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Freemasonry

Freemasonry

An occult movement of the seventeenth century. Freemasonry emerged as the British form of revived gnosticism analogous to the Rosicrucian movement in Germany. While having its roots in the architectural and construction guilds of the Middle Ages, modern masonry is rooted in the post-Reformation revival of Gnostic thought and occult practice. The mythical history of masonry served to protect it in the religiously intolerant atmosphere operative in Great Britain at the time of its founding.

History and Mythic Origin

Although it would not be exactly correct to say that the history of Freemasonry was lost in the mists of antiquity, it is possible to say that although to a certain degree traceable, its records are of a scanty nature, and so crossed by the trails of other mystical brotherhoods that disentanglement is an extremely difficult process.

The ancient legend of its foundation at the time of the building of the Temple at Jerusalem is manifestly mythical. If one might hazard an opinion, it would seem that at a very early epoch in the history of civilization, a caste arose of builders in stone, who jealously guarded the secret of their craft. Where such a caste of operative masons might have arisen is altogether a separate question, but it must obviously have been in a country where working in stone was one of the principal arts. It is also almost certain that this early brotherhood must have been hierophantic with a leadership adept in the ancient mysteries. Its principal work to begin with would undoubtedly consist in the raising of temples and similar structures, and as such it would come into very close contact with the priesthood, if indeed it was not wholly directed by it.

In early civilization only two classes of dwelling received the attention of the architectthe temple and the palace. For example, among the ruins of Egypt and Babylon, remains of private houses are rare, but the temple and the royal residence are conspicuous everywhere, and we know that among the ruins of Central America temples and palaces alone remain, the huts of the surrounding dwellers having long ago disappeared. The temple was the nucleus of the early city. Commerce, agriculture, and all the affairs of life revolved around the worship of the gods.

A medieval cathedral took more than one generation to erect, and in that time many masons came and went. The lodge was invariably founded near the rising cathedral or abbey, and apprentices and others started work as opportunity offered. Indeed, a man might serve his apprenticeship and labor all through his life on one building, without ever seeing any work elsewhere.

The evidence as to whether the master-masons were also architects is very conflicting, and it has been held that the priests were the architects of the British cathedrals, the master-masons and operatives merely carrying out their designs. There is good evidence, however, that this is not wholly true. Of all arts, architecture is by far the most intricate. It is undoubtedly one that requires a long and specific training. Questions arise of stress and strain of the most difficult description, and it is obvious that ecclesiastics, who had not undergone any special training, would not be qualified to compose plans of the cathedrals.

Professional architects existed at a very early period, though instances are on record where the priests of a certain locality have taken upon themselves the credit of planning the cathedral of the diocese. Be this as it may, the "mystery" of building was sufficiently deep to require extensive knowledge and experience and to a great extent this justifies the jealousy with which the early masons regarded its secrets. Again, the jealousy with which it was kept from the vulgar gaze may have been racial in its origin, and may have arisen from such considerations as the following: "Let no stranger understand this craft of ours. Why should we make it free to the heathen and the foreigner?"

Masonry in Great Britain

In Great Britain, prior to the founding of the Grand Lodge, York and the north of England in general were regarded as the most ancient seat of the fraternity. Indeed, without stretching probabilities too far, the line of evolution so far as York is concerned is quite remarkable. In the early days of that city a temple of Serapis existed there, which was afterward a monastery of the Begging Friars, and the mysteries of this god existed beside the Roman Collegia or Craftsmen's Society.

Some have argued that the crypt of York Minster affords evidence of the progress of masonry from Roman to Saxon times. It is stated that it has a mosaic pavement of blue and white tiles laid in the form employed in the first degree of masonry. Undoubted is the fact that the craft occasionally met in this crypt during the eighteenth century.

Masonic tradition goes to show that even in the beginning of the fourteenth century, masonry in Britain was regarded as a thing of great antiquity. Lodge records for the most part only date back to the sixteenth century in the oldest instances, but ancient manuscripts are extant which undoubtedly relate to masonry.

Thus the old charges embodied in the Regius manuscript, which was unearthed in 1839 by Halliwell Phillips, are dated at 1390 and contain a curious legend of the craft that tells how the necessity of finding work of some description drove men to consult Euclid, who recommended masonry as a craft to them.It goes on to tell how masonry was founded in Egypt, and how it entered England in the time of King Athelstan (d. 940). The necessity for keeping close counsel as regards the secrets of the craft is insisted upon in rude verse.

The Cooke manuscript from the early fifteenth century likewise contains versions of the old charges. Egypt was regarded here as the motherland of masonry, and King Athelstan the medium for the introduction of the craft into the island of Britain. But that this manuscript was used among masons at a later date was proved by the 1890 discovery of a more modern version dated about 1687 and known as the William Watson manuscript. In all, about 70 of these old charges and pseudo-histories have been discovered since 1860. They all have much in common and are of English origin.

The Birth of Speculative Masonry

Whatever the ancient and medieval roots of masonry, in the seventeenth century it was given a new direction by the widespread acceptance into the lodges of non-masons who used the lodges as a home for their pursuit of spiritual wisdom apart from the theology of the established church, often while keeping a nominal membership in the Church of England. (By 1723, for example, all specific references to Christianity were removed from the movement's constitution; members had only to acknowledge God, the Great Architect of the Universe.) The first prominent speculative Freemason was astrologer Elias Ashmole (1617-1692), an officer in the court of Charles II. Ash-mole, and his contemporaries such as Robert Fludd (1574-1637), helped spread the revived gnosticism represented on the continent by Rosicrucianism. Through the century, speculative lodges consisting primarily if not exclusively of accepted masons spread throughout England and Scotland where they existed as a condoned (and somewhat unrecognized) form of religious dissent.

