[Square & Compasses]

Question: General Questions

Date: Sat, 07 Sep 1996 17:14:15 -0700
From: Keith Butler <kbutler@aruba.ccit.arizona.edu>
To: dryfoo@MIT.EDU
Subject: Free Masonry

Sorry to trouble you, but from the Website, I ascertained that you would know the answers to the following. I am interested in Free Masonry, its origins, raison d' etre, and goals of the Fraternity. If these questions are appropriate for a Non-member, please respond as you see fit. Thanks so much for any help you might give.

I am intensely curious as to when Free Masonry started as a group, why the name Mason was chosen, what the compass and square have to do with Masonry (from a strictly professional viewpoint, I thought that architects would be the ones with those tools.). What are degrees in Masonry? How many are there? What is done to progress from say a Non-member to a first degree?

This is not wanton self-indulgent curiosity, but a serious inquiry into Masonry. I would appreciate any information that you would think would be appropriate for a Non-member to know.

Thanks again, Keith Butler
email - kbutler@aruba.ccit.arizona.edu

To: Keith Butler <kbutler@aruba.ccit.arizona.edu>
Subject: Re: Free Masonry 
In-reply-to: Your message of "Sat, 07 Sep 1996 17:14:15 PDT."

Dear Mr. Butler,

The answer to many of your questions can be found in my web-site already. There's a copy of the USENET FAQ for instance which is pretty detailed.

Freemasonry is descended formally from the builders' guilds of mediaeval Europe and particularly England, whose forms were adopted in the late 1600s and early 1700s by non-guild-members who had both begun joining the old lodges and forming their own. The tools of masonry, including the compasses, square, trowel, cutting gavel, etc. are used symbolically to teach moral and spiritual lessons. For example, most people are familiar with the idea of "the square deal" that is honest and fair to both parties, but most people don't realize that the underlying metaphor -- of a properly-squared right-angle (neither acute nor obtuse) being the right one for building a sturdy and reliable wall or column -- is Masonic.

The degrees in Craft Masonry are: Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason. There are fixed ceremonies involving rituals and lectures for each degree. Master Masons are eligible to join a variety of "side-bodies," Scottish Rite, York Rite, the Shrine, Grotto, etc.

I hope this helps.

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