Meaning of “Masons, Free and Accepted”
Masons’ name comes from the occupation of their original members – stonemasons who built castles and cathedrals in England and Scotland. The word “free” was added during the Middle Ages. Because stonemasons possessed knowledge and skills not found everywhere, these men had the privilege of traveling between countries.
Over time, many men who were not builders were drawn to the practices of Freemasonry. To encourage intellectual diversity, stonemasons began accepting men from other professions into the fraternity. These men were known as “accepted Masons.” This trend continued, and accepted members eventually outnumbered operative members. Today, the names “Freemasonry,” “Masonry,” and “Free and Accepted Masons” are used interchangeably to refer to the fraternity.
Top 10 Masonic Buildings in USA – Part 2
Here is the second part of our list of the top 10 masonic buildings in the USA. This list is not in order and is highly subjective. If we left off your favorites, please forgive this oversight.
Masonic Temple and Masonic Library and Museum, Philadelphia, PA
The Masonic Temple was constructed in 1873, and is located across the street from the Philadelphia City Hall. It houses the Pennsylvania Grand Lodge F&AM. When it was constructed the New York Times described it as “the largest, costliest, and most magnificent structure consecrated to Masonry in the World.” Besides a massively grand staircase, the temple contains an Egyptian room, a Corinthian room, a Moorish room, a Renaissance hall, a Norman hall in Rhenish Romanesque style, and the Ionic hall, with full-length portraits of “Right Worshipful Past Grand Masters,” among others.
Masonic Hall, New York City, NY
Located in the Flatiron District in Manhattan, NY, this building spans an entire city block. It houses the Grand Lodge of NY, and has several different lodge rooms to allow the dozens of individual lodges that meet there to have meetings simultaneously. In addition it houses the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library and Museum.
Santa Fe Scottish Rite Temple, Santa Fe, NM
The Scottish Rite Temple of Santa Fe, NM was build in 1911 in a Moorish Revival Style to build a connection between the Spanish building tradition of New Mexico and that of the Moors in southern Spain.
Scottish Rite Cathedral, Indianapolis, IN
It was constructed between 1927 and 1929 at the cost of $2.5 million. Every dimension of the structure (in feet) is evenly divisible by three (reflecting the three degrees in Freemasonry), with many also being divisible by 33 (reflecting the degrees a member of the Scottish Rite can achieve). Throughout the Cathedral are over 100 ‘stained glass’ windows (actually painted glass) that depict the three craft lodge degrees of Masonry, the degrees of the Scottish Rite, symbols of York Rite Freemasonry, plus images of liberal arts, sciences, and even technology of the 1920s at the time of its construction. About 1,100 persons can be seated in the theater and another 200 on chairs in the arena.
San Antonio Scottish Rite Temple, San Antonio, TX
This magnificent edifice was completed after three years construction in 1924 at a cost of $1.5 million. It is five and a half stories tall and houses the Scottish Rite theatre in addition to several lodge rooms, commercial kitchen, ball room, dining room, and an elegant ladies parlor. The ball room offers seating for up to 500 guests, and the auditorium has a seating capacity of 2,062.
Top 10 Masonic Buildings in USA – Part 1
Here is the first part of our list of the top 10 masonic buildings in the USA. This list is not in order and is highly subjective. If we left off your favorites, please forgive this oversight.
Guthrie Scottish Rite Temple, Guthrie, OK
This temple was originally build in 1908 for the legislature of the territory of Oklahoma. Once the Scottish Rite took over it kept growing the structure and added a library, theatre, additional lodge rooms, a dormitory and a commercial kitchen. The Valley of Guthrie is one of the few Scottish Rite temples that performs all 29 degrees every year. It takes the labor of love of over 500 brothers to perform each reunion, including the actors, the stage crews, the kitchen, maintenance and the administrative staff. All of which are 100% volunteers.
The Masonic in Detroit, MI
It is the largest masonic structure in the world. The building is 14 stories tall and includes ballrooms, theaters, olympic sized swimming pools, and one of the largest stages in the country (measuring 55 x 100 feet). There are 1,037 rooms total. It was built in 1920 at a cost of $6.5 million, which would be $84 million in 2020. When the building went into foreclosure due to delinquent property taxes it was saved by an anonymous donor who paid off the taxes in full. It was later discovered to be the international superstar Jack White, of the band the “White Stripes”. He has no direct masonic ties personally, however, he wanted to repay the kindness that was shown to his single mother when she was in need during his early childhood days.
