Saturday, October 31, 2015

Gender Discrimination In North American Freemasonry: Opening a Can of Worms

In the past couple of weeks Gender Discrimination has come to occupy center stage in North American Mainstream Freemasonry. There has been plenty to be happy and distressed about regardless of where you stand on the issue.

On the one hand, Kentucky's Freemasons voted overwhelmingly to reject a proposal which would have banned publicly open gay men from being allowed to join or participate in Freemasonry. In Georgia, the Grand Lodge met and the voting members upheld Grand Master Douglas McDonald's edict outlawing homosexuality, and as Chris Hodapp put it, "threw in fornication for good measure." It is quite likely that had the general membership been able to vote there, Georgia would have followed Kentucky's example.

While the events have agitated mainstream Masonry's intellectuals and Blogosphere (often though not without exception one and the same) and would have likely been a source of embarrassment for Freemasonry if the general public actually paid any attention to Freemasonry anymore, the real significance of these events lie in an unanticipated, and even for the majority of Freemasonry's intellectuals, unwelcome side effect.

The ancient rearguard, the old fellows within Freemasonry, are admittedly out of touch with the modern world, and in attempting to ban any presence of Gays in Freemasonry, were demonstrating their sophisticated understanding of US society of the 1940s. They thrust the matter into the forefront and forced the mostly younger and more liberal segment of the membership who are not yet on death's door, to visibly and vocally object. They had no other real alternative. In fairness to them they fairly uniformly objected to such a blatantly gender biased policy. 

However, any rational individual will see the discrepancy here. For many years, indeed since the mid 1700s, that version of Freemasonry which evolved under the thrall of London's influence has denied the right of women to participate in Freemasonry. Although women did have that right and did and still do participate in Freemasonry as it developed outside the control of London's ideologues, what has come to be called "mainstream" Freemasonry in the US, has banned women.

Those mainstream voices representing the intellectual segments of "mainstream" Freemasonry in the US, who so vocally objected to the exclusion of Gays from their form of Freemasonry have just delivered a fatal blow to their own support of the ban on women. 

It was not their intention, and they will no doubt begin to develop a few sophisticated, but mostly unsophisticated denials. However, in voicing their objection to the banning of one gender related group, they have effectively invalidated the arguments supporting the banning of any gender related groups. In supporting the acceptance of Gays in Freemasonry, they have pulled the apron out from under the ban on women. To mix my metaphors, but totally in a way which is in keeping with Masonic symbolism, they will no doubt attempt to place the skeleton back in the closet, but once it is out, there really can be no going back.

That does not mean that mainstream Freemasonry in the US will suddenly embrace the admission of women into their ranks. It will no doubt, if my familiarity with it has provided me with any accurate insight, go down fighting, even until death. However, it will from this point on, hand the opposition to such a ban the ammunition to effectively deprive any mainstream Freemason with any shred of intellectual or ethical credibility, if they ever had any (and I maintain they never did) if they try to support an institution which refuses women admission.

Of course, as a private organization, as Masons themselves are so happy to point out, they can do as they wish. What has just happened however is that they have just made it that much less likely that mainstream Freemasonry has any chance of reversing a decades old decline that threatens them with extinction. The hypocrisy has been brought out into the light in such a way that it will be hard for any Freemason of conscience to ignore.

Those who have a conscience will have to think long and hard about whether they will capitulate to convenience and habit, or live up to what they claim are their own ethical standards. 

The rest of us in that other Masonic world, will be watching with interest. And although this post will no doubt be met with hostility from mainstream circles, the rest of us, while expecting the same rationalizations and justifications that allow mainstream Masons to look the other way while many jurisdictions continue to practice racial segregation "off the books", far from being antagonistic, will watch with hope.  

Friday, October 30, 2015

Georgia on my mind

I have watched with sad resignation the latest uproar over another really ignorant decision being made by yet another Grand Lodge of North American "Mainstream" Freemasonry. It might at this point be amusing if it weren't both so sad and so predictable.

As noted elsewhere, why is anyone surprised? It is after all, exactly the same as banning people of various races, religions, and yes, also genders. There is absolutely no difference between banning gays and banning women. It all points to an institution which has become so benighted and backward that it lives in the past and has little if any relevance in our modern world.

It doesn't need to be that way, and of course, I'm also not saying that to be relevant, the flood gates for women membership need be thrown wide open. I will offer the view that if "Mainstream" masonry does not simply die the sordid death it seems intent upon, it will eventually be a fully mixed organization. It may not have all that much time to make up its mind, though.

However, I'm also not writing this to make a case for mixed Freemasonry. That's been done time and again, both here and elsewhere.

Instead, I'd like to suggest a different solution to this current crisis. It is one that would, if it was done on a large scale, not merely force the current GL officers to back down, but would probably guarantee that they all leave office in short order.

