The Kirkwall scroll is a fascinating piece of Masonic history, but not too much has been published about it. The writings that I know about the scroll are either old (J.B. Craven in 1897 and W.R. Day in 1925, both in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, the first is mostly history, the latter about the symbolism), or short. It seems that in Cooper’s The Rosslyn Hoax? from 2007 some pages are dedicated to the scroll. Today I want to have a look at a specific element on the scroll. The ‘seal’ in the third panel from the bottom. According to Craven and later authors, the Kirkwall lodge was founded in 1736. J.B. Craven writes/quotes: The Lodge Kirkwall Kilwinning No. 382 was founded on the 1st day of October, 1736, by “John Berrihill, free Meason from the Antient Lodge of Stirline, and Wm. Meldrum, from the Lodge of Dumfermline.” These two brethren, having… Read More »The Antient Kirkwall Scroll?
In October 2022 I read a book with texts of Leo Schaya (1916-1986), a Traditionalist who wrote from a Jewish perspective. He had a few recurring points that got me thinking. One was about the lost word, a familiar element of both Jewish and Masonic lore.
Let us start with the most common Jewish prayer, the “Shema”.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD
(Deuteronomy 6:4)Read More »The lost word in the Jewish and Masonic traditions
A question that interests me is when Freemasonry ‘became esoteric’. An unavoidable question when looking at that is ‘how did it ‘start’ in the first place?’
For centuries very different theories have been worked out. The most common is that in the days of the guilds there were also masons guilds and from these “operative” lodges, over time “speculative” Freemasonry grew. How, when and why non craftsmen joined is a matter of dispute. An often heard theory is that lodges asked ‘higher ups’ in society to join to raise their own prestige. Another idea is that these men joined by their own initiative because they thought to find something in these lodges. That ‘something’ can hardly be craft secrets, so what then? Interest in architecture as Knoop and Jones suggest? (1)
Fabio Venzi suggests (2) that initially Freemasonry was not yet esoteric, but this was introduced by the so-called “Cambridge Platonists” in the 17th century. He writes:
Elias Ashmole, Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton were all scientists, members of the Royal Society who continued to practise alchemy side by side with the experimental methods applied by modern science.
Studies p. 190
So that is before the foundation of the ‘premier Grand Lodge’ in 1717. Yet, most old texts even from around 1717 are not very esoteric. The rituals were only developed later. Perhaps there are a few things to say about this.Read More »Esoteric Freemasonry before 1717?
Fuxi (or Fu Hsi, Paoxi) and Nüwa make a nice, Chinese couple of which images often appear on fora, Facebook pages, etc. The image on the right is one of the better known depictions of the two creator Gods and as you can see, Nüwa is holding a pair of compasses and Fuxi a square. Ancient Eastern Freemasonry right? Especially because from Hermetic and alchemic literature we know another Siamese androgynous character known as “Rebis” who are also holding compasses and a square, the Chinese image supposedly shows ancient (Free)masonry. The image to the right is from the Tang dynasty, so 618 to 907. That not only massively predates modern Freemasonry (1717) and Western alchemy and Hermetica. But are these instruments really compasses and squares, or is this wishful thinking? As I said, Fuxi and Nüwa are creator Gods. The named instruments would be fitting for their joint role of… Read More »Fuxi and Nüwa
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