A Freemason I Am

A Freemason I Am

After many huge life-altering changes in a relatively short period of time (2017-2020: the end of my time abroad, end of a career, end of one relationship and the start of a new one, changes due to my medical situation, et cetera) I was required to do some soul-searching in 2023. Who and what am I? Who and what do I wish to become and how do I get there? Should I find some help or guidance and if so what kind? I am not religious and strongly resent dogmatism … so, where should go? I decided to join the Freemasonry. “Know thyself” is one of the mottos of the Freemasonry … so a good place to start the exploration and discovery journey.

My membership

Mijn initiation took place on 03-05-2023 (digital root: 3-5-7) at lodge #303 “De Gulden Regel” (The Golden Rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated”*) in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands. It was a memorable experience. I can’t share anything about the initiation ritual here, but joining this Brotherhood felt a bit like being knighted. After all, entering knighthood was a kind of “rite of passage”, when you were thought worthy to rise from squire to knight. Also a moment of the transition from boy to man and from ‘common man’ to a ‘noble man’. With it came some duties and responsibilities. The same, of course, also applies when taking the vow as a Freemason: accepting the duties and responsibilities you have for you Brothers, but also for your fellow man in the profane world and in fact the world itself.

*This principle has a long and rich history, a history that includes, but is not limited to, its appearance in Confucianism (sixth century B.C.E.), Buddhism, Jainism and Zoroastrianism (fifth century B.C.E.), Hinduism (third century B.C.E.), Judaism and Christianity (first century C.E.), and Sikhism (sixteenth century C.E.).

Now, some of you might have read odd and very silly things about the Freemasons online (conspiracy theories and cult-like weirdness). Well, believe me or not (your choice), it’s nothing like that. If I had to describe Freemasonry in one sentence: a dogma-free semi-philosophical brotherhood, where all brothers work by themselves and together on the bettering of oneself and the world.

Perhaps that sounds interesting to you and you wish to know more?

Well, unfortunately I can’t tell you everything about it. One of the great things about a Brotherhood like the Freemasons is that one can share one’s mind and feelings freely about almost everything (with the common sense to respect one another and each others personal opinions) within the lodge without it turning it into a debate, or to convince or judge each other. The agreement stands at all times that what is being shared in the lodge is not shared with others outside the Brotherhood, so all Brothers know what they share is kept private. With other words: “what happens in the lodge, stays in the lodge”. That includes the ceremonies (rituals). Not only because of privacy reasons, but also because the symbolism used is often difficult to understand by non-Freemasons and leads to misinterpretations resulting in absurd rumors and conspiracy theories. Pretty much all odd stories and weird claims about Freemasonry are created and shared by those who do not understand the symbolism or are biased.

But, I will share some information shared publically by the Order I am a member of:

Freedom, tolerance, brotherhood. Three keywords by which Freemasonry can be characterized. Freemasonry assumes everyone’s right to independently search for truth, strives for the general brotherhood of people, cultivates tolerance, looks for what unites people and nations and tries to remove divisions.

The freemason enters the lodge to become a better person. Not to become better than someone else, but to improve themselves: a person with whom thinking, feeling and wanting are in harmony. Freemasons are ordinary people, to whom nothing human is alien. It is no coincidence that the “Know Thyself” is repeated to them. Nowadays we would say: ‘Improve the world and start with yourself’.

Freemasonry is not a religion, an ideology or philosophy of life. And certainly not a cult or secret society. The Order of Freemasons is a democratic association, whose members strive for a deepening of insight. The Order is of course not alone in this endeavour. But Freemasonry distinguishes itself from other organizations in that field by its special method of working. She makes use of symbols and rituals that symbolically depict the course of human life.

Symbols are aids in conveying thoughts or feelings that are often difficult to put into words. For Freemasons, their symbolism is a language they understand, where in the world they also meet. Where the spoken or written word can cause misunderstandings, this common symbolic language creates unity between people with completely different social backgrounds, views and characters. In Freemasonry, building symbolism, the heritage of the craftsmen’s lodges from the Middle Ages, occupies a very important place. The Freemason builds the temple of humanity, a better world, seeing himself as a building block. A popular expression is that man is a rough stone, which must be cut and polished into a pure cubic stone, so that that sound stone can be fitted into the edifice of living stones.

Freemasonry is an initiation society that uses old, proven rituals. The lodges work in a system of three degrees: apprentice, journeyman and master. Each new member experiences his solemn accession in his own way, depending on personal attitude, background and views on major life questions. In general, with sufficient diligence, the apprentice is promoted to journeyman after one year. Then self-development and serving one’s fellow man are central to the ritual. After another year, the elevation to master can take place. The master’s degree refers to willingness to sacrifice out of love for one’s fellow man and teaches the Freemason to place himself in the right relationship with the Supreme Architect. Together, the three rituals depict the course of human life, the journey from darkness to Light.

– – – Orde van Vrijmetselaren onder het Grootoosten der Nederlanden (Order of Freemasons under the Grand Orient of the Netherlands). www.vrijmetselarij.nl

Feel free to ask questions via my mail form, but keep in mind that I can’t share anything about what happens behind closed doors and the rituals, unless you are a freemason yourself. It is therefor useless to ask such questions …