Probably the most common email I receive is something along the lines of, “My boyfriend just became a Mason. What do I need to know? What do I need to do?” Looking back, that is a question that I have yet to really address. Hopefully I can shine some light on what you need to know when you or a loved one becomes a Mason, or even when they are just researching joining.
Take a Deep Breath and Start Reading
Probably one of the worse things about Masonry is the amount of information that is out there. This is also one of its greatest assets. The issue here is figuring out what information is correct, and which is not. When starting out your research, you will want to stick to reputable sources. Sometimes, even this can be hard. It’s not illegal for someone to call themselves a Mason or a brother, but it is pretty rude. This of course, happens most every day, regardless. There is a ton, and I mean a ton of websites, forums, books, YouTube channels, Netflix shows, magazines, etc., that relate to Freemasonry. If you can’t afford to purchase the books, there is a good chance that your local Lodge may have a copy they are able to loan you. Doing this will also help ensure that you aren’t reading a book written by a 99th level Mason who encourages everyone to wear their tin foil hats. Another issue with information about Masons is the amount of sensationalism that tends to happen. For instance, the Netflix program The Truth Behind: The Freemasons, is kind of a joke in our house. They make a huge deal about “the Masons sharing their secrets” and “never before seen footage of what actually goes on”. The truth is, what they show is parts of a Grand Lodge installation, done in full costume. Installations are generally public. Anyone reading this could go right now. Infact, you can even go to Youtube and watch an installation (It’s right here). So, be sure to take anything you read about Masons with a grain of salt.
These are, what I’ve found, some of the best resources for someone new to the Masonic Community:
- Freemasonry for Dummies by Bro. Hodapp – I cannot stress enough about this book. I know I’ve talked a lot about it before, but it is that important. Everyone, even 50 year Masons, should own this book. It is the best book to lay yourfoundation of Masonic knowledge on. Also, it’s only $16. Go buy it, right now.
- The Newly Made Mason: Everything he and every Mason should know about Masonry by H.L. Haywood – Not just for Masons! I’ve not read a lot of this book, just had a chance to flip through a few times. I do know that this is often the book given when a Mason is raised to Master Mason.
- The Masonic Lodge of Education– There’s more than meets the eye for this website. Often when I am doing reseach, they will have the a small amount of information about a fairly obscure topic. (Just don’t waste your money on the Masonic Wife e-book they keep talking about, believe me.
- The Iowa Masonic Library– Did you know that Mason’s have their own library? It’s even in Iowa. The importance ofthis is that they actually will lend books to you, through the mail!
- Masonic Magazines– There are a few out there, but Freemasonry Today tends to be the most popular.
- Masonic Podcasts– made by Masons for Masons.The Mason’s Lady was featured on an episode of Whence Came You?
- /r/Freemasonry– If you don’t know about Reddit, and even if you do, you should check out this sub reddit. Everyone there is always happy to answer your questions, or at least point you in the right direction.
- Other Masonic Blogs– Ashlars and Ashes, an RSS site of many known and active blogs
- Your local Lodge, and Grand Lodge (more on that in a bit).
Find Your Local Masonic Community
One of the most important things you can do when starting down the Masonic path, is research where Masons are in your area. Masonic groups are split into two levels of governing. The top level, is the jurisdiction or state that you live in. This is referred to as the Grand Lodge. These are the guys that make sure everyone is enforcing the bylaws of your state, and usually plan the bigger events and fundraisers. If you have trouble finding a Lodge in your area, I would recommend sending a letter to your Grand Lodge. You can find a list of US Grand Lodges and their websites here. The bottom level are the Lodges themselves. Each Lodge is self-governing, but must be sure that it follows all of the rules and bylaws set up by the state, as well as their own.
There are a couple of ways to find a local Lodge. A Grand Lodge website will have all of their Lodges listed with contact information. Another option would be, of course, to Google your town and Masonic Lodge. In larger cities however, you may have quite a few to choose from. I live in a large metropolitan city in the Midwest, and there are over 10 Lodges to choose from. If you have options, go and check it out. Often Lodges will have dinner before their meeting. You are welcome to come, and your SO as well. Find a Lodge that has the most people that you could see yourself spending time with and making firneds.
This might seem a little counterintuitive, but consider also contacting the organizations that you or your SO are not eligible, such as Scottish Rite, or the Shrine. This isn’t necessarily because you want to join, but because out side of the Lodge, these tend to be the organizations with the most social events. Consider attending some, or even volunteering your time. This will help you get in touch with the greater Masonic community outside of your Lodge. Another important reason to get in touch with these organizations, is that often one or more of them will help run or coordinate a local Masonic calendar. This should let you in on all the fun stuff- cookouts, dinners, raffles, scotch tastings…I think you get the idea.
I’ve probably said this a million times, and I will probably say it a million more. Masonry is what you put into it. If you want to be the crazy people that go to an event every night, or if you as a SO aren’t interested in it at all, or something in between, that is fine. There are always seemingly endless Masonic events and opportunities out there. If you don’t think it’s for you, but you are okay with your SO joining, that’s fine too, no one will fault you for it. If you get bummed out that you can’t join (like myself), get involved in other ways. Help cook meals, run events, or fundraise. There will always be something out there that you enjoy that you can help better Masonry. You can help better yourself as well. There are a number of official and unofficial female only Masonic organizations out there. Do some googling, find out what is available in your area. Enjoy yourself. On the other hand, there’s always something to be said about a night alone.
More The Mason’s Lady posts that can help a new Mason and/or their SO.
I hope that kind of helps lay groundwork for the things you will want to look into when you or your SO are starting a Masonic journey. As always, still feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. You may have noted that a few things got changed around as far as the layout. I ended up catergorizing all of the posts, and then each catergory can be visited by using the menu at the top. The tag cloud and search bar have been moved to the bottom of the page. Hopefully this will help make the site a bit easier to navigate.