Freemasonry: Principles & Organization

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Freemasonry: Principles & Organization – Composed of Freemasons of both sexes, fraternally united without distinction of race, religion or creed, The Honorable Order of American Co-Masonry has established a system of workings that is both ceremonial and symbolic that allows its members to erect a Mystic Temple to The Great Architect of the Universe and to the Perfection of Humanity.

With the knowledge that Masonry provides the best means for the Perfecting of Humanity, The Order aspires to attain its ideals by creating an international organization that extends Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth to all its members. American Co-Masonry has established a Masonic Government that ensures the maximum liberty compatible with a voluntarily accepted discipline, organized upon the precepts of the Ancient Mystery Schools and the Scottish Rite,

The Order seeks above all to realize on earth the highest degree of moral, intellectual, and spiritual development for all Mankind; this being the prerequisite for all happiness that each individual can attain in a fraternally-organized Humanity.

The Order professes no dogma. Instead, its purpose is to search for Truth. In Lodges, discussions and debates on social, philosophical, or religious questions have no other purpose than the intellectual enlightenment of its members, and thus enabling them to reach for a greater understanding of themselves and Humanity, all in the pursuit of fulfilling their duties as Freemasons.

Declaration of Principles

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“To think high, to speak truth, to do well, to be tolerant to others, to search after truth, to practice liberty under law, fraternal equality, justice and solidarity, are the duties which the Supreme Council of American Co-Masonry, prescribes for its members”

Freemasonry is a fraternity including men and women of every race, nationality and religion. Wishing to do away with all cause for division and strife, it continually seeks the means which to help all human beings to unite and work together for the perfection of Humanity.

American Co-Masonry, a Masonic Obedience independent of all others, has not created a new Rite. What distinguishes it from other existing Obediences is that, instead of admitting men only to its ranks, it admits women on an equal footing. It proclaims equal rights for both sexes and absolute liberty of conscience. In order to secure to everyone unlimited freedom in the search for truth, it demands the utmost tolerance from all its members. It avoids political and religious discussions wherever these cannot be carried on with requisite tolerance and moderation; it welcomes everyone who is upright, free, of mature age, sound judgement and strict morals, whatever may be his or her convictions in matters of religion, philosophy or politics.

American Co-Masonry seeks to destroy ignorance under whatever form, and its program may be explained as follows:

– Each Mason owes obedience to the Order and to the laws of his or her country; he must live honorably, practice justice, love his neighbor, work unceasingly for the true happiness of humanity and help human beings to emancipate themselves from the thralldom of passion and ignorance.
From the first to the last, to whatever degree the aspirant may desire to be admitted, the first condition to be fulfilled is to have a reputation of unsullied honor and probity.

– Members of the Order owe to each other help and support in all circumstances and conditions of life.

– To think high, to speak truth, to do well, to be tolerant to others, to search after truth, to practice liberty under law, fraternal equality, justice and solidarity, are the duties which the Supreme Council of American Co-Masonry, prescribes for its members seeking to build to the Glory of the Great Architect of the Universe, to the perfection of Humanity, and to the service of the Head of All True Freemasons, the true Masonic Temple open to both men and women.

Qualities of a Freemason

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“To a Freemason the freedom of thought, speech and action belongs to all Mankind, regardless of race, religion or gender.”

Freemasonry is an ancient system designed to impart morality, ethics and teach mutual service to its members. Instead of lecture or sermon, Freemasonry instructs its members by the performance of ceremonial degrees, each with its own teachings, symbols and message. Thus the Freemason is taught by experience to serve God, help his fellow man and better himself.

In essence, Freemasonry is a great quest for Light and her members, Knights and Protectors of that Light.

A Freemason’s foundation is founded on the principles of human solidarity, freedom of conscience and the facts of Brotherhood. It places no restrictions on the search after truth, and in order to secure that freedom, it demands the greatest tolerance from all members of the Order. To a Freemason the freedom of thought, speech and action belongs to all Mankind, regardless of race, religion or gender.

In accordance with the ancient declaration of Freemasonry, Freemasons assert the existence of a Supreme Power under the name of “The Great Architect of the Universe,” yet at the same time leaving Human Reason at perfect liberty to differ in regard to His Attributes. Freemasonry is not a religion and possesses no theology, dogma or promise of salvation. However, it is a religious organization in that it seeks to aid each of its members in their search after truth and light and encourages them to practice their faith diligently. Yet, Freemasonry demands that each Freemason be tolerant to the beliefs of others no matter how different they may be.

