Blue Lodge Freemasonry
From About Freemasons
To understand Blue Lodge, or Craft Freemasonry, it is important to understand something of the history of Freemasonry. In the period before the 1700s Freemasonry was a union or guild of masons – professionals working in stone. These masons built public buildings and cathedrals, projects that sometimes took over a century and involved whole generations of Masons. Since these Masons worked under contract and not for a Lord or King, they were called “Freemasons.” Once they finished a project, they could travel somewhere else for work and could select which projects to work on.
Craft and Accepted Masons
As the guild of Masons came to include some social as well as work elements, it became a prestigious group and some non-Masons applied to be members, which is where the term “Free and Accepted Masons” comes from. Masons who were accepted and not practicing masons were called speculative Masons. Over the years, the building of huge stone buildings was no longer as popular and more accepted Masons were accepted into the guild. The result was that by 1717 most members of the guild were not practicing masons. In that year, the Grand Lodge of England was formed and Freemasonry became not a fraternity of actual builders so much as a fraternity of men interested in building characters and minds.
Understanding the symbolic lodge
Therefore, the "Blue Lodge" is a symbolic lodge (also called a Craft Lodge) that is meant to separate this type of Lodge from an actual guild or lodge of practicing Masons. Every Mason begins in a “Blue Lodge.” This is where he seeks out the first three degrees: the Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Masons Degrees. These degrees are symbolic and are based on understanding and learning, rather than on mastering a craft.
Why blue lodges?
According to Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, there may be a number of reasons why symbolic lodges are called Blue Lodges. Since ancient times, the color blue has been associated with immortality, eternity, and fidelity. References to the color blue in the Bible emphasize the special place blue has as a color symbolizing goodness and immortality. The Druids also honored the color while the ancient Egyptians used the color to represent Amun, one of their most important gods. The ancient Babylonians associated the color blue with the gods. In Medieval times, Christians saw blue as the symbol of perfection and hope, and well as of immortality and fidelity.
According to Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, it is not known when blue first came to be associated with Freemasonry, although some historians think that initially the color was used in Craft Masonry to represent the sky. Today, blue for Masons symbolizes brotherhood and symbolizes the fact that Masons should seek out virtues as extensive as the blue dome of heaven.
Beyond Craft Masonry
Although there are three degrees in Craft or Blue Lodges, Master Masons who have attained their third degree may seek out lodges or orders that go beyond this degree. These are called appendant bodies and are considered Masonic, since only Masons may join, but are considered administratively separate from Craft Grand Lodges. Different Craft Masonic Jurisdictions have different rules about the recognition of these other organizations. Some Jurisdictions recognize the degrees from these bodies while others do not. Some appendant bodies are considered to be completely separate organizations.