10 Things You Didn't Know About Freemasonry

10 Things You Didn't Know About Freemasonry

From a Masonically-affiliated teen

Freemasons. That's a name or title we hear quite a bit. Are they Illuminati? A cult? A secret society? As someone who has worked closely with the Freemasons — a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls — and has seen some things that many people haven't, I can tell you a little bit more about them.

1. Freemasons love charity work.
What? How could it be? How could a society of men behind closed doors love to do charity? These men are involved in so many things without getting recognition for them. The Shriner's Hospitals are run by Freemasons. Freemasons spend time and effort working for different charities as well as fundraising for them. On top of that, many masonic lodges sponsor local troops of boy scouts as well as host masonic youth organizations in their buildings. A big charity that many lodges work with is actually the American Red Cross!

2. Freemasons are goofballs.
Honestly! Masons may take things more seriously when it comes to running their businesses, but at their public events, they are fun people to be around. As a matter of fact, at nearly every Masonic "installation" I've been to, the outgoing Master, or leader, of the lodge gets "reintroduced" to his wife because he has been so busy taking care of lodge matters. I once received a bobble head of Benjamin Franklin from a lodge for helping them paint poles.

3. There are so many branches of Freemasonry.
As previously mentioned, Freemasons run the Shriner's Hospitals. That's because, in order to be a Shriner, you must first be a Master Mason. One of my close friends is a member of so many masonic organizations that I lose track of them all. He may be at anywhere from seven to 13 different organizations. One of them being (and I really kid you not) The Grand and Glorious Order of the Hillbillies. Really.

4. Freemasonry is not a rare, exclusive organization.
Any man over the age of 18 can become a Master Mason. However, the Freemasons are a respectable organization, so they will run background checks to make sure that a man trying to join isn't a criminal, and they'll call you for an interview to make sure you'd be a good fit in that lodge. It's a lot like getting a job, and some will say that with the work you put into Freemasonry, it IS a job. At least my Freemason friends love it.

5. The Freemasons are family friendly!
The lodge that I meet in for my organizations hosts a family potluck dinner once a month in order to get to know all the groups, and the people involved, as well as their families. Not only is it a ton of fun, it's also a great way to raise a little bit of money for the expenses for the lodge. Our building gets used a LOT. Anywhere from 2 different masonic youth groups, OES, Masonry, Clockmakers, and even a Dungeons and Dragons group meet in our lodge. Never on the same day, of course.

6. Freemasons take pride in their work.
I can't stress enough how incredible it is to see work performed by the Freemasons. Attending their public events, such as Installations of Officers, gives a glimpse of the oldest and largest fraternity in the world. Their traditions are well loved, and it shows in their floor work (the way they walk) and the way they recite their "ritual", which is a speaking part, like a script in a play.

7. The Freemasons are a band of brothers.
And they do actually call each other brothers. In OES, we call the ladies "Sister" and the men "Brother". That is no different in Freemasonry, but because Freemasons are all men, they are all "brother". They can not stress enough the importance of brotherhood in masonry, and it is that brotherhood that keeps them as close-knit and successful as they have been. They are a fraternity, remember.

8. Each Freemason is entitled to his own opinion.
From what I've seen, all masons have the right to think and believe however they choose. Masonry is not about brainwashing you to believe in one specific God. Masonry is also not its own religion, though they ask each member to be religious in their own way. Masonry does not discriminate against religion, political ideas, race, sexuality, or anything like that.

9. Masonry is not a cult.
At least, in the typical idea of a cult. Technically, according to Merriam Webster, a cult is a system of religious beliefs and ritual. If you would consider the joining of all religious faiths under one ritual (again, similar to the script of a play) in order to celebrate brotherhood, then yes, Freemasonry is a cult. Unfortunately, many see it as a dangerous thing. Many see it as a group of people who are potentially sacrificing animals or people to the devil in order to gain power, or something. Though I myself don't know what goes on in their regular meetings, I have a fairly good idea that it isn't that.

10. Even though a woman can't be a Mason, they are important.
I have seen many things saying that behind every good Mason is a strong woman. To the Shriner's, the ladies are hugely important because it's their support that allows the Shriner's to do so much. That's why there are so many Masonic organizations for women. Though now not every Mason is a straight man, who may have a boyfriend or husband backing him through his travels, women are a hugely important part of Freemasonry. Women help prepare refreshments for the men, help plan events, and even "donate" her husband or significant other to the lodge, as he serves a year as the Master of the lodge. Masonry is a family affair, and so the women of the family are included in that.

I hope this helped a little to shed some light on this great fraternity. The Masons are incredible men, who work hard in their community to bring charity and brotherly love to the area. I have never met a Freemason who I was uncomfortable to be around, I have never gotten an "evil" vibe from them. Watching their work has been an incredible journey, and working with them has been even better.

Cover Image Credit: Rae Kaiser

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A Letter to the Girl I Was 3 Years Ago

"Strength grows in the moments when you think you can't go on but you keep going anyway."

