How many degrees are there in Freemasonry?
Basic Freemasonry consists of the three 'Craft' degrees (Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason). There are many other Masonic degrees and Orders which are called 'additional' because they add to the basis of the Craft. They are not basic to Freemasonry but add to it by further expounding and illustrating the principles stated in the Craft. Some of these additional degrees are numerically superior to the third degree but this does not affect the fact that they are additional to and not in anyway superior to or higher than the Craft. The ranks that these additional degrees carry have no standing within the Craft.
What happens at a lodge meeting?
The meeting is in two parts. As in any association there is a certain amount of administrative procedure - minutes of last meeting, proposing and balloting for new members, discussing and voting on financial matters, election of officers, news and correspondence. Then there are the ceremonies for admitting new Masons and the annual installation of the Master and appointment of officers. The three ceremonies for admitting a new Mason are in two parts - a slight dramatic instruction in the principles and lessons taught in the Craft followed by a lecture in which the candidate's various duties are spelled out.
Isn't ritual out of place in modern society?
No. The ritual is a shared experience which binds the members together. Its use of drama, allegory and symbolism impresses the principles and teachings more firmly in the mind of each candidates than if they were simply passed on to him in matter-of-fact modern language.
Why do you wear regalia?
Wearing regalia is historical and symbolic and, like a uniform, serves to indicate to members where they rank in the organisation.
Why are you a secret society?
We are not, but lodge meetings, like those of many other groups, are private and open only to members. The rules and aims of Freemasonry are available to the public. Meeting places are known and in many areas are used by the local community for activities other than Freemasonry. Members are encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry.
What are the secrets of Freemasonry?
The secrets in Freemasonry are the traditional modes of recognition which are not used indiscriminately, but solely as a test of membership, e.g. when visiting a Lodge where you are not known.
Why do Freemasons take oaths?
New members make solemn promises concerning their conduct in Lodge and in society. Each member also promises to keep confidential the traditional methods of proving that he is a Freemason which he would use when visiting a lodge where he is not known. Freemasons do not swear allegiances to each other or to Freemasonry. Freemasons promise to support others in times of need but only if that support does not conflict with their duties to God, the law, their family or with their responsibilities as a Citizen.
What is the relationship between Freemasonry and groups like the Orange Order, Odd Fellows and Buffaloes?
A None. There are numerous fraternal orders and Friendly Societies whose rituals, regalia and organisation are similar in some respects to Freemasonry's. They have no formal or informal connections with Freemasonry.
Aren't you a religion or a rival to a religion?
Emphatically not. Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. The one essential qualification means that Freemasonry is open to men of many religions and it expects and encourages them to continue to follow their own faith. It is not permitted for Freemasons to discuss these subjects at Masonic meetings.
Is Freemasonry an international Order?
Only in the sense that Freemasonry exists throughout the free world. Each Grand Lodge is sovereign and independent, and whilst following the same basic principles, may have differing ways of passing them on. There is no international governing body for Freemasonry.
Who can become a Freemason?
Our fraternity has a wonderful history, which dates back more than three centuries. It is one of the world's oldest secular fraternities, a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Founded on the three great principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, it aims to bring together men of goodwill, regardless of background and differences.
People might think that to become a Freemason is quite difficult. It's actually straightforward.
The essential qualifications for admission is that you have a belief in a Supreme Being.
It is usual for candidates to be "mature men of 21 years and over", but in some circumstances candidates between the ages of 18 and 21 can be admitted.
How do I do to become a Freemason?
If you are interested in becoming a Freemason, we advise that you first talk to a family member, friend or colleague whom you already know to be a member. They will be able to explain to you what they can about the fraternity.
One of the most common misconceptions about Freemasonry is that you have to be invited to join. In fact, the exact opposite is true - you have to ask to join. The problem is - who to ask? Often, members keep their membership private. However, there are avenues open to prospective members.
If you don't know anyone who is a member then get in touch with us. You can contact us by email to our secretary Tell us a little bit about yourself and your reasons for wishing to join.
Arrangements will be made to meet you socially to find out more about you and to give you a chance to find out more about us.
You would then in due course be invited to meet a committee of members from the Lodge prior to being balloted for membership of the Lodge.
Your Questions Answered
What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is one of the world's oldest and the U.K.'s largest secular, fraternal and charitable organisations. It teaches moral lessons and self-knowledge through participation in a progression of allegorical two-part plays.
What are the Three Great Principals?
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.
Freemasons believe that these principles represent a way of achieving higher standards in all walks of life.