Freemasonry In the Darkness of the Truth. By Dick O’Hara
The word “Freemasonry” is probably the most controversial word among people wherever you go. People only know that it is a secret society, a brotherhood with mysterious rituals… and they cannot join it even if they want… So they can’t really judge it! And that is already a very annoying thing for lots of people. Still, they want to have an opinion about it, so they guess, make theories and imagine… therefore, freemasonry is haunted with theories and speculations… good and bad… but, unfortunately, mostly bad.
It is immediately connected to “Conspiracy”, “Hidden Agenda”, “Controlling the World”, “Power and Money”, “Powerful guys helping each others”, etc.… The Freemasons are often seen among average men as the bad guys who are responsible for every evil in this world… could that be true? Even though they don’t have the tiniest proof to support their fairytales!!! Well, let’s check that out!
First of all, let me make myself clear here. I am not writing this article either to defend freemasonry or to change anyone’s mind about it or to reveal any of its secrets… I do not have the free will to do that. I only write this to shed light on some of the facts of this old fraternity, which Freemasons call “The Craft”, and I hope at the end of the article that the reader can make his or her own conclusions about it and realise what Masonry is really about, without any ignorance, false information, prejudice or internet propaganda.
To start with, let me mention a few facts about it:
1) Freemasonry is the oldest and the biggest existing fraternity on our planet. There are almost 5 million freemasons in the world and it has officially existed since the year 1717.
2) Freemasonry is a dying and declining craft by the numbers.
3) Freemasonry is neither a religion nor a sect; it’s a fraternity (brotherhood) of men.
4) Each Freemason must believe in a high supreme being.
5) Freemasons are from all different religions of the world.
6) Freemasonry is the biggest charitable organisation in the world by far.
To understand freemasonry today, you must know what it is about and where it comes from!
The history of freemasonry is rooted deep in time and shrouded in the dark ages, as mysterious as the craft itself. There’re so many theories about the origin of it, but let me give you the most credible and logical one of them all (at least for me), according to the facts and the history of the era.
It goes back about 1000 years ago, to the time of the Crusaders and the endless (still going on) fight between Christians and Muslims.
At this time, they were fighting about Jerusalem and controlling the Eastern Mediterranean (the same as now) and, since the first Crusade in 1096 AD until the final one in 1271 AD (almost 200 years), Jerusalem changed ownership many times, sometimes to the Arabs and sometimes the Christians, until the year 1244 AD, when the Muslims captured Jerusalem, and it was for good this time.
When Jerusalem was first captured, by mighty Arab leader Saladin in 1187 AD, he announced Jerusalem as a holy city, not only for Muslims, but for every religion (something that should be done now too, I think!) He also said that he would never forbid anyone from coming to the city. They could even live there with the Muslims if they would pay the “Fedya” (tax). So, Christian pilgrims from all over Europe were flocking to Jerusalem.
At this time, the journey from central or northern Europe to Jerusalem was a hazardous one, full of dangers and risks. Pilgrims had to travel all the way down south, either to Malta, Rhodes or Cyprus, where they could catch a ship to the holy land. Through Europe, they were frequently attacked, robbed and even killed by the many of the outlaws, highwaymen and bandits that were flourishing across Europe. (One must remember that Europe at this time was still in complete darkness, filth and savageness).
So, in the year 1119 AD, a knight by the name of “Hugues de Payens” and 9 other knights decided to establish an order with their own money (which wasn’t much). They called it “The Order of Poor Soldiers of Christ”. They established that order for just one reason: to protect those helpless pilgrims heading from Europe to Jerusalem. The flag that they designed for their order showed two knights riding on one horse, a symbol of solidarity and humanitarianism.
The fame of that order, and the noble reason for which it was established, made a lot of people in Europe donate money and land for those knights and the order grew rich and powerful very rapidly. It became one of the most active orders of the Catholic Church. It was also a sign of virtue and honour to become one of them. Later on, this order became known as “The Knights of Templar”.
The Knights of the Templars were from all different nations of Europe and they were operating all over the continent, the holy land and wherever they could help and give protection.
The Templars were not only appreciated by the church, but also by the Muslims for the noble cause they worked for. So, they even let them be headquartered in Jerusalem itself.
This unique position that the Templar enjoyed at the time made them powerful and able to protect those pilgrims perfectly well and to make their lives safer.
