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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 Kate Harding
I was interested that the first contribution in this series began, 'I am not a Freemason, I am a woman', as though one precludes the other. This is a stereotype we need to correct.

I am a 32-year-old woman entering my third year of Freemasonry, having just been Raised in December. I belong to the order of International Co-Freemasonry, Le Droit Humain, which is a mixed order, women and men working together. Our order (at least in Britain) places particular emphasis on the esoteric side of Freemasonry, on it being a spiritual path, and on personal and spiritual growth. That having been said, there is a range of interests across lodges and across countries, allowing each lodge to pursue the direction that's right for them. For example, in Britain we work to the Glory of the Great Architect and the Perfection of Humanity, but in France they work only to the Perfection of Humanity, as laicite is important to them.

The question of whether Freemasonry should 'remain' secret, or whether we should be more open, is one we have been debating recently. I put 'remain' in quotes because it is my understanding that Freemasonry has never been a secret order, but rather an order with secrets, and this in my opinion is still the best approach. It is important that the secrets of the ritual are kept (as much as they can be when they're widely available in books and on the web), for esoteric reasons: as with the ancient mystery religions, the ritual of Freemasonry is designed to teach things in the order in which they can be learnt. But there is no need for us to be silent about our existence. There are enormous misconceptions about Freemasonry in the public domain, and that means that people who would benefit enormously from it don't even realise they are eligible for it! I don't think active recruitment would be helpful - everyone has a different path, and not everyone is suited to Freemasonry and vice versa. But I think we could do a lot to correct the false impression that most people have of Freemasonry.
By malalina
I am not a Freemason - I am a woman. But I am woman who has found that Freemasonry - as much as I have read about it - fills in a lot of the missing information that my scientific mind required to accept religion in my life. I have always had difficulty reconciling the "teachings" of the church and have found myself on several occasions playing the role of the Doubting Thomas.....Now I understand that my need for more information is not a mark of insolence or unwillingness to believe, but a true need to understand where we came from, why these beliefs exist and what truly happened throughout the ages.

One of the most difficult issues for me has always been the hypocracy of the church. Every religion preaches tolerance and acceptance and yet every religion requires you to believe without question what they teach. AND every religion seems to persecute those that choose to believe something else.

For a time, I looked into the Pagan beliefs and the one thing I identified with most was the fact that they practice what they preach and they believe that whatever path you choose is the correct path - no persecution, no judgement, simply acceptance and tolerance towards others. The only problem I had with Pagan practices is the use of multiple deities - for some reason it didn't feel right to me.

Then, one day, I stumbled onto some books about Freemasonry, which came from some of my research into Pagan beliefs. There was a cross-reference from the Golden Dawn practices to the beliefs of Freemasonry. I was inspired by the Hiram Key, and continued on to the Second Messiah and am now reading the Book of Hiram. So many questions have been answered by the research conducted by Chris and Robert. These books have reached to the core of my being and have provided me with hope and inspiration. Now, I am continuing my search for the needs of women to be addressed by the Freemasons. Perhaps this will be the area in which I will make my mark.........

Thank you, Chris & Robert, for enlightening me and providing me with the understanding and clarity I needed to feel spiritually connected!
By Myth
Freemasonry should remain secret as it then limits the effect that society has upon - without preventing - its proper normal evolution. Its origins have been occluded for too long already. It is, today, nothing like its origins would desire.

The rituals I experienced during transition between the ranks within the Order still temper my perceptions and activities today. I consider the Craft to be a force for good in that it redirects disruptive tendencies into productive channels.

Although I no longer attend a Lodge, the one thing I miss above all others is the sense of Brotherhood that is to be found within the Order's ranks.
By basstone65
Yes, Freemasonary should remain secret. I think that any other answer would be unreasonable. I truly love and respect your work. You have opened my eyes but, not everyone is open to such truths.
By Brin
Your example chapter about the new mason about to be initiated is so totally alien to me. When my time came, I was a bit nervous of course, I had to find my own way to a very unusual and well guarded venue, and nobody told me anything useful, apart from not wearing a vest. I had to buy my own white gloves, quite difficult, I tried 3 department stores in Oxford street. But nobody told me to bring a book to read, so I spent nearly 2 hours in a sort of waiting room with nothing to read, I started memorising the military prints that decorated the walls.

