What is Freemasonry?

What is Freemasonry?

Freemasonry is one of the largest fraternal and charitable organisations in the UK and is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Freemasonry provides a framework of self-development through which its members can develop and explore these values. As such, Freemasonry is founded on three key principles:

  • Brotherly love – to be in harmony with all mankind
  • Relief – to be of service to others, particularly those less fortunate
  • Truth – to maintain high standards of conduct

What is the purpose of the Masonic ritual?

The ritual forms part of the progressive series of ceremonies through which members explore the principles of Freemasonry and undertake their own personal journey of self-development. The ceremonies themselves are a series of dramatic plays that are performed within each Lodge. Members take different roles, which they learn by heart. Each ceremony uses allegory and symbolism, much of which follows ancient forms and uses stonemasons’ customs and tools. As part of their self-development, each member is encouraged to reflect on the ceremony and its symbolism and decide what meanings and lessons it has for them. This learning is seen as an on-going progress, with many Freemasons gaining new insight into the ceremonies and thus their self-development, even after many years of membership.

How many ceremonies are there?

There are three main ceremonies, which represent the three degrees in Freemasonry. These are the:

  • Entered Apprentice
  • Fellowcraft
  • Master Mason

The above titles are derived from those used historically by stonemasons. There is then a fourth ceremony conducted once each year to appoint the Master of the lodge.

Why do Freemasons take oaths?

New members make solemn promises to maintain the high standards of conduct and behaviour upon which Freemasonry is founded, both in the Lodge and outside it in every-day life. Members also promise to keep confidential the way they traditionally recognise each other when visiting another Lodge – in essence, this is a simple test of a man’s honour, as these means of recognition have no intrinsic value.

What is Freemasonry's relationship with religion?

Freemasonry requires that members have belief in some form of supreme or divine being, but it does not seek to define what form that belief should take. Freemasonry has members from most, if not all, the world’s major religions and membership is open to individuals regardless of their personal religious faith.

What is Freemasonry’s relationship with politics?

Freemasonry is a non-political organisation. Indeed, the discussion of politics at Lodge meetings is prohibited.

What is Freemasonry’s relationship with charity?

Referring back to the three key principles outlined previously, charitable giving is seen as being part of “relief”. In this regard, Freemasonry donates money to both charities that support Freemasons and their dependants and to a wide range of non-masonic national charities. In addition, each Lodge will typically support local charities in their area. All donations are discretionary and Freemasons are expected to give only what they can afford.

Why do Freemasons wear regalia?

Wearing regalia is both historic and symbolic, and serves to distinguish progress through the three degree ceremonies and other offices of the lodge.

Is Freemasonry an international order?

It is, in that it exists throughout the world. However, each Grand Lodge is sovereign and independent and there is no international governing body for Freemasonry.

Can women be Freemasons?

Under the constitution of the United Grand Lodge of England, Freemasonry has traditionally been restricted to men. This is because the early stonemasons were all male. However, there are two separate Grand Lodges in England restricted to women only; these are:

  • The Order of Women Freemasons
  • The Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons

How many Freemasons are there today?

Under the United Grand Lodge of England, there are 200,000+ Freemasons today, who meet in over 7,000 lodges throughout the country. There are thought to be about 6 million Freemasons worldwide.

What happens at a Masonic meeting?

Meetings can be divided into two main parts, being general administration and the main business. The administration will include, for example, approving the minutes of the previous meeting, statements on the Lodge’s finances and welfare of its members and making decisions on charitable donations. The main business will be either the performance of one of the Masonic ceremonies or the presentation of a paper of general interest to the members. After the formal meeting, members have a meal together, traditionally known as the “festive board”, at which they can socialise and during which a collection for charity is made.

How much does it cost to become a Freemason?

This varies from Lodge to Lodge. Members pay joining and subscription fees and the cost of their regalia. In addition, there is the cost of the after meeting meal, during which members are invited to support Freemasonry’s charitable aims, with all donations being entirely at the discretion of the individual.

What sort of person becomes a Freemason?

Freemasonry draws its membership from people of all backgrounds and walks of life. Whilst there is no such thing as a typical Freemason, Freemasons tend to share similar values, such as a respect for others, tolerance, a desire to be of service to society and an interest in self-development.

Can I become a Freemason?

Membership is open to men of good character over the age of 21 years. If you have an interest in Freemasonry and would like to learn more, please contact the Lodge Secretary via our "Contact Us" page. You can also find more information on the United Grand Lodge of England's website.