Secret Societies: Freemasonry


Excerpt From Essay “Secret Societies” by Paul Witcover

Freemasonry is a fraternal order that arose in Scotland and England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and spread throughout the world. There are a number of different branches of Freemasonry; for instance, the United Grand Lodge of England and its affiliated lodges require prospective members to profess belief in a supreme being, while those lodges associated with Grand Orient de France do not. But for our purposes, two Freemasonries can be distinguished. The first is Freemasonry as it actually exists: a charitable fraternal organization with millions of members worldwide that combines public service with somewhat silly private rituals whose quasi-religious symbolism is meant to encourage personal spiritual and moral growth. The second is the myth of Freemasonry as a powerful, malign secret society-a vast conspiracy involved in everything from JFK’s assassination to 9/11 to the collapse of Wall Street. It is this view of Freemasonry that Catherine the Great expresses. Nor does Helene disagree-she merely feels that the Freemasons may be a benign secret society instead.

Such hyperbolic views are no doubt made easier to hold by the organization’s embrace of esoteric symbolism and allegory, as well as its obsessive secrecy. But while it is true, for example, that many of the leading lights of the American and French revolutions were Masons, this does not mean that the American and French revolutions were orchestrated by Freemasonry as part of the unfolding of some grand design. In the eighteenth century especially, as the principles of the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution became more widely embraced among intellectuals and freethinking aristocrats, it is little wonder that an elite organization like the Freemasons would reflect a belief in those principles.

Freemasonry has made its share of powerful enemies over its long history. Perhaps chief among them in terms of sheer persistence is that rival secret society, the Catholic Church, which holds that the organization encourages atheism or, at the very least, a deism incompatible with Catholic doctrine. For this reason, the Church prohibits its members from becoming Freemasons. Allegations of Satanism and other occult practices have also been leveled. In Nazi Germany, Freemasonry was viewed as a revolutionary Zionist group and persecuted accordingly, while in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, membership was punishable by death.

Katherine’s Freemasonry Reading List


Books by Freemasons and other authorities:

Morals and Dogma-Albert Pike

A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry- A.E. Waite

Duncan’s Ritual-Malcolm C. Duncan (Guide to the 3 degrees of the York Rite)

The Lodge of Washington DC-F.L. Brockett (History from the records of Alexandria Lodge No 22, George Washington’s lodge)

A Dictionary of Freemasonry- Robert McCoy

Freemasonry and the American Indian-William R. Denslow (Missouri Lodge of Research)

Freemasonry: Symbols, Secrets, Significance-W. Kirk McNulty (A gorgeous Thames & Hudson coffee-table book)

Freemasonry in the 13 Colonies-J. Hugo Tatsch

Facts About George Washington as a Freemason-J. Hugo Tatsch

The Meaning of Masonry-W.L. Willamshurst

Hermetic Masonry-Frank C. Higgins

Books by Non-Freemasons (Caution: a few with an Agenda, or even an axe to grind):

The Freemasons: A History of the World’s Most Powerful Secret Society-Jasper Ridley

Freemasonry and its Ancient Mystic Rites-C. W. Leadbeater (Theosophist and Clairvoyant, friend of Blavatsky)

The Temple and the Lodge-Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh (By the guys who gave us Holy Blood, Holy Grail)

The Templar Revelation-Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince (More Blood, Grail, Templars, Masons–and likely the first mention of the Secret Code of Leonardo da Vinci in Chapter One)

Ark of the Covenant, Holy Grail- Henrietta Bernstein (Ark, Grail, and a summary of the history of Western Path Secret Societies)

The Secret Architecture of Our Nation’s Capital: The Masons and the Building of Washington DC-David Ovason

(Freemasonic errors galore–but fun to read!)

The Brotherhood-Stephen Knight (Scandalmongering book by a journalist re: the 1980s actual conspiracy implicating members of the Vatican, the Mafia, Italy’s Banco Ambrosiana, and “Propaganda Due,” a secret (and illegally self-appointed) Freemason lodge. St Peter’s’s Banker by Italian journalist Luigi DiFonzo provides a more accurate analysis of events that are also covered by Francis Coppola in Godfather III.)

Inside the Brotherhood-Martin Short (Scandalmongering “sequel” by a former TV documentary person.)


The Art and Architecture of Freemasonry – James Stevens Curl

(The author may or may not be a Freemason, but he is a brilliant architectural historian. The bibliography alone is worth gold.)



Books by Lomas and Knight:

Robert Lomas and Christopher Knight are the top-selling Freemason authors in history, and deserve their own section.

Their books involve a re-thinking of biblical and pre-dynastic Egyptian history as interpreted through Masonic rites.

These include:





The Book of Hiram

-The Hiram Key

-The Second Messiah

-Uriel’s Machine


A stand-alone book of Robert Lomas’s:

Turning the Solomon Key:

George Washington, the Bright Morning Star, and the Secret of Masonic Astrology 

by Robert Lomas 

(Katherine wrote the Preface)



And highly recommended, for its insights into the early British connections of Freemasonry, politics, and science:

Freemasonry and the Birth of Modern Science Robert Lomas (The Foundation of the Royal Society by Freemasons including Robert Boyle, Robert Moray and Christopher Wren, with the patronage of Charles II)


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