What Is the Difference Between Masonic Emblems and Symbols?


Quick Answer

Emblems represent one specific idea, whereas symbols can carry multiple meanings and interpretations. For example, the Masonic square and compasses is an emblem, because it symbolizes only the fraternity of Freemasons. But individually, the square and compass each have multiple connotations.

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Full Answer

The Freemasons are the world's oldest and largest fraternity. The organization began in Europe as a guild for stonemasons, but has expanded and lived on as a social organization. The mysterious nature of the organization has led to many conspiracy theories and even a decree against Freemasonry by the Catholic Church. The Freemasons have about 2 million members in North America, down from 4 million in 1959.

The Shriners are another well-known branch of the Freemasons, with an emphasis on philanthropy. The group reportedly donates as much as $2 million every day. As of 2015, the Shriners have funded 22 children's hospitals that provide medical care to children in a family-centered environment regardless of the family's ability to pay for treatment.

A prospective member can petition his local Freemasons lodge for membership. Most lodges have an all-male membership, but some lodges and appendant bodies within the Freemasons allow women. For instance, the Order of the Eastern Star allows men and women as members. It is one of the largest co-ed organizations in the world.

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