The devil is always in the details. It’s not what people tell you, but what they fail to mention, that completes your understanding of a subject. For a long while I’ve viewed Traditional Observance lodges as a part of the solution to the present decline in Masonic membership. On the surface they appeared to be an example of young Masons seeking value in a more historically traditional approach to lodge operation. While in reality, they’re redefining Freemasonry as an occult organization of which Aleister Crowley would be proud.
When most people think of Freemasonry, it’s in terms of a community-based social organization and its associated charities. Most Masons would view it as a society dedicated to the brotherhood of all mankind under the fatherhood of God. The Traditional Observance movement, which was created by the Masonic Restoration Foundation, cleverly redefines Freemasonry using the term ‘esoteric’ to veil what amounts to pure occultism.
Freemasonry: The Dawn of the Enlightenment
Modern Freemasonry began in London, England, in 1717 with the creation of the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster. Its founders were members of the Royal Society who sought to bring men together for the purpose of education and social interaction. Freemasonry has been credited as the organization that paved the way for the Age of Enlightenment. Professor Margaret C. Jacob has written several books about this period of Masonic history, including The Radical Enlightenment: Pantheists, Freemasons, and Republicans.
Historians know from the minutes of lodge meetings during this period that Freemasons were very interested in science, mathematics, philosophy, current events, democracy, and business. To the best of my knowledge there isn’t a single shred of evidence to support their having been interested in alchemy or the occult. The belief being promoted by Traditional Observance Freemasons, that the Craft was born out of alchemy and Gnosticism is a result of the plethora of pseudo-historical (revisionist history) books that have been published over the past decade.
Why Traditional Observance is bad for Freemasonry
Redefining Freemasonry as a form of occult alchemical mysticism steals its glorious heritage of science and enlightenment philosophy from it, and makes the entire organization, and its members, appear to be fools. It also gives credibility to all of those who have claimed that Freemasonry is a school of occultism. Is this really the message the American Grand Lodges want to send to academics and the media?
At a time when the advances in science and technology are allowing humanity to cure disease and harness the power of nuclear fusion, do Freemasons really want to go back to the era of superstition and dancing naked around the fire? Wouldn’t it be more prudent to claim Freemasonry’s rightful heritage as an advocate for science and learning?
My interest in Freemasonry has always been based around its promotion of science, learning, and democracy during the Age of Enlightenment. Most of what I have written about is an exploration of this period in hopes that modern Masons might taken a lesson from their past to create a brighter future. If the future of Freemasonry is to be one based on occultism, then any further exploration of its history seems meaningless. Freemasonry will slowly fade away and be remembered, not for it glorious heritage, but for its final folly.
You might also enjoy reading Freemasons, Alchemy, and Fool’s Gold.