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Freemasonry is open to both men and women of any race or religion, who believes in a Supreme Being and having a strong moral character wishes to perfect humanity by service to God and his fellow creatures.

“Whenever you find yourself fighting ignorance and intolerance, you will find yourself living in the teachings of Freemasonry” – The Very Ills. Bro. Magdalena I. Cumsille 33o, The Most Sovereign Grand Commander.

Why join a Masonic Lodge?

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“Freemasonry is for those people who which to improve themselves spiritually, mentally and physically, as a parent and a friend, as a member of the community and ultimately as a servant of God.”

Freemasonry is for people who wish to improve themselves spiritually, mentally and physically, as a parent and a friend, as a member of their community and ultimately as a servant of God.

Through participation in a Masonic Temple, you are given a opportunity to learn the more important truths of morality, your relationship with God and your fellow man – and at the same time learning the perspective of others in an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual support. Whether you are Christian, Muslim, or Jewish; black or white; male or female; rich or poor; all who gather within the doors of the Temple are met on the Level as equals.

The fraternity has little or no material benefit. Yet behind the doors of Freemasonry is something greater than what money can buy: The chance to forge the strongest bonds of friendship that last a lifetime for the benefit of Humanity.

How to Join

To become a Freemason, merely to knock on the door of the Temple by asking for membership in the Order. Why must you ask? Because you have to join on your own free will and accord. No one from a lodge can legally ask you to join. It has to be your own desire, decision and action.

Aside from asking for a petition, you will also have to fulfill the following requirements:

– You have to be a man or woman of lawful age (21 years old)
– You must profess a belief in a Supreme Being and Afterlife.
– You must be willing to attend all regular Lodge meetings; emergencies accepted.

Government of the Craft

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“The Supreme Council is the ultimate Masonic authority of the Order.”

The Government of the Craft represents that bureaucracy which Freemasonry needs to ensure the continued functionality and expansion of the Order.  At the top of the hierarchy rests the General Constitution; the document from which the Order receives her principles and authority. Alongside the Constitution rests the Landmarks, a series of “unwritten” laws which ensure that the most important tenets of Freemasonry are preserved. Both are essential to maintain the values of Freemasonry  and are obeyed and considered binding by the Brethren – from the highest as well as to the humblest.

The governing body of the Order is the Supreme Council of the Sovereign Grand Inspectors General of the 33rd Degree. Presided over by the Most Sovereign Grand Commander, the Council is entrusted with the expansion and growth of Co-Masonry, while maintaining and preserving the tenants of the General Constitution.   The following chart shows the hierarchy of Order, after which a brief description of each section will be given:

Supreme Council of American Co-Masonry
The Supreme Council is the ultimate Masonic authority of the Order. Faithful allegiance and implicit obedience is due to it from all bodies, committees and members within its jurisdiction from the 1st to the 33rd and last degree of Freemasonry.  Its functions and prerogatives are therefore of the most extensive and important nature. The functions of the Supreme Council are divided into three classes:

  1. Legislative
  2. Judicial
  3. Executive

In its legislative capacity, the Supreme Council makes laws; in its judicial, it explains and applies them; and in its executive, it enforces them. Although, the Supreme Council may make laws, these laws must never oppose the General Constitution and more important the Landmarks or unwritten law.

Members of the Supreme Council are those few that have provided exceptional service to the Order and by merit and ability have earned the right to governor the Order. They are typically the most learned and wisest who have sacrificed their lives to the betterment of the Order, to the service of their brethren and to the Glory of the Great Architect of the Universe.

Grand Council of Administration
Below the Supreme Council is the Grand Council of Administration.  In essence, the steward of the Supreme Council, the Grand Council of Administration has the singular duty to maintain, preserve and expand the temporal realm of the Order. This includes all assets, properties, buildings and other items necessary to ensure the Work of the American Co-masonry.  The members of the Grand Council are elected by the general membership.

Lodges
In each Lodge, from that of Master Mason to the Supreme Council, universal suffrage is sovereign, but the sovereignty of the members of a Lodge must never be derogatory to the sovereignty of the members of another Lodge of the same degree, of an inferior degree or of a superior degree.

