Difference Between Masons and Freemasons
Masonry and Freemasonry are two terms that are often used interchangeably. However, they are not the same thing. Both Masons and Freemasons are members of a secret society, but there are some significant differences between the two. In this article, we will discuss the differences between Masons and Freemasons and explore their histories, beliefs, and practices.
History of Masonry and Freemasonry:
Masonry is a fraternal organization that dates back to the Middle Ages. The first recorded use of the term "mason" was in the 13th century. Masons were skilled craftsmen who built cathedrals, castles, and other structures in Europe. They formed guilds, which were organizations that regulated the training and employment of masons.
Freemasonry, on the other hand, is a fraternity that evolved from the stonemasons' guilds of the Middle Ages. The first recorded use of the term "Freemason" was in the late 16th century. Freemasonry originated in England and spread to other parts of the world, including the United States.
Beliefs and Practices of Masonry and Freemasonry:
Masonry and Freemasonry share some beliefs and practices, but there are also some significant differences. Masonry is not a religion, but it is based on the principles of brotherhood, charity, and truth. Masons believe in the existence of a Supreme Being, but they do not require their members to adhere to any particular religious doctrine.
Freemasonry, on the other hand, is not a religion either, but it does have some religious aspects. Freemasons believe in a Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul. They also believe in the importance of morality, charity, and brotherhood. Freemasonry teaches its members to be good citizens and to contribute to the betterment of society.
Membership and Structure of Masonry and Freemasonry:
Masonry and Freemasonry are both secret societies, but they have different membership requirements and structures. Masonry is open to men only, and members must be of good character and have a belief in a Supreme Being. Masons are organized into lodges, which are groups of members who meet regularly.
Freemasonry, on the other hand, is open to both men and women. Freemasons have a three-tiered membership structure: Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason. Each tier involves a different level of initiation and knowledge of the fraternity's teachings and practices. Freemasons are also organized into lodges, which are governed by a Grand Lodge.
Symbols and Rituals of Masonry and Freemasonry:
Masonry and Freemasonry use symbols and rituals in their teachings and practices. Masonic symbols include the square and compass, the apron, and the trowel. These symbols represent the moral principles of Masonry, such as honesty, integrity, and charity.
Freemasonry also uses symbols in its teachings and practices. Freemasons use the square, compass, and apron, as well as other symbols, such as the point within a circle, the all-seeing eye, and the blazing star. These symbols represent the moral and spiritual principles of Freemasonry.
Masonry and Freemasonry also have their own rituals. Masonic rituals include the initiation ceremony, which involves the candidate's symbolic death and rebirth into Masonry. Freemasonic rituals involve the candidate's symbolic journey through the three degrees of initiation.
Philanthropic Activities of Masonry and Freemasonry:
Masonry and Freemasonry are both involved in philanthropic activities. Masons are known for their charity work, and they have established a number of charitable organizations, including the Masonic Home and School of Texas, the Masonic Children's Foundation of California, and the Masonic Charities of Washington.
Freemasons are also involved in charitable activities. The Masonic Charitable Foundation in the UK is one of the largest charities in the country, supporting a range of causes, including medical research, education, and care for older people. The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts also operates a charity, the Masonic Angel Foundation, which provides assistance to children in need.
In conclusion, Masonry and Freemasonry are two distinct secret societies with different histories, beliefs, practices, membership requirements, and philanthropic activities. While they share some similarities, such as the use of symbols and rituals, they have evolved separately over time and have different organizational structures. Masonry is open to men only and emphasizes brotherhood, charity, and truth, while Freemasonry is open to both men and women and emphasizes morality, charity, and brotherhood. Both organizations have contributed significantly to philanthropic causes and continue to do so today.