Apophenia: Illusory correlation (behavioral sciences). "Spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena." Skeptics Dictionary, Robert Todd Carroll.
Anti-masonry Frequently Asked Questions
Section 4, version 2.9
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". [RETURN TO INDEX]
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.
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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.
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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.
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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 whenin the words of Dr. George Oliverfreemasons 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."
(See Section II, Subsections 2 and 3, Section III, Subsection 7 as well as Section VIII, Subsection 3.)
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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.) [RETURN TO INDEX]
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 Mens 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 <freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/women.html> you will find more information on them. [RETURN TO INDEX]
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-Yvess philosophy was encapsuled by Umberto Ecco in Foucaults 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 <freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/politics.html>.
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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.
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. [RETURN TO INDEX]
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 Osirians 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
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 [RETURN TO INDEX]
1.Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection, E.[rnest] A.[lfred] Wallis Budge. London: P. L. Warner, New York: G. P. Putnams 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. Putnams 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.
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 Lucifers 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 Baptists head; the sword used to cut off John the Baptists 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 Aladdins 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. [RETURN TO INDEX]
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.
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.