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.


Anonymous said...

This frustrates me to no end about Freemasonry. I'm a new Mason, raised this past January. I'm also a member of the clergy in a Gnostic Church (which has its origins in Freemasonry) and a member of several esoteric orders. I joined Masonry to be close to the place where the secrets of esotericism were guarded for so long before it was safe for them to emerge again. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that those secrets were now forbidden within the Fraternity. I called my Grand Lodge to ask which appendant bodies a member of our jurisdiction could join. I was told the York Rite, Scottish Rite, the Shrine, Grotto, Eastern Star, and Tall Ceders were it. Any other group was "too esoteric" and hence would be a violation of my obligations. Our founding Brothers are turning over in their graves. To say that Masonry is only a social club with moral overtones is ridiculous. Thank you for bringing this subject to light. I have other outlets for my esoteric learning, but I feel bad for those Brothers who thought they would be able to aspire to the light by joining the Fraternity.

Masonic Traveler said...

I think there in lies the problem, you asked which you can join. I suggest seeking them out and doing as you see fit to do.

Good post by the way. The list of esoteric and occult, as I am coming to see it is built upon a study in the kabalah and in more modern times the exploration of eastern traditions. Both of which seem to flow into Freemasonry at various points and intervals.

Anonymous said...

This post is awesome and full of comments that could only come from a true "Free" Thinker!

Try wrapping your brain around a little work called The Kybalion. It should be available for free online.

It's always good to know that there are still some Masons out there!


Masonic Traveler said...

I've been doing a masonic analysis of the Kybalion on my site. Really great material in there.

Emeraldi42 said...

I find that the esoteric (at least in my jursidiction) is very popular. Within the past several years the esoteric studies have trumped the social club aspect of Freemasonry. Granted, the majority of Freemasons either don't have a use for it (being comfortable with what is presented to them, which is fine) or lack the capacity to understand it. Pike speaks much of this same situation in Esoterika.
However, if you are looking for a Masonic body that deals with everything esoteric at the forefront then you might want to look into the SRICF. It is an invitational body so you might want to start making some friends in that circle.
Excellent article. I am currently reading The Most Holy Trinosophia by The Comte de Saint-Germain, talk about interesting stuff.

VegetableMan said...

So, which one of you thought that when you joined masonry that within the first three steps, where you yourself have proved nothing, it would be revealed to you all the secrets of the order? Surely you did not think that these things were preserved for thousands of years with a dues card? Look, the Esoteric aspects of our fraternity will remain, well, esoteric! that is to say hidden, never confirmed by a Grand Lodge, or a Worshipful master. They are there, and if you are diligent, confident and persistent you WILL find them. But you will have to trust that you have found them. We all (those of us who see them) want these to be open book ideas that we can discuss and see. But the fact remains, that even in our fraternity their are people that will destroy them. People will always destroy what they do not understand, history proves it. There is a large faction of closed minded, uber religious masons that would destroy anything with the word occult attached to it, because they do not understand what it means. Therefore, for the benefit of these timeless truths and our enlightenment, they have been hidden in allegories and codes for the worthy to find and expound upon, without ever being a doctrine of the craft. This should please you. For now you can study and learn without fear. Ofcourse there are the naive that are young and headstrong and say "to hell with them, I can take them!" But, young apprentice, this is not the way. It never was. you will fail, and in your zeal you will topple this temple on us all. Learn to see the purpose of the structure of the fraternity and you will understand how to move within it. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you...

Masonic Traveler said...

So very poignant.

Its evident in the common notion that the Hermeticist is so ofthen the hermet.

This wisdom is not for everyone to be studied or understood.

2 BOWL CAIN said...

I read a piece from Manly P Halls, "Lost Keys of Freemasonry" in Lodge for education as the sitting WM, and afterwards a Past Master and Past Lodge Education officer reprimanded for brining something to Lodge longer than 5 minutes, because everyone tunes out after that!

Pike's "esoterika" is an excellent read into what masonry used to be before it was changed.

R said...

Salutations on the Three Points

Health Stability Power

My Brethren,

There are so many good points with regard to secrets, secrecy, exoteric, esoteric, an outer and an inner Order.

