Freemasonry

Freemasonry

FreemasonryFreemasonry is a fraternity which believes in the ideals of brotherhood, peace and achieving maximum gain of knowledge. The main characteristic of the freemasons is to learn as much as possible in life and this is in strong cohesion with the Enlightenment which portrays the same ideal. Therefore the fraternity grew rapidly during the era of the Enlightenment to an international scale brotherhood.


History

The word mason means a man who works with stone, hence the name "stonemason". Freemasonry expanded from the groups of stonemasons in the Middle Ages. These Stonemasons were building cathedrals and other huge buildings. They were called freemasons because they were free, the freemasons were not servants who belonged to a master, like many workers were in the Middle Ages. They often changed jobs and moved from one town to another. In this way they were different from other craftsmen who mostly settled in one place. The stonemasons tried to keep their skills secret so that only they knew how to do their job. This is the reason why the Freemasons have handshakes and passwords which they swear to keep secret. Around 1650, the Freemasons started to let people who were not masons into their groups. In 1717, the first Grand Lodge (the Grand Lodge of England) was formed. Freemasonry is controversial, meaning it has something opposing the Freemasons. This religion is known as the Roman Catholic Church, although the Freemasons do not reject Catholics into their groups.

Lodges

The local groups of freemasons in different countries are known as ‘’Lodges’’. When speaking of state or national level we speak of ‘’Grand Lodges’’. These are independent of each other. "Regular’’ Freemasonry is only for men, but there are also Masonic lodges that are only for women. Those lodges for women are not recognized as real Freemasons by the ‘’Regular Freemasons’’. All of these types do believe in brotherly love, relief and truth. A Masonic "Grand Lodge" which is also frequently known as ‘’Grand Orient’’ is the governing body that deals and governs the individual "Lodges" of Freemasons in any particular area or "jurisdiction", (usually corresponding to a national boundary or other major political unit). Some Lodges are extremely large with thousands of members separated into hundreds of smaller scale Lodges. It happens that in a certain area only one Grand Lodge can be found. More often, however, there will be several Grand Lodges competing for the same jurisdictional area, or often claiming a certain area. The consequences of this mutual problem lead to discussions over legitimacy. As mentioned earlier not all Grand Lodges and Grand Orients recognize one as being legitimate, for example the Lodges of Women in the Netherlands. One of the first grand Lodges was the Grand Lodge of England which was founded on 24 June 1717 as the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster. This later became the Grand Lodge of England. Convention calls it the Premier Grand Lodge of England to distinguish it from the Ancient Society of Free and Accepted Masons according to old structures. It existed until 1813 when it united with the Ancient Grand Lodge of England to create the United Grand Lodge of England. It was the first Masonic Grand Lodge to be created. The Grand Lodge of England lived by some principles, they were inspired by the ideal of tolerance and universal understanding of the Enlightenment and by Scientific Revolution during the 17th Century.

Communication

In many lodges, there is time set aside for an intellectual program, generally after the meeting. It may consist of a wide variety of things, from a physician explaining electricity to a presentation by a member on his holiday to a distant country. It may be a table discussion on the history of the Masons or perhaps a local scholarship recipient reading his essay on their country's past. Masonic programs can be anything, essentially, anything that interests the lodge. Most members find them intriguing even if prior to that time it was something they would have never thought to be interesting. It is an opportunity to learn and to broaden one's horizon, in short an advancement in education. During the meeting, there is no 'free discussion' amongst members: the meetings are always led by the Master Freemason, just like a President of any other organization would do. Freemasons do not allow undirected chatter which may interrupt the proceedings. Before and after the meetings, members and officers mingle freely and talk about essentially everything. The Freemasons catch up on local events, find out how things are going with other members and more. It is a process wherein Freemasons come to know each other better and the Brotherhood bond forms more tightly.

