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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A Masonic Lodge, often termed a Private Lodge or Constituent Lodge in Books of Constitutions, is the basic organisational unit of Freemasonry. Every new Lodge must be warranted by a Grand Lodge, but is subject to its direction only in enforcing the published Constitution of the jurisdiction. A Master Freemason is generally entitled to visit any Lodge in any jurisdiction in amity with his own. He is first usually required to check, and certify, the regularity of the relationship of the Lodge - and be able to satisfy that Lodge of his regularity of membership. Freemasons gather together as a Lodge to work the three basic Degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason.

Freemasons meet as a Lodge not in a Lodge, although Masonic premises may be called Lodges, as well as Temples ("of Philosophy and the Arts"). In many countries Masonic Centre or Hall has now replaced these terms to avoid arousing prejudice and suspicion. Several different Lodges, or other Masonic organisations, often use the same premises at different times.

In Great Britain, the term Mother Lodge is used to identify the particular Lodge where the individual was first "made a Mason" (i.e. received his Entered Apprentice degree). 'Mother Lodge' may also refer to a Lodge which sponsors the creation of a new Lodge, the Daughter Lodge, to be warranted under the jurisdiction of the same Grand Lodge; specific procedures pertaining to this vary throughout history and in different jurisdictions.

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Photo credit: AgnosticPreachersKid
The International Temple is the world headquarters of the Order of the Eastern Star's General Grand Chapter.

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Highland Park Masonic Temple

Notable Freemason

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Benjamin Franklin (January 17 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705] – April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author and printer, satirist, political theorist, politician, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman and diplomat. As a scientist he was a major figure in the Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and a musical instrument. He formed both the first public lending library in America and first fire department in Pennsylvania. He was an early proponent of colonial unity and as a political writer and activist he, more than anyone, invented the idea of an American nation and as a diplomat during the American Revolution, he secured the French alliance that helped to make independence possible.

Franklin is credited as being foundational to the roots of American values and character, a marriage of the practical and democratic Puritan values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment. In the words of Henry Steele Commager, "In Franklin could be merged the virtues of Puritanism without its defects, the illumination of the Enlightenment without its heat." To Walter Isaacson, this makes Franklin, "the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become."

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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