Σάββατο, 24 Φεβρουαρίου 2018

Robert Fludd By William H. Huffman 2001


Robert Fludd By William H. Huffman 2001

Book 2 

CHAPIER IV 

Of the false wisdom, spurious Philosophy and Philosopher; with their marks or characters 

. . for this reason therefore we find, in the one of the two kinds of wisdom, the fruits of power, virtue, and miracles, such as the true and divine Philosophers did produce by the Omnipotent Cornerstone (I mean the true Wisdom) in times past, and made them manifest to the world; whereas the other can do nothing indeed but produce cavillings, dispute, contentions and fallacies, the fruits whereof, in the conclusion, is naught else but vanity. It is not I, but the Spirit of Truth that assures you thus much. 

And yet now, even in this later age of the world, in which Satan, the prince of this world which is darkness, has the upper hand; this terrene wisdom or vain Philosophy, which is daubed over with dark ignorance, has the dominion or upper hand, and so by the means Christ, which is the true Wisdom, is daily crucified among some Christian Philosophers, and buried in darkness, through the misty and ambiguous clouds of that cavilling, brabling, heathenish Philosophy, which they so adore and follow, with their Master Aristotle, as if he were another Jesus rained down from Heaven to open to mankind the treasures of the true wisdom ...

I could heartily wish, that each Christian Peripatetic, who spends his time in disputes and cavils, after the Aristotelian manner ... seriously ... call to mind that in the Church of God, and habitations or kingdoms of the true Sophia, or, if they please, Philosophia, there is no such custom as the Apostle teaches us, for this mixtion of multiform human wisdom with the wisdom of God has been the occasion so many dissentions and discords, as have sprung up among the Philosophers of this world, whereupon every kind of this false Philosophy has, by stiff cavillations and disputations, maintained her Sect. 

There also has been the occasion or errors in the Church of God, as well among the Christians as Turks and Jews, for amongst us Christians it has been the root of many Schisms and Heresies, which have risen up in the re-search of one only true God, which is the eternal Unity ...

Παρασκευή, 23 Φεβρουαρίου 2018

Ο δάσκαλος ή ο πρεσβύτερος αδελφός δεν θα κάνει την εργασία για σένα


Ο δάσκαλος ή ο πρεσβύτερος αδελφός δεν θα κάνει την εργασία για σένα

Στην σύγχρονη εποχή μέσα στην οποία ζούμε, δάσκαλος ονομάζεται αυτός ο οποίος αφού έχει ολοκληρώσει την διεργασία της μεταμόρφωσις προσπαθεί μέσα από τον λόγο να σου την εξηγήσει μέσω διάφορων τρόπων ώστε εσύ να μπορέσεις με μεγαλύτερη ευκολία να προσανατολιστείς προς την οδό της σωτηρίας.

Ο δάσκαλος ή ο πρεσβύτερος αδελφός δεν θα κάνει την εργασία για σένα αλλά μπορεί να σε στηρίξει, να σε βοηθήσει να πραγματοποιήσεις εσύ ο  ίδιος τις απαιτούμενες απελευθερωτικές πράξεις.

Ο δάσκαλος είναι ένας εξερευνητής ο οποίος επισκέφτηκε ήδη την μυστική πόλη και για αυτό γνωρίζει την διαδρομή που οδηγεί εκεί, για αυτό και τοποθέτησε σε πολλά σημαντικά σημεία πινακίδες για σένα ώστε να μπορέσεις να προσανατολιστείς και να μην χάσεις τον δρόμο σου.

Ο δάσκαλος βίωσε αυτόν τον δρόμο εσωτερικά και τον ομολογεί μέσα από το αίμα του, απέκτησε έναν μεγάλο και πολύτιμο για όλους θησαυρό και θέλει να τον μοιραστεί.

Τι περιμένει από εσένα νέε αναζητητή; 

Να μοιραστείς και εσύ το δικό σου θησαυρό, τις δικές σου εμπειρίες μέσα από αυτήν την οδό με ταπεινότητα και σωφροσύνη, όταν θα βρίσκεσαι και εσύ πάνω στην οδό βοηθώντας τους άλλους με ανιδιοτέλεια και την βεβαιότητα πως πάντοτε βλέπουμε το δικό μας μέρος της αλήθειας, απόλυτο σε αυτό το πεδίο ζωής δεν υπάρχει.

Ο δάσκαλος είναι ένα εργαλείο μέσα στην φτωχή μας πραγματικότητα και εμείς θα πρέπει να τον αξιοποιήσουμε σωστά, με σεβασμό και θετικότητα, με ειλικρίνεια και διάθεση εργασίας και πάνω από όλα δίνοντας και όχι ζητώντας.

Όλα αυτά μας μιλούν για τον εξωτερικό δάσκαλο, για τον εσωτερικό θα μιλήσουμε μυστικά, πρόσωπο με πρόσωπο

Η Λίθος των Φιλοσόφων είναι ο Χριστός


Η Λίθος των Φιλοσόφων είναι ο Χριστός

Ωστόσο, το ελιξήριο είναι ταυτόχρονα τριπλό στη φύση του, ένα γεγονός το οποίο μας έχει καταθέσει ο Ερμής Τρισμέγιστος.21 

Αυτή είναι μια αναφορά στο πέμπτο κεφάλαιο του μεσαιωνικού Tractatus Aureus Hermetis Trismegisti, στο οποίο ο Ερμής ισχυρίζεται ότι σε όλη τη Φύση υπάρχουν τρία πράγματα, αρχή, μέση και τέλος - μια δήλωση που επαναλαμβάνει ο Maier στον δέκατο τρίτο ύμνο του.

Αυτά τα τρία πράγματα περικλείονται από τον Θεό όπως και το ελιξήριο περιέχει τη χαοτική πρώτη ύλη, τη διαδικασία του καθαρισμού και την τελική τελειότητα μέσα στον εαυτό της.

Η αντίληψη της Λίθου των Φιλοσόφων ως μια παν περικλειόμενη οντότητα είναι ευρέως διαδεδομένη στη βιβλιογραφία, που εκτείνεται ως τα πρώιμα ελληνικά-αιγυπτιακά κείμενα, μια μαρτυρία, για παράδειγμα, ο ουροβόρος (εικόνα 6) ή ο "ναός της λίθου" που δεν έχει "ούτε αρχή ούτε τέλος μέσα στον οίκο του" όπως μας αναφέρει ο Ζωσίμος.

Οι συγκεκριμένες αναφορές του Maier στην Τριάδα στον δέκατο τρίτο ύμνο του μπορεί επίσης να είναι μια παραπομπή στον παραδοσιακό Χριστιανικό διαχωρισμό της Δημιουργίας σε τρεις εποχές: την αρχή κάτω από τον Θεό, τη μέση κάτω από τον Χριστό και το τέλος κάτω από το Άγιο Πνεύμα.

Επιπλέον, στο ίδιο απόσπασμα του Tractatus ureus στο οποίο αναφέρεται ο Maier, ο Ερμής ισχυρίζεται ότι μεταξύ του Ουρανού και της Γης πρέπει να υπάρχει ένα τρίτο, δηλαδή ένας Μεσολαβητής.

Έτσι, ο Maier κάνει και πάλι ένα παραλληλησμό μεταξύ της Λίθου των Φιλοσόφων και του Χριστού ως ενσαρκωμένου Θεού και λυτρωτή της ύλης, την οποία διερευνά περαιτέρω στον τριακοστό ύμνο της Υμνοσοφίας.25

From : The Quest for the Phoenix By Hereward Tilton (2003)

Προβολή Ταινίας 'The Ritman Library - Amsterdam 2017'


Προβολή Ταινίας 'The Ritman Library - Amsterdam 2017'


Προβολή ταινίας

The Ritman Library ένα φιλμ από την Sara Ferro και τον Chris Weil

Διάρκειας 90 λεπτών
Παραγωγή : Artoldo Pictures
Ποιότητα : HD 1080p
Γλώσσα : Αγγλικά

Σάββατο 3 Μαρτίου και ώρα 20:30

Ελεύθερη είσοδος 

Έναστρον Βιβλιοκαφέ
Σόλωνος 101 Αθήνα (Μετρό Πανεπιστήμιο ή Ομονοίας)
https://www.facebook.com/enastronvivlio/

Για πληροφορίες 6987288881 (Gregory)

Το ντοκιμαντέρ - παρουσίαση σχετικά με την βιβλιοθήκη είναι στα Αγγλικά αλλά και να μην καταλαβαίνει κάποιος την γλώσσα μόνον η θέαση όλων αυτών των σπάνιων βιβλίων φτάνει για να έχουμε έναν οργασμό ευχαρίστησης.

Πόσα παλαιά και σπάνια βιβλία σχετικά με την θεϊκή ουσία των πραγμάτων, την κρυμμένη πραγματικότητα πίσω από το πέπλο της ορατής ζωής μπορούν να γίνουν οι πρώτοι σύντροφοι για την ψυχή που αναζητά μια εσωτερική οδό πνευματικότητας και πώς μπορεί αυτή η ατραπός επίσης όσον αφορά την κοσμολογική της φύση, να επιδράσει ώστε να επέλθει η κατανόηση της στενής σχέσης μεταξύ του Μικροκόσμου και του Μακροκόσμου. 

Πώς η ανακάλυψη από παλαιότερες εκτυπώσεις αποκαλυμένων γνώσεων και κρυμμένων αληθειών μπορεί να προκαλέσει ένα σπινθήρα, ώστε να μας βοηθήσει του να περάσουμε ενός είδους μιας μυστικιστικής πύλης ώστε να βρούμε πρόσβαση σε έναν κύκλο μυημένων. 


Σε μια συμβολική αλχημική μετατροπή της ίδιας του της πραγματικότητας. 
Πώς μερικές αρχαίες μεταφυσικές παραδόσεις μπορούν να ενσωματώσουν το Απαραβίαστο, το Απόλυτο και το Μόνιμο. 

