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.
After almost 90 years at the heart of the Hungerford community, the Hungerford Lodge is to move to the Newbury Masonic Centre. The Lodge has used the Town Hall and Corn Exchange for its meetings since 1925 but this association has come to an end due to the changing business needs of the Hungerford Town & Manor. This is a source of great disappointment to the members who have always been very proud to call themselves Hungerford Freemasons, and support local Hungerford charities, including funding the disabled access lift for the Town Hall.
Traditionally a celebration of the best of Freemasonry, the meeting and Festive Board held on December 9th 2014, was tinged with sadness. It was the last meeting of the Hungerford Lodge in Hungerford. Every year the Lodge celebrates Christmas with a legendary meal accompanied by the Hungerford Town Band playing Carols – who knew that Land of Hope and Glory was a Carol?
After the meal, the Lodge runs its Christmas auction. Over the years, this auction has raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity through the generosity of the Hungerford and visiting Freemasons. The money raised supports the activities of the Lodge Benevolent Association, which is a registered charity and since 2009, they have donated over £25,000 to local and national charities including:
The members of the Lodge formed a steering group which was tasked with investigating the alternatives within Hungerford and the surrounding areas. Although every effort was made to remain within Hungerford, no suitable accommodation was found which necessitated a move away from the Lodge’s traditional home. It was therefore decided to approach the Newbury Masonic Centre to host them for the future. This will bring the Hungerford Craft, Chapter and Mark Lodges all back under one roof again.
To maintain a link with Hungerford, the Lodge will hold its support meetings (General Purposes Committee, Lodge of Instruction and rehearsals) in the Cygnet Room of the Three Swans Hotel. The Lodge has also chosen to hold its Festive Board in Hungerford. The steering group will continue to take feedback from the members as to what is working and what needs to change as we adjust to our new home.
The Lodge wishes to thank the management committee at the Newbury Masonic Centre as well as the Berkshire Freemasons Executive team for their advice and guidance during this difficult time.
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.
A year ago I went to a great seminar organised by the Berkshire Masonic Education Team on the topic of Learning the Ritual. It was not a cramming session on a particular part of the “little blue book”, rather it was a discussion on the science of learning. I was intrigued to find out that we don’t all learn in the same way. There are different methods which influence the way a person takes in, understands, expresses and remembers information. The other part of the course was learning when not to attempt to learn. It may seem like common sense but sometimes it has to be said before people realise it.
Trying to learn when you are tired, stressed/upset, hungry, or have consumed alcohol will typically make the learning less effective. The problem with this list is that most Masons are busy people anyway and so they will frequently be tired or stressed which will make it particularly difficult. As for being hungry or having consumed alcohol, well that is more personally controllable.
The session established in my mind, not only the need to foster the right environment for learning, but also to learn in the right way for me. But what is the right way for you? People can be divided into five categories:
Visual learners learn through seeing. They’re the ones most likely to drift off during a long lecture. Masons in this category are more comfortable with images, than working with words. Visual learners generally find tools like diagrams, flowcharts, pictures or symbols key to learning the ritual. A good trick for visual learners is to develop a system of images to replace the written word. It can be useful for visual learners to colour code their notes, to create more visual stimulation. Another trick is to associate parts of the ritual with a mental image of a part of the Lodge or the particular Working Tool.
Auditory learners learn by listening. Lectures, tutorials, and group discussions are essential, for these learners. Auditory learners can focus better on text passages by reading them aloud, so they can hear how the words sound. Masons in this category may benefit from recording themselves delivering the ritual. The advent of the MP3 and iPod/iPhone devices allow auditory learning Masons to play the ritual over and over in the car or on the journey to work.
Reading and writing are the main methods, here. Masons who are read/write learners may find it helpful to write out the piece that they trying to learn. They should read it, then create a new, condensed set of study notes. Masons categorised as read/write learners often benefit from the creation of mnemonics, for example as children we were taught to remember the sequence of the colours of the rainbow with Richard Of York Gave Battle in Vain (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet). It might therefore follow that you could create a mnemonic for the seven liberal arts and sciences or the five noble orders of architecture.
Kinaesthetic learners learn by doing. These Masons will get an enormous amount out of the Lodge of Instruction by rehearsing the piece over and over again. Learning exercises should aim to bring all their senses into the experience. This will provide multiple cues to aid their recall of the ritual. For example, walking to the Junior Warden’s chair should trigger the memory of the specific part of the ritual.
Masons who are multimodal learners will display two or more of the above learning preferences equally, or near equally. This is more of an ideal condition, as combining elements of different learning styles can be beneficial, regardless of your predominant preference. Learning styles can and do change, over time. This is often influenced by changes in your life and learning environment.
Personally, I have tried auditory and kinaesthetic learning as I find that I need to learn the words and then practice the associated floor work.
Which type(s) of learner are you?
This questionnaire uses 16 questions to determine your learning style. The test presents a variety of learning or explaining scenarios, and asks how you would best make a decision, or give advice, or integrate this new information. It’s a good idea to retake the test annually. That way, as you change you can adapt your learning style to meet your current needs.
This thinking can be applied to all forms of learning, not just Masonic ritual. I hope this post helps you to find the best way for you to learn the ritual and as a result it takes some of the stress out of the process.
You may also want to listen to this podcast from In The Chair where Robert Bone interviews Rick Smith author of the great book “Learning Masonic Ritual, the Simple, Systematic and Successful Way to Master the Work”. He has also written a companion book “Learning Royal Arch Chapter Ritual”.
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.