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.
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.
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.
I'm with you, brethren.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.......
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.
The “esoterics” are present, most just don’t realize it. Because our numbers are less, I think we tend to remain quite.
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 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.
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.
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.
It's sad how so many share in this feeling and are spread out so far from one another.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
You describe me, and I'm sure there are quite "few" of us! Perhaps email me and we can trade info, thoughts, ideas, knowledge etc.. If any like minded who commented would like to communicate, feel free to email me also. I spend many hours listening and studying Manly P Hall, Pike, Timothy Hogan, Hermes / Thoth Emerald Tablets, Sophia, Atlantis and much more. Would be nice to share with some Brothers seeking more Light.
Brethren in my Lodge did just that, starting in 2010. We meet once a month and discuss various topics and/or present papers. We also sponsor guest speakers to fly in and deliver a presentation.
My dear Brother Nick... without my direct knowledge of your suggestion,that is exactly the impetus behind the forming of the Boynton Lodge Esoteric Research Group in 2010. We meet monthly for discussion and presenting papers, and have brought in 8 guest speakers so far, have 2 scheduled for 2018. And you know what we accomplished in our exemplification of the Scottish Rite Craft degrees 6 or 7 years ago.
Sometimes it is hard or frustrating when no one shows up, including me on occasion, but I try to be there as often as possible, and bring something for discussion.
2018 will be a fantastic esoteric year for our Lodge. We are continuing "Masonic Education" for the prospective candidates, candidates, EAs, and FCs who join us for dinner before the meeting. We are bringing back and adding to that Masonic Education for MMs during the meeting. We had been doing only 1 or the other for the last couple of years. I jumped back into the officer line, and that was one of the conditions I laid out for the (presumably, since there are no other nominations) WM-elect for 2018.
Plus, I am donating all of my books to establish a Lodge library.
109 months later...this post still has legs!
Be the Change you want to see
We've done it here and those looking for the same
I'm a brand-new MM. I love my lodge- they put a lot of effort in it and our ritual is constantly getting awards from our GL. However, I don't know of many (I'm sure there are some) who are similarly as esoteric in nature, and I was wondering what a good procedure is to start/where to look. I don't want to go through the motions- I want to be at the pinnacle. Thanks, brothers!
I was Raised in 2016 and had expectations that were not met. I started a Mysteries of Masonry hour on Saturday morning once a month, we show a film then discuss enlightening topics. I've been doing some stated meeting short education also. If you stick to the things we say, do, and see in Lodge, and expound on them further, it is better accepted. Don't start out with heavy deep stuff which is considered by some, to not be Masonic education. You will find a few Brothers are interested in sharing the deeper aspects. Talk to everyone and mention the things on your mind, you will find out instantly whether they are there for the Mysteries or just for the Fraternity aspect. Meanwhile do all the text book study, do the MM 1,2,3 exam, work on getting a Silver card, and memorize a Lecture or Charge, be good at Floor work and get in the Line.
"To that small but gallant band of fellows who find the smaller groups the real functioning Freemasonry" J Ray Shute II (Twilight in the Temple) Monroe NC
I spoke to you yesterday and
Said the same things you just spoke about and you did not respond with help instead you let me ramble on about esoterically adept craft work and what do you know I was lead back to you.
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