The 2017 CESNUR Conference | Holy Lands and Sacred Histories in New Religious Movements
The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute | Jerusalem
Monday July 3, 2017 | Around the Temple: Holy Places and Contested Spaces in Israel
Scotland and Freemasonry: The East and the Solomonic North
Scotland’s role is ubiquitous and yet entirely ambiguous in masonic research. Indeed, some see it as political or religious, while others focus on Scotland’s geographical role as historical fact, or merely a ‘label’ to sufficiently identity variant complex masonic traditions. This complexity arises due to Scotland’s role as a historical, geographical and conceptual component within different periods of the masonic tradition. The following paper is an attempt to understand it only in as far as it can be conceptually understood as a bridge of sorts between seventeenth-century Rosicrucianism and later eighteenth-century ‘high-grade’ Continental Éccossais Freemasonry. It is a difficult idea to pin down; one that is often subject to ridicule, dismissal or hostility, and yet when Freemasonry’s most recurrent themes are laid out – Scotland and Rosicrucianism are evident throughout. Therefore, if we were for instance, to begin by denying outright the intellectual validity of the Rose Cross and the Craft, and their marvellous claims to antiquity, prophecy and intrinsic mystery as portrayed in the primary texts themselves, thereby adopting the positivist-reductionist or empirical-historical stance of explaining the links by merely external means i:e, political, economic or environmental – is this indicative of the kind of academic ‘neuroticism’ and intellectual insincerity renowned esoteric academic Arthur Versluis claims it to be? How important is it to dialectically understand ‘Scotland’ both as a masonic ideal and/or an empirical truth? Scotland as the masonic spiritual counterpart to Jerusalem; a mythic and ritualised northern Solomonic kingdom. The following paper will look at how for some author’s such as David Stevenson, Scotland is a purely historicist consideration, while for others ‘Scotland’ is an ideal; an orientation as it were, that is perhaps more comparable with the familiar masonic concept of ‘the East’.