How do I recognize a Freemason

A Freemason presents himself to the public and answers

This topic raises a number of individual questions, such as:

As a Freemason, what do you say in public about the Freemasons?
Do I reveal myself as a Freemason in public?
Do I have to worry about identifying myself as a Freemason in public?

Or

How can I, as a Freemason, present myself to the outside world in such a way that the conversation partner or other people in general come to the opinion or assumption “This covenant must be something special, I want to become a member here!”?

Each of us can answer these or other questions in the same direction to the best of our knowledge if we are fully aware of the following:

Why am I a Freemason? How did I get into it? How do I feel about it today?

With this self-awareness I would like to help the reader to answer a few main questions: At the beginning I ask the question: "What is Freemasonry?" and answer them spontaneously with the following short sentences:

  • At home she is goodness.
  • In business it is honesty.
  • In company it is politeness.
  • She is decency at work.
  • For the unfortunate, it is pity.
  • It is resistance to injustice.
  • It is a help for the weak.
  • It is loyalty to the law.
  • Against the injustice it is forgotten.
  • For the lucky one, it is joyfulness.
  • It is awe of the Almighty, whatever he is called.

(Source: Circular Correspondence 1995)

If we live and act according to it and also give and show ourselves in public, then we fulfill the written and unwritten laws of Freemasonry or of Masonic thought and coexistence.

From my point of view, freemasonry is certainly not a special or secret way of living together. It is only the togetherness in the existing world to which we lead each other in our temple work, are led through symbols or bring each other through exemplary example.

We work the rough stone - ourselves, ourselves, personally - in constant detailed work, so that it may become a cube that fits well with the neighboring cube and can form a stable, stable structure with this and many others.

We are these rough stones that have to work on our own every day. In doing so, we are certain of the active help of our confreres in the lodge and, together with them, can also cope better with many of the rough stones in our environment.

How the togetherness could be optimal and that would be best for all of us, I emphasize for all of us in this world, we stand together as Freemasons in our brother chain and accompany each other on a path.

But now first some, it seems to me, important questions and answers about your own self-image! "Why does a man become a Freemason or what motivates us to join a previously alien covenant?" Here is a quote:
"I joined my club because an old friend asked me to, I was alone."

With this sentence Kurt Tucholsky began his play “The Member” in 1927. Tucholsky was a Freemason and that is precisely why he cannot have meant the Masonic lodges by the “Association”. Because they don't ask anyone to become a member. The seeker, as we call the interested party, only becomes a member when the brotherhood of the lodge has deemed him worthy of the admission requested by him, since his reputation, his reasoning, his personality, which the guarantors have won from him, have convinced the assembled brotherhood.

When I ask around among my brothers, the external reasons for asking them to be accepted were manifold. As a master of the old lodge, I have heard many explanations for this. One reason seems to be more common than another: acquaintance with a man you liked and who at some point revealed that he was a Freemason. In no case had “an old friend asked for it”.

However, the words “I was alone” are quite relevant to many seekers. The external occasions may also be diverse, the internal occasion largely coincides.

In our society the number of those who feel a lack of human fellowship and communication, of tolerance, of solidarity and of charity is increasing; and they suffer from it.

The blessings of technology that most of us are quite ready to enjoy has its downside. Just think in how many of the new words that are becoming more and more familiar to us the word part “tele” occurs (from the Greek) (tele = far, far). We move away from each other, meanwhile also in the professional world (tele-workplaces), where we are at the same time in a special way the competitor of the “neighbor”.

All of this leads to the search for fellowship with those who are committed to fraternity, not just fraternity within their own circle. We Freemasons certainly have no priority. But (also) we are such a community. Freemasonry has always had an important source in the lack of tolerance, solidarity and lack of freedom in society. That deficiency led and leads men of good will to one another, men from almost all professions, craftsmen, merchants, scientists of all disciplines, clergymen and servants of the state as officials or soldiers.

The lodges arose from the medieval cathedral construction huts, and today they are spiritual huts of well-meaning, freedom-loving and open-minded men. In their temples, the ritual meeting rooms, the Freemasons work in fraternal community to discover their own ego, to develop it in order to become a being (even) more useful for human society.

Useful for any sociological group, be it the family, be it the colleagues, be it the community of those belonging to the same nation or live under its protection, be it the world community, in which there is so much misery. And that itself does not happen in a striking way, but everyone works on himself in silence, convinced that the path is as important as the destination.

What is the goal? Answer: Man on his way to perfection.

Everyone can only walk that path for himself. In our symbolic language, we call this working on the rough stone that we are. With the help of symbols we try to grasp more easily what is difficult to grasp in itself. The symbols accompany, more correctly, they mark our path to perfection.

