Friday, 16 December 2011

The Organisation of Freemasonry in England

It is declared that, in England, the Grand Lodge of Masonry was formed in 1717. Freemasons claim their Craft is based on traditions going back 3000 years. The Grand Lodge of England, overseeing almost all English Freemasonry, today has around 300 000 members in nearly 7700 Lodges. Membership of the lodge may, to some, provide comradeship, a philosophy or a way of life. Middle class, middle aged men are the typical target group for membership. Men’s Freemasonry is divided into two branches, the York Rite and the Scottish Rite. The Scottish Rite advances to 33° and the York Rite to a comparable level, but degrees are named, not numbered. The first three degrees, known as the Blue Lodge, are common to both Rites, and the majority of Freemasons do not progress beyond this level. The York Rite is proclaimed as the ‘Christian’ Rite, and hence the rite professing Christians will be encouraged into. It is not unknown for there to be ‘Christian’ lodges for members of the clergy. Basic information on distribution of lodges is readily available on the web.
Jesus is, however, omitted from the first three degrees of Freemasonry. These same degrees symbolise birth, life and death, with a baptism into the death of Freemasonry as the third degree initiation. A Mason of the third degree is known as a Master Mason. The first two degrees teach, for example, that God is both male and female and always reproducing, hence the concept of man as a ‘little god’.
Women may also be actively involved in Freemasonry in one of the following Masonic organisations:
• Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons (women only)
• The Order of Women Freemasons (women only)
• International Co-Freemasonry (men & women)
• Eastern Star (women & men)
Some other religions have origins in Freemasonry:
• Jehovah Witness
• Mormon
• B’nai B’rith
• Universalism
Some American ‘Super Churches’