Invited to Freemasons dinner - what to expect

So a few weeks ago I saw a guy at a bar wearing a jacket with the Masonic emblem. Since it has been an ambition of mine for some time to join the Freemasons I asked him how to go about doing this. He gave me the address of the local lodge and the website, and from that site I found the email address of the man in charge. I emailed him with some basic information about myself, my reasons for wanting to join the Masons, and asked him how to do it. He replied, telling me to meet at the lodge for dinner tomorrow night.

I can only assume that the purpose of me coming to this dinner is so that they can evaluate me and figure out whether or not I’m the kind of guy they want among them. I don’t know what form this will take. I don’t know how casual or formal it is going to be. Is this the standard procedure for a prospective initiate into the Masons - to have him come to the lodge for dinner?

Are they going to have me take some sort of test, or answer a series of questions? Is it an “interview” - some kind of formal procedure? Or am I totally overthinking it? Are there likely to be other prospects there also? Or is it just going to be me and a lot of guys three times my age?

Obviously once I’m there I’ll be able to figure out for myself what to do, and everything - but is there anything I should know going into it?

I don’t know but be sure to give us an update. It sounds interesting. And don’t give us any of that “It’s a secret” bull shit. Your FIRST allegiance is with us, dammit!!

(For some reason my “spidey senses” are telling me that they are going to ask you for money to join their organization. Which is completely up to you. But if I were you, I’d make sure they were a legitimate charter before I did.)

Yeah, you go to the lodge for dinner, and if it’s like it is here there’s, you know, meat and three. Bring a couple of bucks to drop in the basket for dinner. When the boyfriend went I was invited as well, and they ended up inviting me to a special little information session to make sure I didn’t think they were Satan worshippers or anything. Nice guys. My dad’s in it, too, though. They like to eat. Get ready for Salisbury steak like you ain’t seen since you was in the Navy in Korea - they’re guys of, er, a certain vintage.

It will be a sort of mutual check out thing; most importantly will be “Do you want to be a Mason?” There may or may not be some questions along that general line but it is primarily to do determine if the fit is right. You will get some very basic information as to what Masonry is all about and you will probably be given an applications; it won’t be an in-depth applications so don’t sweat it. If you decide it is something you want, three men will come to your house and ask you some questions; again, it is nothing to worry about; one of those men will probably be your sponsor and then the memory work regarding the Ritual will begin. It can be a lot of fun, even if it is solemn. I sincerely hope you will go for it.

Make sure to show them the t-square shaped birthmark on your ass, that will get you right in if The Simpsons have not misled me.

How should I dress for this? Do Masons dress formally or semi-formally for these dinners (there is also a meeting that same evening, right after the dinner)?

Stay away from the goats.

I’ll tell you my experiences when I became a Freemason, YMMV.

One cannot become a freemason immediately, you need to be proposed and seconded by two freemasons, both of whom have known you for two years. I had a close friend who was already a Mason. He invited me to a dinner at his lodge on Burns Night, where I met his fellow masons. The following year I met them again at the next Burns Night dinner, then a year after that I was invited to interview to join, (that is two years after meeting them for the first time). You too will probably have to go to several functions over two years before you can join.

You can expect the dinner to be pretty much normal. All the business of Freemasonry is conducted in private, members only. You won’t see any of it. They won’t wear Masonic regalia at the dinner, nor roll up their trouser legs. The only unusual thing you might see is a peculiar form of Masonic toasting, called a quickfire.

During the dinner the head of the lodge (Worshipful Master) will “take wine with” various people. He will certainly want to “take wine with the guests.” That means you. Nothing to it. You just stand up at the table, raise your glass to the WM, and take a sip, then sit down.

You should preferably wear a black suit, white shirt, black tie and black shoes. It should be dress suitable for a funeral. This is a sign of respect to the dead of World War 1, and the wars that followed. Failing that, a smart suit suitable for wearing at the office.

There may be a charitable collection during the dinner. Some lodges hold it during their private meeting, some hold it during the dinner. There may also be a raffle for charity.

Mmm… Peter Morris, are you in the US? 'Cause, that ain’t how they do things here, really. The Prince Hall guys wear tuxes, the regular white dudes wear, like, sport coats, sometimes suits. There’s coffee and tea, no alcohol.

No, I’m UK, near London. I don’t recall where the OP hails from.

Masonic traditions share the same core, but each Grand Lodge is independent. Here, Lodges are dry (relaxed on rare occassions), dress is business suits, and I don’t recall any mention of either World War. :slight_smile:

The brothers who meet with you will explain what is expected of you. Masons have very few secrets, and we all like to talk, and make people feel welcome.

I can make one recommendation, however, if you’re presented with the choice of a one day class, or the full Ritual, go with the full Ritual. It’s a great experince.

