(Anti-masonry Frequently Asked Questions)
I.1. Is a 33° freemason more important than a 3° freemason?
There are three degrees in Freemasonry: Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason. Some jurisdictions recognize a fourth degree as completing the third degree, while the Swedish Rite confers ten degrees.
Individual lodges elect their "Master" for a one or two year term, individual Grand Lodges elect their "Grand Master" for a similar term of office, but these are not degrees. What are called appendant or concordant bodies confer additional or "side" degrees that have no bearing on or authority over regular Freemasonry. [With the exception of a few jurisdictions such as the Grand East of the Netherlands and the National Grand Lodge of Sweden.] The most important concept to note is that freemasons meet as equals, "on the level".
I.2. What does A.F. & A.M. mean?
Ancient Free and Accepted Masonry.
Although the words represent historical ties, they are no indication of recognition or ritual. The definitions noted are not absolute in that several grand jurisdictions arbitrarily chose which terms to include in their name when they were constituted. Those Grand Lodges that don't use the appellation "Ancient", claim immediate descent from the "Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons under the constitution of England".
This Grand Lodge was constituted from four lodges on June 24, 1717 and designated "Modern", or premier. The "Moderns" and "Ancients" united in November 25, 1813 to form the United Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons of England [now styled the United Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of England].
Lodges and Grand Lodges whose charters' roots derive from the United Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons of England, The Grand Lodge of Ireland, or the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland, use the expression, A∴F∴ & A∴M∴
Ancient or Antient freemasons:
Mostly Irish freemasons formed this Grand Lodge in London in 1751. Properly titled "Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of England according to the Old Institutions". Also called Atholl freemasons, after the Third and Fourth Dukes of Atholl.
One theory is that a Free Mason was free with his Guild; he had the freedom of its privileges and was entrusted with certain rights. Another theory is that he was qualified to work in freestone, a soft stone used in ornamentation.
Free and Accepted:
This term was first used in 1722 in the Roberts Print; "The Old Constitutions belonging to the Ancient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons".
"Acception" was an Inner Fraternity of Speculative freemasons found within the Worshipful Company of Masons of the City of London. Operative members were "admitted" by apprenticeship, patrimony, or redemption; speculative members were "accepted". The first recorded use of the term dates from 1620.
Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. Albert G. Mackey. Virginia: Macoy Publishing. 1966.
I.3. Is Freemasonry anti-(insert religion)?
Although a few individual masonic authors have commented unfavourably on individual religions, many more have written about the value of religion and religions. Freemasonry as a body is indifferent to religion, insofar as it has no opinion on individual religions.
I.4. Is Freemasonry a racist organization?
Freemasonry has no bar to membership based on race, religion or creed. If there have been freemasons who have voted to reject an applicant for one of these reasons, it was an act inconsistent with masonic principles.
I.5. Do freemasons worship Satan?
Freemasonry, not being a religion by any definition, does not "worship" any specific supreme being. Individual freemasons, dedicated to the principles of faith, hope and charity, brotherly love, relief and truth, by definition would not recognize Satan as a supreme being.
The baseless accusation goes back to the earliest days of recorded Freemasonry when-in the words of Dr. George Oliver-freemasons were: '...charged with the practice of forbidden arts; as for instance "raising the devil in a circle;" though the use they made of his infernal majesty does not appear; but from hints scattered about in other places we may surmise that it was for the purposes of divination, the discovery of hidden treasures, and other illegal designs, which were more openly avowed in the innovations of continental Masonry.' An anti-masonic letter, reproduced on page 9 of James Anderson's Constitutions of 1738, claims: "the Freemasons in their lodges, raised the devil in a circle, and when they had done with him, laid him again with a noise or a hush, as they pleased."
I.6. Is it true that members can never quit?
No recognized Grand Lodge jurisdiction can coerce or compel membership. If a member wishes to cease being a freemason, he is free to do so. (Visit the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon website at http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/member.html to see how one jurisdiction treats the issue.)
I.7. Is Freemasonry male chauvinistic?
That Freemasonry does not initiate women is not de facto proof of misogyny. Why then does it not allow women to join? This is a question that is potentially difficult to answer in our current age. There are several answers, none of which are guaranteed to give satisfaction.
At one time the claim was made that there were no female mediaeval stonemasons and therefore there could be no female freemasons. An appeal to tradition is not satisfactory; less so when contemporary research has demonstrated that, albeit few, there were female stonemasons.
The initiation ritual in most jurisdictions was designed to reveal a female potential candidate. There have been enough changes in the ritual over the last 300 years that an appeal to tradition in this case is also unsupportable.
An argument can be made that nothing is allowed to enter a masonic lodge that may lead to dissention among the members. This justifies the exclusion of any discussion of politics or religion, and has also been used to justify the exclusion of women.
A justification has also been proposed that a masonic lodge is, in the current new-age language, the Men's House; that the ritual is a form of male bonding.
The only real justification is that Freemasonry actively promotes and teaches certain social freedoms, one of them being the freedom of association. If freemasons wish to associate in a male-only environment, that then is their right and privilege as free citizens. No other justification or explanation is required.
It should be stressed that although women are not permitted to petition for membership nor attend lodge meetings, the female friends and relatives of freemasons are encouraged to attend or participate in the many social activities organized by lodges. The teachings and beliefs of Freemasonry are in no way or fashion misogynist.
There are two organizations initiating women that style themselves as masonic but are not recognized by regular Freemasonry. If you view
I.8. Does Freemasonry have a secret political agenda?
No. But of course we'd say that, wouldn't we?
A long-standing rule within regular English-speaking Freemasonry is a prohibition on the discussion of politics in a lodge and the participation of lodges or masonic bodies in political pursuits. Freemasonry has no politics, but it teaches its members to be active in civic concerns.
The accusation that Freemasonry has a hidden agenda to establish a masonic government ignores several facts. While agreeing on certain Landmarks, the many independent and sovereign Grand Lodges act as such, and do not agree on many other points of belief and practice. Also, as can be seen from our list of famous freemasons, and the next section, individual freemasons hold beliefs that span the spectrum of politics. The term "masonic government" has no meaning since individual freemasons hold many different opinions on what constitutes a good government, and Freemasonry as a body has no opinion on the topic.
A curious accusation is that freemasons are, or Freemasonry is, synarchist. Properly speaking, the word synarchy is derived from a Greek root meaning "to rule jointly" and denotes a government in which the people had a share together with the rulers, or several groups jointly ruled. The earliest usage noted in the Oxford English Dictionary is in a Bible commentary published in 1732.
The Marquis Joseph Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre (1842-1909) redefined synarchy as a "utopian" socio-political alternative to anarchy: "government by an elite of enlightened initiates." Author of a number of occult and socio-political books,1 Saint-Yves popularized the myth of the secret world of "Agartha" and believed in the existence of spiritually superior beings whom he believed he could contact telepathically.
Saint-Yves's philosophy was encapsuled by Umberto Ecco in Foucault's Pendulum, where he described Saint-Yves:
"He was determined to find a political formula that could lead to a more harmonious society. Synarchy in opposition to Anarchy. A European society ruled by three councils representing the economical power, the executive power and the spiritual power, that is, the churches and the scientists. An enlightened oligarchy through which class struggle could be eliminated."
Other popularizers of the term "synarchy" have been Guy Patton and Milko Bogaard.2
While conspiracy theorists and anti-masons will use the term "synarchy" and claim it is masonic, they fail to provide any factual proof but rely on logical fallacy and verbal sleight-of-hand to use the terms of their accusation as the proof of their accusation. Saint-Yves is not known to have been a freemason, but even if he had been, he did not speak for Freemasonry. Further information can be found at
1. Mission des juifs (Paris : Calmann Lévy, 1884), Clefs de l'orient (Paris : Didier & Cie, 1877), La théogonie des patriarches, Jésus (Paris : éditá la Librairie Hermétique, 1909), and Mission actuelle des souverains (Paris : E. Dentu, 1882),
2. Web of gold : the secret history of a sacred treasure, Guy Patton and Robin Mackness. London : Sidgwick & Jackson, 2000. xxxi, 331 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.. See Chapter 7: "Unseen Hands and Occult Influences" which refers to both Freemasonry and synarchy. LCCN: 00362642. Also see "Synarchy and Secret Societies" by Milko Bogaard who also writes for the quarterly journal The Rennes Alchemist in the United Kingdom. See vol. i, no. 2 (Feburary 2003), "Antient & Primitive Rite of Memphis Misraim" by Milko Bogaard.
I.9. Well, is Freemasonry liberal or conservative?
Freemasonry has no politics, but it teaches its members to be active in civic concerns. Individual freemasons hold and practice political beliefs that range across the spectrum. In Canada, one-time premier of British Columbia, W.A.C. Bennett was a laisez-faire capitalist, while Saskatchewan premier Tommy Douglas was a socialist. American masonic presidents have been both Republican and Democrat.
Depending on how one wants to define the terms, freemasons are generally interested in supporting and working within established social structures and could therefore be labelled conservative. On the other hand they are quick to resist such oppressive practices as led to the American War of Independence, so they can also be labelled revolutionaries. In the final analysis, freemasons and Freemasonry cannot be catagorized by their politics.
I.10. Is an Egyptian mystical resurrection ritual the lost secret of Freemasonry?
From ancient Sumar to the present, some form of resurrection story has played a key role in all religions. It is only natural that the Hiramic legend in Craft Freemasonry should be mistaken for yet another version of this story. The "traditional history" or legend of Hiram Abif though, is not about resurrection but teaches the social value of fidelity and acts as a mneumonic for the masonic "modes of recognition". Its history is unknown but links to mediaeval mystery plays appear stronger than any association with Egypt. Any Egyptian iconography or symbolism in masonic concordant bodies can be clearly traced to the wide-spread interest in Egypt in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and not to any lost secret.
"The central figure of the ancient Egyptian Religion was Osiris, and the chief fundamentals of his cult were the belief in his divinity, death, resurrection, and absolute control of the destinies of the bodies and souls of men. The central point of each Osirian's Religion was his hope of resurrection in a transformed body and of immortality, which could only be realized by him through the death and resurrection of Osiris.1"
The legends of Osiris are based on earlier traditions regarding a pre-Egyptian king, named Assur. The resurrection of Assur is the foundation legend of Egyptian civilization. The first written accounts of Osiris come by way of historians such as Diodorus Siculus (1st C. BCE), Herodotus (5th C. BCE), and Plutarch (1st C. CE). They describe Osiris as a semi-divine king who abolished cannibalism, taught men and women to live according to law of ma'at, improved their morality, and, filled with love for mankind, set out on a quest to travel the world and bring the benefits of civilization to other cultures. Their commentary continues with mythological descriptions of the murder of Osiris by a jealous brother named Seth; his rebirth, accomplished by the magic of his sister/wife, Isis; and his second death, caused again by Seth, who dismembered his body and scattered the pieces up and down the Nile. After the utter destruction of Osiris his son, Horus, defeats Seth in an epochal battle thereby vindicating his murdered father.2
There is nothing to link this mythology with Freemasonry. Although the topic of several recent books, there is also nothing to prove that the Hiramic legend of Freemasonry is somehow a result of the death of either the boy-king, Tutankhamen (fl. 14th century BCE)3 or king Seqenenre in 1570 BCE.4
1. Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection, E.[rnest] A.[lfred] Wallis Budge. London: P. L. Warner, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons: 1911. 2v : fold. col. fronts., illus., plates (part fold.) ; 26 cm. p. vii.
2. "Do Ancient Egyptian Artifacts Enshrine The Image Of Christ?" Richard Russell Cassaro. Ancient Mysteries: 2001.
3. The Murder of Tutankhamen: A True Story, Bob Brier New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. 1998. xx, 264 p : ill ; 24 cm. ISBN: 0399143831.
4. The Hiram key: pharaohs, freemasons and the discovery of the secret scrolls of Jesus, Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas. London, Century: 1996. xiii, 384p,p of plates : ill : facsims, maps, ports ; 24cm. ISBN: 0712685790.
I.11. Then you've got something to do with the Grail, right?
Traditionally, the Holy Grail is the name of a legendary sacred vessel, variously identified with the chalice of the Christian Eucharist or the dish of the Pascal lamb. The great body of the Grail romances came into existence between the years 1180 and 1240, most in French. 1
Roughly, the story is that Joseph of Arimathea was cast into prison, then Christ appears to him and gives him a vessel, through which he is miraculously sustained for forty-two years until liberated by Vespasian. The Grail is then brought to Britain, either by Joseph and Josephes, his son (Grand-Saint-Graal), or by Alain one of his kin (Robert de Boron). Galaad (or Perceval) achieves a quest to find the vessel; after the death of its keeper the Grail vanishes. The Grail legend is closely connected with that of Perceval as well as that of King Arthur. The story is derived from the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, which had a great vogue in twelfth century Britain.
Other stories will describe the Grail as a large emerald that fell from Lucifer's crown when he was thrown out of Heaven; the Philosophers' Stone; the Ark of Covenant; a book of Jesus' geneology, written by Jesus;2 the chalice used to collect Jesus' blood; the silver dish supporting John the Baptist's head; the sword used to cut off John the Baptist's head; the lance belonging to Longinus, the Roman soldier who transfixed Jesus' chest; or a secret Gospel written by Jesus. According to Graham Phillips, the Grail is the cup used by Mary of Magdala to perfume Jesus' feet. Daniel C. Scavone suggests that the Grail is the Shroud of Turin. Baima Bollone writes that the Grail is the container of the Holy Shroud. Flavia Anderson, in The Ancient Secret claims that the Grail is a round ball of glass filled with water held in a tree-like stand - the Thummim and the Urim. Suggestions that the Grail was Aladdin's lamp, the Golden Fleece or the Baphomet have also been made.
One of the oddest, but most popular, theories claims that the word Grail refers to a royal bloodline and that Jesus' descendents, through various secret societies, continue to manipulate global affairs.3 This is the theory that links the Grail to Freemasonry. Popularized by The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, a work of historical fiction, the theory has no supporting facts. Also see Section 1.4.
There is nothing in the ritual, beliefs or practices of Freemasonry that incorporates the Grail.
1. Wolfram von Eschenbach defined the grail as Lapis Exillis; Cf.: Graham Hancock The Sign and the Seal - A Quest for the Lost Ark of Covenant London, William Heinemann Ltd.:1992; Old French: Grand-Saint-Graal, also known as Grand St. Graal, and as History of the Holy Grail.
2. In order: Perceval ou Le Conte du Graal, Chretién de Troyes. composed between 1180 and 1240; Parzival, Wolfram von Eschenbach, 1210; Joseph d'Arimathie, Robert de Boron, 1202; Diu Crone Heinrich von dem Turlin, 1220; Didot-Perceval Anonimous, XIII century.
3. The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, H. Lincoln. London, Jonathan Cape Ltd.: 1982.
I.12. To dispel accusations of secretiveness, shouldn't Freemasonry be required to be more transparent?
First, a distinction has to be made between "secretive" which implies wrongdoing, and "secret" which simply means private. Freemasons are private citizens who believe in all peoples' right to privacy.
As regards transparency, Freemasonry is not a public organization; it is a private society composed of private citizens who exercise that freedom of association and right to privacy enjoyed by all private citizens in western nations. Privacy is a fundamental human right recognized in the UN Declaration of Human Rights (10 December 1948), the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), and in many other international and regional treaties. For example, Canadians are protected by the Personal Information Privacy Act (13 April 2000) while Australians are protected by the Privacy Act 1988 (See ISBN 978-1-877079-60-3).
That said, the names of elected leaders of masonic jurisdictions are often posted on their websites and contact information is often posted outside lodgehalls. Information is published about their philanthropic work, and friends and relatives are often invited to attend lodge functions. Where freemasons have formed charitable or property holding societies, these bodies file all documentation regarding officers and finances as is required by law.
II.1. Who are the Illuminati?
An undocumented and undefined group with the unconfirmed goal of world domination. Much fiction has been written on the topic. Although the subject of much speculation, there is no documentation of any active and effective group currently using the name.
Conspiracy theorists who use the term have defined the Illuminati's goals, beliefs and structure; identified individuals whose actions may be interpreted as supporting these goals and beliefs; and used these goals and beliefs as defining links between otherwise unrelated events and individuals. What these theorists have not done is demonstrate or prove the existence of any such organization.
It is unfortunate that hucksters and paranoid cranks have so debased the term conspiracy that the real conspiracies, a real danger to a free and open society, so often go unreported or unremarked.
(See Section V Subsection 1. on the Bavarian Illuminati.)
II.2. Does the Trilateral Commission control the freemasons?
No, and before you ask, the freemasons don't control the Trilateral Commission either. There are more than 400 influential "think tanks" around the world; the Trilateral Commission is one of them.
See: NIRA's World Directory of Think Tanks. Tokyo: National Institute for Research Advancement, 1999 150-6034 Japan. ISBN 4-7955-6014-5 C3002
II.3. What is the Trilateral Commission?
Launched in 1973, the European Union, North America (the United States and Canada), and Japan - the three main democratic industrialized areas of the world - form the three sides of the Trilateral Commission. The Commission's members are about 330 distinguished citizens, with a variety of leadership responsibilities in business, politics (except for government positions), academia, and the media.
The full Commission gathers once each year: the 1995 meeting was in Copenhagen, the 1996 meeting was in Vancouver, and the 1997 meeting was in Tokyo. In addition to special topical sessions and reviews of current developments in the regions, a portion of each annual meeting is devoted to consideration of draft reports to the Commission. These reports are generally the joint product of authors from each region, who draw on a range of consultants in the course of their work. Publication follows discussion in the Commission's annual meeting. The authors are solely responsible for their final text. The 1994/1995 report, titled Engaging Russia, focused on our future Trilateral relations with Russia. The 1995/1996 reports were devoted to Maintaining Energy Security in a Global Context and to Globalization and Trilateral Labour Markets: Evidence & Implications. The task forces reported at the Spring 1997 meeting in Tokyo, focusing on developments and future prospects of the Asia Pacific community as well as on a reassessment of trilateral cooperation, i.e., on the management of the international system in the next decade. A separate publication contains the principal presentations at the annual meeting.
The Commission has three permanent regional offices in New York, Tokyo, and Paris. Further information and a list of Trilateral Commission publications can be found at: trilateral.org/pubs.htm
II.4. Who are the Bilderburgers?
In the main, a creation of Milton William Cooper [1943/05/06 - 2001/11/06] who reprinted the notorious hoax The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as fact, and wrote stories of an ongoing invasion of aliens from outer space.1 Three quotes from his book, "The Secret Government" follow:
"Throughout our history, the Aliens have manipulated and controlled the human race through various secret societies, religions, Satanic cults, witchcraft and occult movements."
"The headquarters of the international conspiracy is in Geneva, Switzerland. The ruling body is made up of representatives of the Governments involved as well as the Executive members of the group known as the 'Bilderburgers'." "The Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission and their foreign counterparts report to the 'Bilderburgers' society."2
Mr. Cooper's writings are, in the balance, fiction. He was reputed to have renounced his views on an alien invasion but not those regarding Freemasonry.
This fictional creation is not to be confused with the Bilderberg Conference. Started by Prince Bernhard in Oosterbeek, Netherlands in 1954, it is an annual three-day conference attended by a changing delegation of some 100 bankers, economists, politicians and government officers chosen by an international steering committee with offices in the Hague. Its main founder was the Polish political philanthropist Joseph Retiger.
Phyllis Schlafly refers to the Bilderberg conference as "Bilderberger" in her 1964 A Choice Not an Echo, in which she claims to have discovered a "secret meeting" in 1957. Both John Birch Society member Gary Allen, in None Dare Call It Conspiracy and William Bramley, in The Gods of Eden refer to the Bilderberg Conference as the Bilderbergers, stating that the conference refers to itself as such. Bramley further suggests a link with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. No proof or documentation for any of this is supplied.
Mention should also be made to David Icke's unsubstantiated claim, in The Biggest Secret - the book that will change the world, that shape-shifting reptilians are about to achieve complete control over Earth. Icke repeats several accusations addressed elsewhere in this FAQ. He also announced on the Terry Wogan talk show on BBC1 in 1991 that he was the Son of God. [See Them, Adventures with Extremists, Jon Robinson. p. 152.]
A public statement by the Bilderberg Conference
What is unique about Bilderberg as a forum is:
1. The broad cross-section of leading citizens, in and out of government, that are assembled for nearly three days of purely informal discussion about topics of current concern especially in the fields of foreign affairs and the international economy.
2. The strong feeling among participants that in view of the differing attitudes and experiences of their nations, there is a continuous, clear need to develop an understanding in which these concerns can be accommodated.
3. The privacy of the meetings, which have no purpose other than to allow participants to speak their minds openly and freely. At the meetings, no resolutions are proposed, no votes taken, and no policy statements issued. In short, Bilderberg is a flexible and informal international leadership-forum in which different viewpoints can be expressed and mutual understanding enhanced.
To ensure full discussion, individuals representing a wide range of political and economic points of view are invited. Two-thirds of the participants come from Europe and the remainder from the United States and Canada. Within this framework, on average about one-third are from the government sector and the remaining two-thirds from a variety of fields including finance, industry, labour, education and the media.
