Who are masons and where did they come from? What are they doing nowadays and what are they going to do? What are the reasons of so many rumors about them? Why do so many people all over the world belong to this organization? So the great number of questions is connected with it. The dark shade of mystery has being covered this organization for years and centuries.
However it is very hard to find a country where no one is called as a "free mason" . In Europe, America, Asia or Africa - everywhere there are a lot of buildings with drawings of compasses and triangle at the front side. These are masons` temples where their imperceptible work has been going on for about 300years under the candles` light. They can be black or white-skinned people, professing Christianity, Buddhism, Islam or any other religion but they are united under common ideas. They have been saving their brotherhood over the centuries and extending it all over the world.
According to a legend Peter the Great, Russian tsar, became the first Russian mason. Being in England with Great Embassy, Russian tsar was dedicated by Christopher Ren, though it was not documentary proved. However the fact of Masonic lodge existence in Russia in 30-s of the 18th century is absolutely certain. It was difficult to call it "Russian" because it consisted of foreigners, and at thet time English captain John Phillips was considered to be the first Russian Great Master.
In 1740 the new Great Master general James (Jacob) Kate who was at Russian's service was appointed . It is believed that was the time when Russian nobility started entering Masonic lodge. Kate was the person who was known as the founder of masonry in Russia by Russian masons. It is known than count Golovin, later Roman Vorontsov (princess Dashkova's father), Golitsins, Trubetskoy and A. P. Sumarokov, Sherbatov and Boltin and others joined the masonry.
However at that time lodge couldn't attract considerable quantity of Russian people because it seemed that society was deprived of any ideological interests and considered masonry as a modern foreign entertainment. Ivan Perfilievich Elagin's (famous mason of later time) entry in the lodge was the proof of it. He passed dedication only because of his curiosity and vanity.
In the second part of 18th century the situation changed. There was the short time of Peter the Third, who was loyal to Fridrih, and masons. Then there was Ekaterina's century with her interpretation of French philosophers-encyclopedias and the disappointment in them. The foundation of first Russian intelligentsia with it's intense inside searches resulted in creation of comfortable atmosphere for perception of masons` ideas.
The Groups of Russian intelligentsia and Masonic lodge of that time was based on comprehension of social dangerous and destructing influence of volteriance on Russian minds. All masons of that time went through "volteriance declining" and were disappointed in it. They found the base of their inside search in masonry. According to estimation of Berdiaev in his work "Russian Idea" the inside influence of masonry on the society was great. It shows that most of Russian best people were the masons. Masonry was the first independent society in Russia, which main idea was to form " Russian cultural soul" and an "ideal person". Orthodoxy certainly influenced "Russian soul" even more than masonry, but masonry formed a "soul of Peter's epoch".
In the 70s two main Masonic systems appeared in Russia: Elagin's and Cynnendorf's. Their religious and ethics meanings were wider.
Elagin, who entered the masonry in 1750, and was a volterian in past, later became a "free mason". The Great London's Lodge allowed him to establish new lodges. And in 1772 he became The Provincial Great Master. System of the lodges created by him was very influential, and finally even leaders of Cynnendorf system had to ask his permission to open new lodge. And if Cynnendorf's lodges were created only in Saint Petersburg, Elagin's existed in Moscow, Moldova and Poland.
But this is not the end of Russian masonry. When bolshevism period was over, the free masons continued their activity. In April 1991 The Great Eastern France established the first Masonic lodges in new Russia, having gathered free masons in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Voronezh and Archangelsk. In a silence of their improvised temples they continue their work.
The theme of masonry is very popular today. Many publications are appearing in the Internet and press. This article can't give you any conclusions. Read, analyze, make your own conclusions. Be critical to everything you read . But remember - the true knowledge comes with efforts.