Amongst the modern initiations with the highest historical value that I've known, I would certainly put the so-called primitive first and foremost, because in each of them is preserved an original characteristic of ancient ages of a part of the humankind. Each initiation at that time had a specific goal. It could involve the aspects of courage and strength of the applicant, as in the initiation of the young Masai warriors; it could deal with the supernatural aspect as for the Yaqui, or the Mongols of the deep Siberia which dedicate an offertory ritual to their spiritual Tree. Some other initiations used to be, and still are, of a more practical kind. They concern the ability of survival of the hunter as it happens in the indigenous people of Mato Grosso, the Australian aboriginals or the Inuit, the Canadian people of the “great cold”. They are all initiations which, together with other similar ones, regard man's physical constitution; the social use of his resistance, strength and ability.
On the contrary, in more modern structures of the eastern hemisphere, because of the very reflective attitude of its peoples, originates the barycenter of a complex system of initiations founded on the principle of introflexion. Introflexion and interior research of the physical and hyper-physical realities were the origin of the so-called inner Path. If we observe it from the outside, this path is characterized by three elements: vision in the inner silence, compassion and understanding.
It is taught that: only he who understands can forgive and forgiveness is the highest form of altruistic love.
It isn't correct to say that the so-called inner Path is a prerogative reserved to eastern initiates. It is fair to say, though, that this path didn't attract most of the western postulants because of their extroflexed attitude. When it was experimented, it was always misunderstood and, what is worse, applied in a personal, differentiated and separative way. So much that its realization was left unfinished.
An extroflexed attitude has always characterized the initiatory action of the western hemisphere, where work is done in a practical way, to make it visible and enjoy it tangibly through the pleasure of emotions and senses of taste and touch.
Because of these reasons, the main western initiatory systems were the operative ones expressed in the so-called exterior Path. Even many mystics undertook this path. For most of them the labora (manual activity) was always more effective than the ora (the prayer). And even the most mystical ones, such as Franciscans, Benedictines and Carthusians were not an exception. Other religious people, monks and even popes, went as far as taking up arms to defend their very personal ideal of love and spirituality , drowning in their own and others blood.
Given the circumstances, if exterior activity is the specific quality of the white race it doesn't surprise that the west has become the barycenter of initiatory systems characterized by elements such as action, strength, power of judgement and application of punishment.
If the distinctive sign of the Initiate is the inner development in the fusion between mind and spiritual conscience, it looks like the eastern barycenter is the most suitable to the needs of the aspirant. We could wonder, then, why bother with the imperfect western initiatory system! Why so much energy is spent in a soil which is apparently not dry but rather arid, materialistic and conservative. And also why not undertake the more ancient and deeper path of the eastern initiatory barycenter?
These questions, all legitimate but superficial, need nevertheless an answer. In this instance we won't touch on the subject, even though it is an important one, of the cultural imprinting to which the postulant has been subjected in the previous profane status. The element of imprinting of culture and faith has a primary role in the absorption of values different from those of his original culture. The importance of imprinting can be compared, for analogy, to the ability of the intestine of absorbing several elements for the physical nourishment.
Therefore we will simply say that, from an esoterical point of view of a non-selfish vision , it is important to spend energies in order to allow the outbreak of the synergies sleeping in the pole of activity: here initiation is still exoterical and virtual and there's a lunar representation which slightly reflects the sense of the ancient and burning value whose contents have been tampered with and manipulated. There is, though, an even more «esoterical» reason to move towards this direction.
To say it clearly the problem is: the introflexed or interior Path is a way of non-action and action is as important as interior and spiritual meditation to the initiatory work, as we'll see in the aphorisms. Without action the «spirit» can't find a form to express itself.
On the other hand, too much action without careful planning and depth of intention is a rough, unclean and worthless activity from an initiatory point of view. Therefore we must turn the opposite features of interiority and exteriority into complementary elements, just as we did for masculine and feminine. We must combine them in the conscience of the Initiate in equal amount so that one can't prevail against the other. This balance between exterior and interior, between high and low and left and right joins strength (masculine) and wisdom (feminine), expressing the harmony that is the sum of the two, motion and action.
Modern Freemasonry, like the Church, can't give any direct initiation. Both can be considered as a whole made of notions. We can start by distinguishing the parts that constitute them and progress through their peculiarities.
In this way, Freemasonry will appear as a structured system able to contain, absorbing them in a big summary , all the initiatory experiences occurred in the western hemisphere and not only there .
Although Freemasonry was born as a manual operating system, the convergence of intellectual, speculative and spiritualistic fringe groups brought the idea of an interior way.
The Western Brothers, though, let this initiatory path go through the head and not, like the Eastern Brothers did, through the heart.
Morals, ethics, reason and logic were the elements used at this turning point, which was opposed by many Brothers because of their nature. They tried to bring the «path» back towards the outside, concealing this attitude as tolerance towards the different and charity towards others.
