Archives For The Freemasons

Here are some updates on previously reported stories here at The Wild Hunt.

Florida Freemasons Reverse Anti-Pagan Edict: On November 28th, 2012, Jorge L. Aladro, Grand Master of Florida’s Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, issued a ruling stating that Paganism, Wicca, Odinism, and Gnosticism were not compatible with Freemasonry. Further, any Freemason who “professes to be a member of one of the groups mentioned above shall tender his resignation or suffer himself to a Trial Commission whose final outcome will be expulsion since there is no provision to allow anything contrary to the Ancient Landmarks.” This ruling caused quite a bit of consternation among both Pagans and Freemasons, two communities that have long and interlocking histories. Now, Christopher L. Hodapp at the Freemasons For Dummies blog reports that the edict has been overturned.

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“The passed resolution reverses the Ruling in its entirety, and concludes by affirming ‘that Florida Masonry hereby declares its eternal devotion to the religious toleration that is one of the immovable and Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry, never to be changed by any man or group of men.’ The Jurisprudence Committee had recommended rejection.”

As one commenter aptly put it: “I am very proud of my brethren in Florida for defending religious tolerance and having the courage to undo a mistake that did damage to our fraternity.” This is very good news for Freemasons, Pagans, and Pagan Freemasons, and I hope it will signal a new beginning for all involved (more from PNC-Florida). For more information on how this whole mess got started in the first place, check out this editorial from PNC-Florida.

Progress, Study, and Introspection in the Matter of Papua New Guinea Witch-Killings: The world was shocked to attention earlier this year at the torture and burning of a woman in Papua New Guinea over charges of sorcery and witchcraft. While the case of Kepari Leniata was sadly not unique, that fact that it was so well documented via cell phone pictures gave it a visceral immediacy that is often absent in these cases. Now, the country’s Sorcery Act has been repealed, and capital punishment re-instated in an effort to quell these murders.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minster Peter O'Neill

Papua New Guinea Prime Minster Peter O’Neill

“The Parliament of Papua New Guinea has voted to repeal the country’s Sorcery Act and to reinstate the death penalty in certain cases to help stem an increase in violence against people accused of practicing black magic. Such violence is endemic in the South Pacific island nation, and a rise in the number of public killings in the past year has prompted international condemnation and embarrassed the government of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. […] Amnesty International, which has campaigned loudly against sorcery-related violence in Papua New Guinea, praised the repeal of the Sorcery Act but assailed the reintroduction of the death penalty. Isabelle Arradon, a spokeswoman, said that represented ‘several giant steps back.'”

Meanwhile, a conference entitled “Sorcery and Witchcraft-Related Killings in Melanesia: Culture, Law and Human Rights Perspectives” is taking place this week in Australia that focuses on possible solutions to this horror, including whether legislative solutions can have any effect on witch-killings in the Melanesia subregion. Quote: “Belief in sorcery and witchcraft is so deeply embedded in Papua New Guinea that the problem will not be solved so easily as repealing a piece of legislation.” Still, at least there are signs that forces both within and without Papua New Guinea are struggling to find solutions. Let us hope that this terror can be abated for the sake of the victims, and the humanity of the perpetrators.

Famous Bengali Film Director a Member of India’s Wiccan Brigade: The world mourned this week on hearing that internationally known and celebrated film director Rituparno Ghosh died at the age of 49 after suffering a massive heart attack. As tributes and remembrances have emerged, Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, India’s most famous Wiccan adherent, claims that Ghosh was a student of her teachings, and a part of her “Wiccan Brigade.”

Rituparno Ghosh

Rituparno Ghosh

“For master storyteller Rituparno Ghosh, who died on May 30, the craft of Wicca — a modern pagan and witchcraft religion was a “great draw” as it appealed to his intellectual side. The filmmaker also exhibited a pronounced curiosity about “life after death”, says renowned Wiccan exponent Ipsita Roy Chakraverti. Ghosh was Chakraverti’s first student from the film fraternity […] “He was always a part of our programmes… As a speaker, as a participant. (He was) always very interested in learning the craft. In fact, he was my first student from the film fraternity,” said Chakraverti.”

