Welcome to Star Lodge No.1 The oldest Prince Hall Masonic Lodge in West Virginia


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Q: What is Freemasonry?
A: Freemasonry is a philosophy and practice of morality and ethics imparted to its members through the symbolic use of the tools of ancient stonemasons and by initiation ceremonies based upon rituals that are centuries old. Freemasons uniquely use 18th century language and rituals to teach 21st century values.

The heritage of modern Freemasonry is derived from the organized guilds or unions of stonemasons who constructed the beautiful cathedrals and other stately structures throughout Europe during the middle ages. Over time, the demand for operative stonemasons declined until they were eventually replaced with members who emphasized the teaching of moral philosophy rather than the technical and working skills of earlier centuries.

Tools of the stonemasons are still used in Freemasonry today but only to symbolize moral virtue, not to build cathedrals.

Q: What does it mean to be a Mason?
A: It means being part of an unbroken tradition that stretches back over 500 years to a time when guilds of Freemasons traveled throughout Europe laying the stones of the great Gothic cathedrals.

It means sharing the values of our nation’s founding fathers – among them George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and Paul Revere – all Masons who lived their lives by the principles of loyalty, patriotism, liberty, courage, and faith, which are also deeply embedded in Freemasonry.

It means becoming a better person while helping to improve the quality of life for others. It means forming deep and lasting friendships through Masonic Brotherhood that transcend the boundaries of race, religion, and culture, as well as those of geography.

But most of all, being a Mason means the kind of deep satisfaction that comes only from selfless giving; from doing for others without asking or expecting anything in return.

Q: Why is Masonry a secret organization?
A: The oft-repeated answer given by Masons is that Masonry isn't a secret organization but rather an organization with secrets. In fact, Masonry's only 'secrets' are its modes of recognition.

Any organization which is SO visible in the community and the world can hardly be considered 'secret'! The buildings used for meetings are generally quite clearly marked for all to find. In many parts of the world, there are even street signs as one enters the city/town/village helping those interested to find Masonic buildings. There are thousands of sites on the Internet, there are listings in phone books, and there are public events held regularly. Secret? Hardly!

Because of the history of Masonry - drawing from the Master Builders of the middle ages - the lessons of brotherly love, fidelity, and charity are taught in an allegorical format which is kept private and is for those who are involved only. The secrecy practiced by Masons today is no more secret than meetings of the Board of Directors of a corporation.

Those opposed to secrecy - for whatever reason - question the need for this, but the simple answer is that it is part of the 'fabric' of a nearly four hundred year old organization - and that makes it very unique.

Q: Who becomes a Mason?
A: Men who become Masons come from all walks of life and levels of income. They represent every race, creed, and culture.

In Masonry, it doesn’t matter whether a man is a bricklayer or a physician, a waiter or the mayor of the city. All are “on the same level” in the Lodge room.

The ceremonies and practices of the Masons have remained unchanged for hundreds of years. No matter where a Masonic Lodge is located, its members share the common bond of having passed through the same degree work, rites, and rituals.

Because of this, members can find brother Masons wherever they go. Across the country and around the world, there are Lodges in nearly every city and in many smaller communities.

It’s a good feeling to know that, wherever a man’s travels may take him, he has friends he can depend upon and trust.

Q: What are Masonic Tenets?
A: Freemasonry is built upon three basic tenets – Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. Brotherly Love is the practice of the Golden Rule. Relief embodies charity for all mankind. Truth is honesty, fair play, and adherence to the cardinal virtues of Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice.

These moral lessons are taught during three ceremonies, or “degrees” through allegory and symbolism using the traditional stonemasons tools

Q: What do Freemasons Give?
A: Selfless giving is a trademark of Freemasonry. Locally, Masonic Lodges may offer scholarships to students pursuing higher education; they may conduct Child Identification programs in coordination with local police departments; they may donate bicycles to schools in their community to promote public education, in addition to volunteering their time in a host of other ways for the betterment of their towns and cities.

