Updated: Feb 24
Part One ~ Stacie: History and Symbolism of the Freemasons
For centuries, the Freemasons have been considered a fraternity shrouded in ritual and secrecy, yet harmless. However, some have questioned the morals and motivations of the Masons. Is the fraternity as innocuous as it sounds, or are there some more devilish motives hidden behind this secret society? The organization is indeed mysterious by design, but the reasoning for that has changed over the years. With notable Freemasons including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Beethoven, Henry Ford, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Harry Houdini and Buzz Aldrin, how can you not speculate about the organization’s intentions?
Freemasonry started in 1717 in London to help educate and foster the growth of guilded stonemasons. In order to keep the trade workers skilled and in high demand, everything was secretive. Essentially, they had a fraternity of men who held the secret to masonry, and they would do anything to keep their secrets kept. As time went on, the element of masonry became less imperative to membership, meaning you no longer had to be part of the trade. There were, however, still some stipulations that seemed to change as time went on. At first, only white non-denominational Masons were allowed to join. Eventually, the Freemasons split into Continental and Anglo-American Freemasonry. Each group had different ideas as to how Freemasons should behave and conduct business. Because of this, the brotherhood began to redefine their own rules, including allowing women, Jewish people, and people of color into the order.
Just to point out, Freemasons may or may not have been the cause of the Mexican Revolution in 1910. It’s a long, complicated story, but there was apparently a power struggle between the Freemasonic settlers and the Mexican President. Some stories say that the difference was religious, with the Mexican President being a Spiritualist, and the leader of the Freemasons being part of the occult. In order to be considered a Freemason, you must believe in a “higher power,” which we will get into a bit later.
Despite the European roots, Freemasonry includes Egyptian symbolism. Some consider ancient Egypt to be the origin of Freemasonry, but that remains up for debate. It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact derivation of the Freemasons, but the Egyptian symbolism cannot be ignored in the group’s growth.
With all of the changes that the organization has faced over the years, the two things that all Freemasons can agree upon is secrecy and ritual; however, they may vary on the latter.
No one outside of the lodge is allowed to know what a master Mason has said in their meeting, which seems suspicious to outsiders. Some Masons are expected to dress a certain way and act a certain way during their meetings. Eventually, each Mason hopes to make their way from the first, second, and third degree. Side note: the phrase “giving someone the third degree,” meaning to intensely question a person, comes from the Freemason’s rank of the Third Degree because it is kept in such secrecy. Like, people have apparently died keeping these secrets. Graduation-like ceremonies are held as members move up through the ranks. Shriners, who are a subset of Freemasons, are the people behind The Shriners Hospital, which raises money to assist people in need. They’re also the people who wear hats and drive around in tiny cars at parades. That is still a mystery to me.
Though it seems relatively harmless, that’s exactly how a secret organization plotting against the world would want you to think. Freemasons are a massive, global network of people who always somehow seem to be successful--almost as if they are all looking out for one another. Sure, they may parade around and act like they are a bunch of nice people who like formality and starting charities, but we all know the truth.
Masonic Square - The Square and Compasses represent tools of an architect. It has a corner ruler and a compass, making a square. There is also a G in the middle because...
The Letter G - Not only the first letter of the language in which the Bible was written (Gheemel or Gimel), but G is also the numerical three in Gheemel. The Bible has numerous references to the number three, like the Holy Trinity and Jesus dying when he was 33 years old. Also, not as cool, the “G” can stand for “Geometry” or “God.”
Masonic Eye - A representation of God’s Eye; a reminder of the constant presence of the lord and how He watches over us.
Masonic Star - A.k.a. The Masonic Blazing Star. Similar to the Eye, reminding Masons of the divine presence, but it also refers to a multitude of ideals such as the star of Bethlehem or the Egyptian Sun God. This star remains ever-present in Masonic text and images.
Masonic Altar - This is just where they keep their Bibles. Oh, and it is also where they would do communion, atonement, and, of course, sacrifices.
Ark of the Covenant - The Biblical item that symbolizes God’s promise to David, as well as His mercy to us. For Freemasons, the reason why Solomon’s temple was built was due to the Ark of the Covenant.
