An Introduction to Freemasonry

An Introduction to Freemasonry

An Introduction to Freemasonry

by Clayton Clifford Bye

When Ken Weene suggested I write a piece about Freemasonry for use on The Write Room Blog (and now on this page), I jumped at the opportunity. After all, I am an active Freemason who loves to teach people about what it is we do. It wasn’t long, however, before I realized I was overwhelmed. You see, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons or Freemasons or simply Masons represent the largest, most complicated and dreadfully misunderstood fraternity in the world. People I know have called us a cult, a religion and a secret society. The following will explain why people think these things and will, at the same time, give you a reasonable introduction to Freemasonry.

No one is clear as to when the fraternity known as Freemasonry began. Our own, carefully preserved records claim we were around in the times of King Solomon, when the craftsman lodges of operative Masons began to turn away from the physical labour of building the temple at Jerusalem and moved towards the more speculative nature of the mind and soul, their working tools becoming symbolic tools with which to build a man with spotless morals and good character. Historical research, however, tends to suggest Freemasonry began in the 1300’s (when the first written records became available) and indicates the stories we use to teach our members are only complicated constructs.

Why the confusion? Well, originally, all the work presented to the initiate or candidate for admission to the Lodge was done strictly by memory. Vast lectures were learned word for word by one brother who would then teach it to a younger brother, and in so doing pass the knowledge along from generation to generation. Plays were put on with intricate costumes and great flair, all language being archaic in nature (and kept that way). There were no books to be passed down through the ages, just keepers of the work. If you were an authority seeking to destroy a Lodge—more about this later—all you would ever find were symbolic paintings and drawings that meant nothing to you. The real Lodge was kept safe in the minds of its members. Sometimes Lodges were even mobile, being set up wherever was safe and then taken down when the meeting was done.

There is also another reason the origins of Freemasonry are lost in the mists of time: all Lodges conduct their business behind closed and guarded doors—in secret! Why? What’s the big deal? After all, the only reason Lodges exist is to take good men and make them better. Could it be we are protecting the fact that our initiates are taught a beautiful system of morality that is veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols? No, it is generally understood that our system is taught via stories, poems, paintings and special symbols that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden, moral meaning. The problem actually goes back to the days when teaching a moral message, other than that approved by the Church, was forbidden and its purveyors persecuted.

Today, however, Masonic Lodges are not secret in and of themselves. They stand in the heart of every town of decent size in most countries of the world. You drive by these buildings every day. Some are ornate and some are plain. Almost all of them have our main symbol located somewhere on the front of the building. It is a square and compass surrounding the letter G, which stands for God …

And if our existence isn’t secret and our meeting times are usually posted on the doors, why do the rumours of secrecy still exist? Well, prejudice for one thing. Freemasonry was non-denominational long before separation of Church and State, making it a very unpopular organization. The fraternity, was, quite simply, a form of heresy. Secrecy was oftentimes all that stood between a Mason and prison time or even an untimely death. In fact, even as recently as World War II, Masons in Germany had to go underground. You see, they supported Jews like they supported all other people of the world, and because of this they were persecuted as fiercely as were the Jews. Why, until just a few short years ago, the Catholic Church wouldn’t allow any member to be a Mason.

They even went so far as to create their own competing fraternity—The Knights of Columbus. I, for one, am thankful that practice has been stopped. Still, persecution persists: many religions believe an organization that doesn’t follow their particular path of salvation must by its very character be an agent of Satan. And this attitude is the big problem. For a man to be made a Mason, he must swear that he believes in a Supreme Being. We don’t care who or what that is—other than he/she/it must punish vice and reward virtue. We don’t even care what book you study from, be it the Bible, the Quran or some other written work. Freemasonry simply urges you study daily from the pages of your holy book or from the words of your religion. We want you to have a strong moral guide from which to learn. Freemasonry will teach the initiate many lessons about morality, charity, truth, upright character, brotherly love and … but he will learn much more by studying his own religion every day. Some people (religions) just don’t like these practices.

Are such problems, mostly in the past, the only reason Lodges have secrets? No, Freemasonry has always been careful about what it reveals to the uninitiated. For example, we all take an oath never to reveal the secrets or mysteries of a Freemason. Why do we do this? There are several reasons I can’t share, but I can tell you this much: some of the secrets are nothing but ways and means of identifying another Mason when in public. These methods, if revealed to you, would seem foolish. All I can say is remember Hitler. In his day if you couldn’t secretly identify yourself to another Mason, you were as good as dead! I believe these secrets that we must keep also teach us there’s a time to hold your tongue, to keep silent. They make us think about what we say and how we say it, thus helping us maintain a favourable image of ourselves (and thus Freemasonry) when out in the wide, wide world. Because, yes, we are taught to take what we learn as a Mason and use it in our daily life so as to be a leader, to be someone people look up to, to be a man people know is of good character and morals.

And finally, what about the mysteries? What are they and why are they to be kept inviolate? Here you’ll find the strongest reason Freemasonry has been deemed a secret society. Most Masons never study the stories and lectures hard enough and long enough to figure out what the mysteries are. There has been many a book written about the mysteries of Freemasonry, posing hypothesis after hypothesis. But given all the hidden meaning in our teachings it’s really no wonder the average Mason doesn’t know quite what it is he isn’t supposed to reveal. So, do you know what he does? He says nothing at all. In truth, many never even divulge their association with Freemasonry. I was in Masonry for 10 years before my favourite uncle told me he, too, was a Mason. He belonged to a different Lodge than I did and had no reason to expect me to identify myself to him as a Mason. It was just a chance remark I made one day that twigged it for him. So he challenged me with one of our forms of recognition, and I passed the test.

If we, as Masons, don’t know for certain what we can tell you about our unusual fraternity, then who are we to cry out when someone says we are a secret society, a religion or a cult? Only education, spurred on by us Masons can do that. Here’s what I tell people: We are not a secret society; we are a society with secrets. Freemasonry is not a religion; it does have religious aspects. Our fraternity is not a cult; it does teach a moral system through the relating of ancient stories and through the description of certain symbols, like the square and compass.

May I finish with a poem? It tells about our obligations and some of the ways to recognize a Mason (you can find them all on the internet, by the way, I just won’t tell you them myself); it also gives one the sense that there’s depth and goodness at the heart of this thing we call Freemasonry.

The Old Master’s Wages

I met a dear old man today who wore a Masonic pin. It was old and faded like the man, Its edges were worn quite thin.

I approached the park bench where he sat, to give the brother his due. I said, “I see you’ve travelled east.” He said, “I have, have you?”

I said, “I have, and in my day before the all seeing sun, I played in the rubble, with Jubala, Jubalo and Jubalum.”

He shouted, “Don’t laugh at the work my son, It’s good and sweet and true, and if you’ve travelled as you said, you should give these things their due.

The word, the sign, the token, the sweet Masonic prayer, the vow that all have taken, who’ve climbed the inner stair.

The wages of a Mason are never paid in gold, but the gain comes from contentment when you’re weak and growing old.

You see, I’ve carried my obligations, for almost fifty years, They have helped me through the hardships and the failures full of tears.

Now I’m losing my mind and body, Death is near but I don’t despair, I’ve lived my life upon the level, and I’m dying upon the square.”

Sometimes the greatest lessons are those that are learned anew, and the old man in the park today has changed my point of view.

To all Masonic brothers, The only secret is to care. May you live your life upon the level, may you part upon the square.

Author Unknown

About Clayton Clifford Bye

The Contrary Canadian, Mr. Bye, is a specialist writer who has published many books, stories and reviews for himself and others, but he now focuses on his work as a ghostwriter who listens carefully to the customer, skillfully drawing out the story they want to get on paper. You can find some of his work on Amazon and at his eStore. Contact him directly to discuss the book you want to write and to inquire about rates:

From Dumpster to Diva

From Dumpster to Diva

You never know what life will bring, especially if you are of the feline persuasion.

My first memory was of warmth as I cuddled up to birthmother and suckled a protruding teat. All was blackness, though I was much too young to be aware of the difference of light and dark. It was a coziness and comfort with need of nourishment, and it was wonderful.

Many of you know the story so I’ll merely do a quick mention. My ears heard a rumble and all warmth and comfort was gone. My tiny body shifted and stumbled among bits of trash and debris, in search of birthmother. I felt movement, and though so young, I forced my eyes open in hunt of freedom. Above me, the noise grew louder and light grew dim. I cried out, first a mere me yew, not audible to the outside world. As my heart beat rapidly, I drew every bit of strength within my kitty self and stretched my vocal cords to their limits – ME YOW, ME YOW, ME YOW and would not cease the plea for help. I was petrified and the noise filled my ears to the point I thought my ears would puncture from the volume.

Roughness scooped me up and surrounded my form. It held me firmly in its grasp. Wind rushed into open roughness’s open slits and I felt coldness. I shivered and squirmed in fright. Then I heard it. A soft purrish sound that brought me calm; a softness of touch and warmth as strange noises cooed in my ears. Thus began the connection between new mother and I.

Suppose I was never the easiest kitten to raise, nor cat to nurture. There was something left inside of me that would always remain feral. Something wild and untamed, which released itself to the unknown. To bottle feed me was a nightmare, I am sure as I clawed and scratched against the hands which held my milk bottle. Mother later told me she had to wear gloves for I clutched her hands with my sharp nails and would not let go. What caused Mother pain, brought me a feeling of safety and calm.

Interacting with Father was yet another issue, well at least for him. From what I recall, and I am sure you may verify it with Father, I would wrap my kitten body atop his face, getting warmth from his thick mustache and beard. As Mother told it, I would sit on his face, and she feared he would be unable to take a breath. Laughter stopped this from happening. They both saw my actions as hilarious and Father would open his mouth and shoo me away. Not funny falling off someone’s face, but guess I deserved that for my unthinkable actions.

Years passed and I grew into a young cat, yearning for companionship. We had moved from a climate that was warm and sunny year round to one of snow and ice. I huddled in my home, amid down blankets and overstuffed pillows. Spring arrived with an urge to explore and I snuck out into the world to explore the gardens, trees and grassy mounds. That is when it happened, I met a friend, Mr. Jeeters; a black cat with white paws from next door. Seems Mother didn’t take to Mr. Jeeters. She saw us together, snatched me up, brought me back into the house and locked the door. Well! Not much I could do but settle into the windowsill and watch the birds and squirrels.

Changes were taking place and as the days and months passed I found myself growing fatter and fatter. There was squirming in my belly that I’d never experienced and sometimes it hurt; as if I was being kicked from the inside. Whatever could it be? I wasn’t eating anymore than usual. Was I going to die? Were there parasites within my body? Why wasn’t Mother helping me? She kept telling me I was a ‘bad girl’ and I was pregnant. What the heck is pregnant? They say time takes care of everything. Suppose that is truth. I felt pain and knew I had to seek a shelter. The next thing I knew was my body was instructing me to push and push and push. One, two, three, four, five; six times in all these little balls of fur popped out of me. I looked upon them, cleaned them and fell instantly in love. My babies! My kittens! I’d never been happier in my life and purred with contentment. I had never felt such love, not even for Mother. This would be the only time I would ever feel this special love again and perhaps that was for the best. I had other avenues to pursue.

Which brings me to present times. I have found my calling in life; what Mother calls, my purpose. Or as I like to say, my purr-puss. I have found a love for music and knowledge. Who would have thought an old, set in her ways cat would love the spotlight or new people?

It happened one day when I was sitting on the computer table. I heard a strange sound and drew close to Mother. The sound continued and it was pleasing to the ear. Next were voices of what I found to belong to Kenneth Weene and Kerry Hall. They called my name and it excited me. They knew me! Just some cat and they loved me! I ate it up and wanted more, so I sat next to Mother while the voices rattled on and the strange sound, I now know as music, continued to play. I was in Punky Heaven. People liked me and I did not fear them. Not here, not now, not in this place. I was safe and could interact with other humans.

Thus, is the start of my fame as Punky, Radio Cat for It Matters Radio. I am a Diva. I am spoiled from tuna, sardines and kitty treats. And I am in love with life!

Please join me each Sunday at 3PM ET US, beginning in 2016. You can find my schedule @ It Matters Radio!

I also write a newsletter from my litter-box each month, well, with the help of Co-Host of It Matters Radio, Mr. Kenneth Weene. Guess I should mention that Mother, Monica Brinkman, hosts the shows and they are live, on-camera, so I try to behave.

Enjoy my pictures and please follow me on Facebook at Punky The Cat!

Well, hope you enjoyed my story from Dumpster to Diva! Now back to those treats! Where’s Mother?


Monica M Brinkman hosts It Matters Radio and is a published author. Visit Monica’s Website

Monica Brinkman’s Amazon Page

The Gayest Story Never Told

One of the rights of passage after coming out is that first gay bar experience. It’s freaking intimidating. The fact people there could be attracted to you– and, more importantly, are encouraged to show it–is terrifying! Everyone in the room might gawk and smile the second you enter the bar. Worse, they might ignore you completely.

Walking in the front door of JRs, I half-expected rainbows and glitter to blast my face. In the movies, gay bars are extravaganzas, with drag queens swinging from chandeliers. Instead, I found myself looking at a normal place. It had a bar on one end, a small wooden dance floor in the middle, and a couple of pool tables on the far end. It was no different than most straight bars I’d frequented.

Except for the lack of women. Talk about a sausage fest. Guys, laughing and drinking, filled every cubic inch. Two really skinny dudes made out right next to me. I hugged myself; I’d never seen two men kiss in public. I gawked at my friend and wingman, Jason. He grinned.

“Trust me. In a few months, that will be you.”

I flinched and shrugged. In that moment, I figured I’d inch my way in and spend hours hiding in the corner just taking everything in.

Then I eyed a cute stocky Latino playing pool and all that wallflower stuff flew right out the window. He had a sexy goatee and bright hazel eyes that screamed, “I’m amazing! Come stare at me!”

That sounded good to me.

Trying to act all casual, I convinced Jason to grab a table nearby. Actually I didn’t have to convince him of anything. That’s one of the bonuses of being the newly out gay: you call all the shots. Bam.

Nerves rammed into me as I strolled across the bar toward the pool tables. First off, I was initiating project flirt. Second, a few pairs of eyes found me and I got self-conscious. I’d only ever been to straight bars. And when men stare you down at straight bars, it means they’re trying to be macho in front of the ladies. If you stare back, you get a terse, “What the fuck are you looking at?”

At JRs, the looks were followed by smiles and lip-licking. I reached down to make sure I was still wearing my jeans and v-neck t-shirt. Check. Still, I unconsciously covered my “junk” with my hands and scurried the rest of the way to a bar stool Jason pointed at.

Goatee Stud stood over one pool table, cue in hand. He was even more handsome close-up, with chest hair bursting out of his shirt. I gawked. And not in the coquettish way. I was in full on stalker mode.

“Obsessed much?”

I snapped out of Goatee Man Land and turned to Jason, who smiled devilishly.

“Crap.” I ran my hands over my face. I hadn’t even realized I was staring. I’ve always had this embarrassing knack of zoning out (or in).

“Go talk to him.”

“No way.” I was not ready for that level of commitment on my first gay outing.

In all honesty, the level of commitment would have been a big honking zero. I just didn’t want to be rejected the first millisecond of my first time in a gay bar. And I was supposed to be in observer mode only!

I settled for pretending to listen to Jason while sneaking glances at Goatee Guy.

My multi-tasking didn’t work too well. From out of nowhere, Jason shoved me off my chair.

Catching myself, I stood up. “Hey!”

“You are NOT going to just sit here and ignore me. If you don’t go talk to him, I’m doing it for you.”

Out of habit, I glanced at Goatee Cub. We made eye contact which I immediately broke.

“I don’t think I’m his type.” I shoved my hands into my pockets.

Jason stood up.

I threw my arms out. “No no no no no! What are you doing?”

“I’m telling him you’re in love.”

Jason and I had a staring contest. He winked. I said a few cuss words in my head, some at Jason but most at myself. If I’d just acted normal and unstalkerish, I wouldn’t be in this position.

Now I was faced with the big question: Do I potentially humiliate myself by talking to the guy or definitely humiliate myself by cowering away?

Put that way, the choice was easy. Without a word to Jason, I turned and made my way to the pool table. Sweat rolled down my back.

Goatee Romeo saw me and smiled. That helped my insecurity a little but kicked the sweating up to level 50.

I took a few more steps. He turned to one of his male friends and said, “Girl, hold my pool stick.”

I froze.

