Who are Freemasons?

Freemasons share a concern for human values, moral standards, respect for the laws of society and the rights of individuals. It provides a code of living in today's society based on spiritual, ethical and moral standards.

Freemasons are ordinary men in the community, 18 years and over, of all religions and backgrounds, who share a concern for human values, moral standards and the rights of individuals.

It offers members with an insight and knowledge of history and philosophy, an appreciation for ancient ritual and symbolism, personal development, public service and hands-on involvement in charitable activities and community issues. Freemasonry also provides opportunities to socialise with men from all walks of life, without religious and political barriers.

There are approximately 6 million Freemasons worldwide and 23,000 in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

Freemasonry is an organisation of men who strive to live by the fundamental principles of integrity, goodwill and charity. It is a non-profit organisation that is heavily involved in supporting charity and community service.

Why do you call yourselves a fraternity?

One of the greatest things about Freemasonry is that men from all walks of life regardless of their race, creed, colour and social status can come together as equals and share a common bond of friendship and fraternity as Freemasons.

The members are banned from any political or religious discussion whilst at the Lodge, to ensure peace and harmony is constant. This principle was embodied in the American civil war, where Yankee and Confederate soldiers would come together at Lodge, under the banner of Freemasonry, in peace and harmony, to pratise the ideals of friendship and fraternity.

After the ritual of the Lodge is completed, members come together and share a meal and family and friends are often invited to participate. Freemasons often refer to the term "Meeting on the level and parting on the square", which means they meet as equals and part as friends.

Meeting on the level and parting on the square

Freemasonry can provide men and their families a fun and active social life with like-minded people from all walks of life. Family and family values are an important part of a Freemason's life and families are frequently invited to take part in Masonic activities such as charity balls, family picnic days and other social get togethers.

It must be noted that as a Freemason, a member's family is to be valued above all else and should at all times take precendence over his Masonic membership. However, it is important that a member's family understands his Masonic association and supports him in his development.

What does Freemasonry offer my personally?

Freemasonry offers men an opportunity to develop insights into philosophical ideals, which espouse the core values of prudence, temperance fortitude and justice.

Prudence is to help us make the right decisions; temperance keeps us on the straight and narrow; fortitude promotes self-confidence and strong self-esteem; and justice provides us with guidance in life.

Members are also provided with training in self-development, which includes public speaking, mentoring, tolerance, communication skills and self-confidence.

What is the history of Freemasonry?

The precise origins of Freemasonry have been lost in time, however, its traditions date back to the Middle Ages and to the stone masons who built the cathedrals and castles of Europe. To construct them, it was necessary for men to have considerable knowledge of geometry, arithmetic and engineering. These highly skilled masons formed themselves into Lodges to protect the skills and secrets of their trade and to pass on their knowledge to worthy apprentices.

It was during the 17th Century that these lodges began to accept as members, men of learning and position who had no connection with building trades. The workers in stone became known as "operative" Masons and the newcomers "speculative" or "accepted" Masons.

In 1717, four such lodges meeting regularly in London decided to unite in forming a "Grand Lodge" and elect a Grand Master.

From this humble beginning has developed one of the world's most important fraternal societies.

The principle, gradually spread throughout the world, to the point where there are now about 150 Grand Lodges and approximately six million Freemasons throughout the world.

History of Freemasonry

Why and how is ritual and symbolism used?

Ask any member about Masonic ritual and he is likely to explain it as a unique and inspiring experience. Ritual is core in Freemasonry. This ritual is unique in that it uses a range of objects, symbols and scenarios to disseminate the values, traditions and philosophical precepts of Freemasonry. These rituals are centuries old and have been used in Freemasonry for hundreds of years. An example of such symbolism is the use of medieval stonemason working tools as a vehicle of instruction.

Symbols in the Lodge room are used to define the rank of a Freemason. The most widely recognised symbol of Freemasonry is the Square and Compasses. The square teaches us to keep our passions and prejudices within due bounds.

Masons wear the symbol to remind themselves of their obligation to the lessons learned in their lodges and to identify their membership to the other Freemasons and all people. Masonic symbols have wide meanings - some directly relate to the tools used by operative Masons and some represent the need for order and direction in life.

symbolism in Freemasonry

Is Freemasonry a secret society?

No. There is nothing 'secret' about Freemasonry. The policy until recently was for members to be rather discreet about the organisation, their community work and even their membership. But times have changed.

In the Middle Ages, people were predominantly illiterate. Therefore, symbols such as the square and compasses, modes of dress, hand shakes and signs were used to distinguish a Mason from a non-mason, and thus protect the highly prized technical know how of their trade.

Developed long before out modern day modes of communication, these secret signs and passwords were later used by Freemasons to identify one another and to establish their degree of level of attainment in Freemasonry. These days, these modes of recognition are used solely as a ceremonial means of demonstrating that one is a Freemason when in Lodge meetings.

That a Freemason does not reveal these so-called 'secrets' is basically a dramatic way of testing the good character of those who join. To become a Freemason requires a person to continually observe, with total sincerity, the high ideals of integrity and confidentiality.

Is Freemasonry a religion?

No. This is a misconception. Freemasonry does not have any theological doctrines, offers no sacraments and does not claim to lead to salvation. It is not a substitute for religion, nor is it a forum for religious discussion. To be a Freemason you must, however, have a belief in a 'Supreme Being'.

Freemasonry is made up of men who come from many different religions. There is nothing whatsoever in being a Freemason that conflicts with a member's religious beliefs or practices.

Freemasonry promotes unity and tolerance amongst all men and does not discriminate against any religion. The principles and practices of Freemasonry are compatible with all compassionate religions that teach respect for the deity and tolerance towards one's fellow man. If anything, Freemasonry complements the philosophies of these faiths.

What costs are involved in joining Freemasonry?

As with all organisations, annual membership fees are expected of members but are reasonably priced. Fees may vary from Lodge to Lodge depending on the style of the Lodge. For example, a Lodge that values fine wine and cuisine would have larger catering costs. When first becoming a Freemason, you will pay a one off joining fee and also purchase Masonic attire.

What kind of charitable works are Freemasons involved in?

Charity and benevolence are a basic teaching of Freemasonry. Members have been involved in charitable activities in this country since European settlement. There are a number of Masonic charities actively involved in the community for the care of young people, orphans, the sick, the ages, and those affected by natural disaster. Money is raised at local, regional and state level through initiatives at Lodge meetings, dinners and other social events. In any one year, Freemasons across NSW & ACT give generously and significantly to charities and not-for-profit organisations on a community and national level. For example, the NSW & ACT Masons have been proud and substantial supporters of Surf Lifesaving NSW, Keep Australia Beautiful, Cancer Research and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Who should I contact for further information?

You are most welcome to contact us at Lodge Balgowlah for further information about the organisation. Feel free to use the contact page here to get in touch with us.