What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is a philosophy and practice of morality and ethics imparted to its members through the symbolic use of the tools of ancient stonemasons and by initiation ceremonies based upon rituals that are centuries old. Freemasons uniquely use 18th-century language and rituals to teach 21st-century values.
The heritage of modern Freemasonry is derived from the organized guilds or unions of stonemasons who constructed the beautiful cathedrals and other stately structures throughout Europe during the middle ages. Over time, the demand for operative stonemasons declined until they were eventually replaced with members who emphasized the teaching of moral philosophy rather than the technical and working skills of earlier centuries.
Tools of the stonemasons are still used in Freemasonry today but only to symbolize moral virtue, not to build cathedrals.
What does it mean to be a Mason?
It means being part of an unbroken tradition that stretches back over 500 years to a time when guilds of Freemasons traveled throughout Europe laying the stones of the great Gothic cathedrals.
It means sharing the values of our nation’s founding fathers – among them George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and Paul Revere – all Masons who lived their lives by the principles of loyalty, patriotism, liberty, courage, and faith, which are also deeply embedded in Freemasonry.
It means becoming a better person while helping to improve the quality of life for others. It means forming deep and lasting friendships through Masonic Brotherhood that transcend the boundaries of race, religion, and culture, as well as those of geography.
But most of all, being a Mason means the kind of deep satisfaction that comes only from selfless giving; from doing for others without asking or expecting anything in return.
What are the Origins of Freemasonry?
In the Middle Ages, the term “Freemason” was awarded to highly skilled stonemasons who were hired as free agents to build castles and cathedrals in England and Scotland. Because of the inherent danger of their work, stonemasons formed local organizations, called lodges, to take care of sick and injured members as well as the widows and orphans of those who were killed on the job.
Eventually, men who were not skilled stonemasons wanted to join the group for the many advantages it offered. These men were known as “accepted masons.” This is how the group began to shift from a craft guild to a fraternity.
The first Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons was established in 1717 in London. In 1718, English Freemasonry spread to France and Spain, and after 1729, to India, Italy, Poland, and Sweden. Freemasonry spread to other parts of Europe and eventually made its way to the American colonies.
In 1733, the first American lodge was established in Boston, under the authority of the Grand Lodge of England. The United States now has grand lodges in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Is Freemasonry a Religion?
Freemasonry is not a religion. In fact, discussing religion is forbidden in Masonic meetings. Every man desiring to become a Mason must believe in a Supreme Being; how each man views that deity is their own personal belief. Masonic meetings open and close with a prayer but not as a place of worship or a church.
Who becomes a Mason?
Men who become Masons come from all walks of life and levels of income. They represent every race, creed, and culture.
In Masonry, it doesn’t matter whether a man is a bricklayer or a physician, a waiter or the mayor of the city. All are “on the same level” in the Lodge room.
The ceremonies and practices of the Masons have remained unchanged for hundreds of years. No matter where a Masonic Lodge is located, its members share the common bond of having passed through the same degree work, rites, and rituals.
Because of this, members can find brother Masons wherever they go. Across the country and around the world, there are Lodges in nearly every city and in many smaller communities.
It’s a good feeling to know that, wherever a man’s travels may take him, he has friends he can depend upon and trust.
What are Masonic Tenets?
Freemasonry is built upon three basic tenets – Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. Brotherly Love is the practice of the Golden Rule. Relief embodies charity for all mankind. Truth is honesty, fair play, and adherence to the cardinal virtues of Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice.
These moral lessons are taught during three ceremonies or “degrees” through allegory and symbolism using the traditional stonemasons’ tools.
Are there Masonic Secrets?
Freemasonry is an organization with secrets, not a secret organization. The “secrets” which Masons may not divulge involve the modes of recognition which Masons may use to identify themselves, as well as parts of the degree rituals. However, Lodge buildings are clearly marked and listed in the phone book. Members frequently wear rings and pins identifying them as Masons. Masonry values confidentiality and so, as with many other organizations, many of its meetings are not open to the public.
What do Freemasons Give?
Selfless giving is a trademark of Freemasonry. Locally, Masonic Lodges may offer scholarships to students pursuing higher education; they may conduct Child Identification programs in coordination with local police departments; they may donate bicycles to schools in their community to promote public education, in addition to volunteering their time in a host of other ways for the betterment of their towns and cities.
Nationally, Masons contribute nearly $2 million every day to relieve suffering and for the enrichment of mankind. Masons are the founding sponsors and supporters of the Shriners Burn Institutes and the Shriners Hospitals for Children, both of which offer their services free of charge; the Scottish Rite Childhood Language Program helps children with speech and language disorders throughout the United States, while numerous other Masonic affiliated organizations support worthy and needed causes.
Want to learn more?
If you would like to learn more about Oregon Freemasonry, contact any Mason or Masonic Lodge in your area; for a list of lodges in Oregon please click this link: Find a Lodge. To learn more about membership and how to join a lodge you may complete the information form found here: Request More Information and a local Mason from your area will be happy to contact you.
For general inquiries, please telephone the Masonic Grand Lodge of Oregon at 1-800-970-9920. Thank you for your interest. We look forward to hearing from you!