In most area
s of the world Mason
s gather together in Blue Lodge
s to "work
" the three degree
s of Freemasonry
This was probably the structure of the earliest lodges in Britain
, which is the original home of Freemasonry. Lodges are bound together in national groups, usually called Grand
Lodges. In the United States
there is a Grand Lodge for each state. In Britain the Grand Lodge regulates blue lodges of the entire country and Ireland
. In other parts of the world the Blue Lodge is part of a greater system of degrees, called the Scottish Rite Freemasonry
. Any Blue Lodge must hold a charter from some supreme body, like a Grand Lodge, or it is considered irregular
There are several sets of ancient landmark
s that indicate that the lodge is regular. Among the most important:
- The modes of recognition are to be kept inviolate. They consist of covert gestures made with the hands, called signs, distinctive ways of shaking hands, called grips and tokens, and special identifying words, most often based on Hebrew words of the Old Testament. Variations have crept in over time and often the modes of recognition will mark a Mason as coming from a specific jurisdiction.
- Symbolic Freemasonry, as it is called in a blue lodge, is divided into the three degrees mentioned above. In Britain the degree of Royal Arch Mason has been added to facilitate the union with an "antient" grand lodge back in 1813. The original grand lodge, however, was formed much earlier in 1717.
- The legend of the 3rd degree, involving the building of King Solomon's Temple, is an integral part of Blue Lodge Masonry.
- The government of Blue Lodges in an area, usually geographic, is in the hands of a Grand Lodge, specifically the Grand Master, who rules autocratically. He may attend any meeting any where at any time and may conduct the lodge at his pleasure.
- A lodge must be governed by a Master, variously styled Worshipful or Right Worshipful Master, and two other officers called the Senior and Junior Warden.
- All lodges when "at work" must be tiled, that is the door is guarded so that no non-Mason may enter or overhear the proceedings.
There are other landmarks, but none I believe are as important as these.