There is an old occult maxim which declares that—" Nothing is concealed from him who knows." No Mason is bound to conceal that which he has never learned in the Lodge. All else he receives as he learns any thing, places his own estimate upon its value, and becomes individually responsible for its use. It must be a matter of conscience, and be weighed in the balance of duty, and every one must abide by the result. If Masonry has lost the Royal Secret, or if it never possessed it, or if it was wrenched away in the very name of Religion little more than a century ago, all the same, it belongs to the Craft as the Heir-apparent of the Old Wisdom. But the time has come when no cable-tow can bind it. It now belongs to Humanity equally with the Mason. To this end has it been preserved throughout the centuries.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Introduction to Old School Freemasonry - Part One

First I would like to apologize, it may seem I have been behind on my “Purposely Hoodwinked” blog, but I assure you I have writing away.
To date, the current post you have in front of you is already 7228 words long, and still going, not all of which I will present today.
As one who does not always understand the decreasing sentence structure, tweets, and mini abbreviated Facebook entries, I do realize that the fact is no one will read a blog entree that is over twenty pages long, to date, so I’ve decided to divide it into chapters, thereby satisfying those that can only stand small, quick, and hopefully concise blog entrees.
It has never been my desire to be an author, and it still isn’t, I began this blog to share insight into what many would call “esoteric” Freemasonry, a subject I have found few within the fraternity was even familiar with.

Although Freemasonry is not a business allow me to share a little insight as a business owner.
Many fear Freemasonry is slowly becoming a historical memory, membership is down, and some would say dying day by day. If this decline was occurring in my business, or in any business that desires to succeed, the business itself would have to take a critical look situation, just having “Open Houses” hoping for new members is not the answer unless we clearly have an idea of business is. We still haven’t looked deep into the decline.
I can hear certain brothers blaming the television, the computer, the downfall of fraternal organizations, and the lack of community; all those could be valid, to a point.
Much of what I am going to present may seem critical at times to the Fraternity, to which I so proudly belong, but this respectful criticism should not be taken to be demeaning, it’s meant to be enlightening. Only by looking at ourselves, deeply, are we able to “Know thyself”, the same follows with Freemasonry.
The approach I am taking is to allow the deeper aspects of Masonic symbolism to open up the purpose, intent, and goal of Masonic thought. To prove beyond a shadow of doubt that Freemasonry is much more than a fraternal organization, which it seems to have found itself?

With that said I offer here a sort of introduction to what will follow:
Over and over as I search the web for enlightened symbolic thought and all I find is confusion and often times down right ignorance, a common malady of those stuck in what I call the “lowest common denominator’ of symbolic interpretation.
What I would like to do, for the benefit of those that have a serious interest in esoteric symbolism, is show you a different view, a way of seeing above the norm.
As an initiate of what is labeled a western ancient mystery school Freemasonry, I will be using some of the symbols of my tradition to aid you in unlocking that “lowest common denominator” mindset, thus allowing you to see at a level above the rarely discussed levels in the western esoteric traditions.
Don’t think for a moment you need to belong to one of the mystery traditions to understand what I am about to put forth, if truth be told once you consider the material presented you’ll probably know more then most initiated into many of the various mystery schools, including Freemasonry.
Although mystery schools have been around for centuries you would be surprised just how few even know of there existence, or function, including sadly some within the mysteries themselves.
If one looks carefully at the definition in context to the ancient mystery school the term "Mystery" derives from Latin mysterium, from Greek mysterion (usually as the plural mysteria μυστήρια), in this context meaning "secret rite or doctrine." An individual who followed such a "Mystery" was a mystes (a mystic) "one who has been initiated," from myein "to close, shut," a reference to secrecy (closure of "the eyes and mouth") or that only initiates were allowed to observe and participate in rituals. The fact is there is nothing nefarious about the mystery school path, in fact if one was to look close at the many spiritual traditions I’m sure you’ll find initiate, ritual, and symbolism in the forefront of progression in that tradition.
Take for instance the Kalachakra Mandala of Buddhism, once a very secret initiation performed by chosen monks is now performed openly for the benefit of all sentient beings and world peace. Many spiritual aspirants are now familiar with the traveling monks who perform the Kalachakra Initiation generally given over 12 days. First, there are eight days of preparation rituals, during which the monks make the mandala. Then the students are initiated, after which they are allowed to see the completed sand mandala. The ceremony ends when the monks release the positive energy of the mandala into the everyday world through a final ritual. Once this centuries old initiation was performed only under the most secret conditions, not seen by those outside the order, but is now performed openly for our benefit.
For those unfamiliar with the mandala I assure you as you continue on a surprise awaits one that should be of serious interest to those especially initiated in the Masonic tradition and interested in Unity.

What I will present here is some of the teachings of the mystery school.
For those that have not been initiated and wonder of the importance of initiation and what initiation has to offer, in a simplified way of explaining the psychological process that takes place during initiation or ritual it is that on a personal level the initiation or ritual it is becoming part of you, it enters your subconscious where hopefully an unfolding takes place. Take for instance, in many Christian traditions the Ritual of the Eucharist, a ritual where the participants are told they are partaking symbolically of the body of Christ. They are actually becoming one symbolically with their savior. If they believe their savior to be symbolic of love, they should now be love personified.
Rituals contain a tremendous amount of power if understood correctly to alter consciousness.
Although as an initiate I am writing of concepts usually associated with initiates I assure you that the material presented can be understood by those outside the various initiate traditions.

