Myths, Misconceptions and Conspiracy Theories surrounding Freemasonry

As a Freemason I have often been asked some strange questions such as Do you have to ride a goat when you join the Lodge?  Or That’s the same as the Orange Order isn’t it?  Which really highlights the number of myths or misconceptions surrounding the Ancient and Accepted Rite of Freemasonry.

If you search for information on the Internet about Freemasonry, many of the top sites are anti-Masonic in nature, Masons are accused of dominating world governments or arranging the assassination of non-Masonic leaders, Freemasonry traditionally advises its members to keep silent when faced with those who, through ignorance, know nothing about it.  The trouble is, when you don’t answer them, the unbalanced minds never get a proper view of the truth and the multitude of conflicting information leaves the bystander confused.

In my blog I will explore some of the more common myths, misconceptions and conspiracy theories told about the Craft over the years.

Why is the Craft so Misunderstood?

The answer to that is for hundred of years the members of Freemason lodges themselves misunderstood what was meant by Masonic Secrecy. Technically the ‘Secrets’ that Mason’s are forbidden to discuss with people outside the craft are the Signs, Tokens and Words of the order traditionally these are the methods the Masons use to identify one another.

Unfortunately generations of Masons have taken their obligation of secrecy to mean that they couldn’t discuss the fraternity outside the Masonic Hall at all. 

This leads to the problem that with no information coming from Masons, it’s all too easy for people to fill the holes with incorrect information or just plain lies, particularly if they are eager to sell book’s, DVD’s or gather subscribers to their paranoid web sites.  Like a game of Chinese Whispers these lies get compounded as they are repeated.

From the time of the Middle Ages, the goat has been the symbol of the Devil and stories were told of witches who came riding into town on a goat to take part in their blasphemous activities, later as Freemasonry gained in popularity its detractors took the opportunity to accuse them of witchcraft and associate them with the riding of the goat.


It did not help that some of the early Masonic ritual books referred to God as ‘God of All Things’ and abbreviated it as G.O.A.T. That was quickly changed, and God is now referred to by the acronym G.A.O.T.U. which means Great Architect of the Universe.

And of course many Masons seized the opportunity to tease non members and new initiates, with humourous tales of Goats at Lodge Meetings.



masonic-bibleMasons have been accused of using their own Satanic bible in their ceremonies, this stems from a custom of many lodges to present a Master Mason with a commemorative Bible upon completing the 3rd Degree Ceremony.  This bible is usually the 1611 translation of the King James version and has additional pages to record the Master Mason’s raising date and has spaces for the Lodge Officers to sign.  Copies of the bibles sometimes find their way on to eBay and other auction sites.

Freemasonry is open to all men with a belief in a Supreme Beings so it is perfectly natural for more than one holy book to be open depending on the beliefs on the members of the lodge.  The combined name for these books is the Volume of the Sacred Law or VSL.

dollar_bill_great_sealAnother myth is that the ‘All Seeing Eye on top of the unfinished pyramid’ design on the $1 bill is related to Freemasonry. In reality the bill was initially designed by a committee of four men, only one of whom was a Freemason, Benjamin Franklin.  The eye was suggested by the artist Pierre du Simitiere. 

The design was modified by two other committees before being approved the unfinished pyramid was added at the time and none of these final designers were Freemasons.


Through the Renaissance period the eye within the triangle was used as a non denominational representation of God.  There is nothing sinister or occult about it.

Another area which is ripe for misconception and myth is Freemasonry relationship with organised religion, a lodge meeting is not an act of worship, a Lodge is not a church and Freemasonry is not a religion.  Mason’s use prayers to open and close their meetings but so do many Parliaments and Congress’ throughout the world.  Freemasons take oaths on the Volume of Sacred Law but so do Judges, and military personnel even police officers and boy scouts.

The misconception is that Masonic Meetings are some sort of bizarre, secret worship service, offered up to a Pagan god, a goat or to Satan himself. This ridiculous notion is alleged to stem from the trials of the Knights Templar in the early 1300’s ce when they were tortured and force to confess to the worship of Baphomet and these false confessions have been trotted out every since by those that want to believe the salacious and unbelievable.

