12 Facts you probably didn't know about Freemasonry
12 interesting facts
- The conventional establishment of Freemasonry is usually dated to 1717, when the Grand Lodge of London emerged on the 24th June. The emergence of this Grand Lodge marks the beginning of Grand Lodges governing other lodges.
- The third degree did not exist at the beginning of Freemasonry. In fact, it only started in the 1720s, and it took quite some time to spread through Masonic lodges.
- The Grand Lodge of England modified Anderson’s Constitution in 1815 to clarify the question of religion in Freemasonry. Anderson’s Constitution originally stated that a Freemason can “never be a stupid Atheist nor an irreligious libertine”, but this was later modified to “let a man’s religion or mode of worship be what it may”, professing freedom of religion and of worship.
- Charles Darwin was a Freemason. Darwin became a Freemason in Scotland, and his grandfather and son also were Freemasons.
- Freemasons played a great part in the Enlightenment. In the late 1700s they helped reform society. Since always, Freemasonry has valued human consciousness and reason, and these values were transmitted to the Enlightenment, when people were fighting for freedom of worship and speech, public education and a democratic government.
- Freemasons were also the first advocates of equality. The fraternity has always disregarded social distinctions and was one of the first organisations in the world to believe all men are equal.
- Freemasonic symbols are usually regarded as existing because of the secrecy of the fraternity. However, in reality, Freemasonry started being illustrated by symbols because at the very beginning most Freemasons could not read, so the symbols served to remind the members of the teachings of the Fraternity.
- The oldest Masonic symbol is the square and compasses. It is also the most universally recognized symbol of Freemasonry, even though its exact significance varies in different countries. The square usually symbolizes morality while the compasses symbolize wisdom of conduct. Together they mostly symbolize the harmony and perfection experienced when one lives in honesty and follows the path of right.
- The term “on the level”, used to describe someone who is truthful and honest, was actually derived from Freemasonry, where the level symbolizes being straightforward and truthful.
- During the American civil war, enemy soldiers who recognized each other as Freemasons helped each other and saved each other’s lives. Even during war, these Freemasons’ loyalty to the craft did not fade away.
- While Freemasonry is often considered a cult there are actually quite a few hard facts that differ it from cults. First of all, to become a Freemason a man has to ask a Freemason, while members of a cult are always looking for new recruits. Also, it is very easy to leave Freemasonry. On the other hand, once in a cult it can be extremely hard to leave.
- Built in 1892, a Masonic building used to be the world’s tallest building. The Masonic Temple in Illinois, Chicago was the tallest building in the world at the time it was built and it is 22 floors high.