Embarking on a journey within Freemasonry presents a vast landscape of knowledge, initially appearing rather overwhelming. Among the various facets that can appear particularly formidable to Freemasons, the Ritual stands out. To help us out, Martin Faulks stepped in to provide valuable assistance by highlighting a selection of top-tier books to help guide the way for Freemasons aiming to master the intricate art of the Masonic Ritual.
From the earliest days of our Craft, Freemasons have memorised the Ritual. Before the printing of Ritual books, our ceremonies were taught mouth to ear, from master to apprentice. During the time when the Premier Grand Lodge of England was founded, it was commonly believed that committing the words to memory was a part of the self-improvement that all Freemasons undertook. The act of learning the Ritual itself was seen as character-building; it improved concentration, awareness, and developed the mind. As a side effect, it was also believed that the words of the Ritual, when memorised, became ingrained in the way of thinking. There was an almost a sense that every time a Freemason learned a new set of lines, they were practising thinking in that way and incorporating the lessons into their consciousness.
Nowadays, Freemasons still undertake this noble tradition and set aside time each day to learn the very same rites as in the eighteenth century. I am going to suggest some reading materials that can help you undertake the same rite in an easy and enjoyable way.
1. A Glossary of the Craft and Holy Royal Arch Ritual Terms
The first book I would recommend might not seem like it's useful for memory, but it is actually very important. When it comes to detailed learning, the mind rejects things it does not understand. If there is a word or a phrase that you don't quite get or are unsure about, your subconscious might decide it's not important to retain. For this reason, I strongly recommend you have this book next to your Ritual books to aid you in understanding what you are about to memorise.
Buy A Glossary of the Craft and Holy Royal Arch Ritual Terms on the Shop at Freemasons’ Hall website.
2. Emulation Lectures
Do you recall the questions you had to learn before each degree? Did you know that these actually came from a larger syllabus known as the lectures? These magnificent works provide an authentic explanation of everything that happens in the three degrees and are a must for anyone who wants to learn the Ritual. There are different versions of these for different Ritual variations, but one of the best known is, of course, Emulation.
Buy Emulation Lectures on the Shop at Freemasons’ Hall website
3. The 5-Minute Ritualist
It's said that if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. There are various books written by experienced Masonic Ritualists that outline their strategies. Here is our recommendation for one of the best options for you to choose from: 'The 5-Minute Ritualist.' This scientifically founded method offers flexibility and time-saving techniques for memorising Masonic Ritual through short, regular, highly focused learning sessions. My advice is, once you have chosen an approach, be sure to stick to it meticulously.
Buy the 5 Minute Ritualist on the Shop at Freemasons Hall Website.
4. Mastering Masonic Ritual
There are many guides to learning Masonic Ritual, most of which look at it from the viewpoint of learning the words. This book takes a rather different view. Of course, we need to learn the words; we cannot deliver Ritual without having done so. However, just learning the words leaves the candidate rather short. Just as important as the words are the feelings and emotions that help to communicate the meaning of those words. The ability to bring these in marks the difference between a good Ritualist and a truly great one.
Buy Mastering Masonic Ritual on the Shop at Freemasons’ Hall Website.
5. A Mosaic Palace – Freemasonry and the Art of Memory
And finally, if you are interested in knowing more about the history of Masonic Ritual learning, please consider purchasing a copy of my own book on the subject, titled 'A Mosaic Palace.' This book will not only outline the details of our Masonic Ritual learning tradition but also delve into the entire history of memorisation as a means of improving the mind and cultivating virtue.
Buy A Mosaic Palace on the Shop at Freemasons’ Hall Website.
Now that you have everything you need to aid you in your Masonic Ritual learning, make sure to set aside dedicated time to practice every day, and, of course, give it some time. Similar to exercising your muscles, it takes time for your grey matter to adapt and recall. Practice indeed makes perfect, and the more you learn, the better you become at learning. Just like any form of self-development, it might involve a bit of applied discipline at the start, but soon Ritual learning will become a daily joy. Remember that all your Brothers in the Lodge are with you in spirit and want to see you succeed. Keep this in mind and give it your best effort.