What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry (often referred to simply as “Masonry”) is the world's oldest and largest fraternity, based primarliy on the belief that each man is a sovereign soul and responsible to his Creator to live a life according to his Creator's morals. Freemasonry works to enhance and strengthen the character of the individual man by providing opportunities for fellowship, charity, education, and leadership; as well as fellowship, community, and shared values to members and their families. There are about 6 million Masons worldwide, including almost 2 million in the U.S.
Why are "Masons" called "Masons"?
The fraternity gets its name from stonemasons who built temples, castles and cathedrals in the Holy Land and across Europe. This type of masonry is referred to as "operative" masonry. "Speculative" Masonry is the practice of incorporating allegory and metaphors from geometry and architecture into teachings which work to compell members to continue their personal pursuit of "light", both spiritually and intellectually.
Is Freemasonry a secret society?
No more than any other organization that restricts membership and access to their private meetings. Masonic membership certainly is not a secret, as we wear rings, lapel pins, and tie clasps with Masonic emblems like the square and compasses. Masonic buildings are clearly marked and are usually listed in the phone book, and lodge activities are often listed in local newspapers. Of course, like most fraternities, Freemasonry does have unique handshakes, passwords, and ceremonies that are for members only.
That being said, it is important to look at freemasonry through the lense of history. Many of the rituals we perform today, have their roots in a time and place where people were not allowed the most basic of rights: individual sovereignty. Individual sovereignty dictates that we as humans are endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights: including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If this sounds familiar, it should. Many of the founding fathers were freemasons, and many of the ones that weren't, were sympathizers with the freemasons' ideals, built around individual sovereignty. Prior to the advent of the novus ordo seclorum ("new order for the ages", which is to symbolize a representative republic style of government rather than a monarchy which had dominated human history since the time of, and before the Greek republic), people were not allowed to choose their leaders or their religion. In this environment, one could expect the hangman's noose if he spoke any ideas on politics or religion that were contrary to those of the king. In this environment, it was a matter of life or death to express blasphemous ideas such as people electing their own government, or choosing how to practice ones own relationship with their God on their terms. Therefore, a system of secret handshakes and passwords was imperative to ensure one was not signing their death warrant by contradicting the king's edict. It is in this spirit of tradition that we still practice this symbolism as respect to those who in times past weren't afforded the basic rights that we enjoy today, but yet even so are still fragile.
Why are some Masonic buildings called Temples?
Dictionary.com defines temple as, "any place or object in which God dwells". Also, for example, the Bible describes our bodies as temples in I Corinthians 6:19 KJV: "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" It is in this spirit that some of our buildings are called temples, as we endeavor to receive God's blessing on our activities therein. It is not that these buildings are purposed as "Houses of Worship".
Is Freemasonry an international order?
Only in the sense that Freemasonry exists throughout the world. Each Grand Lodge – there is one in every U.S. state and in virtually every country – is sovereign and independent. While all the lodges follow the same principles of Freemasonry, they may have different activities. There is no international, or national for that matter, governing body for Freemasonry.
Why does Masonry use symbols?
Symbols allow people to communicate quickly. When you see a red light or a circle with a line through it, you know what it means. Likewise, Masons use certain symbols, mostly selected from the art of architecture, to represent certain ethics and principles of the organization. The square and compasses around the letter "G" is the most widely known symbol of Masonry, and could be considered our "trademark" in a sense. All of Masonry and it's appendant bodies recognize this as our "root" symbol.
Why do Masons wear aprons?
"Operative" stonemasons wore, and wear, aprons of leather to protect their garments while laboring in their trade.
"Speculative" Masons traditionally wear an apron made of lambskin as an "emblem of innocence".
What is Masonry's role in politics?
Masonry does not endorse political candidates or legislation, and the discussion of politics at Masonic meetings is not allowed. It is true that many of our Revolutionaries and founding fathers were Masons, however, their actions were a result of their beliefs and not an organized action on the part of Masonry. Masons, as a general rule, believe in core principles which include: Life, Individual Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Is Freemasonry the same as the Shrine, York Rite or Scottish Rite?
A man first becomes a Mason at his local lodge. After he has made suitable proficiency in the three degrees of Masonry, he may petition any of the other allied Masonic organizations, each of which has a special social, educational, or philanthropic cause, in addition to their respective philosophical core studies. The best known in the United States is the Shrine, Scottish Rite, and York Rite. However, depending on the Mason or his family member and their age, one may belong to other organizations such as Eastern Star, DeMoley, Rainbow Girls, Job's Daughters, Acacia Fraternity, etc.
