For ancient peoples, the activities of the tribe — hunting, farming, warfare, writing, weaving, cooking, eating together, making and consuming alcohol, etc. — were the same activities as those of the gods and goddesses. The tribe had not developed or inherited these through historical accidents, encounters, or forces, but because the gods had given these to humanity — not always willingly.
From warfare to farming, the vocations had their own rites, sometimes to do with invoking certain powers (as in the “Berserker” warriors, who, perhaps partly through the use of psychedelics, became ferocious as wolves and bears, and impervious to pain), and sometimes to do with harmonizing with the forces of nature (e.g., planting seeds for crops). Metallurgists appear sometimes to have an initiatory function, and to have served in a similar capacity to the shaman (“wizard priest”).
Yet, even well into the modern era, trade guilds still had their own mythologies, symbols, and secret rituals of initiation. The fraternity (or fraternal movement) of Freemasonry — sometimes described as the world’s largest “secret society” (Freemasons dispute that label) — emerged from the stonemason’s trade guild of the British Isles in London in 1717 (when four Lodges associated with the builders’ guild of the day, declared themselves to be a Grand Lodge). Nevertheless, the fraternity (or fraternal movement) has roots stretching back (through the stonemasons’ guild of Britain) to the Middle Ages. From that time, it handed down a peculiar mythology that invokes Hermes, and purports to show how geometry was taken from Egypt and Greece (Pythagoras) to the British Isles. Continue reading “Freemasonry: Endurance of The Archaic”