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Advice For Esoteric Masons


Premium Member
A great post and something that I learned when I returned from Afghanistan, I am of course heavily involved in the York Rite, and love its rituals. Still the points here are spot on.

Many young Masons come to me extremely disappointed that Freemasonry has not “delivered the goodsâ€. They surfed the Internet and read all kinds of stuff from Manly P. Hall to Albert Pike and got the impression that Freemasonry is an ancient, mystical and magical fraternity. Then, to their dismay, they find a group of guys who are about as mystical as watching two old farts argue about Obama and the price of gas. The rituals are poorly done and members can be heard babbling and chattering during them.

Some young Masons join the York Rite only to find it most well suited to those seeking Christian knighthood (not a bad thing by the way), but not a lick of esoteric education. Some pine away hoping someone will invite them to the SRICF and even when they are admitted, they find most often it is nothing more than a supper club for the same old farts they were trying to avoid. Some SRICF groups are doing a great job, but that is the exception not the rule. Even so, Rosicrucians self educate, there is no education to speak of. One could do that for free. Others join the Scottish Rite and find a wealth of material (in the Southern Jurisdiction), but often find the ritual hurried through. Meetings in the Blue Lodge, York Rite and Scottish Rite almost never have an ounce of education. They are nothing more than an endless discussion of bills and fundraisers. Is it any wonder men leave? (By the way, I am not anti-York Rite or anti-Shrine, but those groups are best suited for men seeking either Christian knighthood or an old school frat complete with a bar. Most young men these days are seeking something more esoteric and universal.)

Some leave their original lodges to join Traditional Observance Lodges, but most are scared off because of the high fees and a humorless atmosphere. The TO lodge tends to go to the opposite extreme from the “old man†lodge and while discussing truth, forgets brotherly love and falls into the trap of elitism. There is nothing wrong with friendly and even humorous banter during a stated meeting as long as it is not during education or a degree. The TO lodges seem to never allow anything but complete seriousness. Blah.

Some brothers leave Freemasonry altogether to join Golden Dawn inspired groups only to find it filled with quacks and malcontents who constantly argue. And being open to women as well as men, these groups lose the special atmosphere only a fraternity can provide...a rite of passage with other males that men so desperately need. What to do?

I can only tell you what I have learned. I had all the same problems dear brother. Be encouraged! Our wonderful, storied fraternity is turning a corner. Freemasonry strayed from it’s overall esoteric flavor after World War 2, but those days are coming to an end with the passing of that generation. We should thank those older brothers for keeping the fraternity alive, but make no mistake, the reason Freemasonry has declined is due to mismanagement and downplaying our esoteric roots.

My solution has been to quit everything that does not bless me in my quest as a true esoteric Mason. As a result, I spend all my time quietly serving in my Blue Lodge and the Scottish Rite. I support my York Rite and Shrine brothers, but this path works best for my goals. I never let a meeting go by without at least 5 minutes of esoteric education related to Freemasonry. I force my way in sometimes. All brothers have a right to address the lodge in a meeting. Take advantage of that. Be bold and courageous. Others will appreciate you. If someone else has done the job of education, then sit back and enjoy it. However if the job is not being done, be sure to have an article in hand and be ready to read it.

I practice my Blue Lodge ritual daily. I insist that new brothers be brought through one candidate at a time. Degrees in the Scottish Rite can be performed well while reading as long as the brothers have practiced and have good speaking voices and having large classes is fine too, but not in the Blue Lodge.

With all the constraints on my time, I do only those two groups. I also have narrowed down my Masonic reading to the books I know pack the most punch. Those books are: Way of the Craftsman by Kirk McNulty, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry by Manly P Hall, The Scottish Rite Ritual Monitor and Guide and Morals and Dogma Annotated. Those books are plenty for a lifetime of Masonic endeavor. I have read hundreds of books and those are the ones I would grab if my bookcase was on fire. I also strongly recommend taking both Master Craftsman courses. This goes for all Scottish Rite Masons worldwide, even if your jurisdiction does not use the Pike rituals. I would suggest joining whatever Scottish Rite is available where you live, serve and push for Pike’s rituals to be adopted. They are the pinnacle of Masonic education.

Be patient and serve even if you are the only one who feels like you do. Be a mentor to all the new candidates and steer them along according to what I have told you. Freemasonry will be blessed for future generations because of your efforts. Make it your goal to move through all the chairs.