Were all of the early American Presidents Freemasons?
Many – but not all – Presidents throughout history were Masons. Many of the early leaders of the Revolution, including Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock and Paul Revere, were also Masons.
Is the "all seeing eye" symbol a Masonic symbol?
The "all seeing eye" of God is a Masonic symbol, as well as for many cultures throughout the ages as a symbol of the omnipresence and omnipotence of God. You will find this symbol in the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States of America as well, symbolizing the same thing.
Is there a worldwide governing body in charge of all Masons?
No. Freemasonry is a universal brotherhood in which Masons share the same ideals, but there is no international governing body or hierarchy for Freemasonry. In the United States, each state has a Grand Lodge that oversees all the Masonic lodges in the state. There is no higher authority than the grand lodge of a state and there is no national headquarters. Outside the United States, there are one or more grand lodges in virtually every country, which operate as independent and sovereign organizations. Respective Grand Lodges can decide whether to recognize other Grand Lodges or individual lodges according to their own rules, or consider them "clandestine" and officially forbid any interaction with that Grand Lodge or lodge.
Do Masons control political and financial systems?
Many individual Masons have been involved in political and financial organizations, but Masonry in and of itself as an organization, does not exist for the purpose of operating organizations other than its own, and that no more than at a statewide level. The truth is that Masonry is not about power; it’s about the belief that each man can and should make a difference in the world through his actions toward his fellow man as directed by his Creator. Throughout history, Freemasons have upheld the tenets of brotherly love, relief, and truth to make important contributions to society – whether in government, business, education, philanthropy, or simple interpersonal goodwill.
What are the facts regarding Dan Brown's writings in which he alludes to Masonry?
While an outstanding author of fiction, Dan Brown's theories and insights must be viewed from that perspective. Read more here. Free Masonry Lost Symbols
What are the requirements to become a Mason?
You must be a man, of lawful age, free-born, well recommended and make suitable proficiency in the Three Degrees.
What's the process of becoming a member?
Masonry does not solicit members per se. A well regarded man may be invited to petition a lodge by a current member, or one may initiate the petition process themselves by contacting a current Mason, or a lodge office. Whether or not the petitioner knows any Masons, he will be introduced to a few who will get to know him, and his wife if applicable, to answer any questions either of them may have, and to be able to vouch for the petitioner's character in front of the lodge. The lodge upon hearing the report from the vouching members, will vote to receive the applicants petition. At which time the petition is approved, the then candidate will be scheduled to receive the Three Degrees of Masonry in a timely manner.
What are degrees?
Degrees are levels of instruction in the "speculative" form of Masonry, akin to the levels of craftsmanship in "operative" masonry. These Degrees are ceremoniously conducted in the lodge. However, It should not be misunderstood that after the Three Degrees that the new Mason has all the knowledge that he needs. The Craft of "speculative" Masonry is a lifelong endeavor, one which provides benefits commensurate with the effort invested on the part of the individual.
What are the benefits of being a Mason?
They are many, varied, and both tangible and intangible. The fellowship, values, and truths that are part of the Masonic tradition have proved to inspire, challenge, and develop men. Benjamin Franklin described the fraternity as a place to “prepare himself.”
Why can't women be Masons?
Masonry is a fraternity, a brotherhood. Just as the essence of a sorority is that it’s for women, the essence of a fraternity is that it’s for men. However, there are several affiliated Masonic organizations open to a woman, including the Order of Eastern Star, should that woman be a wife, mother, sister or daughter of a Mason.
What do Masons do?
Outside of the core charter of Masonic Lodges, many collaborate or individually participate in Charities of their choosing. As a practical extension of the admonition, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," each year, Masons donate millions of dollars and thousands of hours to both small and large philanthropic causes: lodge by lodge, and Mason by Mason. The Kansas Masonic Foundation of Kansas has been instrumental in setting up and running the University of Kansas Masonic Cancer Research Center at the KU Medical Center. The Albert Pike Lodge conducts the annual USD 259 "Teacher of the Year" Award, among other events. Please see the links and stories elsewhere on this site for more information.
How can I pursue becoming a Mason?
You may go to our Contact page for our office number and call, fill out the info form, or email directly, the secretary of our Lodge who can get you a petition to fill out and submit!
Can I become a Mason by taking an "online" course?
It is impossible to become a Mason other than in person. Traditions, and societal conditions, dictate that we know our candidates well. And by the same token, we want you to know who we are and that you are comfortable with us before you commit to such a decision. It works out very well for each of us!