I am currently reading the massive Satanism: A Social History by Massimo Introvigne. This is a scholarly work published by the esteemed publisher Brill. It was first published in Italian in 1994 and was later translated, rewritten and expanded in various languages to (currently) end with the 655 pages that Brill published in 2016. There is something in this book that got me thinking about the early days of Freemasonry. There are many histories of these early days. Not all treat the rising of ‘modern’ lodges in the context of the late 16th, early 17th society. There are investigations showing that there were many social clubs, workers associations that either or not provided financial security in case of sickness, but besides social and philosophical clubs, there were also gatherings of another kind. You have probably heard of “the” Hellfire Club. Actually, there was not one Hellfire Club, there were several.… Read More »“he will never be a stupid atheist nor an irreligious libertine”
Recently (late 2019) the new book of Fabio Venzi was published by Lewis Masonic. It is called The Last Heresy and is about the relation between the Catholic Church and Freemasonry. It is an historical book and nothing like the previous two books that were published by the same publisher. It did make me go back to these two titles and since I was noting quotes, I figured I could just turn that into some sort of article that may give you an idea of the ideas of this Traditionalistic Italian Freemason who has been the Grandmaster of the Regulier Grand Lodge of Italy since 2001. Traditionalism In the two books, Studies On Traditional Freemasonry (2013) and Freemasonry, The Esoteric Tradition (2016), Venzi refers to René Guénon, but also to his more controversial fellow countryman Julius Evola. Guénon was initially of the opinion that Freemasonry is a genuine Western initiatic… Read More »Fabio Venzi (1961-) esoteric Freemasonry
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. Both were interested in esotericism and occultism from a young age. Both were involved in the Theosophical Society, but Reghini more than Guénon. Reghini helped to found the society in Italy. Both later took firm distance from their Theosophical involvement… Read More »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. This organisation appears to be a split-off of the Grande Oriente d’Italia (Grand Orient of Italy). This sounds a bit like Belgian Masonic history, were it not that the Grand Orient of Italy is still regarded “regular” by many Grand Lodges, while… Read More »Masonic Traditionalism in Italy
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… Read More »Masonic Traditionalism
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.Read More »Frimurerne I Vikingtiden
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.Read More »Maestri comacini
In order to better be able to present the information that I gather, I made a separate website which you can find at Farwerck.nl. Last updated 19 June 2019
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.Read More »Viking Freemasons
In my little investigation of Frans Farwerck I touched upon the connection of modern Theosophy and certain kinds of of Freemasonry. It was Annie Besant who helped to found the first “co-Masonic” lodge in the Netherlands, or perhaps in those days she still used the term “Joint Freemasonry”. This was in 1904 in Amsterdam. In fact, Annie Besant founded a great many lodges under “The International Order of Co-Masonry, Le Droit Humain” in many different countries. In her wake, many Theosophists joined the ranks of this brandnew Masonic order that allowed both men and women to join. The ‘Theosophical boom’ was not meant to last. The Dutch lodge that Farwerck was to join was actually a reaction to too much Theosophical influence on the Le Droit Humain kind of Freemasonry. Also the Supreme Council in Paris (the international headquarters of Le Droit Humain) started to push for less Theosophy in their lodges from 1918 onwards, causing the first schisms.
Besides Annie Besant more ‘famous’ Theosophists have been “co-Masons”, most notably Charles Leadbeater (who co-authored Besant’s Rituals). Some websites claim that also co-founder of the Theosophical Society Henry Steel Olcott moved from a men-only order to Le Droit Humain. Olcott became a Freemason before the Theosophical Society was founded in 1875 so logically also before “co-Masonry” started in 1893 in France.Read More »The Masonic adventure of Rudolf Steiner