Participants are solely invited for their knowledge, experience and standing and with reference to the topics on the agenda. All participants attend Bilderberg in a private and not in an official capacity.
Participants have agreed not to give interviews to the press during the meeting. In contacts with the media after the conference it is an established rule no attribution should be made to individual participants of what was discussed during the meeting. There will be no press conference.
1. Behold a Pale Horse. Milton William Cooper. Light Technology Publishing, Sedona, AZ: 1991. pp 267-332.
2. The Secret Government, The Origin, Identity, and Purpose of MJ-12. Milton William Cooper, May 23, 1989.
II.5. What was the P2 Lodge?
Originally a lodge under the jurisdiction of the Grand Orient of Italy, their warrant was revoked and a number of their members expelled for unmasonic conduct.
The P2 Incident was a by-product of three related factors; the vagaries of Italian masonic history, the joint effects of past repressions and social patronage on the Italian Craft, and certain defects in their Constitution.
Italian masonic history has been influenced by the political and ethnic history of that country and the P2 Incident needs to be placed in that context. Irregular lodges (not recognized by mainstream Freemasonry), both in France and Italy, had become quite political during revolutionary periods in their national histories, and operated as true secret societies. Italy has only been a united country since 1870 and regional, ethnic and traditional differences are still felt in contemporary Italian society. Italian society, then and now, has been said to largely run on patronage and favouritism. Few other Grand Lodges had recognized Italian masonry as regular until 1972.
Several Grand Lodges have been formed in Italy, the first in 1750, but all were proscribed or suppressed and, with the exception of the short period during the Napoleonic Occupation, Freemasonry was not revived until about 1860 when two Grand masonic bodies emerged. The first, the "Supreme Council Grand Orient of Italy" opened in Turin; later moving to Rome.
Although politics and religion were officially banned from discussion in lodges, in practice the Italian temperament views discussion of state affairs as a duty. In 1908 a schism resulted when the Grand Orient expelled a number of members for their political stance and the National Grand Lodge was formed. It continues to this day as an irregular body.
Masonry was again prohibited in Italy from 1926 to 1945. At this time several competing groups sprung up, out of which the Grand Orient of Italy and the National Grand Lodge resumed their leading positions. This Grand Orient was considered regular by many American Grand Lodges and extended recognition. It was recognized as regular by the English, Irish and Scottish Grand Lodges in 1972 and shortly thereafter by a number of other Grand Lodges who tend to take their direction from the United Grand Lodge of England. The following year, the majority of Lodges under the National Grand Lodge seceded and joined the Grand Orient, leaving the National Grand Lodge as a weak and splintered dissident group. Although the National Grand Lodge is not relevant to this article, this history of suppression, irregularity, political infighting, and class consciousness is.
In 1877 the Grand Orient granted a warrant to a lodge in Rome called "Propaganda Massonica". This lodge was frequented by politicians and government officials from across Italy who were unable to attend their own lodges. Although its potential for masonic mischief was recognized, there is no evidence that any was forthcoming. The lodge was not on the Grand Orient's registers but operated as the Grand Master's own private Lodge, allowing for the initiation of members whose names would not therefore appear on the Grand Orient's rolls. If any apology is needed, it should be noted that "an organization which had a long experience of great opposition to it, of political and religious damnation, and of being often forced to close up, is likely to view every influential friend it can get as important."
When the Grand Orient was revived after the Second World War it was decided to number the lodges by drawing lots; Lodge Propaganda drew number two, thus it became P2. It rarely held meetings and was almost inactive.
In 1967, Brother Licio Gelli, who had been initiated into a lodge in Rome in 1965, was placed in virtual control of P2 by the Grand Master of the day. He was considered to be a shrewd and successful businessman with a great gift for recruiting. In 1970 he was made secretary of P2 and subsequently a substantial number of well-placed men were initiated. In most recognized Grand Lodge jurisdictions, these practices would not be countenanced. An argument could be made that by Italian standards, nothing was amiss.
Gelli's growing influence became a concern of the then Grand Master who, in late 1974, proposed that P2 be erased. At the Grand Orient Communication in December 1974, of the 406 lodges represented, 400 voted for its erasure. In March 1975 Gelli accused the Grand Master of gross financial irregularities, withdrawing the accusations only after the Grand Master issued a warrant for a new P2 Lodge - despite the fact that the Grand Orient had erased it only four months earlier. P2 was considered regular; its membership was no longer secret and Gelli was its master. In 1976, Gelli requested that P2 be suspended but not erased. This nuance of jurisprudence meant that he could continue to preserve some semblance of regularity for his private club without being answerable to the Grand Orient.
By 1978, suspect financial arrangements involving the Grand Master prompted many other Grand Lodges to threaten to withdraw recognition, and the Grand Master resigned before his term expired. Gelli promptly financed the election campaign of the Immediate Past Grand Master, but the Grand Orient elected another candidate as their new leader.
In 1980, Gelli told a press interview that Freemasonry was a puppet show in which he pulled the strings. Italian Masonry was outraged by this, struck a masonic tribunal which in 1981 expelled him, and decided that P2 had been erased as a Lodge in 1974 and therefore any contrary action by a Grand Master had been illegal.
The same year the police investigated Gelli for a range of fraudulent activities and, in searching his house, found a P2 register of 950 names - mostly prominent people. Several government ministers resigned and the Italian Government fell. Gelli managed to get out of the country. A Special Parliamentary Commission found Gelli to have an obscure and opportunistic past and to count among his friends many such as the fraudulent banker Roberto Calvi (1920? - 1982/06/19), chairman of Banco Ambrosiano in Milan who was later found dead under London's Blackfriars Bridge, and the banker Sindona who was later jailed in the USA for fraud and suspected murder. The nature and aims of Gelli's alleged political intrigues have never been explained. From his South American hideaway, he has sent out obscure messages and has offered to give himself up to Italian police if certain conditions were met. The authorities have issued no public statement.
The President of the Parliamentary Commission of Investigation, while openly hostile to Freemasonry at the outset, eventually declared that Freemasonry itself had been Gelli's first and principal victim. While three successive Grand Masters (two now deceased and one expelled from Freemasonry) had manipulated secret funds, secret members, secret decisions and secret lodges, the body of Italian Freemasonry was neither guilty nor culpable in the P2 Affair.
At the Grand Orient Meeting of March 1982, no incumbent Grand Officer was re-elected.
Researchers are referred to a paper written by Kent Henderson, from which this article is excerpted:
The Transactions of the Lodge of Research No. 218. "Italian Freemasonry and the 'P2' Incident", Kent Henderson. Victoria, Australia: 1987 pp. 25-33. [ISBN 0 7316 2645 1].
II.6. What was Palladium?
In the early 1890s Léo Taxil purported to reveal the existence of "Palladium," the most secret masonic order, which practiced devil-worship. He recounted the story of its high priestess Diana Vaughan; and ended by publishing the Memoires d'une ex-Palladiste after her conversion to Catholicism. When doubts began to spread, Taxil realized the time had come to end the deceit. In a widely reported conference in Paris on April 19, 1897, he confessed that it had all been a hoax.1
After Taxil's public confession, Abel Clarin de la Rive (1855-1914) expressed his disgust and recanted his writings on Diana Vaughan in the April 1897 issue of Freemasonry Revealed, a magazine devoted to the destruction of the Craft. As much as he hated Freemasonry, Claren de la Rive had the integrity to admit Taxil's hoax in the following editorial:
"With frightening cynicism the miserable person we shall not name here [Taxil] declared before an assembly especially convened for him that for twelve years he had prepared and carried out to the end the most extraordinary and most sacrilegious of hoaxes. We have always been careful to publish special articles concerning Palladism and Diana Vaughan. We are now giving in this issue a complete list of these articles, which can now be considered as not having existed."2
Possibly the inspiration for Taxil's choice of name, but otherwise of little interest other than to masonic students, the Order of Palladium was a masonic society open to both men and women, founded in Paris in 1737. Termed a very moral society by Albert G. Mackey, it does not appear to have survived its founders.
1. New Catholic Encyclopedia. (R. Limouzin-Lamothe, s.v. Taxil, Leo)
2. See: Strange Masonic Stories. Alec Mellor. Richmond, Va.: Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Co., Inc., 1982. p. 151.
II.7. Is the Club of Rome an Illuminati front?
According to John Lear, Milton William Cooper and others, the Club of Rome is a front for the Illuminati, or the 'Cult of the Serpent' backed by an 'alien' or non-human vanguard, the so-called 'Greys'. An often quoted article, titled 'Pine Gap Base: World Context', written in French by Lucien Cometta and later translated into English by Dr. Jean Francois Gille, covers the same theme, with an equal lack of verifiable documentation.
The Club of Rome was founded in 1968 by Italian scholar and industrialist, Dr. Aurelio Peccei (1908-84), and Alexander King, with a group of scientists, economists, businessmen, international civil servants, heads of state and former heads of state from the five continents, but with similar concerns for the global future.
It currently has 27 honourary members, including a number of active and former heads of states as well as noted scholars. Soka Gakkai International President, Daisaku Ikeda, was nominated on February 28, 1997 as an honourary member by Club of Rome president, Dr. Diez-Hochleitner. Soka Gakkai is a lay Buddhist association in Japan founded on the premise that human beings inherently possess the ability to create value in their lives and, therefore, are able to live life to the fullest while contributing to the welfare of society. "Soka" means value creation; "Gakkai," society.
The SGI's relationship with the Club of Rome began with SGI President Ikeda'os friendship with Aurelio Peccei. Their dialogue on world problems was published as Before it is Too Late in 1984. Many books written by club members are available to the public, including the 1972 bestseller The Limits of Growth, which first linked economic growth to negative consequences for the environment. The club also maintains a web site at http://www.clubofrome.org.
The following are abstracts from a paper entitled "The Club of Rome - The New Threshold" by Alexander King which was read into the Congressional records of the United States on Tuesday, March 20, 1973:
"The Club of Rome is:
- a group of world citizens, sharing a common concern for the future of humanity and acting merely as a catalyst to stimulate public debate, to sponsor investigations and analysis of the problematique and to bring these to the attention of decision makers.
"The Club of Rome is not:
- a club devoted exclusively to problems of industrial societies, attempting to find solutions to the difficulties of affluence, but a group concerned with the world system as a whole and with the disparities it includes.
- a group of futurologists, but of individuals who realise the necessity of attacking now longer term and fundamental problems which are difficult to approach with our present methods of government and which could give rise to irreversible situations.
- a political organisation, neither of the right or of the left, but a free assembly of individuals, seeking to find a more objective and comprehensive basis for policy-making.
- a body devoted to public propaganda for change - although, should we succeed in a better delineation of the elements of the problematique, we are convinced that our results should be made known universally through appropriate national and international organisations and the media."
Since the death of Aurelio Peccei and the retirement of Alexander King, the Club of Rome has developed an updated Charter under its president, Ricardo Diez Hochleitner and its secretary general, Dr. Bertrand Schneider.
More information and background is available. Those requiring further information should contact The Club of Rome Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org
II.8. Did high-ranking freemason, Albert Pike found the Ku Klux Klan?
There is no documentation or record that would suggest that masonic author, Albert Pike, was ever a member of the Ku Klux Klan, much less a founder or leader.
The 19th century Ku Kux Klan was originally organized by six Confederate veterans in Pulaski, Tennessee in the spring of 1866. It obligated members only to "have fun, make mischief and play pranks on the public." It was structured into a vehicle for Southern white resistance to Radical Reconstruction at a convention in Nashville, Tennessee in April of 1867 under the leadership of George Gordon. Several weeks later Nathan Bedford Forrest was offered the position of Grand Wizard.
On August 28, 1868 Forrest granted an interview to a reporter from the Cincinnati Commercial, in which he confirmed the existence of the Klan, declared his sympathy and cooperation with them, but denied his membership. In January 1869 Forrest issued "General Order Number One", the only directive to come from Imperial Headquarters, ordering the group be disbanded. Local branches remained active, prompting the U.S. Congress to pass the Force Act of 1870 and the Ku Klux Act in 1871. By the time the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Klan unconstitutional in 1882, it had practically disappeared as an organization although independent acts of violence were to continue under the banners of the American Protective Association and the Whitecap movement, among others. The growth, decline and transformation of the 20th century Klan has no connection with the original Klan, other than the name.
Confederate Lieutenant General and the Klan's first (and only) Grand Wizard, Nathan Bedford Forrest (1821-1877), was an Entered Apprentice of Angorona Lodge No. 168 in Memphis, Tennessee. There is no record of his having progressed further or having been active in Freemasonry. Not having received the Master Mason degree, under the rules of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, he would not have been considered a freemason.
Although 1915 Klan organizer Colonel William Joseph Simmons was a freemason, he was also a member of the Knights of Pythias, the Odd Fellows, and eight other lodges. He was never a Grand Lodge or lodge officer in Freemasonry. There is no available documentation that Edward Young Clarke or David Curtis Stephenson were freemasons.
As a counterpoint, note that famous slavery abolitionist, John Brown was at one time an active freemason, while the two major proponents of the Ku Klux Act, Benjamin F. Butler and John Scott were also active freemasons. As always, it should be stressed that regular Freemasonry is not concerned with politics, leaving its members to act as their conscience dictates.
For further information and citations, view http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/kkk.html
II.9. Isn't the Priory of Sion a masonic front, conspiring to restore the Merovingian dynasty and responsible for the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?
No, no, and no.
There is no proof that Pierre Plantard's Prieure de Sion existed before 1956, although it claims to have originated from an earlier organization, the Ordre du Sion, allegedly founded by Godfroi de Bouillion, Hugh de Payns, and a Calabrian monk named Ursus in 1099.
Allegations of masonic links to the Prieure through the Knights Templar and the Swiss Grand Loge Alpina are unproven. The wishful thinking of some freemasons and the suspicions of anti-masons aside, there is no proven, documented link between the Templars and Freemasonry. There is also no proof of any connection between the Swiss Grand Loge Alpina and Pierre Plantard's Dossiers Secrets, deposited in the Paris Bibliotheque Nationale in the mid 1960s. The first of these four documents, Les descendants Merovingiens ou l'enigme du Razes Wisigoth, dated August, 1965, purports to have been published by the Swiss Grande Loge Alpina. The Swiss Grande Loge Alpina has denied this.
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a clearly documented fraud, unrelated to Pierre Plantard's Prieure de Sion.
There are few historical records of the Ordre de Notre Dame de Sion, with which the Prieure de Sion is often confused. After Jerusalem fell to Godfroi de Bouillon in 1099, an abbey devoted to Notre Dame du Mont de Sion was built on the hill of Sion to the south of Jerusalem; it is referred to in later documents and figures in several views of the city. A Father Vincent, writing in 1698, says:
"There were in Jerusalem during the Crusades... knights attached to the Abbey of Notre Dame de Sion who took the name of Chevaliers de l'Order de Notre Dame de Sion." 1
R. Rohricht, in his Regesta regni Hierosolymitani (Roll of the kings of Jerusalem), written in 1893, cites two charters: one of 1116 by Arnaldus, prior of Notre Dame de Sion, and one of 1125, in which Arnaldus's name appears with that of Hugues Payen, the first Grand Master of the Temple. The existence of the Abbey of Sion, at least until 1281, is attested to by E.-G. Rey in a paper in the 1887 Proceedings of the French National Society of Antiquaries, which lists the abbots who administered the abbey's property in Palestine.
These documents are the only historical record of the possible existence of a Prieure de Sion before 1956. Everything else that refers to an organization of that name finds its origin in four typewritten, and highly suspect, "publications" deposited in the Bibliotheque Nationale that all seem to lead back to a single source - possibly Pierre Plantard - and revealed by Gerard de Sede.2
It was he, along with Plantard, who deposited the Dossiers Secrets into the Bibliotheque Nationale, according to library records between 1965 and 1967. Eventually de Sede, Plantard, and the Marquis Phillipe de Cherissy had a falling out.
"After their quarrel Plantard made it known that the parchments in de Sede's book were fakes. In 1971 I received a letter from Phillipe de Cherissy implying that he was the author of the two parchments published by Gerard de Sede."
"Plantard trusted me because I was writing a book about him and he gave me the original documents." - Pierre Jarnac, The Archives of the Treasure of Rennes-le-Château
Jarnac produced the documents for a BBC documentary. A note on Parchment 1 in Plantard's handwriting stated "This is the original document faked by Phillipe de Cherissy which Gerard de Sede reproduced in his book L'Or de Rennes-le-Château.
In a forty-four page unpublished paper called Stone and Paper de Cherissy "describes how the documents were fabricated, how the ciphers were set and how they can be decoded." - Pierre Jarnac, The Archives of the Treasure of Rennes-le-Château 3
Although the actual existence of any historical Priory of Zion is unproven, authors Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln speculate that such a society existed and hypothesis entanglements with modern crypto-political forces, such as the Knights of Malta, the P2 masonic lodge, the Kreisau Circle, the Swiss Grand Loge Alpina, and various advocates of Pan-European Union:
"There was a secret order behind the Knight's Templar, which created the Templars as its military and administrative arm. This order, which has functioned under a variety of names, is most frequently known as the Prieure de Sion ('Priory of Zion')."4
Other books-Lincoln's The Holy Place and its sequel Keys to the Sacred Pattern; David Wood and Ian Campbell's GenIsis and GeneSet, which promotes the theory of alien origins for humankind; Picknett and Prince's Templar Revelation; Andrews and Schellenberger's The Tomb of G-d; Lionel Fanthorpe's Secrets of Rennes-le-Chateau; Ean Begg's The Cult of the Black Virgin; Elizabeth Van Buren's Refuge of the Apocalypse, which promotes the Merovingians-as-extraterrestrials theory; Alex Christopher's Pandora's Box; Lawrence Gardner's Bloodline of the Holy Grail; and Martha Neyman's The Horse of G-d-all accept the existence of the Prieure de Sion. None of them document any proof. Most of the information presented in Holy Blood, Holy Grail had already appeared in other French publications such as Gerard De Sede's book Le tresor maudit de Rennes (The Accursed Treasure of Rennes) in which de Sede claims the Merovingians descended from extraterrestrials from Sirius.
In Cosmic Trigger III Robert Anton Wilson explores the Prieure's claim to be descended from beings from Sirius and suggests that the whole story is a hoax perpetrated as a work of performance art. Some Christian eschatologists view the Prieure scenario as a fulfillment of prophesies found in the Book of Revelation and further proof of an anti-Christian conspiracy.5 The original material, however, seems to have issued from a single specific source and appears to be a product of Pierre Plantard de Saint-Clair's imagination.
Steven Mizrach writes:
Yet this mysterious secret society brought itself to light in 1956 and is listed with the French directory of organizations under the subtitle "Chivalry of Catholic Rules and Institutions of the Independent and Traditionalist Union," which in French abbreviates to CIRCUIT - the name of the magazine distributed internally among members. Depending on what statutes one considers, Sion either has 9,841 members in nine grades, or 1,093 members in seven, with the supreme member, the "Nautonnier" or Grand Master of the Order being, till 1963, Jean Cocteau (1918-1963) french postmodernist playwright.6 While it is believed the head has been Pierre Plantard de St.-Clair up until recent times, he claims to have left that post in 1984, so it is not clear who runs the organization at this time.
Despite its registry, however, the organization remains untraceable, its given address and number leading to dead ends.7
Most writings about the Prieure touch on the legend of Rennes-le-Chateau and the Merovingians. Current theories also involve the inventor Barnes Wallis; the Cajun people of Louisiana; Johann Salvator, the young Hapsburg prince; lost cities of South America; the so-called "Baconian" theory, which suggests that Sir Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare's plays; a "doorway unto the invisible" -a gateway to other dimensions; the Illuminati; and self-styled HRH Prince Michael James Alexander Stewart, 7th Count of Albany (Scotland).
The Hieron du Val d'Or, a mystic-cum-political movement at Paray-le-Monial, is also claimed by Jean-Luc Chaumeil, author of Le Triangle d'Or[France, Alain Lefeuvre: 1979] to be a part of this story. It too hinges on the discredited Dossiers Secrets.
Prince Michael dismisses the Plantard claim of a Morovingian bloodline as "wishful thinking" and has stated his belief that the Prieure was only created in 1956.8 Anglican Bishop Montefiore catalogues what he calls "79 instances ... of gross errors, vital omissions, gravely misleading statements or the adoption of way-out hypotheses."9
By the 1990s, even Lincoln had soured on speculating about the Prieure de Sion and Pierre Plantard. "In my old age, I've decided to stick to that which can be verified," Lincoln groused when asked for an update on the secret society.10
II.10. Doesn't the Alta Vendita prove that Freemasonry is anti-Catholic?
The current interest in the Alta Vendita, mostly on the part of the extreme anti-Vatican II fringe of the Catholic church,1 was piqued by the 1998 publication of Alta Vendita, The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita by John Vennari, a writer for the Catholic Family News.