Keystone - Symbolically, the keystone, which is the stone that completes an arch, represents fulfillment.
Masonic Cable Tow - Representation of power and strength, this is even a part of their garb.
Masonic Lamb - Innocence and purity, like in the Bible.
Masonic Sheaf of Corn - Back in the day, it used to be a symbol of wealth and earnings. Modern Freemasons connect this to charity and dedication.
Blue Slipper - Confirmation of a verbal contract.
Satan & the Occult
Originally, Freemasons were a protestant organization that even sometimes directly challenged the Roman Catholic Church. As time went on, they boasted that they had accepted Jewish people before it was cool, and they made it clear that they were open to all religions. However, it is said that Freemasons must believe in “a higher power,” but it is not specified as to which higher powers are acceptable. This is partly because the Freemasons do not discuss religion in their meetings, but also, it could be that the “higher power” they worship is actually Satan, which is bad for publicity.
Listen, we’ve all dabbled in the occult every once in a while, and we’ve all done things that the Vatican disapproves of. Oh, that’s right. In the 1700s, the Catholic Church prohibited Freemason membership with the Papal Ban of the Freemasons. Now why would they do that? Is it because they’re devil-worshipers? Maybe. There are mentions of “their own god” called the Great Architect of the Universe, or GAOTU. This could be in direct contradiction to the Christian god, which is blasphemous and occultist fundamentally.
Furthermore, their secret rituals have caused concerns on numerous occasions. For example, in 2004, a new member ritual in a New York lodge ended in a fatal shooting that was considered “accidental.” The original plan for the ritual was to put the new member on one end of a wooden plank and have another member shoot blanks at him. Other members would stand behind the newbie and knock out vases that were behind him to trick him into thinking they intended, and succeeded, to shoot the vases. However, on this night, the person chosen to shoot the blanks was a 76-year-old veteran named Albert Eid, who carried a loaded gun on his person along with the gun equipped with blanks. The wrong gun was fired, and the new member, 47-year old William James, was killed. Eid was charged with manslaughter and was released on a $2500 bail - a small price to pay for a man’s life. Why would a ritual involve so many opportunities for fatal accidents? Or was it not an accident at all? Maybe James was unwilling to cooperate, or perhaps he threatened to talk. It’s possible that the Masons have gotten away with murder.
Now, let’s go back even further and see if they had gotten away with taking over an entire nation.
Founding of America
There is absolutely no secret that the Freemasons were heavily involved in the founding of the United States. In fact, the following list of notable members was taken verbatim from the Grand Lodge of Maryland’s website:
14 Presidents of the United States
35 United States Supreme Court Justices
17 United States Senators
32 United States Military Leaders
13 Signers of the Constitution
That last one is particularly of note because the Constitution is still upheld today, and it is considered a foundational document of the United States. According to the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon, a group of Freemasons would meet at a place called The Green Dragon in Boston, Massachusetts. It was somewhat of a community center with a tavern on the main floor. Aside from Freemasons, revolutionists often met there as well. One particular night, a sign was placed on the door that said “Lodge closed on account of few members present." The night that note was left also happened to be the same night as the Boston Tea Party.
It is difficult to prove the influence the Masons may have had on the American Revolution, but there are definitely Masonic symbols prominently displayed in Washington D.C. post revolution. For example:
A Masonic Temple near the White House
The National Mall is shaped like a Masonic temple
The Washington Monument is an obelisk
A cornerstone of the White House went missing the day after it was built
A pentagram made by surrounding streets points to the White House
In terms of conspiracy theories, we’ve barely scratched the surface. However, it’s crucial to learn their history before learning the other conspiracies that branch from the existence of the Freemasons. These viewpoints of the Freemasons being influencers for the American Revolution and occultists are the building blocks to the world of conspiracy theories in general, not necessarily relating to the Freemasons directly.
Part Two ~ Rachel: Jack the Ripper was a Freemason
The Freemasons have a shit-ton of famous members, and a lot of them have lived up to the Masonic ideals of charity and community. Of course, there are some members they try to distance themselves from. One such member is Michael Maybrick, a famous 19th century English composer who went on to become a magistrate and mayor of a small English town.
