All degrees have their special code-words, handshakes and signs. The most important of these are included, together with some of the rituals in 'Darkness revealed' by Walter Hannah.Entered Apprentice:
The handshake from this degree is used generally amongst, and thus recognised by all Masons. The thumb is pressed into the first joint of the forefinger where it joins to the hand.Fellow Craft:
The code-word, the most widely used by Masons is Boaz. It is never spoken directly, but concealed in a sentence - 'like an arrow from a bow, as it were' is one example of how it might be done. However any variation is possible.
The handshake is this time that the thumb will press the first joint of the second finger.Master Mason:
The code-word is Jachin (pronounced Yahkin)
'The five points of fellowship' both partners dig their fingers into the others wrist. This handshake is only used at Lodge Meetings.
The code word is a Scottish derivative - Machaben or Machbinna - several variations of pronunciation are possible.
There are also various signs by which Masons can recognise each other, the most common being where the right arm is held horizontally from the shoulder, elbow bent with the thumb to the left of the windpipe and then the hand is drawn across the throat and dropped to the side.
There are numerous tales of people offering this sign as a cry for help, like the man in the witness box so that the Masonic Judge would recognise him. Masons will tell you that these are apocryphal and could not possibly happen.
Socially most Masons recognise each other by the First Degree (Entered Apprentice) passwords and handshake.
They may also use various catchphrases from the ritual in their conversation to try and identify other Masons. The most popular seems to be 'I was taught to be cautious' and 'on the square' is often used but this is often used in in general conversation anyway.