Note: The problem with this short article is that those Masons who need to read it will never find it and those that are seeing it will feel like Noah reading about the Flood.
The Fourteenth Landmark of Freemasonry on the list of what is often called “Mackey’s Landmarks” tells us that every Mason has the right to visit and sit in every regular lodge. Now, some Masons may would stop right there and think, “Ah ha – Lodge X has to let me visit.” The next Landmark, however, places some burdens on the visitor. The Fifteenth Landmark requires that the visitor be known as a Mason by a member of the visited lodge or the visitor must pass an examination before being allowed to visit.
There is only one legal way – Masonically speaking – for a Brother to know if a man is a Mason. He must have sat in open Lodge with him. If this is not the case, the visitor must pass an examination. But what is the examination?
There are several ways for an examination to be conducted, but a common method requires that the visitor demonstrate that he is in possession of the various words and grips. If the visitor successfully demonstrates this and is allowed to sit in open Lodge – the Master would still be in error, however. The reason for this is that expelled or suspended Masons – as well as some members of clandestine bodies – would certainly possess the words and grips.
The key ingredient in any examination is a certain piece of paper. The visitor should have in his physical possession a current dues card, certificate, or demit. Such a document must have been issued by a lodge or Grand Lodge that is recognized by the visited lodge’s Grand Lodge. It would also be prudent to have the visitor to produce photo identification so as to ensure that he is not using a stolen card, certificate, or demit.
Even unaffiliated Masons – not to be confused with Masons suspended because of nonpayment of dues – should possess a demit or certificate. Some jurisdictions will allow an unaffiliated Mason to visit once for the purpose of requesting affiliation with the visited lodge.
The key lesson of Visiting 101 is simple. Masons that intend to visit should have their dues card, certificate, or demit. Do not leave home without it.