Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Freemasonry and its place in me

I enjoy the contrasts that comes from all of the paths I tread and could be at a Rock concert one night, a Lodge meeting the night after, walking in the woods communing with nature at weekend, cuddled up with my partner watching a film or sharing a book with my son. Experiencing the variety of life is essential to living a full and content existence.

I’ve been a Freemason for some considerable time now and thought I’d share some thoughts with you on what it means to me to be a Mason. This is just one thread of my life but one that is very important to me.

A bit of background first. I am a member of two ‘Craft’ Lodges under the English Constitution, I am the Director of Ceremonies in one Lodge, having already gone through the chair, and am currently Worshipful Master in the other.

I am also a member of many side degrees including Holy Royal Arch, Mark, Royal Ark Mariner, Rose Croix, Knights Templar, and the Royal and Select Masters. Each of these degrees have their own distinct symbolism, ceremonies and meanings.

I am what is described as a ‘good ritualist’ which basically means that I am able to learn and recite sections of the ceremonies from memory as Freemasonry is ostensibly based on an oral tradition. I also enjoy researching the history and meaning which gives me great satisfaction and also satisfies my ‘daily advance in Masonic knowledge’.

There are many theories as to the founding of Freemasonry that weaves a remarkable story, but no real definite decision has yet been made. The Druids, Rosicrucians, Stone Masons Guilds, Egyptians and even the first Trade Unionists have all been cited as the forebears of modern Freemasonry.

But the area I wish to concentrate on here is what it means to me, and how it has helped me to develop, being a member of this wonderful Fraternity.

Defining character

As with every new initiate I entered Freemasonry with no knowledge of what I was entering into except that all the members I had met had been intelligent and courteous people who I had easily struck up a friendly rapport.

I remember going through my initiation enjoying the whole experience – the imagery, the dedication and commitment each Brother had put into performing his particular role, the grandeur and most of all the happiness and friendship.

Once it was all over we retired to dinner, which we do at every meeting, and the belonging was instantaneous – it was as though I’d known everyone for years. The other members went out of their way to ensure that, as the new boy, I felt comfortable and at ease.

As my time went on and I moved through the progressive positions I realised that I was gradually being introduced to new skills and encouraged, in a friendly and supportive environment, to reflect on myself and my own development.

Through learning the text and reciting the ritual my ability to retain and deliver information was improving. By proposing toasts and giving short speeches my confidence and public speaking skills were being developed. In the course of learning the ceremonies, which are rich with vocabulary, language and symbolism – my own word power and grasp of language was gaining in depth and variety.

I was all in all becoming a better person.

This demonstrated an apparent improvement in my work and social life. I found it easier to express feelings, concepts and ideas; and felt more confident and enthusiastic about doing so. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve never lacked in intelligence nor have I ever been what would be called an introvert – it all just subtly became much easier, it started to flow.

My commitment to my family and friends was reinforced by the way I see the other Brethren helping each other and their families. This is done in a friendly way - rallying round when someone is sick, a kind word when suffering misfortune, keeping in touch with widows when a Brother has died and inviting each other to social events.

A wholly worthwhile and positive experience, a way of life and a path I would recommend to anyone.

Take care.


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