Time is limited and men can’t be away from their families like they once could. For this reason, I avoid all other Masonic groups beyond my Blue Lodge and the Scottish Rite. All the wisdom a Mason seeks are in those two groups. All the other degrees can be read online, truth be told.

For Masons who aspire to the magical, there is no need to join another group. Magic at it’s core is no more or less than what is taught in “The Secretâ€. Buy that book and follow it. Also, read the articles on and "The Kybalion". I also recommend practicing meditating the 7 chakras, especially 20 minutes a day on the “Aum†of the Ajna chakra once you have your chakras opened. Check out You can do this in your car and the whole thing should only take 30 minutes. According to the yogis, all the powers you seek will come from this daily practice. I also recommend buying “Astral Dynamics†by Robert Bruce and following it to the letter as well as the “Bubble of Light†technique for psychic self defense. This is where you imagine yourself in a bubble of light which protects you from all things negative. You can also imagine someone who is negative to be in a bubble so that their negative vibes come back on them until they hopefully start behaving themselves. Two snaps of your fingers actives your bubble of light and one snap of the fingers puts your nemesis in a bubble. Or you can imagine yourself as being bigger than your nemesis. Laughing also works. Whenever you take it all too seriously, read some Robert Anton Wilson or listen to some George Carlin. Some brothers have even tried DMT or mushrooms (Clark Heinrich books) although such things cannot be legally recommended. Remember to as much as possible, love and forgive everyone. Do not fall into the trap that you need to abstain from sex or certain foods to be magical. That is ridiculous. Now, all of this might sound like horseshit, BUT no more or less than any other system of magic. I suggest trying all of my suggestions and see where it takes you. It will save you tons of money in books and going to other groups full of misfits and weirdos. Anyone could do this "system" of magic I have come up with, but truth be told, a Scottish Rite Mason who has read the Masonic books I have suggested has a tremendous edge.

Freemasonry is a gift. It is a blessing. It is a keeper of the ancient mysteries. Albert Pike and Manly P Hall understood this. Keep the traditions of the Blue Lodge and Scottish Rite intact. There are those who would try to change it and even allow women and atheists in. This is a mistake. Freemasonry helps to enlighten men and dampen their violent passions. Freemasonry only makes sense to those who believe in a Supreme Being. An atheist wanting to be a Mason is like a vegan wanting to be a butcher. Freemasonry is a force for women’s rights because it deals with the most dangerous drug on Earth: testosterone. Men start all the wars and cause all the problems in this world. As long as men divide along politics and religion, act like fools and do not respect the rights of others, Freemasonry will be a much needed institution. In this time of fatherless homes, men need a rite of passage in a safe environment like Freemasonry or they will end up seeking it in negative forms such as gangs. It is part of our DNA harkening back to the days of hunting and gathering. All lovers of democracy, men and women, should support its continued existence as a fraternity. It is a force for peace.

Share this article with other Masons you know, especially those who are discouraged. A new day is dawning. It is a great time to be a Freemason!

Frater Cliff Porter

Premium Member
I agree 100 percent that we should be careful with our time and, just like the author, I too spend my time in Blue Lodge and SR. I love ritual and would hate to see the beauty of YR ritual die away in the areas where these lodges serve their true purpose and am aware of some Chapters in Canada, Oklahoma, and New Jersey are the beacons of Masonic light in their areas just as SR is in my area. But, the point being use your time smartly and effectively and with that there can be little argument.

I am not sure of the T.O. lodges the author has visited. I have visited several and am a member of one and honorary member of another and do not find the "blah" or humorless environment at all. I have never belly laughed the way I have in my old lodge as I do in my T.O. lodge. Our dinners are lively, laughter is loud, and its dang near boisterous. I have visited TO lodges with firing canons, spills, laughter. I have visited TO lodges with singing, conviviality and loads of good old fashion fun.

My old lodge where cliques and arguments were the rule had little humor, lots of admin and no education; so I am biased.

Rob and Tim.jpgGary and Dave.jpgKarl and Scott.jpgMore Fun.jpg

I have included pics of different lodges days. This month we didn't do lodge...we did a BBQ at a local park and just got together and enjoyed one another.

So although the belief seems to be T.O. is stuffy; that has not been my personal experience at all and I have visited TO lodges all over the country.

Freemasonry is a gift. It is a blessing. It is a keeper of the ancient mysteries

Bravo and well said.