The coming of age of speculative masonry was signaled by the formation of the Grand Lodge of England, inaugurated on St. John the Baptist's Day 1717 by four of the old London lodges. Rev. John Theophilus Desguliers, who became Grand Master in 1719, was the chaplain to the Prince of Wales, and used his considerable influence to spread the movement both in England and France. The Grand Lodge provided the fraternity with its first central governing body, as prior to this time each lodge was self-governing. Many lodges speedily came under its aegis, and Ireland formed a Grand Lodge of her own in 1725, but Scotland did not follow until 1736, and even then many lodges held aloof from the central body, only 33 out of 100 falling into line.

From one or other of these three governing bodies all the regular lodges and variant rites throughout the world have arisen, so that modern masonry may truthfully be said to be of British origin. To say that Continental masonry is the offspring of the British lodges is not to say that no masonic lodges existed in France and Germany before the formation of the English Grand Lodge, but underscores the break between the masonry of the builders of the medieval architectual wonders and the speculative masonry of the seventeenth century. All of the modern speculative lodges in Europe date from the inception of the English central body. However, the Continental masonry possesses many rites that differ entirely from those found in the British craft.

In Germany, which existed at this time as a number of independent states, it was said that the Steinmetzin approximated very strongly in medieval times to the British masons, if they were not originally one and the same, but again, the modern lodges in Germany all dated from the speculative lodge founded in 1733.

We find the beginnings of modern French masonry in the labors of Martine de Pasqually, Louis Claude de Saint-Martin, and perhaps to a some extent Cagliostro who toiled greatly to found his Egyptian rite in France. It is noticeable, however, that Cagliostro had become a member of a London lodge before attempting work on the Continent. In France, masonry had a more political complexion, being a source of the democratic thought underlying the French (and later the Italian) Revolution. Because of the political alignment of continental Freemasonry, an extreme enmity developed between Free-masonry and the Roman Catholic Church, which had aligned itself to the royal families of Europe. Masonry in England, a country that broke with Rome during the Reformation of the sixteenth century, had a much more apolitical stance.

Official opposition to Freemasonry by the Roman Catholic Church dates back to Papal bulls of 1738 and 1751 and is a tangled story of suspicion and intrigue relating to masonic secrecy and to complex political developments of the time. Much antagonism has been deliberately fostered by mischief makers. For example, during the nineteenth century, the French journalist Gabriel Jogand-Pagés, writing under the name Leo Taxil, perpetrated an extraordinary and prolonged hoax in which he claimed to have exposed a Satanist activity within Freemasonry. The motive appears to have been to embarrass the Roman Catholic Church, but it also added to traditional Church prejudices against Freemasonry and caused much trouble for masons.

The plot involved the claim that a certain Diana Vaughan, claimed to have been a High Priestess of Satanic Freemasonry and dedicated to overthrowing Christianity and winning the world for Satanism, had been converted to the Roman Catholic faith. The memoirs of "Diana Vaughan," written by Jogand, were read by Pope Leo XIII, and Jogand himself was received in private audience by the pope, and an anti-masonic congress was summoned in 1887 at Trent.

On Easter Monday 1897, at a press conference to present Diana Vaughan, Jogand confessed to his conspiracy and the details of his complex hoax are now generally known. But, great damage had already been done to relations between Roman Catholics and Freemasons. In 1917 the church declared that anyone who joined a masonic lodge was automatically excommunicated.

The Masonic Worldview

The Freemasons instituted an initiatory degree system by which members were step-by-step brought into the inner working of the lodge. Initially there were three degrees, but these could never satisfy the true gnostics. Various elaborate systems of degrees were developed to picture the levels leading from this world to God and to symbolize the journey of the knowing soul back home. The most famous, due to its success and longevity, was the 30° system placed upon the original three degrees that emerged as the 33° system of the Ancient and Accepted Rite, the system operative in the United Grand Lodge. This system became integral to the dominant American masonic body, the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, and its teachings as illustrated in the writings of Albert Pike, its dominant intellectual leader.

As speculative masonry emerged, it espoused the idea that masonry was a restatement of the ancient religion of human-kind. At one time, the masons suggested, there were two religions, one for the educated and enlightened and one for the masses. The one religion of the enlightened became the base upon which the various historic faiths emerged. Through the centuries, however, adepts (masters) kept the original teachings intact, and they were eventually passed in their purity to the masonic leadership. In the modern age, due to the evolution of the race, more people are now capable of receiving and safely handling that secret wisdom that is now being disseminated by the masonic lodges. That secret wisdom came from the ancient East and Middle East, and both Eastern religions (especially Hinduism) and Western mystical systems such as Kabalism assist the process of describing it.

The ancient wisdom myth of Freemasonry found an origin in the Bible, a significantly more acceptable source to a Christian establishment than Arabia and the Muslim countries of Rosicrucianism. In 1 Kings 7:13-45, the masons found the story of Hiram. Hiram was employed by King Solomon to work on the temple in Jerusalem. After his work, he disappeared from both the pages of the Bible and from history. Freemasons, however, developed his biography that included a murder by his artisan colleagues. Hiram, in working on the temple, became aware of the "Word of God" inscribed in the secret parts of the temple. He would not reveal what he had learned and his non-collegial reticence cost him his life. His death then became integral to the ritual initiation of members who symbolically die and are reborn into the craft.

