Text Box: A Little More About Masonry
The foundation of masonry is the Blue Lodge, a group of men joined in fraternal brotherhood with a single purpose: to share the secret.  It is not a secret organization, but it has its own secrets just as many corporations protect their most prized information.  Masonry is not a religious fraternity, but it is based on religious fundamentals.
Ancient masonry developed was a tradesman’s guild of free-masons (not bound to the system of serfdom); the goal of the guild was to share and protect technical information, provide a social safety-net for widows of workers engaging in this dangerous occupation, instill a certain code of conduct and foster a high level of honesty.  The earliest surviving document reflecting these attributes is the Regius Manuscript, of the 1390s, whose moral code and standards are reflected in modern masonry.
An illustration from a 13th century manuscript portraying King Henry III conferring with the master mason on a construction project.
Modern masonry traces its beginnings to the year 1717 when non stone-workers (accepted masons) brought the brotherhood into public places in England and Scotland; no longer engaged in the construction of castles and cathedrals, they created a philosophy for moral, ethical and concern for social well being.  With traditions reaching back thousands of years, to the time of the construction of King Solomon’s Temple, modern Freemasonry incorporates the tools of the operative masons in ceremonies for the advancement of a candidate through three levels, called degree work:
1° level is the Entered Apprentice
2° level is the Fellowcraft
3° level is the Master Mason
Tools of the operative mason, such as the carpenters square, compasses, plumb, level, trowel, mallet, etc., are bestowed with special meanings in the various degrees leading to the understanding of 
There are “appendant” bodies of Freemasonry observing degrees beyond the three degrees of the Blue Lodge; members of these bodies must first be a Master Mason, however no other degree “out ranks” the degree of Master Mason. (Discussion of these appendant bodies is beyond the scope of this brief essay)
Return to Home Page