FREEMASONS AND FREEMASONRY
Historically, Freemasons are builders.
What Do They Believe In?
True Freemasons are respectful and tolerant of the opinions and religions of other Freemasons and non-Freemasons.
They are taught to practice charity toward those who are less fortunate, not only by monetary gifts, but by their personal and united voluntary efforts.
They strive for truth. Freemasonry's logo, the Square and
Compasses, is a visual reminder of the brotherhood of man (the Square which
points downward toward mankind) under the Fatherhood of God (the Compasses which point upward toward the heavens.)
As such, moral rectitude,
spiritual values and the necessity of living a life which is pleasing to the
Grand Architect of the Universe makes good men, better.
Freemasonry is a global fraternity of men who believe in the brotherhood of Man
under the Fatherhood of God.
As such, Freemasons strive to uphold moral character and spiritual values in
their interactions with other Freemasons, as well as with non-Freemasons.
How many men are members of the fraternity?
Over 2,000,000, worldwide.
How old is Freemasonry?
shows that Freemasonry is the oldest
existing fraternal organization in the world.
Does Freemasonry have an international headquarters?
No. No one person can "speak" for Freemasonry, as a
What is a
Freemason Grand Lodge?
A "Grand Lodge", or "Grand Orient",
is the governing body of Freemason subordinate lodges in a specific geographical
area, which is called a jurisdiction.
Are the locations of Grand Lodges around the world a secret?
No. See this list of
World Grand Lodges. Their contact information as well as a list of
subordinate lodges may be found on their
What is a
Masonic lodge? Even though people refer to a lodge as a place where lodge
meetings are held and degrees are conferred, a lodge is wholly made up of its
members. The members, themselves, constitute the lodge because without
members, the lodge is simply a building or place where a lodge of Freemasons
How often do Masonic lodges hold meetings?
Most lodges in the United States meet twice per month.
Meetings are typically held in the evening, after members leave their daytime
employment for the day, however, there are a few lodges which meet during the
daytime to accommodate those members whose employment requires them to work the
3rd or night-time shift. These are called "Daylight" Lodges.
How many degrees are conferred in a Masonic lodge?
Entered Apprentice degree
Master Mason degree
There are corresponding
Masonic degree verses for each of the three degrees.
Each lodge around the world has lodge officers. There
are slight differences in lodge officer titles and job descriptions around the
These are the specific
Lodge Officer duties for lodges in the United States.
HISTORY OF THE FREEMASONS
the History of the Freemasons?
In 1717, the first Grand Lodge of England was formed when four
existing Masonic lodges merged together. Soon, a regulatory body was
formed, which most of the Masonic lodges in England. joined.
During this same
time, a few lodges chose to start their own Grand Lodge, which was named the 'Antient
Grand Lodge of England'.
The two Grand Lodges competed to become the supreme Grand
Lodge until in 1813, they agreed to unite to become the United Grand Lodge of
England or U.G.L.E..
Afterward, Freemasonry spread across the globe, and within a
few years, Grand Lodges were also formed in other countries.
Grand Lodge Inception Dates of the Formation of the first
- Grand Lodge of England - 1717
- Grand Lodge of Ireland - 1725
- Grand Orient de France - 1728
- Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in the United States - 1733
(Via a Grand Lodge warrant, Henry Price was made the Provincial Grand Master
of New England.)
- Grand Lodge of Scotland - 1736
First Grand Lodge - 1717 - The
actual origin of Freemasonry is unknown because previous to 1717, when the 4
lodges in London merged together to form the first Grand Lodge of England,
recorded documents are scarce. Therefore, after 1717, recorded Masonic
documents are more complete. Many Masonic scholars theorize that the
fraternity began with the stonemasons' guilds during the Middle Ages. These
guilds were similar to trade unions.
Oldest Masonic Document -
1390 - The oldest known document which refers to (stone) "Masons" is the Regius
Poem of 1390 A.D.. However, within the Regius Poem, reference is made to an
earlier work which has never been found.
Old Charges - Referred to as the
these old manuscripts which are written in "Olde Englishe", form the foundation of
Masonic charters. They are also known as the old Masonic constitutions, and are the basis
for Masonic jurisprudence, yet today.