This little booklet2 reprints a collection of papers - reputedly from 1820s Alta Vendita correspondence - published by authority of Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) in 1859.3
During the early 19th century the people of the Italian states were attempting to expel foreign troops, mostly French and Austrian, and to redefine their political relationship with the aristocracy and the Roman Catholic Church. One of several political and militant groups, the Carbonari promoted republicanism, liberalism and what the Catholic church condemns as "modernism". The Carbonari leadership was titled the Alta Vendita. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:
Just as the name "Carbonari" was adopted from the charcoal-burners, so also in their secret intercourse they made use of many expressions taken from the occupation of charcoal-burning. The place where the members assembled was called baracca (hut), its interior vendita (place of selling coal), and its surroundings foresta (forest). The members called one another buon cugino (good cousin); those not belonging to the society were pagani (heathens). The Carbonari were divided into two classes: apprentices and masters. No apprentice could rise to the grade of a master before the end of six months. The members made themselves known to one another by secret signs in shaking hands. These signs for masters and apprentices were unlike. One of the underlying principles of the society, it is true, was that the "good brotherhood" rested on religion and virtue; but by this was understood a purely natural conception of religion, and the mention of religion was absolutely forbidden. In reality the association was opposed to the Church. Nevertheless, it venerated St. Theobald as its patron saint. The members belonging to each separate district formed a vendita, called thus from the place of assembly. At the head was the alta vendita, to which deputies were chosen from the other vendite.4
Whether the Carbonari was "opposed to the Church" or only opposed to the temporal and political power of the Church - and whether such a distinction is possible - is not the issue here. The important point is that after the fall of the Bourbons, its influence rapidly declined and, after 1841, nothing more was heard of it.
Interest in the Alt Venditi was kept alive by such discredited conspiracy theorists as Nesta Webster, Edith Starr Miller5 and William Guy Carr6 and further promoted by the John Birch Society.7
There is nothing in Vennari's booklet, or any other writings on the Alta Venditi, that proves that the group was associated in any fashion with regular Freemasonry, that it had any influence on Freemasonry, that it grew out of the Bavarian Illuminati, or that it continues to exist in any form.
II.11. What about the Rex Deus dynasty's influence on Freemasonry?
The "Rex Deus" group of theories incorporates a belief that Jesus of Nazereth (c.6 BCE - c.30 CE) had a wife and several children. The theories promoted by such popular books as Holy Blood, Holy Grail fall into this catagory. Although there is biblical evidence of Jesus' siblings, all such theories of a wife and children remain unproven and appear to be based more on assumption and wishful thinking than on any documented proof.
The promoters of these theories, that many of Europe's ruling families were descended from the Merovingians and Jesus - the union of the holy Davidic and Zadokite bloodlines - often incorporate the Rennes-le-Chateau mystery and often attempt to link the Knights Templar and the Priory of Sion [see above] with Freemasonry.
Rex Deus, by Marilyn Hopkins, Graham Simmans and Tim Wallace-Murphy (Element Books), is somewhat unique in discrediting the latter claim while embracing the former. The one key source for Rex Deus is an anonymous informant, "Michael", whose family traditions appear to be based on Barbara Thiering.
Rex Deus further claims that Robert the Bruce was a Rex Deus family member and had adopted Celtic practices which were aligned with Druidic and Enochian traditions of the Celts. Proof of none of this is forthcoming.
Most promoters of these speculations insist on the veracity of the debunked documents kept at the Bibliotheque Nationale [see above]. They will contend that the Counts of Champagne, Lords of Gisors, Lords of Payen, Counts of Fontaine, Counts of Anjou, de Bouilloin, St Clairs of Roslin, Brienne, Joinvill, Chaumont, St Clair de Gisor, St Clair de Neg and the Hapsburgs also took the name Rex Deus, and that Godfrey de Bouillon was the originator of the group and a direct descendent of Jesus.
This stream of speculation includes the claim that the descendants of this royal and priestly line, now call themselves Rex Deus and that the original Celtic church was founded by the Rex Deus. Other Rex Deus included the Stuarts of Scotland and today's King Juan Carlos of Spain. One popular promoter of these theories is Israeli conspiracy theorist, Barry Chamish.
No documentation or proof of any of this exists, so the corrollary claim that this alleged dynasty has influenced or controlled Freemasonry is also unsubstantiated. Promoters of these speculations continue to insist that the existence of a collection of unrelated historical events and persons somehow is the proof of their theories.
II.12. What is the Council on Foreign Relations?
The Council on Foreign Affairs began in 1917 with a group of New York academics who were asked by Woodrow Wilson to offer options for American foreign policy in the post-war period. This group was titled "The Inquiry." A creation of Wilson's aid, Edward Mandell House, the Inquiry helped draw the borders of post-World War I central Europe when twenty-three of the scholars accompanied Wilson to the Paris Peace Conference.
Originally envisioned as a British-American group of scholars and diplomats, it was a subsequent group of 108 New York financiers, manufacturers and international lawyers organized in June 1918 by Nobel Peace Prize recipient and US secretary of state, Elihu Root, that became the Council on Foreign Relations on July 29, 1921.
The first of the Council's projects was a quarterly journal launched in September 1922, called Foreign Affairs. Its various other projects avoided "international relations in general," as an early institutional history explained, and concentrated instead on "American relations with other countries." In 1990, the Council published a survey entitled Sea Changes: American Foreign Policy in a World Transformed, in which seventeen experts showed how global relations were not merely in transition but on the brink of fundamental transformation.
In the Council's own words: "The Council on Foreign Relations is dedicated to increasing America's understanding of the world and contributing ideas to US foreign policy. The Council accomplishes this mainly by promoting constructive debates and discussions, clarifying world issues, and by publishing Foreign Affairs, the leading journal on global issues."
A research group with a mandate to inform American public opinion, the CFR is viewed with great suspician by conspiracy theorists. Jack Newell and Devvy Kidd, in Why A Bankrupt America, (Project Liberty, Arvada, CO.) view Edward House as a marxist bent on socialist domination and believe that the CFR's goal is to convert the USA from a sovereign constitutional republic to a "servile member of a one-world dictatorship."
They assume that the CFR has a hidden political agenda. When they see the large number of American presidents, senators, and representatives who have been members they assume that the CFR is influencing their opinions rather than the other way around. When they also see that a number of these men have also been freemasons, they conclude that Freemasonry also embraces this perceived political agenda. Although they will claim loud and long that this is the case, they provide no proof. Assertion is not proof.
For information on the Council on Foreign Relations, view their website at
II.13. What was the Rhodes-Milner Round Table?
Cecil Rhodes wrote six wills over his lifetime. In the first, written at the age of 23 - sometime after his doctor had warned him that he had but six months to live - he proposed to "form a secret society with but one object, the furtherance of the British Empire and the bringing of the whole uncivilised world under British rule, for the recovery of the United States, for the making the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire." This was written on June 2, 1877, a month and a half after he had joined a masonic lodge in Oxford. He was not impressed with Freemasonry but it appears to have given him ideas of his own.1
By the time he wrote his final will, his thinking had evolved to the establishment of a scholarship trust fund. The trustees for the Rhodes Scholarships in 1902 were Lord Alfred Milner (1854-1925), Lord Rosebery, Lord Grey, Alfred Beit, L. L. Michell, B. F. Hawksley, and Dr. Starr Jameson.2 The scholarships were to be given without regard to race or creed.
Conspiracy theorists see this as the origin of the Round Table, which they claim became the Council On Foreign Relations, which in turn set up the Trilateral Commission. Taking one passage from a twenty-three year-old's discarded will, they believe they have proof that these groups have a secret agenda of world-domination.
Some conspiracy theorists, such as Eric Samuelson, claim that what Cecil Rhodes and Alfred Milner had in mind was the formation of a master/slave society based upon the principles of eugenics as derived from Plato's Republic. Rhodes, purportedly, was directed to this end by Oxford don, John Ruskin, as a counter to what these theorists perceive to be the proletariat ideology of French Freemasonry. Ruskin is also claimed, erroneously, to be a freemason.
They also believe that the original trustees were all freemasons. The name "The Round Table," appears to be a creation of Quigley's. The purported membership of the group: Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Balfour, Lord Rothschild, H.G. Wells, and some Oxford graduates described as Milner's Kindergarten, is not cited. "In 1909, Milner's Kindergarten, with some other English Masons, founded the Round Table."3
Three think tanks are purported to be offshoots of the Round Table: the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA), organized in 1919 in London; the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), organized in 1921 in New York City; and the Institute of Pacific Relations (IPR), organized in 1925.
The claim is that: "The initial assignment of the Round Table was not necessarily to destroy the political experiments of French Freemasonry, such as socialism and communism, but to cooperate with them for the advancement of the English Masonic conspiracy." The anonymously authored book, The Union Jack also claimed that "the British Empire originated the Russian system of Communism to exploit the world as a front for British Imperialism," while Lady Queenborough's uncited claim that Karl Marx, Tolain, Fribourg, Varlin, Camelinat, Beslay, Malon and Corbon were all freemasons is also often quoted.
Dr. Carroll Quigley (1910-1977), author of Tragedy and Hope (1966), is also often cited as supporting these theories. Writing in 1949,4 he outlined his research into these groups, approving of their aims but deprecating their wish for secrecy. Both New Left writer and activist Carl Oglesby, and right-wing John Birch Society lecturer, W. Cleon Skousen, (The Naked Capitalist, 1970) have found validation for their own conspiracy theories in Quigley's work.
The theories of Lyndon LaRouche, while often thinly disguised antisemitism, also make reference to the Round Table as a link between freemasonry, British Imperialism and Zionism. Several pages of Pat Robertson's The New World Order (1991) are spent on Quigley's theories. Robertson views all this as an age-old power-struggle with Satan.
Any actual lineal connection between these groups and their real, or imagined, purposes or effectiveness is beyond the scope of this FAQ. It is only because conspiracy theorists view the sometimes real, sometimes imagined, masonic association of some members of these groups as somehow conclusive of a greater, more sinister, conspiracy, that the groups are of interest to this FAQ.
II.14. What is the Belmont Brotherhood?
Politics make strange bedfellows. 1 The fight for the hearts and minds of Americans and the home-front battle against international communism in the mid to late twentieth century created some strange and sometimes unwitting alliances. One such was the John Birch Society.
Among those attracted by the Bircher's message of American values and anti-communism were a number of Christian fundamentalists who viewed both communism and Freemasonry as anti-American and probably satanic. When the masonic membership of a number of the society's founders was noticed, this led to a belief that the society was actually some form of diversionary tactic on the part of an international satanic conspiracy.
"The Belmont Brotherhood," an unpublished "exposé" of the John Birch Society, is the source of the name of this imagined group. It refers to freemasons who worked in the John Birch Society offices in Belmont, Massachusetts. The current main promoter of this attack on the John Birch Society is Nicholas J. Bove, Jr., 2 a former research assistant of the society's founder, Robert Welch. 3
It appears that Robert Welch's library contained a number of books on Freemasonry and on page 14 of the John Birch Society Bulletin of October, 1973 Welch assured his readers that "American Masons are just as patriotic as you or I." Welch mentions a number of occasions that he spoke out against communism at masonic lodges.
On December 20, 1972, Andrew Lane wrote from the Belmont offices, in response to concerns expressed by one Dr. Stuart Crane about freemasons in the society: "The JBS has no position on Freemasonry." "The Masons today are usually the outstanding and solid citizens of their communities." Again, on February 20, 1973, Andrew Lane wrote "...I do know many members of the Order, have over the years worked with many of them in a book, and related to several, all of whom are of unquestioned patriotism and loyalty to all that is finest in American and in Christian traditions." 4
A number of John Birch Society leaders have been freemasons: Council member Robert D. Love, founding member T. Coleman Andrews (1960-61 Who's Who in America), Council member Ralph E. Davis, Frank E. Masland, Jr. (1964-65 Who's Who), Cola Godden Parker (1950-51 Who's Who), early JBS Council member Joseph Bracken Lee (1976-77 Who's Who in America), Editorial Advisory Committee member of American Opinion Robert Bartlett Dresser (1976-77 Who's Who in America) 5
The usual attacks are made by Bove: that 32° Scottish Rite freemasons worship Lucifer, that Albert Pike made this claim, and that 32° Scottish Rite freemasons are by definition "high-ranking". Stripped of his rhetoric and assertions, Bove fails to demonstrate that these freemasons in the John Birch leadership did anything other than convince the council that freemasons could be as patriotic and anti-communist as any other Americans. His only criticism of them is the fact that they are freemasons. His criticisms of Freemasonry are discredited lies.
II.15. What is the Skull and Bones?
"Skull and Bones is the oldest of Yale's fraternities, founded in December of 1832 by a Yale senior named William Huntington Russell (1809-85). He and a group of classmates decided to form the Eulogian Club as an American chapter of a German student organization. The club paid obeisance to Eulogia, the goddess of eloquence, who took her place in the pantheon upon the death of the orator Demosthenes, in 322 B.C., and who is said to have returned in a kind of Second Coming on the occasion of the society's inception. The Yale society fastened a picture of its symbol - a skull and crossbones - to the door of the chapel where it met. Today the number 322, recalling the date of Demosthenes' death, appears on society stationery. In 1856 Daniel Coit Gilman, who went on to become the founding president of Johns Hopkins University, officially incorporated the society as the Russell Trust Association, and Skull and Bones moved into the space it still occupies.
"For many years the society has possessed a skull that members call Geronimo. In , under pressure from Ned Anderson, a former Apache tribal chairman in Arizona, the society produced the skull in question. The skull didn't match Anderson's records, and it was returned to the society's tomb.
"It does own an island on the St. Lawrence River - Deer Island, in Alexandria Bay [Donated by George Douglas Miller, who requested the island be called "Deer Iland."]. The forty-acre retreat is intended to give Bonesmen an opportunity to 'get together and rekindle old friendships.' A century ago the island sported tennis courts and its softball fields were surrounded by rhubarb plants and gooseberry bushes. Catboats waited on the lake. Stewards catered elegant meals. But although each new Skull and Bones member still visits Deer Island, the place leaves something to be desired. 'Now it is just a bunch of burned-out stone buildings,' a patriarch sighs. 'It's basically ruins.' Another Bonesman says that to call the island 'rustic' would be to glorify it. 'It's a dump, but it's beautiful.'" 1
Initiates are known as Knights of Eulogia, their counterparts in the Scroll and Key fraternity are called Savages and non-members are labeled Barbarians while graduate members are styled Patriarchs. The society rule does not allow alcohol or drugs in their building, called the Crypt or Tomb. Their main activity appears to be weekly dinners accompanied by spirited debates.
By 1873, the fraternity was being criticised as a "deadly evil" practicing satanic initiations 2 while on September 29, 1876, a group calling itself "The Order of File and Claw" broke into the Skull and Bones's building and subsequently published a pamphlet ascribing the order's roots in an unidentified German society. 3
"According to one version of the Order's founding, it was an outgrowth of an earlier British or Scottish freemasonic grouping first established at All Soul's College at Oxford University in the late 17th century. Another version of the history of Skull & Bones is that it grew out of the German "nationalistic" secret societies of the early 19th century. Still a third explanation is that Skull & Bones is an uniquely American institution which adopted some of the rituals of European freemasonry, but molded these rituals and beliefs into a new form. " 4
Ron Rosenbaum, writing in Esquire in 1977, may be responsible for the current interest in the Skull and Bones. He detailed the history of the order, noted similarities to the Bavarian Illuminati and referred, sceptically, to the John Birch Society and other conspiracy theorists' views on the Illuminati. 5 In 1980, the right-wing Manchester Union Leader made an issue of George Bush's Skull and Bones membership, quoting Rosenbaum but making it seem more sinister. Later, in the I992 election campaign, Pat Buchanan, George Bush's challenger for the Republican nomination, accused the president of running 'a Skull and Bones presidency'.
In 2002 Ron Rosenbaum revisited the topic, noting that an "all-girl break-in team" had photographed the inside of the order's building, revealing it to be little more than a common frat-house. Rosenbaum doesn't accept the theories of global conspiracy: "They didn't have to conspire to exercise power: At the height of what Bones member Henry Luce called 'the American century,' all they had to do was breathe, i.e. get born into the right family in an elite that practically did rule the world. That and a wink and a nod to a trusted friend now and then, no need for a secret handshake: Their power was public, in-your-face, had no need to hide itself." 6
The source of many of the accusations, British-born conspiracy theorist Antony Sutton (1925 - 2002/06/17) wrote a series of pamphlets about the order between 1983-1986, which were compiled into one volume and published as a book in 1986. 7
Current criticism of the Order of Skull and Bones range from Kris Millegan's accusation that the Skull and Bones is the American branch of the Illuminati8 to Andrei Navrozov, author of The Gingerbread Race, who asserts that the initiation ritual "is like a black mass", while Eric Samuelson claims that "not unlike some Masonic ceremonies, it involves a compromising of individual dignity...." 9
While claiming to present a factual, balanced report, Goldstein and Steinberg erroneosly claim that Rosenbaum wrote that "the society's Germanic origins are inherently wicked and pre-Nazi" and that "the Skull & Bones building on the Yale campus houses remnants from Hitler's private collection of silver." In fact, Rosenbaum draws no conclusions about the alleged Germanic origins, and specifically states that Hitler's silverware is in the archives of another Yale fraternity, Scroll and Key. They further distort a superficial similarity with Illuminati ritual by erroneosly claiming that a German inscription in the Skull and Bones building is from a German masonic ritual. 10
The link to the Illuminati is unproven and improbable although there is no reason that Russell might not have come across old Bavarian Illuminati texts or met German students who continued to idealize its spirit of liberalism and republicanism. There is no demonstrated link to Freemasonry.
II.16. What is the Royal Dragon Court?
The Imperial and Royal Dragon Court and Order Ordo Dragonis, Sárkány Rend, 1408 appears to be a late twentieth century revival by Nicholas de Vere, of an unrecognized chivalric order, the Dragon Sovereignty (Ordo Draconis), "reconstituted" in 1408 by King Szigmond von Luxembourg of Hungary (1368-1437), later to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1433.
According to their website, the Hungarian Order of the Dragon is currently registered at the High Court of Budapest. Their website also makes the historically curious claim that Szigmond was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1411 by Pope Gregory XII.1
Nicholas de Vere, a self-styled occultist and satanist who claims to be a member of the Grail bloodline, seems to have precipitated a schism within the order, leaving Michel Roger Lafosse, controversial claimant to the Stuart throne of Scotland,2 as an Inner Court Member of a reworked order dedicated to the ancient virtues of chivalry: protection of the earth, upholding of peace, support of the downtrodden, defence of the feminine, and pursuit of knowledge.
Styling himself "HRH Prince Michael of Albany", Michel Lafosse wrote The Forgotten Monarchy of Scotland to bolster his claim.3 Promoted by historical revisionist,4 and son of Gerald Gardner, Laurence Gardner in such recently published books as Illustrated Bloodline of the Holy Grail, Bloodline of the Holy Grail, Realm of the Ring Lords and Genesis of the Grail Kings, the order, and Lafosse's claims, have generated little interest from mainstream historians.5
From claiming Michael Lafosse as the rightful Stuart king of England, Gardner has gone on to argue that Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is a nonfiction history, and that the holy bloodline comes from Annunaki, from the twelfth planet of our solar system.6
Nicholas de Vere continues to promote the Imperial and Royal Dragon Court and Dragon Sovereignty aka Sarkeny Rend as a separate entity. Although he wrote the introduction to Genesis of the Grail Kings he has since had a falling out with Gardner over authorship. His unpublished From Transylvania to Tunbridge Wells is alleged to be the source of much of Gardner's information on the Royal Dragon Court. According to Nicholas de Vere: "'Mr' Laurence Gardner, author of Bloodline of the Holy Grail and Genesis of the Grail Kings resigned from the Imperial and Royal Dragon Court - 'by mutual agreement' - following the dismissal of his business partner, Mr. Adrian Wagner, who was asked to leave the Dragon Court before 12th November 1999."7
Composer and producer, and great-great grandson of Richard Wagner, Adrian Wagner (b. 1952) composed, recorded and released companion musical suites to Gardner's books but is reputed to have also parted company with Gardner.
Although unrelated to Freemasonry - and unsubstantiated - anti-masons and dispensational fundamentalists have used the claims of de Vere, Lafosse and Gardner as further justification of their own claims of conspiracy, satanic rituals in the Vatican and a crypto-masonic new world order.8
III.1. Why do freemasons use the satanic pentagram?
From the Greek, "pente", meaning five and "gramma", a letter; the pentagram is a five pointed figure formed by producing the sides of a pentagon both ways to their point of intersection, so as to form a five-pointed star. It has no specifically satanic origin or meaning and no connection to Freemasonry per se.
Freemasonry has traditionally been associated with Pythagoras, and among Pythagoreans, the pentagram was a symbol of health and knowledge; the pentagram is consequently associated with initiation, as it is in masonic iconography.
The pentagram (also called pentacle, pentalpha, pentacle, pentagle, or pentangle) is thought by some occultists to trace its esoteric significance to an astronomical observance of the pattern of Venus' conjunctions with the Sun and has had many meanings in many cultures through the ages. It is only from the fact that it forms the outlines of the five-pointed star to represent the "Five Points of Fellowship", and that it was associated with Pythagoras, that it has any masonic significance. Although the pentagram can be seen as a representation of the golden ratio, whether this was part of Freemasonry's alleged "secret teachings" or is simply a modern interpolation is a topic of some controversy. The pentagram has no relationship to the Blazing Star, which has no specified number of points.