Πώς είναι ένας συγκεκριμένος κόσμος βιβλιόφιλων και βιβλιομανιακών, τι τους παρακινεί και πώς γίνονται άνετοι με μια δημοπρασία και πως δημιουργούν τη βιβλιοθήκη τους - και πάνω απ 'όλα γιατί να οικοδομήσουν μια βιβλιοθήκη.

Η κατανόηση των βιβλίων ως κινητήρια δύναμη των πολιτιστικών επαναστάσεων και ως κληρονομιά σκληροπυρηνικών θεωριών και αυστηρών συγγραφέων, τους οποίους μπορούμε τώρα να απολαύσουμε ελεύθερα. 


Ο ιδρυτής του BPH Joost Ritman, η διευθύντρια της βιβλιοθήκης Esther Ritman, η βιβλιογραφική ομάδα με τον Cis van Heertum και τον José Bouman, μας μιλούν για όλα αυτά, ενώ ο Δρ. Marco Pasi από το Πανεπιστήμιο του Άμστερνταμ διηγείται την υπέροχη και συναρπαστική ιστορία του δυτικού Εσωτερισμού.

Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, Amsterdam

Δεσμοί :
http://artoldo.com/ritmanlibrary/index.html
http://www.ritmanlibrary.com/

ΝΟΥΣ :
https://www.facebook.com/groups/312675118872629/

Once a treasure only for initiates, now available for everyone - the European underground heritage
We got the great opportunity to film some among the most famous books in the field of Western Esotericism like the Corpus Hermeticum, Tabula Smaragdina, Atalanta Fugiens, Spaccio della bestia trionfante, Plontin Polyglot Bible, all of them containing intriguing symbols illustrated in unique or very seldom pieces of late medieval woodcuts, baroque drawings, XVIII-th century engravings. Looking like a sort of cloak-and-dagger mystery plays, these at that time clandestine and heretical writings, arcane in the visions and hermetic in the language, constitute the basis of the heterodoxicity of our modern dissenting currents of thought and alternative ways of life. Old forgotten stories, our unsung, ignored roots and traditions of resistance to prevailing culture.

Alchemy: The Art of goldmaking
Hermetica: Who is Hermes Trismegistus, the Thrice Greatest
Mysticism: The Glory of the Trinity and the Divine
Cabala: Secret Hebraic texts and codes to hide the wisdom knowledge
Magic: Cults, ceremonial practices and magical experiences
Rosicrucianism: And then there was Christian Rosenkreuz

The secrets of the Micro- and the Macrocosm:
"That which is above is that which is below."

What does this mysterious sentence mean?
Learn more about some great yet neglected authors of the past, who were often punished or even murdered for their ideas. 
See exclusive works of: Basilius Valentinus, Marsilio Ficino, Johannes Reuchlin, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim, Paracelsus, Giordano Bruno, Heinrich Khunrath, Michael Maier, Jacob Böhme, Lambspring, Robert Fludd, Daniel Mögling, Baruch Spinoza, Matthäus Merian, Stephan Michelspacher and many more.











Πέμπτη, 22 Φεβρουαρίου 2018

Το Ζωντανό Σώμα της Αδελφότητας δεν μπορεί να υπάρξει χωρίς το Φως του Χριστού


Το Ζωντανό Σώμα της Αδελφότητας δεν μπορεί να υπάρξει χωρίς το Φως του Χριστού

Το Ζωντανό Σώμα της Αδελφότητας δεν μπορεί να υπάρξει χωρίς το Φως του Χριστού, όχι μόνο διότι χρωστά την γέννηση και ύπαρξη της από αυτό αλλά κυρίως διότι μέσα από αυτό ο Λόγος ο οποίος εκφράζεται καθώς και οι θεραπευτικές δυνάμεις σωτηρίας προέρχονται από Αυτόν.

Το σώμα αυτό ή ο Οίκος της Αδελφότητας  δεν είναι παρά ο Καθρέπτης της Σοφίας του Θεού μέσα από τον οποίον θα μπορέσουμε να αναγνωριστούμε στην αρχή σαν άνθρωποι και μετά σαν Θεάνθρωποι.

Αλλά πια σημασία θα είχε οποιοσδήποτε καθρέπτης αν εμείς ζούσαμε μέσα σε ένα σκοτεινό μέρος;

Για αυτό και χρειαζόμαστε το Φως του Χριστού για να μπορέσουν τα εσωτερικά και εξωτερικά σκοτάδια να διαλυθούν, γιατί αγαπητοί μας φίλοι το σκοτάδι, η άγνοια, η πλάνη, η στρεβλότητα δεν υπάρχουν μόνον μέσα μας αλλά και μέσα στην ίδια την ουσία αυτού του κόσμου ο οποίος μας προκαλεί ιδίως σήμερα μέσω ακατανόμαστων πράξεων.

Για αυτό αν ακούσετε από κάποιον πως 'εγώ μπορώ να σας απαλλάξω από το σκοτάδι'' ή εγώ γνωρίζω τον τρόπο της σωτηρίας'' να απομακρυνθείτε γιατί είναι εκ του πονηρού.

Μόνον ο εσωτερικός Χριστός γνωρίζει, και αυτός μπορεί να εγερθεί μέσα μας μόνον μέσω της ενεργής συμμετοχής και της αφύπνισις της συνείδησης του Ιησού μέσα μας.
Αν ο Ιησούς δεν γεννηθεί μέσα στην καρδιά μας και αν δεν καταφύγει μέσα στην σοφία της Αιγύπτου δεν θα μπορέσει καμία ουσιαστική ανάπτυξης να πραγματοποιηθεί.

Για αυτό και εμείς μαρτυρούμε μέσα από την ζωής μας σύμφωνα με τα λόγια του Κυρίου μας την ζωή και την θυσία του ανθρώπου ''Να γίνεται μιμητές μου'' μας είπε, δηλαδή τι εννοεί; Πως και εμείς θα πρέπει να ακολουθήσουμε αυτά τα στάδια μύησης για τα οποία όχι μόνον μας μίλησε και μας εξήγησε αλλά και που έπραξε αυτός ο ίδιος μέσα στην ζωή του.

Ορισμένοι αδαής και βλάσφημοι μας λένε πως ο Ιησούς δεν πονούσε, πως είχε υπερβεί την αγάπη και πολλά άλλα κουραφέξαλα, αλλά αν συνέβαινε αυτό θα είχε μια οποιαδήποτε θυσία κάποια αξία;

Δεν θα ήταν παρά όλη του η ζωή μια θεατρική παράσταση και μια υποκρισία;

Όχι φίλοι μου Αυτός και πονούσε και ένοιωθε σαν άνθρωπος το κάθε τι που και εμείς νοιώθουμε, μα δεν προσπάθησε ο διάβολος να τον εξαπατήσει;

Η μέγιστη διαφορά είναι πως ο Ιησούς εσωτερικά ένοιωθε το Φως του Χριστού να τον κατακλύζει γιατί στην ουσία είχε γίνει ο πρώτος άνθρωπος που στην ανθρώπινη ιστορία το ανώτερο με το κατώτερο ενώθηκαν ξανά.

Οπότε κάθε έννοια αδυναμίας απλά δεν υπήρχε μέσα του εφόσον αυτός και το Φως ήταν ένα, και ποιος θα μπορούσε αγαπητοί μου φίλοι να σταθεί τότε εναντίον του; Κανείς, μα φυσικά κανείς.

Και εμείς στην παρούσα φάση αυτό το ανθρώπινο επιθυμούμε να κατακτήσουμε γιατί αν αυτό που καλούμε ανθρώπινο ον δεν γνωρίσει την φύση και την ουσία του πως θα τα υπερβεί; 
Πως θα ξεπεράσει κάτι για το οποίο δεν γνωρίζει κάτι ή που ακόμη δεν έχει φτάσει.

Για αυτό και σας λέμε πως τα Μυστήρια μας δεν μας μιλάν για τα ανώτερα υπερβατικά πράγματα αλλά για τα χρήσιμα κατώτερα πράγματα και καταστάσεις μέσω των οποίων σαν νέοι αγνοί άνθρωποι θα μπορέσουμε να ανέλθουμε μέσω της Αγίας Κλίμακας η οποία ενώνει τους δύο κόσμους.

Ο τρόπος μέσω του οποίου αυτή η ανάβαση στο όρος της θυσίας μπορεί να συμβεί ομολογείται μέσα από το έργο της Αδελφότητας και μέσα από το Σώμα της μετασχηματίζονται όλες οι απαραίτητες θεραπευτικές δυνάμεις για αυτό το έργο σωτηρίας.

Η διδασκαλία για αυτήν την θαυμαστή πορεία σήμερα μας έχει δοθεί αναλυτικά και μέσα από μια σύγχρονη επιστημονική γλώσσα και είναι στην διάθεση όλων όσων έχουν μάτια να δουν και αυτιά να ακούσουν.

Και εμείς για αυτήν σας μιλάμε όχι εκ πνεύματος σοφιστείας αλλά μέσα από την αδύναμη μικρή καρδιά μας και μέσω της Χάρις του Θεού ο οποίος αναγνωρίζει τα τέκνα του και τους χορηγεί την δυνατότητα της έκφρασις του λόγου του μέσα από τις ανθρώπινες δυνατότητες και αναπτύξεις.

Διότι δεν το γνωρίζεται πως το σώμα μας είναι ο ναός του Θεού; Και πως θα πρέπει να το φυλάμε και να το προσέχουμε με σοβαρότητα και υπομονή και αντοχή.

Προσέξτε το σώμα μας δεν είναι ο στόχος αλλά η βάση της εργασίας μας, γιατί μέσα σε αυτήν την φύση έχουμε γεννηθεί και μέσω αυτής θα μπορέσουμε να οικοδομήσουμε και να γκρεμίσουμε μιας και ο Θεός αλλά και ο άνθρωπος περιέχονται μέσα μας.

