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WHAT IS FREEMASONRY?

Freemasonry is one of the oldest fraternal and philanthropic organizations in the world. Its roots can be traced to the traditions of the stonemasons who built the cathedrals and castles in medieval Europe.

It is here that a number of the famous elements of Freemasonry find their roots. In the medieval era, stonemasons often travelled to find work in different building locations. To demonstrate their level of qualification, they would use grips, words and signs to distinguish themselves from unqualified builders. They would also organize themselves into trade guilds or lodges. These concepts of differentiating levels of qualifications and organization into lodges remain today.

 

Today, masonic traditions use the stonemason trade and fraternity as a symbolic vehicle for instructing our members on how to lead productive lives that benefit their communities and themselves.

Image by Alexander Andrews

Guiding Principles of Freemasonry

For Freemasons, four important values help define their path through life: Integrity, Fraternity, Respect and Community Service. In today’s world filled with uncertainty, these principles ring as true now as they have at any point in the organization’s history.

 

Integrity

Building good people 

Freemasons are focused on building themselves as people of integrity, and membership provides the structure to help achieve that goal. Being a Freemason gives members a sense of purpose, supporting and guiding them on their journey through life. Collectively, members are bonded through an understanding of unity and equitability – principles fundamental to Freemasonry.

 

Fraternity

Building together

Freemasonry provides the common fraternal foundation for friendships between its members, many of which may last a lifetime. Being a Freemason means something different to each mason, but whether looking to make acquaintances or to work on personal self-development, masons share a deep sense of brotherhood that supports their journey.

Respect

Building unity

Freemasonry brings people together irrespective of their race, religion, or other perceived differences that can divide us as a society. Members are expected to be of high moral standing and are encouraged to talk openly about what the organization does and what it means to be part of it.

 

Community Service

Contributing to Community

Community service is at the very heart of Freemasonry. Our members make valuable contributions by donating time, resources and skills to better our communities. 

Image by Ruth Troughton

How is Masonry Organized?

Freemasonry is globally organized into national or regional Grand Lodges, each following the general principles of Masonry, but with local forms of governance and practice. Canada has a designated Grand Lodge for each province

Within each Grand Lodge, members are organized into smaller units called lodges,  where meetings are held, and members meet together. A Freemason Lodge is a place where members will spend a significant part of their journey in Freemasonry and each member can freely choose the Lodge or lodges they wish to be part of.

Our St. Andrew's Lodge No. 1, within the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, is the oldest constituted Masonic lodge in Canada and predated the Confederation of Canada by 116 years.

Image by Jen Theodore

What happens at a Lodge meeting?

Lodge meetings are typically held in two parts. The first involves more administrative activities such

as managing lodge finances, receiving progress reports from the working committees of the lodge and proposing and voting on new candidates for membership.

The second part focuses on the work of masonry itself which includes such ceremonies initiating new masons, and the instruction and testing members in the three stages or degrees of masonic qualification. 

The Three Degrees of Freemasonry

When a person is initiated into Freemasonry, they complete the First Degree. At this point, they become an 'Entered Apprentice'. The First Degree ceremony reminds us that we are all equal – it is the responsibility of all of us to look after those less fortunate. 

Upon completion of the Second Degree, a member becomes a 'Fellowcraft'. This encourages members to better themselves through education and focuses on self-development. 

After this, the member will then undertake the Third Degree. This ceremony teaches them how to use their life wisely and be remembered for the right reasons. On completion, they become a Master Mason.

Our ceremonies are based on three principles that are still taught in our ceremonies today: look after those less fortunate, improve yourself and live with integrity.

True to the sense of fraternity and togetherness among masons, meetings are also social events, providing an occasion for members to enjoy fellowship together. Outside of the Lodge, activities include community and social activities, as well as a various events where spouses, partners and families are welcome.

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