The outside world has long been obsessed with uncovering the truth behind Freemason traditions and other Masonic secrets, but the organization remains largely shrouded in mystery. Occasionally, articles come out with titles like “How to Identify a Freemason!” or “Freemason Secrets Revealed!” but they rarely, if ever, reveal anything of actual interest. Truthfully, all of these secret Masonic rituals aren’t nearly as creepy and satanic as the news media would have the public believe, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t super weird and interesting.
What is Freemasonry? It’s a loose organization of various fraternal groups that trace their origins back to stonemasonry guilds from the Middle Ages. Since then, Freemasons have diversified their interests, and are now essentially community organizations that focus on fraternity, charity, and good will towards mankind, like a more secretive version of a Rotary Club. Or at least, that’s what they’d like you to believe. Dedicated conspiracy theorists continue to disagree.
The basic qualifications that one must have in order to join a Freemason Lodge at the entry level seem simple, but are actually quite exclusionary. For one, with the exception of a few unofficial chapters, only men are welcome to become Freemasons. Anyone wishing to join must be sponsored by two established Freemasons, although inheritance is possible.
Finally, everyone wanting to join must attest that they believe in one singular Supreme Power - a monotheistic god, but not necessarily the Christian one. In other words, only men who believe in God can join, and even then they need connections.
Despite the qualifying question for Masonic membership, discussion of personal religion is actually forbidden within Freemason Lodges. The organization is usually described as “religious, but not a religion,” and they don’t endorse any one monotheistic religion over another. Religion isn’t the only forbidden topic in a lodge, as discussion of politics is also banned.
Lodges are often accused of being the location of secretive political deal-making, but the most basic rules of Freemasonry outlaw any such conversation. That’s not to say that political discussions aren’t held between various Masons outside of their official meeting places.
The fraternity of the Freemasons is based on equality and equity within the organization. A wide variety of people have joined the order, including a great number of presidents and other important and influential individuals. However, all such grandiose titles must be dropped at the door when entering a Masonic Lodge.
Real world status means nothing to Freemasons when meetings are held, and the only status that matters is one’s level of achievement within Freemasonry. Everyday laborers stand shoulder-to-shoulder with titans of industry inside a Masonic Lodge.
It has long been rumored that all Freemasons learn a secret handshake, but that doesn’t appear to be true. Although each lodge is sure to have its own rituals, and handshakes, passwords, and secret knocks are part of that, these would be specific to each individual order.
Although Freemasonry exists worldwide, most individual orders are only loosely affiliated with one another, meaning there’s no such thing as a universal Freemason handshake. However, some members will attest that, “you can still find out a mason by the way he shakes your hand, if you're aware.”