Two quotes from our late brother Ofenbach: "How we ... .. have to understand our work on the rough stone, how we get to our Masonic goal, in what way, the symbols tell us ... (which) primarily from the world of men" (come). Or:

Who wants to become a Freemason. must have some understanding of symbols. There must be the ability in him to deal with symbols, to think symbolically. It's roughly comparable: you don't buy glasses to learn to read, you have to be able to read beforehand.

By looking at a symbol, trying to understand it completely undogmatically according to our own feelings, an influencing of the psychic forces in us must be triggered at the same time, so that ultimately there is a change in our spiritual and moral attitude. This constant inner rethinking within ourselves should then consequently lead to an effect on the outside.

Our ritual, our symbols come from the customs of the stonemasonry brotherhood, but they go back to much older elements, to ancient mystery covenants, to the Kabbalah, the Gnostics and above all to Christianity. The Masonic Order, founded on Christianity, unites brothers, regardless of their religious affiliation, with brothers who have turned away from the Church as long as they are able to commit themselves to the rules of the order in their life.

In 1717 four lodges in London had formed the first grand lodge and commissioned the brother James Anderson to summarize their basic rules. This happened in the so-called "Old Duties" of 1723. They became the basis of the work of Freemasonry around the world.
There are around 6 million Freemasons. Two thirds of them live and work in the United States of America, whose constitution was fathers to many Freemasons.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, where the time of National Socialism and (in the new federal states) that of the communist regime destroyed or not re-admitted the Masonic lodges, there are around 15,000 Freemasons. A good third of them belong to so-called “Old Prussian” lodges, Christian-oriented types of teaching, the Great State Lodge and the Great National Mother Lodge “To the Three Worlds”. The majority are united in the Grand Lodge of the Old, Free and Accepted Masons (AFAM), whose members are not committed to Christianity, which does not mean that Christians are not or cannot be members there.

The Great National Mother Lodge “To the Three Worlds” was founded in 1740 under King Friedrich II, the Great State Lodge of the Freemasons of Germany in 1770. The spiritual sources of the teaching of the order, about which is reported here, lie in Protestant Scandinavia.

So the question arises what the churches say about it. The Protestant churches in Germany do not problematize the topic excessively. This may be related to the fact that parishioners who are Freemasons have revealed to their pastor or pastor that the topic does not seem relevant enough to delve into. But it may also be essential to have rightly recognized that Freemasonry is no competition to the Church and does not want to be either !!

The Catholic Church is completely different. She does not want to allow a Catholic to be a Freemason. Official discussions between the two sides that were held a good 25 years ago and initially suggested a change in the position of the Catholic Church were not concluded in this way. First? Nobody can say anything about that. But probably about the fact that there are a number of Catholic clergy or religious who are able to ascribe a role to Freemasonry alongside the churches, and who also say that. They are characterized by the fact that they consider the topic to be so relevant that they have really made themselves aware of what a brother can say to the comment: "He knows almost more about our royal art than we do!" (We call our masonic teaching building royal art)

Now to the three degrees in our lodge: apprentice, journeyman and master.

Masonic lodges are associations in the legal sense. However, membership decisions do not make you a Freemason. If, after the tests and the approval of the brotherhood, the seeker is invited, he will be accepted as a Freemason in a solemn act in order to go his way to perfection in a year-long educational process among the brothers. And he won't meet a brother, no matter how long he works on himself, who says he has already seen the end of his work.

Admission is an initiation, initiation, admission into a community, the beginning. And for us, who are based on craftsmanship, we start with the Masonic apprentice. After some time of dedicated (co) work, this initial degree is followed by that of the journeyman and later that of the master. Even the journeymen are obliged to help the apprentices on their initial journey. It goes without saying that Freemasons of all degrees have responsibilities for the fraternal community, and the more a brother has developed as a Freemason, the more is expected of him for the brotherhood of his lodge, for the order.

Our Masonic work, which we have to do with the help of symbols, makes it clear that Masonry has to do with geometry, with art, with tools. We, who are initially “rough stone”, should turn ourselves into a cube, a stone ready for construction, knowing that this must always remain an ideal, because people will never finish.

Now let's get to the secret. None of the preceding lines was revealed. First of all, everyone can read all this and much more for themselves in the books to be found in public libraries. Second, there is no secret to Freemasonry. The secret of Freemasonry is what everyone experiences in themselves; this cannot be revealed even to his brother, however close he may be. It is the experience of ritual work, the result of an individual process of learning and meditation. With the help of a ritual language, with the help of numbers and signs and, above all, symbols.

The fact that a man is a Freemason often remains a secret to outsiders.