I think that if there are any Freemasons of real moral character left in Georgia, they should simply demit en masse. It would cause a crisis in leadership and would change the entire system, not merely in Georgia but in the rest of the nation. It would turn the power structure upside down. That's what needs to happen.

Of course, I rather expect that we will hear a lot of verbal outrage for a few days and then things will go back to normal, until the next time.

So, until the next time,

Sic dixi (or is that sick dixie?)

Rosicrucian Manifestos at the Ritman Library

The traveling exhibition ‘Divine Wisdom – Divine Nature’, celebrating 400 years of Rosicrucian Manifestos which first opened in Germany in September last year and was shown in Switzerland in the spring of this year, opened in the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica on 11 September 2015.

Each exhibition is devoted to the message of the Rosicrucian Manifestos in the visual language of the 17th century, showing the stunning engravings in the works of Heinrich Khunrath, Daniel Mögling, Robert Fludd, Michael Maier and Stephan Michelspacher, but will also have a special focus, depending on the setting of each successive exhibition.

While it is uncertain whether this exhibition may be brought to the United States, and it is unlikely that many here will be able to travel to see it at its current location, it is none the less well worth knowing about, and for those who cannot visit but have a strong interest in the subject, the catalogue is available in several languages and also as an ebook.

The BPH has a strong history of organizing exhibitions on the Rosicrucian theme. In 1995 the BPH organized together with the Herzog-August-Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel the exhibition Cimelia Rhodostaurotica, followed in 1998 by the exhibition De Roep van het Rozenkruis. Vier Eeuwen Levende Traditie, which was organized with the Lectorium Rosicrucianum and the Royal Library in The Hague. The anniversary exhibition in Calw is also conceived as the third and final part of a set of exhibitions previously organized by the BPH in Florence in 1999 (Marsilio Ficino and the Return of Hermes Trismegistus) and in Venice in 2002 (Magic, Alchemy and Science 15th-18th centuries). The Florence exhibition celebrated the rediscovery of the Hermetic sources in the West, ending with Paracelsus, the ‘Trismegistus Germanus’ as he was also known; the Venice exhibition highlighted the influence of Hermetic thought in Western Europe, ending with the publication of the Geheime Figuren der Rosenkreuzer.

For more information, please see the announcement:

and also explore the rest of the wonderful Ritman Library Website:

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Further Alchemical Explorations from the Laboratory of Bollingen

It should be noted first of all, that this entry is not announcing a newly published book, nor even a newly discovered one over which I am enrapt with the initial thralls of excitement. I first read this book nearly 30 years ago, and while I have several of this author's titles lying about, it was actually the discovery that my copy of this book had somehow gone missing that lead me to consider recommending that others read it.

Those who know me well know that from time to time I will extoll the wisdom of that great Mage, the man who crafted the modern Temple of the Sun, Moon, and Soul, at Bollingen with his own hands, which should qualify him as a mason far more legitmately than most who claim that title today.

Of course, I refer to the Arch Druid, Spiritual Artificer, Alchemist, and Grand Necromancer of the modern era, whom we all know by his mundane name of Dr. Carl G. Jung. Those who know little of him will describe him as a psychologist, and are comfortable dismissing him thusly, probably thinking the title is defined in the terms of one of his teachers, Freud, with whom he ultimately disagreed, and not with any definition that describes how Jung himself took over that mantle and radically changed the ways in which we study and understand the human psyche.

However, I am not in this entry recommending any of Jung's books. Rather, I am recommending a title written by a life time student and collaborator of Jung's, Marie Louise von Franz.  One of my favorite of her titles, On Divination and Synchronicity: The Psychology of Meaningful Chance (Studies in Jungian Psychology), published in 1980, afforded my eyes a magical glimpse into the mechanics of our world, but one which I would recommend even more to any Mason, is the brief focus of this blog entry. I refer to is a small book called Alchemical Active Imagination, which was first published in 1979.

At least a handful of Masons, and certainly a few I know will have read to some level of depth, the works of Carl Jung. Of course, he was the man who more than anyone else, including his early mentor Sigmund Freud, made modern Psychology what it is. But as we have been reminded with the final publication of his master work, The Red Book (Liber Novus), he was also a Master Magician of the Psyche. At the heart of all this was Jung's interest in Alchemy and Gnosticism.

Jung's early publication, The Seven Sermons to the Dead (Septem Sermones ad Mortuos) which represents perhaps the central core of his Red Book, deals with a gnostic view of wisdom and also reflects the benefits of his approach to Alchemical studies.

