Freemasons For Dummies book cover

Freemasons For Dummies

By: Christopher Hodapp Published: 10-26-2021

Unravel the mysteries of the Masons

All the myths and rumors about Masonic organizations probably have you wondering "what do Masons really do?" Questions like this one are a natural by-product of being the oldest and largest "secret society" in the world. This book is an ideal starting place to find answers to your questions about the secret and not-so-secret things about Freemasonry.

Now in its third edition, this international best-seller peeks behind the door of your local Masonic lodge and explains the meanings behind the rituals, rites, and symbols of the organization. Along the way the book covers nearly 3,000 years of Masonic history, introduces you to some famous Freemasons you already know from history books, and explains the relationship with related groups like Knights Templar, Scottish Rite, Order of Eastern Star, and the beloved fez-wearing Shriners.

Look inside the book to learn:

  • What it takes to become a member of the Freemasons, and what you can expect when you join
  • How Lodges are organized and what really goes on during Masonic ceremonies
  • The basic beliefs and philosophies of Freemasonry, including how Masons contribute to charity, and society in general
  • The origins behind some of the wild myths and conspiracy theories surrounding Freemasonry and how to debunk (most of) them

Written by a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Mason and the Public Relations and Marketing Director for the Grand Lodge F&AM of Indiana, Freemasons For Dummies is a must-read guide for anyone interested in this ancient fraternal order, whether you're looking to join or are just curious about some of the more mysterious aspects of Freemasonry.

Articles From Freemasons For Dummies

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8 results
The Requirements to Join a Freemason Lodge

Article / Updated 10-27-2021

In order to become a Freemason, you need some basic qualifications (specific qualifications vary from one lodge to the next, but some general rules apply). But if you meet the Freemason criteria, you still have to go through a process, from petitioning to becoming a full member. Basic qualifications The qualifications to join a lodge vary from one jurisdiction to another, but some basic qualifications are common to all regular Masonic lodges: You must believe in a supreme being. You must be joining of your own free will. Don’t let your dad, uncle, neighbor, or friend pressure you into joining. Join because you want to. You must be a man. You must be free-born. The term free-born is a holdover from the days when slavery, indentured servitude, and bonding were common. It means that a man must be his own master, and not be bound to another man. That’s not a problem these days, but the language is retained because of its antiquity and a desire to retain the heritage of the fraternity. You must be of lawful age. Depending on the Grand Lodge, this can be anywhere from 18 to 25. You must come recommended by at least two existing Freemasons from the lodge you’re petitioning. Masonry doesn’t care about your worldly wealth or social position. Both a bank’s president and janitor can apply for membership, and they’re considered equally qualified. Questions you might be asked You’ll be asked other important questions down the road before you’re allowed to join a lodge: Are you unbiased by friends and uninfluenced by any mercenary motives? Don’t apply for membership if you think you’ll be using your membership card to get out of a speeding ticket or to network for your business. Do you have a favorable opinion of Freemasonry? You should have a desire for knowledge and a sincere wish to be of service to mankind. If you’re merely curious about what goes on behind locked doors, just read the rest of this book. Do you agree to follow the rules? Nothing especially scary here. Health clubs and city parks have the same requirement.

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Freemasons For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 09-24-2021

Freemasons are part of an ancient tradition with rituals and symbols all their own. As a Mason, you can earn degrees, join esoteric and social organizations, and become privy to the language and abbreviations specific to Freemasonry.

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The Lost Symbol: Truth or Fiction?

