The Masonic Course
There are several ways to talk about the Masonic route:
The formal Masonic path can be summed up by passing through the different stages (grades or degrees) which have been elaborated in rituals to give a certain progressiveness to the acquisition of Masonic knowledge; it is however necessary to remember that this model of progressiveness of the Masonic approach has only a symbolic content. There is no formal hierarchy in this acquisition of knowledge for all those who wished to be involved in Masonic initiation.
There is also the experience accumulated by the functions assumed in the service of the lodges and obediences; this experience is not really quantifiable because everyone knows that there are many ways of exercising organizational functions which have above all the aim of facilitating the collective bond.
The Masonic journey is first and foremost a personal process that is done at the pace of the individual because it requires a lot of personal work, many readings and the willingness to understand the evolution of the living.
The first objective to achieve is to appropriate a content of knowledge that is summarized in the diagram below; we live in a world where there is the best and the worst; the appropriation of the Masonic ideal consists in integrating into one's own existence the best of the traditions, morals of different cultures and philosophies concerned with raising the consciousness of human beings.
For this we have four fundamental tools at our disposal :
the work on oneself,
communication with others,
and bookish but also esoteric research.
The Masonic route can be linear and take place in a certain continuity, but it can also be discontinuous with periods of pause or break.
One of the peculiarities of the Masonic course is that it is not affected by a possible resignation or cancellation of a lodge or obedience because the Masonic initiation is acquired.
Only death puts an end to the Masonic journey, although many Masons believe that death is only a change of state and that the journey can continue in the "Eternal East".
Although there are lodges where one likes to offer medals for a Masonic career of several decades, (a childish practice with no interest other than to cultivate the practice of praise), there is no "gloriole" in claiming Masonic seniority; whether one is young or old (old), the important thing is first of all the quality of sharing that one can experience!
Masonic career and high grades
At the origin of Freemasonry, the Masonic course was composed of only two degrees; the 1st degree was the apprenticeship and the 2nd degree was the journeyman's training. The master of the lodge was a journeyman who was assigned the task of conducting the work.
Taking into account the legend of Hiram favoured the creation of a third degree.
Very quickly, Masonic rites were created which invented other degrees (up to 95 for the rite of Memphis-Misraïm).
One may legitimately wonder about the interest of this profusion of degrees which were at the origin of a certain "deviation" from the authenticity of the Masonic approach (see the page devoted to "High Degrees").
Whatever the case, these high ranks exist and constitute for some an element of the Masonic path.
See also :
un témoignage sur un parcours maçonnique publié sur gadlu.info
du cabinet de réflexion à Maître Hiram