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Freemasonry is often described by those outside the Fraternity as ‘a secret organisation’ whereas in fact it could be better described as ‘an organisation with some secrets’. However, most of the contents of the ceremonies are available to all members of the public through books and other publication media for sale and in libraries and by searches on the internet. The key secrets involve means of recognition of members and their relevant status or progress through the three degrees or stages of instruction.

Many other organisations have secrets. A meeting of the Board of Directors in a firm may have sensitive material which is kept from other personnel in the same firm. Any firm in a competitive industry may have strategic information which is kept from other firms in that industry. Any high level meeting of government officials in one nation may have information which is kept from those in other nations. And did you know that Scouts shake hands with the left hand?

Freemasonry can truly be described as an organisation which chooses to accept men with good principles and endeavours to continually enhance their understanding and practice of good principles in life through instruction by analogy. The analogy used is that of the guild of ancient and mediaeval stone masons who were the key building trade workmen responsible for the planning, organising and construction of all permanent ancient and mediaeval buildings, such as cathedrals, castles, forts, palaces, temples, monuments, even the pyramids, etc.

The various architectural structures, tools, clothing, attitudes and customs of the stone masons, all of which had practical or operational uses, are used in Freemasonry as symbols of moral significance, to teach good life lessons to members. For example, the builder’s level, which every home handyman possesses, is designed to prove floors, etc of buildings are truly horizontal (an important attribute of any building to assist in achieving stability). In Freemasonry it is used as an emblem of equality among Freemasons (all are on the same level), indicating that, no matter what function/role/job/etc one has in life, as Freemasons they are all equal and meet as brothers. They are encouraged to apply this approach wherever possible – to neighbours, work colleagues, etc.

Analogy is used in other organisations which endeavour to develop good citizens in adult life, including the two youth organisations – the Scouting Association for boys and girls and the Guide Association for girls. In the Cub section of the Scouting Association, children aged 8-11 learn the principles of good living through analogy of acting the part of the human orphan adopted and brought up under the wolf pack laws by a she wolf in the Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. In the Scout section, the analogy used is that of the scouts in the army, where they learn life skills through pioneering efforts. In the Brownies section of the Guide Association the young girls are like fairies in the forest being coached by the wise old owl.

For those who may ask why Freemasonry only accepts adult men as members, it is useful to explain that there are several other Orders associated with Freemasonry which accept adult women, boys and girls. These include:

  • Order of the Eastern Star – Adult women and men, with women in key roles
  • Order of the Amaranth – Adult women and men, with women in key roles
  • Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem – Adult women and men, women in key roles
  • Order of DeMolay – Boys from 12 to young men at about 22
  • Order of Job’s Daughters – Girls from 10 to young women at 20
  • Order of the Rainbow for Girls – Girls from 10 to young women at 20