Friday, September 26, 2008

Esoterica - Follow Up

It is clear from the overwhelming response to 'The Esoterica' post that this subject is highly relevant to Freemasons today. I have received a number of letters from all across the world on this topic.

Things of the Occult are 'Hidden' indeed. For those who have 'ears to hear and eyes to see' the mysteries are readily apparent.

It has always been that those who are not ready do not perceive the Universal Truths. However, those who do deign to seek with integrity and conscience deserve the wisdom of Masters, Teachers and a Knowledge to aid them along the way. This is the shamanic way. And, for many generations of men, this has been the Masonic methodology of tutelage.

I agree that the secrets yet exist hidden within the Rites. I have seen them myself as a Scottish Rite and York Rite Mason. And yet, they are often interpreted, or mis interpreted, by those ritualists who aid in the degrees lacking the wisdom themselves to understand the shadowed meaning.

The Pentalpha, or Blazing Star, is an excellent and profound example of the divide in modern Freemasonry. It is all but shunned in many lodges as it has been demonized by religion in this modern age. And the truth of it? It is indeed a perfect geometric archetype. It is nothing less than the symbol of the 'Golden Mean.'

Perfection is evil?

The Burning Times are over but the superstition remains in the minds of the fervent. How many have feared the revelations of science? Consider Copernicus, Gallileo and Darwin.

The Craft has protected the knowledge of philosophy and the sciences from ignorance and sheltered it for centuries from fearful and superflous religiosity. And it has been damned for doing so. All one has to do is Google the Craft or watch a few errant videos on YouTube and you will find one attack after another against Freemasonry levied by those whose imaginations far outweigh their intellects.

Today, the legacy of Freemasonry rests in the hands and hearts of the many Master Masons who are not afraid to challenge their earliest indoctrinations. The aim is not to destroy but to clarify. Most importantly, the aim of the 'Esoteric' and symbolic aspects of Freemasonry is to afford a man, a Mason, perspective in the world he has found himself in. How like science this is. This 'Esoteric' aim is a philisophical quest.

What are we Masons to do with our Ladders...Pillars...Angels...and Working Tools? Why is it important to become proficient in these arts if what we are doing is not holding them, protecting them, for other seekers like ourselves? We cannot be ashamed of our illustrious heritage and rip it away from the hands of those who knock at the door. I was told that Pike's 'Morals and Dogma' was too wordy, lofty and 'Esoteric' to put in the hands of this modern generation. Many excuses can be offered but none suffice. Perhaps men cannot understand these ideas simply because they have been repressed and put out of use for so very long.

Do we remove the symbols from the Order because it is the politically correct thing to do? It is true that the meaning of symbols evolves over time. But we are not ignorant men and it is the Origen of these symbols that we seek...and not the foolishness that has obscured them with the falling sands of time.

As a seeker myself, I was startled by how closely modern psychology, particularly analytical psychology, confirmed the myths and resembled the religions of man. Science has worked to map the very soul. And yet, science is incapable of offering the Great Truth. For science meanders in the feebleness of its reach. With science alone we are stunted by paradoxes of nonlocality and the reach of time. And that Great Truth? Whose?

Only the philosophies afford the inner epiphanies. For ultimately, meaning is subjective. How can we be completely objective within a world we are a part of? The great analyst Carl Jung once remarked that if you look deeply enough into the psyche you will find the world.

Symbols are the organs of the psyche. They are the paint that reveals the wings of angels. But we must not forget that those wings are there...only going unseen without the proper frame of reference.

The Masonic symbols do not belong to the Cowans or the ignorant who strive to bend their meaning to their own ignominious purpose. Thus we Freemasons only rob ourselves of our inheritance when we aid these outsiders in removing them from their importance to our Masonic journeys.

The Esoteric side of Freemasonry belongs to us and to those like us who strive with purpose toward the Light.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Esoterica

Freemasonry could aptly be described as the One Light that can only be experienced to be known and yet whose varied spectrum of principles and disciplines are the only ladder of knowledge that reveal it. This being said, those very same divided lights, be they Greater or Lesser, thus conceil the Mysteries of the Order as much as they ever aid to discern them.

Most Freemasons today are actually discouraged from seeking the inner Masonic truths that were once so brilliantly espoused in works such as Pike's "Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry." In my case, I looked into contributing an article to one of the Masonic publications. Following a cursory review of my work on 3Ruffians I was admonished that much of my work was simply too 'Esoteric' to warrant publication.

I have argued time and again that the greatest value of Freemasonry lay in its Principles and in its Fellowship. However, it is clear to me that many Freemasons know very little, if anything at all, about what those Principles and their Symbols even mean. A good Lodge, like my own, encourages its Members to study these things on their own. And the Scottish Rite still offers some further written instruction by giving 'A Bridge to Light' to its new Scottish Rite Masons. But, all in all, most new Masons are content with bringing their own light into the Lodge...and standing by it.

This Masonic website is not a site I consider for detailed Masonic interpretation and exposition. The reason for this is that I myself am a Freemason and I respect my Obligation as well as the other Members of my Order and the 'secrets' themselves. Of course, most of these so-called 'secrets' can be freely found on the internet. Of course, they will be open to someone's interpretation and, most often, that is skewed through that person's particular lens.

