Something about Freemasonry which both attracts and repels is Freemasonry's ostensible 'connection' with things esoteric. It is both a blessing and a curse.
against Freemasonry being esoteric is two-fold: first, that its members engage in
"esoteric practices" and second, that Masons are engaged in esoteric
study. Whenever these charges are hurled, it is often obvious that those making
these 'charges' (implying evil of some kind) simply don't know what they're
talking about. Specifically, they don't know what the word they're using (to
defame Freemasonry) actually means. It is very similar to the language usage -
and famed hoax - by entrepreneur P.T.Barnum who caused people to move
quickly through his displays by having a large sign saying, "This way to
the Egress". In their excitement - and assuming that the 'Egress' was
something fantastic to see, soon found
themselves outside without realizing 'egress' meant 'exit'. So let's start this
discussion by understanding that 'Esoteric' means, quite simply, 'hidden from
sight' and that not everything that's not readily visible to all is horribly
Any attempt to explain esoteric interests to those whose ideas about the world are based on a black-letter text interpretation of the Bible - or anything, for that matter - is generally fruitless. To them, ANYONE whose curiosity about the origin of life might lead to questions about faith-based beliefs is heretical and, probably, satanic. Questions about the 'great mysteries' of the universe and man's part therein are answered in their own interpretations of the Bible; all else is "wrong". Because of this, religious intolerants find Freemasonry an anathema.
Freemasonry came into its present form in the Age of Enlightenment and its members were considered 'free-thinkers'. It was not an irreligious or anti-political act but a simple curiosity at a time when 'established rules' were not subject to challenge. Those inquisitive minds created paranoid fear in leaders of autocratic governments and religions. Freemasons perceived their inquiries as normal curiosity; the Catholic Pope and others felt that such actions were morally wrong - and condemned Freemasonry as a result.
And so we arrive at today: having gone through a couple of generations of youth unwilling to accept the 'status quo', having passed through the so-called 'Age of Aquarius' with so many experimenting with strange and often internally inconsistent 'religious' beliefs, Freemasonry's history of 'free thinking' is very attractive. Some perceive it (incorrectly) to be a religion in and of itself; others imagine that it somehow is the mystical/magical 'key' to the universe. Drawing on the writings of those with strong esoteric interests, they come to Freemasonry or rail against it, because of the perception that the organization is the heir to this 'mystic stream' which is said to underlie mankind's history. In particular, they leap on writings of those like Manley Hall, ignoring the fact that the work they dearly love to cite ("The Lost Keys of Freemasonry") was written when he was but 21 years of age and some 31 years BEFORE he became a Mason.
Masonicinfo Note: We've often wondered how the self-described 'Christian Fundamentalists' who write to us citing the works of Hall would feel if we were to cite works about Christianity written by someone who was barely 21 years of age, was not a Christian himself and did not become one until more than 30 years later! We think there'd be a pretty large cry of 'unfair'. This, of course, doesn't stop them - even knowing the facts of Hall's life.
Is Freemasonry the logical inheritor of this mystical past as proclaimed by a 21 year old who was NOT a part of Freemasonry but rather had some stylized, youthful impression of it? Who can say.... What we do know, though, is that the interest displayed by some Masons in matters esoteric is neither evil nor anti-religious.
The temptations of Freemasonry
Many Masons have inquisitive minds, not content to be bound by the directions or prejudices of hide-bound narrow-thinkers. They want to learn more about the universe around them and are exposed to all sorts of possibilities as they examine the many implements and lessons of Freemasonry and its hundreds of related 'orders' and degrees. Concepts and ideas are presented which only lead to more questions. No answer is ever complete and speculation can become considerable.
Those who are of a mindset to inquire about the universe and the more unknown parts thereof have regularly come to Freemasonry believing it had the answers to all the world's questions. In it they would find only more doors to open. The 'mystical' Masonic authors who today are held-up by the narrow-minded bigots as indicative of some sort of sorcery fail to consider that these men did not and do not speak for Freemasonry (no one person does) and in many cases abandoned their Masonic membership as not being sufficiently 'deep' or 'mystical' for their mindset.
It must be admitted that a small handful of Masons 'go off the deep end'
with their fantasies about Freemasonry's past. Consider: there is no 'theology'
of Freemasonry - no specific 'creed' to which all Freemasons must adhere. As a
result, any Mason is free to think most anything about --- well, about ANYTHING!
Ergo, some Freemasons feel that there's a connection to the Knights Templar
while others can argue persuasively that there's no proof of this whatsoever. A
small group of Masons maintains an interest in things esoteric - but this does
not mean that (a) Freemasonry is in and of itself esoteric or (b) that an
interest in esoteric matters is wrong. You may wish to read further on this at
our Esotericism FAQ.
This site's owner frequently finds irrational attacks against Freemasonry which could easily be compared with the witch hunts of Salem, Massachusetts. Small groups of people, feeding on each others' fears and paranoia, look in every nook and cranny for tell-tale signs of evil. Since they ignore all evidence which does not support their pre-conceived notions, they - not unexpectedly - find that 'evil' in those small numbers of Freemasons who have an interest in esoteric matters.
It can be easily proven simply through discussions with any group of Masons that the 'esoteric connection' is non-existent in most and fanciful based on limited understanding in the great majority of the rest. (One complaint that's sometimes heard is that Masonry is no more than a charity or a social club. Who's right?) Within Freemasonry there are a precious few who have a true and continued interest in esoteric matters. A couple have even gone so far as to use (abuse?) Freemasonry by creating organizations which ostensibly amplified it's "true" beliefs that had been ignored by those who were willfully ignorant of the organizations' 'real' heritage. There have been organizations of like-minded folks claiming that it was "true" Freemasonry (Crowley's OTO and the so-called Modern Rite of Memphis as two examples) but what's the truth?
Are several millions of those who deny any such connections simply wrong and the dozen or so who want to claim Freemasonry's roots are provably in some secret stream of mystical thought right? The answer should be obvious - but it is ignored in its entirety by those whose minds have wandered FAR beyond the ritual and teachings of the Fraternity.
We have an excellent description of esoteric Freemasonry here. We urge you to read it.
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