Freemasonry or Masonry consists of fraternal organisations that trace their origins to the local fraternities of stonemasons that from the end of the fourteenth century regulated the qualifications of stonemasons and their interaction with authorities and clients.
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The degrees of Freemasonry retain the three grades of medieval craft guilds, those of Apprentice, Journeyman or fellow, and Master Mason.
A "journeyman" is a skilled worker who has successfully completed an official apprenticeship qualification in a building trade or craft.
Guilds were and are associations of artisans or merchants who control the practice of their craft in a particular town.
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The candidate of these three degrees is progressively taught the meanings of the symbols of Freemasonry, and entrusted with grips, signs and words to signify to other members that he has been so initiated.
The degrees are part allegorical morality play and part lecture.
The morality play is a genre of medieval and early Tudor theatrical entertainment.
Three degrees are offered by Craft Freemasonry, and members of any of these degrees are known as Freemasons or Masons.
There are additional degrees, which vary with locality and jurisdiction, and are usually administered by their own bodies.
The basic, local organisational unit of Freemasonry is the Lodge.
These private Lodges are usually supervised at the regional level by a Grand Lodge or Grand Orient.
A Grand Lodge is the overarching governing body of a fraternal or other similarly organized group in a given area, usually a city, state, or country.
G is the seventh letter in the ISO basic Latin alphabet.
There is no international, worldwide Grand Lodge that supervises all of Freemasonry; each Grand Lodge is independent, and they do not necessarily recognise each other as being legitimate.
Modern Freemasonry broadly consists of two main recognition groups.
Regular Freemasonry insists that a volume of scripture is open in a working lodge, that every member profess belief in a Supreme Being, that no women are admitted, and that the discussion of religion and politics is banned.
In monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, and principal object of faith.
This article deals with organization in Craft or Blue Lodge Freemasonry.
Continental Freemasonry is now the general term for the jurisdictions which have removed some, or all, of these restrictions.
Continental Freemasonry includes the Masonic lodges, mainly on the continent of Europe, that recognise the Grand Orient de France or belong to CLIPSAS.