Donegal Lodge - Introduction
The scripts we use in our Lodge are clear and plainly written in eloquent language which helps bring home the very essence of the morals and virtues that our Order tries to inculcate in all members.
The true Freemasonry experience must be experienced to really understand why millions of members the world over, love the Freemasonry or the Craft, as it is also referred to as.
Our Lodge is run by the Master of the Lodge, who presides over the meetings in the Lodge Room. These are by and large held in terms of normal meeting protocols.
Freemasonry in Depth
This information is primarily for those thinking of becoming Freemasons, but also serves to inform others who may be interested and should dispel much of the reputation of secrecy and the perception that Freemasons are unwilling to talk about their organisation to non-members.
Origins of Freemasonry
According to the legends which form part of the tradition of Freemasonry, the fraternity dates back to the time of the construction of King Solomon's Temple. This enormous structure required a highly organised workforce and led to stonemasons, architects and others, being organised into various grades or guilds, each with its own responsibilities. Towards the end of the 19th century, while excavating in the Libyan desert, the British archaeologist and Egyptologist, Sir William Petrie, unearthed papyrus records describing secret meetings around 2000 BC of such a guild. These records concerned not only matters such as working hours, wages and rules for their labour, but also the relief and assistance for workers in distress and for widows and orphans.
Of the many great buildings erected by the Masons of the Middle ages, attention has focused mainly on the great cathedrals of England and Europe. To build these vast structures, it was necessary for masons to gather in large groups, which moved from one finished structure to the next one under construction. Considerable knowledge of geometry, arithmetic and engineering was necessary and these craftsmen formed themselves into guilds to maintain a level of qualification for their membership and to protect the secrets of their trade. The resulting Guild of Stonemasons became a significant centre of learning, serving not only to protect its members, but also to educate worthy apprentices and to increase the reputation of the craft
It was not then possible to verify a man's credentials by a union card or by telephone, and signs and words were used for this purpose. Much of the work of these marvellous craftsmen survives to this day; and from it we find a living inspiration to bring similar qualities to the creation, not of a material building, but of a brotherhood of men of good will. The status and reputation of these Craft Guilds rose to such a height that it became common for leading citizens to become honorary members. They were known as ‘Speculative' (as opposed to ‘Operative') Masons or Freemasons. As their numbers grew, and as matters concerned with education and qualification of craftsmen were formalised and controlled at a national level, so the structure of the guilds changed over the years and Lodges came to be composed exclusively of ‘Freemasons'.
One of the earliest mentions of the term ‘Freemason' is in a City of London manuscript dated 1375, which includes reference to regulations for the society; duties to God, church and country; and many references to brotherhood.
What is a Lodge?
The term ‘Lodge' has two meanings in Freemasonry. Firstly, it is used to describe the place where meetings are held. It refers to the temporary buildings erected by Masons alongside their construction projects. These were used by the craftsmen as places to rest eat, plan the project, receive their wages, and socialise. Training and education would also have taken place in the Lodges.
The second use of the term ‘Lodge' refers to individual groups of Freemasons. A national structure evolved for the control of these Lodges and was called the ‘Grand Lodge'. All regular (see below) Grand Lodges are lineal descendants of what are known as the ‘Mother Grand Lodges', the United Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Lodge of Ireland and the Grand Lodge of Scotland, all three of which were established in the early seventeen hundreds.
What happens at Lodge meetings?
As in any organisation, the meeting is first called to order, and the ceremony of opening the Lodge is quite formal and draws on elements of the very foundations of Masonry. It serves to remind Freemasons of the virtues they seek to live by.
Once this is complete, minutes and correspondence are read, projects are planned, and other business taken care of, very much like any other organisation.
When new members are being received or are being advanced through the degrees of Craft Masonry, formal ceremonies are again used to teach Freemasons important moral lessons.
Following the formal closing of the Lodge, it is usual for some socialising to take place, often over supper.
Why do Freemasons dress up for meetings and have secret handshakes and signs?
