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*Profiles important people and conspiracy theories
*Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading
For decades, parodies featuring ominous, mysterious cults have been a favorite gag in pop culture. These fraternal brothers are often depicted in some type of underground lair, dressed in extravagant ceremonial robes with their faces hidden in their hoods, seated around a long table brimming with Gothic chalices, skulls, and glittering dark treasure. Flicks on the more morbid side might even show choppy, flashing imagery of blood, torture, and sacrifices.
Like all art, creativity is sparked by a source of inspiration, and one of the most widely recognized muses of these kinds of scenes is other than the Freemasons. This ancient society, descended from the ancient culture of stonemasonry, is said to possess the deepest, darkest, and most inexplicable truths of the universe. They are said to possess mystical powers like no other – maybe even magic. But does this stigma against the brotherhood have any merit, or are they simply just severely misunderstood?
As many are aware, Freemasons have been around for many centuries. The Renaissance, which came into full bloom between the 14th and 16th centuries, saw a burst in creativity and advancement in an array of art forms throughout Europe. Stonemason guilds rode the changing tides; no longer did incoming apprentices have to be restricted by trade. A great portion of these new apprentices were artists and free thinkers, but still vowed to adhere to traditional stone-cutter culture. This new breed of masons separated from the orthodox “operative” masonry, and began to foster what became known as “speculative” masonry.
Like most legends, the origins of Freemasonry are still disputed to this day. The earliest mention of the society traces back to The Halliwell Manuscript, or Regius Poem, which was supposedly authored sometime between the late 14th to the early 15th centuries. The manuscript, penned in exquisite Middle English and calligraphy, consisted of 64 pages and 794 lines of rhyme. It is considered the first of the time-honored Masonic manuscripts, and is generally accepted as the “truthful” history of the fraternity's beginnings. The poem in question begins with Euclid, a Greek mathematician from the 4th century BCE, remembered today as the “father of geometry.” The math whiz was said to have incorporated geometric sciences into a new field he dubbed “masonry.” With this new and refined brand of science, he traveled to Egypt, and imparted his wisdom to the children of Egyptian nobles.
Whatever the organization’s origins, the budding phenomenon would one day transform into the Society of Freemasonry, the bearers of divine secrets like no other, and one of the most fascinating and controversial brotherhoods in the history of mankind. The Freemasons: The History of Freemasonry and the World's Most Famous Secret Society examines the origins and history of the controversial brotherhood, its expansion across the globe, and some of the most mindboggling conspiracy theories that surround the society to this day. Along with pictures depicting important people, places, and events, you will learn about the Masons like never before.