In the 18th degree the search that started in the Entered Apprentice degree continues.  The setting for the degree is Good Friday when all are in a state of despair and gloom, as our Saviour has died upon the cross at Calvary.  All present are sad, all is lost.  Just as Hiram Abiff died, so Our Savour died.

The degree has the candidate seek for that which was lost.  It is a very interesting degree as the candidate travels through the degree finding various items, and it ends when the candidate attains the end and object of all our researches.

Before a candidate commences he is expected to have the first seventeen degrees, and in our constitution these are conferred by name only, though they can be and are worked by chapters from time to time.  Having received the seventeen “intermediate” degrees our candidate is thus equipped to proceed from the darkness of death into light.

In the first point the candidate is informed that he has arrived at a time when all are in grief and sorrow as they have lost the Word.  A guide then volunteers the candidate to search for the missing Word and they travel symbolically for 33 years.  During his journey the candidate discovers the true fundamental principles of the Order. The explanation of these three principles is one of the most moving speeches in Masonry.  Having discovered these fundamental principles the candidate decides if he wishes to continue on his journey in search of the lost Word.  

In the second point the candidate ascends the mysterious ladder.  Some Masonic researchers have said that this ladder represents Jacob's Ladder, which leads from earth to heaven.  At each step the candidate learns a little bit more.  He is then brought from the state of darkness to light as the veil shrouding his vision and understanding is removed.

The final part of the degree is the working of the Circle.  The main theme of the circle is the Oriental custom of breaking bread and eating salt which dates back from time immemorial.  As one of the essential articles of diet, salt symbolizes hospitality, durability, purity and fidelity. 

An interesting Christian Degree, which really involves the candidate as he conducts his search.


Image Credit: Masonic Network Blog