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Origins

No one knows just how old freemasonry is because the actual origins have been lost in time. It most likely arose from the guilds of stone masons who built the castles and cathedrals of the Middle Ages. Possibly, they were influenced by the Knights Templar, a group of Christian warrior monks formed in 1118 to help protect pilgrims making trips to the Holy Land.

According to the legends contained in the rituals of Freemasonry, the Masonic fraternity dates back to the construction of the Temple of King Solomon as described in the Bible - a project so vast that an organisational structure was devised to ensure that the Temple was built properly and completed on time. This led to the stone masons and architects being organised into various grades and classes, each with their own responsibilities.

Masons in the Middle Ages constructed many buildings, but particular attention has always focused on the great cathedrals of England and Europe. To build these marvels it was necessary for Masons to gather in large groups, sometimes moving from one finished castle or cathedral to the next. To construct them, it was necessary to have considerable knowledge of geometry, arithmetic and engineering and as a result, bodies of Stone Masons - including architects - became one of the few places of learning outside of the clergy.

The term "Freemason" appears as early as 1375 in a City of London manuscript that includes regulations for the society; duties to God, church and country; and repeated references to brotherhood. The Masons used a series of rituals and procedures to teach their trade and by the 17th Century, as their numbers and status grew, Lodges began accepting honorary members who were not actually stone workers. These same rituals and teachings were used to instruct non-working Freemasons about the craft. From the early 18th century, Freemasonry spread from England to the Continent and then to America and Latin America. It was introduced to Australia in 1802 when a ship's officers and several citizens met in Sydney.

By 1816, Freemasonry had become firmly established in this country. The first Lodge in South Australia was the Lodge of Friendship, which was established in London in 1834 for intending settlers to the new colony. Charles Kingston brought the warrant to establish the Lodge with him when he arrived in South Australia with Governor Hindmarsh on the Buffalo in 1836. However, because there weren't enough Freemasons in SA at the time, the first Lodge meeting was not held until 1838, when a number of Masons met at Blacks Hotel in Franklin Street.

Other theories

It has recently been suggested (by Knight and Lomas) that Freemasonry ultimately evolved from Megalithic tribes who, having discovered science and astronomy, constructed numerous astounding astronomical observatories including Newgrange on the river Boyne, Bryn Celli Ddu and Stonehenge between 7100 BC and 2500 BC. It is believed that these sites enabled those tribes to chart the seasons and years by observing the rotations of the sun and the third brightest object in the sky, Venus. These were essential skills as without such timekeeping, civilisation would be hopelessly unable to plan or progress beyond mere day to day subsistence.

Indeed, the Book of Enoch, discovered amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls from the Qumran and from which many higher Masonic Orders draw their inspiration, explains the scientific principles by which those earliest observatories (or Uriels Machines) operate. It is then argued that this knowledge was shared and taken to the East prior to a predicted and devastating comet impact and subsequent world flood in 3150 BC.

Many survivors maintained Enochian and Noachide customs and when the Enochian-Zadokite priests were expelled from Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Romans, having first hidden their scrolls and treasures deep under the ruins of Solomons Temple as recorded in the Qumran Copper Scroll, it seems possible that their alledged descendants, the founding Knights Templar families led by Hugues de Payens, would return in 1140 AD to dig them up and retrieve them. A great story, but it is doubtful whether this theory will take hold in serious academic circles.

The lodge

The word lodge really has two meanings to a Freemason. It is both a place where Masonic meetings are held, and a collective term for the members who meet there. So, as weird as it sounds, you could say that a lodge meets in a lodge. In fact, many different lodges can meet at different times in the same lodge building. This practice is common in larger cities, where one building may have many rooms for lodge meetings and dozens of lodges that share them.

Masonic lodges are named by their original founding members. They can be named after the town they're in, a historical figure, a famous Mason, or even a symbolic word or phrase. The name of the lodge is always followed by a number, such as Washington Lodge #13 or Ancient Landmarks Lodge #319. The number is issued by the governing Grand Lodge and designates the order in which lodges have been chartered in that jurisdiction. The older the lodge, the smaller the number.

Many of the details in a lodge room are patterned after aspects of King Solomon's Temple, as described in the Bible and other historical records. Freemasonry teaches by symbolism, and much of that symbolism is based upon the accounts of Solomon's Temple. The Temple was built in the 10th century B.C. on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. Solomon built it as a temple to God and to store the sacred Ark of the Covenant, which contained the tablets of the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses. The details of Solomon's Temple are described in the Bible in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles. In its time, the temple's magnificence was known all over the ancient world.

Early stonemasons claimed their guilds originated with the great construction projects of the Bible, to give themselves a long, proud, and sacred pedigree. When Freemasonry became a philosophical organization in the 1700s, the Masons who developed the ceremonies and practices of the fraternity seized on the symbolism of Solomon's Temple to help teach moral and spiritual ideas.

