Boston and Philadelphia are renowned for their part in America’s revolutionary saga, but these cities harbor an unseen connection…the Freemasons. From the whispers of hidden tunnels and tombs beneath Boston’s North End, to the incredible waterworld still intact under Philadelphia, the legendary secret society has left behind the blueprints to America’s rise.
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. The degrees of freemasonry, its gradal system, retain the three grades of medieval craft guilds, those of Apprentice, journeyman or fellow (now called Fellowcraft), and Master Mason. These are the degrees offered by craft, or blue lodge Freemasonry. There are additional degrees, which vary with locality and jurisdiction, and are now administered by different bodies than the craft degrees.
The basic, local organisational unit of Freemasonry is the lodge. The lodges are usually supervised and governed at the regional level (usually coterminous with either a state, province, or national border) by a Grand Lodge or Grand Orient. There is no international, world-wide Grand Lodge that supervises all of Freemasonry. Each Grand Lodge is independent, and they do not necessarily recognise each other as being legitimate.
Many masonic conspiracy theories exist, hundreds of such conspiracy theories have been described since the late 18th century. Generally, these theories fall into three distinct categories: political (usually involving allegations of control of government, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom), religious (usually involving allegations of anti-Christian or Satanic beliefs or practices), and cultural (usually involving popular entertainment). Many conspiracy theory writers have connected Freemasons (and the Knights Templar) with worship of the devil; these ideas are based on misinterpretations of the doctrines of those organizations.
Of the claims that Freemasonry exerts control over politics, perhaps the best-known example is the New World Order theory, but there are others. These mainly involve aspects and agencies of the United States government, but actual events outside the US (such as the Propaganda Due scandal in Italy) are often used to lend credence to claims.
Another set of theories has to do with Freemasonry and religion, particularly that Freemasonry deals with „the occult“. These theories have their beginnings in the Taxil hoax. In addition to these, there are various theories that focus on the embedding of symbols in otherwise ordinary items, such as street patterns, national seals, etc.
There are Masonic conspiracy theories dealing with every aspect of society. The majority of these theories are based on one or more of the following assumptions:
That Freemasonry is its own religion, requires belief in a unique Masonic „god“, and that belief in this Masonic „god“ is contrary to the teachings of various mainstream religions (although usually noted in terms of being specifically contrary to Christian belief.)
That the 33rd degree of the Scottish Rite is more than an honorary degree, coupled with the belief that most Freemasons are unaware of hidden or secretive ruling bodies within their organization that govern them, conduct occult ritual, or control various positions of governmental power.
That there is a centralized worldwide body that controls all Masonic Grand Lodges, and thus, all of Freemasonry worldwide acts in a unified manner.