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

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

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)