From About Freemasons
A Masonic lodge is a rather difficult term to understand for most people who are not Masons. This is because the term has two meanings. Masonic lodges are physical locations where meetings between Masons are held. However, the lodge also refers to the group of members there. In fact, most Masons consider this second meaning to be the correct one. That is, most Masons agree that they meet “as a Lodge” rather than “in a Lodge.”
In fact, some lodges have changed the names of the physical structures in which they meet to avoid confusion. Some lodges are calling their physical meeting places temples or centers rather than lodges so as to avoid confusion. However, many lodges still continue to meet in physical buildings called lodges. Many Masons also believe it is appropriate to speak of the physical location of meeting as a lodge. Therefore, it is possible to meet as a Lodge in a Lodge. To add to the confusion, some physical buildings (lodges) host more than one lodge of masons.
Most Masonic lodges have names, and many are named by the original members of the lodge. Some are named after famous Masons, their physical location, symbols, or after famous historical figures. All lodges also have a number which refers to the order in which the lodge has been chartered within its jurisdiction. An old Lodge will have a smaller number, only newer one will have a larger number.
The physical lodge
The physical room, building, or lodge where masons meet is imbued with all sorts of symbols. Many of these relate to the building of King Solomon's Temple or to the actual craft of masonry. This is because both masonry and the building of Solomon's Temple are said to be linked to the history of Freemasonry. Plus, the symbols of both the craft and the building of that one temple are said to contain the teachings that can help masons become better people. While the appearance of lodges varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, many lodge rooms and lodges are constructed and even arranged similarly.
Many of today's lodges hold meetings in a rectangular room. This room has seating along the walls of the room, so that when ceremonies take place in the center, every Mason can see. Most lodges are built east to west because ancient temples were all lined east to west to symbolize the path of the sun. Walking into the large room usually means that a Mason is facing east, even if a lodge has not been built on the east to west path.
Most lodge rooms have a sacred book that is open during meetings. This book, called the Volume of Sacred Law, is usually a Bible although it can be another form of sacred or holy taxed. This volume is kept on a special altar. In the US, it is kept in the center of the room on an altar. In lodges around the world, the altar and sacred text is near Master's chair. Near the altar, three candles are placed in a triangle to light the Volume of Sacred Law.
The seating of officers in a lodge room is also symbolic. The Master sits in the east part of the room, on a platform raised by three steps. The Senior Warden is seated in the west end of the room on a platform consisting of two steps. The Junior Warden is in the south part of the lodge room on a platform consisting of one step. The steps symbolize youth, adulthood, and old age.
Most lodges have two tall pillars that contain globes at the top. These pillars are styled after the two bronze columns that we know were part of Solomon's Temple. Another key symbol is the lit letter “G.” This is usually hung over the Master's chair or the altar. It represents geometry – crucial for the Mason trade -- but also represents God.
Lodge buildings and lodge rooms vary from large to small, from elaborate to quite modest. In addition to the rooms where the ceremonies are conducted, most buildings also have social rooms, dining rooms, and other areas. The social areas are often made available for weddings of lodge members and other special public events.