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What Masonry means to people

Their thoughts on the Meaning of Masonry

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Turning The Hiram Key

Find out what Masonry means to Robert by reading his latest book, Turning The Hiram Key.

- Robert's own thoughts about his new book
- The official launch website
- Get hold of a signed copy
By Duncan
As a Fellow Craft Freemason - soon to be Raised - I have found the experience of Masonary interesting.

I joined the Craft to become a better man - to use masonary and its teachings as a barometer to my own life and actions. The teachings I have learnt so far have helped me to become more torrerant, more understanding and willing to offer more to my friends and those around me, taking time to notice when one of my friends is in trouble and offering whatever help and advice I can.

This is not a totally new experience for me - I have always considered myself to listen and be tollerant - but the masonic teaching I have recived have helped me to put these into context - part of my time should be spent helping a friend or brother in a time of need without detrement to myself or connections.

The initiation ceremony was a moving experience. I can only equate it to a wedding ceremony where I was both bride and groom. It was all centered around me and I was made to feel welcome and accepted.

The question of openess is a large one. On the one hand it is was makes the craft so special. On the other we need to be open in order for the craft to survive. I have researched on the internet and the Americans seem to have a much more open approach to the subject - infact I can find the entire ritual outlined on a number of pages. (Phoneix Freemasonary seems to be a site I keep going back to). My personal opinion is it is time that the craft opened up a little - most people like to research on the web and many of the province sites are somewhat lacking in detail or design. I personally feel we should improve this means of communication without "spoiling" the ceremonies and try to encourage new breatheren to join. Infact, I will be submitting some ideas to my own lodge (Kingsgate 4882) and possibly my province (East Kent) to try to improve this.

I must admit that I had a bad experience recently when I friend approached my about masonary. He had been approached by a Brother from my lodge about joining and was reasonably hesitant - to be honest I am not sure if the Craft is for him. However, at the end of this conversation the Breatheren said "We will be watching you Neil". This - understandably - worried my friend and made him feel like the Craft was perhaps not the place that it actually is. Perhaps some better guidelines for helping people apprioach others would be appreciated.

My thoughts and feelings come to you as a new mason and there will obviously be much more to learn in my masonic life but I hope that you take them with the honesty and candour I have offered my views. If it is possible, I would be interested to view your reseults to this survey. As a Senior Lecturer at University in Digital Media (marketing, web and design are my subjects) I would be interested in looking at the information with a view to producing material for the outside world.

Best regards
By David
Initially when i was raised, I wasn't sure about what the whole fraternaty was about beyond the basics described in the degrees. I started in the chairs of the lodge, progressed to the district level and finally to the provincial Grand Lodge, looking for something else, anything. What I found was friendship in large quantities, people that are keen and willing to do anything to get the job done, I also found that for every good mason there are some poor ones. You learn very quickely who are the good ones and who are the poor ones. We all have our own agendas when we start through Masonry and the agendas change and develope as time goes on. One conclusion I have come to is the the further up the chain of command you progress, the poor masons tend to get weeded out so that only the good and mature ones progress on. Mind you some poor ones make the same journey and manage to fool everyone, but in time they show through and either have to change their ways or drop out due to embarrasment.
A few years ago I started doing some research by way of reading books on Freemasonry. To be fair I read different authors, but have always returned to Knight and Lomas or Lomas as fair and sound authors willing to back up what they say with facts and not based on what other authors have said. I have since progressed in the Royal Arch degrees and have had some questions answered. But reading good material on the subject has more than enhanced my progression in Masonry. It fills in the blanks that the degrees don't cover.I look forward to reading the latest by Lomas as soon as it is available.
By Terry Gardner
I have been a member of the Fraternity since Nov 2000. In my short travels, i have learned many things. Once initiated i was craving information about our ancient brotherhood. Unfortunately most of the information i received, while given with the best of intentions by my brothers, it was incomplete and mostly lead me in circles. The path to Masonic Light is different for each individual, we must seek our own way. Some are scholarly, some are ritualist, some just come for the fellowship and yet others feel some sense of duty due to family history.
Typically you choose your path after your initiation, based upon your personal opinions and desires. I am a cross between a ritualist and a scholar. I have read many books and i mean MANY both pro and anti masonry. I have read many books about the history of our rituals. Now i offer to help brothers in their personal search for light, by trying to give them a place to find knowledge. From which i donate 100% of all profits.

I believe masonry should be more open about what we are, our goals and our faiths. Our modes of recognition and lodge meetings should remain as they are. Once we dilute ourselves then we offer nothing different from any other community organization.

