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Article # 195
Souls Have Lost their Wings

Author: M.W.Bro.Fabio Venzi, M.W.G.M, Regular G.L, Italy.    Posted on: Tuesday, April 25, 2006
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[ Masonic teachings are veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. Esotericism is the very essence of all the tenets of freemasonry. Learned authors have stressed that Esotery is the very soul of Freemasonry. We have seen that the author of “The true Esotery in Freemasonry” (posted as Article No.194) in The American Freemason of July 1912 has lamented that very little is being done in Lodges all over the world to enlighten the brethren on the true esotery of freemasonry. More than nine decades later, M.W.Bro.Fabio Venzi, the distinguished senior brother, who is a great Masonic Scholar of our times and guides the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy as its M.W.Grand Master, finds that, there is an abandonment of Esotericism in Freemasonry, even though Esotery is the very basis of Freemasonry. In his address at the Communication of the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy at Rome on 25 th February 2006, he has poured out his heart on this aspect. His observations are applicable to the entire fraternity all over the world. His address is posted in the earnest hope and belief that remedial steps would be launched to restore the wings to Esotericism. We beseech you to make a careful study of this article. Please read on . . . . . .]

Souls have lost their wings.

(The Abandonment of Esotericism and the “De Profundis” of Freemasonry)

“ Give heed, my brethren, to every hour when your spirit would speak in similes: there is the origin of your virtue.” [“Thus Spake Zarathustra”, (XXII, The Bestowing Virtue) by Friedrich Nietzsche]

Dearest Brethren,

Souls have lost their wings. I have wanted to give this title to today’s address drawing inspiration from the metaphor of “losing the wings” of Platonic origin (Phaedrus 246). This metaphor has been subsequently utilized in the patristic literature in order to indicate both the arisen absence of impetus and surge of the soul towards the heaven, the superior, the divine and on the contrary, to indicate the direction towards the inferior, the material that is, in one word, the corporeal (Gregory of Nissa-- Homilies on the Beatitudes).

It has been sufficiently discussed about secularization, loss of relationship with the sacred, nihilistic and relativistic vision of future, all characteristics of a present society that seems to perfectly represent the prototype of a society in which men have consciously decided to “lose the wings”.

In the light of these premises, it is obvious that Freemasonry runs a grave risk and this is the reason for which today I would like to discuss with you a vital problem for our future- the abandonment of esotericism.

Freemasonry is an initiation society in which the esoteric component is basic, and for this reason it distinguishes itself from all other simple fraternal societies tending to mutual solidarity.

Those who think that Freemasonry can gain credit as an opinion party, for example taking a clear position on politics, economics and so on, make a serious mistake. This would constitute the beginning of the end of Freemasonry, which would be thus deprived of its main characteristic, the esoteric one.

In an historical context, in which the absence of ethical and moral values is evident, it can be very important to propose, through the esoteric vehicle, a lay Masonic morality and an ethic that have their foundation on transcendent.

It is possible through esotericism to realize a dilatation and a reawakening of man’s conscience, so that he will be able to sense the presence of sacred in everyday life and to mould his existence on this discovery.

Initiation is the heart of esotericism and is hinged on a sum of mythical and ritual practises and lessons. Its aim is to project the initiate towards a higher level of life through an interior path. Mysteries are closely linked to initiation and can be considered initiation rites, that require a whole series of symbolic acts. From this point of view, today I would like to underline the fact, that if we want Freemasonry to continue to live, a serious, conscious and quick return to esotericism within the Masonic Temples is absolutely necessary.

A few weeks ago, while I was visiting a Lodge, a Brother asked me (referring to my first address as Grand Master in which I had exposed my program for this mandate) when I would have faced the last of the four points I wished to develop with you- the esoteric one. My program traced a path starting from the simple sociological approach, which defined Freemasonry as an association. The next step was the historical one, in which I distinguished between continental and Anglo-Saxon Freemasonry. Then I arrived at the philosophy of the Freemasonry’s thought that, in my opinion, assumes characteristics that unequivocally come from Neoplatonism. The last and most delicate phase would have been the esoteric aspect of Freemasonry.

How to answer the Brother’s question?

First of all it is necessary, we ask ourselves if esotericism is a doctrine, a discipline or a theory. You know perfectly well that none of these answers is correct. No esotericist could ever accept to answer the question on “what esotericism is” since it is not possible to “talk” about esotericism or to try to explain it without merely reducing it to something else.

Esotericism is an inspiration of the soul that needs mental tension and spiritual presence when practising it.

