What Are The Masons?

The Freemasons are one of the most widely known and mysterious organisations in the world, because of their love of symbolism of the past and tradition, many conspiracy theories have sprung up about them.

However, the truth is fairly simple; the Freemasons are a philanthropic fraternity with an estimated membership of 6 million worldwide. While they were once a guild of stone masons, the organisation now mainly works to better their local area through fundraising and awareness activities. Their most basic purpose is to make "better men out of good men".

The fraternity is hundreds of years old, with the earliest reference to them being made somewhere between 1390 and 1425 in the Regius Poem. The first Grand Lodge was founded in London in June 1717 and started the first real modern surge into the public consciousness

What is Masonic Regalia?

Freemasons place a lot of emphasis on symbolism and ritual, and as such, everything, from communication, to activities and clothing holds great meaning.

Masonic Regalia are items of clothing or accessories that Masons wear, always when attending a meeting, and sometimes in public during special events. This regalia is very important in Masonry, as not only does everything a person wears hold symbolism, but also denotes a person's rank within the organisation and their role.

There is a large amount of this regalia, and not all of it is worn all the time, some is used for private functions, other for public, some are used during official business, and some cannot be worn on unofficial business. Another aspect of Freemasonry is there is some freedom for a lodge to create, or adapt it's own rituals and regalia in small ways in order to make more sense to its members.

The best way to think of this regalia is to put them into two categories; those that are used by the lodge organisation as a whole, and those that are used only by individual members.

Important Lodge Regalia

Here is a brief list of the lodge regalia and a short description of their symbolism:

  • 'Sacred Texts', these will be books of belief such as the Bible, the Quran, Talmud and others that their members may believe in. This represents one of the highest ideals of Freemasons; the belief in a Supreme Being.
  • 'The Master's Gavel', this is held by the Master of the Lodge as both a symbol of their leadership and authority over the Lodge and their ability to make decisions during meetings.
  • 'The Masonic Hoodwink', this is a blindfold used for initiates. The symbolism of this is that the initiate isn't yet ready to gaze on the knowledge possessed by those already members of the Lodge. It is also related to Saint John's Gospel I,5
  • 'The Tiler's Sword', which is the implement and emblem of the Tiler's office. In Medieval times, before entering the lodge, Masons would have to leave their swords with the Tiler as a symbol of leaving all violence outside. In modern times it holds the symbolism of this history, and that of chivalry, as well as duality of both violence and defense.
  • Masonic Lodge Jewels, Officer Aprons and Candidate's Clothing, these are usually items held by the lodge itself to donate rank and standing within the organisation.
Each piece of the ranked clothing and accessories hold their own symbolism too, and the deeper you look into this symbolism, the more information you find. In fact, one of the initiation requirements is to learn all of this symbolism, which can take many months, so we won't go much deeper than this in this article! Either way, this piece has given you some knowledge of the Freemasons and what they believe in and taken away some of their mystery!