Being a Mason is much easier than people think, and much more personally rewarding than people imagine. The process is simple, painless, and educational. Here’s how it works.
Step 1: Requirements
To become a Mason, you must meet these requirements:
- You must be a man
- You must be at least 18 years of age (this varies by state, in Oregon it is 18)
- You must have resided in Oregon for at least 6 months immediately preceding your Petition
- You must be of good moral character
- You must be able to comprehend and effectively use the English language
- You must believe in a single Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul. Masonry has no specific religious requirements and accepts men from many different faiths.
- You must NOT want to become a Mason out of idle curiosity or the desire for personal power or place, or for business, professional, financial, or political advantages. You will be asked to swear an oath to this effect during the initiation process.
- You must NOT have been rejected within the last 6 months by the Lodge petitioned, nor within the last 5 years by any other Lodge that is recognized by the Grand Lodge of Oregon
Step 2: Asking
To become a Mason, you have to ask. The idea that a man must be invited to become a Mason is a complete myth. In fact, the opposite is true: Masons are forbidden to invite new members. During the initiation process, a Candidate is asked at many different stages to confirm that it is of his own free will that he wishes to proceed.
The Application Process
If a man meets the requirements above, he can submit an application for membership (known in Masonry as a Petition). The Petition asks several questions about the applicant’s age, occupation, marital status, state of health, past military service, and other general questions designed to help give the Lodge an overview of who is asking to join.
Masonry is not free to join. Each Lodge sets its own dues and initiation fees. For Holbrook Lodge, annual dues are $55 and the initiation fee is $200. This initiation fee includes the current year’s dues.
Once the Petition and fees have been submitted, the Lodge will vote to accept the Petition and refer it to an investigating committee consisting of three Master Masons. This committee will make an appointment to visit the applicant, usually in his home. This visit is an in-person interview where everyone has a chance to ask questions. The committee gets to learn more about the applicant, and the applicant is encouraged to ask questions about Masonry.
A word about background checks – At present, Oregon Masonry does not require background checks to be made during the application process. However, individual Lodges may elect to do this. It is important to note that a negative item on a personal background check will NOT result in automatic rejection of the Petition. The investigating committee may ask for clarification where appropriate.
After the interview, the committee members will make their recommendations to the Lodge, either favorable or not. If they find favorably, the Petition will be voted upon by the Lodge. A unanimous vote is required to elect an applicant to receive the degrees and become a Mason.
Step 3: Initiation
There are three degrees in Ancient Craft Masonry (also known as Blue Lodge): The Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason. In each of these degrees the Candidate swears an oath to uphold the principles of Masonry and is taught many important moral lessons with the aid of symbolism. These degrees are very serious ceremonies and do NOT include any sort of hazing, joking, or humiliating activities.
Each degree has what is known as the Candidate’s Lecture, which is a series of questions and answers that each Candidate must recite from memory before the next degree can be conferred, or in the case of the Master Mason degree, to complete his membership in a Lodge and be entitled to all benefits associated with being a Mason. Each Candidate has a coach who will work with him on these lectures. For those who find memorization too difficult, there is an alternative that involves less memorization and instead uses the Fellows of the Craft study course.