Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Anniversaries: Monumental Masonry

Image Source: The Hedge Mason.

The 24th of June 2017 is the 300th anniversary of the founding of Freemasonry, more precisely, the first collective of organized Masonic lodges. On the Feast of St. John the Baptist in 1717four London lodges met at the Goose and Gridiron ale-house, and formed the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster; later it became the Premier Grand Lodge of England. The four lodges were named for the pubs where they normally met: the Goose and Gridiron; the Crown; the Apple-Tree tavern; and the Rummer and Grapes tavern.

Image Source: Time Out London.

To celebrate, London's Grand Lodge is opening for the public for a few hours. If you are in town, not a member, and would like to look inside, now is your chance:
Freemasons’ Hall, 60 Great Queen St, WC2B 5AZ will be open from 10am to 5pm on June 24. Entry to the building and ‘Rough to smooth: Art inspired by Freemasonry’ (Jun 24-Jul 1) is free.
A Beginning in a Line of Beginnings

Cherubini [1760-1842] - Requiem in C minor [Pearlman, Boston Baroque]. Video Source: Youtube. You can read about Masonry and music here; and hear a Masonic music playlist here.

The Masons were anti-Catholic on their founding, which meant that in Europe they were originally dominated by Protestants and Jews. The order was influenced by Sephardic Jewish culture (a pre-Christian tradition, which continues to the present day); the mystical Jewish Kabbalah (a pre-Christian esotericism, which also persisted through the medieval period to the present day). Rosicrucianism is another dominant influence (16th century to the present day). Despite the anti-Catholic angle, the Catholic military order the Knights Templar was entangled in this too (Crusades and post-Crusades, 11th century-14th century).

The Catholics still take delight in expelling Masonic infiltrators and attacking the Masons, as you can see in typical posts at One Peter Five. After Catholic Europe exhausted herself with the Inquisition and the wars of religion due to the Protestant Reformation, the entire conflict went underground, gone, but not forgotten. This year also marks the 500th anniversary of Luther's nailing of the Ninety-Five Theses to the All Saints' Church door on 31 October 1517, which I will address in a special post on Hallowe'en this year.

Image Source: People of Shambhala.

Although it claims to continue ancient traditions, the establishment of Freemasonry can be considered a combined after-effect of the Crusades and the Protestant Reformation. The long backlash against medieval Catholicism emerged in the modern period to dominate the west, and now, to inform globalized culture everywhere. The Reformation/Counter-Reformation conflict still plays out in a constant mish-mashed dialogue between contending symbols and intuitive cultural preferences. If you know how and where to look, you can see the old tensions and themes everywhere today on the Internet, in magazines, films, airport lounges, in newspaper editorials.

The Structure of Freemasonry (1938). Click to enlarge. Image Source: Lodge St. Patrick.

The Outer Dialogue between Masons and non-Masons

The Masons protest that they are misunderstood. They stand for the light of reason, for freedom, equality, religious tolerance, charity, and non-chaotic societies. Masons would rather be known for their civic engagement, moral living, and good works they do in their communities. However, if those works are part of a secret order with incremental, ritualistic, and experiential access to its knowledge, it is difficult to clarify the greater position in a press release.

Esoteric Freemasonry - Symbols & Symbolism. Video Source: Youtube.

Fraternal secrecy arose from practical need in early modern Europe; but it also depended upon the idea that knowledge and wisdom are locked boxes. They are hard won. You can't just snap your fingers and understand. You have choose to embark on a journey, driven by personal, heartfelt questions, and travel from the exoteric to the esoteric. The Masons are part of a huge, ongoing dialogue about the capabilities of the human mind as it moves beyond the material world. Ironically, the Masons' outer struggle with an uncomprehending, resistant, and suspicious public could be seen as their internal rites of passage writ large.

Image Source: pinterest.

In other words, Masons are part of an alchemical process of collective thought, much larger than themselves; and so, it is impossible to discuss Freemasonry without first examining how Masons are seen from the outside. One may find that many of the anti-Illuminati and anti-Masonic conspiracy theorists on the Internet have Catholic roots, or old-fashioned or extreme Protestant roots, meaning they are anti-secularists or Christian purists. Conspiracists may not even be conscious of the historical background which informs their distaste for Masonic deism and Hermetic and Gnostic mysticism.

The Masons often serve as a foil for self-identification because their fraternity is perceived as being cosmopolitan, liberal, internationalist, and anti-nationalist. Thus, one anti-Masonic thread is anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi, neo-Druidic, and pro-Aryan. Another strain is Slavo-nationalist and originates in Russia. Other critics see the Freemasons as more removed, both pro-left and pro-right, promoters of all sides of every conflict.

