Frequently Asked questions…

Answers to frequently asked questions about Masonry

What is Freemasonry?

Freemasonry (also called “Masonry”) is the world's first and largest fraternity, based on the belief that each man can make a difference in the world. Freemasonry enhances and strengthens the character of the individual man by providing opportunities for fellowship, charity, and education.

Where do the names Freemasonry, Masonry, and Free and Accepted Masons come from?

Masons’ name comes from the occupation of their original members – stonemasons who built castles and cathedrals in England and Scotland. The word “free” was added during the Middle Ages, because stonemasons possessed knowledge and skills not found everywhere, these men had the privilege of traveling between countries.

Over time, many men who were not builders were drawn to the practices of Freemasonry. To encourage intellectual diversity, stonemasons began accepting men from other professions into the fraternity. These men were known as “accepted Masons.” This trend continued, and accepted members eventually outnumbered operative members. Today, the names “Freemasonry,” “Masonry,” and “Free and Accepted Masons” are used interchangeably to refer to the fraternity.


What is a lodge?

Freemasonry began when stonemasons formed local organizations, called lodges, to take care of sick and injured members, as well as the families of those who were killed on the job. The masons also used the lodges as places to meet, receive their pay, plan their work, train new apprentices, and socialize. Today, this term refers both to a unit of Masons and the room or building in which they meet. There are more than 320 lodges in California and approximately 13,000 in the United States.


What is a Grand Lodge?

A grand lodge is an administrative body that oversees Freemasonry in a specific geographic area, called a jurisdiction. The United States has grand lodges in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.


Is Freemasonry an international organization?

There are about five million Masons worldwide, including almost two million in the U.S. and more than 60,000 in California. All lodges follow the same principles of Freemasonry, but their activities may vary. Each grand lodge is sovereign and independent; there is no U.S. or international governing body for Freemasonry.


Is Masonry a secret organization?

Membership in Masonry is not a secret; all members are free to acknowledge their membership. There is no secret about any of Masonry’s aims or principles. Masonry’s constitutions and rules are available to the public, and meeting locations are clearly identifiable. Like many similar organizations, some of Masonry’s internal affairs, such as ceremonies, grips, and passwords, are regarded as private matters for members only.


What happens at a lodge meeting?

There are several kinds of meetings for members. The most common is once a month business meeting, called a stated meeting, devoted to administrative procedures: minutes of the last meeting, discussing financial matters, voting on applications, and planning for lodge activities. The second kind of meeting is ceremonial, used for admitting new Masons and conferring degrees.  Some lodges, especially the Green Dragon Masonic Fellowship Lodge, hold “ fellowship meetings.” These are very casual meetings designed to introduce prospective members to Freemasonry, to provide masonic education to its members and to practice genuine fellowship within it members.  Some of these meetings are open to all freemasons and non-masons alike.  All subjects discussed are appropriate for non-mason participation.


What are degrees?

There are three stages of Masonic membership: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. These stages are referred to as “degrees,” and correspond with members’ self-development and increased knowledge of Freemasonry. As a man completes each phase of learning, the lodge holds a ceremony to confer his degree.

Degree names are taken from craft guilds: In the Middle Ages, to become a stonemason, a man would first be apprenticed. As an apprentice, he learned the tools and skills of the trade. When he had proved his skills, he became a “fellow of the craft,” and when he gained exceptional ability, he was known as a “master of the craft.”


What is the significance of officers’ titles?

England had a very strong influence on early American masonry and many of the original English titles are still in use. These titles may sound archaic in today’s society, but their meanings are simple. The master is the leader of the lodge, similar to the term president in other organizations. He is called “master” for the same reason that the leader of first violins in an orchestra is called the concertmaster. It’s simply an older term for leader. The senior and junior wardens represent the first and second vice presidents.


Why does Masonry use symbols? 

"Freemasonry is often described as a very beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols."

Masonic lessons are taught by use of allegories, short ceremonies and or plays.  These lessons on masonic morality are strengthen and illustrated by the use of symbols.  It should be notes that when freemasonry was first established fews were literate.  These lessons were taught "mouth to ear."  

Symbols allow people to communicate quickly, and to transcend language barriers. When you see a green light or a circle with a line through it, you know what it means. Likewise, Masons use metaphors from geometry and the architecture of stonemasonry to inform their continuing pursuit of knowledge, ethics, and leadership skills.

To reflect their heritage, Masons wear aprons while in lodge, at certain public events, and at funerals to demonstrate their pride in the fraternity, and their lineage from stonemasons, who historically carried their tools in leather aprons. The square and compass is the most widely known symbol of Masonry: When you see the symbol on a building, you know that Masons meet there.


Do Masons engage in politics?

Masonry does not endorse political candidates or legislation, and the discussion of politics at Masonic meetings is not allowed.


Is Masonry a religion?

Masonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. The fraternity requires its members to have a belief in a Supreme Being and to belong to an established religion, but the fraternity itself is not affiliated with any religion, and men of all faiths are represented in the fraternity. Religion is not discussed at lodge meetings.


Why are some Masonic buildings called temples?

We sometimes call a building a “temple” in the same sense that Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes called the Supreme Court a "Temple of Justice." Most California lodges now refer to their buildings as Masonic Centers.


What are the other Masonic organizations?

A man first becomes a Mason at his local lodge. After he has been awarded the three degrees of Masonry, he may join any of the other allied Masonic organizations, each of which has a special social, educational, or philanthropic focus. The best known in the United States is the York Rite.


Why can’t women join Masonry?

Masonry is a fraternity, a brotherhood. The essence of a fraternity is that it is for men, just as the essence of a sorority is that it is for women. There are several affiliated Masonic organizations for women only, as well as organizations for both men and women.


Are there Masonic organizations for youth?

 In the years following World War I, Masons in the United States helped establish a trio of youth orders dedicated to teaching young men and women the principles and values of Masonry. Today, DeMolay International, Job’s Daughters International, and the International Order of Rainbow for Girls offer young men and women ages 10 to 21 opportunities for personal growth and community service. More information is available at masons4youth.org.


Are there financial commitments for Masons?

There is an application fee for membership, which includes a charitable contribution to help fulfill our philanthropic mission and our obligation to aid brothers and their families in times of need. Continued giving supports important charitable programs, which rely on member contributions. Annual dues begin when the Entered Apprentice degree is received; each lodge determines the dues amount.


I believe that I am a good man and I desire to become a better person.  Why have I never been asked to join a masonic lodge? 

One of the strongest masonic landmarks is that Masonic lodges do not solicit members.  If you believe that masonry is for you, then you must seek it out.  After you become a member you will understand more about this position.


The big question…….how do I become a member of a masonic lodge?

The simple answer is that “you ask.”  The Green Dragons believes that the process to become a freemason should be slow and deliberate….not only for the benefit of the lodge but more important for the benefit of the prospective member.  Just like every member, every lodge has a personality.  A person seeking membership should be certain that the lodge that he seeks to join is in line with his expectation.  Freemasonry is not for every man….it is a commitment, not only to the lodge, but more important to one's self. 

For additional information on joining the Green Dragon Masonic Fellowship Lodge contact the lodge using the “ Contact ” page and you will be provided information on the next Fellowship Meeting or arrangements will be made to speak to one of our Brothers. 


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