Leaving Freemasonry: An ExplanationPosted by Travis Apollonius
Earlier today I surprised a few people with my announcement that I was splitting away from the Masonic fraternity. I have since received quite a few messages desiring an explanation, and that post has ended up being the most viewed post for at least the last year, so perhaps it is fair that I explain the process that got me to where I’m at a bit more in depth, although I hadn’t intended on it originally.
In early 2009, after returning from a journey that took me to various places across the U.S. including Atlanta, GA; Washington, D.C.; Charleston, SC; Baton Rouge, LA; and New Orleans, LA, I returned home to a sudden emptiness in my spiritual life that I needed to find a way to fill. By this time in my life I had long since rejected the Christianity of my family, but began to desire to find some framework for a spiritual life for myself. Through this process, which developed out of an interest in my earlier life in neopaganism, shamanism, and various forms of alternative spirituality, I began to explore the ancient mystery cults, the Western Esoteric Tradition, and I began to discover an entire world of secret societies and magical orders dedicated to studying the occult sciences, and I began to notice that many of the great occultists and esotericists of the 19th and early 20th century all seemed to share a common link to Freemasonry. I considered seeking out membership in a variety of other organizations including the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Builders of the Adytum, Servants of the Light, the Theosophical Society, and a string of so-called Rosicrucian orders, but ultimately I decided that since all of the systems seemed to have some kind of link or another to Freemasonry, the deepest well of ancient wisdom would be found within the teachings of Freemasonry.
As I progressed through the three degrees of the Blue Lodge and became an inactive member of the Royal Arch and a fairly active member of the Scottish Rite and the Knights of St. Andrew within the Scottish Rite, I also became a part-time employee of the local Scottish Rite building doing security for building rentals. I had found myself in a lodge that specialized in esoteric thought, and with my own studying that I had been doing on the side, I was very much on the path toward learning about those things which had got me interested to begin with.
At the same time, my own spiritual journey evolved, as I explored Islam — especially the more mystical aspects such as Sufism — along with Judaism and eventually Christianity. I had never really expected that I would be comfortable with Christianity, and quite frankly the concept of Jesus frightened me because of my own religious wounds from youth. In December, however, I suddenly felt an unexplainable urge to learn to pray the Hail Mary, and then how to pray the Rosary, and I began to develop a deep love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who in turn brought me into a repaired relationship with her son, Jesus Christ. Praying the Rosary several times a day became a regular practice which brought me much joy, but as this process unfolded I began to feel more and more distant from the esoteric interests of my past. As the Tyler at my Lodge, I felt an obligation to continue to show up, but my heart increasingly was pulled further and further away from Masonry.
I had also created a series of 50+ images some time back called “Famous Freemasons,” which featured touched-up images of famous Masons along with a quote. In the process of putting this project together, I continually became disgusted by some of the terrible things done by some of the people held up as examples of good men made better. Eventually the process actually disturbed me so much that I discontinued the project.
The disturbing history of Masonry continued to creep up on me, however, when I serendipitously ran across an article from the Oregon Historical Society while researching some stuff I had learned in school about the history of race relations in Oregon, and the prominent role the Ku Klux Klan played in Oregon history in the first part of the 20th century. The article (here) spoke of a meeting between the Klan and law enforcement officials in Portland in 1921, but in the article there is also the presence of one P.S. Malcolm, 33°, Sovereign Grand Inspector General of the Scottish Rite of Oregon. As I began to dig deeper into Philip Schuyler Malcolm’s story, I discovered that he, along with the Scottish Rite, had also worked with the Klan and the Protestant and virulently anti-Catholic Order of Orange in 1922 to pass a ballot measure banning private schools from Oregon. The campaign, which Malcolm, using his Masonic credentials, ran as “One Flag, One Language, One School,” and off the record they spoke of the legislation being able to rid Oregon of Jews and Catholics. The legislation passed, but thanks to the Sisters of the Holy Names of jesus and Mary, who were running St. Mary’s Academy at the time (and who through some chance also happen to run Marylhurst University, where I am a student), took the case to the Supreme Court where it was overturned as unconstitutional.
All of this, along with my growing inability to continue to try to justify to myself my ability to belong to an organization that prohibited women from joining, began to weigh very heavily on me, and I began to pray for guidance very frequently. The more I would pray, the less and less interested in Masonry I became, and the more and more I would end up having random transportation or family issues which prevented me from getting to Lodge. And at the same time, my spiritual life seemed to draw me closer and closer to the Blessed Virgin Mother, Saint Francis of Assisi, Franciscan spirituality, and Catholicism.
One day, after praying for guidance, I discovered the story of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, who was a Franciscan priest probably best known because he was killed by the Nazis, but another part of his story gave me chills: In 1919 there was a demonstration carried out by some Italian Masons in Rome. As Saint Maximilian Kolbe put it:
Years later, the Freemasons in Rome began to demonstrate openly and belligerently against the Church. They placed the black standard of the “Giordano Brunisti” under the windows of the Vatican. On this standard the archangel, St. Michael, was depicted lying under the feet of the triumphant Lucifer. At the same time, countless pamphlets were distributed to the people in which the Holy Father was attacked shamefully. (SOURCE: http://www.consecration.com/default.aspx?id=41)
For several months I couldn’t shake the image of a black standard with the archangel Michael defeated from my head, and so again I turned to the Lord for assistance through prayer. Again I encountered the story of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, this time learning that he would include as part of his daily recitation of the Miraculous Medal prayer the additional line:
Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. And for all those who do not have recourse to thee; especially the Masons and all those recommended to thee.
As I learned about this, I was also becoming closer and closer to Catholicism, and I had been aware that there have not only been 24 Papal encyclicals issues against Freemasonry, but that Freemasons cannot be considered Catholics in good standing with the Church or receive Holy Communion. Coincidentally, the other Christian tradition I began to feel a strong attraction to was that of the Quakers, who also prohibit membership in Masonry because of the biblical prohibition against taking oaths.
All of this, balanced with the friendships that I had made within the fraternity only became a heavier and heavier burden to carry, and so again I turned to prayer and asked for guidance. By late-June I had fully decided that I would be leaving the fraternity, but at that point I had intended to keep that plan a secret until the end of the year because of my obligations as an officer in the Lodge, and because of the conflict of interest that I was afraid may spring up resulting from my job working for the Scottish Rite. The more I prayed, the more signs I would receive. Sign after sign confirmed that it was necessary to follow what I feel God is calling me to do. On Sunday I turned in my two-week notice at work, and I had planned to announce my plans to depart from Masonry at the end of this month, before departing for a month at a monastery, but today, as I prayed my morning prayers I began to cry and when I realized it was the Feast day of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, I began to cry more, and I felt that I no longer had any choice but to deny the will of God, or to announce my departure from the fraternity today.
I expect that this is sudden and unexpected for many, but I assure you it has been a very gradual and deeply involved process for me. I have met some wonderful men during my tenure with the fraternity, but I cannot turn away from God when I hear His commands to me. Freemasonry, like any human institution, is flawed, but despite that I still have a tremendous love for all those I met on the journey; I am just no longer able to continue on that journey with them.
There is of course, as with most things, much more to it, and I’m sure much of it I am not even capable of understanding, but I hope this clears up some of the questions that may have been left unanswered.