The Templars built a big fleet of ships to secure a safe journey for the pilgrims. They built castles across Europe, which served as garrisons as well. They even bought the whole island of Cyprus from “Richard the Lionheart”, to secure a strategic position close to the holy land, and Cyprus became another stronghold for them and the main residence of their grand master, “Jacques de Molay”, until 1307 AD.
Another intelligent method they created to defend Pilgrims was to let them leave their money with the order back home, so they had no risk of being attacked along the way. They gave them a voucher or receipt that entitled them to receive their money from the Templars’ headquarters when they arrived in the holy land! It was the first form of banking in Europe.
The Templar order operated for almost two hundreds years. They grew extremely rich and powerful and automatically that brought a lot of hate and envy with it… especially from the rival aristocrat order of the church, which was ‘The Order of St. John’, or what they called “The Hospitaller”.
Being so wealthy, the Templars were lending money to a lot of people in Europe. Even kings and aristocrats borrowed from them. One of those kings who borrowed lots of money from the Templars and was not intending to pay it back was the King Phillip IV of France.
So, out of wickedness, envy and hate, Phillip IV turned to Pope Clement V, making all false accusation against the Templar. He made the pope believe that the order became too powerful and was already becoming a big threat to the church, and they both plotted on destroying the Order of the Templars.
The Pope sent a friendly invitation to all Templars around Europe to his seat in France (that was before the Vatican became his home). The Templars at the time were over 15,000 in number and most of them answered the call and headed to France to meet with their boss.
Early on the morning on Friday the 13th of October 1307, as most of the Templars were already in France, agents of the church and soldiers of Phillip came down on the Templars, arresting, torturing and killing the knights, and the church confiscated all of their properties (This is actually where the superstition about Friday the 13th came from).
At the same time, the pope issued a Papal Order to all kings and monarchs around Europe to arrest all Templars in their countries and confiscate their assets, and that’s exactly what they did.
So, overnight, the Templars went from noble knights to criminal outlaws, without the slightest guilt.
The Templars were falsely accused of heresy, spitting on the cross, cooperating with the Muslims, practicing homosexuality, praying to idols and more (At this time, being against the church was the biggest crime that anyone could commit)
For the next five years, the Templars were arrested wherever they were found. They were jailed and brutally tortured until the church extracted from them whatever confession it needed to execute them!
Finally, in 1312, the church had officially dissolved the “Order of the Knights of Templars” and on March 18th, 1314, their grand master, Jacques de Molay, was burned alive on the scaffold, in the heart of Paris, in front of everybody.
Now, we know from documents found much later that the trial of the Templars was fabricated and extremely unjust. It was also a scandal across Europe at the time, but no one dared to open his mouth against the church.
They say that the common people at the time looked at De Molay as a martyr and collected his ashes from the square after he was totally burned.
Not all Templars made it to France in 1307 AD, so when they heard about the arrest, the confiscation and the torture, the rest of the Templars across Europe and the Middle East abandoned everything and went undercover. They just disappeared and when the order was officially dissolved in 1312 AD, there was not a trace of any Templar to be found.
Still, being a knight is something that not many people understand. It is not about position or employment! It’s neither for fame, wealth or security! No, it is a way of life, with dignity, moral, unbreakable oath and a code of honour. Unfortunately, those are not the values that common men live by (neither in the past nor the present). That is why not everyone could become a knight.
So, the church maybe managed to destroy the Order of the Templars, but the Knights would not break either their oath or the code of honour! The church believed that the Templars were totally destroyed, but they were not. They just moved to another level.
So, the remaining undercover Templars escaped to remote areas on the outskirts of Europe. Many escaped to the far north and remote Scotland. Others to the islands in the south, far from the Catholic Church influence. They stayed far from their homes, isolated, with no families or friends to trust. Still, they lived with the same dignity, morals and values that they once swore by.
They also stayed secretly in touch with each other. I guess that was the only comfort and pleasure they had at the time, and there is no wonder that they were very suspicious about others, from all that they had gone through. So, they were very cautious and had to have their own secret signs and signals to recognise each other across Europe.
That’s all about the Knights of the Templars. So, what about freemasonry?
After the huge unjust and prosecutions, those knights were in hiding, but they needed a place to meet and gather, sometimes secretly, where they could still meet their fellow knights and do their humanitarian duties. The Templar Order stayed alive, in the shadow though.
At this time in history, there was a big competition between the stonemasons in Europe (who were building those amazing Gothic churches and domes) and their Muslim rivals (who were building those wonderful Arabic architecture across the Middle East). They were both tightly keeping the building secrets from each other’s. The stonemasons of Europe were very cautious, so they had their own venues and premises where they met and no one else would be allowed or permitted in.