The ritual of freemasonry is so full of allegory and symbology that a lifetime could be spent unraveling it's mysteries. Upon my initiation i was dying to understand the ritual and its meaning. I thought something so universal surely held a hidden meaning even buried in the most subtle nuances of the degree itself. I tried to understand and still am learning why the degree is the way it is and what does IT mean. From how we are prepared, to the significance of the lodge layout.

I knew once i was initiated something changed within me, sounds corny but i knew i belonged. I can honestly say that Masonry has helped make me a better man, i am giving of myself and my money. I have a better relationship with God. I treat my fellow man with respect and brotherly love. I am more honest in my dealings with everyone and i KNOW that help is always but a handshake or word away. I knew in my heart that once i was given the working tools of an Entered Apprentice and heard their meaning, it was more then a reciting of a unique cathechkism, it had meaning.. I am on a search for MY light and the paths are varied, some are short and some rather long, some hard and some easy. But each intersection offers a choice, some leading deeper into the degree, others leading off into background of the characters of the degree.

Our paths are unique to our own lives, but rest assured we each have a path. Some choose to walk in and out the lodge door without ever looking beyond the words, but are always there for meetings and always helping for our activities. Others become the officers, some the degree teams and yet a select few, try and become all. Each donating in his own way, giving back to the fraternity that welcomed them with open arms. We all have a path, most do not even know or realize they are traveling upon that path to their personal light. But we each seek it, the question becomes. What IS YOUR light?
By Joel Chaviano - New York, NY
Should Freemasonry be secret, or should we be more open about it?
Freemasonry should be more open in publicizing the organization BUT more selective on the members that it chooses.

What does Masonic ritual mean to you?
Ritual that is first participated in takes one from the inert state to the active. It is not until one sees the ritual that new meaning is brought to complete the ritualistic experience. Also, the more mysticism involved in the ritual the greater the effect and teaching that it will convey.

How do you feel when you were made a Mason?
It felt like a great honor, since I read so much about the grandeur of the organization, I felt like I was one of the few and elite who joined the ranks of those before me.

And what role has Masonic ritual played in your life since?
It has made me look at things differently and has made me eager to seek out more knowledge. There is a truth within a truth and only few will ever receive it, I will be one of those.

Do you feel it is something which can not, or perhaps should not, be put into words?
I think that we need to become more open in talking about Freemasonry but need to increase the secrecy of the teachings. Stricter demands should be placed in order to conceal what is now wildfire on the internet and books.
By Mike
I am a Lewis, and looking forward to becoming an EA in the very near future. I started reading about freemasonry before I was informed of my Fathers involvement in the Craft, he had kept it a secret, from his son, for 30 years. It is this level of commitment that I look forward to giving the craft when my time comes. I have been working in the middle east for a few years and have had the opportunity to visit some interesting sites such as, Babylon (Hilla) and the Temple in the City of Sumer (Nasirya), which is also the site of Abrahams house. Visiting these places was made a special experience because of the Masonic connections, what little I know of it, and I have shared thoughts with Masons, the ones who have "let on", about their experiences in that Country. I have some very interesting photos taken at these sites, if anyone is interested, maybe contact can be made through this site?
By Johnathan Martin
I am a MM myself and have formed many opinions of the craft since being raised, and participating in the raising of many others. For your knowledge I'm a member of Charles R. Williams F&AM number 132 a Prince Hall military lodge, in Baumholder, Germany. The following is my unbiased opinion:
First My Observations:

1. I became a Mason in order to study with others, to engage in spirited debate, and to move towards knowledge myself. Instead I have found myself in an order more interested in chicken dinners and sticking decals on their SUVs. I consider myself an intellectual who conducts extensive study for my own enjoyment. I have bought books from Riane Eisler (my favorite) and more recently yourself, as well as the Koran, and have been completely ignored, and told "We have a ritual and Bible to read. We don't need other books."

2. The Masonic order is filled to the brim with Christians, who from my experience are highly intolerent to thoughts that run counter to their views. They do not alienate others; they simply don't want to hear the views of others. (I myself do not follow any organized religion.)

3. Masonry has no power in the social arena and is often seen as a detriment. I'm a U.S. Army officer, and forced to conceal my membership or face stiff retribution. These days it seems that Masonry best serves as a plot device for a Dan Brown novel.

4. There are few new recruits, and those who do join are inclined to be what I call "degree chasers" (i.e. Brothers who rush into attaining as many degrees as possible without even maintaining a cursory knowledge of the previous degrees.) These individuals also have a tendancy to flaunt their status, often times going to night clubs, wearing Masonic hats, shirts, jackets, necklaces, and rings (all at the same time mind you.) I find this regalia disturbing due to their lack of knowledge about the craft and its history.

