The Square and the Circle

The Square and the Circle: the Influences of Freemasonry on Wicca and Paganism, by Payam NabarzThe Square and the Circle: the Influences of Freemasonry on Wicca and Paganism by Payam Nabarz

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“And in this way truly are erected the Holy Twin Pillars Boaz and Joachim [kisses breasts]. In beauty and strength were they erected, to the wonder and glory of all men” ~ Wiccan Book of Shadows

On the face of it nothing could be further apart than Wicca, a Goddess/God-centric modern Pagan mystery school whose Rede is “An it harm none do what ye Will”, and Freemasonry, a brotherhood/sisterhood and  system of morality veiled in allegory, taught in a symbolic language, whose great principles are brotherly love, relief, and truth.

But the connections between them are closer than might at first appear.  This book reviews the literature of the history of Wicca with especial reference to its links with Freemasonry, demonstrating their surprisingly close historical affiliations.  In addition the links between Freemasonry, Druidry, Sufism, and other modern Pagan movements are also examined.

“ For these truly are the five points of fellowship feet to feet, knee to knee, groin to groin, breast to breast, arms around back, lips to lips” ~Wiccan Book of Shadows

“I will defend the Five Points of Fellowship, in enactment as well as concept…” ~ Freemasonry’s third-degree initiation

In the heart of both Freemasonry and Wicca, there is the spiritual quest and journey, as in many other mystery schools. Freemasons begin as a rough ashlar stone and eventually transform to a perfect cube. Its study of the seven liberal arts and sciences educates their initiates, transforming their mind to become a living Temple to the Great Architect while the seven graces provide them with the moral compass to walk through daily life.

Wicca’s teaching is clearly stated in its Charge of the Goddess: “To thou who thinkest to seek Me, know that thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not unless thou knowest the Mystery. If that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without. For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire”.  The same message is also given to all Master Masons in their 3rd-degree ceremony: an injunction to reflect on “that most interesting of all human studies, the knowledge of yourself”. In both, we can still hear down the centuries the echoes of Plato’s teachings and the Delphic maxim at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi: γνῶθι σεαυτόν: Know thyself.

‘Merry Meet, Merry Part, Merry Meet Again’ – ~the Wiccan farewell

 “Happy have we met, happy have we been, happy may we part, and happy meet again” – ~words spoken at the end of the second-degree Masonic initiation

 “We live in fascinating times. Right now a new zeitgeist is forming as we witness the first tentative steps of a new religion finding its feet in the public imagination. Wicca is well and truly here and gaining momentum as it spreads from England across Europe and the US, carried on the crest of a growing Neopagan revival. It remains largely ungoverned and with only a framework spiritual canon which gives flexibility to its practitioners and has no doubt added to its great appeal to individuals and groups as the more established and orthodox institutions become seen as increasingly irrelevant or out of touch.  But is it new? In this work, Payam illustrates some of the surprising parents of this spiritual movement. It is said that all religions borrow from what came before despite this being often fiercely contested by its adherents. The family tree of Wicca has some odd bedfellows, of which the most prominent and perhaps surprising is Freemasonry; which, with its strict governing body and fixed catechisms, seems almost a polar opposite of what is seen in Wicca. The history and details of this relationship and the processes and people which intertwined them are here laid bare for the reader to see with a detailed and useful bibliography available for further study.”

– Ric Lovett, Pagan, Wiccan and Past Master.

