What are the origins of Freemasonry?
Freemasonry arose from the guilds of stonemasons, who constructed Europe’s castles and cathedrals during the Middle Ages.
These craftsmen were in possession of highly valuable skills in mathematics, architecture, and in the shaping and positioning of stone for the great buildings on which they worked. They carefully selected and painstakingly trained apprentices in the secrets of their trade. Alongside this, the young recruits were also taught to behave morally and ethically in all their actions. Over time, the trainees advanced, depending on their proficiency, to become Master Masons.
We know that much of the symbolic teaching in Freemasonry takes its rise from the building of King Solomon’s Temple and from the tools of stone masons which are used as symbols for the education and behaviour of “free” masons.
Four lodges which existed in England in the early 18th century, decided in 1717 to create a formal organisation by forming the first Grand Lodge. Freemasonry then spread across Europe and to other countries with amazing speed.
When did Freemasonry come to Australia?
Freemasonry can be traced to the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788.
The United Grand Lodge of New South Wales was officially formed in 1888, and later became responsible for Freemasonry in the Australian Capital Territory.
Is Freemasonry a secret society?
In the Middle Ages, qualified tradesmen did not receive a certificate to prove their education and accomplishments, or any documents to prove they were of good character. So as they learned and advanced through their training, they were given instruction in how to identify their level of proficiency and knowledge through handshakes and words. These were kept secret within the Masonic craft, as they were a valuable passport to obtaining new work.
Craftsmen worked in teams, called lodges. When work on a building finished in one city, the lodge moved to find work in another. Even if the architect or the foreman on the new building site spoke a different language, the master of the lodge needed only to identify himself with the handshake and word to prove that his lodge could provide service at a certain level. Importantly, the passport also reassured the new employer that these men were honest, ethical and trustworthy.
Because these secrets are applied symbolically to freemasonry, much misunderstanding and even some suspicion has arisen about the objectives of Freemasonry. It is certainly not a secret society – you can find all you want to know about it in books or on the web. That Freemasonry is misunderstood in some sections of society and particularly in the media is sad, as its purpose has always been to do good, and to teach its members how to behave honestly, ethically and charitably.
To find out more about the origins and history of Freemasonry, please click here
How do I join the Freemasons?
If you know a Freemason, the simplest thing to do is ask him personally about membership. Alternatively, you may write to your local Lodge, or contact the Freemasons using the following details:
The United Grand Lodge of NSW and the ACT
The Masonic Centre
279 Castlereagh Street
SYDNEY NSW 2000
Online: Register your interest online, here.
Phone: (02) 9267 9133 or
Fax: (02) 9261 1662
Your application will be considered by a committee, who will ask for character references and meet with you to make sure you have been properly informed about Freemasonry. Your local Lodge will then review it, and contact you.