Around the time I was involved with setting up the Nottingham temple of the HOGD I was invited to join Masonry.  The Lodge which invited me was a more esoteric group which had been formed by former members of the Stella Matutina in the 1940s and met in Grand Lodge in London.  The lodge did not meet often and the grade progress through the three degrees was appropriately slow.

I went to the third degree but never got to take an officer’s role but did get to see what masonry was all about and for that I was grateful.  In the end I left the UK and resigned.
However there were elements about masonry that I simply could not get my head around which would have meant I would have left anyway.  Firstly, although the ritual was superbly performed, there was an absence of magical energy that I was used to seeing in Golden Dawn rituals.  It was possible to pick up psychic things happening, but these were nothing like what I would have expected from a magical initiation.  When I described them to others they looked at me strangely and moved away.
Although the people in the lodge were great people, and all of an esoteric bent, they were not magicians and it reached a point where I ran out of things to say and sat quietly.
Although I was invited to join other masonic groups, everyone said I should have been in SRIA and the Rose Croix and possibly the Templers. But I could not see the point.  Magic, and specifically Golden Dawn magic, was my main interest and they all had the same sorts of structures which made masonry dull for me.
The closest I came to joining another Masonic style group was when I was involved with the Order of the Rose and Cross.  This was being set up by some prominent masons along masonic guidelines.  However it appeared that it was a more mystical form of the Golden Dawn based around the teachings of Waite.  Several members of the GD signed up for it and the Order acknowledged our grades.
However I never signed an oath or even visited in a meeting (I was living in Bulgaria and never went to London).  The issue with that group for me came down to a fairly benign paper which I wrote about the tomb of CRC.  It was rejected by the hierarchy and while that did not bother me so much (the article was later put into Hermetic Virtues) the reason why it had been rejected was the reason I left. I was told that the chiefs felt that the paper was too practical, and they were not interested in providing instructions for practical magic.  That is fine and acceptable, it is just not what I want to do and talk about. So I left. 
I have had nothing to do with the masonic approach ever since.
However you will find me talk about the masonic approach in my books and writings.  I define it as a system where rituals is performed without magic to create a psycho-magical effect on the candidate.
It has a use, however I do not believe it is as effective as performing a real magical rite.   People told me “you can see where the GD came from with masonry” but to me it was like comparing a horse and cart with a modern sports car…. yeah the principles of the ritual were there, it was just that the car was going to do something faster and better.
You will find with masonic style organisations that they are a bit like a charitable club which happens to have a ritual attached to it.  I took part in a Rotary meeting once, they are very similar.  Any real information is about the organisation itself with some spectacular knifings and arguments.  Some of them made the rows of the GD look tame by comparison.
I think the saddest thing I saw with masonry came was when I visited a US masonic lodge.  I saw this wonderful huge lodge and thought what I could do with that much space. 
I was speaking to one of the oldest members in their huge restaurant. He told me his only reason for living was the Lodge. 
“Why is that?”  I asked.  I thought it might be the symbolism of the ritual which had not lost its shine after all those years.

“Because next year I am going to get my 50 years badge, it gives me a reason for carrying on.  And when I die, they will stick my name on the ceiling of the lodge and stick a black ribbon on my picture in the hallway,” he said.


  1. Hello Nick! I can completely relate to this blog post. I joined a U.S. Blue Lodge two years after my 0=0 initiation in a quest to better connect with the “roots” of the GD current. What I found was an ossifying organization filled with an aging and dwindling membership, with no sense of about how it could be relevant to a new generation of esoterically inclined young men. The dedication to upholding the masonic traditions demonstrated by the members of my lodge is extremely admirable, and everyone has been very supportive in guiding me through the Work. But in light of the work done with my GD temple group, the traditional masonic rituals seem to lack a certain vitality or potency on a psycho-spiritual level for me. While I fully intend to maintain my affiliation with Freemasonry for the rest of my life, the GD path provides — for me — a connection with transcendent dimensions of the Universe and a glimpse of the Pathway of Return through practical magic.

  2. Vic

    Hi Nick,

    Unfortunately there is so much truth in what you write. I say unfortunately because Masonic fundamentals and teachings can be brought up to much higher level, spiritually or otherwise, than what they are nowadays.
    I was privileged to be an officer in my Lodge and I could see potential. However, vast majority of masons see it as a social gathering.

    If one would take masonic lectures (like JW lecture in the first degree or any of the tools lectures) one could create a magical system based on initiation and lectures supplied. I believe that the original intent for founding Masonic movement was exactly that, to provide spiritual growth. But it turned into something completely opposite.


