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Is Freemasonry a secret society?

Freemasonry is not a secret society; it is a society that has certain secrets and these are concerned with the traditional means of recognition.  All members are free to acknowledge their membership and may respond when valid enquiries are made of them.  Le Droit Humain’s International Constitution and the General Regulations of the South African Federation are available for inspection and there is no secrecy about the aims and principles of Freemasonry.  Acknowledging that one is a Freemason is a personal choice.  No Mason may reveal the identity of other Masons, without their consent.

 
Is Freemasonry a religion?

Freemasonry is not a religion, as it has no faith or belief system of its own. The International Order of Freemasonry for Men & Women, Le Droit Humain, has no dogma and allows complete individual freedom of thought in interpretation of its symbolism.

 
What is Freemasonry?

There is no simple one-line definition that satisfactorily describes what is Freemasonry. Among many things, it is a Science, a Philosophy, and a system of morality and ethics that employs ritual drama to convene self-evident truths.
It conveys its message through a series of progressive degrees initiating the candidate into a deeper level of understanding and membership.  Ultimately, the raised Master Mason is given the allegorical tools to further work on and develop their Masonic intuition.

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What is the purpose of Freemasonry?

Freemasonry provides a means by which its members, through the study of Masonic symbolism, allegories and traditions, may seek truth, promote brotherhood and work in the service of humanity. Members are taught its precepts by a series of ritual dramas. They follow ancient Masonic forms and use stonemason’s tools and customs as symbolic guides.
In the pursuit of these aims, members have complete freedom of interpretation; to secure this principle, the practice of tolerance and understanding is enjoined. Without detriment to any who are dependent upon them, it means, in essence, using one’s skills and abilities in the service of all.
The guiding purpose of Freemasonry is the search for truth, and seeks to destroy ignorance under whatever form - to combat superstition, fanaticism, and egotism wherever encountered.
another.

 

What is a Freemason?

Freemasons are ordinary people who seek knowledge of themselves and the world around them through the study of and participation in symbolic ritual.  Being a Mason is not to benefit a career or progress in a commercial sense nor to simply partake in a healthy social life.  Masons work through self-understanding and improvement, gained through Masonic ceremony and study, to achieve harmony with the wider world and thereby to benefit mankind.
A Freemason is one who owes obedience to the Masonic Order and to the laws of his or her country.  He must live honorably, practice justice, love his neighbor, work unceasingly for the true happiness of Humanity, and help human beings to emancipate themselves from the thralldom of passion and ignorance.

Watch a related Video: here

 

What is the Order of Freemasonry?

The Order of Freemasonry is an association of people who try to practice the Masonic ideals and who meet together regularly for dramatic ceremonies that express the ideals of the Order, for shared study, and for social contact.


What are the Masonic ideals that Freemasons try to practice?

They are expressed in several ways, one of which is “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.”  Liberty is the freedom of individuals to follow their own conscience and to develop their intellectual capacities.  Equality is the recognition that all human beings are basically alike in their physical, mental, and spiritual natures and are deserving of respect.  Fraternity is the mutual commitment we all have to support and assist one

 

Why does Freemasonry say it is a ritual practice?

The use of the word ritual is described as the regular practice of the same series of ceremonies at each meeting.  Often there is a connotation of something sinister or counter to popular practice by the use of the term ritual.  To the contrary, it is instead meant to imply that the degree rituals are an established or prescribed practice to convey the knowledge and symbolism of the Fraternity in a repetition to impart their teachings.
What this means is that the same ritual ceremony is practiced with each candidate to induct him into the fraternity so that each person undergoes the same experience creating a unified shared experience.  That practice imparts the three principle tenets of the fraternity which are Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.

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Why is “Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth” so important to Freemasonry?

These three virtues are the foundations upon which Freemasonry is built.  Brotherly Love as directed towards all mankind and especially to other Masons.  Relief, in that every Mason is obligated to relieve the suffering of any Mason they encounter who is in dire need, and if in their power to do so, to the best of their ability, also to act charitably towards society, giving of themselves to better the common good.  And Truth, which is represented by the Divine in its multiplicity and diversity, as understood by all men.  These three ideas represent the core upon which Freemasonry focuses in its ultimate distillation, in that Freemasonry does not hold one faith above another, rather seeing faith itself as the common denominator between all of faiths.

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Does Freemasonry have the truth?

No, instead it seeks to discover it.  No institution or organization has ownership of the Truth.

How many forms of Freemasonry are there?

