Meetup at the Elstead Hotel, Bournemouth, Thursday 6th. November 2014
This week, the subject up for discussion is a pretty broad spectrum from esoteric traditions in general to secret societies such as the Freemasons in particular. In this article I'll try to provide some links to some online subject matter in the hope that it sparks some interest.
Firstly, as usual, my own take.
intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest.
(from the Latin word occultus "clandestine, hidden, secret") is "knowledge of the hidden"
also called Hermetism, is a religious and philosophical tradition based primarily upon pseudepigraphical writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus ("Thrice Great"). These writings have greatly influenced the Western esoteric tradition and were considered to be of great importance during both the Renaissance and the Reformation. The tradition claims descent from a prisca theologia, a doctrine which affirms that a single, true theology exists which is present in all religions and was given by God to man in antiquity. [Wikipedia]
These days you will run across two prevailing views of secret or occult societies: the one dismissing them as silly men with silly handshakes pretending to be powerful and the other claiming a world-wide conspiracy working to bring about a New World Order. There is probably some truth in both views but how and why do they exist.
I used to be of the former persuasion: I giggled at the thought of men in aprons and rolled-up trouser legs. Then, in the early 1990's, I read a huge bestseller called the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. Primarily about the discovery of a secret - perhaps treasure - in a remote village in the Languedoc region of France, it also contained a fascinating history of secret societies including the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons. Whether or not you buy into the story of Rennes-le-Chateau (and there are many debunkers), the book is still a great read and I still recommend it after all these years.
That book created one of those publishing flurries we see from time to time when a subject catches the public imagination. I read several other books on the same theme until I picked up yet another huge bestseller which created yet another publishing flurry: Graham Hancock's Fingerprints of the Gods. So, true to form, I started reading many of those "alternative archaeology" books too. One of those books was co-written by the founder of our little Meetup group, Ian Lawton (who was not, by the way, very complimentary about Mr. Hancock and his research).
Nevertheless, what fascinated me was the way the ancient civilisation stuff merged inevitably with the history of the esoteric societies. Looking back, all roads lead to Egypt. Hermes, the greek god associated with Hermeticism, was the Greek version of the Egyptian god, Thoth.
There is far too much history, theory and conjecture to attempt to cover in a small blog article, hence the reliance on links. But if you are interested in the roots of western (perhaps all) religions, alchemy and magick, sacred geometry, biblical history and the meaning of many of the Old Testament stories and many, many other fascinating but mostly dismissed or hidden aspects of our collective history - including the founding of the United States, then I would urge you to seek out some books on the subject and judge for yourself whether it is all the work of conspiracy nuts or not.
So here are some links for your perusal:
List and descriptions of various Secret Societies.
Lecture notes by Robert Lomas (see below) on the Origins of Freemasonry.
Below is a multi-part interview with Christopher Knight, a freemason who extended his research into freemasonry to other areas, including ancient history. The Hiram Key was one of the books I read when it was first published.
Robert Lomas is co-author, with Christopher Knight (above) of the Hiram Key. He is also author of several other books and something of an authority on the masons.
Another multi-part interview with one of the authors who started it all for me, Michael Baigent who, sadly, recently passed.
Andrew Gough is someone I've followed and, occasionally, conversed with for many years. He has a wealth of experience and does a bang-up job of presenting his research online. His web site is a must visit, I would say. Here's a link to some of his work with one of his video selections as a taster.