Masonic Rituals - Much of the
archaic (old) language within the rituals is not commonly used in the English
language, today. Many of Freemasonry's symbols, too, which are used within
the rituals, are more than 200 years old. With a better
Masonic words, the meanings of the rituals become easier to understand.
Freemasonry soon spread throughout Europe and was brought to the
Famous Colonial Freemasons - Many of the
now famous names in colonial America, such as George Washington, Benjamin
Franklin, Paul Revere, John Hancock, Lafayette, John Paul Jones, and many others
were Freemasons who were instrumental in the founding and building of America.
What Principles Were Important to Freemasons, Then and Now?
- Self-improvement through study
- Social equality
- Individual liberty
- Religious freedom
- Democratic government
- Public schooling for all
- Philanthropy and Volunteerism
Previous to the inception of Social Security in the United
States, the U.S. government did not offer any form of social "security" to
people who were in need.
From the early 1800s, the Masonic fraternity provided
Masonic relief in the form of orphanages for homeless children, homes for widows and the
elderly, as well as many other relief-based programs to insure the people's
Today, in North America, this tradition continues.
Through their voluntary efforts, collectively the Freemason fraternity and its
appendant bodies give approximately
1.5 million dollars each day (over $ 500 million dollars a year) to charitable
causes such as the operation of children's hospitals, childhood language
disorder treatment, eye disease treatment, the funding of medical research,
local community service.
The fraternity also supports Masons and their families who are
no longer able to support themselves through a support network of Masonic Homes
in several U.S. states for Masons and their families who are no longer
able to support themselves.
Worldwide, Freemasons are believers in high ideals,
brotherhood between all men, and are builders of a better future for all
SPECULATIVE VS. OPERATIVE FREEMASONRY
Why are they called "Free" Masons?
Much of the large Gothic, stone architecture found all over
Europe was built between the years 960 A.D. through 1700 A.D..
Common (stone) Masons - Common masons, at the time, were typically indentured to
patrons such as the King, a Bishop or a Pope. Thus, they were not free to
travel to other cities, at will, to apply their trade.
Common masons built simple-to-create buildings and did a lot
of "flat work" using trowels and mortar, such as brick walls, where knowledge of
the sciences of mathematics, geometry and higher learning was not as
intrinsically necessary to their application of their craft.
Free (stone) Masons - Historically, "free" masons were highly skilled and highly
specialized stone mason craftsmen and artisans who used their working tools to
craft the artistically detailed and ornate Gothic architecture and carvings
found in many of the cathedrals and other large edifices (buildings) in Europe
during the Middle Ages in the 1400s and 1500s, as well as before and after that
Due to the knowledge and skill of these master mason
architects, who were called "free" masons, many of these buildings have not only
survived for several hundreds of years, but many are still in use, today.
Due to the scarcity in the numbers of these highly trained
"free" master masons, they were not indentured to any one specific patron.
They were free to travel to different cities, at will, to apply their trade.
Why Does Freemasonry have Freemason Symbols?
The job description for operative "free" master mason artisans
did not end with learning how to craft stone. By necessity, it also
required them to master the Liberal Arts and Sciences, which are Grammar,
Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy.
These master craftsmanship carved complicated and highly
detailed stone artwork, frescoes, and lettering. Their knowledge
of the blend between stone architecture and art can be seen and felt, even today
as we view these massive churches with their soaring cathedral ceilings.
The ability to understand the meaning of and be able to carve symbols into stone
was intrinsic to their craft.
What is a Freemason Emblem?
Freemasonry's emblem, or logo, is the
square and compasses. The square and compasses are the symbolic tools
of a speculative Master Mason. Within Freemasonry's many appendant bodies,
there are numerous
Masonic emblems and
OPERATIVE FREE MASON ARCHITECTURE
Breathtakingly Magnificent Free Mason Architecture
Westminster Abbey - One such cathedral is the famed
Westminster Abbey, in Westminster, London, which was founded in the year 960
A.D., a breathtakingly magnificent example of free mason artisan and
For over 1,000 years, it has been the location of ceremonial
coronations, weddings and burials of English kings and queens, as well as the
resting place of famous poets and statesmen. Since 1919, it has hosted 16
Roslyn Chapel - Another architectural work of art
built by "free" masons is Roslyn Chapel in Roslin, Midlothian, Scotland.