A good many. Throughout the world, there are many different Masonic organizations or “Obediences.” Even in the United States within masculine Freemasonry, each of the states has its own Grand Lodge, which governs the local Lodges in that state.  These Grand Lodges recognize one another and agree not to intrude on each other’s territory, but are autonomous.  Then there is a form of Freemasonry called “Prince Hall Masonry,” which is especially for African-Americans, who were at one time excluded from many masculine Lodges.  There are also groups that admit only women. There are some that admit both men and women and people of all races, most notably The International Order for Men and Woman, Le Droit Humain.

 

What does “Le Droit Humain” mean?

The French expression “Le Droit Humain” is difficult to translate into English.  It refers to Natural Law and justice in human life, as distinct from laws that human beings create.  It denotes the rights and responsibilities that every person is born with, those “Inalienable Rights” cited in the U.S. Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain Inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

What is Co-Masonry, Mixed-Masonry, and Freemasonry for Men and Women?

All three terms are synonymous of Masonic Orders that practice Freemasonry and include men and women of every race, nationality, and religion who wish to do away with all cause for division and strife.

What is the difference between mixed and other varieties of Freemasonry?
The basic difference is that Co-Freemasonry is available to men and women alike.  Most Masonic groups admit only men; some admit only women; some admit both.  In addition, the Co-Masonic Order called “Le Droit Humain” is international, with its governing body in Paris and groups in some sixty countries of the world.  Le Droit Humain also combines in one organization several varieties of Masonry: Craft Masonry (the basic sort), Scottish Rite Masonry, and York Rite Masonry.  In 2012, the Supreme Council Le Droit Humain voted to update the English translation of the French language of “Mixte Freemasonry”. The early 1900 translation was “Co-Freemasonry”, which has been changed to “Freemasonry for Men and Women”.

Can a person be a member of both the masculine Freemasons and Freemasonry for Men and Women?

The mixed Order  respects the masculine Orders and will admit as a visitor any of their members who can prove (by a dues receipt or the like) that they are in good standing in a regular masculine Lodge. It will also admit as an affiliated member a masculine Freemason who applies and meets its requirements. Masculine Grand Lodges, however, in general do not permit their members to join or participate in a Masonic body that admits women.

When and how did Freemasonry for Men and Women begin?

In 1882 a woman named Marie Deraismes was initiated into a French masculine Lodge called appropriately “Les Libres Penseurs” (The Free Thinkers). In 1893, Dr. Georges Martin, a French Senator and advocate of equal rights for women, joined Marie Deraismes and other male Masons in founding in Paris La Respectable Loge, Le Droit Humain, Maconnerie Mixte (Worshipful Lodge, Le Droit Humain, Co-Masonry). They initiated, passed, and raised sixteen prominent French women. The International Order of Co-Freemasonry traces its origin from this foundation.

 

Is Freemasonry a sect?

Freemasonry is not a sect at all.  A sect is a religious group, especially one that has split off from some other group.  Freemasonry is not a religious group of any kind.

Does Freemasonry have dogma?

No, Freemasonry is an organization that practices absolute liberty of mind while inculcating the maximum amount of discipline. Masonry seeks diversity in its members to ensure freedom and tolerance in its ranks.

Do Freemasons believe in a god or gods?

In addition to respecting independence from all religious institutions and organizations and all beliefs concerning survival or non-survival after death, its members seek, above all, to realize on earth the greatest possible degree of moral, intellectual, and spiritual development for all people.  It believes this to be the prerequisite of happiness attainable by each individual in a fraternally organized humanity.

 
Is belief in God a requirement to be a Freemason?

No.  The Order professes no dogma and rejects dogmatism.  Our members are men and women fraternally united without distinction

on grounds of race, ethnic origin, philosophical opinion or religion. Freemasons owe obedience to the International Order of Freemasonry for Men and Women, Le Droit Humain, and to the laws of their country; they must live honorably, practice justice, and love their neighbors.  In addition, they respect members’ independence from religious institutions and organizations, and are respectful of the right to absolute freedom of conscience of all.

Is Freemasonry occult or esoteric?

Freemasonry is certainly not “occult” in the recent popular meaning of that term referring to fortune telling, diabolism, the supernatural, and the like.  The original meaning of the word was “hidden” or “secret,” just as the literal meaning of “esoteric” is “inner” or “for the initiated.”  As already said, Freemasonry has its secrets, which are for those initiated into it.


What is Esoteric Masonry?