Καταλαβαίνεται εδώ τα λόγια του Ποιμάνδρη όταν μας λέει πως ο άνθρωπος είναι διπλός; Θνητός ως προς το σώμα αλλά αθάνατος ως προς την ψυχή;

Για αυτό φίλοι μου μην χάνεται άσκοπα χρόνο, εγκαταλείψατε την πονηριά και την ιδιοτέλεια και τον τρόπο μέσα από το οποίο το εγώ ζει και κινείται, απομακρυνθείτε εσωτερικά από αυτήν την φασαρία και την ανοσιότητα του κόσμου ώστε να μπορέσετε μέσα σε σιγή να ακούσετε τον ''Λόγο' να ακούσετε την σιωπή της σιγής, να ακούσετε τον γλυκόν Ιησού.

Και τι Αυτός θα σας πει; Είναι τόσο μας τόσο απλό, ένα κορυφαίο μυστικό ''Εγώ και ο Πατέρας μου είμαστε ένα και όποιος έλθει προς εμένα θα γνωρίσει τον Θεό και θα γίνει ξανά   Υιός Θεού''

Καλημέρα προς όλους, η ειρήνη του Κυρίου μας ας γραφτεί ανεξίτηλα μέσα στις καρδιές σας και η Σοφία Του ας σας κατακλύσει ώστε να γίνεται νέοι άνθρωποι εξ ύδατος και πνεύματος και όχι από αίμα και την επιθυμία της σαρκός.

Freemasonry and Esotericism By Edmond Mazet


8 Freemasonry and Esotericism By Edmond Mazet

BEFORE DEALING with Freemasonry as an "esoteric" movement, it is necessary to determine in what sense it can be termed esoteric. The most usual meaning of "esoteric" is "secret" or "reserved for the few," and certainly Freemasonry is esoteric in this sense. It is a society of selected men, who are admitted to it through secret ceremonies, in the course of which they receive secret means of recognition which they swear not to reveal to people who have not been admitted in the proper manner. But etymologically "esoteric" means "inner" and can be opposed to "exoteric" or "outer." These two terms apply, for instance, to the teachings of a master who freely delivers to the public the exoteric part of his doctrine and keeps the esoteric part for a few selected disciples. The established religions themselves are held, in various circles, to have an exoteric meaning accessible to the whole congregation, and an esoteric one, the knowledge of which can be attained only through exceptional spiritual insight, a special grace from God and/or admission to a proper brotherhood endowed with the means of leading its members to such knowledge.

Freemasonry may also be termed esoteric in a sense connected with this second use. It conveys to its members, through ceremonies and symbols, a body of moral, religious, and spiritual teachings. A classical English masonic lecture defines Freemasonry as "a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." But it can hardly be said that all freemasons agree on the precise content of these teachings, and to what extent they are esoteric. All freemasons agree on a set of basic principles, and all masonic initiation ceremonies have a common basic core; but there is much variation in the details of rituals and symbols, and much more in their interpretation. Some freemasons are reluctant to admit that Freemasonry contains anything other than a moral and religious teaching common to all theistic religions and would wholly discard the term "esoteric" in the second sense as applied to it. Other freemasons, on the contrary, insist on the esoteric character of masonic teachings; but in many cases their interpretations of masonic rituals and symbols merely consist in finding in them elements of esoteric doctrines which are by no means specifically masonic, such as Kabbalah or alchemy.

We are therefore led to ask the following questions. Has Freemasonry an esoteric content at all? Has it an esoteric content, and more generally a spiritual content, of its own? What are its relations with morals and religion, and to various specific esoteric doctrines?

The basic principles of Freemasonry give some rather limited and partial answers to these questions. Freemasonry is definitely not a religion, but its members must be religious men. They may belong to different religions, and they must be tolerant of others' opinions. It is forbidden to discuss religious matters during masonic work. They must all believe in God, the Great Architect of the Universe, and in the immortality of the soul. They must also believe that God reveals himself to humanity in the volume of the sacred law, which is for each of them the sacred book of his own faith, on which he takes the oath that binds him to the order. He must regard all men as brethren, since they are creatures of the same God, and from this principle all masonic morals are derived, especially the practice of charity, which is the main feature of the exoteric side of the society.

As for the esoteric character of Freemasonry in the second sense, the basic principles say nothing explicit about it, and no universally recognized masonic authority has committed itself to assert
or deny it, still less to define a precise esoteric content. Therefore it remains a matter of private interpretation among freemasons. For instance, the way the basic principles deal with differences of religions suggests an underlying belief in a transcendental truth of which the various religions would be different expressions in different historical and cultural contexts. Such a belief is generally recognized as part of the metaphysical foundations of the distinction between the exoteric and the esoteric sides of religions. Then the esoteric character of Masonry would consist in leading its members, each through proper understanding of his own faith, to this transcendental truth. Indeed, such a view is professed by many freemasons, but on the other hand those who are unwilling to acknowledge the esoteric character of the society may argue that the attitude toward religions involved in the basic principles simply means that Freemasonry is interested only in those few simple truths which are common to all religions, without searching for any inner or higher meaning beyond them.

Thus, the answers we shall try to give to the questions we have asked, however tentative, will necessarily reflect the private opinions of the author, as well as the problematic and views of the masonic circles (mainly French) with which he is best acquainted. 

In my opinion, the only correct approach to our questions is a historical one. One of the main features of Freemasonry is to be a traditional society. Its ceremonies, symbols, secrets, rules, and customs are faithfully transmitted "from generation to generation." Since all such things are intended to convey to the mason the teachings of the order, the teachings themselves must be part of the tradition -- in fact the most essential part. But a survey of masonic history through the three last centuries shows that the fixing of formal tradition in Freemasonry is rather recent and is mainly due to the existence of strong and united Grand Lodges, able to maintain the observance of fixed rules and customs each in its own jurisdiction. In the eighteenth century, when Grand Lodges were weaker or when different and rival Grand Lodges existed in the same country, and in older days when there were no Grand Lodges at all, masonic customs were much more likely to undergo changes that in the course of time might become important. There was an evolution of masonic tradition, and not the mere transmission of the tradition unaltered. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, different masonic authorities undertook to stop the process and to fix the evolution. This resulted in the different streams of masonic tradition existing today.

Such an evolution of masonic formal tradition necessarily affected the perception of the teachings it was intended to convey and generated new interpretations which, in turn, would suggest further modification of the formal tradition. Because of lack of evidence, we do not know precisely how or when this process began, but we can say that the transition from "operative" (i.e., craft) to "speculative" Masonry was certainly a most crucial step. as we know it today is derived from a medieval organization of craft masons, which was gradually invaded by persons of quite different social status. The craft masons were eventually excluded from it -or rather excluded themselves. Therefore masonic tradition was originally a craft tradition which underwent a tremendous change of social makeup. The gentry, which now formed the membership of the society, did not drop the tradition at the formal level, although in some cases they blurred it by ignorance and misunderstanding. They could not interpret it in the same way as the operatives did. They brought with them their own cultural background and started an evolutionary process that was still more important than that which merely resulted from more or less random variations in the formal tradition.

This is the reason why, although we have to deal with Freemasonry as a "modern" esoteric movement, we shall begin with a few words about medieval Operative Masonry, in order to appreciate correctly the state of affairs in the beginning of the modern or "speculative" period, which is crucial for understanding the character of modern Freemasonry as an esoteric movement.

Medieval Operative Masonry

We shall center on the information yielded by the two medieval manuscripts belonging to the large family of masonic documents known as the Old Charges: the Regius manuscript and the Cooke manuscript (respectively end of the fourteenth and beginning of the fifteenth century). The reason for this choice is that these documents provide an almost continuous link between medieval Operative Masonry and modern Speculative Masonry. indeed, much of the content of the two medieval manuscripts reappears in the Old Charges of the seventeenth century, and even in Anderson's Constitutions of 1723 ( Anderson knew the Cooke manuscript and used it as a source).

The craft of masonry in the Middle Ages was not organized in the form of municipal guilds 3 as most crafts were. But according to the Regius and Cooke manuscripts, they had a particular form of organization, consisting of annual or triannual provincial assemblies. At such assemblies new fellows of the craft were admitted; they were instructed in the regulations of the craft and swore to observe the same, while masons who had committed faults were tried and punished. The manuscripts yield the regulations in form of "articles" and "points" with a legend explaining their origin. According to the simplest and oldest form of the legend, the regulations had first been given to the masons by Euclid, who founded the craft in Egypt, and had later been confirmed in England by King Athelstan. A more elaborate version, which appears in the Cooke, displayed a history of the craft from antediluvian times.

Although an obligation of secrecy is mentioned -- the object of which is only vaguely defined as the "counsel" of masons -- there is no clear evidence of an esoteric character in the strict technical sense (communication of secret means of recognition). As for the problem of the esoteric doctrinal content, or at least of the spiritual content of medieval Operative Masonry, the most interesting feature to be noted is the importance of the relations between masons and clerics, and interference of the clergy in the affairs of the craft. Both manuscripts were clearly written by clerics. They contain (especially the Regius) a set of moral and religious instructions that express the clerics' concern to moralize and catechize the masons. The mention of the seven liberal sciences tries to fill the gap between the empirical knowledge of the masons and the scholarly knowledge of the clerics; the legends combine elements of a craft folklore that probably originated in important ecclesiastical building yards, with purely clerical notions such as the foundation of the craft by Euclid. The history of the craft displayed in the Cooke is a typical piece of monastic scholarship of the time.

Adding to the evidence of the manuscripts the fact that the masons had to work out, under the direction and control of the clerics, the carved ornamentation of the churches, which was mainly a plastic expression of clerical lore and teaching, it is not difficult to guess what the spiritual content of medieval Operative Masonry must have been. It could only have been thoroughly Christian and certainly reflected the teachings of the clerics; that is to say, it was founded on the Bible and biblical exegesis, which the masons knew not from reading the book or commentaries on it, but from hearing the clerics' sermons about them and carving historical or symbolic scenes taken from them.