The use of a pentagram or five-pointed star in some Grand Lodge seals and banners as well as on the collar of office worn by the Masters of lodges and Grand Masters of Grand Lodges is of interest to students of masonic history and art. But its absence from the ritual and lessons of Freemasonry point out that its value is ornamental and any symbolic value is a matter of personal interpretation or opinion.
Those who would freeze the angle of the compasses in the masonic square and compasses at 72° to equate it with the pentagram, ignore the many representations which set the angle at anywhere between 45° and 80° and, in some older examples, at 90°.
"The Medieval Freemason considered it a symbol of deep wisdom, and it is found among the architectural ornaments of most of the ecclesiastical edifices of the Middle Ages." 1 Éliphas Lévi claimed, with no justification or historical precedent, that one point upward represents the good principle and one downward, the evil. 2
The pentalpha seems to have been widely used in Christianity, and may even be found in certain Gnostic sects. It is commonly known as the "Star of Bethlehem," the "Star of the East," or "Star of Solomon," and is a symbol of Divine guidance.
From a symbol for health or healing, It was appropriated in the mediaeval period as a charm to ward off demons, evil spirits and witches, which seems to be the root source of its common association with modern wicca and satanism.
1. Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Albert G. Mackey. Richmond, Virginia: 1966. p. 763.
2. Dogma and Ritual of High Magic ii, Éliphas Lévi. p. 55.
III.2. Are freemasons satanists or luciferians?
Few masonic writers will say freemasons are luciferians; none will say they are satanists. Nineteenth century writers such as Albert G. Mackey and Albert Pike use the term "luciferian" to denote a spirit of enquiry and a search for knowledge, wisdom and truth; not as a form of worship or quest for salvation. The terms "lucifer" and "luciferian" do not appear in any recognized ritual or lecture of Freemasonry (See Section VIII, Subsection 3.)
III.3. Is the eye and pyramid a masonic symbol?
Of the four men involved in designing the USA seal in 1776, only Benjamin Franklin was a freemason, and he contributed nothing of a masonic nature to the committee's proposed design for a seal. The committeemen were Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, with Pierre Du Simitiere as artist and consultant.1
Du Simitiere, the committee's consultant, and a non-mason, contributed several major design features that made their way into the ultimate design of the seal: "the shield, E Pluribus Unum, MDCCLXXVI, and the eye of providence in a triangle."2
Congress declined the first committee's suggestions as well as those of its 1780 committee. Francis Hopkinson, consultant to the second (1782) committee, used an unfinished pyramid in his design. Charles Thomson, Secretary of Congress, and William Barton, artist and consultant, borrowed from earlier designs and sketched what at length became the United States Seal. None of the final designers of the seal-William Baron, Charles Thomson, Sir John Prestwick-were freemasons.
"The single eye was a well-established artistic convention for an 'omniscient Ubiquitous Deity' in the medallic art of the Renaissance. In 1614 the frontispiece of The History of the World by Sir Walter Raleigh showed an eye in a cloud labeled "Providentia" overlooking a globe. Du Simitiere, who suggested using the symbol, collected art books and was familiar with the artistic and ornamental devices used in Renaissance art."3
The all-seeing eye of God is noted several times in the Christian Bible:
Psalm 32:8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.
Psalm 33:18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;
Ezekiel 20:17 Nevertheless mine eye spared them from destroying them, neither did I make an end of them in the wilderness.
The misinterpretation of the seal as a masonic emblem may have been first introduced a century later in 1884. Harvard professor, Eliot Charles Norton (1827-1908), wrote that the reverse was "practically incapable of effective treatment; it can hardly, (however artistically treated by the designer), look otherwise than as a dull emblem of a masonic fraternity."4
The first "official" use and definition of the all-seeing eye as a masonic symbol seems to have come in 1797 with The Freemasons Monitor of Thomas Smith Webb - 14 years after Congress adopted the design for the Seal: "...and although our thoughts, words and actions, may be hidden from the eyes of man yet that All-Seeing Eye, whom the Sun Moon and Stars obey, and under whose watchful care even comets perform their stupendous revolutions, pervades the inmost recesses of the human heart, and will reward us according to our merits."5
The eye inside of an equilateral triangle, point up or down, has often appeared in Christian art. "It is often placed high above the alter as in the Pfarrkirche at Grmunden am Traunsee (1626) and the Fisherman's church at Traunkirchen, while it appears over the doorway of the church of the monastery of St. Florian near Linz." 6
Neither the eye nor the pyramid have ever been uniquely masonic symbols, although a few Grand Lodge jurisdictions incorporate them into their seals. The combining of the eye of providence overlooking an unfinished pyramid is a uniquely American, not masonic, icon. While the all-seeing eye appears on early embroidered masonic aprons and such items as pitchers, there are no available documents showing the all-seeing eye associated with freemasonry prior to 1797 and none at all related to the Bavarian Illuminati, with or without the pyramid.
While the eye and pyramid icon is clearly not masonic nor derived from any real-world usage other than the American Great Seal, conspiracy theorists are quick to point out that it, or variations of a circle inside a triangle, often appears in corporate logos. In popular fiction a stylized eye and pyramid, or some version of a single eye, is a common visual shorthand for power, secrecy, conspiracy or control. The intent of the creators of films and television programmes, in utilizing these icons, can only be a matter of conjecture. It is quite probable that conspiracy theorists and the visual arts are simply feeding off each other.
As an example, the otherwise credible author Gerald Suster (1951-2001) repeatedly, and without citation, in his history of the Hell-Fire Club asserts that the eye and pyramid are both Illuminati and masonic symbols.7 A number of conspiracy theorists, such as Jordan Maxwell, have claimed that the eye and pyramid symbol is printed in Bavarian Illuminati texts "until recently" on display in the British Museum. No citations or references are given, although me ntion is also sometimes made to UFOs and extraterrestrials. The dust jacket illustration for the 1972 hardcover edition of None Dare Call it Conspiracy includes the eye and pyramid symbol. Passing mention is made inside to the Illuminati, but no mention is made to the seal. And in 2005 the movie, National Treasure described the unfinished pyramid and all-seeing eye as symbols of the Knights Templar.
Excerpted, in part, from The Eye in the Pyramid by: S. Brent Morris in a Masonic Service Association Short Talk Bulletin.
IV.1. Who was Elias Ashmole?
Elias Ashmole (1617-1692) was a chemist and antiquarian of the late 1600s with connections at Oxford. Some sources have reckoned him to be the first person whose name is recorded as having been made a speculative freemason (1646). He was deeply interested in the medicinal uses of plants and was made a member of the Royal Society in 1661, although not active.
Assertions that Ashmole introduced Solomon's legend into the masonic ritual ignore the Sloane Manuscript (No. 3329, British Museum) or the rituals of the 12th century French stonemason corporation, Compagnonage. These clearly show that operative masons were familiar with the legend. Ashmole's reputation with his contemporaries was that of an antiquarian and historian, not a ritualist. And unfortunately he never got around to writing a history of the Craft.
IV.2. Who was Francis Bacon?
Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was an English philosopher, statesman, and author.
His Novum Organum and later work,The New Atlantis "exerted a considerable and beneficial influence on the manners of his age"1 Simply put, he proposed that truth is not derived from authority and that knowledge is the fruit of experience. In his utopian allegory The New Atlantis, Bacon wrote of a 'House of Solomon': a college of scientific observation and research.
His association with, or influence on, Freemasonry is questionable. If he was initiated or active in any operative or speculative masonic lodge, no record is known. Christoph Nicolai [Nicholai] wrote in 1782 that Lord Bacon had taken hints from the writings of John Andrea2 , the founder of Rosicrucianism and his English disciple, Fludd3 and that his ideas heavily influenced Elias Ashmole.4
Christoph Nicolai claimed that Ashmole and others used Masons' Hall, London to conceal their secret political efforts to restore the exiled house of Stuart and to build an allegorical 'solomon's House'.5 The New Atlantis did exert a strong influence on the formation of the Society of Astrologers with Elias Ashmole in 1646 and they did meet at Masons' Hall. Many members of this society also became freemasons. If they had any influence on the ritual or doctrines of Freemasonry, it is not apparent, from what few records remain.
Albert Mackey refers to Nicolai's theory on the Bacon inspired origin of the Grand Lodge of England as "peculiar".6
IV.3. Who was Abbé Barruel?
Augustin Barruel (1741/10/02 - 1820/10/05) published Mémoires pour servir à l'Histoire du Jacobinisme, in four volumes octavo, in London in 1797. He charged the freemasons with revolutionary principles in politics and infidelity in religion.1 Equally unsubstantiated were his claims that Freemasonry was derived, by way of the Templars, from the Manicheans.2 Often quoted by modern anti-masonic writers, his claims and accusations were widely denounced and discredited by his contemporaries.3
1. Cf.: "The Romances of Robison and Barruel" by the Rev. W.K. Firminger. F.M. Rickard, editor. Ars Quatuor Coronatorum. London : Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076." vol l (1940). pp. 31-69.
2. Cf.: "The European Illuminati," Vernon L. Stauffer. freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/stauffer.
3. See: "The Misrepresentations of Barruel and Robison Exposed", William Preston, reproduced in Golden Remains, George Oliver. Vol. 3, pp. 274-300; and also "Anti-masonry," Alphonse Cerza, AQC, London : Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076. vol. lxxx, (1968). pp. 241-270.
IV.4. Who was Cagliostro?
Giuseppe Balsamo (1743-95), Italian adventurer and gifted con-man. His alleged initiation into the irregular Esperance Lodge No. 289 (London) in April 1776 is undocumented. Regardless, he quickly turned his association with Freemasonry to his profit; convincing clients in England and the Continent to invest in his own invention, "Egyptian Freemasonry". He was arrested in Rome for peddling Freemasonry in 1789, and died in prison.
IV.5. Who was Albert Pike?
General Albert Pike (1809-1891) was a lawyer and editor, and Sovereign Grand Commander of the Southern Supreme Council, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (1859-1891). Although held in high regard by many North American freemasons, his writings on the history or symbolism of Freemasonry are not considered authoritative.
Author of Morals and Dogma, he extracted much from earlier authors, such that the book's preface reads: "Perhaps it would have been better and more acceptable, if he had extracted more and written less." The preface also states that, "Every one is entirely free to reject or dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him to be untrue or unsound."
Albert Pike is popular with anti-masons for three reasons. Firstly, Léo Taxil falsely accused him of claiming that the god of Freemasonry was Lucifer (Note Taxil's public confession); secondly, Susan L. Davis and Walter L. Fleming, without documentation or proof, claimed him as a leader of the Ku Klux Klan; and thirdly, Pike's extensive writings are easily quoted out of context to demonstrate pagan or occult leanings.
IV.6. Who was John Robison?
John Robison (1739-1805)1 was Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, Secretary of the Royal Society in that city, and author of "Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and Governments of Europe carried on in the Secret Meetings of the freemasons, Illuminati, and Reading Societies, collected from Good Authorities."2 Due to the anti-Jacobin sentiments of the day it was received with some excitement but the Encyclopaedia Britannica says that this book, "betrays a degree of credulity extremely remarkable in a person used to calm reasoning and philosophical demonstration." Robison had been initiated into Freemasonry at Liege.
1. For a biography, see Vernon L. Stauffer, New England and the Bavarian Illuminati. fn. 2, p. 200 freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/stauffer_notes.
2. Cf.: "The Romances of Robison and Barruel" by the Rev. W.K. Firminger. F.M. Rickard, editor. Ars Quatuor Coronatorum London : Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076. vol. l (1940). pp. 31-69
IV.7. Who was Léo Taxil?
Born in Marseille, France, March 21, 1854 and schooled by the Jesuits, his real name was Marie-Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pagès. He tried the shortcut of financial fraud, and when he was discovered he fled from France to Geneva. There, Gabriel Pagès adopted the name of Léo Taxil. Expeled from Switzerland for fraud, he returned, under amnesty, to France in 1879
In the strongly anti-church climate existing throughout France, Léo Taxil believed that he would find a ready market for anticlerical publications. He wrote anti-Catholic satires, poking fun at church leaders. In hopes of gathering anti-Church material, Taxil joined the lodge Le Temple de L'Honneur Français in Paris in 1881. His true character quickly surfaced, and he was expelled from the lodge before going beyond the first degree. Over the succeeding years, his anti-Catholic writing brought him very little income but earned him a great deal of criticism and condemnation from the clergy. He needed another target for his literary talents.
Léo Taxil confessed on April 23, 1885 to the sins he had committed in writing and publishing anti-Catholic pamphlets. He then began writing a series condemning the freemasons. Titles include: The Three-point Brothers; The Anti-Christ and the Origin of masonry; The Cult of the Great Architect; Pius IX, Freemason? and The masonic Assassins.
Taxil honed the simple declaration, "Lucifer is God," and attributed it to Albert Pike, supposedly delivered to freemasons on Bastille Day, July 14, 1889. (See Section VI Subsection 2)
He also coined the non-existent title, "Sovereign Pontiff of Universal Freemasonry", for Pike. Of the hundreds of masonic bodies in the world at that time, Pike was the leader of just one, the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite. A blatant fraud, Taxil's forgery was a huge success.
On April 19,1897, Taxil used his celebrity status to attract a large audience to a meeting in Paris. Journalists came, along with members of the Catholic hierarchy. There Taxil announced that every word written about masonic devil worship was the product of his own fertile imagination. A Paris newspaper published the thirty-three page text of his speech the following week. The incorrigible opportunist moved away from Paris to a stately home in the country, where he enjoyed a comfortable life until his death at the age of fifty-three, in 1907.
An English translation of Taxil's published confession appeared in in Volume 5 for 1996 of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction's education journal, Heredom, edited by S. Brent Morris.
IV.8. Who was Adam Weishaupt?
Adam Weishaupt was born February 6, 1748 at Ingolstadt and educated by the Jesuits. His appointment as Professor of Natural and Canon Law at the University of Ingolstadt in 1775, a position previously held by an ecclesiastic, gave great offense to the clergy of the day. "Weishaupt, whose views were cosmopolitan, and who knew and condemned the bigotry and superstitions of the Priests, established an opposing party in the University.... This was the beginning of the Order of Illuminati or the Enlightened...."1 Weishaupt was not then a freemason; he was initiated into Lodge Theodore of Good Council (Theodor zum guten Rath), at Munich in 1777. (see Section V, Subsection 2.)
1. Albert G. Mackey, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Richmond, Virginia: Macoy Publishing. 1966, p.1099.
IV.9. Was [insert name] a freemason?
There are over 200 recognized masonic jurisdictions around the world, each of which keeps its own records and rolls. Several books have been published listing details of well over 10,000 famous freemasons but it is not always easy to document membership.
No individual speaks for Freemasonry, nor does Freemasonry dictate opinion and belief to its members, so masonic membership is no real criterion for evaluating views, opinions, conclusions, or actions. One list of freemasons can be found at:
American President George Bush Sr.?
No. Some draw an association with his use of the phrase "new world order" in a 11 September, 1990 televised address to a joint session of Congress, but no regular lodge is on record as having initiated either him or his son, USA President George W. Bush. He was a member of the Skull and Bones fraternity at Yale University; which has certain superficial elements in common with Freemasonry, of which the principal one might be summarized in their motto, "memento mori".
Crowley was initiated into an irregular lodge in Mexico. He had only four contacts with regular Freemasonry, was never active as a freemason, was never recognized as a freemason by any regular body of Freemasonry, and had no impact on Freemasonry.
USA motion picture and television producer, Walter Elias Disney (1901/12/05 - 1966/12/15), was a member of the appendent organization for boys, DeMolay International. He was not a freemason. For reasons of their own, a few anti-masons, detractors of American pop culture and conspiracy theorists have referred to Disney as a 33° freemason but this claim is unfounded.
American President Millard Fillmore?
An active anti-mason until 1835, Fillmore, after his presidency, later attended two masonic cornerstone layings, but there is no record that he was a freemason.
The designers of Washington DC's streetplan?
Although much has been made of the so-called masonic symbolism in the street plan of the USA capitol, Washington DC, there is no record that either Thomas Jefferson or Andrew Ellicott were freemasons. Pierre Charles L'Enfant was initiated as an Entered Apprentice but there is no evidence that he took any further interest in Freemasonry.
The Reverend Billy Graham is not a freemason. The following correspondence to a reader of the Cutting Edge Ministry makes this very clear:
Date: Wed, 16 Jul 97 11:23:21 -0500
From: email@example.com (Don Kinde)
Thank you for your e-mail message. We understand your concern about rumors that Mr. Graham is in some way associated with Freemasonry. The reports are erroneous - though we continue to hear them. Mr. Graham is not, has not been and does not expect ever to be involved in Freemasonry. Your help in keeping the record as accurate as possible would be much appreciated.
Christian Guidance Department
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
One possible source of this rumour was Composite Lodge No. 595's website in Santa Monica, California, USA. The brother maintaining the site reproduced a list of famous freemasons that mistakenly included the Reverend Billy Graham's name. Once the error was brought to his attention, the list was amended on December 28, 1996. Other masonic websites unwittingly reproduced the list and several years passed before most, if not all of them, were corrected.
The late Jim Shaw claimed that Billy Graham was present when he was made a 33rd Degree freemason. This is only one of Shaw's many lies exposed in such publications as Is it True What They Say About Freemasonry?
On 13 June, 1997 anti-mason and fundamentalist Christian, Steve Van Nattan went on a syndicated Christian Fundamentalist radio talk show, "The Cutting Edge," to announce his "proof" that Graham was not only a freemason but that the freemasons were trying to hide his membership. The Cutting Edge Ministry subsequentially accepted the denial issued by Billy Graham's office
L. Ron Hubbard?
Author of Dianetics (1950) and founder of the Church of Scientology; there is no record that Lafayette Ronald Hubbard (1911/03/13 - 1986/01/24) was initiated into any regular lodge of Freemasonry.
The purported link is Hubbard's association with John Whiteside Parsons (1914/02/10 - 1952/06/17), chemist and founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratories. 1
"Jack" Parsons was head of the Agapé Lodge of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) in Los Angeles, California, and later head of the Pasadena OTO branch. Hubbard is alleged to have been initiated into the OTO in 1944 by either Aleister Crowley or Parsons, and also to have first met Parsons in August of 1945. There is no documentation of Hubbard's initiation. Others have claimed that Hubbard was a spy for either the FBI or US Naval Intelligence.2 Although Hubbard's association with Parsons is unquestioned-as is his regard for Crowley3- Hubbard's role or involvement with the OTO is a subject of some conjecture. Claims by authors such as Maury Terry ("The Ultimate Evil") are unsubstantiated, and in some instances, demonstrably wrong. The point here is that this is not a masonic association and does not demonstrate that Hubbard was a freemason.
1. cf.: Barefaced Messiah, Russell Miller. London : 1987; Michael Staley, AHA No. 8 (pp. 91 "ff"): "The Babalon Working of Jack Parsons" (published in "Apocalypse Culture", edited by Adam Parfrey, Los Angeles 1987-90, and "Starfire", London 1987, p. 32.) ; Scientology, F.W. Haack, Munich: 1982; Über die Verbindung von L.R. Hubbard zur Magick von A. Crowley, Roland Winkhart (an ex-member of Scientology and the 'Caliphate', subsequently in the Temple of Set). Vienna: 1985. Cited at: http://www.cyberlink.ch/~koenig/white.htm (accessed 2002/05/10). See parareligion.ch (2011).
2. Neuropolitics,Robert Anton Wilson & Timothy Leary, 1977 ; cf. "Scarlet and the Beast,"John Daniel. Vol. 1, pp. 429-430 ; A Piece of Blue Sky,Jon Atack. New Jersey : Lyle Stuart Books, 1990.
3. L. Ron Hubbard, "Conditions of Space/Time/Energy" Philadelphia Doctorate Course cassette tape #18 5212C05 (1952)
Lenin was not a recognized freemason. Although claims have been made that he was a member of the Grand Orient of Russian Peoples, there is no proof of this. The Grand Orient of Russian Peoples was an irregular and clandestine body, having no relations with regular Freemasonry. The Revue internationale des Sociétés Secrètes (Vol. VIII, 1919. p. 702) claimed, without citation, that Lenin was a member of a secret masonic lodge in Switzerland. Prince Dr. Otto zu Salm-Horstmar said in a speech in the upper house of the Prussian Diet, in August 1918, that Lenin was a Jew and belonged to a masonic lodge in Paris with Trotsky, but his sources are also uncited.1
1. Norman Cohn (1915 - ), Warrant for Genocide. London : Serif, 1996. p. 144.]
An avowed atheist, Heinrich Karl Marx (1818/05/05 - 1883/03/14) would not have qualified for membership. There is no record of his having joined a regular lodge. Marx's alleged masonic link stems from his involvement with the League of the Just. Friederich Engels (1820-1895) helped Marx transform this socialist secret society of émigré German workers into the Communist League when they held their first congress in London in June 1847. In 1848 he and Karl Marx were authorized to draft their statement of principles, "The Communist Manifesto."