In this way a simplified and exoterical interpretation of complex and esoterical ideas appeared. The memory of the old spirit represented in the ancient Mysteries was kept alive in the Pillars of the temple, though, even with the separation between initiatory and ordinary Freemasonry. The spirit of the Mediterranean mysterial Schools is for many only a memory. Others think it's lost but it has never been actually forgotten. It might sound incredible, but the researcher can find the best traces of the western initiatory history in the initiatory memory of the Eastern Brothers. Otherwise, by developing intuitively his ability in analysis, he can find what he's looking for hidden in the meanings of the initiatory traditions absorbed, for example, in the huge encyclopaedic tree of the Pyramid of the Scottish Rite A. A.
Introduction to the concept of esoterical Landmark
Freemasonry appears in two forms: exoterical and esoterical.
The exoterical aspect helps concealing the initiatory aspect hidden by symbolic, mythical and allegorical structures of different origin and language. Besides, the exoterical function is to rule the Order. It governs the institutional divisions through a hierarchy which is never esoterical and manages their strengths and energies. The exoterical aspect also shows to the outside of the Institution the most obvious aspects of its principles. This must happen in the form which is most suitable to the slavish attitude and to the much elastic morals of those who are the target.
Proselytism is used in both aspects.
The exoterical aspect is used to choose those who aim at being «accepted and introduced» in the various degrees of the Order. The esoterical one is used internally to screen the qualities of some adepts and possibly let them join an initiatory education at a superior level.
Each level of the ritual Pyramid is an apparently complete circuit which can be independent as well. The degree of visibility of the connections between these levels marks the difference between esoterical and exoterical education; the result is a completely different overall view.
The depth of the teaching to interpret the meanings of symbols and ritual gestures is different in the two types of education; therefore their results will be different as well. These meanings, in fact, can be limited to an allegorical and representative initiatory reality ( minor initiation ) or they can express real operating abilities ( major initiation ).
The fact that an initiatory representation is virtual or operational doesn't depend on the symbol, the words or the ceremonial used in it, but on the maturity reached by the adept or the Initiate.
Not necessarily every adept wants or can recreate in himself one or more of the levels he has available. Sometimes they are left as dead letter, motionless and useless. The ability to revive their forms depends on the talents that the adept can or want to develop. His advancement is not due to causes like the length of his service, but to the quality of his will and perseverance.
We report below some examples of esoterical landmarks to give an idea of the will and perseverance expected from a true aspirant. Although their account is brief, the esotericist will be able to imagine the level of awareness required by some orders to admit a novice. These orders can be still found today in the biggest summary of the Masonic ritual Tradition.
• The Order of Freemasons is a Communion, or universal Brotherhood based on initiatory Work and planetary co-operation dedicated to the spiritual progress of humankind.
• Its structure is hierarchic with a Base and a Vertex.
• Each of Its fragments is a bond of the Vertex; such Hierarchy doesn't mean constriction but its Order expresses a similarity with natural, cosmic and universal structures.
• The initiatory Order can be represented as:
• A Confraternity of Masons dedicated to erect the Temple of Man.
• An army committed to the fight against the gloom of ignorance.
• A network of Lights and a Corps of guides spread everywhere to watch in the night and direct noble Travellers and Pilgrims.
• A bulwark of Towers guarding the passes that lead to freedom emerging from the profane world.
• A whole of Observers situated in the highest places to scan the sky and its causes.
• A network of Temples dedicated to invoke the Guide of the Great Architect of the Universe.
• A concrete and invisible Government of the initiatory destiny of the world.
• All these functions and more exist in the Order.
• All its Members, even though they are on different hierarchic levels, are in a condition of absolute equality.
• All its Members, even in the hierarchic whole, are «Free» in the Work and Service dedicated to Humankind.
• The whole Order, as one organism, tends to the Common Welfare through the spontaneous cooperation that is the best way to live together.
• All his activities tend to enrich the Knowledge and perfect the Beauty.
• The relationship between all his Members are ruled by the ancient formula: from Heart to Heart.
From an antique admission questionnaire
• Do you possess the firm will to apply to your life the General Principles of the Order?
• Do you accept the Law of the Order or do you think this idea limits the personal freedom?
• Are you willing to renounce personal comforts for the sake of the Order?
• Are you afraid of leaving your habits? Are you scared of travelling towards the unknown?
• Are you afraid of looking different to the eyes of the profane world?
• Are you willing to make the necessary efforts in order to widen your conscience and regenerate it?
• After looking for the truth in several directions, are you ready to anchor your thought to the Pillar of the Order?
• Whoever knocks at our door takes full responsibility for it. Do you feel free to choose?
• Would you be more severe with yourself or the others?
• The initiatory Teaching is carried like the last Fire, the last Food and the last Water. Are you willing to receive it, practice it and transmit it?
• The initiatory teaching presupposes a Master, or better still, an infinite chain of Masters. Can you accept this idea and observe it? Do you believe that the Teaching can be received from a real source even if it is still unknown to you?