Esoteric Masonry is the personal exploration into some of the less mainstream areas of the fraternal society.  Some of these aspects include personal development, spiritualism, mysticism, and so on.  It can include aspects of its history not commonly looked at by mainstream historians or participants.  Also, it investigates lines of religious thought that exist on the fringes of mainstream doctrine.  Investigation does not mean they work to prove (or disprove) one aspect or another; to the contrary, the esoteric side of masonry seeks to find additional sources of wisdom and understanding.
Esoteric knowledge and understanding may have a personal resonance with the symbols of Freemasonry and help develop your own faith.  It can be rewarding and fulfilling.
This is not strictly what masonry is, but is one aspect of the Masonic experience.


Are there any deeper roots of Freemasonry?

The early “speculative” Freemasons seem to have been interested in a variety of yet earlier forms of thought, especially the symbolic interpretation of pictures and of geometry and what is sometimes called the “perennial philosophy.”  Such interests connect Freemasonry thematically with a number of movements from antiquity through the Middle Ages and later: the Greek and Near Eastern Mysteries, the Pythagorean School, Neo-Platonism, Gnosticism, Hermeticism, the Knights Templar, the Kabbalah, and the Rosicrucians, to name only some.


Does Freemasonry engage in political activity?

No, although individual Freemasons have the right to belong to whatever political party they like, or to none, just as to whatever religion they like, or to none, the Freemasonic Order has no political aims or interests.  Freemasons are expected to obey the laws of the country in which they live, to give allegiance to its government, and to work in a lawful manner for any social changes they espouse.  There is a longstanding tradition that, when Freemasons meet, they do not discuss religion or politics, in order that the diversity of opinion among them on those subjects may not become a source of dissension.

Is Freemasonry a patriotic body?

Yes and no.  The aims of Freemasonry are not specifically to embolden specific patriotism.  It does, however, promote a strong affinity towards, and a passionate adherence to the nation in which the Freemason resides.  It encourages more than a passive interest in the development of civil society and our roles as citizens in it.  The patriotism that is displayed is the result of that interest in the well-being of society itself.  The fraternity does strongly encourage the adherence to and following the principles and laws of the country in which the member resides.

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How do Freemasons view the laws of society?

Freemasonry expects from its members obedience to civil laws as defined by the country in which they reside.  Masonic principles do not conflict with a citizen’s duties; they reinforce them.  These principles are the strength which underlies the personal fulfillment of a member’s public and private responsibilities.  A member’s duty as a citizen is paramount and takes precedence over any other obligation. Freemasons must never exploit their membership for personal gain or on behalf of any outside interest, as this is contrary to the teachings of Freemasonry.


What should I expect from Freemasonry?

Freemasonry offers us an opportunity to progress, to develop, and challenge ourselves to exceed the rate that evolution normally decrees for mankind.  By its very name, freedom of thought, conscience, and action within the law of the land are the watchwords that enable us to take that personal work forward in ways that will benefit wider humanity.  Expect Freemasonry to be fulfilling and stimulating, to provide a constant source of strength and stimulation.  It should enable you to appreciate the beauty and wisdom of natural creation and offer a glimpse of your role within that world – whether seen or unseen.  Expect Freemasonry to be demanding but rewarding.  You will be tested at regular intervals and asked to provide evidence of your efforts as proof of progress.
Expect Freemasonry to bring out the very best in you, to push you to expect a lot more from yourself, sometimes at a rate of change that will stagger you, and to provide you with strength when times are difficult.

What does Freemasonry expect from me?

Freemasonry requires commitment of time and study.  We do not meet as a social club, but as brothers and sisters working together with one-pointedness.  Regular attendance creates a rhythm in your life pattern that stimulates inner development.  Your attendance contributes both to your spiritual growth and to the work we are doing.  Certain duties are required of you.  Everything that happens in our lodge is a reflection of a cosmic principle, and that perfection of each unit, each person, contributes to the growth of the whole.
Ritual is our main working tool.  From the Masonic viewpoint, a ritual is a rhythmic movement in time, supported by the significance of sounded words of power.  In our work, ritual is of special importance because we seek to withdraw the veil for a moment in order to work in cooperation with spiritual forces and/or cosmic energies through the emotional and physical worlds.  Unlike our daily ritual of living, Masonic ritual takes us out of the small self into the greater unity of the whole.

What does “making good men better” mean?

Making good men better is a distillation of the purpose of the Masonic experience.  The ritual and ceremony serve to convey these tenets and teach certain moral lessons to elevate the individual’s response to a position higher than themselves.  The lessons are things you have likely already heard or have learned in church or moral society.  What makes them unique to Freemasonry is that they are presented in a specific format and context.

 
How does it make you better?

