The recent surge in interest in the Knights Templar and topics relating to them is nothing new. For centuries, people have had a curiosity about these knights and the Freemasons. Those interested hold a wide range of opinions about the Freemasons. Those opinions can run the gamut from the idea that Freemasons are a secretive world-wide organization responsible for the state of world politics and that the Masons count numerous world leaders as members and seek to control the world to the Masons are nothing but a group of men with funny handshakes, funny hats, and who drive funny little cars in parades. The last two are prominent features of the Shriners, a smaller group within the Masons.
The reality of the Freemasons is that the Masons and all of its sub groups are a wide spread fraternal organization that helps and supports its members, as well as the community as a whole through charity, service and leadership. The organization seeks to promote good works by funding hospitals, charities, and scholarships, to cooking pancake breakfasts and so on.
The organization can count US Presidents, Founding Fathers, prominent generals, doctors, lawyers, business men, and other community leaders amongst it’s current and past ranks. The organization has been featured in various media outlets such as books, television shows, movies, news, and other outlets. This coverage brings both positive and negative views to the organization. Like every prominent group, there are those who disparage and detract the Masons. The recent interest worldwide in the historical Knights Templar and the current Freemasons has sparked research and interest in both organizations, especially the present Freemasons.
The Freemasons are organized by a system of lodges, each of which is determined by a geographical area and consensus of it’s members. Lodges control the intake of Masons in the local area through a number of means- including traditional rituals and character references, as well as a formal petitioning process. The Masons believe in a “Supreme Being”, commonly thought to be the Christian God. However, the Masons are non-denominational and religious belief is just one of it’s aspects.
The Freemasons do use a system of rituals and rites for initiation and other purposes. With the acceptance of a member, these rituals are revealed along with an expectation of secrecy. As the Mason rises through the various levels of the organization, he achieves different degrees that require study in order to move on to the next degree. Each of these degrees is supposed to help the Mason to understand the world around him better and to be able to answer philosophical questions about the nature of life itself.
This secrecy has inspired wild speculation about the nature of the organization. Freemasonry supports the upholding of traditions and the ritualism of the organization is one way that the Freemasons continue the organization’s rich and extensive history. A few of these traditions have become widely known- including a special handshake used between brother Masons, the usage of traditional garb at events such as a lambskin apron, and the various symbols that the Freemasons use, such as the Masonic square and compass (the organization’s main symbol), the plumb line, and others.
Freemasonry is overall a supportive organization of it’s members- one that helps to facilitate friendships and connections, as well as providing charity and support to the community as a whole. The organization may seem to be complex and controversial on the surface- but ultimately that is to be determined by the individual who is studying the organization whether for personal knowledge or with an idea to become a part of Freemasonry themselves.