The Scottish Rite is an appendant body of Masonry, meaning that it is not part of the Blue Lodge per se, but closely associated with Masonry. It requires that a man be a Master Mason before joining the Scottish Rite. The Scottish Rite confers the 4th through 32nd degrees. The degree work may be, but is not necessarily, completed at one time. Any Master Mason is eligible to join the Scottish Rite. The degrees of the Scottish Rite continue the symbolism of the first three Masonic degrees. For a discussion of the 33rd degree, see question 9 of this section.
The York Rite,
like the Scottish Rite, is an appendant body of Masonry, and confers degrees
beyond the Blue Lodge's three degrees. It consists of nine additional degrees:
Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and Royal Arch Mason; the
Cryptic Degrees of the Royal Master, Select Master, and Super Excellent Master;
and the Chivalric Orders: the Order of the Red Cross, Order of the Knights of
Malta and the Order of Knights Templar.
Until recently, members of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles the Mystic Shrine for North America (AASONM is an anagram for "A MASON") were required to be members of the Scottish Rite's 32nd degree, and/or Knights Templar of the York Rite. In 2000, the Shrine opened its doors to all men who are Master Masons. The Shrine is most noted for its emphasis on philanthropy and its jolly outlook on life-- it has been called "the playground of Masonry". This is expressed as "Pleasure without intemperance, hospitality without rudeness, and jollity without coarseness."
The Royal Order of Jesters is a group drawn from Shrine membership, by invitation only.
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The Order of the Eastern Star is an adoptive rite of Freemasonry with teachings based on the Bible and objectives that are charitable and benevolent. The founder of OES was Dr. Robert Morris, a lawyer and educator from Boston, Massachusetts, who was a Master Mason and Past Grand Master of Kentucky. Dr. Morris intended his creation to become a female branch of Freemasonry, but he failed to overcome the great opposition this idea engendered. After his first published ritual in 1849-50, he became associated with Robert Macoy who wrote and published a ritual based on Morris' in 1867. The first Grand Chapter was organized in Michigan in the same year. (There is evidence for an organization of the same name founded variously in 1788 or 1793, but this group was defunct by 1867.) Subordinate (local) chapters operate under charter from state level grand chapters which are responsible to the General Grand Chapter at the International Eastern Star temple in Washington, D.C.
Members must be eighteen years or older and either Master Masons in good standing or properly related to a Master Mason in good standing. The latter category includes wives; widows; sisters; daughters; mothers; granddaughters; stepmothers; step daughters; stepsisters; and half-sisters. In 1994 this was expanded to include nieces, daughters-in- law, and grandmothers.
Interestingly enough, OES requires only the belief in a Supreme Being even though the degrees are based in both the Old and New Testaments. While non-Christians are not specifically barred from membership, it would seem to be difficult to be other than Christian and belong to the Order. (Thanks to Joy Leavy)
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DeMolay International is the world's largest fraternal organization for young men between the ages of 12 and 21. The Order was founded in Kansas City, Missouri on March 24, 1919 by Frank Sherman Land. DeMolay Chapters are sponsored by Masonic Lodges, and some members of the sponsoring body also serve as Advisors on the Chapter's Advisory Council. Structurally, it is similar to Masonry. The officers of a Chapter are the Master Councilor, Senior Councilor, Junior Councilor, Senior Deacon, Junior Deacon, Senior Steward, Junior Steward, Orator, Scribe, Marshal, Chaplain, Standard Bearer, Sentinel, Almoner, and seven Preceptors.
DeMolay Chapters hold monthly or biweekly meetings with Masonic-style Ritual. Other activities include athletic tournaments and events, social functions (joint activities with Rainbow are encouraged), fundraising activities, Masonic service activities, and civic and philanthropic activities.
DeMolays are taught the seven cardinal virtues of the Order: filial love, reverence for sacred things, courtesy, comradeship, fidelity, cleanness, and patriotism -- and the importance of practicing them in their daily lives. The Order's namesake is Jacques DeMolay, who was the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar and who was executed by the Inquisition on March 18, 1314. Louis Lower, the first DeMolay, and his group of friends, when asked by Land to choose a name for their group, believed that his heroic fidelity and loyalty to his fellow Templars were qualities with which they wanted their group to be identified.
(Thanks to Tom Schnorrenberg)
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The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls is a junior organization for girls BETWEEN the ages of 11 and 20, from Masonic, Eastern Star or Amaranth homes, and the friends of members of Rainbow for Girls. Rainbow's purpose is to promote effective community, leadership skills and, most importantly, service to humanity.