As I’ve reported here previously, Chakraverti’s Wiccan Brigade has worked to combat violence against women in the form of witch killings and persecutions, and believes that the religion could empower women in the face of a “national problem” of rape. Knowing that Ghosh was a part of Chakraverti’s group adds an extra dimension to his character, part of a life dedicated towards equal treatment for all individuals in his home country. What is remembered, lives.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

Yesterday I highlighted a ruling from Jorge L. Aladro, Grand Master of Florida’s Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, which barred membership to Pagans, Gnostics, and agnostics, and made it plain that any current Pagan members would be evicted from the order.

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“Therefore, as Grand Master, it is my Ruling and Decision that none of the above mentioned beliefs and/or practices [Paganism, Wiccan and Odinism, and secondarily Agnosticism and Gnosticism] are compatible with Freemasonry since they do not believe or practice one or more of the prerequisites to be a candidate for Masonry listed above.  Further, any member of the Craft that professes to be a member of one of the groups mentioned above shall tender his resignation or suffer himself to a Trial Commission whose final outcome will be expulsion since there is no provision to allow anything contrary to the Ancient Landmarks.”

Since then, many Freemasons, Pagans, and Pagan Freemasons have spoken out about this ruling, with most decrying the move as against the principles of their order. Most notably, one of the Florida Pagans at the center of this controversy, Corey Bryson, has had his story published at the Freemason Information blog, and at the Florida bureau of the Pagan Newswire Collective.

Jorge L. Aladro

Jorge L. Aladro,

“A few weeks later, I received an email stating that I was to appear before the vigilance committee of my lodge by order of the Grand Master. I appeared before the committee with the assistance of a PM of my lodge who volunteered to assist me. I was asked again the questions relating to 32:16 of the Florida Masonic Digest, and again honestly answered the questions, in agreement with the Digest. I was asked if I was a Pagan, and explained that I used that term to describe my religious practices, but not my belief. Paganism is not Orthodox, and has no set doctrines. It is merely a blanket term for non-Abrahamic faiths. In definition of my beliefs, I stated that I was primarily a Deist. I was further asked if I could uphold Masonic Morality, as exemplified by the Golden Rule and the 10 commandments. I explained that the Golden Rule was a value to aspire to. Concerning the 10 Commandments, I had to educate the committee on the fact that the first 5 commandments were religious commandments that only really apply to Jews, but that the second 5 were values to aspire to as well.

The Committee concluded that there was no reason for further action in my case. Apparently the Grand Master was not satisfied with this decision, and proceeded to issue his Ruling.

After reading the ruling, I felt that I had no choice per my Master Mason Obligation other than to resign as a Mason. This morning, I went to my lodge and submitted my letter of resignation to the Secretary, along with my dues card.”

The Freemason who posted Bryson’s testimony, Frederic Milliken, went on to comment that “we are told as Masons to avoid all sectarian religious discussion yet that is exactly what the Mainstream Grand Master of Florida Has done,” and noted the irony of making this move so near the holiday of Christmas.

“Soon we will celebrate Christmas, a holiday with Pagan roots, incorporating pre Christian festivals that were celebrated around the winter solstice, why don’t we all send Grand Master Jorge L. Aladro, a little mind and a happy Pagan day card? You can send him one, care of the Grand Lodge at 220 North Ocean Street, Jacksonville, FL 32202.”

In addition, the Everglades Moon Local Council of the Covenant of the Goddess has released an official statement on this matter, saying they were “saddened and disappointed” in Grand Master Aladro’s edict.

“Everglades Moon Local Council, Florida Chapter of Covenant of the Goddess, a national organization of Wiccans, is saddened and disappointed to learn that The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida has stated all Pagans, and specifically Wiccans, must resign their membership. We respect the right of groups such as the Freemasons to make choices regarding their membership, and pray that Wiccan Masons can find a way to continue their contributions towards making good men better.”

Meanwhile, other Masons, like Cliff Porter at The Relevant Mason and Erik Arneson at The Oblong Square have spoken out against what they see as religious intolerance masquerading as Freemasonry.

“This wave of younger Masons interested in alternative spirituality and religion must be vexing for some of the so-called “old guard” of the Fraternity. It has been made clear repeatedly that there are members of grand lodges across the country who, in spite of the obligations they made before God, view Freemasonry as just another vehicle to practice religious discrimination. They view the Craft as strictly Christian and try to limit its vital message. And they are wrong.

“Freemasonry is a progressive science,” we are taught in its ritual. Centuries ago, we were at the edge of social progressiveness, but over generations we fell behind. For a long time, the specters of bigotry and intolerance have overshadowed the vision of the fraternity, and only in the past few decades has this begun to be reversed. Sometimes intolerance will continue to rear its ugly head as it has in Florida, but those of us who believe in the messages of virtue and tolerance at the heart of Freemasonry need to remain strong and continue to act with patience, prudence and fortitude. If we can do so, we will see Freemasonry return to the forefront of progressive thought where it once stood.”

In addition, several Pagan Freemasons have made their views known here at The Wild Hunt. Michael Eric Bérubé, who’s been a Pagan since the 1980s, and a Freemason since 1994, said he was “saddened” by this ruling, and pointed to his lodge in Maine, where religious tolerance and inclusion are the norm. Kirk White, a Pagan and former Grand High Priest of the Royal Arch Masons of Vermont, noted that some of the religious tensions are due to younger Pagan members threatening the status quo.

“In many cases, the influx of Pagan men have saved lodges that were about to die out. And in these cases, these younger, active Pagan men are threatening the status quo. Most of the old guys don’t want spirituality – much less esotericism – in their Freemasonry. For them, it is just a social and charitable organization. This rebirth of esotericism scares them and they blame it on the Pagans (although most esoteric Masons I know are not Pagan).

The Grand Master of Florida is the final say in Florida through his term (which is 1-3 years depending on jurisdiction). His successor may keep it, repeal it, or usually they just forget about such decrees and never enforce them. In the meanwhile, many more liberal jurisdictions (including Vermont) are discussing how to handle this. We’ll see how it turns out. In the end, though, time is on our side. The old guard pass away and the new, more spiritually open guys take their place. There are big changes coming in Masonry in the next 10 years. It is pretty exciting.”

I agree with Kirk White in that the changes happening within Freemasonry right now are exciting, and point to a new phase in the fraternity’s existence, one that make it especially suited to thrive in a post-Christian and pluralistic society where diversity is the norm. What I think Grand Master Aladro’s ruling has done is bring to the surface a conversation and debate that’s been quietly happening behind the scenes about the future of Freemasonry (and the role of Paganism and other non-Christian faiths in it). Even if the Florida Grand Lodge keeps its discriminatory stance against non-Christian faiths, this ruling has created reverberations that may bring about shifts Aladro and other like him could not have suspected.

As always, we’ll keep you posted as this story continues to develop.

On November 28th Jorge L. Aladro, Grand Master of Florida’s Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, issued a ruling stating that Paganism, Wicca, Odinism, and Gnosticism were not compatible with Freemasonry. Further, any Freemason who “professes to be a member of one of the groups mentioned above shall tender his resignation or suffer himself to a Trial Commission whose final outcome will be expulsion since there is no provision to allow anything contrary to the Ancient Landmarks.”

freemasons dont like pagans

What’s remarkable about this ruling and resulting document is that modern Paganism, along with several strains of ritual magical practice, have been a part of modern Freemasonry for generations, a situation that has only become more pronounced as a new flood of younger people have become interested in the “establishment mysticism” that alienated many in their parent’s generation. Indeed, many prominent Freemasons, like Christopher L. Hodapp, author of “Freemasons For Dummies,”  seem to find the concept of Pagan Masons completely uncontroversial.

“A question that pops up from time to time on Masonic forums and in lodge has to do with the requirement of a petitioner to believe in a “supreme being” and whether Wicca qualifies as such a belief. Undoubtedly, part of the trepidation by some Masons to accept Wicca as a religion has to do with seeing inverted pentacles drawn on floors by hooded devil-worshippers in too many old Night Gallery reruns. Curiously, these same brethren generally have no problem with the inverted pentacle of the Order of the Eastern Star.”

As you might imagine, this ruling has reverberated across social media, surprising and angering many Pagan Masons. Comments range from “If they banned paganism, they’d have to shut down every lodge in the country,” to “this is absolutely insane and goes against everything that I, as a Freemason, believe in.” Lon Milo DuQuette, author of “Angels, Demons & Gods of the New Millennium: Musings on Modern Magick” (and a Freemason), who alerted many on Facebook to this ruling, is calling for concerned Freemasons to write to the Grand Master of Florida.

“Perhaps frank, yet respectful, letters should be sent to Florida’s Grant Master of Masons, Jorge L. Aladro, pointing out our feelings on this matter. I believe his publically published email address is: gm@floridamason.org”

A commenter on that post elaborated that letters from active Freemasons “should also be directed to your own state’s grand lodge. This violates the criteria to be considered Masonic and states need to suspend recognition of Florida masons and their grand lodge until they become regular again.” Whether this pressure will sway the Florida Grand Master, who seems motivated by a religious bias, remains to be seen.

If you are a Pagan, magician, and a Freemason, what do you think of the Florida Grand Lodge’s ruling? If you are a Florida Freemason what are your thoughts, and what actions will you take in an administration that seems dedicated to drumming the Pagans out? We’ll keep you updated on this situation as it develops.

I’m sure you haven’t heard, but there is a new book coming out tomorrow by author Dan Brown entitled “The Lost Symbol”. Brown’s last book, “The Da Vinci Code”, sold, like, a gazillion copies, made various Catholics and conservative Christians pop a gasket, and spawned a mega-grossing movie (not to mention a successful prequel/sequel) starring Tom Hanks. In anticipation of this assured best-seller James Kaplan from Parade Magazine sits down with Brown to talk about his work, whether he believes in the conspiracy theories he writes about, and why he was inspired to write about the divine feminine.

“Part of it was my mom–she is strong in her convictions and yet absolutely open to embracing a change in them. Part of it was falling in love and also looking at other religions, especially older ones, paganism, the Mother Earth concept. And some of it came from looking at the destructive force of man and saying, “Look at what we’re doing. If we spent half the intellect and money we spend on killing each other on solving problems, wouldn’t that be great?” I kind of equate that with testosterone. You say, “What if God were a woman? What if we embraced our feminine side–the more creative, passive, loving side?” It’s a gross generalization, but all those things added up to my celebrating the Sacred Feminine.”

I’ve long believed that it was Brown tapping into a deep yearning to re-connect with the feminine aspect(s) of the divine that made his rather slight novel a super-mega hit.

“It isn’t that Jesus had sex, it isn’t the mysterious gnostic sects, it isn’t about hatred of the Catholic Church, and it certainly isn’t due to Dan Brown’s skill as a writer, it’s the goddess, stupid.”

As for what Brown personally believes he remains a bit evasive, saying he’s strayed far from the Episcopalian upbringing of his youth, but that he come “full circle” and sees a “spiritual aspect” to science. It also seems that he may be done exploring the feminine divine and has moved into the realms of Freemasonry and noetic science for his latest page-turner. Still, with Brown back in the news you can expect that the heresy-hunters will be straining for a piece of the spotlight.

