Freemasonry is a fraternal organization with some occult rituals. The rules of the game were laid down in the early 18th century, supposedly from previous, incredibly ancient sources.
Where this setting down of the rules happened is object of debate, as different traditions are present, each claiming to be the true holder of the ancient principles. All the elements of the masonic tradition (rituals, terms etc), can be either taken at face value, or seen as metaphoric representations of something else. Or both.
Independently of the tradition's origins, Freemasonry often attracted influential people, thus becoming de facto a strong string-pulling entity. Political involvement of the Masons through European history is well documented. The basic tenet of the organization: within each man lies the key to truth and freedom - you only have to find it.
|Material relevant to this article has been archived by the Fairfield Project at Freemasonry discussion.|