The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls was established in McAlester, Oklahoma in 1922. The inception and writing of the first Ritual, and the laws governing the Order, was the work of W. Mark Sexson, a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Mason from McAlester, Oklahoma. Reverend Sexson was very active in several Masonic appendant organizations. Among his many offices, he held the titles of Most Worshipful Grand Master of a sovereign Masonic Grand Jurisdiction (1928) and Worthy Grand Patron for the Order of the Eastern Star (1925-1926), both in the state of Oklahoma. (Thanks to IORG Official website)
Similar to Rainbow. Enrolls girls between the ages of 11 and 20 that have some Masonic relative.
The International Order of Job's Daughters was founded in 1920 by Mrs. Ethel T. Wead Mick in Omaha, Nebraska. The group takes its name from the Book of Job, and in particular to a reference in the 42nd Chapter that says, "And in all the land were no women found so fair as the Daughters of Job."
Meetings follow a long tradition of order. The Officers wear traditional Grecian robes, symbols of democracy and equality, provided by the Bethel. Other members wear dresses to meetings. Meetings are held twice a month. Programs are planned and conducted by the members with the help of adult volunteers. Initiations are solemn, meaningful ceremonies presented by the Bethel Officers. Parents are welcome at initiations and all of the meetings. (Thanks to IOJD Official website)
A college fraternity for Master Masons, the sons of Masons, and young men recommended by two Masons one of whom is an Acacian himself. The national governing board is composed exclusively of 32nd and 33rd degree Masons.
Similar to Eastern Star. Open to Masons and their
wives, mothers, daughters, widows, and sisters. At least one Master Mason must
be present at every initiation. It confers only one degree.
An auxiliary organization of the Grotto comprised of the wives,
mothers, daughters, widows, and sisters of the Master Masons in the
An auxiliary organization for the wives, mothers, daughters,
widows, and sisters of members of the Shrine.
organization for deaf Masons.
A fun organization open to
Master Masons. It imitates the Shrine to a large degree, but has always required
only that a member be a Master Mason rather than a 32nd degree Mason or Knight
Templar, as was the case with the Shrine until the year 2000.
An organization of Master Masons that usually meet for lunch, enjoy fellowship, and support Masonic causes, with special emphasis on youth and patriotic endeavors.
The Ladies' Oriental Shrine of
North America. Another auxiliary for the wives, mothers, daughters, widows, and
sisters of Shrine members.
Master Masons which are U.S. citizens and who have served or are serving as a
commissioned or warrant officer in the United States military or in any armed
service of a nation allied with the US in time of war.
A group for Masons
interested in Masonic philosophy and history.
organization for Christian Masons who have been 32nd degree Masons or Knights
Templar for five or more years.
organization for Master Masons similar to the Grotto. It confers the two degrees
of the Royal Court and the Sidonian.
For Master Masons and their wives, mothers, daughters, widows, and sisters.
Members must profess a belief in the defense of the Christian
Co-Masonry refers to Masonic Lodges that admit both men and women. It traces its heritage back to the 19th century.
There are two Grand Lodges of Co-Masonry with jurisdiction in America: Le Droit Humain, a Grand Lodge based in Paris, France and the original Co-Masonic organization in the US, and the American Federation of Human Rights (aka American Co-Masonry), which is based in Larkspur, Colorado.
The degree structure differs slightly from standard Blue Lodge structure (i.e., the Scottish Rite is worked as part of the regular Lodge, not a separate organization), but in most things Co-Masonic lodges function as regular Masonic lodges. Below is a passage from Bro. Ed King's website:
An announcement in the 'Grand Lodge News' of the United
Grand Lodge of England which followed the March 10, 1999 Quarterly Communication
of UGLE shows some of the difference in position vis-a-vis Eastern Star. It
should be noted that the mixed order (Grand Lodge Droit Humaine) is not included
in the sentence which talks about regularity. Perhaps this is because GL D-H
encourages political and social (including religious) debate in its
NOTE: This section is excerpted from the Grand Lodge of New Brunswick's annual communication. Any further or more accurate information would be appreciated.
"There are some schools of thought that Prince Hall (his given name, not a title) was born in Barbados to a free black woman and a Scottish father. He emigrated to the Colony of Boston, Mass. and acquired real estate, making him eligible to vote. It was also documented that he was a devout Christian and a leather-worker by trade. On March 6, 1775, during the American War of Independence, Prince Hall along with fourteen men of color were made Masons in Army Lodge #441 of the Irish Constitution. When Army Lodge moved on, the aforesaid brethren were issued a permit authorizing them to appear publicly as a Masonic body for the purpose of celebrating the feast of St. John and to bury their dead.
