Leather aprons were worn centuries ago by stonemasons to protect their skin and clothing, as well as to carry their tools. Today, lambskin or cloth aprons, often elaborately decorated or embroidered, are worn by members as a symbolic connection to those medieval craftsmen from which it is purported that we derive our Masonic tradition.

Degrees of Masonry
Indications of the level of membership and knowledge of Freemasonry principles. The basic degrees of Masonry are Entered Apprentice, Fellow craft, and Master Mason.

Eastern Star
The Order of the Eastern Star is the largest fraternal organization in the world to which both men and women belong.

The word “free” was added to “mason” during the Middle Ages. The origin is uncertain, but may be related to stonemasons who worked as advanced stone carvers in “freestone.”

Grand Lodge
The administrative body in charge of Freemasonry in a specific geographic area. The United States has Grand Lodges in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Grand Master
The elected leader of the Grand Lodge. In Iowa, this position changes annually in September.

This refers to both a unit of Masons as well as the room or building in which they meet. There are approximately 13,000 lodges in the United States.

A member of the Masonic fraternity.

The elected leader of the local lodge; also the title a Mason acquires once he has completed the third degree of membership.

Stated meeting
The monthly lodge meeting to conduct regular business, receive new members, and vote upon the Application of Degrees.

Another name for a Masonic building. The word is used in the same sense that Justice Wendell Holmes called the Supreme Court a ” Temple of Justice.” Most lodges now refer to their buildings as Masonic Centers.

Youth groups
Masonic organizations for young people that include Iowa DeMolay for boys 12 to 21, Rainbow for Girls for girls 11 to 20, and Job’s Daughters for young women 11 to 20.


Q: Is Masonry a Religion?

A: Masonry is a fraternity, not a religion. Masonry acknowledges the existence of God, but Masonry does not tell a person which religion he should practice or how he should practice it. That is a function of his house of worship, not his fraternity.

Sometimes people confuse Masonry with a religion because we call some Masonic buildings “temples.” But we use the word in the same sense that Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes called the Supreme Court a ” Temple ofJustice.” Neither Masonry nor the Supreme Court is a religion just because its members meet in a “temple.” Most lodges now refer to their buildings as Masonic centers

Q: Why is Masonry so secretive?

A: It really isn’t secretive, although it sometimes has that reputation. Masons certainly don’t make a secret of the fact that we are members of the fraternity. We wear rings, lapel pins, and tie clasps with Masonic emblems like the Square and Compass. Masonic buildings are clearly marked, and are usually listed in the phone book. Lodge activities are not secret – events are often listed in the newspapers, especially in smaller towns. But there are two traditional categories of secrets. First are the ways in which a man can identify himself as a Mason: grips and passwords. This is the same for any fraternity. Second are Masonic ceremonies, which are private (for members only) but are not secret

Q: Why does Masonry use symbols?

A: Everyone uses symbols every day because it allows us to communicate quickly. When you see a red light, you know what it means. When you see a circle with a line through it, you know it means “no.” In fact, using symbols is probably the oldest method of communication and teaching.

Masons use symbols for the same reasons. Certain symbols, mostly selected from the art of architecture, stand for certain ethics and principles of the organization. The “Square and Compass” is the most widely known symbol of Masonry. In one way, this symbol is the trademark for the fraternity. When you see it on a building, you know that Masons meet there.