- What Is Freemasonry?
- How and when did Freemasonry start?
- It is probably safe to say that Masonry has been around in one form or another for at least 600 years.
- Is Freemasonry a secret society?
- What are the secrets of Freemasonry?
- What is the Logo of the organization?
- What is the All Seeing Eye?
- What does it mean to be a Master Mason?
- What is the difference between Freemasonry and Masonry?
- How can I understand Masonry?
- What do Freemasons aim for?
- Why is Freemasonry a Unique Institution?
- Who are the Freemasons?
- Do the Freemasons still build cathedrals and churches?
- How many degrees are there in Freemasonry?
- How many Freemasons are there?
- What happens at a lodge meeting?
- Why do people join and remain members?
- What promises do Freemasons take?
- Who can join?
- How does one become a Freemason?
- What are the requirements for membership?
- How much does it cost to be a Freemason?
- What is the joining process?
- Why do Freemasons take oaths?
- Why do your ‘obligations’ contain hideous penalties?
- Isn’t it true that Freemasons only look after each other?
- Why Have I Not Been Asked to Join?
- How Does One Become a Mason?
- Is there any other way to become a member if I would like to join but no Freemason knows me?
- When I become a member, will you help me in finding a job, making money, securing my life, etc.?
- Can a woman become a member of the Masonic Fraternity?
- Once a Member, is it not Difficult to Leave?
- Is It a Religion?
- What about the Masonic Bible?
- Why do you call it the Volume of the Sacred Law and not the Bible?
- Why do you call God the Great Architect?
- Why don’t some churches like Freemasonry?
- Why will Freemasonry not accept Roman Catholics as members?
- Why are some Churches so Antagonistic Towards Freemasonry?
- Do Freemasons swear oaths to keep secrets?
- Isn’t Masonic ritual out of place in modern society?
- Who are the enemies of Freemasonry? Why did Freemasonry use to be forbidden?
- Is Freemasonry not some kind of historical anachronism in the times of globalization and information society? Does it not belong to the past?
- Does a man have any benefits at all of being a Freemason?
Masonry is the world’s first and largest fraternal organization. Its principal tenets are Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. Its cardinal virtues are Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice. Masonic Philosophy is centered in the immortality of the soul and a belief in a Supreme Being.
Freemasonry might also be defined as a charitable, benevolent, educational, religious society with a purpose to teach by ritual and symbolism the building of good character.
It is charitable in that its income is not expended for private gain, but is devoted to the improvement and promotion of happiness and the wellbeing of mankind.
It is benevolent in that it teaches unselfish concern for the welfare of others as a duty, and exemplifies it by the relief of poor and distressed brothers and their needy widows and orphans. Masonry is not an insurance or benefit society.
It is educational in that it teaches by prescribed ceremonials a system of morality and brotherhood based on Sacred Law. It emphasizes the duty of man to be curious about the world; to develop his intellect and skill; to be just; to follow precepts of conscience and exercise self-control; to be earnest and sincere. Freemasonry’s Lodges, Temples and Libraries are aids to this end.
It is religious in that it teaches belief in one God, a belief prerequisite for membership, though without dogma or creed, for Freemasonry is not concerned with creeds or theology. Every Lodge must have an altar and on it, when the Lodge is in session, a volume of the Sacred Law.
Freemasonry is social in that it fosters the natural friendliness and a true spirit of brotherly love and affection that should take place in the lives of men associated and united for noble purposes.
While a belief in a Supreme Being is the primary mandatory requisite to membership, Masonry does not require membership in any church as a condition of membership. Conversely, membership in a church is no restriction to admission to Masonry. There is nothing in our requirements to prevent a Roman Catholic, a Mohammedan, a Buddhist, a Latter Day Saint (Mormon), a Protestant or a member of any religious sect having a belief in one Supreme Being from becoming a Mason, and we have within our membership adherents to each of these religious groups. Discussion of sectarian religion is prohibited in the Lodge in order to maintain peace and harmony, but Masonry encourages its members to take an active part in the churches of their choice.
Although there has been hundreds of theories put forth by learned scholars, both Masons and non-Masons, the question of origin has never been definitively answered. Some researchers note parallels with the Essenes, a middle East sect at the time of Jesus. Others connect Masons with the Knights Templar at the time of the Crusades. Still others, provide a convincing argument Masonry came from the great cathedral builders of Europe during the 13 and 1400′s. All agree it is of antiquity, hence the claim to being the oldest fraternal organization in the world.
