The zeitgeist of January/February 2014 will be looked back years from now as the dawning of something big for the fraternity, or another wheel spinning exercise performed by Masons of all eras. Within the past week, three major blogs have dived into discussing “what Freemasonry is”. Obviously a conversation that is not new to the Fraternity. But considering all the people jumping in to talk about it, it’s clear that right now in this period of time the question is very meaningful to a lot of people. Firstly I’ll link to the blogs in question in order they were written.
In Masonry we learn things come in threes. Well we’re getting a forth here so tough shit.
I’m going to make this easy and I’ll state my thesis of what Freemasonry is, and then explain.
“Freemasonry is the result of the human system”
What? Not a Fraternity? Or Club? Or Community? I argue that Masonry is less of a designed creation, but the result of a designed system.
To describe Freemasonry as a result is not something any of the authors did in their writings. Sure they mentioned reasons for why Masonry may have come to be but I think they missed the larger and deeper reason for why it came together. I’m going to get very philosophical here so put your pants on and buckle up.
Humanity and how we operate is a system. A code. A computer program. If we are to believe in the Great Architect of the Universe, then we must admit that we were created at one point. And if we were created we were designed/coded to be a certain way. After that, our opinions differ. Yet to admit that there is a higher Architect at play means that there was a design just based off how we interpret an Architect to work.
Early on in history during the ancient Egyptian times, they saw the thousands of elements around them and tried to justify each as being the result of God. Ra, the God of Sun. Res, the God of the pregnant women. Anuket, God of the river Nile. Hathor, Goddess of Love. Nut, Goddess of Sky and Stars. You can catch them all right here. Also, are you catching my drift?
This system of creating multiple Gods, one for every element also manifested itself in Greek Mythology. Hades, God of Death. Helious, God of Sun. Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty. Again, you catch my drift.
And you will find this Elemental God structure manifested in many ancient religions. The major reason being is that early humans used them as ways to explain how things worked the way they did. They didn’t know anything about how the earth and orbits and such, so when the sun vanished they assumed the sun God was going to sleep. Yet women were still getting pregnant, people were still falling in love…AHA! There must be multiple Gods and they’re still awake. This way of creating Gods to explain various things, specifically the unknown was a major reason for the predominance of elemental God based religions.
However, the singular supreme being religion was manifesting itself concurrently in Egypt during this time. Archeological evidence of Judaism is sparse for it’s early history but it is estimated to have manifested into a people nation between the 10th and 4th century BC.
Judaism was interesting in that not only did it have only one God, but because of the lack of a central authority after the end of the Temple Era, it became an interpretive religion. As in the prophets stopped and there wasn’t any central authority or successor to define what the rules and laws meant. So in this absence individual Jews and sects were left to interpret for themselves what many of the elements in their prophetic history meant. Concurrently in Asia, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Taoism had formed or were forming. And each had complex and individual interpretations of the supernatural and spiritual world.
However the singularity of the one God became the dominant idealogical element in world events and the singular “messenger” became one as well. Buddha founded Buddhism, Jesus founded the Christian belief system, Mohammed founded Islam, Joseph Smith founded Mormonism, Bab for Baha’i, L. Ron Hubbard for Scientology…you get it. The one person or being was the creator of specific systems of morality that became well known in many parts of the world today.
Now I know what you’re wondering. We just took a long trip talking about religion, where the hell am I going? Again, stay buckled in.
While the singular figure was a major element in the creation of various spiritual systems, the spiritual systems all very much were designed around an “equalism” ideology. As in they all preached, in some form or another, the equal nature of human beings in relation to each other. Let me get back to this in a moment.
Because singularity was also the dominant element of rulers in this time. Critics of religion will say that religion was a tool used by powerful leaders to brainwash people into “worshiping the powerful individual” while also sedating them into their suffering by embracing the “we’re equal” bullshit and also telling people that it will be all better when they die.” Not a bad argument. Except the very moment religion was founded it spelled an eventual doom for the king/dictator/emperor. Because if we were truly all equal, then those below the people in power would seek to enforce this and eventually “equalize” those in power by tearing them down.
