Author Archives: Roy

More Masonic Traditionalism in Italy

My last two articles were about Masonic Traditionalism. One was based on a book by Mark Sedgewick about René Guénon, the other inspired by the books of the contemporary Masonic Traditionalist Fabio Venzi. Even though I had not, and have not, really been looking into the subject, I once again return to it.

I recently ran into Christian Guidice’s thesis about Arturo Reghini. Reghini was a Freemason and a Traditionalist. There is an interesting twist to the story.

Reghini’s story is in some regards similar to that of René Guénon. The two were contemporaries. Reghini was born in 1878, Guénon in 1886. Reghini passed away in 1946, Guénon in 1951. read more

Masonic Traditionalism in Italy

I recently read the book Studies On Traditional Freemasonry by Fabio Venzi. This is a very Traditionalistic book and I wanted to see if that is just the author or if that author is part of some sort of current. Unfortunately it does not seem to be easy to find much information.

Fabio Venzi was born in 1961 in Rome. He is a sociologist who publishes on a variety of subjects. I have not been able to find out when he was initiated, but I do know that since 2001 Venzi has been the Grand Master of the Gran Loggia Regolare d’Italia, or Regular Grand Lodge of Italy. read more

Masonic Traditionalism

Currently I am (finally) reading Mark Sedgewick’s Against The Modern World, a history of Traditionalism. It contains biographical information of people such as René Guénon, Frithjof Shuon, Ananda Coomaraswamy, but also subjects that I never really thought about. One such subject is “Masonic Traditionalism”.

I was aware that Guénon had shortly been a Freemason and that in his earlier works, he saw Freemasonry as one of the two only genuine Western initiatic orders. Later in his life he changed his mind. Things are not quite so simple it seems.

The first connection between Guénon and Freemasonry occurs on page 47/8:

In 1906 Guénon entered Encausse’s Free School of Hermetic Sciences (as the Independent Group for Esoteric Studies has been renamed) and joined the neo-Masonic Martinist Order and an irregular Masonic body called Humanidad (Humanity), located in France but licensed by a Spanish rather than a French Obedience.

“Encausse” is Gérard Encause, better known as “Papus” who founded the Martinist Order and a whole range of pseudo Masonic groups.

I had already heard that Guénon used to belong to an “irregular” lodge, but on page 67 Sedgewick says something that I did not yet know:

In 1912 Guénon received his sixth and final initiation, into the regular Masonic lodge Thébah. He was introduced to this lodge by Oswald Wirth, a central figure in the history of Masonic Traditionalism. Wirth, the single most important figure in twentieth-century French Masonry, had earlier made the same journey from occultism to respectability that Guénon would make under Catholic auspices. read more

Frimurerne I Vikingtiden

A couple of months ago there was a tiny stir in the ‘social world’ about a Norwegian book about “Freemasonry In Viking Times” by the Freemason Arvid Ystad. I tried to gather information, wrote a little text, tried to get a copy of the book and got in contact with the publisher. According to the publisher there are no plans for an edition in another language than Norwegian, so I figured I would just have a stab at the book as it is, so I got myself a copy.
I have worked through a book in a language that I do not master. Since Norwegian is a Germanic language like my own, some words are recognisable from my own language, other words from another language that I do master. Sometimes the words looked like nothing and I used Google translator which I installed on my phone. I figured that if I would understand a few words from every sentence, I would have a rough idea of what it is all about. I am familiar with both subjects in the book, so recognising a few names and keywords would give an idea of the context. I made notes of points that seemed interesting enough to look at better and after finishing the initial reading I have been typing over passages in translation software. I am sure I missed many nuances, subtleties or even interesting information that did not seem groundbreaking when seeing them written in Norwegian, but I think I got enough to be able to give you an idea of the book. Too many points for a book review even, so I have turned this into an article.

Maestri comacini

The “Comacine masters”, “magistri comacini” or “maestri comacini” are early builders that are often named as one of the predecessors of modern Freemasonry. I also ran into them in other contexts so I thought it was time to read a bit more about them. I did not want to get one of those ‘predecessors of Freemasonry’ type of books, just a book about the Comacines themselves. One of these fancy ones with many photos and the like. Well, there are none such books! Apparently there was a peak of interest in the subject in the early 20th century and little to nothing has been published since. Most books about the subject are from the 1920’ies I have not been able to find a more recent title in a language that I master. There is quite some information on the world wide web (usually going back to the old publications), so I did a little digging.

