The masonic degrees you can do on the Isle of Arran are split between the craft lodge, or ‘Blues’ and the Royal Arch Chapter, known colloquially as the Reds. You have to go through the four craft degrees before you can join the Chapter. This system is peculiar to Scottish freemasonry. The English constitution is a little different.
The first step is to apply to and join Lodge St Molios No 774.
The first degree you’ll go through is the Entered Apprentice degree, also known as your initiation. One you’ve been initiated, you can visit any lodge in the country and witness the same degree being performed on other initiates. You can still visit lodges performing higher degrees, but you’ll have to leave the lodge room during the higher degrees.
This is the second degree in freemasonry.
The third degree. Once you’ve completed this degree, you’ll be a fully-fledged mason, able to visit any lodge and participate in degree work in your lodge. You’ll also be eligible to vote in any ballots and to propose or second candidates for initiation in your lodge.
This degree has a very interesting history, which some freemasons might be able to tell all about. I know of one Royal Arch mason who gives a lecture about the history of this degree, so you should catch that if you can. As I understand it, it was traditionally conferred by Chapter, but craft lodges were given dispensation to confer it and that’s how it’s generally done now in Scotland. It’s often performed by past masters of the lodge. In England the Mark is done by a separate Mark Lodge, but in Scotland it’s de facto the fourth degree of a blues lodge.
This degree is required to join Chapter, and upon joining you will go through an affiliation obligation to join the Mark Lodge held within Chapter. It’s a little confusing at first, and made more so by the fact that there is a degree of Installed Mark Master which is conferred upon the First Principal of the Royal Arch Chapter during his installation ceremony.
This is the first part of the Royal Arch degree performed by the Royal Arch Chapter No 893. This is a separate masonic body, with its own officers and distinctive regalia. Unfortunately that means that joining fees are required, but if you enjoy your masonry, it’s all part of the same story and affords an excellent opportunity to wear great regalia and advance through the offices a little quicker.
This is the final part of the Royal Arch degree and is one of the most dramatic in terms of ritual and performance. It’s also the last degree that you’ll be able to do on Arran. There are many other degrees in freemasonry, but you’ll have to travel to the mainland to join these if that is your wish. Many of our lodge and chapter members have been through some of these other degrees, so if you want to do that, there will be someone local that can help you out.