Originally built by William St. Clair, Third Prince of Orkney in 1446, and
made world famous with the publishing of Dan Brown's book, The Davinci Code,
in 2004 and the film version, in 2006, Roslyn Chapel, today is open to the
- Westminster Abbey is a part of the Church of England and
possibly the most famous Christian church in existence.
- It has been the
chosen church for royal coronations in England since 1066.
It was originally built as St. Clair's personal chapel.
Today, you may view photos of Roslyn Chapel's beauty, its artistry and its
many ancient and intricate stone carvings, online, on the Roslyn Chapel website.
Why are Freemasons called "Master" Masons?
Each operative (stone) mason aspired to the title of being
called a Master Mason because the skills of these specially trained, professional builders
were much sought after. Each aspiring mason underwent rigorous training
which lasted for many years.
When the Master Architect felt these mason's skills were
highly honed, he requested that they create their "Master's piece". If the
Master's piece met with the Master Architect's satisfaction, the title of
"Master Mason" was bestowed upon them.
These men created
works of art such as hand-carved arches of stone, precision hand-cut keystones
at the top of each arch, and inlaid stone floors, wherein each stone was cut,
sized and fitted with such geometrical precision that no mortar was needed. Today, hundreds of years later, these floors are still in use.
CRAFT, ALLEGORY AND RITUAL
Why does the fraternity call itself the "craft"?
To craft something is to build it. Freemasonry helps
good men become better men through personal growth. The craft of Freemasonry is
a system of morality, constructed by the use of
Freemason symbols which are taught through the use of allegory and ritual.
What is allegory?
Allegory is a means of representation which conveys a message
by the use of symbolic figures, or actions. Rituals are in the form of a
play, with cast members. This helps members of the fraternity to
understand the message, both verbally and visually.
What is a Freemason ritual?
A ritual is a ceremony which is repeatedly performed in the same manner each time.
Do Freemason rituals involve sacrifice or blood in any way?
OPERATIVE vs. SPECULATIVE FREEMASONS
What is the difference between operative and speculative
Freemasons, today, are called "speculative" Masons because
most of them do not operatively work in the craft of building large
Physical Trestleboard: Operative freemasons used an
architectural plan called a
trestleboard, which is somewhat akin to what we
might call an architectural "blueprint", today. It was created by their supervisor, the Master Architect, to
guide them in laying the foundation and structure of the Gothic cathedrals and abbeys
(churches) in Europe.
Symbolic Trestleboard: Speculative Freemasons use
the Volume of Sacred Law as their symbolic, foundational blueprint to build a
moral and spiritual life which is pleasing to the Supreme Architect of the Universe
Why do Freemasons use the terms Supreme Being,
Architect of the Universe, Grand Architect of the Universe, etc., instead of
using the word "God"?
There is only one Supreme Being. Around the world, there
are many names for the Creator of the Universe. Freemasonry attempts to
bring men together in brotherhood with one another, rather than exclude a man
solely based upon the name he uses to denote Deity.
Is Freemasonry a religion?
No. Freemasonry universally embraces men from all
religions. Freemasonry has no specific religious dogmas, (established
beliefs or doctrines which are denomination-specific within different
religions), does not teach theology, does not offer sacraments and does not
offer the promise of salvation.
The fraternity encourages and brings men together in brotherhood, to simply focus upon the
Supreme Being, the creator of mankind (God).
Does Freemasonry attempt to change a man's personal
No. Freemasonry believes in and universally upholds
religious freedom for all men. It believes that a man's relationship
with God is undisputedly, a private and very individual relationship which is
sacred in nature.
In order to maintain a spirit of universal
brotherhood and provide harmony within the lodge, both politics and individual
religions are discouraged from being discussed.
Why is there a
in each lodge room?
One of the requirements to become a Freemason is that each man
must have a belief in a Supreme Being (with the exception of the Grand Orient de France).
Which Volumes of the Sacred Law reside(s) on the altar?
Typically, for Protestant, Christian members in English
speaking countries, the King James version of the Christian Bible or another
standardized translation, resides upon the altar.
However, depending upon the personal religious beliefs of the
lodge members, holy books of other major religions may also be placed upon the altar
when the obligation is conferred upon the candidate, such as the Torah, (also
known as the Hebrew Bible) for Jewish members. (The Torah contains the first 5
books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy).