Claims, such as that in None Dare Call it Conspiracy [p. 30], that this society was associated in any form with any Illuminati-or by extension, Freemasonry-are unfounded.
The fact that almost forty years later Karl Marx's daughter, Eleanor Morris, co-founded the Socialist League, and that the masonic fraud Theodor Reuss joined soon after [AQC Vol 91], does not prove that the earlier Communist League had anything to do with any Illuminati. Eleanor's marriage to Theosophist lecturer and friend of Annie Besant, Edward Aveling, is also cited by Richard Wurmbrand as "proof" that Marx was a satanist.
Charles Taze Russell?
Claims have been made that "Pastor" Russell (1852/02/16-1916/10/31), founder of the International Bible Students Association - forerunner of the Jehovah's Witnesses - was a freemason; that the banner on the front of early issues of the Watchtower contained masonic symbols; and that Russell's gravestone bears a masonic cross and crown symbol.
Russell was not a freemason. Neither the symbols found in the Watchtower nor the cross and crown symbol are exclusively masonic. And the cross and crown symbol does not appear on his gravestone in the Rosemont United Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - it appears on a memorial erected some years later.
In an address delivered in a San Francisco masonic hall in 1913, Russell made positive use of masonic imagery by saying, "Now, I am a free and accepted mason. I trust we all are. But not just after the style of our masonic brethren." He further develops this idea: "true Bible believers may or may not belong to the masonic fraternity, but they are all masons of the highest order, since they are being fashioned, chiselled and polished by the Almighty to be used as living stones in the Temple Built Without Hands. They are free from sin, and therefore accepted by the God of Heaven as fit stones for the heavenly Temple." Later in this address, Russell stated quite clearly that "I have never been a mason." Those who claim Russell was a freemason quote this address out of context without noting the rhetorical imagery.
Although Russell wrote about the pyramids and the Knights Templar, the pyramids are not a part of Freemasonry and Russell's understanding of the relationship between the modern Knights Templar and Freemasonry displays an outsider's ignorance of both organizations.
Was Joseph Stalin a Martinist freemason?
The Rectified Rite of Martinism, except in North America, did not restrict its membership to freemasons but did require a belief in a Supreme Being. Stalin, an avowed atheist, would not have qualified for membership in either Freemasonry or the Rectified Rite. There is no record of his membership. This claim seems to have first been made by William Guy Carr in the 1950s.
Miss. Diana Vaughan?
A figment of Léo Taxil's imagination, he claimed Miss Vaughan belonged to a fictional lodge called Palladium.
V.1. What was the Bavarian Illuminati?
Adam Weishaupt founded the Illuminati of Bavaria on May 1, 1776. Originally called the Order of the Perfectibilists, "its professed object was, by the mutual assistance of its members, to attain the highest possible degree of morality and virtue, and to lay the foundation for the reformation of the world by the association of good men to oppose the progress of moral evil."1
Where Weishaupt and his associate Knigge promoted a freedom from church domination over philosophy and science, those in authority saw a call for the destruction of the church. Where Weishaupt and Knigge wanted a release from the excesses of state oppression, their enemies feared the destruction of the state. Where Weishaupt and Knigge wanted to educate women and treat them as intellectual equals, Robison and Barruel saw the destruction of the natural and proper order of society.
The Edicts for its suppression, issued on June 22, 1784 by the Elector of Bavaria, Karl Theodor, were repeated in March and August, 1785 and the Order began to decline, so that by the end of the eighteenth century it had ceased to exist.... "it exercised while in prosperity no favorable influence on the Masonic Institution, nor any unfavorable effect on it by its dissolution."2 Coil describes the Order as a "short lived, meteoric and controversial society"3 while Kenning refers to it as a "mischievous association".4 In his own defence, Weishaupt did say:
"Whoever does not close his ear to the lamentations of the miserable, nor his heart to gentle pity; whoever is the friend and brother of the unfortunate; whoever has a heart capable of love and friendship; whoever is steadfast in adversity, unwearied in the carrying out of whatever has been once engaged in, undaunted in the overcoming of difficulties; whoever does not mock and despise the weak; whose soul is susceptible of conceiving great designs, desirous of rising superior to all base motives, and of distinguishing itself by deeds of benevolence; whoever shuns idleness; whoever considers no knowledge as unessential which he may have the opportunity of acquiring, regarding the knowledge of mankind as his chief study; whoever, when truth and virtue are in question, despising the approbation of the multitude, is sufficiently courageous to follow the dictates of his own heart, - such a one is a proper candidate." 5
As regards any information derived from celebrated anti-mason, John Robison 6: "In the (London) "Monthly Magazine" for January 1798 there appeared a letter from Böttiger, Provost of the College of Weimar, in reply to Robison's work, charging that writer with making false statements, and declaring that since 1790 'every concern [sic] of the Illuminati has ceased.' Böttiger also offered to supply any person in Great Britain, alarmed at the erroneous statements contained in the book above mentioned, with correct information."7 Documented evidence would suggest that the Bavarian Illuminati was nothing more than a curious historical footnote.
Further information on the Illuminati of Bavaria and other societies similar in name can be found at freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/illuminati
V.2. Weren't George Washington, every USA President, the first USA Congress and the entire Continental Army all freemasons?
The following is a well researched compilation of proven freemasons:
(a) 15 presidents of the United States of America:
George Washington (1732-1799) 1st.
- initiated 11/4/1752 Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4, Virginia James Monroe (1758-1831) 5th.
- initiated 11/9/1775 Williamsburgh Lodge No. 6, Virginia Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) 7th.
- member Harmony Lodge No. 1; Grand Master 1822-24, Tennessee James Knox Polk (1795-1849) 11th.
- raised 9/4/1820 Columbia Lodge No. 31, Tennessee member: Platte Lodge No. 56, Mo. James Buchanan (1791-1868) 15th.
- raised 1/24/1817 Lodge No. 43, Pennsylvania Andrew Johnson (1808-1875) 17th.
- initiated 1851, Greenville Lodge No. 119, Tennessee James Abram Garfield, 20th.
- raised 11/22/1864, Magnolia Lodge No. 20, Ohio William McKinley (1843-1901) 25th.
- raised 4/3/1865, Hiram Lodge No. 21, Virginia Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) 26th.
- raised 4/24/1901, Matinecock Lodge No. 806, Oyster Bay William Howard Taft (1857-1930) 27th.
- made a mason at sight 2/18/1909 affiliated Kilwinning Lodge 356, Ohio Warren Gamaliel Harding (1865-1923) 29th.
- raised 8/13/1920, Marion Lodge No. 70, Ohio Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) 32nd.
- raised Nov. 28. 1911 Harry S Truman (1884-1972) 33rd.
- initiated 02/09/1909, Belton Lodge No. 450 raised 03/18/1909, Belton Lodge No. 450 Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973) 36th.
- initiated October 30, 1937 Gerald Ford
- raised May 18, 1951, Columbia Lodge No.3 Grand Lodge of Washington, D.C. courtesy to Malta Lodge No 465 Grand Lodge Michigan, Grand Rapids
(b) Signators to the USA Declaration of Independence (1776):
8 freemasons out of 56 total.
Benjamin Franklin Deputy Grand Master, Pennsylvania
John Hancock St. Andrew's Lodge, Boston
Joseph Hewes visited Unanimity Lodge No. 7, Edenton, North Carolina: Dec. 27 1776
William Hooper Hanover Lodge, Masonborough, North Carolina
Robert Treat Payne attended Grand Lodge, Roxbury, Mass.: June 26, 1759
Richard Stockton charter Master, St. John's Lodge, Princeton, New Jersey: 1765
George Walton Solomon's Lodge No. 1, Savannah, Georgia
William Whipple St. John's Lodge, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
(c) Signators to the USA Constitution (1789):
Out of the 55 delegates, 9 signers were confirmed freemasons; 5 non-signing delegates were freemasons; 6 later became freemasons; 13 delegates have been claimed as freemasons on apparently insufficient evidence; 22 were known not to be freemasons.
9 freemasons out of 40 total.
George Washington raised: Fredericksburg Lodge, Virginia: 1753
Benjamin Franklin Lodge at Tun Tavern, Philadelphia: 1731
Rufus King St John's Lodge, Newburyport, Massachusetts
John Blair First Grand Master, Virginia. Williamsburg Lodge No. 6
Gunning Bedford Jr. First Grand Master, Delaware. Lodge 14, Christina Ferry, Delaware.
John Dickinson Lodge No. 18, Dover, Delaware: 1780
Jacob Broom Lodge No. 14, Christina Ferry, Delaware, 1780
David Brearley First Grand Master, New Jersey: 1787. Military Lodge No. 19
Daniel Caroll St. John's Lodge No. 20, Maryland: 1781, Lodge No. 16, Baltimore
Later became freemasons:
Jonathan Dayton Temple No. 1, Elizabeth Town, New Jersey
James McHenry Spiritual Lodge No. 23, Baltimore, Maryland: 1806
William Patterson Trinity Lodge No. 5, New Jersey: 1788. Berkshire Lodge No. 5, Stockbridge, Ma
Nicholas Gilman "Either he or his father of the same name was initiated in St. John's Lodge No. 1 at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, March 20, 1777."*
Roger Sherman (1721-1793) Signed "Declaration of Independence," "Articles of Association." "Articles of Confederation," and Federal "Constitution." Although a masonic apron ascribed to him is in the archive collection of Yale University, there is no record of his masonic association.
(d) Signators of the USA Articles of Confederation (1781):
10 freemasons out of (?) total.
Benedict Arnold - affiliated Hiram Lodge No. 1. New Haven, Connecticut: 1765/04/18 [AQC vol 80, pp. 120-2.]
(e) Generals in George Washington's Continental Army:
31 freemasons out of 63 total.
Nicholas Herkimer (1715-1777), St. Patrick's Lodge, Johnstown, New York
Morgan Lewis, Grand Master, New York
Jacob Morton, Grand Master, New York
Israel Putnam (1718-1790)
Rufus Putnam (1738-1824), Master, American Union Lodge
Baron von Steuben (1730-1794), Trinity Lodge No. 10, New York City
John Sullivan (1740-1796), Grand Master, New Hampshire
Joseph Warren (1741-1775), Massachusetts Provincial Grand Master
David Wooster (1710-177), Master, Hiram Lodge No. 1, Connecticut
(Note Gould's History of Freemasonry mistakenly repeated C. W. Moore's claim that all but Benedict Arnold were freemasons. vol. iv p 24 1885)
(f) Presidents of the Continental Congresses (1774-89):
4 freemasons out of (?) total.
Peyton Randolph of Virginia (1st)
John Hancock of Massachusetts (3rd )
Henry Laurens of South Carolina
Arthur St. Clair of Pennsylvania.
(g) Governors of the thirteen colonies during the Continental Congress:
10 freemasons out of 30 total. (h) Chief Justices of the United States:
John Marshall (also Grand Master of Virginia)
William Howard Taft
Frederick M. Vinson
Earl Warren (also Grand Master of California.)
Note: Neither Thomas Jefferson nor Patrick Henry were freemasons, although Paul Revere, John Paul Jones, Gilbert Lafayette and Benedict Arnold were.
* Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, Henry Wilson Coil. Richmond, Virginia: Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Co., Inc., 1961, 1996. ISBN: 0-88053-054-5 pp. 621-22.
V.3. Didn't Edward VI abolish Freemasonry?
A curious distortion of the historical record; in fact Edward the boy king, or his regent, was actually sensitive to the needs of stoneworkers and their guilds, as can be seen from a perusal of his statutes
V.4. Isn't Freemasonry the same as Rosicrucianism?
The name Rosicrucian has become a generic term embracing every species of doubt, pretension, arcana, elixers, the philosopher's stone, theurgic ritual, symbols or initiations. In its loosest definition it simply refers to a lover of wisdom and a searcher for knowledge. At the other extreme it can refer to a blindered follower of formalized ritual intent on creating gold out of base metal.
The earliest reference to Rosicrucianism is the publication in Kassel in 1614, of Fama fraternitatis Roseae Crucis oder Die Bruderschaft des Ordens der Rosenkreuzer. An English translation by Thomas Vaughan, Fame and Confession of Rosie-Cross, appeared in 1652.
This book and Chymische Hochzeit Christiani Rosencreutz anno 1459 (1616), are presumed to be the work of John Valentine Andreä (1586/08/17-1654/06/27), although unproven claims to an earlier manuscript or folk tradition have been made.
Other scholars such as Roger Bacon (1214-1292), Raymond Lully (d. 1315) and Cornelius Henry Agrippa (d. 1535) have been claimed as Rosicrucians although there is no proof that they were even aware of the name.
Andreä's tale of an invisible Society of Rosicrucians describes the founding of a society of eight "lovers of wisdom" who studied medicine and occult sciences and dedicated their lives to practicing "physic" without payment. They met in a "House of the Holy Spirit" and each appointed one man to succeed him at his death. Although the existence of this society or brotherhood has never been proven, many subsequent groups have claimed lineage.
The first suggestion of a link to Freemasonry was made in a satirical letter that appeared in the English Daily Journal in 1730. Subsequent writers, such as J.G Buhle in 1804, have asserted, without logic or proof, that Freemasonry sprang from Rosicriucianism. But the symbolism of Rosicrucianism is derived from a Hermetic philosophy; that of Freemasonry from operative stonemasonry. The story of the death, burial and disinterment of Rosicrusianism's founder, Christian Rosenkreuz, is reminiscent of the Hiramic legend, but no more so than other funerial legends. Both the Hiramic legend and a Continental version involving Noah were known to freemasons prior to Elias Ashmole's masonic initiation, discrediting any theory that Ashmole introduced Rosicrucian themes into Freemasonry.
Although Andreä's Rosicrucians were Christian, contemporary groups embrace a wide range of traditions such as the Hermeticism of Hermes Trismegistus, the Pythagorean school of ancient Greece, the Qabala of the Hebrews and the alchemical tradition of mediaeval Europe.
The nineteenth century saw the rise of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis, Societas Rosicruciana in America, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Ordo Templi Orientis, Ordre Kabbalistique de la Rose Croix, Order of the Temple & the Graal and of the Catholic Order of the Rose-Croix, and the Rose-Croix de l'Orient, Les Freres Aînés de la Rose-Croix.
In the twentieth century: the Rosicrucian Fellowship, Lectorium Rosicrucianum, Order of the Temple of the Rosy Cross, Corona Fellowship of Rosicrucians, Fraternitas Rose Crucis, Fraternitas Rosicruciana Antiqua, Collegium Pansophicum, Builders of the Adytum, the Servants of the Light, the Antiquus Arcanus Ordo Rosæ Rubæ Aureæ Crucis (AAORRAC), the Antiquus Arcanæ Ordinis Rosæ Rubæ Aureæ (AMORC), and the Ancient Rosæ Crucis have all made claim to a Rosicrucian tradition, if not lineage.
Some of these groups were founded by freemasons, some are still in existence. None have any relationship with regular Freemasonry.
V.5. What was the Rite of Strict Observance
Once Freemasonry was introduced into eighteenth century Continental Europe, it quickly evolved into a number of different and disparate bodies, all claiming authority to confer and determine degrees. Mesmer's Order of Universal Harmony and Cagliostro's Egyptian Rite, a new system of Clermont (1758) were just two of many such groups. Another, Martinism, was created by Louis Claude de Saint-Martin, author of a 1775 book, Des Erreurs et de la Vérité. and a disciple of the adventurer and seer, Martines de Pasqually who wrote the incomplete, Traité de Réintégration. "Swedenborgian in view, Christian in origin, theurgic or magical in its implications," Martinism first appeared in the south of France in the 1750s under the name of Juges Ecossais.
John M. Roberts tells us: "On top of the network of orthodox masonic lodges had been built first the higher grades of Scottish rite lodges and then, on them, the Strict Observance, which... fragmented into what were virtually a number of separate systems."
Karl Gotthelf Baron Hund introduced a new Scottish Rite to Germany, Rectified Masonry; after 1764 to be known as the "Strict Observance". He termed the English system of Freemasonry the 'Late Observance.' It appealed to German national pride, attracted the non-nobility, and was allegedly directed by Unknown Superiors.
"The Strict Observance was particularly devoted to the reform of Masonry, with special reference to the elimination of the occult sciences which at the time were widely practised in the lodges, and the establishment of cohesion and homogeneity in Masonry through the enforcement of strict discipline, the regulation of functions, etc."[Vernon L. Stauffer]
John Augustus Starck joined Hund, claiming alchemical knowledge and a lineal descent, not from the Knights Templars, but from the clerics of that order, the "true" custodians of its secrets. A union was formalized in 1772 at Kohlo, where Hund's dominance began to wane while Starck's occult and hermetic ideology grew. [Roberts pp. 107-09]
The Convent at Wilhelmsbad (July 16, 1782 - September 1, 1782), a meeting of the various bodies working the Strict Observance system of degrees in Europe, lead to the dissolution of the Strict Observance. It may be said to have continued to 1855 when the Danish lodges adopted the Swedish Rite although in practice, it ceased to exist after the death of Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick in 1792. It had no effect on regular Freemasonry.
V.6. Who were the "Unknown Superiors" who initiated Karl Gottlieb von Hund into Freemasonry?
Unknown to this day, masonic historians can only conclude that the "Unknown Superiors" were a fictional creation of Hund's imagination, influenced by rosicriucian stories of their "hidden masters".
VI. HOAXES AND FRAUDS
VI.1. What were the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the most notorious and most successful work of modern antisemitism, draws on popular antisemitic notions which have their roots in mediaeval Europe from the time of the Crusades. The libels that the Jews used blood of Christian children for the Feast of Passover, poisoned the wells and spread the plague were pretexts for the wholesale destruction of Jewish communities throughout Europe. Tales were circulated among the masses of secret rabbinical conferences whose aim was to subjugate and exterminate the Christians, and motifs like these are found in early antisemitic literature.
The conceptual inspiration for the Protocols can be traced back to the time of the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century. At that time, a French Jesuit named Abbé Augustin Barruel (1741/10/02 - 1820/10/05), representing reactionary elements opposed to the revolution, published in 1797 a treatise blaming the Revolution on a secret conspiracy operating through the Order of freemasons. Barruel's idea was nonsense, since the French nobility at the time was heavily masonic. In his treatise, Barruel did not himself blame the Jews, who were emancipated as a result of the Revolution. However, in 1806, Barruel circulated a forged letter, probably sent to him by members of the state police opposed to Napoleon Bonaparte's liberal policy toward the Jews, calling attention to the alleged part of the Jews in the conspiracy he had earlier attributed to the freemasons.
The direct predecessor of the Protocols can be found in the pamphlet "Dialogues in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu", published by the non-Jewish French satirist Maurice Joly in 1864. In his "Dialogues", which make no mention of the Jews, Joly attacked the political ambitions of the emperor Napoleon III using the imagery of a diabolical plot in Hell. The "Dialogues" were caught by the French authorities soon after their publication and Joly was tried and sentenced to prison for his pamphlet.
Joly's "Dialogues", while intended as a political satire, soon fell into the hands of a German antisemite named Hermann Goedsche writing under the name of Sir John Retcliffe. Goedsche was a postal clerk and a spy for the Prussian secret police. He had been forced to leave the postal work due to his part in forging evidence in the prosecution against the Democratic leader Benedict Waldeck in 1849. Goedsche adapted Joly's "Dialogues" into a mythical tale of a Jewish conspiracy as part of a series of novels entitled "Biarritz", which appeared in 1868. In a chapter called "The Jewish Cemetery in Prague and the Council of Representatives of the Twelve Tribes of Israel", he spins the fantasy of a secret centennial rabbinical conference which meets at midnight and whose purpose is to review the past hundred years and to make plans for the next century.
Goedsche's plagiary of Joly's "Dialogues" found its way to Russia. It was translated into Russian in 1872, and a consolidation of the "council of representatives" under the name "Rabbi's Speech" appeared in Russian in 1891. These works furnished the Russian secret police (Okhrana) with a means with which to strengthen the position of the weak Czar Nicholas II and discredit the reforms of the liberals who sympathized with the Jews. During the Dreyfus case of 1893-1895, agents of the Okhrana in Paris redacted the earlier works of Joly and Goedsche into a new edition which they called the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The manuscript of the Protocols was brought to Russia in 1895 and was printed privately in 1897.
The Protocols did not become public until 1905, when Russia's defeat in the Russo-Japanese War was followed by the Revolution in the same year, leading to the promulgation of a constitution and institution of the Duma. In the wake of these events, the reactionary "Union of the Russian Nation" or Black Hundreds organization sought to incite popular feeling against the Jews, who they blamed for the Revolution and the Constitution. To this end they used the Protocols, which was first published in a public edition by the mystic priest Sergius Nilus in 1905. The Protocols were part of a propaganda campaign which accompanied the pogroms of 1905 inspired by the Okhrana. A variant text of the Protocols was published by George Butmi in 1906 and again in 1907. The edition of 1906 was found among the Czar's collection, even though he had already recognized the work as a forgery. In his later editions, Nilus claimed that the Protocols had been read secretly at the First Zionist Congress at Basle in 1897, while Butmi in his edition wrote that they had no connection with the new Zionist movement, but rather were part of the masonic conspiracy.
