MASONRY & OTHER BRANCHES RELATED TO FREEMASONRY
 
WHAT FREEMASONRY IS
THE ROOT OF MASONRY
THE LODGE
THE SCOTTISH RITE
THE 33rd DEGREE MASON
THE YORK RITE
THE SHRINERS
THE ORDER OF DEMOLAY
THE ORDER OF THE EASTERN STAR
THE INTERNATIONAL ORDER OF THE RAINBOW
THE ORDER OF THE AMARANTH
THE INTERNATIONAL ORDER OF JOB'S DAUGHTER

WHAT FREEMASONRY IS...

Freemasonry is the oldest and largest fraternity in the world. It uses the ancient tools and symbols of masons to teach timeless lessons about ethics and morality. Freemasonry is a fraternal order whose basic tenets are brotherly love, relief 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 Masonry "takes good men and makes them better", which is our goal.
Freemasons believe in the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, and the brotherhood of man. Freemasonry strives to teach a man the duty he owes to God, his country, his neighbor, his family and himself, discussion of religion and politics within the Lodge is forbidden, as these subjects are those that have often divided men in the past. Masons cover the spectrum of both religious and political beliefs and encourages a man to be religious without advocating a particular religion, and to be active in his community without advocating a particular medium of political expression. While there probably are some actual stone-workers who are Masons, Masonry does not teach is membership the literal techniques of stonework. Rather, it takes the actual "operative" work of Medieval Masons and uses it as an allegory for moral development. Thus, the symbols of Masonry are the common tools that were used by medieval stonemasons: the gavel, the rule, the compass, the square, the level, etc. Each of these has a symbolic meaning in Masonry. For example, Masons are said to meet "on the level", meaning that all Masons are brothers, regardless of social status, personal wealth, or office within the Lodge or in the world at large. Similar symbolism exists for other tools. Masonry is distinguished from other fraternal orders by its emphasis on moral character, its ornate rituals, and its long tradition and history, which dates back to at least the 17th century in modern form, the 14th century (1350-1390) in the written evidence of its precursors, and back to the mists of antiquity in its origin. Masonry has a continuously documented paper history (Lodge to Lodge) since 1717, though historical analysis shows Masonry to be much older. There are three Degrees in Masonry or Blue Lodge Masonry proper. At the Blue Lodge, Masons receive the Degrees of Entered Apprentice (First Degree), Fellowcraft (Second Degree) and Master Mason (Third Degree). Promotion generally requires the mastery of a small body of memorized material, the contents of which varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

THE ROOT OF MASONRY

"Masonic ceremonies teach that Freemasonry was in existence when King Solomon built the Temple at Jerusalem and that the masons who built the Temple were organised into Lodges. Our Masonic antiquity is demonstrated by a so-called Regius Manuscript written around the year 1390, when King Richard II reigned in England, a century before Columbus. It was part of the King's Library that George II presented to the British Museum in 1757. it consists of 794 lines of rhymed English verse and claims there was an introduction of Masonry into England during the reign of Athelstan, who ascended the throne in A.D. 925. Teaching duties to God and Church and Country, and inculcating brotherhood. While the real roots of Masonry are lost in faraway mists, these items show that our recorded history goes back well over 600 years. Further proof is furnished through English statutes as, one of which regulated wages of a "Master...Mason at 4 pence per day." The Fabric Role of the 12th century Exeter Cathedral referred to "FREEMASONS.
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The historical advance of science also treats of our operative ancient brethren who were architects and stonemasons of geometry. It is apparent from this portrayal that they had a very real and personal identification with the Deity and that this fervent devotion provided energy to build cathedrals. They embraced the teachings of Plato and understood and applied Pythagorean relationships. Just as there is a beauty of harmony credited to mathematical relationships on which music is based, in precisely the same way these master geometricians treated architecture. The architects and stonemasons became the personification of geometry, performing extraordinary feats with squares and compasses. Geometrical proportion, not measurement, was the rule. Their marks as stonemasons were derived from geometric constructions. The mighty works they wrought, cathedrals with Gothic spires pointing toward the heavens, and especially their "association," were not without danger and opposition, bearing in mind the Inquisition established in 1229, the Saint Bartholomew's Eve Massacre of 1572, and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. These historical points remind us of the need for our cautions against cowans and eavesdroppers.
Our operative Brethren of the Middle Ages thus were the builders of mighty cathedrals throughout the British Isles and continental Europe, many of which still stand. These skilled craftsmen wrote in enduring stone impressive stories of achievement, frequently chiseled with symbolic markings. With these architectural structures of these master builders there was a companion moral code. These grew up together. Out of this background modern Freemasonry was born.
Organized Freemasonry in the modern sense dates from 24 June 1717 when four London lodges came together, formed themselves into a Grand Lodge and elected a Grand Master and Grand Wardens. Indeed, this Lodge -- the United Grand Lodge of England -- is the oldest Grand Lodge of Freemasons in the world.Although "Lodges" had existed for centuries, four of the "old" Lodges met in London on St. John the Baptist's Day, June 24, 1717, and formed the first Grand Lodge of England, thereafter known as the Premier Grand Lodge of the world. No longer operative as of old, the Masons carried on the traditions and used the tools of the craft as emblems to symbolize principles of conduct in a continued effort to build a better world.

