The powerful Western Christian military group was extremely influential for almost 200 years during the Middle Ages.
(The Brotherhood by Stephen Knight) About 20 years ago, I was browsing through the private library of a close friend when he pulled out a volume called “The Brotherhood” and told me that if I ever wanted to find out more about the Freemasons, that was the book I should read.
I glanced through the book and promptly dismissed it from my mind. Then years later, I was rummaging through a box of books at a jumble sale when “The Brotherhood” suddenly came into view.
Why not, I thought. I bought it, took it home and never looked at it again until recently. The desire to really read this book was triggered by a recent two-part documentary series on Astro History channel which focused on the Knights Templar.
The Templars as they were more popularly known were described as medieval soldiers of Jesus Christ. The powerful Western Christian military group was extremely influential for almost 200 years during the Middle Ages.
The decline of the Templars began in the mid-12th century. Things came to a head in 1307 when King Philip of France conspired with Pope Clement to take action against the militaristic order as a way to rid himself of debts owing to the Templars.
The devious scheme succeeded and the ranks of the Templars were drastically decimated. The members of the order were pursued and persecuted all over Europe.
What was left of the group crossed over to Scotland, Switzerland and Portugal. The Order even changed its name to avert identification.
It is believed that in the 18th century, the Freemason of Britain began to identify itself with the old order of Knights Templar. The Freemason adopted symbols which alluded to its faint and fleeting association to the medieval organisation.
There are mysteries, legends and secrets that are associated with Knights Templar. It is the same with Freemasons.
Unfortunately, the unusual rituals that are part of Freemasonry initiation drew suspicions among certain members of society and also authorities.
In 1984, Stephen Knight published “The Brotherhood”. In it, he talks about the rumours, rituals and the extensive influence of the Brotherhood throughout Britain and Europe.
It is estimated that today there are six million Freemason members around the world. In Ireland, Scotland and Britain, the combined Freemasonry membership is estimated at 400,000.
The US has an unverified membership of two million. The fraternity is divided into independent Grand Lodges.
A member with the highest seniority is known as the Master Mason, or the Third Degree. The book is filled with intriguing details about the organisation. Some of them are decidedly strange and others have to do with archaic signs and passwords.
These are used to gain entry into secret meetings and identify the true members.
Many of its members are supposed to be holding key position in the government or are highly placed in powerful private organisations.
Knight has given fair treatment to what he perceived to be the pervasive influence of Freemason members in the English society. The writer tells of secret handshakes to identify the rank of a Freemason.
Closely guarded secrets
However, he also pointed out that many ordinary people take up Freemason membership as a way of gaining easy passage in their chosen careers.
The whispers in the hallowed halls of power tell of highly-ranked members of the Freemasonry extending a helping hand whenever possible to their “brethren” in times of need.
“The Brotherhood” details the various levels of authority and seniority in the ancient secret club. But whether the body deserves such close scrutiny or critique from individuals or authority is open to debate.
Some members of the organisation have freely volunteered information to Knight during his researches. Others were reluctant to share closely guarded secrets.
All this only served to intensify suspicions among members of the British society in the 1980s.
Knight touches on the Freemason influence in the British police force and the judiciary. He also postulated on the possible penetration of the old Soviet KGB into the Freemasonry.
All these conjectures made for a truly highly charged Hollywood movie script but the truth, as they say in the X-Files, is still out there.
“The Brotherhood” is a fascinating expose of the heavily shrouded domain of the Freemasons. If you want to catch a fleeting glimpse of this centuries-old organisation, you may want to peruse the pages of “The Brotherhood”.
I doubt if this book is still available at the bookstores but you can surely find a copy floating around in Amazon dot com. Since the 1980s, there have been numerous publications about the Freemasons.
You may even bump into an acquaintance or colleague who may just allude to the fact that he is a member of this “secret” organisation. If that is the case, take it with a pinch of salt and carry out your own investigation.
Better still, read this book.