I have met a number of men in Masonry with wonderfully open minds. That is exactly why I love the Craft so much. The Goal of the Lodge is Light. The Center of the Lodge is the form of the Greater of which, the Volume of the Sacred Text, may be freely exchanged to reflect the Candidates personal beliefs concerning Deity. I applaud this about the Craft. Freemasonry is not a religion. It is not a Portrait of a particular God. It is paint by numbers on a White Canvas. The knowledge of Freemasonry posits that there is inherant Order to that Canvas. The face of that Order is left to the seeker who must indeed personalize it in order to comprehend it personally.

Still, I have met other men who have insisted that Freemasonry follows one certain God or another, one set Religion or another. I patently and vigorously disagree with that. In my view, Freemasonry has become an ideal of free thought and an 'Ordo Ab Chao' - Unity out of Difference. Order from Chaos.

Narrow thinking only obstructs the purpose of the Order which is to Unite men under Absolute Truth, Goodness and the Supremacy of the Principle of God however that God is approached on a personal level. I have found that many men of this outlook shun the 'Mysteries' of the Order. They see them as being 'too Esoteric' but I wager that they fear what they do not truly know themselves. Carrying their own ideas of philosophy or science or religion so close to breast, these men close their minds and become the intemperate paragons of ignorance that drove the earliest Freemasons to second floor secrecy.

How much do you know of Pike's works? Have you bothered reading his 860 page Opus cover to cover? If you have then you might find yourself scratching your head at Alchemical Operations, Gematria and near endless dissertation on comparitive religion, anthropology, psychology and governmental science. Pike's work is not so distant from 19th Century Theosophy. In fact, much of it is by very definition, Occult...though that word, simply meaning hidden, has been hideously bastardized since his time and driven into shadows as occidental superstitious distraction.

Another well known Masonic author, Manly P. Hall, compiled 'The Secret Teachings of All Ages.' This too is an occult compendium of Hermetic, Kabbalistic, Rosicrucian and Masonic knowledge. As a young Christian many years ago myself, I feared what such knowledge might do to my soul. It was the Apple in the Garden. I yearned to eat of it but knew that my comfortable perspective would likely be lost. So be it. There is a flaming sword at the Garden now.

There are so many countless esoteric treatises on the symbols and secrets of esoteric Freemasonry that I cannot hope to name them all. But, at heart, they all represent one abiding thing...Man's Search for Meaning. Today, little explanation is given to the esoteric aspects of Freemasonry for a number of reasons mentioned. How can this, man's search for meaning, lay discarded on the Temple floor, itself now relegated to meaninglessness in difference to fellowship?

In denying the Esoteric aspects of Freemasonry we do nothing less than to deny the highest aspiration of Freemasonry which is to seek further Light! To know our place and find our personal truth we must eat of that forbidden fruit, we must fall from the Grace of the Garden and we must imperil ourselves in the awesome doubt that alone can afford reflection. The Great Light can only be experienced. To know it, we must discern it.

The symbols of Freemasonry allude to those great truths at its foundation. Certainly these philosophical and, dare I say, 'esoteric' sciences do more to reveal man's perception of nature than nature herself. But it is within this personal, human perception that Meaning and Truth at last reside. There are indeed many facets to the Mysteries just as there are many colors in the grand spectrum of light. Each abiding symbol becomes a focal lens into the Universe and toward the Greater Light. Each of the symbols is a working tool for the speculative Mason who labors to perfect his spiritual ashlar as it were.

Let us not forget that Freemasonry is a 'Peculiar (specific or rarified) System of Morality, Veiled in Allegory and Illustrated by Symbols. As such, it is a system of morality that helps to clarify common purpose and discover inner truths. We must not allow its esoteric traditions to be discarded in favor of its principles of fellowship. For these esoteric traditions are these Symbols that 'Illustrate' this great Moral System. "For you shall not surely die...your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

Knowledge comes at a price. In attempting to attain it we are faced with dark corners of the self that we are afraid of. We find ourselves alone and standing under the judgment of Divine Light. This is an allegory of our place in the world, naked in the arms of nature.

If a man truly seeks further Light in Freemasonry then he must be unmoved by fear and self doubt, and by the fears or doubts of others. No man is a Master Mason who turns his back on the Light once he is afforded the priviledge and the tools to seek it for himself. He must climb the ladder with Faith, Hope and Charity as his guides and with the Knowledge of finding his way.

I urge you Brothers. Seek Further Light.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Nation of Freemasonry

It can certainly be argued that the 'Nation' of Freemasonry is indeed the United States of America. After all, the USA was primarily founded and organized by a veritable litany of prominant Freemasons not the least of whom were George Washington, its first President, and the statesman Benjamin Franklin. Most Masons know a bit about this early American history if only because they know the famous name of John Hancock who was a Mason himself and one of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence. Even so, I argue that there is indeed a 'Nation of Freemasonry' and that it reaches far beyond the American shores.

