Friday, November 14, 2008

The Struggles of an Esoterically Inclined Freemason

I'm sure many of my Brethren know exactly what it is I'm talking about when I say that it is a struggle to be an Esoterically inclined Freemason. You have probably read "The Secret Teachings of All Ages" along with other works by Hall, along with Pike and Wilmshurst and any other esoteric book on or related to Freemasonry or anything else esoteric. You have probably combed through Internet Sacred Text Archive and studied and discovered new jewels of thought and philosophy that sent a chill up your spine or just "lit" your mind like never before. Perhaps, like me, as you pour over this information you dutifully highlight phrases and passages that speak to you, ever preparing for that time when you will be able to exchange these pieces of light with someone of a like mind.
You spend your days and nights pondering, thinking, and brooding over higher thought. The deeper you get the farther away you are from most of the people you know because they are not there with you.

One definition of Esoteric is: understood by or meant for only the select few who have special knowledge or interest. I think there are two key words in that definition. Only a few actually have the interest. So in no way are we elitist or exclusionary, we are just a small group of people that want to know about the arcane.

Freemasonry draws more men who have this particular interest than other groups because of the secret nature of our order. The symbols and ritual are like a beacon drawing the esoterically inclined to the West Gate of the craft. Unfortunately for the few who's interest lies in the esoteric they are just that, a few. Far more men are drawn to the fraternity out of family history, comradeship, or simple curiosity than a yearning for a deeper meaning in life.

So we enter the West Gate expecting a group of enlightened sages and usually wind up in a sort of fancy Rotary Club. When we went through the 3 degrees and we reveled in the drama and symbolism while some of the Brethren just wanted it to be over so they could go home. We quickly took charge of our membership and learned the ritual and helped out as much as we could and even became officers of the lodge in response to that deeper yearning, ever searching for that mystic tie. It is often not found but we keep searching because that is our nature, us few.

I recently had the tremendous pleasure of raising my dear friend to the sublime degree. As my lodge somewhat stumbled their way through that great drama, many with that deer in the headlights look on their faces as they played it out, I came to the realisation that I would always be in the minority. Maybe someday I will find that group of enlightened sages or even organise one myself but for now I must remain on the periphery watching and waiting for more of the few like myself.

26 comments:

Blessed Beggar said...

Well said, brother. Ever be mindful, though, for you are not alone. It is "the few" that change history, while the masses follow fads and eventually pass away. It was "the few" which had the foresight to lay down the Ancient Landmarks that drew us into the fellowship and Brotherhood. As "the few" ever seek greater Light, and share it with all found Worthy and Well-qualified, our rough ashlars become that much more perfect. Thank you for such a timely post, it was much needed. May you be blessed.

Justin said...

Brother, I know exactly how you feel and have felt these same things too. I sought initiation into the fraternity because of my interest in the esoteric and hermeticism. I read books by Pike, Hall, Willmhurst, Yeats, A. E. Waite, Paul Foster Case, Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, William Wynn Westcott, etc… I too reveled in the symbolism of the three degrees and though I would find in Freemasonry the esoteric Brotherhood of which Brothers like Waite and Leadbeater had written so much about. I did not find that per say, although I was not disappointed because it IS there, just under the surface and remains somewhat unseen by most. I suppose that is the nature of esotericism. Reading your article reminds me that while in the minority we are not alone.

Jeff said...

I'm with you, brethren.

Wayne said...

Brother, I know to well of what you speak. Though I don't think we are as few as you may think.
It is my belief that Masonry is in decline because our lodges may not be giving new members what they seek. To many brothers join thinking it to be little more than a social club and give little thought to the work or the traditional history of the craft, it unfortunately deludes the esoteric nature of the craft, then people like us come along and don't find what we were looking for and leave...
This can be corrected by putting more emphasis on the work, all it takes is one person to be a ray of light and others will follow. It's really what caused the need for the creation of Traditional Observance Lodges.

The Millennial Freemason said...

