What is a Degree
A newly joined Freemason will always be initiated with a ceremony, and as his time in the craft passes, he grows as a man and a Mason, and goes through another ceremony when he is considered ready, and then one more. Freemasonry has many ceremonies, but none are so important as our degree ceremonies.
If you've seen any sort of movie or television show regarding Freemasonry, you probably already know that there are three degrees of Freemasonry. This is no secret. In fact, that information is posted publicly on the website of the Grand Lodge of New York.
You can see for yourself. However, there is a good chance that those same movies and television shows depicted the ceremonies of our degrees in a negative manner, and misrepresented Freemasonry and all it stands for. The contents of our ceremonies are one of the things that truly are sacred to the craft and kept private from those who aren't members. Masons spend years and years perfecting their knowledge of the ceremonies, and are always striving to improve their proficiency in the degree ceremonies.
Freemasonry is a moral institution that promotes friendship and brotherly love. These morals are reflected by our degree ceremonies. Unlike many other fraternities of the world - specifically university oriented ones - our ceremonies are not malevolent and do not involve humiliation of the candidate in any way. As we say - Freemasonry strives to make good men better - and that's no secret.
Each of our three degrees are an enriching experience. They teach many lessons that Freemasonry promotes:
Our First Degree teaches our duty to God
Our Second Degree teaches our duty to our neighbors
Our Third Degree teaches our duty to ourselves
These teachings are delivered in a variety of different ways. Ritual, Ceremony, Drama, and Lectures, many times with musical accompaniment are some of the ways Freemasonry conveys these teachings. Before you can move onto the next degree, one has to show proficiency in the previous teachings.
Once one has completed all three degrees, he becomes a Master Mason, and reaps the benefits and fellowship of Freemasonry to its fullest extent, and begins his journey into truly finding out what Freemasonry is.