Volumes of the Sacred Law from other major religions for those
members who are of other faiths, such as Islam, Sikhism and Hinduism may also be
found upon the lodge altars around the world at the time the candidate takes his
Are prayers performed in the lodge rooms?
Yes. Non-denominational prayers are performed before and after the lodge
meets and before refreshments are offered. This means that prayers are offered to the Grand
Architect of the Universe, rather than to specific religious figures such as
Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Buddha or others.
Non-denominational prayers are not meant to exclude these specific religious
figures from a man's personal beliefs, but are, instead, directed to God, to provide members from all
religious faiths a common ground upon which to find brotherhood.
Does Freemasonry have secrets?
What are the Freemasons Secrets?
The passwords, grips, steps, penal signs and the wording of the
What are passwords?
A form of recognition between members.
What are grips?
A second form of recognition between members.
What are penal signs?
A third form of recognition between members.
Is Freemasonry a secret society?
Worldwide, Freemasonry has varying degrees of secrecy. In
English-speaking countries, affiliation with the fraternity is public. Masonic buildings are
usually clearly marked, many lodges are listed in the telephone books or can
be found online, and meeting times are generally a matter of public
record or may be found on lodge websites.
In other countries, where Freemasonry is suppressed by governments,
higher degrees of secrecy may be practiced.
WHAT DO FREEMASONS "Do"?
voluntary and charitable efforts:
Charity - Collectively, Freemasons fund Masonic
homes for the elderly and fund programs which assist in child welfare.
Locally, lodges hold charity events which provide scholarship funds for youth
as well as funding for other worthy local charitable causes.
Education - Freemasons provide college scholarships to worthy
young men and women, for both members of the fraternity and non-members.
To find more information about Masonic scholarships, go to the
World Grand Lodges page, click on your state or country and, once on the
Grand Lodge website for your jurisdiction, search for the details about the
Masonic scholarships which are available.
Volunteer Support - Freemasons contribute to blood banks, the funding of
medical research and support and maintenance of hospitals for crippled and
burned children in the United States, Canada and in Mexico. Freemasons in North
America, alone, give over 1.5 million dollars each day to charities.
Masonic Child Identification Programs (CHIP) -
Working hand-in-hand with law enforcement officials, in the United States,
Freemasons offer free child identification kits (physical description, photos,
fingerprints, tooth prints, and DNA sample,...video and audio are also offered
in some locations) to children under the age of 18 years old.
These child ID kits are compiled by volunteers at CHIPS events held in many different cities. CHIP events are open to the public.
Should a child be abducted, time is of the essence. Parents can
immediately give this CD or DVD with their child's full information to law
enforcement officials. When each child identification event ends, and
the child's parents are in possession of the CD or DVD, all personal data on
the computer hard drives used to produce these CDs are erased.
The fraternity keeps no copy nor any personal data about the child, whatsoever.
Parents are advised to keep their child's CD/DVD identification information in a safe place because the fraternity does not keep a back-up copy.
CONCORDANT AND APPENDANT BODIES
What is a Freemason appendant body? Are they a
part of the fraternity?
In addition to lodge membership, Freemasonry has a diverse
organizations which also contribute their charitable efforts to local
communities. Each of these organizations consist of Master Masons and
To become a member of any of these organizations, a man
must first join a lodge and become a Master Mason.
There is no higher
degree in all of Freemasonry than that of a Master Mason. Each of these
subsequent degrees explain the meanings of the first 3 degrees in greater
There are numerous appendant bodies within Freemasonry.
These are the 3 primary appendant body Masonic organizations in the
Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry -
The Scottish Rite is also known as the "University of Freemasonry"
because it offers an additional 29 degrees, all of which build on the first 3
degrees which are received in the Masonic lodge.
The culmination of these degrees is the 32nd degree of the Scottish Rite.
The 33rd degree is an elected degree which is conferred upon a select few
members who have made major contributions to society or to the fraternity.
For a more detailed explanation of the Scottish Rite, see their
website at ScottishRite.org
York Rite - The York Rite consists of 3 bodies:
Royal Arch Chapter, Council of Cryptic Masons-Royal and Select Masters and the
Commandery of Knights Templar. Colloquially, they are known as Chapter,
Council and Commandery.
All Knights Templar must profess a belief in
Christ. Each of these 3 bodies offer additional explanation of the
meanings of the first 3 degrees.
