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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 Nibs
After reading the excellent books written by Dr Lomas and Mr Knight, along with books on the subject by other authors, I now know a lot more about the Craft. I have a very great deal of respect for Freemasonry, particularly its promotion of self-improvement, tolerance and fairness to all, but unfortunately I believe that the Victorians destroyed much of its purpose by turning it into a yuppies' dining club. Although I am not a Mason and know only a couple of people who are, I have been inspired by all that I have read and have tried to incorporate the principles into my own life.
I agree that it would be a shame for Masonry to die out but if it is going to continue to be a social affair then we may as well concentrate on studying the books because that is the best way for the ancient knowledge and traditions embedded in the rituals to be preserved. If I was an authority at UGLE I would make it a condition that members actively study the ancient origins of the Craft and make this the sole purpose of their membership, rather than using it as a means of socialising. I strongly believe that education is the most important route towards improving society and where better to promote that route than within an organisation which has throughout the centuries done such a sterling job of preserving strands of knowledge which otherwise would have been lost?
I would also like to see the information contained in the books included in the history curriculum of our schools. I work in a college and have regular contact with young people; I am always impressed with how broad-minded they are and how keen to move outside the traditional boundaries of education. I think many of them would find this subject fascinating and this in itself would help to preserve the knowledge contained within the Craft.
Finally - thanks so much to Dr Lomas and Mr Knight for giving me years and years of pleasure from reading their books and for enabling me to learn more than I ever thought possible - and to want to go on learning more. I've travelled a long way through the books yet sometimes I think my journey has only just begun.
By Chris Earnshaw
* Should Freemasonry be secret, or should we be more open about it?

In Europe the Craft tends to be more secretive and difficult to join, this gives it an exclusive appearance. In the US it is more open but that has lead to degradation of the Craft's values. Being British, I prefer the European style. We wear dark clothes to the Lodge as we're in mourning for OMWGMHA, not jeans.

* Is a member of your family a Freemason, and how do you feel about that?

Many of the men in my family were in the Craft, and I admired the respectable friends they had.

* If you are a Mason, what does Masonic ritual mean to you?

It was only after about 20 years in the Craft, reciting the ritual that suddenly I began to see things hidden in the text, that had been there before, but now had new implications for me. This made me reexamine the rituals and I have learnt much from that reexamination; it lead to me writing a book "The Tarot of the Revelation" from something I found in the Third Degree lecture.

* How did you feel when you were made a Mason?

I understand the importance of the element of surprise and heightened suspense from not knowing what was going to happen, but afterwards I felt at a loss as a mentor wasn't assigned to me, as we do in the GL Japan. I had no understanding of the different constitutions (we have five in Japan) and the structure of the Craft and how far I could go.

* And what role has Masonic ritual played in your life since?

I think that the ritual has taught me much about social responsibility and the equality of man. I'm also very aware of the sacrifices people made in ancient times to protect the freedoms we take for granted now. It must have been terrible to live in the Dark Ages, and to be a Freethinker who rejected the dogma of the Catholic church, yet at the same times feared the Inquisition.

* Do you feel it is something which can not, or perhaps should not, be put into words?

It definitely has to be experienced. The less that is "exposed" on the Internet the better. You can teach the theory of riding a bicycle, but riding one is an experience that cannot be put into words - expects adjectives like exhilarating.

* Do you think Freemasonry benefits society?

Yes, it is a very important cement that binds people of different creeds, races and social standing, it opens doors that would otherwise be impossible to find. It make perfect ashlars out of otherwise lumpy people. I think we should stand shoulder to shoulder with religions and other organizations like the Boy Scouts, and St. John Ambulance rather than shying from the spotlight as though "we had something to hide."

I'm a PM of three lodges in Tokyo, PM of the Research Lodge, KCCH in Scottish Rite and active in York Rite.I'm a member of the GLE, GLM, GLJ and GLS. S&F regards, Chris Earnshaw, Tokyo
By Travelling Mason
Should freemasonary be secret ? I make it well known at work and in other organisations that I am a member of freemasonary, and have explained that although the workings may be kept a secret, it is fundamentally no different to being a member of a local social club. You build up relationships and you help each other out. A typical example would be if you wanted a wall building, and a member of your social club was able to give you a competative price you would accept it. So critisism for this to happen in masonic circles is unjustified. In my masonic career, I have never given or received any pecunary gain from my membership, and accordingly, I feel proud to let it be known of my involvement, explaining what we do, reduces the conspiracy therories.

