By Worshipful Brother
Frederic L. Milliken
Edict From Masonic Grand Lodge of New South Wales and
Australian Capital Territory
GRAND MASTER’S EDICT
ANNOUNCED AT THE GRAND
COMMUNICATION – 13th JUNE, 2012
On 12 May 2010 the Board of Management passed a
resolution stating the principles governing esoteric research. These
principles are central to the practice of Regular Freemasonry. In order that
there be no doubt that they bind every brother and Lodge in this jurisdiction
I have decided to make them the subject of a Grand Master’s edict. At my
request the Board of Management has rescinded its resolution so that it may be
substituted with the following edict which takes effect immediately.
1. Authorised, official Masonic Education and
Instruction is only ‘Regular’ when applied to Free and Accepted or Speculative
Masonry (Regular Freemasonry).
2. Because of the widely divergent
interpretations which can be placed upon it, I am concerned about the
unqualified use of the word “esoteric”, or any of its derivatives or
extensions, within Regular Freemasonry. Such use needs to be avoided as it has
been and can be misconstrued to the detriment of the Craft.
3. I encourage all Masons to make daily
progress in the acquisition of Masonic knowledge. Speculation and discussion
within the Landmarks of the Order are to be commended.
4. Within Regular Freemasonry, interpretive
discussion and exposition concern only the progressive acquisition of Masonic
knowledge towards an understanding of the secrets and mysteries of the Craft,
promoting the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God. To avoid any
misapprehension, such regular discussion and exposition shall be described as
“speculative” and the term “esoteric” shall not be applied.
5. Regular Freemasonry does not permit within
it any form of esotericism which encompasses or tends towards – occultism,
sorcery, alchemy, astrology, profane mysticism, transcendentalism,
supernaturalism, druidism, rosicrucianism, satanism or any concept or movement
related to any of these. The presentation, endorsement and/or promotion of
such subjects in any Lodge holding under the UGL of NSW and ACT whether the
Lodge be open, adjourned, at refreshment or closed or at any connected or
associated Lodge function should be deemed irregular and is strictly
6. Any breach of this Edict constitutes serious
unmasonic conduct and shall be treated accordingly.
7. The Grand Master from time to time may grant
dispensations to permit the presentation of papers on esotericism which would
otherwise constitute a breach of this edict. A dispensation may be granted on
such terms and conditions as the Grand Master may impose. An application for a
dispensation must be made to the Grand Master in writing through the Grand
Secretary. Normally it will only be granted if the proposed paper is a genuine
and proper piece of masonic research.
COMMENTS FROM BROTHER VICK
From Australia, it appears as the Grand Master
has directly defined what is considered ‘esoteric’ within the confines of his
definition of Freemasonry. He also outlines what is not “esoteric” as
“occultism, sorcery, alchemy, astrology, profane mysticism, transcendentalism,
supernaturalism, druidism, rosicrucianism, satanism or any concept or movement
related to any of these.”
The argument for this edit was that there were
certain lines and teachings occurring that were about as closely related to
Freemasonry as I am related to the president of the United States. Charges are
that certain Freemasons were using the term ‘esoteric’ as a way to
teach/preach non-mainstream religious tendencies and as a recruitment tool
within the order.
The glaring issue is that of course this
stifles any discussions of the above and how Freemasonry works and is inspired
Rosicrucianism for instance is still a topic of debate and its influence
on Freemasonry (some believe it was the foundation, others deny that as its
foundation on faith, hope and charity). The issue with this edict is that
stifles these types of debates, academic research, etc.
On the other hand the use of Freemasonry as a
recruiting tactic for some cult should be addressed as it has the potential to
bring serious shame to our order.
I don’t believe that this edict was the right
approach to curb illegal recruitment, but will cause stagnation in the
spiritual growth of a Freemason, no matter path it may take him.
While this ruling was made outside the United
States it highlights the direction of Freemasonry in many American
jurisdictions. When the Information Age began in the United States many Grand
Lodges handled the “computer revolution” poorly. Some restricted Freemasons
from owning or operating a Masonic website. Others closed down privately
operated Masonic forums and discussion groups by threatening to expel any
Mason who refused to knuckle under.
Many Grand Lodges were “Johnny come lately”
into the 20th century methods of communication. They, not their
individual members, were the last to open Masonic websites. What they did do
at first was a very amateurish attempt. To this day some jurisdictions refuse
to allow electronic reporting between Grand Lodge and constituent local
Even today The Grand Lodge of West Virginia is
on a crusade to find out the identity of a certain website that supported Past
Grand Master Frank Haas. It has promised to expel each and every Brother
involved with that website. The Grand Lodge of Arkansas closed its website and
ordered all Masons within its jurisdiction not to E-Mail each other on threat
This seems to be the modern trend –
THOUGHT CONTROL. It used to be that Freemasons everywhere would say
that no one man speaks for Freemasonry. Now it seems one man does – the Grand
Master and he wants to be the only one speaking on behalf of Freemasonry. If
this seems farfetched to you ask Brother Tim Bryce of Florida to explain it to
In the early years of modern Freemasonry,
Masons were known as “free thinkers.”
The Library and Museum of Freemasonry tells us:
“The origins of the
Royal Society lie in an “invisible college” of philosophers and
scientists who began meeting in the mid-1640s to discuss the ideas of
Francis Bacon. Two of the original members of the Royal Society –
Sir Robert Moray and
Elias Ashmole – were already freemasons by the time the Royal Society
was formed. The Society met weekly to witness experiments and discuss what
would now be called scientific topics although science then was much more
broadly defined and included subjects such as alchemy and astrology.”
So we can see that alchemy and astrology among
other disciplines were from a very early age adhered to by some Freemasons. So
was Rosicrucianism. Laura Britton tells us:
“Although Rosicrucian ideas influence the
Scottish Rite degrees of Freemasonry, the origins of the two orders are
distinctly different. Throughout the history of both Rosicrucianism and
Freemasonry, each has borrowed from the other, yet they both retain their
own symbols and beliefs.”
Now it seems that Masonic censorship is one
more weapon in the arsenal of Grand Lodge control.
One has to wonder how the likes of Albert Pike,
Albert G. Mackey, Joseph Fort Newton and Carl Claudy would have reacted to
their Grand Master banning their “esoteric” writings.
Freemasonry was once the bastion of liberty and
independent thought. It used to be that there was no Pope in Freemasonry and
that each Freemason could interpret in his own way what Freemasonry meant to
him. What distinguished Freemasonry from the control that many houses of
worship demanded was that there was no centralized dogma that must be adhered
to. Dogma didn’t drive Freemasonry, the absence of dogma – the freedom for
many different ideas, many different philosophies and many different
interpretations to exist under the same roof was what used to distinguish
Freemasonry. It used to be that the nexus of power resided in the local Lodge.
Today Grand Lodges have consolidated their power to such an extent that they
hold the power of life or death over both individual Lodges and individual
Anybody for a Manly P. Hall book burning party?