The masonic worldview begins with three fundamental realities. First, there is a omnipresent, eternal, boundless, and immutable principle that is ineffable, beyond any limiting descriptors of human language, the end-point of all metaphysical speculation, the rootless root and the uncaused cause. Natural law is a representation of the permanency of the absolute. Second, there exists what we term space in the abstract. Space is a symbol of divinity as it is basic to all experience; it is fathomless but at the same time integral to all human concepts. Third, there exists motion, another abstract notion, representing unconditioned consciousness that manifests as spirit and matter. Spirit and matter are two facets of the absolute.

The universe is seen as a boundless plane, a playground upon which numerous universes come and go. There is an eternal flex in which new universes begin to develop and are absorbed back into the boundless space out of which they were formed. Creation of a universe begins as space becomes turgid and produces a first or potential matter called the akasa. Operating on this matter is absolute abstract motion, latent potential energy, consciousness, and cosmic ideation.

Thus at the beginning is the universal energy (fofat) and the universal substance (akasa) behind which stands consciousness and ultimately the absolute. As creation proceeds, it will occur in steps of seven. Seven plans of creation will be formed from the purely spiritual to physical substance. These seven planes of existence are reflected throughout the universe. Each human also possesses these seven levels. The seven levels are: atma, buddhi, manas, kama, astral, life principle, and physical. The operation of these seven planes in the universe and in the individual provide much room for speculative elaboration and would later provide material upon which Theosophy would build.

Masonry in America

Through the eighteenth century, Freemasonry had aligned itself with the Enlightenment and with the anti-monarchial ideals of the late-century revolutionaries. Masonic and Rosicrucian ideals flowed through the salons of France and supplied vital ideological components of the new revolutionary ethos that allowed the complete overthrow of an obsolete government system and the institution of a new democratic system. The Marquis de Lafayette, who joined in the American Revolution, was a mason. In the United States James Madison; James Monroe; Benjamin Franklin, who financed much of the revolution; and George Washington, who led its armies, were Free-masons. The input of Freemasonry in the founding of the republic can now be found on the dollar bill, which hails the coming of the "ordo nuevo seculorum," the "new order of the ages" and the pyramid topped with the all-seeing eye.

But masonry had established itself in America long before the revolution. The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts dates from 1733 and that of South Carolina was founded just four years later. The General Grand Chapter of the Royal Arch Masons of the U.S.A. was founded in Boston in 1797 by representatives from Massachusetts and New York. The Supreme Council 33 of Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States of America was formed in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1801. Albert Pike, the most noteworthy of nineteenth century masons, was the leader of this latter organization for many years (1859-1891). The Order of the Eastern Star, an auxiliary for female relatives of masons, was founded in 1876. The masonic movement now encompasses millions of members primarily in lodges affiliated to its larger organizations, but also in a variety of smaller masonic groups that follow various patterns of different speculative rites.

Understanding the origins of speculative masonry as an occult movement, and the essentially gnostic nature of its thought, does much to explain why many prominent occultists such as Manly Palmer Hall trumpeted their masonic connections. It also shows how masonic thought served as a basis for Theosophy, and the manner in which masonic organizations provided the substructure upon which modern Rosicrucianism emerged at the end of the nineteenth century. Masonry supplied the organizational model not only for Rosicrucianism, but for ceremonial magic groups such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the Ordo Templi Orientis.

Sources:

Coil, Henry. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia. Richmond, Va.: Macoy Publishing, 1961.

. Freemasonry Through Six Centuries. 2 vols. Richmond, Va.: Macoy Publishing, 1961.

Hall, Manly P. Lost Keys of Freemasonry. Richmond, Va.: Macoy Publishing, 1923.

Haywood, H. I. The Newly Made Mason. Richmond, Va.: Macoy Publishing, 1948.

Knight, G. Norman, and F. Smyth. The Pocket History of Free-masonry. London: Fred K. Muller, 1977.

Knight, Stephen. The Brotherhood: The Secret World of the Free-masons. New York: Stein & Day, 1984.

Mackey, Albert G. Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. Richmond, Va.: Macoy Publishing, 1909.

Mellor, Alec. Our Separated Brethren: The Freemasons. London: George G. Harp, 1964.

Voorhis, Harold V. B. Masonic Organizations and Allied Orders and Degrees. N.p.: Press of Henry Emmerson, 1952.

Waite, A. E. A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. 2 vols. London: William Rider; New York: David McKay, 1921. Reprint, New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1970. Reprint, New York: Weatherwane, 1971.

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"Freemasonry." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Freemasonry

FREEMASONRY

FREEMASONRY. Organized locally in secret societies known as lodges, freemasonry attracted adherents in every major European state over the course of the eighteenth century. Freemasonry, with its humanitarian emphasis on moral improvement, religious toleration, and universal brotherhood, showed clear traces of Enlightenment influence. Although freemasons were avowedly nonpolitical in their aims, some scholars have linked them in France and elsewhere with proto-democratic movements of the later eighteenth century.

ORIGINS

The origins of freemasonry are shrouded in colorful myths passed down by generations of masons. Some masons traced their beginnings back to the building of Solomon's temple in biblical times. Others dated their order back to the Templars, the knightly crusading order of the twelfth century. But most historians now see eighteenth-century freemasonry as evolving out of English and Scottish stonemason guilds of the seventeenth century. Master stonemasons were highly skilled craftsmen whose trade demanded considerable technical knowledge in engineering and architecture. Taking pride in their craft, they had developed over the centuries a rich repository of legends and rituals highlighting their history as the builders of palaces and churches. In the seventeenth century their myths and ceremonies began to attract the attention of individuals outside the guild, including those with philosophical and scientific interests who saw masonry as a fount of ancient wisdom. By the early eighteenth century masonic organizations had begun to lose their identity as occupational associations and had evolved into fraternal lodges devoted to charitable activity and the provision of fellowship and mutual aid to their members. As such, the rise of freemasonry was symptomatic of the more general proliferation of clubs, reading societies, salons, and other institutions of sociability that occurred throughout Europe in the age of Enlightenment. Those from the middling ranks of society, especially merchants, comprised a large segment of British freemasons, although members also included aristocrats and even royalty (at the end of the eighteenth century almost all male members of the royal family were members). By 1725 London lodges, which in 1717 had confederated themselves into the Grand Lodge of London, numbered thirty-seven, and by 1780 England as a whole boasted almost four hundred.