5. The Order and associated Grand Lodge are seemingly obsessed with fleecing the craft for every last penny. Dues are increasing by leaps and bounds each year (doubling in cost next year!). Every district function has the Brothers coerced into buying raffle tickets, making miscelanious donations, purchasing cheap items for exorberent prices ($10 for a calculator, $20 for a phone directory), and attending very expensive functions. I speculate this is due to decreased numbers, but to me it's starting to resemble a pyramid scheme.

As you stated, Masonry soldiers are based on the glories of its past. Unfourtunately I believe these "last gasps" are to the detriment of its illustrious history. As you have shown, Masonry was important and has a rich tradition of innovation, tollerance, and brotherhood. I just wonder - would it be better to just let it die, it's legend to live on, rather than to allow the bastardization of its traditions? My heart tells me there must be another option; I just don't see it. Perhaps in the future there could be a "fundalmentalist" (I hate that term with a passion) movement or new branch of Freemasonry that would use the older rituals, traditional ceremonies, and foster the values that were formerly the hallmark of the Master Mason.

To answer your questions:

Masonry is harmless to society as a whole, but as I stated above, caustic to its own older, original self.

I was proud when I became a M.M. and I still am proud of my acomplishment, though I must say that the current state of the Masonic Order does not make me proud to be a member or declare such to others.

To me the ritual is a necessary part of the craft; however, the Masons that I know don't care about the meaning behind the ritual or its origins. I feel a lot more connected to the ritual after studying your reasearch, though my ritual now seems excessively censored.
By Woodduck
1. Freemasons should keep the ritual secret, however what freemasons are should be more public.

2. Ritual is what distinguishes us from other organisations like Apex & Rotary. It is integral to our existence. We are not too dissimilar to their charitable ideals with exception of our ritual.

3. I felt like a made man, in wonderment of the ritual I had just been part of and it has taken me years to start to understand the significance of it all, in particular understanding the writings within the ritual to analyse their meanings.

4. It has made me a better man to brethren and man alike - to understand what has been told and to follow the tenets I wish I would recall it more often - I will learn more as I progress through Freemasonry.

5. I feel that I have problems expressing my feelings, however I do not believe that they should be repressed, it is what sparks interest and debate amongst non-freemasons and may assist in furthering the interests of the craft.

I have found your writings in your book to provoke debate and conjecture among freemasons, on the other hand I have found it most interesting to read your books and feel that it has caused further interst in the Story behind freemasonry. The Story is obviously an extensive story told down through the ages, not in a dissimilar manner that Australian Aborigines tell there story in traditional dance and dreamtime.

The Freemasonry story has been "modernised" or "updated" through the ages to reflect current political and personal agendas - I feel that this is a shame that we are unable to review what was the original text. Again, there may be a need to update ritual but not at the expense of destroying that what was there previously, it should be archived so learned scholars of Freemasonry can ascertain for themselves rather than by taking the dogma of other individuals who may have a personal agenda.

Keep up the good work on your books, more reference to actual facts is needed in some of the tracts you follow and on the other hand more reference is needed when discussing "hypothetical situations"

Keep up the good work boys, you have made a name for yourselves through the works you have published so far, which I am certain has opened many doors to more information. I am certain that the day is not far away when all will be linked to provide the proof to the answers we all seek - I only hope it is in my lifetime.

By ben hayes
hi my name is ben hayes and i am 25 years old.ever since i was 15 years old i have always wondered about freemasonry from books that describe the masons of old times,for some reason unbeknown to myself i have always been drawn to the freemasons.i have never really been able to read about the freemasons of today until i picked up"turning the hiram key"which i am really enjoying.i suppose what i am trying to say is thank you for giving me such a wonderful insight into the workings of a freemason(obviousley not too much of an insight).thank you
ben hayes
By Grigor
I am 52 years of age. I am not a Feemason. My father was a dedicated & serious Freemason all of his adult life. He did not discuss it, only to say that he would when I was ready. He died before he could do so. Over the years I have been approached several times to consider entering Freemasonry, but have never accepted.

I have no desire to pursue Freemasonry, nor do I find it a threatening proposition, any more than any of the World's dynamic, socailly beneficial religious institutions. All such institutions have been subject to the abuse of a few from the dawn of time. It does not therefore surprise me that distrust & sometimes hate evolves in a climate of suspicion.

A socially beneficial belief that transcends status, country & specific religions is an enormously appealing concept.

The tenets that make society work, thrive & endure are not generated by one society or one religion, rather the flow occurs the other way. The tenets are the root, not the religious or social structures. Fear & ignorance are bedfellows. Insecurity develops into full blown paranoia so easily. Freemasonry therefore has suffered because it is "secret", "exclusive" "strange".