A lodge room contains much that is based on interpretations of descriptions of Solomon's Temple. There are many variations throughout the world, depending on differences in customs, rituals, and rules, but in general, lodge rooms are arranged in a very similar fashion.

Membership

Freemasonry accepts members from almost any religion, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and so forth. In Lodges following in the Continental tradition, atheists and agnostics are also accepted, without qualification. Most other branches currently require a belief in a Supreme Being. But even there, one finds a high degree of non-dogmatism, and the phrase Supreme Being is often given a very broad interpretation, usually allowing Deism and often even allowing naturalistic views of "God/Nature" in the tradition of Spinoza and Goethe (himself a Freemason), or views of The Ultimate or Cosmic Oneness, such as found in some Eastern religions and in Western idealism (or for that matter, in modern cosmology). This leads some to suggest that even Anglo Freemasonry will, in practice, end up accepting certain kinds of atheistsčthose willing to adopt a certain brand of spiritual language. Such claims are difficult to evaluate, since many Anglo jurisdictions consider any further enquiry into a prospective member's religion, beyond the "Supreme Being" question, to be off limits. However, in some Anglo jurisdictions (mostly English-speaking), Freemasonry is actually less tolerant of naturalism than it was in the 18th century, and specific religious requirements with more theistic and orthodox overtones have been added since the early 19th century, including (mostly in North America) belief in the immortality of the soul. The Freemasonry that predominates in Scandinavia, known as the Swedish Rite, accepts only Christians.

Degrees

As one works through the degrees, one studies the lessons and interprets them for oneself. There are as many ways to interpret the rituals as there are Masons, and no Mason may dictate to any other Mason how he is to interpret them. No particular truths are espoused, but a common structure - speaking symbolically to universal human archetypes - provides for each Mason a means to come to his own answers to life's important questions. Especially in Europe, Freemasons working through the degrees are asked to prepare papers on related philosophical topics, and present these papers in an open Lodge, where others may judge the suitability of the candidates' ascension through the higher degrees.

There are three initial degrees of Freemasonry:

Entered Apprentice

Fellow Craft

Master Mason

A Freemasons Code

To share a concern and respect for human values, moral standards, the laws of society and the rights of individuals

To believe in a Supreme Being

To help other people through charity work and community service

To promote fellowship and goodwill amongst his fellow members

To regularly attend Lodge meetings and participate, with his family, in masonic activities

       

Some Famous supposed Masons

Bill Clinton, Senior Demolay

Al Gore, Freemason

J. Edgar Hoover,

Benjamin Franklin

Walt Disney

Sir Winston Churchill

John Wayne

Clark Gable

Oscar Wilde

Robert Burns

"Buzz" Aldrin

Political conspiracy theories involving the Masons

Freemasonry has been a long-time target of conspiracy theories, which see it as an occult and evil power - often associated with the New World Order and other "agents," such as the Pope, the Illuminati and Jews - either bent on world domination, or already secretly in control of world politics.

Nowadays, the main theme of anti-Masonic criticism involves the idea that Masons involve their organization in covert political activities. This assumption has been influenced by the assertion of Masons that many political figures in the past 300 years have been Masons.

Some say the Masons constantly plot to increase their power and wealth, others say the Masonic Brotherhood is engaged in a plot to produce a new world order of a type different (usually more sinister) than the existing world order. These theories would be possible to apply to almost any secret society (since a society with secret meetings allows secret coordination, the very essence of a conspiracy). Nevertheless, Masons have been the largest target because of their size and notable membership.

The historical complaints that the Masons have secretly plotted to create a society based on their ideals of liberty, equality, fraternity, and religious tolerance, are not denied by Masons. In an enlightened age many have now accepted the core Masonic values as stated, and persistent enemies of the society have been forced to come up with more sinister motives as to what Freemasons allegedly conspire to achieve.

Freemasonry is almost universally banned in totalitarian states. In 1925, it was outlawed in Fascist Italy. In Nazi Germany, Freemasons were sent to concentration camps and all Masonic Lodges were ordered shut down. German Masons used the blue forget-me-not as a secret means of recognition and as a substitute for the traditional (and too easily recognized) square and compasses

Freemasonry is a new religion

In a sectarian age many hold that Freemasonry is a new religion. Externally, to some at least, it has many similarities to a religion: it has its own version of the Bible (the VSL), it has its own way of saying "amen" ("So mote it be," a literal translation of "Amen"), it has far more developed rituals than most Protestant denominations, some groups of Masons (especially the Scottish Rite) call their Lodges "temples," and it has a large amount of iconography and symbolism. From the perspective of many religions, which feel that they present the perfect system of morality, any competing system of morality can be considered opposed to themčand if not stricly another religion, then certainly as competitor.

