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Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that traces its origins to the local fraternities of stonemasons, which from the end of the fourteenth century regulated the qualifications of masons and their interaction with authorities and clients.
There are lots of secret ceremonies.
Members progress thru higher and higher degrees.
The Scottish and York Rites are appendant bodies of Freemasonry that a Master Mason may join for further exposure to the principles of Freemasonry.
There are two bodies based on the Scottish Rite and York Right.
The Scottish Rite Mason is urged to take an active leadership role in the promotion and protection of individual rights: government by democracy, free speech and press, equitable treatment before the law, freedom of religion and the individual, and separation of church and state.
York Rite Masonry in its concluding Degrees or Orders is the champion of Christianity. A man must pledge to defend Christianity to become a Knight Templar Freemason in the York Rite.
U.S. Government influence.
There is no clear mechanism by which these local trade organizations became today's Masonic lodges, but the earliest rituals and passwords known, from operative lodges around the turn of the 17th-18th centuries, show continuity with the rituals developed in the later 18th century by accepted or speculative Masons, as those members who did not practice the physical craft came to be known. The minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) No.1 in Scotland show a continuity from an operative lodge in 1598 to a modern speculative lodge. It is reputed to be the oldest Masonic lodge in the world.
A German bookseller and Freemason, living in Paris,wrote a manuscript titled "Encyclopedia of Freemasonry" which embellished a story about King Charles II being a freemason which may account for the German connection.
The Scottish Rite, is one of several Rites of Freemasonry. A Rite is a progressive series of degrees conferred by various Masonic organizations.
The Scottish Rite is one of the appendant bodies of Freemasonry that a Master Mason may join for further exposure to the principles of Freemasonry. In the United States, the Scottish Rite is officially recognized by Grand Lodges as an extension of the degrees of Freemasonry. The Scottish Rite builds upon the ethical teachings and philosophy offered in the craft lodge. In other countries the Scottish Rite is not an official part of the lodge.
The man who has decided to seek Masonic membership needs only to convey his desire to someone close to him who is a Mason. That Mason will take it from there.
Once a man decides to seek Masonic membership he must be recommended by members of the lodge, and he must submit to a background investigation. Following a prescribed waiting period, his petition will be balloted upon during a regular meeting of the lodge. The vote is by secret ballot, and election of a petitioner requires a unanimously favorable ballot.
A belief in a supreme being and scripture is a condition of membership.
Meetings, Ceremonies and Rituals:
There is no discussion of politics or religion.
The Masonic altar holds a Holy Book (or several Holy Books, depending upon the personal religions of its members).
Secret History of the Freemasons Documentary | YouTube
All Seeing eye ; a common religious symbol.
Note: The connection and meaning of the pyramid and freemasonry is controversial.