Frequently Asked Questions
What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is the word’s oldest and largest fraternity – an organization of men with common goals and objectives who come together for a collective good.
Freemasonry promotes friendship, morality, and brotherly love to its members; men from every race, religion, opinion, and background, brought together to develop and strengthen learning and enlightenment.
Freemasonry proposes to “make good men better”. Using the metaphor of the work of early stonemasons, the fraternity promotes teaching about values based on great universal truths. Charity and community service are fundamental to Freemasonry and encouraged the world over.
There are more than five million members meeting in nearly every free country in the world.
Is Freemasonry a religion?
Freemasonry is a secular fraternity, not a religion. Freemasonry acknowledges the existence of a Supreme Being but members are free to follow which ever religion they prefer.
Why is Freemasonry so secretive?
More and more, Freemasonry is becoming increasingly open. It isn’t secretive, although it sometimes has that reputation. Masons don’t make a secret of membership to a fraternity. Members wear rings, lapel pins, and tie clasps, all with Masonic emblems like the Square and Compasses.
Masonic buildings are clearly marked, are usually listed in the phone book and many, like us, have their own website. Lodge activities and events are often listed in the newspapers, especially in smaller towns.
There are two traditional elements to Freemasonry that can be seen as secretive. Grips (or handshakes) and passwords unique to any fraternity and Masonic ceremonies. These are private (for members only) but are not secret.
Why does Freemasonry use symbols?
Freemasonry uses symbols as all organisations use symbols. They allow people to communicate quickly, aid knowledge and separate one organisation from another. Just like a corporate company has a logo and branded designs to identify itself, so do Freemasons.
Certain symbols, mostly selected from architecture, stand for certain ethics and principles of the organization. The “Square and Compasses” is the most widely known symbol of Freemasonry. In one way, this symbol is the trademark for the fraternity.
All Freemasons make use of the architectural symbolism of the tools of the operative stonemason. Freemasons, as speculative masons use this symbolism to teach moral and ethical lessons of the principles of “Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth”.
Where can I get more information about the Freemasons?
Talk to a Mason! Contact us Far from being secretive, he will be able to dispel preconceptions, answer your questions and provide additional information. Members will willingly find a convenient time to meet, introduce you to some other members and visit their building. Contact us
What is required to become a Mason?
To be eligible for membership in the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of British Columbia and Yukon an applicant must satisfy the following qualifications:
- Being a man, freeborn, of good repute and well-recommended;
- A belief in a Supreme Being;
- Ability to support one’s self and family;
- Of lawful age;
- Come to Freemasonry of their “own free will and accord”; and
- The Ability to read and write English.
Let’s examine the requirements for becoming a Mason individually:
Being a man,
Freemasonry began as a male organization. There are women’s groups and groups of mixed male-female membership who use rituals similar to that of the major body of Freemasons throughout the world. Some of these groups receive acknowledgement (but not ‘recognition’) due to their adherence to high moral principles etc. while others are frowned upon. It is, after all, quite easy for anyone to claim that they are the head of a Masonic group and begin to obtain members.
The requirement of being “freeborn” harkens back to the earliest days of Freemasonry. It became a requirement since only those free from indentured service as an apprentice or bondsman (as many were in 17th century England, for example), could truly make decisions for themselves.
of good repute,
Being of good repute is another essential requirement. Masons do not wish to encourage membership by those whose actions would stain the reputation of the fraternity. In some jurisdictions this is specifically stated but in all, it is practiced!
A well-recommended person is one for whom another is willing to vouch. Those who become Freemasons have been recommended by a proposer and then examined by lodge members to ensure that the candidate will benefit from his membership.
Belief in a Supreme Being
The major ‘bone of contention’ for some detractors, Freemasonry does not attempt to define or delineate how a person should pray or to whom worship should be addressed.
The term “Great Architect of the Universe” (or “Grand Architect of the Universe”) is used to permit offerings of prayer in a non-offensive manner regardless of the varied religious beliefs of those present. All Masons understand this concept and when a prayer is said in lodge (a blessing before a meal, a word of prayer for the sick, for example), they understand that regardless of the person speaking the words or the usual form of prayer of others present, the prayer is addressed to their Supreme Being.
Once a candidate professes such belief, no further investigation or interrogation is made. This fact stymies Freemasonry’s detractors who seem to be constantly engaged in wars of ‘religious correctness’ and who consequently wind up in contradiction with each other as a result.