Modern Masonry is well documented from 1717 when four Lodges in London, England, met to organize the first Grand Lodge. Obviously, Masonic Lodges were in existence before that. In fact, an entry in a diary owned by one Elias Ashmole stated he was made a Mason on October 16, 1646, in a Lodge in Warrington with 7 members present. Yet the first lodge in Warrington of which we have a record is 1775.
The earliest recorded ‘making’ of a Freemason in England is that of Elias Ashmole in 1646. Organised 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 Guild 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.
Hardly! You are reading this are you not? The perception that Freemasonry is in some way secret has arisen relatively recently simply because Freemasons value their privacy. This is no different from many other organizations that keep their affairs private from people who are not members. If you asked a golf club, of which you are not a member, for details of the membership, committee minutes, etc. then you can safely assume the reply – should the club concerned be courteous enough even to answer. This basic right to privacy applies equally to Trades Unions, Private Clubs, Political Parties, Churches, etc. as well as to individuals.
In the legal sense, the Freemasons in the Philippines function as an association that is registered, has members, a statute, transactional account and agencies. Freemasonry is therefore not a secret society. Although it is true that it keeps the secrets of ancient masons and philosophers for centuries. Only members have access to those secrets.
Freemasonry is not a secret society, but lodge meetings, like meetings of many other social and professional associations, are private occasions open only to members. Freemasons are encouraged to speak openly about their membership, while remembering that they undertake not to use it for their own or anyone else’s advancement. As members are sometimes the subject of discrimination which may adversely affect their employment or other aspects of their lives, some Freemasons are understandably reticent about discussing their membership. In common with many other national organizations, Grand Lodge neither maintains nor publishes a list of members and will not disclose names or member’s details without their permission.
In circumstances where a conflict of interest might arise or be perceived to exist or when Freemasonry becomes an issue, a Freemason must declare an interest. The rules and aims of Freemasonry are available to the public. The meeting places and halls used by Freemasons are readily identifiable, are listed in telephone directories and in many areas are used by the local community for activities other than Freemasonry. The rituals and ceremonies used by Freemasons to pass on the principles of Freemasonry to new members were first revealed publicly in 1723. They include the traditional forms of recognition used by Freemasons essentially to prove their identity and qualifications when entering a Masonic meeting. These include handshakes which have been much written about and can scarcely be regarded as truly secret today; for medieval Freemasons, they were the equivalent of a ‘pin number’ restricting access only to qualified members. Many thousands of books have been written on the subject of Freemasonry and are readily available to the general public. Freemasons are proud of their heritage and happy to share it.
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.
The Square, the Compasses and a capital letter “G” in the center is the universal logo of Freemasonry. The G stands for the ever-living and loving Supreme Being.
The all-seeing eye means that the Supreme Being sees us for who we really are… we may fool others but God knows everything.
Being a Master Mason is a lot of responsibility. You must be true to yourself and be reminded everyday that being a Master Mason you reflect on all of Masonry. You must not just receive brotherly love, but give it and show it towards everyone. You are in a chain of brothers and sisters, which starts in your heart and through your hands, but which spread around the globe. Be careful that you are not the weakest link, so that this chain won’t break because of you.
Masonry refers to builders in stone or Operative Masonry, Freemasonry refers to builders in character or Speculative Masonry, but there is no difference in their usage today.
How can I make you understand a song without you hearing it, a fragrance without you smelling it, or a thought without you thinking it. You can learn about Masonry, but the only way you can understand Masonry, is to join.
They strive to be good citizens, to practice the highest moral and social standards, and to be men of friendship, charitable disposition, and integrity. It is often said that Freemasonry makes good men better.
In many ways it is not. There are other organizations in existence that also value their privacy. It may be because Freemasonry is so popular that it attracts a greater degree of attention than these other organizations. Historically, Freemasonry was but one institution among many. For instance there were the Free Gardeners, Free Shepherds, Free Carpenters, Free Colliers, etc. which were organized along similar lines to Freemasonry and taught morality by way of their own ritual plays and symbolism. Most of these organizations no longer exist leaving Freemasonry as the only example of this once common form of society or association.