Now, the Templars saw a great opportunity for them to also meet in those secret premises, as masons, and that’s what they did.
So, the knights became undercover, as masons, and only stonemasons knew that they were not masons. To distinguish those undercover knights, they gave them the name “Freemasons” and that is where it all came from.
Those newly named “Freemasons” kept operating undercover as noble knights with noble tasks for over 400 years. They kept the values, the morals and the old rituals alive.
Finally, in 1717, when the prosecutions of the church and its iron grip over people in Europe had eased a bit, the Freemasons felt the urge and the need to rise again to the light; to bring those old, lost values and morals to the world. To teach the simple man how to be a better man, a man of virtue and dignity, and that is actually what freemason is all about.
So, the first official freemasonry lodge was created in London on the 24th of June 1717 (300 years ago). From that date, freemasonry was known to the public as a fraternity of men. No one knew about their origin, but Freemasons kept their rituals, issues and practice only for themselves, like it used to be at the time of their ancestors, the knights.
From the beginning, freemasonry spread like wild fire among elite men around the globe, intellectuals, thinkers, philosophers, politicians, artists and more. Those men were looking for something higher to live for, more than just accumulating things or power. So, freemasonry had some of the most powerful, intellectual men on our planet at different times and from all different walks of life. Isaac Newton, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Alexander Pushkin, Nelson Mandela, George Washington, Wolfgang Mozart, Ludwig von Beethoven, Winston Churchill, Simon Bolivar and Franklin Roosevelt…and many more. Most of these men have inspired humans or helped humanity, one way or another. There’s no doubt about that.
Opportunistic men were also trying, over the centuries, to become freemasons because they thought it was just a prestige thing, offering connections, but they never became one, since masonry is very, very strict about choosing their people. No one can just walk in to the temple and become a mason. To start with, no one can get inside the temple, as it’s heavy guarded. The only way for a man to become a mason is to be recommended by other masons. After that, he will be investigated carefully for genuine and honest intention. Then, after that, a council of old masons must decide about it! Then, maybe the candidate would be approved…or not! It usually takes a few years to be accepted. Only men with a genuine, deep code of morals can be accepted, and even after being approved, the candidate must go through a serious ceremony. This is just the beginning, but after that, there is a lot more to go through and to learn. It’s a constant learning and growing experience for good men to become better. So, it’s not a club that you can just pay the fees and become a member, or a religious sect where you can just become a follower. No, it’s much higher and nobler than all of that. So, if it is all very good and noble, then why masonry is dying then? You may wonder!!!
Humans have changed dramatically. Our values about virtue, honour or dignity, which we cherished for millennia, have radically changed in the last few decades. Now, it’s all about possessing things and showing what we’ve got. The measure of a man is not what he is anymore, but what he has! No one wants to bind himself with an oath of honour or whatever oath anymore. We all became flexible and diplomats. We would do ANYTHING and by WHATEVER means to get along and possess more things. The values of the knights and what freemasonry is built upon do not exist anymore among men. Freemasons are becoming very old. There’s no good wood to feed the fire, so it’s very natural that it’s bound to die.
Now, after knowing the historical facts of this fraternity, how can we imagine that those people who lived with this strong code of virtue and dignity for almost a millennium would turn, overnight, into selfish, greedy monsters that are running the world, destroying and deceiving people and causing mayhem and chaos? Does that make sense?
Does the fact that they don’t lay their books wide open on the table make them an evil society in our eyes? Sometimes, I wonder how we can still promote those false accusations of the Middle Ages!
In my opinion, I believe that those institutions and societies who inflicted all that unjust and aggression against innocent humans in the past or the present should admit their terrible mistakes, feel the guilt about what they have done and try to be better and more just! Instead, they’re continuing to lead heavy campaigns against what they basically know nothing about…against whatever doesn’t fit their line, promoting false information and propaganda wherever they can. They are supporting anyone who would attack freemasonry and trying to scare the simple man with anything that doesn’t fit their profitable ideology!
It must be very frustrating for anyone who has a healthy mind and soul to know the facts, to see the injustice of the world that we created, to realize that we hardly moved mentally any further from those dark ages, and not be able to do anything about it. At least that’s how I feel.
Then again, I think if those knights managed to pull themselves through for thousands of years of darkness and prosecutions, they’re probably strong enough to pull themselves furthermore through this dark age of ours.