WHAT IS  A MASON?

A MASON ia a MAN and a BROTHER who meets you on the LEVEL and acts upon the SQUARE. Truth is  his COMPASS and he is ever PLUMB.   He has a true GRIP on all that is RITE. He is loyal to his ORDER and whatever his DEGREE he is MASTER of himself . In the LODGE of life he wears unstained the LAMBSKIN of Innocence. From his INITIATION as an ENTERED APPRENTICE he travels ever EAST toward the LIGHT of Wisdom until he recieves the final - the DIVINE PASSWORD that admits him into the INEFFABLE PRESENCE of the ETERNAL SUPREME GRAND MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE. 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions -

If there is one thing most people are sure they know, it's that Masons are never supposed to talk about Masonry.  

  • Not true. Oh, there are some secrets - but there's nothing in them that would interest anyone except a Mason. Almost all of the "secrets" deal with ways of recognizing each other.
    But as far as Freemasonry, what it does, what it teaches, how it's organized, where it came from, what goes on in a Lodge meeting - that's open for discussion. Given a chance, we'll probably tell you more than you really wanted to know. We're excited about the Fraternity, we get a lot out of it, and we really want to share that with others.

Then why hasn't anyone ever asked me to join? People have asked me to join Rotary, Lions, and other clubs.

  • It's no reflection on you. There is a rule in Masonry that a person must seek admission himself. We aren't allowed to go out and twist arms.
    There is a reason for that. A person needs to come to Masonry because he really wants to, not because he's been talked into it. Masonry is a real commitment. If you are a Mason and you need help, every Mason in the world MUST help you, if he possibly can. By the same token, you must be willing to help any Mason who needs it. And then there is another reason - a person has to be ready for Masonry. Masonry isn't a civic club, although we do a lot of civic projects. It is a Fraternity. We're dedicated to the growth and development of our members as human beings. A person has to be ready to grow, has to suspect that there is something more to life, and wants to know what that is, before he is really ready to become a Mason.

What goes on in a Masonic Meeting?

  • There are two types of meeting agenda. The first is like the business meeting of any other organization. It takes us just a bit longer to call the meeting to order, because we use a longer opening ceremony or ritual than most civic clubs do. But, it reminds us of some of the most important lessons in Masonry.
    Then, when the lodge is "open", we hear the reading of the minutes, vote to pay bills, take care of old and new business, and plan projects, just like everyone else. The other type of meeting is one in which new members are received. This is done with a beautiful ritual, centuries old, which is designed to teach some important lessons and to start the person thinking about his own nature as a spiritual being.

What's the initiation like?

  • The Ceremonies of Masonic Initiation are meaningful and historic. Nothing humorous or embarrassing is permitted. In fact, it is a very serious Masonic offense to allow anything to happen during an initiation which is undignified or "funny".

I've heard that Masonry is a religion. Is it? Can a man be a Mason and a Christian at the same time?

  • Masonry acknowledges the existence of God. No atheist can become a Mason. Prayer is an important part of the Masonic ritual. Masonic vows are taken in the name of God, but Masonry never tries to tell a person how he should think about God, or how he should worship God, or why he should believe. We offer no plan of salvation. We teach that man should live a good life, not because that alone will earn him entrance into heaven, but because anything else is destructive, both to himself and to those around him. It is good to be good. As to whether a man can be a Mason and a Christian, the best answer is that most us are. There are many Free Masons who belong to other faiths, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.

Are there any churches or religions whose members you won't accept as Masons?

  • No. A man's belief is his own business, and Masonry has no right to approve or disapprove of his belief.

What about those "Secret Vows" I hear so much about?

  • The exact words of the vows are secret. That's one of the ways we recognize each other. The contents of the vows are not. In less formal language than we use in the Ritual, a Mason promises: "to treat women with deference and respect, to help a Brother when he asks for and needs help, to remember that people are entitled to dignity and respect and not to treat them as if they were things, to follow the directions of the Grand Lodge in things Masonic, and if he disagrees, to use the proper channels to express that disagreement and seek resolution, to respect the traditions of the Fraternity, and to keep secret the few things that are secret".

Why don't you let women join?

  • We're a Fraternity, a Brotherhood. The essence of a fraternity is that it is for men, just as the essence of a sorority is that it is for women. That's the primary reason. Recent developments in psychology and sociology have discovered another reason. There is a new thing called "male bonding." That's the new technical way of saying something that has been known for thousands of years. It's important for men to have a few things they do by themselves, just as it is for women to have the same thing.
    But that doesn't mean that there is no place for women in Masonry. In fact, there are several Masonic organizations for both women and men. The order of the Eastern Star, with one of the most beautiful rituals anywhere, is one. So are the White Shrine of Jerusalem, the Order of Amaranth, the Social Order of Beauseant, and several others.