To give this context, lets look at the founding of America. It is well known that when the founders of America created the line “all men are created equal” man of them were well aware that slavery existed in America and that women were treated very unequally. They knew that eventually the time bomb would go off, so to speak. People would eventually tear down the systems of inequality to make the country more equal as our constitution intended.
Those kings on the ancient world embraced religion because either they believed they were appointed to their power by God, that religion was useful to control people, or the few truly did believe in their faith system. But the creation of “equalism” set into motion the eventual destruction of the king and dictator. As over time people understood the totality of their belief systems, they realized society would never be truly equal until the government and power structure reflected it as such.
Here is an example. Religion was a major driving force in the American Revolution, the first shot at the elimination of the ruler who ruled inequality, not chosen by the rest of the equal population. Reference 1 Reference 2 Reference 3.
However the American Revolution wasn’t just a simple event, but filled with deeper changes going on within it. And that is that many of the architects of the American revolution were Freemasons. Freemasons made us only a few percentage points of the population, yet they become the charging force in the overthrow of the British Empire in America. How did such a small group of people become so influential in the revolution? And furthermore, from South America, to Africa, to The Middle East, to Europe, to parts of Asia, Freemasons were leaders and the engineers of the destruction of the Kings and Emperors who ruled over their people. No group of people have been responsible for the toppling of more governments then Freemason men have. These men saw the structure of society in an enlightened way, and sought to smash the inequality and injustices of the world.
So who are these people? These Freemasons? Let’s take a turn back to my conversation on religion.
At a certain point many educated people all over the world started to realize the world was FILLED with different religions. Sure they knew it from experience, but some men started to come to terms with the fact that their individual religion was a minority in the world, as was every other spiritual system. To first realize, in a deeper sense must have been a traumatic one. To be faced with the reality that your God and messenger/savior might not be correct, could shake a person to their core. This why is why so many religions went toe to toe against each other in violence. In the minds of many ancient leaders their religion was the right one, they would obviously win in combat and eventually their religion would reign supreme.
Well that didn’t happen. Islam busted into Europe through Spain but was eventually beaten back. Christians muscled back into the Middle East during the Crusades but were kicked out and never got back in. Jews were pushed out wherever they went, in a constant state of disruption. Hinduism remained isolated on the Indian subcontinent and Buddhism became massive in size but was eventually encircled by European imperialism. No one “won”.
We don’t know when these “enlightened” figured first met each other, but what we do know is the legend of Masonry extends back into pre-Christian times. And even then, there were multiple religions and belief systems. And for whatever reason, the mast majority of these belief systems combined the messages of “love for other humans”, “equality”, and “understanding the supreme being”. Which so happen to be the three major Masonic beliefs of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. But these enlightened figures didn’t look to fight each other. Instead, they realized if they actually followed their beliefs, then they SHOULDN’T be fighting. They also realized that the interpretation of their religion were being heavily influenced by the state and which ever dictator ran the state. What they realized was that their belief system was more open to interpretation and different thoughts then they originally realized. And what they soon realized that with the right interpretation, there was an alignment in each of their beliefs, enough so where they could be join together in that alignment. These men become Freemasons. So several elements of this order of men were created to help it run. They ran their system as close to equality as possible by creating a Republic-Democracy, one man one vote. They made secrecy a central tenant for philosophical and pragmatic reasons (people unafraid of the unknown would become attracted to Masonry, also secrecy allowed them to stay alive). They allowed men of all races as God did not see people in race, and so on and so forth.
Now what those Masons actually were in early design is open to interpretation, but they manifested the identity of builders. It made sense. Stone Masons were men who built powerful structures that stood the test of time. But these Freemasons weren’t talking secular structures, but structures that were the foundation of our faith systems and our relationship with God. Freemasons saw that they were building ideas. This choice of identifying with builders became a powerful one. It sent the message to men who were Masons that while they were perfecting their mind, through their shared faith beliefs, they were builders. And around them they saw the world tearing itself apart over economics, power, religion, nationality, race, etc. All things, that violated their shared religious belief. And something happened to these men. Here’s my opinion. They so deeply felt the spirit of God that they believed they had a special mission. Their mission was the build a society that could mirror what their Masonic society had become. If it could work in their lodge, why couldn’t it work on the national level?