Because of my affiliation with Freemasonry, as I have stated from the get go, much of what I will be discussing is derived from Freemasonry, and is addressed to my interested Masonic brothers, but not all, much of what you will be exposed to is not the property of any tradition, wisdom serves no master.
It is my intent to make this information available to all that have a desire to understand symbolism and its ability to unlock the ‘lowest common denominator” mindset that seems so prevalent in so many traditions, including Freemasonry.
For and foremost for those amongst you that may be an initiate in Freemasonry and believe that our tradition is just a fraternal group that gets together to perform rituals that often make no sense, or leads oneself to believe the rituals are a mild form of hazing required in order to belong, what follows is written especially for you.
The symbolism of our order should if understood correctly lead the initiate to new levels of awareness. As brothers we should be able to explain the symbolism above and beyond the “lowest common denominator”.
One other observation before we begin, although I know that Freemasonry is not a religion, I do believe it to be an aid to the spiritual path if understood correctly. Freemasonry if understood correctly can and will give you keys to unlocking many of the symbols you are going to find on your own path, and many of the symbols universally and esoterically used by many of the wisdom traditions.
This is one of the reasons over the centuries why Freemasonry has received so many different in labels, Christian, Druidical, Egyptian, Cabbalistic, and on and on I could go into traditions which most have no knowledge of or have been lost to antiquity, one could say Freemasonry by its nature offers the keys to unlocking many of the universal esoteric symbols found amongst the various wisdom traditions. Philosophically Freemasonry seeks Unity, not division, which is the reason one’s religious path is respected as his own.
Most of what I am about to share will be probably unfamiliar to those within Freemasonry, and other western esoteric traditions, but not all.
What I am about to share is much more commonly discussed within the eastern traditions, but does not necessarily means what I will be discussing belongs solely to those traditions as you will soon see.
I promise to share with you and underlying Unity which is the real goal of all esoteric traditions.
Much of what I’m about to share with you is spoken word, facts I’m putting to paper as a means of transmission. You may read and understand what I’m putting forth here, or you may not.
But what if I give you a symbol and this symbol was unfamiliar, and why would I do that?
Unfamiliar symbols, which initiates commonly bump into when entering n ancient mystery school actually become a kind of inkblot or Rorschach test for the initiate.
All initiates will approach the interpretation of allegories, rituals, and symbols through analysis and projection.
Here is an example of the sequence of analysis you the initiate may follow; first you look to see if the symbol may have a universal meaning in your experience or knowledge. Next your analysis may take you to a different level, a cultural interpretation that may contain a depth of meaning different from the universal as it pertains to a certain segment or the population culturally. Last but not least interpretation of a symbol may take on a personal interpretation, at this level the projection comes from you, some would say from your collective unconscious.
No matter which way you interpret the symbol universal, cultural, or personal we still have to think contextually, in the case of Freemasonry and the underlying esoteric tradition its design and purpose, something each and every mason will have to research for themselves. A word of warning for those that tend to flights of fantasy, Freemasonry has more than its share of legend, speculation, and flights of fantasy when it comes to the origin and purpose. Although I rather enjoy reading the various stories and sorted histories, when we look at what we know speculative Freemasonry arrives on the scene in the late sixteen hundreds and early seventeen hundreds. Many of the first outed members were well known scientists, theologians, architects, alchemists, and a who’s who of cerebral and spiritual minded individuals. Many of these individuals members of the Royal Society (eventually known as the Royal Society of Sciences and the Arts), before that the Invisible College, and many known to be part of Isaac Newton’s inner circle. At the time many of these individuals were giants in their respective field. I assure you these individuals did not need to join or create a fraternal order to “make good men better men”, no offense. At the time of the creation of speculative Freemasonry alchemy, natural philosophy, geometry were major fields of study, as were the arts, mythology, and enlightening thought and philosophy.
The suffocation of knowledge, including that of free religious thought was coming to an end, and God could now be looked at differently. Many of the early Freemasons, including Grant Masters were Doctors of Divinity; the writer of the Constitutions of Freemasonry was a minister. It was a time when science and theology could share the same stage by the highly educated, something the fundamentalist believers feared and was causing the “my way or the highway” church to loss its power.
Many of these individuals saw God’s presence within science, and others saw science proving God, yet the kicker was neither was what was the perpetuated doctrine of fear, a mindset that controlled the mind of the masses. Even today, hundreds of years since those first speculative Freemasons made their presence known ignorant religious leaders still attack that which they haven’t really taken the time to understand, even though a great number of theologians are members themselves.
Imagine a path that harmonizes science and theology, assumed opposites, I assure you Freemasonry seeks it, if not teaches it.
As for the rest, I’ll leave the history up to the historians, which I am not. Suffice to say, taken in context Freemasonry has by its inception natural philosophy, alchemy, sacred geometry, and mythical theology imbedded deep within its structure.

Contextually speculative Freemasonry is a science, a science I believe you will see that attempts to break the strangle hold of ignorance and reveals an evolution or unfolding of Spirit to Matter through symbolism, and then an involution from Matter to Spirit through ritual. A science that allows you to understand the divinity which is not necessarily up there in some far away abode.

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