Once you have finished talking about rolled up trouser legs and “funny handshakes”, one of the first questions asked by non-Masons discussing Freemasonry is “What’s In it For Me” (WIFM) as they look for a motivation to join. Undoubtedly, Freemasonry rewards people for the amount of effort they put in. However, the rewards cannot be measured in silver or gold but in terms of being a better or more rounded person.
If you are only looking to join Freemasonry for what it will give you, I suggest you are looking at the wrong organisation. Freemasonry will not:
Give you money or make you rich
Make you famous or help you get a recording contract
Freemasonry expects you to:
Contribute both financially and by giving your time to good causes, without causing problems to either yourself or your family
Attend regularly, recognising that the proper order of things is Family, Work, Freemasonry
In return, you will join the world’s first social network, meeting people from all walks of life and learning important lessons about yourself and life in general. Other pages on this site will help you understand more about Freemasonry in general and specifically the Hungerford Lodge, feel free to look around.
If you have got this far and are still reading, please feel free to apply to join the Hungerford Lodge.
If you ask five Freemasons why they joined, you will get at least five different answers. Each person has their own reasons. (I say “person” because there are female freemasons, albeit not as part of the United Grand Lodge of England) These reasons can be intensely personal and for many there is not a single reason.
Some of the reasons people give include:
Wanting to join an organisation
To meet other people
Looking for a new challenge
To have fun
To learn new skills
For me this is a very significant reason. My father, grandfathers and great-uncle were all masons at points in their lives. It has been part of my consciousness from an early age and I had always wanted to join.
This is not unusual; many masons are brought in by blood or in-law relations. It is wonderful to see how Freemasonry can reunite families who live significant distances apart, when one member has a special occasion to celebrate, such as becoming Worshipful Master of their Lodge.
I knew my father went out in the evenings “suited and booted” with his case and I wondered what it was all about. I read as much as I could but nothing prepared me for the warmth and affection I found when I was initiated.
A note of caution here – the ritual is available on the Internet if you look – but please don’t, it will spoil your evening if you do.
Wanting to join an organisation
Humans are social animals and many love the engagement with others that joining an organisation brings. The wide ranging spread of freemasonry really helps with this desire. Lodges exist throughout the country and wider world. Changing address does not mean that you lose contact with Freemasonry. Also, if you have to move for some reason, what better way is there to build a new local network of friends than by joining a Lodge in your new area?
To meet other people
Freemasonry brings together people of varying backgrounds, faiths, skills and interests and gives them a common bond. Whilst membership of a golf club tells you that a person likes and plays golf, being a freemason tells you about their moral values and being an initiation society ensures that all freemasons have a common shared experience.
Looking for a new challenge
Freemasonry offers a number of challenges, from learning the ritual, to public speaking, acting as secretary or treasurer or even the highest accolade any member can be given by his Lodge, to act as Worshipful Master.
Freemasonry is inextricably linked with charity. It is unusual in that all funds raised come from the membership. Freemasonry does not look to raise money from non-Masons but expects all Freemasons to give freely within the bounds of their personal capability. Charity is described as the “distinguishing characteristic of a freemason’s heart.”
There is always a degree of banter and joking within a group. Within freemasonry there is a tendency to be supportive and a recognition of the effort required to memorise long tracts of text and deliver them with sincerity to a candidate. The ritual also encourages the amicable settlement of any differences before entering the Lodge.
The discussion of religion and/or politics is expressly forbidden within masonic meetings. This removes the foundation for many arguments and has enabled brethren to meet across an otherwise unbridgeable divide. For example, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Israel is a Palestinian.
It should be remembered that first and foremost Freemasonry is a hobby. For some officers within the Lodge it can sometimes seem like a job, particularly when others are enjoying the camaraderie at the bar and you are still collecting dining fees! However, when you go visiting you can forget all that and let someone else take the strain.
Visiting is one of the joys of being a freemason. Seeing how other Lodges “have always done it” differently to your own Lodge means every Lodge meeting is a joy. Meeting old friends and new is the cornerstone of freemasonry.
Learning new skills
Freemasons who take an active role within the Lodge will learn many things. The ritual elements are single act plays, delivered out loud by a small cast to a highly supportive audience. As an active officer, masons will gradually become comfortable with the idea of speaking in public. They will also have learnt the art of memorising the words and standing in the right place at the right time.
