Freemasonry is a fraternal order whose basic tenets are brotherly love, relief (philanthropy), and truth. We strive to enjoy the company of our brother Masons, assist them in times of personal trouble, and reinforce essential moral values. There is an old adage that Freemasonry "takes good men and makes them better", which is our goal.
The Scottish Rite is an appendant body of Freemasonry, meaning that it is not part of the Symbolic Lodge per se, but closely associated with Freemasonry. It requires that a man be a Master Mason before joining the Scottish Rite. The Scottish Rite confers the 4th through 32nd degrees. The degree work may be, but is not necessarily, completed at one time. Any Master Mason is eligible to join the Scottish Rite. The degrees of the Scottish Rite continue the symbolism of the first three Masonic degrees. For a discussion of the 33rd degree, see question 9 of this section.
The York Rite, like the Scottish Rite, is an appendant body of Freemasonry, and confers degrees beyond the Symbolic Lodge's three degrees. It consists of nine degrees additional degrees: Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and Royal Arch Mason; the Cryptic Degrees of the Royal Master, Select Master, and Super Excellent Master; and the Chivalric Orders of the Order of the Red Cross, Order of the Knights of Malta and the Order of Knights Templar.
The Temple degrees, which comprise the top degrees of the York Rite are specifically Christian. Or at least, it can be stated that the oath is: in some Grand Lodges in the US and abroad, one need not be a Christian, but rather only be willing to take a Christian OATH. The difference here is that there are some who would willingly swear to defend the Christian faith on the grounds that they would defend any man's faith. The Chapter (or Royal Arch) and Council Of Royal And Select Masters (Cryptic Rite), which comprise the first two sections of the York Rite, are not specifically Christian.
As with most things Masonic, discuss any concerns with your local York Rite, who can advise you regarding your eligibility.
The Shrine is not an appendant body of Freemasonry, though the distinction would escape many. The Shrine confers no additional degrees. It was founded in 1872 (the Mecca Temple in New York City) and an Arabic theme was chosen. Hence, the distinctive red fez that Shriners wear at official functions.
The Order of the Eastern Star is an adoptive rite of Freemasonry with teachings based on the Bible and objectives that are charitable and benevolent. The founder of OES was Dr. Robert Morris, a lawyer and educator from Boston, Massachusetts, who was a Master Mason and Past Grand Master of Kentucky. Dr. Morris intended his creation to become a female branch of Freemasonry, but he failed to overcome the great opposition this idea engendered. After his first published ritual in 1849-50, he became associated with Robert Macoy who wrote and published a ritual based on Morris' in 1867. The first Grand Chapter was organized in Michigan in the same year. (There is evidence for an organization of the same name founded variously in 1788 or 1793, but this group was defunct by 1867.) Subordinate (local) chapters operate under charter from state level grand chapters which are responsible to the General Grand Chapter at the International Eastern Star temple in Washington, D.C.
The International Order of DeMolay is the world's largest fraternal organization for young men between the ages of 13 and 21. The Order was founded in Kansas City, Missouri on March 24, 1919 by Frank Sherman Land. DeMolay Chapters are sponsored by Masonic Lodges, and some members of the sponsoring body also serve as Advisors on the Chapter's Advisory Council. Structurally, it is similar to Freemasonry. The officers of a Chapter are the Master Councilor, Senior Councilor, Junior Councilor, Senior Deacon, Junior Deacon, Senior Steward, Junior Steward, Orator, Scribe, Marshal, Chaplain, Standard Bearer, Sentinel, Almoner, and seven Preceptors.
What is Job's Daughters?
The International Order of Job's Daughters is an organization for girls between the ages of 13 and 20 years and limited to daughters or relatives of Master Masons. It was established October 20, 1920 by Mrs. Ethel T. Wead Mick of Omaha, Nebraska. It has one ceremony, the ritual of which was prepared by Mrs. Mick and is based on Job 42:15. It maintains an educational fund and aids Shrine hospitals and other charities. Local groups are called Bethels and each is headed by an Honored Queen and is under the guidance of a Guardian Council of five adults. Grand Council may be formed in any state where there are five Bethels. There is a national Supreme Council, which has nineteen officers elected annually by the Grand Councils from among members of the Grand Councils.
