What is Freemasonry hiding? Is there some great mystery at work in the secret workings of the Masonic Lodge? Why are Freemasons so Secretive?
Many masons will not answer questions about the fraternity as they believe it is supposed to be a secret. In the end this becomes a loss for the fraternity as any time someone asks a question about Masonry, it’s a great opportunity to talk openly about it.
A common reaction to this idea is that Masonry is a “Society with Secrets”, rather than a “Secret Society”, but this is equally confusing. There are aspects to Freemasonry that are kept and taught to only those who go through the initiations and ceremonies so as to keep them in a proper perspective and contextual meaning. These aspects are not secrets but instead knowledge that is best communicated in a specific and concise manner.
Many of the secrets have been published and written about, in many instances by Freemasons themselves, but the foundations of the teachings can be found throughout the spectrum of faiths and philosophical teachings of the past and present. It is in the process of their teaching that it could be best suggested where they are truly secret.
This is not your grandfather’s Freemasonry, at least not in Boston and the Grand Lodge AF & AM.
Freemasonry has opened up in the last 50 years, sharing its goals and purpose with the public so that they can be better understood. And the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts has been at the forefront of this openness.
It was four years ago that Massachusetts launched its Ben Franklin series that described the Fraternity to the general public. There is a concerted effort here to dispel some of the myths and misinformation that has been allowed to exist by tight lipped Freemasons and reach out to the public in hopes of creating a better understanding of the Craft.
This is all reflected in the WGBH Boston Television piece on Massachusetts Freemasonry. Go back a few decades and this would have been a hit piece. But because Massachusetts Mainstream Freemasonry has laid the groundwork of years of informing the public of just what Freemasonry is all about, something your Grandfather’s Freemasonry would not do, this is the closest you can get to an infomercial.
The origins of the Knights of the Golden Circle can be traced to Cincinnati con man George Bickley.
University of Cincinnati Civil War historian, Mark Lause, has a new book out titled A Secret Society History of the Civil War (University of Illinois Press). It’s a look at secret societies (societies similar to the Freemasons) that were active in the years leading up to and during the Civil War.
KNIGHTS OF THE GOLDEN CIRCLE: JOHN WILKES BOOTH WAS A MEMBER
That secret society, the Knights of the Golden Circle, was the brainchild of a Cincinnati con man named George Bickley. He fund-raised for the group here in Cincinnati before the Civil War and envisioned it as a para-military organization. During the war, he offered the services of the Knights to the Confederacy, suggesting the organization could work as a fifth column among the North’s civilian population.
Explained Lause, UC professor of history,
The Confederates turned Bickley down, but the South did have a secret service that was active in the North during the war. The United States government was convinced the Knights of the Golden Circle were a big part of this Confederate secret service and spent resources tracking down the organization. However, it wasn’t the case, since the Knights and their numbers were greatly inflated by Bickley.
While the Knights were never actually a fifth-column force in terms of numbers, they and their ideas are thought to have influenced John Wilkes Booth, the stage actor who assassinated Abraham Lincoln. Said Lause,
John Wilkes Booth is thought to have been either a member or sympathizer with the Knights of the Golden Circle who were in Baltimore at that time. A man named George Sanders, who was a member of the Confederate secret service, was reputed to have been Booth’s contact via the group. And Sanders was a member of another secret society that advocated assassination.
Depiction of an initiation ceremony of the Knights of the Golden Circle.
PRINCE HALL MASONS: TAP ROOT OF THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
On the other hand, some secret societies of the era, like the Prince Hall Masons, played a role in beginning and then sustaining the Underground Railroad.
In general, you can think of secret societies as umbrella organizations for those who want to break existing laws for what they believe are patriotic reasons,
On one side, there are groups like the Knights of the Golden Circle. On the other side, there are groups like the Prince Hall Masons.
The membership of the Prince Hall Masons was comprised of African-Americans, both free men and slaves. The order was founded by a black veteran of the American Revolution, and its purpose was to oppose the legal, social and cultural repression of blacks. “This group was the tap root that became the Underground Railroad, he stated.
