Freemasonry is one of the world's oldest secular fraternal societies. Freemasonry is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Freemasons are taught its precepts by a series of ritual dramas, which follow ancient forms, and use stonemasons' customs and tools as allegorical guides. The essential qualification to become Freemason is a belief in a Supreme Being. A Freemason's duty as a citizen must always prevail over any obligation to other Masons, and any attempt to shield Freemasons who as acted dishonourably or unlawfully, or to confer an unfair advantage on other Free Masons is contrary to this prime duty.

Freemasonry is an esoteric society only in that certain aspects are private; Freemasons state that Masonry is not, in the 21st century, a secret society but a "society with secrets". Some Freemasons describe Freemasonry as a "confidential" society in contrast to a secret society. Most modern Freemasons regard the traditional concern over secrecy as a demonstration of their ability to keep a promise and a concern over the privacy of their own affairs. Lodge meetings, like meetings of many other social and professional associations, are private occasions open only to members. The private aspects of modern Freemasonry deal with the modes of recognition amongst members and elements within the ritual. In reality, Freemasons are proud of their true heritage and happy to share it, offering spokesmen, briefings for the media, and providing talks to interested groups upon request. On this site curious non-masons can find out the real secret lives of the Freemasons as far as what are the secrets of Freemasons.

Masonry, according to the general acceptation of the term, is an art founded on the principles of geometry, and directed to the service and convenience of mankind. But Freemasonry, embracing a wider range and having a nobler object in view, namely, the cultivation and improvement of the human mind, may with propriety be called a science, inasmuch as availing itself of the terms of the former, it inculcates the principles of the purest morality, though its lessons are for the most part veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols. The definitions of Freemasonry have been numerous, and they all unite in declaring it to be a system of morality, by the practice of which its members may advance their spiritual interest, and mount by the theological ladder, from the lodge on earth to the Lodge in heaven. Subjoined are a few of the most important definitions:

"Freemasonry is a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols." — Hemming

"The grand object of Masonry is to promote the happiness of the human race." — George Washington

"Masonry is an art, useful and extensive, which comprehends within its circle every branch of useful knowledge and learning, and stamps an indelible mark of pre-eminence on its genuine professors, which neither chance, power, nor fortune can bestow." — Preston

“There are Great Truths at the foundation of Freemasonry — truths which it is its mission to teach, and which constitute the very essence of that sublime system which gives to the venerable institution its peculiar identity as a science of morality, and it behooves every disciple diligently to ponder and inwardly digest." — Albert Pike

This page is adapted from the Glossary at Phoenixmasonry — Used with permission.

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