Are you familiar with the history of the Freemasons? Even if you are, we bet you haven’t heard this story before. Find out about it here.
How much do you know about the Freemasons? Popular culture has provided lore about the handshake, the levels, and some shadowy connection to the Knights Templar.
These and other images are just a few reasons why one should never get their history from popular culture.
So if you have a moment, I will tell you a few things about Freemasonry that you likely didn’t know. Once you know something of the truth, you will have a better appreciation for the fiction.
Secret Societies and Custom Masonic Rings
One of the biggest mysteries of the Freemasons is the origin of the masonic ring and the meaning of the symbology.
But it is not a secret (as in some sort of conspiracy to hide knowledge from the public eye). It is more the fact that masonic rings are very old, were started during a time when few records were keptand were likely forgotten.
We know that they represented a certain level of membership achievement. They my have indicated a certain rank. And the symbology may have represented an aspirational rather than historical connection with history dating back to biblical times.
You can see custom masonic rings right now. Better yet, you can buy them and collect them.
These secret rings are not at all secret. And that is the truth of most of the secrets associated with this secret society.
If the Freemasons were a secret, you wouldn’t know about them. They wouldn’t have public lodges in plain sight. They wouldn’t have libraries.
They have a website, a Facebook page, and a Twitter feed. They advertise things in the press. If secrets were their business, they are the worst secret society ever.
Any secrecy they have comes from the fact that they started life as a trade guild of stone masons who, like all guilds, guarded their techniques with care.
To this day, professionals try to keep their trade secrets so they can charge you for the use of them. The masons just happen to be among the oldest surviving trade guild in the world.
Older Than You Think, but Much Younger Than You Hoped
Thank the BBC for details on the time and place of Freemason origins. You might have heard that it was started in England in 1717. It wasn’t.
You have almost certainly heard it was born in Jerusalem during the building of Temple 1. Also not true.
In Scottland, you might visit 19 Hill Street and see Mary’s Chapel. It is not a Kirk (church). It is the oldest masonic lodge still standing. It is most definitely not in England.
Its records date back to 1590. Masonic lodges were one of four establishments associated with large groups of Scotts. The other three are pubs, kirks, and banks.
From Guild to Fraternity
While Freemasonry is no longer a guild of masons, it still uses the symbols of masonry to promote its fraternal priorities of personal study, self-improvement, and social betterment via individual involvement and philanthropy.
These are not new facts recently uncovered. It is just the story seldom told. We tend to prefer the stories of shadowy organizations and conspiracy theories. There are likely Freemasons who prefer those stories as well.
So when you are done with the best-sellers, take a dee-dive into the real history. It is less interesting than fiction. But it has the benefit of being true.