The Freemasons, the Masons, or the “Free & Accepted Masons (F&AM)”, is a world-wide fraternal organization composed of men of high integrity, who join together, under the fatherhood of God, to further the practice of a moral code; proven by a long distinguished history; relevant to the complexities of the world today and founded on the highest standards of ethics, honesty and character.
Freemasons do not practice the “operative” skills of the craft masons, or stonemasons, who built the great cathedrals of Europe during the Middle Ages. Freemasons practice “speculative” Masonry, which symbolically applies the tools of the craftsman as lessons in personal growth and morality, thereby “building” a better life for the individual in his roles as a son, a brother, a father, a citizen, and a friend.
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 ‘appendant’ because they add to the basics of the Craft. They are not basic to Freemasonry but add to it by further expounding and illustrating the principles stated in the Craft. Some 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. The ranks that these additional degrees carry have no standing with the Craft. In short, the Master Mason degree is the highest.
Under the Grand Lodge of the Philippines, there are about 21,000 active Freemasons, meeting in more than 350 lodges. Worldwide there are probably 5 million members.
The meeting is in two parts. 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. The three ceremonies for admitting a new Mason are in two parts – a slight dramatic instruction in the principles and lessons taught in the Craft followed by a lecture in which the candidate’s various duties are spelled out.
We tend not to talk too much about the content of the ceremonies themselves, as it will lessen the impact on the candidate, just as someone telling you about a film before you’ve had a chance to see it!
People become Freemasons for a variety of reasons, some as the result of family tradition, others upon the introduction of a friend or out of a curiosity to know what it is all about. Those who become active members and who grow in Freemasonry do so principally because they enjoy it. They enjoy the challenges and fellowship that Freemasonry offers. There is more to it, however, than just enjoyment. Participation in the dramatic representation of moral lessons and in the working of a lodge provides a member with a unique opportunity to learn more about himself and encourages him to live in such a way that he will always be in search of becoming a better man, not better than someone else but better than he himself would otherwise be, and therefore an exemplary member of society.
Each Freemason is required to learn and show humility through initiation. Then, by progression through a series of degrees he gains insight into increasingly complex moral and philosophical concepts, and accepts a variety of challenges and responsibilities which are both stimulating and rewarding. The structure and working of the lodge and the sequence of ceremonial events, which are usually followed by social gatherings, offer members a framework for companionship, teamwork, character development and enjoyment of shared experiences.
New members make solemn promises concerning their conduct in the lodge and in society. These promises are similar to those taken in court or upon entering the armed services or many other organizations. Each member also promises to keep confidential the traditional methods of proving he is a Freemason which he would use when visiting a lodge where he is not known. They were always symbolic not literal and refer only to the pain any decent man should feel at the thought of violating his word. Members also undertake not to make use of their membership for personal gain or advancement; failure to observe this principle or otherwise to fall below the standards expected of a Freemason can lead to expulsion.
Membership is open to men of all faiths who are law-abiding, of good character and who acknowledge a belief in God. Freemasonry is a multi-racial and multi-cultural organization. It has attracted men of goodwill from all sectors of the community into membership. There are similar Masonic organisations for women.
Usually by asking another Freemason. It is a general rule, in the Philippines as well as in any part of the world, that a Freemason will not solicit men for membership. There are occasions when a member of the family, a close personal friend, will be asked but this is a matter for the individual Freemason concerned.
The doors of Freemasonry are open to all men who seek harmony with their fellow creatures, who feel the need for self-improvement, and wish to participate in the adventure of making this world a more congenial place in which to live.
The prescribed requirements for membership are being a man at least 21 years of age, having a belief in a Supreme Being and in the immortality of the soul, being capable of reading and writing, being of good moral character, having been a resident of the county in which he resides for at least one year preceding the presentation of his petition, and being recommended by two Master Mason members of the Lodge to which he desires to apply.
It varies from lodge to 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 pocket can allow as long as it does not adversely affect his family life and responsibilities. Annual dues are paid normally at the start of the fiscal year and donation to Charity can be paid anytime.
