Freemasonry exists throughout the world. However, each Grand Lodge or Grand Orient is sovereign and independent. There is no international governing body for Freemasonry. Traditionally the United Grand Lodge of England had some sort of symbolical authority over deist Freemasonry. This situation has changed and today are so much ‘regular’ Grand Lodges not recognized by the UGLE as recognized. A good example is the United States as only 30 of their state Grand Lodges are recognised by UGLE. This fact does not make them irregular but simply not recognised. The same happens with the countries, that are recognised by some and not by others. A good example is Israel that is not by 32 United Nations member states.
Masonic symbology was used in past centuries, not due as much to Masonic secrecy, (as many people believe), but due to the fact that most of the world’s population was illiterate.
During the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, and through subsequent centuries, most of the population, being working people, were illiterate or had only a rudimentary (basic) ability to sign their names, make their “mark” to signify their acceptance, or read simple words.
During the Middle Ages, many Lords (wealthy landowners) could read (and some could not), but the Serfs (working class people), almost as a whole, had never been taught to read.
During the Dark Ages and extending throughout the Middle Ages, there was a loss of classical learning due to the many wars, bloodshed and unrest in which most of the old hand-printed scrolls, papyrus paper, books and records were burned by the opposing forces much like King Solomon’s temple was dismantled and carried off, never to return.
Illiteracy did not make these Masons stupid or lesser operative Masons in the craft. They were simply working people, taking care of their families, who, by necessity, had to begin working at a very early age usually from dawn until dusk, 6 days a week and did not have the time nor the teachers to avail themselves of the ability to learn to read or of any higher education.
Initially, Masonry was considered operative, i.e. was dedicated to the manual work. Later it concentrated in improving the knowledge through an intellectual approach, becoming the symbolical or speculative freemasonry. Finally, masonry re-centred in the intellectual and it became called philosophical.
According to the ability of every worker, inside his art, the Operative Masonry was divided in degrees. Presently, fulfilled the symbolical phase of the three first degrees, other degrees came into place, according to each rite, and can extend through seven or ninety nine degrees.
There are initiated degrees and communication degrees in Freemasonry.
The university was the outcome of the first corporations and to reach the top of instruction, the ‘student’ needed to go through several trainees, always in progression. This is called the degree.
Since the Initiation, the initiated becomes a plentiful mason, but with the systematic progress and the accumulation of knowledge, the worker cling the stairway of the degrees until he reaches ‘ the vertex of the pyramid’. He becomes the Master of Masters.
Even in the condition of Entered Apprentice, the Freemason should aspire to elevate himself and with zeal and perseverance, evolve along the rite until he acquire the maximum knowledge and being well-positioned in the mastery to become the Master of his Brethren.
We have passed through the solstice of summer that had in ancient times a magic significance symbolizing the blooming of flowers and the time of harvest. It was for the Celts one the most auspices times of the year and was celebrated in collective happenings and feasts that happened in the long and warm nights of Summer. For the Masons simbolizes the founding of Speculative Freemasonry as it was in the night of Saint John the Baptist that three English lodges decided to unite and found the Grand Lodge of London and Greenwich. It was the cement of what will become a movement of federalization of Lodges, across the world. It is also significant because the date shows that the efforts done in the hard days and nights of teh winter are rewarded and a stronger Light will shine. Freemasonry is a way, a path, a promise of new beginnings, the death of the old ways. The force of Freemasonry reside within the Lodges and within the circle of Brothers. The rest, the titles, the aprons, the collars, the medals, the bureaucracy, the officialdom are complements, not the essential. It is a human endeavour not a denomination. We are tempted to forget in the war of egos that sometimes occupies the center of masonic news and activities.
The GLNF and the GODF get together for the second time to exchange views in subjects that we Freemasons cherish much. It is an initiative heartily welcome. The deist and the liberal Freemasonries are simply two ways, usually divergent, to search the same goal – the perfection of man and human society. Regular Freemasonry has, somehow, closed itself in the last years within the ritualistic tradition, perpetuating ways to perform the Royal Art that had their “flagrance” before, but that is questioned today by the ageing of members, the closing of Temples and the difficulties to attract younger generations that find somewhere else the fascination that their forefathers found within Freemasonry. Liberal Freemasonry is growing in number of members and Lodges and is well aware of the new realities, such as feminine Freemasonry the and social causes; sometimes it looses its way and becomes the battleground of political biased struggles, and rough anticlericalism when Freemasonry is demanded to be proactively neutral and non-biased. This is a good opportunity to debate as they are [and we are all] Brothers, initiates and warriors of the Light. The other issues are just exhibitions of pride.