THE LODGE

Most Lodges have regular communications - meetings once a month, that are also referred to as "Stated Meetings or Regular Meetings". In the United States, these are typically only open to Master Masons. In England, Ireland and Scotland these meetings are usually opened in the first degree and Entered Apprentices may attend. While conferral of degrees and mundane business do take up a lot of a Lodge's time, there are a host of other activities that Masons engage in within the fraternity. Charitable work is often done, in the form of fundraisers, community volunteer work, etc. And there are also a great many things done for the simple pleasure of company: monthly breakfasts or dinners, picnics, card / chess matches, Lectures on Masonic history, you name it. Masonry is a fraternity, and its membership seeks to have fun.
The head of a Lodge is given the title "WORSHIPFUL MASTER" or as in Lodges under the Roll of The Grand Lodge of Scotland - "Right Worshipful Master". This, of course, does not imply that Masons worship him; it is marked by a good quality or property - Notable or Distinguished, used as a formal title for various persons or groups of rank or distinctions.

THE SCOTTISH RITE

The Scottish Rite is an appendant body of Masonry, meaning that it is not part of the Blue Lodge, but closely associated with Masonry. 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.

THE 33rd DEGREE MASON

The Scottish Rite awards a special honorary degree, the 33rd, to those it feels has made an outstanding contribution to Masonry, 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.

THE YORK RITE

The York Rite, like the Scottish Rite, is an appendant body of Masonry, and confers degrees beyond the Blue 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 SHRINE

The Shrine is not an appendant body of Masonry, 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.Members of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles the Mystic Shrine for North America (AAONMS is an anagram for "A MASON"). The Shrine is most noted for its emphasis on philanthropy and its jolly outlook on life-- it has been called "the playground of Masonry". This is expressed as "Pleasure without intemperance, hospitality without rudeness, and jollity without coarseness."

THE ORDER OF DEMOLAY

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 Masonry. 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.
The Order's namesake is Jacques DeMolay, who was the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar and who was executed by the Inquisition on March 13, 1314. Louis Lower, the first DeMolay, and his group of friends, believed that his heroic fidelity and loyalty to his fellow Templars were qualities with which they wanted their group to be identified. DeMolays are taught the seven cardinal virtues of the Order-- filial love, reverence for sacred things, courtesy, comradeship, fidelity, cleanness, and patriotism-- and the importance of practicing them in their daily lives.

THE ORDER OF THE EASTERN STAR

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. Subordinate 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.
Members must be eighteen years or older and either Master Masons in good standing or properly related to a Master Mason in good standing. The latter category includes wives; widows; sisters; daughters; mothers; granddaughters; step-mothers; step daughters; step-sisters; and half-sisters. In 1994 this was expanded to include nieces, daughters-in- law, and grandmothers.

THE INTERNATIONAL ORDER OF THE 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.
"The International Order of Rainbow for Girls was founded by Rev. W. Mark Sexson in 1922 for girls from 11 to 20.

ORDER OF THE AMARANTH

Open to Masons and their wives, mothers, daughters, widows, and sisters. At least one Master Mason must be present at every initiation. It confers only one degree.

INTERNATIONAL ORDER OF JOB'S DAUGHTER

Enrolls girls between the ages of 13 and 20 that have some Masonic relative. They must profess a belief in God, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord's prayer.

 

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