If you live in or around the town area, and are interested in joining, we suggest you approach one of our Lodge members that you know. If everything seems to be in order you will be invited down to one of our Fellowship events and meet some of the members. If there is a social on at this time, you will be invited along with your wife, where appropriate. This is to ensure that you are comfortable with the members of the Lodge and the Lodge members are comfortable with you. After this you will be asked to attend an interview with senior members of the Lodge and your name will be read out in the Lodges in the districts in which you live and work, and in the area, to verify you are a man of good repute.
When people join they are asked to make the following declarations on their membership forms:
- My application is entirely voluntary.
- I do not expect, anticipate or seek any pecuniary benefit as a consequence of my being a member of Freemasonry.
- I have never been convicted by a Court of any offence. *
- I have never been the subject of a finding of dishonest or disgraceful conduct.
- I have never been disciplined by any professional, trade or other tribunal.
- I am not awaiting the outcome of proceedings against me before a criminal court or a professional, trade or other tribunal.
- I am not, to the best of my knowledge, the subject of any criminal, professional, trade or other investigation.
- What can be considered as a minor traffic offence or a “youthful indiscretion” do not normally count against an application to join.
When the reports come back favourably you will be proposed into the Lodge and balloted for by the members. The whole process can take from three to six months, assuming there is no waiting list. If at any time you have any misgivings or reservations you should discuss these with your Proposer or Seconder and you may withdraw your application at any point in the process. It is natural to have doubts about joining Freemasonry because you do not know the nature of the ceremony, though it is better for everyone if an application is withdrawn than if somebody feels they are joining out of a sense of responsibility. Please note that “blackballing” or denying a candidate is extremely rare as we take a lot of care to ensure that any problems are taken care of at an earlier time.
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.
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 for Masons or their dependents, others make significant grants to non-Masonic organisations. On a local level, lodges give substantial support to local causes.
Unlike the members of other fraternal organizations, Masons are forbidden to solicit anyone to become a member.
Many men live a lifetime and never know that they must ask for admission to the world’s oldest, most purposeful and greatest fraternity. They do not realize that they will not be invited. They must come in of their own free will and accord, without persuasion.
While we cannot invite a non-Mason to become a member of the Lodge, there is a door upon which you can knock for admission if you so desire!
You must ask a Mason for a petition.
Oops! Please be informed that freemasonry is not an insurance company. Thank God you didn’t ask us for flood insurance.
No. There are groups which proclaim themselves co-masons, that is male and female members, but they are not considered regular members by mainstream Grand Lodges. The Order of the Eastern Star, an organization for both men and women, is closely aligned with Masonry and provides an opportunity for husband and wife to enjoy the fraternal companionship of like-minded people.
Freemasonry is a voluntary organization and once a member there is no pressure to continue to participate. Indeed men join and subsequently find it is not to their taste or is not what they had envisaged and so cease to be active members. Whilst it is sad that Freemasonry is unable to meet the applicant’s aspirations, in such cases, it will not stand in the way of anyone’s decision to leave.
Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. It requires of its members, belief in God as part of the obligation of every responsible adult, but advocates no sectarian faith or practice. Masonic ceremonies include prayer, both traditional and extempore, to reaffirm each individual’s dependence on God and to seek divine guidance. Freemasonry is open to men of any faith, but religion may not be discussed at Masonic meetings. The Grand Lodge of Tennessee does not teach or advocate universalism (the doctrine that all people will eventually be saved and go to heaven) or any other theological doctrine.
Masons believe that there is one God and that people employ many different ways to seek and express what they know of God. Masonry primarily uses the appellation, “Grand Architect of the Universe” and other non-sectarian titles, to address Deity. In this way, persons of different faiths may join together in prayer, concentrating on God, rather than differences among themselves. Masonry believes in religious freedom and that the relationship between the individual and God is personal, private and sacred.
Freemasonry lacks the basic elements of religion:
- It has no dogma or theology, no wish or means to enforce religious orthodoxy.
- It offers no sacraments.
- It does not claim to lead to salvation by works, by secret knowledge or by any other means.
The secrets of Freemasonry are concerned with the modes of recognition, not with the means of salvation.
Freemasonry is far from indifferent toward religion. Without interfering in religious practice, it expects each member to follow his own faith and to place his duty in God above all other duties. Its moral teachings are acceptable to all religions.
