about Masons can be found at a well-stocked bookstore or local library. Masonic buildings are clearly marked and listed in the phonebook and members often identify themselves by wearing Masonic jewelry.

The so-called Masonic “Secrets” are confined to modes of recognition by which a visitor can prove himself to be a Mason and thereby become eligible to enter a lodge in which he was otherwise not known.

The Extended Masonic Family.

A Mason can choose to broaden and deepen his experience of Masonry by participating in other branches of the Masonic family:

the Scottish Rite, York Rite, Shriners and Knights Templar.

Masonry is for men…but it’s a family affair.

Women, girls and boys who share Masonic values are welcome to participate in the many social and charitable events hosted by lodges. But there are affiliate organizations for those looking for ways to become formally involved. Young men can join DeMolay, young women can join the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls and Job's Daughters International.

What do Masons do?

Masonry is first and foremost a fraternity rather than a service organization, social club or benevolent society. However, charity in the form of helping other people, is considered to be a cornerstone of the fraternity.

Community Involvement:

Masons Community Involvement

Masons are encouraged to be actively involved in their communities. Some of the community outreach programs that Masons are actively involved with are listed below:

The Masonic Foundation of Ontario, a public charity registered with the Canada Revenue Agency, supports hearing research, a bursary program for university and college students, autism services, prostate cancer research and alcohol and drug awareness programs in elementary and high schools.

The Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario sponsors the MasoniCh.I.P. child identification program. And we’re not above bleeding for a cause—every year, Ontario Masons support the Canadian Blood Services donor program with approximately 35,000 donations.

Shriners operate the largest network of hospitals in North America providing free care for burned and orthopaedically impaired children. The Scottish Rite Masons maintain a network of some 150 childhood language disorder clinics, centres and programs.

Individual districts support their own charitable projects.

Want to learn more about Masonry At Work?

Why become a Mason?

Masonry offers the opportunity to make each man better through its teachings, his Masonic associations and a philosophy that has served the social needs of men for centuries, by promoting:

  • Tradition: when you become a Mason, you become part of ancient tradition that spans centuries. From the original stonemasons that produced some of the most majestic architectural wonders of Europe to modern day Masons who participate in numerous charitable foundations, you’ll feel connected to a vital, growing and spiritually uplifting organization of moral men;
  • Self Improvement: learning portions of the Ritual and participating in the Degree stimulates the mind and, coupled with committee work and lodge management, presents the opportunity to develop leadership and organizational skills, build self-discipline through commitment, poise and self-confidence, and strengthen presentation and public speaking proficiencies;
  • Sense of Accomplishment: participating in lodge projects, be they charitable or social in nature, provides the opportunity to contribute, work with others and enjoy the success of effort well expended;
  • Fellowship - Belonging to a Like-minded Group: the modern work environment has reduced or eliminated social association with co-workers; joining with lodge members in a fraternal atmosphere can substitute for that former workplace fellowship lost;
  • A Break from the Workaday Routine: Masonry brings together in lodge men of diverse backgrounds, where the daily pressures of a career can be left outside the door and where fellowship is the common theme.

These attributes are summarized in the tenets, or fundamental principles of Ancient Freemasonry: Brotherly Love; Relief; and Truth. If these values address your needs, Masonry welcomes you.

How can I join?

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