The Fraternity of Freemasonry
Though acknowledged as the largest and oldest fraternity in the world, Freemasonry is not easily categorized. Like many of its imitators, it is often described as a secret society because its meetings are closed to the uninitiated and utilizes passwords and grips. Unlike so many of its imitators, such as those described below, Freemasonry is not a benefit society. Although it recognizes no class distinctions and accepts all men of good morals who have a belief in a Supreme Being, Freemasonry's membership has traditionally been drawn from among the intellectual and social elite in society from the first recorded acceptance of a speculative Masons - Robert Moray in 1641 and Elias Ashmole in 1646. The ritual and ceremonies of Freemasonry encourages the process of spiritual development in the initiate. Individual freethinking was and is the hallmark of Freemasonry.
The ceremonies of the various branches of the Masonic Fraternity - Blue Lodge, Knight Templar, Scottish Rite, and Shrine - have been described as archetypal:
- In the Blue Lodge a man becomes a builder or workman
- In the Drill Hall (Asylum) of the Knights Templar, the Mason becomes a holy warrior
- In the Cathedrals of the Scottish Rite, the Mason is schooled in esoteric traditions assuming the role of holy man or priest
- In the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine a Mason experiments with the role of jester or fool
"From Lodge Room to Theatre: Meeting Spaces of the Scottish Rite," Theatre of the Fraternity, William D. Moore, pages 48 to 49 (University Press of Mississippi, 1996).
Reference "The Lodge, Jacksonville Masonic Fraternities," (Oregon) By Marguerite Black, and Henry Halvorsen.
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