Now, I know that there are other systems of initiation that have nine degrees, thirty-three degrees, or some other number. But, here, I’m going to focus on the most common, the most traditional, and, I would argue, the archetypal system: that of three degrees.
For those who don’t know, “degrees,” in this context, are rituals of initiation — into, and through a particular group or society that will convey certain teachings about how to live life spiritually and how to develop one’s Self.
When we speak about “three degrees of initiation” you probably immediately think of Craft Freemasonry with its degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason. However, there are other esoteric, spiritual organizations and movements that also have three degrees. These include Wicca; the modern Druid Order of Bardes, Ovates, and Druids; the Aesthetic Rose+Croix Order of the Temple and the Grail (which goes back to the French mystic and aesthete Josephin Peladan, (1858-1918)); some Christian esoteric Martinist Orders; and the Order of Knight Masons; among others.
Tau Apollonius discusses the little-know Aesthetic Rose+Croix Order of the Temple and the Grail studies Hermeticism, Gnosticism, Christian esotericism, alchemy, and Kabbalah. And, derived from the Rose+Croix Catholique et Esthétique du Temple et du Graal of Joséphin Péladan (1858-1918), the contemporary Oder exists to create “create a class of artist-initiates who become knights and priests” and to “promote the spiritual and moral ideals of mystic chivalry.” We explore its history and its practices today.
You can listen to the interview on Youtube (below) or at the Spiritual Survival podcast on Spotify (here).
You can also find out more about the Aesthetic Rose+Croix Order of the Temple and the Grail here.
Angel Millar: You’re a well-known lecturer on Masonic and esoteric subjects in the USA, and you’re involved with many Masonic Rites as well as many Western esoteric Orders outside of Freemasonry. Most recently, you published the book Renaissance Man and Mason. Before we talk about Western esotericism more broadly I want to ask what made you join the Masonic fraternity?
Piers Vaughan: It was something I had dreamed of doing from a young age. My grandfather had been a very enthusiastic member, to the extent that he would take his pony and trap and travel the 20-mile journey from his farm in Upper Beeding to Brighton, in England, to attend meetings. Sadly, his enthusiasm did not pass on to his son — my father — but by the age of 16, I was already devouring Pick and Knight’s Pocket History of Freemasonry. In my teens, while maintaining my Christian beliefs — attending a local Anglo-Catholic Church, composing music, playing the organ, singing in choir (which I had done since the age of 7) — I was drawn to explore comparative religious paths, visiting a mosque, synagogue, other Christian places of worship, a Spiritualist church, and even reading and experimenting with Wicca and Rosicrucianism. Continue reading “Freemasonry, Esotericism, and Spiritual Development: An Interview With Piers Vaughan”→