Bridging Traditions: Conventions of a Spiritual Nature

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson

Throughout history, when general philosophy and religious philosophy get together, sometimes there’s a union, and what is born are rites of passage, degree systems, morality plays, and wholesale organizations. Freemasonry can undoubtedly be called a school of wisdom, born from moral philosophy and transitioning into an even more vast system of objective philosophy that permeates every aspect of the practitioner’s life.

But Freemasonry isn’t alone. While Freemasonry may have birthed or been the impetus for various occult organizations being started, they aren’t the only kids on the block. For many people worldwide, the topics discussed in organizations such as Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Ordo Templi Orientis, Martinism, Rosicrucianism, A:.A:., Builders of the Adytum, Fraternity of Light, and many more, fill a void.

These organizations all have some similarities. Whether they’re called Rites, Degrees, Grades, etc., lessons are to be learned, and the practitioners are guided through with a delicate hand. There are also systematic overlaps in these orders much of the time—things like astronomical significances, similar characters in the degrees, different archetypal topics, and more.

Freemasonry, however, is likely one of the most vital organizations in which many of these practitioners reside, and because of it, there’s a lot of educational overlap. Freemasonry touts the tagline, “The fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man,” and we can see this in action when so many faiths meet under a single roof. When a Freemason takes the stage at their local Lodge to deliver education to those assembled, how many folks are we generally speaking to? Two? Five? Ten? Whatever the number, it isn’t huge. The topic might not be so interesting to the “regular” guys.

A few years ago, when Manasseh Lodge in Virginia hosted the Mid-Atlantic Esotericon, it brought together more than just Freemasons. The topics and lectures for discussion were far more varied and profound than the topics usually viewed through the smaller lens of Freemasonry itself. Suddenly, information and lectures from various occult disciplines blew the doors off the front porch--and it was wonderful.

Brothers, Friends, and kindred spirits present reveled in listening to lectures, nay, sermons given on a full range of esoteric concepts. It was a smashing success. So when 2020 rolled around, and the group of Brothers who put on the first Mid-Atlantic Esotericon began to plan the next event, of course, it went digital--but you know what? It was still amazing.

On June 12th, 2021, the Mid-Atlantic Esotericon held its third event in a Zoom-based webinar format. This year, there were some changes, and they made it even better. The organizers even took the time to manually add and remove people as presenters to talk and have fellowship over the lunch break. There were terrific lectures given by Jaime Paul Lamb, Ben Williams, Don McAndrews, Adam Goldman, Ben Wallace, Mitch Horowitz, Ryan Flynn, and even a contemplative meditation to begin the day by Bro. Chuck Dunning.

Freemasonry truly brought together some of the greatest minds, lectures, and discussions this year in the form of Mid-Atlantic Esotericon 2021. While the conference speakers were all Freemasons, save one, the topics ranged the gamut. Those studious folks out there may have noticed something about the first and second-year logos for Mid-Atlantic Esotericon that is different from this most recent year. Give up? It’s the Square and Compasses; they’re absent.

Moving forward, the conference is going to be MORE. Yes, more than just Freemasonry (although this is a conference put on by Freemasons), and also, more than just the Mid-Atlantic. Beginning next year, this conference will simply be known to all as Esotericon. The dates will be June 10-12, and the planners are already hard at work for the event.

Not only does Freemasonry bring together many faiths under a roof, but we also bring together various disciplines and mind-expanding conversations and education. Esotericon is proof of this--and I absolutely love where it’s going.


RWB Johnson is a Co-Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 2nd N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focuses on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry", “The Master’s Word: A Short Treatise on the Word, the Light, and the Self – Annotated Edition” and author of "How to Charter a Lodge: A No-Nonsense, Unsanctioned Guide. More books are on the way.

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