Modernism, paradox of ancient mysteries
By Athos A. Altomonte
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I think that there can be several convergences between the crudeness of realism and the polemic verve of perennialism . Especially if they are expressed with a rigor similar to science rather than close to the passional and compromising criterion of ignorant cicisbei wearing loud scarves.
To ‘call a spade a spade' is an attitude unwelcome in the ‘upper-class salons' of certain Masonic groups. As far as I am concerned, I stopped attending salons and cicisbei a long time ago.
Therefore I will always prefer a crude and rigorous exposition to the empty sophisms of those who exasperate the meanings of hypothetical virtues of virtual nobility.
Among the many affirmations of the ‘Educated French Master' I will choose the ‘modernization' of the initiatory system. This hypothesis irritated Guenon no end.
I think that the ‘modernization' of Systems linked to mysticism, such as Churches or to Ancient Mysteries such as Freemasonry, is only a paradox or a lie. And it is not at all convincing who claims to be able to intervene and change an ancient tradition ( mystic and mysteriosophic systems were at first one thing ) based on the initiatory continuity and on the eternity of spiritual afflatus, to modernize it. At most we can modernize its terms, using synonyms that are more suitable to the current cultures. Nothing more than that.
Therefore it is unlikely that we can modernize the meanings of an ancient tradition, unless it is a faked lie whose purposes must be looked at with suspicion.
What ‘modernity' can there be in a Freemasonry that re-lives chrisms rooted in the mist of time? Let's take, for example, one of the many ritual symbols that, as experience teaches us, are used without cognition in the Ritual Chambers of the high degrees.
The "Pramantha" (*) - Sanskrit word that indicates the spark of Cold Fire of the Divinity - is the ritual emblem of the 18 th degree (Chapter of the Rosicrucian Princes, P. Masons and Knights of the Eagles and Pelican) and descends from the tradition of the ancient Rig-Veda (the pre-brahminic oral tradition). How can this or other symbols of ancient tradition be modernized?
* Pramantha – An instrument to generate sacred fire through friction. The stick used by Brahmins to produce fire through friction. Pramantha and Arani (the Swastika) are the parents of Agni, Fire. They are two sticks that by friction or attrite generate fire: the pramantha of the arani. Prometheus, the bearer of fire, is the personified Pramantha and his prototype is Matarishvan, a divine character linked to Agni. The phallic interpretation is superficial and banal. – H. P. B. Secret Doctrine.
It doesn't take long then, from ignoring its origin and ceasing to transmit its meanings to turn it into a decorative frill, leaving time to cancel the traces of its initiatory meanings. Indeed the sense of this symbol as well as many other things disappeared.
The eclipse of Knowledge and not only of the Word has left an intellectual vacuum filled by the pompousness of useless titles and ‘abundant' five star Agapes. So, beyond the paradox, what are modern Masons made of? Who are the descendents of the ‘great cheater', rev. Anderson , Presbyterian priest in the pay of English aristocracy, father of ‘modern' Freemasonry?
In my researches I have never accepted space or time limits; neither have I ever followed the ‘episodes' of a history written by people who are in constant connection with national-patriotic nostalgia, everything but ‘universal'. Neither can I join the spirit of suffused nationalism that inspires modern Masons, even when it is disguised as illuminated internationalism.
Masonic internationalism appears to me everything but universal, with a lesser brotherhood more interested in disownments than in ‘fraternal embraces'. Among the depths they preserve without hiding it the old nationalistic pride that divides unconscious brothers , with thousands of colors of national-profane flags and as many hymns of the same nature. This incongruence is not recognized by those who remain flat on the soft belly of a Freemasonry made of administrators of internal titles and honors, busy with a fast career rather than with the knowledge of initiatory principles.
From a slightly reactionary position I understand that the result of modernization (not completely achieved thanks to a few anti-conformists) of an initiatory tradition now reserved to a few elected, is to quash the roots of Initiation, hiding its inner meaning among the scenes of an exterior representation at the price of little money and cause of not at all pure prides.
(Real) Initiation is the universal Point of unification
Initiation occurs in an invisible point of human conscience, where the mystic Principle ( spirituality ) and the mysteriosophic Principle ( science and conscience ) join and where the East ( feminine nature ) and the West ( masculine nature ) meet. Therefore (real) Initiation is to be considered universal when it involves both substance and essence of man, and so for all.
By canceling the uniqueness of the Initiatory Principle, modernity has perpetuated its division and vulgarized its meanings for its own purposes.
Anglo-European Freemasonry , too, forgets the primogeniture of its ritual symbols, obscuring a middle-east and then Mediterranean primogeniture that appears clearly from signs, symbols, myths and ritual words.
The vulgarization of the ‘Mysteries' has placed in the center of the representation both the candidate and the initiator.
This has been happening for a long time and tells us how the division between reality and imagination took place in the mist of time. In actual fact Initiation is a phenomenon of expansion and contact that occurs inside the conscience, with a process of efforts and earnings that reminds us of the climbing of a (sacred) Mountain , conquered gradually with goals that are represented by an (initiatory) Pyramid or a Ladder (hierarchy of values). But the ceremonial representations, Pyramid and Ladder, are metaphors of inner events; they must not be confused with their exoteric representations, which constitute symbolic Freemasonry. In order to explain this, I will give the example of a well known exoteric representation: the nativity scene.
Like symbolic Freemasonry and its initiations, the Christmas crib as well is only an exoteric representation of an immaterial reality. Nobody would try to understand the mystery of nativity in the forms of the crib, which is only used to preserve its memory. Here, symbolic Freemasonry has the same purpose, to remember metaphysical notions that must be re-lived in the conscience of the initiate, up to reaching the maximum expansion of conscience , which occurs at the vertex of the contact between the physical and metaphysical parts. Symbolically this means the contact between the earth of his physicality and the sky of his inner spirituality.
This is what Eastern and Western ‘Traditions' try to remind us of. Of course they use different languages.
One is a dynamic and extroverted psychological language; it is not the language of the genital apparatus, but it is given by the main activity in the left cerebral lobe. The other language, more intimate and introverted, suitable to the feminine attitude, is given by the main activity of the right cerebral lobe.
If we agree with this the meeting point , viz. the initiatory regular center can't be a physical place but it's us, inside ourselves; it is the meeting between impermanent self and true self , also called contact between the personal self and superior Ego or the unification between personality and soul.
We can choose the expression we like the most, the meaning doesn't change.
Therefore Initiation is an inner finish line that can be recognized exteriorly as well, but nobody but us can give it to us in the ‘space that resounds'.