Ísland

In September 2016 I spent almost two weeks in Iceland. This holiday destination was not just a random country. Since I think that more people with ‘heathen interest’ play with the idea of visiting the country where the Eddas and sagas were written, I wrote this text. On one hand I want to give some information that I had quite a hard time gathering myself. On the other hand I want to give you an idea of the country so you may know what to expect. Of course the story is personal and based on just two weeks in late summer.

Heathen interest

Let me start with the part that just may be most interesting for you. If you go to Iceland with a ‘heathen interest’ there are things to consider visiting. I had to search high and low for information about some of these things, so when you read this before you go, you may not have to (or less so).

As you may know, in Iceland the prechristian faith is an acknowledged religion. There is one organisation: Ásatrúarfélagið (‘Asatru association’), and it has around 3000 members. This may not sound much, but when you realise that the whole of Iceland has 300.000 inhabitants, that gives a bit of perspective. Also, in my own 18 milion inhabitants country, we do not come anywhere near the Icelandic figure.
For some reason the Icelanders managed to stay in one organisation without splitting up, people starting their own groups, etc. They find that perfectly logical themselves. The Ásatrúarfélagið is not a very ‘strict’ organisation. Its members include people who just like to walk around in Viking cloths to “Goðar” (around 30) and everything in between.

Inspiration from Shinto?

When I, over two decades ago, decided to look beyond Catholicism, I had a look at all major religions. Shinto was one of those.

Recently I was reading a little book which had a text of a Dutch Shinto master. He had a few things that made me think of ‘heathen concepts’, a couple of remarkable correspondences. To look a little further I dove into my library. I indeed own a little book about Shinto which had a slightly different approach, but did confirm some of the concepts that caught my eye. Time to have a bit of a closer look at Shinto ‘from a heathen perspective’.

A little bit of background

“Shinto” (or “kami-no-michi”) is a bit of a generic term. Nowadays there are many forms of Shinto. When you are going to look up information you may notice that some people will say that Shinto is a religion, others will say it is not. I have the idea that people who see Shinto as a religion, look at it through ‘Western eyeglasses’. They will speak about “Gods” and “holy texts”, while neither really seems to be the case. Perhaps it is better to see Shinto as a ‘worldview’ or even a ‘way of life’. There are texts of importance to Shinto, by the way, but they are more like chronicles than Divinely inspired texts to have to be followed.

Shinto does not have a ‘start date’ or an ‘inventor’. It is regarded the original religion of Japan, that of the indigenous people (the Jômon). Ironically, the term “Shinto” is actually Chinese. It consists of two symbols and means something along the lines of ‘way of the kami’. The term was only invented in the 15th century, probably to tell it apart of other religions that had entered Japan. The lesser used Japanese term is “kami-no-michi”.

Viking Freemasons

A month ago the Norwegian Freemason Arvid Ystad published a book with the title “Frimurerne i Vikingtiden”, or “Freemasonry in Viking-times”. The publisher uses the tag-line “Ny teori om frimureriets opphav!”, “new theory on the origin of Freemasonry!”. I have been looking around for more information about Ystad’s theories, but I cannot find much more than a few newspaper articles, none of them in English. Also the book is in Norwegian and it seems to be only available from the publisher, who does not ship outside Norway. Hopefully all this is because the book is very new and lateron it will be available better and more hopefully also in a language that I master.

The newspaper articles give a few clues as to what Ystad’s theories entail. I will give a few links below this article.

A Danish newspaper says (in Google translation): “Masonic movement may have originated in pagan rituals that were practiced by Nordic Vikings, says Arvid Ystad to Ekstra Bladet.” “He presents his theories in the book “The Freemasons in the Viking Age ‘, which has not been received well by the Norwegian’s lodge brothers.” Apparently Norwegian Freemasons are fairly secretive. Have their rituals not ‘leaked‘ like most Masonic ritual? Could there be anything that Ystad writes be new to an interested audience? In any case, this quote does imply that the author has things to say about Masonic ritual and not just about superficial similarities between some things Viking and some things Masonic.