Freemasonry: Meaning, History, Degrees

Everything you need to know about Freemasonry - its history, meaning and degrees - summarized in a visual mind map!

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Freemasonry: Meaning, History, Degrees by Mind Map: Freemasonry: Meaning, History, Degrees

1. Freemasonry: Meaning

1.1. Freemasonry is a philosophy to live by, the shadow of a mighty rock in a weary land.

1.2. FACTS

1.2.1. The oldest, and by far, the largest fraternal order in the world

1.2.2. Its Lodges stretch around the globe

1.2.3. It is not a secret society

1.2.4. The Grand Lodge publishes a list of the members of every Lodge in Virginia

1.2.5. It is religious in character, but it is not a religion

1.2.6. As their central idea was building a better society they borrowed their forms and symbols from the operative builders craft and took their central allegory from the Bible

1.3. WOMEN AND FREEMASONRY

1.3.1. When it was an operative craft, the buildings were built by masons who were, men. The Craft became a fraternity for men. Thus, it was a practice that only men became operative masons. This practice has continued down through the years.

1.3.1.1. Women are certainly included in the Family of Freemasonry through Concordant Bodies, such as the Order of the Eastern Star, the Order of Amaranth etc.

2. Freemasonry: History

2.1. Theories

2.1.1. Freemasons are told that Freemasonry was in existence when King Solomon built the Temple at Jerusalem and that the masons who built the Temple were organized into Lodges.

2.1.1.1. King Solomon, King Hiram of Tyre and Hiram Abif ruled over those lodges as equal Grand Masters

2.1.1.1.1. Freemasonry neither originated nor existed in Solomon' s time.

2.1.2. Freemasonry was a lineal descendant or a modern version of the mysteries of classical Greece and Rome

2.1.2.1. Derived from the religion of the Egyptian pyramid builders

2.1.3. Freemasonry sprang from bands of travelling stonemasons acting by Papal authority

2.1.4. Freemasonry evolved from a band of Knights Templar who escaped to Scotland after the order was persecuted in Europe.

2.1.5. Freemasonry derives in some way from the shadowy and mysterious Rosicrucian Brotherhood

2.2. Conflicting evidence

2.2.1. Early evidence for Freemasonry is very meager and not enough has yet been discovered

2.2.2. Freemasonry has arisen from the medieval stonemasons (or operative masons) who built great cathedrals and castles.

2.2.2.1. The stonemasons gathered in huts (lodges) to rest and eat.

2.2.2.1.1. In the early 1600s these operative lodges began to admit men who had no connection with the trade - accepted or gentlemen masons

2.2.3. English evidence through the 1600s points to Freemasonry existing apart from any actual or supposed organization of operative stonemasons.

2.2.4. In the 1600s, many trades had what have become known as box clubs

2.2.4.1. Grew out of the convivial gatherings of members of a particular trade during meetings

2.2.4.1.1. Perhaps Freemasonry had its origins in just such a box club for operative masons.

2.3. Fact

2.3.1. It is not yet possible to say when, why or where Freemasonry originated it is known where and when "organized" Freemasonry began

2.3.1.1. On 24 June 1717 four London lodges came together at the Goose and Gridiron Ale House in St Pauls Churchyard

2.3.1.1.1. Formed into a Grand Lodge and elected a Grand Master (Anthony Sayer) and Grand Wardens.

3. Freemasonry: Degrees

3.1. 1st - Entered Apprentice Degree

3.1.1. QUALIFICATIONS OF A PETITIONER

3.1.1.1. There are physical, moral and spiritual qualifications

3.1.1.1.1. Physical

3.1.1.1.2. Moral

3.1.1.1.3. Spiritual

3.1.2. THE SECRET BALLOT

3.1.2.1. After a man has applied for Masonic membership, and his background has been thoroughly investigated, the lodge members vote by secret ballot to accept or to reject him for membership.