But why ciphers and means of recognition? Why such weighty obligations, investigations and interviews?

They have become but a formality for a social club that conducts all of its buisness in the presence of visitors.

The problem is that the social aspects in this country began to erode the 'Landmarks' and 'established usages and customs' during the Great Depression, so that it is increasingly more difficult to maimtain integrity and even keep our Obligations.

To the State Grand Lodges, and our national cohorts, paying dues makes a Mason. One need not be an Adept, any man of reasonable ability and intelligence can see that he has been had.

With its imaginary obligations and shadows for light propaganda passing for education, the Craft in this country is led about by uneducated and unethical men who are themselves unaquainted with the history and constitutions of the Order. Driven by the love of 'metals' they jockey for office and hock Masonry as a cheap ware in the market place. Then use 'coercive' force to push a set of by-laws on the Craft that pretend to be the Constitutions of Masonry.

One need not understand the Mysteries, only refuse to tamper with them and promise to preserve them unsullied. While I agree the esoterica of the Order should be commented upon little outside of our instruction and allegories, the Obligations of a Lodge Brotherhood are precisely the same as an in-law entering a family by marriage; that is to say by exchanging legaly binding vows.

If the means of recognition and the sovereignty of the Lodge are not restored, it will continue as a silly farce that repels rather than attracts men of ability and intelligence.

Our goal should not be to reveal mysteries but to restore an institution based upon a high standard of integrity. The embarrasment of official Masonic education needs to be adressed. Such publications and lectures do not typically site their sources or present a clear thesis that weighs its arguement with evidence. Atleast not with enough weight that would be acceptable to the standard of a University. Still, we claim to be an educational institution deriving from a mideval association which leveled distinctions and first created the idea of a merit based society offering upward mobility based upon ethics.

Instead what we get is a system of conformity where the influential lead performing memory monkeys through hoops, becuase the Grand Lodge says so.

We dont need to talk overly about the hidden mysteries we need to talk of what the Order is supposed to be socially...a 'character' and not a social elite.

I have had visitors forced upon me in a Master Mason's Lodge that I wouldnt want in my house; disheveled men in need of charity and of such low intelligence that they couldnt possibly understand what was being asked of, or expected from them.

These same men are rapped to their feet in the presence of Masonic mediocrities who also would be embarrassed to meet with them in public but have no qualms about asking them to dedicate more of their time to membership drives and 'programs.'

Here in lies the problem with Masonry in America today. Here is why there are no 'free thinkers' in the Lodge. It has not been true to what it professes since the early 20th Century but is increasingly corupt and beneath the contempt of a Dr. Franklin or a General Washington.

F:. R

2 BOWL CAIN said...

Bravo R!

The Revolution will not be televised!

Franklin and Washington practiced an American style of Freemasonry that disappeared in the early 19th Century...........IMHO

Mr. Siegmann said...

I will say this, if I see a brother in public, I will go over and greet him with a warm hand shake. I have trouble remembering some brothers, in part because they don't attend lodge enough for me to know who they are, but once I am called out for forgetting I do not forget again. I may forget names but once a face is brought to my attention, I'll not forget him. I joined Freemasonry mostly out of curiosity but once I started that journey through the degrees I can't get enough light! I see more and I enjoy being around enlightend men. In the world around it is hard to find enlightened men that wish to debate honestly about ideas. I work with one inparticular who is so focused on his own ideas that he becomes angered when anyone has anything slightly opposing. While I find some Freemasons that way, many more that I know are not. I find myself among men who are also there to seek more light and furthur their knowledge.

Many great men in this country as well, as well as the world over, have been members of this order. They are men I look up to and admire.

While the outer is corruptable, we must be vigilant. I ask every brother that seeks light, when they bring a new member in, help guide that brother. Show them what being a Freemason really is. If they become discouraged by a fellow mason who wishes to stay closed minded, raise your brother up. We must help each other on our journey of enlightenment. I have become discouraged by a fellow mason who I still look up to but I have other brothers who are right there to help me up when I am discouraged. We're here for each other.

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