Is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around five million, including just under two million in the
The fraternity is administratively organised into Grand Lodges or sometimes orients, each of which governs its own jurisdiction, which consists of subordinate (or constituent) Lodges. Grand Lodges recognise each other through a process of landmarks and regularity. There are also appendant bodies, which are organisations related to the main branch of Freemasonry, but with their own independent administration.
Freemasonry uses the metaphors of operative stonemasons' tools and implements, against the allegorical backdrop of the building of King Solomon's