The Real History of the Freemasons?

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Who were the original Freemasons?

#1  Postby galexander » Dec 02, 2014 2:57 pm

You hear a lot in the alternative media these days about the Illuminati/Freemasons who apparently are secretly controlling the world.

However if you check the Bavarian Illuminati on Wiki they very much appear as progressive liberals campaigning against abuses of state power and who were even in favour of gender equality. However the authorities apparently saw the organisation as a threat and had them banned. The Bavarian Illuminati had modeled themselves on the Freemasons who also apparently had promoted freedom, liberty and fraternity which are quite progressive, liberal ideals.

In an age before democracy were such liberal ideals perceived as a threat to the status quo who then either took the organisations over or simply had them banned? Taking organisations over is one method of successfully neutralizing them and when you look at the modern day Freemasons, they evidently are run by quite conservative persons high up the social echelons.

Historically the Freemasons have been accused of being behind the French Revolution and American Independence. Is this where the ruling class believed such liberal thinking ultimately led and so had the organisations in question appropriately dealt with?

Are the modern day Freemasons the exact opposite of the original, historical Freemasons and represent the remnants of the original progressive institutions which have been taken over by the conservatives?
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Re: Who were the original Freemasons?

#2  Postby Zwaarddijk » Dec 02, 2014 3:10 pm

The reason why freemasonry might appear conservative today is that by modern standards, they are. They've conserved stances that were progressive at their time. That's not particularly weird.

Also, they tended to be a movement that appealed to certain socioeconomic groups back in the day, the same socioeconomic groups you still find represented in their ranks. The conservatism we now perceive them as having is just a result of societal development.
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Re: Who were the original Freemasons?

#3  Postby Scot Dutchy » Dec 02, 2014 3:13 pm

When I was in the police in Edinburgh I was always told joining the Freemasons would not damage your career.
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Re: Who were the original Freemasons?

#4  Postby galexander » Dec 05, 2014 12:45 pm

On the Freemasons it has to be admitted that we are actually discussing a very different era.

The Wikipedia article on the Age of Enlightenment summarizes it very well:

The Age of Enlightenment.........emphasized reason, analysis and individualism rather than traditional lines of authority. It was promoted by "philosophes" and local thinkers in urban coffeehouses, salons and masonic lodges. It challenged the authority of institutions that were deeply rooted in society, such as the Catholic Church; there was much talk of ways to reform society with toleration, science and skepticism.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_Enlightenment

So why were the Illuminati along with other Freemasonic groups banned towards the end on the 18th century in Bavaria?

Again the Wikipedia article on the Illuminati sums up the situation quite well:

The Illuminati—along with Freemasonry and other secret societies—were outlawed through Edict, by the Bavarian ruler, Charles Theodore, with the encouragement of the Roman Catholic Church, in 1784, 1785, 1787 and 1790. In the several years following, the group was vilified by conservative and religious critics who claimed that they continued underground and were responsible for the French Revolution.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illuminati

It seems originally at least that the Freemasons were on the wrong side of the status quo.
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Re: Who were the original Freemasons?

#5  Postby james1v » Dec 05, 2014 3:28 pm

Tradesmen.
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Re: Who were the original Freemasons?

#6  Postby Sendraks » Dec 05, 2014 3:53 pm

They were masons and they were free!
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Re: Who were the original Freemasons?

#7  Postby mindhack » Dec 05, 2014 3:57 pm

Perhaps the OP would like to read:

C.A. Bayly's "The birth of the modern world 1780 - 1914".

Chapter two in particular is relevant.
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Re: Who were the original Freemasons?

#8  Postby Briton » Dec 05, 2014 4:14 pm

I remember reading a book about how the Freemasons were formed from the remnants of the Knights Templar who had fled to Scotland. Don't know if there's any truth in that but it was an enjoyable yarn.
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Re: Who were the original Freemasons?

#9  Postby Weaver » Dec 05, 2014 4:48 pm

I always enjoyed Ambrose Bierce's definition of Freemasons in his Devil's Dictionary:

FREEMASONS, n. An order with secret rites, grotesque ceremonies and fantastic costumes, which, originating in the reign of Charles II, among working artisans of London, has been joined successively by the dead of past centuries in unbroken retrogression until now it embraces all the generations of man on the hither side of Adam and is drumming up distinguished recruits among the pre-Creational inhabitants of Chaos and Formless Void. The order was founded at different times by Charlemagne, Julius Caesar, Cyrus, Solomon, Zoroaster, Confucious, Thothmes, and Buddha. Its emblems and symbols have been found in the Catacombs of Paris and Rome, on the stones of the Parthenon and the Chinese Great Wall, among the temples of Karnak and Palmyra and in the Egyptian Pyramids -- always by a Freemason.
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Re: Who were the original Freemasons?

