What is Freemasonry - Masonic FAQs

Below are some questions and answers to help you navigate the misinformation about Freemasonry.

What is Freemasonry?

This is one of the most difficult questions to answer, and even Freemasons themselves give differing definitions. This is probably due to the fact that Freemasonry does not impose any particular dogma or theology and attempts to guide members to a more moral way of life. 'Attempting to make good men better' is one definition.

Freemasons work within their local community to raise funds for charitable organisations and good causes. Most masonic activities are based on charity, brotherly love, and friendship.

Freemasonry in Stewarton?

Freemasonry in Stewarton has been established for over 250 years, with a charter granted by The Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1777. The current lodge in Springwell Place has been in this location for over half a century, with many of the brethren of the day building the internal structure and fittings themselves. Many charitable and community organisations within Stewarton and the surrounding communities have benefited from fundraising endeavours of the lodge over the years.

Is Freemasonry a Secret Society?

Hardly! You are reading this are you not? The perception that Freemasonry is in some way secret has arisen relatively recently simply because Freemasons value their privacy. This is no different from many other organisations that keep their affairs private from people who are not members. If you asked a golf club of which you are not a member for details of the membership, committee minutes, etc., then you can safely assume the reply - should the club concerned be courteous enough even to answer. This basic right to privacy applies equally to trade unions, Private Clubs, Political Parties, Churches, etc., as well as to individuals.

Why do Freemasons have a Funny Handshake?

Freemasonry is a very old society that pre-dates many present-day institutions. The earliest Masonic records are to be found in Scotland and date from a time when members of Lodges were mainly illiterate. As stone masons had to travel all over the country and occasionally overseas, some simple method of recognition had to be devised in order to secure employment appropriate to the degree of skill of each individual. Modern-day Freemasonry continues that practice. Other organisations use different methods to identify between those who are members and those who are not. A membership card is the most common form and instantly shows that one is a member of a particular society etc. A membership card, or anything in writing, would have been useless to an illiterate stone mason. Freemasonry is a very traditional institution, and it is proud of its history and what it stands for. It simply continues to use practices established centuries ago.

How does one become a Freemason?

Usually, it is by asking another Freemason. In Scotland, it is a general rule that a Freemason will not solicit men for membership. There are occasions when a member of the family, a close personal friend, will be asked, but this is a matter for the individual Freemason concerned. If you do not know a Freemason or are unaware if you know one, then contact your local lodge secretary.

What are the Qualifications for Membership?

There are several. An applicant must believe in a Supreme Being, but Freemasonry will not provide any further definition, and the applicant himself must determine the nature of that Being. The applicant must be an upright man of good moral character and be at least twenty-one years old. He must not have a criminal record. He must be able to meet his financial commitments to his family before those to Freemasonry.

Once a Member, is it not Difficult to Leave?

Freemasonry is a voluntary organisation, and once a member, there is no pressure to continue to participate. Indeed, men join and subsequently find it is not to their taste or is not what they had envisaged, so they cease to be active members. Whilst it is sad that Freemasonry is unable to meet the applicant's aspirations, in such cases, it will not stand in the way of anyone's decision to leave.

Why are some Churches so Antagonistic Towards Freemasonry?

Quite simply, that question should be directed elsewhere. Freemasonry will not comment on any particular belief system, religious, political, or otherwise. It will certainly not comment on another organisation's internal affairs as that is their own business. Any man who believes in a Supreme Being can be admitted into Freemasonry no matter their religious beliefs or faith group.

What is the relationship between Freemasonry and groups like the Orange Order and the Royal Ancient Order of Buffaloes?

Absolutely no relationship. There are numerous fraternal orders and friendly societies whose rituals, regalia and organisation bear a similarity in some respects to those of Freemasonry. Regardless, they have no formal or informal connections or relationships with Freemasonry as constituted under The Grand Lodge of Scotland.

Why is Freemasonry a Unique Institution?

In many ways it is not. There are other organisations that also value privacy. It may be because Freemasonry is so popular that it attracts a greater degree of attention than these other organisations. Historically, Freemasonry was but one institution among many. For instance, there were the Free Gardeners, Free Shepherds, Free Carpenters, Free Colliers, etc., which were organised along Freemasonry and taught morality through their own ritual plays and symbolism. Most of these organisations no longer exist, leaving Freemasonry as the only example of this once common form of society or association.

Why Can't Women Become Freemasons?

Women have been part of the world of freemasonry for over a hundred years, with a wide variety of fraternal orders that accept women only or both men and women. We are aware that there are various 'Masonic' bodies that admit women. Probably the best-known in Scotland are the Order of the Eastern Star, which meets in lodges across Scotland, and The Order of Women Freemasons, which has lodges in Aberdeen, Bonnyrigg, and Glasgow.
The International Order of Freemasonry for Men and Women (Le Droit Humain British Federation) exists.
There is also The Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons, which consists of women only.


If you would like to have a chat with someone about joining our fraternal brotherhood, email the Secretary at the email address below.