Secrets of the Freemasons

What Are The Secrets of the Freemasons?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked that very question, mostly by friends and family after learning about my involvement in The Fraternity. Usually it’s after they saw that documentary on the History Channel or read something on the internet. You see (although I would never profess to be), to them, I am an expert. So, every time I get asked that question, I take a deep breath, look around as-if to see that no one else is listening, take a half-step forward, and subconsciously prepare them to receive a precious gift. For my response…   

I always lower my voice  &  s p e a k   v e r y   s l o w – l y.

Here’s how I answer:  Sometimes I use the canned response, “Making good men better!”, but, I don’t particularly like that one…  Sometimes I answer vaguely and say “well, that depends on you… it’s different things to different people”, they don’t usually like that answer; other times, I answer flippantly and say “If you have to ask, you’ll never know.”, and with that I get a similar response; sarcastically, “Haven’t you seen the DaVinci Code?” -or- “I can tell you but then I’d have to kill you.” ; zen-like, “The secrets ARE Freemasonry.”; militarily, “That’s strictly on a need to know basis…” No matter what my answer is, for some reason, I always get a raised eyebrow & crooked lipped smirk. As a single man, I’ve even managed to get smacked, once or twice, from my reply. Decorum and etiquette prevent me from publishing those secrets here. 

  How do you answer The Question?

One brother made a great analogy and referenced a Chinese proverb. He explained:

The true secrets of Masonry are ‘like a finger pointing up at the stars. If you concentrate on the finger, you may miss out on all the heavenly glory.’ Some cultures have made up stories about what they see when they look up at the night sky. These stories have meaning – to them.” He went on to say, “We (as Free and Accepted Masons) use the heavens as an opportunity to learn and respect every culture’s perspective. When doing so, we realize how small WE ARE, in relation; we must remain open minded enough to seek more light on any & every subject, and still be able to enjoy the light in it’s essence – just for the sake of it’s beauty.”

There’s a simple point: What people believe (however absurd) is true to them. The word “absurd” in Latin (literally translated) means “out of tune”, just like the word “karaoke” in Japanese. It all makes sense if you think about this:  Some of the most  absurd  things you’ve ever heard were usually coming from people singing someone else’s song – and (like karaoke) doing it out-of-tune. Now, let’s remember some of these other absurdities:

  • Socrates was tried, convicted, and executed on a charge of corrupting the youth into disbelieving in the Greek deities.
  • Jacques DeMolay was burned at the stake on Friday the 13th for Witchcraft.
  • Christopher Columbus suffered through near mutiny because the crew was scared they may sail off the edge of the earth.
  • Galileo was accused of blasphemy by the Catholic Church when he said the Earth revolved around the Sun.
  • Darwinian Evolution is still causing controversy.
  • Newton’s laws of physics are contradicted by Einstein’s E=MC2!
  • Some people believe that this planet contains the only intelligent life in the Universe.
  • Others threw themselves out of windows when Orson Wells performed “War of the Worlds” over the radio…

The Point: As we learn more, as humans, our perspectives will inevitably change. We must remain open minded enough to either adopt or reject that change, and still leave enough room for others to have a different opinion. That’s no secret!

  Bro. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) said it best, “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”

Having said that… I’m sure you are aware that although some of the things you find on the internet (or any other media) regarding Masonry are based in truth; others, may not be. The degree to which it is true – may also be a matter of speculation. It’s all karaoke. That is, consider the source. Some information can have a religious or political spin. Many of these are blatantly inaccurate. Some are outright lies! While some of these nuts are too simple minded to have their own opinions and are just blindly regurgitating other people’s out-of-tune belief’s, some of them (like the crew of the Nina, Pinta & Santa Maria) truly believe the absurdities they are spewing. These people are rationally paralyzed in fear for their lives -or- even worse, scared that everything they ever learned may be completely invalid. Empathetically, I admit it: That’s a downright frightening thought. So, just like Christopher Columbus, I acknowledge their opinions, andI respectfully disagree!  Unfortunately, beating them into submission is no longer politically correct.

Much like Mark Twain, I have my own philosophy: Realize how little you actually know. Read everything you can get your hands on. Watch, view, listen, learn and ask questions about everything else. Digest EVERY possible perspective. Make up your own darn mind! And always, leave room for dessert… 

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to add the link, that you most likely came here for… Now, If you have not seen this video, you should! Without the commercials it’s less than 45 minutes long and a great investment of your time. The Secrets of Freemasonry, includes: History, Degrees, Scottish & York Rites, Raising & Installation Rituals, Anti-Masonry, Conspiracy Theories and many other (so called) secrets. It is available by following the next link made available through  Google Video.

Plato said, “False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.” The words and topics contained therein (whether they be true or false) are not necessarily the ideas or beliefs of Munn Lodge, The Grand Lodge of New York, or Freemasonry, in general. Rather these are the beliefs of the producers of the video. To put it simply, it was on TV – so, many people have seen it and some will eventually want to confront you about it, as one of the only experts on Freemasonry they know. Now you know: they know & what they know. Ya’know? People hear what they want to hear to validate their preconceived notions of what Freemasons are about.  Use that to your advantage. In the words of General Sherman, “A tactic known is a tactic blown!

For what it’s worth, please enjoy this video… but, we as Free and Accepted Masons are taught to use it for the more noble and glorious purpose of shaping our minds… Much like my writings — true, false, valid or invalid: it is (none-the-less) entertaining. There is, also, a wealth of knowledge within it. The degree to which that knowledge is fact – remains to be seen. However, it is presented in such a way that does appear to be logically valid, albeit somewhat melodramatic. It can’t really be proven, one way or the other. Some of it directly contradicts what I have learned in my Masonic Travels. Some of it may very well be true… I saw at it as a dramatic production of historical fiction with a documentary-like presentation. If you have a different view, please feel free to add your comments below. The difference of opinion (in it’s essence) and the seeking of further enlightenment are some of the fundamental precepts of Freemasonry. Furthermore, the sharing of that knowledge is the primary purpose of this forum.

“The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways — I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows… it is the greatest good for a man to discuss virtue every day and those other things about which you hear me conversing and testing myself and others, for the unexamined life is not worth living…”
–Socrates, before he drank the cup of poison hemlock.

Brethren, I look forward to learning your opinions. The great architect of this website made it so your comments are automatically emailed to me. You can also choose to subscribe to further comments when you add one yourself…  

 

And.. You Know That’s ALL On The Level! 

 

Bro. Joe Negron

 

 

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.

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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

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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”.