Symbols of Freemasonry - a case for Robert Langdon

Assembly of Free Masons for the Initiation of a Master, from 'The Ceremonies of Religion & Custom', c.1733 Stapleton Collection
Assembly of Free Masons for the Initiation of a Master, from 'The Ceremonies of Religion & Custom', c.1733 Stapleton Collection

Symbologist hero Robert Langdon is back. After decoding the symbols in Dan Brown’s last two thrillers The da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, his challenge this time is to decode the mysteries of  the Masonic Brotherhood to save his friend Peter Solomon, Grand Master of a Lodge.



Freemasonry
is a fraternal organisation with obscure origins dating back to the late 16th to early 17th century.

It now exists in various forms all over the world with a membership estimated at around 5 million. The fraternity is organised into Grand Lodges, each of which governs its own jurisdiction, consisting of subordinate (or constituent) Lodges.

Owing to their secretive rituals the masons are a source of theory and curious speculation.

Masonic Initiation Ceremony of a lady Freemason, French School, (19th century) Musee du Grand Orient de France, Paris/ Charmet
Masonic Initiation Ceremony of a lady Freemason, French School, (19th century) Musee du Grand Orient de France, Paris/ Charmet

Portrait of John James Howell Coe, 1820s English School © Library and Museum of Freemasonry, London, UK
Portrait of John James Howell Coe, 1820s English School © Library and Museum of Freemasonry, London, UK


The Library and Museum of Freemasonry
houses one of the finest collections of Masonic material in the world.

The Museum contains an extensive collection of objects with Masonic decoration including pottery and porcelain,  jewels and regalia including items belonging to famous and Royal Freemasons including Winston Churchill and Edward VII.

Other collections within the Bridgeman archive provide access to images of the werid and wonderful masonic rituals, symbols and rumoured famous Freemasons.



Ritual, symbolism, and morality

Freemasonry uses the metaphors of operative stonemasons' tools and implements, against the allegorical backdrop of the building of King Solomon's Temple, to convey a system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.

Two of the principal symbolic tools always found in a Lodge are the square and compasses.

Freemasonry and masonic symbols

 

Detail of the cover of 'The History of Freemasonry, volume I', published by Thomas C. Jack, London, 1883 / Private Collection/ Ken Welsh
Detail of the cover of 'The History of Freemasonry, volume I', published by Thomas C. Jack, London, 1883 / Private Collection/ Ken Welsh


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