About Athol Lodge No.74
What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is among the oldest non-religious fraternal societies in the world. It is a society of men who are concerned with moral and spiritual values.
It encourages men to live better lives, to discipline themselves and to consider their relationships with others. Because it is a basic and essential requirement that every member professes and maintains a belief in a Supreme Being, it has a spiritual element. However, it is not a religion, nor should it ever be regarded as a substitute for any form of religious faith.
In fact, Freemasons are strictly forbidden to discuss matters of religion in the Masonic environment. The Bible (known by Freemasons as The Volume of the Sacred Law’) is always open when Lodges meet. Obligations are sworn on or involve the Volume of the Sacred Law or whichever holy book is held sacred by the man concerned.
Freemasons use four important guiding principles in life to help define their path through life.
Building good people:
Rather than working on buildings like the masons of old, today’s Freemasons focus on building themselves as people of integrity and membership provides the structure to help achieve that goal.
One of the oldest social organisations in the world, Freemasonry is not defined by an ideology. It is open to people of all religions and political persuasions and provides the common foundation for friendship between members, many of which will last for life.
With a membership of more than 200,000 people drawn from communities across the UK, Freemasonry brings people together irrespective of their race, religion or any other perceived differences that can divide us as a society.
Kindness and charitable giving are deeply ingrained within the principles of Freemasonry. The organisation provides support structure that helps members make positive contributions to communities and worthwhile causes through fundraising events or volunteer work.
Freemasonry is meant to be.
It is a society which has private methods of recognition i.e. of proving membership. These methods may have been derived from those used by operative stonemasons in the Middle Ages to protect the secrets of their craft. They are now similarly used to preserve Freemasonry’s method of teaching morality. All Freemasons are totally free to acknowledge their membership and are encouraged to do so when asked by someone whose reasons are genuine and not merely to denigrate Freemasonry. There is no secret about its aims and principles but, like many other societies – clubs, churches, the military etc.- it regards some of its internal affairs as being of no concern to other people. The meeting places of Freemasons are not secret – indeed some are open to the public.
Freemasons gain from Freemasonry only as much as they are prepared to put into it by way of commitment to the ideals mentioned above. Thereby, they experience a friendship which can only be felt from within the organisation and a spiritual and moral uplift which is very real but is hard to explain. You will however make lifelong friends throughout your membership of Freemasonry.
The first of the ‘Ancient Charges’ from the ‘Book of Constitutions’, states admirably what Freemasonry is meant to be.
What kind of men are Freemasons?
Men of all ages, race, colour, religion, political, financial or social standing. We have members who are part of our Royal family, professions, trades, skills, arts, sciences, businesses, manual occupations – both the employed, self-employed, the retired and sadly, in these days, the unemployed.
When admitted, a man becomes known as a ‘Brother’ and remains so for the rest of his Masonic career. It is also pointed out to candidates that in Freemasonry all Brethren are ‘on the level’.
Although financial standing is not a bar to becoming a Freemason, it must be appreciated that you should be able to afford the minimum obligations of membership (see ‘Finances’).
Conditions of Admission.
There are, however, certain pre-conditions of membership of any Masonic lodge.
1, You must believe in a Supreme Being.
2, You must be at least 21 years of age. (There are exceptions such as the son of a Freemason who has reached the full age of 18 years or a student entering under the UGLE Universities Scheme who also must be of the full age of 18 years.)
3, You must not engage in discussion on matters of religion or politics on Masonic occasions.
4, You must profess allegiance to the Sovereign of your country and all that the Sovereign represents.
5, You must be prepared to take an oath to preserve the private aspects of Freemasonry.
6, You must be willing to strictly observe the Laws, Regulations and Constitutions of Freemasonry.
7, You must be of good character and be prepared to uphold the Civil and Criminal Laws of any country in which you may reside, either temporarily or permanently.
8, You should have the full support of your partner, Family and your Job.
A Freemason’s duty to society as a citizen must always prevail over any obligation to other Freemasons. Freemasonry will severely censure and probably expel any Freemason who attempts to shield another Freemason who has acted dishonourably or unlawfully.
Freemasonry must never be allowed to harm a man’s family or other connections by taking too much of his time or his money or causing him to act in any other way against their interests.
If it is ever proved that a Freemason has gained an unfair advantage over another person because of his membership of the Order, then this is a serious matter and a view will be taken. Members must never use any sort of Masonic certificate or evidence of membership to advertise a business or other enterprise, nor use any sort of Masonic device or description on stationery etc.
Freemasonry is compatible with any form of occupation whatsoever, but all Freemasons must be careful not to compromise their living and the living of their dependants.
The principles of Freemasonry should, at all times, strengthen a man in fulfilling his public and private responsibilities.
What Happens on a Lodge Evening at Athol Lodge?
