Join us for our Third Annual Conference at Kenton Masonic Hall in Portland, Oregon on October 5th, 2019.
This year’s conference features a keynote by scholar and fringe Freemasonry expert Dr. Richard Kacszyski. A special early Friday night meditation session hosted by Worshipful Brother Doug Russell has also been added at a venue close by for Brethren who arrive early.
Details and order of business to be announced soon. Confirmed speakers listed below.
The Organizing Committee thanks you for your interest
Dr. Richard Kaczynski
Dr. Richard Kaczynski is the author Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley (2010), which the Times Literary Supplement deemed “the major biography to date” of the Beast. He has also written Panic in Detroit: The Magician and the Motor City (2019), Forgotten Templars: The Untold Origins of Ordo Templi Orientis (2012), The Weiser Concise Guide to Aleister Crowley (2009), and the novel The Billionth Monkey (2015), among others. His writing has also appeared in anthologies such as The Art and Science of Initiation (2019), Success Is Your Proof (2016), Tarot in Culture (2014), Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism (2012), and Mathematics in Popular Culture(2012). Since 1990, he has lectured internationally on these and other topics and has been featured in the television documentaries Secrets of the Occult (2006) and Aleister Crowley: The Beast 666 (2007). By day, Richard is a social psychologist, biostatistician and research scientist whose 1993 doctoral dissertation examined metaphysical beliefs and experiences among occult practitioners.
Forgotten Templars: The Untold Origins of Ordo Templi Orientis
An unlikely cocktail of actors and musicians, doctors and merchants, anarchists and sexual reformers populated the occult underground of the late nineteenth century. One by-product of this strange brew was the magical order known as Ordo Templi Orientis, or the Order of Oriental Templars, with its controversial mix of esoteric Freemasonry, yoga and sex magic. While its name is familiar thanks to its second Grand Master, Edwardian enfant terrible Aleister Crowley, its origins have subsisted as shadowy mytho-history. Until now. This revelatory study brings into sharp focus the perfect storm of personalities, movements, and circumstances that gave rise to one of the largest and most influential secret societies of our time. It is a story that has waited a century to be told.
Magick, Masonry and Rosicrucianism in Aleister Crowley’s Systems of Initiation
The two initiatic organizations associated with British occultist and author Aleister Crowley (1875-1947)–Ordo Templi Orientis and the A∴A∴–draw inspiration from Masonic and Rosicrucian traditions, but with alterations and additions that make them something quite different. Based on Richard Kaczynski’s paper “Initiation into Aleister Crowely’s Magick” from the new Lewis Masonic anthology The Art and Science of Initiation, this discussion examines Crowley’s encounters with Masonry, regular and irregular; his philosophy of Thelema; and his perspective on initiation. We will also take a look at how initiation functions in the two organizations he ran.
In the Encyclopedia of Freemasonry written in 1874, Albert Mackey discusses a group of people known as the Essenes. Mackey references the History of Freemasonry written by Lawrie. “Lawrie evidently seeks to connect historically the Essenes with the Freemasons, and to impress his readers with the identity of the two Institutions. I am not prepared to go so far; but there is such a similarity between the two and such remarkable coincidences in many of their usages, as to render this Jewish sect an interesting study to every Freemason…” (1) It is noteworthy that few members of our Fraternity know of the Essenes. Yet Mackey made a profound comment that it is worthy of study for every Freemason. Who were the Essenes? What contributions have they made that is valuable for the study of Freemasons?
The Essenes were a small Jewish sect that lived in modern day Israel. The Dead Sea Scrolls are believed to have been created by the Essenes. The Essenes were estimated to have been in existence for a hundred years prior to and during the life of Jesus Christ. “The Essenes are a group that literally abandoned Jerusalem; it seems, in protest…against the way the Temple was being run.” (2) The Essenes lived in simple communities that desired to live a pious life toward God. According to one source, the “Essenes considered themselves the guardians of the Divine Teaching. They had a great number of very ancient manuscripts, some of them going back to the dawn of time.” (3) Although this idea cannot be verified empirically, it provides a thought provoking insight on the sect and the knowledge they held.
