Freemasonry is one of the oldest fraternal organizations in the world. It unites men of good character who, though of different religious, ethnic or social backgrounds, share a belief in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of mankind. Freemasonry offers a system or blueprint for the good man to further improve his character and actions through its system of degrees, symbols, and fellowship opportunities.

The United Grand Lodge of England reports that worldwide membership totals more than 6 million Freemasons, 1.1 million of whom are in North America. With over 60,000 Masons and 430 local Lodges, Ohio has one of the largest Masonic memberships of any state in the country.

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When did Freemasonry start?

Modern Freemasonry was established in England in 1717, although its exact origins are lost in the unrecorded history of medieval times. Its roots are found in guilds of stonemasons that, from the end of the 13th century, regulated the qualifications of stonemasons. As a stonemason grew in his craft, he was entered into the appropriate rank: apprentice, journeyman (now called Fellow Craft) and master mason.

At each stage, the craftsman was entrusted with the secrets of each level, which include passwords and grips (or handshake) made known to him only upon due inspection of necessary proficiency by a master of the craft. This way, as stonemasons migrated across Europe to the next job, each man was assured proper pay and privilege commensurate with his skill level, and clients were assured of the quality of work. Today, Freemasonry shares this same system of secrets, ritual and growth, though the work has shifted from building edifices to building oneself in good character.

How many Freemasons are there?

According to the United Grand Lodge of England, there are 6 million Freemasons worldwide.

What are the values of Freemasonry?

The values of Freemasonry are brotherly love, relief and truth

  • Brotherly Love: Caring for Each Other and Our Communities
  • Relief: Help and Assist Those in Distress
  • Truth: Using Knowledge and Understanding to Improve Ourselves, Our Families and Our Communities

As Freemasons, we recognize that knowledge gained should be knowledge shared; that investing time, knowledge and experience through mentoring and coaching is one of the better ways to live our Masonic principles. In our modern, fast-moving and often isolating society, it is more important than ever that Masons endeavor to seek and share these basic truths and put them into action through a life that informs, influences and inspires others.


What does it mean to become a Mason?

Throughout history, Freemasonry has provided a way for men throughout the world to live their lives to their fullest potential in association with other like minded men. This focus on the social, moral and intellectual development and well being of the individual man is unique among modern organizations. For centuries, the Masonic Lodge has been the launchpad for Masonic education, learning the values and tools required for self-improvement, enlightenment, and living a greater purpose. Through ritual, discussions and working in the community, Masons work on becoming better versions of themselves, and as importantly, helping brother Masons do the same.


What are the degrees of Freemasonry?

The experience of becoming a member of a Masonic Lodge is divided into three ceremonial stages that Masons call “degrees.” The three degrees of Freemasonry are Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. They are loosely based upon the journeyman system, which was used to educate Medieval Craftsmen. Symbolically, the degrees represent the three stages of human development: youth, manhood and age.

1st Degree:
Entered Apprentice

This is a candidate’s first experience with the ceremonies of the Fraternity, and like all Masonic ceremonies, it is a solemn and meaningful event. Once a candidate completes the Entered Apprentice ceremony, he takes his first step as a Freemason and enjoys the title of “Brother.” Learn more about the Entered Apprentice degree.

2nd Degree:
Fellow Craft

The second Masonic degree exposes a Brother to more of the symbolism and philosophy of the Fraternity. For skilled Craftsmen, this degree would have marked a person’s progress from an apprentice to a journeyman. Read about the privileges of the Fellow Craft degree.

3rd Degree:
Master Mason

The last of the Lodge ceremonies, the Master Mason degree, makes a candidate a full member of the Fraternity, enjoying both the rights and responsibilities of membership. Discover the meaning of the Master Mason degree.


What symbols are used in Freemasonry?
What do the Masonic symbols mean?

Sometimes, as the old saying goes, a picture can say a thousand words. Dating back to its roots in Medieval times, Freemasonry makes use of many symbols. These symbols served several purposes: to teach those not adept at reading the written word, to encourage men to interpret and form their own opinions, to remind Masons of their obligations, and to identify Masons to one another. The most well-known of all Masonic symbols are the square & compasses, which stand for morality, honesty and fair dealings with others. Click on these links to learn more about the square and compasses, the Masonic apron, the working tools of an accepted Mason, and King Solomon’s Temple, as part of our “behind the Masonic symbol” blog series.

What is a Masonic lodge?

A Masonic lodge is where local Freemasons meet and work. More than the location, the lodge itself is its members and their united actions to promote Masonic values and enjoy each other’s company. It is during these closed meetings that Freemasons perform ritual and other teachings of the craft. The building itself can be as formal as the great Grand Lodges or as simple as a single room in a local building. Every Freemason begins his journey in the Craft in a lodge, where he receives the first three Degrees in Masonry.

The traditions of the lodge are founded upon the building of King Solomon’s Temple, and its fraternal ceremonies use the working tools of the stonemasons to symbolize moral lessons of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. For example, Masons are reminded at Lodge to meet upon the level of equality, act by the plumb of uprightness, and part upon the square of virtue.

Visit our lodge locator page to find a lodge near you.


Is Freemasonry a religion?

Freemasonry is not meant in any way to interfere with an individual’s commitment to his faith, family or occupation. Freemasonry is not and never can be a replacement for these important institutions; rather, it is a positive environment that reminds every Freemason of his duty to himself, his family, community and the Supreme Architect (an individual’s own definition of a Supreme Being.)