What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols. A universal progressive, and philosophical institution promoting philanthropy, and aiming toward a higher sense of ethos among its members.
Why are you a secret society?
Freemasonry is not a secret society, however our Lodge meetings are merely private, members-only meetings, similar to meetings of other clubs, such as gentlemen’s clubs, or sports-clubs. The values and virtues promoted by Freemasonry are available to the public, and Freemasons are at liberty to openly discuss Freemasonry, if they so wish.
What are the secrets of Freemasonry?
Masonic secrets solely consist of the traditional modes of recognition, utilized by members as a test to distinguish visiting brethren who are not known.
What happens during Lodge meetings?
A meeting is consisted of two parts, the first being dedicated to administrational work, such as the confirmation of previous meetings’ minutes, balloting for new members, discussion and balloting for Lodge finances, elections of new officers, reading out of communications etc. The second part consists of either ritualistic work – i.e. the initiation of new members, or the progression of existing members to higher degrees, or spiritual work, such as lectures pertaining to subjects of masonic interest.
Does ritual belong in contemporary societies?
No. Freemasonry uses ritual in order to describe a collective experience shared by its members. Participation in the dramatic presentation of these allegoric legends, through symbols, is much more impactful than the simple transfer through reading.
Why do Freemasons take oaths?
There are no oaths per se in Freemasonry. Freemasons make a pledge to uphold an ethical code of conduct. This pledge is made to their masonic brethren, as well as society in general. Additionally, each member pledges to uphold confidentiality, and fidelity concerning the traditional modes of recognition of their masonic identity. Finally, they pledge to support any Freemason in need, if this need does not conflict with their religious beliefs, the law, their family, or their duties as free citizens.
Is it not true that a Freemason is forced to prefer another Freemason as an employee or associate, or generally to propose other Freemasons for promotions over non-masons?
Absolutely not. Such actions constitute a misuse of ones masonic identity, and result to administrational penalties. Upon initiation, every candidate is asked to state that he does not expect any material gain from his masonic identity. Not only is a mason not treated favorably by his peers, but on the contrary, he is to be judged by far more strict standards, than those applied to non-masons, who have not been taught the value of morality. Members are taught that any effort to exploit ones masonic identity in order to obtain material profit, will not be tolerated by the institution of Freemasonry. The book of constitutions that every member needs to abide by, details the precise rules that dictate the misuse of a members identity. These lead to administrative penalties that vary from temporary probation, to a complete expulsion from the fraternity.
Is it true that Freemasons only take care of each other?
It is not true. One of the three cardinal values of Freemasonry is Relief, as defined by charity. This charity has always been a distinguishing characteristic of Freemasonry, and its member’s actions, leading to considerable contribution to society. Charitable actions do not necessarily indicate financial aid to those in need; rather they are actions inspired from love to our fellow people.
Why do you call God, “The Great Architect of the Universe”?
Freemasonry is open to all those who believe in God. Belief in the Divine is necessary for one to become a Freemason. In its ranks, Freemasonry include Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and people who believe in any religion in general. The term “The Great Architect of the Universe” is used out of respect to God, as believed by every member of the fraternity, without denoting difference in dogma. Imagine what it would be like, if in a multicultural Lodge consisting of Christians, Muslims, and Hindus, God is referred to as Jesus, Allah, or Brahma. In this way, men belonging to different religions, may collectively pledge their belief in God, by referring to Him, as “The Great Architect of the Universe”. The first mention of this term, can be found in Plato’s “Timaios”. Additionally, out of respect to our members’ beliefs, all discussions on religion, are strictly forbidden in Lodge.
Is Freemasonry a political pressure group?
Absolutely not. Every Freemason, as a free man, is entitled to his own political convictions, and may act politically as they so desire. Freemasonry, as an institution, will never express judgement over political matters, nor will it propose any political positioning or opinion. Political discussions are also forbidden in Lodge, out of respect to all members’ convictions.
Why are there no female members?
From time immemorial, Freemasonry has only accepted men as members. The stone masons from whom Freemasonry is derived, were strictly men. When, in the early 18th century Freemasonry was organized in the way we now know it, women had a very different position in society. Out of respect to these traditions, the Grand Lodge of Greece, only accepts men as its members. However, there are also certain irregular masonic bodies who accept women as their members.
How many Freemasons are there in Greece? How many across the Globe?
The Grand Lodge of Greece has approximately 5.000 active, and 3.000 inactive members. Globally, there is a total estimate of 8 million Freemasons.
Where and when did Freemasonry originate from?
There is no definitive answer to this question. The earliest recorded masonic initiation, was that of Elias Ashmole, in England, in 1646. Contemporary Freemasonry, as we know it today, started with the establishment of the Grand Lodge of England – the first Grand Lodge in the World, on June 24, 1717. Soon, Ireland and Scotland followed in 1725, and 1736 respectively. The rest of the Grand Lodges throughout the world, followed as offspring of the aforementioned Grand Lodges.
There are two predominant theories regarding the origin of Freemasonry:
According to the first theory, the stone masons building the cathedrals erected during the Middle Ages, named their quarters, which were adjacent to the buildings, “Lodges”. There, they met, and discussed their Art. All members belonging to these masonic guilds, were initiated in a simple ritual, and considering that at the time there was no such thing as membership cards, they subsequently adopted tokens and words to distinguish them as specialized masons, regardless of the location or building they were working on. Around 1600 AD, these Lodges grew in appeal, and attracted non-masons, who were in turn accepted as Speculative or Free Masons. Gradually, these Freemasons came to manage Lodges, transforming them into “Free and Accepted” or “Speculative Lodges”.
The second theory, in turn, supports that around the end of the 15th century, and the beginning of the 16th century, a movement promoting religious and political tolerance, at a time of feudal governments, and great repression on religious matters, both of which often led to bloody wars. Through the formation of Freemasonry, men attempted to improve their own characters and human ethics, in order to improve the world as a whole. At the time, allegory and symbols were utilized to teach and educate, so Freemasons took up the idea of the Lodge as the dominating allegory of their system. Another dominant source of allegory was the Bible, the content of which was known even to those who were unable to read or write. The only building detailed in the Bible, is King Solomon’s Temple, the building, completion, and dedication of which to God’s service, has become the main source of masonic legend. The old masonic guilds implemented the administrational structure of the Lodge, and utilized the builder’s tools, as symbols of moral teachings.
How many degrees are there in Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is comprised of three degrees: Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason. There are also several additional masonic degrees, belonging to independent masonic side-orders, which share no administrational management amongst them. Some of these degrees may sound as if they are higher degrees than the Master Mason degree, however, they belong to different masonic side-orders. A Freemason is free to follow these additional, but not necessarily “higher” degrees. The two prevalent masonic side orders, are the Royal Arch, and the Scottish Rite.