Ability to support one’s self and family
Although not specifically stated by all jurisdictions, this ‘requirement’ comes from a time when many would join fraternal organizations in the hope there would be financial and other benefits available for them in their old age. Freemasonry did not want to become a benevolent association and thus the requirement appeared. Now, this is important to ensure that those who seek membership understand the priority of Freemasonry is secondary to religious and family obligations!
Of Lawful Age
It’s a simply understood concept: if you are not old enough to make legal commitments, then the concepts and precepts of Freemasonry might be a bit too much for you to comprehend. Although this isn’t always true, there is a conceptual basis for separating ‘adults’ from ‘children’.
“Own Free Will and Accord”
You won’t find recruiting posters or ‘membership bars’ on a medal although one jurisdiction has put ‘advertisements’ on various web locations including search engines like Google. Masons simply don’t get awards for bringing in new members. It’s a voluntary organization, sought out by those with a positive impression of the organization.
Masonic membership has always been an intensely personal experience and in times when “feelings” weren’t discussed publicly by men, the need for a person to ask for membership was often not communicated to those who might otherwise be interested in the fraternity. Accordingly, there are many who became Masons much later in life than necessary: they had thought the proper thing to do was to wait to be asked to join!
Some grand jurisdictions, recognizing the problem arising from false perceptions (“I must be asked to join such a good organization.”), have begun to loosen prior strict prohibitions. They may now have a provision for Masons to let those who they may feel would be appropriate candidates know that they are ‘welcomed’ to join. This does not, however, in any way mitigate or diminish the requirement that a man make the choice to join under his ‘own free will and accord’ not actuated by unworthy motives!
These basic principles have been the means of attracting the most highly respected persons to Freemasonry for over three centuries. Their simplicity confounds and confuses those who see a conspiracy lurking behind every bush; those who want ‘religious purity’ and those whose own motives are constantly self-oriented. As a result, this quiet fraternity continues – as do its detractors.
PUT ANOTHER WAY
Having expressed a desire to become a Freemason, we presume you are willing to consider thoroughly the step you propose to take. The exact nature of our Institution being unknown to you, we deem it advisable that you should be informed on certain points, the knowledge of which may affect your decision to apply for membership.
Freemasonry interferes neither with religion nor politics, but has for its foundation the great basic principles of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. No Atheist can be a Freemason.
Freemasonry strives to teach a man the duty he owes to God, his neighbor, and himself. It inculcates the practice of virtue, and makes an extensive use of symbolism in its teachings.
It cannot be too strongly emphasized that Freemasonry is not to be entered in the hope of personal gain or advancement. Admission must not be sought from mercenary or other unworthy motives. Any one so actuated will be bitterly disappointed. The aim of the true Freemason is to cultivate a brotherly feeling among men, and to help whomsoever he can.
Freemasonry is not a Benefit Society. This fact cannot be too strongly emphasized. We do not subscribe so much a year to entitle us to draw sick pay or other benefits, or to make provision for those who survive us. There are other excellent Societies founded for this purpose. No man should enter the ranks of Freemasonry in hope or expectation that he will derive any financial benefit from it. Masonic Charity is directed towards those who, from unforeseen circumstances and through no fault of their own, have met with misfortune.
Loyalty to one’s country is an essential qualification in Freemasonry, and only those are acceptable who cheerfully render obedience to every lawful authority. Disloyalty in any form is abhorrent to a Freemason, and is regarded as a serious Masonic offense.
Freemasonry has in all ages insisted that men should come to its doors entirely of their own free will, and not as a result of solicitations, or from feelings of curiosity, but simply from a favorable opinion of the Institution, and a desire to be ranked among its members.
We have no authority at the present time to give you further information regarding the Brotherhood you propose to join, but we have imparted sufficient to enable you to conclude that Freemasonry is not contrary to the principles which mark a man of upright heart and mind, and has in it nothing inconsistent with one’s civil, moral or religious duties.
We think it advisable to inform you that your admission to our Craft will entail certain financial obligations which you should be able to discharge without detriment to yourself or those dependent on you. In addition to the fees and contributions payable on your entrance, there will be an annual subscription for the support of your Lodge, and from time to time you may be called upon to contribute for the relief work connected with the Craft.
Members are expected to pay annual dues and be actively involved in the working of their lodge. This requires a commitment of eight evenings a year and the effort to study and understand Freemasonry’s philosophy, history, ritual and practices.
How do I become a Freemason?
As Masons do not traditionally recruit members, and do not hold public meetings, there is confusion about how one becomes a Mason. If you meet the requirements above, it’s simple. Each Lodge manages its own membership process. You can ask a Mason to recommend a Lodge to them.
