Thursday, December 3, 2009

By Simon Gray

Freemasonry teachings and practices of the secret fraternal order officially known as the Free and Accepted Masons, or Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. Many people have heard of or are familiar with the order of Mason. Their formal name is the Free and Accepted Mason or Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. Although the names differ slightly the concept on which they are based remains rigid as it has for numerous years.

The oldest Lodge in existence is the Grand Lodge of England. They have their own set of bylaws instituted as far back as 1723. These laws are based on loyalty to the Government, and acceptance of various religious beliefs. Although this sounds basic of what most types of organizations or club would stand on, it goes beyond that. To begin with, they are the most secretive organization in the world. This high standard of secrecy as led some countries to ban the formation of the Freemasonry, or opening of a lodge.

Interestingly enough there is not one main leader. Each Grand Lodge has its only Grand Master. One would think without one person being in control that each Lodge would be a stand-alone unit forming their own concepts and way of doing things. On the contrary, these Lodges are very much like a franchise. Where each and every one has a code of rules and ethics to follow and apparently they do.

Although highly secretive about details regarding their organization they are known to conduct ritual, which includes the symbolic tools of the historic masons who built many of the old buildings such as castles and cathedrals dating as far back and the 1700.s. Part of these rituals, include the historical concepts of the building of King Solomon?s Temple.

All Mason members must believe in a supreme being. The Lodges have their own religious book albeit no reference to it being the Holy Bible, as we know it. It would seem the holy book they refer to is based on the religious beliefs of that particular Lodge?s members. This raises an interesting question. Does this mean that one Lodge may be comprised of all Catholics, while another is composed of the Jewish religion?

As we have mentioned that, this fraternity is a very organized body. There are degrees within the Freemasonry. To begin with, the lower level or basic unit is called the Blue lodge. This is found within the Masonic Temple. There are three degrees based on the mason?s level of training literally. They are the blue degrees and are as follows?

Level 1: First Degree -Entered apprentice

Level 2: Second Degree-Fellow Craft

Level three: Third Degree - Master Mason

You can see how these marry up with the three levels of the historic Masons being the apprentice, journeyman and the master. It?s very seldom that a regular Mason would advance beyond a Master Mason. That doesn?t mean he still cannot advance however.

The Master Mason if he so chooses to do so can participate in over 100 rites all-different in nature that can lead to in excess of a 1,000 higher degrees. Now the various rites can get somewhat complex as they differ according to Country. The following is a condensed summary of some of the more prominent orders.

Scottish Rite: 30 higher degrees are available to The Master. Starting at the fourth degree, which is Secret Master up to the Sovereign Grand Inspector General, which is the 33rd degree.

York Rite: 10 higher degrees available. Starting at Mark Master up to Knight?s Templar. This would be equal to the Sovereign Grand Inspector Master.

Prince Hall Grand Lodge The majority of members in this group are the African-Americans.

Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm. Known to be the fun group of the fraternity for the Blue Lodge Mason.

Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine They were formed in'72 to be a social order. They main purpose is to support the children?s Hospitals.

Order of the The Eastern Star Membership only open to Master Masons and their respective female relatives.

De Molay For boys only

Jobs Daughter or Rainbow Both for girls only

Over the years many Historic figures have been linked to the order of Masons such as Benjamin Franklin - Philadelphia order John Hancock & Paul revere - St Andrew?s Lodge Noston George Washington.

In all there have been about- Presidents publicly known to have been Masons, as well as numerous members of congress. The Mason Lodges are not welcome in all countries though or approved by all religions. The Roman Catholics are against their followers becoming members. The Lodges that were once found in Italy, Austria and German were considered to be offshoots of fascism and Nazism and were eradicated. No Lodges are in to be found in China.

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