What does it mean to be a Freemason
What is Freemasonry?
To understand what makes a Freemason a Freemason, it may first help to know what Freemasonry is actually all about.
Most people think it's a secret society. If it is, it's the worst kept secret in the world. Our book of rules and regulations has been open to the public since 1723 and our ruling body, the United Grand Lodge of England opens it's doors to around 100,000 non-masonic visitors and tourists every year. And the internet allows anyone to find out as much as they want to know. However, in keeping with many other organisations, (private golf clubs for example), Freemasonry regards some aspect of it's activities as confidential. Some people think Freemasonry is a religion. Not so. Freemasonry is probably the most religious tolerant society in the world as it embraces all religions and it's diverse membership bears witness to that fact. It is the spiritual values held by it's members that are important to Freemasonry.
What qualifications do you need?
Freemasonry is the oldest fraternal and charitable organisation in the world. So if you like to meet with friends, like to help others and believe that integrity is an important virtue, you already qualify. All Freemasons possess these traits as well as a concern for each other and for the common good. Peace and harmony is also important to Freemasons, especially when they meet, that's why any discussion concerning religion or politics is banned.
How can Freemasonry help me?
Another myth that shrouds Freemasonry is that it is a 'jobs for the boys' network. It isn't. You'll make friends who will be there to help if you need it, but it isn't a fast-track to business success. What Freemasonry will do, however, is make you a better public speaker, administrator, organiser, even a better person because of it's moral and ethical approach to life.
How does Freemasonry help others?
One of our best kept secrets is that Freemasonry is one of the three biggest contributors to national and local charities (which includes the National Lottery). In Oxfordshire alone, Freemasons raised over £60,000 for lacal charities and good causes. This was achieved by sponsored events, raffles and any wild events that could help raise money. Freemasons have been known to abseil down church steeples and bungee jump ravines.
What happens when you join?
There are three stages to becoming a fully-fledged Freemason, all based on the ancient hierarchy of stonemasons' guilds. These are the Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason. Each level has it's own special ceremony which is carried out without personal embarrassment or ridicule to the candidate. The perceived rolled up trouser-leg actually does happen, but this is a reference back to the old days when an apprentice had to be 'free', meaning not owned by a master. The bearing of the leg, now purely symbolic, shows that there are no shackle marks of slavery around the ankles. Other symbolic gestures will be explained.
What goes on at meetings?
Meetings take place five or six times in a year and are in two parts. The first part is a meeting in a specially laid out 'temple'. This meeting takes the form of ceremonies or lectures. The ceremonies follow ancient scripted words and directions which are learned, rehearsed and performed by key brethren. Involvement in these mini-plays begins with just a few words then gradually increases as an individual makes prgress within the Lodge. However, the ability to commit things to memory is not a prerequisite of Freemasonry, but the ability to enjoy yourself certainly is.
Which leads to the second part of a Lodge meeting, and that is the 'Festive Board'. This is an excuse for a get-together and consists of a three course meal, trimmed with a few enjoyable traditional formalities.
How do you become a Freemason?
A common misconception related to becoming a Freemason is that you have to be invited. Not true. If you know a Freemason ask them. If not please use the contact us page, leave your details and we will get back to you.