Article / Updated 07-24-2016

Dan Brown's book, The Lost Symbol, invites much curiosity — and speculation — about a brotherhood of secrets and symbols. So, what's the truth behind the storytelling? Here are a few facts revealed: Did the Masons build Washington DC? The Freemasons of Virginia and Maryland conducted ritual ceremonies for the first foundation marker stone of Washington D.C., as well as the cornerstones for the President's Mansion (the White House) and the Congress House (the Capitol building). George Washington and engineer Pierre L’Enfant were Freemasons, and consulted with non-Mason Andrew Ellicott, who finished designing the street plan of the city after L’Enfant was fired from the project. Masons really did lay the cornerstone of the Washington Monument, along with contributing a series of commemorative stones that appear inside of the obelisk. Have most U.S. Presidents been Freemasons? Only 14 of them (the first was George Washington, and the most recent was Gerald Ford). Do 33rd degree Scottish Rite Masons drink out of a skull? Dan Brown cribbed the ceremony in the first pages of The Lost Symbol from an anti-Masonic exposé written in the 1870s to embarrass the Masons. It's NOT accurate. Is the "Chamber of Reflection" real? Yes, although Dan Brown took some liberties with it. Some Masonic lodges and appendant groups place initiates into a Chamber of Reflection to meditate on their past life and future mortality before certain degree ceremonies, but it is not a uniform practice. It is far more prevalent outside of the U.S. However, Masons do not have private rooms like this in their homes or businesses (like the basement of the U.S. Capitol building). Do Masons accept members from all religions? The first requirement for membership in the Masons (along with being for men only) is the belief in a Supreme Being," but a man's religion is considered his own business. Is the House of the Temple a real place? Yes, it is the headquarters of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction in Washington D.C. Just as Brown said, it is located at 1733 16th Street NW, and it can be toured by the public. And it is pretty much as described in The Lost Symbol, except that human sacrifices do not take place in it. The George Washington Masonic Memorial is also a very real place in Alexandria, right across from the King Street Metro stop. Are pyramids a Masonic symbol? No, this is fiction created by Dan Brown. Pyramids do not appear in regular Masonic ritual or symbolism, and the Masons did not put the "unfinished pyramid and the all-seeing eye" on the back of the U.S. dollar bill. These are myths. Do Masons really have a universal distress signal? Yes, it is a combination of words and hand signals. Do Masons have a secret cipher code? Yes, although it's no secret now that Brown told everybody about it. Just for the record, there are variations of it that he didn't reveal.

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Youth Groups Affiliated with Freemasonry

Article / Updated 07-24-2016

Freemasons encourage young people to become involved in their rituals. Over the years Freemasons have started several groups for young people. You need to have a Masonic connection to join the Order of DeMolay or Job’s Daughters, but a girl of any race, creed, or religion can join the International Order of the Rainbow. Masonic youth groups are in the following list: Order of DeMolay (for boys): DeMolay confers initiation and knighthood on boys, followed by awards of merit. Its members hold office and conduct the ritual and business of the chapter, teaching boys leadership skills, financial responsibility, civic awareness, and public speaking. Today, membership is open to boys between the ages of 12 and 21. Job’s Daughters (for girls): The purpose of the order is to band together young girls for character building through moral and spiritual development, teaching a greater reverence for God and the Bible, patriotism, and respect for parents. The International Order of the Rainbow (for girls): Although its teachings are based on Christian writings used to show basic values integral to many religions., the order is open to girls of all religions.

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Groups Affiliated with Freemasons

Article / Updated 07-24-2016

Freemasons are generally a social bunch who want more and more people to join in their love for their rituals. The mid-1800s saw the addition of more groups joining the Masonic family, including groups for female relatives of Masons, as well as their children. Called appendant bodies, some of these groups developed to confer more-involved, Masonic-style degrees. Others satisfied the desire for military-style drill teams. Still others were created to allow wives and children to take part in the lodge experience. The following list lays out the groups for adults affiliated with Freemasonry: The York Rite: York Rite is actually a descriptive term used for three cooperative groups (which include the Knights Templar) that confer a total of ten degrees in the United States. The degrees making up the York Rite are considered concordant to the first three Masonic degrees, meaning they confer additional Masonic degrees that enlarge and expand on the first three lodge degrees. You must already be a Master Mason before you can join the York Rite. The Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite (or the Scottish Rite): Perhaps the most visible and least understood appendant body of Freemasonry, the Scottish Rite isn’t particularly ancient, and it didn’t come from Scotland. It is technically a concordant body, because some of its degrees continue the story of the building of Solomon’s Temple started in the first three lodge degrees. The Scottish Rite appears in a major role in Dan Brown's novel, The Lost Symbol. Shriners international: The Shrine has often been called the “playground of Freemasonry.” Shriners wear red fezzes, ride little cars in parades, sponsor circuses, and do other wacky things to raise money for their 23 children's hospitals in North America. The Mystic Order of the Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm (simply and affectionately known as the Grotto): Over the years, the Grotto has unfairly earned the unflattering nickname “the poor man’s Shrine,” but built on the premise that men would be better Masons if the solemn teachings from the lodge could be interspersed with a little socializing and fun. The Order of the Eastern Star (OES): Created to be a Masonic-style organization open to women, without simply being a copy, parody, or rip-off of the Masonic degrees. The Order of the Eastern Star is open to men who are Master Masons, and female relatives, spouses, and descendants of Master Masons. The Order of the Amaranth: A group for both Masons and their spouses and female relatives, it’s open to all faiths. The Social Order of the Beauceant: Unusual in American Masonry because it does not require or even admit men. It is an organization of women limited to the wives and widows of Knights Templar. The Ancient Egyptian Order of SCIOTS: Its motto is “Boost One Another.” They’re dedicated to social activities and helping each other in their personal and business lives. High Twelve: An organization for Master Masons who generally meet for an hour once a week to enjoy fellowship and to support Masonic and patriotic causes. National Sojourners: An organization designed especially for Freemasons who have served in active duty of the armed forces of the United States. The Tall Cedars of Lebanon: Founded as a fraternal organization to promote “fun, frolic, and friendship,” and to standardize its ritual. Local chapters are called forests, and members are called tall cedars. Its adopted headgear is a pyramid-shaped hat with a tassel. The degree is purely for fun.

