Here we try to answer some of the more common questions about Freemasonry. If you don't find the answers your looking for here, try our further reading page for more information.
Freemasonry means different things to each of those who join. For some, it’s about making new friends and acquaintances. For others, it’s about being able to help deserving causes – making a contribution to family and to society. And for others still, it is a profound path of learning that compliments and strenghtens their spiritual and religious beliefs.
Freemasonry is the world’s oldest and largest secular, fraternal, and charitable organization. It teaches moral lessons and self-knowledge through participation in a progression of allegorical ceremonies called degrees. Members are expected to be of high moral standing and are encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry.
How does Freemasonry "make good men better"?
Freemasonry offers the opportunity for each man to improve himself through its teachings, his Masonic associations, and a philosophy that has served the social needs of men for centuries, by promoting:
When you become a Mason, you become part of an ancient tradition that spans centuries. From the original stonemasons that produced some of the most majestic architectural wonders of Europe to modern day Masons who participate in numerous charitable foundations, you’ll feel connected to a vital, growing, and spiritually uplifting organization of moral men.
Learning portions of the Ritual and participating in the degrees stimulates the mind and, coupled with committee work and lodge management, presents the opportunity to develop leadership and organizational skills, build self-discipline through commitment, poise, and self-confidence, and strengthens presentation and public speaking proficiencies.
Participating in lodge projects, be they charitable or social in nature, provides the opportunity to contribute, work with others, and enjoy the success of effort well expended.
Our modern world has, through various developments in the last several years, caused the erosion of face to face social association. Meeting in the fraternal atmosphere of the lodge restores some of that lost interaction by providing access to a social circle of like minded individuals.
Freemasonry brings together in lodge men of diverse backgrounds where the daily pressures of a career can be left outside the door and where fellowship is the common theme.
These attributes are summarized in the tenets, or fundamental principles of Ancient Freemasonry: Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. If these values address your needs, Freemasonry may be for you.
To find out more about what it means to be a Freemason or to become a Freemason yourself, visit our Contact Us page and submit the contact form or fill out a petition for intitiation.
Simply put: We aren’t a secret society. By definition, a secret society is one that no one but its members know about. Otherwise, it isn’t a very good secret society! Freemasonry, while often misunderstood, is certainly not unknown. You wouldn’t be visiting this site if it were! That being said, lodge meetings, like those of many other groups, are private and open only to members.
The secrets in Freemasonry are the traditional modes of recognition which are not used indiscriminately, but solely as a test of membership (e.g., when visiting a lodge where you are not known).
As in any association there is a certain amount of administrative procedure – minutes of last meeting, proposing and balloting for new members, discussing and voting on financial matters, election of officers, news and correspondence. Then there are the ceremonies for admitting new Masons and the annual installation of the Master and appointment of officers. There is also an educational portion where members learn about Masonic subjects of interest. After the meeting is a festive board, complete with refreshements and fellowship.
No. The ritual is a shared experience which binds the members together. Its use of drama, allegory and symbolism impresses the principles and teachings more firmly in the mind of each candidate than if they were simply passed on to him in matter-of-fact modern language.
New members make solemn promises concerning their conduct in lodge and in society. Each member also promises to keep confidential the traditional methods of proving that he is a Freemason which he would use when visiting a lodge where he is not known. Freemasons do not swear allegiances to each other or to Freemasonry. Freemasons promise to support others in times of need, but only if that support does not conflict with their duties to God, the law, their family, or with their responsibilities as a citizen.
They no longer do. When Masonic ritual was developing in the late 1600s and 1700s it, was quite common for legal and civil oaths to include physical penalties and Freemasonry simply followed the practice of the times. In Freemasonry, however, the physical penalties were always symbolic and were never carried out. After long discussion, they were removed from the promises.
Absolutely not. That would be a misuse of membership and subject to Masonic discipline. On his entry into Freemasonry, each candidate states unequivocally that he expects no material gain from his membership. At various stages during the three ceremonies of his admission and when he is presented with a certificate from the Grand Lodge that the admission ceremonies have been completed, he is forcefully reminded that attempts to gain preferment or material gain for himself or others is a misuse of membership which will not be tolerated. The book of constitutions, which every candidate receives, contains strict rules governing abuse of membership which can result in penalties varying from temporary suspension to expulsion.
No. From its earliest days, Freemasonry has been involved in charitable activities. Since its inception, Freemasonry has provided support not only for widows and orphans of Freemasons but also for many others within the community. Whilst some Masonic charities cater specifically but not exclusively to Masons or their dependents, others make significant grants to non-Masonic organizations. On a local level, lodges give substantial support to local causes.
Absolutely not. Freemasonry requires a belief in God and its principles are common to many of the world’s great religions. Freemasonry does not try to replace religion or substitute for it. Every candidate is exhorted to practice his religion and to regard its holy book as the unerring standard of truth. Freemasonry does not instruct its members in what their religious beliefs should be, nor does it offer sacraments. Freemasonry as an institution holds no opinion on religion. It leaves religious choice up to the individual much like any other club or group would. The only difference being that sometimes during a lodge meeting prayers are said together as a group, with the expectation that each member prays to the God he believes in.