Freemasonry has been around for hundreds of years and spans the continents of the world. As old as it is and as broad as its reach may be, its core has changed but little since its beginning. Freemasonry remains a trust between men of like mind and heart. And it is that trust and the ideals it espouses through its Degrees that transcends borders and barriers on a map.

Today, Freemasonry is challenged from many sides. Some doubt its modern relevance. And others only mistrust the intent of such a vast organization. Every generation brings with it the change that comes with social upheaval and cultural evolution. Still, the modern generations have witnessed religion brought under the harsh scrutiny of the scientific light. And with that science has come heady uncertainty. The simple truths of medicine, the Atomic Bomb and the latest pictures from the Hubble have made a mess of our most stable philosophical and human approaches. We are left wondering again at the Great Mystery.

Like so many other men, I looked to the Light of Freemasonry to help answer my own existential questions. I travelled the road from Apprentice to Master and faced the Ruffians of my own doubts and fears. Following my journey through the Degrees I again am left with the Mystery. It is the Mystery of my own personal journey under the guidance of Masonic Light and Faith.

There are men who have come away from the Degrees who have missed something in them. Perhaps in some ways the organization itself has faltered from time to time in affording each seeker the most adept Masonic instruction. But more than the Word of Freemasonry seems to be lost in this modern world. The very relevance of Freemasonry and the Light that is so central to the Order seems to be lost to so many new Master Masons as well.

Men join the Order, proceed through the Degrees, and are left with no more certainty of their place in the Universe than when they began.

These men, these particular seekers, have simply missed the point.

At last, a man must come to realize that his place in the Universe and his personal relevance, much like Freemasonry's, is a matter of perspective. The Universal Mystery is not an Answer, but a Question. The God of the Kabbalists is a Verb. And the Light of Masonry is a Verb as well. Life is being.

The secret of Freemasonry is the value of that being, its inherant freedom and its inherant right. It comes full circle really. A man joins the Order after he answers a question regarding his belief in Supreme Being. And it is at last to that answer he returns.

As men of faith, we search for such secrets within and labor to see our governments recognize the rights of men and women who share this Mysterious existence together. That very search sets Freemasons aside from others. It does not make them better men in the sense of having greater human worth. It does, however, afford such men a sense of that Universal perspective once had only in the Garden.

Masonry is an Organization of these seekers of Light who congregate under the same spirit and ideals. It is simply preposterous that Freemasonry is irrelevant today precisely because an assembly of these like minds is in itself relevant. This is the Nation of Freemasonry and it is not a nation of lands or territories. It is a United Body that spans the world men have made from the natures of God.

Freemasonry is not and cannot be merely a fraternal bureacracy in the lowest sense of the word. The traditions are sound and its history must be carried on. However, this is only the framework of the Order's intent. It must never become a limitation. The Lodges and Appendant bodies of Freemasonry that impart the Degrees of the Craft must always be mindful of the purpose and never lose sight of the Light Itself.

The Nation of Freemasonry must return to its Glory and wrest free of the challenges of the times and the all too familiar organizational red tape. The United States of America has indeed embraced the Red, White and Blue of Democratic organization and the spirited bonds of human brotherhood. But it is only a part of the greater whole.

"Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses...yearning to be free." This is humanity in the hands of those who labor to do the work that the Light has set forth to do. The Masonic Ideals stand in any earthly country...steadfast.

Men of character. Men of truth. Men of wisdom. Men of compassion.

This is the Nation of Freemasonry.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Politically Incorrect

We Ruffians are Masons. And as such we like to keep to the tenet that most things of a religious or political nature are not discussed in lodge.

Of course this isnt a proper lodge. However, for our internet community abroad, this website will just have to do. Which is why you fellow Masons won't see a lot of political mumbo jumbo or pandering on this particular site. Frankly, if you want to know more about what I think politically, on a more personal note, then feel Free to check out my personal gonzo blog . Just be advised that the Ancient and Illustrious Order of the Three Ruffians in NO WAY affiliates itself with this blog. Ruffians wont have it!

Still, as Freemasons, we Ruffians cannot escape our duties as citizens. If you are from the USA as I am then you will understand why I say with pride that this is OUR country that is built upon grand Masonic tenets. And, I for one, intend to keep an eye on it.

I am proud that we have a two party system. And from the look of it I think that it is functioning pretty well all told. In my opinion, if either the Republicans or the Democrats usurped control for decade after decade then our Country would be the poorer for it. America must remain a balanced and civil standard of Freedom. And to be this, it must always allow for dissent, contrast and even opposition of a political vein.

I applaud the achievements of both party Candidates. Both men have led exemplary American lives and prospered under the Red, White and Blue. Debate is critical to the lifeblood of a culture of freedom. I wish them both well and hope that it is not the man, but the people of America who ultimately win in the end.

I would urge that all Freemasons pay close attention to this election, whatever side you may be on. And I would caution you to look for the good in both of the Candidates so that you do not fall into the traps and snares of judgment, prejudice or small mindedness. The issues are what matter now. And on the way to making a good decision we should never enslave our minds with the poison of anger, mean spiritedness or the like.

We must look for the Light in each man, as we must in every man. And we must strive to uphold, even in spirit, those high Masonic ideals that the United States of America were founded upon.

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