Membership
For admission into the Order, the applicant must be free and of good character, have sufficient education to receive and to impart all the written and unwritten work, and his life must be irreproachable. In addition, the seeker must be 21 years of age, except by special dispensation of the Most Sovereign Grand Commander of the Order, in which case the first degree may be conferred at the age of eighteen, the second at twenty, and the third at twenty-one.

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Once a Member, one must abide by the General Constitution, Rules & Regulations, decrees of the Supreme Council and the Bylaws of their particular lodge. Though ones Masonic status is permanent, membership may be withdrawn:

  • From those who have been condemned to certain penalties by the ordinary courts of the country they reside in;
  • From those who have committed Masonic crimes, or who have violated the oaths taken in connection with the Order and involving erasure from its records;
  • From those who are no longer free and of good report such as is exacted at the time of admission or initiation.

By virtue of the principle of fraternity which constitutes the foundation of Freemasonry, The Honorable Order of American Co-Masonry fraternally welcomes Masons of other Obedience’s which, like itself, labor for the accomplishment of the Great Work, that is, for the progress of humanity along the road of material, moral and spiritual betterment.

It is the duty, therefore, of Masons, after the fact of initiation is known to them, fraternally to welcome all Brothers of every Rite recognized by the Supreme Council of American Co-Masonry, irrespective of their philosophy or their religious beliefs, according to them, after regular examination, the right of visiting, even in the case of non- reciprocity on the part of the Obedience to which these Brothers are affiliated.

Degrees of Freemasonry

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“Degrees are conferred on merit and ability . . . ultimately ones commitment to their brethren in particular and in the Order in General will grant them access to higher degrees.”

The Honorable Order of American Co-Masonry, heir to the ancient traditions whose wise principles, moral force and discipline it has maintained, has preserved the rules of the past used by the first Masonic Orders, also the signs, grips, sacred words and passwords of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish and York Rite, employed as a means of recognition by a large number of the Freemasons scattered throughout the world.

All members of the Order form but one family of Brothers, and are part of an Institution which permits them to be recognized by Freemasons of whatsoever Rite and to recognize also all Freemasons throughout the world.

The Masonic Degrees consist of the thirty-three degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in addition to the Royal Arch Degrees of the Ancient and Accepted York Rite. These are designated as follows:

Symbolic Masonry “Symbolic Degrees”

1° – Entered Apprentice
2° – Fellowcraft
3° – Master Mason

English Rite (or York Rite) “Chapter Degrees”

Mark Master Mason
Royal Ark Mariner
Excellent Master
Holy Royal Arch of Jerusalem

Lodge of Perfection “Ineffable Degrees”

4° – Secret Master
5° – Perfect Master
6° – Intimate Secretary
7° – Provost & Judge
8° – Intendant of the Building
9° – Master Elect of Nine
10° – Master Elect of Fifteen
11° – Sublime Master Elect
12° – Grand Master Architect
13° – Royal Arch of Enoch
14° – Grand Elect and Sublime Mason

Chapter Rose Croix “Historic Degrees”

15° – Knight of the East
16° – Prince of Jerusalem
17° – Knight of the East & West
18° – Knight of Rose Croix of Heredom

Council Kadosh “Philosophical and chivalric Degrees”

19° – Grand Pontiff or Sublime Scottish Knight
20° – Sovereign Prince or Master ad Vitam
21° – Noachite or Prussian Knight
22° – Prince of Lebanon or Royal Axe
23° – Chief of the Tabernacle
24° – Prince of the Tabernacle
25° – Knight of the Brazen Serpent
26° – Prince of Mercy
27° – Sovereign Commander of the Temple
28° – Knight of the Sun, Prince Adept
29° – Knight of Saint Andrew
30° – Knight Kadosh

Consistory “Official and Ceremonial Degrees”

31° – Grand Inquisitor Commanders
32° – Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret

Court of Honor “Honorary Degrees”

33° – Grand Inspector General

Degrees are conferred on merit and ability. Specific requirements, such as time and examination, are necessary to progress, but ultimately one’s commitment to their brethren in particular and in the Order in General will grant them access to higher degrees. For example, to attain the 32nd Degree, a Freemason must be a Master Mason for at least 14 years, have been elected Master of Lodge and served the Supreme Council with satisfaction.

The Supreme Council may, at any time, authorize the establishment of other Masonic bodies not practiced.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Freemasonry?

There is no simple one-line definition that satisfactorily describes what is Freemasonry. Among many things it is a Science, a philosophy, and a system of morality and ethics that employs ritual drama to convene self-evident truths.