The different forms of dress, based on ceremonial aprons, collars and gauntlets are to distinguish rank and derive from and reflect the protective garments worn by the original stonemasons. In olden times aprons would have been of leather, tied around the waist, to protect the mason as he handled stone. The ceremonial aprons worn at Lodge meetings become more ornate as the Mason progresses through the three Degrees of Craft Masonry. The most identifiable symbols would be the common tools of ancient stonemasons, the gavel, the rule, the square, the compasses, the level and so on. Various Degrees and Offices are associated with particular implements, as symbols.
The various levels of Freemasonry
At its basic level, known as ‘the Craft’, Freemasonry has three degrees, beginning with the degree of ‘Entered Apprentice' representing the apprentice of the working stonemason who learned how to use the tools of the trade. After a period, he advances first to the degree of ‘Fellow (of the) Craft' and finally to that of ‘Master Mason'.
Religion and Politics
Perhaps the most frequently asked questions nowadays are about the relationship between Freemasonry and religion & politics. The Media frequently implies or directly states that Freemasonry is ‘anti-religious or politically orientated'. These charges are, in fact, entirely inaccurate and without foundation.
It is an absolute requirement for membership that a Mason must believe in a Supreme Being. Every Irish Lodge, at its meetings must have the Holy Bible known to Freemasons as ‘The Volume of the Sacred Law', in evidence and open. For the Jew the Old Testament, for the Muslim the Koran, and so on may also be in evidence if Brethren of such beliefs are present. Some organisations calling themselves Masonic, do not require belief in a Supreme Being and, like others which may use words, emblems and symbols similar to ours, are deemed ‘Irregular Bodies' with which we as ‘Regular' Masons can have no contact whatever, however well-meaning their members may be.
Freemasonry regards a man's relationship with his God as a purely personal matter, and never enquires into it or lays down any rule or regulation about it save that: (i) all Masons must believe in God, however they address Him, and (ii) no discussion on religious matters is permitted at Masonic gatherings.
The ruling on politics is much the same. Freemasonry has no political attitudes except to require its members to be peaceable and law abiding citizens regardless of their individual political opinions, and discussion on politics is similarly prohibited in Masonic assemblies.
Membership and Secrecy
Masonry is not a secret society, but it is a society with a few secrets. Very few, in fact, and these are solely concerned with modes of recognition. They are simply the methods by which a Mason can prove he is a member. Like many other aspects of Freemasonry these are traditional. Again for reasons of tradition, modern Freemasonry has retained the means of mutual recognition.
A Candidate, during the degree ceremonies is required to make a solemn promise, or ‘Obligation', never to reveal certain matters which are about to be revealed to him. The symbolic ancient penalties for breach of such promises were, however, relegated in the last century to mere historical mention.
The membership, meeting places and activities are readily ascertained by anyone who is interested enough to enquire. The Laws and Constitutions are all published and many books on Freemasonry are available in any good public library. Our organisation pays taxes and its headquarters building in Molesworth Street, which is less than one hundred yards from the seat of the Irish Government, is open to the public at certain times. Freemasonry is clearly a Society with certain secrets, but cannot be described as a Secret Society with all the connotations which that implies.
The Grand Lodge of Ireland is the supreme authority over all its subordinate Lodges, not only in Ireland, but in Africa, Asia, Australia, India and many other places from New Zealand in the East to Jamaica in the West. It is an entirely independent and autonomous body, though it works in close co-operation with its sister Grand Lodges in England and Scotland and with more than 100 other Regular Grand Lodges throughout the world.
What and Who?
What are Freemasons? They are ordinary men who try to live as good citizens with high moral principles. They do not claim a monopoly on these ideals, but by joining together in Lodges, they practise and teach these ideals of kindness, honesty, decency, fairness, courtesy, understanding and concern for others, and hope thus to become better members of society.
Who are Freemasons? They are ordinary men from all walks of life without social or financial distinction. Some do not openly declare membership; others do and wear Masonic ties or rings. Some you will like; others you may not. They are in other words, a cross section of society.
The names of many former Masons will be familiar to you. They include several Kings and political leaders, among them, Edward VII, Sir Winston Churchill. American Presidents Washington, Trueman and both Roosevelts were members.
In the Arts and Entertainment world, Robbie Burns, William Hogarth, Goethe, Sir Walter Scott, Chagall, Clark Gable, Nat King Cole, Peter Sellers, John Wayne and even Davy Crockett and Buffalo Bill were Freemasons.
