Theosophy and Masonry

There is an extensive volume of literature based on the assumption by Theosophists that Theosophists are the old original Freemasons, and that their esoteric teachings contain all that is of value in Freemasonry and reach far beyond it. It will suffice merely to quote Dr. J. E. Buck’s Mystic Masonry, Rev. C. H. Vail’s Ancient Mysteries and Modern Masonry, and The Great Work, by T. K., to supply most entertaining examples of this interesting idea. All of these are painstaking and certainly scholarly attempts to assert a connection between Theosophy and Freemasonry. There are several student bodies of Masonic Theosophists, or Theosophical Masons – whichever sounds more acceptable. Several of the best known and most capable Masonic essayists in this country and in England are ardent Theosophists, whose voluminous writings are always full of allusions to Masonry as a collateral branch of their favorite speculation.

We wish to be entirely respectful to both those who do and those who do not credit a connection between Masonry and Theosophy.

Taking the entire ritual of the three degrees of the Blue Lodge, as we know them, and in addition the Mark Master and Royal Arch degrees, no such things as constitute what avowed Theosophists call “Theosophy” are taught in them. The moment, however, that the analytical mind begins to dwell upon the intricacies of the Masonic ritual and its spirited action in dramatic presentation, it is perceived that every phrase is a studied allusion to something far deeper than the proffered explanation. This profundity is not an illusion. It is thoroughly genuine; but it is not specifically accounted for in any part of our work beyond the intimation that diligent search will be rewarded with ultimate truth if the seeker persevere to the end. One may speak more plainly of “Theosophy,” meaning simply “God-Wisdom” or “God’s Truth,” which is secret only in so far as the uninstructed are unable to comprehend its abstruse phraseology, the key words of which are largely from the Sanskrit.

The moment that Theosophy becomes dogmatic it departs from the original intention of its modern sponsors and becomes at least a religion in the making. We cannot concern ourselves with the immortal characters or perpetual reincarnation of “Masters,” or in the vague stories of secret hordes of wisdom buried in caves among the Himalayas, and the catalepsies and clairvoyance’s of “adepts,” because, unless we be “adepts” ourselves, in which case we should have no need to ask questions, we have no means of discriminating among the genuine, the self-deluded, and the impostor, the inevitable trinity of all so-called “occult” investigation.

The term “Theosophy” is so elastic that it can be made to embrace every species of speculation in matters guarded under a veil of secrecy, and such is certainly the case so far as most American Theosophists are concerned. The fact that Masonry is ancient, guarded, and in a sense scientific sets up a series of analogies with that which Theosophy claims, rendering it extremely easy for an enthusiast, versed in both systems, to establish a series of parallels of great plausibility. It is only borrowing one of the favorite reasoning’s of the Theosophists themselves to express an opinion that both are descended by different channels from an identical source.

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