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After the West Gate: So, This is Freemasonry? Hmph...


Premium Member
Howdy All,

Picking up about where I left off on my last thread here:

Someone should have stopped me at the West Gate

The day I was initiated into the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Texas was a Saturday in late September of 2004. I had driven passed the lodges I was legally (masonic legal) supposed to join and 200+ miles of Texas countryside by the time I arrived for my first degree. I was unquestionably nervous and excited. The stories from my uncle and the internet flooded my mind as I walked up to the door of the lodge that first time. "Were these good men? Was I about to join something I couldn't walk away from if it didn't fit my religious beliefs? Are these men congressmen, corporate heads, city councilmen, and other leaders of our society? Was I about to see something **satanic** and would they ask me to swear allegiance to something, someone, or some belief that was unexpected?" So, I knocked on the metal door of the metal building with a Square and Compasses upon it.

A man, mid to late 30's answered the door, looking somewhat confused as to why I had bothered knocking on the door. Another Gentleman, after hearing my name, approached me and introduced himself and proceded to walk me around and introduce me to others as "The Candidate", "The Victim", and "The Guy from College Station". Everyone I met was cheerful, excited to meet me, and made me feel as comfortable as possible.

They had quite the breakfast that morning and after we had eaten, an older gentleman asked me to walk with him to the leftmost of the two doors in the dining area. Inside was some peculiar looking clothes in a closet on the left and an office on the right. He asked me to join him in what I soon found to be the Secretary's office and he began to read to me from an old and raggedy looking blue book. The words, though archaic, were interesting and he explained that this reading was done for every new member. He then asked me some questions to which I replied as appropriately as I could. After the reading, he walked me over to the closet and asked me, somewhat awkwardly, to disrobe and put on the clothing he had pulled out for me. He gave me some general instructions and his assurance that George Washington and John Wayne had gone this way before and that I had nothing to be nervous about. Through the closed door ahead of me I could hear some mumbling, some banging sounds, more mumbling, possibly a door opening and closing on the other side of the secretary's office, even more mumbling and a few more bangs. Someone came to that door and there started my first degree in Freemasonry.

The EA:

The degree itself was a blur... walking, kneeling, walking, banging sounds, kneeling, listening, people talking, questions, answers, a cowboy hat, more walking, some columns, blue shag carpet, walking, a bright G over the guy with the cowboy hat, lots of taking, some applause, a few dozen pats on the back and penmanship jokes, ton's of handshakes... and I was out the door, dressed, and on my way back home.

I remember the driving being relatively silent as I kept the radio off most of the drive. I just thought about, well... I didn't really know what to think about. I knew that I never really felt out of place, that these men seemed to be pretty normal, that they used words that reminded me of Shakespeare, and that nothing evil / satanic / scary had happened. I couldn't remember much of the words nor the initiation itself, I just knew that I was an Entered Apprentice Mason. My "dues card" said so.

About 3 months later, someone from the lodge called me and asked if I could do my Fellow Craft degree near the end of January. I could, the date was set, and back I went: 200+ miles for my second degree in Freemasonry. The gentleman that called me that I would be examined on the Entered Apprentice questions and answers, then I'd get the next degree.

Examined on what? I hadn't heard, or maybe not remembered, anything about an examination. Having agreed to be there, I panicked. My friend Google and I spent many hours scouring the internet for anything talking about the "Entered Apprentice Questions" and finally, I found something. It was from "The Grand Lodge of Colorado" and spelled out every question and answer an EA would be required to know, all 35 or so of them. I was excited to have found such a document and I read it several times. I copied the text and put it through some Text to Speech program and made a MP3 of it so I could play it in my truck. I spent a lot of time (about an hour) reading, reciting, listening, to that document before the day I headed up there. On the way up there, I tried to listen to it over and over again and when I arrived, I threw on a confident face, had breakfast, shook hands, and everything was grand.

