Family of Freemasonry

Freemasonry is composed of several layers of membership. At its base are the three degrees of Craft or “Blue Lodge” Freemasonry. The fraternity looks to these three degrees as being the highest attainable, as all of the lessons of the fraternity can be found within them. But that has not precluded the development of the larger body, often referred to as the “family” of Freemasonry.

More on: Masonic Symbols and Freemasonry FAQs

This illustration depicts the entry point and progression of in the family of Freemasonry.

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The extended family of Freemasonry and its appendant bodies

To the young mason, and to the non-mason, the various degrees and bodies may seem many and confusing, but upon careful examination and exploration, their roles and function will become clear.

A Brief Compendium of the Family of Freemasonry

Like stepping-stones to the fraternity at the foundational level of Freemasonry there are several Masonic youth groups. These groups also provide a means to enhance the family experience in Freemasonry, as parents are often participants and supporters along with their younger children. The purpose of these groups is to nurture adolescents and their sense of community and involvement.

Youth Orders


Traditional Freemasonry

The foundation of Freemasonry is one of several branches that include several different types that cover the Symbolic Lodge and include gender-specific denominations, mixed-gender organizations and diversity specific representations.

Each of these diverse branches have evolved out of a particular need or interest in pursuing the study of Freemasonry.


This branch  of craft, or blue lodge, Freemasonry is denominated by three degrees, or steps, which are:

Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason

The Third Degree, that of the Master Mason, is the “highest” degree the can be given in most branches of Freemasonry.

In the United States, each state governs its own recognition, actions and degrees and is composed of its own local individualized “lodges” which are its principal meeting halls. Of important note, Prince Hall Freemasonry is recognized by many states in America, but is still considered by others to be “irregular,” which means they see it as not permissible for involvement in events or meetings with one another. All states in the U.S. see the co-masonic bodies as irregular.

An equal body of Grand Lodge Freemasonry is a feminine branch for women:

OES, Female masonic group, women's group, Freemason Information

Order of the Eastern Star (O.E.S.)

Appendant Bodies of Freemasonry

Following the first three degrees of Freemasonry are additional bodies that provide further knowledge and insight to the tradition, building on the original three. These organizations split into two directions, whose teachings are slightly differently, but inherently teach the same message.

The two bodies are:

york rite, masonic logo, allied degrees, freemason information

The York Rite

The Scottish Rite, which is further sub divided into:

As the Scottish Rite is split into two bodies in the continental United States, again teaching slightly different disciplines, within these systems are a conglomeration of additional degrees that offer further insight and philosophy.

Following this second step is a third, which has a slightly different focus, called:

shriners, masonic logo, crescent, star, sword, fez

Ancient Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine or A.A.O.N.M.S.
better known as Shriners International

The Shriner’s also have a notable (or notorious) sub organization, known as the:

Royal Order of Jesters

Auxiliary Bodies of Freemasonry

After these main bodies, there are ancillary groups of Freemasons who have come together to form additional clubs. These are on the national level and meet with regularity in a variety of locations.

These additional Bodies in the family of Freemasonry include:

But this is just part of the picture of Freemasonry in America. With so many “regular” organizations, there exist several outside of that sphere of recognition. This lack of recognition does not reflect necessarily on who they are or what they do, rather it is often a matter of procedural or policy. In many ways great strides are being made to establish recognition and build bonds, rather than breaking them down.

Irregular Masonic bodies

Rites of Memphis Misraim

Rites of Memphis Misraim

What Is Freemasonry?  |  Who Are Freemasons? | What Does Freemasonry Do?
The Family of Freemasonry

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  1. I was raised a master mason in lodge St. Andresw 1756, and am a past master of the same, I now live in Miami, Florida and do not attend a lodge. I love masonary and continue to study, I am desperate to find a home. I feel that true masonic practice is the best thing that could happen to this world.

  2. Robert,
    If you’re a youth, I suggest you join DeMolay, however, you must be between 12 and 21 and of good character and morals to join. That’s the first step. Their url is . If you’re 21 and over , I suggest you contact the Grand Lodge in your area. Or if you in California, go to on your computer .

  3. I rise from a long line of Prince Hall freemasonry. My Grandparents were both Prince Hall/Eastern Star in California , but past away before I was old enough to walk thourgh on bloodline:
    I study as much as I can given information may availble please inlighten in my path to walk.

  4. My name is antonio, i’m from Brazil, and i going to Bordeaux in march 18, i’d like to visit a lodge in your city, it will be a pleasure for me, i’m brother ijn Oliveira Zaninni lodge, number 45, grand lodge of Paraná, south of Brazil. i’m a doctor and i’m going to bordeaux for a congress. Thanks for atencion.

