The History of Freemasonry
No one knows with certainty how or when the Masonic fraternity was formed. A widely-accepted theory among Masonic scholars is that it arose from stonemason’s guilds during the Middle Ages.
Modern Freemasory was formed in 1717 when four Lodges in London met together and decided to form a Grand Lodge. In 1723 they adopted a Constitution. Their success led to the establishment of still other Grand Lodges. In 1725 some of the Lodges in Ireland formed a Grand Lodge and a similar body was instituted in Scotland in 1736. Moreover the original Grand Lodge in England did not remain without rivals, and at one time in the eighteenth century three Grand Lodges existed in England in addition to the one organized in 1717. Two of these died out without influencing the history of Masonry in general, but the third had a great part in the spread and popularizing of Masonry throughout the world. It called itself the Ancient Grand Lodge. The two surviving Grand Lodges were long and vigorous rivals, but they finally united in 1813 into the present United Grand Lodge of England. Thus, from one of these two Grand Bodies in England, or from those of Ireland or Scotland, all other Grand Lodges in the world today are decended.
Freemasonry in Arizona
From the Grand Lodge of Arizona:
In the latter half of the nineteenth century the American frontier was comprised of the western territories from Oklahoma to the Pacific Northwest. The news media of the time focused attention on the western territories and undoubtedly played a significant role in the inexorable wave of intrepid pioneers, settlers, opportunists and prospectors that flooded into the territories. That period of time is often referred to as 'The Old West' or 'The Wild West'.
In 1863 political concerns and the pressures of the Civil War were largely responsible for the separation of the Arizona territory from the New Mexico Territory. That year President Abraham Lincoln appointed John A. Gurley as Governor of the newly created Arizona Territory. He was to establish a government thus ensuring that Arizona Territory and its resources would be and remain under Union control. Governor Gurley died before he could arrive in the territory. John Noble Goodwin was appointed by President Lincoln in his place. John Goodwin, a Freemason, and his party arrived in the Arizona territory in December 1863. He established the territorial capital of Prescott, approximately twenty miles from Fort Whipple. In 1864 nine Master Masons held a meeting in Prescott at John N. Goodwin's house. Brother Goodwin presided at the meeting. After satisfying themselves that all present were Master Masons, those nine Masons decided to apply to the Grand Lodge of California for a dispensation to open a Lodge at Prescott. The name selected for the new lodge was Aztlan. Brother John T. Alsap, who later became the first mayor of Phoenix, was chosen as its first Master. Brother Goodwin was chosen to present the petition to the Grand Master of California. Brother Goodwin presented the petition on April 23rd, 1865, and the dispensation it requested was granted. In January 1867, after the California charter had been granted, Aztlan Lodge No. 177 was duly constituted and the officers installed by Past Master John Martin. Freemasonry had officially arrived in Arizona
Thereafter, four more lodges were formed in succession. These four are Arizona Lodge in Phoenix (1879), Tucson Lodge in Tucson (1881), Solomon Lodge in Tombstone (1881), and White Mountain Lodge in Globe. All but White Mountain Lodge were chartered by the Grand Lodge of California. White Mountain Lodge was chartered by the Grand Lodge of New Mexico in 1881.
On the 23rd day of March, 1882, representatives from these four lodges convened in Tucson for the purpose of considering the propriety of establishing a Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the Territory of Arizona. A committee was formed to examine the credentials of the attending delegates, and after its satisfactory report, it was resolved that by virtue of the powers vested in the members assembled it was right and proper that a Grand Lodge for the territory should be formed. A constitution was adopted and it was formally resolved, "That a lodge of Master Masons be opened for the purpose of organizing and opening, in Masonic form, the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the Territory of Arizona." Officers were appointed to fill the stations and places and a Lodge of Master Masons was opened in ancient Masonic form. The various officers were elected as follows: Ansel Mellen Bragg, Grand Master; John Tabor Alsap, Deputy Grand Master; Alonzo Bailey, Senior Grand Warden; William Arthur Harwood, Junior Grand Warden; Abraham Marx, Grand Treasurer; and George James Roskruge, Grand Secretary.
On the 25th day of March, 1882, the grand officers were installed and the Master Masons Lodge was closed in the ancient Masonic form, the convention having accomplished the business for which it was called, adjourned sine die.