Just what is a "Lodge?" What does it look like? Who runs it?

  • A lodge is both a meeting place for Masons and the Masons who meet there. You could actually say "The Lodge is a meeting at the Lodge." It's a Middle English word. When the great cathedrals of the Middle Ages were being built, the masons had special, temporary buildings built against the side of the cathedral in which they met, received their pay, planned the work on the cathedral and socialized after work. This building was called a lodge. The term has simply remained down through the ages.
    As to the officers, the leader of the Lodge, the President is the "Worshipful Master". That title doesn't mean we worship him, although some people have thought that is what it means. The titles we use come from Middle English, about the time of Chaucer. Just as mayors in England and Canada are addressed as "Your Worship", the Master of the Lodge is called "Worshipful Master", meaning "Greatly Respected." The First Vice President is the Senior Warden. The second Vice President is the Junior Warden. We have a Secretary and a Treasurer, just like any other organization. Assisting the Master are the Senior and Junior Deacons. They carry messages and help with the ritual work. The Senior and Junior Stewards help guide the new candidates in the initiation and also traditionally set out refreshments. Finally, the Tiler sits at the door to make sure that the Lodge is not interrupted and to help visitors get into the Lodge Room.

If that is the Lodge, what is the "Grand Lodge?"

  • The Grand Lodge is the State Organization of Masons. The local Lodges are members of the Grand Lodge. The Grand Master is the same as the State President.

Just what do Masons do?

  • Charity is the most visible Masonic activity. Each year Masons give many millions of dollars to charity. Some are large projects, some are small. Among the hundreds of local projects, we sponsor large programs such as Children in Crisis, and Blindness Prevention programs, testing thousands of school children and senior citizens for vision problems. We have strong commitments to public education. Many Lodges have programs in which they recognize outstanding students. We have essay contests, awards for outstanding teachers and even programs to help teachers get supplies. The Fraternity gives hundreds of college scholarships to students each year. Nationally, throughout the United States, the Masons give an average of $1,500.000.00 (that is one and a half million) EVERY DAY to charitable causes, most of which are not Masonic. A fact never publicized and thus hardly known.
    All those things are external, and they are important. But the real things the Masons do are far more difficult to describe. In essence, we try to build ourselves into better men, better fathers, better husbands and better citizens. We strive for self development and self improvement. We try to learn more about what it means to be human and what it takes to become better men.

How does a man become a Mason?

  • As we said earlier, no one will ever twist your arm. If you decide you want more information, we'll be happy to provide it. If you want to join our Fraternity it works this way: "Ask any Mason for a petition (to join). Fill it out and return it to him. He'll take it to his Lodge and turn it in. A committee (of about three) will be appointed to talk with you and with people you may list. Its purpose is to ascertain that you are a man of good character and that you believe in God. Atheism and Freemasonry are not compatible. The committee will report its recommendation back to the Lodge. The Lodge will vote. If your petition is accepted, the Secretary will contact you about a date for the first of three degrees. There is some study and a bit of memory work required with which your Lodge Brothers will always help you. After the Third Degree you will be a full-fledged Master Mason and will have joined the oldest global brotherhood in the world!

Frequently Asked Questions

We receive lots of questions on the web site about Freemasonry.  So in an effort to share the knowledge, we're posting the questions here.  Some have been summarized and edited for smoother reading.  If you have a question, just send us an email.  Use the handy Google Tool to search this site or the web. 

 

Q.  Who can become a Freemason?

There are several ancient requirements for joining Freemasonry.  They require the candidate to:

    *  believe in God (or a supreme being);

    *  be a man;

    *  be over the age of 21;

    *  be freeborn.

These requirements generally provide moral, free-thinking, mature men capable of making their own decisions and keeping their word.  Modern day requirements also include financial stability and the ability to donate time to attend lodge.   

 

Q.  Do you have to be a stone mason to be a Freemason?

No.  Though the beginnings of Freemasonry are lost in the mists of time, there is enough documentary evidence to suggest that the earliest Freemason lodges in Scotland were primarily operative or actual stone masons.  Over time, the rudimentary rituals of the early Craft must have sparked some interest in the gentry, because over the following decades they began to join.  As they were not "real" stone masons, they were classified as non-operative, or speculative Freemasons.  Over time, the Speculative Masons began to outnumber the Operative Masons.  Until finally we reach modern Freemasonry where the members are likely to be bankers, lawyers, construction workers, office workers or clergy.

 

Q.  Do Freemasons hate Catholics/Protestants/Buddhists/Muslims/etc.?

No.  I actually get this question quite frequently by confused people.  The internet is full of misleading web sites that use fraudulent material or take things out of context to accuse the Craft of bigotry of one sort or another.  The truth is that Freemasonry was the first organization to allow men of different religions to join together in a social context.  There is nothing in Masonic ritual which could be deemed offensive to believers of any faith.  However there are some who object to the concept of socializing with non-believers (or "different" believers as may be the case).    In their view, any organization that allows non-believers is deemed unacceptable.  If Freemasonry has a mission in the 21st century, then surely it is to fight against this bigotry and intolerance by extending the hand of brotherhood to men of all races and creeds. 

