Myths about Masonry, Part II

Alright! It’s time to wrap up last week’s article on myths about Masonry. If you missed last week’s article, please check it out for a small intro to the topic, as well as some other myths.

Myth #4- Masons worship the devil, or are involved in witchcraft

I was thinking about where this comes from the other evening in chapter, and came to the conclusion that there are a couple of major contributing factors. As I said last week, Masonry is not a religion, does not take the place of anyone’s religion, and actually requires that someone already have a faith before joining. I think that the first major influence that lead people to believe that Masons were devil worshipers came from G.O.A.T. As you know, goats, or goat heads, are often seen as symbols of devil worship or witchcraft, usually for the purpose of animal sacrifice. You may have seen many Masonic jokes or postcards that show Masons with a goat, or may have heard someone talk about “riding the goat” at a meeting. The Masonic phrase for God, the “Great Architect of the Universe”, or G.A.O.T.U., used to be referred to as “God of All Things” or G.O.A.T. This was changed quickly after the rumors began. In Chapter, I sit at Esther, which is the middle point of the star, and the point that causes so much controversy. I was thinking of why Rob Morris chose an inverted star, also called a pentagram, to represent the order. The traditional line used is that the star “points down to the manger”. This may have some truth, as OES tends to be very Christian oriented. I think that there may be simpler reasons, however. A Chapter room with all officers in attendance is 18 people. That alone can make for a crowded room, and the layout of the officers doesn’t help. If Esther’s point were at the top of the star, it would put three people in a row- the Chaplin, Esther, and the Marshall, which not only would make for a crowded front of the room, but would also result in a very empty back of the room. On top of this, another thought came to me as I sat at this point. If the star was not inverted, and the top point was Esther, this would have the star “point” to the East, and to the Worthy Matron. This may have given people the wrong idea, and think that the Worthy Matron and Patron were those that were meant to be worshiped and revered instead of God. Unfortunately, we may never know the true reason Morris chose this symbol. In addition to these points, someone who is a Satanist could become a Mason, and many have. Often hysteria about a topic begins when someone takes one example and begins to apply it to everyone else that fits even some of those same characteristics.

Myth#5- There are Masonic symbols hidden everywhere, if you know what to look for

Like many myths, this is one that is rooted in some truth. There are Masonic symbols everywhere, if you know where to look. All seeing eyes, double headed eagles, pentagrams, the square and compass, even the cornerstone of a building are Masonic symbols, and can be found almost anywhere if you look hard enough. Many older buildings may have served as a Masonic Lodge, and still bear their symbols. Money, movies, and more things that start with M (as well as those that don’t) can be hiding Masonic symbols “in plain sight”. The important thing to remember here is- many of these symbols are not exclusive to Masonry. Many people claim that the all Seeing Eye on the back of a US dollar is proof that Masons control the government. This symbol actually came from the artist Pierre Du Simitere, who was not a Mason. The concept can be traced back at least as far as ancient Egypt, where the eye of Horus was used as a symbol of power and protection. The pentagram, the symbol for OES, did not acquire any occult meanings until the 19th and 20th centuries, well after Masonry was established. Funnily enough, there is little argument about where the symbols of the Order of the Knights Templar came from. As far as there being a secret square and compass hidden in Washington D.C. that is the secret to the map of the super-secret Masonic treasure? Wishful thinking and often a cause of pareidolia, the scientific word for the psychological phenomena when we perceive vague stimuli as being significant. It has been theorized that humans are hard wired to see patterns like this, to make sense when there is none, in hopes of processing the information a bit easier. This is also the same phenomena that cause someone to see Jesus in a piece of toast.

Myth #6- Freemasonry is a secret society

This one we kind of did to ourselves. A lot of the idea of Masonry being a secret society came about during the 1950’s and 1960’s, its last real big boom. During the obligation, initiates swear that they will not let known any of the secrets presented to them during their initiation. The trouble is, it’s never explicitly stated what is a secret, and what is not. As T says, the only secrets are handshakes, and words of recognition. In our state, anything that is secret is written in code in the ritual book. In OES, all secrets are omitted from writing, and only given by word of mouth (which makes them that much harder to learn). You can learn all you want about Masonry, learn about each officer and what they do, much of the degree work, and even some of a Lodge’s actual business and never even graze learning a secret. The biggest secret in Masonry is that much of our meetings consist of paying the bills, and arguing over who has what percentage share of the building (my Chapter is going through this now, it’s not much fun to deal with, or to listen to). Nothing I ever write here will be a secret, and I have gone fairly in depth on a number of topics. If someone realty wanted to learn the secrets of Masonry, a quick Google search would probably do the trick. I would not, however, recommend doing so if you are, or are ever planning on being involved in the Masonic family. Freemasonry is not a secret society. A secret society would keep its existence hidden, and its membership secret. If Masonry is a secret society, we are doing a terrible job at it. We are very open, not only about our existence, but also about what we stand for, and the work that we do. Freemasonry isn’t a secret society, it’s a society with secrets.

There are a ton of myths and misconceptions out there surrounding Freemasonry. I may return to this topic in the future, simply because there are so many. These are kind of the common ones that you may come across in your lives. If you have any questions about any of these, or have a myth I did not cover that you would like to know about, please feel free to send me an email at  We will be kind of continuing this theme a bit next week, when we look at the sutble ways that Masonry affects the world around us. Have a wonderful week!

Myths about Masonry, Part I

Somehow, I managed to get myself off track as far as my posting day, it keeps slipping further and further into the week! In an effort to get myself back on track, I will be splitting this topic in two, so if you like this one, be sure to look out for more on the same subject next week.