  To the old me, 

The girl who worried too much about what other people thought of her, the girl who didn’t know what she was worth, the girl who was scared to be alone. 

I know it’s hard, you’re just starting out high school and what people think of you is SO important. You want to be accepted, you want to be liked. You alter the person you actually are, because you want to be the person everyone loves. Stop. It’s not worth it. In a couple years it won’t matter what everyone thought of you, because majority of those people wont stick around after you walk across that stage at graduation. They don’t care about you that much. Be yourself, because that is the best version you can be. You are beautiful just the way you are, you are special just the way you are. Be confident in who you are. Once you stop caring what others think, you will feel a weight lifted off of your shoulders and you will never want to go back.

And YOU, you are worth SO much, and that will be your biggest weapon one day knowing that and being confident in that. Stop letting people walk all over you and define who you are, and stop settling for less than you deserve. LOVE yourself first, CHOOSE yourself first, and everything else will fall into place. The most important relationship you can have is the one with yourself, and the one with the big Man upstairs. The mistakes you have made, and will continue to make, will never define your value as a person.  Once you discover your self value, you will know what you deserve and what you don’t deserve.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” –Psalm 139:13-14

I cant stress this enough: it is OK to be independent, it is OK to be alone. Honestly, you wont figure this one out for a while. You will go through relationship after relationship depending on guys for your happiness and that will be your source of self-validation, and that will get your heart broken at times. It happens, and its OK to learn from it. It is so important that you grow out of that, though. Work on yourself while you have the time, make yourself a better you for the right person that does come along, but most importantly, make yourself a better you for YOU. Be dependent on yourself and your faith for the happiness that you crave out of other people. Stop putting yourself through the heartbreaks, and just settling because you are afraid of being alone. Embrace it, and take advantage of it. 

To the girl that is the girl I used to be-

It’s never too late to realize things need to change. It’s never too late to rid yourself of the negativity, and all of the things holding you back. You got this, I believe in you. Take it from the one girl who never thought she had it in her to become stronger. 

To the old me-

I wish that I could go back and hug you and let you know that you are so loved. You are so worth it. You are so special. You CAN do this. Everything you are going through and will go through will be so worth it, and to never EVER give up no matter how much you want to at times. I wish that I could’ve told you in a few years, you will be mentally and emotionally stronger than you have ever been, and everything that you are going through is just a phase.                                                                                  Life isn't always perfect. Life isn't always easy. Life doesn't always make sense, but thats the beauty of it.

Love,

Me, today. 

  



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Walking Through Campus In The Dark Made Me Realize Girls Should Be Helping Other Girls Feel Safer

I'm forever grateful for the girls who helped me feel safe.

If you're a girl, chances are doing certain things, like walking alone in the dark, can be kind of scary.

I needed to walk from the dorms to the Greyhound station downtown to catch a 7 a.m. bus, and if you've ever lived in the Pacific Northwest in the fall, you know some mornings it isn't light until almost 8 a.m. or later. I am not a morning person and neither were any of my friends, so I knew I would probably be going alone.

There aren't a lot of people out and about that early in the morning and, being a girl in today's world, walking alone in the dark makes me nervous.

I planned on calling a cab, but when it didn't show after 20 minutes, I knew I was going to have to walk. As I started walking, I thought about all the horror stories I've heard on the news, all the times I've been harassed and followed by strangers on the street, all the places I was walking that weren't well light or were in commercial areas with businesses that weren't open. I didn't have pepper spray, I don't know a lot of self-defense, and I felt like all I could really do was keep my head down, walk fast, and hope nothing bad happened.

I was more worried than I care to admit but I didn't really have any other options.

I was walking past Gamma Phi Beta's house, with my phone flashlight on and silently counting the blocks until reached the bus station, and at about the same time, two girls were leaving the house in workout gear, like they were headed out for a run. What caught me off guard was when they asked if I was okay and why I was walking by myself. I explained that I was headed to the Greyhound station and no one else was awake, so I was on my own.

Without any hesitation, they offered to walk with me, so I wouldn't be alone.

I can't even put into words how relieved and grateful I was. If they asked if I wanted them to walk with me, I probably would have said no because I wouldn't want to mess up their plans or be a burden, but they offered.

When we were walking, it felt like walking with friends, not like two friends begrudgingly walking a stranger as a favor. We talked about majors, binge-worthy Netflix shows, classes, and when we reached the bus station downtown, we went our separate ways.

I don't remember their names and I don't know if they'll ever know how much that meant to me, but I still think about it, over a year later, and it reminds me how important it is to look out for and support other girls.

Since I feel like I never got to thank them properly, I do it the best way I know how: by paying it forward. When I have the opportunity to do something to make another girl feel safer, whether that's walking with her, checking in with her at a party, or otherwise, I think it's important to do it.

No one understands the struggles girls face just by existing in our f*cked up world quite like other girls. It is so important for all of us to do our part to support and protect our community.

If you have the opportunity to help out someone else in an uncomfortable or unsafe situation, do it. You have no idea the impact it will have.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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