Richard Smoley is a consulting editor to Parabola magazine and the author of several books on esotericism, religion, and spirituality, including Supernatural: Writings on an Unknown History, How God Became God: What Scholars Are Really… More
We all feel fear from time to time. Of course, there may be good reason for us to feel it: being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, or physically attacked by a gang or a madman. In such cases, perhaps we can turn the fear into focus and enough aggression or resolve to fight our way through it. If not, then we’re in big trouble.
But fear arises at other times, and can prove an obstacle to self-improvement or self-actualization. Continue reading “Turning Fear And Failure Into Focus”
What is the source of our inner strength? Some seem to possess it in abundance, and others not in the slightest. Is it, as modernity contends, simply a matter of being an individual rather than being one of the “sheeple”? Or is there something else? “[W]hen the individual faces torture or annihilation,” says Eric Hoffer in The True Believer, “he cannot rely on the resources of his own individuality. His only source of strength is not being himself but part of something might, glorious and indestructible.”
Similarly, Yuri Bezmenov – a defector from the USSR – told audiences in America that only belief in the non-rational — in God — could give the individual strength to endure months or years of torture, and indeed, to be able to fend off other types of attacks on the individual and the society itself. Atheists – who had often been communists, and often remained so up until the moment of execution – separated from the state they had served, did not last long once they had been accused of thought crimes by the apparatus of the USSR. But those of faith managed to survive or, at least, died with composure. Continue reading “Individuality, Archetypes, and Ancestors — Against The Atomization of Modernity”
Angel Millar: You’re a well-known lecturer on Masonic and esoteric subjects in the USA, and you’re involved with many Masonic Rites as well as many Western esoteric Orders outside of Freemasonry. Most recently, you published the book Renaissance Man and Mason. Before we talk about Western esotericism more broadly I want to ask what made you join the Masonic fraternity?
Piers Vaughan: It was something I had dreamed of doing from a young age. My grandfather had been a very enthusiastic member, to the extent that he would take his pony and trap and travel the 20-mile journey from his farm in Upper Beeding to Brighton, in England, to attend meetings. Sadly, his enthusiasm did not pass on to his son — my father — but by the age of 16, I was already devouring Pick and Knight’s Pocket History of Freemasonry. In my teens, while maintaining my Christian beliefs — attending a local Anglo-Catholic Church, composing music, playing the organ, singing in choir (which I had done since the age of 7) — I was drawn to explore comparative religious paths, visiting a mosque, synagogue, other Christian places of worship, a Spiritualist church, and even reading and experimenting with Wicca and Rosicrucianism. Continue reading “Freemasonry, Esotericism, and Spiritual Development: An Interview With Piers Vaughan”