SWORDS - One of the officers of a Freemasonic Blue Lodge is the Tyler/Tiler. Historically, his duty was to stand watch outside the door of a lodge and prevent any from entering except those Brethren who were properly attired and had permission or were vouched for by a Mason in good standing. The Tyler also patrolled the outside of the Lodge to see that there were no Eavesdroppers; individuals who would knock off the roof tiles or covering at the eaves of the building to listen to what was going on inside & try to learn the secret modes & words of recognition. The Tyler carried a sword to drive away such folk and the sword is the badge of the Tyler.
Members of the Commandery of the York Rite (Templars) carry ceremonial swords as well.
JOINING - There is a license plate/bumper sticker/badge which reads "2B1ASK1" which means if you want to become a Freemason, you need to ask a Freemason for a petition. If you do not know a Freemason, you can contact the Grand Lodge in your state or look up local lodges in your Yellow Pages under fraternal organizations to find one. You can visit the lodge on the night of their stated visit or make arrangements with the lodge secretary (who answers the v-mail) or just drop by if you see a bunch of Masons sitting on the porch and introduce yourself.
It is almost always preferable to visit one or more lodges in your area to meet the Brethren, share a meal, and talk to them before asking for a petition. Some lodges may not be right for you because the members are all much more conservative than you are or the lodge may be composed primarily of students from the local colleges or it is a country lodge and you are a city boy. If you find the Brethren to be men of like mind to you, ask for a petition. Y
A petition usually has to be signed by two members of the lodge you wish to join recommending you. Long friendship or acquaintance is not usually required. There is sometimes a release form so that a background check can be performed on you and you have to submit two or more references of your character. There is also a fee that is submitted with your application. If you are not elected to receive the three degrees of symbolic Masonry, this fee is usually returned to you.
If your application is received by the Blue Lodge, there will be a period of investigation followed by a meeting with the Advisory/Inquisitorial Committee so you can ask questions and the Brethren can ask you questions. In most jurisdictions, the Investigative and Advisory Committees can only recommend or not recommend an applicant for membership but they cannot reject the application themselves.
Finally, your application and the reports of the committees goes before a meeting of the entire lodge for balloting. If even one vote is negative, your membership is rejected. The reason for this requirement is that the peace and harmony of the Lodge must not be disturbed. However, even if you are not elected once, you can usually re-petition after one year.