What is the aim of Freemasonry?
Freemasonry seeks to destroy ignorance under whatever form; to combat superstition, fanaticism, and egotism wherever encountered.

Is Freemasonry a religion?
Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. However, the doors of Freemasonry are open to men and women of any philosphy, religion, creed.

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Does Freemasonry have dogma?
No, Freemasonry is an organization that pratices absolute liberty of mind while inculcating the the maximum amount of discipline. Masonry seeks diversity in its members to ensure freedom and tolerance in its ranks.

Is a belief in God a requirement to become a Freemason?
In accordance with the ancient declaration of Freemasonry, Freemasons must assert the existence of a Supreme Power under the name of “The Great Architect of the Universe,” but at the same time leaved Human Reason at perfect liberty to differ in regard to the Attributes of that power.

What is Co-Masonry, Mixed-Masonry and Freemasonry for Men and Women?
All three terms are synonymous of Masonic Orders that practice Freemasonry and including men and women of every race, nationality, and religion who wish to do away with all cause for division and strife.

How does Co-Masonry differ from Male-only Masonic Orders?
Instead of admitting men only to its ranks, it admits women on an equal footing. It proclaims equal rights for both sexes and absolute liberty of conscience. In order to secure everyone unlimited freedom in the search for truth, it demands the utmost tolerance from all its members. It avoids political and religious discussions wherever these cannot be carried on with requisite tolerance and moderation; it welcomes everyone who is upright, free, of mature age, sound judgment, and strict morals, whatever may be his or her convictions in matters of religion, philosophy, or politics.

Who is a Freemason?
A Freemason is one who owes obedience to the Masonic Order and to the laws of his or her country; he must live honorably, practice justice, love his neighbor, work unceasingly for the true happiness of Humanity, and help human beings to emancipate themselves from the thralldom of passion and ignorance.

Does Freemasonry help build contacts?
Freemasonry is not for business networking or collecting contacts.

Why does Freemasonry rely on ritual?
Freemasonry relies on ritual to illustrate those principles that cannot be verbally communicated. Ritual, being a series of actions set in a particular order, is the parable by which the Initiate can learn about himself, his society, and his universe.

Why join a Masonic Lodge?
Through participation in a Masonic Temple, a Freemason is given an opportunity to learn the more important truths of morality, his relationship with God and fellow man – and at the same time learning the perspective of others in an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual support. Whether you are Christian, Muslim, or a Deist; black or white; male or female; rich or poor; all who gather within the doors of the Temple are met on the Level as equals.

How do I join a Masonic Lodge?
To become a Freemason, one merely needs to knocks on the door of the Temple by asking for membership in The Order. Why must you ask? Because you have to join of your own free will and accord. It has to be your own desire, decision, and action.

What are the time commitments of a Masonic Lodge?
The time commitments are dependent on the Lodge that you join but can range from twice to three times a month. Freemasonry does not seek to be large in its assembly and therefore attendance is of great importance to each lodge.

What is the age requirement to make application?
Eligible individuals are men and women who are of 21 years of age or older.

Does one have to have a Freemason in the family in order to make application?
No, family relations have no effect on admission into The Order.

Can a felon make applicaion?
No, unless the felony was committed before the age of 18.

What is American Co-Masonry?
The Honorable Order of American Co-Masonry, heir to the ancient traditions whose wise principles, moral force, and discipline it has maintained, has preserved the rules, discipline, and aim of Ancient Masonry. The Order practices the 1st to the 33rd Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish, including the English Rite Degrees of the Mark, Royal Ark Mariner, and Holy Royal Arch of Jerusalem.

Does American Co-Masonry have the truth?
No, instead it seeks to discover it. No institution or organization has ownership of the Truth.

What is the focus of American Co-Masonry?
American Co-Masonry works to the Glory of the Great Architect of the Universe and to the perfection of Humanity by seeking to find relief through the eradication of ignorance and the strengthening of ties of fraternity.

What does American Co-Masonry expect from its members?
To think high, to speak truth, to do well, to be tolerant toward others, to search after truth, to practice liberty under law, fraternal equality, justice and solidarity, are the duties which The Supreme Council of American Co-Masonry, prescribes to Freemasons seeking to build to the Glory of the Great Architect of the Universe, to the perfection of Humanity, and to the service of the Head of All True Freemasons, the true Masonic Temple open to both men and women.