The Masonic Trowel

... to spread the cement of brotherly love and affection, that cement which unites us into one sacred band or society of brothers, among whom no contention should ever exist, but that noble emulation of who can best work or best agree ...

[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership Development] [Education] [Masonic Talks] [Masonic Magazines Online]
Articles] [Masonic Books Online] [E-Books] [Library Of All Articles] [Masonic Blogs] [Links]
What is New] [Feedback]

 Masonic quotes by Brothers

Search Website For

Add To Favorites

Help Me Maintain OUR Website!!!!!!

List of Contributors

PDF This File

Print This Page

Email This Site To ...




Lt. Col. Gordon "Jack" Mohr

This chapter appeared as a pamphlet titled FREEMASONRY - WHAT IS IT? It appeared in print in November 1980, and was authorized by the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of A.F. & A.M. of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It has subsequent printings in 1982, 1984, and 1986 and was accepted by the Supreme Council, 33 o Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, USA (Mother Supreme Council of the World).

On other words, what you are about to read, comes right "from the horse's mouth." In this chapter, you will discover what Masons say about themselves. In following chapters, we will discover what MASONRY is really all about.


Freemasonry means many things to many people. This is true not only of the person who is not a Mason, but applies to Masons themselves. Some of those who have been members of the Masonic Craft for many years are afraid to mention even the things which almost everyone knows about the fraternity. Others among us are convinced that FREEMASONRY is a secret society and that they, as members, are forbidden to talk about it to others whom they do not know to be Masons. Most of this is far from the truth and a word of explanation concerning this Fraternal organization may not be amiss. FREEMASONRY IS A FRATERNITY. (Keep in mind that this is what FREEMASONIC LEADERS SAY Masonry is all about).

FREEMASONRY is the oldest, and by far, the largest fraternal order in the world. Its lodges stretch around the globe and, like the British Empire, it might well be said that the sun never sets on the Masonic Lodge. Fraternity means an association of friends and brothers, and that is exactly what Freemasonry is - a society of friends and brothers. It is not a benefit society in the sense that one becomes a member of it because of the insurance benefits which he may receive or which may insure to his family at his death. It is not an eleemosynary institution (a charitable institution), founded to collect and disburse charity or founded on the giving of alms.

It is not a secret society in that its Temples are openly marked and almost everyone in the community knows where they are located. The Grand Lodge publishes a list of the members of every lodge in Virginia. Many of the lodges have individual bulletins which carry the names of officers and of members as well. Thus it is, ii' the strictest sense of the world, a society with secrets and these are limited to its obligation, its modes of recognition, and is the Tiller which guards the Lodge from intrusion.


Membership, because it is a fraternity, is limited to men. He who would become a member must meet certain recognized requirements - high standards of character and reputation. It does not require that its members subscribe to any particular creed, or belong to any particular church. Church membership does not keep one out of or secure him admission into any Masonic Lodge. The profession of a belief in God and in a future life are the sole religious requirements.

No one is excluded because of his membership in a particular church. There are, however, a few denominations which do not allow their members to become Masons, in some instances the mistaken impression had gone abroad that Freemasonry refuses admission to those who are members of certain denominations. It is the the church, rather than Freemasonry, that denies that membership.


Many men do not understand the process of acquiring membership in a Masonic Lodge. No one is ever invited to become a Mason or to join a Lodge. Though all morally good men would be welcomed in any Masonic Lodge, the man himself must first ask some Mason about becoming a member. Once he has done so, the requested Mason will secure an application blank, called by our Lodges a petition, and he has taken the first step. He must have two Masons who know him to sign his petition, vouching for his character and his qualifications. He must also receive the unanimous ballot of the members of the Lodge to which he applies for the degrees, who are present when his petition is voted on.