What is Rainbow?
"The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls is an organization for girls from 11 to 20 years of age. Masonic relationship is not required. Rainbow for Girls stands for belief in the Supreme Being, dignity of character, the higher things in life, effective leadership, church membership, patriotism, cooperation with equals, love of home and services to others.
At meetings, Rainbow Girls wear dresses varying pastel colors and shades while Grand Officers wear white."--"The International Order of Rainbow for Girls was founded by Rev. W. Mark Sexson in 1922 for girls from 11 to 20, membership requirements are to be sponsored by a Master Mason or Eastern Star and two members of the Order, Origins of Lessons taught are from the Bible using the Humanities, the Presiding Officer is the Worthy Advisor, the Subordinate Line Officers are the Worthy Associate Advisor - the station of Charity - the station of Hope - the station of Faith, the Presiding Advisor is the Mother Advisor, and the Adult Leadership is the Advisory Board."
Acacia: A college fraternity for Master Masons, the sons of Masons, and young men recommended by two Masons one of whom is an Acacian himself. The national governing board is composed exclusively of 32nd and 33rd degree Masons.
Co-Masonry refers to Masonic Lodges that admit both men and women. Co-Masonry traces its heritage back to the 19th century.
There are two Grand Lodges of Co-Masonry with jurisdiction in America: Le Droit Humain, a GL based in Paris, France and the original Co-Masonic organization in the US, and the American Federation of Human Rights (aka American Co-Masonry), which is based in Larkspur, Colorado.
The degree structure differs slightly from standard Symbolic Lodge structure (i.e., the Scottish Rite is worked as part of the regular Lodge, not a separate organization), but in most things Co-Masonic lodges function as regular Masonic lodges.
There are some schools of thought that Prince Hall (his name not a title) was born in Barbados to a free black woman and a Scottish father. He emigrated to the Colony of Boston, Mass. and acquired real estate, making him eligible to vote. It was also documented that he was a devout Christian and a leather-worker by trade. On March 6, 1775, during the American War of Independence, Prince Hall along with fourteen men of color were made Masons in Army Lodge #441 of the Irish Constitution. When Army Lodge moved on, the aforesaid brethren were issued a permit authorizing them to appear publicly as a Masonic body for the purpose of celebrating the feast of St. John and to bury their dead.
On March 2, 1784, these same brethren applied to the Grand Lodge of England for a charter, which was subsequently issued to them on September 29, 1784. They were warranted under the name of African Lodge, No. 459 on the register of the Grand Lodge of England by authority of then Grand Master, the Duke of Cumberland. Prince Hall was the first Master. That charter, which is authenticated and in safekeeping, is believed to be the only original charter issued from the Grand Lodge of England still in the possession of any Lodge in the United States.
African Lodge allowed itself to slip into arrears in the late 1790's and was stricken from the rolls after the Union of 1813, although it had attempted correspondence in 1802 and 1806. In 1827, after other unreplied-to attempts at communication, it declared its independence of any external authority and began to call itself African Grand Lodge No. 1.
It is interesting to note that when the Massachusetts lodges which were acting as a Provincial Grand Lodge declared themselves an independent Grand Lodge, and even when the present Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was formed by the amalgamation of two separate Grand Lodges, African Lodge was not invited to take part, even though it held a warrant every bit as valid as those others. This may be explained in part by this 1795 quote from John Eliot, who later became Grand Chaplain of the Gr. Lodge of Mass. He wrote, "White Masons, who are not more skilled in geometry than their black brethren, will not acknowledge them... .the truth is they are ashamed of being on an equality with blacks."