From the liner notes of Alchemical Active Imagination:
Although alchemy is popularly regarded as the science that sought to transmute base physical matter, many of the medieval alchemists were more interested in developing a discipline that would lead to the psychological and spiritual transformation of the individual. C. G. Jung discovered in his study of alchemical texts a symbolic and imaginal language that expressed many of his own insights into psychological processes. In this book, Marie-Louise von Franz examines a text by the sixteenth-century alchemist and physician Gerhard Dorn in order to show the relationship of alchemy to the concepts and techniques of analytical psychology. In particular, she shows that the alchemists practiced a kind of meditation similar to Jung's technique of active imagination, which enables one to dialogue with the unconscious archetypal elements in the psyche. Originally delivered as a series of lectures at the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich, the book opens therapeutic insights into the relations among spirit, soul, and body in the practice of active imagination.

A primary field of interest and writing of hers was alchemy, which von Franz always contextualized with Jungian psychological perspectives. She edited, translated and commented on Aurora Consurgens, attributed to Thomas Aquinas on the problem of opposites in alchemy and in her final years, she commented extensively on the Arabic alchemical manuscript of Muḥammad Ibn Umail Hal ar-Rumuz (Book of the explanation of the symbols). For alchemists, imaginatio vera was an important approach to matter. It resembles in many aspects the active imagination as elucidated by C. G. Jung. Marie-Louise von Franz lectured in 1969 about active imagination and alchemy and also wrote about it in in Man and His Symbols. Active imagination may be described as conscious dreaming. In Man and His Symbols, she described it as follows:

Active imagination is a certain way of meditating imaginatively, by which one may deliberately enter into contact with the unconscious and make a conscious connection with psychic phenomena.
A third field of interest and research was about synchronicity, psyche and matter, and numbers. It seems to have been triggered by Jung, whose research had led him to the hypothesis about the unity of the psychic and material worlds, i.e., that they are one and the same, just different manifestations.

For this and many other reasons, both von Franz' and Jung's work on Active Imagination, Gnosticism, and Alchemy should be considered reading material of high priority for Freemasons. In my own case, I tend to view the Jungian approach to Alchemy and Gnostic understanding of greater contemporary value than the more traditional approaches to Alchemy. As much as I love ritual, I know that all too many can get lost in it and never come to recognize its purpose. When one engages Jung's psychological approaches in depth, one in essence is exploring a modern extrapolation of the Masonic journey. One may wish to bear in mind that Jung's grandfather was not only a Master Mason, but a Grand Master of the Swiss Lodge, and may be forgiven for imagining that he had some awareness of Masonic studies as a result.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Martinism and Masonry: A Volume of Essays in Spanish from

Martinismo y masonería
Author: VARIOS AUTHORS; Jato Agüera, José Miguel

Un extenso trabajo monográfico de 198 páginas en el que varios martinistas franceses y españoles de reconocido prestigio mundial explican desde diferentes ángulos las peculiaridades de esta sociedad iniciática tan cercana a la masonería.

Una obra que aclara de un modo preciso y riguroso todo lo que un masón quiere saber sobre el martinismo.

A comprehensive monograph of 198 pages in which several French and Spanish world reknowned martinists explain from different angles the peculiarities of this initiatory society which is so close to Freemasonry.

A work that clarifies in precise and rigorous form everything a Mason needs to know about Martinism.

Sumario Año VII / Nº 23 / OCTUBRE 2015
Summary (Year VII / No. 23 / OCTOBER 2015)

7| Cuadro de colaboradores (Table of Contents)

11| Editorial Abrir Espacios de Comprensión entre La Masoneriá y el Martinismo
( Editorial – To open spaces for understanding between Freemasonry and Martinism)

15| Algunas Explicaciones que un Masón y Martinista comentaría con un hermano Masón acerca del Martinismo.
(Some Explanations that a Brother (who is both) Mason and Martinist would Comment About to a Brother Masón Concerning Martinism.)
José Miguel Jato

43 | Papus y La Orden Martinsita
      (Papus and the Martinist Order)
Sâr Amorifer, P.I.

57 | Comentarios sobre el Ritual Martinista
        Comments about Martinist Ritual

87 | Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin...¿Francasón y Martinista?
       Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin... Freemason and Martinist?
Alfonso Marcuello

99 |Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin, El «Filósofo Desconocido»
       Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin, The “Unknown Philosopher.”
Jean-Marc Vivenza

121 | Enigmático Y Ancestral Legado de la Tradición Martinista
La Oración del Corazón
Seguro Sendero y Llave del « Ingreso en la realidad»
(Enigmatic and ancestral legacy of the Martinist Tradition
Prayer of the Heart
Safe Key and Path of the “Integration of Being”
Manuel M. Arce

139 | Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin y Los Ángeles
          Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin and the Angels
Jean-Marc Vivenza

159 | Anales Martinistas desde Los Orígenes Hasta Nuestros Días
         Martinist Annals from the Origins until Our Time.
Serge Caillet

183 | Catálogo Editorial de
            Editorial Catalog of

Click to view order page on

(Please note: This journal is available only in a Spanish Language version. English translations of essay titles are provided here only for the benefit of Anglophone only readers, and is not meant to suggest that any materials in the book are in English. They are not.)