The bogeymen of the Internet are the Illuminati, which conspiracy theorists conflate with the Freemasons.  I have discussed the historic distinction between Masons and the Illuminati in my posts: Magic, Numerology and the IMF (2015); Awaken the Amnesiacs: The Hermetics (2015); and Bohemian Grove's Hoax Cult Exposures (2016).

I don't want to offend any Masonic readers of my blog by discussing anti-Masonic and anti-Illuminati conspiracy theories on this anniversary. But I do want to note that even with all their prejudices and misconceptions, the conspiracists have a valid point. It is obvious that Masonic symbolism is being used and abused in international culture and politics in ominous ways. This is not a figment of the imagination. The Internet has made it easy to find and recognize many alarming examples; and more appear in mass media and entertainment every month. If the Illuminati no longer exist and the Freemasons are a benign gentlemen's club, then who is using Masonic imagery in such negative and dangerous ways? Isn't it up to Freemasons to explain?

The Illuminati were an anti-clerical (i.e. political anti-Catholic, anti-conservative) aristocratic Masonic offshoot, established on 1 May 1776 in Bavaria, Germany. Their goal was to overturn the benighted Catholic absolutist oppressors of Europe. A rationalist club, they nonetheless would corrupt Masonic principles, and mix dark magic with politics. They were quickly suppressed. Some say the Illuminati were driven out of Masonic lodges, but reunited with the Freemasons at the Congress of Wilhelmsbad of 1782. You can see the Congress discussed here, here and here.

If the Illuminati survived as many believe, you can see what great results they have been having, ever since their rumoured incitement of the American and French Revolutions. Conspiracists argue that these were the seeds of modern democracy; it was never a true movement to represent the people. They claim that Masons dominate the UK; and the United States was made by Freemasons, for Freemasons, all the way. Masonic lore was also central in the 19th century founding of Mormonism.

In the minds of the uninitiated, the Masons are not enlightened and creative free-thinkers, rather they submit to the false light of Luciferian pride. Sometimes Masons or Illuminists are cast as cultists who follow ancient, sinister Mesopotamian religions. The cynical see them as social climbers and sycophants, who dress up their corruption and nepotism in secret rituals to reinforce their submissive love of hierarchy.

Anti-Masonic and anti-Illuminati conspiracy theories rise and fall in popularity. In the 1820s, there was an anti-Masonic political party in the United States. Today, the negative sentiment is so intense and widespread on the Internet that it constitutes an entire subculture. The Illuminati are accused of plotting to corrupt and destroy whole countries for personal gain. Anti-western Muslims paint them as cultural imperialists.

Again, one cannot blame conspiracy theorists for suspecting the Illuminati survived. Everywhere conspiracists look in mass culture and politics, they see Masonic cryptics abused as tools of manipulation and suppression, to create a shorthand alphabet of psychological control. This has been going on for decades. You can see examples here.

One Night in Bangkok: sung by Murray Head, written by Tim Rice and Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA fame: One Night in Bangkok (October 1984) Musical LP Chess © RCA. Reproduced non-commercially under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

Above, a succinct pop cultural example from 1984: One Night in Bangkok. The lyrics and video are full of Masonic imagery and messages. Spot the Eye of Horus; Jacob's Ladders; moons; suns; pillars; chessboards; double columns spanning a third way inhabited by Shiva (also commemorated at CERN); and all-seeing, one-eyed pyramids. Racially subjugated common people are below, lost in their hunger, idleness, desperation, petty religions, and sordid pursuits of sex and conflict. Meanwhile, the real strategic philosophical game plays out above, driven by polarized energies. This is a strategic contest which seeks balance between east and west, black and white, female and male principles, between devils and angels to control the world in the name of a higher order: Thank God I'm only watching the game, controlling it.

No matter how much the Freemasons deny the existence of the Illuminati, there is absolutely no doubt that the Masonic visual lexicon has been employed and expanded to dominate mass culture, if not by Masons themselves, then by others. If the Masons would defend their fraternity, they must explain why their symbols and allegories are now everywhere, in threatening and vicious messages.

People on the Internet are sick and tired of endless black-and-white chessboards and checkerboards; columns, triangles; one-eyed gods posing as actors, musicians, and models; code words, hand signs and handshakes. What can be said of deranged rumours of bees, beehives and honeycombs, not explained as symbols of industry, but as signs of pollinated hiveminds or honeycombed minds, fragmented by a shocking abuse called the Key of Solomon?