Today there are 45 Grand Lodges (the latest being the just formed "Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the Caribbean") that trace their origin back to African Lodge #459. There are more than 5000 Prince Hall Lodges and over 300,000 members. So far as it is known, their ritual, their secrets, their procedures, their requirements, their beliefs, their tenets or fundamental principles, are all either identical with ours, or recognizably similar.
To add to this:
The United Grand Lodge of England has now officially recognized Prince Hall Lodges. Many US Grand Lodges have recognized PH GLs within their jurisdictions, and it has been or is being discussed in other jurisdictions. Since every Grand Lodge is autonomous and the supreme authority in its jurisdiction, this issue must be approached on a state-by-state basis.
Some have criticized Freemasonry as "segregated" due to the Prince Hall Lodges, but this is a ridiculous claim, since there are many black Masons in non-PH Lodges and white members in PH Lodges, and displays a fundamental ignorance of Masonic history.
The Scottish Rite awards a special honorary degree, the 33rd, to those it feels has made an outstanding contribution to Freemasonry, the community as a whole, and to mankind. There is no way to "achieve" this degree or "take" it, in the sense that one takes the 4th through 32nd degrees in the Scottish Rite. It is a singular honor, rarely bestowed, and greatly admired.
Yes. Many Lodges open their installation of officers to the public. Once a year, a new Worshipful Master takes office. The ceremony performed during his inauguration is public. It is not the same ceremony as would be performed in a regular Masonic ritual or degree, but it does have the flavoring of Masonic symbolism and allows the public to "get a feel for Freemasonry" without being Masons. NOTE: Not all jurisdictions have public installations. Call or write your local lodge for details.
In addition, many Lodges sponsor public functions throughout the year, such as dinners or charity functions, designed to allow non-Masons who are interested in Freemasonry the chance to talk with Masons and ask questions. For information, call your local Lodge.
No one. Each Grand Lodge has its own jurisdiction and is the supreme authority within that jurisdiction. Obviously, many Grand Lodges have regular communication with each other, but official policy in one has no effect in another.
Yes. Like all organizations, Lodges must be able to pay their light bills. Typically, there is a one-time fee for the three degrees of Freemasonry, as well as regular annual dues. But these vary widely depending on the number of members, cost of living (rent in Manhattan is higher than it is in rural Oklahoma), the actual physical facilities of the Lodge, etc. The fees and dues, however, are not prohibitively expensive. Rather than give a single figure which may be very different than your local Lodge charges, or publishing an extended table of costs, it is easiest to simply refer the interested to their local Lodge.
Incidentally, many Grand Lodge jurisdictions provide for "life membership" after a Mason has paid dues for a long period. For example, in Indiana a Mason is no longer asked to pay dues after he has been a Mason for fifty years. Other jurisdictions allow members to pay a lump sum for life membership. As with almost everything in Freemasonry, check with your local Grand Lodge or Lodge for more information.
"During the ceremonies of his initiation, each Mason is presented with a white apron. It is, to him, an emblem of innocence and the badge of a Mason. It has, in all ages, been cherished by the rich, the poor, the high and the low. It is his for life. He will never receive another one and has, therefore, been cautioned to take it home and instructed in its care. While perfectly satisfactory for him to do so if he desires, he need not bring it to Lodge, as linen aprons are provided for his use meetings." (From a pamphlet, "To the Lady and Family of a Mason")
The above applies to the US. In many other countries, the Master Mason owns his regalia and brings it to the Lodge.
"Any member who was in good standing at the time of his death is entitled to a Masonic funeral if he or his family requests it. Such a request should be made to the Master of his Lodge who will make the necessary arrangements with the family, the mortuary, and the minister. A service is authorized by the jurisdiction in which you are located, and consists of participation at the mortuary, the beginning at the mortuary and the closing at the graveside, or graveside only. Pallbearers will be furnished at the request of the family. In general, the Lodge will do as much or as little as the nearest relative wishes it to do." (From a pamphlet, "To the Lady and Family of a Mason")