Some masonic symbols are derived from medieval iconography, for instance, the triad of the sun, the moon, and the Master Mason or Master of the Lodge (to be understood in a mystical sense). This is clearly derived from the well-known representations of Christ between the two luminaries. Another example is a symbol that was known to early speculative Freemasonry as the "broached thurnell" and is still to be seen in French lodges as the "pierre cubique à pointe." Although it cannot be traced continuously through the operative period, there is little doubt that it goes back to a set of illuminations in eleventh-century manuscripts of Beatus's commentary on Revelation, in which it appears as a representation of the ark of the covenant and as a symbol of the church. It is interesting to note that the freemasons of the eighteenth century had lost all memory of this origin and meaning.

It is only in this context that one can reasonably imagine what the esoteric content (if any) of medieval Operative Masonry may have been. It can only have consisted of such speculation about the Bible as took place among the clerics themselves, of research into the arcana of the holy book and of the Christian religion. Everything that was not of Christian origin must have been, at least formally and superficially, christianized. The medieval manuscripts give no evidence of such esotericism. However, a later document, the Graham manuscript (dated 1726, but the content of which is, at least in part, probably much older), gives perhaps some insight, though obscure, into the practices and speculations of medieval Masonry. 4 The text mentions an exorcism ritual which masons are supposed to perform when undertaking a building, in order that their work may not be shaken by infernal spirits. The ritual makes use of "foundation words" which form the "primitive [secrets?]" of Masonry. It may go back to a pagan origin but appears here in the Christian form of an invocation to the Holy Trinity. Moreover, the text insists strongly on its Christian orthodoxy. Later, the text explains how the secrets of Masonry were "ordered" at the building of Solomon's Temple:

So, all being finished, then were the secrets of Freemasonry ordered aright as is now and will be to the end of the world for such as do rightly understand it -- in 3 parts in reference to the blessed Trinity who made all things, yet in 13 branches in reference to Christ and his 12 apostles, which is as follows: one word for a divine, six for the clergy 5 and 6 for the fellow craft.

The modern reader is not in a very good position to "rightly understand it"! However, the text clearly reveals the existence of an underlying doctrine of the power of words and numbers in connection with the inner life of the Godhead and the occurrence of numbers in scripture -- that is to say, something very similar to classical kabbalistic speculation, though in a purely Christian context.

The Transition from Operative to Speculative Masonry

The Reformation, and especially the dissolution of the monasteries, must have had important consequences for Masonry. Unfortunately, no document allows us to follow the masonic history of this period. After the Regius and Cooke manuscripts, no documents of the Old Charges family appear before 1583. One thing, however, is certain: the link between Masonry and the clergy that had existed in the Middle Ages was broken. In Scotland, the lodges came in 1598 under the control of the royal power, which did not prevent them from looking for protectors in the nobility. This was probably the origin of the admission to the lodges of persons not belonging to the craft, a process that was to develop so much through the seventeenth century. The Scottish lodges were bound by the Schaw Statutes of 1599 to keep records of their meetings -- a fact that allows us to follow the details of the process, at least from the administrative viewpoint. Clearly the lodges had difficulties maintaining a sufficient membership by recruiting only operative members, and since the door had been opened to nonoperatives they were more and more tempted to increase their membership (and income) in this way. Less clear are the reasons why so many nonoperatives were eager to enter the lodges. One reason at least can easily be seen -- curiosity. It was known (from at least 1637 on) that masons had secrets. More precisely, people who had been admitted to the society were said to have the "Mason's word." It is from this period that the esoteric character of Freemasonry in the narrow sense is proved with certainty by evidence of the day. The Scottish minute-books -- that is, the registers in which the lodges kept the minutes or accounts of their meetings -- show that the process did not proceed everywhere at the same pace; nor did it always develop regularly. Sometimes the operatives became impatient with the presence of nonoperatives and managed to expel them. Sometimes they abandoned the lodge to them. In the long run, however, Scottish lodges evolved from purely operative to purely nonoperative membership.

In England the process cannot be followed as in Scotland, since the lodges appear to have kept no records of their proceedings -- at least no such records have ever been discovered. But the great number and activity of English lodges in the seventeenth century are shown indirectly by the numerous Old Charges manuscripts from this period. Apart from the Old Charges, the only contemporary evidence consists of casual mentions of Freemasonry in nonmasonic writings, 6 and of the two famous entries of 1646 and 1682 in Elias Ashmole's diary, mentioning his initiation in a lodge of Warrington (Lancashire) and his attendance at a lodge meeting in London. Such evidence gives us no insight into the inner life of lodges, but it is sufficient to ascertain the existence, in the 1680s at least and probably much earlier in the century, of a Society of Freemasons that was quite distinct from any operative organization, though keeping strong links with the craft. The case of the lodge that Elias Ashmole visited in 1682 is particularly interesting. It was inside the operative London Masons Company but distinct from it. While it received nonoperatives such as Ashmole, not all members of the company were members of the lodge, which thus appears as a kind of inner circle in the operative society.

It may be noted that already in the seventeenth century, in Scotland as well as in England, the secrecy in which the masons wrapped themselves and their proceedings aroused popular comment and suspicion. They were supposed to have magical powers, or even to make a covenant with the devil; and a London leaflet of 1698 plainly denounces them as a "devilish sect" and as being "the Anti-Christ," thus foreshadowing what was later to be the fate of Freemasonry in some countries. Some texts more gently -- and sometimes humorously -- associate Freemasonry with the "Brotherhood of the Rosy-Cross" and/or the "Hermetic Adepti." There is, however, no evidence of any real connection at that time between Masonry and Rosicrucianism or alchemy. A text of 1676 also associates Freemasonry with the "Modern Green Ribbon'd Caball" and, though the latter society is clearly fanciful, its name probably contains an allusion to Kabbalah, which would be nearer to the mark, as we shall see later. Anyway, these texts show that

Freemasonry was held in some circles to be a society teaching an esoteric doctrine.

What can we say in fact about the spiritual content of this seventeenthcentury Masonry? The documents of the seventeenth century proper are of limited help here, but some documents of the beginning of the following century and even of the first years of the Grand Lodge period (from 1717 on) give us complementary evidence, since they can be safely assumed to be copies of older documents or to reflect a situation which continued that of the preceding century. 7

The first point is the persistence of the Christian character of the order. The Old Charges of the seventeenth century maintain that the mason's duty is to be faithful to God and his Holy Church. Many of them begin with an invocation to the Holy Trinity. Moreover, Scottish rituals of the end of the century show that the masons' oath was taken not only on the Bible but more precisely on
the Gospel of St. John. That custom must have been observed in England, too, at least in the first years of the Grand Lodge period, since it passed on to the Continent in the 1720s.

The later texts show the interest of masons in the person of Christ, not to say their devotion toward him. For instance, the Graham manuscript ( 1726), dealing with the clothing and posture of the candidate on taking his oath, explains them by reference to the double nature of Christ, implying that by faithfully imitating his Master, the Christian may become a participant in his divinity:

I was neither sitting, standing . . ., naked nor clothed, shod nor barefoot.

-- A reason for such posture?

-- In regard one God one man make a very Christ, so one object being half naked half clothed, half shod half barefoot, half kneeling half standing, being half of all, was none of the whole, this shows a humble and obedient heart for to be a faithful follower of that just Jesus.

At least part of this Christ-centered spirituality certainly came from medieval tradition. This is the case, for instance, with the passages that interpret the Great Architect of the Universe not merely as God but more precisely as Christ, as in Samuel Prichard Masonry Dissected ( 1730): "The Grand Architect and contriver of the Universe, or He that was taken up to the top of the pinnacle of the Holy Temple." Indeed, in medieval iconography the creator was always presented as Christ, while from the sixteenth century on he was presented as the Father. Another most striking instance of a piece of medieval tradition appearing in an eighteenth-century text is provided by the "Questions concerning the Temple" which form part of the Dumfries n° 4 manuscript (ca. 1710). Solomon's Temple and all its furniture are interpreted in reference to Christ and to diverse attributes of Christ, which is perfectly in the line of medieval exegesis interpreting the Old Testament by reference to the New.

All these items appear in eighteenth-century texts as elements of a heritage which by that time was passing into oblivion among British masons. This is shown by the fact that nothing of it reappears in later British texts nor in continental Masonry. But they show that during the period of transition from Operative to Speculative Masonry, the order remained in possession of such a heritage, which was handed down to it by medieval Masonry through the changes of the Reformation period.

Yet in the same texts we observe the appearance of speculative elements of a new kind, which are most unlikely to be part of the medieval heritage but were much more probably introduced into Masonry by the nonoperatives in the post-Reformation period. They are no longer Christian, but point to an interest in Jewish esoterism. Since the Jews were certainly not admitted into Masonry in the seventeenth century, such speculative elements must have been introduced by adepts of the Christian Kabbalah movement. The example of Elias Ashmole (though in his case Kabbalah was not his main field of interest) shows that persons interested in all kinds of esoteric knowledge entered Masonry. There is no doubt that they were led to do so by the notion that Masonry had secrets and by the hope of finding such knowledge there as appealed to them. They were apt to develop along their own lines of interest the elements of the medieval heritage which seemed to answer their hope and to enrich thereby the speculative content of Freemasonry. Such elements seem indeed to have been present, so that the process we are describing was a rather natural development.

The most obvious outcome of this process is the multiplication of Hebrew words that appear, though often in corrupted form, in several texts of the 1720s. One of them, A Mason's Examination ( 1723), has even the word RoSheM (wrongly written RoSeM in Hebrew letters. On the other hand, definite kabbalistic items remain rare. The most striking one seems to be the following passage of The Whole Institution of Freemasons opened ( 1725): "Yet for all this I want the primitive word, I answer it was God in six Terminations, to wit I am." This is in my view a clear allusion to the six permutations of the trigrammaton YHW, by which, according to the Sepher Yetsirah (1.8), God has sealed the six directions of space, and which are identical with the six last Sephiroth Belimah.