The Freemasons and World Takeover

There are a huge amount of Conspiracy theories linked to the Ancient and Accepted Rites of Freemasonry.  Most of these theories claim that Freemasonry exerts control over politics at all levels. Perhaps the best-known example is the New World Order theory, but there are others. These mainly involve aspects and agencies of the United States government, but actual events are used to lend credence to claims.

Freemasons are forbidden to discuss politics in the Lodge, which makes it particularly hard to plot a world takeover plan and with over a million men in nearly every country in the world in the Craft, how would it be kept a secret?.  So all in all if the Freemasons were planning to take over the world we are really not very good at it.

Regular Freemasonry does not now, nor has it ever aspired to be a world-dominating empire.  Freemasonry is a fraternal organization that simply seeks to improve men so that they may, in turn, improve society around them.  It makes good men better.  But it does not tell them how to do it, nor does it give them political, commercial or religious instructions.

Some of the conspiracy theories involving Freemasonry are:

  • That Freemasonry is a Zionist front for world domination. An example of this is the notorious and fraudulent document The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
  • That Freemasonry is controlled by the Illuminati, which refers to a purported conspiratorial organization which acts as a shadowy power controlling world affairs through present day governments and corporations.
  • That the Victorian Serial Killer Jack the Ripper was a Freemason whose murders resembled Masonic initiation rituals.
  • That the September 11 attacks were part of a hidden war between Masonry (as descendants of the Crusader Knights Templar) and Islam.
  • That Freemasons intertwine various symbols and numerology into modern culture, such as corporate logos.
  • That the KKK, Skull and Bones, Orange Order and other organizations are intimately tied to Freemasonry.
  • That Freemasons were behind faked Apollo moon landings
  • That Freemasons were behind the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, JFK, Diana, Princess of Wales and even ex-Beatle John Lennon.
  • The sinking of the Titanic was planned and carried out by Freemasons.
  • The Freemasons were behind The French, American and Russian Revolutions.

In the past European Kings and Religious leaders distrusted Freemasonry because it encouraged freedom of thought, of religion and expression exactly the kind of thing they did not want their subjects to have.

Robert Cooper, the Curator of the library of the Grand Lodge of Scotland has this to say on the subject of conspiracies surround Freemasonry

I strongly suspect it’s our fault. People asked us questions and we didn’t answer because it wasn’t their business. That is no longer sustainable but you can see the problems it’s caused. Because we didn’t respond 100 years ago to these allegations there has been 100 years of belief that we’re hiding something, no matter how open we are now.

Women in Freemasonry


The subject of women and Freemasonry is complex and without an easy explanation. Traditionally, only men can be made Freemasons

in regular Freemasonry. Many Grand Lodges do not admit women because they believe it would break the ancient Masonic Landmarks. However, there are many non-mainstream Masonic bodies that do admit both men and women or exclusively women.

Furthermore, there are many female orders associated with regular Freemasonry, such as : –

  • Order of Women Freemasons 
  • Order of the Eastern Star
  • Order of the Amaranth
  • White Shrine of Jerusalem
  • Social Order of Beauceant 
  • Daughters of the Nile

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), Grand Lodge of Scotland and all the Grand Lodges in the United States along with other Grand Lodges which are concordant in that regular tradition, do not formally recognize any Masonic body that accepts women.

eillen-grayThe UGLE has stated since 1998 that two English women’s jurisdictions are regular in practice, except for their inclusion of women, and has indicated that, while not formally recognized, these bodies may be regarded as part of Freemasonry, when describing Freemasonry in general.

In North America, women cannot become regular Freemasons per se, but rather join associated separate bodies, which are not Masonic in their content. These offer an extended social network around the Lodge and includes the Order of the Eastern Star, created in the United States in the mid-19th Century for adult close female relatives of Masons, and Rainbow Girls and Job’s Daughters, both for girls.

Mainstream Masonic Grand Lodges justify the exclusion of women from Freemasonry for several reasons. The structure and traditions of modern day Freemasonry is based from the operative medieval stonemasons of Europe. These operative masonic guilds did not allow women to join, because of the culture of the time.