As an outsider, I believe that Freemasonry should maintain it's activities, its standards & its discretion. Freemasonry should, however, continue to be open & honest in its public dealings. I believe that,as long as the organisation is causing no man any harm, then it is entitled to maintain its privacy. As ever was, with such freedom comes the responsibility too.

I perceive Masonic ritual as just as valid as any other rite or ceremony, from Communion to Rammadan to the formal opening ofa school. You don't need to be another Malinowsky to understand that such acts formalise association, create bonds & promulgate societal survival. People need a sense of belonging to a greater whole, of stability, of fellowship. Others wants to put something back into their community. Others appreciate the continuity throughout the centuries. Ritual cements these issues. Those Masons who cannot absorb this have probably not understood what they are doing.

I reiterate that I do not lie awake at night worrying about Freemasonry. If it wields power, then that influence has been, over centuries, benign.
By tre
I am not a Mason, though I have researched the Scottish Rite and similar orders for nearly 7 years. I am also a non-religious, but deeply spritual person. In my near-obsessive and ongoing interest in all things Masonic, I have maintained as objective a view as possible, and lent an open ear to Masons who might discuss the Craft with me. One such fellow has imparted some small secrets, with which he is piquing my interest, and encouraging me to join.

I have a real desire to be initiated, but I still have reservations. I have been relatively agnostic for the past 12 years, but I still have a passion for the Bible and its "apocrypha." I sometimes find myself believing some of what I have read, an example of which is the Book of Enoch, which was a part of Jewish tradition at the time of Solomon, and is therefore relavent to Freemasonry. I mean to say that the God of Enoch somehow makes sense to me, moreso than the God of the New Testament. Enoch describes a hierarchy of divinely created beings that better explains God's relationship with Man than any other story I've read.

I also have philisophical qualms with Masonry. If some are truly protecting, among other things, secrets and/or knowledge of Solomon's temple, and thereby preserving a Great Truth about the nature and identity of God, then I feel that it is unfair not to share with your fellow man. Furthermore, as in any group of people, there are some Lodges which do not, in practice, outwardly exemplify the ethos of the order. The fact that there are racist or otherwise intolerant Masons, not to mention Masons in positions of great power, who do not demonstrate good will toward Man, is abhorrent to me. I am much more interested in the mystical and ethical sides of Freemasonry, and would only consider joining a Lodge that I felt made a concentrated effort to live as they speak. All the same, I still have the words of Groucho Marx echoing in the back of my head: "I don't want to be part of any club that would have me as a member."

I frequently hear Masonry described as a secular order, and that merely a belief in some sort of Supreme Being is necessary for a petitioner. This seems utterly absurd to me, though I think some Masons still believe that they are merely part of a Gentleman's Club and are primarily members as such: going out to the dinners, being involved in charity, and perhaps studying the moral code. However, it has become clear to me that the parables used in ritual are more than symbolic. Some of my theories are only conjecture, but I am certain that at the core of Freemasonry is an attempt to preserve a purer form of Yahwehism (Jahbulonism?) that is more in the tradition of Eastern philosophies that preceded the reign of Solomon.

I, of course, find fault with this, as I find it difficult to make leaps of faith. When the characters of a religion or system of beliefs are not historically verifiable, it becomes difficult to incorporate them into my reality as valid. This is not to say that I have closed the Door on becoming a mason. I am only 24 years old, and have a long time to figure out what I really think about all of this. Overall, though, my primary feeling regarding Masonry is one of awe. If there truly is a Great Secret or group of Secrets that have been passed down through the ages from the time of Solomon and before, then Freemasonry has accomplished a unique and immeasurably important task.

Also, as an aside, there is a lot of evidence that I have found indicating that an underlying aim of American foreign policy over the past century is to conquer the Middle East, and through proxies and influence rebuild Solomon's Temple upon the Dome of the Rock, thus "immanentizing the Eschaton." But, that gets into a realm dangerously close to conspiracy theory, Baulderdash, and Hogwash. I have only formulated hypotheses around such matters.

I should admit here that the friend I mentioned before, who has told me some things that some Masons would probably scold him for, is initiated in the Scottish Rite (14), York Rite, and is a Knights Templar, supposedly connected through blood to the original order. He also claims to be descended from Hiram Abif, and frankly is losing credibility with me. Still, his insight regarding the Craft has greatly influenced my point of view, though it is impossible to discern from which Rite he is drawing the information he imparts to me.

Regardless, I think I have given you a fair outline of my view of Masonry. I look at it from many sides, and from many perspectives, as I believe everything should be. If you would like to discuss further, please feel free!
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