All of the masonic ceremonies and business of the lodge take place in the lodge room or Temple and, at Athol Lodge, we always have a tradition of reading the minutes of our lodge meetings 100 years ago, which are always very interesting listening and appreciating what our forefathers did at that time.
The formal meeting is always followed by the social part of the evening, the ‘after-proceedings’ often historically known as the ‘festive board’. This is held in the dining room at our beautiful and ancient buildings.
At the festive board members will enjoy a very convivial dinner with wine served at the table. Dinner is run on our ancient tradition during which toasts are given to the Queen and various members of the Order. There are a few (hopefully!) short speeches. Be sure to wear your Athol tie and a white handkerchief in your breast pocket, which is one of our ancient traditions. The festive board is also a lot of fun where members can enjoy the camaraderie and friendship of their colleagues and visitors alike.
Standards & Conduct.
All members of the lodge are expected to wear dark lounge suits, white shirts (or with only a subdued colour or pattern) together with the official Warwickshire tie, but in Athol Lodge we wear the official tie of the Association of Athol Lodges. Shoes and socks should ideally be black. White gloves are worn by all members during the Masonic meeting but not at dinner!
As well as for reasons of equality and uniformity the standard dress has a symbolic significance in Freemasonry.
Before every meeting each member of the lodge receives a printed ‘summons’ or ‘circular’, distributed by email, which requests his attendance and advises the date, time and business of the lodge. Members should try and attend on every occasion unless prevented by family, work, business commitments or other unforeseen circumstances.
Although Freemasonry has serious aims and important ideals to convey, most members also join to enjoy the camaraderie, the conversation and simply have some fun. This too is a vitally important part of Freemasonry.
While members are encouraged to enjoy good food and good wine, excesses must be avoided at all times. Freemasonry is not just another dining or drinking club.
You must be fully aware of the financial commitments you are expected to make. It cannot be stressed enough that at no time should your Masonic financial obligations be detrimental to the welfare of yourself, your family or those who depend upon you.
Like any other organisation, lodges and their administrative bodies have operating costs. These costs must be borne out of Initiation and Joining fees, as well as annual subscriptions.
All lodges pay a per capita fee for each member to Grand Lodge in London, the Grand Charity and to Provincial Grand Lodge for the purpose of administering Freemasonry and its charitable funds. In addition, the lodge also has to pay for the costs of its occupancy of the Masonic Hall and any other, such as printing etc.
The main item of income in any lodge is the Annual Subscription from all members.
When you first join Freemasonry at Athol Lodge, you will be required to pay your joining fees which covers the necessary dues and Annual Lodge Subscription, plus a further payment of approximately £23 (dependent on the chosen dinner menu) for the meal following the meeting. The initiation fees are derived from a standard charge for all UGLE lodges and will be explained to you when you progress your application. Please don’t worry about this aspect of your membership, the fees are very reasonable.
The only regular commitment in subsequent years will be your annual subscription which is payable in advance at the annual installation or by a monthly Bank Standing Order which most members do and which spreads the cost over a year.
At most meetings charitable collections are taken and you only be expected to contribute within your means.
No Freemason is ever expected to contribute any more than his circumstances in life may allow.
The charitable funds in Freemasonry are distributed to needy and distressed Freemasons, their families and dependants and also to a large variety of non-Masonic international, national and local charities such as Air Ambulance, Cancer Research, Scouts etc.
How do I apply to join?
Once you have considered what lodge membership entails, the calls on your time and finances and you wish to proceed, then you will meet informally with the Lodge Membership Officer, perhaps also your proposer and one or two other members of the lodge. At this first informal meeting this is your opportunity to ask any questions about freemasonry in general and Athol Lodge in particular.
After this first meeting, if you wish to continue with your application to join us you will be provided with a Registration Form for completion, first by you, and then it is passed to the Lodge Membership Officer. He will then discuss your application with the Lodge Secretary and other senior members of the lodge. No fees are payable until such time as you are admitted to the lodge.
What happens next?
The Lodge Membership Officer, followed by the Lodge Secretary, will scrutinise the Registration form. If satisfactory, you may be called upon by appointment to discuss your application at another informal meeting with the Lodge Membership Officer or another senior member of the lodge and you and they may raise any queries or issues which require clarification.
Thereafter, it is normal practice that you and your partner will be invited to any lodge social functions so that other members of the lodge and their partners can meet you in an informal setting. The last step would be another informal meeting with Past Masters and perhaps other members of the lodge, and, only if you wish, you may bring your partner, if any, to be part of these discussions so they are fully aware of the commitments you are entering into.
If you are happy to proceed and those brethren of the lodge that have met you feel that you will fit in with the lodge then you will be formally proposed at a meeting and every member of the lodge will be entitled to vote in a secret ballot at a lodge meeting as to whether you should be admitted as a member. If the ballot is satisfactory you will receive a communication from the Lodge Secretary to invite you to attend for your Initiation at a regular meeting of the lodge.
What will happen at my interviews/meetings?