Inaugural fever is heating up in Washington DC, and millions of people are expected to be on hand for Barack Obama’s inauguration. Since all those people won’t fit into (or weren’t invited to) the 10 official balls the Obamas will be attending, several lobbies, special interest groups, and private citizens are throwing their own bashes (with varying degrees of fabulousness).  Unsurprisingly, Pagans, who overwhelmingly supported Obama in the election, are getting in on the action. The day before the inauguration, a group of Pagans and magical/spiritual progressives will be gathering at the Jefferson Memorial to do some cleansing spell-work (and since these are Pagans, have a drum-jam).

The Washington, D.C. community of magical and spiritual progressives will join together on Monday afternoon, January 19th, at the Jefferson Memorial Plaza to sweep the town clean and welcome President-elect Obama and his administration to the White House. The Ritual of Unity and Blessing is organized by a triumvirate of native Washingtonians, one of whom is the great-granddaughter of slaves, one the great-granddaughter of slave owners, and one the daughter of a populist New Deal Congressman.  The ceremony will begin promptly at 2pm with a Witches’ Broom Dance, intended to cleanse Washington of the malfeasance, deceit and partisanship of the last eight years.

The main organizers of the event are Pagan activist Caroline Kenner (who organized the Veterens’ Pentacle win rally), Wiccan Priestess Katrina Messenger, founder of Connect DC, and Caroline W. Casey, founder of Coyote Network News. The main ritual will culminate in the charging of an obelisk-shaped crystal (like the Washington Monument) that will be dropped into (“sacrificed to”) the Tidal Basin so that its energies can “broadcast” over the festivities on the 20th. For more details check, here, after January 9th.

Speaking of the Washington Monument, obelisks, and broadcasting energies, some of you might be interested to learn that there will be an official Masonic Inagural Ball (the first ever, or at least the first one ever publicly announced) taking place on January 20th.

While other inauguration balls are costing $125-$500 or more per ticket, we’ve arranged for an evening with some amazing food, a great DJ, and brotherhood, all for $65 per ticket, we’ve also included an incentive to help pay the baby sitter, couples may go for just $120 a piece. All proceeds from this event will be donated to the Masonic Foundation of the District of Columbia.

I know there has been something of a mini-renaissance of younger people (and sometimes esotericly-inclined practitioners) joining up with the Freemasons in recent years, so this might be a good way to attend a ball and do some networking (cash bar though, pity). I’m surprised this hasn’t happened before considering the rich history of Masonic US Presidents.

If you have any information of any other Pagan, esoteric, occult, or magical events taking place over the inaugural weekend, feel free to plug them in the comments.

NPR has a story about the changing face of Freemasonry. While much smaller than in its glory days (membership is around 1.8 million down from 4 million in the 1940s and 50s), the society with secrets is attracting a younger demographic interested not only in the fraternal aspects, but in reviving its esoteric rites.

“…the current renewed interest in Freemasonry has brought in men who take a more serious approach to the ritual than older generations did, and who want to tighten initiation standards and raise dues. But he says the fraternity must watch out for men who sign up because of misguided theories linking Freemasonry to ‘divine secrets.'”

This is tied to a larger push to revive the organization and attract new members.

“The lodge also hired a public relations firm to spread the word about its 225th anniversary, which was last month. And the Masons have run advertisements in movie theaters and run one-day classes to award the first three Masonic degrees in a single session. Until then, would-be Masons had to spend months learning what they needed to know to rise from Entered Apprentice to Fellowcraft to Master Mason.”

It would be interesting to see how the Masons navigate a middle ground between a more open membership and recruitment while pleasing newer members who want to return Freemasonry to a more ritualistic society with stringent entrance requirements.

Of course the history of Freemasonry is deeply entwined with the history of modern Pagan Witchcraft. According to several Pagan historians and scholars, including Ronald Hutton author of “The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft”, many terms and ritual aspects found in religious Witchcraft (and in the occult societies that preceded the emergence of Wicca) can be traced back to Freemasonry. One wonders if a renewed interest among younger people in Freemasonry will in turn spark a renaissance of occult societies and magical orders? Will our generation see a new Samuel “MacGregor” Mathers or William Westcott?