Secret Societies

In its correct sense, a secret society is an association of men, or both men and women, in which certain methods of initiation, ideologies, doctrines, practices, means of recognition for one another, and purposes are made available only to those who pass through certain forms of initiation and make solemn pledges not to reveal anything whatever of the society to outsiders. In a society of this kind complete secrecy of the object of the association, of the names of its membership, of the places and times of its meetings is maintained. Such societies are usually treasonable, felonious, and criminal in character and objectives.

Freemasonry is not a secret society in this sense; it does not seek to conceal its existence and its objects. The names of its members may be known to all who are interested; in fact, most Masons wear jewels of identification and are proud to be known as Masons. Freemasonry may be regarded as a secret society only in respect to its ritual, some of its legends and symbols, its methods of inculcating its mythical philosophy and high moral, ethical, religious and spiritual truths, and certain signs of recognition. Its design, its object, its tenets and the great truths which it teaches are as open as if its meetings were held on the highways instead of within the well-guarded portals of a Lodge.

This page is adapted from the Glossary at Phoenixmasonry — Used with permission.

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