You should have read this information thoroughly and be prepared to answer a few basic questions about yourself, your beliefs, your motives and intentions. You will also have been sent open source web links (See Page 2) to other areas of interest for aspiring freemasons.
All of the interviews will be informal and there is absolutely no pressure upon you, at any time, but the brethren must, however, be sure that you are a fit and proper person to be admitted. You will also have the opportunity to ask any question or raise any matter at any time which may be something you may not sure about.
What happens on the night I become a Freemason?
You should arrive in plenty of time, properly dressed as indicated above. You do not require your new Masonic apron at this meeting. An Officer of the lodge will attend to you and (as you might expect!) the Treasurer will come to obtain the Initiation Fee and Annual Subscription.
You will then pass through the ceremony of Initiation under the guidance of Officers of the Lodge. Rest assured that you will not be embarrassed in any way and will enjoy this unique experience. Every member of every lodge in the country, including members of the Royal family, will have been through the entire ceremony, as have all your colleagues at Athol Lodge who will be there to support you.
The Officers of the Lodge normally perform the entire ceremony from memory (and are expected to make a good job of it!) so it is probably true to say that they will be even more nervous than you!
After the ceremony, at the Festive Board, there will be a toast to your health and future and you will be expected to give a very brief reply to this. Speaking in public is never easy (as many of us will testify) but your Proposer and/or Seconder will give you help with what to say.
This is a very special night for you – one you will always want to remember, so enjoy it to the full.
Once you become a Freemason you may be invited by friends within the lodge or from other brethren visiting us, to visit their lodges, a tradition which is an integral part of the camaraderie and fun of freemasonry.
A number of social functions will be organised by the lodge throughout the year where we encourage brethren to invite their family and friends.
In Athol Lodge we may also have fraternal visits to other local lodges, and occasionally further afield.
More about your application?
If you want to know anything further please do not hesitate to ask your Proposer or Seconder, or any member of the lodge or any Freemason of your acquaintance.
Further Masonic studies.
Once you have passed through the three-degree ceremonies of Freemasonry and have become a Master Mason, you may wish to further your Masonic knowledge, such as membership of the Holy Royal Arch which is the next step in your masonic journey.
Subscribe to the UGLE magazine, ‘Freemasonry Today’. The new Solomon website from the UGLE will help you in your quest for masonic knowledge and is well worth reading.
Links & Disclaimer.
We do not guarantee that websites accessed via links on this page are either Masonic in nature or have been approved or endorsed by the United Grand Lodge of England. We specifically do not warrant that any other websites accessible from their pages are recognised by, or have the approval of, the United Grand Lodge of England.
Useful links to freemasonry in general, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Warwickshire, the Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) the Masonic Charitable Foundation are shown below.
The United Grand Lodge of England
The Provincial Grand Lodge of Warwickshire
The Masonic Charitable Foundation
The Universities Scheme – see subsection below for more infomation regarding University & Freemasonry.
Now that you have learnt something of what Freemasonry is all about and its expectations, we hope that you feel you would still like to share our fellowship. However, it is essential that you look carefully and honestly at yourself, your family, your occupation and all your circumstances in life and ask these questions:
1. Do I want to be part of a well-organised society that reaches across the whole world; an Order inspired with high motives assisting all its members to be better men?
2. Is Freemasonry really what I’m looking for to assist in improving myself as a person, as a citizen and as a ‘Brother’ to other men ?
3. Do I want to experience a whole new sphere in my social life and that of my family – a social life which can bring much fun, enjoyment and satisfaction.
4. Can I make a commitment to the time, the finances and the principles involved without harming my family or connections?
5, Do I, and my dependants, see Freemasonry as being part of our lives for the foreseeable future?
If you are sure you can answer ‘YES’ to all the questions, ask your Proposer and / or Seconder to progress matters for you and we look forward to seeing you in Athol Lodge no74 in due course.
Remember, as a Freemason, you will never be alone and if you are unsure about anything during your journey through Freemasonry just ask.
The first of the Antient Charges from the Book of Constitutions.
The Charges of a FREE-MASON
1. Concerning GOD and RELIGION
A MASON is obliged, by his tenure, to obey the moral law; and if he rightly understands the art, he will never be a stupid atheist nor an irreligious libertine. He, of all men, should best understand that God seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh at the outward appearance, but God looketh to the heart.
A mason is, therefore, particularly bound never to act against the dictates of his conscience. Let a man’s religion or mode of worship be what it may, he is not excluded from the order, provided he believes in the glorious architect of heaven and earth, and practise the sacred duties of morality.
Masons unite with the virtuous of every persuasion in the firm and pleasing bond of fraternal love; they are taught to view the errors of mankind with compassion, and to strive, by the purity of their own conduct, to demonstrate the superior excellence of the faith they may profess. Thus, masonry is the centre of union between good men and true, and the happy means of conciliating friendship amongst those who must otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance.