Thank you for expressing an interest in Freemasonry by seeking out this information.
To become a mason you must meet the qualifications and be accepted by a Lodge.
There are a lot of myths surrounding Freemasons and their activities.
The following may answer some of your questions or worries.
It is the world's oldest and largest fraternity dating back at least to the Middle Ages. Its purpose is to promote the bonds of friendship, compassion and brotherly love. Politics has no role in it. Neither is it a religion as some would have you believe but rather a friend and promoter of all religions which are based on the belief in one God. Regardless of their position in society, Freemasons meet as equals. One of the most fascinating aspects of Freemasonry has always been how so many men from so many different walks of life can meet together in peace, never discuss politics or engage in religious debates, conduct their affairs in harmony and friendship, and call each other "Brother".
If you are reading this then that is indicative that Freemasonry is not a secret society but lodge meetings, like meetings of many other social and professional associations, are private occasions open only to members.
Freemasons are encouraged to speak openly about their membership, while remembering that they undertake not to use it for their own or anyone else's advancement.
The rules and aims of Freemasonry are available to the public. The Masonic Year Book, also available to the public, contains the names of all national office-holders and lists of all lodges with details of their meeting dates and places.
The meeting places and halls used by Freemasons are readily identifiable, are listed in telephone directories and in many areas are used by the local community for activities other than Freemasonry. Lodge meetings are advertised in the local newspaper.
The rituals and ceremonies used by Freemasons to pass on the principles of Freemasonry to new members were first revealed publicly nearly 3 centuries ago. They include the traditional forms of recognition used by Freemasons essentially to prove their identity and qualifications when entering a Masonic meeting. These include handshakes which have been much written about and can scarcely be regarded as truly secret today; for medieval Freemasons, they were the equivalent of a 'pin number' restricting access only to qualified members.
Many thousands of books have been written on the subject of Freemasonry and are readily available to the general public. Freemasonry offers spokesmen and briefings for the media and provides talks to interested groups on request. Freemasons are proud of their heritage and happy to share it.
Freemasonry is not a religion. It has no theology and does not teach any route to salvation. A belief in God, however, is an essential requirement for membership and Freemasonry encourages its members to be active in their own religions as well as in society at large.
Although every lodge meeting is opened and closed with a prayer and its ceremonies reflect the essential truths and moral teachings common to many of the world's great religions, no discussion of religion is permitted in lodge meetings
Freemasons are respectable citizens who are taught to respect and conform to the moral laws of society and to abide by the laws of the country or state in which they reside. They are men of charity and good works who strive to support those less fortunate than themselves both inside and outside the order.
Freemasonry is proud of its philosophy and practice of "making good men better." Only individuals believed to be of good character are favourably considered for membership. Every applicant must be 21 years of age or more and respected in his locality.
A Masonic meeting can be compared to a committee meeting with various officers performing specific functions - Chairman (called the "Right Worshipful Master"), Secretary, and Treasurer and so on. Items on an agenda are taken sequentially and will typically involve a ceremony, involving a candidate, which dramatises his inner growth in morality and ethics, using the symbols and metaphors of Biblical mythology and the tools of the mediaeval stonemasons. Announcements are made and the business of the lodge dealt with. Proposals requiring assent are put to a vote. The atmosphere is convivial, but dignified. The meeting is usually followed by a ‘Harmony’ where members enjoy each others company and light refreshment and sometimes a meal depending on the occasion, which is again convivial. If this description appears limited, it is not because Masons have sinister secrets to hide, but because to reveal what goes on in detail would spoil the enjoyment of the ceremonies for those who have yet to participate in them.
There is a popular misconception that to become a Mason one needs to be invited to join, that there is some cloak and dagger operation involved. In fact the reverse is true - a longstanding convention within Freemasonry is that it is the potential candidate who should do the asking! Some American lodges have the phrase "To be one, ask one." If you know a friend, or neighbour who is a Mason and you have a notion of joining just ask him. He will be delighted to talk with you as all Masons are proud to be members of their own Lodge.
If there is no one to whom you can turn why not just E-mail the Grand Lodge for more details and they can provide you with the name of the secretary of a Lodge near to you whom you can contact. Alternatively you may wish to contact Lodge Panmure 299 if, perhaps, you think you may wish to join our Lodge. No one will twist your arm. Your name will be put before the Lodge. A committee (of perhaps two or three) will talk to you to ascertain that you are a man of good character and that you believe in God (Atheism and Freemasonry are incompatible). The committee will report its recommendation back to the Lodge. A vote will be taken and, if found acceptable, you will on your way to being a fully fledged Mason and you will have joined the oldest global brotherhood in the world.