If not, every thing we shall do within a Masonic ritual will have no sense and nothing to do with esotericism. If a perfectly known and performed ritual is the non plus ultra for an esoteric ceremony, a stammered ritual makes the rite muddled and incomprehensible. Quite often the mnemonic repetition of the rituals, the fixity of the Brethren’s expressions when trying to remember all the words, the total lack of interpretation and sensibility - that does not allow empathy with the Brother whom we are addressing - make the ritual a sterile rosary, a sort of mantra, without understanding the meaning.

In this case we could at most define ourselves esoteric scholars, that is those who are interested in esotericism, who study it, but we could never claim ourselves to be esotericists, that is those, who practise it.

At the basis of esotericism there is a subtle intuition, which is a kind of deep knowledge that cannot be explained nor communicated because peculiar of that unique soul, but can be shared among fellows.

The real esotericist “knows” and does not study, he respects the discipline of the arcane without revealing it, for fear of degrading what has been revealed.[1 ]

Scholars of Freemasonry’s thought, who are not Freemasons can therefore write on the subject only at a second level of knowledge because the first one is necessarily reserved only to the initiates.

We could be interested in the future in two basic aspects of esotericism, gnosis, the regenerative knowledge and hermeticism, the inaccessible language. Gnosis, which seems a theory, is instead a practise consisting in continuous research and intermittent discoveries. Hermeticism, which seems a practise, is instead a speculation on reading the signs and on writing the symbols. The initiate is he who has the knowledge, precisely the gnosis.

This brings us to a further question. Is it sufficient, to become a Freemason, only to be considered “a free and moral man”? Can one join Freemasonry, only because he “believes” in it? I am convinced it is not enough and it is necessary that this man has in himself an intuition, an ambition to knowledge, a peculiar spiritual behaviour, a strong will of the intellect, a sensibility and a predisposition of the soul and love for knowledge.

It is just this love for knowledge that should always induce us to investigate the meaning of what we often repeat without understanding.

We could discover, for example, that the most known and utilized definition of Freemasonry as “Moral system veiled by allegories and illustrated by symbols”, can contain a linguistic contradiction.

If we have nothing to object in the first part of the definition, that is “veiled by allegories”, since by definition an allegory “permits to mean an ideal or moral or religious concept veiling it with an image that expresses a different and autonomous reality” (UTET Dictionary). Regarding the second part, “illustrated by symbols”, I think we are in the presence of an oxymoron that is, two terms that contradict one another.

One could think this analysis is captious and on the verge of sophism. I am, on the contrary, convinced that the exact meaning of basic terms like symbol and allegory is extremely useful.

The Italian dictionary “Devoto-Oli” defines the Symbol as “effective sign, condensed, solemn, and corresponding to particular or universal contents or values: the flag, the symbol of the country, the hearth, the symbol of the family...”. The UTET dictionary indicates that the symbol is “what (sensible reality, image, object, person, animal, etc.) evokes or represents… an abstract concept, a condition, a situation, a general reality often pertaining to the sphere of sacred…graphical representation which evokes a reality or an abstract concept…image or many images, mostly obscure and enigmatic, that makes an esoteric knowledge incomprehensible to non initiates, or permits to transmit knowledge or to acquaint other people with an experience that cannot be communicated in other ways”. Therefore it would be much more correct to affirm that Freemasonry is a system of morality veiled by allegories and communicated, transmitted or rather evoked by symbols, but not illustrated, since the symbol for its own nature tends to veil an essence that cannot be represented and that can only be evoked among initiates.

Therefore, at this point we can not hesitate to ask a question: where, within our ritual (emulation), do we find ourselves in the presence of allegories and where, on the contrary, of symbols?

In the light of these premises, symbols can only be the working tools of the Entered Apprentice, of the Fellow Craft and of the Master Mason. They symbolize, according to the circumstances, the 24 hours of the day, the conscience, the instruction, the moral law, the equality, the justice, the rectitude, and so on. Other symbols are the Mosaic Pavement of black and white tiles, the Tracing-Board, the letter G, the Flaming Star (representing the quintessence, the microcosm, and the man).

The legend of Hiram Abif, concerning the death of the principal architect of the Temple, is therefore an allegory, being a rhetorical figure whose concept of death and rebirth is expressed through a sensitive or fantastic representation, mostly anthropomorphic.

As we have seen, allegory distinguishes itself from the symbol because the relationship between symbol and the symbolized thing is such that the symbol completely substitutes the symbolized thing, while the allegorical representation is a transfiguration or rather, a return from the sensitive to intelligible. From this we deduce the cognitive gnoseological basic value of the allegory and the importance of its use in an esoteric initiation society. In fact, if it is true that our knowledge goes from the sensitive to the intelligible, the allegory has the precise function to bring to us what is by its own nature difficult to grasp by the mind, allowing us to express it notwithstanding the deformations of its sensitive disguise.