EXPANSION

With a social base that was urban, mercantile, and hence geographically mobile, freemasonry spread quickly to the Continent. A Parisian lodge was in existence by 1725, and on the eve of the French Revolution there were an estimated 600 lodges in the monarchy as a whole. In 1770 Paris alone had some 10,000 freemasons, and in 1789 France's masonic population ranged between 50,000 and 100,000. In the Dutch Republic lodges were established in The Hague and in Amsterdam in the 1730s, and in Germany some 450 lodges were founded between 1737 and 1789. Freemasonry took root somewhat later in Austria, where the devoutly Catholic Maria Theresa (ruled 17401780) was hostile to the order after the papacy formally condemned it (1738) on the grounds of its alleged deism. But her son and successor, Joseph II (ruled 17801790), himself joined a lodge and encouraged the movement during the early, liberal years of his reign. By 1784 there were sixty-six lodges in the monarchy, although Joseph's successor, the archconservative Francis II, outlawed freemasonry in 1794 as a subversive Jacobin import. The spread of freemasonry was also belated elsewhere on the European periphery. Madrid's first lodge was founded relatively early (1728) by an exiled English Jacobite, but opposition by the church curbed the growth of Spanish freemasonry until the enlightened reign of Charles III (ruled 17591788). Russia's first lodges were founded by and for foreigners, but under Catherine the Great (ruled 17621796) freemasonry for a brief time became fashionable among enlightened circles at the University of Moscow. But by the 1790s Catherine, like her Austrian counterpart, had begun to suppress freemasonry as politically subversive.

SIGNIFICANCE

Such official persecution has led some to see freemasonry as a proto-democratic, egalitarian, and even revolutionary movement. In her 1991 study of British, Dutch, and French freemasonry, Margaret Jacob argued that masonic lodges served to spread British constitutionalist ideas and practices throughout the Continent. Masons called the rules of their lodges "constitutions" and practiced principles of majority rule in elections of officers and members. Masonic sociability and ceremony also had a distinctly egalitarian flavor. Masonic meetings, where titles were dropped and members referred to each other as "brother," momentarily suspended differences in social rank. Inspired in part by the work of the Catholic royalist historian Augustin Cochin, who found organizational and ideological parallels between pre-Revolutionary French lodges and post-1789 Jacobin clubs, other scholars have viewed freemasonry in a more ominous light. Reinhart Koselleck and François Furet have seen the abstract moralism and egalitarianism of freemasonry as foreshadowing a modern totalitarian quest for ideological purity and unity.

These interpretations vary in details, but all tend to see freemasonry as inherently antagonistic to the social and political structures of the Old Regime. Yet freemasonry looked to the past as well as to the future, and its political manifestations were varied. Like the Old Regime itself, lodges were hierarchical in structure, with members advancing from a lower to a higher rank through service to the order and mastery of its secrets. Admission to and advancement within the order were ostensibly based on merit, but initiation fees, membership dues, and literacy requirements in practice made membership a preserve of the propertied. Freemasonry was also overwhelmingly male in composition, although there is evidence that some French lodges admitted women as well as men. The more traditional features of eighteenth-century freemasonry are also evident in the order's quasi-religious character. In some ways lodges hearkened back to lay confraternities and religious orders in providing members with fellowship, mutual aid, and outlets for charitable work. As with a church, freemasonry's elaborate ceremonies and esoteric symbolism fostered a sense of spiritual mystery as well as a belief that members had access to a higher wisdom closed to those outside the order. Finally, lodges could be found across the political spectrum. In the 1760s many British masons became associated with the cause of popular radicalism through their support of John Wilkes and his demands for parliamentary reform, but by the 1790s British lodges had become solidly loyalist and conservative in character. In France, not all lodges were sympathetic to the Revolution: in Toulouse about one-third of the 250 individuals who can be identified as freemasons were royalist in their sympathies, and some Parisian lodges were hostile to the Revolution from its very inception.

Eighteenth-century freemasonry was innovative not so much for its politics, but rather as a prototype for the voluntary associations and clubs that democratic political theorists have viewed as defining features of modern civil society. Freemasonry was the first secular, voluntary, and pan-European association in modern times, and as such became a model for civic organizations and clubs throughout the West.

See also Enlightenment ; Guilds ; Revolutions, Age of .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dülmen, Richard van. The Society of the Enlightenment: The Rise of the Middle Class and Enlightenment Culture in Germany. Translated by Anthony Williams. New York, 1992.

Furet, François. Interpreting the French Revolution. Translated by Elborg Forster. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1981.

Halévi, Ran. Les loges maçonniques dans la France d'ancien régime: Aux origines de la sociabilitédémocratique. Paris, 1984.

Jacob, Margaret C. Living the Enlightenment: Freemasonry in Eighteenth-Century Europe. New York, 1991.

Koselleck, Reinhart. Critique and Crisis: Enlightenment and the Pathogenesis of Modern Society. Cambridge, Mass., 1988.