Many Grand Lodges purpose that altering this structure would completely change freemasonry. Furthermore, mainstream Grand Lodges adhere to the masonic landmarks laid out in the early 18th century and are deemed unchangeable. One of these landmarks specify that women are not to be made a mason. Finally, mainstream masons swear “not to be present at the making of a woman a Mason” in their obligations. Many masons believe that regardless of their opinions of women in masonry, they can not break their obligation.

I think when our predecessors came up with our obligations in the sublime degree, they have very good and unquestionable reasons why they have place there the line “…that I will not attend in or be present at the making…knowing them to be such.”                       Masonic Network Forum Post

For some Mason’s they have concerns that admitting women into the craft would have an adverse affect on the Harmony of the lodge.

You should consider that not only they are natural sources of distractions for us but among them, the risk is an escalation of rivalry/competition which usually happens in “profane” mixed groups. I’ve seen great friendships broken because of the action of one or more girls.   Masonic Network Forum Post

The brethren were right in their statements, that it will create misunderstanding among the brethren – whereby disharmonizing the lodge and weakens its foundation.   Masonic Network Forum Post

This emotive topic has generated much activity on the Masonic Network forum here are some of the other entries the brethren have posted

I am not hereby saying that women do not feel the need or want to improve themselves, but I believe that the masonic way of self-improvement in general isn’t that interesting for women – otherwise there would be many more female lodges around the world.

I don’t support women in Freemasonry. It’s a Brotherhood, not a Sisterhood or Personhood. It’s the oldest “fraternity” not sorority. Not everything has to be open to both men and women. We can still be equal and not have to attend each others private groups.

And of course many Mason’s would support Women joining the craft.

How can we decide that freemasonry is owned by men for the rest of history? God created man and woman in this material world with space and time, where we can only work with opposites. However, isn’t it a task of the freemason to find its way back to the divine paradise, where unity can be found? Isn’t it important to focus on all matters those unities us instead of matters that divide?

To close I would like to include a reply written by a female mason, Bro Karen Kidd, who won a Masonic Short Paper competition with this short essay

I am Regular. I know this to be true, though I’ve heard otherwise. That because various Masonic jurisdictions (such as the United Grand Lodge of England, the US Malecraft Grand Lodges and etc.) are not in amity with my jurisdiction, and because I’m a woman, I can’t possibly be Regular. I’ve also been counseled that, slander though this be, I should take it in good part and be grateful my Malecraft brethren speak to me at all.   And yet I know myself to be Regular because the Ritual and Masonic jurisprudence say that I am. So I am. By way of explanation, and within the context of this paper, I am about to use a word many find most unpalatable. I mean it in its legal sense.  I am no one’s bastard brother. I was conceived in the same place as are all the Brethren. Our progenitor is the same. I was properly prepared. I was received upon the same point. I was made in the b*dy of a L*dge J*st, P*rfect and R*gular. I meet the criteria Bro. Albert Mackey, and others, set down long ago: – I am acknowledged as a Free and Accepted Mason – I was initiated into our mysteries in that “certain manner” – I was made with the assistance of, and under the superintendence of, seven (and more) Master Masons – I share in common, with all Brothers, “the ready use of those signs and words which are used by the other brethren.”  This all occurred within my jurisdiction which, like all Masonic jurisdictions, claims no binding authority over the Freemasons in any other jurisdiction. Indeed, I have poured over the books and I can find no instance in which *any* Freemasonic grand lodge, supreme council or other supreme body ever claimed authority over any other such body. It is commonly accepted that no such body can make any pronouncement that is at all binding on any other such body. Logically, this includes any pronouncements about regularity. Any Masonic supreme body may enter into amity agreements with other such bodies. And they also may declare that they consider, within their own jurisdiction, those bodies not in amity with them to be “clandestine” and even “irregular”. This is their right.  However, their pronouncements about regularity outside their jurisdictions do not mean that those other Freemasons in other jurisdictions are, in fact, irregular. Indeed, the only Brothers any of these supreme bodies may accurately declare irregular are those in lodges within their own sphere of authority.  This means a Brother is Regular by virtue of being so recognized within his/her own jurisdiction. No Brother upon the Earth requires recognition by any other jurisdiction to be Regular. Each Brother is as Regular within their own jurisdiction as any other Brother is Regular within their own jurisdiction.   So I speak a truth – and for some, a mystery – when I say, “I am regular”.