The symbol is different from the sign because besides being an indication it is also a representation of the meant thing; for example, the flag on a ship can simply indicate its nationality or be the symbol of a nation. At the base of a symbol there is a link that can be of various types, ontological or merely conventional but what interests us is that this link involves a total substitution so the symbol is in the place of what is symbolized and it fulfills its functions.

Before starting our path in the world of hermetism and of gnosis, it will be necessary to familiarize with these basic concepts. Without an adequate knowledge of symbolism and of its esoteric interpretation and without a good knowledge of religions in general, each ritual becomes only a mnemonic exercise.

Symbolism is for Freemasonry a primary exigency that cannot be renounced; through it we have the possibility to penetrate, via intuition, in the veil of the most hidden mystery and at the same time we obtain to conform the message to the receiver’s degree of knowledge. The peculiar nature of the symbolic communication is to be liable to different degrees of interpretation, depending on the level of whom is questioning the text. A certain expression will remain silent in front of the neophyte or will communicate to him a very simple and immediate message. But for “whom who knows” that is, who has the correct key for an interpretative reading and the proper sensibility only one symbolic sign will open an entire world of analogies and implications. The mystic symbol gives the rough ashlar a little gleam of truth and opens to the smooth ashlar the profound sense of the interior research.

In today’s historical context, which the Hindu doctrine defines as the “Kali Yuga” or “obscure age” (the fourth and last age of a progressive cycle of obscuring of spirituality), in a society that Guenon defined the “Reign of Quantity” for the tendency to bring every phenomenon to the quantitative point of view, it is therefore necessary and desirable to continue the “Freemason’s” esoteric path, last bastion against the mass man.

This is, in my opinion, the only way to succeed in “riding the tiger”, as Julius Evola would say; that is to spur men to resist, in a standardized world without points of reference and often hostile, clinging themselves to the strength of tradition and being aware of their own individuality.

In the vacuum of the traditional values, the only representative of the Tradition remains the Promethean figure of the Freemason, a man who tries to defend his space and his time, master of his own existence. According to the philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, in his “The Revolt of the Masses”, each civilization lies in a condition of fundamental insecurity and needs a persevering commitment in order not to decay into barbarism; such effort can be necessarily supported by men willing to live according to duties and imperatives.

These men have represented the aristocracy of each society and this is the role to which the “Freemason” is called to fulfil.

[1] Pierre A. Riffard, L’ Esotérisme, page. 54, Edition Robert Laffont, S.A., Paris, 1990.

M.W. Bro. Fabio Venzi, the ruling M.W.Grand Master of The Regular Grand Lodge of Italy was installed on April 6 th 2002 as The M.W.Grand Master, by M.W.Bro.Dr.Giuliano di Bernado. He will hold office till 2006. He was born in Rome in 1961. He was a brilliant scholar and took his degree in Sociology and had submitted a Thesis “ On the relationship between Freemasonry in Italy and the Fascism”. He had made special studies on the Sociology of the Religions, Analytical Psychological Influences of the Masonic Symbology and Esotericism. He has founded “De Hominis Dignitate” for the study and review of Masonic Culture and Philosophy and Ars Quatuor Coronatorium in Italy.He was initiated, Passed and Raised in the Pericle Maruzzi Lodge in Bologna (Regular Grand Lodge of Italy) 1988 and was appointed as Grand Secretary for 2000 –2001 and was installed as M.W. Grand Master in April 2002. Other Masonic achievements areas follows.A Past Grand Master of the Sovereign Grand Lodge of Malta.A Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of San Paulo with a Certificate of Merit.An Honorary Member of the Grand Lodge of the State of Israel.Masonic Order of Merit from the Grand Lodge of the State of Israel.Honorary Member of the Supreme Council of the Order of De Molay in Brazil.Order of the Gold Star from the Grand Orient of Brazil.Star of Masonic Honour from the Grand Orient of Brazil.Montezuma Order of Merit of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite of Ancient and Accepted Masons of Brazil.Medal of Masonic Merit from the Grand Lodge of Estonia.M.W.Bro Fabio Venzi is an erudite Masonic scholar and a well read intellectual. He has delivered numerous lectures and presented many papers in Research Lodges and Masonic Societies. Many of his articles and addresses have been posted in http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com , the premier Masonic Website. Some of his articles have been posted in this site in the Articles and Addresses of M.W.Brethren. A study of those articles will help us to make considerable advancement in Masonic knowledge…Webmaster


Click Here To Post Your Comment

SirJonathan wrote on Sunday, July 16, 2006:

Subject: Makes one think..

I have always thought there was more to Freemasonery than just memorizing the words and symbols.I "felt" there was an underlining meaning to be discovered. This article just reassures that feeling I have always had and makes me more determined to discover and delve deeper into this most noble and sacred fraternity I am apart of.



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