James Van Horn Melton

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Freemasons

FREEMASONS

FREEMASONS. This international quasi-religious fraternity is properly called the Ancient and Accepted Order of Freemasons. The number of freemasons in the United States crested at four million around 1960. In terms of freemasons as a percentage of the population, their popularity was greatest in the United States from after the Civil War until the 1920s. Freemasons traditionally were white, native-born, and Protestant. The primary purpose of the freemasons is to meet the social and personal needs of their members. An important activity of freemasons is the performance of various secret rituals, held within Masonic temples. Symbolizing the temple of King Solomon, the temples are usually located in prominent places within urban areas. Freemason rituals are infused with religious allegories that emphasize the omnipotence of God, the importance of a moral life, and the possibility of immortality. Over the course of the twentieth century, in an effort to respond to younger members' interests as well as reverse declining membership, free-masons have increasingly emphasized community service over religious symbolism. Today there are perhaps slightly more than three million freemasons in the United States, distributed among some fourteen thousand Grand Lodges.

The term "freemason" dates from the fourteenth century, when stonemasons in Europe bound themselves together for their mutual protection and training. During the Reformation freemasonry became open to men other than stonemasons. On 24 June 1717 a group met in London to found the first Grand Lodge. The first freemason to live in the British colonies in America was Jonathan Belcher, who joined the freemasons in England in 1704 and later became the governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The first lodge in the United States was established in Philadelphia in 1731, and in 1734 Benjamin Franklin became its Grand Master.

Freemasons were prominent during the revolutionary and constitutional periods, and have held important positions in modern politics. Fourteen presidents have been freemasons, most recently Gerald R. Ford. George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Benedict Arnold, all generals of the Continental Army, were freemasons, and it is possible that Washington selected his generals partly on the basis of their freemason status. Before the Revolution Franklin represented colonial interests in England, and after the war he was the American minister to France, and as he undoubtedly consulted with other free-masons in both countries, his fraternal standing could have served his diplomatic purposes. Franklin's efforts to expand the U.S. Constitution's protection of religious belief also accord with his freemasonry background.

While an important principle for freemasons is the acceptance of all religions, they have been denounced by the Catholic Church, in part because at certain periods they were involved with anti-immigrant or racist causes, for instance that of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. The greatest controversy in freemason history, however, involved one William Morgan of Batavia, New York. In retaliation for the order's refusal to permit him to form a local lodge, in March 1826 Morgan contracted to publish a pamphlet that revealed the secrets of freemasonry. In September Morgan was abducted and probably drowned in the Niagara River. His pamphlet, Illustrations of Masonry, was published in October 1826. Because of its exclusive membership (perhaps 32,000 members in 1820) and its secrecy, freemasonry was already suspected as anti-democratic. Morgan's pamphlet, and the alleged cover-up of his abduction by judges and jurors who themselves were freemasons, greatly galvanized anti-Masonic feeling across the country. In 1828 Thurlow Weed, a prominent newspaper publisher, organized a political party known as the Anti-Masonic Party. The party was the first to hold a convention for the nomination of a presidential candidate. In 1832 William Wirt, a former U.S. attorney general, headed the ticket. Anti-Masonic political activity spread to New England and the Northwest, but by the early 1840s there was little national interest in the party's agenda.

The Masonic affiliation of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, was perhaps the most long-lived, if incidental, legacy of this controversy. Smith, a freemason, founded his church in 1830 in Palmyra, New York, and was murdered by an anti-Mormon mob on 27 June 1844. While freemasons may have taken part in the crime, Smith's successor, Brigham Young, also a freemason, held the Order of Freemasons blameless. The influence of the rituals of freemasonry upon the ceremonies and rites of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is still apparent today.

Another incidental consequence of the practice of freemasonry was the rise of Negro freemasonry. A black man named Prince Hall founded a lodge in 1775. Due to racist resistance by white freemasons, Prince Hall Masonry did not gain general acceptance as a legitimate order until the 1960s. Thus the exclusivity of white free-masons was possibly an important factor in the forging of the group self-consciousness of middle-class blacks.

Especially in the twentieth century the freemasons have undertaken important reform and charitable causes. The widespread illiteracy of American men became apparent during the World War I era. As a result freemasons began lobbying for a federal department of education, which eventually came to fruition. Over their history the freemasons have spawned close to one hundred affiliated groups that emulate the freemason's secret rituals and modern commitment to public service. The first large-scale labor organization, the Knights of Labor, adapted many Masonic motifs and phrases. The most prominent affiliated groups today are the Knights Templar, the Scottish Rite, and the Shriners. The last group has raised millions of dollars for medical treatment of children.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Carnes, Mark C. Secret Ritual and Manhood in Victorian America. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1989.

Demott, Bobby J. Freemasonry in American Culture and Society. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1986. A revealing but often excessively favorable account.

Dumenil, Lynn. Freemasonry and American Culture, 1880–1930. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1984.

Kutolowski, Kathleen Smith. "Freemasonry and Community in the Early Republic: The Case for Antimasonic Anxieties." American Quarterly 34 (1982): 543–561.

Muraskin, William Alan. Middle-Class Blacks in a White Society: Prince Hall Freemasonry in America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975.

Additionally, various state Grand Lodges publish annual Journals of Proceedings that contain administrative, charitable, and historical information.

Timothy M.Roberts

See alsoAnti-Masonic Movements ; Latter-day Saints, Church of Jesus Christ of .

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Freemasonry

Freemasonry, teachings and practices of the secret fraternal order officially known as the Free and Accepted Masons, or Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.

