What is masonry?
Freemasonry (Masonry) is the largest Fraternal charitable organization. It teaches moral and self-knowledge lessons by attending a ritualistic allegorical progression.
Freemasonry is a fraternity dedicated to the self-spiritual development of the initiate. Masonry transmits this message through a series of progressive degrees of initiation of the candidate. Finally, Master Mason II is given the metaphoric tools to continue working and develop his Masonic intuition.
How old is Freemasonry?
The history of modern Freemasonry is quite clear, but once we move away in time, before the years 1700, things seem lost in the midst of time.
One of the beauties of Freemasonry is that it allows its members to think of a variety of topics unexplored normally by ordinary history. Some historians of masonry try to explain and address historical connections or possibilities, which are often overlooked, especially the recent past but also the historical past less recently. Freemasonry today is quite unchanged towards the last 300 years, and is modeled in a system that has probably been slightly changed in 450 years. It is believed that the work aspects of masonry, the form, and function of the lodge, come from the guilds of the Renaissance and the Middle Ages, over time attracting a wide audience of un-practicing “bricklayers.
This is the period of transforming fraternities today from one “operative” into a “speculative” one. These changes have evolved to draw the M.O. of today’s modern lodge.
How and where did Freemasonry begin?
The beginnings of Freemasonry are not known but it is well documented that the first initiation in England was that of Sir Robert Moray (famous Scottish of the 17TH century) on May 20, 1641.
It took place in a Scottish lodge near Newcastle-upon-Tyne while the Scottish army was in a state of siege in Newcastle. Sir Robert Moray was initiated at a meeting of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Chapel of St. Mary). The oldest record of initiation in an English lodge is Elias Ashmole in 1646. The organized Freemasonry began with the founding of the Grand Lodge of England on June 24, 1717, the first Grand Lodge in the world. Ireland followed in 1725 and Scotland in 1736. According to a tradition dating 1777, the first Masonic Lodge in France was founded in 1688 by the Irish Royal Regiment, who followed James II of England into exile, under the name “La Parfaite Égalité” in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. All the regular Grand Lodges in the world originated in one or more Big lodges in the British Isles.
There are two main theories of the origin of Freemasonry. According to one of them, the construction operatives that built the great cathedrals and castles attended lodges in which they discussed operational aspects.
They had simple initiation ceremonies, and because there were no certificates, tax cards, membership cards, they adopted secret signs and words to prove that Masons were trained when they moved from one place to another. Around 1600, these operative lodges started accepting non-operative Masons. Gradually these non-operatives took over the lodges and transformed them from operative to “free and accepted” or “speculative” lodges.
Another theory is that in the late 1500 and early 1600, there was a group interested in promoting religious and political tolerance in an age of maximum intolerance when the differences of opinion on religion and politics led Civil War. By adopting Freemasonry, they have tried the formation of better people and the construction of a better world. As the means of teaching in those days were allegory and symbolism, they took the idea of construction as the central allegory to form the system. The main source of allegory was the Bible whose content was known to everyone, including those who could not read.
The only building described in detail in the Bible was the Temple of Solomon, which became the basis of the ritual. The organization of the old Guilds provided the administrative base – master, Supervisors, Treasurer, Secretary–and the instruments of the operatives have provided a multitude of symbols illustrative of the moral teachings of Masonry.