Flash forward a few hundreds years and move Masonry across an ocean, and about all that's left of that tradition is the ritual.
In many American Masonic jurisdictions, the presence of alcohol in a lodge is verboten. Discussion of esoterica and science is woefully lacking. If such discussion occurs at all, you can bet most of the brethren are fast asleep in their chairs.
But hey, we do a good ritual.
Tonight (just a couple of hours from now, given the time zone difference) at 7:30 p.m. you can experience, in the upper room of a London tavern, the joy of learning about Freemasonry's many symbols and how they relate to other philosophies. Nigel Irvine, a Freemason and Wiccan, will be discussing Masonic symbolism at the every-other-week (fortnightly, as they say in England) regular meeting of the Secret Chiefs at the Devereaux Pub in London.
It looks like the Chiefs enjoy discussing many things that I think would be fascinating to explore in a lodge setting. In fact, I think these may have been the types of topics our Masonic forefathers would have enjoyed talking about over a pint and good cigar "back in the day."
Other topics the Secret Chiefs have explored include (reprinted from their website):
- "Stories On A Stick," with Donal Ruane: In 2001-2, filmmaker Donal Ruane spent a year in the Peruvian Amazon, undergoing the rigorous training required of a shamanic initiate. His film Stories on a Stick chronicles these experiences with the legendary hallucinogenic brew Ayahuasca and will be released on DVD later in the year. The film includes interviews with visionary artist Don Pablo Amaringo and other ayahuasqueros and explores the beliefs and mythology surrounding ayahuasca usage among Mestizo shamans in the Upper Amazon and the influence of European folklore and magic on these beliefs.
- "Food and Drink of the Gods," with Meredith MacArdle and Christine Rhone:
Legend and mythology is full of reference to sacred foods and drinks. Nectar, Ambrosia, Soma were some of the sacred names for substances which promised immortality. Meredith and Christine have been eating divine food and imbibing heavenly drinks for many a year. Tonight they will share their secrets with you and may even offer a free sample or two!
- "The Cygnus Mystery — Its Occult Implications," with Andy Collins: If cosmic rays from the Cygnus constellation have influenced human evolution and through it ancient cosmologies, alignment at megalithic sites and even world religions, as Andrew Collins claims in his new book The Cygnus Mystery, then what does this mean for the occultist, magician and Thelemite? You'll find out tonight when he reveals all at Secret Chiefs.
- "London: Murky, Mysterious, Magnificent!," with Larry Summers: Larry is an official tour guide of the City of London and Clerkenwell and will be training to become a Blue Badge guide in September. Tonight he will give a brief outline of London's history sprinkled with some anecdotes and lesser known facts, including such widespread themes as religion, radicals and rookeries to coffee, corruption and criminals.
- "Joseph Smith And The Occult," with Rachael Bulla: Rachael Bulla is researching the Druidic Ogham for a D.Phil. at Oxford University. She has been a devout member of the LDS ("Mormon") Church since age 10 and has been exploring "pagan magic" in connection with her LDS spirituality for five years. She will discuss the "pagan occult" aspects of the prophet Joseph Smith: his interest in astrology, magical sigils and talismans, magical treasure seeking, his use of seer stones and Urim and Thummim to translate the "golden plates (the Book of Mormon) and his involvement with Freemasonry.
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