(Regulations regarding membership may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction around the world.)
To Become a Freemason You Must:
- Be a man, freeborn, of mature age, of good repute, and well-recommended
- Have a belief in a Supreme Being
- Be able to support one’s self and family
- Come to Freemasonry of your “own free will and accord”
The applicant must be a man (Freemasonry is a fraternal organization) and be at least 21 years of age. He must be of good moral character and demonstrate responsibility in his family and work. To join a Lodge, a man needs to be sponsored by two Masons who belong to that Lodge.
“Belief in a Supreme Being”
Freemasonry does not demand belief in the God of a particular religion — but demands a belief in a Supreme Being. Freemasonry strongly discourages any discussion of religious issues or politics while in Lodge. These are personal topics, and topics that tend to create disharmony — which is antithetical to the culture of ‘Brotherhood’ that Freemasonry seeks to promote.
“Be Able to Support One’s Self and Family”
The applicant should be financially able to become (and remain) a Mason without it being a burden to himself or to his family.
“Come to Freemasonry of Your Own Free Will and Accord”
Freemasonry does not ‘invite’ men to become Masons! Solicitation of members is, in fact, strictly prohibited.
Which Lodge Should I Join?
In addition to the criteria above, there are options with respect to which Lodge you join: Ivanhoe #142 meets on the first and third Thursdays each month (except for July and August).
Joining Ivanhoe Lodge…
Financial Considerations. Fees can vary from Lodge to Lodge. Lodge fees are levied according to the following disbursements: Grand Lodge Assessment, Building Assessments (covering the costs of the Lodge’s building costs), and the Lodge Assessment (covering the operating expenses for the Lodge itself). Ivanhoe Lodge’s annual fee is $250 and is $165 for out of province members and $200 for brethren over 65.
The Information. If you do not know any Ivanhoe members, you can contact our Senior Warden to arrange an initial meeting. He or other members will meet with you casually to discuss your intentions, answer questions, and set some initial expectations of you. You will then be invited to attend one of our social events and/or our post-meeting meal gatherings called ‘Festive Boards’ where you will be introduced to the members informally. We prefer if you attend a few of these gatherings, casual or not, to get to know the members better. If you still wish to proceed, inform a member who you deem would sponsor you for members and you may request or be given an official ‘Letter of Information’ which you need to sign if you wish to proceed.
The Petition. Once the Letter of Information is signed, the Secretary or your sponsor will send you an ‘Application Form’ or ‘Petition’, which needs to be completed by you and signed by two members of Ivanhoe Lodge.
The Investigation. The Secretary will then present your petition at a Lodge meeting. The Lodge Master appoints an “Investigation Committee” consisting of 2 or 3 members who will arrange to meet with you and your significant other. (Yes, you AND your wife or significant other!) Though we’re certainly a fraternal organization, we want to ensure that the prospective member’s spouse is ‘on-board’ and doesn’t have any fundamental objectives to the fraternity. Though called an “Investigation Committee”, this is really an informal get-together that allows you and your significant other to ask questions about the fraternity, and assure the Lodge that you are eligible to join and haven’t been invited or coerced to join. (They’ll make sure that you’re over the age of 21, ask if you believe in a ‘Supreme Being’, ask if you’re economically solvent, and find out why you want to join a Lodge.) It’s an opportunity for you and your significant other to meet a few more members of our Lodge, and ask some questions. Typically this meeting is held in your home at a time that is convenient for all concerned.
The Ballot. The next step is for the “Investigating Committee” to report their findings at the next Lodge meeting. In response to a positive report, a ballot is held at the same meeting. Given a positive ballot, the Master asks the Secretary to advise you of the same, and ask you to present yourself at the Lodge at a particular date and time.
The Initiation. This date / time is at the call of the Master and will be the date of your initiation into the fraternity, and into Ivanhoe Lodge, in particular. A member of Ivanhoe Lodge will contact you before your initiation to prepare you for it. You will be required to bring the remaining balance of your annual dues (prorated) to pay just prior to initiation. Preferred dress is a dark business suit. We would ask that you arrive at the Hall at least 30 minutes prior (7:00 PM) to the start of the meeting (7:30 PM) or if there is an early festive board (6:30 PM), you may enjoy a meal with the brethren in the downstairs banquet room.
After the lodge formally opens and you wait patiently, Brethren will then be assigned to retire from the lodge to prepare and conduct you through the ceremony. A typical degree ceremony will take one and a half to two hours to complete.
Once you are initiated, as you have already paid up your dues for the year, you are an Entered Apprentice Mason (EA) and a member of the lodge . (Note that is not always the case with American lodges, where full membership does not occur until one becomes a Master Mason.) As regular meetings are typically held in the 1st Degree, you can attend meetings and you are entitled to vote in all motions and nominations for office, but you cannot be nominated or appointed to hold an officer position as these require you to be a Master Mason to operate in all three degrees.
Preparing for Passing to the Degree of a Fellowcraft (2nd Degree): After your initiation, you will be given a Mentoring Guide with content and information pertaining to the 1st Degree and general membership. Therein contained there are portions of the 1st Degree that you will be required to memorize to the best of your ability and then recite in open lodge just prior to your 2nd Degree. These portions include a catechism of questions and answers and the obligation. Sometimes we have two Entered Apprentice brethren who will perform this together by alternating catechism answers and reciting the obligation in unison. You will be assigned a coach to help you through the memory work and protocols while a lodge is “at work”. You will be required to attend one or more degree practices (known in the UK as a Lodge of Instruction) to practice the work you have memorized. This practice typically occurs on the 2nd Thursday, a week before your next degree. The degree itself will not ask for any fees, and you are required to again dress in a dark business suit and arrive well before the meeting, particularly if you wish to go over and practice your work with your degree instruction coach again.
The timing of the next degree depends on your progress of the memory work and understanding of the degree. We will not force you to continue if you are not yet comfortable. There is no intention to embarrass or ridicule your effort or ability, however we do expect some sort of progress and commitment to completing the three degrees within a year’s time or less and attending meetings .
Preparing for Raising to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason (3rd Degree): Again, you will be given the next section of material for reading and the memorization work to recite prior to the degree.
“Prove-Up”. After the 3rd Degree, you will be given more material and memory work which you will recite in an open Master Masons’ lodge. You will then be presented with further material for your review and perusal on your own time.
How long will this take? Ivanhoe Lodge does not rush candidates through the three degrees. There can be anywhere from two or three months (or more) between each of the three degrees. However, if the candidate is ready to continue through the three degrees in consecutive months, or do to extraneous circumstances, he will be allowed to do so. Essentially the entire process of communicating your interest to join to becoming a Master Mason takes over a year.
[Original text: Bro. D. Wold, modified by Bro. M. Bayrak]