  3. Anonymous

    But does that mean that you were never a member of SRIA and not a member of Order of the Rosy Cross and do not obey orders from masons to bring down the Golden Dawn from within? David Griffin has been saying this about you for years. Are you saying it could not be true and he made this up? He must have been keeping up this lie even though he knew it to be untrue. Why would he say something perfectly untrue and without any evidence. The evidence would have not been difficult to find. It makes you wonder what else he has made up.

  4. Anonymous

    Hi Nick,

    It’s unfortunate that your experiences with Freemasonry have not been entirely positive. I’m a 10-year Mason, a former Lodge and Grand Lodge officer, and a member of 2 American Lodges situated in the Bible Belt of the country which, as you can imagine, are predominately Christian of the Midwest variety. All this said, I’ve had nothing but positive experiences combining my involvement with Freemasonry and the GD together.

    To the points you’ve made above, no, I couldn’t openly discuss psychic effects members would create by doing or watching rituals; but, many of them felt it and were caught up in it inasmuch as their Christian upbringing would allow. I will also say that Freemasonry is not approached in the same way by every Lodge or person. Even within a 20-mile radius, you’ll find Lodges focused solely on charity, creating a social experience for its members, or esoteric/philosophical aspects of the Craft. Whenever I found myself teaching someone with the kinds of sentiments you’ve expressed, I would either guide them to exploring one of the Rites or help them find ways of discovering the spark of personal transformation in the Masonic rituals and symbols that went beyond the scope of the Lodge’s primary focus. So, perhaps the Lodge you were in just wasn’t a good fit for you?

    Finally, with regards to the 50-year Mason you mentioned, I strongly suspect that he left out — as many 50-year Masons do — how much he’d done for his Lodge and the surrounding community in the 5 decades he was a member. How much money do you suppose he poured into relieving the misfortunes of others? How many orphans or widows did he comfort? How many good men did he bring to the doors of his Lodge that have found Freemasonry to be a truly life changing experience? That’s not something I could feel terribly sorry about, when you consider that the opportunity — or desire — to invest that much time in a philanthropic organization is not very well demonstrated these days. I hope the black ribbon is proudly displayed for that Brother.

    The magic and efficacy of Masonic ritual is there. The degree to which it gets leveraged depends on the mix and makeup of its members. Perhaps, there is magic in the Rotary Club as well.


  5. Anonymous

    IMHO, and this is relevant to Australian / English Freemasonry –

    Context – I’m a Master Mason, also in Mark and Royal Arch. Also this is not a criticism of anyone here!!

    Let’s be clear that Freemasonry was originally Christian and later was de-Christianised to allow Jews to enter English Lodges. It arose after a period of terrible trauma to the English psyche – the Civil War and the Reformation. They needed a method where men of all religions and classes could meet to improve themselves, work together to benefit society and support each other and their families.

    Freemasonry is not nor ever was developed to be a magical system. It is a “peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols”. It is about virtue, working for your family, life and death, being a good and productive member of society, becoming a better person.

    The work of henosis and theurgy, which is what religion essentially is, is very deliberately kept out of Freemasonry. We have prayers at the beginning and end of Lodge meetings but so does our Parliament. You need to have Faith in a Supreme Being, but what form that takes is up to you. Personally for me it is the Hermetic All, the Ein Sof, but we have various varieties of Christians, Muslims and a few Buddhists.

    Freemasonry has “three landmarks”, which are “Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth”, or Fraternal love and compassion to all, charity and generosity and the pursuit of a virtous life in the service of your religion and society.

    Freemasonry is a social event for quite often older men who’s wives have died and they need to socialise but also for younger guys who need a night out with good guys who won’t lead them astray; We have set up schools & hospitals, given millions of dollars to charities, helped people in need; It is a framework for learning about morality and how to be a better man so you can provide for your family, help society and protect the weak and provide for those that are needy.

    So people that come in saying “It’s not magical so I don’t want to be in it”. Well, I think being a Freemason is almost a pre-requisite for responsibly being involved in the Occult or practicing Magic. It gives you the organisational, ethical and societal base for your practice. If a person cannot organise themselves or work to the benefit of society and avoid harming others, they shouldn’t practice the Occult.

    If a person has such an enormous ego to not be involved in an organisation where they learn from others who have walked the Path before you have, then clearly it is not for them, but I question if they can be successful in any other way of traditional spiritual learning.

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