|by Midnight Freemasons Contributor|
Todd E. Creason,
|The All Seeing Eye is only one of the symbols used by both Fraternities|
I get the question a lot. Believe it or not, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) is not affiliated with or an appendant body of Freemasonry. However, it is pretty obvious that the two Fraternities are very similar in both the symbolism they use, the values they share, and in the way they began. Both Fraternities use many of the same symbols--the "All Seeing Eye," the sun and moon, the Holy Bible, and the beehive are of a few of many symbols used by both Fraternities. Freemasons will readily recognize nearly all of the symbols on the Odd Fellows chart below. They also have an initiation and degree system much like Masonry, and use aprons as part of their regalia.
|Some of the symbols used by the I.O.O.F.|
|Common engraving of a man who was both a Freemason and an Odd Fellow|
While the similarities between the two fraternities are obvious, they are very different organizations. The Odd Fellows was the first Fraternity in the United States open to both men and women. They were also the first to build homes for their senior members and for orphaned children.
There is a common misconception that the Odd Fellows is a copy of Freemasonry. Many fraternities have borrowed heavily from the rituals and traditions of Freemasonry, and there are a lot of comparisons that could be made between Freemasonry and the Odd Fellows. Maybe the Odd Fellows borrowed from the Freemasons, or perhaps the two organization evolved their rituals and traditions along similar lines because they share a common history going back to the trade guilds. Or maybe it is because so many of their members throughout history have belonged to both organizations.
Whatever the truth may be, both Fraternities have done remarkable work in making good men better and the world a better place in which to live. In fact, there has always existed a mutual respect between the two Fraternities, which is why so many Freemasons have become Odd Fellows, and so many Odd Fellows belong to Masonic Lodges.
Todd E. Creason, is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and continues to be a regular contributor. He is the author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and currently serves as Secretary. He's also a member of Homer Lodge No. 199. He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), the Ansar Shrine (IL), Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL), and a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research. He was recently awarded the 2014 Illinois Secretary of the Year Award by the Illinois Masonic Secretaries Association. You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org