I hope this clarification of Freemasonry and Religion will enlighten the critics of this ancient Craft. In other words, ” Better to light one candle than curse the darkness.”
It should be clear that we are not a secret society but rather a society possessing certain secrets. We do not hide our membership. We wear pins, rings and emblems of the Masonic Fraternity. We do not meet secretly. Our Temples are listed, they usually bear the Lodge name and the emblem of Freemasonry is generally displayed as we hold our meetings.
There is no Masonic Bible. The Bible used is the King James Version of the Holy Bible, which is used in some Christian Lodges. This Bible only has a short Masonic history section added to the front.
To the majority of Freemasons the Volume of the Sacred 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 every lodge but as the organisation 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 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 can enjoy each other’s company without offense being given to any of them.
There are elements within certain churches who misunderstand Freemasonry and confuse secular rituals with religious liturgy. Although the Methodist Conference and the General Synod of the Anglican Church have occasionally criticised Freemasonry, in both Churches there are many Masons and indeed others who are dismayed that the Churches should attack Freemasonry, an organisation which has always encouraged its members to be active in their own religion.
It does. 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. Four Grand Masters of English Freemasonry have been Roman Catholics. There are many Roman Catholic Freemasons.
Quite simply that question should be directed elsewhere. Freemasonry will not make any comment regarding any particular belief system, religious, political or otherwise. It will certainly make no comment on another organization’s internal affairs as that is their business.
One of the central teachings of Freemasonry is immortality. The answer to Job’s question, “If a man die, shall he live again?” and the central teaching of all religions is also immortality. Therefore, say our critics, Freemasonry must be a religion. But that is false reasoning. The central teaching of the land in which we live is patriotism–love of one’s country. Exactly the same thing is true of an American, or Englishman, of a German, a Frenchman. Each is taught patriotism, but that does not mean each loves OUR country best. Each loves best his own. Freemasonry insists on a belief in immortality, but it teaches no particular doctrine concerning survival after death. Freemasonry is reverent, charitable, and ethical in precept and practice. So are millions of people who are neither Masons nor church members. The only religious affirmation required of a Freemason is that he believe in one God.
Freemasonry accepts as members the Christian, the Jew, the Moslems, the Parsee, the Buddhist; a man may be a Unitarian or a Baptist, a Spiritualist, a Quaker or catholic. Freemasonry accepts him as a man, not as a member of a church. Quakers and Catholics cannot become Masons without offending their own religion, which fact Masonic authorities will always explain to men of those faiths who apply, but Masonry accepts them if they are good men and wish to join. Ministers of all faiths are Masons, just as Masons are members of all churches. A minister of one faith cannot profess doctrine other than his own; yet he can be a Mason. The Fraternity obviously is not a religion, but only a philosophy of life.
Freemasons make solemn promises concerning their conduct in the Lodge and in society. They also promise to keep confidential the traditional methods of recognition, which are only used within a Lodge or when visiting a Lodge where the Mason is not known. They should not be used outside a Lodge. Freemasons should not disclose these “secrets” to the public.
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.
Freemasonry encourages tolerance and freedom of the spirit. Therefore, it is a thorn in the flesh of absolute rulers and totalitarian regimes. Freemasonry was forbidden by Francis I in 1795 in our region because he was afraid of modern views of the French Revolution entering the country through Freemasons. The more the system is undemocratic and intolerant, the more it attacks Freemasonry. In the times of Nazism and Communism, Freemasonry was strictly forbidden. All Freemasons in the Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union wound up in concentration camps and prisons. Freemasonry was forbidden even in Yugoslavia after 1945. Freemasons from before the war were persecuted. Some of them were trialed in political courts.
Freemasonry began in the Renaissance as a spiritual movement based on the freethinking and moral values of the Western civilization. Modern man needs as much of spiritual support, pondering, conversation in a friendly environment as in the past. Freemasonry offers him just that. Does the world need Freemasonry? Let us ask ourselves whether the world still needs tolerance, striving for equality, freedom and fraternity, striving for humanism, values, human rights and enlightenment or does the world already have enough and too much of this?
There are no material benefits. However, he has the knowledge that many other respected men think of him as a free man of good reputation. He discovery new wisdom of life in their company and in the company of reflections offered by Freemasonry. Some have a higher regard for that than any material benefits.