If, as I believe, those introducing such pieces of Jewish esoterism in Freemasonry were Christian kabbalists, they certainly did not mean to substitute them for the older Christian speculation, but rather to shed a new light on it thereby. The situation, however, changed in the eighteenth century. Partly under the spontaneous trend of the century and partly under the urge to facilitate the admission of non- Christians into Freemasonry, the Christian character of the order gradually faded away (though not everywhere completely), giving place to more and more non-Christian speculation, which could freely develop within the frame of a Masonry almost completely drained of its earlier spiritual content.

The Beginning of the Grand Lodge Period

The foundation of the first Grand Lodge in 1717 was not so radical an innovation as is commonly thought. By the Middle Ages, the assembly described by the Regius and Cooke manuscripts brought together masons from different boroughs and construction yards -- that is, from different lodges. In Scotland, the Schaw Statutes of 1599 acknowledge the jurisdiction of the lodges in Edinburgh, Kilwinning and Stirling over the lodges in their respective regions, thus giving them (or rather confirming to them) a status, so to speak, of provincial Grand Lodges. Therefore, Operative Masonry did not lack central organization, at least on a local level. According to Anderson's Constitutions of 1723, the Grand Lodge itself, in its first years, claimed jurisdiction only "in and about London and Westminster" and seems to have regarded itself, in the beginning, as the continuation of the old provincial assembly (though with more frequent meetings and much more complex organization), as Anderson suggests when he writes ". . . this fair metropolis flourishes, as well as other parts, with several worthy particular lodges, that have a quarterly communication, and an annual grand assembly, wherein the forms and usages of the most ancient and worshipful Fraternity are wisely propagated." 8 More generally Anderson insisted on the continuity between the newly founded Grand Lodge and Operative Masonry; and Desaguliers, in his dedication to the duke of Montague, deals with the Constitutions as being merely a new redaction of the Old Charges, amended of their historical and chronological errors.

But the spirit of the new "Speculative" Freemasonry, of which Anderson's Constitutions are the acknowledged charter, turns out to be quite different from the spirit of medieval Masonry. It insists on notions that are completely unknown to the latter, namely, religious toleration and the setting up of friendly relations among men of different denominations by uniting them in "that religion in which all men agree."

Religious toleration was not by itself completely new in Freemasonry. It was practiced at least in some seventeenth-century lodges, as is shown by the instance of the lodge that in 1646 admitted Elias Ashmole along with his cousin, Colonel Henry Mainwaring. Ashmole belonged to the Church of England, while his cousin was a Puritan. Moreover, the two men had fought on opposite sides in the civil war. The lodge nevertheless received both of them on the same evening; but such religious toleration was restricted to Christians. The controversies that arose in the mid-eighteenth century about the admission of Jews show that this was something new by that time. What is more, as we have seen, it did not prevent the lodges from cultivating an essentially Christian speculation. It is quite possible, not to say quite likely, that in 1723 Anderson had nothing more in mind than the reconciliation of the different Christian denominations which had so cruelly fought against one another in the two previous centuries. But, though he casually mentions Christ as "God's Messiah, the great architect of the Church," his definition of "that religion in which all men agree" is purely moral and contains nothing specifically Christian: "that is to be good men and true, or men of honor and honesty."

In the 1738 edition of the Constitutions, the possibility of admitting nonChristians into Freemasonry is clearly implied:

In ancient times, the christian masons were charged to comply with the christian usages of each country where they travelled or worked; but Masonry being found in all nations, even of divers religions, they are now only charged to adhere to that religion in which all men agree (leaving each brother to his own particular opinions), that is, to be good men and true, men of honor and honesty, by whatever names, religions or persuasions they may be distinguished. 9

As is well known, Anderson excludes from Masonry the "stupid atheist" and the "irreligious libertine." The Mason must observe the moral law "as a true Noachida" (this is supposed to have been "the first name of Masons, according to some old traditions"), and all men agree on "the three great articles of Noah." Unfortunately Anderson does not quote these articles explicitly. Since all humanity after the Flood is descended from Noah, the term Noachida implies by itself no restriction at all. On the other hand, only true Noachidae, that is, men who observe the articles of Noah, may be admitted to Masonry. Whatever the articles may be, the reference to Noah can mean but little to a man without a biblical background, so that it may be suggested that Anderson contemplated only the admission to Freemasonry of Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Indeed in 1738 admissions of Jews had already occurred,  10 and Muslims were soon to follow. For persons belonging to other non-Christian religions the question was rather unlikely to arise in those days.

The admission of Christians of different professions was never questioned, probably because it had been a well-established custom since the seventeenth century. 11 On the contrary, the admission of non-Christians did not proceed without problems, especially in continental Europe, Where the earliest constitutional texts of Freemasonry explicitly restrict admittance to Christians. In the first constitutions of French Masonry, the Devoirs enjoints aux Maçons libres ( 1735), Anderson's "religion in which all men agree" is replaced by "la religion dont tout chrétien convient." A similar text that was brought from Paris to Stockholm in 1737 by the baron of Scheffer, founder of Swedish Freemasonry, says that masons are no longer examined on their particular opinions, provided that they are Christians. The attitude of French masonic authorities was soon to change completely, but the opposition to non-Christians remained strong in Germany and Sweden, where it was to last almost up to our own time.

The main objection to admitting non-Christians consisted in the fact that the candidate, on his initiation, traditionally took his oath on the Gospel of St. John, so that he had to be Christian in order that his oath should bind him. In fact, different lodges followed different practices. In France in the 1780s many lodges had dropped not only the Gospel but also the Bible, and the candidates initiated into such lodges took their oath on the book of regulations of the lodge. Other lodges firmly maintained the custom of taking the oath on the Gospel, and consequently refused to admit non-Christians. As late as 1791, an assembly of several lodges in Bordeaux concluded:

The Jews are not admitted to our mysteries. Our lodges are dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, forerunner of the Messiah, and the Jews acknowledge neither the divinity of the Messiah nor the mission of Saint John the Baptist. It is on the Gospel of Saint John that we take our oath, and that Holy Book, object of our eternal worship, is for the Jews a work of mere darkness and lies.  12

In 1786 a Muslim brother from Algiers complained to the Grand Orient of France that a lodge in Nantes had refused to receive him as a visitor because of the difference of religion, and the Grand Orient gave him a warrant in order that such misadventure might not happen to him again.

Being adepts of the philosophy of the Enlightenment, the leading members of the order in France favored the admission of non-Christians. In 1785 the Grand Orient approved an official ritual that was to be used in all lodges of its jurisdiction. This ritual, the promoters of which were by no means atheists, maintained the invocation to the Great Architect of the Universe. The oath was, however, no longer to be taken on the Gospel, nor on the Bible, but on the general regulations. In the same years the Rectified Scottish Rite was founded, a rite still practiced today in Belgium, France, and Switzerland. Its founders reacted against the dechristianizing trend and insisted on the Christian character of the order, asserting in the Code des Loges Réunies et Rectifiées de France ( 1778) that no man can be admitted a Freemason if he does not profess the Christian religion -- and further that the oath had to be taken on the Gospel of St. John.

Of course, insistence on this point was not motivated merely by the desire to maintain an old custom, but more deeply by the intrinsic importance that the brethren saw in the Gospel of St. John as a basic source of their spiritual life. The brethren of Bordeaux in 1791 called it, as we have seen, the "object of our eternal worship," and a text of the Rectified Scottish Rite, written in 1809 but undoubtedly reflecting the thought of the founders of the rite in the years before the French Revolution, mentions it as the book in which "that beloved disciple, enlightened by a divine light, has asserted with so much sublimity the divinity of the Word incarnate."  14 The French Freemasons knew nothing of the Christian speculation of seventeenth-century English Masonry, but by meditating on the Book, some of them found their way to a somewhat similar spirituality, which they regarded as an essential part of masonic tradition. The fact that all lodges bear the name of Saint John helped to comfort them in this thought, as is shown by the Bordeaux resolution previously quoted.  15

Thus, the opening of the order to non-Christians and its subsequent dechristianization were felt by some of the brethren as a break in masonic tradition. And a break it was, indeed. But it was bound to happen as soon as Masonry was no longer a society of craftsmen but, as Anderson put it, of "noblemen and gentlemen of the best rank, with clergymen and learned scholars," that is, of persons belonging to social classes that were pervaded to a large extent by the liberal ideas of the century.

Indeed, some masonic authors think that these men created a completely new institution and that speculative Freemasonry as it has been constituted since 1717 has no real connection with Operative Masonry. Against the traditional thesis of a continuous transformation of operative lodges into speculative ones through the admission of nonoperative members, Eric Ward, the main supporter of this thesis, writes that "in England . . . lodges began to appear which from their inception were independent of the mason trade." More precisely:

During the seventeenth century -- and as far as we know it was in England alone -- groups of men of diverse occupations organized themselves into small autonomous societies or lodges whose connection with the building trade was no more than nominal. In some instances some of their members were masons by trade, but that was incidental to the activities of the lodges which were broadly speaking philosophical and social. In short these bodies were the primitive prototypes of speculative mason lodges of the present days.