To begin, I am not esoterically inclined but I think my interest in the Craft has some similarities to what this article describes. The history of the Freemasonry is the subject that most intrigues me but it seems to be lacking in many Lodges. Thankfully, there are research lodges for historically minded brothers. Perhaps what could be added to the mix is a research Lodge style group that would focus on the esoteric aspects. Just a thought.

Nick

M.M.M. From the North Eastern Corner said...

We actually have two research lodges here in the Nutmeg State. One is a Philosophical Lodge of Research and the other is the Masonic Lodge of Research. The problem I have with research lodges is that they kind of separate out certain aspects of the lodge that I think all lodges should do regardless. I remember in one of my early posts about esoteric masonry being pointed by a certain famous blogger in my state to the research lodge and I disagreed then as I still do now. If we constantly tell Brothers interested in something more than a social club to head for the nearest research lodge we are weakening the craft at its most important point, the blue lodge, the home lodge. This is where we should be able to satisfy those needs.

Radcliffe said...

I agree with you that our society draws many who are so inclined. I think however that in practice it is still the application of the learning which is the fruit of the labor of learning. After all we are trying to find answers to our own deepest questions, and they often won't ring true to 99% of other seekers. So we end up looking to who best can work and best agree, which is perfectly reasonalbe.

The Millennial Freemason said...

MMM,
Unfortunately, it comes down to what the majority of brothers would like to take part in during a Lodge meeting. I prefer historical information, other brothers enjoy symbology, other brothers enjoy esoteric thought while others prefer charity. Managing this divergent culture can be confusing but I agree that at some point, esoteric thought should be discussed in the Lodge. However, it is important that we manage all interests in a Lodge meeting along with degree work, business, etc. It might be easiest to get the esoteric in a specially formed group just as historical researchers form Research Lodges because there is only so many hours in a day and so many hours in a Lodge meeting. As I always say, it is about managing expectations, whether they be candidates or brothers.

Nick

Paul Chapin said...

As always I enjoy your post. I joined the officer line back in 2001 and progressed one chair at a time to Master. Along the way I learned more and more about the fraternity and the interconnection of all the ritual work. As I am now entering into my third year as Master, two in my home lodge and now in my affiliate lodge, I am devoting my whole year to masonic education. My plan is to dissect each degree and the leasons learned. I have several officers in my line that are deeply interested further exploration. Too many lodges take such a surface view of our ritual and fail to explain the deeper meaning.

Another aspect for those select few who truly seek further light is York Rite masonry which by most accounts is the true continuation of the blue lodge. When done well these degrees are simply truly spectacular. While I have explored this option and enjoy it greatly I have stayed true to my blue lodge duties.

Which brings us back to that age old question; where do we put our time and effort? Which MMM touched on, if all those that seek further light go off in seek it what suffers; the Blue Lodge of course. So my compromise is to further educate the blue lodge so us with a higher zeal can thrive.

Masonic Traveler said...

I think what you see is a common denominator that everyone can find a level field. I've found the lack of esoteric interest saddening, but at the same time, when in a room filled with "esoterics" I could hardly breath for the stuffy smugness of it (including my own blowhardiness).

I do think its in this quest for the "esoteric" that so many 'other' groups formed up in the early part of the 20th century. If they couldn't find in in masonry then create it somewhere else. I also think that the Scottish Rite has a huge potential to do something like this, but it would take some leadership.

Maybe its time for another Rite in Freemasonry, an Esoteric Rite or a Hermetic Rite with its own degrees and ceremonies to put in those things that those esoterically inclined brothers see as missing?

I dunno, anyone up for it?

2 BOWL CAIN said...

One of the reasons that the GOUSA was created.

The ability to work different Rites, but yet keep the three degree modes of recognition the same......


Why it seems the exposure to different Rites would be detrimental, I will never understand?

Brother Brandt in Mich is going to have a Lodge that works the Scottish Rite and a Lodge that will work the Rectified Rite! Flexibilty is a key component to growth and relevance.......

Tom Accuosti said...