A Secret Society History of the Civil War by by Mark A. Lause
Interestingly, the Louisville, Ky., chapter of the group held its meetings in New Albany, Ind. Said Lause:
Because slaves were members along with middle-class, free blacks, the group routinely rowed across the Ohio River in secret in order to safely hold meetings in a free state.
BROTHERHOOD OF THE UNION
Founded in 1848, this U.S. secret society (NOT named for “Union” in Civil War terms) was loosely tied to other such societies in Europe. It pursued an anti-slavery agenda. In fact, members of the Brotherhood of the Union in Milwaukee, Wisc., are known to have taken civil disobedience so far as to successfully storm the local jail in order to free a runaway slave who had been captured and incarcerated under the Federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
The Confederate campaign referred to in the title was initially begun to capture St. Louis and Jefferson City (the capital of Missouri). It quickly degenerated, bringing little credit to either side. As such, the available historical record – participant and eyewitness accounts, military records and newspaper accounts – have been little studied until now.
In studying that record, Lause interprets why St. Louis was never actually invaded — even though the forces commanded by Confederate Gen. Sterling Price greatly outnumbered Union army forces (commanded by Cincinnati industrialist Union General William Rosencrans) in the state and even though Price came to within 30 miles of the city.
According to Lause, there are important reasons Price, in the end, did not invade St. Louis even though newspapers in the city were openly publishing information about how few Union army forces were in the city to defend it – information that Confederate informants in the city would have shared with Price.
The city’s civilians would no doubt have taken up arms and transformed the fight from a “battle” between armies into high-casualty, building-by-building , street-by-street guerrilla war.
Why? Because they absolutely had nothing to lose, said Lause. For the population in Missouri, if a Union occupation was considered bad, a Confederate occupation was considered far worse. In the two-month campaign, the forces under Price engaged in ethnic cleansing as they passed through towns and territory: Brutalizing and killing blacks, German immigrants, Catholics, prisoners of war and anyone else who might be sympathetic to the Union cause.
Price actually tried to put a stop to the ethnic cleansing, but many of his forces were originally from the region. They felt disenfranchised and were determined to settle the score. They were already killing civilians and literally leaving the bodies out for hogs to eat. The German population in St. Louis knew what they faced and would have made it extremely expensive – if not impossible – in terms of casualties for the Confederates.
Another reason the Confederates did not invade St. Louis: They had suffered grim casualties in the two battles of the campaign. In the battle of Pilot Knob, about 1,400 local blacks, local militia and some Union Army forces fought about 8,000 Confederate troops, with the Confederates suffering “ghastly losses,” according to Lause, even though the pro-Union forces, in the end, gave up ground. In the subsequent Battle of Leasburg, pro-Union forces refused a demand to surrender and were able to hold off the Confederate forces.
I’m constantly amazed at the new discovery by some of the things in plain sight for centuries. I can’t say for certain about Canada, but American Masonic lodges have been pretty open in recent years, some open across an entire state.
Maybe this video troupe is part of the gotcha media, the one that Sarah Palin was so loth to decry a few years back.
The footage come from Press For Truth, an expose group whose motto is Smashing The Pyramid One Brick At A Time. Presumably, the pyramid bricks are the emblems of the Illuminati/Freemasons? At least that’s what they say in one of their videos.
The group comes out of Canada which might explain it (just kidding). I just like how they say Masonic – “May-zonic”, it just sounds so much cooler.
The first video is a walking tour discovering a Masonic lodge, and the other two are of a propaganda ambush for their video blog. Apparently, they were giving away free DVD’s to share their insights.
I have to say, the brother they talked to did his best, given the odds and environment of the exchange.
A few weeks back we explored the ideas of Social Media as it intersected with Secret Societies, creating the shift from restricted knowledge to an open communication in the 21st century -ciphers replaced with pixels and WYSIWYG editors. Today, Social Media has surpassed the expectations of those who declared it a passing trend and it has become a vital component of any individual or business that wants to build their brand and broadcast their message to an ever increasing audience.
This is more than Mafia Wars, Bejeweled, or What famous actor are you test. This is the creation and delivery of a messages and content that readers will grow to trust, will grow to rely upon, and will look to for opinion.
