Do You Know Who the Freemasons Are? Find Out 15 Things Not Many People Know About the Secret Society of Freemasons.
A secret society behind some of the biggest tragedy’s and scandals the world has ever seen… or a society of altruistic men, with a loyalty to brotherhood and helping their fellow men. Which captures the imagination more? Let’s find out some secret things in 15 Things You didn’t Know About the Freemasons.
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The Shift From Stonemasons to Freemasons
Considering the veil of secrecy that surrounds the Freemasons, how did they change from a guild for stonemasons and cathedral builders in the Middle Ages to Freemasons we know today?
Many cite the start of Freemasonry as 1717, but it goes further back. BBC.com reports evidence that secret associations of Freemasons have been around since the 1500s and add … “it wasn’t until the turn of the 16th Century that those medieval guilds gained an institutional structure – the point which many consider to be the birth of modern Freemasonry.”
One theory is that stonemasons would often leave their home to work for months elsewhere and joining a society would guarantee that there would be assistance and brotherhood wherever they worked. Others believe that it was a society where trade secrets, skills and new knowledge was taught or imparted. This is thought to have extended to an organisation that was open to exciting intellectual developments… and so Freemasonry was born.
The Recent Death of a Famous Freemason
You might think he’d been around since the Freemasons started; he was almost 100 after all… but that is not the case.
The late Prince Philip began his Freemasonry journey when he was 31-years old in 1952. He was initiated into Navy Lodge. Just a few months thereafter, he progressed to the Second Degree of Freemasonry, and then the third. He was a member of the United Grand Lodge of England until his death.
He was patron or president of some 800 organisations and had “special interests in scientific and technological research and development, the encouragement of sport, the welfare of young people, and conservation and the environment,” according to freemasonrytoday.com.
He’s not the only famous Freemason, as you’ll hear next.
If you are interested in knowing other stuff about the British royal family, check out 15 Ways the Royal Family Makes Money.
Other Freemasons and the Role They Played in Freemasonry
In the Navy Lodge, which Prince Philip was part of, there have been some high-profile names as past members. They include King Edward VII, King Edward VIII, King George VI and King George II of the Hellenes.
Other notable names include George Washington, Clarke Gable, 7th President of the US, Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Houdini, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Mark Twain, Nat King Cole, Oliver Hardy – from Laurel and Hardy, and plenty more. We’re merely scratching the surface.
Theguardian.com confirms that there are 6 million freemasons around the world with 200,000 of them residing in the UK. The initiation process of becoming a Freemason is quite involved which we’ll delve into shortly.
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Initiation Is Par for the Course
Each lodge has their own interpretation of the initiation process, and according to the guardian, candidates do have an unusual process to follow before becoming members.
There are three levels: apprentice, journeyman and master. When inducted into a specific lodge, members are initiated. Once the member has joined a lodge, they are automatically members for a lifetime, but can leave whenever they want to.
Candidates must roll up one trouser leg to prove that they’re healthy and unshackled, confirming they’re a free man. They must expose the left breast to prove that they’re not a woman… which we’ll need to expand on later when we tell you more about women and freemasonry, and a rope noose known as a cable tow is placed around his neck. This is a representation of his ties to his fellow masons.
Blindfolded, the new member is led into the lodge meeting room where he is introduced to some of the secret signs – including the handshake, a word and a symbol.
What Does Religion Have To Do With It?
A little and a lot. For starters, Masons may not discuss religion or politics when in meetings.
Freemasonry is not a religion, which has been frustrating for many Catholics wanting to join the society as the Catholic Church condemns Freemasonry. The Church has been against the masons since 1738, due to their fears over Masonic temples and the rituals that took place inside.
In the 19th century, the Vatican described the Masons as “the Synagogue of Satan.” Going forward to 1983, the Church said “Their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion,” as cited by history.com.
What Do Freemasons Believe In?
Anyone wanting to become a Freemason must believe in a higher deity, or a “supreme being.” This includes the “gods” of Islam, Hinduism, or any other world religion. This god is the “Grand Architect of the Universe.”
However, atheists are not welcome. The not so secret reason is that Freemasons take responsibility for their actions on earth so when they meet their maker one day, they can attest to having lived a good life. An atheist wouldn’t have this accountability, and the obligation to freemasonry and its beliefs would mean nothing, according to Freemasonry.
So, atheists are ruled out… what about women?
Women Can Become Freemasons
There are nearly 5,000 female in the secret Freemasons society. The Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons was formed in 1913 and by 1958 they were called The Order of Women Freemasons, to make the single sex more noticeable.
The women dress in white robes during ceremonies, with regalia worn around their necks. They follow a similar initiation process as what we mentioned earlier.
If you’re wondering about baring the breast, according to BBC.com, who wrote about the initiation process of Dialazaza Nkela, she bared her “right arm, left breast and knee” while a noose was placed around her neck,” during her first degree initiation.
Let’s Dispel Some Freemasonry Myths
As the World’s oldest fraternal organization, you can imagine the tales that have been spun. We highlight a few:
– Freemasons are behind income taxes in the US.
– Freemasons get lighter sentences when tried in court.
