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Freemasonry

"Freemasonry is the subjugation of the Human that is in Man, by the Divine; the conquest of the Appetites and Passions by the Moral Sense and the Reason; a continual effort, struggle and warfare of the Spiritual against the Material and Sensual. That victory--when it has been achieved and secured, and the conqueror may rest upon his shield and wear the well-earned laurels--is the true Holy Empire."

-Source: Albert Pike. Morals and Dogma.


Freemasonry

Masonry is that system of the Brotherhood of Men and ethical laws, teaching by daily actions and Lodge traditions the sovereignty of God; instilling the desire to be clean with all God's creatures, commending its members to extend justice to all mankind, and compelling respect for the rights of a Brother.

-Source: Ray W. Abbott
The Builder - October 1915


True Masonry

"True Masonry is true Charity, not only in giving alms but in giving love in every day life. When Masons live up to their ideals we shall better know who are most benefited by Masonry."

-Source: The Builder - December 1915


Freemasonry: Its Purpose

The end, the moral, and purpose of Masonry is, to subdue our passions, not to do our own will; to make a daily progress is a laudable art, and to promote morality, charity, good fellowship, good nature, and humanity.

- Source: James Anderson, Golden Remains.


Articles On Freemasonry On This Page


Freemasonry: What Is It?

Article By W. Bro. Stephen Dafoe

Freemasonry is the world's oldest and largest fraternal organization. It is believed to have originated with the craft guilds of medieval Europe and latterly, to have expanded to admit those who did not actually belong to the trade. The literal stone masons are referred to as operatives while those who did not actually work in stone were called speculative masons.

While Freemasonry is the largest and best know fraternal organization the world has ever seen, it is without a doubt the least understood. It is hoped that this article and web site will help to make people have a better understanding of the organization.

Masonic ritual says the following of Freemasonry; "Freemasonry is a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." While this statement is certainly true it is not the entire answer to the question, What is Freemasonry? This being said let us examine the portions of the statement.

Freemasonry is a beautiful system of morality.

Freemasonry while based on religious principles is not a religion and all members are nonetheless admonished never to make it such. It is open to all men who profess a belief in a Supreme Being and who believe that that Supreme Being rewards virtue and punishes vice. In this sense men of good morals can join together in non-sectarian and non-denominational fellowship adhering to the moral tendencies common to all faiths.

Veiled in allegory:

The dictionary defines allegory as:

"A story or narrative, as a fable, in which a moral truth or principle is presented by means of fictional characters, events, etc."

Funk and Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary

This is certainly true where Freemasonry is concerned for within the first three degrees (Craft Masonry) the candidate is told the story of the building of Solomon's Temple and more especially the Masonic legend of Hiram Abiff one of the three principal architects at its building. As each degree progresses moral lessons of instruction are unveiled as they relate to the legend.

Illustrated by Symbols:

To the Freemason all tools employed by the operative stone mason carry a moral tendency. Symbolism has been, throughout all of recorded time, an important method of communicating ideas of all sorts. The square and compasses, the best known of these symbols are perhaps the most important of the symbols communicated to the Freemason.

The Masonic order, in addition to the aforementioned definition contained in the ritual, is said to be a Brotherhood of men under the Fatherhood of God. Once again, while Freemasonry is not a religion, it is founded on religious principles and no man can be made a Freemason if he is an atheist. Whether Christian, Moslem or Jew the Freemason believes in the God who created the universe and all prayers are offered to Him.

Freemasonry has three particular principles of importance, which the Entered Apprentice (first-degree mason) is taught. These Masonic principles are Brotherly love, Relief and Truth.

Brotherly Love:

Every true Freemason shows tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and behaves with kindness, patience and understanding towards his fellow creatures. In fact Freemasons are not permitted to discuss in open lodge topics that may cause differences of opinion, such as religion and politics.

Relief:

The Freemasons is taught to practice charity and to care for their own families and Brethren but also for the community as a whole. This charity can take the form of both charitable giving and by voluntary efforts and works as individuals within the community.

Truth:

The Freemasons strives for truth continually. This requires high moral standards and a desire to achieve them in their own lives inside and outside the confines of the lodge room.

With further respect to charity Freemasonry has always been concerned with the care of orphans, the sick and the aged. Additionally it has given millions of dollars in financial aid to various charities. The principle difference between Masonic charity and others is that you will seldom see Freemasons in the newspaper holding a large check. It is rather Freemasonry's belief that charity should be given silently.

In society out side the lodge Freemasons are commanded to respect the laws of their land and to be patriotic to the country in which they live. Freemasonry contains nothing that would put him in conflict with his private, public and religious obligations but rather these Masonic principles, learned in lodge, should support him in the undertaking of his duties outside the lodge.

Perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of the Freemason's lodge has to do with secrecy. It is commonly said, in answer to this accusation, that Freemasonry is not a secret society but rather a society with secrets. While this is true, some Masons remain unaware of what is to be kept secret and as a result never discuss their association with Freemasonry for fear of revealing these secrets. What is never to be revealed to the general public are the signs and modes of recognition that would permit one to enter a Freemason's Lodge. Freemasons are free to acknowledge their membership in the society and its constitutions and rules are available to the public. There is nothing secret about any of its aims and principles and the existence of this web site is a testament to that fact. Like many other societies Freemasonry regards some of its internal affairs as private matters for its members not even to be discussed with other lodges or their members. To this end the inner transactions and business of a Masonic lodge are no different of the closed-door meetings of any corporation or organization.

Another often-misunderstood aspect of Freemasonry is that Masons are expected to be loyal to the lodge above all else. This train of thought is no doubt due to the misquoting of the obligations taken by a Mason during each of the degrees. In reality a Mason is encouraged to do his duty first to God (by whatever name He is known) through his faith and religious practice and then, without detriment to his family and those dependent on him, to his neighbor through charity and service. While none of these ideas is exclusively the providence of Freemasonry it should be universally acceptable to all moral citizens. Freemasons are expected to follow them if they are to be members of the craft.

- Source: Stepen Dafoe - Site Owner


FREEMASONRY, DEFINITION OF

A Masonic Lodge represents a body of workmen in which each member has a station or place corresponding to his task or function. Its chief officer is a Master Workman charged with responsibility to see that the members work peaceably and harmoniously as a unit at the task for which he lays the design upon his Tracing Board; his principal assisting officer is responsible for seeing that each man begins and ends on time and is at work in the place where he belongs.

The body of potential workmen from whom new members may be drawn is called the quarries; a man who comes from them is called a Petitioner, and he must be qualified to take his place among the body of workmen or he is not admitted. Immediately he is accepted he becomes an Apprentice, which means he is to be trained, is to become a learner of a craft, or form of work; and he is said to be seeking light, which means intelligence and knowledge for the work he is to do.

At the beginning he is given a learner's tools; later he will receive tools for more advanced skill; and at the end will receive the use of all of them; they are working tools. He is clothed in a workman's apron; it is his livery, or badge, and he is warned against ever feeling shame while wearing it. These craftsmen are to act as one man, as men do when working together in the same place. They have traditions which concern men who worked on buildings, represented by a Temple, and of a Master of Workmen, who superintended the building of that Temple; but it is made clear that the work of builders is only a specimen of each and every form of work-it is symbolic. Their rules and regulations concern their hours, wages, their duty to their officers or overseers, and their discipline.

The Freemasons of the Middle Ages who formed the first of these Lodges lived in a society in which not only institutions and rulers but the great majority of men and women were opposed to the teachings of Masonic Lodges, and were ready to destroy them by force and violence. The fundamental doctrine of the Church was that work as a curse which had been pronounced on Adam's descendants as a supernatural and never-ceasing penalty for his disobedience. The great reward of a good life was to be released by death from toil, and entrance into "an everlasting rest" where men have ceased from their labors and go about in a never-ending worklessness. The two Patron Saints of a man in work are his wife and family, but the head of the Church had no wife, children or home.

The only truly holy man was a celibate priest who did no cork, or monks and nuns who kept long vigils of idleness, or friars who went about the roads begging for food and lodging. The King and his nobles and the aristocracy by which they were surrounded looked down upon work as something beneath them; and next below them came the rich merchants. From that level downward men and women belonged to the lower classes because they were working men and women in a descending series, skilled workmen, mechanics laborers, peasants, villains, serfs, cotters, slaves. These men and women of the lower classes were paid a few cents per day; had no voice or vote in Church or State; could hold no high office in army or government received no education could not even read and write, could not marry above their class; could own almost no property; were compelled by law to dress according to their station; could be impressed with force by the sheriffs to labor on public works or to fight in the army or navy. When the new colonies were opened up they were herded into small ships like cattle and sent without tools, implements, weapons, doctors, or teachers to live in the wilderness among savages.

To prevent their rebellion some 200 small felonies were made punishable by death-one man was hanged, burned, and quartered because he had dared to translate the Bible into the language used by the common people These disgraces, indignities, injustices, and atrocities were heaped upon them with a terrible inhumanity s century after century not because they were criminals, traitors, or recusants but because they were neither lords nor landlords but w ere working men. There were better times and worse; there were occasions when a man was honored for work that he had done; once in a thousand times a man might marry above or below his class; but these were nothing but sporadic exceptions, and did not avail to overthrow the barbaric feudalism, the cardinal principle of which was that a lord on and not only the land but the men who worked on it, and since he owned the men he owned the products of their work. The Medieval Freemasons found out the truth about work; they found it out for themselves, and from the work they themselves were doing, which was unlike the work being done by any other craftsmen. They did not write that truth down in books or cast it in the form of a creed, and Masons have never done so since, nevertheless it is possible to set it down in a series of statements in the language of today:

  1. To work is to produce, grow, or make something without which men and women cannot continue to live; to have such things a man must make use of himself as the means to produce them. Since this is true he is neither an animal nor a machine; to take away from him by force. fraud or chicane, directly or indirectly, the products of his work, is to do violence not to things but to the man himself, and hence is absolute injustice.
  2. The need men and women have for countless products, services, and commodities is not a temporary one, nor is it accidental, but continues to be true for ever. For this reason work is neither a curse nor an inconveniences but is a fact about the nature of man and the world, and is so eternally.
  3. Since this is true, work is one of the attributes of God. It is for this reason that He is named Sovereign Grand Architect of the Universe.
  4. Man is by nature a worker. It is only in his work that a man finds himself, his fulfillment and satisfaction; idlers and parasites become less than men, are ex-men. This truth is plain to any observer; when a man ceases or refuses to work an inner deterioration begins, first in his character, later in his mind, and in the end his body undergoes a process of degeneration; and while this process of disintegration goes forward he knows himself to be under contempt.
  5. To be able to carry on his work a man must have Knowledge and intelligence which means education; he must be free to think because work calls for reasoning and understanding; he must one free to speak, because the larger part of the world's work is done by numbers of men working together and therefore they must have information from each other; they must one free to enter or to leave any form of work because always some things are completed and new things must be done, to work in continuous association with each other establishes them in a fraternalism a fact so clearly seen by Freemasonry that often it is said of men in the same trade or art that "they have a freemasonry among themselves," and it is this which is meant by morale or esprit de corps.

There can be no chasms of class distinction among workers because they must meet upon the level in order to co-operate with each other. If a man be not honorable, upright, and truthful it is not he alone who suffers from his failure; his fellows suffer also, they and the work together. If work fails the world fails, and workers and non-workers go down in catastrophe together. no church or government is more stupid than one which denies men the liberty to work, or interferes with the liberties required by work.

The best thought of men about the matters which belong to religion are embodied in the great organized Religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Mohammedanism, Buddhism, Confucianism, etc., and by them is stated in their creeds which in turn are amplified and expounded and taught by their theologies. It is an astounding fact that thus far no theology has ether embodied in its creed any doctrines about work.

Men's best thought about their way of life in the world is embodied in the great philosophies, of which the first were founded by Greek thinkers of about 600 B.C. Although a philosopher may endeavor to incorporate the whole world in his system it is always found in the end that his philosophy consists of the elaboration or exposition or exploration of some one idea or truth or fact. The philosophy of Plato concerns itself with ideas. Aristotle was the philosopher of logic. Roman Stoicism was an elaboration of the theory that there are laws of nature, and that these are the laws of man. Descartes declared that everything is a dualism of matter and mind; Spinoza declared that there is no dualism and only one Reality, but that this Reality manifests itself in the two modes of matter and mind. Kant was an epistemologist, concerned with the nature of knowledge. Haeckel was a materialist. Bergson examined and elaborated the fact of change, or flux, or motion. There is scarcely an idea or truth capable of being thought which has not been seized upon, expanded and expounded, and made into a system of philosophy by some thinker. And yet, and again it is an astounding fact, no system of philosophy has eater been devoted to the subject of work! William James and John Dewey have come closest to it but neither of them took work itself as his subject matter but only used it as if it were a means to an end. Thomas Carlyle saw the need for a philosophy of work, and cried out for some man to do it, but did not produce it himself.

When the first Freemasons found out for themselves the truth about work and though they did not embody it in creeds or books but left it, as it w ere, to speak for itself, and only among themselves, it w as a far greater achievement than the discovery and perfection of Gothic cathedrals. They won a place for themselves among history's great way-showers, thinkers, philosophers, prophets. Nor is it any wonder that in those days of feudalism they kept it among themselves, in their tiled rooms, behind locked doors, and pledged every candidate to hold inviolate the privacy of his Lodge. What they thought and taught and knew was not a heresy, theological or philosophical, but it differed so radically from the whole mass and drive of the beliefs and practices of the feudalism around them that they saw no need to disturb outsiders by what those outsiders could not have understood; and not being fanatics, and having intelligence as well as character, they saw no need to expose themselves to the fury of the priests or the barbaric brutalities of the lords.

It is not all-important to Freemasons that the founders of their Fraternity were builders, or even great builders; the all-important fact is that they were great thinkers, and found out for themselves a set of truths which no men had found or seen before, and which, even now, only a few are beginning to see; there would be neither point nor purpose for adult men to carry on, month after month, a mere routine repetition of builder customs. The soul of Freemasonry as well as its purpose in the world. is the set of truths which they found. The fact that those truths are not codified, or printed, or tabulated but are embodied in rites and symbols and Lodge practices does not matter; they are there, and while a man is being made a Mason they stamp themselves upon his mind. It is because they are there that after a man has worn off the first strangeness of being a member of a Lodge and begins to learn for himself what Freemasonry is and what its history has been, there begins to grow in him a zeal and an enthusiasm for it. H. L. H.

- Source: Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry


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