Organizational Structure

There are approximately 5 million members worldwide, mostly in the United States and other English-speaking countries. With adherents in almost every nation where Freemasonry is not officially banned, it forms the largest secret society in the world. There is no central Masonic authority; jurisdiction is divided among autonomous national authorities, called grand lodges, and many concordant organizations of higher-degree Masons. In the United States and Canada the highest authority rests with state and provincial grand lodges. Custom is the supreme authority of the order, and there are elaborate symbolic rites and ceremonies, most of which utilize the instruments of the stonemason—the plumb, the square, the level, and compasses—and apocryphal events concerning the building of King Solomon's Temple for allegorical purposes.

The principles of Freemasonry have traditionally been liberal and democratic. Anderson's Constitutions (1723), the bylaws of the Grand Lodge of England, which is Freemasonry's oldest extant lodge, cites religious toleration, loyalty to local government, and political compromise as basic to the Masonic ideal. Masons are expected to believe in a Supreme Being, use a holy book appropriate to the religion of the lodge's members, and maintain a vow of secrecy concerning the order's ceremonies.

The basic unit of Freemasonry is the local Blue lodge, generally housed in a Masonic temple. The lodge consists of three Craft, Symbolic, or Blue Degrees: Entered Apprentice (First Degree), Fellow Craft (Second Degree), and Master Mason (Third Degree). These gradations are meant to correspond to the three levels—apprentice, journeyman, and master—of the medieval stonemasons' guilds. The average Mason does not rise above Master Mason.

If he does, however, he has the choice of advancing through about 100 different rites, encompassing some 1,000 higher degrees, throughout the world. In the United States, the two most popular rites are the Scottish and the York. The Scottish Rite awards 30 higher degrees, from Secret Master (Fourth Degree) to Sovereign Grand Inspector General (Thirty-third Degree). The York Rite awards ten degrees, from Mark Master to Order of Knights Templar, the latter being similar to a Thirty-third Degree Scottish Rite Mason.

Other important Masonic groups are the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, to which many African-American Masons belong; the Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm (the "fraternal fun order for Blue Lodge Masons" ); and the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Thirty-second degree Masons who, as the Shriners, are noted for their colorful parades and support of children's hospitals; they were established as a Masonic social organization in 1872). There are also many subsidiary Masonic groups, including the Order of the Eastern Star, limited to Master Masons and their female relatives; De Molay, an organization for boys; and Job's Daughters and Rainbow, two organizations for girls. Many of the orders maintain homes for aged members.

Development of the Order

The order is thought to have arisen from the English and Scottish fraternities of practicing stonemasons and cathedral builders in the early Middle Ages; traces of the society have been found as early as the 14th cent. Because, however, some documents of the order trace the sciences of masonry and geometry from Egypt, Babylon, and Palestine to England and France, some historians of Masonry claim that the order has roots in antiquity.

The formation of the English Grand Lodge in London (1717) was the beginning of the widespread dissemination of speculative Freemasonry, the present-day fraternal order, whose membership is not limited to working stonemasons. The six lodges in England in 1700 grew to about 30 by 1723. There was a parallel development in Scotland and Ireland, although some lodges remained unaffiliated and open only to practicing masons. By the end of the 18th cent. there were Masonic lodges in all European countries and in many other parts of the world as well.

The first lodge in the United States was founded in Philadelphia (1730); Benjamin Franklin was a member. Many of the leaders of the American Revolution, including John Hancock and Paul Revere, were members of St. Andrew's Lodge in Boston. George Washington became a Mason in 1752. At the time of the Revolution most of the American lodges broke away from their English and Scottish antecedents. Freemasonry has continued to be important in politics; 13 Presidents have been Masons, and at any given time quite a large number of the members of Congress have belonged to Masonic lodges. Notable European Masons included Voltaire, Giuseppe Mazzini, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Franz Joseph Haydn, Johann von Goethe, Johann von Schiller, and many leaders of Russia's Decembrist revolt (1825).

Opposition to Freemasonry

Because of its identification with 19th-century bourgeois liberalism, there has been much opposition to Freemasonry. The most violent in the United States was that of the Anti-Masonic party. Freemasonry's anticlerical attitude has also led to strong opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, which first expressed its anti-Masonic attitude in a bull of Pope Clement XII (1738). The Catholic Church still discourages its members from joining the order. Totalitarian states have always suppressed Freemasonry; the lodges in Italy, Austria, and Germany were forcibly eradicated under fascism and Nazism, and there are now no lodges in China.

Bibliography

See R. F. Gould, History of Freemasonry throughout the World (rev. ed., 6 vol., 1936); A. G. Mackey, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry (rev. ed., 3 vol., 1946); F. L. Pick and G. N. Knight, The Pocket History of Freemasonry (4th ed. 1963); C. Kephart, Concise History of Freemasonry (2d ed. 1964); E. Bebe, The Landmarks of Free Masonry (1980); J. Ankerberg and J. Weldon, The Facts on the Masonic Lodge (1988).

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"Freemasonry." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Freemasons

FREEMASONS

A secret fraternal order.

Drawing on guild practices of the masons and deriving its "oriental" origins from the period of Solomon's temple in Jerusalem, the order of Free and Accepted Masons recognizes some six million members worldwide. The order's first Grand Lodge was organized in London in 1717. Incorporating a complex system of secret rituals, rites, and decrees, the society admits members who profess a belief in God, but keep the particulars of their faith private. Members include Muslims, Christians, and Jews. There is no central authority. Freemasonry advocates religious toleration, fellowship, and political compromise, and members work for peace and harmony between peoples.