For a more detailed explanation about
the York Rite, its degrees and its similarities and differences across the world, see
their website at YorkRite.org.
What are Rites?
A Rite is a series of progressive degrees which are conferred by various Masonic organizations.
Each of these appendant bodies of Freemasonry operate separately and each body is under the control of its own central authority.
Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine
- also known as "Shriners" - The A.A.O.N.M.S. or "Shrine" is a
social organization for Master Masons and their wives.
"Shriners" wear fezzes and donate their time to collecting donations for
the many charities which the "Shrine" funds.
They hold Shrine Circuses for children and support their local communities
in a number of ways.
For more information about
Shriner's International, see their website at
PRINCE HALL MASONRY
In 1775, an African American named Prince Hall was initiated
into an Irish Constitution Military Lodge, along with fourteen other African Americans.
When the Military Lodge left the area, the African Americans
were given the authority to meet as a Lodge, form Processions on the days of
the Saints John, and conduct Masonic funerals, but were not given authority to
confer degrees nor to do other Masonic work.
After applying for and obtaining a Warrant for Charter from
the Grand Lodge of England in 1784, these fourteen African American
individuals formed African Lodge # 459 in Boston, Massachusetts. The
Worshipful Master of the lodge was Prince Hall.
Due to many difficulties such as the length of time for a
Charter to be received from the Grand Lodge of England in this post-American
Revolutionary War era, (the American Revolutionary War also called the War of Independence, lasted from 1775–1783),
questions arose about the validity of Prince Hall Masons.
Today, Prince Hall Masonry, which is
comprised almost solely of African Americans, remains as a separate entity
from Mainstream Freemasonry. However, increasingly, Prince Hall
Freemasonry is now becoming recognized by many Mainstream, Regular Grand
Lodges and is slowly achieving full recognition from Mainstream Freemasonry.
Men who are interested in learning more about becoming a Prince Hall Mason
will find contact information about Prince Hall Grand Lodges on the
Masonic Lodge Locations page.
How do men become Freemasons?
In the United States, a man must find a lodge near where he
lives, contact the lodge, request information and, if interested in joining, he
may request a petition for membership.
In most other countries, a man may be asked if he would like
to join the fraternity.
Masonic lodge locations around the world.
Are there other requirements in order to become a
Yes. Here are the requirements to
Become a Free Mason.
How much are the annual lodge dues?
Annual membership dues are usually a nominal amount, but do
vary (some quite markedly) between jurisdictions. Typically, Prince
Hall Masonic dues are more expensive than traditional Mainstream Freemason lodge
dues. Always request this information
when you contact a lodge near you.
WOMEN IN FREEMASONRY
Can women become Freemasons?
Regular Freemasonry is a male-only fraternity, however, there
are women Freemason organizations which offer parallel ritual to Mainstream
What is the Role of a Masonic Wife?
Once a man becomes a Freemason, close female relatives, his
wife, daughter, mother, etc. may choose (but, it is not mandatory) to
apply to and join one or more of Freemasonry's appendant, concordant,
organizations such as:
Order of the Eastern Star - Membership is open to
both men and women, but is predominantly female. Their ritual is based
upon the 5 strong women in the Bible.
Co-Masonry - Membership is open to both men and
Biological and adopted children
Half-brothers and half sisters
Nieces and Nephews
Grand nieces and nephews
Cousins (first and second).
Order of DeMolay - The Order of DeMolay is a youth
organization for boys which are between the ages of 12 and 21 years old.
Boys must believe in a Supreme Being and wish to work towards becoming a man of
There are DeMolay Chapters throughout the United States.
Find a DeMolay Chapter near you for more information.
International Order of the Rainbow For Girls - The
International Order of the Rainbow For Girls is a youth organization for girls
which are between the ages of 12 and 20 years old. Girls must have faith
in a Supreme Being and demonstrate hope and charity in their interactions with
Find a Rainbow Girls Assembly near you for more information.
Job's Daughters International - Job's Daughters
International is a youth organization for girls which are between the ages of 10
and 20 years old. Girls must believe in a Supreme Being and want to make
the world a better place. Girls participate in fun activities and
projects, such as skating, bowling, dances, and trips. helping
others, charitable service and giving back to the local community.
To find a Job's Daughters Chapter near you, contact the Grand
Lodge of your state or country for more information.
Back from Freemasons to Masonic Education