Frequently Asked Questions
What is Freemasonry?
This one of the most difficult questions to answer and even Freemasons themselves give differing definitions.
This is probably due to the fact that Freemasonry does not impose any particular Dogma and has no Theology but simply attempts to guide members to a more moral way of life.
‘Attempting to make good men better’ is one definition.
Freemasonry is a world wide institution with more than 4 million members.
Is Freemasonry a secret society?
No! You are reading this are you not?
The perception that Freemasonry is in some way secret has arisen relatively recently simply because Freemasons value their privacy. This is no different from many other membership based organisations that keep their affairs private from those who are not members.
If you asked a tennis, bowling or golf club, of which you are not a member, for details of their membership, committee minutes, etc. then you can safely assume the reply – should the club concerned be courteous enough even to answer.
This basic right to privacy applies equally to Trades Unions, Private Clubs, Political Parties, Churches, etc. as well as to individuals.
Masonic lodges advertise the time and location of their meetings in the local press as well as online via websites and social media platforms.
Our meetings here at Lodge St Servanus are stated within this website and on our Facebook page – hardly the actions of a secret society!
The only Masonic “secrets” are those methods that members of various degrees throughout the world use to recognise and greet each other. It’s as simple as that.
Why do Freemasons have a funny handshake?
Freemasonry is a very old society that pre-dates many present day institutions.
The earliest Masonic records (1599) are to be found in Scotland and date from a time when members of lodges were mainly illiterate.
As stonemasons had to travel all over the country, and occasionally overseas, methods of recognition had to be devised in order to secure employment appropriate to the degree of skill of each individual.
The means of recognition consisted of not just a handshake but also words and signs appropriate to each skill level and Freemasonry simply continues that tradition.
In these more modern times we use different methods to identify skill levels such as SVQ’s, NVQ’s, CITB, City & Guilds Certification, etc in order to identify those with the necessary qualifications. These are stored in electronic databases and can be accessed to ensure authenticity.
Membership cards are used extensively to show that one is a member of a particular society, trade association or club.
A membership card however, or anything in writing, would have been useless to an illiterate stone mason.
Freemasonry is a very traditional institution, proud of its history and what it stands for. It simply continues to use practices established centuries ago.
How does one become a Freemason?
Usually by asking another Freemason.
It is a general rule, in Scotland, that a Freemason will not solicit men for membership.
There are occasions when a member of the family, a close personal friend, will be asked but this is a matter for the individual freemason concerned.
If you would like further information and do not know a freemason or are unaware if you know one then contact the lodge secretary via this link.
What are the qualifications for membership?
There are several.
An applicant must believe in a Supreme Being.
Freemasonry will not provide any further definition and the nature of that Being must be determined by the applicant himself.
The applicant must be an upright man of good moral character and be at least twenty-one years old or 18 years if the son of a freemason.
He must not have a criminal record.
He must be able to meet his financial commitments to his family before those to Freemasonry.
Why are some churches antagonistic towards freemasonry?
Quite simply that question should be directed elsewhere.
Freemasonry will not make any comment regarding any particular belief system, religious, political or otherwise.
It will certainly make no comment on another organisation’s internal affairs as that is their own business.
Why is freemasonry such a unique institution?
In many ways it is not.
There are other organisations in existence that also value their privacy.
It may be because Freemasonry is so popular that it attracts a greater degree of attention than these other organisations.
Historically Freemasonry was but one institution among many.
For instance there were the Free Gardeners, Free Shepherds, Free Carpenters, Free Colliers, etc. which were organised along similar lines to Freemasonry and taught morality by way of their own ritual plays and symbolism.
Most of these organisations no longer exist leaving Freemasonry as the only example of this once common form of society or association.
Once a member is it not difficult to leave?
Freemasonry is a voluntary organisation and once a member there is no pressure to continue to participate.
Indeed men join and subsequently find it is not to their taste or is not what they had envisaged and so cease to be active members.
Whilst it is sad that Freemasonry is unable to meet the applicant’s aspirations it will not stand in the way of anyone’s decision to leave.