The Origins of Freemasonry date back some 600 years to the period known as the middle ages. In those days, industry and commerce were carried out mainly by associations called Guilds. These consisted of various crafts, of Carpenters, Weavers, and Stone Masons. The Guild of Masons consisted of those who were skilled in the construction of stone buildings, such as Cathedrals. These men are now referred to as operative Masons. They were the ones who designed the buildings, dressed the stone, and raised the pillars and columns. They had great knowledge about the application of geometry and Engineering, as well as skill in Stone masonry. The beauty of their Church’s and Castles testifies to their patience and craftsmanship. They were truly the great artists of their time.
The masons involved in these projects were organized into Lodges, so named after the lodge hut in which they planned their work and kept their tools and instruments, and rested. The pre-requisites for membership were experience and proven skill. These were operative Masons but, with the ever changing World, the demand for those Gothic style buildings ceased to exist. The result was the general decrease in numbers of operative Masons. In order that they were able to maintain their Lodges. They permitted non-operative Masons into membership, and these men were said to be “Accepted” into the Lodge. Today, we are referred to as “Free and Accepted Masons.”
The beginning of Modern Freemasonry
In 1717, four such Lodges, in London, England, established themselves under one “Grand Master”.
This was the origin of the first Grand Lodge of England, from which “Modern Freemasonry” has spread over the entire Globe. It is now known as Speculative Masonry, or Symbolic Masonry. Thus the lineage of modern Freemasonry can be traced back to the builders of the early Middle ages. Whereas the Masons of those far off days erected buildings, today the Freemason is dedicated to building men of “good standing – Sound judgement – and strict morals.” The tools once used for building have now been transformed into emblems of moral and spiritual laws.
Masonry is not a Secret Society, (as it is sometimes referred to) but, it is a Society with Secrets. Freemasonry is not a Religion, but a non-believer or atheist, cannot be admitted to our membership. Freemasonry admits members from every Race and Creed and, each and every Religion.
Masonry is not a Benevolent society or Social club. It supports benevolence to those who are less secure or fortunate than others, and to many charitable and benevolent causes and Projects. No monetary rewards are promised or can be expected by its members. Masonry has no policy of evangelism or reformation and it does not strive to convert or rehabilitate immoral men. In fact, it strives to ensure they do not enter its ranks. It does seek to make good men better, and: encourages charity in Act – Deed – and Thought.
Allegories and Symbols
Freemasonry is often defined as being a system of Morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.
This basically means that ethical principals are taught by means of allegorical stories, and symbolic characteristics. Masonry Is founded on the purest principles of piety and virtue.
It is a system of teaching friendship, Charity, and Morality.
Masonry is a noble science, that can provide a spiritual awakening into an order and quality of life previously unexperienced. It is designed to teach self-knowledge, and the true meaning of the Order of Freemasonry is found in its greater system of spiritual doctrine, and the strength and understanding to which its application leads the Mason. There is much more to Masonry than a society with secrets, teaching elementary morality. A Mason, is at all times, expected to be loyal to family, home, country, and the Craft of Freemasonry.
He must champion the cause of the widow., the fatherless., the weak, and the distressed. He must cultivate humility., patience., charity, and gentleness. He should have a general desire for Intellectual, moral, spiritual improvement, and: a sincere wish to be of service to his fellow men.
We are constantly re-examining our goals and values, as we seek to relate them to this changing world. In Freemasonry, you will find: men of good will and high ideals. Men who believe in the existence of a Supreme Being, and who endeavour to live In a spirit of universal brotherhood. The principles which they believe, are proven and tested. A Masonic Lodge is one place in which all can work together in harmony and unanimity.
Freemasonry is striving to build a better World by building better men to live in it.
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