Grand Lodge
A Grand Lodge, or "Grand Orient", is the usual governing body of "Craft", or "Blue Lodge", Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

 in a particular jurisdiction
Regular Masonic jurisdictions
Regularity is the process by which individual Grand Lodges recognise one another for the purposes of allowing formal interaction at the Grand Lodge level and visitation by members of other jurisdictions.-History:...

. The first Masonic Grand Lodge was established in England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 in 1717 as the Premier Grand Lodge of England
Premier Grand Lodge of England
The Premier Grand Lodge of England was founded on 24 June 1717 as the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster and it existed until 1813 when it united with the Ancient Grand Lodge of England to create the United Grand Lodge of England. It was the first Masonic Grand Lodge to be created...

The head of a Grand Lodge is called the Grand Master
Grand Master (Masonic)
In Freemasonry a Grand Master is the leader of the lodges within his Masonic jurisdiction. He presides over a Grand Lodge, and has certain rights in the constituent lodges that form his jurisdiction....

, and the other officers of the Grand Lodge prefix "Grand" to the titles of Lodge
Masonic Lodge
This article is about the Masonic term for a membership group. For buildings named Masonic Lodge, see Masonic Lodge A Masonic Lodge, often termed a Private Lodge or Constituent Lodge, is the basic organisation of Freemasonry...

 officers. Some Grand Lodges have established Provincial Grand Lodges as an organisational layer between themselves and member Lodges.

There is no central body to oversee all of the Grand Lodges in the world, and therefore, individual Grand Lodge policies and practices can and do vary, though they have a similar basic framework in common. The lack of a central authority means that Grand Lodges are held together simply by fellowship with one another. Despite this decentralization, many outsiders associate New World Order
New World Order (conspiracy)
In conspiracy theory, the term New World Order or NWO refers to the emergence of a totalitarian one-world government.The common theme in conspiracy theories about a New World Order is that a secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an...

 conspiracy theories with Masonry.


Grand Lodge jurisdictions are typically based on areas of civil government, with a separate Grand Lodge governing Masonic lodges within a particular National or State boundary. Each Grand Lodge functions independently of any other Grand Lodge, setting its own rules and rituals, and determining which other Grand Lodges to recognize. When two Grand Lodges recognize each other they are said to be "in Amity". "Amity" means that the two Grand Lodges recognize each other as being legitimate, and may allow Masons under one Grand Lodge to visit lodges of the other. A Grand Lodge that is not "in amity with" (or recognised by) another Grand Lodge will not permit its members to visit Lodges in the second Grand Lodge's jurisdiction. The cause of a lack of amity is usually due to a perceived or actual violation of one of the Landmarks of Freemasonry.

Furthermore, with some exceptions, especially regarding US Grand Lodges' recognition of Grand Lodges in South America, any Grand Lodge not recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England
United Grand Lodge of England
The United Grand Lodge of England is the main governing body of freemasonry within England and Wales and in other, predominantly ex-British Empire and Commonwealth countries outside the United Kingdom. It is the oldest Grand Lodge in the world, deriving its origin from 1717...

 (UGLE) is also not recognised by any Grand Lodge in amity with UGLE. The largest Grand Orient in the Continental Masonic form is the Grand Orient de France
Grand Orient de France
The Grand Orient de France is the largest of several Masonic organizations in France and the oldest in Continental Europe, founded in 1733.-Foundation:...


While the United Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Lodge of Ireland
Grand Lodge of Ireland
The Grand Lodge of Ireland is the second most senior Grand Lodge of Freemasons in the world, and the oldest in continuous existence. Since no specific record of its foundation exists, 1725 is the year celebrated in Grand Lodge anniversaries, as the oldest reference to Grand Lodge of Ireland comes...

 and the Grand Lodge of Scotland
Grand Lodge of Scotland
The Grand Lodge of Antient, Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland was founded in 1736 – although only a third of all lodges were represented at the foundation meeting of the Grand Lodge....

 each govern Freemasonry within their respective countries and overseas provinces, Continental European countries typically have more than one Grand Lodge per country. Historically, the United States had recognised one Grand Lodge per state, independent of the Grand Lodge of any other state. Today, most have two: a "mainstream" Grand Lodge and a Prince Hall Grand Lodge. All of the "mainstream" Grand Lodges in the United States of America are recognised by each other, and most recognise each other's Prince Hall counterparts.

Prince Hall Masonry
Prince Hall Freemasonry
Prince Hall Freemasonry derives from historical events which led to a tradition of separate predominantly African-American Freemasonry in North America...

, which was formed while Masonry in the United States was effectively segregated, has a predominantly black membership. Various philosophical and technical reasons historically prevented US "mainstream" Grand Lodges from recognising or acknowledging Prince Hall Grand Lodges as regular bodies
Regular Masonic jurisdictions
Regularity is the process by which individual Grand Lodges recognise one another for the purposes of allowing formal interaction at the Grand Lodge level and visitation by members of other jurisdictions.-History:...

operating in accordance with the Landmarks of Freemasonry. Originally having one Grand Lodge for the whole United States, separate Prince Hall Grand Lodges now operate in most US states and jurisdictions. Many PHGLs also sponsor and govern Prince Hall Lodges abroad, principally on or near US military bases. Since the early 1990s onward, most, but not all, US Grand Lodges and Prince Hall Grand Lodges began to extend mutual recognition and promote visitations and fellowship between their members.

Other bodies

Other organisations which only accept Master Masons, such as Scottish Rite
Scottish Rite
The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry , commonly known as simply the Scottish Rite, is one of several Rites of the worldwide fraternity known as Freemasonry...

 and the Shriners, have their own governing bodies, not called Grand Lodges, which are not directly accountable to the Grand Lodge in the jurisdiction in which they operate. Other Masonically-affiliated orders, such as the OES
Order of the Eastern Star
The Order of the Eastern Star is a fraternal organization that both men and women can join. It was established in 1850 by Rob Morris, a lawyer and educator from Boston, Massachusetts, who had been an official with the Freemasons. It is based on teachings from the Bible, but is open to people of all...

 and DeMolay
DeMolay International
DeMolay International , founded in Kansas City, Missouri in 1919, is an international organization for young men ages 12–21. DeMolay derives its name from Jacques DeMolay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar...

, are also independent. However, these organisations' governing bodies, as a rule, defer to their Grand Lodges as the essential authority over Masonry in their regions.

See also

  • List of Masonic Grand Lodges - a list of bodies claiming to be a Masonic Grand Lodge, regardless of regularity or recognition issues.
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