Becoming a Freemason
Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest secular fraternal societies – a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values.
People from all walks of life think of becoming a Freemason for a variety of reasons. Some are attracted by the valuable work that the movement performs in raising money for charity. A proportion of these funds is used to assist Freemasons and their dependents in times of need, particularly the sick and the elderly, but the greater part goes to non Masonic charities – local, national and international.
Freemasons also assist the community in more direct ways, such as carrying out voluntary work. Others become Freemasons because of the unique fellowship it provides. Visit a Masonic lodge anywhere in the country – or indeed, the world – and you are greeted as an old friend. Freemasonry is the ultimate leveller, a community where friendship and goodwill are paramount.
There are 250,000 Freemasons belonging to 8,000 Lodges throughout England and Wales, and districts overseas. Worldwide, the figure rises to six million Freemasons, all with their own special reasons why they enjoy Freemasonry. For some, it’s about making new friends and acquaintances. For others, it’s being able to help deserving causes – making a contribution to family and society. But for most, it is simply an enjoyable hobby. Every Freemason has his own reason for joining. What’s yours?
Personal Satisfaction not Personal Gain
Freemasons make a major contribution to society through their own charities, as well as through donations to UK charities and worldwide disaster relief funds, with members playing an active role in their communities.
It has been said that some people become Freemasons for personal benefit. This statement is true, but it may be misleading. The personal gain is in experiencing the warmth of an honourable society and being part of an organisation that works hard to help the less fortunate. Membership brings warm and supportive companionship, and leads to close friendships which develop over many years.
Masonic Symbolism has a Purpose
But what about the so called funny handshakes and the outlandish dress styles? Modern Freemasonry has been in existence for over 300 years and over this time has developed a pattern of ceremony. They are no more eccentric than ceremonies such as the State Opening of Parliament and, like this event, they perform a valuable function in reminding members of the heritage and standards they are expected to maintain. Once people have become Freemasons and understand the context of the ceremony and symbolism, they no longer seem quirky.
Why the Mystery?
Freemasonry provides a unique environment for people from all backgrounds to learn skills, make lasting friendships, achieve their potential and, above all, have fun. What is more, the organisation provides a valuable forum for discussion between members in an open environment, helping to build trust.
If Freemasonry has nothing to hide, why the mystery? The ‘mysteries’ that are revealed to members as they progress are nothing more sinister than sound advice that helps them to lead a balanced life, for example through thinking about things like the welfare of others. Similarly, Masonic passwords are simply keys to the doors of the different levels within Freemasonry. Learning these principles on a step by step basis makes them easier to absorb and understand. Masonic ceremonies are like short morality plays in which members play different parts. Like any form of theatre, it demands the learning of words and the movements on stage. Through taking part in these ceremonies, Freemasons come to understand the truths that they contain.
Booklet issued by the United Grand Lodge of England to provide information for those interested in learning more about Freemasonry.