Every single senior Adept of the Golden Dawn I have personally encountered is a Freemason. Every.Single.One. I am not. I wonder how this is effecting my development? What I've studied of Freemasonry hasn't revealed any hidden wisdom that I hadn't acquired previously to joining the Golden Dawn, and what I've found in the Golden Dawn esoterically has been far superior in depth, understanding , and practice. I would go so far as to say that Freemasonry--from a purely magical standpoint--may serve as a nice preparatory school for someone transitioning from the common materialistic mindstate, or someone whose esoteric experience doesn't extend much beyond church. But that's about it. Yet, here I stand, the one dude who isn't a Freemason among the multitudes of GD magicians who are. I must be missing something here. Is there more going on at the Freemasonic meetings than dinner in nice jackets? I've attended a few Freemasonic events--for a gentleman I'm hoping to transition into the Golden Dawn one day--and found there to be some beauty there, and a very warm Fraternal feel. That's something the Masons seem to excel at. Outside of Fraternity, there seems to be very little of use to be found within Freemasonry that isn't done better in the GD for the modern magician.
Not that they aren't doing magic-they are....well, they're miming it, at least. They just don't seem to be aware of that, which is interesting to see. The pillars, circumambulations, reference to the Architect and all that.....you can see how, in the hands of Magicians, Freemasonry works as a fine initiatory tool, up to a certain level. Perhaps it differs depending on the Masonic Temple one is attending, but the rituals I witnessed were pretty, solemn, and completely lacking in "juice". The LVX was not a-flowing. There were no energies invoked or manipulated, only a very subtly altered state of consciousness, akin to what one experiences at church. I think this is a matter of the tradition and solemnity with which the rituals are expressed, and has little to do with the intent of the officiates. I don't say these things to be perjorative; perhaps Freemasonry isn't meant to be an Occult organisation these days, perhaps it isn't meant to evolve the person beyond a certain point. Perhaps it is meant to encourage men to be better members of their community, better socially and civilly. Masonry today is not necessarily the Masonry of the 19th century.
Most of the big names in Western Magic historically had their start in the Masons. Arguably the finest minds in Western Magic have sprung from within it's ranks. It was once fertile ground; perhaps that ground has grown fallow? Perhaps, like the Golden Dawn, the quality of each temple varies with the quality and aims of it's leaders? I know the Masons provided a nice shield for gentleman with Occult aims to pursue their studies with like-minded individuals in the past. That shield isn't quite as necessary these days, but Masonry may still serve as welcoming place for those of Occult bent. Especially in small towns, or very religious places. I live in the SF Bay Area, and could glue horns to my head and bay to the moon every night, and none would bother me. Things my be a little different elsewhere.
I don't know-there are a lot of things that would be a bit easier if I were part of the Masons. The Masons are huge, and the connections and resources their Fraters have available we could only Dream of having in the Magical community these days. They have temples that are gorgeous and absolutely MASSIVE, and a respectability that this Magician won't likely gain in society anytime soon. Even with all the conspiracy theories, decline in Masonic values (problems with racism, problems with religion in the Southern areas with Christianity being highlighted), and decreased membership, the organisation creates bonds between men that are strong and strengthens communities.
Then there is the question of which Masonry--Prince Hall, which has a long and honored tradition within my ethnic community--or standard Masonry, which may not be quite as warm in welcoming this Frater, if the various blogs and testaments of current Masons are accurate. I certainly want no part of an organisation that would discriminate against myself and my brethren. I am aware that this isn't all Masonry, only certain regions, but it gives one pause.
Many of the magicians I honor and respect are Freemasons; there must be something of value there. Perhaps an organisation need not be purely magical to be valuable to a magician.
Perhaps what it comes down to is perspective.