  5. I’m just saying Prince Hall (PHA) is recognized in many many countries. Just in the southern parts of the U.S. some cities in the south do accept African Americans but many don’t of bigotry and personal thinking instead of going by the book. We fight these wars around the with brothers of different races standing side by side living and dying with our fellow brothers in the military. I’ve traveled many places in this world we live in and a lot of outstanding mason gave me brotherly love in different countries and knew I was PHA. Plus Scottish Rite recognized us as well. So to say or list us as irregular is ridiculous. Just my opinion I love this great fraternity and the people in it. If you want positive LIGHT you have to Live it.

  6. I agree with the last respondent who says “God Bless our Family of Freemasonry”. He is so right.
    I am a Past Worshipful Master and Past 1st Principal. The experience of Freemasonry is so important to those who make the decision to embrace it into their lives. My greatest love of Freemasonry is that is believes in the equality of man. No matter what his religion or race. You are welcome into our fraternity. The greatest fraternity of mankind which has existed over many centuries.
    I have read the responses by the Prince Hall Masons and I have had the honour of meeting with some of their brethren in years gone by. My thoughts are of Nat King Cole, a famous Prince Hall Mason. He is my favourite musician from the 1950′ and 1960s and of course there are many others.
    In Australia we do not exclude anyone who has the genuine desire and the proper character and background from joining our Lodges. In fact, some of our most cherished members have been of our indigenous people.
    May that continue. God Bless Freemasonry.
    Colin Irwin.

  7. My grandfather and father were Freemasons, and my grandmother Eastern Star. I have vague memories of Christmas Parties and bits and pieces of ‘adult’ conversations!.
    I am interested in learning more about this part of my heritage. Is this a possibility and if so please point me in the direction!
    Thank you for any help with this!!

  8. He leido hace tiempo el libro de oro de los masones: en esa revista vi la figura de JIMMY CARTER, como masón grado 33. Sin embargo, hoy, cuando pregunto por internet.,: ¿fue JIMMY CARTER MASON?, no encuentro respuesta….Alguién puede confirmarlo, y si realmente es en la actualidad? por favor….

  9. I’m not entirely sure where you got some of your information, but there are some major errors, and gaps. While time limits what I can say here, one error I would like to address is your information on the Order of the Eastern Star, and the Order of the Amaranth. First of all, the OES is listed here as “An equal body of Grand Lodge Freemasonry” and “a feminine branch for women:” This is patently incorrect. The OES is considered a part of the “masonic family,” and one of the “concordant bodies,” but it is not a feminine branch of free masonry for women. In its ritual, which is not the same as the masons, it specifically states that while members have ties to the masons it is NO PART OF masonry. Some more important information: It is a fraternal order for both men and women where they may practice the tenets of brotherly love, relief and truth, and give aid and service to society while functioning within a fraternal organization. Men must be masons, women must be either a relative of a mason, or a former member of Rainbow for Girls, or Jobs Daughters. It was originally designed as a three degree order, The Order of the Eastern Star was the original or initiatory degree, the second degree was “The Queen of the South,” and finally the third degree was the “Order of the Amaranth,” which was modeled after, but not copied from or part of an order of chivalry originally established in Sweden by Queen Christina. However, in 1921 the Queen of the South degree was done away with and the two bodies; OES and Amaranth became completely separate orders with their own Grand and Supreme governing bodies. (It should be noted however, that in Prince Hall Masonry, their Eastern Star maintains the original three degree structure, including the Queen of the South.) The Order of the Amaranth, is today, much smaller than OES, however it is unique in that it recently changed its membership requirements to allow women who do not have masonic affiliation to join with the recommendations of two masons of good standing. This, it is hoped will open the doors to women who find the concept of fraternal activity, and service of interest, but who might not have been able to do so before.(Men however must still be master become a member) – One special note about Amaranth, their main charitable association is, as you mentioned, the American Diabetes Association, however, what may be of interest is that Amaranth funded the research and development of the insulin pump, which has changed the lives of many diabetics. It might also be interesting to mention that reflecting the importance of what Amaranth has done for the organization, it is the only non profit organization with a seat on the board of directors for the Diabetes Association. – The OES has several ongoing charitable projects it supports, as well as annual projects designated by various grand chapters. Ongoing projects include the heart fund which supports medical developments in heart health and care, patient comfort, which is involved in supporting care for cancer patients, the Cancer Fund which supports cancer research,, the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, a disaster fund to assist various communities who have suffered a disaster such as flood, hurricane or fire, and more. While all of the appendant/concordant bodies, including the youth groups contribute significantly to charity and community service on local, state and national levels, and make a real difference to the individuals involved, and their communities, the OES and the Order of the Amaranth are good examples of what can be accomplished.

  10. Pingback: 11 Persona Types of Freemasonry – Part 2, Members | Freemason Information

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