Freemasonry, Secret Societies, and the Continuity of the by Marsha Keith M. Schuchard

By Marsha Keith M. Schuchard

This dissertation examines the function of Freemasonry and similar mystery societies within the transmission of the occult traditions in English literary background from the 17th to 20th centuries. The research attracts upon contemporary Renaissance and Hebrew scholarship to outline these parts of vision-inducement and magical theories of artwork which have been constructed into the syncretic Renaissance culture of Cabalistic and airtight symbolism. After the e-book and next suppression of this occult culture through the Rosicrucian agitation in Germany, Rosicrucianism used to be assimilated into the key traditions of Freemasonry in England within the mid-seventeenth century. Many English literary figures, similar to John Dee, Francis Bacon, Elias Ashmole, and John Milton, have been inquisitive about this theosophical, millenial reform circulate.

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And behold, I was still speaking {[by Spiritual Influx] and oil like the oil of anointment anointed me from head to foot and very great joy seized me which for its spirituality and the sweetness of its rapture I cannot describe . . Indeed, there is no proof in this science except experience itself. (Scholem, MT, p. 151) Though the general concept of the intellectus agens. or divine influx, was widely recognized in the Middle Ages, Abulafia's theory was actually a Judaized version of systematic Yoga as practised by Indian theosophers.

These techniques were important only to the Cabalists influenced by the German Hasidim, and played a minor role for the author of the Zohar. who was more preoccupied with mythical elements. Through the eighteenth-century German Rosicru- cian branches of Freemasonry, however, this "practical Cabala" was passed down through the secret societies, and became the core of Cabalistic instruction in Yeats's order. His fellow Golden Dawn initiate, W. Wynn Westcott, wrote much upon these Germanic traditions, as in An Introduction to the Kabbalah (London: John M.

Ed. C. Black, rpt. 1897), XIII, 38k-Vi 3. Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. often conflicted with Rabbinical norms. These methods became important to medieval Cabalists, who defined and refined them in a process of training which was later handed down through Rosicrucian, Masonic, and Swedenborgian "secret schools," until it reached Yeats in the 1880's with its visionary power still intact. Thus, a summary of the methods of vision-inducement, which influenced many later artists, will conclude this intro­ ductory section on the Jewish contribution to the occult traditions of the secret societies.

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