"On March 2, 1784, these same brethren applied to the Grand Lodge of England for a charter, which was subsequently issued to them on September 29, 1784. They were warranted under the name of African Lodge, No. 459 on the register of the Grand Lodge of England by authority of then Grand Master, the Duke of Cumberland. Prince Hall was the first Master. That charter, which is authenticated and in safekeeping, is believed to be the only original charter issued from the Grand Lodge of England still in the possession of any Lodge in the United States.
"African Lodge allowed itself to slip into arrears in the late 1790's and was stricken from the rolls after the Union of 1813, although it had attempted correspondence in 1802 and 1806. In 1827, after other unreplied-to attempts at communication, it declared its independence of any external authority and began to call itself African Grand Lodge No. 1.
"It is interesting to note that when the Massachusetts lodges which were acting as a Provincial Grand Lodge declared themselves an independent Grand Lodge, and even when the present Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was formed by the amalgamation of two separate Grand Lodges, African Lodge was not invited to take part, even though it held a warrant every bit as valid as those others. This may be explained in part by this 1795 quote from John Eliot, who later became Grand Chaplain of the Gr. Lodge of Mass. He wrote, 'White Masons, who are not more skilled in geometry than their black brethren, will not acknowledge them... .the truth is they are ashamed of being on an equality with blacks.'
"Today there are 45 Grand Lodges (the latest being the just formed Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the Caribbean) that trace their origin back to African Lodge #459. There are more than 5000 Prince Hall Lodges and over 300,000 members. So far as it is known, their ritual, their secrets, their procedures, their requirements, their beliefs, their tenets or fundamental principles, are all either identical with ours, or recognizably similar. (Thanks to W Bro. Roy Cassidy)
To add to this:
The United Grand Lodge of England has now officially recognized Prince Hall Lodges. Many US Grand Lodges have recognized PH Grand Lodges within their jurisdictions, and it has been or is being discussed in other jurisdictions. Since every Grand Lodge is autonomous and the supreme authority in its jurisdiction, this issue must be approached on a state-by-state basis.
Some have criticized Masonry as "segregated" because of the Prince Hall Lodges, but this is erroneous, since there are many black Masons in non-Prince Hall Lodges and white members in Prince Hall Lodges, and displays a fundamental ignorance of Masonic history.
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The Scottish Rite awards a special honorary degree, the 33rd, to those it feels has made an outstanding contribution to Masonry, the community as a whole, and to mankind. There is no way to "achieve" this degree or "take" it, in the sense that one takes the 4th through 32nd degrees in the Scottish Rite. It is a singular honor, rarely bestowed, and greatly admired.
NOTE: Not all jurisdictions have public installations. Call
or write your local lodge for details.
No one. Each Grand Lodge has its own jurisdiction and is the supreme authority within that jurisdiction. Obviously, many Grand Lodges have regular communication with each other, but official policy in one has no effect in another.
Yes. Like all organizations, Lodges must be able to pay their light bills. Typically, there is a one-time fee for the three degrees of Masonry, as well as regular annual dues. But these vary widely depending on the number of members, cost of living (rent in Manhattan is higher than it is in rural Oklahoma), the actual physical facilities of the Lodge, etc. The fees and dues, however, are not prohibitively expensive. Rather than give a single figure which may be very different than your local Lodge charges, or publishing an extended table of costs, it is easiest to simply refer the interested to their local Lodge.
Many Grand Lodge jurisdictions provide for "life membership"
after a Mason has paid dues for a long period. For example, in Texas a Mason is
no longer asked to pay dues after he has been a Mason for fifty years. Other
jurisdictions allow members to pay a lump sum for a "life" or "endowed"
membership. As with almost everything in Masonry, check with your local Grand
Lodge or Lodge for more information.
From the pamphlet, To the Lady and Family of a Mason
"During the ceremonies of his initiation, each Mason is
presented with a white apron. It is, to him, an emblem of innocence and the
badge of a Mason. It has, in all ages, been cherished by the rich, the poor, the
high and the low. It is his for life. He will never receive another one and has,
therefore, been cautioned to take it home and instructed in its care. While
perfectly satisfactory for him to do so if he desires, he need not bring it to
Lodge, as linen aprons are provided for his use during meetings."
