Secrets of the Quest

I write this blog under some self-imposed restrictions. They serve to preserve personal integrity, protect the sanctity of my obligations and not involve other people, who may prefer to stay out of the virtual lime-light. But by their very nature, they also limit some of the stories that I would have liked to tell. That’s the balance, the name of the game. When I decided to keep Grail Quest alive, one of the cons were definitely that it is hard to get to the heart of my thinking, because there are so many things I cannot delve into. On the other hand, I realise that I have this need to express myself, and putting things into writing (that is read by others) serves to clarify things for myself and clear my mind, cathartically, perhaps.

My masonic story (and opinions) is one area that has been the most severely restricted. Swedish Rite has largely remained a mystery outside of its area of practise, and as I have said time and again, I am not about be the one who sells out the secrets just to make myself interesting. Everything that I post here is therefore available from elsewhere (as the links prove), or is something that has been explained by the official spokespersons for the Order. I’ll keep looking for snippets that may be of interest, but don’t expect an exposé.

Another difficult area is how my spiritual and philosophical worldview evolves, and that’s the really at the heart of this blog. At the same time, this is where I also want to show some restraint; the Internet is cool, and I like its collaborative nature, but this is personal, there are real Secrets here – things that are for the individual Seeker to find, and things that are Secret in the sense that they cannot be transmitted.

So, at the of the day, I’ll continue this dance, trying to find a rythm, careful not to step on any toes, while still trying to express myself.

Btw., I know that the last couple of entries have been a little bit introspective and self-centred; over the following weeks I’ll get back to business.

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Picture: ‘The Achievement of the Grail’ (1891-’94) tapestry by Edward Burne-Jones (from Wikepedia)

Re-evaluating the itinerary

218899_1804At the end of 2008 I was looking forward to returning to Copenhagen, following my travels abroad, and setting to work in my motherlodge, as well as possibly joining a lodge of St. Andrew, beginning the higher degrees of the Swedish system. Things didn’t quite pan out as planned; which is what can happen when you set out on any journey: I made it to where I wanted to be, but “I” had changed, to a point where arriving to this threshold of what should have been the next step felt … slightly awkward, not quite right … disappointing, perhaps.

At the same time, I was confronted with the simple fact that not everyone wants, what I want, from freemasonry. And I can rail however much I want, that “They don’t get it!” but at the end of the day, I can’t decide what anyone else takes from it. I have to stay focused on my own goals, and the first step is defining what they are, and then how to work on achieving them. For me it boils down to freemasonry as a journey of self-discovery and self-improvement through spiritual and symbolic Work, within and without. It then becomes clear that I cannot simply sit on the sidelines and wait for the world to turn in my favour, that I need to get involved, and not just in an administrative capacity, but also through holding an office, participating in education and offering my thoughts through lectures.

But I did feel lost for a few days, wondering if freemasonry was the right path for me, and how to rectify the situation without hurting anyone needlessly, and at the same time staying true to myself.

866188_50028248I have now taken steps to remedy the situation and realign my personal goals with reality, so to speak. First of all, I have withdrawn my letter of passage from CFS, opting instead for a much smaller and younger lodge of St. Andrew, CCV (Cubus Causa Vera). This gives me the opportunity to join the active ranks much sooner than in the larger and older (more settled) lodge, and I will be involved in editing the quarterly publication, for which we have high ambitions . More on this in a future post. Secondly, I have demitted from my motherlodge to join St. John’s Lodge Z&F (Zorobabel and Frederick to the Crowned Hope). This decision is based on pull, rather than push: I have lost none of my love for the lodge that initiated me, but the fact remains that I have bonded closer with a number of brethren of Z&F, and I can only apply myself to (and serve as an officer in) one lodge, so it had to be done.

I have also passed on the responsibility of the weekly Odin newsletter, which I am very happy about: it frees up time, but more importantly the whole idea behind Odin is activating new brothers, and I no longer qualify for that moniker; although I will remain active in Odin, where ever I can help. I also stepped down as Admin of a Facebook-group, and signed out of a number of online forums. A bit of spring cleaning – I’ll get involved in new projects soon enough.

So, following a very brief “crisis”, I have emerged re-envigorated and positive about my freemasonry once more. And I a week or two, when all the details are in place, I’ll return to Work.

Photo: from stock.xchng; by LotusHead and andrewatla.