There are owls; spidersstairways; Jacob's ladders; pillars; suns, moons and stars; bird cages; mirrors; hexagrams; pentagrams; and the shhh-signs of silence. We have the eradicated masculine and feminine; and we have purple- and pink-haired brain-washed teen stars, with the rabbit earsmouse ears and the cat print clothing of sex slaves.

From an anti-Masonic, conspiracy theory site. Image Source: Chaos Theory.

Look into it a bit and it is obvious that something is seriously wrong. The sentiment among the uninitiated is: please, please, please go away, and take your pyramids, numerology, and monarch butterflies with you. The people know that these symbols treat them as sheep; as stupid and blind; as poor; as pawns and slaves. They are none of these things.

Click to enlarge. Image Source.

This corrupted Masonic message is not just one of popular oppression. Members' rewards are not so great. Let us say you are a feared, fabled Illuminist, who prefers a top-down approach. You have been paid in the thousands, millions or billions. Regardless, this whole repertoire is still tedious as a broken record, replaying the same story over and over again. No matter how many higher mysteries this enlightenment promises to reveal, you will be climbing and opening doorways forever onto higher vistas - and you will never arrive at an answer.

M. C. Escher: Convex and Concave (1955). Image Source: Wiki.

This is a joke of perpetual, compulsive climbing, an are-we-there-yet tiresome and limited vision of reality. No matter how many bones there are in the foundations, these ends do not justify their means. Keep climbing! For all the promises the rumoured Illuminati may make to its mortgaged souls, the Illuminists will never get there. No amount of money and power can compensate when the prison of this thought-system makes itself plain. Never mind how far you are from the masses. You may bend reality, for a time. But in this maze of naked ambition, how far have you traveled from yourself and your soul?

Blade Runner 2049 debuts later this year; the promotional poster contains classic one-eyed symbolism. Image Source: Vigilant Citizen.

Freemasonry was not supposed to be about any of this. Outwardly, it was originally about understanding the universe with hard work, service, and precision. It sought clarity, equality, brotherhood, freedom, and a rationalism that acknowledged an architect god. This order pursued the greatest potential of the human brain to change the world for the better. Famous Masonic symbols may have been adapted from medical knowledge. An interesting and original conspiracy theory suggests that the symbols represent the anatomy of the human brain and body. One intense Youtuber spent thousands of hours picking the symbols apart and produced a three-part series on 'astro-physiology,' entitled, The Symbols of Power (part 1, part 2, part 3).

What happened? If our mass culture and politics are anything to go by, Masonry - or some related corruption thereof - has evolved into a system of Millennial exploitation and neo-worship. The Modern Age of Secular Humanism has become a post-Postmodern Age of Faith, in which the human mind, science, and technology are worshiped, using divine symbols from the pre-Islamic Middle East. Despite all the outer evidence, Freemasons staunchly deny that their order has been hijacked by a dark political religion.

A Considered Inquiry

Masonic Temple of the Swedish Order Of Freemasons (Grand Lodge of Sweden). Image Source: pinterest.

Questioning rationalist cults is not a defense of blind faith, insanity and ignorance. Get past the garish anti-Illuminati complaints and one finds a more considered critique of Freemasonry. This is no plea from lost souls, desperate to undo all the work that has been done, so they can slope away and sink back into the mire.

One of the noblest human drives is to find truths beyond what we know, and the mind, body, and psyche must be united in that impulse. Of course, there are symbols and actions needed to unlock those larger levels of awareness. We do stand on the shoulders of giants: the process is cumulative and depends on previous discoveries. No one who has any sense would question the attempts to do better, improve oneself, and learn more. No one would assume that this is all straightforward, obvious and easy. The highest levels of knowledge do take us into the realm of mystery.

M. C. Escher: Dream (1935). Image Source: Wiki / Rabarama.

But it is fair to ask if the secret, fraternal, hierarchical model of sharing and safeguarding information is still relevant. This system assumes foundational dualities in everything and takes hierarchy for granted. Freemasonry was founded to work around and overcome absolutist monarchical and clerical power. Now that that power is largely gone, what is the founding intention? Wealth and power are not ends in themselves, but means to ends, and somewhere, this system has lost the plot. The whole scheme looks and feels outdated. The Internet depends on decentralized action, information and authority, not on bi-polar politics and pyramids of knowledge and power.

