by W.E. Butler
Every organisation must, by
its very nature, have a definite set of rules, otherwise it will
become chaotic and unable to function.
At the same time, those rules
must not be like those of the Medes and Persians, 'which change
not,' as the Bible declares. So, between the opposing rocks of
'Democracy' and 'Autocracy,' how must a lodge or Fraternity be
If we were dealing with perfected
men and women, then it would be easy, but as humanity is at all
stages of progress, we must have an organisation which is at the
same time both rigid and flexible. Just as this is no easy task
in engineering construction, so when we are dealing with the living
stones of the esoteric Temple, we find it to present several difficulties,
more especially in these modern times, when the word 'democratic'
has become one of the modern words of power. Incidentally, the
'democracy' of a small City-State was far removed from the modern
understanding of the term. Professor Joad was fond of saying,
in connection with semantics, "It all depends on what you
mean by a particular word."
We are all in the habit of projecting
upon a word our own understanding of its meaning, and it is this
subconscious projection which causes so much trouble. The value
of many of our words is so often based upon our emotional reactions
to that which is being named or described, and there is a cliche'
frequently heard on Radio and Television, "This is an 'emotive'
Such words could also be described
as 'evocative,' for they do evoke from our subconscious minds
many images, concepts and miscellaneous emotional reactions, and
these tend to gather around and coalesce with the particular word
in question. Thus if someone is told that the government of a
Fraternity is 'democratic,' then it may well be equated his mind
with the mode of government of the Trade Union to which he belongs.
Equally, a business man will picture the organisation of his own
company, or a communist will think of it in terms of whatever
brand of communism he happens to espouse. And all could be wrong!
So if I say the true Orders are
neither democratic nor autocratic it may seem to make confusion
worse confounded. If they are neither of these, then what is the
structure of the true Orders?
The answer is - they are Hierarchical.
Such a structure is one of graded power, and this grading is not
based upon any idea of egalitarianism. For although the occultist
believes in the fundamental equality of all souls as they commence
their aeonian pilgrimage through the Universe, and though he believes
that at the end of that journey they will express and experience
their true unity with each other and with the Divine Source of
their being, he also realises that they are by no means equal
one to another. All are at different points on the Path as far
as their personalities are concerned, and a simple democratic
organisation is not the answer. 'Counting heads' is an unprofitable
proceeding unless one has some idea as to what is contained in
Neither is a purely autocratic
structure the Answer - useful though it may have been in the early
days of humanity, when the Priest-Kings guided the infant Race.
Most of the troubles which have beset the esoteric schools in
the past can be clearly seen to be due to attempts to impose a
governing structure of either type upon the members of that Particular
school, or, ill-advised attempts to accommodate one type of government
to the other.
There are three ways in which
the Ageless Wisdom may be studied and followed. These are usually
thought of as the Paths of Power, Love and Wisdom, and all mankind
evolves along one of these roads. But things are tendered more
difficult because although each one of us has this Primary Path,
our present personality may be working along one of the other
It is clear then, that the structure
of the esoteric schools must be one that can take account of these
complexities, and this can best be achieved by a graded system
wherein authority rests in the highest grades in an increasing
measure as one proceeds upwards, but this must be an authority
based upon not one, but all three methods of study and practice
- of Love, Power and Wisdom.
At the moment we are not concerned
with the Inner Plane members of the Hierarchy, only with the physical
plane members of the school or Order. If we regard the School,
or Lodge, or Fraternity as a great Pyramid, then at the summit
of that Pyramid we find three Heads or Chiefs and each represents,
and strives to make himself a channel for, the aspect with which
he is concerned.
So we have the 'Three who Rule
the Lodge.' In the Golden Dawn system, which drew upon ancient
Rosicrucian sources, these three were known as Imperator, Cancellarius
and Praemonstrator. In other schools they have other names and
other titles, but their functions in the lodge are the same.
Below these three, we find another
grade of government, and this we may term 'The Council.' This
will usually consist of four members, two chosen by the Three-who-Rule,
and two elected by all the members of the Lodge. These latter
two are periodically changed.
It will be seen that these officers
(who may or may not be the Officers of the Ceremonial team at
any particular time) form a Triangle and a Quaternary, and together
express in their number the 'Principles' of a human being.
They who Rule must consult with
the Council in session where any matters concerning the Lodge
as a whole are concerned, and in certain rare cases both the Three
and the Council must place the matter before the whole membership
of the Lodge for a final decision.
Apart from these two sets of
Officers, there may be as many other Groups or Committees as required
for the specialised study and practice of parts of the corpus
of knowledge of which the Lodge is the custodian. However, all
such 'cells' or Groups must be authorised by the Three and the
Council, and their work supervised by them. The results of such
separate group-work must be made available to the whole of the
members of the Lodge.
Then we come to what is termed
the Outer Court - the training ground for those wishing to join
the Lodge proper. The Outer Court completes the hierarchic structure
of the Lodge or Fraternity.
In many cases the Outer Court
consists of the personal apprentice of a brother; in other cases
Lodge formation is the rule. In the old Rosicrucian Order, each
Brother took an individual pupil and gave him personal tuition.
Where the Outer Court consists of several people, it is usual
to have a Master of the Neophytes, who regulates the general affairs
of the Outer Court, but at all meetings of the Outer Court, Initiate
Brethren of the Lodge may be present. They must not however, in
any way attempt to alter the particular instructions which the
Master of the Outer Court may be giving to the Neophytes. Any
observations they may wish to make should be given to the M.O.N.
This is the general organisation
of an esoteric Lodge as I have known it during my membership of
two distinct and separate organisations. It is implicit in many
ways in the Golden Dawn set-up, and I feel it fairly describes
the Hierarchic structure of the Esoteric Schools.