Orinda Lodge № 122 F&AM

9 Altarinda Road
Orinda, CA 94563
1.1 What is Freemasonry?

Freemasonry (or simply, Masonry) is a fraternal order whose basic tenets are brotherly love, relief (philanthropy), and the quest for philosophical truth.

While there probably are some actual stone-workers who are Masons, Masonry does not teach its membership the literal techniques of stonework. Rather, it takes the actual "operative" work of Medieval Masons and uses it as an allegory for moral development. Thus, the symbols of Masonry are the common tools that were used by medieval stonemasons: the gavel, the rule, the compass, the square, the level, etc. Each of these has a symbolic meaning in Masonry. For example, Masons are said to meet "on the level," meaning that all Masons are brothers, regardless of social status, personal wealth, or office within the Lodge or in the world at large. Similar symbolism exists for other tools, and multiple levels of symbolism have been suggested. Masons affectionately and symbolically refer to their work as "The Craft."

Masonry is distinguished from other fraternal orders by its emphasis on moral character, its ornate rituals, and its long tradition and history, which dates back to at least the 17th century in modern form. Freemasonry has a "paper trail" going back to the 14th century, and the concepts it espouses, and the lessons it aims to confer are older still.

1.2 What is the Scottish Rite?

The Scottish Rite is an appendant body of Masonry, meaning that it is not part of the Blue Lodge per se, but closely associated with Masonry. Although the Scottish Rite possesses its own version of the first three degrees, in the United States these are usually not conferred (although they are done in several states, under the authority of the York Rite Grand Lodges). The Scottish Rite Supreme Councils confer the 4th through 32nd degrees. The degree work may be, but is not necessarily, completed at one time. Any Master Mason is eligible to join the Scottish Rite. The degrees of the Scottish Rite continue the symbolism of the first three Masonic degrees. For a discussion of the 33°, see section 1.11.

The above refers to the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite (AASR), not the Rectified Scottish Rite (Régime Ecossais et Rectifié), which exists both in UGLE-recognized and non-recognized Masonic bodies in the Europe.

1.3 What is the York Rite?

The York Rite of Freemasonry includes a number of degrees that are available to Master Masons in good standing: the Mark Master, Most Excellent Master, and Royal Arch Mason; the Cryptic Degrees of the Royal Master, Select Master, and Super Excellent Master; and the Chivalric Orders of the Order of the Red Cross, Order of the Knights of Malta and the Order of Knights Templar. The oldest and most important of these is the Holy Royal Arch degree, which is traditionally considered part of the Master Mason degree, and its true conclusion.

1.5 What is the Eastern Star?

The Order of the Eastern Star is an adoptive rite of Freemasonry with teachings based on the Bible and objectives that are charitable and benevolent. The founder of OES may have been Dr. Robert Morris, a lawyer and educator from Boston, Massachusetts, who was a Master Mason and Past Grand Master of Kentucky. He became associated with Robert Macoy who wrote and published a ritual based on Morris' in 1867. (There is evidence for an organization of the same name founded variously in 1788 or 1793.) Local chapters operate under charter from state level Grand Chapters which are responsible to the General Grand Chapter at the International Eastern Star Temple in Washington, D.C.

Members must be eighteen years or older and either Master Masons in good standing or properly related to a Master Mason in good standing. The latter category includes wives, widows, sisters, daughters, mothers, granddaughters, step-mothers, step daughters, step-sisters, and half-sisters. In 1994 this was expanded to include nieces, daughters-in-law, and grandmothers. Each chapter retains the right to decide who shall be a member of the organization. Election to the degrees must be unanimous, without debate, and secret. The successful candidate must profess a belief in a Supreme Being and is initiated in five degrees, which are conferred in one ceremony. When Eastern Star was created, it was intended to be the first of a three degree series. The second and thi°s were Queen of the South and the Order of the Amaranth, respectively. These other two bodies exist but in much smaller numbers, and currently function as seperate ritual systems which do not work in sequence.

Diablo Star Chapter № 214 meets monthly at the Orinda Masonic Temple.

1.8 What are some other Masonic organizations?

Order of Amaranth: Open to Masons and their wives, mothers, daughters, widows, and sisters. At least one Master Mason must be present at every initiation. It confers only one degree. Originally, it was planned at the conclusion of a three-tiered American Adoptive Rite: 1). The Order of the Eastern Star, 2) Queen of the South, 3) Amaranth.

The Masonic Society: A group for Masons interested in Masonic philosophy and history.

Royal Order of Scotland: An Invitational Masonic organization for 32° Masons or Knights Templar with at least five years in the Fraternity and distinguished service in Masonic, church, or civic activities.

Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatus: An invitational organization for brethren interested in Hermeticism and esotericism. The local group is called Golden State College.

1.9 What is a Traditional Observance Lodge?

Certain lodges in North America now refer to thTraditional Observance." This means that they emphasize the time-honored initiatic path offered by Masonic ritual. This emphasis is demonstrated typically by a slower time between degree conferrals, a vigorous program of Masonic education, and a strict adherence to a level of formality appropriate to the Craft's importance.

1.10 What is a European Concept Lodge?

European Concept lodges were pioneered in the 1990s both in the United Stats and Australia. These lodges differ by means of a higher dues structure, stricter dress code, and formal festive boards. The term "European Concept" is somewhat regrettable, as this format exists all over the world, and it is not terribly unlike the Masonry found in the early days in America.

1.11 What is a 33° Mason?

This is the highest degree within the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (AASR). The Sovereign Grand Commander and other members of the Supreme Council of each Scottish Rite jurisdiction hold this degree. The Scottish Rite awards the 33° to those it feels have made outstanding contributions to Masonry, the community as a whole, and to mankind. It is a singular honor, rarely bestowed, and greatly admired.

The 33° applies to the AASR alone, and holds no bearing in Craft Lodges or other York Rite bodies. The popular misconception that 33° Masons control the Fraternity is untrue.

1.12 Who is the head of the Masons?

No one. Each Grand Lodge has its own jurisdiction and is the supreme authority within that jurisdiction. Obviously, many Grand Lodges have regular communication with each other, but official policy in one has no effect in another. In some countries, there is one Grand Lodge for the whole nation. In the United States, each state has its own Grand Lodge. Individual lodges are governed by a Master, who is elected each year from the membership.

The best answer to this question, really, is that each individual Mason is in charge of himself. Despite the formal, hierarchical structure of the Lodge, our ceremonies remind us constantly that the only thing that makes a man a Mason is his demeanor and behavior... not his position in the Lodge.

1.13 Are there dues or fees associated with being a Mason?

Yes. There is a one-time fee for the three degrees of Masonry, as well as regular annual dues. These fees vary, and are established by each Lodge independently.

1.14 What is a Masonic apron?

The special ritual garment worn by Freemasons is a white leather apron. At the most basic level, it symbolizes innocence and rectitude.

1.15 What is a Masonic funeral?

Any member who was in good standing at the time of his death is entitled to a Masonic funeral if he or his family requests it. Such a request should be made to the Master of his Lodge who will make the necessary arrangements with the family, the mortuary, and the minister. Pallbearers will be furnished at the request of the family. In general, the Lodge will do as much or as little as the nearest relative wishes.