Virtually every Masonic web site you visit, will have this section. The purpose of course is to inform those who have no real knowledge of what Freemasonry is all about, but have a desire to know more. Whether it be merely idle curiosity, or something more, we will try to present what we can here.

As there are only so many ways this information can be presented, it won't be stated any more elloquently than is done at the Grand Lodge of Arizona website. Therefore, with permission, we share that with you here.

If after reading the information presented here you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact any of the Payson Lodge Officers listed in the contacts section.

Origin Of The Grand Lodge

In 1717 four Lodges in London met  together and decided to form a Grand Lodge, possibly for no other reason than to strengthen and preserve themselves. In 1723 they adopted a Constitution. Their success led to the establishment of still other Grand Lodges. In 1725 some of the Lodges in Ireland formed a Grand Lodge and a similar body was instituted in Scotland in 1736. Moreover the original Grand Lodge in England did not remain without rivals, and at one time in the eighteenth century three Grand Lodges existed in England in addition to the one organized in 1717. Two of these died out without influencing the history of Masonry in general, but the third had a great part in the spread and popularizing of Masonry throughout the world. It called itself the Ancient Grand Lodge. The two surviving Grand Lodges were long and vigorous rivals, but they finally united in 1813 into the present United Grand Lodge of England. Thus, from one of these two Grand Bodies in England, or from those of Ireland or Scotland, all other Grand Lodges in the world today are decended.

Titles of Grand Lodges in the United States also vary. Some Grand Lodges are called A. F. & A. M. which means Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. The most commonly used title, like that used in Arizona, is F. & A. M., or Free and Accepted Masons.

Masonry was established in France sometime between 1718 and 1725. The first lodge in Spain was established in 1728. A lodge was established in Prague in 1729, in Calcutta in 1728 and in Naples in 1731. Masonry came to Poland in 1734 and Sweden in 1735.

The growth of Freemasonry and its ideals and beliefs came not without opposition. Masons are taught that all men are equal - We meet upon the level. Individual freedom of thought and action, as well as morality and ethics, are the concepts and ideals upon which our order is founded. The teachings are a condemnation of autocratic government, who in turn condemn Freemasonry.

What We Are Not

We are not a secret society!

A secret society is generally one that wraps itself in a cloak of absolute secrecy. That means no one knows who the members are, where they meet, what they do or what they stand for.

That is not Masonry at all! Masonry may have "secrets," but it is not a secret society. Masonic secrets are few in number, and deal with the general method of initiation, the ways we recognize each other, and very little else. These parts of the ritual, which are called the esoteric side of Masonry, have been handed down by word of mouth for centuries.

Masonry's purposes, ideals, and principles may be learned by anyone who inquires. There are numerous books on these subjects which are available to the public. Masonry often has public notices in the newspapers, and our members are usually numbered among the more prominent citizens in the community.

We Are Not A Relgion!

Masonry, as an organization, is understanding and tolerant of all religious thoughts.

Masonry has no specific creed, no dogma, no priesthood. There are no requirements as to religious preference in becoming a Mason. Masonry does ask you to state your belief and trust in a Supreme Being. Nonsectarian Prayers are a common part of all our ceremonies, but are not offered to a specific deity.

Masonic ritual does incorporate lessons and examples from the Bible, but they are given as representative illustrations. Masonry does not require you to belong to a church, synagogue or mosque although many Masons are very active in their religious organizations, and among our members are leaders of many denominations.

Freemasonry accepts your right to belong to any church or religious organization of your choice and does not infringe on that right. Neither does Masonry try to be a substitute for your church. Masonry wants to unite men for the purpose of brotherhood; not as an organized religion.

What Is Freemasonry?

What is modern Freemasonry? Masonry, as mentioned before, is many things to many people. Many years ago in England it was defined as a system of morally, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols. It is a course of moral instruction using both allegories and symbols to teach its lessons. The legends and myths of the old stone cutters and masons, many of them involved in building the great cathedrals of Europe, have been woven into an interesting and effective way to portray moral truths. In Masonry, the old tools and ways of the craftsmen are used to help dramatically portray those moral truths. For example, the 24 inch gauge and the common gavel. Just as the ruler is used to measure distance, the modern Mason uses it as a reminder to manage one of his most precious resources: time. And, as the gavel is used to shape stones, so it is also the symbol for the necessity of all of us to work to perfect ourselves.

One Modern Definition Is:

        A body of transcendental teachings, conveyed through symbolism
          and promoting a fraternal, exemplary and virtuous way of life,
          which, voluntarily observed by initiated men, contributes to their spiritual fulfillment
          and, through them, to the betterment of Humanity.

                    Jean-Claude Malterre, Past Master

Thus Freemasonry...

1.     Has a basic philosophy of life that places the individual worth of each man high on its pedestal, and incorporates the great teachings
        of many ages to provide a way for individual study and thought.

2.     Has great respect for religion and promotes toleration and equal esteem for the religious opinions and beliefs of others.

3.     Provides a real working plan for making good men even better.

4.     Is a social organization.

5.     Has many important charitable projects.

6.     Has a rich worldwide history.

7.     Is a proven way to develop both public speaking and dramatic abilities. and provides an effective avenue for developing leadership.

How To Join

Here are a few important things you should know and consider before applying to join the Masonic Fraternity.

Masonry has in all ages insisted that men shall come to its doors entirely of their own free will; not from feelings of curiosity, but from a favorable opinion of the Institution and a desire to be numbered among its members.

Freemasonry is a fraternity which teaches ethics and morality. Although it is not in any sense a religion or a substitute for religion, we do require that men who join believe in God and in the brotherhood of man. No atheist can become a Mason. Although we require that a member believe in God, we never try to tell a man how he should conceive of God, what faith he should practice or what worship he should follow.