Officially known as: Ancient Free and Accepted Masons or the Free and Accepted Masons, but often simply called Freemasons or Masons, freemasonry is a worldwide society (fraternal organization) that encourages men in both moral and spiritual values. This includes their family, faith, and work. All of these come before any commitment to the Freemasonry society. Freemasonry is not a religion, but sincerely urges its members to seek this knowledge from their own church, synagogue, mosque, or other faith-based organization.
To become a member of the Freemasons you must be a man who believes in a Supreme Being. You must be at least eighteen years old and be of sound mind, body, and come of your own free will. You must have a good reputation, good morals, and have character references. You must usually present at least one (sometimes two) reference(s) from a current Mason. Some jurisdictions have a residence requirement also.
The Freemasons have three great principles that they follow:
Brotherly Love - a true member will display respect and tolerance for others opinions. They will act with understanding and kindness to their fellow creatures.
Relief - charity is encouraged and members are advised to care about their community and their own family. This includes giving their time, as well as their money.
Truth - members devote serious energy to truth and demand high moral criteria in their lives.
The basic unit is known as a Blue Lodge or Craft Lodge. The Freemasons have three degrees that are known as:
First Degree - Entered Apprentice - Initiate degree making one a Mason.
Second Degree - Fellow Craft - Intermediate degree that involves learning.
Third Degree - Master Mason - Requirement to be involved in many aspects of Masonry.
These degrees are various steps in personal development. The degrees are received after a member observes a play to learn a lesson. These lessons include Biblical occurrences or historical events of great importance. The highest attainable degree is Master Mason. There are various other degrees above this, but they do not rank any higher. The additional degrees are steps of learning. They are considered degrees in knowledge only.
The Scottish Rite and the York Rite are two of the branches of the Freemasonry that a Master Mason can join to continue his understanding and further his education. They offer the additional degrees that a Master Mason can obtain.There are over four million worldwide Freemasonry members. This includes all types of professions and occupations that meet as equals. They do not permit discussions of religion or political views during meetings, which sincerely encourages harmony among members.
Each order and degree within Freemasonry has its unique regalia, consisting of, for example, jewels, badges, aprons, gloves, ties etc.
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