The process to make individuals better is achieved by teaching and applying the Masonic lessons to one’s life and existence.  These lessons are not necessarily anything one has not ever learned before, as they are things you may have forgotten, or don’t do regularly for a variety of reasons.
The whole of Freemasonry is based on allegory and symbol, and it is in the study of this, that one starts to discover what its meanings and correlations are.  The parts of Freemasonry lead to a whole and it is what that sum equates to that makes it truly applicable.  In the end, it could make bad men better, but like participation, the philosophically you get what you put into it.  Ultimately, the philosophy is about making good men better, but it is still up to the individual to apply it.
Masonry in many ways is what the individual makes of it.  You can have a large role, or a small one, it is incumbent on you and your interest and time.  If the philosophy resonates well with an individual, then it will be a great experience in which you are inspired to learn from it.
In its simplest of personal reaction to it will cause the participant to reflect on something different than what they have experienced before.  What it makes better is their dedication to family, duty to country, and an understanding of the divine and how to understand our relation to it.


Is Masonry Practical?

The question of practicality is entirely a self-answered question.  Only if something is applied can it be practical so it is only a question that one involved can truly answer.  It is a self-achieving process whereby the individual receives from it that which it is out into it.
Lessons that Masonry Teaches are:
1) Fraternaity;
2) Responsibility;
3) Charity;
4) Temperance;
5) Virtue;
6) Fortitude;
7) Duty;
8) Morality;
9) Service;
10) Community

What goes on in a Masonic meeting?

A Masonic meeting may include three kinds of activity. First and most important, it is a set pattern of symbolic action, a sort of drama, dealing with various events related to King Solomon’s Temple, which have an allegorical or symbolic meaning. These dramatic actions are particularly typical of meetings at which new members enter the Order, or existing members advance to higher Degrees. Second, it usually includes some business of the kind that any organization has to be concerned with. Third, it may include some investigation or study of subjects related to the symbolism and practice of Freemasonry.

 
Is special clothing worn at a Masonic meeting?

In South Africa the custom is for everyone to dress in white top and black bottom.  In some other countries, women dress in white and men in black (a tuxedo or business suit).  Sometimes everyone dresses in black or all white. In some countries there is no special dress.  The clothing worn is a matter of local custom and is not part of Masonic essentials.  However, in regular Craft Lodge meetings, each member of the Lodge wears an “apron,” which is an ornamental version of a garment worn by operative stonemasons in former days.  It has symbolical meanings.

 
How is the International Order of Men and Woman, Le Droit Humain organized?

The Order is headquartered in Paris, where it was founded.  Its highest governing body is the Supreme Council, consisting of representatives from around the world; the chairperson of that Council is the chief administrative and ritual officer of the Order.  Any country with at least five Co-Masonic Lodges and a hundred members can become a Federation with its own administrative body, a Consistory responsible for ritual matters, and a Representative of the Supreme Council to oversee ritual matters in that country.  Countries with fewer Lodges and members can be Jurisdictions, and where there is only a single group it is a Pioneer Lodge.  Locally within a country, a Lodge consists of seven or more Master Masons. The Lodges are the basis of all Masonic work, and every Mason belongs to a local Lodge.  At least three Master Masons can also form a Triangle to do some Masonic work.

 
How is a Lodge organized?

A Lodge has various officers, some of whom (such as the Secretary and Treasurer) have primarily business functions.  Others (such as two Wardens and two Deacons) have primarily ritual functions. Yet others (such as the chairperson of the Lodge, called the Master) have both business and ritual functions. The principal officers are elected and others are appointed each year for a one-year term.

Is Freemasonry autocratic or democratic?

Freemasonry is a hierarchical organization due to the roles occupied by members depending upon their abilities, the work they have done in Freemasonry, and their knowledge of the ritual and its teachings. However, the hierarchical structure is democratically based because all its officers are elected and their tenure of office is limited.

Are there differences of rank in Masonry?

In a Craft Lodge there are three Degrees of membership: Entered Apprentice, which is the initial and introductory stage during which the new Freemason is learning about the Craft; Fellow Craft, which is a more advanced stage of learning, when the member can participate in certain ways, especially by joining in discussions; and Master Mason, which is the full-membership stage, whose members can vote and participate fully in all affairs of the Lodge.  The additional or higher degrees of the Scottish and York Rites are honored but convey no additional authority or privileges within a Craft Lodge.


What is a “rite” as in the “Scottish Rite” and “York Rite”?

