Freemasonry: Foundation of the Western Esoteric Tradition

freemasonry-esotericismIn the early 18th century the Masonic fraternity emerged to change the shape of the Western esoteric tradition forever. Within a few decades, the fraternity had spawned numerous esoteric societies that claimed to communicate with spirits, teach the secrets of alchemy, and to perform rituals of healing. During the next century, the still-surviving Masonic Rosicrucian society was established, attracting the founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn – William Wynn Westcott and S.L. MacGregor Mathers – and Theodor Reuss, co-founder of the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.), among others.

Freemasonry: Foundation of the Western Esoteric Tradition explores the history of Western esotericism, beginning with the early Masonic Ritual, and its symbolism of natural law and death, essential to understanding the Craft, high-Degree Freemasonry, and the contemporary Western esoteric tradition. Other subjects explored include:

Mystical Masonic societies, practicing séances, alchemy, healing, etc.;

  • The Masonic influence on the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the O.T.O.
  • Masonic Lodges practicing Roman Catholic mysticism;
  • The contemporary Masonic-Rosicrucian society;
  • Aleister Crowley’s adventures in Freemasonry;
  • The Rose Croix Degree;
  • Freemasonry and alchemy;
  • Wicca and Masonic symbolism.

Freemasonry: Foundation of the Western Esoteric Tradition includes a series of 12 rare etchings by Hejonagogerus Nugir, originally published in Freymäurerische Versammlungsreden der Gold- und Rosenkreutzer des alten Systems (Amsterdam, 1779), presented here as plates. Fifteen chapters. Illustrated, with two appendices, plus bibliography. Indexed.

Praise for Freemasonry: Foundation of the Western Esoteric Tradition:

There are plenty of books on the market that tout the civic, military, and governmental influences of Brethren through time. Likewise, there are a number of books that speculate on the esoteric threads that contributed to the fabric of Freemasonry as we know it. Freemasonry: Foundation of the Western Esoteric Tradition is an unusual entry into the body of contemporary Masonic work, in that it deals directly with the mystical, but as manifested by Brethren. The Masons featured within this book may not be remembered as great political or social leaders, and the esoteric focus will not be on the mists of our past. But the concepts of “influence” and “mystery” are clearly addressed, as an examination of how Brethren contributed to the larger Masonic, spiritual, and cultural zeitgeist. The subtle message thus conveyed is one that stands contrary to the “minimization” of the Craft by some contemporary Brethren: Freemasonry is, indeed, an esoteric institution. If it were not so, then the Craft could not possibly serve as the fertile ground in which so many subsequent groups took root. It could not inspire men to seek greater understanding of the Divine and our connection with The All. When Bro∴ Millar points out that such stalwarts of the “authentic” school as Bro∴ W.J. Hughan were members of these esoteric groups, and that such figures as Alistair Crowley were inspired by Masonic emblems, he is emphasizing the point the Craft is an Initiatory Order.

Framing these different profiles and assessments, Bro∴ Millar offers his observations and reflections on—and what may be construed as warnings regarding the shortcomings of—“modern” esotericism. For instance, when considering the very question of “Mystery school”, Bro∴ Millar concludes:

“Its modern representatives often appear less interested in illuminating the inherently mysterious nature and quality of life, than with mystifying the initiate with vague and shifting theories that advocate the ‘moral relativeness’ of the modern age. This has not occurred in regular Freemasonry in the English-speaking world.”

Such opinions not only support the assertion of the book’s title, but also further emphasize Freemasonry’s mystic purposes. They also underscore Bro∴ Millar as one who is immersed in the mystery traditions, and as one whom less instructed Brethren can trust as an authority — Chris Murphy, Philalethes: Journal of Masonic Research & Letters (Vol. 68, No. 1, 2015).