The Grand Lodge was then opened in proper form, with music by a choir and prayer by the Grand Chaplain, after which it examined and endorsed the charters held by the various lodges represented. Then it was decided that, "The Grand Lodge claimed as the boundaries of its jurisdiction the whole of the Territory of Arizona," and further, that the Grand Master be authorized to endorse the charter of Aztlan Lodge when called upon to do so. On March 25th, 1882, after installing the grand officers and accomplishing the business for which it was called, the Master Masons Lodge was closed in ancient Masonic form, sine die.
Those five original lodges are still in existence today and are designated 'Territorial Lodges'.
WHAT MASONRY IS
Masonry is many things to many people. Many years ago in England it was defined as a system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols. It is a course of moral instruction using both allegories and symbols to teach its lessons. The legends and myths of the old stone cutters and masons, many of them involved in building the great cathedrals of Europe, have been woven into an interesting and effective way to portray moral truths.
In Masonry, the old tools and ways of the craftsmen are used to help dramatically portray those moral truths. For example, the 24 inch gauge and the common gavel. Just as the ruler is used to measure distance, the modern Mason uses it as a reminder to manage one of his most precious resources: time. And, as the gavel is used to shape stones, so it is also the symbol for the necessity of all of us to work to perfect ourselves.
One modern definition is: Freemasonry is an organized society of men, symbolically applying the principle of Operative Masonry and architecture to the science and art of character building. In other words, Masonry uses ageless methods and lessons to make each of us a better person.
has a basic philosophy of life that places the individual worth of each man high on its pedestal, and incorporates the great teachings of many ages to provide a way for individual study and thought.
has great respect for religion and promotes toleration and equal esteem for the religious opinions and beliefs of others.
provides a real working plan for making good men even better.
is a social organization.
has many important charitable projects.
has a rich worldwide history.
is a proven way to develop both public speaking and dramatic abilities and provides an effective avenue for developing leadership.
WHAT MASONRY IS NOT
"Freemasonry is NOT a Secret Society"
"Freemasonry is NOT a Religion"
We are not a secret society! A secret society is generally one that wraps itself in a cloak of absolute secrecy. That means no one knows who the members are, where they meet, what they do or what they stand for.
That is not Masonry at all! Masonry may have "secrets," but it is not a secret society. Masonic secrets are few in number, and deal with the general method of initiation, the ways we recognize each other, and very little else. These parts of the ritual, which are called the esoteric side of Masonry, have been handed down by word of mouth for centuries.
Masonry's purposes, ideals, and principles may be learned by anyone who inquires. There are numerous books on these subjects which are available to the public. Masonry often has public notices in the newspapers, and our members are usually numbered among the more prominent citizens in the community.
Masonry, as an organization, is understanding and tolerant of all religious thoughts.
Masonry has no specific creed, no dogma, no priesthood. There are no requirements as to religious preference in becoming a Mason.
Masonry does ask you to state your belief and trust in a Supreme Being. Nonsectarian Prayers are a common part of all our ceremonies, but are not offered to a specific deity.
Masonic ritual does incorporate lessons and examples from the Bible, but they are given as representative illustrations.
Masonry does not require you to belong to a church, synagogue or mosque although many Masons are very active in their religious organizations, and among our members are leaders of many denominations.
Freemasonry accepts your right to belong to any church or religious organization of your choice and does not infringe on that right. Neither does Masonry try to be a substitute for your church. Masonry wants to unite men for the purpose of brotherhood; not as an organized religion.
The Secrets of the Freemasons
"The secret of Masonry, like the secret of life, can be known only by those who seek it, serve it, live it. It cannot be uttered; it can only be felt and acted. It is, in fact, an open secret, and each man knows it according to his quest and capacity. Like all things worth knowing, no one can know it for another and no man can know it alone."
-Brother William Howard Taft
For the uninitiated and the curious it is enough to know that Masonry is not a secret society, as who we are and where we meet is shared openly, but rather one that is held sacred by her members. The treasures within are not that of monetary value but rather ones of brotherhood, camaraderie, and learning.
Masonic secrets are few and concern themselves primarily with that of initiation, recognition, and very little else. The depth of Masonry, the esoteric side of Masonry, which has been handed down by mouth for many centuries, plays a large role in overall the goal of Masonry - that of making good men better.
Becoming a Mason
In short: to be a Mason ask a Mason. It is mandatory, to become a Mason in Arizona, that you profess a belief in the existence of a Supreme Being, we are not a religion or a Christian organization, however, no atheist can be made a Mason. In addition you must be:
Over 18 years of age
Of good moral character
For more information please contact us.