In other words, Social Media is not going away and that both For Profits and Non Profits need to understand the important role it plays in communicating their unique brand message. Why is participating in Social media important? By participating, organizations are able to project their own message and content and have conversations with other people about it.
Joining us this week on Masonic Central are two guests who are experts in the field of Social Media and Marketing Communication:
Br. Giles Crouch who has nearly 20 years of marketing communications experience, is co-founded of MediaBadger, a Social Media & Web PR firm. He is an active Mason for 10 years, and is presently Worshipful Master of Ad Astra Lodge in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Br. Glen Gilmore, better known in social media circles as “Trend Tracker.”. Glen is a social media consultant who is currently listed in the “Top 100 Twitter Elite” as established by TwitterGrader. He is one of the most followed people on Twitter focusing on the subject of social media. He serves as the Social Media Director for the New Jersey Hall of Fame. Glen has been a Mason for over 20 years and is also a member of the Scottish Rite.
Brothers Giles and Glen will compare notes with Dean and Greg on the growing role of Social Media’s message and brand building power and why it is a vital component to every non-profits strategy to connect with the world.
Join us for this special hour and a half long program on Masonic Central this Sunday, August 30th starting at 6pm PDT/9pm EST. For your questions and comments to the guest live on the air call: (347) 677-0936 during the program.
Also you can listen to the program live from our home at Masonic Central on Blog Talk Radio and join in with our live program chat, or from our player widget on our website at Freemason Information.
If you’ve spent any time with a nose in the news, you know that the phenomenon of Social Media has become a staple of our way of life. Just the fact that your reading this blog, means that you spend some time on the web delving into the edges of web 2.0 and the tip of the social media iceberg. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, and host of other blogs, e-groups, and outlets. But as the social net grows, where does the aspect of a “secret society” stand when enveloped in so much transparency?
In its broader sense, social media is the loose assortment of websites, blogs, and forum that the reader can post, contribute, follow, and send to friends, in essence, taking a role in the development of the life of the content being generated. In sharing it, the participant is now involved in shaping its meaning by contributing their own thoughts to the discussion.
This is different from the past where web pages were static and filled with one dimensional information. Now any reader can become a vibrant participant in a community of readers contributing their own input to the message. It becomes empowering to be able to share in the dialog of something you feel passionate about.
Many will say that social media was/is a passing trend in internet usage, but very quickly it is becoming a mainstay of our daily existence. To site a few examples, local news broadcasters have their own Twitter accounts, many agencies (governmental or non governmental) post updates and announcements on Twitter before they send press releases to the media, and businesses frequently utilize marketing guru’s to add and aggregate their content to their lists of thousands of followers. In many ways, it is taking a leading role in marketing an idea before it falls into past traditional marketing processes.
Seeing this seems to set it counter current to the idea of the fraternal secret societies that have evolved their particular brand of “not a secret society, but a society with secrets” practice. Really, you could say that the fraternity concept is a model of pre-digital social networking bringing in individuals to meet, mingle and grow their base of friends and associates. Just as in the contemporary social media set up, news is often shared and parsed for new ideas to grow and take shape.
This is exactly the practice takes place in the lodge rooms and social halls of Freemasonry.
How do we blend the physical and the digital? How does the society that defines its teachings as secret awaken to find itself in the modern age of digital correspondence, international friends groups and interested participants? And this only addresses those in the know, what about those outside the circle of knowledge about the fraternity, what about engaging those beyond the fold to raise awareness that the organization exists?
Social media will not be a silver bullet of marketing, but instead will be another tool in in the arsenal of ideas and mediums to communicate with. Doubtful will the secrets of generations be communicated or passed online rather than in person, but this boom of Gen Y culture will absolutely dictate how the Secret Society makes itself accessible. Maybe evening some respects cause it to stop and reflect on what exactly the secrets are and what they mean in an age when secrecy as such is little regarded.
Somewhere in the digital either is a happy medium of the knowledge that was once communicated mouth to ear but now very accessible to even the youngest of neophytes. Besides the scheduling of events and posts of meeting goings on is the next step in educating those of interest to know more. And it is in that space, between secret society and social media, that the real transformation of Masonic light will shine forth.
