Portal:Freemasonry

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The Masonic Square and Compasses

Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around 5 million, with around 480,000 in England, Scotland and Ireland alone, and just under two million in the United States. The various forms all share moral and metaphysical ideals, which include, in most cases, a constitutional declaration of belief in a Supreme Being.

The fraternity is administratively organised into Grand Lodges (or sometimes Orients), each of which governs its own jurisdiction, which consists of subordinate (or constituent) Lodges. Grand Lodges recognise each other through a process of landmarks and regularity. There are also appendant bodies, which are organisations related to the main branch of Freemasonry, but with their own independent administration.

There are several affiliated organisations tied to Freemasonry: those that offer "other degrees" (i.e. Scottish Rite), and those who are relatives of Freemasons but do not qualify for membership in a lodge (i.e. Order of the Eastern Star and Job's Daughters).

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The History of Freemasonry studies the development, evolution and events of the fraternal organisation known as Freemasonry. This history is generally separated into two time periods: before and after the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717. Before this time, the facts and origins of Freemasonry are not absolutely known and are therefore frequently explained by theories or legends. After the formation of the Grand Lodge of England, the history of Freemasonry is extremely well-documented and can be traced through the creation of hundreds of Grand Lodges that spread rapidly worldwide.

The origin of Freemasonry has variously been attributed to: King Solomon and the construction of the Temple at Jerusalem, Euclid or Pythagoras, Moses, the Essenes, the Culdees, the Druids, the Gypsies, or the Rosicrucians, not to mention the intellectual descendants of Noah. Some of the more popular theories include Freemasonry being an offshoot of the ancient mystery schools, or that it is an institutional outgrowth of the medieval guilds of stonemasons, or that it is a direct descendant of the "Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem" (the Knights Templar).

Early operative Freemasons, unlike virtually all Europeans except the Clergy, were Free - not bound to the land on which they were born.

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George Washington Masonic Memorial.jpg
Photo credit: Ben Schumin
The George Washington Masonic National Memorial is supported by the 52 Grand Lodges of the United States.

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Notable Freemason

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Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796) (also known as Rabbie Burns, Scotland's favourite son, the Ploughman Poet, the Bard of Ayrshire and in Scotland as simply The Bard) was a poet and a lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best-known of the poets who have written in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and a 'light' Scots dialect, accessible to an audience beyond Scotland. He also wrote in standard English, and in these pieces, his political or civil commentary is often at its most blunt.

He is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement and after his death became a great source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism. A cultural icon in Scotland and among the Scottish Diaspora around the world, celebration of his life and work became almost a national charismatic cult during the 19th and 20th centuries, and his influence has long been strong on Scottish literature.

As well as making original compositions, Burns also collected folk songs from across Scotland, often revising or adapting them. His poem (and song) Auld Lang Syne is often sung at Hogmanay (New Year), and Scots Wha Hae served for a long time as an unofficial national anthem of the country.

Quotes

  • "The grand object of Masonry is to promote the happiness of the human race." - George Washington
  • “Freemasonry is an institution calculated to benefit mankind.” - Andrew Jackson
  • "Masonic labor is purely a labor of love. He who seeks to draw Masonic wages in gold and silver will be disappointed. The wages of a Mason are earned and paid in their dealings with one another; sympathy that begets sympathy, kindness begets kindness, helpfulness begets helpfulness, and these are the wages of a Mason." - Benjamin Franklin

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