#10  Postby Evolving » Dec 05, 2014 5:02 pm

Here you can see their traditional initiation rites:
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Re: Who were the original Freemasons?

#11  Postby KeenIdiot » Dec 05, 2014 11:29 pm

Modern Blue lodge Freemasonry originated around 1717 if I remember right. Some forms of it predated that time but it was a guild of masons before that point. At that point it became a social club.
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Re: Who were the original Freemasons?

#12  Postby Scot Dutchy » Dec 06, 2014 7:51 am

KeenIdiot wrote:Modern Blue lodge Freemasonry originated around 1717 if I remember right. Some forms of it predated that time but it was a guild of masons before that point. At that point it became a social club.


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Re: Who were the original Freemasons?

#13  Postby electricwhiteboy » Dec 10, 2014 3:56 pm

Briton wrote:I remember reading a book about how the Freemasons were formed from the remnants of the Knights Templar who had fled to Scotland. Don't know if there's any truth in that but it was an enjoyable yarn.


Not likely. I think that particular myth was invented by Walter Scott. There is a gap of about 400 years between the suppression of the Templars and the first Freemasons. There’s no evidence the Templars knew any mystical secrets or were up to anything, but they did practically invent banking and became very powerful. Their fate was similar to Jewish moneylenders; brutal suppression by the powerful people that owed them money.

Freemasonry was likely born when some late Renaissance intellectuals and free thinkers who were probably well read in a load of cobblers, likely Rosicrucian and Kabbalistic texts, started their own boys club and invented a history for themselves. I’m sure that a couple per lodge may take still take their nonsense seriously but I suspect now it’s just a boys club with some really weird traditions and initiations.
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The Real History of the Freemasons?

#14  Postby galexander » May 20, 2020 8:59 pm

The hypothesis I present is that the original Freemasons were republican/democrats who desired to reform the society they belonged to along rational lines based upon the principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. However since today most nation states across the globe are now republics and that democracy is now considered the norm, someone else has taken Freemasonry over. Today Freemasonry very much represents the status quo with high ranking aristocrats running things, i.e. the complete opposite of what they used to be and almost a case of The Empire Strikes Back.

The old society they belonged to was very much ruled over by emperors and the church, whereas they themselves desired a secular state where all men were equal. Of course back in the good old days such views were not only frowned upon by the emperor and churchmen alike, but they were often considered very much illegal.

It is accepted that Freemasonry had its origins in the Age of Enlightenment. As Wikipedia says, "Philosophers and scientists of the period widely circulated their ideas through meetings at scientific academies, Masonic lodges, literary salons, coffeehouses and in printed books, journals, and pamphlets. The ideas of the Enlightenment undermined the authority of the monarchy and the Church and paved the way for the political revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries."

Take for example the Bavarian Illuminati founded by Adam Weishaupt. This group of progressive intellectuals and politicians sought to undermine the power of the church until the authorities took action and banned them. As Wikipedia says, "The society's goals were to oppose superstition, obscurantism, religious influence over public life, and abuses of state power."

Freemasonry had apparently played a part in the French Revolution. As Wikipedia says, "After the French Revolution, the Jesuit Augustin Barruel wrote that Freemasons had actively prepared the 1789 revolution, which has been used to back theories of a Masonic plot. This thesis was often reprised later, notably during the French Third Republic, by Catholic authors (using it to oppose both the Republic and Freemasonry) and by Freemasons (so as to reinforce their pro-Republican stance and their positive image with the Republican government)." (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Freemasonry_in_France#First_Empire)

A number of the founding fathers of the United States of America were also Freemasons. As the Encyclopedia Masonic admits, "Many instrumental figures of the American Revolution (1765 - 1783) were Freemasons. Perhaps the most well-known Freemason American Revolutionaries are George Washington, the nation's first President, and Benjamin Franklin." (Source: https://nmasonic.com/wiki/freemasonry/history-of-freemasonry/the-american-revolution-and-freemasonry/)

You can even see Masonic symbolism on coins from revolutionary Mexico. Take this 20 Pesos gold coin from the 1870's. We see a liberty cap surrounded by the rays of the sun, and underneath are the scales and a sword:

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However after the changeover when the status quo took over, we see similar Masonic symbolism repeated such as on this UK George VI 1946 Victory postage stamp:

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What are everyone's opinions about this?
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Re: The Real History of the Freemasons?