Mike Martin

Eternal Apprentice
Premium Member
Wow! I have a couple of questions in response to the Unknown Philosopher's blog post. The word "esoteric" was used a number of times. I'm not asking for a complete etymological breakdown of the adjective, but would find it helpful if a working definition of "esoteric" or even "esotericism" were offered. I'm somehow reminded of the character Vizzini in the movie "The Princess Bride." For example, "esoteric flavor." Does that refer to the taste of "mystery meat?"

This posting of mine to another forum a couple of years ago may help:

Mike Martin (02/11/2009)
Prompted by an exchange in the "General" area I thought that a brief explanation from my own perspective might be useful to those who don't really get it. From my own perspective I often worry because many who describe themselves as having an "esoteric bent" actually mean that they are drawn to the "mystical" and/or the "occult". Unfortunately many treat these words as if they are the same thing but in actuality they are merely similar. A look at an old dictionary such as he 1828 Meriam Webster (as modern ones seem to homogenise all synonyms until they become generic) shows that these words are not the same.

ESO'TERIC, a. [Gr. interior, from within.] Private; an epithet applied to the private instructions and doctrines of Pythagoras; opposed to exoteric, or public.

MYS'TICAL, a. [L.mysticus.] Obscure; hid; secret. 1. Sacredly obscure or secret; remote from human comprehension. 2. Involving some secret meaning; allegorical; emblematical; as mystic dance; mystic Babylon.

OCCULT', a. [L. occultus, occulo; ob and celo, to conceal.] Hidden from the eye or understanding; invisible; secret; unknown; undiscovered; undetected; as the occult qualities of matter. The occult sciences are magic, necromancy, &c. Occult lines, in geometry, are such as are drawn with the compasses or a pencil, and are scarcely visible.

So now that we understand that these phrases are not actually the same thing or interchangeable, to the point.

I suppose to understand the term 'esoteric' we have to understand that it is one side of a coin the other being 'exoteric'. The exoteric nature of anything (including Freemasonry) is there for anybody who looks at a thing, it can be summed up as the "face value" of it. In Freemasonry the exoteric is the surface layer of teachings and rites taken at face value. These teachings are themselves made clear by merely having a dictionary understanding of the language and taking what is said as it is commonly used.

Esoteric Freemasonry means that we dig a bit deeper to see if there is a possible further understanding of the ritual and practices that lies beyond the surface. It is that which is not revealed until one has been taught how to find it and then one delves deeper into the meaning and significance of the words and actions.

How do I know this is right? Well it's quite simple, during our Initiation we are presented with an esoteric lecture, it is called the working tools. Not only does it teach a particular moral lesson it is also our first lesson on how to look for the esoteric within the Rituals. We are visually and mentally presented with the implements of the builders trade and told what they meant (exoteric) to the builders that employed them, this is followed by what they mean to us as Speculative Masons, that is their esoteric (understood only by Free & Accepted Masons) meaning!

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Premium Member
Bro Vick,

Thanks for the excellent plan of action. If you want additional presenters on Masonic Moment topics PM me with parking data. Of course even better than me doing the presentation is if some other brother does. I figure that works both ways so I'd like see some of yours.

Rosicrucian - It's a topic that keeps coming back to my attention. Every so often I ponder joining the AMORC but I know what happens when I join a new lodge. Better I go through the line again in a craft lodge than in an entirely new order.

Traditional Observance lodges - The one I have visited has been solemn during the tiled meeting, festive at the festive board after the meeting as brother Cliff reports. Maybe you left too soon after the closing?

The mystical - I am pleasantly amazed at the interest shown by young brothers. At a area discussion group I mentioned chakras to a visitor who had mentioned other mystical topics. He pulled a notebook out of his backpack and opened to a color coded chart of chakras.

Brother Mike,

The trouble with the Masonic usage of the word esoteric is it clashes with how it's generally used. Esoteric versus exoteric is inside versus outside. Yes, that can mean monitorial that is available to the public versus the part of the ritual not written out. It also means the internal qualifications versus external symbols like aprons, jewels and buildings.

Its symbolic and mythic. As with any symbol or myth it needs to work at level after level of abstraction and it needs to work differently for each person but still within a pattern. Thus the exoteric is the words of the ritual secret or otherwise and all of the other visible business of the lodge. At this level the esoteric is the Masonry that's inside a brother just waiting to be paid attention to. It's not occult as its not hidden. It's just ignored so it's esoteric. It's there for the looking.