And in the realm of composers men like Mozart, Haydn and Liszt, and from more recent times, Gershwin and Gilbert and Sullivan were all members.
Famous Irishmen who were Freemasons include Edmund Burke, Daniel O'Connell, the Duke of Wellington, Oscar Wilde, the Dukes of Leinster, Henry Joy McCracken and many others.
The ‘Old Pals' factor
Freemasonry demands that its members respect the law of the land in which they live and work. Its principles do not conflict in any way with their duties as good citizens, but rather strengthen them in fulfilling these duties. It never calls on a member to put the Order before his family or friends and condemns the use of his membership to promote his own or anyone else's business or personal interests. It insists that a Mason's duty to society should always prevail and a member may never attempt to shield another Freemason who has acted dishonourably or dishonestly.
Cost and Time of Membership
Most Lodges meet monthly, eight or nine times in the year and members are expected to attend regularly. Many members will occasionally visit other Lodges.
Dues payable by members are modest compared with most other clubs and societies and can easily be determined by enquiry from any member of a particular Lodge.
Should you decide to join us, once accepted, we and every legitimate Lodge world-wide will make you heartily welcome.
How do I join?
Most of our members will have come into Freemasonry through contact and friendship with existing members but, if you don't know a Mason, contact our Lodge, at the address below. As with most other clubs and fraternities, each
application will be considered by a committee which will meet the candidate to ensure that he has been properly and adequately informed about the Order.
You will not be pressurised into joining. 1f you join, it will be because you want to, and not because you have been persuaded by us to do so. Membership is a commitment to live with integrity and honour, to care for others, to trust each other and to place one's ultimate trust in one's God.
Need to know more?
Should you have any remaining doubts or queries, please ask a friend who is a member, or contact:
Donegal Lodge 873 IC
Contents with thanks from the Grand Lodge of Ireland
Is Freemasonry a charity or service organisation?
Is Freemasonry a religion?
PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA - FREEMASONRY (LODGES)
There are a number of Lodges operating within the metropolitan area with all four recognised masonic constitutions being represented.
Masons have since the beginnings of Port Elizabeth played a very important role in the development of the city and its community. Much of the work done has however been done without any attempt to claim credit for the mason personally or for Freemasonry.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
But we also realise that questioning God, is not our province, nor even our right. Just as a Craftsman on the work sites of ancient cathedrals, the craftsman sole duty and work was producing the most perfect work, allocated to him by the architect, who was really the only person who saw the big picture that would finally evolve of years, decades or even generations.
By this analogy, we see that we need to be the best we can be, at the same time not judging our brother (which could include sister) as they labour on their allocated work assigned only to them. As we have not insight into the Great Architect's plan for them, how can we judge another?
Some of us have laboured longer and some less, some have been been more committed and some less; the significance of which pales when one considers that we are all labouring on work which will eventually see the Great Architect's plan fulfilled.
Being a Craftsman, means being a renaissance person, to overcome ignorance, to pursue those disciplines which will make me able to see the Great Architect's plan in so far as I have the ability to see, to overcome the base aspects of myself. It is further so that through the lessons taught in a tyled Lodge that I my personally journey to a better knowledge of who I am.
It is noted that for every person the path is different - but all our differences aside we are all on our path back to God (by whatever name we call the Deity)
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
For example in the Irish Constitution, the Grand Lodge was formally recognised to be the 26th June 1725, according to an article in the Dublin Weekly Journal. It may actually be sooner, as it mentioned that the event was to install a new Grand Master, so there was an Irish Grand Lodge before that date, hence the Grand Lodge of Ireland existed before that date.
It is also so that Freemasonry did in fact precede the formation of a centralised Grand Lodge, like for example there is a Square in possession of Lodge 13 in Ireland which is dated 1507, which was recovered from the foundation of the Baal's Bridge in Limerick, on which was inscribed "I will strive with love and care upon the level and by the square".
Thursday, November 11, 2010
It is sad that so many of these Lodges are battling for membership and in some cases the Lodge membership has aged tremendously. It is wonderful to see that at last there has been a tremendous revival in Freemasonry and that more and more people are seeing the true benefit of joining this august Order.
