Freemasonry in Haworth
Making Good men better
So You Think You Want to Become a Freemason?
by Dr Robert Lomas.
We Freemasons have a reputation for being a bit odd. You’ve probably heard rumours about rolling up our trouser leg, giving strange handshakes and meeting in a blacked out room guarded by man with a naked sword in his hand. Guess what? It’s true.
But we do these things not just because we’re eccentric free spirits but because at one time this was normal behaviour for people who wanted to learn how to improve themselves. It’s a five hundred year old system of self-improvement and it works wonderfully well. It isn’t broken so we don’t try to fix it.
Freemasonry is the oldest, non-religious, self-help organisation in the western world. It began in the 1450s when three stone Masons, who had worked for an architect who had written books on how to use symbols and myths to change the way people think, was forced to sack them when his plot to usurp the crown of Scotland failed. Luckily they found new jobs working for Aberdeen Borough Council extending St Nickolas’s Kirk.
At that time there was no universal education, few people could read and write, and geometry was a trade secret of successful builders. Two important symbols of how to build imposing public structures were the square, to make sure your walls were vertical, and the compasses, for measuring the sizes of your shaped stones to sure they fitted into the wall. We still use these to implements as a badge of our interests.
These three Stone Masons decided that they wanted to learn more about the power of symbols and how they can help us to understand the world about us. They formed a lodge to study how they could improve the quality of their work and how they could pass on their skills and knowledge to the next generation. They came up with what they called a “peculiar” system which used myths about the building of King Solomon’s Temple as a form of action learning and taught the use of symbols to pass on difficult ideas. They accidently established a scheme which passed on self-confidence, the ability to memorise information, the faculty to analyse situations and the capacity to explain solutions. They soon opened up their Society to any men of good report who wanted to improve themselves. This system has remained unparalleled until the more recent introduction of Public Schools such as Eton and Harrow. And is one of the reasons why so many Freemasons have been movers and shakers in society over the years.
If you study a list of famous Freemasons you will find a higher than expected proportion of innovative individuals. Freemasonry has helped its members to learn about themselves, to improve their moral fibre and to develop strong attitudes to civic responsibility and charitable work. There have been Jazz musicians, Astronauts, Soldiers, Cowboys, Scientists, Airmen, Film Makers, Actors, Industrialists, Prime Ministers, Archbishops of Canterbury, US Presidents, Kings and Magicians among its members.
These three, out of work, stone cutters came up with three great ideas for improving themselves and the quality of their work.
They studied how to live and work together in harmony and good will, as if they were loving brothers from the same family. They called this Brotherly Love.
They worked out how to help relieve the needs of the poor, the sick, the orphaned and the widowed to alleviate suffering in society. They called this Relief.