Masons, also known as Freemasons, are a secret and somewhat controversial religious all-male group, with rituals and ceremonies for several different occasions, including initiations, weddings, funerals and “degrees,” or promotions to upper levels of Masonry. These rituals and ceremonies include secrets known only to Masons, such as handshakes, symbols, passwords and chants. Oral lectures and allegories from religious texts are also common in ceremonies.
In Freemasonry, a ritual or ceremony refers to the actions that are carried out and the words that are spoken in a Masonic lodge. A very important form of ceremony is the ritual for initiation into Freemasonry. In this ritual, a novice candidate is initiated into the group for the first time or a person who is already a member is progressed or promoted to a higher degree or order. This ceremony, like all others, includes a script and secret passwords, tokens and grips that add to the overall symbolism of the act. Rumors abound of initiation ceremonies that involve nooses, guns and nudity.
Ceremonies for weddings are also conducted based on preset scripts and a ritualized format. Masonic funeral ceremonies are often lengthy and are conducted by Masons of higher orders. They are extremely respectful and celebrate a life well-lived.
Although Masonic rituals are usually clandestine and known only to members, some of their secrets have leaked out over the years. Some are even referred to in popular films and literature.