Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest secular fraternal societies. The following information is intended to explain Freemasonry as it is practised under the United Grand Lodge of England, which administers Lodges of Freemasons in England and Wales and in many places overseas.
Freemasonry is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Its members are taught its precepts (moral lessons and self-knowledge) by a series of ritual dramas – a progression of allegorical two-part plays which are learnt by heart and performed within each Lodge – which follow ancient forms, and use stonemasons’ customs and tools as allegorical guides.
Freemasonry instils in its members a moral and ethical approach to life: it seeks to reinforce thoughtfulness for others, kindness in the community, honesty in business, courtesy in society and fairness in all things. Members are urged to regard the interests of the family as paramount but, importantly, Freemasonry also teaches and practises concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need.
The Three Great Principles
For many years Freemasons have followed three great principles:
Every true Freemason will show tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and behave with kindness and understanding to his fellow creatures.
Freemasons are taught to practise charity and to care – not only for their own – but also for the community as a whole, both by charitable giving and by voluntary efforts and works as individuals.
Freemasons strive for truth, requiring high moral standards and aiming to achieve them in their own lives. Freemasons believe that these principles represent a way of achieving higher standards in life.
There are 250,000 Freemasons belonging to 8,000 Lodges throughout England and Wales. Worldwide, the figure rises to six million Freemasons, all with their own special reasons why they enjoy their Freemasonry.
For some, it’s about making new friends and acquaintances. For others, it’s being able to help deserving causes and making a contribution to family and society. But for most, it is simply an enjoyable hobby.
Every Freemason has his own reasons for joining. What’s yours?
The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) has produced a leaflet entitled “Freemasonry – What’s It All About”.