The ritual becomes more enlightening as your progression takes place, and if the level of caring and morality, that is applied to non masonic orders aswell as masonic charities, promotes morality, in a country that could only benefit from its values.

When I was first made a mason, I was lost, but proud to have been invited into the organisation, time and time alone will lift the initial mist or being overwhealmed, and all becomes clear.

Masonic ritual encourages discipline, in that there is much to learn, and its values of morality, truth and encourages you to help not only friends or fellow bretheren, but humanity in general.

By not explaining and being inclusive of the general public, this only serves to promote a lack of trust due to excluding the general public. Masonary has moved on and is much more inclusive of society, which creates a more acceptable perception of masonary, and can only serve to be a benefit to the country in general.
By Christian Russo
I am particularly interested in the question, "Do you feel it is something which can not, or perhaps should not, be put into words?". Not a lot of new Masons can effectively articulate the purpose or meaning of Freemasonry. The larger question here (which I won't discuss) is how to increase membership of the organization without discussing what the organization actually does behind closed doors.

I took the wonderful and life-changing step of becoming a Freemason in May 2010. I became a Fellowcraft (second degree) later that year in November. I'm very honored to be preparing to be raised to the level of Master Mason in March or April of 2011. Upon joining, many friends had many questions, the most common of which was 'what is Freemasonry and why did you become a Freemason?'. The questions seem easy enough to answer. I always use the analogy of the smooth and rough ashlar to illustrate the effect of Masonry on men but that always seem to prompt more questions as that only explains the effect, not the vehicle through which that effect is delivered. The questions that inevitably follow are "How does that happen?" and "What do they teach you?". This is the aspect of Masonry that is hard to convey and probably can't be effectively summed up in words because each Mason takes different things away from Masonry, and on their journey they investigate different aspects of the Craft and themselves. They also join for wildly varying reasons. While Masonry is a tight society full of people across the globe whom you can call 'brother', the experience of transition is intensely personal and therein lies the difficulty in explaining it. Like love or friendship or fear, experiences that effect us deeply are hard to quantify, particularly ones that have a profound effect on our own personalities and ways of life. Can it be explained? To a degree (no pun intended). Should it be explained? Only to a degree. The lessons one learns present realizations that one must come to gradually, hence the progressive degrees and increasingly complex rituals. Trying to explain it all to someone would undermine the beauty of the journey and the experience of learning.

If I may use another analogy to sum it up: Freemasonry's beauty opens up to a Freemason gradually, like a flower opening at daybreak. Trying to explain it in detail would be like pulling the flower's petals apart open to see what's inside. It will only debase the matter and detract from it's rich beauty.
By Harvey
On a quest to improve myself as a human being, which began a number of years ago, I first discovered Buddhism. The practice of meditation and the eightfold path; right speech, right action etc., started me on a course that changed my life entirely. Down this new path of the improved man that I became, I found myself drawn to Freemasonry. I've always been a believer in a Grand Architect, but never really sure who or what he/she was, but was able to enter Freemasonry based on my answer to the question; Do you believe in God? What I found was both interesting and unexpected. Buddhism and Freemasonry work in almost the exact same manner, except that Freemasonry requires faith in deity. Other than that, I feel that I had a head start in the self-improvement techniques of Freemasonry from my experience in Buddhism. I still adore and practice both methods and feel like a changed man, much for the better.
By Rick DiTommaso
I'am a Mason and masonry to me is the glue for humanity without it man would have destoyed it self long ago. The teachings it offers to a person are building blocks for the mind and soul. To me masonary was not meant to be a group particapation like a church but more a Individual experience that is later shared with your fellow bothers where all of you share lifes experiences and learn and grow together in peace and then you can build a better earth
and from that point the world can become one with each other
By Aaron Michael Weyburn
1-Should Freemasonry be secret, or should we be more open about it?
2-Is a member of your family a Freemason, and how do you feel about that?
3-If you are a Mason, what does Masonic ritual mean to you?
4-How did you feel when you were made a Mason?
5-And what role has Masonic ritual played in your life since?
6-Do you feel it is something which can not, or perhaps should not, be put into words?
7-Do you think Freemasonry benefits society?

1- I believe the word used in this question is, "Sacred'. We're not talking about the 'Lord of the Rings' here (Did you keep it secret?! Is it safe?! Meaning: FreeMasonry isn't evil/destructive.) I believe, as guardians of the mysteries, FreeMasons have the obligation to transmit the knowledge that they recieved to the worthy and well qualified initiates who seek knowledge. The books that you have published on the topic of FreeMasonry have been an outstanding contribution to the world, and I believe many in the lifetime to come will honor your decisions to educate people, while still observing and respecting a degee of secrecy of the Craft. I hope that my answer is clear for you.

