What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry means different things to each of those who join. For some, it’s about making new friends and acquaintances. For others it’s about being able to help deserving causes – making a contribution to family and for society. But for most, it is an enjoyable hobby.
Freemasonry is one of the World’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisation. It teaches self-knowledge through participation in a progression of ceremonies. Members are expected to be of high moral standing and are encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry.
What happens at a lodge meeting?
The meeting, which like those of other groups, are open only to members, is normally in two parts.
First, there are normal administrative procedures such as:
- Minutes of the previous meeting
- Proposing and balloting for new members
- Discussing and voting on the annual accounts
- Masonic news and correspondence
- News about charitable work
Second, there are the ceremonies for:
- Admitting new members
- The annual installation of the Master of the Lodge and his officers
Why do Freemasons take oaths?
New members make solemn promises concerning their behaviour both in the Lodge and in society. Members also promise to keep confidential the way they recognise each other when visiting another Lodge. Freemasons also promise to support others in time of need but only so far as it does not conflict with their family and public obligations.
Are Freemasons expected to give preference to fellow members?
Certainly not. This would be unacceptable and may lead to action being taken against those involved. On joining, each new member states that he expects no material gain from membership.
How should I decide which lodge to join?
1) Choose the geographic area that suits you best. See our ‘Meeting Places’ page to find the closest lodge to where you live or work
2) Select the days, dates and times of meetings that best suit your circumstances. In response to the high intensity and long working hours of jobs today, many lodges have adjusted the starting time of their meetings to make life easier for members
3) Visit individual lodge web sites to learn more about them – some have their history explained on their site
4) Speak to the Berkshire Grand Lodge Secretary and find out if your age, interests or work match a particular lodge. There are lodges with affiliations to non-masonic groups or interests. For example, the ‘Be Prepared’ Lodge was founded by and for those who have been part of the Scouting movement; there are three lodges for former pupils of local schools; and there is a lodge for those interested in country sports. In many cases the name of the lodge is a clue to their background
5) If it’s important to you, find out whether the lodge runs social events to which you can bring your family and friends.
6) When you have made a choice or been directed to a lodge by the Berkshire Secretary, take every opportunity to meet socially with the members of the lodge to make sure that you and they are compatible.
7) If everything is right, the lodge secretary will help you with the application process
What is Freemasonry’s relationship to religion?
All Freemasons are expected to have a religious belief, but Freemasonry does not seek to replace a Mason’s religion or provide a substitute for it. It deals in a man’s relationship with his fellow man not in a man’s relationship with his God.
Why do some churches not like Freemasonry?
There are elements within churches who misunderstand Freemasonry and its objectives. They confuse secular rituals with religious liturgy. There are many Masons in churches where their leaders have been openly critical of the organisation. Masonry has always actively encouraged its members to be active in their own religion.
Does Freemasonry accept Roman Catholics?
Yes. Four Grand Masters of English Freemasonry have been Roman Catholics. Today there are many Roman Catholic Freemasons.
What is Freemasonry’s relationship to politics?
Freemasonry, as a body, will never express a view on politics or state policy. The discussion of politics at Masonic meetings has always been prohibited.
How many Freemasons are there?
Under the United Grand Lodge of England, there are over a quarter of a million Freemasons.
There are Grand Lodges in Ireland, which covers both Northern Ireland and Eire, and Scotland which have a combined total of approximately 150,000 members.
Worldwide, there are approximately six million Freemasons.
Is Freemasonry an international order?
Freemasonry exists throughout the world. However, each Grand Lodge is sovereign and independent. There is no international governing body for Freemasonry.
Are there women Freemasons?
Yes. Whilst the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), following the example of medieval stonemasons, is, and has always been, restricted to men, women Freemasons have two separate Grand Lodges, which are restricted to women.
Women who wish to become Freemasons can do so by joining a lodge affiliated to one of two separate and distinct Grand Lodges. The Order of Women Freemasons and The Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons both admit women only.
Why do you wear regalia?
Wearing regalia is historic and symbolic. Like a uniform, the regalia indicates the rank of the wearer in the organisation.
How much does it cost to be a Freemason?
It varies from Lodge to Lodge. Anyone wishing to join will find a Lodge to suit his pocket. There is an initiation fee on entry and in due course regalia will have to be bought. The meeting is normally followed by a dinner, the cost depending on the venue. There is, in addition, an annual subscription.
Members are invited to give to charity but this should always be within their means and it is entirely up to the individual how much they wish to contribute.
How many degrees are there in Freemasonry?
Basic Freemasonry consists of three degrees:
- Entered Apprentice
- Fellow Craft
- Master Mason
Who do the Masonic charities donate to?
Whilst there are Masonic charities that cater specifically, but not exclusively, for Masons or their dependants, others make significant grants to non-Masonic organisations.