Knife and fork Masons can be uncomfortable with this idea. That's okay as long as they don't interfere. Knife and fork Masons have in the past tried to apologize for our secrets. I make no apologies. We are an order with mystics and always have been. We are an order with the type of secret that any man can find just for the looking. Some of those are external like we treat each other as kin. Some of those are internal like the gradual personal transformation caused by trying to be better men and practicing our degrees. It is the internal not the external that makes a man a Mason. Some of the differences are more internal than others and if antis object to that that's a problem with the antis.

I stick with esoteric meaning much more than what I consider the dodge of saying it's the part of the ritual that we don't tell non-Masons. To me and to others the esoteric is what we do together that we don't do with outsiders. That internal part is wider or more narrow depending on the individual brother.

The young generation wants more content. We should be honest that it's always been there. Honest with ourselves.


Premium Member
A large stumbling block (for me at least as a esoteric mason), was the insistence by the "authorities" on the subject about the antiquity of Freemasonry. It can clearly be traced, in function if not form, to the ancient mystery schools of the Adepts. The ancient secrets of geometry that made masonry, and the esoteric geometry that masons used to practice is long since fallen by the wayside. Such as Washington DC being made with 22 zodiacs,(see The Secret Architecture of Our Nation's Capital: The Masons and the Building of Washington, D.C.). Building placement, and direction were all very important in ancient times. Look up the pyramids at Giza, and how they are aligned to the stars in Orion's belt, very similar to how our capital is constructed. In ancient Egypt you write "Sirius" (as in the star) with a star, obelisk and on oval. In DC we have the pentagon, the Washington monument and the oval office. The need to seem "P.C." has caused many writers to deny this information. This is he exact type of information that drew me to masonry, but to get there I had to realize that most Masonic writers know not what they write about when it comes to these subjects. Many are not able or willing to make that jump though.

+5 point for mentioning the kybelion.
I wish more people would read it.


Premium Member
Another thing I find interesting, all "explosions of creative thought" have come about when people were studying Hermeticism and/or masonry in mass. The renaissance, the reformation, the industrial revolution of Victorian England, all times when These teachings were at there peak. We all know who Brother Newton was and what he gave us, do we remember he was a devout alchemist? Many other examples exist as well.


Registered User
Bro_Vick! Thank you so much for a well written post on a very little understood topic. In my lodge, I see many young men wandering in looking for the very same experience you describe, and many wander right back out.

I am looking forward to reading your blog, but it seems to have been removed. What happened?


Premium Member
Bro_Vick! Thank you so much for a well written post on a very little understood topic. In my lodge, I see many young men wandering in looking for the very same experience you describe, and many wander right back out.

I am looking forward to reading your blog, but it seems to have been removed. What happened?

I didn't write it, someone else did, and I posted it here for discussion (which has worked for the most part). I always sign what ever I write. ;)

-Bro Vick


Registered User
Esoterically speaking, which came first, the alchemical chicken or the cosmic egg?
Esoterically speaking, the egg is still being sought.

The Web and popular culture (e.g., Bro. Burkle's mentioning Dan Brown), have helped to produce a new type of petitioner: one who springs forth Athena-like fully formed with certain expectations and pre-conceived notions.That may very well be a recipe for disillusionment.
Every Mason since antiquity has had certain expectations and pre-conceived notions. To many, it has been disillusionment. I had a 19 year old young man come into our lodge, tattoos up and down his neck, pants sagging bellow his rear, thick gold chain. We told him that we were a Fraternity, a group of men who "watched each other's backs", he told us that he was in a group like that as well, a gang. After showing up for a week or so, I pulled him aside and told him that this was probably not the right place for him. I also had a 40-something year old business professional come into our lodge, suit, smile, good hair. We told him that we were a network of good men. After a few weeks, it was clear that he was only using us to make a business deal. After making it clear to him that we were not his inroad to financial success, he left.

Many men sniff around our lodge looking for many different things. If they stay and progress to the Sublime Degree, then obviously, they found (a part of) what they were looking for.

Would it not make sense that one who petitions Freemasonry first and foremost attempt to arrive at an understanding of it?
How can anyone fully understand all of the Mysteries? Especially a petitioner? I know Master Masons who know far less about Freemasonry than some incoming EA's. Our system of degrees are the perfect tool for enLIGHTenment. Understanding Freemasonry takes most a lifetime to fully grasp, and then some even longer.