#15  Postby Thomas Eshuis » May 20, 2020 9:02 pm

galexander wrote:
You can even see Masonic symbolism on coins from revolutionary Mexico. Take this 20 Pesos gold coin from the 1870's. We see a liberty cap surrounded by the rays of the sun, and underneath are the scales and a sword

None of those originate with or are exclusively Freemason.
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Re: The Real History of the Freemasons?

#16  Postby Hermit » May 20, 2020 9:29 pm

galexander wrote:The hypothesis I present is that the original Freemasons were republican/democrats who desired to reform the society they belonged to along rational lines based upon the principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. ...they themselves desired a secular state where all men were equal

Bullshit from top to tail. The original freemasons were basically medieval trade guilds of stonemasons. Notions of republicanism, equality, fraternity and secularism lay several centuries in the future.

Among Masonic rules:
A belief in a supreme being and scripture is a condition of membership.
All Lodges shall display a volume of scripture with the square and compasses while in session.
There is no discussion of politics or religion.

As for 'equality', few organisations are as strictly and rigidly hierarchical as the Masonic one.
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Re: The Real History of the Freemasons?

#17  Postby Thomas Eshuis » May 20, 2020 9:40 pm

Hermit wrote:
galexander wrote:The hypothesis I present is that the original Freemasons were republican/democrats who desired to reform the society they belonged to along rational lines based upon the principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. ...they themselves desired a secular state where all men were equal

Bullshit from top to tail. The original freemasons were basically medieval trade guilds of stonemasons. Notions of republicanism, equality, fraternity and secularism lay several centuries in the future.

Among Masonic rules:
A belief in a supreme being and scripture is a condition of membership.
All Lodges shall display a volume of scripture with the square and compasses while in session.
There is no discussion of politics or religion.

Must be some quiet sessions then....
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: The Real History of the Freemasons?

#18  Postby Svartalf » May 20, 2020 11:02 pm

Hermit wrote:
galexander wrote:The hypothesis I present is that the original Freemasons were republican/democrats who desired to reform the society they belonged to along rational lines based upon the principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. ...they themselves desired a secular state where all men were equal

Bullshit from top to tail. The original freemasons were basically medieval trade guilds of stonemasons. Notions of republicanism, equality, fraternity and secularism lay several centuries in the future.

Among Masonic rules:
A belief in a supreme being and scripture is a condition of membership.
All Lodges shall display a volume of scripture with the square and compasses while in session.
There is no discussion of politics or religion.

As for 'equality', few organisations are as strictly and rigidly hierarchical as the Masonic one.

Got any serious sources that freemasonry really goes back to the middle ages? All I've seen up to now is undocumented claims by the masons themselves.
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Re: The Real History of the Freemasons?

#19  Postby Hermit » May 21, 2020 4:10 am

Svartalf wrote:
Hermit wrote:
galexander wrote:The hypothesis I present is that the original Freemasons were republican/democrats who desired to reform the society they belonged to along rational lines based upon the principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. ...they themselves desired a secular state where all men were equal

Bullshit from top to tail. The original freemasons were basically medieval trade guilds of stonemasons. Notions of republicanism, equality, fraternity and secularism lay several centuries in the future.

Among Masonic rules:
A belief in a supreme being and scripture is a condition of membership.
All Lodges shall display a volume of scripture with the square and compasses while in session.
There is no discussion of politics or religion.

As for 'equality', few organisations are as strictly and rigidly hierarchical as the Masonic one.

Got any serious sources that freemasonry really goes back to the middle ages? All I've seen up to now is undocumented claims by the masons themselves.

To be honest, I could not be bothered to look for serious sources because the fact that Freemasons originated from medieval stone masons' guilds seems pretty uncontroversial to me, but if you feel sufficiently curious to follow up on the topic, you could worse than to dig into the links provided in the Wikipedia's article conveniently titled History of Freemasonry.

That out of the way, let me ask: What do you think of galexander's hypothesis regarding original Freemasons, their aims and their objectives?
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Re: The Real History of the Freemasons?

#20  Postby Svartalf » May 21, 2020 9:09 am

Have dug into the wiki, and some beyond, though I'd need access to the big books and other sources to make further checks, as, in the time I've been delving in the matter, I've yet to find serious evidence of a continuous and uniterrupted transmission of tradition and heritage, rather than a new bunch of occultists pillaging the discourse and trappings of older and vanished structures to build themselves a golden legend and attributing prestious forebears to themselves so as to cow their detractors with a variant of the argument of authority.
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