One of the beliefs that the Essenes held was of a “Universal Savior-God who lifted the souls of regenerated humans to heaven…” Brother Manly Hall points out the core of their teachings, “Their chief object was to teach the doctrine of one God, the resurrection of man to eternal life, the dignity of the human soul, and to lead the people to see the shadow of the deity, in the beauty, magnificence, and splendor of the universe.” (4) The concept of Christ as a man that lived 33 years, ascended to heaven, and [was] reunited at the right Hand of the Eternal Heavenly Father may have been preserved by the Essenes. This ideology and knowledge espoused in Christian Mysticism is believed to have been sustained by the Essenes. ”It is generally supposed that the Essenes were the custodians of this knowledge and also the initiators and educators of Jesus. If so, Jesus was undoubtedly initiated in the same temple of Melchizedek where Pythagoras had studied six centuries before.” (4) The Essenes process of prayer, meditation, and prayer were very similar to holy men of East Asia.
The Essenes were also emanationists believing that through their spiritual processes and God that specific outcomes or actions would result. There is substantiation that the Essenes were Cabbalists and that they believed in transcendent principles of the Universe.
There are interesting similarities with Freemasonry and the Essenes. The Essenes would accept a candidate to their community when they displayed a commitment of one year and passed through three stages of initiation successfully (4). The Essenes were usually well educated for the time. “The fact that so many artificers were listed among their number is responsible for the order’s being considered as a progenitor of modern Freemasonry.” (4) Although there is no definitive historical connection between the Essenes and Freemasonry, the 3 degrees of initiation and the pursuit of “common bond of unity, brotherly love, charity, group secrecy, and exclusiveness which secures to them an isolation, in the practice of their rites, from the rest of the world creates interesting and remarkable coincidences”. (5)
As these sources and facts are considered, it is intriguing to consider the Essenes, their influence during the time of Jesus Christ, and some of the striking similarities between Freemasonry and the Essene order. It is clear why Mackey recommended the study of the Essenes to every Freemason.
- Mackey, A. (1874) Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and Its Kindred Sciences New and Revised Edition 1904. p. 260-261.
- White, Michael L. (1998) The Essenes and the Dead Sea Scrolls Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/portrait/essenes.html
- Essenia Foundation (2014) Retrieved from: www.en.oliviermanitara.org
- Hall, Manly P. (2003) The Secret Teachings of All Ages p. 584-587
- Retrieved from: http://www.co-masonry.org/History/Essenes.aspx
- Photos Courtesy of BiblePlaces.com
Ryan J. Flynn
R.W. Brother Ryan J. Flynn is a past master of Ancient York Lodge No. 89 in Nashua, NH, and an honorary member of several Masonic lodges throughout the country. Bro. Flynn currently serves as a District Deputy Grand Education Officer for the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire. In 2016 and 2017 he was consecutively was awarded the John L. Caynon Education Award for his educational presentations from Phoenix Lodge No. 105 in Tilton, NH. In 2016, Bro. Flynn was awarded the title and position of “Ambassador to the Association of Masonic Arts,” the first American to do so. In 2019 Bro. Flynn was awarded the distinction of “Fellow” of the Kansas Lodge of Research, under the auspices of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Kansas.
R.W. Brother Ryan J. Flynn has worked as a Masonic artist since 2012. He has sold works to Masonic Lodges and Masons on six continents and all fifty states. Working usually in oil paints and other media, Ryan has produced a broad collection of works such as stained glass designs, oil portraits and murals known to features a wide variety of esoteric symbolism and design elements. Bro. Ryan routinely travels around the country speaking on the importance of the arts in Freemasonry, contemplative practices in understanding the philosophy of the Craft by using art as a tool, and discussing the operative and symbolic practices of our operative brothers.
R.W. Brother Ryan J. Flynn lives with his wife Kristen and two daughters Mia and Madeline in Merrimack, NH.
The Forgotten Bond. The Fine Arts and Freemasonry
All great historical periods, movements, and civilizations have been, and continue to be identified by the art they have produced. We instantly know if something is from Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, the far east or the Italian renaissance just by our instantaneous connection to the art they have produced. Through this art, we have learned immeasurable amounts of information including the structure of their society, their religious beliefs, their mythology and the ideals they valued in their day to day lives. The exact same can be said about Freemasonry.
Since our days in the quarries as operative Masons, Freemasonry has held a special bond with the arts. Our very identity is securely linked to the creation of the magnificent cathedrals of the middle age, designed using sacred geometry and other symbols, our brothers have created beautiful musical compositions full of esoteric meaning such as Mozart’s Magic Flute, and created magnificent temples for our assemblies such impressive Philadelphia Masonic Temple. We even use art in our degrees in the forms of tracing boards and emblems.
In fact, Freemasons have been involved in the support and creation of some of the most famous works in history, by either creating them with our own hands or supporting and funding the creation of public works… then something happened. That tie has been broken within the last 50 years and Freemasonry has seemed to abandon the Pillar of Beauty. Why?