As this is the beginning I think it only fits to explain how one would begin to become a "Mason" or member of the Masonic Fraternity, often called Freemasonry.
The rule is to be one you must ask one. We Masons have a funny rule that is basically understood universally. The rule is we do not go out and directly solicit membership. That being said many jurisdictions have recently begun to promote the lodge in order to increase it's membership. It is therefore unlikely though that you will see a sign-up table to join this group.
A person who is interested in joining must apply for memebrship at a local lodge. If you seek memebership it would be recommended that you talk to your friends and see if any of them are masons. It is always great to have a referral and someone to talk to about all the things you are about to encounter on the journey through masonry. I'm sure your friend would be very excited by the idea that you want to join the lodge and will get you an application then handle it through the proper channels to get you on your way. If you do not know someone to ask then I would suggest looking up a local lodge or the Grand Lodge in a phone book. Many of the Grand Lodges now have websites as well and you can send a message to them via e-mail. They can then match you up with a local lodge.
At a later date I'll add a link here that gives contact info for Grand Lodges.
Perhaps it would be good to explain in this post that to be a mason you must possess certain qualifications. As the web covers the planet I should advise you that these qualifications may vary in certain jurisdictions in the world but in my jurisdiction and the other one's I travel
in the qualifications are as follows:
- Being a man
- Freeborn (this will be explained in another post sometime and it often misinterpreted)
- Of lawful age
- Well recommended
- They must also believe in a supreme being (we do not differentiate between religions as long as they believe in a supreme being, they being christian, jewish, muslim, etc...)
Once you have completed an application your application will be read in lodge and it in order will be sent to an investigating committee for further investigation. The level of investigation will vary by jurisdication but what they try to assess are your intentions to join and if you are worthy of membership. In my jurisdiction we rarely see an application go unrecommended, but in other jurisdictions they may be more stringent or selective. I can't speak for everyone.
The investigating committee would return to Lodge and report their findings. The Lodge would then vote on the application and if the vote is favorable the candidate will be contacted.... (note the individual is no longer an applicant, now they are a candidate). That is the first step in Masonry explained.