– Freemasons faked the moon landings.
– Freemasons manage to keep the Flat Earth a secret.
– Humanoid reptiles are responsible for societies like the Freemasons and the Illuminati.
– Freemasons are devil worshippers and enjoy homosexual orgies.
Speaking of homosexual orgies, what’s the stance on gay men from Freemasons?
Do the Masons Allow Gay Men to Join?
Overall, it is not un-Masonic to be gay. Therefor, gay people can become a Freemason. However, just like the initiation process can be tweaked to suit a certain lodge, so can this outlook. This came to light in 2016 when gay farmers from Tennessee tied the knot.
Both Freemasons, the men received a letter from the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, detailing their marriage as un-Masonic. According to npr.org, “Lodges from California to Belgium are urging Tennessee to lift the ban. They say it harms the future of the organization, which is looking to stay relevant and attract younger members.”
In 2018, the Freemasons placed adverts in several national newspapers in England calling for discrimination against their members to stop.
The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) confirmed that members from all walks of life were welcomed, but some were “undeservedly stigmatised,” according to BBC.com.
Do Freemasons Make Money Through Freemasonry?
The answer is no, and it’s the secret that has Freemasons exasperated. As Nigel Brown, former grand secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England tells BBC, “Networking within Freemasonry and trying to use it for personal gain is completely forbidden.”
The job of Freemasons is to assist when someone is in trouble, not to create wealth. In fact, what they do well is to give wealth away.
The Freemasons are big on fundraising and donations. Any quick online search reveals headlines like, “Masonic lodge prepares for chili and gumbo fundraiser.”
“How the Freemasons of Cary-Grove help the community.”
“Cambridgeshire Freemasons pandemic donations reach £1million.”
“Freemasons in £2000 donation to the 32nd Scouts in Greenock.”
Which Countries Are Opposed to Freemasonry and Why?
Throughout the history of Freemasonry, countries have banned people from joining. It’s called Anti-Masonry, meaning “avowed opposition to Freemasonry” according to Wiki.
The earliest recorded anti-Masonic document was from 1698, a leaflet printed by a London Presbyterian minister named Winter.
In 1922, the Soviet Union banned all secret societies. Nazi Germany did not take kindly to Freemasons. Nazi occupied countries are believed to have killed between 80 to 200 thousand Freemasons.
Benito Mussolini dissolved Freemasonry in Italy in 1925, claiming it was a political organization. Egypt banned Freemasonry in 1964, and Syria banned all lodges in 1965.
While many of the bans have been lifted, it’s allegedly still illegal in Arab countries, barring Lebanon and Morocco.
What Is the Appeal of Becoming a Freemason?
For starters, you’re joining the world’s oldest fraternal organization. But, as you already know there is no financial, social or even judiciary gain from becoming a Freemason.
Here are some reasons why people become Freemasons – Fellowship, to help charities, a desire to become a better person, a need to make a difference.
When this question popped up on Quora, Peter Renzland, Toronto Society for Masonic Research. Governance, Constitution, Founding Texts, had this response.
He said, “I discovered that some of the most “sacred” rules in Freemasonry are bogus!” …however, “The tradition of Freemasonry may inspire you, and you may find like-minded others. But joining, as such, will confer little intellectual benefit. The social and moral benefits are more tangible, and more appreciated by most people.”
Aluxers, we recommend you head to Audible and listen to The Craft, How the Freemasons Made the Modern World by John Dickie. It’s packed with insight on Freemasonry and you can claim your free book on Alux.com/freebook.
What Symbols Are Important to Masonry?
As we mentioned earlier, the stonemasons – where Freemasons come from – had freedom to travel. As suggested by Dr. Matthias Pöhlmann for dw.com, handshakes were introduced to prevent betrayal and preserve professional secrecy. With that came secret passwords and handshakes which Freemasons still use today.
Symbols associated with Freemasonry include the square and compass. The compass is the circle of fraternity and the square represents the proper conduct from each member. The water level implies that everyone is equal, and the 3 pillars in the centre of the Masonic temple represent beauty, strength, and wisdom.
It’s up to each member to continually work on their own personal development.
Is There Still a Need For a “Secret Society?
The Freemasons have often said they’re not a secret society, they’re a society that has secrets. Npr.org published an article claiming the Freemasons believe they’re needed now more than ever.
Numbers are dwindling, and many Freemasons had hoped that when the community saw the massive difference the Masons were making in the lives of others, they might get an influx of members.
In the book we mentioned earlier, John Dickie also mentions that it’s possible the idea of a secret society is just less alluring to men these days.
We’ll find out what you think shortly, Aluxers.
What Other Secret Societies Are Still Going Today?
Right, not so secret if we’re speaking about them but here we go. The Illuminati… many claim to be direct descendants of the original Bavarian Illuminati.
Next, not really a secret but an invite only society – The Bilderberg Group – made up mainly of North American and European elites.
There’s the Order of Skull and Bones from Yale University and Scarabbean Senior Society, founded in 1915 at the University of Tennessee.
Aluxers, what is your thought on secret societies, and do you believe they have any relevance today? Let us know your thoughts.