No one knows with certainty how or when the Masonic Fraternity was formed. A widely accepted theory
among Masonic scholars is that it arose from the stonemasons’ guilds during the Middle Ages. The
language and symbols used in the fraternity’s rituals come from this era. The oldest document that
makes reference to Masons is the Regius Poem, printed around 1390, which was a copy of an earlier
work. In 1717, four lodges in London formed the first Grand Lodge of England, and records from that
point on are more complete.
Within 30 years, the fraternity had spread throughout Europe and the American
Colonies. Freemasonry became very popular in Colonial America. George
Washington was a Mason, Benjamin Franklin served as the head of the
fraternity in Pennsylvania, as did Paul Revere and Joseph Warren in
Massachusetts. Other well-known Masons involved with the founding of
America included John Hancock, John Sullivan, Lafayette, Baron Fredrick von
Stuben, Nathanael Greene, and John Paul Jones. Another Mason, Chief
Justice John Marshall, shaped the Supreme Court into its present form.
Over the centuries, Freemasonry has developed into a world-wide fraternity
emphasizing personal study, self-improvement, and social betterment via
individual involvement and philanthropy. During the late 1700s, it was one of
the organizations most responsible for spreading the ideals of the Enlightenment:
the dignity of man and the liberty of the individual, the right of all persons to
worship as they choose, the formation of democratic governments, and the
importance of public education. Freemasons supported the first public schools
in both Europe and America.
During the 1800s and early 1900s, Freemasonry grew dramatically. At that
time, the government had provided no social “safety net.” The Masonic tradition of
founding orphanages, homes for widows and homes for the aged provided the
only security many people knew.
Today’s Freemasons are widely involved in a range of charity and community service activities. In fact,
the Masonic Fraternity gives almost $1.5 million each day to both Masonic and non-Masonic charities
locally, nationally and internationally. The causes they support range from operating children’s
hospitals, providing treatment for childhood language disorders, treating eye diseases, funding medical
research, contributing to local community service, and providing care to Freemasons and their families
at Masonic Homes.
How to Become a Freemason
Freemasons come from all walks of life, but in order to become a Mason you must meet a few simple criteria:
1. You must be a male, at least 18 years of age (varies by state)
2. You must profess a belief in a Supreme Being
3. You must be a man of good morals and reputation
In order to join you must seek admission by your own free will, and you must be recommended by a current Freemason,
unanimously elected to membership and willing to assume an obligation to the fraternity.
To get started simply go to The Next Step and fill out basic information. A virtual mentor will assist you
and introduce you to a local lodge.
Degrees of Masonry
As you follow the path of Masonry you will have the opportunity to earn three symbolic degrees representing the lessons of Masonry.
1. Entered Apprentice: Beginner
2 .Fellowcraft: Intermediate
3. Master Mason: Expert
All Shriners are Master Masons, but not all Freemasons go on to become Shriners.
If you are not a Freemason, you must pursue that first. Ask for a virtual mentor who will assist
you on that journey by clicking on the virtual mentor here or the link below. Also see the Mason Roadmap section and click on Freemason for details on that process.
Once you are a Master Mason you will then be eligible to petition to become a Shriner.
See Roadmap section and click on masons for details. Your virtual mentor will assist you with every
step along the way.