Freemasonry in the Middle East is traced initially to individuals, most notably Iranians who, serving as diplomats, were invited to join lodges by Europeans and upon their return disseminated the ideology. Masonic lodges in the region were established by Europeans in areas they influenced and were used by the French and the British to cultivate local individuals. Lodges in Calcutta (founded in 1730) attracted Hindus and Muslims, and the philosophy probably entered Iran at this time with Iranian merchants who lived in India.


The establishment in the Middle East of masonic lodges affiliated with the European movement, however, dates from Napoléon's invasion of Egypt, when French soldiers established chapters in Cairo (1798) and in Alexandria (1802). Italian émigrés, after their abortive revolution in Italy (1830), set up Italian lodges, and the British and the Germans became active in the 1860s. In Iran, the first lodge (a nonaffiliated one) was set up in 1858 by an Armenian convert to Islam, Mirza Malkom Khan, and was short lived. The French masonic lodge in Istanbul, L'Union d'Orient, dates from 1865. During the Ottoman period, there were lodges in Beirut and Jerusalem, and the society flourished under the Palestine mandate. Jewish, Christian, and Muslim members support a mutual insurance fund, an oldage home, a library, and masonic temples in Israel. There have been lodges in most Middle Eastern countries at one time or another, depending upon the regime in power.

Although it never attracted many members on the popular level, freemasonry in the Middle East was a significant component of Middle Eastern reform politics during the latter part of the nineteenth century until World War I. Because it incorporated unique rites, a clandestine apparatus, and a select membershipfeatures familiar in Sufi, futuwwa, and other Islamic movementsand was a convenient vehicle for the dissemination of European ideas, it drew Islamic modernists and political activists such as the Egyptian Muhammad Abduh, the Iranian Jamal al-din al-Afghani, and the Algerian Abd alQadir.


Masonic lodges were convenient covers for clandestine activities. Because they were, by and large, Western institutions protected under the capitulations, governments could not penetrate them or monitor their activities. Members were also able to draw upon the support of European masons in defense of local members. During the 1870s, the movement was used as a tool by Prince Halim of Egypt who was denied succession and conspired to rule. Khedive Ismaʿil and his successor, Tawfiq, banished a number of prominent members who were also active in reformist political activitiesYaʿqub Sanu and Afghani, among others. Ottoman modernists of the Tanzimat period were responsible for Ottoman Sultan Murat V's brief rule in 1876. In Iran, lodges existed sporadically in the nineteenth century and were allowed under Mohammad Ali Shah until 1911 and the end of the constitutional movement. Iranians, Egyptians, and Ottomans met at lodges throughout the Middle East when they traveled, but there is no evidence that any unified political actions emerged.


For the Young Turks, exposed to freemasonry largely in the Balkans and Constantinople (now Istanbul), the lodges were convenient meeting places to bring together Christians and Muslims, and to plan the overthrow of the regime of Sultan Abdülhamit II. The existence of so many Freemasons in the large secular leadership of the Committee for Union and Progress generated polemical literature of a conspiratorial nature against the regime just before Turkey's entry into World War I on the side of Germany.

See also Abd al-Qadir; Abduh, Muhammad; Abdülhamit II; Afghani, Jamal al-Din al-; Capitulations; Committee for Union and Progress; Malkom Khan, Mirza; Sanu, Yaʿqub; Tanzimat; Young Turks.


Bibliography

Algar, Hamid. "An Introduction to the History of Freemasonry in Iran." Middle Eastern Studies 6 (1970).

Hanioğlu, M. Sükrü. "Notes on the Young Turks and Freemasons, 18751908." Middle Eastern Studies 25 (1989).

Kedourie, Elie. "Young Turks, Freemasons, and Jews." Middle Eastern Studies 7 (1971).

Landau, Jacob M. "Prolegomena to a Study of Secret Societies in Modern Egypt." Middle Eastern Studies 1 (1964).

Reeva S. Simon

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Freemasonry

FREEMASONRY

Freemasonry came to Russia as part of the eighteenthcentury expansion that made the craft a global phenomenon. Although at first it was one of several social institutions, including salons, societies, and clubs, that made their way to Russia in the course of Westernization, Freemasonry soon acquired considerable importance, evolving into a widespread, variegated, and much vilified social movement.

Despite the legends that attributed the origins of Russian Freemasonry to Peter the Great (who purportedly received his degree from Christopher Wren), the first reliable evidence places the beginnings of the craft in Russia in the 1730s and early 1740s. The movement expanded in the latter half of the eighteenth century, especially between 1770 and 1790, when more than a hundred lodges were created in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and the provinces.

Freemasonry was an important element of the Russian Enlightenment and played a central role in the evolution of Russia's public sphere and civil society. The lodges were self-governed and open to free men (but not women) of almost every nationality, rank, and walk of life, with the notable exception of serfs. While many lodges were nothing but glorified social clubs, there were numerous brethren who saw themselves as on a mission to reform humankind and battle Russia's perceived "barbarity" by means of charity and self-improvement. They regarded the lodges as havens of righteousness and nurseries of virtue in a depraved world.

The history of Russian Freemasonry followed a tortuous path. Most of the lodges, especially in the provinces, were shortlived, and Russian Freemasonry was very fragmented. Some lodges were subordinated to the Grand Lodge of England; others belonged to the Swedish Rite, the Strict Observance, or some other jurisdiction. Contemporaries made a distinction between Freemasonry proper and Martinism, a mystical strand in the movement that claimed the famous mystic Claude SaintMartin as its founder. A group of Moscow Rosicrucians headed by JohannGeorg Schwarz and Nikolai Ivanovich Novikov were the most important Martinists. Often referred to as "Novikov's circle," they enjoyed close ties with the university, the government, and even the local diocese and initiated numerous educational and charitable initiatives, such as the Friendly Learned Society, the Typographical Company, and the Philological Seminary. Novikov's circle was an important episode in the history of the Russian Enlightenment. Its activities, however, came to an end in 1792, when Novikov was arrested, interrogated, and sentenced to life in prison.

