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5 Things You Didn’t Know: Freemasons

Freemasonry is the perfect example of how presumed secrecy “injures” those not privy to the secret: Exclusion is an insult, and those not in the know must learn the secret — or else they get creative with the truth. Thus since their conventional establishment in 1717, Freemasons have been a whipping boy for paranoids.

In reality, however, Freemasonry is a fraternal organization dedicated to charitable work. Also, Freemasons most likely descended from guilds established by Scottish and English stonemasons. Highly skilled and valued, these stonemasons had plenty of work throughout history: the Pyramids, Stonehenge, the Parthenon, and some Renaissance and Gothic architecture. Guilds wisely kept a lid on their lucrative trade skills, which were passed down through generations.

In time, the stone work dried up, but the guilds and their compass-and-square symbolism, standard apron, and other rituals and imagery, stayed afloat as a fraternal order open to non-masons. Today, with as many as five million people worldwide belonging to a Masonic Lodge, it’s time we looked at five things you didn’t know about Freemasons. There’s a pretty good chance these will be the first five things you’ve ever learned about Freemasons as well.

1- They are not a secret society

While not being a secret society is one of the five things you didn’t know about Freemasons, they evade this status only because the term itself is so poorly defined.

On its website, the United Grand Lodge of England, the oldest and most respected Lodge in the world and the cradle of modern Freemasonry, denies being a secret society. It’s hard to blame them, however, when the many definitions of the term include groups like La Cosa Nostra.

The Freemasons aren’t really even secretive. In fact, the only thing that is truly secret about a Freemason is his “traditional methods of proving he is a Freemason when visiting a lodge where he is not known,” which is probably some variation on a fancy, complicated handshake.

Other than that, everything is pretty much out in the open for folks to learn about. Their meetings and what goes on aren’t secret, but they are closed to non-members.

For the rest of the story check out AskMen