In the mean time, what do you think about the intersection of social media and secret societies? Where do they cross?
Everybody is worried about Masons taking over the world. Heck, we can’t even organize a picnic. – A Mason from Washington state.
To find an Anti-Mason, you need look no further than the Internet for there is an abundance of discourse on the Net berating and misrepresenting the fraternity. As Freemasons, we are blamed for everything from the assassination of JFK, to World War I, both Gulf Wars, and God knows what else. The same people who track UFOs, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and Elvis, are the same people tracking Freemasonry.
Why? Because we make a convenient target.
As a “society with secrets” (not a “secret society”) it is easy to draw erroneous conclusions about our motives and activities. And make no mistake, the Anti-Masons are capitalizing on the naivete of the general public in the same manner as the supermarket tabloids do and for the same reason: to make a buck.
In researching this subject, I visited numerous Anti-Masonic web sites on the Internet. Even though they are all closely related, I have categorized the Anti-Masons into three groups: Conspiracists, Religious Zealots, and Wackos.
I like to refer to these type of Anti-Masons as Michael Moore “wannabees” as they are alarmists claiming that the sky is falling. They are all self-proclaimed freedom fighters acting as watchdogs of the fraternity. They write numerous exposes on Freemasonry with just enough research to make them look authoritative on the subject. What is disturbing here is that although Freemasons can easily see through the malarkey in their writings, the general public cannot.
At the root of their argument is the premise that Freemasons are overtly concerned about the social engineering of the planet. Under their scenario, the Masonic Fraternity is an inherent member of the Illuminati, a group of international bankers and power brokers who are obsessed with enslaving the human race and putting all of the world’s wealth into their hands. If this was true, I wish the Illuminati would share some of their wealth with the many Craft Lodges who are struggling to make ends meet.
In a nutshell, the religious zealots portray Freemasonry as either an autonomous religion or as one dedicated to Satan. We also have people claiming to have been Masons but have “seen the light” and recanted their membership. Frankly, their membership in the Masons are somewhat questionable as their description of Masonic activities doesn’t jive with what we have learned.
“Ex-Masons for Jesus” is an organization of Christian men and women who claim to have been members of a Masonic Lodge or one of the affiliated Masonic organizations such as Eastern Star, DeMolay, Job’s Daughters or Rainbow Girls. “We have left Masonry because of our commitment to Jesus Christ and a realization that Masonry is not consistent with a sincere expression of the Christian faith. We have found that participation in Freemasonry interferes with a close relationship with Jesus Christ.” Nuts.
Finally, we come to the offbeat critics of the fraternity who attack it for a variety of reasons, such as child abuse and other forms of sexual misconduct.
To prove their point, the Anti-Masons turn to Masonic and news quotations to support their claims. In reality, the sources are either misquoted or quoted out of context. However, accuracy of reporting and truthfulness is not the forte of the Anti-Masons.
As Masons we are charged not to suffer our zeal for the institution to lead us into arguments with those who, through ignorance, may ridicule it. But because we often cloak our ceremonies in secrecy, we make a convenient target to be cast in the role of “bogeyman.” Laugh as we might at our critics, they do have an effect on the general public. Let me give you an example, I know of a young Mason in the Tampa Bay area of Florida who was initiated an Entered Apprentice and passed to the degree of Fellow Craft before falling in love with a young woman who frequents the Internet and became suspicious of the fraternity her fiancé had joined. Frankly, I think she jealously saw Freemasonry as something that would divert his attention from her. Nonetheless, she read a lot of the propaganda and came to the erroneous conclusion that Freemasonry was anti-Christian with hidden motives and, consequently, swayed her fiance to halt his Masonic involvement.
Whether we like to portray ourselves as a “secret society” or a “society with secrets,” we have become fodder for every crackpot accusation imaginable. This puts us in the unenviable position of having to defend ourselves of every charge brought against us. As Masons, we can readily see through a lot of these falsehoods, but how do you defend yourself against a crime you didn’t commit? Unlike American jurisprudence where a man is “innocent until proven guilty” we find ourselves in the predicament of being “guilty until proven innocent.” Our critics know this and use it to their advantage by charging us with any ludicrous accusation they can dream up. Their motto seems to be, “When in doubt, blame the Masons.”