So why did the brotherhood try to hide their associations with him? Why are records of him buried, and why is he hardly mentioned in the books and essays published by people known to be his good friends? It’ll make a little more sense if I refer to Mr. Maybrick by the name he used to sign his letters:
Who is Jack the Ripper?
Mostly everyone knows who Jack the Ripper is, but just in case, here’s a refresher. He was a killer who did most of his murderings in 1888 in the East End of London. A misogynistic asshole, Jack killed mostly sex workers. He was sensationalized in the media, both because of the horrible nature of the murders—he’s called “Jack the Ripper,” not “Jack the Lightly Stabber”—and because of his penchant for writing letters to newspapers. (Some people who want to ignore the truth claim that the letters weren’t really written by him.) People’s fascination with him continues for the same reasons, and also because the murders stopped suddenly, and he was never caught.
Because the Freemason’s covered for him.
Much of the information I got was from a really great interview Robert Chalmers did for GQ with Bruce Robinson, titled How one man revealed Jack the Ripper’s identity: the full story. Bruce Robinson is the author of a book called They All Love Jack. And he isn’t just some nobody, either. He’s an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and a well-known director, and while I haven’t read the book, it’s definitely on my list. Even skeptics might want to check it out because I hear the writing is fantastic
Anyway, Robinson spent 12 years writing and researching what ended up being a 750 page tome where he lays out the evidence for one, Jack the Ripper being a Freemason, and two, Jack the Ripper being specifically Michael Maybrick. I also spent a lot of time on casebook.org and Wikipedia.
A Freemason Did the Murderin'
Let’s start with how we know that the murderer was a Freemason. The ‘aha’ moment for a lot of sleuths—the keystone, if you will—is what’s known as the Goulston Street Graffito. This was near the site of the double murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes, known as the Whitechapel murders. While searching for evidence, an officer discovered a bloody apron in a stairwell of a nearby tenement. (You KNOW how Gaga for Aprons our boys the Freemasons are.) Then, above the apron, written in chalk, was the phrase: “The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing.” But here’s the thing—“Juwes” is spelled “J-U-w-e-s.” So while ostensibly this bit of graffito could be an antisemitic message (the previously accused and exonerated man was Jewish, and there had been antisemitic demonstrations as a result), the spelling of it points directly to Freemasons.
You see, the Freemasons' rituals are kind of like skits or short plays, and one of them stars three bad guys: Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum. According to legend, they are big jerks who are responsible for killing the Grand Master Hiram Abif, and they are known collectively as the Juwes. The J-u-w-e-s juwes.
And the Commissioner Charles Warren fucking erases it.
Sir Charles Warren is indeed a high-ranking member of the Masonic Lodge.
So just in this night, we have: graffiti on a “G” street (neither of the women were murdered on a street that starts with “G”); a bloody apron; a reference to a Masonic ritual; and destruction of evidence.
This was enough to have people look more deeply into the Freemason’s connection to Jack the Ripper. Here’s the basics of the supporting evidence:
He left crime scenes that mimicked Masonic rituals. One NYT reporter even described one of the crime scenes as “like the strictures of Ezekiel.” Ezekiel is a biblical figure who is revered by the Freemasons, particularly for his prophetic vision of rebuilding the temple. In his book of the bible (Old Testament, when God was still really mean), Ezekiel uses an analogy to foretell the destruction of Jerusalem. In it, he compares Jerusalem to sex workers who, if you think get a bad rap today, you can only imagine how they were seen back in Mean Old Testament biblical times. Basically, Jerusalem-as-sex-worker was totally destroyed.
Some of the bodies of his victims were left mutilated in ways that evoked masonic symbolism. For example, one victim’s legs were removed and placed on his torso as a replica of a Knights Templar symbol. (We haven’t gotten into it yet, but the Knights Templar are buddy buddy with Freemasons.)
The women’s faces were disfigured in a way that resembled Masonic symbols
We can conclude that Jack the Ripper was not only living out Masonic rituals during his murders, he was also leaving them as messages to his brethren. Many members of law enforcement and the justice system were Freemasons, so they would have immediately recognized these symbols and done anything they could to protect their brother. While most of them probably didn’t know exactly which of their bros was this particular psychopath, they knew it was one of their bros.