They borrowed ritual and legendary material from Operative Masonry in order "to give the Society the appearance of having a direct historical linkage with the English stone masons of the middle-ages," satisfying thereby a "quest for antiquity."  16

If this thesis were true, we should not speak of a break in masonic tradition. We should rather say that operative tradition was completely foreign to speculative Freemasonry as it was created in the seventeenth century and constituted in 1717. But in my view the thesis, although containing elements of truth, is an oversimplification of the reality. It is true that the Society of Freemasons in the seventeenth century was quite distinct from any operative organization, but "distinct" does not mean "Independent," still less independent "from inception." There is no evidence at all on the origin of the rare English lodges that we know in the seventeenth century, so that we do not know whether they were creations ex nihilo or had evolved from operative lodges. But the fact that the existence of the process of evolution is well established in Scotland gives likelihood to its existence in England too, even if the communications between the two countries remained difficult. Moreover, I do not see clearly how newly created speculative lodges could have borrowed elements of operative tradition, except by contact with operative lodges or with speculative lodges evolved from operative ones. I am not unwilling to admit the possible existence of newly created speculative lodges, but I think the truth is that both processes coexisted and converged, so that on the whole the traditional thesis of a continuous link between Operative Masonry and seventeenth-century English Speculative Masonry seems to me to be more adequate.
On the other hand, even if the unorthodox thesis were true, I would say that the claim to continuity could not be so easily ruled out. By borrowing so many ritual, legendary, and spiritual elements from Operative Masonry and by incorporating them so integrally into its system, seventeenth-century Speculative Masonry assumed in some sense an operative tradition, which really became its heritage even if it had not been such before! I therefore maintain that in any case the opening of the order to non-Christians and its dechristianization were really a break in a tradition which could rightly claim to be rooted in medieval spirituality. I do not intend to discuss the legitimacy of this break here, but I will explore its consequences for the development of the "modern esoteric" character of Freemasonry.

Freemasonry in Search of Its Own Meaning

For many of its members, especially in English-speaking countries, Freemasonry is a "philosophical and social" association, based on a few simple and presumably universal religious principles, inculcating In its members good morals, friendship, and charity. As we said earlier, masonic authorities, though leaving individual masons free to pursue further spiritual research, do not commit themselves to asserting that Masonry is more than that, and many masons would be reluctant to admit it. This minimal definition of Masonry undoubtedly offers a noble and exalted ideal -- and, we must add, a rather austere one.
It is quite apt to satisfy men of a certain spiritual outlook, but it may not suffice for all the different kinds of persons that Masonry brings together in its lodges, some of whom may have more mystical aspirations.

Such men are naturally led to look for a more specific, and less obvious, speculative content in Masonry -- a content that will demand a special effort and insight to be discovered and may therefore be termed "esoteric." There have always been men of this kind in Masonry, and they have greatly contributed, for more than 250 years, to fashioning the different esoteric aspects of the order. Some of them, starting from the remains of Christian tradition that persisted in the ritual, developed a Christian speculation, and even a Christian mysticism, which they had not found in the official, "exoteric" teachings of their respective churches. As we have seen, this was in the oldest masonic tradition, but it seemed to conflict with the universalist tendency newly introduced in the order, and it certainly conflicted with the general ideological trend of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Others were adepts of the intellectual and esoteric movements that flourished in the surrounding environment, such as illuminism and occultism, and they were prone to find in Masonry what already appealed to them in the outer world. They were encouraged to do so by the esoteric character of Masonry, in the narrow sense -- that is, by the secrecy of its ceremonies -- and also by the fact that the ceremonies themselves, being symbolic, seemed to them mysterious. In fact, Freemasonry, having kept the formal tradition inherited from older times, but having lost, through its transplantation into another social and intellectual environment, its primitive spiritual content, appeared to many as an empty frame which could be filled with virtually anything.

The questions the Masons asked themselves in the eighteenth century, concerning the meaning of masonic secrets and ceremonies, have been well expounded by Joseph de Maistre in his Memoir to the Duke of Brunswick ( 1782), a text written on the occasion of the Convent of Wilhelmsbad, which had been summoned to elucidate the historical and spiritual foundations of the masonic order of the Strict Observance:
There is perhaps not a single mason, if somewhat able to think, who has not asked himself within one hour of his reception "What is the origin of all that I see? Whence come these strange ceremonies, this pomp, these grand words, etc. . . .?" But after having lived for some time in the Order, one asks other questions: "What is the origin of these mysteries which veil nothing, of these types which represent nothing? Lo! Men of all countries will meet (and perhaps have done so for several centuries) to rank on two lines, swear never to reveal a secret which does not exist, put their right hand to their left shoulder, draw it to the right one, and sit down to table. Can't they talk nonsense, eat and drink to excess, without discoursing about Hiram and Solomon's Temple, the Blazing Star, etc., etc., . . . ?"  17

In fact, many masons did not seriously try to obtain answers. From time to time, they enjoyed spending a merry evening with good friends, "sitting down to table," and singing masonic songs. They were satisfied with this convivial side of Masonry. Others found in Masonry satisfactions of vanity, especially when the so-called higher degrees began to develop. It even happened that unscrupulous persons made money by conferring irregular initiations and fake degrees upon credulous people. Thus, Masonry too often appeared as something at best frivolous and at worst dishonest. This unfortunate situation was undoubtedly furthered by an apparent lack of meaning. The result was that persons of high moral standards who entered Masonry might feel rather disappointed. But those who had sincerely expected to find spiritual teachings were all the more anxious to discover the true meaning of Masonry and eventually to restore it, if possible, in its primitive glory. A striking example of this attitude is provided by Jean Baptiste Willermoz ( 1730-1824), a famous mason of Lyons and one of the founders of the Rectified Scottish Rite. He was initiated in Lyons at the age of twenty and was soon "accoutred in all possible ribbons and colors" as he himself records in a letter. His biographer Alice Joly notes that "he writes disdainfully about this lodge and these old days, and describes himself as having been disgusted with the frivolity and indiscipline which pervaded Freemasonry."  18 He was even tempted to leave Masonry, but as he writes in another letter, he was "convinced on entering the Order that Masonry veiled rare and important truths, and this opinion became [his] compass."  19 For seventeen years he would search for these rare and important truths, and when he thought he had found them he wrote this significant sentence: "We judge with a very different look from the ordinary masons' the emblems which the symbolic lodges offer to us."  20 He was sure he had found the true meaning of Masonry. From thence he endeavored to reform Masonry in such a way that it might efficiently convey this meaning to its adepts. In fact, this meaning, which consisted of a Christian esoteric doctrine, was explicitly taught only to those who had reached the highest degree of the system. In the lower degrees it was veiled in symbols, but the symbols were commented on in a way which was intended to turn more and more precisely the thoughts of the perspicacious mason toward the proper interpretation.

It is interesting to note that Willermoz did not find his "rare and important truths" in Masonry itself, but in a parallel order into which he was admitted in 1767, the Order of the Elus Coëns, which had been founded in the 1750s by Martinez de Pasqually, a man of rather mysterious origin.  21 Martinez taught an esoteric doctrine which Willermoz confidently held to be the deepest meaning of the Christian religion, but which seems rather to have been an approximately christianized version of a later stream of Jewish Kabbalah. Within one year of his reception Willermoz had reached the highest degree of this order, and he felt he was in possession of the true meaning of Masonry. Then only he could turn back to the latter and start the reformation process that gave birth to the Rectified Scottish Rite.

Indeed, many developments in Masonry arose from the need to answer the questions concerning its meaning, origin, and aim. A very early and conspicuous one is the development of the so- called higher degrees (as distinct from the three older degrees of Apprentice, Fellow-Craft, and Master Mason, which in the eighteenth century were called "symbolic degrees"). The development of degrees originated in France about 1740 but quickly spread to the rest of Europe and to America. Its success is partly due to vanity and, as Willermoz put it, to the taste for "ribbons and colors," but more deeply to the disappointment felt by many masons about the secrets which they had expected to learn, about "these mysteries which veil nothing" and this "secret which does not exist." The brethren who had failed to receive In one degree the expected revelations could always hope to obtain them in the next one. So the degrees became more and more numerous, and the systems more and more complicated. A need was felt to bring order into this proliferating mass of degrees, and it led to the formation of systems in which a fixed number of degrees, each of them having been selected among many variants, were organized into a pyramid which was to be climbed by the mason from the lowest (Apprentice) to the highest one.

The "higher degrees" are no longer considered today to be part of Freemasonry proper, but the situation was different in the eighteenth century. The higher degrees were then regarded in many countries as the natural continuation of the "symbolic" ones, especially when both kinds of degrees were incorporated into pyramidal systems. Which authorities were entitled to govern the higher degrees was not clear. Many lodges practiced upon their own private authority such degrees as they pleased, only maintaining a formal distinction from the symbolic degrees by styling themselves "perfect lodges" or "chapters" when meeting in the higher degrees. On the other hand, specific bodies arose, beside the Grand Lodges and distinct from them, claiming authority on specific systems. Some of them limited their claim to the higher degrees, but in some instances such bodies extended their authority over the symbolic degrees by creating symbolic lodges or taking such lodges under control. In France such was the case with the Scottish Mother Lodge of Marseilles and of the Mother Lodge of the Philosophical Scottish Rite, both of which successfully maintained their independence from the Grand Orient until the end of the reign of Napoleon. In Germany such was the case with several Grand Lodges or Mother Lodges, each of which governed its own symbolic lodges and its peculiar system of higher degrees, and of the order of the Strict Observance, which in its higher degrees was a Templar order. The latter even managed to extend its jurisdiction over foreign lodges, in almost all continental European countries, by "rectifying" them.  22 Even in England, while the Grand Lodge of 1717 stood firmly against all kinds of higher degrees, the "Antients" Grand Lodge (founded in 1751) conferred the Royal Arch as a fourth degree.

In the eighteenth century it seemed natural to most masons that pyramidal systems starting from the Apprentice degree should be governed from top to bottom by unique authorities. On the other hand, a clear difference was felt between the symbolic degrees and the higher ones: the former were essentially the same in all systems, while the latter were different. The formula "essentially the same" as applied to the symbolic degrees appears, for instance, in the compact of 1776 between the Grand Orient of France and the French branch of the Strict Observance, in which these degrees are called "the fundamental degrees of Masonry." In this compact the Grand Orient acknowledged the authority of the Strict Observance on the lodges which this German (and international) masonic body had created or "rectified" in France. At the same time, the Grand Orient was elaborating its own system of higher degrees, and when that work was completed in 1786, the Grand Orient assumed the government of the higher degrees under the denomination of General Grand Chapter. This is an instance of the fact that the principle of systems governed from top to bottom by unique authorities tended to be accepted by the main masonic bodies of the time.

