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Freemasonry and Secret Societies in the USA: History and Traditions

Secret Societies and Freemasonry in the USA

Freemasonry is a fraternal organization that originated from the guilds of stonemasons and cathedral builders during the Middle Ages.

As the membership of the lodges declined due to the decline of cathedral building, some lodges began accepting honorary members, leading to the development of modern symbolic or speculative Freemasonry.

Freemasonry is a worldwide secret society that is oath-bound and primarily devoted to fellowship, moral discipline, and mutual assistance. Freemasonry conceals at least some of its rituals, customs, or activities from the public.

The first Grand Lodge, an association of lodges, was founded in England in 1717.

Freemasonry has faced opposition from organized religion, especially from the Roman Catholic Church and various states, due to its teachings and practices.

Although Freemasonry is not a Christian institution, it contains many elements of religion, and its teachings enjoin morality, charity, and obedience to the law of the land.

Applicants for admission to Freemasonry are typically adult males who believe in the existence of a Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul.

Freemasonry is divided into three major degrees in most lodges in most countries: entered apprentice, fellow of the craft, and master mason.

Some lodges have additional degrees superimposed on the three major divisions, with organizational features that are not uniform across countries.

In addition to the main bodies of Freemasonry derived from the British tradition, there are several appendant groups that are primarily social or recreational in character, with no official standing in Freemasonry but drawing their membership from the higher degrees of the society.

These groups are especially prevalent in the USA. Among those known for their charitable work are the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (the “Shriners”).

In Britain and certain other countries, there are separate lodges restricted to women.

Additionally, female relatives of master masons may join the Order of the Eastern Star, which is open to both women and men.

Boys may join the Order of DeMolay or the Order of the Builders, and girls may join the Order of Job’s Daughters or the Order of the Rainbow.

English Masons are forbidden from affiliating with any recreational organizations or quasi-Masonic societies, on pain of suspension.

Freemasonry remains most popular in the British Isles and in other countries originally within the British Empire, with estimates of its worldwide membership ranging from about two million to more than six million in the early 21st century.

Some books and articles on the subject that may be useful as a reference include:

  • "Freemasonry: A Very Short Introduction" de Andreas Önnerfors (2018)

  • "The Freemasons: A History of the World's Most Powerful Secret Society" de Jasper Ridley (2001)

  • "The Origins of Freemasonry: Facts and Fictions" de Margaret C. Jacob (2005)

  • "The Masonic Myth" de Jay Kinney (2010)

  • "The Secret Teachings of All Ages" de Manly P. Hall (1928)

@ Image: Microsoft Bing | Image generated by Microsoft's artificial intelligence

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The work was very well done, scientifically well-structured, and deserving of great credit.

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