• Are you able to tolerate the idea of endless Work? Do you prefer Work or rest?
• Are you ready to accept any task or function that the Brotherhood may assign to you?
• Perseverance is a necessary requirement for a Freemason because there is a lot of Work and many obstacles that renew themselves. Do you feel able to persevere?
• Difficulties are daily events. Can you accept the idea that they are blessed because they allow us to progress and learn?
• The Order seeks and calls those who, once made the decision, are able not to go back anymore. Do you think you can do it? Consider well what you own and you must leave.
• In an initiatory Brotherhood some faults are unacceptable: ignorance, fear, deceitfulness, cupidity, larceny, alcoholism, smoking, obscenity. Consider which of them corrupt you and see if you have the will to destroy them.
• The Order must be accepted in conscience. Verbal statements are not enough. Let the supreme concept of the Order go down your conscience and verify if it is welcomed.
• What brought you here? Explore in your deep self and answer.
• When did you realize for the first time the inconsistency of profane life?
• How does the idea of Master spring to your mind?
• The Freemasons carry out an infinite Work. One life is not enough to accomplish it. Are you willing to welcome the Mastership of the Work and of the Re-creation intended as a repeated and rhythmical descent in the concrete substance to redeem it, reviving it with your spiritual conscience?
• What do you wish to attain?
• What is your distinction between reality and evidence?
• Do you have time to dedicate to your Service and study?
• Since Family is Humankind, Initiates don't give more importance to blood relationships. Are you willing to accept this rule and practice it in your life?
• Who do you consider responsible for your past? Examine the journey you have done so far and answer: who or what originated successes and failures?
• How would you behave if, once accepted in the Brotherhood, you found a fault in the Lodge?
• Every structure and every stage of the building must be tested. Are you willing to undergo sudden and continuous trials and tests?
• Entering a Work environment requires caution and adaptation. Do you have the firm will to abandon your prejudices, your formed ideas and your favourite mental schemes?
• Do you find appealing a life of unknown heroism and sacrifice? Do you feel able to face lack of understanding from the profane world and interior solitude?
• A thousand external dangers undermine the life and Work of the Brotherhood. It is possible to defend yourself against them by continuously watching. It is difficult, though, to defend yourself from internal enemies: traitors. Before you knock at the Door of the Temple think about this statement: to bad brothers we say: «Be scared of the death».Explore yourself in deep and find out if a traitor lives inside you.
• When you think of the Infinite, which is the Homeland of the Order, your heart shakes in fear or bursts with joy?
There is a less accessible Freemasonry that can be entered through the difference between Saying and Being. I brought to you, with my responsibility, an example of interrogations to which you must answer in an ample and satisfactory way. I don't have any hidden goal other than widen your Masonic horizon, so far limited to the three questions on Homeland, Family and Humankind.
The Work of Freemasonry starts with men- initiated-masons and ends with masons-Initiates
The Lodge is a Group of men gathered to work for their perfection.
The Temple is constituted by a Group of souls gathered to
elaborate the proposition of the Great Architect of the Universe; the fusion
of what is at the top with what is at the bottom.
• Existence of the Great Architect of the Universe (GAOTU).
• The GAOTU is expressed as Wisdom (love), Strength (will) and Beauty (harmony).
• The essence of man is immortal.
• The legend of the 3rd Masonic Degree is the allegory of death and resurrection.
• Freemasonry works in Three Degrees.
• Freemasons recognize each other.
• Three are their Jewels: the Square (Reason), the Compass (Intelligence) and the Book of Universal Laws.
• Men are equal.
• Seven Masters make a Lodge.
• The Order keeps its secrets.
• Initiatory Freemasonry is esoterically veiled.
• The Communion of the Freemasonry is ruled by a Grand Master which represents the Spiritual power of the Great Planetary Lodge.
• Freemasons work in formation of Lodge.
• The Sovereignty is of the Lodge, regularly constituted.
• The Landmarks are eternal.
• As Above so Below.
• There is a Universal project.
• Three Masters rule a Lodge triangle.
• Five Masters make an accepted Lodge.
• Seven Masters constitute a regular Lodge.
• Nine Masters create a right Lodge.
• Twelve Initiated Masters govern a perfect Lodge.
• In the five verbs is hidden the secret of the Masonic Work.
• The Order leads from the Darkness to the Light, from Unreal to Real, from Death to Immortality.
Landmarks and fundamental Aphorisms are not a human invention. They have been transmitted to Man since the ancient times of the Guardians of the divine Plan in order to show him the Way of the return, allowing him at the same time to work effectively to the Proposition of the Great Architect of the Universe: the consecration of the matter of the Planetary Logos. The Mater Matter, the Widow of the Spirit of the Great Architect, the Celestial Spouse.
The Guides of Humankind, spiritual Architects, are always in touch with their Manual Workers: those Initiates that work at the Building of the Temple of Humankind. They encourage them, instruct them and provide them with the material necessary to their Work.