Special thanks to BeAFreemason.org sponsored by Scottish Rite NMJ, Shriners International, and Scottish Rite SJ.
Freemasonry is a brotherhood of men committed to lives of honor, integrity, and character. The men of Freemasonry are on a journey of self discovery. For hundreds of years, Freemasons, with deep brotherly support, have worked to become the best version of themselves while working to better their communities and our world.
Becoming a Freemason can help you achieve great personal reward by guiding you to build your moral character and connection to your community. Freemasonry is built upon the core tenets of Brotherly love and affection, relief, and truth. Through a commitment to these values, all Freemasons share the common goal of making good men better. In addition to self improvement, a Freemason is a man eager to be part of something bigger than himself, with a reverence for history, compassion in his heart, and a desire to create a better future.
Freemasonry welcomes men of every country, religion, race, age, income, education, and opinion. However, to join Freemasonry, one must meet the following qualifications:
The process of applying to become a Freemason can be expedited a few different ways. You can contact your state’s Grand Lodge (the overarching Masonic governing body in your state where you live) for California this is the Grand Lodge of California at Freemason.org, find a Masonic lodge in your area that you wish to join, or reach out to a man who is a Freemason and ask for his help. You will submit a petition for membership. Members at the lodge will read your petition and form a small committee to meet with you to determine your qualifications and answer any questions you have regarding Freemasonry.
The term "lodge" itself comes from the structures which the stonemasons built against the sides of the cathedrals during construction. In winter, when building had to stop, they lived in these lodges and worked at carving stone.
But a Masonic lodge is more than a building; it is a living, breathing organization made up of and sustained by the members themselves. It is a tight-knit group of men who make solemn vows to one another and become comrades in Masonry and life.
Above all, a Masonic lodge represents open arms, a helping hand, and brotherly love to every Mason, anywhere, at any time.
If you're located in California, you find a Lodge near you using the Lodge Locator. If you're looking for a Lodge out of state, you can also use the form on beafreemason.org
There are three degrees of Freemasonry: Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason. These degrees are the three ceremonial stages that a man must complete to become a full member of the Masonic fraternity. Collectively, these degrees are known as the symbolic lodge (often called blue lodge).
The Masonic degrees are loosely based upon the journeyman system, which was used to educate Medieval craftsmen. At each educational stage, a craftsman was required to achieve proficiency before moving to the next stage. Symbolically, the degrees represent the three stages of human development: youth, manhood, and age. By advancing through the degrees, a Freemason learns the moral and ethical lessons of the Masonic rite.
As a candidate’s ﬁrst experience with the ceremonies of the fraternity, this degree is intended to be an introduction to Masonry. It is, like all Masonic ceremonies, a solemn and meaningful event. The Entered Apprentice is entrusted with secrets of the Masonic Order, which are all moral and ethical in nature, and is expected to honor them in accordance with Masonic law.
Once a candidate completes the Entered Apprentice degree, he takes his ﬁrst step as a Freemason and enjoys the title of “Brother.”
Fellowcraft is a term used by the ancient Guilds of Operative Masons that refers to skilled members of the craft – a literal ‘fellow of the craft.’ Within Freemasonry, the Fellowcraft references a more advanced search for Masonic wisdom, symbolism, and philosophy. For skilled craftsmen, this degree would have marked a person’s progress from an apprentice to a journeyman, which brings with it increased responsibility, learning, and work. Once completed, the candidate may advance to the third and final degree.
The third degree symbolizes man’s maturity in life or age and his increase in knowledge and wisdom. The last of the lodge ceremonies, the Master Mason degree completes the initiation ceremonies into the fraternity, and the new Master Mason may enjoy both the rights and responsibilities of membership. A Master Mason has the right to visit lodges throughout the world, sharing in fraternal fellowship with like-minded men who now share a common bond.
The highest rank in Freemasonry is the third degree, that of the Master Mason. While some Masonic organizations offer additional degrees that explore the teachings of Freemasonry in further depth, those degrees are not considered to be higher than the symbolic lodge degrees.
To become a Master Mason, you must complete the three degrees of the symbolic lodge. Once you have completed the third degree, you become a full member of Freemasonry, enjoying both the rights and responsibilities of membership.
Freemasonry is not a religion or a substitute for religion. Freemasonry does not intrude on the religious beliefs of its members, although it does require that all members profess a belief in a Supreme Being. Men of all faiths are represented in Freemasonry. Religion is not discussed at lodge meetings.
Freemasonry is a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. Symbols allow people to communicate quickly, and to transcend language barriers. When you see a green light or a circle with a line through it, for example, you know what it means. Likewise, Masons use metaphors from geometry and the architecture of stonemasonry to inform their continuing pursuit of knowledge, ethics, and leadership skills.
To reflect their heritage, Masons wear aprons while in lodge, at certain public events, and at funerals to demonstrate their pride in the fraternity, and their lineage from stonemasons, who historically carried their tools in leather aprons. The square and compasses are the most widely known symbol of Masonry: When you see the symbol on a building, you know that Masons meet there.
The exact origins of Freemasonry remain lost in time. The order is thought to have arisen from the English and Scottish guilds of practicing stonemasons and cathedral builders in the Middle Ages. Certain Masonic documents actually trace the sciences of geometry and masonry to the time of ancient Egypt and the building of King Solomon's Temple.
The formation of the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717 marks the beginning of the Modern (or “Speculative”) era of Freemasonry, when members were no longer limited to actual working stonemasons. These “Accepted” Masons adopted more enlightened philosophies, and turned what was a tradesmen’s organization into a fraternity for moral edification, intellectual recitation, benevolent service, and gentlemanly socialization.
Part of the mystique of Freemasonry can be attributed to speculation about its roots. Over the years, historians have never been able to conclusively determine exactly when, where, how, and why Freemasonry was formed.
The cost of becoming a Freemason varies from lodge to lodge. The fees associated with membership include a one-time initiation fee and annual dues, which cover the operational expenses of the lodge. Contact your local lodge to find out the exact costs.