Once in ancient times, the Master of a lodge called all his neighboring Worshipful Masters together for discourse on the highest truth. Once they had arrived, he stood and spoke:

"Welcome, dear brothers! I have called you all here so that I might explain to you what it means to be brought to light."

Immediately all the brothers burst into laughter, and for the remainder of the time they sat around telling such jokes and poking fun at each other.

Son of the Light said...

The “esoterics” are present, most just don’t realize it. Because our numbers are less, I think we tend to remain quite.

Justa Mason said...

Why do you need a "Rite"? Why can't it just be like English Masonry seems to have been in the pre-Grand Lodge days; guys just getting together on an ad hoc basis? Simply grab some interested guys and form a study group. Decide how often you'll meet and who'll be responsible to initiate the discussion at the various meetings. You don't need a warrant, minutes, whatever, to do that any more you would need it to have a Lodge bowling club.

There's a guy I know who belonged to a non-Masonic esoteric group. He finally quit over the pretentiousness and faux intellectualism.

Justa

The Millennial Freemason said...
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The Millennial Freemason said...

Justa wrote: "Why do you need a "Rite"?"

I agree. For me, having different rites is like hanging new curtains in an old house. It ignores the important problems that need to be addressed.

I really do think there can be a study group to cover the deep issues about Pike, Waite, etc. yet I also agree with MMM that we really should include some amount into the Lodge. It is finding the balance.

Nick

M.M.M. From the North Eastern Corner said...
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M.M.M. From the North Eastern Corner said...

I can't get the vision of a lodge full of smug esoteric types clouding up a lodge room with their intellectual stuffiness out of my head ;) It's too funny.
Brethren all,
I don't want another rite or body to challenge the fortitude of the brethren any further than they are already challenged. Some of us only get a couple nights out a month and I would like that night to resemble more of what our fraternity was meant to be and not the Kiwanis Club.

Due East said...

It's sad how so many share in this feeling and are spread out so far from one another.

Masonic Traveler said...

Truly though, its the natural order of it...

But there were always a few faithful souls who kept alive the Flame, tending it carefully, and not allowing its light to become extinguished. And thanks to these staunch hearts, and fearless minds, we have the truth still with us. But it is not found in books, to any great extent. It has been passed along from Master to Student; from Initiate to Hierophant; from lip to ear. When it was written down at all, its meaning was veiled in terms of alchemy and astrology so that only those possessing the key could read it aright.
-the Kybalion

Magus Masonica said...

Shhh, wanna know a secret? You do not need the blessings of anyone and a big group of people to practice esoteric Masonic Rites.
Most fo the information is avalible and those who are adept can wring every drop of value from them.

Bro.Due East, the size of our country and it's distances used to be a problem, but now we have the information age. It's about time we have taken advantage of it.
S&F,
BC

Kelvin Wilson said...

First of all, great blog! And I especially enjoyed this post. It is the esoteric aspect that led me to freemasonry's door. And in a couple more weeks, I will walk through it when I am initiated as an EA. I am glad to see that even though they may be few in number, there are those in freemasonry who enjoy that level of thinking. Again, thank you for this blog and this post!

myhquell said...
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myhquell said...

Such a Beautiful Article. I wish that it was Myself who had written it. Thank You Dear Brother. Do not feel alone. I will always meet with you, on Any Level.


Everyone can be brought to Light.
I sometimes think of myself as a Circus Performer Spinning Plates.

Around a gathering of friends, none of whom are particularly drawn to the Esoteric, I make it a Game to Introduce Beautiful, Fundamental, Mystical, and nonesensical Truths. I am ALWAYS amazed at the things my friends Know already.

We are already one. The Great Work is in helping eachother Remember.

Sincerely, Michael Jon Silverman

Arina said...
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Bodhi Samyo said...

Thank you Brother ... this article appears to have seen many Sunrises since it was writ, in my heart of hearts I would like to think and to hope that indeed our numbers grow and those with a genuine inclination to seek the light through the Craft are finding themselves knocking on the door of the Lodge.