What our critics don’t seem to understand is how we investigate the background of everyone who petitions to join the fraternity. The only general criteria for joining is that a person believe in a Supreme Being (based on their religion of choice), that he does not believe in the overthrow of his resident government, and that he hasn’t committed any heinous crime. From this perspective, we are God-fearing peaceful citizens who happen to enjoy the company of other God-fearing peaceful citizens. If this is a crime, I plead guilty, most guilty.
In reality, our critics are well aware of this, and if they were to honestly answer you, they would have to admit as such.
So what is their motive? Why do they find it necessary to harass Freemasons? Is it because some of them were blackballed? Perhaps a woman feels scorned? Perhaps. More likely, it goes back to a simple human trait: Greed. If you look at the background of the Anti-Masons you will find people who have failed in business, but having an aptitude for writing, have concocted inflammatory stories which appeal to conspiricists, the religious right, and other wackos. Bottom-line: they are out to make a buck at the expense of Freemasonry. To do so, they build arguments out of minuscule incidents from our past and paint a picture of distrust and felonious activities with the truth sacrificed in the process. Even the noted author, Dan Brown, uses this to his advantage with his highly acclaimed books, such as “The Da Vinci Code” and the upcoming “The Solomon Key.” But unlike the Anti-Masons, and to his credit, Brown is quick to point out his stories are works of fiction. Bottom-line, the Anti-Masons are capitalizing on the ignorance of the public to sell books and make public appearances. Plain and simply, it’s all about money. They take a little Masonic knowledge and blow it out of proportion knowing we cannot or will not defend ourselves.
One interesting attribute of all of the Anti-Masons is that they strongly safeguard their identity. In fact, they are cloaked in more secrecy than a Masonic Communications. You won’t find too many photos of our detractors, and their whereabouts on this planet are strongly guarded. To communicate with them, you must go through a “cloak and dagger” e-mail process which I find to be particularly ironic as they often accuse Freemasonry of being too secretive. Fortunately, their anonymity hurts their credibility with the public.
Understand this, Freemasonry wouldn’t be plagued by such voluminous false accusations today had it not been for the Internet, a powerful communications medium that can carry the Anti-Masons messages to the masses at little cost. Sure, Freemasonry has had detractors in the past, but the Internet has accelerated the volume of contrived nonsense being presented to the public.
Also, many young people are caught up in the Anti-Mason movement which may be natural since young people find it fascinating to discuss cover-ups and conspiracies of world domination. Let us not forget that we live in a day and age of extremists who can readily communicate through this powerful medium.
So what should Masons do, turn the other cheek and let our critics run all over us? As Masons we are taught to subdue our passions and not directly engage our critics. Maybe. However, when flagrant errors appear in print, they should not go uncontested, otherwise the public will think the detractor is correct. As an example,
I do not encourage our Brothers to get directly into arguments with our critics, but I think we have a responsibility from time to time to clarify our position, if for no other reason, to dispel misinterpretations that might hurt our membership. I am reminded of what M:.W:.Harold G. Ballard, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, said,
Masons should never forget, nor miss an opportunity to inform the uninitiated that Freemasonry is a fraternity of men from all walks of life who meet as equals in a common quest for knowledge and a better life, both philosophical and material, for all mankind.
In other words, I recommend we become proactive in our communications with the general public, not reactive as we have been.
Just remember, the anti-Masons are not interested in the truth. If they truly did their homework, they would inevitably arrive at a different conclusion. As evidence, consider the work of Dr. Jessica Harland-Jacobs who wrote Builders of Empire: Freemasons and British Imperialism, 1717-1927 a non-Mason who thoroughly researched our background and “gets it.”
So, what drives the anti-Masons? In a nutshell: Money. Why do they continue to argue with the fraternity? Because we represent a threat to their livelihood. It’s as simple as that.