But when the time came for me to be initiated, the person was kind, polite, helpful, and put me at completely at ease. There was minimal intrusion of privicy, and he helped me through and made sure I was looked after with understanding and compasion. My only problem came in the end bit wher I had to kneel down, and just had an attack of cramp, bit unusual as I was quite young and fit then.

Also, when it was my turn to escort an initiate, I made sure that I introduced myself to the candidate, and asked him if he had any problems like kneeling, walking, blindfolds, or anything like that, also when he went through the process I made sure that I talked to him all the time, just say the odd word about what was going to happen next, and if there was any problem that he had at all, please tell me and I can sort something out there and then.
I have also seen in some lodges where they have left just a small gap under the blindfold so the initiate can see his feet so he doesnt feel quite so vunerable.

The only problem I've ever seen was when someone's son was the initiate, his father had told him so many unspecified things, or it could havve been that he failed to tell him enough to put him at ease, when he came in, he was shaking so much, the person guiding him had trouble not shaking as well, we had to sit him down and give him a drink of water, say a few words just to calm him down.

By Jerry Hinman
I am a Freemason in the State of Montana USA as was my father before me.

Should Masonery be secret? That is a hard question for me as I can see two arguments. Being secret certainly sets one apart from non members and gives members a common bond.
However I have a brother who was a Mason who later wished to become a lay minnister. His church would not allow it unless he renounced his menbership in Masonery. He did and it was a sad day for me. In view of many of your receint discoveries I guess I would lean tward a more open approach.

What does Masonic Ritual mean to me? Masonic ritual for me has always been very meaningful, inspirational and guiding.

What did I feel when I was made a mason? I at last felt I knew the meaning of having been "Born again".

What role has Masonic Ritual played since? I was raised a Presbyterian. During my youth Mother took us to church regularly. My father never went. I knew he had some problems with "church" but did not then understand what. He and mother had a little conflict about it but always seemed to work things out. After I left home and become a bit more knowledgable I began to understand Dads feelings and I drifted away from the church even though I consider myself a "religous" person. I have always stayed close to Masonery and Masonic ritual. I am also very involved in Eastern Star. I would be remiss not to mention that your four books most especially "The Hiram KeY" has brought a great deal more meaning and understanding to the Rituals. I consider them manditory reading for all Freemasons. I graciously thank you for devoting the time and your knowledge to a project of such interest to me.

Do you feel it cannot or should not be put into words? It is something that we should try to put into words recognizing that it is something much greater than that.

Jerry Hinman
Darby Montana USA

By Ryan W
My entry may not necessarily answer the above questions posed, however I feel compelled to share my personal experience.

I was first interested in Freemasonry back in 1996 as a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity. Kappa Sigma traces its roots back to 1400 in Bologna Italy. The modern collegiate fraternity dates back to its North American origins to 1869 Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.

A fraternity member found a Masonic Ritual Book (in hindsight recognized as a EA 1st Degree) loosely coded in consonant letters only. As we attempted to decipher it, we were shocked at the similarities to the signs, words, and grips, as well as the oath itself. In addition, Kappa Sigma's North American founder, Stephen Alonzo Jackson is rumored to have been a Freemason, who adopted aspects of Masonic ritual into Kappa Sigma ritual.I contacted some regional Masonic officials here in the state of NY and by the end of 2001 was a duly initiated master mason (3rd degree) at a lodge in NY.

As I progressed through the 3rd degree initiatory process, rather than being anxious or nervous, I anticipated most and subsequently confirmed portions of the initiation, even though I was blindfolded. Essentially I knew what was going on by having a little 'foresight' into the light of Masonry with the help of previous fraternal ritual knowledge. An experience I believe only a member of a Collegiate Fraternity (I can only attest to my own of course )and a Freemason can comprehend.

Its an interesting position to be in- having knowledge of a Fraternal and Masonic ritual, but being unable to fully explain the similarities to those who are not members of both! I am currently reading The Book of Hiram. Its and excellent journey into the ancient mysteries surrounding the planets oldest Society of Secrets. Masonry unfortunately has become an Elderly Gentleman's club, and recruitment is tough, especially for those of us jaded, sarcastic, scatter-brained Americans in our 20's and 30's.
By Bro. Flu
The meaning of Masonry to me goes beyond question and is far more advanced to leave it as just a question.Masonry is deeply rooted in one's heart before he can every stand and be seen as a Man.If you love God and will place your life on the line for your family and friends( if you're in the Military,the whole World) then your Sir are a upright Man to me. Mansony gathers a specific band of brothers and charges us to go out into this World and show others brothers who may not be willing to live by those morales. That they can have riches and they can have gold but without God in the Middle,you will have nothing.That's real enough for me,is it real for you.That's the question.I love Mansonry and i would stand on the Square with any man who calls himself a man and have his back like he has mine.

