Speculative Freemasonry dates from the formation, in London, of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717. During the preceding centuries Operative Lodges were in existence, these formed by the stonemasons building the great religious houses across Europe. In the years preceding 1717 these Operative Lodges gradually changed in character with the initiation into membership of non operative persons whose trade was not that of a stonemason.
The ritual in the early Speculative Lodges consisted of the candidate accepting an obligation and being read a catechetical (question and answer) lecture with the brethren seated around a table. Over a period of time this ritual was gradually changed until by 1825 the current form was agreed with only a few minor changes being introduced over the following years.
At its heart, the purpose of Freemasonry is to take a good man and make him better. Among other things, a candidate must be at least 21 years of age with sound judgement and morals. A spiritual belief is required, (ie a Freemason must have a religious/spiritual belief), however what each Freemason believes is up to him as long as it is positive. Freemasonry worldwide has members of almost every religion and belief.
The reason for this approach is to unite mankind in harmony, thereby fostering a better world through understanding and compassion. You will never hear a Freemason criticise religion. Likewise, a Freemason is forbidden to discuss politics within Lodge. The reason is that these two topics have led to much disharmony and conflict in the world.
Goodwill and charity are fundamental to a Freemason’s heart. As examples, our Lodge sponsors youth on the Spirit of Adventure, funded equipment for Scouts, provided contributions for Typhoon relief in the Philippines and Samoa, as well as support to a local Hospice, The Blind Foundation and CanTeen. Often these are part of District activities, ie working in conjunction with other Lodges, within the district, so as to make a bigger contribution to a worthy cause. The Freemasons Charity is one of our country’s biggest and longest serving charities, supporting causes as diverse as Opera and scientific and medical research.
A Regular evening is structured around a ceremony (or ritual) much like a play. The ritual is designed to impart moral lessons on life, so that our members grow and develop in confidence, capability, leadership, and ultimately to encourage them to live good lives, fostering family and community values.
In 2017 modern Freemasonry will celebrate its 300th birthday worldwide. It is steeped in history and tradition. We experience the wisdom of that tradition in our Lodges and in our day to day lives.
OR for women seeking participation in the craft, our sister organisation The Order of the Eastern Star has a similar vibrant history and values.