In the civil war following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the reactionary White Armies made extensive use of the Protocols to incite widespread slaughters of Jews. At the same time, Russian emigrants brought the Protocols to western Europe, where the Nilus edition served as the basis for many translations, starting in 1920. Just after its appearance in London in 1920, Lucien Wolf exposed the Protocols as a plagiary of the earlier work of Joly and Goedsche, in a pamphlet of the Jewish Board of Deputies. The following year, in 1921, the story of the forgery was published in a series of articles in the London Times by Philip Grave, the paper's correspondent in Constantinople. A whole book documenting the forgery was also published in the same year in America by Herman Bernstein. Nevertheless, the Protocols continued to circulate widely. They were even sponsored by Henry Ford in the United States until 1927, and formed an important part of the Nazis' justification of genocide of the Jews in World War II.1
The complete debunking of the Protocols has not stopped their continued circulation. In an attempt to negate the refutation, William Guy Carr claimed in 1958 that the Protocols were actually an older document recording a speech by Mayer Rothschild in 1773. This claim is occasionally repeated, although Carr provided no justification, documentation or citation for an accusation founded on his paranoid fears of international communism and banking.
1. Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org in the newsgroups alt.conspiracy on 10 Feb 1993 18:15:22 GMT. Mirrored from www.nizkor.org Also see: >http://www.holocaust-history.org/short-essays/protocols.shtml
VI.2. Was Albert Pike the leader of Universal Freemasonry?
No. And he also didn't give a speech claiming "Lucifer is God."
What follows is a forgery by Léo Taxil, falsely identified as part of a speech and written order which Albert Pike was supposed to have delivered to freemasons on Bastille Day, July 14, 1889:
"That which we must say to the world is that we worship a god, but it is the god that one adores without superstition. To you, Sovereign Grand Inspectors General, we say this, that you may repeat it to the brethren of the 32nd, 31st and 30th degrees: The masonic Religion should be, by all of us initiates of the higher degrees, maintained in the Purity of the Luciferian doctrine. If Lucifer were not God, would Adonay and his priests calumniate him?
"Yes, Lucifer is God, and unfortunately Adonay is also god. For the eternal law is that there is no light without shade, no beauty without ugliness, no white without black, for the absolute can only exist as two gods; darkness being necessary for light to serve as its foil as the pedestal is necessary to the statue, and the brake to the locomotive.
"Thus, the doctrine of Satanism is a heresy, and the true and pure philosophical religion is the belief in Lucifer, the equal of Adonay; but Lucifer, God of Light and God of Good, is struggling for humanity against Adonay, the God of Darkness and Evil." 1
This letter appeared in Paris three years after Albert Pike's death. Taxil admitted he had written it as the work of "Albert Pike, Sovereign Pontiff of Universal Freemasonry, Instructions to the twenty-three Supreme Councils of the World, July 14,1889."
No one in regular Freemasonry ever held the title of "Sovereign Pontiff." While the rhetorical phrase "Universal Freemasonry" is not unknown, it has never been used as a proper title, since there is no such organization. Of the hundreds of masonic bodies in the world at that time, Pike was the leader of just one, the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite. In spite of its blatant fraudulence, Taxil's publicly confessed forgery was a huge success. (See Section III Subsection 7.)
This lie was unwittingly reprinted in Abel Clarin de la Rive's La Femme et L'Enfant dans la Franc-Maçonnerie Universelle(1894) and later copied by Lady Queenborough, Edith Starr Miller, in her Occult Theocrasy, published posthumously in two volumes in 1933.2 De la Rive retracted his support of Taxil and any of his creations in the April 1897 issue of Freemasonry Disclosed
The hoax has been both widely reprinted and exposed. A short bibliography on the subject can be viewed at freemasonry.bcy.ca/taxilhoax.html or at srmason-sj.org/web/misc/taxilhoax.html.
1. L'Existence des loges de femmes affirmée par Mgr Fava,évêque de Grenoble, et par Léo Taxil [trans.: The Existence of the Lodges of Women Affirmed by Monsignor Fava, Bishop of Grenoble, and by Léo Taxil]. Edited by 'Adolphe Ricoux,' [Taxil]. pp. 93-95. See themasonicblog.blogspot.ca
2.Occult Theocrasy, Edith Starr Miller, Lady Queenborough, 1933. pp. 220-221.
VI.3. Does A.L. mean "In the year of Lucifer"?
Originally an abbreviation for one of the Latin phrases meaning 'in the Year of Masonry' - probably 'Anno Latomorum' - it now is considered an abbreviation for Anno Lucis which translates as "in the year of light" and is arrived at by adding 4000 to the common era. No other explanation for this has been made other than the archbishop of Armaugh, James Ussher's (1581-1656) published support of a long-accepted chronology of Scripture which fixed the earth's creation on October 23rd, 4004 BCE
VI.4. Isn't the masonic Bible supposed to be Albert Pike's Morals and Dogma?
There is no "masonic Bible". The proper masonic term is "Volume of Sacred Law". Freemasonry having evolved in Christian, and at one time Catholic, nations, members were predominantly Christian and therefore a version of the Christian "Holy Bible" is utilized in most masonic lodges. The Authorized King James 1611 version is the most common, although few jurisdiction specify usage. If its membership is composed of men of different faiths, a lodge may choose to use one or a number of different books such as the Koran, Torah or Bhagavadgita (Song of the Lord). (See Section III Subsection 7.)
VI.5. Didn't George Washington renounce Freemasonry?
George Washington remained a member of the Craft from his initiation into the Lodge at Fredericksburg, Virginia No. 4 on November 4, 1752 until the day he died on December 14, 1799, when he then, at his widow's request, received a masonic funeral. George Washington's papers are available online at memory.loc.gov/ammem/gwhtml/gwhome.html
This hoax got its start in 1837 with the publication of a tract by Joseph Ritner, Governor of Pennsylvania. Although easily debunked, it was reprinted by E. A. Cook & Co., Chicago, in 1877, shortly after Prof. Charles Albert Blanchard (1848-1925), a founder and first lecturer of the National Christian Association published a rewriting of the same story entitled Was Washington a Freemason?
1. Vindication of General Washington from the stigma of adherence to secret societies, Joseph Ritner (1780-1869). Communicated by request of the House of representatives, to that body, on the 8th of March, 1837, with the proceedings which took place on its reception. Harrisburg, Printed by T. Fenn, 1837. 26 p. 21 cm. LCCN: 09026879
2. Was Washington a Freemason? Charles A. Blanchard. n.p.: n.d. Typed Copy. SC-29 Wheaton College.
VI.6. Doesn't the "Big Book of Conspiracies" explain all this?
The compiler, Doeg Moench, DC Comics and Time Warner Entertainment Company have avoided actionable libel by including a carefully worded "Publisher's note", defining conspiracy theories as opinions, which may or may not be true, inferring relationships between facts, which may in fact have no relationship, and drawing conclusions without any other proof.
Most of the fanciful claims made in this "comic book" are addressed in this FAQ. Errors in facts and specific claims regarding freemasons are detailed and refuted in the "Big Book page."
It is unfortunate that the term conspiracy has been so debased that the real conspiracies, a real danger to a free and open society, so often go unreported or unremarked.
VI.7. Didn't John F. Kennedy criticize Freemasonry?
American President, John F. Kennedy, gave an address to a gathering of newspaper publishers on 27 April, 1961. The full text, available from the Kennedy Library in Massachusetts, shows that, in context, Kennedy was criticizing the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). This excerpt makes it clear that Kennedy's concern was government, not fraternities:
The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.
VI.8. Doesn't the satanic design of Washington, DC's streetplan prove that there's a masonic conspiracy?
It does not take much imagination to look at a map of Washington, DC and see the outline of a five-pointed star in the streets to the north of the White House. But the assumptions required to believe that this arbitrary geometric shape reveals a secret political or occult agenda have no foundation.
One has to assume that the pentagram is a uniquely evil symbol, highly valued by freemasons who believe that its physical representation can have a real impact on the world and that freemasons are responsible for intentionally including it in Washington's street plan.
None of these assumptions bear scrutiny. First, the pentagram is not an exclusively satanic symbol nor does it have any particular masonic significance. Second, Freemasonry, promoting rationalism, places no power in symbols themselves. It is not a part of Freemasonry to view the drawing of symbols, no matter how large, as an act of consolidating or controlling power. Third, there is no published information establishing the masonic membership of the men primarily responsible for the final streetplan. Freemason George Washington commissioned Pierre Charles L'Enfant and approved the streetplan executed by Andrew Ellicott and Benjamin Bannecker, but neither the last two nor Thomas Jefferson were freemasons. L'Enfant was initiated as an Entered Apprentice but there is no evidence that he took any further interest in Freemasonry.
It also bears mentioning that the pentagram, if it is to have any masonic significance, must be an equilateral pentagram, representing the golden ratio.
Drawing lines on a map of Washington, DC proves nothing other than the physical existence of streets and buildings.
VI.9. Aren't the freemasons plotting to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem?
This is another story perpetuated by Lyndon LaRouche. In essence, the theory is that British Freemasonry, by design of members of the House of Windsor, and through the mechinations of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, is secretly plotting to gain control of the Temple Mount and rebuild the Temple. LaRouche's researchers have assembled a collection of facts and near-facts and linked them together with unproven opinions and assumptions. A refutation of the accusation is found at freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/rebuild_temple.html.
VI.10. Didn't Adolf Hitler praise Freemasonry?
Adolf Hitler (1889/04/20 - 1945/04/30) is recorded in referring to his perception of Freemasonry as an example of how he wanted the Nazi party to develop, specifically with an hierarchical organization and initiation through symbolic rites. A full record of his actions and writings though, clearly demonstrate that he despised Freemasonry. For further information and quotes, view freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/hitler.html.
VI.11. But wasn't the Nazi party founded by the freemasons?
A distinction must be drawn between the acts and beliefs of individual freemasons and Freemasonry as a group. While Freemasonry had nothing to do with the Nazi party and in fact was a major target for its hatred, there was one freemason-of a sort- in the party's early history.
Rudolf Glandeck von Sebottendorff (born Adam Alfred Rudolph Glauer in 1875) and Hermann Pohl (founder of the short-lived magical fraternity, the German Order Walvater of the Holy Grail) established another magical fraternity in Munich, the Thule Gesellschaft, on August 17, 1918. Originally called the "Studiengruppe für germanisches Altertum" (Study Group for German Antiquity), and deriving its ideology from such occultists as Guido von List (1848-1919/05/17), Adolf Lanz, aka Lanz von Liebenfels (1874-1954) and Madam Blavatsky, the group was politically active and played a leading part in assisting the successful attack on Munich's Communist government on 30 April, 1919. Whether or not the occult affectations of the Thule were anything more than a cover for counter-revolutionary activism has not been determined.
Regardless, the Thule amalgamated on 5 January, 1919 with the Committee of Independent Workers, renaming themselves the Deutsche Arbeiter-Partei, the German Workers' Party. Adolf Hitler claimed he was the seventh member to join this group which changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers' Party in 1920.
Sebottendorff is purported to have been initiated into an irregular body of the Rite of Memphis while he was in Turkey. From his own writings it is clear that his version of Freemasonry incorporated aspects of Islamic Sufi mysticism, alchemy, astrology and Rosicrucianism. In his autobiographical novel Der Talisman des Rosenkreuzers (The Rosicrucian Talisman), he makes a clear distinction between Turkish Freemasonry and regular Freemasonry:
"It must be shown that Oriental Freemasonry still retains faithfully even today the ancient teachings of wisdom forgotten by modern Freemasonry, whose Constitution of 1717 was a departure from the true way."
Sebottendorff's Bevor Hitler kam (1933)-banned by the Bavarian political police on 1 March, 1934- claimed precedence for the Thule Gesellschaft in the ranks of early influences on Hitler. This claim has been promoted by popular writers, most satisfied to seek corroboration in Hermann Rauschning's Hitler Speaks (1939) without noting that this book was anecdotal, unsubstantiated, and later discredited by scholarly research.
With his book suppressed by the Nazis, Sebottendorff was arrested by the Gestapo in 1934, interned in a concentration camp and then expelled to Turkey, where he is believed to have committed suicide by drowning on 9 May, 1945.
Both Sebottendorff's claims to masonic association and influence on Hitler are unproven and questionable. For further information and quotes, view freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/sebottendorff_r.html.
VI.12. What is the masonic testament?
An invention by the highly imaginative authors Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, compiled from excerpts of the many rituals devised in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that-at one time or another-were worked in masonic lodges or by freemasons independently of their lodges or without Grand Lodge authority. These rituals came from a multitude of independent sources and were created for a multitude of reasons. Knight and Lomas have arbitrarily selected passages from these texts to compile what they refer to as a chronology or history. The Masonic Testament is a work of fiction included in their book The Book of Hiram (2003).
Knight and Lomas' "The Masonic Testament" is a contemporary text having no historical validity. It is not accepted as having any masonic authority, nor is it endorsed by any masonic body. It is a work of fiction. It should also be stressed that the phrase, "Masonic Testament" does not refer to another misnomer, "the masonic Bible." There is no such thing as a Masonic Bible; the Volume of Sacred Law which is used in every regular masonic lodge is that book held sacred by the members of the lodge-generally in North America, the King James Authorized Version of the Christian Bible.
VII. ARE THE MASONS RESPONSIBLE FOR [insert event]?
VII.1. Did the freemasons cause the French Revolution of 1789?
French freemasons of the 18th century were, in the main, aristocrats, priests, military officers or bourgeoisie. They were not in sympathy with radical social change. A growing belief that a ruler governed by right of the people and not by right of God provided a backdrop for much of the French Revolution. Whatever the actions of individual freemasons, Freemasonry as a whole was indifferent to politics.
"Not only did Freemasonry have no part in instigating the movement but it was one of the principal sufferers... and the majority of Paris Masters lost their lives." Before the Revolution the Grand Orient of France had 67 lodges in Paris and 463 in the Provinces, Colonies and Foreign Countries; the Grand Lodge had 88 in Paris and 43 outside. During the Revolution period only two or three of the Paris lodges kept open.1
There were too many people, too many ideas, too many events, too many grievances, to ascribe the actions of the French Revolution to any one source. In general, those who "blame" Freemasonry for causing the French Revolution are more interested in blaming Freemasonry for the bloody Terror, than in crediting Freemasonry for creating a system of representational democracy. The French Revolution was a complex process in which freemasons played a role, but to assign Freemasonry, as a body, a controlling role in the Revolution displays a simplistic and unrealistic view of the history of the period.
It is believed that Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) was initiated into Army Philadelphe Lodge in 1798. His brothers, Joseph, Lucian, Louis and Jerome, were also freemasons. Five of the six members of Napoleon's Grand Councel of the Empire were freemasons, as were six of the nine Imperial Officers and 22 of the 30 Marshals of France.
French General of the Revolutionary Army, Jean Victor Moreau (1763-1813) was one time Master of Loge Parfaite Union in Rennes, France. He headed the Republican and Royalist conspiracy against Napoleon.2
1. Henry Wilson Coil, Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia. Richmond, Virginia : Macoy Publishing. 1995. p. 274.
2. William R. Denslow, 10,000 Famous freemasons. Independence, Missouri : Missouri Lodge of Research, 1957.
VII.2. Did the freemasons kill William Morgan?
William Morgan was an itinerant stoneworker who settled in Batavia in 1824. He convinced the local freemasons that he was a brother and participated in lodge activities, made speeches and visited other lodges. He signed a petition for the formation of a Royal Arch Chapter in Batavia, but some other freemasons questioned his masonic legitimacy. Another Royal Arch petition was then submitted, which he was not permitted to sign. Morgan was furious about this, and vowed revenge. He agreed to work with David Miller, publisher of the Batavia Advocate, and several partners, in the publication of a book exposing Freemasonry. The project was made public, resulting in consternation among the freemasons of Batavia and the surrounding towns in western New York, and leading ultimately to his disappearance on September 19th, 1826. It is generally agreed that William Morgan was taken to Canada by freemasons and there given $500 and a horse, with the agreement that he never return. However, despite a lack of evidence, rumours persisted that he had been murdered.
Those involved issued the following statement;
"The plan from inception to completion, contemplated nothing more than a deportation of Morgan, by friendly agreement between the parties, either to Canada or some other country. Ample means were provided for the expenses and the after-support of Morgan and his family. This plan had been perfected from the fact that the minds of Masonic brethren had been agitated by rumors that William Morgan was preparing an exposition and was preparing to give it to the public. It was then mutually agreed that Morgan would destroy the document, refuse all interviews with his partner and hold himself in readiness to go to Canada, settle down there and upon arrival he should receive 500.00 dollars with his written pledge to stay there and never return to the States. We also agreed that Morgan's family should be cared for and sent to Canada as soon as a suitable home had been provided for them. What a tremendous blunder we all made! It was scarcely a week until we saw what trouble was before us. Morgan had sold us out as he had sold his friends in Batavia. Within forty eight hours after his arrival in Canada he had gone. He was traced to a point down the river not far from Port Hope where he had sold his horse and disappeared. He had doubtless got on a vessel there and left the country."
Morgan's deportation cannot be justified by any legal, moral or masonic principle. It should be noted that Morgan's "exposé" was little more than a cobbled plagiarism of earlier English exposures, of little interest or value.
Public interest in the affair began about three weeks after Morgan's disappearance in the form of inflammatory hand-bills printed throughout New York and Canada accusing the freemasons of Batavia of abducting and murdering William Morgan. Conventions and public meetings were held demanding an investigation and offering rewards for the discovery and conviction of those involved.
DeWitt Clinton, a distinguished and eminent freemason, was Governor of New York at the time. He issued proclamations condemning the actions of those accused of abducting Morgan and secured indictments against four men involved in the conspiracy. The Grand Lodges throughout the United States passed resolutions, disclaiming all connection or sympathy with the outrage.
Further details can be found at freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/morgan_affair.html .
VII.3. Did the freemasons kill Roman Catholic Pope John Paul I?
David A. Yallop wrote In God's Name: An Investigation into the Murder of Pope John Paul I in 1984 [Poetic Productions Ltd. Jonathan Cape], making him the first to promote the theory that the freemasons were responsible for Pope John-Paul's death. Neither he nor any other has provided any proof for this accusation.
Mgr. Giulio Nicolini, a prelate in the Roman Curia and the author of the first biography of the "smiling Pope" has declared that Yallop's hypothesis is "absurd and baseless." This is also the opinion of the right wing paper Minute (29 June). For Jean Bourdier, "one would search in vain in this enquiry for the shadow of a proof, even per absurdum."1
1. www.johannes-paulus1.web-uno.org/pope5.html [2002/01/02].
VII.4. Did the freemasons kill John F. Kennedy?
Although many participants in the events surrounding Kennedy's assassination were freemasons, and a number of accusations have been leveled by popular authors, there is no evidence or proof that freemasons were responsible. (Also see Section VI Subsection 7).
VII.5. Was Jack the Ripper a freemason?
To date, the perpetrator-or perpetrators-of the 1888 Whitechapel murders has not been identified.
The royal conspiracy theory-in which Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward, the Duke of Clarence (known as "Eddy" to his friends) is accused of committing the murders to cover up his alleged marriage to a Catholic shop girl, Annie Crook-achieved popularity in 1973 with the broadcast of a BBC programme, Jack the Ripper. It was further enlarged by Stephen Knight (1951/09/26 - 1985/07), in his Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution, (George G. Harrap Co. Ltd., London, 1976)
The theory that the murderer was Eddy was first posed by Dr. Thomas Eldon Alexander Stowell (d. 1970/11/08) in the November 1970 issue of The Criminologist, Vol. 5 No. 18, in an article entitled "'Jack the Ripper' - A Solution?", pp. 40-51. He subsequently wrote a letter to The Times on 9 November denying that his suspect, referred to merely as a demented and syphilitic suspect 's', was Prince Eddy. While Philippe Jullian had implicated Eddy in his 1962 book Edouard VII [Edward and the Edwardians, New York, the Viking Press and London, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1967. pp. 143-144], Stewart P Evans has demonstrated that Stowell had related his theory that Eddy was the Ripper to Colin Wilson in 1960 and that Wilson had passed the theory on to at least a dozen others.
Knight also based his book on interviews with Joseph Gorman, calling himself Joseph Sickert and claiming to be the illigitimate son of noted painter Walter Sickert. In The Sunday Times of London, on June 18, 1978, Gorman said of this story: "It was a hoax; I made it all up." By 1991 Gorman had renounced his confession and wrote the forward to Melvyn Fairclough's The Ripper and the Royals (London: Gerald Duckworth, 1991). In 2002 Patricia Cornwell published Portrait of a Killer; Jack the Ripper Case Closed. The author purported to present hard evidence that the Whitechapel murders were committed by the noted painter-and non-mason-Walter Sickert.