I am a member of Donegal, which fall under the jurisdiction of the ancient Irish Grand Lodge. Our Lodge is one of the fortunate few which have a great spread of members across the age spectrum thereby striking a good balance between experience and youthful drive. This has had the effect that our Lodge now has a almost a a six month waiting list, which we are hoping to reduce with additional meetings on Saturday mornings. Sadly, this is a problem few Lodges have, but it does show that we are doing something right.
Even though the perception is that we are a mostly English Lodge, be have a good balance of English and Afrikaans brothers which really works well. Some members were initially worried that they would battle with the workings, but fortunately the Irish working is very easy to assimilate even for very Afrikaans members.
Added to this the fact that as a members of a recognised Grand Lodge, whose Lodges span the globe, it is wonderful to know that no matter where you visit, there will be an Irish Lodge close by.
In addition, our once off initiation fee is only R1,200,00 for all three Craft degrees and our annual subscription at present is R650.00. this makes membership of Donegal Lodge, in Port Elizabeth a great option for anyone considering joining Freemasonry.
If you are interested, drop us a mail and we shall take it from there.
Friday, September 10, 2010
This is a new vibe which has come over society. Rampant corruption and flagrant disrespect for morals have resulted in a society which is discouraged and hope is flagging in many in the dream which was the rainbow nation. It is probably for lesser men to bow before the onslaught of peer pressure in society to lower one's standards and degrade who you are, not through active participation, but rather omission to take a stand and act. This post is not about politics in country, rather it is about people and how so many are feeling despondent.
Freemasonry has ever been a champion for what is good true and virtuous and for tolerance and fraternity amongst all men (including women). Freemasonry has ever supported each man's right and duty to worship God, as he may personally define God.
For years men took morals, virtue and fraternity to be a given, but this has not been proven by the passage of time. With the passing of time it has become "uncool" to do the right thing, it was easier to go with the flow, even though the flow only goes downhill.
But a glimmer of hope has started to show, the younger generation is a generation born out of free thinking of making up their minds for themselves. They have been born into a world where old fashioned virtue, love for family and community has been lost. It is they who are now wanting to recapture all that was good in the past.
It is therefore not surprising that young men and ever increasingly women have been drawn to the portals of the Order. Despite the all the ill informed propaganda out there, they are recognizing the truth that fanciful conspiracy theories aside, Freemasonry is indeed welcome in their and their families lives.
Freemasonry has survived not because of any other reason, other than its profound teachings are grounded on eternal truths, which cannot be denied. It is also so that never before, has a "support group" of like minded individuals ever been more necessary, than now.
Freemasonry in Port Elizabeth has really shown an upturn in membership. Our Lodge has a waiting list and working for every meeting well into next year. On the request of new candidates, we are considering having addition meetings. This is indeed good news.
(Port Elizabeth, South Africa)
Monday, September 6, 2010
- Men are wanting to claim back, their right to be men;
- There is also the belief that in a world where traditional roles have disappeared, that men want to retain certain aspects, which are not only necessary but essential to who me are in essence;
- Men also are, especially in South Africa, where morals and ethics are sliding, finding that there is a need to be surrounded by similar men who value morals and ethics and the need to do the right thing.
- There is also a new curiosity to learn and question, which Freemasonry had always favoured.
- Freemasonry is core to a stable society and it is unapologetic of its support for the view that all its members must believe in God (as each member may define God) and that they should practice their faith. There are many other reasons which may be the cause, but that being said, its an exciting time to be a Freemason.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
No, I feel that it is the culmination of lots of effort by many brothers all driven by the same goal. Donegal has set itself the task of innovating and not waiting passively. Freemasonry has so much to offer and as dedicated Freemasons working the ancient Irish working, we are not only proud of our Lodge and the dedication of its members, but also by the profound self knowledge which being part of a Lodge gives one.
In a Lodge you will learn a lot but your labours will all be focused on making you a better person. That labour alone can take your entire life time. When one labours at such a worthy cause, it is great to be surrounded by like minded men. It is said that "Freemasonry makes good men better"; this is so but only to the extent that they are prepared to work towards this goal. It is so that many people don't feel the need to aspire to living a life of goodness and virtue; but if you do you are not alone.