Many Masons argue in response that the ritual observances of Masons should be seen in the same context as rituals maintained in the military services, in government, and civil authorities. It has been argued that any organized system of morality (which the Masons claim to be) is a religion; the Green Party might thus qualify as such.

Freemasonry worships Satan

While the practice of any given magical or mystical system is not specifically associated with Freemasonry (mainstream Masonry has always tended as much to rationalism as to mysticism), there are some groups of Masons, such as Masonic Rosicrucians, that may interpret Masonic ritual magically (or "hermetically"), which is their right as Masons, given the fraternity's non-dogmatic stance.

However, the very existence of hermetic interpretations within Masonry has lead some Christians to label Freemasonry as "Satanic". This charge is commonly made about any hermetic society that has ritualistic practices reserved for the initated.

Many Anti-Masonic activists quote Albert Pike's Morals and Dogma to "prove" that Masons worship Lucifer. The oft-quoted section (Chapt. XIX; p.321) reads:

The Apocalypse is, to those who receive the nineteenth Degree, the Apotheosis of that Sublime Faith which aspires to God alone, and despises all the pomps and works of Lucifer. Licoifer, the Light-bearer! Strange and mysterious name to give to the Spirit of Darknesss! Lucifer, the Son of the Morning! Is it he who bears the Light, and with its splendors intolerable blinds feeble, sensual or selfish Souls ? Doubt it not! for traditions are full of Divine Revelations and Inspirations: and Inspiration is not of one Age nor of one Creed. Plato and Philo, also, were inspired.

Some Masons counter that the critics who cite this as evidence of Freemasonry's Satanic leanings ignore the first part of the passage while emphasizing the association of Lucifer with Light. Alternately,the argument is made that because a Pike claims the works of Plato and Philo were as divinely inspired as the The Apocalypse of Saint John, and b that Plato and Philo were pre-Christian pagans, and c that all pagan beliefs are Satanic, and therefore d that Pike (and Freemasonry) practice Satan worship.

Other Masons counter simply by pointing out that Masonry is non-dogmatic, and hence Pike's opinions about it are his own personal (and now somewhat out-dated) interpretations.

The Roman Catholic Church has repeatedly condemned Freemasonry, and although not claiming that it is directly Satanic, the church has claimed that Freemasonry has "led on or assisted" "partisans of evil" (from Humanum Genus).

Much of the landscape of Washington D.C. is thought by many to be inspired by, or directly designed by, Freemasons, including the layout of national buildings, the mapping of streets and roadways, and the placement of national monuments. This has caused some to speculate that some of the esoteric practices and symbolism in Freemasonry, seen as "occult", have embedded themselves within the structure of several governments - in this case, the United States.

Masonic Blood Oaths

The traditional Masonic obligations, sworn by a candidate during the initiation ritual, are sometimes called "blood oaths", particularly by those critical of the fraternity. The candidate wishes severe physical punishment upon himself should he ever reveal the secrets of Freemasonry to a non-Mason. While many non-Masons are horrified by this, Masons defend the traditional obligations as no more literal than the commonplace childhood "blood oaths", like "cross my heart and hope to die"ča very psychologically powerful way to express a serious bond or promise.

In addition, some Masons argue that the bloody punishments mentioned in the obligations are, historically, references to the punishments that the state used to inflict on defenders of civil liberties and religious freedoms, such as Freemasons. But in spite of repeated attempts to defend them, by the early 1980s, the "blood oaths" had become quite problematic from a public relations standpoint, and many Masonic jurisdictions replaced them with more politically correct "bloodless oaths".

Some conspiracy theorists look at certain historical killings and deduce that they were done as a fulfillment of the blood oath. In particular, Jack the Ripper is theorized by some to have been a Mason made psychotic for having to carry out a blood oath, and who then killed random people in the same fashion. Masons counter that the Ripper mutilations have no similarity to the symbolic punishments of the Masonic obligations.It should be noted that there are only 3 penalties that Masonry can actually impose on a member: censure, suspension of membership, and expulsion. 

 source: http://www.crystalinks.com/freemasons.html

 

Freemasonary defended

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 ĎSecretsí that Masonís 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 couldnít discuss the fraternity outside the Masonic Hall at all.

This leads to the problem that with no information coming from Masons, itís all too easy for people to fill the holes with incorrect information or just plain lies, particularly if they are eager to sell bookís, DVDís 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.

Masons 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 Masonís 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.

myth is that the ĎAll Seeing Eye on top of the unfinished pyramidí 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. Masonís use prayers to open and close their meetings but so do many Parliaments and Congressí 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 1300ís 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.

sources:

http://www.masonsmart.com/famous-freemasons.html

http://www.masonicnetwork.org/blog/2009/myths-misconceptions-and-conspiracy-theories-surrounding-freemasonry/

Read more:

http://ca.dummies.com/how-to/content/what-is-a-freemason-lodge.html#ixzz0hWpRqyuQ

 

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