Further objections to the royal conspiracy theory were raised by Donald Rumbelow, one of the most respected researchers of the Ripper murders, in his revised edition of Jack the Ripper: The Complete Casebook: "Whichever way you look, there is not a shred of evidence to back up Knight's theory." (The Complete Casebook, pp. 207, 209, 212)
On the contrary, there is considerable evidence refuting these allegations. Court and Royal records document that the prince was not in London on the murder dates. The baby girl said to have been the child of Prince Eddy was born on April 18, 1885, so she had to have been conceived during a time when Prince Eddy was in Germany, while Annie Crook, the alleged mother, was in London. Knight's story says that Eddy and Annie met in 1888 in Walter Sickert's studio. But that building had been demolished in 1886, and a hospital was built on the site in 1887.
There is nothing to identify the perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders as a freemason, and nothing to implicate Freemasonry in the murders or any alleged cover-up. Although fictional accounts such as the movies From Hell and Murder by Decree depict the murders as resembling masonic ritual and the location of the murders as having masonic significance, neither historical facts nor published masonic ritual bear out this claim. Knight's theory depended on the assumption that such figures as the Marquess of Salisbury, Sir William Gull and Sir Robert Anderson were freemasons, but in fact they were not.
The Complete History of Jack the Ripper. Philip Sugden. New York : Caroll Graf, 1994.
The Jack the Ripper A to Z. Paul Begg, Martin Fido, and Keith Skinner. Headline Book Publishing, London, 1991.
Jack the Ripper: The Complete Casebook. Donald Rumbelow. Contemporary Books, Chicago, 1988.
Further information can be found at Paul Bessel's www.bessel.org/ripper.htm and Stephen P. Ryder's http://www.casebook.org/intro.html where much of this information was gleaned on December 25, 2001.
Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution, Stephen Knight, (London: Harrap, 1984). An annotation by John Hamill, former Librarian and Curator of United Grand Lodge of England, on the copy of Knight's book in the Library and Museum of Freemasonry reads: 'This volume is to be treated with caution. The Marquess of Salisbury, Sir William Gull and Sir Robert Anderson were not freemasons. The masonic information has been largely culled from "exposures". In particular, the Royal Arch "oath" has been taken from an American early nineteenth century exposure and has never applied in England'. Cited in "Brother Irving: Sir Henry Irving and Freemasonry" by Andrew Prescott.
For a detailed refutation of the accusations of masonic complicity, see Dennis Stocks, "Freemasonry and the Ripper" found at www.casebook.org, [2005/11/02]. Stocks accepts that Gull was a freemason, while noting that he was not a member of Royal Alpha Lodge.
VII.6. Is Freemasonry corrupt?
No. But of course we'd say that, wouldn't we?
Stephen Knight's The Brotherhood and Martin Short's Inside the Brotherhood: Explosive Secrets of the Freemasons, among others, will claim that Freemasonry is corrupt. This belief is most often held by people unwilling to accept that Freemasonry, as a body, has no control over individual members in their private and work life. While the possibility exists that individual freemasons may be corrupt, Freemasonry, in its teachings, beliefs and practices, is not. Freemasonry does not tolerate criminal or immoral acts on the part of its members.
Without entering into a case-by-case analysis, by far the greater majority of accusations of corruption have come from individuals who have been unsuccessful in their legal or official pursuits and are looking for somewhere to place the blame. Neither Knight's nor Short's accusations actually involve more than a handful of freemasons and the accusations are levelled by an even smaller handful of people with no substantial proof of their assertions. And assertions, no matter how loudly repeated, are not proof.
While it is popularly believed by non-masons that freemasons all take an oath to protect each other and keep each other's secrets, in fact they have taken a solemn obligation to uphold the laws of the country in which they reside and have promised to keep each other's lawful secrets. Treason, felony and criminal acts are specifically noted as being excluded from the obligation of secrecy. A newly made freemason is clearly told that his obligations to his country, his religion and his family take precedent over his obligations to Freemasonry. Masonic critics who claim that this is a lie will generally quote The Charges of a Free-Mason, a 280 year old text that made sense in the political climate of the time but has little application today.
VIII.1. Is Freemasonry a religion?
Freemasonry seeks no converts. Freemasonry has no dogma, cosmology, eschatology or theology. Freemasonry offers no sacraments or ritual of worship, nor does it claim to lead to salvation by any definition. Freemasonry is not a religion.
VIII.2. Are freemasons really Gnostics?
Gnosticism is a religion. Freemasonry is not a religion. There have been those masonic writers who have filtered their personal understanding of Freemasonry through their personal Gnostic beliefs. The same can be said of masonic writers of any religious belief.
VIII.3. What is Gnosticism?
Gnosis "is not taught but when God wills it is brought to remembrance." (from "Corpus Hermeticum")
"Gnostic" is often erroneously used as a pejorative for any belief or faith that excludes Jesus and has become almost synonymous with "pagan". It is also often equated with secret writings and concealed knowledge. Gnosticism, under its own name and at least eight others, was declared heretical within the first three centuries of the Roman Catholic Church. Gnosticism, though, is not only an old Catholic heresy, it is also a living religion.
Gnosticism may be considered a Perso-Babylonian syncretion with three definable schools, Essenic, Samaritan (Simon Magus), and Alexandrian (Philo), with the Judaic "Qabala" as an arguable fourth.
Gnostic thought contains four main threads, first; that God is unknowable, or ineffable, mankind being rude matter cannot comprehend God. Second; that knowledge, not through intellect, but through special revelation, is an aspect or emanation from God and therefore superior to faith. Third; that mankind's goal is redemption of the soul from the material world. And fourth; that knowledge could only be revealed as the petitioner was trained to understand it.
With rare exception Gnostic writing had no place for a personal Redeemer or Savior God. With the knowledge of personal revelation and the proper passwords, a Gnostic believed that his soul would find its way back to its creator. The cosmology encompassed a wide range of complex and hotly-debated explanations for the spiritual mechanics of a dualistic universe composed of a world of sense-appearance and a realm of real being: matter and God, with matter being essentially evil.
Gnostic practices ranged from the rigorous ascetism of Saturninus to the unbridled libertinism of the Ophites. The Gnostic tradition flourished in such communities as the Essenes and the Ebionites and Carinthus. The ritual was defined by two extreme schools, one rejecting all sacraments and the other, mainly Marcosians, developing an extreme symbolism and mystic pomp in worship, with many sacraments and varied rites.
The only surviving Gnostic community is the Mandaeans, found near the lower reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates.
Gnosticism is a religion, teaching beliefs about God. Freemasonry is not a religion and does not teach its members what to believe about God.
VIII.4. Isn't Lucifer another name for Satan?
The name Lucifer was applied to Satan by St. Jerome and then to the demon of sinful pride by Milton in Paradise Lost. This was a fanciful development of an original reference confused in translation. The single reference to Lucifer in the Christian Bible is found in Isaiah 14:12. It was not, in context, a reference to Satan.
"Lucifer" is the term originally used by the Romans to refer to the planet Venus when that planet was west of the sun and hence rose before the sun in the morning, thereby being the morning star.
The word "Satan" is from a Hebrew word, "Saithan", meaning adversary or enemy.
In literature and poetry, Lucifer, as a reference to a light-bringer, is often used as a metaphor for knowledge, wisdom, or learning.
A more complete explanation can be found at: http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/luciferandsatan.html
VIII.5. Isn't Freemasonry deist?
Deism is a belief in the existence of a god, without accepting revelation; it is also sometimes termed natural religion or the religion of nature. The father of English Deism, Lord Herbert of Cherbury (d. 1648), endeavoured to explain religion in terms of reason, evoking little or no controversy in his lifetime. John Locke only partly accepted his views: "...reason must be our last judge and guide in everything." (Essay 14, 9 & 14). John Tillotson, Archbishop of Canterbury 1691-94, championed the use of reason in religion, claiming "Natural religion is the foundation of all revealed religion, and revelation is designed simply to establish its duties. [Works, vol. ii. p. 336. 1857 ed.]
The first Book of Constitutions, written by the Rev. John Anderson (1679-1739), a Scottish Presbyterian Minister, refers to "...that Religion in which all Men agree... that is, to be good Men... by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguish'd...." This has been accused of being deist but a review of Anderson's other published works and private correspondence demonstrates that he was a strong Trinitarian Christian and the promotion of deism was not his intention. [Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, vol. 80, pp. 36-57.]
Freemasonry does not deny revelation-Freemasonry simply does not define revelation. Freemasonry, not being a religion, does not consider itself qualified to put forward a definition of revelation.
VIII.6. Doesn't Freemasonry promote natural religion?
As can be seen above, no. It also does not promote naturalism.
Naturalism is a philosophical standpoint which claims that nothing exists outside nature. In other words, if God exists, he is part of nature and subject to its laws. Freemasonry, not being a religion, does not consider itself qualified to put forward any definition of Deity.
VIII.7. Doesn't Freemasonry promise a path to salvation?
Freemasonry is not a religion and promotes no doctrine or dogma. The "search for light" found in Freemasonry is a reference to a quest for knowledge, not salvation. Freemasonry promotes a hope in resurrection, but it does not teach a belief about resurrection. The first is faith, the second is religion.
Although the Master Mason, or Third Degree ritual includes references to the immortality of the soul, Freemasonry makes no impositions on the individual candidate's personal beliefs, nor requires its members to accept any specific teachings regarding resurrection. The ritual makes reference to "a vital and immortal principle" found within the perishable frame, and a hope that we will ascend to "those ethereal mansions above." But these are poetical allusions and do not constitute a doctrine of belief imposed on candidates. If anything, Freemasonry teaches that death is a "mysterious veil which the eye of human reason cannot penetrate," and only supports the hope, not the promise, of resurrection.
There have been both masons and non-masons who have misunderstood the Hiramic legend to represent a resurrection or raising from the dead. The key lesson though, is the steadfastness and fidelity of Hiram Abif before his untimely death. The story of his body being taken from its indecent interment and reburied in an appropriate sepulchre is not a depiction of any rebirth mythos but is simply the backdrop to an explanation of the various signs, grips and tokens by which a Master Mason identifies himself. Although a particularly impressive part of the ceremony, it was not a part of the original ritual. There have been those writers who have interpreted the Hiramic legend as an allegory for resurrection; some viewing this interpretation with either reassurance or repugnance, depending on their personal opinion of Freemasonry. But the Hiramic legend is not interpreted within masonic teachings as representing the story of Christ or of resurrection.
VIII.8. Are freemasons really Noahides?
Noahides, or those who refer to themselves as such, follow the Noahide laws, generally within the Judaic tradition. These laws comprise prohibitions of idolatry, blasphemy, forbidden sexual relations, murder, theft, consuming the limb of a living animal (an expression of cruelty to animals) and lawlessness (that is to say, requiring the setting up of courts and processes of justice). 1
There are rival philosophies concerning the Noahide laws. The classical orthodox Jewish tradition, as found in Maimonides, the Maharal of Prague and the writings of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, views the source of the authority of the Noahide laws as being the giving of the Torah at Sinai to Moses and therefore of concern only to the Jews.
Elijah Benamozegh (1823-1900), author of Israel and Humanity, and Aime Palliere, author of The Unknown Sanctuary, promoted the idea of an "independent" tradition which goes back to Adam and Noah, and thereby to be transmitted to the Gentiles. The growth of late twentieth century Noahide movements has been a source of concern to some Christians who view the ramifications of this philosophy as an anti-Christian attack.
These are religious discussions and therefore not of concern to Freemasonry. Freemasonry is not a religion.
Masonic author, Albert G. Mackey, defined Noachidae as the descendents of Noah; and Noachite as a reference to the legend "that Noah was the father and founder of the masonic system of theology."2 Mackey neglected to define or detail that theology. Regular Freemasonry has never had a theology and Mackey was simply expressing his own opinion.
Mackey also wrote that the seven Precepts of Noah are preserved "as the Constitutions of our ancient Brethren"3 but neither the oldest extant manuscript, the Regius Poem, nor the Cooke manuscript mention any such precepts. He can only have been referring to Anderson's second edition of his Constitutions, published in 1738.
Non-masons, especially those hostile to Freemasonry, have been known to confuse references in masonic ritual to "the Moral Law," or "that religion in which all men agree" with the Precepts of Noah. Albert G. Mackey, in his History of Freemasonry, presented an historical background to the legends of Freemasonry but, in context, is clearly not ascribing the beliefs or practices of Judaism to those of Freemasonry.4
A legend of two pillars that survive the Deluge, containing the knowledge of the seven liberal arts and sciences, is contained in the "traditional history" of Freemasonry. The legend that Noah received seven commandments when God made His Covenant after the Flood is not a part of any extant pre-1717 manuscript. The sentiment that "all masons are true Noachidae" was part of "Brother Euclid's Letter to the Author" included, with no historical authority, with the Rev. John Anderson's 1738 Constitutions. The 1723 Constitutions contained the passage: "A Mason is obliged by his tenure to obey the moral law." In the 1736 edition Anderson completed the sentence with "as a true Noachida. 5 These references were dropped in the 1756 and subsequent editions, and have never played a role in the ritual or teachings of regular Freemasonry. Dermott's unauthorized Ahiman Rezon copied Anderson's 1736 edition and also used the term "Noachida."
Anderson may have taken this idea from the Stonehouse MS., also titled the Krause MS., reproduced in Dr. Krause's Three Oldest Documents. Probably written by a contemporary of Anderson and now accepted as spurious, it was first alleged to be a copy of the 926 York Constitutions.
Freemasons were called Noachidae by some authors, generally in reference to the Scottish Rite degrees, in a poetical allusion to the preservation and transmission of great truths. But these truths are not defined as the Precepts of Noah.
There is no connection between Noahides and Noachidae. One is a philosophy within Judaism, while the other is a poetical reference to Freemasonry and an eighteenth century attempt to create an older lineage.
The question only has meaning if one assumes that Freemasonry is a religion. Freemasonry is not a religion and has no doctrine.
VIII.9. Doesn't Freemasonry promote ecumenism or syncreticism?
Ecumenism is defined as a perspective representing the whole Christian world or seeking world-wide Christian unity. Syncretism is an attempt to unify or reconcile differing schools of thought or theology.
Freemasonry does not view itself as qualified to hold or promote any opinion on the beliefs of Christianity or any religion. Freemasonry requires its members to respect different religious views, not necessarily to accept them. It makes no attempt to reconcile differences of religion and belief, only to promote an understanding of similarities.
VIII.10. Is Freemasonry a form of Hermetism?
Hermetism is a belief in Hermetica or Hermetic writings - a collection of works of revelation ascribed to the Egyptian god Thoth, also styled in the Greek as Hermes Trismegistos (or Trismegistis). Hermes was once considered to be the inventor of writing.
The theological writings, written in Greek and Latin, date from the middle of the 1st to the end of the 3rd century CE. The collection is represented chiefly by the 17 treatises of the Corpus Hermeticum, extensive fragments in the the writings of Stobaeus, and a Latin translation of the Asclepius, preserved among the works of Apuleius. The collection reflected a growing distrust with traditional Greek rationalism. Divided into two main classes, "popular" Hermetism received little attention until the end of the 19th century while "learned" Hermetism was a favorite resource for mediaeval astrologers and alchemists. Although the setting of the writings is Egypt, the philosophy is Greek and it was later extensively cultivated in Arab writings and European Renaissance literature.
The aim of Hermetism was the deification or rebirth of man through a knowledge of the one transcendent God, the world and mankind.
By the early Christian period, Hermes Trismegistos was believed to have been a celebrated Egyptian legislator, priest and philosopher. The old manuscripts which contain the Legend of the Craft ascribe to Hermes Trismegistos the invention of everything known to the human intellect. This belief is widely found in mediaeval writings such as the Polycronycon, written by the monk Ranulf Higden (1280-1364), and is not unique. Alchemy, reputed to have been invented by Hermes Trismegistos, was titled the Hermetic Science.
In a literary or poetical sense Freemasonry has been termed Hermetic insofar as it promotes the study and knowledge of the liberal arts and sciences. In a religious sense, Freemasonry cannot be termed Hermetic since Freemasonry is not a religion. Fringe freemasons, who either see the "traditional history" as rooted in fact, or want to fuse Freemasonry with Hermetism, will also promote the idea that Freemasonry is Hermetic.
Those who would criticize Freemasonry for being Hermetic generally use the term as a synonym for non-Christian, which becomes a synonym for un-Christian, and by extension, a synonym for anti-Christian.
VIII.11. But aren't freemasons really pagans?
The question hinges on the definition of the term. Pagan can mean unenlightened or irreligious. Augustine Tertullian uses the term "heathen" in much the same sense to refer to one who is not a Christian, Jew or Muslim. The majority of freemasons are practicing Christians, Jews and Muslims and are therefore not pagan in this sense. By this definition though, Buddhists, Hindus and adherents of many other faiths and beliefs would be termed pagan. The term pagan has been used as a blanket condemnation of those who are not Christian or not a member of the particular church of the person using the term. No discussion is possible with those who define their terms to suit their own purposes.
Pagan can also simply refer to pre-Christian. This reflects an historical fact and no criticism should be leveled against the intellectual development and literary qualities of, for instance, the early Greeks, simply because they weren't Christian.
But all these definitions turn on religious beliefs. Freemasonry is neither a religion nor does it promote any particular religious beliefs. Individual freemasons may be termed pagan by narrow-minded sectarians, but Freemasonry can be no more pagan than a town council because it practices a democratic process developed by ancient Greeks, or the medical profession because doctors swear an Hippocratic oath.
Those who would accuse Freemasonry of being pagan generally use the term as a synonym for non-Christian, which becomes a synonym for un-Christian, and by extension, a synonym for anti-Christian.
VIII.12. Is Freemasonry a mystery cult?
As with many accusations leveled against Freemasonry, the first step in formulating a response is defining terms. The term mystery religion, or school, is a label often applied as a pejorative to any non-Christian group, regardless of its actual beliefs or practices. Strictly speaking, the term refers to a specific range of Greco-Roman cults which reached their peak of popularity in the first three centuries CE. They ranged from the ecstatic cult of the grain goddess, Demeter, at Eleusis, to the ascetic Orphic cult based on sacred writings attributed to Orpheus, and culminating in the syncratic mysteries of the god Serapis in Alexandria.
The term "mysteries" is also used to refer to the Christian belief in the Trinity, Original Sin and the Incarnation. Until the time of the Reformation, the word "mystery" was inscribed on the Pope's mitre. Mystery plays, during the European Middle Ages, were depictions of Biblical subjects, translated from the Latin and produced in the vernacular.
Authors who have accused Freemasonry of being a cult or a mystery cult make two major errors in their argument. First, whether stated or not, is the premise that Freemasonry has to be some form of a religion; and second, that modern Freemasonry either accepts or includes in its beliefs and teachings the "traditional history" and other legends of its origins.
Mysteries, in a mediaeval sense, simply referred to trade secrets. The ancient mysteries referred to secret practices in honour of certain gods. The rituals of Freemasonry are concerned only with initiation and have no aspect of worship in them. Although many masonic authors have drawn parallels between the practices of Freemasonry and what little is known of the ancient mystery schools, and many theories have been proposed linking Freemasonry to these mystery schools, Freemasonry no more satisfies the definition of a mystery cult than it does that of a religion. And, Freemasonry is not a religion.
Those who would accuse Freemasonry of being a mystery cult generally use the term as a synonym for non-Christian, which becomes a synonym for un-Christian, and by extension, a synonym for anti-Christian and satanic.
VIII.13. Is Freemasonry a form of Templarism?
Like many accusations against Freemasonry, terms are often loosely defined to magnify the emotional attack. What all does "Templarism" encompass? If it refers to a historical link to the Knights Templar dissolved in 1307 then, contrary to the wishful thinking of many freemasons and non-masons, there is no proof of a link and regular Freemasonry makes no claim of a link. If it refers to the accusations made against the Templars that they worshipped a Baphomet, than it must be stressed that the Baphomet plays no role in the practices, beliefs or ritual of Freemasonry. It should also be noted that the only reference to a Baphomet occurrs in 12 out of 231 confessions extracted from the Templars under torture by the Inquisition.
If the term is used to describe a group planning to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, then it can apply neither to the historical Knights Templar nor the freemasons. Contrary to the accusations of such anti-masons as Lyndon LaRouche, there is nothing to link the Fremasons with any purported plan to rebuild the Temple.
Several forms of Freemasonry in Europe which attempt to trace their histories to the Knights Templar are said to practice Templarism, as can be said of the North American concordant body, the York Rite. But "Templarism" in this sense is a promotion of an idealized history of chivalry.
Regardless, none of this has anything to do with regular Freemasonry; neither its history or beliefs and practices.
Those who would accuse Freemasonry of promoting Templarism generally use the term as a synonym for non-Christian, which becomes a synonym for un-Christian, and by extension, a synonym for anti-Christian.
VIII.14. Isn't Freemasonry cabalistic?
Rooted in the ancient Egyptian Mysteries, three different versions of essentially the same teachings can be identified by three different spellings: Kabbalah, Cabala and Qabalah.
The Kabbalah is an essentially Jewish mystical or esoteric school. Although the Christian Church Fathers of the first century were demonstratably Kabbalists, mystical or gnostic elements within the Church largely disappeared within the first three centuries, only to reappear as a Christian Cabala during the Renaissance. A third, often hidden, stream of mystical Western philosophy has absorbed many of these Egyptian, Jewish and Christian mystical elements and termed them the Qabalah.
