Operative Freemasonry has a long and rich history that can be traced back to the very beginnings of human civilization when people first began to build shelters to protect themselves from the vicissitudes of the seasons. In those early days, simple wood structures held together by vines would have provided basic shelter from the changing and often violent weather. It is even possible that the wood used was still living, with the vines touching the ground taking root and beginning to grow, transforming a simple shelter into a living work of art.

As humanity evolved and made new discoveries, such as the ability to transform rock into building materials, builders were able to construct larger and more sturdy dwellings. The lessons learned from nature, and the deep connection that humanity has with the natural world, led to the development of both functional and aesthetically pleasing elements in architecture.

Operative Freemasons were skilled craftsmen who honed their abilities in building to provide shelter from the elements and to create works of art that conveyed a sense of unity and harmony. A Master Mason would pass along his knowledge and skills to his Fellowcrafts, who would in turn teach these lessons to Apprentices. In this way, new ideas and innovations were built upon the foundation of basic architectural principles, helping to advance the craft, and resulting in structures that were strong, well-proportioned, and beautiful.

The art of Masonry began with the construction of simple shelters and dwellings, but over time it grew to encompass a wide range of structures, including cathedrals, monuments, temples, bridges, and fortifications. These structures still stand today as testament to the enduring skills and traditions of operative Masonry and continue to inspire and awe people to this day.

As a Speculative Freemason, we are constantly seeking to improve ourselves and to build our own “temple” – not just in the physical sense, but in the metaphorical sense as well. We are all bound by the limitations of nature, but more importantly we are also empowered by its possibilities.

Our journey through Freemasonry is one of self-improvement and growth, and as we progress, we come to realize that our “dwellings” — the foundations upon which we build our lives — are not yet perfected. We rely on the wisdom and guidance of those who came before us to teach us how to properly apply the principles of The Craft and to hone our skills. This concept can be understood in several ways. It could refer to the fact that we are all works in progress, with room for growth and improvement in various aspects of our lives. It could also be seen as a metaphor for the idea that we are constantly building and constructing the various elements of our lives — our relationships, careers, personal values, and so on — and that these structures are not yet complete or fully formed.

As Speculative Freemasons we know that we are always learning and growing.

Just as our operative Brothers of the past used their skills and knowledge to build and create, we too have the opportunity to use our learned skills to put our own unique stamp on the lessons we have learned. We can use our skills and understanding of The Craft to not only improve ourselves, but also to improve the Fraternity and the world around us. This idea is rooted in the belief that Freemasonry is more than just a fraternity or a club; it is a way of life that encourages its members to strive for self-improvement and to use their skills and abilities for the betterment of society. Through the application of the principles of the craft and the pursuit of knowledge, Masons are able to make a positive difference in the world, whether through their work, charitable efforts, or community service.

In this way, the skills and knowledge that we acquire through Freemasonry can be seen as tools that we can use to create positive change and to contribute to the greater good. We can build upon the legacy of our operative Brothers and continue to make a positive impact on humanity and contribute to the betterment of society.

Written by WB Todd M. Paterek
Blazing Star Lodge #694 F&AM