Nationally, Masons contribute nearly $2 million every day to relieve suffering and for the enrichment of mankind. Masons are the founding sponsors and supporters of the Shriners Burn Institutes and the Shriners Hospitals for Children, both of which offer their services free of charge; the Scottish Rite Childhood Language Program helps children with speech and language disorders throughout the United States, while numerous other Masonic affiliated organizations support worthy and needed causes

Q: Are Masons related to the Knights Templar?
A: In short, not at all likely! Three hundred years ago, an organization was given it's 'credibility' by its associations with the ancient past so forming groups would attempt to create a historical link to earlier times - even if such links had no basis in fact whatsoever. Antiquity gave recognition, even if it was manufactured. In earlier times too, there were many 'degree systems' which existed throughout Europe, one of which ultimately became a part of Freemasonry. The explanations of the fourth degree's connection with basic 'craft' Masonry (the first three degrees) and the entire (current) Knights Templars organization would take volumes and is far beyond the scope of this web site. Further, differing authors over time have had different opinions on the matter.

The history of the original Knights Templar is also shrouded in the mists of time. One of the most powerful organizations of the late 1200s, it was effectively eliminated as a result of a power play between church and state leaders. Many of its members simply 'disappeared' and many theories have since arisen, where attempts are made to link the Templars to various locations including a fortress in northern France and, most popularly, Scotland including Rosslyn Chapel. However, despite the fanciful beliefs and varied theories, no proof for any of these assumptions has been forthcoming - and they remain merely theories notwithstanding the sometimes impassioned pleas that there really are 'facts' (including things like the 'proven' chambers still unopened under Rosslyn Chapel etc.)

In centuries past, Masonic writers would freely attribute their lineage to the sometimes popular Knights Templar. With advanced knowledge of actual historical facts - and despite popular writers' theories - there is no definitive proof of a connection between Templars and Freemasonry.

Q: Why is Masonry's membership declining?
A: After the close of World War II, many men coming home were struck by the change which had occurred while they were away fighting for freedom. They sought the stability of 'traditional values' and 'freedom of conscience', recalling the joy of a father, grandfather, uncle, or other family member had felt from Masonic membership. They joined in droves! As they now age and die, however, Masonry's numbers are diminishing. The anti-establishment approach of the 60s and 70s made many eschew the history and toleration which is a hallmark of Freemasonry and thus there were fewer new candidates to replace those who passed on.

As we move through the 90s and into the next millennium, however, Masonry is seeing a revival as younger men recognize that the values which brought those to Freemasonry in the past are just as relevant today. Freemasonry, like nearly all other institutions has experienced membership loss. The tide is turning, however, and the organization looks forward to a bright future!

Q: Is Freemasonry 'Esoteric'?
A: It must be emphasized - strongly and firmly - that Freemasonry is, and always has been, primarily a social and service club. The vast majority of Masons find the organization to be one which allows them to engage in assisting the less fortunate as well as to share fellowship with like-minded persons from all walks of life. Freemasonry encourages its members to be better and to take time to consider the 'sublime mysteries' in the world around him.

No one knows with certainty the origins of Freemasonry and Masonic scholars have, over the centuries, taken different approaches to its history. Today, an "Authentic School" dominates Masonic literature and research. Most current Mason-authors seek to provide clear, proven, and 'scientific' explanations for Freemasonry's past as well as its present. There are, however, a small fringe of Masons who support an "Esoteric School", claiming all sorts of various scenarios for Freemasonry's birth and growth including origins in various venues: the rites of ancient Egypt, the Knights Templars, and the various quasi-religious organizations such as the Rosicrucians.

Obviously, there is no one answer to the question which presents modern researchers: where are our 'roots'? Additionally, Freemasonry encourages its members to grow mentally and it's sometimes an interesting exercise to compare our present ceremonies and forms with those of the past and to speculate on how they might have formed in the image of those from earlier times.

Freemasonry's detractors will point to 'evil' or 'God-hating' in looking to these possible historical antecedents. What they ignore, however, is that EVERY institution is created and grows based on both known and unknown backgrounds. Many of the leading thinkers of days past explored what we now would consider "occult" (whether it involved spells or alchemy) - and they were almost universally committed Christians in their personal religious beliefs. Current day detractors grasp at straws when they attempt to show that one or two authors, well-versed in the 'arcane arts', drove Freemasonry's growth and define its existence today. It's simply not so.

The "Esoteric School" of Freemasonry which explores the 'occult subtext' of Freemasonry is a minute minority. Nothing more..

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