Symbolism

Symbolism is very important for the freemasons. The Freemasons use colours which stand for morals the Freemasons stand for and support. The colors are: purple, red, white, black, green, yellow, violet and blue. Purple is a mix between blue and red, and means fraternal union. Purple is also adopted for the past and the most excellent degrees in free masonry. The color purple is given to the master of the program, for example. Any who has purple can be considered as a master. Red is the color of fire. The Egyptians used this color as well and it represents regeneration and purification of the soul. Hence, the Freemasons use the color red as well for regeneration. The red color is also linked to the Royal Arch degree. White is the color of purification, for the investiture of their candidates, meaning that white stands for approving new members. Black represents grief and its significance for the free masonry. Green is another color adapted from the Egyptian culture. The Masons chose this color, as representation for their immortal soul. Since green is an unchangeable color the freemasons address to this color as immortal. Yellow was to the Egyptians the symbol for light. In Freemasonry it symbolizes the great goals one wants to achieve in life. Violet represents mourning. Like grief it is an important aspect of the freemasonry, to think about the loved ones who have left. Blue can be considered as the most important color in freemasonry. The color is among all the other colors, the unquestioned masonic possession of every mason. Some masons feel attracted to the red color or the green color, but the blue color is important for all masons. In ancient times Babylonians and Gods were represented as blue. Hence, the freemasons were always inspired by the ancient times, meaning they adapted this color as a supreme color.

Characteristics

The first characteristic is brotherly love, every honest Freemason will show respect and tolerance for the opinions and thoughts of others and behave with kindness and understanding to his fellow Freemasons. The second characteristic of a true Freemason is relief. Freemasons are taught to practise charity, and to care. They should not only do this for their selves, but also for the community as a whole. The third characteristic the freemasons live by is truth. Freemasons strive for the truth, meaning the freemasons require high moral standards and aim to achieve them in their own lives as much as possible. Freemasons believe that these morals represent a way of achieving higher standards in life. Freemasons are found in all walks of life - business, labour, government, professional, and entertainment to name a few. They are restricted to obey all laws under whose protection they live; to serve their fellow Masons, and maintain high standards of conduct. Moreover is a mason expected to treat every man as his own brother, to practice temperance, justice and charity. The life of a freemason should be such as to earn respect and trust of those with who the person comes in contact. He must recognize that patience, humility, charity and gentleness should be among the basic characteristics of a true Freemason. Such a hypothetical whole, developed, intelligent and complete person must make a positive contribution to society in general. He should do this in his journey through life, and in his contact with others. Freemasons strive to be better members of society, masters of their passions and prejudices. They also strive to broaden their sympathies, charities and their service to others, to make them tolerant of the political and religious beliefs of their neighbours. Freemasons believe a person will gain nothing if a person is not open-minded and tolerant.

Important Freemasons

The expansion of Freemasonry is due to influential representatives, otherwise the fraternity would not be able to grow into international scale. The important freemasons influenced the people so much that led to an expansion of members and the fraternity. An extremely important figure was Benjamin Franklin. Franklin was a leader of the Enlightenment and influenced lots of scientist and people’s way of thinking. Benjamin Franklin became a member of the Saint John's Lodge in Philadelphia in 1730. Franklin was a member of the fraternity for more than 50 years, serving as Grand Master of Pennsylvania in 1734. Franklin was also the one who printed the first Masonic publication, namely,  "The Constitutions of the Free-Masons". The ideas of Franklin were in interest of people which made people enter the fraternity, this illustrates the expansion of the Freemasons during the Enlightenment. The book Franklin wrote remains one of the rarest in the world, with only 20 verified copies at the moment. Another huge influence was Mr. George Washington, Washington was the first president of the United States and also an influential person during the Enlightenment. He became a freemason in 1752 and the reason he joined is, because he was attracted by the movement and believed in the same principles as using the mind as much as possible. Washington's character was in the eyes of a Freemason a perfect character, because he completed his masonic duties until the day he stopped breathing. Washington became the same man in private as he was in public. In Masonic terms, he was "a just and upright Mason" and became a real Master Mason. Washington was, in Masonic terms, a “living stone”. He remains the idol other civilizations follow into liberty and equality.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 1424x
Added: 19-08-2016 11:07
Last modified: 02-09-2016 00:12

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