Freemasonry is a non-denominational, non-political fraternity with lodges worldwide. While Freemasonry is often referred to as a "secret society," lodges and members operate openly. There are a number of ceremonial rites and procedures that are revealed only to members, which may be responsible for the general perception of secrecy. Becoming a Freemason involves basic guidelines as well as requirements and fees that vary from lodge to lodge.
Understand what Freemasonry is really all about. Freemasonry teaches moral truths and virtues that will allow the candidate to become a better man. There's no treasure and you're not going to become the President just by being a Mason. The Lodge does not usually accept men that are joining because they want to receive an intrinsic reward. Acceptance is based on the candidate entertaining a favorable opinion of the institution and is open to those of sound character.
Make contact with a Freemason. If you know a Mason, you're off to a good start. If you don't, you'll have to find one. Freemasons don't solicit for membership, so you will have to make contact and express interest in becoming a Freemason. A good place to start is your state's Grand Lodge. These are listed in the phone book and many of them have websites with Lodge locators and information on who to contact. Use the Lodge locator to find the Lodge in your area, and direct your application to a local member. Once you're in contact with a member, he'll probably want to talk to you to find out your reasons for joining and to establish a feel for your character. Don't take offense if he asks some pretty personal questions. You might even need to ask more than once for a petition to join.
Fill out your application or petition. If or when you receive a petition to join the Freemasons, fill it out honestly. Really think about your answers before you write them. If you have any concerns, share them with the member that gave you the petition. He'll need to know about your concerns since he'll have to answer some questions about you later on.
Ask about days you can visit the Lodge without being a member. Ask if there are any "open meetings" or work days being held at your local Lodge. These open meetings are great ways to get a better look at what you're trying to join. You'll be able to speak with other men about Masonry while they get a feel for you as well.
Wait for the results of your petition. The Lodge will vote on you based on the findings of an investigating committee. It might take a month or so before you hear back from the Lodge, so be patient. If you're elected, The Lodge will contact you to set up a date for your first "degree." You'll probably be asked to pay your first year's dues at that time, so be sure to set a little money back. If you were rejected, take heart and try again in about six months. Every Grand Lodge jurisdiction is different in several aspects. The amount you'll need to pay in dues and the length of the waiting period between your petition and election are just a couple. Talk to your contact person about guidelines and fees applicable to your area's Lodge.
While Freemasonry is non-denominational, most Lodges require their members to have a belief in a deity. Very few Lodges accept atheists as members. A man of any other faith can be accepted. Most Lodges do not accept women as members, although there is a branch of Freemasonry called Co-Masonry that accepts both men and women as members. If you are a woman and would like to join the Freemasons, look for American Co-Masonry Lodges in your area. Most Lodges require members to be a minimum age of 21.
There are a lot of "clandestine" Lodges out there, so do your homework before petitioning a Lodge. Freemasons will not accept online applications -- you must meet a member before you join. Talk to several Freemasons about the Lodge you are thinking of joining if you have concerns.
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