From the pamphlet, To the Lady and Family of a
As regards the United States:
Regarding racism: Masonry
explicitly states the equality of men, regardless of race, creed, or color.
There are some Masons who are prejudiced, and this is unfortunate, saddening,
and un-Masonic. However, it is not representative of Masonry as a whole, or
representative of anything except a tiny minority of Masons. There are Masons of
all ethnic backgrounds.
No. In fact, most Masons believe
that to trade with a Brother Mason only because he is a Mason is un-Masonic.
Even more importantly, anyone who attempts to join a Lodge solely for business
reasons will not be given a petition.
No. The titles are simply colorful, stylish, and full of ancient symbolism. No Mason worships the Master of the Lodge, nor does a Senior (or Junior) Deacon engage in religious actions, as a Deacon of a church might.
No. Secret societies are generally
defined as organizations which are unknown to the public and whose existence is
denied. The Bavarian Illuminati and the Mafia would be examples of secret
Are Masons really controlling the world/meeting with the Bavarian Illuminati/members of the Trilateral Commission, etc?
Yes, not to mention the International Jewish Conspiracy, the Elders of Zion, S.P.E.C.T.R.E., The Men In Black, and the minions of Cthulhu. Anyone who says they believe that Masons are the Master Puppeteers of the Globe either is pulling your leg, has read too much Robert Anton Wilson, or is in need of serious psychotherapy.
Another possibility is that they don't feel their religion/party/ideology is important unless it has an arch-nemesis. You will find that the majority of Masonic groups will not deign to dignify these absurd accusations with a reply.
No. A common misconception. There is nothing anti-Catholic in Masonry, in its traditions, its rituals, or its beliefs. Contrary to popular belief, there are many Catholic Masons.
No. The rituals (degrees) are
designed to reinforce the virtues that the Craft finds desirable, such as
Justice, Brotherly Love, Truth, and the like. The rituals are actually quite
beautiful and filled with ancient language and much symbolism. At no point,
however, is the candidate asked to do anything that would embarrass or demean
him, nor anything that would violate his obligations to his faith, country, or
No. The Bibles sometimes called
'Masonic Bibles' are just Bibles to which a concordance, giving the Biblical
citations on which the Masonic Ritual is based, has been added. Sometimes
reference material on Masonic history is included. Anyone is welcome to read
one. (Dr. Jim Tresner, 33rd degree)
Any human who meets the
requirements in the previous question is eligible, regardless of
race or color.
Yes, and there are gay Masons.
Oscar Wilde was a famous Mason well known to be gay. Everything said in the previous question holds true in this case as well. There is the consideration
that some men who are Masons may view homosexuality as being immoral, i.e., that
homosexuals are not men of "good character". This is generally not due
to any specific prejudice but rather due to religious belief (depending on how
one interprets St. Paul, for example). However, judging by conversation on
alt.freemasonry, it is safe to say that most Masons generally would not regard
homosexuality as a barrier to membership.
The answer is almost certainly yes,
provided you can attend Lodge (and meet the non-physical criteria above). Paraplegics have been made Masons, as have the blind, the
deaf, and others with a variety of physical handicaps. Minor modifications may
need to be done to the rituals (e.g., employing sign language, modifying points
where the candidate stands if the candidate is in a wheelchair, etc.) but most
Lodges are willing to accommodate candidates.
Catholicism is only mentioned
specifically because it has generated a lot of controversy and debate. There is
no prohibition in any Grand Lodge jurisdiction against Catholics being made
Masons, and there are in fact many Catholic Masons.
This religion is specifically
mentioned only because it has been often debated on alt.freemasonry. It is
possible to get into very involved discussions on the nature of Wiccan beliefs
and their compatibility with Masonry, but the only possible arbitrator is your
Grand Lodge. To that end, it is suggested that if you have more specific
questions, contact your local Lodge.
[On the religion issue, this editor
is personally acquainted with, and has sat in Lodge with, Masons who were
Catholic, Wiccan, Druid, Thelemite, Jewish, Muslim and Gnostic.]
Some Grand Lodges allow affirmations to be used instead of the traditional Masonic oath. This is more common in Europe than in the United States. In all cases, it is best to check with the Grand Lodge in your jurisdiction (or your local Lodge) for more specific information.
Many believe that the form and
content of the Masonic obligations does not actually violate the true spirit of
the prohibition of oaths in their religions, but rather reinforces the ethics
and values therein.
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