Emmanuel Macron's acceptance speech, framed by the Louvre's pyramid and one eye at the top (7 May 2017). Image Source: Vigilant Citizen.

In the past two decades, the world has changed quickly and drastically. The Masonic orders are challenged to stay current and answer the needs of the world as it is and will be. Imagine it is three centuries from now, and you are a cultural analyst, examining Emmanuel Macron, a worker bee under his little, red-eyed pyramid. Would it not appear primitive, cultish, and laughable? Beneath the allegories, is the triangular thesis-antithesis-synthesis formula, culminating in astrotheology, really the best we can do?

Images Source: The Hedge Mason.

I suspect there are Masons at every level who want to improve the world. Unfortunately, they do not seem to grasp the endgame of their order. In that respect, although I am sure they would disagree and dislike the comparison, Freemasonry resembles Scientology, a much later, but related, 20th century cult invention. Like Scientologists, Freemasons only discover the fraternal organization's largest aims once they reach the top degrees of initiation, and sometimes not even then. It is (cough) a pyramid scheme. In fact, it is the pyramid scheme to end all pyramid schemes.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Freimaurer Kantata (Freemason music) (Dir - Seele Des Weltalls - O Sonne, K. 429; 1791). Video Source: Youtube. Mozart started writing music for the Masons in 1772, became a Mason in 1784, and wrote a number of Masonic compositions. This is understandable beyond its social implications: the underlying link between physics, music, and geometry is fascinating. There is a Catholic-sourced conspiracy theory that Mozart was killed by the Masonic 'Order of Ra,' at age 35 for revealing Masonic secrets in The Magic Flute (1791).

W. A. Mozart - Requiem (fantastic performance) [Arsys Bourgogne] [HD] (uploaded 2013). Video Source: Youtube.

Inside Freemasonry

Despite all these criticisms, the most charitable thing one can say about Masonry is that at its best, it is synonymous culturally with the most optimistic aspects of modern thinking and modernization. It seemingly revived a body of pre-ancient and ancient western and eastern mystic knowledge, and pressed that knowledge to serve the modern causes of liberal thought.

Masons search for the mathematics and related divine symbols which bring order to the universe; they push into previously unreachable areas of understanding. This craft is supposed to be about abandoning limited, material rationalism for profound wisdom. The result is a much improved person - a superman - reborn, resurrected. From Walter Leslie Wilmhurst's The Meaning of Masonry (NY: Gramercy, 1980), p. 47 (originally published 1920, you can read it online here and here):
"This - the evolution of man into superman - was always the purpose of the ancient Mysteries, and the real purpose of modern Masonry is, not the social and charitable purposes to which so much attention is paid, but the expediting of the spiritual evolution of those who aspire to perfect their own nature and transform it into a more god-like quality. And this is a definite science, a royal art, which it is possible for each of us to put into practice; whilst to join the Craft for any other purpose than to study and pursue this science is to misunderstand its meaning. Hence it is that no one should apply to enter Masonry unless from the deepest promptings of his own heart, as it hungers for light upon the problem of its own nature. We are all imperfect beings, conscious of something lacking to us that would make us what, in our best moments, we fain would be. What is that which is lacking to us? 'What is that which is lost?' And the answer is 'The genuine secrets of a Master Mason', the true knowledge of ourselves, the conscious realization of our divine potentialities.'"
The Masonic blog, The Hedge Mason, along with blogs on its blog roll, discuss current fraternal thoughts on the order. A Masonic reading list is here. A lot of formerly secret information is now free and online. One standard is Albert Pike's Morals and Dogma (1871; read it here). A 2006 discussion on Pike's work is A Bridge to Light (here). A Hermetic source is The Kybalion (1908) (here, here, here and here). See also Brown's Stellar Theology and Masonic Astronomy (1882; here). More comes from Albert MackeyThe History of Freemasonry (1906; vol. 1 is here; vol. 2 is here and here) and The Symbolism of Freemasonry (1882; here). See also Roberts, The Craft and Its Symbols (1974; here). Other favourites are Robinson's Born in Blood (1990; here) and Sworn in Secret (2012).

If you want a general overview of how Freemasonry connects to other esoteric traditions, read Manly P. Hall's The Secret Teachings of All Ages (1928; here, here, here) - and an incomplete audiobook playlist here. Hall also wrote The Lost Keys of Freemasonry (1923; here).

Manly P. Hall: The Secret Teachings of All Ages [01] Preface and Introduction. Video Source: Youtube.

See all my posts on Freemasonry.
Click here for my posts on the Illuminati.
My posts on Gnosticism are here.

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