The basis of all Freemasonry is the Craft system of three Degrees (Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason), and anyone who has taken these three is a full-fledged Mason. However, in addition to the three Craft Degrees, there are several other series of Degrees. The two most widely practiced of these systems of additional Degrees are those of the Scottish Rite and the York Rite. “Rite” in this sense is a particular set form of ceremonial words and actions. In the United States, in addition to the three Craft Degrees, the International Order of Co-Freemasonry works such Scottish Rite Degrees as Rose-Croix and Knights Kadosh and such York Rite Degrees as Mark, Royal Ark Mariner, and Holy Royal Arch. Elsewhere in the world, Le Droit Humain works other Degrees of those Rites.


Do I have to be invited to join?

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be “invited” to become a Freemason.  Like any society, we prefer to introduce candidates who are already known to existing members.  However, this does not prevent anyone from making an approach to us on their own behalf.  Indeed, this is generally regarded as a very healthy sign of personal initiative and commitment and indicates an existing sympathy with our aims and beliefs.


Why join a Masonic Lodge?

Through participation in a Masonic Temple, a Freemason is given an opportunity to learn the more important truths of morality, his relationship with God and fellow man - and at the same time learning the perspective of others in an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual support. Whether you are Christian, Muslim, or a Deist; black or white; male or female; rich or poor; all who gather within the doors of the Temple are met on the Level as equals.

 

How do I join a Masonic Lodge?

To become a Freemason, one merely needs to knock on the door of the Temple by asking for membership in The Order.  Why must you ask?  Because you have to join of your own free will and accord.  It has to be your own desire, decision, and action.  No one is ever invited to become a Freemason.


What about family commitments?

One of the advantages of being a member of the International Order of Freemasonry for Men and Women, Le Droit Humain is that if your spouse or partner is genuinely interested, they can become a Mason as well. This is not possible with other Masonic orders, which do not admit men and women as equals.  It is advisable to discuss your intended membership with your partner.  They are welcome to talk with us to see what is involved and have any uncertainties resolved.  Family responsibilities are acknowledged and should, therefore, take their natural place in the order of things. No lodge would wish its members to jeopardize their family relationship or job for the sake of Masonry.  Masonry is a way of life and is not just something that happens in lodge; so proper handling of family and other commitments is part of the skill set a good Mason is supposed to develop.

 

What happens at a Masonic initiation?

The initiation is a formal, ceremonial introduction of a new member into the Masonic Order, during which certain customs and “secrets” of Freemasonry are explained to the new member.  It is something like a drama in which the person being initiated is the central character.  To experience the full effect of an initiation, it is best not to try to find out about it in advance. The word “initiation” means literally “the process of going in.” It is best to enter Freemasonry without many preconceptions. Part of the effect of the initiation is the element of surprise in it.

 

Does a Freemason have to swear an oath of some kind?

During the initiation ceremony, the candidate solemnly promises to strive to lead a life according to Masonic ideals, to keep the secrets of Freemasonry, and to be faithful in all ways. This promise is made to the highest Reality in the universe or within oneself and is not in any way incompatible with one’s moral, social, or religious duties.

 

How often does the lodge meet?

Light of Africa Lodge meets the third Sunday of every month.  At 11:00 a.m. we set up the Lodge followed by study groups, committee meetings, informal meetings with applicants, and ceremonial practice when necessary.  The Lodge opens after all this preliminary work.  When the lodge closes, we take down the Lodge and then share a meal (everyone brings a dish to pass). Light of Africa Lodge meets every month, weather permitting.

 
How long does it take to become a Mason?

The application process is a deliberate one, taking at least two full months and usually somewhat longer, depending on the time of year and other factors.  After a person has been admitted as an Entered Apprentice, it usually takes two full years before they become a full-fledged Master Mason. Unlike some other Masonic Orders, which give all three Degrees in one weekend, Freemasonry believes that normally it is best to take the Degrees at a more leisurely pace, so that the new Freemason has a chance to absorb the lessons and learn the principles of each Degree. Exceptions are occasionally made for special reasons, but that is the rule.

 

What are the requirements of becoming a Mason?

There are some self-study requirements to learn certain aspects of the fraternity, and then a degree of expectation that you will further your knowledge about Freemasonry, which will eventually become second nature.  To join, it is expected that the individual be of good reputation, have a good moral disposition, and a personal desire to become a Freemason.

Does Freemasonry help build contacts?

Freemasonry is not for business networking or collecting contacts.

Who can become a member of the Order?

Any person, man or woman, can apply for admission who is of mature age (at least twenty-one years old, with a somewhat lower age for children of Freemasons), who is “free” (in this context meaning that they have no personal obligations or limitations to prevent them from functioning as a Freemason), and who is of “good report” (that is, who sympathizes with and is willing to try to live according to the ideals of Freemasonry).

See also: Difficult Questions about Freemasonry