Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Return To Freemasonry Lost

Acedemia, Esoterika, Virtruvian, Nine Muses, it sounds like an incantation  Harry Potter might use, but it is just part of a list of lodges that practice Traditional Observance or European Concept that I have fawned over for longer than I care to admit. They are spread across the country and all have long lines of men at their door awaiting membership. Unfortunately I had not been able to visit any except St. Johns Lodge no. 1 in New York, which had previously been the greatest Masonic experience in my journey to date and then came Quinta Essentia. For over 4 years I have dreamed about a new lodge, well not exactly new, but a lodge that was more of the kind of lodge that you see in the old paintings and pictures and read about in books. I envisioned a lodge where gentlemen of all ages and status levels congregated to dig deeper into what it is we do and try to do things better. I hungered for the lodge meeting where from the moment I arrived there was nothing but challenge and conversation that led me to something I had not thought of, or made a connection to before.
After meetings, no matter where I went in the Connecticut Masonic jurisdiction, I sought out like minded individuals in search of more light and somehow we always ended up commiserating together. Why was it that we all could not find the Freemasonry that we were promised? Why was it that tedious business meetings and parroted ritual were more common than meaningful gatherings of men striving for something more? Where were the lodges Mozart, Franklin, and Dermott gained inspiration from? The more I searched the more I found out that in American Freemasonry had become more akin to the American Legion than the Royal Society (and I mean no offence to that honorable institution dedicated to veterans and servicemen). Instead of a scrumptious meal with fine beverages and deep conversation, a cold cut sandwich and potato chips with a beer or soda were the victuals gathered around to hear dirty jokes or old stories, and you wonder why no one was joining or sticking around if they joined!
This enlightenment vacuum was the genesis of the modern Masonic restoration movement. It was led by Brothers who came and wondered what had become of the Order that they thought they were joining. Instead of high tailing it out of Freemasonry like so many before, these men have dedicated a lot of time, effort and dreams to bringing back Freemasonry in America. Laudable Pursuit is their declaration of independence and their goal is nothing shorter than a universal return of the golden age of Masonry. Brothers started to meet regularly and fully explore the imprecations and implementation of this goal. Quinta Essentia Lodge UD is the product of such a group of Masons in Connecticut.
I had the distinct pleasure of being present at the inaugural meeting of the Quinta Essentia last Saturday night and I can say with all due respect to existing lodges that it is a clear shot across the bow to all slumping, muddling and in my opinion “dimmed” lodges. It started with a very short meeting which was executed extraordinarily well considering the pomp and circumstance surrounding a new lodge at its first meeting attended by a lot of purple including the sitting Grand Master and his immediate predecessor. The meeting was followed by a flawlessly executed cocktail hour with numerous toasts used to raise the level of conversation between the assembled Brethren and then a fine dinner/ festive board where the topic of the evening was “Fiat lux” the meaning of Masonic Light. The key note speaker was Charles Tirrell my fellow Masonic Blogger from Masonic Renaissance and dedicated Freemason and I can say without reserve that he outstandingly started an unparalleled conversation about Masonic Light that began in physics and led to many destinations I had no forethought of reaching. The night truly raised the vibration of all who attended (I think), at the least  I certainly left thinking in ways that I had not when I made the drive up to New Haven.
The bad thing about the evening was that it is the exception to the rule in Freemasonry in Connecticut. There were many discussions around the room that night about how the evening’s proceedings were unobtainable in most “blue lodges” and that it was such a pleasure to be a part of this new undertaking and the “flavor” of Masonry it represented. There was a constant drumming of how not everyone in Freemasonry in CT was seeking this type of light and this was the cause célèbre for creating this new lodge. My argument is that if a Freemasons lodge meeting has no result of raising the level of the men who attend and simply runs through the motions of Freemasonry to get to the cold cuts and beer why do they meet? Does just saying that we make good men better as a mantra do just that, or is it a vapid hum with no resonance? If a lodge has to be formed to meet and act as Freemasons in the classical sense of the order, what do the other lodges meet as? These are things that the craft has been pondering since this type of lodge was created.
The thought I would like to leave for grand lodges and lodges that constantly get new men and loose them as quickly as they come is that these “traditional” lodges are extremely successful and are not experiencing the downturn and desolation that “mainstream” lodges suffer and are being formed all around the country. This is something that we all should take notice and govern ourselves accordingly.
Restore The Foundation!

1 comment:

Mark Edward Smith said...


I had a great time. I really felt as though it was a special occasion, one that I could easily look forward to each time. Great People, great food, great drink and great conversation. Well done and congrats to all the members/officers and the WM Bradley Cooney.