However, there was a growing feeling that rivalry between such systems caused division among masons and that the unity of Freemasonry was to be found only in the three fundamental degrees that were common to all systems. This feeling was eventually to prevail. In the Articles of Union, promulgated in 1813 when the two English Grand Lodges of the "Moderns" ( 1717) and of the "Antients" ( 1751) came together to form the United Grand Lodge of England, it was stated for the first time that "pure ancient Masonry consists of three degrees and no more; viz. those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow-Craft and the Master-Mason." This principle has been generally accepted world wide by regular Grand Lodges, so that the higher degrees are now regarded as something distinct from Masonry and are governed by distinct authorities such as Supreme Councils and Grand Chapters.

Nevertheless, the higher degrees have always been closely connected with Masonry, since their members are recruited exclusively among masons, and they have played an important part in the formation of modern masonic esoterism in two ways: (1) Older kinds of masonic speculation that had fallen in disuse in the symbolic lodges--such Christian and kabbalistic speculations as were cultivated in seventeenth-century lodges--started afresh in the higher degrees. (2) It is mainly through the higher degrees that new speculative elements, such as alchemy or chivalric legends, were introduced into Masonry.

The kabbalistic speculations are probably those which are the most closely related to similar speculations in the seventeenth century. They center on the meditation and invocation of divine names and are to be found mainly in the Royal Arch, which, as we have said, was conferred in eighteenth-century England as a fourth degree, and in various "Scottish" degrees on the Continent.  23 These degrees are strongly rooted in biblical tradition, and the happy combination of the kabbalistic elements with eschatological themes gives them great spiritual richness. The kabbalistic speculations received further development in the nineteenth century when the occultist movement aroused a new interest in Kabbalah. But these later developments are, in my view at least, rather negative because this new kabU+0AD balistic trend was much more interested in the magical side of Kabbalah than in the authentically spiritual one.

As for the Christian speculations, the link with the seventeenth century is perhaps more formal: it consists of the importance still accorded to the name and the Gospel of Saint John, but that belongs essentially to symbolic Masonry. The many Christian degrees that appeared in the eighteenth century seem to be new creations rather than continuations of the seventeenth-century tradition. In some cases the distinction between them and symbolic Masonry is marked by the fact that they have Saint Andrew as their patron rather than Saint John, which is absolutely unprecedented in Masonry.
There is a large variety of such degrees, and they develop rather different lines of teaching, presumably according to the spiritual outlook of their creators--who in almost all cases are unknown to us. Quite often their Christian content is mixed with a component of different origin. In some cases this does not fundamentally affect their Christian character. Let us consider, for instance, the degree of Scotch Master of Saint Andrew, fourth degree of the Rectified Scottish Rite. In this case, its author is known--Jean Baptiste Willermoz, whom we have previously mentioned. What we know of him allows us to infer what teaching he intended to include in that degree. So we can say that in the background stands the esoteric doctrine of Martinez de Pasqually, but since this was merely for Willermoz the spark that illuminated for him the depth of Christian revelation, we may say that the ultimate meaning of the degree is really Christian. Not so clear is the case with the most famous of the formally Christian degrees, that of RoseCroix, which is essentially ambiguous. Here the mingling of Christian and extra-Christian elements is much more subtle, so that the degree can be said properly to have a double meaning--one more obvious, referring to the events of the passion and resurrection of Christ; and the other more hidden, which is hermetic and refers to the successive phases of the Opus Magnum, of which the former were classical figures among alchemists. Here, each brother--and each chapter--may interpret and work the degree as a purely Christian one or as a hermetic one, according to his or its own spiritual interests.

There is no evidence of alchemy as part of the speculative content of seventeenth-century Masonry. 24 The fact that nothing alchemical appears in subsequent English Masonry suggests that the introduction of alchemy took place on the Continent in the eighteenth century. There it had an immense success. Alchemy was more or less viewed as the quintessence of all esoteric knowledge, so it was all too natural to think that it was the real secret of Masonry. It flourished in degrees such as that of Rose-Croix and in systems whose names contained an explicit reference to Hermetism, such as the Hermetic Rite or the Philosophical Scottish Rite (Philosophical being here a synonym of Hermetic). In the latter the highest degree was the degree of Wisdom, and the brethren who possessed it were said to be "dressed in the three colors, which clearly meant that they were supposed to have performed the three phases of the Opus Magnum.

From the higher degrees Alchemy gradually descended into symbolic Masonry. Rituals of the late eighteenth and of the nineteenth centuries give evidence of this descent. The ritual approved in 1785 by the Grand Orient of France ordered that little vessels containing salt and sulphur should be placed in the room where the candidate waited for his initiation. This was clearly intended to direct the candidate's thoughts toward an alchemical interpretation of the ceremonies which he was to undergo--even if sulphur and mercury would have been more significant. It is possible to follow the gradual introduction of alchemical symbolism in the ceremonies themselves. In the second half of the eighteenth century, "proofs" by water and fire had appeared in the initiation ceremony as performed in France. At first these proofs had no alchemical meaning at all; they were mere purifications, clearly inspired by the two baptisms mentioned in the Gospels--one with water, the other with the Holy Ghost and fire. In the 1785 ritual of the Grand Orient they are given no other explicit meaning in the course of the ceremony; however, they are announced to the waiting candidate as purifications "by the elements." This last notion was developed in the Rectified Scottish Rite by the addition of earth. Here the intended meaning was not alchemical--the founders of that Rite being hostile to alchemy--it rather referred to the imprisonment of the fallen Man in matter, in the context of Martinez de Pasqually's theory of matter, in which there are only three elements. The brethren who ignored the martinezist doctrine were bound to interpret these proofs in an alchemical sense. Then, in the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite was introduced in France. At first it was a mere system of higher degrees, as it still is in most countries. But the Supreme Council which governed it, and had also its own symbolic lodges, created a new ritual for the three first degrees in order to distinguish these lodges. This ritual, which has become very popular in France and has spread to some neighboring countries, is also known there as the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. It is in the context of this ritual that the alchemical meaning of the proofs by the elements has received its most complete development. A proof by air has been added, and the sojourn of the candidate in the "cabinet de réflexion" (which is supposed to be underground) is interpreted as a proof by earth, so that the four elements are present. This is a striking example of the way formal tradition and esoteric teaching interact in their development.

As a last example, let us consider the chivalric legends. These legends provided answers not so much to the question of the meaning of Masonry as to that of its origin--though the two questions cannot be completely separated.

The chivalric legends are generally regarded as having arisen from the two famous speeches of Chevalier Ramsay in 1736 and 1737. In fact, references to the crusaders appear before Ramsay, but his speeches certainly gave a decisive impulse to the development of the legends. Ramsay considered his account of the origin of Masonry as the true historical one, as opposed to the "old traditions" about Noah, Solomon, and so on, which he clearly regarded as legendary. According to him, Masonry was founded in the time of the crusades by "several princes, lords and freemen" who "joined together and made a vow to restore the temples of the Christians in the Holy Land and endeavour to bring their architecture to its primitive institution." It is to distinguish themselves from the Saracens that these men would have adopted the secret means of recognition of Masonry. Ramsay adds: "Some time later, our Order became intimately united with the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem," and this, in his opinion, explains why all masonic lodges bear the name of Saint John.

Ramsay's intention seems to have been only to provide a model of what he thought Masonry should be--that is, a society that would "unite the Christians of all nations in one brotherhood." But his speeches had an outcome that he had probably not foreseen. They inspired the creation of many chivalric degrees, some of them on the theme of the building of the second Temple, which, he had said, had been taken as a model by the crusaders (these were the degrees of the type "knight of the east"), some others on the very theme of the crusades (degrees of the type "knight of the west").

Especially important are the Templar legend and the Templar degrees. Ramsay himself had mentioned the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem rather than the Templars. But the latter, since their order no longer existed, offered much more freedom to the speculation. The Templar legend seems to have originated in Germany, 25 and it was systematically developed by the order of the Strict Observance, which claimed to be nothing else than the Order of the Temple, having secretly survived after its trial and its suppression by Pope Clement V. Masonry was supposed to be a creation of the Templars, a mere disguise under which they perpetuated their existence.

The Templar legend has a strong link with the esoteric content of Masonry, because the Templars were supposed to have possessed a secret knowledge. This belief was favored by the mysterious ceremonies that were alluded to in their trial and by the historical fact that their dwelling place in Jerusalem was on the very site of Solomon's Temple. They were assumed to have found or received in one way or other the secrets of the initiates of Solomon's time, and to have transmitted them to Masonry. The Templar legend thereby provided an answer not only to the question of the origin of Masonry, but eventually to that of its content and meaning. The Strict Observance has disappeared, but it has bequeathed its chivalric character to the Rectified Scottish Rite, though the latter no longer claims the Templar succession in so material a sense as the former did. Other Templar systems, which appeared a little later, are still alive and prosperous, in close connection with Masonry, especially in scandinavian countries with the Swedish system, and in English-speaking countries with the order of the Knights Templar.

The Templar degrees have had little influence on the ritual and symbolism of the properly masonic degrees, but the notion of the Templar origin of Masonry and of its content has had much success in the lodges, and has left a durable mark on masonic spirituality. Even if most masons no longer literally adhere to the Templar claim, for many of them Masonry does have a chivalric dimension, and that must be reckoned among the aspects of Masonry as an esoteric movement.

We can now answer the questions we asked in the beginning of this paper. Masonry does have an esoteric content. But in the present state of things, as far as we are concerned with explicit esoteric teachings, this content appears to be rather unspecific, being made to a large extent of elements borrowed from various esoteric traditions; or, more exactly, its specificity seems to lie in the fact that is has developed through the assimilation of so many elements of different origins. Masonry has functioned, during the two last centuries, as a kind of melting pot of different traditions.