About the Author

Author Payam NabarzPayam Nabarz is author of ‘The Mysteries of Mithras: The Pagan Belief That Shaped the Christian World’ (Inner Traditions, 2005), ‘The Persian Mar Nameh: The Zoroastrian Book of the Snake Omens & Calendar’ (Twin Serpents, 2006), and Divine Comedy of Neophyte Corax and Goddess Morrigan (Web of Wyrd Press, 2008). He is also the editor of Mithras Reader: An academic and religious journal of Greek, Roman, and Persian Studies. Volume 1 (2006), Volume 2 (2008), and Volume 3 (2010).  His latest books are Stellar Magic: a Practical Guide to Rites of the Moon, Planets, Stars and Constellations (Avalonia, 2009) and Seething Cauldron: Essays on Zoroastrianism, Sufism, Freemasonry, Wicca, Druidry, and Thelema (Web of Wyrd Press, 2010), and Anahita: Persian Goddess and Zoroastrian Yazata (Avalonia, 2013).

Persian-born Payam Nabarz is a Sufi and a Dervish. He is a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, and a co-founder of its Nemeton of the Stars Grove. Magi Nabarz is a revivalist of the Temple of Mithras, a Hierophant in the Fellowship of Isis, a Past Master in the Craft (Freemasonry) and a Companion in the Royal Arch.  He has also worked with the Golden Dawn system, Thelema, Nath Tantra, and Wicca.  He was the founder of Spirit of Peace, a charitable organisation dedicated to personal inner peace and world peace via interfaith dialogue between different spiritual paths.  His other interests include cycling and learning Yoga and Tai Chi.

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From the “Introduction”

Wicca and Freemasonry – on the face of it nothing could be further apart: Wicca is a Goddess/God-centric Neo-Pagan mystery school, whose Rede is ‘An it harm none, do what ye Will’; while Freemasonry is a brotherhood/sisterhood and system of morality veiled in allegory, taught in a symbolic language, whose great principles are brotherly love, relief and truth. However, as we delve deeper, the level of influence of Freemasonry on Wicca becomes apparent. This is of social and anthropological significance, as Wicca perhaps is the only religion and mystery school that was born in Britain in the 20th Century, as well as exported to other countries.  It has been growing rapidly in the rest of the world ever since. Wicca is one of fastest growing religions in the UK and the US.  In the US one poll in the year 2000 estimated the number of Wiccan and Neo-Pagans as 768,400. In the 2001 UK national census, there were nearly 80,000 pagans (Wiccans, Druids, etc.) making it the seventh largest religion in the UK, whilst the latest estimates are about five times that number (400,000). For example, the summer solstice celebration at Stonehenge is attracting more and more people each year (35,000 in 2009). In the 2001 census seven in 10,000 UK respondents identified as Pagan; this number doubled in the 2011 census to fourteen in 10,000 respondents.

Freemasonry is a worldwide phenomenon, with lodges in many countries; most countries have their own Grand Lodges. However, Freemasonry was banned in the Soviet Union during the Communist era and was banned in Nazi Germany. Modern day Freemasons remember the Freemasons persecuted by the Nazi regime, and others, by wearing a blue forget-me-not flower lapel pin (Figure: 1). According to Masonic myth, during the Nazi reign, some Freemasons in Germany wore the blue flower lapel pin as means of identifying each other. The first formal interdiction of Freemasonry in Germany took place in August 1935, and many Freemasons ended their lives in the concentration camps[1], despite all Freemasonry lodges reforming themselves to comply with the new German government, except one that dissolved itself rather than conform[2]. Freemasonry is still banned in most Arab and Islamic countries where it is deemed as a Western Imperialist organisation or a Zionist conspiracy: Freemasons have even been targeted by radical Islamic groups and terrorists. The Catholic Church between 1738 to 1974 ‘forbade Catholics to join the Freemasons or any similar organisation under pain of excommunication’[3]. The fact that both Wicca and Freemasonry are viewed suspiciously by many people is one of the elements that they have in common.

[1] 25 years of Freemasonry in Eastern Europe, Peter Hoffer, The Square magazine, December 2014, p65.

[2] United Grand Lodge and United Grand Lodges of Germany 1946-1961, Alain Bernheim,Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, Vol 127 2014, p66.

[3] The History of English Freemasonry, John Hamill, Lewis Masonic, 1994, p160.

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