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Frequently Asked Questions About Freemasonry
The Fraternity of Freemason is one of the largest philanthropic organizations on the face of the planet. It is estimated that as a whole, the fraternity donates over one million dollars a day. However it is not a charity organiation by charter. The Fraternity of Freemasons at it's core is just that, a fraternity.
Short Answer: There are no real secrets anymore...
Many masons will tell you that the real secret of the freemasonry is that there is no secret, but that was not always the case. Hundreds of years ago stone masons could build magnificent cathedrals and castles using techniques and skills that were closely guarded. Passwords and grips were used in liu of id cards to prove to other craftsmen that they were qualified to work alongside them and produce sound, stable and safe buildings. Although no longer relevant outside the scope of the fraternity, speculative masons continue to hand down these traditions.
The fraternity of Freemasons developed in a very interesting decentralized fashion. Lodges formed independently of one another and gave rise to Grand Lodges to govern them but no authority would ever govern them all. In the first century of the modern Grand Lodges there were often many grand lodges competing for control of a jurisdiction. Most often however there was a dominant grand lodge that would be undisputed by the vast majority of local members. One of the largest schisms was the fifty year rivalry between the Antients and the Moderns in 18th century England.
Since the fraternities inception there has been a very simple mechanism to separate out authorized and unauthorized lodges. It was called "recognition" and it simply meant that one grand lodge would officially recognize another and visa versa. This status of mutual recognition is what makes it allowable for members of those jurisdictions to visit and interact with one another in an official masonic capacity.
To this day there continues to be no shortage of unrecognized lodges and grand lodges all around the world. As a general rule, if a grand lodge of recognized by The United Grand Lodge of England then it is considered to be within the sphere of "mainstream masonry". From time to time individual grand lodges may extend or revoke recognition of other grand lodges for a number of reasons. A high profile modern example of this is that of the UGLE discontinuing recognition of most of the lodges in France.
If you are not a mason and desire to become one, it is well worth your time to investigate the proper Grand Lodge in your area and make sure it is part of mainstream masonry and not an unrecognized imitator.
It is likely that at some point in your masonic career you will encounter someone who says they are a mason but not a member of a recognized jurisdiction. Many times an individual will not even realize that their grand lodge is not legitimate. These individuals are no different than anyone else you meet in the world and should be treated with the same respect and courtesies you afford to every man. Not being a member of a recognized grand lodge simply means they cannot attend your tiled meetings nor you theirs..
Frequently Asked Questions
What's up with the skull and cross bones?
The emblem of mortality means various things in various masonic jurisdictions throughout the world. It is one of mankind's oldest symbols and for many masons it is a reminder that our time here is short and we must make the most of it. Some jurisdictions, particularly in the United States find it offensive and ban the use of it because they are concerned about optics of it. Use of the emblem is prolific throughout most of the world's masonic jurisdictions.
Why are there rumors of devil worship and freemasonry?
Near the end of the 19th century a famous hoaxster named Leo Taxil wrote fictitious books about the Catholic Church, the Freemasons, and a variety of other topics. The books sold well and even though Taxil was exposed as a fraud, some of the rumors he started live on to this day. For more information on this, search for Leo Taxil. That is where the rumors came from. In reality, Freemasonry has absolutely nothing even remotely to do with devil worship and could not be further from it.
How do I join the freemasons? How do I become a mason?
In some places, it's very hard. In others it's very easy. You get out of it what you put into it. If you just walk into an "easy-to-join" lodge then yeah you'll probably end up a mason but you won't necessarily end up a better person. If you take the time to get to know the members of the lodge and truly see if you are a good fit, you will find it a much more rewarding experience.
Where is the headquarters for the organization?
There is none. It's a decentralized mesh network for lack of a better term. That is why it has persisted for over three centuries.
What's the big secret???
Geometry. But Gutenberg kind of spilled the beans on that one so.... Secret's out I guess. Has been for several centuries.
Where did the freemasons come from?
The fraternity of freemasons evolved out of the original stone mason guilds of the 2nd millenium. If you want to really get into the weeds you get into the only two confraternities that survived the Roman era (Stone Masons & Glass Makers) but people back then were not so good at recording history (and subsequently not losing what they recorded) so it's a little murky.
Why are there still secrets then?
Remember, the original stone masons used to build massive structures using geometry and the ability to do so was highly respected. This ability was what we would today call a trade secret and stone masons where sworn to secrecy. Today companies like GE and Northrop Grumman call it a non-disclosure agreement. Secret handshakes and passwords where the equivalent of security clearances and resumes before we had convient ID cards and contractor licensing. When anyone who could read a book and do a little math was able to acquire the ability to build a castle, the masons gradually shifted into more of a fraternity than a just prestigious workers union. Today it is more of a testimony one's fidelity than anything else. However it does still have practical applications when you run into another mason in an area you are not familiar with. The "secrets" alone however will never allow you to pass yourself off as mason, it's just too easy to tell through a multitude of other means.
How did the term "Freemasons" originate?
Good question. Not sure. No one is. Anyone that gives you an answer to that one is just speculating or regurgitating one of several theories that commonly circulate.
Why can't women join?
Because it's a fraternity and not a sorority. But at it's core, it's an organization to promote fellowship and brotherhood among men. Do we REALLY need to explain how that system breaks down when you introduce the opposite sex and the most basic human desires?
There is a single documented case of a woman being made a freemason by a regularly recognized lodge and it the story/legend of it can be found at the Grand Lodge of Ireland. It is an interesting and amusing tale tastefully presented in their museum. What they don't mention however is the important detail that it having occurred before modern communication existed, if the Grand Lodge had found out about it at the time, the lodge would have almost certainly have had it charter revoked and every member of it expelled from the fraternity. Today, any regularly recognized lodge that initiates a non-male is immediately excommunicated from the fraternity and all members in attendance at the initiation expelled.
What if I was born a woman but got an operation and now I am a man?
We're not even going there. Lodges do get asked this question though. How they answer it individually we cannot say. The United Grand Lodge of England has recently made a decision regarding this strictly do to laws that regard memberships in private organizations and we would refer you to them for any commentary. Their policy, while dictated by law is causing chaos and mass rejection in UGLE chartered lodges around the world.
Why are you only rated 9.5 out of 10 and not 10 out of 10 on a lot of social media voting polls?
Because we get people who aren't even customers and hate masons who come along and give us 1 star along with the phrase "you are all sinners". Fortunately tens of thousands of masons who are happy with the services we provide balance the scales.
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