by Shawn M. Gorley
We often hear there are no secrets in Freemasonry or that our biggest secret is there are no secrets. This topic is probably the most commonly misunderstood and or misinterpreted subject in relation to the Craft of Freemasonry. There are numerous books, shows and documentaries that all claim to reveal the secrets of the Freemasons. Every Mason goes through the degrees of initiation hearing many times that once we become Master Masons that we will be privy to these ancient and mystical Secrets and truly how many of us walk away after the evening we were raised to a Master Mason with more questions than we had before we were initiated? How many Brothers were let down by this and perhaps never returned to the lodge because all they ever saw of Freemasonry was just passing the bills the minutes and such, sort of like a boring work meeting. To say that there are no secrets in Freemasonry or that a Mason learns no secrets as a result of being a Brother of the Craft, in my humble opinion is quite frankly a rip-off to not only freshly made Masons but also men that have been members for many years and have not realized what these secrets are. Don’t give up, they are there!
I have witnessed many times in multiple areas that when a Mason curiously asks a Brother Mason that has been of the Craft for a long time the most common response he receives is a mere wink and nod with a smirk. In some cases this response has been given because the older more experienced Mason knows that a Man must work hard himself to attain them not just merely ask and receive, but sadly I fear that this response is given more often because the older more experienced Brother himself has no idea and it is easier to wink and nod than admit he doesn’t know, this statement isn’t merely one made by myself or in any way meant to be a sort of smart a$$ statement. For several years I have been conflicted by this, and after much investigation and asking this question to hundreds of Brethren, sadly that bold statement I made seems to be true.
I am also quite active within Freemasonry and as a result I have the opportunity and pleasure to meet with many newly raised Masons and almost all of them ask about the “secrets” of Freemasonry. As always, I enjoy wonderful conversations with many of them and to sum up what I always tell them, “any Brother that tells you there are no secrets in Freemasonry is full of bunk, or has not searched for them himself. Do not fall for it, there are most definitely secrets, they just may not be what you think they are but I guarantee you, when you find them it will be an amazing experience.”
I realize there are many Brothers out there that will disagree with me and the above statements, and that is fine, we all get different things from Freemasonry. However I strongly feel that making the statement “there are no secrets in Freemasonry” merely to satisfy our foes or the general public to be more appealing to future prospective members is unjust. Without giving anything away that is contained in the degrees, yes it is stated multiple times that you are now privileged to the secrets of Freemasonry, and yes 300 years ago and prior, secrecy was without a doubt the most solemn and serious of matters because of the fact that a secret meeting of men of various religions meeting together as well as educating each other was a serious offense in those dark times and men could literally be punished in a most painful and severe manner for going against the wishes of the church and state, and in certain parts of the world today this is still true. However I am not saying that because we now do have the privilege to meet in freedom without fear of these punishments that the secrets have disappeared, they are there and always will be present, and privilege does not mean they will be given to you freely, you have to work to obtain them, and yes they are most likely different for every man. Brethren, I challenge you to find out your own personal secrets that can be found from Freemasonry. What I found to be my secrets were amazing and I am grateful every day to have discovered them as well as discovering more every day.
I will close up this article with one of my all-time favorite quotes from one of my favorite Masonic authors, Brother Joseph Fort Newton, “The secret of Masonry is like the secret of life. It can be known only to those who seek it, serve it, and live it. It cannot be uttered, only felt and acted. It is in fact, an open secret, and each man knows it according to his own quest and capacity. Like all other things worth knowing, no man can know it for another, and no man can know it alone.” If you are curious of the “secrets” I ask you to think about the above quote and also to think and study the lessons contained within the degrees and the Lodge, with hard work you will find them.
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