It is during the middle ages that Freemasonry, in its current form is believed to have emerged, when the stone masons first began meeting to test and hone their skills. They are responsible for having come up with a set of rules for members to follow. A commitment to these codes was obtained from all new members during an initiation ceremony.
As the organisation matured, their ceremonies conveyed many of life’s lessons using allegories around the building of King Solomon’s Temple. Stone masons’ tools were also incorporated into these stories, making it easier for members to recall and contemplate the message behind the story, while at work.
The form of Freemasonry that is prevalent today is speculative masonry. The only components of the operative masons’ guilds that they retained were the fraternal and moral philosophical aspects. While Speculative Freemasonry is said to have reached Australia in the early 1800s, it first arrived in Europe and North America in the 1730s from England, Scotland and Ireland, where it took off in the 1600s and 1700s.
Queensland’s first Masonic Lodge, North Australia Lodge (No 1098 English Constitution) was opened in 1859, the same year that Queensland become a state. The District Grand Lodge of North Queensland was originally formed as a Scottish District Grand Lodge on 7 May 1904, based in Charters Towers. The move to form the District came from St. John Davenport Lodge, which was under the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of Scotland at the time. St John Davenport could, therefore, be considered the Mother Lodge of the District. It formally closed in 1922 after the formation of the United Grand Lodge of Queensland in 1921.
Rituals and symbols
Freemasonry uses rituals and symbols to convey its teachings.
New entrants to the craft are introduced to this from the outset, most notably during a series of lessons completed as part of the initiation phase, which comprises of three ceremonies called degrees.
In addition to the allegorical backdrop of the building of King Solomon's Temple, the utilisation of stonemasons' tools and implements as metaphors, is common in these degree ceremonies.
The laying of the Foundation Stone at a Masonic building is one of the rare occasions that a member of the public will be able to witness a masonic ritual being carried out. The majority of Masonic rituals are performed in the privacy of Lodge meetings.
By far the most well-known symbol associated with Freemasonry, many Masonic buildings and Masonic regalia carry the square and compasses logo which represents morality (square) and the margins of proper conduct (compasses). In some depictions, the letter ‘G’ is seen in between the square and compasses.
While the Masonic apron has many historical references which a Freemason will come to understand throughout his Masonic journey, it is said to represent the stonemasons’ apron. The rank of the Freemason determines the apron worn.
These blocks of stone, which are displayed both in their rough and smooth forms, represents how a Freemason, through self-improvement, becomes a better man.