Once you’ve found a lodge you would like to join, let them know you’re interested and they will provide you with a petition. If you are unanimously elected by the members of a lodge, you will then go through three “degrees” of the Fraternity: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason.
Every man accepted into the Fraternity goes through the degrees, making each an equal to the others in the lodge. They are conferred during a lodge’s monthly meeting over the course of three months.
What if I don’t know a Mason who can recommend me?
The chances are you know a Mason but don’t know it! If your father, uncles, or grandfathers aren’t Masons, they probably know someone who is. Try asking around your workplace or school, church, or gym – anywhere that you find a group of men, you might find a Mason. You can also contact us for more information.
Masons are proud of their association with the Fraternity but this does not mean they publicly promote their position. It may be difficult for them to speak with their friends or family members because they don’t want to be seen to evangelise about Freemasonry. However, don’t be put off, investigate and you will find Freemasons happy to talk and advise.
If you don’t know anyone who is a Mason and you are a complete stranger to all of the members of the lodge, you are going to want to take some time getting to know them. But they are going to want to take some time getting to know you too. Once you are ready to ask, a member of the lodge will sign your petition.
What are the time and/or financial commitments of being a Mason?
There is a one-time initiation fee set by each lodge and each Lodge sets its fees through their financcial committee. At Excelsior Lodge # 195 fees for initiation can be expected to be approximately $2,000 and annual dues of approximately $1,200.
Where did Freemasonry come from?
Please read out History of Freemasonry
I am already a member of a lodge, can I affiliate?
We welcome affiliations. Contact us for more details.
Why is there so much interest in Freemasonry today?
Since Freemasonry was formed in its modern state, its popularity has flourished during times of change, especially during the Age of Enlightenment. Across both America and Europe, people turned to new ways of thinking to aid development, understanding and personal improvement. People wanted to bring order to society for the greater good and this is still very pertinent today.
Freemasons stand for the same values they did four centuries ago. Men become Masons to better themselves and improve society in the company of a fraternity. Through the lessons of tradition, it is possible to learn more about how our physical, spiritual and philosophical world works. There’s also renewed interest in those things we don’t understand when bound around tradition or that have a perceived mystical nature.
More recently, books like The Da Vinci Code and movies like “National Treasure” have increased the audience and interest about the nature of the Fraternity. Although these fictions are more imagination than fact, the real history of Freemasonry is more spectacular, startling and passionate than any screenplay.
What are the benefits of becoming a Mason?
Each member of the Fraternity will derive their own personal benefits from being a Freemason. Due to the personal nature of being a Freemason, it is hard to quantify an exhaustive list of benefits. Having the camaraderie and fellowship of a brotherhood across the boundaries of age, race, religion, culture, and opinion is a fundamental to the Fraternity.
Being a Freemason brings value and knowledge through the rituals of ceremony and the use of symbolism and metaphors. They encourage and remind us to appreciate principles, ethics, and morality, and to live our lives accordingly.
Working with charities, communities and supporting our members and their families, Freemasons can be sure of a network of people to rely on through good and bad times. And if a Freemasons takes on leadership positions within their lodge, they can easily develop practical management skills.
Rather than taking our word for it, why not go to the source and talk to a Freemason? Only then can you start to see the real benefits.
Can Freemasonry actually prepare me for greatness?
The Fraternity is not a guaranteed pathway to greatness. Greatness can only come from within an individual. However, the way Freemasons are asked to live their lives, the traditions and values attached to the Fraternity can have the power to inspire, challenge, and develop leadership in men.
What is Masonic “ritual?”
Like any ritual, Masonic ritual is a formal ceremony of initiation. Ritual uses certain tenets and truths passed down for generations to communicate and teach members the values of the Fraternity such as true friendship, the benefits of knowledge, and the necessity of helping those in need. Masonic ritual is presented through lectures and theater in the Lodge.
Why aren’t there any famous women who are Masons?
Contrary to popular belief, Masons appreciate and value relations with women. There are Masonic related organizations for females in BC & Yukon such as: The Order of the ‘Eastern Star; Amaranth ; Jobs’ Daughters ; Daughters of the Nile and Van Zor Groto, ladies Auxiliary whose members include women and girls respectively.
Is Freemasonry a charity?
However relief, support and charity are sacrosanct to the Fraternity and Freemasons give more than $2 million every day. 70 per cent of these donations support the general public and are not specifically for Freemasons. Each Lodge will support specific charities and causes and will be happy to discuss these with you.