Then another gentleman came up to me and asked me to join him at the far end of one of the dining tables. He informed me that he was going to be "Examining me" or something like that and he wanted to go over the questions and answers with me. So, he asked, and I answered (with what I could barely remember from the colorado work). After each response, he looked at me as if I had spoken in a foreign language. He called another man over and after another try for the first 3 or 4 questions, they said something along the lines of: "Ok, I'll ask you the questions, he'll prompt you with the answers. We'll get through this."

Lodge was opened and on the sidelines I sat. When I was asked who I would like to do my examination, I bumbled my speech, looked around, and one of the two guys stood up and said that he would be doing my examination. The man in the hat then said, go ahead. We both sat back down, on the sidelines and the exam began. One man asked me the questions, one man gave me the answers which I repeated, poorly. After about 4 questions, another man stood up and moved that the lodge declare itself satisfied, which to my astonishment, was seconded and even unanimously approved.

The FC:

The degree, like the first was a blur of talking, walking, bangs, applause and handshakes. Equally like the first degree was the absence of my learning any of the memory work. Even the examination, three weeks later was the same: one man asked questions, one man fed me answers, another stood up and made a motion...

The MM:

This degree, like the other two was a blur. Once again, I was out the door and on my way home, but with one additional piece of instruction: I had 90 days to do my memory work, or I was going to be automatically suspended.

Around day 89, the Master of the lodge (man with the hat) called to ask me about it. I told him that I didn't know any masons other than my roommate and he didn't know the questions and answers. He then directed me to talk to the lodge here in town and ask them for help. He also informed me that he would waive the automatic suspension for a little while since I was going to start working on it then.

The next Tuesday, I visited the local lodge and met 3 or 4 men, told them of my situation (which they called and verified), showed them my now expired dues card, and was told by one of them that he would work with me if I would come in at lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I did, and two weeks later (4 total hours worth of meeting with this man), I turned in my memory work at that local lodge, by courtesy for my home lodge.

Over the course of the next month that man and I continued to meet twice a week for an hour a day and I finally learned the previous two degrees worth of answers. He was somewhat impressed by my absorption of the work so he taught me the questions, then how to open and close each lodge from each station, then how to confer each degree. Before a year was done, I sat in my first Forum and Exam and sat for my B Certificate. My local instructor tried to convince me that I was ready for an A, but the Master's lecture scared me, so I waited until 2007 to give that one a try.

This part of "my story" is to describe my first impressions of Freemasonry after becoming a member of the craft. The lodge that I joined, as good as it may be, failed to impress upon me the importance of learning the memory work. In fact, they went so far as to positively reinforce my mistakes as an EA in my FC. It wasn't until I got involved with Masonry here locally that I truly learned a single answer I was obligated to learn. I feel fairly strongly, that had I decided to drive up to Dallas for my Master Mason's exam, it would have gone exactly as it had gone twice before and I might have never really learned about Freemasonry. As I continue to grow in my own masonic life, I look back on my first year as an example of how not to do things.

Have a great week,


Bro. Brad Marrs

Premium Member
I remember the driving being relatively silent as I kept the radio off most of the drive. I just thought about, well... I didn't really know what to think about.

Once again, thanks for the good read. I'm glad things ended up better than they started. The part about driving home I can really relate to. I was contacted for instruction for about month after my degree, but didn't get going good until about three months in to it. So, I had a little confusion starting out, but nothing like you experienced.


Premium Member
It wasn't until a couple of years ago that an EA or FC could sit in a stated meeting in Texas. Many Lodges still open only in Masters. Up to the WM. I can see both sides of the argument. Plus keep in mind the operative Masons only allowed Master Masons to travel.


Registered User
LOL no argument brother at all. This is just the way I have experienced things, I just don't know anything intellegent to reply to bro Bruce's statements of the differences, other than, "Ok". For all I know, this difference may be more than just PHA vs GLoT, but Texas vs OK vs WA, vs India vs Canada.

I enjoy in my own way knowing the differences, but no argument towards it!