Michael Maybrick Was the Freemason Who Did the Murderin'
But who would’ve suspected it was their Grand Organist, Michael Maybrick? I mean, organists are known primarily for two things: being gentle of spirit and having well-defined calves. But that’s because most organists aren’t total psychopaths like Michael Maybrick.
People who know a lot about Jack the Ripper might have found the name Michael Maybrick familiar. That’s because one of the main suspects of Jack the Ripper’s identity is a bloke named James Maybrick—Michael’s brother. This web gets a little wild, so weave yourself a seatbelt and strap in because here we go.
I mentioned earlier that Michael was a composer, but think of him more as a pop star. He was huge. He wrote the most successful single (The Holy City) of the 19th century—it basically went platinum because over a million sheet musics of it were sold. And, like today’s pop stars, Michael toured! This is how Robinson, the author of They All Love Jack first made the connection. Robinson traced all the places Maybrick toured and was able to match them with places from which Jack the Ripper purportedly sent letters, as well as to similar crimes that have not necessarily been attributed to him—but which he totally did. But this isn’t proof, right? Maybe it was one of Maybrick’s roadies, or an Organist groupie. There’s a final piece of evidence that will clear everything up, but let me give you some background first on Michael Maybrick.
Maybrick was interested in a woman named Florence, who decided that she needed more than well-defined calves in a man and chose to marry his brother, James, instead. Florence and James get hitched, have five children, and then one day James turns up dead: poisoned, they say—with arsenic! A woman’s manner of murder! In what is later described as one of the most corrupt trials in English history, Florence is convicted of murder and sentenced to death, though the case against her is flimsy, and James is known to have been taking arsenic on his own for health reasons. (They thought it was medicinal back then.) But when—true story—the judge, the chief counsel to the crown, AND the person supposedly defending Florence are Freemasons, evidence and witnesses can be overlooked. It should be noted that exonerating evidence was eventually submitted to the court and Florence was cleared—after having spent fourteen years in prison.
Let’s see what we can glean from this story, then. Michael Maybrick, scorned by a woman who was not well-known for her fidelity, took his psychopathic and misogynistic wrath out on innocent sex-workers, using them as surrogates for the woman he actually wanted to kill. Then he killed his own brother, James, for marrying the woman he was after, and asked help from the Freemasons to frame Florence for the murder, thus exacting revenge on both of them. Some speculate that he told the Freemasons his brother was Jack the Ripper and Florence was in on it, so they agreed to murder him and jail Florence as a way to get justice while still keeping their involvement under wraps. This false accusation that Michael levied against his brother is why James Maybrick is high up on the list of suspects for Jack the Ripper’s identity.
Knowing Jack the Ripper’s penchant for letters, it makes sense that this theory would hinge on a letter sent to a journalist in 1892—four years after the last Ripper murder and three years after the death of James Maybrick. The letter is from a Dutchman who called himself Moreau Masina Berthrad Neuberg. In it, he claims that he has just buried his friend, a Mr. Wilson, who on his death bed had confessed to murdering, in conspiracy with a servant woman, one James Maybrick. The Dutchman also asked that his letter be forwarded to the barrister.
There were many similarities in this letter to other correspondences of Jack the Ripper, who loved taunting journalists and law enforcement officers. Robinson noted other oddities, too—the biggest one being that there wasn’t a record of a Dutchman named Moreau Masina Berthrad Neuberg. And why call your friend, a purported murderer, the star of the story, simply Mr. Wilson, then sign your full, ridiculously long and obviously fake name?
Well, to send a message of course.
Michael Maybrick went all Hester Moffet on us and used an anagram to confess his crimes: Moreau Masina Berthrad Neuberg can be rearranged to read: “I began a brute Mason murderer. Ha!” Michael Maybrick, it should be noted, always scrawled “Ha!” on his envelopes.
It Makes Too Much Sense
You might have to make a lot of leaps of logic to arrive at this conclusion, but that makes sense—the Freemasons were a powerful group, with members in every corner of the law. In order to protect their brethren, and also to distance themselves from any association with a psychopathic douchebag, they destroyed evidence, blocked witnesses, framed innocent people, and withheld the truth—thus resulting in the most famous unsolved mystery of all time.