House of the Temple, Washington D.C.
This structure serves as the headquarter of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction. It was built in 1911 and designed by John Russel Pope, the same architect who also designed the Jefferson Memorial and the National Archives in Washington D.C. Currently it houses the A.A.S.R. of the Southern Jurisdiction, their library and an internationally renowned masonic museum.
George Washington Masonic National Memorial, Alexandria, VA
It is a memorial and museum, an active Masonic temple, a research library, a cultural space, a community and performing arts center, and an important regional landmark. It is the only masonic building in the USA that is supported by Grand Lodges nationwide. Part of the initiation fees of each new Entered Apprentice are being contributed to its upkeep and maintenance.
California Masonic Memorial Temple, San Francisco, CA
Build in 1958, this mid-century building is the home of the Grand Lodge of CA and is located in the Nob Hill district in San Francisco, CA. It is host to the Grand Lodge, a museum and library and several lodge rooms for local lodges. It includes a lodge room that was designed by brother and architect David Hackett. The remodeled temple also includes a study area, a bar, and a lounge with a working fireplace.
Endowments allow a Mason to pay a single payment and become an endowed member. This is also known as lifetime, or perpetual membership. Once a Mason is an endowed member he no longer owes any further annual dues payments. Most lodges charge a multiple between 10 to 20 times their regular annual dues. This allows the members to lock in a specific dues rate and not have to pay ever larger dues in the future.
In return these endowment payments are then passed on to the Grand Lodge, who in turn invests these funds. The individual lodges then receive a certain percentage return annually based on how many endowments have been purchased. Unfortunately the same lodges also owe annual per-diem charges that the Grand Lodge charges per member during their lifetime. Most often the endowment funds that are being paid out annually do not cover the costs that the individual blue lodge is charged per member. Additionally the lodge is losing out on the funds that could help with paying taxes, rent / mortgages, utilities, repairs and improvements, and any other expenses that might occur.
What at first glance looks like a mutually beneficial idea turns out to benefit only the member and the Grand Lodge. However, the individual lodge hurts financially due to this arrangement. Depending on how many members of a particular lodge are endowed, this can lead to crippling financial distress that might even cause a lodge to close its doors permanently. This has led many lodges to ask their endowed members to help out financially by making additional donations to at least cover their annual Grand Lodge per-diem costs.
This is just a little look behind the curtain of the day-to-day operations of Masonic Lodges and their ongoing struggle to stay financially solvent in times of decreasing membership, and increasing costs.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is generally considered one of the greatest composers in the history of Western music. Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria on January 27, 1756. On December 14th, 1784 he joined the Lodge ‘Zur Wohltätigkeit’ in Vienna. He was a regular attendant of his lodge and became its official lodge musician.
Even though he was a devout Catholic and wrote over 60 liturgical compositions, many of which are still in use today, he was a devoted Freemason. He did this in clear defiance of the Church’s ban on Masonry, because he agreed with its belief in Human Dignity and Freedom. He was a rationalist and a strong proponent of the ideals of the Enlightenment.
“The purpose of music in the [Masonic] ceremonies is to spread good thoughts and unity among the members” so that they may be “united in the idea of innocence and joy,” wrote L.F. Lenz in a contemporary edition of Masonic songs. Music should “inculcate feelings of humanity, wisdom and patience, virtue and honesty, loyalty to friends, and finally an understanding of freedom.”
Mozart used Masonic themes and symbolism throughout his music, and published at least 8 outright Masonic pieces. These include his “Freemeason’s Funeral Music” and his opera the “Magic Flute“. The last piece he finished before his death was K.23, ‘The Little Masonic Cantata”.
Music was a vital component of Freemasonry during Mozart’s time. Lodge songs, mostly with piano or organ accompaniment, were sung at the beginning and end of meetings, as well as during the meal which followed. Mozart wrote thirteen of these lodge songs, but five of these are missing.