Mansonry and the word secret shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath.Society is not Diety and only God can judge man.Jesus was judge but he never kept a Secret.He let the World know who his Father was and what he could do for those who just believe.

When i was made a Fratenal Brother of the Masonic Order,i was thrilled.I felt i had a purpose and that i wanted other brother to share my enlightment.It was powerful and peolpe saw a change in me and it moved them to conduct themselves differently.Life really began for me when i died.

To sum up my whole outlook on Masonry and all these questions and concerns.It's simple.
To be 1 is to ask 1

Peace my Brothers
By Hugh
I have been a Freemason for 50 years in the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Canada of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons in the Province of Ontario. I am presently serving this Grand Lodge as Grand Chaplain. Turning the Hiram Key particularly held my fascination and interest. I could not put it down and I have just finished Freemasonry and the Birth of Modern Science.

I did a course on Evelyn Underhill at a Jesuit university this past Autumn. My assignment was to read her novel, The Lost Word. It was a purely Masonic novel. It triggered in me a realization that there are at least 3 mystical journeys fostered by freemasonry: Hidden mysteries of nature and science, building the temple of one's inner being, and Seeking for that which was lost. Turning the Hiram Key confirmed that strain of mysticism within the Craft. Personally, building the temple of one's inner being resonates with me. Masonry has contributed to that building along with my Christian faith in the Anglican tradition. One of the masonic traditions I like is the prohibition against discussions of religion or politics and the universalism freemasonry promotes.

Many thanks for your books. They have been very enlightening.
By Billy of Arabia
I became a mason in 1998 under the English constitution (in South Africa).

1 I am under the impression that Freemasonry is no longer a secret and the only secrets we still have is how we recognise each other. Other than that Freemasonry is an open book (especially on the internet) and young freemasons are encouraged to talk about the craft. The main reason it was so secretive was the persecution of masons in the 1800's and early 1900's, but I bow to superior knowledge on this perception. Freemasonry should be understood by all, including it's ciritics. It is the only way that the perception can be changed and people get to understand it. I vote we should let all understand that all there is to know about freemasonry is already in the public domain.

2 The ritual is full of symbolism and the way I look at it is from a discipline point of view. When you are born, you spend the 1st few formative years of live with your parents which disciplines you as to how and what you will be for the rest of your life. Then you go to school for educational discipline and a basis to become economically proficient to support yourself and your offspring. In my case I spent time in the defence force which taught me about physical discipline. Once out of all these phases, one relies on religion (church) to support your moral discipline for the rest of your existance but this system is not always 100%. I now rely on my faith in God and get the moral discipline from masonic ritual to remind me what it means to be an upstanding person. Discipline relies on practice and repetition and if you continuously hear what it means to be an upstanding person, the moral discipline might just set in.

3 I felt I became part of some thing larger than myself and a sense of belonging. I felt that this was something that would be good guidance to me and hopefully would assist in making me a better human being. I felt proud to be accepted in a group of what I perceived to be like minded people.

4 It continues to remind me and provide me with tools to be an upstanding person, how to cooperate with like minded people and I practise it as much as I can. I still have the sense of belonging and everytime a bunch of money is donated to worthwhile charities, it gives me a sense of achievement. Masonry has , and still is, giving me a lot and it is a great way of giving back to society by working hard, enjoying the trip and getting results from it that benefit needy children and people, whether they are masons or NOT! Masonry to me has become just part of my life and hopefully I treat other people better as a result of it.

5 I feel we should talk about it as much as possible, write about it, debate about it, use the various media to promote it and get more like minded people to join. We have a role just as the Lions, Round Table, etc,. have, since it benefits society in general and hence it should be made clear for exactly what it is. Masonry should defend itself more publically so even the critics can eventually get the message. Masonry has a tremendous history which might even have it's roots 1000's of years ago, and should be put out in the public domain, as much as possible, along with some of the other good organisations which do exist today.
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