To the majority of Freemasons the Volume of the Sacred Law is the Bible. There are many in Freemasonry, however, who are not Christian and to them the Bible is not their sacred book and they will make their promises on the book which is regarded as sacred to their religion. The Bible will always be present in a Canadian lodge but as the organization welcomes men of many different faiths, it is called the Volume of the Sacred Law. Thus, when the Volume of the Sacred Law is referred to in ceremonies, to a non-Christian it will be the holy book of his religion and to a Christian it will be the Bible.
Freemasonry embraces all men who believe in God. Its membership includes Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Parsees and others. The use of descriptions such as the Great Architect prevents disharmony. The Great Architect is not a specific Masonic god or an attempt to combine all gods into one. Thus, men of differing religions pray together without offence being given to any of them.
There are elements within churches who misunderstand Freemasonry and its objectives. They confuse secular rituals with religious liturgy. There are many Masons in churches where their leaders have been openly critical of the organisation. Masonry has always encouraged its members to be active in their own religion.
Freemasonry does accept Roman Catholics. The prime qualification for admission into Freemasonry has always been a belief in God. How that belief is expressed is entirely up to the individual. It should be noted however, that the Roman Catholic Church currently prohibits its members from joining Masonic lodges.
Absolutely not. Whilst individual Freemasons will have their own views on politics and state policy, Freemasonry as a body will never express a view on either. The discussion of politics at Masonic meetings has always been prohibited.
There are groups in other countries who call themselves Freemasons and who involve themselves in political matters. They are not recognized or countenanced by the Grand Lodge of Manitoba and other regular Grand Lodges who follow the basic principles of Freemasonry and ban the discussion of politics and
religion at their meetings.
Only in the sense that Freemasonry exists throughout the free world. Each Grand Lodge is sovereign and independent, and whilst following the same basic principles, may have differing ways of passing them on. There is no international governing body for Freemasonry.
None. There are numerous fraternal orders and friendly societies whose rituals, regalia, and organization are similar in some respects to Freemasonry’s. They have no formal or informal connections with Freemasonry.
Traditionally, Freemasonry has been restricted to men. The early stonemasons were all male, and when Freemasonry was organizing, the position of women in society was different from today. If women wish to join Freemasonry, there are separate Grand Lodges that admit women or in some cases are restricted to women only.
Wearing regalia is historical and symbolic and, like a uniform, serves to indicate to member’s rank in the organization.
It is not known, but it is well documented that the first recorded initiation in England was that of Sir Robert Moray (one of the outstanding Scots of the seventeenth century) on 20th May 1641. This took place in a Scottish Lodge just outside of Newcastle upon Tyne when the Scots Army was laying siege to Newcastle upon Tyne. A meeting of the Lodge of Edinburgh, St. Mary’s Chapel took place and Sir Robert Moray was initiated. The earliest recorded making of a Freemason in an English Lodge is that of Elias Ashmole in 1646. Organized Freemasonry began with the founding of the Grand Lodge of England on 24 June 1717, the first Grand Lodge in the world. Ireland followed in 1725 and Scotland in 1736. All the regular Grand Lodges in the world trace themselves back to one or more of the Grand Lodges in the British Isles.
There are two main theories of origin. According to one, the operative stonemasons who built the great cathedrals and castles had lodges in which they discussed trade affairs. They had simple initiation ceremonies and, as there were no City and Guilds certificates, dues cards or trade union membership cards, they adopted secret signs and words to demonstrate that they were trained masons when they moved from site to site. In the 1600s, these operative lodges began to accept non-operatives as “gentlemen masons”. Gradually these non-operatives took over the lodges and turned them from operative to ‘free and accepted’ or ‘speculative’ lodges.
The other theory is that in the late 1500s and early 1600s, there was a group which was interested in the promotion of religious and political tolerance in an age of great intolerance when differences of opinion on matters of religion and politics were to lead to bloody civil war. In forming Freemasonry, they were trying to make better men and build a better world. As the means of teaching in those days was by allegory and symbolism, they took the idea of building as the central allegory on which to form their system. The main source of allegory was the Bible, the contents of which were known to everyone even if they could not read, and the only building described in detail in the Bible was King Solomon’s Temple, which became the basis of the ritual. The old trade guilds provided them with their basis administration of a master, wardens, treasurer and secretary, and the operative mason’s tools provided them with a wealth of symbols with which to illustrate the moral teachings of Freemasonry.
Basic Freemasonry consists of the three “Craft” degrees: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason.
There are many other Masonic degrees and orders which are called additional because they add to the basis of the Craft lodge. They are not basic to Freemasonry but add to it by further expounding and illustrating the principles stated in the Craft lodge. Some of these additional degrees are numerically superior to the third degree but this does not affect the fact that they are additional to and not in anyway superior to or higher than the Craft lodge. The ranks that these additional degrees carry have no standing with the Craft lodge.
It varies from lodge to lodge. On entry, there is an initiation fee and an apron to buy. A member pays an annual subscription to his lodge which covers his membership and the administrative cost of running the lodge.
It is entirely up to the individual member what he gives to charity, but it should always be without detriment to his other responsibilities. Similarly, he may join as many lodges as his time and financial situation can allow as long as it does not adversely affect his family life and responsibilities.
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