ITC 21 In The Chair
Masonic Podcast: Freemasonry in Turkey with Baris Erman
Today’s guest is Baris Erman from Istanbul, who is a member of Musavat Lodge
#11, part of the Grand
Lodge of Turkey.
Baris contacted me to explain the differences between
Freemasonry in England and Turkey, and it was so interesting I had to have him
as a guest on In The Chair.
The first thing we discuss is how Entered Apprentices and
Fellowcrafts progress through the Craft. In Turkey this is not only a slower
process, and members must demonstrate knowledge by writing short essays and
attend a minimum number of meetings, and these meetings often involve a lecture
And once a Master Mason starts progressing through the
Offices it can still take over 20 years to become Worshipful Master, especially
as offices are held for two years.
Because Turkey is very multicultural it is standard to have
the Torah, Bible and Quran on the Master’s pedestal, as well as any others
should a member of a different religion also be in attendance.
In Turkey it is often perceived that Freemasonry is an atheist
organisation, which is contrary to how Freemasonry is often perceived in
Western countries where it is assumed it is more religious than Craft masonry
We also discuss the history of Freemasonry in Turkey. It isn’t
a smooth history with many splits and break-ups through-out its history - if
you’d like to find out more there’s a link to some articles below. We also
cover how the language barriers are overcome in a country so diverse as Turkey.
An interesting thing that surprised me is Royal Arch Chapter
never made it to Turkey, though other orders based on the Scottish Rite did.
Also, here is the original email that Baris sent to me, which also contains a
wealth of information:
Dear Bro. Robert,
I’m a freemason
from Istanbul, Turkey, and an avid listener to your excellent podcast. I try to
listen to it weekly when I’m commuting to the university I’m working at. I
enjoy learning about freemasonry in other countries, and I just love your show
because it’s focused on individuals rather than general knowledge you can
easily find online or in books. In this way, I can understand how it “feels” to
be a freemason in the UK. As to me, I was initiated 1996, when I was 19
(According to the rules of the Turkish GL, sons of freemasons may be initiated
before the age of 21, but they have to remain an EA until they are 21). So,
next year will be my 20th year in the craft. I have gone through various
offices (master of ceremonies, secretary, expert, and now treasurer), but there
is still time for the East.
Of course, coming
from different traditions and masonic cultures, there is a lot to compare
between our systems. I’m a member of the Musavat Lodge nr. 11 under the
jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Turkey, which is
recognized by UGLE. Turkish freemasonry dates back to 1861 (with the founding
of the Supreme Council of Turkey), but the first national grand lodge was
formed in 1909. In 1965 there was a schism between brothers trying to seek
recognition from “regular” grand lodges, and those who wanted to pursue liberal
freemasonry: Our grand lodge was formed as a result of this separation, and was
recognized by UGLE in 1970.
I find the liberty
to provide further details regarding Turkish freemasonry, since you kindly
expressed your interest in such information at the latest episode of the
masonic podcast. I’d like to apologise if I’m taking too much of your time.
has a number of interesting characteristics:
- Our GL is mostly
centralized: Lodge rooms are provided by the GL, and most of the administrative
stuff is dealt with by it - Lodges don’t occupy themselves with financial or
administrative matters other than the election of lodge officers and the
collection of dues.
- Lodge meetings
are biweekly, and we have a 3-month hiatus in the summer. On average, there are
19 meetings of a lodge each year.
- Lodge meetings
typically consist of either a ceremony, or a conference. Conferences and
lectures also happen in tyled lodges, after a ritual opening. Mostly, these
meetings are at EA degree. A conference is typically 30 minutes long, and is
followed by a discussion.
- Dress code is
always business attire.
- After each
meeting, there is a dinner with more discussion.
- Passing and
raising only occurs after one year of good standing with at least 50% of the
meetings (on the present degree) attended. So, an EA may only petition to be
passed to FC, if he has been a member of the lodge for one year, and has
attended at least 50% of the lodge’s meetings at EA degree.
- Officers are
elected for 2-year terms. In order to be eligible, one has to have been a MM of
good standing for one year, and have attended at least 50% of the meetings of
the lodge during the previous year.
- The ritual is
mostly based on the AASR, but is a bit modified. There has been a significant
influence of the GL of Scotland during the recognition process as well (i.e.
the inclusion of due guard). In addition, the ritual is a bit de-christianized
to comply with the understanding of Turkish freemasonry. There are always three
VSL on the altar (Torah, Bible, Quran), and additional Books are added, if a
brother from a different faith is present. There is NO reference whatsoever to
the Saints John, the ladder has been removed from the tressle board (which is a
bit far-fetched in my personal opinion)
- The present
social climate in Turkey is mostly filled with prejudice against freemasons,
especially by the more religiously-inclined muslim population. However, the
numbers of freemasons are constantly rising for decades. The actual number lies
around 15.000 brothers at our GL.
-As appendant body,
there is only the Supreme Council of the AASR. In contrast to England, The SC
does accept brethren of all faiths, AND is recognized by the SC of England.
I would be
delighted to answer any of your questions regarding Turkish freemasonry, if you
are indeed interested.
Links from the show
Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in Turkey website
Article on the
history of Freemasonry in Turkey
Article on the
history of Freemasonry in Islamic Cultures
Kennet Lodge, 4414 (My Lodge) Website
download, rate and review on iTunes
download, rate and review on Stitcher
See the full show notes at: www.masonicpodcast.com/21
Follow on twitter: www.twitter.com/masonicpodcast
Contact In The Chair by email: email@example.com
How to build a website for you Lodge: www.masonicpodcast.com/websites
100 Days to Learn Masonic Ritual: www.masonicpodcast.com/100days
Useful resources for Masons: www.masonicpodcast.com/resources
Robert is a professional
magician and can be booked for ladies nights, Christmas parties, weddings
and corporate events.
In The Chair is an independent production by Robert Bone.
If you would like to advertise on In The Chair please