Why that, when there is nothing to hide, when Freemasonry is not a secret society? The answer is not that simple. There are quite a few Freemasons who say of themselves that they belong to this worldwide brotherhood, yes, who can even be recognized by a small badge on the lapel of their jacket. However, it is Masonic law not to say of any brother that he is a Freemason unless he has given permission.

This is explained for two reasons: on the one hand, it must be left to each brother whether he wants to say that he is working on his perfection on the Masonic path. And secondly, everyone can demand protection from the incomprehension of people who, for whatever reason, suspect something dangerous behind Freemasonry. After all, nobody wants to get into trouble in business, professional life and trouble in the neighborhood by being a part of Freemasonry. By the way: Almost every brother has experienced it, or he knows someone else's report, of having discovered a brother somewhere in the world on the most varied of occasions beyond lodges. Why? No badge! No sign at all! The way of discussing a topic, the degree of tolerance towards other opinions, were decisive for the fact that one came closer to one another, in order to later perhaps exchange the lodge affiliation. When that happens far from home, the joy is particularly great.

Many outsiders speak of the economic benefits of Freemasonry. Anyone who builds on it cannot be accepted at all. He is required to promise that the expectation of economic benefits does not stand behind his application for membership. And the promise of a man of good standing means a lot to Freemasons. You will measure his actions against it.

Royal Art is about human development and not how its economic activity “pays off”. That would contradict the equality under which everyone lives together.

Anything that is contrary to the community must be kept away from the lodge. That is why conversations about religions and politics in the lodge are inadmissible, or better or more tolerantly said “not wanted”.

Nevertheless, Freemasonry was never apolitical, even if in a completely different sense from what its opponents assume. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America make this as clear as the reform in Prussia in the 19th century.

We are often approached on the subject of women, politics is social politics. Fortunately, the role of women in our society today cannot be compared at all with that of the past century. So it is inevitable that the question of Freemasons and their wives or women in general, which has always been asked, has taken on a completely different weight. It should therefore come as no surprise that this topic is being discussed more and more frequently in the boxes.

This happens not least because we brothers quite often get together with our wives, who we call sisters, for lectures, club evenings or in other social settings. And then we are asked a lot of questions. Sometimes a sister also wants to know why women cannot actually take part in our work. Of course we know that our women are no less educated and prepared to carry out a spiritual process in themselves than we are. And didn't we also want to know before accepting a man whether his wife or partner understands that he is going to be a Freemason? - We do not just want our women to tolerate male freemasonry; It is very important to us that she helps him on his Masonic path, which he can only walk alone, through her understanding love. Therefore it can no longer be good that a Freemason does not tell his wife anything about what he experiences in himself. It is difficult because we are not allowed to communicate what is ritually happening in the temple to an outsider. But your own experience, if it has meaning, must be communicable to the trusted woman.How this happens can only be decided by each brother in his relationship with his partner. Under no circumstances should he isolate himself.
Because the lodges have grown in the tradition of cathedral construction huts, it is not surprising that this is about a men's union. It should stay that way ... we say.

But then we also have to understand when women come together in boxes, in women's boxes, of which there are already some, including in Germany. There is also a women's association near Freemasonry here in Germany. It is based on the American order "Eastern Star", which is not a Masonic order, but to which women of Freemasons belong, and who, because of the content conveyed there, may find a special proximity to the masonry activities of their men. However, there cannot be “mixed boxes” for us. A number of reasons can be heard for this; This is what seems to me to be the most important: Despite the increased equality of the sexes in our society, fortunately a noticeable and beneficial tension continues to grow from the differences, which could hinder the spiritual development process of the Freemason when women are present. This is not due to the women, but to the fact that men find it difficult to neutralize themselves under such circumstances, to put it mildly.

Freemasonry is part of human society. She feels every changing tendency, especially because the offer of tolerance allows her to be open to hearing and seeing. Freemasonry has made decisive contributions to human society over the past centuries. Whether it is able to continue to carry impulses of humanity and charity into society, and whether it is again and again, depends crucially on whether it is also able to communicate with people who are not Freemasons (we still have something to catch up on).

In conclusion, it should be noted that the orientation points placed at the beginning are intended to be a “line of instruction” for each brother. We should try to live by it; because we are judged accordingly and recognized by it.
Connection creates closeness. Kindness and deep thoughts are not limited to groups. Knowledge, especially transcendent, and behavior is taught through symbols. The convincing role of the three degrees of Johannis, which are used worldwide as brackets, must not be overlooked.

I think Freemasonry from today's modern point of view contains points of orientation “for a journey into the self and into the you”, both important poles in a world that is once again rapidly changing.