Freemasonry is but one chapter in the study of Western Esotericism, just as Western Esotericism is but one chapter in the study of Freemasonry. If a newly-raised Master Mason is intent on devoting his first eighteen months to study and research, shouldn't it be study and research of all things specifically Masonic?
Who says they don't? Any "esoteric-minded" Master Mason who does not work his way through the Mysteries of the Sublime Degree is weak on their studies and are blind to the light and beauty right in front of them. This is not to say that you cannot pursue other avenues of light in tandem however.

Then, he might get an educated idea of whether his interests lie in the historical, philosophical, symbolical, etc., etc., aspects of the Craft.
Many of this "Web" group already have at least a cursory understanding of where their interests lay in the aspects of the Craft as well as a working understanding of many of the things that Bro. Burke discusses. Master Masons have a lifetime of light ahead of them as far as where their interests may lie in the various aspects of the craft.

Bro. Burkle is cognizant of this: "Optimally, this supplemental (emphasis mine) work is achieved by self-study under the guidance of a knowledgeable mentor who offers the occasional hint when the initiate wanders off the correct path." That puts me in mind of the Buddhist proverb: "When the student in ready, the teacher will appear." Is "ready" synonymous with "duly and truly prepared?" How does one recognize either the "knowledgeable mentor" or the "teacher?"
Finding a knowledgeable teacher on esoteric issues is very difficult. Many of the individuals who claim expertise are crackpots, charlatans, or worse. This is why the internet has proven useful. For example, taphthartharath posted in this thread questions on esotericism. He got at least 5 different practical responses. He takes the most rational sounded response and works with it. This method is MUCH easier than attempting to search his community for a knowledgeable teacher; which may put him at risk of social ridicule, misplacing his confidence in bad men, etc.

You seem frustrated with Bro. Burke because he is offering a course on esoterica to Freemasons that does not revolve around Freemasonry. But I would argue that almost all of the books that he proposed to the student, were in fact Masonic in flavor because they were written by Freemasons.

[By the way, please don't mistake my passion for anger. :laugh: ]
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Godfrey Daniel

Registered User
"Those who have not the true philosophic temper, but a mere surface colouring of opinions penetrating, like sunburn, only skin deep, when they see how great the range of studies is, how much labour is involved in it, and how necessary to the pursuit it is to have an orderly regulation of the daily life, come to the conclusion that the thing is difficult and impossible for them, and are actually incapable of carrying out the course of study; while some of them persuade themselves that they have sufficiently studied the whole matter and have no need of any further effort."
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Premium Member
Frustrated with Bro. Burkle? Not at all. In point of fact, I've read and have enjoyed a number of his essays - the one you posted included. As for a course of study, please note that my suggestion (and nothing more than my opinion) was for the novice and newly-raised. A course of study? How about memorization? By that, I'm not necessarily referring to researching Giordano Bruno, Frances Yates, ars memoriae, Method of Loci, etc., but rather, certain lectures and charges that would represent a solid foundation for Masonic study; let's call it my recommended 18-month curriculum. Sadly, a foundation largely overlooked these days.

Passion? Anger? I detected neither; you're the best judge of your own intentions. I'm not certain that because something was written by a Mason, the resulting effort will by definition necessarily be "Masonic in flavor."

As for a lack of knowledgeable teachers on esoteric issues (many issues in general as far as that goes), there may be a reason for that:

"Those who have not the true philosophic temper, but a mere surface colouring of opinions penetrating, like sunburn, only skin deep, when they see how great the range of studies is, how much labour is involved in it, and how necessary to the pursuit it is to have an orderly regulation of the daily life, come to the conclusion that the thing is difficult and impossible for them, and are actually incapable of carrying out the course of study; while some of them persuade themselves that they have sufficiently studied the whole matter and have no need of any further effort."

Bro. Daniel Godfrey I see you have the same thought of how thing seem to go here sometimes and in life. You can just write it a lot better than I.


Premium Member
Greeting Brother Varnell. Hope all is well with you. Somewhat like having "a face made for radio", when it comes to writing I'm a good reader. The final quoted piece in my post (which I failed to cite) came from The Seventh Letter of Plato. I'd love to be able to arrange thoughts and expressions like that an put them on paper.

What are we told about Rhetoric? I'm disinclined to write it here, but from where I'm sitting, you have a better ability than most to "carry the thoughts intended."

As I have a face for radio also. I have no ability to really put my thoughts down on paper as I am Dyslexic I can talk about things and see things but not get my thoughts down on paper very well. So rhetoric is not good for me in the written form.