Freemasonry will encourage you to be a better man on all levels; it will encourage you to practice your religion, whatever it may be. Freemasonry will teach you not your rights, but rather your duties as a man to those around you. The greatest thing is that this all happens in a safe environment, free of discussions of politics and religion. These two topics you can discuss elsewhere, but not in Lodge or at the meal afterwards nor in your capacity as a Freemason.
I am proud to be a Freemason and I am proud to be a member of my Lodge. If someone had to ask me what I thought of joining a few years ago, I would have been swayed by all the nonsense on the net and fantastic conspiracy theories, now that I am a Freemason, I thankfully know better.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
This dialogue is natural for human beings. We like to analyse and sort things into boxes which helps us make sense of the world. Freemasonry if it can be sorted will be alone in its compartment. But the question begs, why is it so unique? Freemasonry, depending on if you looking at it historically or traditionally comes from different times; which is not relevant here. What is relevant, is that it has survived for centuries (conservatively viewed) and has served persecution under despots and tyrants. Its survival I have attributed to the fact that good men need a support structure, after all doing the right things is never easy nor is finding a group of men who will each other's confidences and support each other. This unique variant of male support group is unique.
It transcends politics and religious differences and seeks to celebrate what we share in common, not what divides us. This perpetual striving, to do what is good and virtuous and constantly striving to secure liberty and equality for all; has always unsettled the tyrants of this world. Freemasons are peaceable subjects but stand firm in their belief that our actions should be good and true.
Freemasonry is also supportive of religion. It encourages its members to be active members of their own chosen faith. It is however sad, that often ignorance and suspicion has often dogged people's views of the relationship between Freemasonry and Religion. I read blogs and web sites which often recite the strangest views and which very often go totally contrary to logic or proven fact, but it appears that this is no vaccine to these views.
I am a particular religious belief and often in my Holy Book, it states that one is known by one's actions and "faith without deeds is dead". Freemasonry supports this view completely, but then we are accused of attempting to work our salvation through good deeds and living straight and upright lives.
Freemasonry offers no route to heaven nor does it offer any hope of salvation of any type, because we are not a religion. Freemasonry is also no satanic in any way, the beliefs to the contrary are based on misinterpretation of our symbols and workings; but then there are also those who purposefully mislead others because they don't know any better and really do not want to and then there are those you should know better, but choose to ignore all the facts and logic; choosing rather the route baseless accusations and seemingly credible sounding nonsense.
Great religious leaders have been Freemasons. It is often stated that Freemasonry causes Church's to close for instance, yet strangely before Freemasonry was actively persecuted, the Churches were strong with Freemasons playing leading roles at all levels of the spiritual community. So many Church's started discriminating against Freemasons and so these Freemason's were reduced to lesser roles, while others filled their positions. Yet, in spite of this Freemasons still diligently practice their own personal religions in spite of this opposition. It is strange that many religious organisations blame reducing member numbers to Freemasonry, while completely ignoring the fact that maybe the organisation has lost its connection to the community and is no longer providing what the community needs from such an organisation.
Then one finds the conspiracy theorists. This group have decided that Freemasonry is behind everything that goes wrong in the world; from global warming, hurricanes, world wars, terrorism, the list goes on. I suppose its makes life easier to deal with blaming the Freemasons, after all it does give some respite from the fact that maybe the entire world is in a mess because of greed, pride and fanaticism; and that there is no accountability, morals or ethics anymore.
I suppose its more liberating to blame the Freemasons. It is strange that new Freemasons are not rocketed to wealth after they become members nor do their fortunes go to wreck and ruin; which fact is sadly ignored and runs contrary to the conspiracy theories.
In addition, the fact is that contrary to most conspiracy theories Freemasonry does not in fact control the world. But to the mind that has been affected by the virus which is suspicion logic, facts and argument are no anti-venom to poison which spreads in one's mind once one starts down the conspiracy path.
With all the forces or tyranny, ignorance and prejudice; what would make a man stand so firm against the world?
My belief is that it is the support which good men get from their Brothers in a Lodge.