Fast forward 50 years (or 6000 years depending on your Masonic belief) and American Freemason men were tearing down the dictatorial British empire controlled by King George. The system was bullshit. His religious interpretations were designed to perpetuate his power. The system was unequal. The Freemasons had become stacked with powerful freethinking men who decided now was the time and they flattened the British. And then over the next 200 years Freemasons all of the world popped up out of nowhere and tore down their respective national regimes to create governments more reflective of their Masonic ethos.
Yet something interesting happened. When the Freemason men tore down their governments and create democracies, they ended up in positions of power and influence all through their new nations. But there wasn’t a conspiracy or a planned system. It became something that started to “naturally” happen. If we have men who are free thinking, they naturally will be on the cutting edge of exploration, science, military, arts, etc. And with a support network like they have, they will be able to be put into positions to put their ideas into action. However, the people still in power weren’t happy with this. They were threatened. Freemasons, after revealing themselves, suffered horrendous persecution all over the world. For the kings and rulers still in power, murder, torture, banishment, imprisonment, and eviction were the name of the game. And from the perspective of the people, they saw this small group of people constantly ending up in power. And the masses whole heartedly took part in the elimination of Masonry. The anti-Masonic party in the USA wasn’t just a few men, but a huge swath of Americans who saw Masons as the new monarchy and sought to destroy them. The people who had lived in national enslavement had now turned to crush those that freed them.
Reminder, I’m not giving a history here. When some asks “What is Freemasonry”, my response is “Everything that comes with being a Mason”.
Yet there were large population sectors that idolized and looked up to the Masons. They wanted Masons in power because they trusted them more then anyone else, and they wished to work to a more open society with those Masons. The same way we look fondly to Harvard students or people who work in a charitable non-profit, people looked at Masons the same way. These people also became angered at the violence and persecution of Masonry and sought to protect them like any other citizen. Masonry essentially created three groups. Those that hated Masonry, those that didn’t even know what it was, and those that favored Masons.
What was the most frustrating thing about Freemasonry for it’s enemies, was that is was a very nebulous target. It was an organization of people in power, but so were many other organizations. They weren’t racist because they brought in men of all races. Yet the Masons had men who were racist too, which had it’s supporters and detractors. They weren’t against any religion, because they had men of many different religions. Yet they had many members who were very much proponents of their own respective religion. They weren’t of one nation, as they had brothers connected across the globe. Yet they weren’t looking for one form of government, as they had a rule where they were to remain loyal to their respective country. It was a combined yet uniquely individual experience. Masons where accused of perpetuating their own power, yet they constantly pushed for policies that would LESSEN the power of individual rulers and increase the power of the people at large.
Masons were a target people would swing at and never hit. Which is why they never ended up on the wrong side of history, because Masonry was in all spectrums of thought. And yet they were able to somehow get so many men on the right side of history. This became especially enraging for detractors of Masonry, for some people wish to see the world burn, and they never had a good excuse to burn Masonry. Jews experienced this as well in many regards. In free societies Jews became a small group of people, with a full spectrum of belief and identity, that achieved incredible positions of power while also suffering from inexcusable and worldwide hatred. It’s not a unique phenomenon. Masonry inadvertently became a way to expose evil, because there was never a good reason to hate Masonry. Thus, those that hated Masonry had their hate not come from logic, but from a darker place within them.
Alright, so that went for a while. So what is Masonry you ask? Masonry is the result of the human system. And I say this because there wasn’t any singular Masonic creator like there was for almost every modern faith system like we’ve seen. Masonry was built by many forces, by things from around the world that manifested together to create Freemasonry. It’s the result of a human system that has been smashing into itself since the beginning of time. No one human created Masonry, but humanity did. To call it just a Fraternity, or a Club, or a Community ignores the world around Masonry. Masonry is a system, part of a larger human system, and we’re all a part of it.\