Tantric Masons

I had been planning to spend this weekend at the Climate Camp in the hope that through surrounding myself with idealistic political hippie types, at least a bit of it would rub off on me. elise, feanelwa, rachelfmb, innocent_irony: this is the thing Josh has spent most of the past year planning for, and part of the attraction was seeing him in his element, surrounded by the Real Friends he’s been spending all his time with.

But, I didn’t go. And, unusually for me there was no error in the not done – I’m having a far better time curled up with the internet and a pile of books. In particular, I’ve spent a chunk of this afternoon reading a history of modern pagan witchcraft by Ronald Hutton. And once he gets onto the masons and the secret societies (which apparently really got going in the 18th century, to the point that perhaps one Englishman in five was a member of one), it all starts to feel remarkably familiar. The schisms, the invented histories, the hierarchies of levels – this is the stuff I wrote my dissertation on. That was 13th century Kashmir, and this is 18th century Europe, but the processes are identical. It’s all headslappingly obvious, and makes me wonder how I spent so much time reading about the sociology of religion instead of making that connection. And once you’ve made the link, then things like the relationship between lay followers and full-time adepts become intuitively obvious, and you find another route behind the bitching and grandstanding to what they were actually up to. Squee!

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