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An Brief Explanation of Freemasonry

Updated: Mar 28, 2021

We are not a secret organization.

By definition, a secret organization is one which hides itself from the public and whose members keep their membership hidden from others. Freemasonry does not do these things.

Masonic buildings are prominently identified in their communities.

Members of our fraternity wear the familiar symbols of Freemasonry - the Square and Compasses - on their ring fingers and on lapel pins and we proudly display them.

While we relate many of our rituals and symbolism to the building of King Solomon's Temple at Jerusalem 3000 years ago, the specific origins of our order are lost in the sands of time.

Written documentation of the existence of Masonic Lodges exists for the past 500 years. Historical records may be found in England and Scotland which clearly indicate operative masons accepting as members, what they described as speculative Masons, who while not workers in stone, were deemed worthy of membership as a result of their high moral standards and their demonstrated commitment to the practice of benevolence and charity.

The terminology of Ancient Free and Accepted Freemasonry takes its meaning from being Ancient as the oldest fraternal organization in the world; Free as admitting craftsmen of their own free will, and Accepted as welcoming (or accepting) men of high moral standards into their fold.

We repeatedly emphasize to our newer members that we are not operative, but rather Free and Accepted or Speculative Masons. On June 24, 1717, four London Lodges met together and formed a Grand Lodge. This was the originator of the present United Grand Lodge of England. In 1725 a Grand Lodge was formed in Ireland and in 1736 a Grand Lodge was formed in Scotland.

A Provincial Grand Master was appointed in Massachusetts in 1733; this Provincial Grand Lodge, operating from Boston, warranted several Lodges, which are now situated in Canada. These Lodges were situated in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia - 1738, St. John's, Newfoundland - 1738, and Halifax, Nova Scotia - 1750.

The Province of Nova Scotia is the home of Freemasonry in Canada, having had the first warranted Lodge, in Annapolis Royal in 1738, Within this Jurisdiction there are over 50 Lodges, with a membership of approximately four thousand men.

The Lodge Room, its contents, the manner in which things were used by Operative Masons and also the way in which they are adopted by us, symbolize lessons in morality.

The Lodge is symbolically, not geographically, situated East and West. (The three pillars, which are situated by each chair, are replicas of the three different types of columns used by the ancient Greek architects. They symbolically support the ceiling of the Lodge. The Ionic pillar stands in the East and represents Wisdom, the Doric pillar stands in the West and represents Strength and the Corinthian pillar, which stands in the South, represents Beauty.) Above the seat of the Worshipful Master is suspended the letter “G”, which represents God or Geometry, the basis of our Craft.

Three of the Working tools in Masonry; the Square, the Level and the Plumb are also referred to as the immovable jewels. They are so termed because they are appropriated to particular parts of the Lodge, the Square to the East, the Level to the West, and the Plumb to the South.

The Square was used to test the work of the buildings that had been completed. It teaches us that we, as Masons, must square our conduct with the Principals of Morality and Virtue.

The Level was used to ensure that every stone was laid correctly and that the walls of the building were perfectly horizontal. It reminds us that all men are equal and should be dealt with as equals.

The Plumb was used to enable the wall of the structure to be virtually true. It reminds us that a Mason is to walk upright and not to be swayed too greatly in any direction.

On the floor of some Lodges, in front of the Altar is Mosaic Pavement (Black and White checker tile). To us the Mosaic Pavement represents, symbolically, humanity as the pieces of material assembled and fitted together to form the grand design of life. It reminds us that we are all small pieces of life and, as such, should endeavour to fit together in order to complete the design that the Supreme Being created for us.

What about the Masonic term the “Volume of Sacred Law”? In this jurisdiction, most lodges use a King James Version of the Holy Bible, but that by no means is a rule. The Bible is a Holy Book. It is also an example of a “Volume of Sacred Law”. As you are well aware, there are numerous faiths in the world and each has religious or sacred writings or Holy Scriptures which are considered sacred by that faith group and most commonly placed together in a book form; that is a Holy Book or a Sacred Volume. Masonry refers to each one of these as a Volume of Sacred Law.

Freemasonry is not a religious order. In fact discussion of religion or religious matters within a Lodge is strictly forbidden. But at the same time Freemasonry encourages every man to be steadfast in the faith of his acceptance.

In Freemasonry, the first prerequisite of a Mason is a belief in God. However, whatever his particular opinions may be concerning God, they are of no immediate concern to our institution.

Many Lodges will have more than one Holy Book or Volume of the Sacred Law on the Altar if there is a member of a different faith in attendance, particularly when there are obligations to be taken as in the case of new members joining. In that instance the new member kneels, places his hands on his particular Volume of the Sacred Law and promises before God to conduct himself with the best moral and ethical behaviour with which he is capable so that it may bring honour to God, to his family, to his neighbour and to himself.

The letter “G” represents the Great Architect or Grand Geometrician of the Universe; symbolic of each man’s belief in a higher being. Masons in Nova Scotia and around the world come from all faiths and include Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Sikhs, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and many others. Any religious restrictions to membership in our Order are imposed by those religions, not by Freemasonry.

In the centre of the Lodge upon the Altar rests the Volume of the Sacred Law supporting the Square and Compasses. The Volume of the Sacred Law speaks to us of our duty to God; the Square reminds us to square or perfect our lives and actions and the Compasses remind us to limit ourselves within those actions which are acceptable to our Creator. Around these three duties we build our lives and our work.

With more than six million members worldwide, Freemasonry has been a cornerstone of fraternalism for centuries.

Freemasonry is more than an outward symbol and ceremony, narration and fellowship. It has a tradition, which is mystical and personal, nevertheless, real and vital for the full understanding of the spirit of Masonry.

The First Degree, which is comparable in symbolism to birth

The Second Degree is the Degree of life, knowledge and mental development

The Third Degree points to the inevitability of death

Freemasonry is not a religion or an alternative. It is a philosophy of life built on a system of moral living, expressing a belief in a Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul.

This is but a brief discourse on the lessons we endeavour to impress on the new candidates, who knock on our doors by their own choice, for enlightenment and knowledge.

Freemasonry is the world’s oldest and largest fraternal organization. Its members have included kings, presidents, prime ministers, politicians, Supreme Court justices, titans of industry, movie stars… and probably your grandfather! The doors of Freemasonry are always open to good men of moral character who strive to be better husbands, sons, fathers and members of their communities.

If you are interested in becoming a Member of the World’s Oldest and Largest Fraternal Organization or have questions regarding our Fraternity send me an email on the contacts page and we will be happy to talk with you.


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