NOTE: The opinions expressed in this essay are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of any Grand Masonic jurisdiction or any other Masonic related body. As with all of my Masonic articles herein, please feel free to reuse them in Masonic publications or re-post them on Masonic web sites (except Florida). When doing so, please add the following:
Article reprinted with permission of the author and www.FreemasonInformation.com
Please forward me a copy of the publication when it is produced.
This is investigative reporter Donald P. Stoddard for Secret Society Watch.
Over the past year, I have infiltrated a Masonic Lodge in order to find out the truth about the Illuminati-Freemasonry connection. Freemasons have been denying any association with the Illuminati for years, but this reporter remained suspicious about the information surrounding the two orders.
The primary reason that I believed such a connection must exist was the fact that Freemasons had opposed such an assertion vehemently. When I met with a local Mason on the street to ask him about the Illuminati’s presence in the fraternity, he replied “I don’t even know what the Illuminati is.” A suspicious statement for a man that is suppose to keep such a connection secret. When I later petitioned a Masonic Lodge so that I might gain admittance and thus become privy to their well-kept secret, I was asked why I wanted to become a Mason. I replied, “I’m interested to see what sort of affect that the fraternity has on society, if you catch my drift.” The investigating Masons laughed and I was accepted into the lodge shortly thereafter, a clear sign that I was on the right track to discovering the presence of the Illuminati in one of America’s largest and most secret organizations.
After receiving the degrees, it was quite clear to me that the Masonic fraternity was interested in presenting allegorical lessons that required further learning in order to understand their meaning, or more correctly, become a functioning member of the Illuminati. The members of the lodge informed me that most of the United States’ presidents had been Masons. I was only aware of fourteen that had belonged to the fraternity, but several Brothers assured me that other presidents had indeed belonged. This reporter will refer to those presidents and other public officials that are not publicly known to be Freemasons, but are claimed as Brothers in the organization as “Secret Masons.” I discovered that such Secret Masons included Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Dick Cheney, and even Simon Cowell. So the Masons, or the Illuminati, weren’t only concerned about controlling the country or the world, but they were also eager to fill the airwaves with terrible pop music in order to dull the senses of the masses. Ingenious!
When I finally got around to asking the Worshipful Master of the lodge—and yes I said worshipful as in to be worshiped–if I could attend one of the Illuminati’s meetings, he informed me that I was asking the wrong person. Of course, he was correct. I had made the error of thinking that a simple Master Mason belonged to the Illuminati. It was obvious that only 32nd Degree members were allowed to attend these meetings. I quickly became a member of the Scottish Rite to earn that degree and was once again disappointed to find that I would not be admitted to the meetings of the Illuminati as a 32nd Degree Mason. It was evident that I would have to receive the 33rd Degree, which I would have to wait nearly eight years to obtain. Indeed, these Masons were no novices at running the world. It is quite smart to make sure that only the most devoted members are allowed to have their voices heard at a meeting of the Illuminati.
However, when I asked one of the 33rd Degree members if I would be able to finally find out more about the Illuminati when I reached that degree, he replied, “Well, you might find just what your looking for by becoming a Shrine Clown” and whipped out a petition. I eagerly signed it and donned my red nose and floppy shoes so that I could finally become a member of the Illuminati. So I have been tirelessly performing at the Shrine Circus in order to gain a reputation among the other clowns and be invested with membership in the Illuminati. It appears that the Masons realize that the key to global domination is to influence the inexperienced minds of America’s youth. This is certainly a conspiracy that even Dan Brown couldn’t develop.
Yes, you heard it here first folks, the Shrine Clowns are the modern day version of the Illuminati and they are aided by the help of their many fellow Secret Masons in the entertainment industry. The truth is that the vast majority of people featured on programs such as CNN’s Showbiz Tonight are fellow clowns, helping to spread the Freemasons’ gospel of a New World Order. Now, this reporter is off to what he hopes is his first Illuminati meeting where about twenty of us will be gathering to discuss our master plan in a 1990 Ford Festiva disguised inconspicuously as a circus vehicle.
Until next time, this is Investigative Reporter Donald P. Stoddard for Secret Society Watch.