Having passed this ballot, the candidate receives his first of three degrees which make up the symbolism of the Craft Lodge. This is designated The Degrees of Entered Apprentice. The second degree is designated The Degree of Fellow Craft, and the third degree is the Degree of Master Mason. Each degree is a separate entity and one is always an Entered Apprentice when he sits in a lodge on the First Degree of Masonry, no matter what his Masonic status may be. Each of these degrees has certain rights and privileges but all of the rights and privileges are attained only after the degree is received.

After he has received each of the degrees, the candidate must commit to memory a catechism covering the degree received. He must be examined in open Lodge and prove his right to be advanced thereby. This serves a useful purpose,t for it assures the Fraternity that each will know himself to be a Mason and be able to recognize others of the Craft by their manner of speaking. He will be enabled by such knowledge to visit other Lodges where he is not known and must be examined to prove his right to be admitted.


Freemasonry is ancient, having existed in some form for so long that many serious students have differed as to the time and place of its origin. There is evidence of a basic type of craft association which antedate the Christian era. It survived various transitions which took place. during the Middle Ages. It was during this period that the word FREE was prefixed to the word MASON, because these builders were one of the very few classes of persons allowed to travel from country to country and to practice the builder's art wheresoever they went. It was these companies of Masons who constructed the beautiful cathedrals and other stately structures which dot the plains of Europe and the English countryside. These men differed in the main from others of the working crafts because they, possessing knowledge and skills not found elsewhere, were free men rather than bond servants.

Until the Sixteenth Century Masons were strictly an operative craft, bound together by the close ties found in the constructive guilds of the day. Early in the Seventeenth Century, men of prominence were admitted, not as craftsmen, for they were not skilled in the builders art, but rather as patrons. Gradually these men came to be known as "ACCEPTED MASONS." Thus, by the time the Seventeenth Century came to its end these ACCEPTED or SPECULATIVE MASONS were predominate in many of the older Lodges of Freemasonry. Today the Masonic Lodge is termed SPECULATIVE because its emphasis is on the moral philosophy which is its foundation, rather than the operative art of the Sixteenth and earlier centuries. The tools of the stonemason are used to symbolize moral virtues rather than build cathedrals.


On June 24, 1717, St. John the Baptist Day, the members of four old Lodges in London, met together in Grand ASSEMBLY TO FORM THE GRAND LODGE of England. That this was a SPECULATIVE LODGE is evidenced by the election of one styled ANTHONY SAYER, GENTLEMAN as Grand Master. All modern Freemasonry traces its beginning under the Grand Lodge system of Government.

FREEMASONS came to America about the third decade of the Eighteenth Century when Lodges were established in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia. American Freemasons can take pride in the part which members of this Fraternity have played in the history of this country.

Many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Masons and the same statement is true of those who signed the Constitution of the United States. Famous men such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, Lafayette, James Monroe and others whose names awaken memories of the founders of our country. Since our country's beginning, thirteen Presidents have been Masons.

Masons have also won laurels in other fields of endeavor and we find them prominent in government, in science, in sports, in entertainment, and finally in man's newest field, that of space exploration with Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper, Virgil Grissom, and "Buz" Aidrin, all bound by the mystic tie of Freemasonry.


It has a different connotation in different situations. Someone has written that Freemasonry is honesty in business; that it is fairness in work; courtesy in society; compassion for the sick and unfortunate; forgiveness for the penitent; love for our fellow man and reverence for God.

Yes it is all of these, but it is more, for Freemasonry is a philosophy to live by, the shadow of a mighty rock in a weary land.


back to top

[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership Development] [Education] [Masonic Talks] [Masonic Magazines Online]
Articles] [Masonic Books Online] [E-Books] [Library Of All Articles] [Masonic Blogs] [Links]
What is New] [Feedback]

This site is not an official site of any recognized Masonic body in the United States or elsewhere.
It is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion
of Freemasonry, nor webmaster nor those of any other regular Masonic body other than those stated.

DEAD LINKS & Reproduction | Legal Disclaimer | Regarding Copyrights

Last modified: March 22, 2014