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What is a Freemason?

Movies and books have lead people to believe many things about what Freemasonry is, what Freemasons are like, or what Freemasons do.  Before you start believing in all that Hollywood has to offer on the topic, allow us to start you onto the right path.  The Secret is that there's no Secret.  Freemasonry is dedicated to making good men better, from time immemorial.  Instead of telling you what we are not, let us tell you what a Freemason is and stands for.  Some of the material you see here, you will also see on the Grand Lodge of Masons in California website and is a common body of knowledge for all Freemasons.

Truth, Brotherly Love, Relief

These principals are central to what we do and how we endeavor to act. While there are many interpretations for every parable taught in almost any religion, central components are based on good morals. These good morals are a great plan for us to operate on and the real work done by this plan is to act on each of these:

  • Brotherly love. We value respect, freedom, kindness, tolerance, and our differences - religious, ethnic, cultural, social, generational, and educational - and strive for harmony in our individual lives, in our lodges, and in the global community.
  • Relief. We take responsibility for the well-being of our brothers, our families, and the community as a whole. We provide relief through philanthropy, community involvement, and delivery of excellent care.
  • Truth. We stay true to our personal code of conduct and ethics - honor, integrity, personal responsibility, and the continuous pursuit of knowledge.

The Fraternity of Freemasonry starts in the Blue Lodge.  The Blue Lodge consists of the first three degrees.  Freemasonry's foundations are taught in these degrees with the sincere hope that the candidate is able to discern not only the face-value meaning but also the deeper meaning of these lessons.  It may take a relatively short time to earn these degrees within a lodge, although we hope to spend the rest of our lives learning more about those lessons and how to apply them in everyday life.

Community Activities

  • Annual Essay Contest with local schools
  • Child ID and Fingerprinting
  • Raising a Reader

Apendant Bodies

Hollywood has done a great job of giving the Masons publicity.  In fact many people know that there are more than three degrees in Masonry.... This isn't really a true statement.  The third degree, titled "Master Mason", is the highest and most important degree in our craft.  That being said, once you have earned the third degree, you are able to join related organizations such as the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Shriners, Sciots, or Eastern Star.  In some of these other Mason-related organizations you might achieve degrees up to 32 or 33.  These numbers may be higher, however, within Masonry, the third degree is the highest "rank".


Now... for what a Freemason IS NOT...

  1. We are not a religion.  One of the requirements to become a Freemason is to believe in a higher being.  We do not specify what religion or walk of faith you have, only that you believe in a higher being.  In fact, within our fraternity, we have members from all walks of life and faiths.  One of the core tenants of Freemason teachings is that Freemasonry will not interfere with the duties you owe to God (God being a word to represent the higher being of your faith), your country, your neighbor, or yourself.
  2. We are not a Secret Society.  At least not in the sense that we hide ourselves from society.  Much like intellectual property or trade secrets that a company might have, we have secrets that we keep. 
  3. We are not an organization set on taking over the world.. in fact, as said by one of our members during an interview, we can barely decide what the menu should be for the next months stated meeting, much less try and create a plot to take over the world.
  4. We DO NOT invite people to join our fraternity.  If someone has invited you to join the Freemasons, they are either not a Mason, or they are not part of a real lodge.  We do not "shoulder-tap" the elite members of society or celebrities to be members.  Anyone who would like to be a Mason must ask to be a Mason on his own accord.
  5. We are not perfect.  No, really, we are human.  While we strive to become better people in every aspect of our lives, we make mistakes and it is our hope to learn from those mistakes.


If you are interested in joining Freemasonry, whether as a member of our lodge or of another lodge, please see our "How to become a Mason" page for more details.


Other References to Consider:

Wikipedia's information on Freemasonry

Freemasons for Dummies

California Freemasons Grand Lodge

Masonic Educational Site





CBS Sunday Morning aired a segment about Freemasonry presented by journalist Mo Rocca. This piece proved to be a fun, well balanced, and informative look at the fraternity. Among those interviewed were distinguished Masonic scholar and UCLA professor Margaret Jacob, as well as renowned Masonic author and editor of The Scottish Rite Journal, S. Brent Morris. Watch the video segment about Freemasonry via CBS Sunday Morning and view their accompanying piece, "9 things you didn't know about Freemasonry".
© San Jose Lodge no.10 Freemasons