Goatee Hottie turned back to me and grinned.

I stared at him for about five seconds.

He took a step toward me.

I bolted. Doing that thing where I nodded at some nonexistent person behind him, I race-walked around the table and up a flight of stairs to the patio.

Panting with embarrassment, I ordered a vodka, chugged it, and waited for Jason (I was NOT about to head back down those stairs). After seventy million hours, he appeared, shaking his head. “You wuss!”

I held up my hands. “I didn’t chicken out!”

“Yeah, right. Pussy.”

To make sure no one overheard, I leaned in and whispered, “He called his friend ‘girl’!”


I gestured wildly with my hands. “His friend was a guy!”

Jason face-palmed me. Then, like a parent, he led me to a stool, sat me down, and explained, “Lots of gays call their close friends ‘girl’. And it’s not ‘girl’. It’s gurl. G-U-R-L. With lots of Rs. Gurrrrrl.”

I winced. “But they’re guys! And he wasn’t like in drag or anything.”

Jason smiled. “So? Everyone does it. It’s no big deal.”

“It IS a big deal!”

Jason leaned back with a knowing look. “You’ll say it one day. Trust me.”

I pointed at him. “That will never happen!”

That was the vow I made that day. I liked being a guy. I liked sports and “manly” stuff. The idea of a male calling another male ‘gurl’ repelled me. With that one word, I had suddenly found Goatee Guy hideous. I never talked to him. And I swore I’d never say that word.

Fast forward two years.

I was sitting at a table surrounded by friends from a gay volleyball league. The group consisted of Jonathan, a prissy Asian who wore sunglasses as big as his head, Donovan, a model with a tongue so sharp, he’d made strangers cry with just his words, and Milton, a muscle-bound slut who I’d seen follow someone into a Chili’s bathroom.

Around those guys, I just sat back and watched. It was better than TV.

“So I called Gene a bitch at work today.” Donovan said. He paused for dramatic effect before adding. “In front of Paul.”

“Your manager?” Jonathan said.


Jonathan leaned in. “Are you in trouble?”

“Hell no. Paul loves me. Even called me later and agreed.”

“Is Gene hot?” Milton asked.

Donovan grimaced. “Hell no. Her shirt was longer than her shorts.” He took a drink. “She looked like she was wearing a night gown. When I called her a bitch and Paul just stood there, she sweat more than a whore in church.”

Jonathan laughed, high-fived Donavan, and adjusted his sunglasses. “You called her out.”


“Gurl, that is messed up.”

Every eye at the table turned to me.


The word just slipped out. Years of being around it had desensitized me. Without even realizing it, I’d become the thing I hated most those years back.

And I didn’t just say, ‘gurl’. I said ‘Gurrrrrrrrrl’. My Rs were rolling all over the place.

I immediately clapped my hands over my mouth as the other three guys stared at me. It was like I’d ripped a huge fart right at the table.

 “Did you just say what I think you said?” Jonathan hid his smile.

“No.” I looked around, hoping something in the restaurant would help me. A tree outside caught my attention. “I said squirrel.”

It was the lamest thing I’d ever uttered and I braced myself for the incoming verbal torture.

It never happened. I was so embarrassed and mortified, they couldn’t give me hell.

Instead, Jonathan, with his huge sunglasses and lip gloss (did I mention he wore lip gloss?), put a hand on my shoulder. “Girl, gay speak is just like an accent. You hang around British people enough and you’ll eventually start saying shit like ‘Bloody’ and ‘Let’s watch some telly’. This is the same thing. I even have straight friends who say girl. It’s just an accent. So get over it and embrace it.”

I didn’t think anything would help, but that made the most sense of anything in the world. Gay was an accent. There was nothing wrong with adopting an accent.

I nodded at Jonathan. “Thanks . . . Gurrrrl.”

It was the fastest Come-To-Jesus I’d ever had. And it worked. Just like that, my life became the gayest story never told.

About the Author

Cody Wagner loves to sing, mime (not really), and create. He writes about topics ranging from superpowers to sociopathic kids. His debut novel, The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren, will be out October 27th, 2015. He’s handing out cookie dough to everyone who grabs a copy. Check out his writing and see more of his wackiness at or follow him on Twitter @cfjwagner and Goodreads at