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.Read More »Frimurerne I Vikingtiden

Maestri comacini

comacineThe “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

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.Read More »Ísland

Inspiration from Shinto?

Shinto_torii_vermillion.svgWhen 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”.Read More »Inspiration from Shinto?

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.Read More »Viking Freemasons

The Masonic adventure of Rudolf Steiner

Steiner_FreemasonryIn 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

Freemasonry and Heathenry

Those who visit these pages every now and then, will know that the Dutch author Franz Farwerck is frequently mentioned. Farwerck has shortly been a member of a Dutch mixed Masonic order and spent his life proving that the ancient esoteric customs of North-Western Europe survived in Freemasonry. He traces many Masonic symbols back to times past. But how about Freemasonry besides Farwerck? Did or do Freemasons have an interest in the prechristian religion of North-Western Europe and if so, did this in some way influence Freemasonry?

The other way around things are sometimes quite clear. Freemasons founded organisations or were members of both the Lodge and another group. These groups were sometimes magical or occult, but even heathen. The most famous example is Gerard Gardner (1884–1964) who was initiated in into Freemasonry 1910 and started his first “Wicca” “coven” in the 1940’ies (helped by Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), was a Freemason as well, though irregular). That is not the subject I want to write about though. I am curious if Freemasons have brought paganism into their lodges.Read More »Freemasonry and Heathenry

Eve’s prisca philosophia

I recently read the book The Origins Of The World’s Mythologies of E.J. Michael Witzel. In this book Witzel gives the world insight in the theories that he has developped over 20 years time which answer his quest for the original mythology. This approach was completely unknown and the job is by far not finished. It raises tantalizing questions though.

The African Eve
Witzel uses different sciences for his theory. Mostly genetics, linguistics, archeology and comparative myth. He calls his own approach “historical comparative myth”. Genetic scientistists have found out that the complete human population of the earth, are descendants of one single mother. This does not mean that at some point there were only two people, but simply that other lines did not make it. This first mother is called “The African Eve”, since she lived in nowadays Africa. There is also a stemfather. In his book Wirth explains how this discovery was made and how the method works.Read More »Eve’s prisca philosophia

Pictish symbols

the Golspie stoneIs it because the next holiday will be Scotland or some other reason, but I recently find myself fascinated by the so-called “Pictish stones”. The first time I saw the strange Pictisch symbols was about a decade ago in the fascinating book “Noord-Europese Mysterieën En Hun Sporen Tot Heden” (‘North-European mysteries and their traces to the precent’) (1970) by the Dutch author Frans Eduard Farwerck (1889-1969). He displays several stones, but the Golspie stone is the most fascinating. It not only contains (virtually) every Pictish symbol that we know, but also supports Farwerck’s theory about the symbolism. A theory that I have not found on the world wide web yet, so I figured my scribblings might add something to the information about the Pictish stones that is already available on the web, which is not little to begin with.

A little bit of history
When the meanings of the symbols are disputed, even the history of the Picts is! It looks like the Picts were the original inhabitants of Scotland. They must have been around in the first or at least second century CE, because when the Romans invaded the British isle in the third century, the Picts were already a force to take into account. They were not such a large society, but this came later. From about 600 to 800 some people speak about a “Pictish nation”. After that the Picts were troubled by the Viking invasions and overrun (or perhaps they just merged with) the neighbouring Gaelic tribes. After 800 there seem to have been no more Picts.Read More »Pictish symbols