In the final phase in the development of the Christian Cabala in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it became permeated with alchemical symbolism and conjoined with the emerging doctrines of theosophy and rosicrucianism.
Those who believe Freemasonry's roots are found in rosicrucian and hermetic teachings will therefore see the influence of the Kabbalah in its development. Those who claim Kabbalistic roots for Freemasonry are of two, widely different, perspectives. The first group are generally religious fundamentalists who, a priori, condemn Freemasonry, Judaism, and the Kabbalah as being anti-Christian and often equate the whole with satanism.
The second group is composed of freemasons and kabbalists who promote the theory of Freemasonry's link to the Kabbalah. They are entitled to their opinions, but it must be stressed that they do not speak for Freemasonry. They are only expressing their opinions. They view the study of both as enhancing their relationship with God and have come to some personal conclusions about what they perceive as similarities. Whatever intellectual or spiritual similarities there may be between Freemasonry and the Kabbalah, any historical links are strictly conjectural and unsupported by the historical record.
Regardless, none of this has anything to do with regular Freemasonry; neither its history or beliefs and practices.
Those who would accuse Freemasonry of being cabalistic generally use the term as a synonym for non-Christian, which becomes a synonym for un-Christian, and by extension, a synonym for anti-Christian.
VIII.15. Is the heretical belief that Jacques de Molay was the Second Messiah the lost secret of Freemasonry?
Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, authors of The Second Messiah (London: The Arrow Books Limited, 1997), are entitled to their opinions. But they do not represent Freemasonry. Jacques de Molay plays no role in regular Craft Freemasonry. A messiah plays no part in the teachings or beliefs of Freemasonry. Neither Freemasonry nor the concordant bodies, where the historical character of Jacques de Molay plays a minor role in the lectures, is a religion.
VIII.16. Has Freemasonry become part of the New Age movement?
As always, a clear distinction must be made between Freemasonry as a body and its individual members. Fundamental to most accusations against Freemasonry is an inability or unwillingness to accept Freemasonry's claim that it does not dictate belief to its members but rather encourages them to use their intellectual and spiritual faculties and draw their own conclusions.
Terms must also be clearly defined. The term, "New Age movement" is a misnomer, generally used by fundamentalists as a catch-all rubric for any idea, belief, activity or group that is not Trinitarian Christian. By their lights, anything that is not Christian is by definition actively and willfully anti-Christian. The implication is that these independent and sometimes contradictory schools of philosophy and belief are all part of a monolithic whole. This is logically and empirically false, and rationally simplistic.
Freemasonry is not party to the New Age Movement. Although freemasons, such as Westcott, Gardner, Hall, and Case were instrumental in the growth of various ideas or societies that are identified with what is now termed the New Age movement, their involvement was personal and not part of their association with Freemasonry.
Many freemasons and non-masons have used their understanding or interpretation of Freemasonry as a starting point for further research into religions, philosophies and other esoteric studies. Freemasonry encourages its members to study and enlarge their knowledge. Freemasonry encourages its members to use their intellectual and spiritual faculties to arrive at their own personal beliefs and opinions. Freemasonry as a body has declared itself unwilling and unqualified to hold opinions or to pass judgement on these questions of religious belief.
VIII.17. Isn't Freemasonry Enochian?
"Enochian" is yet another one of those terms which seems to mean whatever the user wants it to mean. The Enochian literature of early Judaism has no relevence to Freemasonry. The Enochian magick of John Dee has nothing to do with either the Enochian literature or Freemasonry. The Pillars of Enoch-which has nothing to do with the Enochian literature or Enochian Magick-are only of historical interest to freemasons due to their confusion with the pillars at the entrance to King Solomon's Temple.
Enochian literature: Of undetermined date or authorship, the Enochian literature was the only stream of Judaic teachings that claimed an ancient, secret, history. It is noteworthy for its historical determinism and sometimes apocalyptic character. "As late as the end of the first century CE, the followers of Enochic Judaism who wrote the book of 4 Ezra would attribute to the scribe Ezra not only the copying of the "twenty-four books" of the Zadokite (Sadducean and Pharisaic) tradition but also of "seventy" secret books." 1
Gabriele Boccaccini's book, Beyond the Essene Hypothesis describes two main stream of belief, the Zadokite and Enochic, and posits a conflict between them. Other historians question this interpretation. Boccaccini's conclusions are controversial in that he distinguishes and contrasts between Enochian Judaism (authors of the Enoch literature) and Zadokite Judaism (the Zadokite high priesthood of the second temple down to Onias III) while acknowledging that the Enoch literature was not associated with a separate Jewish sect. There's no evidence Enochian Judaism rejected Mosaic traditions or literature.
While Boccaccini believes that the authors of the Enochic literature were antecedent to the Essene group, who followed a priestly anti-Zadokite tradition in the Second Temple period (516 BCE -70 CE), his dating scheme is suspect and there is no demonstrated identification of the Enochian literature with the Essenes (or proto-Essenes). 2 The Enochian literature represents a stream of Judaic religious thought and has no relevence to Freemasonry.
Enochian Magick: Enochian Magick also plays no part in Freemasonry. Enochian Magick has its roots in Elizabethan England with the work of astronomer and English court advisor Dr. John Dee (1527-1608) and his associate Sir Edward Kelley. Dee wanted to recover the wisdom he believed to be in the lost books of earlier times, including the then-fabled Book of Enoch, which he believed described a system of magic. During the years from 1581 to 1585, Dee, and later Kelley, performed "magical operations" involving fervent prayers to God and the archangels, and the use of a scrying stone. Kelly described what appeared on the stone while Dee made extensive notes.
A portion of these papers, concerning the Angelic Calls, Tablets and Liber Scientiae, were acquired with Dee's library by Robert Cotton. This part was published in Casaubon's A True and Faithful Relation. The earlier portions concerning the Heptarchy and Liber Loagaeth found their way into the hands of Elias Ashmole in 1672. Ashmole's collection eventually passed to the British Library (Sloane MS 3188. 3677; Ashmole MS. 422, art. 2. &c.). These texts have nothing to do with the beliefs or practices of Freemasonry, nor with the original Enochian literature.
Pillars of Enoch: The only link to Enoch in masonic tradition has to do with a legend concerning two pillars which Lamech's children made to contain all the knowledge of mankind. These pillars are often confused in early masonic writings with the pillars at the entrance to King Solomon's Temple.
Enoch, seventh in descent from Adam in the line of Seth, is noted in Genesis: "Enoch walked with God." His name, in the Hebrew, signifies to initiate and to instruct. Jewish tradition ascribes to him the invention of letters, arithmetic and astronomy. The Book of Enoch, written in Ethiopic in the first and second centuries BCE, influenced New Testament writers and entire parts are reproduced without acknowledgement. The Book of the Secrets of Enoch written by Hellenistic Jews in Egypt, also reflected its influence. Rejected by the Jews in the first century CE because it supported Christian claims, it was banned by Christian teachers by the third century because, among other reasons, it contradicted other apocalyptic writings. The Book of the Secrets of Enoch refers to Enoch's authorship of 366 books which he entrusted to his sons. The Greek Christians supposed Enoch to be Hermes; Eupolemus makes him the same as Atlas; Bar Hebracus asserts that he invented books, writing, the building of cities and astronomy.
While Enoch refers to an allegory told of Hermes or Thoth, the Father of Wisdom in ancient Egypt, who it is said concealed his books of wisdom under a pillar, and then found that the wisdom had become transferred onto two pillars of stone, Josephus, in Antiquities of the Jews, Book I, chapter ii, Section 3, tells a similar story about Enoch, saying that the pillars of Enoch were still in existence in his day, and that they were built by the children of Seth. If these particular pillars existed, what they were and who built them are topics of some controversy. The number of pillars, one or two, varies in different legends, leading to some further controversy over their symbolism.
The masonic concordant body, the Royal Arch does allude to the pillars of Enoch as containing writings on the seven liberal arts. The Royal Ark Mariner degree also refers to the two pillars of Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah, as containing all the knowledge of mankind. These legends are derived from the Legend of the Craft in the Old Constitutions of Freemasonry but are not accepted within Freemasonry as being either a real history, nor are they considered to refer to any religious instruction. A metaphorical reference to these pillars has no relationship to either the teachings and beliefs of the Enochian Literature nor to Dee's Enochian magick.
Generally the claim that Freemasonry is Enochian is made by those who believe that there is a link, through the Knights Templar, with the Essene community in Qumran; or that Freemasons accept the Legend of the Craft as historical. The first is only theory, the second is not supported by any contemporary masonic literature.
1. C. D. Osburn, "The Christological Use of 1 Enoch 1:9 in Jude 14-15," NTS 23 (1977) 331-41; J. H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the New Testament, SNTSMS 54. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. 2. James, Geoffrey, The Enochian evocation of Dr. John Dee. Gillette, N.J.: Heptangle Books, 1984, xxvii, 204, bibliography: p. 198-204. ISBN: 0-935214-06-2.
VIII.18. Isn't Freemasonry the outgrowth of some Second Temple Jewish sect?
Again, the accusation is that Freemasonry is a religion, in this case an outgrowth or continuation of some movement in Hellenistic Judaism. There were three especially important movements during the Hellenistic period, which stretches roughly from the conquest of Alexander through the destruction of the Second Temple. They are Zadokite, Enochic and Sapiential Judaism. Each had its own literature and its own views.
Zadokite Judaism was the religion of the priesthood. Priesthood was, according to Leviticus, hereditary. All Levites had duty in the Temple. Only those who were descendants of Aaron were actually priests.
The descendants of one of his grandsons, Phineas, were the High Priests. At the time of the return from exile a family known as the Zadokites, supposedly the descendants of David's High Priest, Zadok, controlled the High Priesthood. Their holy writings consisted of the Torah, together with the books of Chronicles and the works of Ezra and Nehemiah. Their version of the creation story is the one in Genesis I. In it, God is the organizer who creates boundaries through order, stability and separation. The Zadokites believed that the covenant of Moses was the establishment of the priesthood, and that the major responsibility of humans was to keep the boundaries. They had no notion of an end for the universe; God had created a flawless creation, so there would never be any reason for it to end.
Thus, where the Zadokites saw a world that was created in perfection, so that the source of evil could only be bad choices by individuals, the Enochites believes that the source of evil was outside the human being, and that a second creation would be needed to cleanse the world. Enochites thought of Enoch as their great prophet, who in Genesis 5:24 ascends bodily to Heaven. They did not consider Moses to be particularly important.
A lay group, Sapiential Judaism took as its main literature Proverbs, Jonah, Job and Qohelet (Ecclesiastes). They agreed with the Zadokites that the universe was a perfect order, and rejected the Enochian notions of an end of time and an afterlife.
The Essenes were the main branch from the Enochites, and the Zadokites lead to the Sadducees and the Pharisees. The Sadducees were the High Priests, no longer Zadokites. while the Pharisees were a lay group, opposed to the Hasmoneans (the Maccabees and their descendants).
Generally it has been those inclined to dispensational fundamentalism who have misguidedly accepted the "traditional history": an historically unsupported myth linking Freemasonry's origins to the historical construction of King Solmon's Temple. Believing this story of Freemasonry's origins, they see the Zadokite priesthood as the first step towards modern Freemasonry by way of a "Rex Deus" family. Judaic iconography or symbolism in masonic concordant bodies can traced to an eighteenth-century interest in biblical Israel, and not to the influence of the Rex Deus dynasty or the Knights Templar as claimed in such books as The Second Messiah.
1. Gabriele Boccaccini, Beyond the Essene Hypothesis: The Parting of the Ways between Qumran and Enochic Judaism. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1998. Cf.: James H. Charlesworth (ed.), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1, Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments vol. 2, Expansions of the "Old Testament" and Legends, Wisdom and Philosophical Literature, Prayers, Psalms, and Odes, Fragments of Lost Judeo-Hellenistic Works Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1983, 1985. John J. Collins, The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature (2nd ed.; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1998. John C. Reeves (ed.), Tracing the Threads: Studies in the Vitality of Jewish Pseudepigrapha. SBLEJL 6; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1994.
VIII.19. Aren't the freemasons parodying Judaism?
While Christian fundamentalists and antisemites have their own reasons for condemning masonic ritual or beliefs as being Enochian or Zadokite, Jewish fundamentalists will make similar accusations for different reasons.
The accusation is not that Freemasonry is a religion, but that it is a pseudo-religion; that it is a parody of Judaism. While, superficially, aspects of the rituals of masonic concordant bodies may possibly be viewed as aping Judaism, within regular Craft Freemasonry there is nothing in the ritual or practices that would support this accusation. In the defence of the concordant bodies, it should be stressed that the intent is certainly not to belittle Judaism, nor do they consider the use of Judaic or Hebrew titles to mean that they are engaged in religious practices. The ritual pertains to the history of King Solomon's Temple and the second Temple of Herod. It would not be possible to represent or re-enact this history without reference to the historical and legendary personages, many of whom were priests.
VIII.20. Is Freemasonry a revival of Essenism?
A common vehicle for attacking Freemasonry is to identify it with some "ism," no matter that the "ism" may never have existed as a discrete, definable belief structure.
Essenism is a term that means whatever the user wants. It can refer to the Essenes who flourished near the west shore of the Dead Sea from about 150 BCE to the end of the first century CE and who some authors such as Thomas de Quincey defined, without solid proof, as the first Christians.
Or it can refer to the mystical beliefs of something termed Essene Nazorean Christianity, as practiced by such contemporary group as the Essene Church of Christ, the Essene Nazorean Church of Mt. Carmel, the New Covenant Church of God (B'rit Chadashah Assembly of Yahweh) and the Restored Essene Church. It could be said that many, calling themselves Essenes, have no real claim to the name other than an interest in either history or health.
The term essenism can also refer to a denial of the divinity of Jesus. The "essene theory" was an early eighteenth century attempt to invent "natural" explanations for scripture. Authors such as Karl Friedrich Bahrdt (1784-1792), Karl Heinrich Venturini (1800), August Friedrich Gfrorer (1831-38), Charles Christian Hennell (1840), and Richard von der Alm [pseudonym of Friedrich Wilhelm Ghillany] (1863) promoted the idea that Jesus had been controlled by the Essenes. 1
The "Essene Epistle" first appeared in German, printed in Leipzig 1849 and financed by an unidentified "German Brotherhood". The Dead Sea Scrolls clearly demonstrate that this epistle was a hoax. Its influence has nonetheless been enormous, with several new editions in print. It is used by the half-islamic Ahmadiyya movement as evidence for some of their beliefs. Several later books, such as Jeshoua the Nazir and The Gospel of Peace were clearly dependent on the "Essene Epistle" for their ideas and style. 2
The beliefs and practices of "Essenism" range from extreme vegetarianism to channelling spirits. Both the spiritualism of Edger Cayce and such books by Dr. Edmond B. Szekely as the Gospel of Peace of Jesus Christ play a role in these beliefs.3
Current Essenism utilizes a number of texts. The Gospel of the Holy Twelve, allegedly discovered in a Buddhist monastery in Tibet in the late 1800s by a Catholic priest, is claimed by some, without proof, to be the source of the four Gospels although much of it appears to be a direct plagiarisation of the 1611 King James Version.4 As with The Life of St. Issa by Notovitch, no hard evidence for the existence of source manuscripts exist.
Unrelated to current claimants to the Essene mantle, the Mandaeans are a small remnant of the ancient Nazoreans who live mostly in Iran and Iraq. Well documented by academics, they believe Jesus was a Nazorean but their texts, edited by Ramuia around 640 CE, contain "a number of negative interpolations against the Romanized version of Christ, Christianity and Islam." 5 They do not accept converts. It has been postulated that there were different kinds of Essenism. At Qumran, there was a group of Pharisees and Essenes, and another group of Sadducees with Essenes. The Pharisee-Essene group eventually became Mandaean, and the Sadducee-Essene group became Christian. This is only an hypotheses.
None of this has anything to do with Freemasonry. The belief held by some freemasons and non-masons that there is a link between Freemasonry, through the Knights Templar, to the Essene community in Qumran is the product of several recently published popular books such as The Hiram Key, reinforced by wishful thinking.
VIII.21. Does Freemasonry promote indifferentism?
As always one must carefully define terms. The American Heritage Dictionary defines indifferentism as the belief that all religions are of equal validity. Religious Indifferentism, as used by the Roman Catholic Church, refers to any belief denying that it is the duty of man to worship God by believing and practicing the one true religion, i.e.: Roman Catholicism. They also define political indifferentism as the policy of a state that treats all the religions within its borders as being on an equal footing before the law of the country.
Absolute indifferentism refers to those philosophic systems which reject the ultimate foundation of all religion, that is, man's acknowledgment of his dependence on a personal creator, whom, in consequence of this dependence, he is bound to reverence, obey, and love. Restricted indifferentism admits the necessity of religion on account, chiefly, of its salutary influence on human life. But it holds that all religions are equally worthy and profitable to man, and equally pleasing to God. "The classic advocate of this theory is Rousseau, who maintains, in his Emile, that God looks only to the sincerity of intention, and that everybody can serve Him by remaining in the religion in which he has been brought up, or by changing it at will for any other that pleases him more (Emile, III)."1
The fear is that a belief that all religions are equally good comes to mean, at bottom, that religion is good for nothing. Accusations of indifferentism are founded on a belief that there can only be one truth, that the particular religion of the accuser by definition holds the truth, and by extension every other religion must be in error.
Liberal or latitudinarian indifferentism is claimed to spring from rationalism and incorporates the theory of evolution applied to the origin of man, Biblical criticism, the comparative study of religions, archaeology, and ethnology. It also includes any perceived hostility to the Catholic Church.
When critics of Freemasonry use the term "indifferentism", they are defining not only the term, but the terms of the argument. Masonic writers, with varying degrees of authority, have claimed that Freemasonry is indifferent to religion. This is not the same as indifferentism. Freemasonry holds no opinion on any religion or the relative worth of different religions. The discussion of religion is not within Freemasonry's province or mandate. There may be those freemasons who subscribe to some form of indifferentism, there will be many who do not - Freemasonry holds no opinion on the subject.
1. The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. vii, Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
VIII.22. Are freemasons anti-atheists?
Regular freemasons are, by definition of membership requirement, non-atheists, but this does not mean that they are anti-atheists.
On the other hand, Freemasonry has on occasion been accused of being atheistic simply because the accusers have defined any belief other than their own as such. In fact, regular Freemasonry has always restricted its membership to men who express a belief in Deity. But does this make Freemasonry anti-atheistic?
Dr. James Anderson, in The Charges of a Freemason, wrote in 1723: "A Mason is obliged by his Tenure, to obey the moral Law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist nor an irreligious Libertine." This phrasing was carried forward unchanged for many years although at this time, in many jurisdictions, the term "stupid" has been dropped as gratuitous and insulting. While individual freemasons may consider atheists to be stupid, or ignorant, or unfortunate, many other freemasons will simply consider atheists as individuals who hold a differing belief.
Can an atheist become a regular freemason? No; not unless he lies when asked to express a belief in a Supreme Being. There are several irregular jurisdictions that will initiate atheists but they are not recognized by regular Freemasonry.
Freemasonry as a body is not supposed to involve itself in questions of religion or politics, although it could be argued that by restricting its membership to those who believe in God Freemasonry has involved itself in the debate. In the USA, the masonic concordant body, the Scottish Rite, has actively promoted the separation of church and state, raising the accusation that it is anti-religion or anti-Catholic, and sympathetic to, if not promoting, atheism.
Freemasonry does not solicit members, nor does it promote its teachings to the public at large, other than through example. While Freemasonry extends membership only to those believing in God, the secular humanist community only considers as members those who do not. For atheists to accuse freemasons of being anti-atheists would make as much sense as freemasons accusing atheists of being anti-masons. It is logical nonsense. This does not mean that there are not individual freemasons who are anti-atheists or that there are not atheists who are anti-masons. But individual belief does not imply or prove group belief. Where both groups do appear to meet is in the promotion of self-development, personal responsibility and freedom of individual belief.
Freemasonry does not tell anybody that they have to believe in God, only that, if they do, they meet one of the qualifications for being a freemason. The teachings expressed in the initiatory rituals and lectures of Freemasonry refer to a higher purpose and destiny in a fashion that assumes a belief in God on the part of the candidate. But nowhere is atheism condemned or belittled.
VIII.23. Then Freemasonry must be Sabaeanism.
The doctrine of the Sabians, termed Sabaeanism or Sabianism, is a form of idolatry which consists in worshiping the sun, moon, and stars, in other words, heliolatry. Although the rituals of Freemasonry refer to the sun, moon, and stars, and their images are incorporated on masonic regalia, this is symbolism, not a form of worship.
As has been stressed throughout this FAQ, Freemasonry is not a religion... in any form. There is no part of worship in the rituals of Freemasonry, although a careless reading might suggest otherwise. Within Freemasonry, metaphor, simile, allegory and symbolism are the tools used to teach certain lessons. They are not instructions in worship, Sabaean or otherwise