Masonic subject matter is used incidentally in his works which were not intended for the lodge. It has, therefore, been suggested that Mozart’s last three symphonies represent the three degrees of Masonic life. [note: Mozart’s last three symphonies are No. 39 in E flat major K.543, No. 40 in G minor K. 550 and No.41 in C major K.551 (also known as the “Jupiter”). Note also the keys in which these symphonies are written – E flat major being “the fundamental key of Freemasonry”, G minor having a symbolic connection with the letter “G” and C major representing “the resurrection of the enlightened man to the rank of Master”] 
The forget me not flower has been associated with Freemasonry since WW II. Freemasonry was outlawed by the Nazi Party in Germany and the occupied areas. Freemasons were hunted down and send to concentration camps during the holocaust. The number of Freemasons who were killed range from 60,000 to 250,000. The real number will unfortunately never be known.
In 1938 a factory in Bremen, Germany produced a blue forget-me-not lapel pin on behalf of the National Socialist People’s Welfare Organization, to commemorate its Winterhilfswerk, or winter charitable contribution drive. The pin was a gift to its donors. According to legend Freemasons wore the forget-me-not flower as a lapel pin instead of the traditional square and compasses to secretly identify each other during these times of persecution.
In 1948 at the first convent of the United Grand Lodges of Germany, the flower was officially adopted as a way to remember their fallen brethren. Later on in 1948 when then Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Germany AF&AM, Theodor Vogel, attended the Grand Masters conference in Washington DC, he distributed these pins and first told the story to Masons outside of Germany.
Since then the idea that it would have been possible for Freemasons to so openly defy the Nazi party for so many years has come under contention. Nevertheless, regardless of how accurate the story is, using such an aptly named flower reminds us of the fidelity and resilience that Freemasons display to this day while being suppressed, harassed and even persecuted.
Sprig of Acacia
Acacia sprigs were planted in Israel to mark the location of a grave, as well as a symbol to demonstrate their belief in immortality. Acacia are hardy evergreen plants that can survive in arid lands such as the Middle East. It has deep roots to gather the necessary water for survival in the dry, dusty soil. Both the Hebrews and the Egyptians believed that because of its hardiness, durability and evergreen nature, that this tree was a symbol of both innocence and immortality.
Freemasons see the sprig of acacia as a symbol of the immortality of the soul. It is used prominently during Masonic funeral rituals. A sprig is presented by the Worshipful Master and placed onto the coffin with the following words: “This sprig of acacia is an emblem of our abiding faith in the immortality of the soul. By it we are reminded that we have an immortal part within us which will survive the grave and which will never, never, never die. This emblem I also place with you, my Brother.”
The checkered pavement has traditionally been used in many Masonic lodge rooms and buildings. It is not simply a decorative choice but has a deeper esoteric meaning. Inside of lodge rooms it is usually in the center of the room, on top of which the altar is positioned and where the initiations occur. The black and white tile is also oftentimes decorated with indented tassels along the outside and a blazing star in the center.
The black and white tiles are emblematic of human life, that is checkered with good and evil. It is symbolic of the duality of life, as well as the balance that can only be achieved when both are present. This balance indicates that the Mason has a strong and solid foundation on which to build his life.
Ben Franklin – Freemasonry explained
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was a very active and prominent Freemason in colonial America. He was initiated in February 1731 at St John’s Lodge in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He became the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in 1734. He also printed and published the first masonic book in America “The Constitutions of the Freemasons“. In 1777 he became a member of the “Loge des Neuf Soeurs” of Paris, where he helped initiate the famous French philosopher Voltaire. He also met many famous and influential European Freemasons through this particular lodge. Including members of the Prussian military and nobility, who helped connect George Washington and King Frederick the Great. Who in turn supported the American Revolution financially and militarily.
Freemasons use a lot of old-English in their rituals and conversations. One example of this is the term profane that is used when referring to someone who is not a mason. Unfortunately the use of the word by the average English-speaker has changed over the years. Today it is considered by non-masons to be derogatory. It is commonly understood to mean disrespectful, irreverent, obscene or vulgar.
Clearly though that is not the intended meaning as it is understood by Freemasons. The word is derived from the Latin “pro” meaning before, and “fanum” which means temple. Thus, someone profane is one who is “outside the temple”, or uninitiated.
It might be reasonable for Masons today to only use this term exclusively inside their own lodges, or when conversing with other Freemasons, in order to avoid unintended potential offense of non-Masons. Therefore, caution is advised.