What does A. F. & A. Mason Mean?
“A. F. & A.” Mason means “Ancient Free and Accepted” Mason and references part of our long history as Masons. The term consists of two different parts; “Ancient Free” and “Accepted”.
The “Ancient, Free” portion actually originated in the Middle Ages and is generally ascribed to coming out of England. Ancient stonemasons were highly skilled in their craft and much sought after in the building of castles and cathedrals. As a result they were “free” to travel around the country, working on one edifice after another. Although it is taken for granted today, in the Middle Ages this kind of freedom was exceedingly rare and was a prized privilege reserved for the nobility, the religious orders and the masons. All others were tied to the land, mostly as serfs.
The “Accepted” part of “Ancient Free and Accepted” has its roots in the late Middle Ages and in early Renaissance. During this time there were few educated men outside the monastic world and, because they were “travelled”, stonemasons tended to be more well informed and well rounded, often surpassing the worldly knowledge of even the nobles. Naturally, other men wanted be become “Free Masons” to obtain the freedoms and knowledge that the craft offered. However, not all wanted to be actual builders, they just wanted to belong to the organization. These were “Accepted” Masons rather than “operative” masons. As time went on there became many more “Accepted” members than “operative” masons.