2- My great uncle, (God be with him) who has since passed away, was once a Mason. Although I never had a great deal of time spent around him, I did respect him and knew that he was a man of good report. He was a military man who like me, worked in Intelligence as was a POW in Vietnam. Anyway, I know that when asked about his religion, he mentioned that he would only indentify himself as a 'FreeMason'. Other than that, I do not know of any other family members who were in the Craft. My being one of the only people in my 'tribe' to commit myself to such a mysterious thing as FreeMasonry, only hieghtens the effext of the mystery and makes me feel more set apart from the loan and dreary world, and accepted as a seeker of knowlege amongst my fellow brothren.

3- Masonic ritual, to me, means sacred/secret information delivered via ancient ritual to initiates who were worthy and well qialified to recieve and transmit this same teaching. Masonic ritual is the medium whereby the modern world can understand have some sort of concept, albeit apocryphal and occultish in nature, the modis operandi of the ancient world. The Masonic ritual (Masonic Testament) is my 'Bible' if you will, my 'Light'. It is very near and dear to my heart and I consider it (the Masonic ritual/Testament) to be insprired of God.

4- When I was made a Mason, I felt like a child (as Saint Paul described the state of new believers), a child of The Great Architect of the Universe, in that, I was at the beginning of a new journey. I also felt the wisdom of the ancients speaking directlty to me, to my immortal spirit. My innitiation opened my eyes. Your book, 'The Book of Hiram' played a great role in my decisoin in becoming a Mason (Note: I would have eventually joined the Lodge even without your book), and I believe, gave order to the mystery and history.

5- Masonry has always been on my mind, either at the forefront, or directly. I believe in God, I am a military man, and I have a wife and daughter. To me, being a Mason entails that I love God and my fellow man, and place the needs of others above my own. I try to live my life and act as if I know and understand the rituals - meaning, I as a Mason, act as an innitiated ancient in the modern times we live in.

6- Yes, to a degree. I believe you once said (in a text I cannot find at the moment), "FreeMasonry is dying." If the Masons of our time do not write about the Craft (as you have done) and we do not continue to invite/seek out others (Men and Women) who are worthy and well qualified, then we, as an Ancestral Body, will never Resurrect...and the future world will miss out on what we have gained.

7- It can. I have been become a better man because of Masonry, and I make the world a better place. Masonry unites the world, gives insight into our ancestral past,( its hopes, dreams, visions, and achievements) and reteaches man about the holiness and meaning of life which comes from God.

Thank you for helping me on my journey. May God bless you...I know that my family will know your name for generations to come.

I am your brother.

2LTAaron Michael Weyburn
United States Army, Military Intelligence
Fort Huachuca, Arizona, USA
By richard_surrey
To me it is mainly about self improvement: social, moral, intellectual and spiritual.
Social improvement is perhaps the lowest priority. Nevertheless I have made many very good life long friends in Masonry that I might not otherwise have known.
Intellectual improvement comes from learning about the historical and apocryphal stories of the various figures that feature throughout the various degrees in freemasonry.
Moral improvement is unavoidable! The ritual contains many lessons, illustrations and examples of good moral behaviour. As a direct result of studying and committing this to memory I feel that it provides a constant influence to the good. The ritual has been very carefully designed and written to do just this.
Spiritual and religious improvement also follows from the study of the Christian origins of the various ceremonies. I constantly find myself referring to the relevant books of the bible for further information and knowledge of the various stories that feature in various rituals.
By Jeremy Bragg
I believe Masonry means different things to different people, including Masons themselves. While I am not a Mason, my maternal grandfather was, at one time, the Grand Master of West Virginia. He was a member of the same lodge as the longest tenured senator in U.S. history, Robert C. Byrd. There could not be a better example of my above statement, as Byrd used the craft simply as a vehicle to further his political career, while my to my grandfather the lodge was everything. I feel that if one were to pin down the absolute origins and intent of the rituals, there would still be (and perhaps always has been) a myriad of interpretations and levels of devotion. This brings to mind what Manly P. Hall (and the ritual itself) said...that a true Mason is made in his heart.
By Adrian 441
Dear Bro Robert,
I thought you'd be interested to hear that I read your book "The invisible College" a number of years ago hoping that it might reveal the innermost secrets of freemasonry. However enjoyable and historically interesting as it was I was so dis-apponinted that I had to tread the steps required to becoming a brother myself. I recently was raised to MM and can't thank you enough!

Adrian 441
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