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Becoming a Freemason

 

master mason (woodcut)
…lead me from darkness to light;
from the unreal to the real;
and from death to immortality.

How do I join Freemasonry

I can only give the most general of details on this page, as the actual process varies not only from place to place, but also from constitution to constitution.

Ask

The first step is: don't be afraid to ask if you desire joining this Ancient and most Honourable Order. To be sure, sometimes the person or persons you may ask may give you inaccurate replies – as in the case of a young woman who wrote to a GL (that shall remain nameless) knowing they only accepted men, asking if they would be able to provide her with contact details for either Co-Freemasonry or Women-only Freemasonry, as she had only recently moved to the region and had been unable to locate such: the reply was that Freemasonry was only for men! This occured post-2000, with four Co-Masonic Lodges in that city, the oldest nearly 90 y.o.! so ask around if the information seems strange.

Visit (if feasible)

In many parts of the world, various Masonic constitutions hold 'open' or information meetings. Generally, these will be without regalia (we'll come to that below), and without the Lodge being formally open. In some areas such will be held within the Temple or Lodge Room (two names for the same thing), in other areas within a general hall or other room. It's a good way to meet people you are likely to be with if the Lodge to which you apply is the same as the one holding such meeting. In any case, it can give (usually) a fair indication of what kind of engagement a candidate will make.

Formal application

In most parts of the world, the formal application takes various steps. In the first place, there will be an application form that will need to be completed (basic information about yourself, and why you are applying), accompanied by two or three character references (that do not normally need to be from Freemasons). As many Lodges meet but once a month in many parts of the world, it may be that over a full month is needed between your completing the application form and the next step.

Once this is received by the Lodge (or GL), either the person proposing you (if you already know a member who shall be your proposer), or a person allocated to be your proposer, will mention your application in Lodge, which will normally include your name, place of work, and place of residence. This enables anyone who may know you to also have an input into your character, without mis-identification (especially if you happen to have the same name as someone living not that far away from you, perhaps even unbeknowst to yourself – as has occured on various occasions). In many places, your application has to be considered over two consecutive meetings prior to a decision by ballot taking place – so another two months may expire.

Usually, a couple of representatives from the Lodge will during that time have arranged for an informal contact or 'interview' with the applicant. Basically, not only are you seeking to be admitted to the group wishing to work in harmony with them, but the converse is also the case: these people know their Lodge – do they think you are likely to add to their light, or work in such a manner that, perhaps, another Lodge is better suited to you: each Lodge very much builds its own character, and it's to everyone's advantage that the Lodge joined suits you as much as you suit it.

Discussion about your application will then take place in Lodge, and a (secret) ballot will ensue. In some places, a single vote against will exclude – though in most places it seems that three votes against will exclude. Assuming the ballot is clear, this will usually entail that your initiation will take place at the ensuing regular meeting, often the forthcoming month – unless this happens to be a month of no meetings or another engagement has been tabled that cannot be re-allocated.

In some places, however, an 'open interview' is then undertaken in open Lodge. In regions where this takes place (many do not do this), the candidate is brought into the Lodge with blindfold, seated, and the Master of the Lodge invites the prospective candidate to reply to questions posed him or her by members of the Lodge. If this takes place, the candidate is informed that such will occur beforehand. A second ballot would then be taken and, in some places, a third on the evening just prior to initiation.

Following a successful ballot, the candidate will be 'summoned' (a standard term for invitation to all regular masonic meetings) to attend.

Dress

In especially English-speaking countries or Lodges that directly derive from them, uniform dress is required – though often exceptions are made for candidates until they reach their third degree.

This is where the variations differ quite significantly from place to place. Usually, however, the minimum is of a more formal or semi-formal attire. A prospective Lodge would normally inform the candidate of such requirement, and if unsure, ask.

Regalia

The single official item of regalia that will be required is the Masonic Apron. In most places, such will be provided to the candidate for their first and second degree, and purchase (unless gifted) of the Master Mason's apron will be required.

In many places, however, and though not an official piece of regalia, gloves (usually white) are also expected. In places in which gloves are not common (such as hotter regions), you may need to ask where such can be obtained. Remember, if you're having problems finding something, others would too, and may know a specific location stocking such.

In many parts of Europe, white Masonic gloves are made of leather and embossed with the Masonic emblems. In other parts, cotton white gloves are preferred. Again, ask.

Initiation

On the day of initiation, you will normally be taken to a small room adjoining the Lodge Room in which to prepare for the initiation itself. The preparation will usually include changing into vestments specially prepared for the ritual. For the first degree, you will also normally be asked to divest yourself of any and all jewellery and money. For many of us, this may also mean our wedding rings – though some constitutions make exceptions for these (ask if you have specific difficulties with or objections to removing such, or, for example, removing other items of jewellery not publically visible).

Entering the Lodge for initiation blindfolded, you will be guided and supported throughout the ritual.

Repast

Following the ritual, many constitutions will have their normal after-meeting repast or meal (some lighter than others). In some places, a toast will be to your health and ongoing Masonic engagement, to which you may be asked to respond (formally). Ask beforehand on the proper address for this – though if it takes place, will usually take the form, in its simplest:

"Worshipful Master and brethren all, thank you for ....."

This is usually followed by a short personal reflection of the ceremony, without discussing its content as such.

For other pages on Freemasonry within this site:

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