We in Okinawa are particularly fortunate.  Each of our lodges has men of several different religions each working in harmony

 

Q.  Can a Catholic/Protestant/Buddhist/Muslim become a Freemason?

Yes.  There is no restriction within Freemasonry on which religions are acceptable or not acceptable.  There is nothing in the vows of a Freemason that would contradict the tenets of your religion.  Unless of course, you believe that its sinful to socialize with men of different beliefs.  If that's the case, you'd better get yourself to the monastery quickly!  The world is much smaller and more diverse than it used to be.  Only by learning more about each other can we hope to get along.

Certain religions or certain leaders within these religions may have strong views on Freemasonry.  If you have a concern, please talk to your faith leader or consult the book of your faith.

 

Q.  Isn't Freemasonry just for old, white men?

No.  Although Freemasonry was almost certainly the playground for white men back in 18th century England, the Craft gradually expanded around the world and embraced men of many different races, classes and backgrounds.  Kipling's The Mother-Lodge is a great example of this.  This poem tells the story of Kipling's lodge in India and runs down the list of men who shared the powerful lessons of Freemasonry.

We often see newspaper articles about the "graying" of Freemasonry.  But in reality, many of our new members are younger men looking for something they can't find in other social organizations...meaning. 

We in Okinawa (and the rest of Southeast Asia) are particularly blessed to have men from so many different backgrounds and ages join together to meet on the level.

 

Q.  In which God do Freemasons believe?

Each Freemason must believe in a Supreme Being, but the choice of his religion and even the definition of Supreme Being is up to the individual brother.  Masonic ritual encourages the brother to study and practice his chosen religion.

 

Q.  But aren't there some lodges that allow atheists?

No, an atheist can never be made a Mason.

 

Q.  Can women become a Mason?

Women may not join "mainstream" lodges.  Although there is no stated reason for this, I believe it is to eliminate sexual tension and rivalries in order to maintain harmony within the lodge.   Women may join feminine or co-masonic lodges.  Feminine lodges allow only women to join, while co-masonic lodges allow both men and women to join.  There are no known feminine or co-masonic lodges in Okinawa.

In other countries, there are groups that allow women to join as associate members.  The most popular of these is the Eastern Star.  Though popular in the US, Canada, Australia and elsewhere.

 

Q.  What does "irregular" and "mainstream" mean?

Regularity in Freemasonry traditionally relies on several "ancient" landmarks.  These ancient landmarks have appeared in books from the early 18th century and have been adopted by several Grand Lodges.  However as they were adopted it appears that the number of "ancient" landmarks grew around ten to over fifty in some Grand Lodges.  However in general, they include the following:

*   Belief in a Supreme Being

*   An open Volume of Sacred Law as an indispensible part of the furnishings of the lodge

*   The legend of the Third Degree

*   A Mason be a man, freeborn and of age

More information on the landmarks may be found here

However, being "regular" does not mean that a Grand Lodge is part of the "mainstream" of Freemasonry.  The mainstream refers to the large portion of Grand Lodges around the world that recognize each other and allow inter-visitation and even plural memberships.  Being part of the mainstream requires "recognition" by the other Grand Lodges around the world.  This is a purely political exercise carried out by the officers of these Grand Lodges.  It is not easy to gain recognition and losing it is a huge loss. 

 

Q.  Why do Masons have secrets?  What are you hiding?

The standard response to this is that the only secret is that there are no secrets.  In reality, Masonic rituals can be bought online and there are so many books out there "exposing" Masonry that even the mildly curious should be satisfied.  The main secret in Masonry are the ways in which we identify ourselves as Masons to others.  This is important, because Masons vow to keep the confidences of our brethren.  We help each other with problems and become a sounding board for brethren in need.  Knowing that someone will  be discreet makes it easier to open up and share your problems.  Is it perfect?  No.  There are always some who take their promises lightly whether it comes to marriage, markets or Masonry.  But it is a place to start.

 

Q.  What do you mean by all these Grand Lodges?

A Grand Lodge is the highest legal authority in Freemasonry.  All regular Freemasons belong to lodges that are on the roll of a particular Grand Lodge.  These Grand Lodges are aligned with a particular nation or in the case of the US, Canada and Australia with a particular state or province.   

 

Q.  Can I tour the Masonic Hall?

Yes.   The Hall contains records, photos and other memorabilia.   

 

Q.  As a Mason, how can I learn more?

Read.  The Links page includes a list of useful research forums.  The Cornerstone Society in particular has a number of papers discussing various aspects of the Craft.