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A Glossary of Masonic Terms

Article / Updated 06-06-2016

Freemasons have their own lingo, like many organizations. They give special meaning to some common words and have terms you won’t hear anywhere but in a Masonic lodge. The following list is a glossary of sorts for some common Masonic phrases: Appendant bodies: Masonically affiliated groups that Masons or their relatives may join. Degree: One of three progressive stages of advancement in the lodge, conferred using a ritual ceremony; additional degrees are conferred by appendant bodies. Grand Lodge: A governing organization with authority over the individual lodges in its jurisdiction. Grip or token: A special identifying handshake used by Masons to identify each other, different for each degree. Hoodwink: Blindfold worn by candidates during portions of degree ceremonies. Initiated: The completion by a candidate of the 1st Masonic degree. Light: Masonic knowledge. Lodge: A group of Freemasons assembling under the authority of a charter issued by a Grand Lodge; also a building or a room where Masons meet. Operative: The period of Freemasonry when Masons actually worked with stone and constructed buildings Passed: The completion by a Mason of the 2nd degree. Profane: A non-Mason. Raised: The completion by a Mason of the 3rd degree. Recognized: The agreement between Masonic Grand Lodges that each other’s rules and customs conform to a certain accepted standard. Regular: A classification of Freemasonry that practices customs which conform to the laws and regulations of a Grand Lodge. Sign: A hand gesture used as a mode of identification between Masons, different for each degree. Sitting in the East: The position in the lodge room where the Worshipful Master sits, also known as the Oriental chair; lodges are symbolically situated east and west. Speculative: Freemasonry as practiced today, using the symbolism of Operative Masons to build character in men. Step: A position of the feet used as a mode of recognition between Masons, different for each degree. Word or pass: A password used as a mode of recognition between Masons, different for each degree.

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Officers of a Typical Freemason Lodge

Article / Updated 06-06-2016

Freemasonry is full of ritual, and for rituals you need people to be responsible for the various activities associated with the ritual and for the lodge in general. And what would any lodge be without a leader? The following list shows the officer positions available in a typical lodge: Worshipful Master (WM): President Senior Warden (SW): First vice president Junior Warden (JW): Second vice president Secretary: Recorder Treasurer: Financial officer Senior Deacon (SD): Worshipful Master’s messenger Junior Deacon (JD): Senior Warden’s messenger Senior Steward (SS): Page Junior Steward (JS): Page Marshall: Master of ceremonies Inner Guard: Inner door guard Tyler (or Tiler): Outer door guard Chaplain

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Freemason Blue Lodge Degrees

Article / Updated 06-06-2016

The local Blue Lodge is the place where you and your Freemason neighbors begin your Masonic careers. A Blue Lodge is a lodge of Freemasons that confers the first three degrees: 1º — Entered Apprentice 2º — Fellow Craft 3º — Master Mason You can join other Masonic organizations to earn further degrees.

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