Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Defining Freemasonry - Part One - The Craft

Freemasonry plays a big part in my life and I would like to take this opportunity to explain a little more about it and the various Orders and Degrees of which I am a member. I have always been very open about my membership and find that most people are genuinely curious as to what it is all about. If this article whets your appetite a good point of reference is Wikipedia’s page on Freemasonry. I am also a member of the LodgeRoom International UK Forum which welcomes anyone, whether a member or not, and you can contact my there under my pseudonym of EnglishBard.

As I expand on each of the subjects that I would like to take the time to explain to you I must stress that this is purely my opinion and relates to my own journey and ideas. Each member finds his own way through the many colourful, interesting and varied ‘degrees’ in his own good time with each individual developing their own understanding. I do not therefore presume that my opinions are the ‘be all and end all’ on this subject.

I am member under the jurisdiction of the
United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) and the information I provide relates to the structures under this banner. In other parts of the world there are other jurisdictions that are affiliated to UGLE which have many similarities but there are also many differences, this does not mean that any one is ‘better’ than another – simply different.

To become a member you have to be a man aged 21 years, have good morals and have a belief in a Supreme Being. It cannot be too strongly emphasised that Freemasonry is not to be entered in the hope of personal gain or advancement. Admission must not be sought from mercenary or other unworthy motives. The aim of the true Freemason is to cultivate a brotherly feeling among men, and to help whomsoever he can.

The three Grand Principles on which the Fraternity is founded are: -

Brotherly Love - Every true Freemason will show tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and behave with kindness and understanding to his fellow creatures.
Relief - Freemasons are taught to practise charity and to care, not only for their own, but also for the community as a whole, both by charitable giving, and by voluntary efforts and works as individuals.
Truth - Freemasons strive for truth, requiring high moral standards and aiming to achieve them in their own lives.

The foundation of all Fremasonry is found in ‘The Craft’. This is the known as Craft Masonry in England but Blue Lodge Masonry in the States. I am a member of two ‘Craft’ Lodges and I am currently the Director of Ceremonies in one and in the chair as the Worshipful Master in the other. When a person first becomes a Mason it is the Craft that he joins.

As Freemasonry is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values, its members are taught its precepts by a series of ritual dramas, which follow ancient forms, and use stonemasons' customs and tools as allegorical guides. Within the Craft there are three ‘degrees’ – Entered Apprentice, Fellow-craft and Master Mason. To achieve these degrees you must go through three separate ceremonies known as – Initiation, Passing and Raising.

Once you have been initiated you will be known as a Brother (Bro.) until you work your way up to the chair and become the Worshipful Master (WM), the equivalent of a Chairman or President in other organisations and clubs. Once you have served a full year as WM you will then always be known as Worshipful Brother (W.Bro.).

The Ceremonies are conducted by the WM assisted by the Lodge Officers and are enacted in the form of a play with each participant committing his lines to memory. These lines are known as ‘ritual’ in the Masonic world and a good ritualist is well respected for his ability to learn and orate but everyone, no matter what their level of ability, is supported and encouraged to play their full part in the proceedings.

Some members are avid historians, some pride themselves in their command of the ritual and others are searching for no more than friendship and warmth – Freemasonry provides for all. Many deep and lasting friendships blossom under the canopy of Freemasonry and I personally prefer a night at a Masonic meeting to ‘a night out in the pub with the lads’. Entertaining Ceremony to stimulate the heart and the brain followed by intelligent conversation, warm companionship, good humour and a hearty meal – what more could you want out of a night out!

If there is anything else that you would like to know or you would like to comment please do so – they will be gratefully received and faithfully applied.

Take care and thanks for your time.

W. Bro. Damian


Tracy said...

Very interesting. I've often wondered.

Bill said...

Hi Damian,

I am a former Master Mason and Worshipful Master of Lodge #339 in London Arkansas, USA.
Regretably, my first wife and a Masonic Brother had an affair and the lodge refused to have a trial and throw him out. I later divorced my wife and as far as I know he is still a member of the lodge. I was so hurt by the Lodge's refusal to have a trial by the Grand Lodge that I quit the lodge while still The Master. Their reason was that a trial would tear the Lodge apart since it was a very small lodge anyway.
I lost all faith in their Sworn word about such things as adultry with one's family members. I was sworn to secrecy so I won't recite that particular verse but I know you know what it is.

Damian said...

Tracy - stick around if you want to know more I've got an article planned for each of the orders I belong - and they number quite a few!

W. Bro. Bill (in my eyes once you've gone through the 3 degrees and been installed in the Chair you'll always be a W. Bro.) I'm SO sorry that your experience was not a positive one and I'm apalled that someone who 'claims' to be a Brother is so lacking in morals.

I am aware of members that have left Lodges because they at variance with another member but in all those cases one of them has moved to another Lodge and continued to enjoy their Masonry.

I am glad to say however that this is in the very small minority and the vast majority would not even dream of doing anything to upset a fellow Freemason, or anyone else for that matter.

I understand fully what you have stated in your last paragraph and I too would have refused to enter a Lodge with someone who had acted in this way.

I hope that your life is now on the mend and I can do no more than send you Love and Light and hope that you will see that there aren't many FM's who would undermine a friend.

Take care.

Bill said...

Thanks Damian. I appreciate your referring to me as Worshipful Brother. I have no bad feelings against Freemasonry but just that one Lodge and the way they treated me.
I still live my life as a Master Mason should although I dropped my membership years ago.

Trevor Twining said...


A very concise explanation, I have only one thing to add, and it is because it is so often overlooked that I often find the need for emphasis.

The way we try to practice it, brotherly love is more than tolerance. I try to explain it more as an unqualified embracing of those differences we each have. It is in those differences that we often also discover our similarities. Through that sharing we can come to appreciate how much we are each unique manifestations of the divine spark.

And to W. Bro. Bill: ditto what Damian said. So many of us strive for that ideal we lay out for ourselves and fall short. The crime in your situation is in not coming to terms with it within your lodge. My guess is the fact that it wasn't dealt with did much more damage than dealing with the issue ever could have.

Always be a mason in your heart, and it won't matter what your dues card says.


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