Many aspects of the so-called Novikov affair are still unclear. The government of Catherine II may have had political motives for arresting Novikov, given the Rosicrucians' ties to foreign powers as well as to the future Emperor Paul I and his entourage. The affair may also, in large part, have been caused by the fear of occult secret societies and antiMasonic sentiment that was spreading through Europe. AntiMasonry later became an important political factor in imperial and post-Soviet Russia.

Russian Freemasonry enjoyed a brief period of relatively unhampered existence in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The craft counted among its members practically every politician, military leader, and intellectual of note, including Mikhail Kutuzov and Alexander Pushkin; many of the Decembrists belonged to the Astrea lodge in St. Petersburg. After 1822, when Alexander I imposed a ban on all secret societies, the situation changed. The ban, confirmed by Nicholas I in 1826, signified the official end of Freemasonry, although some clandestine lodges continued to operate, particularly during a brief revival on the eve of World War I. Freemasonry was again outlawed in Soviet Russia in the early 1920s. The ban ended in the 1990s, when the French National Grand Lodge established lodges in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Voronezh, and chapters of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite were also organized.

See also: catherine ii; enlightenment, impact of; novikov, nikolai ivanovich; paul i

bibliography

Smith, Douglas. (1999). Working the Rough Stone: Freemasonry and Society in Eighteenth-Century Russia. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press.

Olga Tsapina

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freemasons

freemasons were originally skilled workers in stone who, in the Middle Ages, travelled from site to site and developed a set of secret signs and passwords for private identification. With the decline in cathedral-building the guilds began to accept honorary members to bolster declining membership, these being similarly required to help all members as brothers. Soon they ceased to have much resemblance to craft guilds and became prosperous social clubs, which claimed to do much charitable and philanthropic work. Freemasonry revived after the expulsion of James II, influenced by Huguenot immigrants such as Desaguliers. Lodges were better organized, with regular meetings after 1691, and admitted broader social ranks; the first grand lodge was founded in 1717. The movement prospered, with many lodges owning their own premises, and in 1802 they established themselves as a national organization, identified with monarchy and protestantism, although freemasonry is not actually a Christian institution. Schemes were developed for mutual help in times of distress and aid for dependants—one of their best-known charitable endowments is the Royal Masonic Hospital. The framework of self-help, particularly to meet privations caused by illness, sudden death, and unemployment, led other organizations such as the Royal and Ancient Order of Buffaloes and the Free Foresters to emulate them. Largely because of their secrecy, freemasons have attracted much criticism, particularly from the Roman catholic church, which believed freemasonry to be a cover for free thinking; others suspected secret political influence or accused members of promoting each other's interest by stealth.

Ian John Ernest Keil

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freemasonry

freemasonry Customs and teachings of the secret fraternal order of Free and Accepted Masons, an all-male secret society with national organizations all over the world. Freemasonry is most popular in the UK and some countries in the Commonwealth of Nations. It evolved from the medieval guilds of stonemasons and cathedral builders. The first Grand Lodge (meeting place) was founded in England in 1717. Historically associated with liberalism, freemasonry teaches morality, charity and law-abiding behaviour. Its ceremonies, which use many symbolic gestures and allegories, demand a belief in God as the architect of the universe. In recent times, they have incurred criticism because of their strict secrecy, male exclusivity and alleged use of influence within organizations, such as the police or local government, to benefit members. It is estimated that there are c.6 million masons worldwide.

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Freemason

Freemason a member of an international order established for mutual help and fellowship, which holds elaborate secret ceremonies.

The original free masons were itinerant skilled stonemasons of the 14th century, who are said to have recognized fellow craftsmen by secret signs, while the accepted masons were honorary members of the fraternity who began to be admitted early in the 17th century. Modern freemasonry is usually traced to the formation of the Grand Lodge in London in 1717; members are typically professionals and businessmen. Freemasons have sometimes been criticized for their secrecy, for supposed occult elements in their rituals, or for alleged corruption in business, professional, or government matters.

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Freemason

Freemason.
1. Craftsman capable of hewing, dressing, and setting freestones.

2. Person ‘Free’ of the Masons' Guilds, i.e. a Freeman.

3. Itinerant mason, emancipated, so able to travel widely to carry out work, enjoying an élite status among craftsmen.

4. Member of a secret or tacit Brotherhood organized into groups (Lodges) as a system of morality illustrated by symbols, allegories, and rituals, probably originating in the late C16 in Scotland.

Bibliography

J. Curl (2002);
Knoop & and G. Jones (1949);
D. Stevenson (1988)

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Freemason

Free·ma·son / ˈfrēˈmāsən/ • n. a member of an international order established for mutual help and fellowship, which holds elaborate secret ceremonies.

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Freemason

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freemasonry

freemasonryairy, Azeri, canary, carabinieri, Carey, Cary, chary, clary, contrary, dairy, Dari, faerie, fairy, glairy, glary, Guarneri, hairy, lairy, Mary, miserere, nary, Nyerere, prairie, Salieri, scary, Tipperary, vary, wary •carefree • masonry • blazonry •Aintree • pastry • masturbatory •freemasonry • stonemasonry • Petrie

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