Freemasonry is perhaps the most misunderstood, yet popular, "secret society" the world has ever known. A simple one line definition would not satisfactorily to describe what Freemasonry is.
Freemasonry is the world's oldest and largest Fraternity. It aims to promote Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly Love among its members; men from every race, religion, opinion and back-ground who are brought together as Brothers to develop and strengthen the bonds of friendship. Freemasonry proposes to "make good men better" by teaching - with metaphors from geometry and architecture - about building values based on great universal truths.
Freemasonry exists in every part of the globe - in some 60 countries throughout Europe, North and South America, India, Africa, Newfoundland, New Zealand, Australia, the Middle East, the Far East and even Russia. Total membership is estimated at around 5 million.
The square and compass of Freemasonry - It is a sign universally recognized throughout the world for centuries, as a symbol of truth, morality, and brotherly love.
Although the secrets of Freemasonry have been made public in the past centuries, it doesn't mean everyone knows the mystery of Masonry. In fact, much of the appeal of the Craft is that the great truths revealed in Masonic ritual can take years to understand. Like the building of any great structure, the powerful metaphors and symbols of Masonry build character - and sometimes greatness - one stone at a time.
Who are masons? Freemasons come from all walks of life. From the Royal Family, from the professions, from business, from trade and from the shop floor, and each is a "brother" to everyone else.
And it is not the prerogative of the rich - it costs far less to be a Mason than to be a member of the local golf club. Freemasonry does not have a restricted or closed membership but is available to all men of good character.
Whilst membership under the Grand Lodge of England is restricted to men, there are other Masonic organizations, which admit only ladies.