The subject of ‘esoteric’
By Wor. Bro. Tom Thornton
From the NJ Freemason List Server Wed Jan 21st 2007 454pm (pst), reproduced with Permission
This file is copyright (c) 2007 Tom Thornton firstname.lastname@example.org
The subject of ‘esoteric’ has often been attached to Masonry. Looking the in the dictionary it refers to things "known but to a
few" "private secret confidential". I sort of think a second definition comes from within Masonry. “Those thing freemasons
know, and teach each other that benefit them thru their life. “ Reading that, many Masons read our old works and study
and strive to find anything and everything that might be classed as ‘privileged information’ Alas, often even a lifetime of
study reveals nothing of special significance that could be labeled and passed from Brother to Brother.
The appending orders are examined, and even as far out as the Rostrucrutians. They may come closest to anything
and even from them I think the most factual received is ‘meditation and self study’ Several noted authors especially,
Arthur Waite, have written several volumes on Masonry. But trying to read their work can reveal merely more puzzles.
Even the Scottish Rites’ most famous father Albert Pike only danced around the issue.
I recall a visiting speaker in my early days of Masonry who was very aloof and acted somewhat distance. His talk was on the
cathedrals of France and England. Somewhere in his talk he alluded to those secret mysterious things within the buildings. I thought they were a wee distance for me to get to. But later in time I visit the National Cathedral in DC and a number of
other excellent American Cathedrals. I really found nothing except awe for the work of the builders.
Then I read a number of books on Masons and builders and found those espousing the Masonic connections sort of danced
around,. The best book I found was “Masons and Sculptors” by Nicola Coldstream published by the University of Toronto in their
medieval Craftsmen series of studies, (She found nothing Masonic or fraternal in her study of the ancient builders). She
makes the roll of master mason quite clear. One to a building, often for a lifetime. As far as the rest of the workers just that,
workers, and nothing more.
There is a video on the building of Washington National about the stone cutters and sculptors who worked in the shed next the
site and carved the many stone works used. None appears to be members of the craft, most all coming from Italy and working
at DC and then moving on to other sites. Nothing even close to what we find and expect in a lodge. So much for any reality in
the cathedral builder connection.
But often meeting new Masons they wonder about any ‘esoteric’ connection. Really the answer best suited answer for the time
was give by Ben Hoff several years ago. "Really we find nothing that can be so identified , but if a person can find something
which fits and benefits him, grasp it and keep it and use it. “ Yet the lingering question prevails, “ Is there something special
for men who are masons ?? “
Time has passed and the concerns of issues of daily business life are gone, the family issue are routine and quiet. To fill the
now available time in days more Masonic meetings have been attended, more lodges visited, the craft in general studied
not from writings but from actual experiences.
The first noteworthy happening, being active in more than one lodge, the issue of names of others becomes important from
a simple courtesy standpoint. To compensate for the dwindling memory a trick used by many Masons becomes of value.
A list of the brothers names and where they are from. One sheet of paper, soon both sides and suddenly the reality, There
are several hundred names. More than at church, many more than family, more than any of the business connections
Now that is a singular happening , peculiar to Masons. Could that be the breath of ‘esoteric’ a circle of friends who one
Gets to pass thru life with ???? !!! Think about that !!! .
Tom Thornton (Madison Lodge Nbr 93, Madison NJ USA) (Cincinnati Lodge Nbr 3, Morristown NJ USA)