3.1.3. PREPARATION FOR INITIATION

3.1.3.1. The candidate should find his way to the door of Freemasonry on his own

3.1.3.2. The candidate should pay strict attention to every part of the ceremony

3.1.3.3. Every Mason in the Lodge room is his friend and brother

3.1.4. THE OBLIGATION

3.1.4.1. The heart of the Degree

3.1.4.2. He has solemnly bound himself to Freemasonry and assumed certain duties which are his for the rest of his life

3.1.4.3. The taking of the Obligation is visible and audible evidence of the candidate's sincerity of purpose

3.1.4.4. It protects the Fraternity against someone revealing the modes of recognition and symbolic instruction

3.1.5. THE PROFICIENCY

3.1.5.1. A series of questions and answers, which the candidate is required to commit to memory prior to being advanced to the next degree

3.1.5.1.1. Teach each candidate the language of Freemasonry.

3.1.5.1.2. Fix in his memory the teachings and structure of the Degree.

3.1.5.1.3. Impress upon his consciousness the different points of the Obligation.

3.1.5.1.4. Give each candidate an ancient method to contemplate the meanings behind the degree.

3.1.5.1.5. Give the new candidate a point of contact with an established member.

3.2. 2nd - Fellowcraft Degree

3.2.1. BASIC TEACHINGS OF THE SECOND DEGREE

3.2.1.1. Symbolizes the stage of adulthood and responsibility during a man's life on earth

3.2.1.2. His task is to acquire knowledge and apply it to the building of his character and improving the society

3.2.2. RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF A FELLOWCRAFT

3.2.2.1. He has the right to sit in a Lodge when opened in the Fellowcraft Degree, when accompanied by a Master Mason who has sat in Lodge

3.2.2.2. He has the right to be instructed and examined

3.2.2.3. He is acquired the special knowledge introduced in this Degree and seek to apply that knowledge to his duties in life so he can occupy his place in society with satisfaction and honor.

3.2.3. THE WAGES OF A FELLOWCRAFT

3.2.3.1. Corn, Wine, and Oil are symbolic wages earned by the Fellowcraft Mason

3.2.3.1.1. Symbolizes wealth in mental and spiritual worlds.

3.2.3.1.2. Corn represents nourishment and the sustenance of life.

3.2.3.1.3. Wine is symbolic of refreshment, health, spirituality, and peace.

3.2.3.1.4. Oil represents joy, gladness and happiness.

3.2.3.1.5. Taken together, Corn, Wine, and Oil represent the temporal rewards of living a good life.

3.2.3.2. The actual "wages" are the intangible but no less real compensation for a faithful and intelligent use of the Working Tools

3.3. 3rd - Master Mason Degree

3.3.1. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE DEGREE

3.3.1.1. The crown of the Blue Lodge

3.3.1.2. The culmination of all that has been taught to the candidate in the two preceding ceremonies

3.3.1.3. Physical nature has been purified and developed to a high degree

3.3.1.4. His mental faculties have sharpened and his horizons have been expanded

3.3.2. SYMBOLISM OF THE DEGREE

3.3.2.1. Candidate enters the Lodge of the Master Mason in darkness, for he has not witnessed the Light at this Degree before

3.3.2.2. Difference of this entrance from that of the others is that he is now in a state of equilibrium and is prepared to walk on sacred ground

3.3.2.3. Candidate partakes of the central Mystery Drama of the Fraternity

3.3.2.4. The very nature of participating in this rite and assuming the role of the Grand Master Hiram Abiff is to forge a link with the inner soul of the Fraternity.

3.3.3. THE RIGHTS OF A MASTER MASON

3.3.3.1. These consist of Masonic Relief, Masonic Visitation, and Masonic Burial.

3.3.4. THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF A MASTER MASON

3.3.4.1. To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied

3.3.4.2. Leading a good life

3.3.4.3. Should choose the course which will bring credit to himself and honor to the Fraternity