True Secrets of Freemasonry

Those who become Freemasons only for the sake of finding out the secret of the order, run a very great risk of growing old under the trowel without ever realizing their purpose. Yet there is a secret, but it is so inviolable that it has never been confided or whispered to anyone. Those who stop at the outward crust of things imagine that the secret consists in words, in signs, or that the main point of it is to be found only in reaching the highest degree. This is a mistaken view: the man who guesses the secret of Freemasonry, and to know it you must guess it, reaches that point only through long attendance in the lodges, through deep thinking, comparison, and deduction.

He would not trust that secret to his best friend in Freemasonry, because he is aware that if his friend has not found it out, he could not make any use of it after it had been whispered in his ear. No, he keeps his peace, and the secret remains a secret.

Giovanni Giacomo Casanova, Memoirs, Volume 2a, Paris, p. 33

Friday, December 7, 2007

What is Esotericism in Masonry?

On the Lodgeroom US, a brother asked if our lodges allowed or encouraged the study of esoteric masonry. This made me think, because in my experience, the study of what is termed esoteric masonry is a rarity, and in fact, many of the members are if not disapproving of it, they are downright discouraging about it. In fact, many will argue against any kind of esoteric masonry existing at all!

Before we go any further, let’s start with a definition of what esoteric means, so we are all on the same page. From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

1 a: designed for or understood by the specially initiated alone (a body of esoteric legal doctrine — B. N. Cardozo)

1b: requiring or exhibiting knowledge that is restricted to a small group (esoteric terminology); broadly : difficult to understand (esoteric subjects)

2 a: limited to a small circle (engaging in esoteric pursuits)
2b: private, confidential (an esoteric purpose)
3: of special, rare, or unusual interest (esoteric building materials)

Looking at the definitions, 3: of special, rare, or unusual interest seems to be the most appropriate. However, reviewing the other definitions, it can easily be understood why object to esotericism in lodges. It is also easy to see where the elitist label comes from… 1b, 2a, and to an extent, are true, sort of. 2b alone pretty much describes freemasonry, so it could be applied to a subset of freemasonry.

Esoteric studies are not aimed at excluding anyone, but are aimed at expanding the understanding of the symbolism and teachings of freemasonry as they apply to our daily lives and our civilization. Esotericism, that is, the philosophy and study of symbology as it pertains to freemasonry should not run anyone off. The problem is that some men are very comfortable with what freemasonry is today… easy, without the need for deep contemplation and study.

The young men joining today are looking FOR the promise of freemasonry, if the fraternity does not allow those who are interested in the foundational principles of freemasonry to practice that freemasonry, then the will of those not interested is being imposed of them, by preventing them from Masonic education and philosophy in lodge. Must it be all or nothing? Fraternal association, ritual and paying the bills is just a slice, a single piece of what freemasonry is for all of us and it would be wonderful to see the brothers tolerate a few minutes of esoteric thought and discussion.

Traditional Observance/European Style/Esoterik Lodges are forming all over the United States right now. They are forming because it is often easier to start a new lodge focused on study, philosophy, discussion and so on than it is to change an existing lodge. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the men who start new Esoteric lodges are also active in their mother lodges, so everyone benefits. The better news is that, in my experience, many lodges are beginning to offer what the Grand Lodge of California is calling Masonic Formation, since the goal is not just education, but the formation of a mason.

The future of freemasonry is a blend of what the lodges are today and the esoteric, traditional observance type lodge. That is the promise we have made to the public and to our new brothers, philosophy, brotherhood, fraternity, charity, education… MORE LIGHT. Its good to see that light being turned up in the lodges.

May the blessing of heaven rest upon us and all regular masons. May brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue, cement us.


giovanni lombardo said...

From the Greek éso, "in", and téron, which is a comparative suffix, it means inner.

Nothing to do with occultism or magick.

Any and all esoteric matters have to be tested by the reason.

Please, read the following. It's enlightening

Radcliffe said...

Brother, sometimes a definition of a term is the most helpful thing. I was unaware that esoteric referred in any way to exclusive or difficult rarified knowledge. Thanks for the cue. Regards

John Galt said...

Brother Theron,
Excellent post. It is an interesting phenomenon indeed. I have been thinking about a solution to the issue. I understand that the Grand Lodge of California has made it easier to form new lodges. This is a good thing in my opinion. I think that you and I agree that there should be more smaller lodges.
If this idea were to take hold all lodges could in essence be "affinity" lodges. This would quickly solve an issue of Brethren that want only a social club/fraternity being bothered by the likes of you and I wanting to discuss and explore the more esoteric aspects of the Craft.
There is room for all of us in the fraternity. Aside from our affinities or predispositions we can all meet on the level.


Unknown said...

Hello Brothers....I recently received my Entered Apprentice degree and will be made a Fellow Craft soon. One reason why I joined is because I would like to eventually find a brother with whom I can openly discuss a very esoteric book I wrote over 20 years ago

Peter Ray Millman said...

Esoteric Freemasonry is an excellent way to drive Christian brothers from the lodges. It gives fuel to all the anti-masons.

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