Secret and Ancient - High Profile and Modern
The Freemason movement is nothing if not contradictory.
Origins trace back to the great engineers, mathematicians and architects of the biblical and classical times. Today the Masons are prevelant in society through members and popular culture.
A secret society, yet it is world famous.
A group formed initially of highly skilled stone workers who were the builders of the Great Gothic Cathedrals of the Middle Ages. Documentation of their secret knowledge has been found dating to c1390AD - The Regius Poem being the earliest suriving Masonic Manuscript. Yet this deeply historical and traditional group is also the subject of Modern popular culture such as Dan Brown's 2009 Best Seller "The Lost Symbol".
At first a Secret Society of stone workers it has evolved so its members count amongst them some of the most high profile public figures that have helped shape today's world. This article lists but a few.
The American Dollar
Accepted the world over and with over 16 million printed each day this is truly one of the most iconic images of the modern world - the American Dollar.
Influential in the design was President Franklin D. Roosevelt - A Mason. The seal he placed on the dollar contains Masonic imagery including the unfinished pyramid and an all-seeing eye. The phrase "Annuit Coeptis" emblazened above the pyramid means "He Favours Our Undertakings".
Because of Roosevelt (and several other Amercian Presidents) anyone who engages with the largest economy in the world are influenced in some way by this Secret Society.
To Infinity And Beyond
How Far Does The Influence Reach?
Imagery on the worlds largest currency is one thing, but Freemasonry hasn't stopped there.
On 20th July 1969 Edwin Eugene "Buzz" Aldrin Jr (A Mason) walked on the moon.
Aldrin's involvement in the ancient order is not such a stretch. Freemasons embraced the most advanced minds of the day as far as engineering and archtecture. Aldrin has been at the front of one of man's most challenging Engineering triumphs - space travel.
In 1985 Aldrin discussed "The Aldrin Cycler" - A space craft trajectory which would would allow those in its field to travel near Earth and Mars repeatedly. Perhaps many founding fathers that the Masons trace their routes to, including Archimedes, would be impressed.
The Masonic Lodges have rules and it seems no one - no matter what influence you have on the world - is too big for them.
3 times Prime Minister of Italy - Silvio Berlusconi was expelled in 1986 by The Grand Orient of Italy.
Celebrated Author Mark Twain also fell foul of the Lodge rules - he was suspended for non payment of dues but later reinstated. Again his influence through the book Huckleberry Finn brings the Masons to prominance when young Huck proclaims himself "Royal Grand Warden to the Knights of Morality"
Making Secrets Relevant In Modern Day
J. Edgar Hoover was instrumental in founding, and indeed was the first director of the FBI. His involvement in the Masonic movement would have shaped his views and it is no surprise that one of the greatest keeper of secrets in U.S. History would go onto become a Master Mason in the secret society of Freemasons.
War of The Worlds
One of the great War time leaders, Winston Churchill, was a Mason from a long line of Masons.
He was key in defeating Adolf Hitler's NAZI forces in the 2nd World War. Strangely, had Hitler been victorious it may not have spelled the end of Freemasonry despite his public aversion to secret societies. The one exepmtion to his 1942 law banning secret societies were the "Old Prussian Freemasonry Lodges".
The man widly credited with founding modern industry - Henry Ford - was a member of Palestine Lodge No. 357. All those who have driven Ford cars, engaged in systematic business models, or benefitted from the normalised concept of the minimum wage have been effected by this man, a man who was effected by Freemasonry.
Perhaps Ford himself alluded to why Masons became so revered as master builders, and continue to impact the world today in one of his famous quotations;
"It is wiser to recognise that the future holds more than the past, that every day holds within it an improvement on the methods of the day before"