I have very recently been ‘approved’ to join the Masons. I am scheduled to take my first degree on Wednesday January 20. The lodge I am joining meets on the third Tuesday of each month, and I should receive my second and third degrees on the regularly scheduled meetings in February and March.

I was introduced to the guys at the lodge by a friend who is new in town and a member of another Masonic lodge in a different city. He brought me down during an open house a few months ago so that I could meet the Masons, learn a little about the lodge (and the organization in general) and he was seeking to ‘affiliate’ (join not the Masons, but the particular lodge). We were both invited back the following Tuesday evening for dinner. I attended that one (October) as well as the next month’s dinner (in November). I got to meet some of the guys and had a nice meal and sort of hung out for an hour then went home when they reconvened after dinner.

I wore jeans and a polo shirt the first time, and dockers and a corderoy sport coat the second time. The lodge officials wore Tuxedos, and the rest of the guys wore suits or slacks with sport coats and ties. Although I didn’t conform to the dress code, nobody said anything, nor did anybody seem to mind. I learned that a business suit, or dress slacks, shirt, tie and jacket are ‘always appropriate dress for official lodge functions’, and when I take my degrees I’ll dress appropriately.

The dinner is most likely simply an opportunity for you to meet the guys, learn about the organization and the lodge, and decide if it’s right for you. As you said, you will probably meet someone at the dinner who will sponser you. My friend was not able to sponser me, since he was seekigng affiliation, but the lodge historian quickly offered to sponser me.

While at the open house, I got an application, which included a brief job history, 9 (yes nine) references (in three categories - friends/school, neighbors and business associates). I returned the completed application along with a check for $25 and they began the investigation process, which consisted of first speakign to my references (I believe they spoke to every one of them), then I was invited to interview with a couple guys that made up the application committee. We met at one of the guys’ office (he is a lawyer in town) and we sat and chatted for an hour or so, and they asked me some questions which you can find in a 30 second Google search - “Are you joining of your own free will”, “Are you joining for fraternity, and not because you expect some monetary gain as a result of joining” and stuff like that. It was all fairly informal and the guys were really laid back and friendly. I didn’t feel like I was being cross-examined at all. They explained the questions had got to be asked so that candidates didn’t join for the wrong reasons, or with expectations that would not be met or were not compatible with the mission of the Masons organization. I was also asked if I was joining to try to gain allies with which to overthrow the government (obviously the answer was no, as that’s not the sort of thing they do). Lastly, I suppose, I was asked if I believe in a higher power and they explained my religious leanings weren’t really relevent, only that I believed in some higher power. There were other questions, but that’s sort of the gist of it and the main ones I can think of off the top of my head.

Based on the application, the references, and the interview I was invited to receive my degrees. It took a couple months, and it will take a couple more to complete the initiation process, but that’s how they do it.

NETA: After my interview, they put me up to vote during the next scheduled lodge meeting, which was in November. My friend was allowed to affiliate at that same meeting and was able to vote for me as one of his first ‘official’ actions as a member of the Philanthropic Lodge (the one I’m joining). I guess when the vote happens, every member in attendence at that particular meeting votes, and a single No vote is enough to prevent you from being invited to join. The votes are cast by selecting white or black balls from a covered tray and placing the vote in the voting part of the tray. The white balls are a yes vote, the black balls are a no vote. This is the voting style upon which the term “Black-balled” means you are permanently excluded from participating in something.

Once I’ve received the third degree (Master Mason) in March, I’ll start an “Ask the Mason thread” if anyone is interested.

AT, I’d be interested to hear about your experiences. Please post after your dinner!

The guys I met with said the same thing in regard to going with the full Ritual.

Here in Georgia, USA, one has to ask to join the Masons. I did so because my then wife was in Eastern Star and she wanted me to join. Since then, '93, I’m now a past master. The three degrees (which took six months to complete) were pretty fun. Every lodge I know of around here requires the full ritual for all three degrees. I’m still fairly active in the lodge. We sell barbecue twice a year- it’s our main moneymaker.

I want to thank everyone who has provided information. I am glad to know a little bit in advance, although I have no idea if my experience will be the same as that of someone in another state. (I’m in southern Indiana.) Where are you, Winston Smith? (The Hub of the Universe doesn’t count!)

Wait, did you get asked TO dinner or FOR dinner? If “for”, then I recommend pre-marinating yourself, maybe a nice cider vinegar, with a cumin, cayenne, onion salt, garlic powder, paprika and a tiny bit of ground coffee rub.

I’ve been told by members in Indiana (my native state) that the process there is similar to the one in Georgia. Memorization is involved.

I suspect that you’ll probably be asked to cut the throat, and rip the tongue out of, and leave in the sand the body of, some rat that revealed the secrets of the lodge.
Could be wrong, tho.