1. You are a 32nd degree Freemason; how did you initially become involved with the organization?
When you are as interested as I am in the Western initiatic Traditions, it is impossible to ignore Freemasonry. This is not the most ancient fraternity of its kind, but this is one of the few that has existed continuously worldwide (beginning in the seventeenth century) and is the only such worldwide Order. It is because of their history that I asked about initiation. I was initiated in 1990 in France, and became a Master Mason two years later. From that moment, I have been actively learning the symbolism, rituals, and practices of this respectable tradition. In fact, one of my main reasons for being initiated was to develop an inner understanding of the Masonic initiation. Our fraternity is well known here in America for its very effective philanthropic work in several areas. Yet, when you study the very ancient handwritten rituals from the South of France, as I did, you come to realize that there are valid esoteric teachings and practices in Freemasonry that can be used to work on your inner self and increase your personal awareness of the higher spiritual levels.
2. What made you want to divulge the secrets and practices of the organization?
First of all, I must say few words about the "secrets" of Freemasonry. As I wrote in my book Secrets and Practices of the Freemasons and in various other articles, the secrets have nothing to do with the words or signs you find on the Internet or in encyclopedia entries. The first and real Masonic secret is the inner intuitive understanding of spiritual principles that you receive during your initiation. You can certainly read these initiatic texts without being initiated, but only an initiation can cause the development of your inner self. The initiation is a real spiritual experience. Consequently, I can talk openly about this secret, I can even explain the process, but I can not reveal it because it is an individual and inner understanding. In the age in which we are now living, there are many uncertainties. I believe it is important to clearly demonstrate the existence of a spiritual and initiatic tradition that everyone can easily find in most states here in America.
It is also essential to explain to people who are interested in spiritual and esoteric practices that Freemasonry has integrated certain principles into its practices that were inherited from the Western School of Mysteries. These practices can be used even today with great success. Thus, I am not divulging the secrets and practices of Freemasonry. Rather, I am revealing some of the hidden parts of Freemasonry. This revelation is in harmony with the moral commitment required of every Mason.
3. The Freemasons are shrouded in secrecy; why is this? Why is sharing their secrets and practices with those outside the organization so unorthodox?
Masonic secrecy is a kind of fabricated mythology developed by those who are paranoid about the existence of worldwide plots! Novelists use it to good effect, to heighten the dramatic effect of fantasies, but this is not real. If you spend a few minutes at a bookstore, or search for a bit on Google, you will be convinced that this fantastic kind of Masonic secrecy doesn’t exist in America.
However, if you consider this question from a worldwide perspective, it does have some foundation in fact. For example, during WWII the Nazis forbade Freemasonry everywhere; they closed all Masonic Temples and stole their ritual books, files, aprons, etc. They even arrested Masons who tried to keep holding their regular ritual meetings. Secrecy developed in response to these threats by the Nazis; the Masons were trying to protect themselves and stay alive.
Freemasons have always worked to increase the Light of the Spirit in the world, and to reveal the existence of a Supreme Being who is the Supreme Architect of the Universe. Freemasons never require any of the dogmatic obligations that are associated with any confession of a particular faith. At the same time, the principles of Freemasonry are in complete agreement with the main principles of the US Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." This declaration has always been rejected by tyrants and extremists. This is still true today. In countries such as Europe and France, such risks no longer exist for Freemasons, but, paradoxically, Freemasons continue to live in fear of public exposure. However, it must be understood that there are still countries in the world today where it is dangerous to be a Mason, and to publicly espouse such moral principles as Equality and Freedom would put them at risk. The presence of this danger is the real reason for this kind of secrecy.
So, I can certainly explain to you what Freemasonry is, and I can talk to you about the esoteric principles, and how those principles work in the ritual context, but that is only true because I live in the United States, a country that cherishes free speech and demands that we all respect each other’s right to freedom.
4. What makes your book Secrets and Practices of the Freemasons different from other books about Freemasonry?
Most of the books about Freemasonry describe the history of this fraternity. Some authors even go so far as to comment in a general way about Masonic symbols and rituals. However, I have approached this issue from a different perspective. I taught philosophy for several years. During that time, I conducted intense research into the Mediterranean esoteric Traditions, the Schools of Mysteries, the ancient rituals, etc. It became evident to me that the real roots of Masonic esotericism didn't appear in the Middle Ages as is commonly held. Rather, there is valid evidence of its roots are much more ancient. We can find such evidence in the neo-platonic traditions and the writings of Roman architects such as Vitruvius. In my book I describe the evidence of these ancient origins and demonstrate how they explain the inner aspect of the main symbols. For example, this is the case for the essence, function, and goal of passwords: for what are called the "Sacred Books," for the close connection between the cult of Mithras and the Masonic Temples, etc. But theory is not enough when you want to understand what an initiatic tradition is. That is why, for the first time anywhere, I have provided several individual rituals that anyone who purchases the book is free to use (whether or not they are an initiated Mason). Some of them are connected to the first degrees, others are related to the degrees of the Scottish Rite (such as the 32nd degree). These rituals are powerful tools you can use in your daily life.
Besides discussing Freemasonry in the US, I also decided to present some other practices that are linked to Washington DC. When you read about this ritual, you will understand how specific energies have been focused on this place. You will also learn how to use those energies. This is all original work, never before presented to the public. With it, you can experience a spiritual journey, both inwardly and outwardly.
5. You are also Grand Master of the Ogdoadic Tradition called Aurum Solis. Are there any similarities between these two groups?
Both traditions originated in the Mediterranean. They share some common history. However, they have developed along separate lines since the Renaissance in Italy.
For example, Freemasonry emphasizes the use of simple and accurate symbols in their rituals. Masonic rituals utilize three archetypes engaging in common activities that may be interpreted on a symbolic level: a sculptor, a carpenter, and an architect.
The Ogdoadic (or Hermetic) Tradition continues to be focused on the Theurgic dimension of rituals and practices. All down the centuries, including modern times, initiates and masters of both traditions have worked together at various times, sharing their inner understanding of their particular inheritance. In Secrets and Practices of the Freemasons I explain how several Ogdoadic and Hermetic symbols that are used in the Aurum Solis tradition were used in the Capitol Building, as well as in some Masonic Temples.
The main similarities between Masonry and the Ogdoadic Tradition are their common Western origin, their use of rituals and initiations, the necessary moral commitment, the belief in a divine and sacred world, and the tolerance of other beliefs except fundamentalism. (You may also visit http://www.aurumsolis.info for more information.)
6. The Freemasons have long infiltrated our popular culture, from television to movies to books. Why do you think people are so fascinated with the Freemasons?
I think that Freemasons are a living paradox that stimulate everyone's curiosity. People see Masonic Temples everywhere. They can admire the architecture and they can enter the hall and see the symbols. Masonic myths are ancient. They are connected to archetypal universal symbols. The Shriners (who are Masters Masons), the Scottish Rite, the Grotto, etc. are groups of Freemasons who raise funds to help children, schools, etc. They are involved in many philanthropic activities.
Freemasons also continue to perform private initiations using this ancient tradition; they wear strange clothes, funny hats, and aprons, etc. These peculiarities draw attention to Freemasonry. Yet she is what she has always been: a living body, an authentic expression of the ancient school of Mysteries.