What is Freemasonry?

While there are many fraternal organizations in the world, perhaps none of them has garnered as much attention and as much intrigue as has freemasonry.  This unique organization is shrouded in mystery and surrounded by a rich mythology.  The ranks of freemasonry include some of the most famous names in the history of politics, religion and entertainment, and the presence of so many dignitaries has served only to increase the intrigue and fascination with this unique organization

Freemasonry is one of the most popular of all fraternal organizations, with a membership totaling in the millions.  The organization known as freemasonry exists in many different countries and in a variety of forms.  One of the chief guiding principles of freemasonry is a shared moral center, and most branches fo freemasonry require a declaration of a belief in some sort of supreme being.

The Organization
On the administrative side of the organization, freemasonry is organized into a series of Grand Lodges, sometimes also referred to as Orients.  Each of these Grand Lodges governs a particular jurisdiction, with this jurisdiction comprised of a number of constituent lodges.  These Grand Lodges are recognized by one another using a series of landmarks.  Freemasonry also includes a number of other bodies, in essence organizations that maintain their own independence while still being related to the freemasonry organization.

When asked to define their organization, freemasons are likely to define it as a system of morality.  Freemasons often compare the structure and moral center of their organization to the tools and implements of the stonemason.  In addition, freemasons often refer to these tools against the backdrop of the building of King Solomon’s temple.  This metaphor helps to define the moral center of the organization and its reason for being.

Even though freemasonry is often referred to as a secret society, in reality this is not the case.  Freemasonry could more accurately be referred to as an esoteric organization.  While certain aspects of the organization remain a closely guarded secret, the freemasons of the modern age have become decidedly less secret than their reputation would suggest.  In fact many of the private rituals and aspects of the freemasons are used primarily to allow members of different lodges to recognize one another.