Spring revival

When I started this blog, I originally envisioned it as a chronicling of my trip to San Francisco, Dublin and Boston, plus as a place to park articles describing the journey leading to my becoming a mason, and that was it. But it has refused to die, and there have been irregular postings on tarot, Swedish Rite and a few other subjects. So, following a period of regression and afterthought, I have decided to keep the blog running, but broadening the subject slightly. Or rather, it will be pretty much the same, but I’ll be deliberately straying from the topic as originally given.

So, I’ll start posting again, and we’ll see where it all leads.

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Photo: private. Good Friday in Boston, MA, 2008.

Waiting for St. Andrew

l13Just a “half-way” report …

Nine months after having advanced to the Third degree, I was given a “letter of passage”, which allowed me to approach a Lodge of St. Andrew (the next step in the Swedish Rite, see this post), and I decided on “CFS”: Cubus Fredericus Septimi, Orient Copenhagen. It is the oldest St. Andrew’s lodge in Denmark, named for the monarch, Frederick VII, who introduced the Swedish Rite here. It is also the largest in Copenhagen, and the one with the most applicants, so I am still waiting for a date, even though I was confirmed for advancement more than a year ago; the earliest possible date is now fall of 2009, two and a half year after my Third.

I think the wait between degrees is a good thing, but I have to admit, I am itching by now. The third degree was very enlightening, and I could happily spend another couple of years here. But since we don’t have a system of progression through chairs, the only way to move on is to move “up” (through the degrees). It is definitely one of my big hopes for the Masonic year of 2009, but it could come as late as 2010. I will just have to find other paths to explore until then and exercise patience.

Picture: The emblem of CFS.

Academia – tradition and renewal

Academia

– tradition and renewal in an American lodge

Last summer I spent three months in California. I had several positive Masonic experiences, but the best by far was Academia Lodge in Oakland. This piece, describing my visits, was just published in a Norwegian Masonic magazine.

I arrived with my prejudices in the suitcase: expectations of a more “down to earth” Freemasonry, centred on barbecue rather than spiritual work, less formal, less dignified. And yes, the approach is markedly different; it does reflect American open-mindedness; in the same way that you might say that reticence and conservatism is typical of our own Freemasonry, because that is who we are as Scandinavians. Like I said: prejudice. I guess the important lesson here is not to tar everyone with the same brush. Which brings me to Academia. Continue reading

London: more Light

I saved this post on my recent London trip to the last, hoping that I would be able to put into words the experience of joining S.R.I.A. But I can’t – well, some of it maybe, but I also think that the experience is too important to try and simplify for a 100 word blog post. The road just opened up ahead of me in a way I hadn’t dreamed. And strangely, that was unexpected. I believe I grasped beforehand, what this Rosicrucian society was about, and I already felt, coming from Swedish Rite, that I had had true mystic experiences. But something here just clicked. I’ll do the reading, but it is processing the emotional and spiritual aspects that I am really looking forward to.

Let’s just say that it was everything I had hoped for and more. My name goes into the Golden Book with some incredible Fratres – it is quite an honour.

A Night at the Lodge – exhibition

Yesterday I visited an exhibition at the town museum here in Århus. It is a joint venture with the local freemasons, marking the centennial of the local lodge of St. Andrew, Four Roses. The exhibition is called A Night at the Lodge, and that is how it is set up: First, you come to the anteroom. There is classical music playing, and mannequins are dressed up in tails and wearing regalia of the ten degrees in the Swedish Rite. Next is the lodgeroom (as pictured, I used my mobile phone, but it turned out well enough). This is typical Swedish Rite: the use of light, yellowish stone or beige, with blue and gold and candles; as well as the position of the officers (Master under the canopy, both Wardens in the West); the three pillars are missing, but it does have the star ceiling. Finally, there is a table for the “fraternal feast”, which always follows the meeting. There is also posters offering some background information and a number of antique objects.

This is the right way to do a public exhibition on freemasonry, in my opinion. Primarily, it is based on fact and well-researched. It doesn’t try to delve into the mysteries that could only be dumbed down or misunderstood, and it avoids the clichés and myths. Secondly, it is open enough about what we do that it doesn’t patronise the visitors, and really invites them into our world. It is based, not so much on the historical background that we like to talk about ourselves, but rather on a visual experience, something anyone can relate to. The objects chosen are beautiful, and just the right amount (numbering approximately 50, all objects of beauty, significance and antiquity).

A very satisfying result. Well done.