The reason for that has been, I trust, clearly shown: Masonryonce had an esoteric content of its own, but it was to a large extent forgotten. This came about when, having opened its lodges to members of the enlightened classes, Masonry became conscious of having a vocation for universalism. The Western world was then emerging from a period of self assertion, during which time it had been firmly convinced of the superiority of its spiritual traditions and values, into a new period in which it discovered the relativity of such things and felt a keen interest in the traditions and values of foreign cultures. In this context the old medieval operative heritage, and even the seventeenth-century heritage, deeply rooted as it was in the tradition of the previous period, was bound to appear as an obstacle to universalism. Therefore it had to be discarded or-- as for what was retained of it-to be reinterpreted in a different way, more open to the intellectual tendencies of the time.

Today this universalist vocation, which Masonry assigned to itself in the beginning of the Grand Lodge period, has been accomplished in a fairly satisfactory way. Freemasonry has become a worldwide association of men of all races, languages, religions, and cultures, united by their common adhesion to religious and moral principles that appear to all of them as common and essential teachings of their respective religions. The loss of the original and specific esoteric content of Masonry was merely the price paid for its accession to such universalism.

This entailed the development of a new esoteric content, mainly through borrowing from other traditions, a process that has been described in the previous chapters. In the twentieth century this process has developed still further, through the increasing interest of many Western masons in Eastern religions and esoteric doctrines, in which they are tempted to find the meaning of masonic mysteries.

When doing so, these masons of our time do not differ very much from their predecessors, who found in Masonry the kind of esoteric teachings in which they were interested in the outer world. Undoubtedly the present success of Eastern doctrines among masons reflects to a large extent the general interest of the Western world in Eastern spirituality. A special mention must be made of the influence of René Guénon ( 1886-1951). Guénon was not merely an instance among others of this tendency of the modern Western world; he rather anticipated it, and his work had a profound echo both in and outside of Freemasonry. Many masons who look toward the east to find the meaning of Masonry refer to him. This is due to the fact that Guénon founded his doctrine of tradition and initiation on the metaphysics of the Vedanta, and in many instances interpreted masonic symbols in the light of Eastern teachings; however, Guénon did not deny the existence of a specific Western tradition. He expounded that there exists a unique and universal Primeval Tradition which humanity possessed in plenitude in the beginning of our cycle of time, and from which are derived the various particular traditions that have existed and exist in known history. So there existed a Western tradition as well as an Eastern one, each of them providing a specific way to spiritual realization of the Self, which is, according to Guénon, the aim of initiation. But in the last centuries of our age, Western tradition has been almost completely obscured by the growth of anti-traditional ways of thought, while Eastern tradition has been better preserved. Guénon considered Masonry as an authentic vehicle of Western tradition, but the confusion now prevailing in the West has affected Masonry itself and obscured its esoteric teaching.  26

This is not the place to discuss Guénon's doctrine, which is treated elsewhere in this volume; but its importance with respect to Masonry must be acknowledged. It goes far beyond the introduction of Eastern doctrines into masonic speculation, which would have come about anyway. Guénon's importance lies in the fact that he has given precise definitions of notions such as exoterism and esoterism, tradition and initiation, in the frame of a general and synthetic theory. 27 He thereby offers to masons a logically consistent frame in which to think the problems and perspectives of their order, and this is the true reason of his success among them, evenamong those who put the accent on the Western-traditional, and especially Christian, aspect of Masonry. The definitions, as well as the theory as a whole, may be accepted or not, but they cannot be ignored. They have given a new and decisive impulse to masonic thought about the nature, foundations, and aim of the order.

Let us conclude by giving some hints about the perspectives of Masonry as the present writer sees them. And first let us dismiss an illusion that could arise from the description of Masonry as a melting pot of traditions. One might be tempted to think that out of this melting pot will emerge the religion of the third millennium or something like that. This is not the case, for it is contrary to the true vocation of Masonry. As we have said, all masonic authorities agree on the fact that Masonry is not a religion, need not become one or promote one. But it has to initiate in each of its members a process of spiritual development and to give him the tools that are necessary to further this process.

The traditional teachings are part of these tools, and from this standpoint it is to be feared that the loss of the original masonic esoterism, operative and Christian, weakened the efficiency of masonic initiation as a spiritual process. The subsequent introduction of bits of esoterism from different origins was a doubtful remedy. Although it provided Masonry with a rich and interesting symbolism of a new kind, it was made in so disorderly a way that it brought about much confusion and dispersion of mind. Of course, this does not mean that everything must be rejected of this later masonic esoterism, nor that Masonry should try to revive the state of things that prevailed before the Grand Lodges. This at any rate would be impossible after so many centuries and also because of the lack of primary material to facilitate this revival. But Masonry could, and in my view should, give a larger place in its teachings to what can be retrieved of its original esoterism, and there is indeed a tendency to do so in some masonic circles. This original esoterism, being deeply rooted in a particular tradition, was once felt for this reason as an obstacle to universalism, but it should no longer be regarded as such today. As the modern world is growing more and more uniform, humanity is growing more and more conscious of the value of specificity and of the fact that the suppression of differences or the disorderly mixing up of traditions is not a good way to universality. Rather, universality should be reached through deeper understanding of specific traditions, and this principle applies to Masonry.

All this concerns the level of the explicit teachings that are given to the masons as a help and a guidance in their spiritual progress. But it must not be forgotten that beyond the explicit teachings there are the implicit ones which are contained in ceremonies and symbols offered to masons for silent meditation. Here lies the ultimate esoterism of Masonry, for the ultimate esoterism is unspeakable. Here lies the essence of masonic initiation.

Notes

1.    " Operative Masonry" and "Speculative Masonry" are terms commonly used among masons and in masonic literature. By Operative Masonry is meant the building trade. Speculative Masonry is Freemasonry regarded as a society of men who are no longer necessarily
masons by trade but are mainly concerned with the practice of charity and/or philosophical and spiritual research, in a traditional frame inherited from Operative Masonry. Connected terms, such as "Operative/Speculative masons" and "operative/speculative lodges" are also commonly used.

2.    See Douglas Knoop, G. P. Jones, and Douglas Hamer, The Two Earliest Masonic
Manuscripts.

3.    See Douglas Knoop and G. P. Jones, The Medieval Mason.

4.    See Douglas Knoop, G. P. Jones, and Douglas Hamer, Early Masonic Catechisms.

5.    This mention of the clergy in close connection with the craft is the reason why I think that
this part of the text goes back at least to the pre-Reformation period, though the present manuscript is much later.

6.    See Douglas Knoop, G. P. Jones, and Douglas Hamer, Early Masonic Pamphlets.

7.    These texts are published in Knoop, Jones, and Hamer, Early Masonic Catechisms.

8.    James Anderson, The Constitutions of the Free-Masons.

9.    James Anderson, The New Book of Constitutions of the Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons. The emphases are Anderson's. They clearly imply the existence of non-Christian masons beside the Christian ones.

10.  John M. Shaftesley, "Jews in English Freemasonry in the 18th and 19th centuries," Ars Quatuor Coronatorum 92 ( 1979) 38, 42. There were Muslim masons in the 1780s, as we shall soon see, but the first ones were probably members of the lodges that were founded in the harbors of the Levant at a date that was certainly earlier, even if it cannot be precisely determined.

11.  When Freemasonry was introduced in Roman Catholic countries, it kept its multidenominational character, and this was one of the main causes of its condemnation by Pope Clement XII in 1738.

12.  Quoted in Jean Baylot, Dossier français de la Franc-Maçonnerie régulière, 81.

13.  General assemblies of the Grand Orient of France, 168th meeting, 4-7-1786. Bibliothèque
Nationale de Paris, FM1 16.

14.  Manuscript 5922, Bibliothèque de la Ville de Lyon.

15.  In fact the brethren of Bordeaux interpreted the name of the lodges as referring to Saint John the Baptist, but the two Saint Johns are always associated together in masonic tradition.

16.  Eric Ward, "The Birth of Freemasonry," Ars Quatuor Coronatorum 91 ( 1978) 77-100.

17.  Joseph de Maistre, La Franc-Maçonnerie, mémoire inédit au duc de Brunswick, 55.

18.  Alice Joly, Un mystique lyonnais et les secrets de la Franc-Maçonnerie.

19.  Letter to Landgrave Charles of Hesse, 10-12-1781, quoted in René Le Forestier, La Franc- Maçonnerie templière et occultiste aux XVIIIèeme et XIXème siècles, 278.

20.  Letter to the Baron of Landsperg, 11-25-1772, published in Steel-Maret, Archives secrètes de la Franc-Maçonnerie, 141-42.

21.  According to some documents Martinez was born in Grenoble about 1727 and his father was born in Alicante, but the evidence is not quite conclusive.

22.  The French branch of the Strict Observance gave birth to the Rectified Scottish Rite.


23.  The appellation "Scottish" is merely conventional, and the degrees under consideration have nothing to do with Scotland.

24.  This is rather surprising, considering the success of alchemy and Rosicrucianism in seventeenth-century England. Indeed, some nonmasonic texts allude to a connection between Masonry and Rosicrucianism, but nothing of the kind is to be found in masonic texts proper.

25.  Le Forestier, La Franc-Maçonnerie templière et occultiste, 64ff.

26.  See especially René Guénon, Le règne de la quantité et les signes des temps; La crise du monde moderne.

27.  See René Guénon, Aperçus sur l'initiation.

Bibliography
Sources

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Early Masonic Pamphlets. London: Q.C. correspondence circle Ltd. in association with Quatuor Coronati Lodge, 1978.

The Two Earliest Masonic Manuscripts. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1938.

Le René Forestier. La Franc-Maçonnerie templière et occultiste aux XVIIIème et XIXème siècles. Edited by A. Faivre. Paris: Aubier-Montaigne and Louvain: Nauwelaerts, 1970. Reprint, Paris: La Table d'Emeraude, 1987.

Modern esoteric spirituality Edited by Antoine Faivre and Jacob Needleman