What Freemasonry is NOT
Contrary to uninformed comment, Freemasonry is not a secret society, but, like other well respected philosophies, has levels of competency in its practises, that are recognised by the attainment of suitable degrees. These are acknowledged throughout the world, wherever Freemasonry exists, and, today, are a measure of the level of an individual’s integrity.
Its origin goes back to the Middle Ages and earlier, to those craftsmen who, while illiterate, had special knowledge of geometry, arithmetic and the engineering skills to enable the construction of castles, fortresses and cathedrals, some hundreds of feet high.
You will readily understand, then, the importance of establishing the degree of competency of an unknown, visiting, Mason, and in those days the method of proving these abilities was held secret for obvious reasons. If you were on such a scaffolding, you'd like to be sure that the stone foundations underneath you were constructed by a suitably qualified mason, wouldn't you? Today, the production of a diploma or similar, from a recognised authority, in any particular field of study, is accepted commercial and industry practise.
Visiting Masons were provided with lodgings or living quarters, on building sites and where this was a Cathedral, for example, these quarters, or meeting places, became, rather loosely, referred to as Masonic Lodges or Temples, as a means of location – meaning that the Mason's living quarters, or meeting places, were situated on the Cathedral building site. The word “Temple" is a misnomer as no religious practises either were or are, carried out in a Lodge but a belief in a Supreme Being is essential – how this is exercised is for the individual to decide and is not of interest.
So much for a “Secret Society” and “Temples”.
Bro. Robert Rowe