I wanted to take this time to talk about myths and misconceptions. There are many of these surrounding Masonry, and while some are based in truth, more often than not they are way off base. Unfortunetly, it tends to be that popular culture, including movies (i.e. National Treasure), help perpetuate these myths, and people get the wrong idea about Freemasonry as a whole and what its all about. Depending on how much research they do before joining, this can also lead to some iniaties, and even Master Masons having incorrect notions about what goes on within Masonry. There are literally thousands of myths concerning Masonry, but over the next two weeks, I wanted to go over the most popular six.

Myth #1 Freemasons = The Illuminati

This is a big one, in fact, often the words Freemason and Illuminati are used interchangeably, along with shock terms such as “New World Order” and “lizard people”.  Freemasons are not, and never have been, any part of the illuminati (or lizard people for that matter). In fact, the Illuminati refers to several groups, many of which no longer exisit. Origionally, the Illuminati referred to the Bavarian Illuminati, a group formed in 1776, well after the beginnings of Freemasonry. Ironically, the group did their best to oust and prevent things like superstition, abuses of power, and the government purposely preventing all details of an event being known, more commonly known as obscurantism. The group did amass some power, and may have had a large hand in the French Revolution. They were forced underground in beginning in 1784, along with Freemasons and other “secret societies” .(Recall that Freemasonry was much more secretive during this time). They disbanded just before the 19th century, after many of their key leaders left, and most of their secret documents were seized and published. So, how does a group that hasn’t exisited for over 200 years get connected with Freemasonry? It seems that most of this happened around the time of the Morgan Affair, which in turn, caused the Anti-Masonic movement in the 1820’s and 30’s. This may have been in part due to a paper published by a member of the Illuminati titled “On the Influence Attributed to Philosophers, Free-Masons, and to the Illuminati on the Revolution of France.” They did take some cues from Freemasonry, hence the title.

Myth #2 Freemasonry is a religion

Many people think that Masonry is a religion, or that it takes over your current religion. This is simply untrue. I think that this idea comes from the fact that aspects of Freemasonry can mimick that of religion. Within any given religion, there are many rituals, such as kneeling, sitting, or bowing at certain times, as well as certain rituals used for different holidays. Much like religion, Masonry has many rituals within it, many of which are taken from various religions around the world, but most notably Judaism. Many people find comfort within the fellowship found after and before church services, and the same holds true for Freemasonry. Often you will see websites and people saying that Freemasons worship the devil (more on that next week), or that they worship a certain God. The truth is that any man who believes in a higher power can become a Mason, they do not have to be of one religion. In fact, God is often referred to as “The Grand Aritect of the Universe”, in order to make it more approachable to those that do not belong to a mainstream religion. A requirement to become a Mason that many people do not realize, is that one must believe in a higher power. An atheist cannot join regular, masculine Masonry. Many different jurisdictions word it differently, but the concept is the same. Beyond believing in a higher power, however, there is no further requirement. No one religion is required of a member (save for some of the higher orders of York Rite which require a member to be a Christian), and in fact, at the House of the Temple, the big headquarters of the Scottish Rite in Washington D.C., there is the holy book from every major religion in the world. Most Lodges simply use the Bible as their holy book, but an initiate may request that they take their oath on any holy book (this holds true for all appendant bodies), however in many cases they may need to supply their own. Many people also believe that the lessons taught in Masonry go against religions (usually cited as going against Christianity), however, the more you look into what Masonry teaches, you realize that the lessons actually go hand in hand with religion, specifically Christianity, and that many of the lessons and rituals are borrowed from Judaism.

Myth #3 Freemasons control the government, and even some Masons don’t know it


This myth is based on two incorrect notions. The first is that there is a centralized, global body that controls all of Masonry. I would hope that simply by reading this blog you know that this is not the case. Jurisdictions of Masonry vary by state to state, and country to country. In fact, simply because if there was, there would be no debate about whether women should be allowed to be Masons, or how to handle Prince Hall Masons. There is a centralized body for Scottish Rite, as well as for some of the other appendant bodies, but not all Masons choose to join them. It always makes me giggle when I think of the amount of coordination government control would take, which is something the Masonic bodies can struggle with. I’ve heard 20 minute arguments about when to hold a pancake breakfast. Heck, it took T and others three years for Masons in our state to agree to raise the dues $1.50 to benefit their own youth groups. The point is, this organization simply does not exist. Without its existence, the rest of the myth tends to crumble.  The other idea that this myth is based on, is the 33rd degree of the Scottish Rite. Something you will hear a lot of conspiracy theorists say is that nothing is fully revealed until you receive the 33rd degree.  I think that a lot of this comes from the fact that the 33rd degree is not given out that often. It is an honorary degree given to a member who has gone above and beyond for the organization. It is also the “highest” numbered degree that a member can obtain. (The quotes are because it is often said that nothing should be held higher than the third, or Master Mason degree.) Masons who attempt to refute the myth may be told that they don’t know what’s really going on because they have not yet been chosen to receive the degree. It’s silly really, the 33rd degree is not too different from the 32nd, and the 32nd from the 31st and so on and so forth. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You also may hear people say that they are a 97th level Mason, these people claim that there are “hidden” degree beyond the 33rd. Often, these people either have no idea what they are talking about, or are members of a clandestine Lodge.

If you enjoyed this article, please be sure and check out next week’s, where we will be going over three more Masonic myths. Have a great week!