Basic Information on Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a male fraternal order which focuses on the lesser and greater mysteries of the world and mankind. It is an organization that seeks improvement and prosperity of oneself.
The origins of Freemasonry are somewhat a mystery as there are quite a few possibilities to its true origins, such as: The Temple of King Solomon, The Knights Templars, The Middle Ages, The Rosicrucians and others.
Early writings suggest that stonemasons were originally brought in to carry out the building of many important and structurally challenging projects. One in particular was the building of Solomon's Temple. Engineers and builders of ancient Egyptian times were given special status as architecture of these complex buildings required a special group of people.
With time, many of the secrets and mysteries known by the powerful groups in Egypt were passed down in the form of symbols and metaphors to these stonemasons. Because the Masons held a special status among the ruling elite they were considered a free men which eventually led to the term "Freemason". Freemasonry, therefore, became an outgrowth of these Egyptian teachings and symbols and later developed into the more organized versions we see today.
Grand Lodge of England
Lodges in Freemasonry start out with the Blue Lodge which teaches the first 3 degrees of Masonry:
- Entered Apprentice
- Fellow Craft
- Master Mason
After one has mastered the Blue Lodge they may choose an appendant body which will build off their 3rd degree. 2 common bodies of freemasonry are the Scottish Rite and the York Rite.
- Master Traveler
- Perfect Master
- Master of the Brazen Serpent
- Provost and Judge
- Intendant of the Building
- Master of the Temple
- Master Elect
- Sublime Master Elected
- Grand Master Architect
- Master of the Ninth Arch
- Grand Elect Mason
- Knight of the East or Sword
- Prince of Jerusalem
- Knight of the East and West
- Knight of the Rose Croix de Heredom Council of Kadosh
- Grand Pontiff
- Master ad Vitam
- Patriarch Noachite
- Prince of Libanus
- Chief of the Tabernacle
- Brother of the Forest
- Master of Achievement
- Friend and Brother Eternal
- Knight of Jerusalem
- Knight of the Sun, or Prince Adept
- Knight of Saint Andrew
- Grand Inspector
- Knight Aspirant
- Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret
- Sovereign Grand Inspector General
- Mark Master
- Past Master
- Most Excellent Master
- Royal Arch Mason
- Order of Red Cross
- Order of Knights of Malta
- Order of Knights Templar
Symbols & Rituals
Freemasonry contains many symbols and rituals used throughout the various lodges. Most of the symbols can have multiple meanings and mean different things to different levels of Masons. For instance, the square and the compass and the letter "G" on it may mean one thing to a 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree Mason, but to a higher level Mason, such as that of the 33rd degree, it means much more.
Most high level Masons such as Albert Pike will tell you that the true meaning of the symbols comes from the ancient meanings - that in order to understand the full meaning of these symbols you must go back and study the ancient hidden meanings. When one does this you will find that at the core Freemasonry is a Phallic organization where the true god being worshiped is the generative principle, that which gives life.
Since most people never reach the higher levels and understand the true meanings of Masonry most are given the exoteric views of these symbols which are covered in a much more simple geometric understanding. Symbols almost always have more than one meaning and usually multiple meanings depending on how high up you are.
Each lodge and rite may have different rituals and symbols that they use, but these are the more common ones with the more esoteric meanings not normally discussed.
The Circle with a Point
The Square and Compass
The Templar Cross
The Five Pointed Star
The Double Triangle, Six Pointed Star
Requirements to Join
- Be a man who comes of his own free will.
- Believe in a Supreme Being (the form of which is left to open interpretation by the candidate).
- Be at least the minimum age (from 18-25 years old depending on the jurisdiction).
- Be of good morals, and of good reputation.
- Be of sound mind and body (Lodges had in the past denied membership to a man because of a physical disability; however, now, if a potential candidate says a disability will not cause problems, it will not be held against him).
- Be free-born (or "born free", i.e. not born a slave or bondsman). As with the previous, this is entirely an historical holdover, and can be interpreted in the same manner as it is in the context of being entitled to write a will. Some jurisdictions have removed this requirement.
- Be capable of furnishing character references, as well as one or two references from current Masons, depending on jurisdiction.
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