Secretaries and treasurers learn the skills required to successfully organise and run what is essentially a small not-for-profit business. Those attaining the office of Worshipful Master will learn how to manage to consensus and to rule their Lodge.
If this post has inspired you to join Freemasonry, all you need to do is ask.
Most people think you become a Freemason by going through an initiation ceremony and to some extent they are correct. However, long before a man is initiated, he will need to have become a Freemason in his heart. The ceremony of initiation simply confirms that transition.
Candidates for Freemasonry are typically looking to make themselves better men by being more useful to society in general and are already volunteering or involved in charitable activities. For example, there is a strong association between the Scouting movement and Freemasonry. The values instilled into young people during their time in the Scouts mirror those valued by Freemasons. There are several Lodges, such as the Be Prepared Lodge no 9845, for whom this bond is part of the reason they exist.
Freemasonry nurtures an inherent desire to be more than an individual, to serve the community and to grow as a person. Scouts learn to always do their best and to be prepared. The aim being to help them achieve their full physical, intellectual, social and spiritual potential so that they become constructive members of society. The degree structure of Freemasonry leads the individual on a spiritual (not religious) journey from ignorance to enlightenment or self-awareness.
Candidates will come via a variety of routes but all will be looking to become something more than they are today. If you believe that you are ready to take the next step on this journey, we recommend that you read through the following paragraphs and the What is involved? section and when you are ready, contact us to discuss how to take things forward.
The essential qualifications for becoming a Freemason are:
You believe in a Supreme Being
You are at least 21
You are free and of good report
Belief in a Supreme Being
Craft Freemasonry is open to men of all faiths and does not focus on the name they use for that Supreme Being. Freemasonry acknowledges and respects that people find different routes to understand their own spirituality.
Being of mature age
The rules of Freemasonry require that a man has reached what was considered the age of majority at the time of their writing. Certain lodges in Oxford and Cambridge had a dispensation to initiate at 18 as they were aligned to the universities and this is being expanded under the Universities Scheme to cover more and more universities. The rule is intended to ensure that men are sufficiently mature in their thinking to make such an important decision.
Free and of good report
Freemasonry and therefore the ritual text predates the abolition of slavery and the requirement to be free or freeborn harks back to that time. Being of good report is a reference to the need for all candidates to be of high moral standing and with no unspent convictions.
This post marks the official launch of the Hungerford Lodge no 4748 website. It is amazing to think that when the Lodge was founded in 1925, the era between the “War to end all wars” and the Great Depression, the times, dates and places of Masonic meetings were regularly published in the local papers.
There then followed a period of retrenchment, during which publicity was considered a bad thing. In part, this was due to the suppression of Freemasonry and persecution of freemasons on the continent during the run up to World War 2 and the war years. Although this changed with the changes to the European political landscape, there has been significant continued opposition to freemasonry.
It has taken a long time to get back to the point where Masons are encouraged to be open and proud of their membership. When the idea of the Hungerford Lodge having an online presence was first discussed at our General Purpose Committee, our current Master (or leader for the year) expressed his own inner struggle with the idea. He was initiated in the early 1970’s and has been a member of the Lodge during the time when news media coverage has typically been negative and Masons were taught to be cautious about revealing their membership. He recognised the need for greater openness as we had evidence that Hungerford residents were largely unaware of the existence of a Lodge of Freemasons within their midst, never mind the good we were doing for the community in general.
The fact that we, as a Lodge, now feel comfortable with a website and a presence on both Facebook and Twitter is a significant positive step, in this writer’s opinion. Furthermore, this openness is not limited to the Hungerford Lodge but the United Grand Lodge of England has a presence on the main online and social media platforms and has recently constructed a YouTube channel.
Some Lodges, in particular the North Harrow Lodge no 6557 have used the online world to turn a decline in numbers into a success story, which has truly inspired the Hungerford Lodge no 4748 to take this step into the online world.
We hope that you find the information on our site useful and we hope that:
If everything you have read about Freemasonry before you found this site was negative, we have succeeded in putting the other side of the story.
If you have thought about joining Freemasonry, this site answered your questions. If not, please contact us and we will attempt to answer any lingering questions and use the experience to improve our website.
If you are already a Mason, please come and visit us when you are in the area.