A masonic initiation. Paris, 1745. Courtesy/wikipedia
ALBUQUERQUE – Freemasons across New Mexico will open the doors of their lodges Saturday to anyone who wants to see what is inside.
With most of the state’s 55 lodges participating in this open house event, the Freemasons invite everyone to come inside, meet the members, and ask all the questions you want.
In Los Alamos, Pajarito Lodge 66 will open its doors 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 1400 Sage Loop at 15th Street and Canyon Road.
The oldest fraternal organization in the world, Freemasons trace their traditional roots to the architect and craftsmen who built the Temple of King Solomon some 3,000 years ago. The ‘modern’ era of Freemasons began about the 12th Century with the stonemasons who built the great cathedrals of Europe. These artisans gathered themselves into lodges where apprentices were taught their craft by master masons and, in time, progressed through the skill-levels until they themselves earned the right to masters’ wages.
The Freemasons of today grew out of the June 24, 1717 founding by four existing London lodges of what is now called the Grand Lodge of England. There are now more than 5 million Masons around the world, about 2 million here in the United States. There are many so-called appendent Masonic organizations. The Shriners are frequently seen wearing their red fez, driving funny miniature cars or lovingly restored Model A’s and T’s in parades across America. The Pipe and Drum bands of the Scottish Rite, in their kilts and tams, are also familiar to us. York Rite Masons are easily identified by their distinctive plumed hats and elegant black uniforms.
There are also many appendant organizations for women, and for young girls and boys. Organizations such as the Order of the Eastern Star, Amaranth, Rainbow, DeMolay, just to mention a few of very many. There are, in fact, appendant organizations in Freemasonry for just about every person regardless of sex, age, or particular interest.
The one common thread running through all of these, and a great many other Masonic organizations is their dedicated service to their communities through charitable works. From the well-known Shriners hospitals, to huge numbers of eye and speech clinics sponsored by Scottish Rite, to thousands of smaller projects in almost every American community, large and small. Individual Freemasons give tens of thousands of hours to help those in need or distress, and collectively spend about $2 million every day on these works.
Unlike nearly every other organization involved in charitable and other good work, the Freemasons never ask the public for a single penny, nor receive any funds from federal, state, or local government. If you are a Mason, you needn’t worry about being constantly asked to reach into your own pocket, Freemasonry doesn’t do that either.
The local lodge pancake breakfast is famous in cities and towns all over America, and they raise many thousands of dollars to support the non-profit organizations in their communities — school band uniforms, field trips, books, and tablet computers, they all find a measure of funding through the Freemasons.
Your father or grandfather may have been a Freemason, a York or Scottish Rite Mason, a Shriner. You may even have his old ring, with its square and compasses device, or his well-worn Fez, or his black, red or white pillbox-style Scottish Rite hat, his white-plumed cocked hat of the York Rite. You probably haven’t given these things much thought. After all, they belonged to an old man who had been a member of a ‘secret’ organization, right? Well, no, that is not quite right.
While Freemasonry does have some secrets, as does every organization from the Boy Scouts to General Motors, it can hardly be called ‘secret’ when every lodge has a sign outside its doors and another sign at the entry of almost every community, large or small. No, certainly not a secret organization no matter how you look at it.
So who are the Freemasons? Well, they are your neighbor, your co-worker, your local teacher, police officer, post office worker, delivery-truck driver. Masons are your plumber, electrician, physician, auto mechanic. Masonic women are your surgeon, teacher, supermarket cashier, school-bus driver. The men and women of Freemasonry come from all occupations, all levels of education and financial ability. Masons drive beat-up old pickup trucks; chrome tricked-out motorcycles, and shiny new family cars. Masons are old and gray-haired men who wear a tie every day; family men and women, raising young children or putting their kids through college; they are young men, with long hair and tattoos!
Want to know everything? Visit your local lodge on March 7, get to know these Masons who are your neighbors, ask for an application and become a member of a worldwide organization dedicated to friendship, charity and community!
For more information, contact your local Masonic lodge or go to www.nmmasons.org.