I have just completed a reading of Gary Lachman’s essay on secret societies, here on WordPress, and can report that it is as fine an introduction to the subject as I have come across, an able and amiable construction that touches on all the salient points of the matter.
I am not here to tempt you with a summary of something which is essentially a summary itself, but to add some observations on the function of the often hidden teachers behind such societies. One of the many myths surrounding these societies is the apparent invisibility of the sources of their wisdom, both the teachings themselves and the those, in bodily form or otherwise, who would impart them.
With the Rosicrucians and early Masons I think it is safe to say that the threat of bloody repression from organized religion and the state was enough to keep the sources deeply subterranean. Alchemical, Kabbalistic and Hermetic teachings and teachers all danced on the edge of acceptability for centuries, their solitary practitioners perhaps less threatening than a society. Obviously Galileo and Bruno stepped over the line.
19th century Theosophy certainly brought the notion of ascended masters into the open, where they could compete with every other tempting myth eddying at the edges of the mainstream. The masters communicating in the magically manifested missives contained in “The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett” (1885) certainly seemed to be toying with the fantasies of their students as much as teaching them, which seems to me now an altogether wise approach. Bit of gossip. bit of circus trickery and some serious teaching snugged in beside. The later teachings (1922-57 approx.) channeled by Alice Bailey seem significantly more mature and useful to these eyes and ears. During the same era, magical practitioners such as Crowley and Fortune brought the forward notion of secret chiefs to those essaying that tradition. The Chiefs/Masters/Hierarchy can be seen as useful tools for those who had rejected saints, prophets and archangels as representatives of corrupted structures. The enlightened beings shepherding our flock through the valleys of the shadow of death and despair will assume any pose required to get the job done. New Religions, reformations of old ones, secret societies, mystery schools, occult fraternities, maverick shamans of many stripes, all are utilized to inspire growth, challenge and change.
The symbols, jargon, elaborate ceremonies and general mystification of earlier centuries fulfilled several requirements: that of clouding the issue from the authorities, that of distancing the actuality of the enterprise from the merely curious, and that of appealing to the romantic fantasies of possible students who needed the intoxication of the exotic to release their timidity.
Nowadays, at least in the parts of the planet where information is freely available and human activity unrestrained by the state, such elaborate window dressing is no longer necessary. A herbal infusion, a fairly straightforward shamanic practice, or some uncomplicated meditative discipline is about all that’s required. Meditation tapes which alter the brainwave pattern are also quite useful. Of course cults will complicate things, mostly to pay down their mortgages and satisfy their staff. Ashrams, as we know, demand relentless maintenance, so if you require hotel-like ambiance and luxuries you can be sure you will pay for them, but that actual journey, from the illusion of the suffering isolated ego, wracked with self-consciousness, fears and doubts, to the unlimited formless soul, somehow simultaneously serene and celebrating, needs few actual appurtenances.
The reason is, I believe, that our personal vibrations, together with that of the planet itself, have been quickened to the point where our astral and mental bodies, once so mysterious and distant, the subject of teachings but not experience, are now not only well within reach but regularly used by aspirants while asleep, so that when they are reinserted, as it were, in one of these subtle bodies, as part of an exercise in a seminar, they slip in easily and have that recall which says “I’ve been here before, I know what this is about”. And when I, or some other facilitator, direct them, in such an exercise, to travel to the realms of the dead and greet their loved ones, they often do just that in a matter of seconds, much to their amazement. The same holds true for exercises which aim to access both “past” and “future” lives. Whether this vibrational increase is yet another aspect of the well know ‘hundredth monkey effect’ remains to be debated, but I suspect the connection is there.
The ascended masters of secret society fame are now also more easily available. They have made themselves so, as it is part of the ancient plan for mankind, the externalization of the hierarchy, as Alice Bailey termed it. They are out and about, and are certainly willing to meet you halfway, as it were, especially if you are willing to surrender your low self-esteem and fear of failure and ridicule. Remember: essentially they are graduates of the course we’re all on.