|LODGE ALBERT LOCHEE 448, DUNDEE, SCOTLAND|
There are a lot of myths surrounding Freemasons and their activities and the following may answer some of your questions or worries.
It is the world's oldest and largest fraternity dating back at least to the Middle Ages. Its purpose is to promote the bonds of friendship, compassion and brotherly love. Politics has no role in it. Neither is it a religion as some would have you believe but rather a friend and promoter of all religions which are based on the belief in one God. Regardless of their position in society, Freemasons meet as equals. One of the most fascinating aspects of Freemasonry has always been how so many men from so many different walks of life can meet together in peace, never discuss politics or engage in religious debates, conduct their affairs in harmony and friendship, and call each other "Brother".
If you are reading this then that is indicative that Freemasonry is not a secret society but lodge meetings, like meetings of many other social and professional associations, are private occasions open only to members.
The rituals and ceremonies used by Freemasons to pass on the principles of Freemasonry to new members were first revealed publicly nearly 3 centuries ago. They include the traditional forms of recognition used by Freemasons essentially to prove their identity and qualifications when entering a Masonic meeting. These include handshakes which have been much written about and can scarcely be regarded as truly secret today; for medieval Freemasons, they were the equivalent of a 'pin number' restricting access only to qualified members.
Freemasons are respectable citizens who are taught to respect and conform to the moral laws of society and to abide by the laws of the country or state in which they reside. They are men of charity and good works who strive to support those less fortunate than themselves both inside and outside the order.
Freemasonry is proud of its philosophy and practice of "making good men better." Only men, believed to be of good character, and beleiving in the Supreme Being, are favourably considered for membership. Every applicant must be 21 years of age or more and respected in his locality.
A Masonic meeting can be compared to a committee meeting with various officers performing specific functions - Chairman (called the "Right Worshipful Master"), Secretary, and Treasurer and so on. Items on an agenda are taken sequentially and will typically involve a ceremony, involving a candidate, which dramatises his inner growth in morality and ethics, using the symbols and metaphors of Biblical mythology and the tools of the mediaeval stonemasons. Announcements are made and the business of the lodge dealt with. Proposals requiring assent are put to a vote. The atmosphere is convivia and dignified. The meeting is usually followed by a ‘Harmony’ where members enjoy each others company and light refreshment and sometimes a meal depending on the occasion, which is again convivial. If this description appears limited, it is not because Masons have sinister secrets to hide, but because to reveal what goes on in detail would spoil the enjoyment of the ceremonies for those who have yet to participate in them.
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