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A Very Ordinary Life of a Freemason

Take a unique look into the life of a Freemason, from childhood to fatherhood in a small, conservative country, and find out if the conspiracy is only a theory.

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Memoirs
Zagreb, Croatia
50,000 words
25% complete
3 publishers interested

Synopsis

This book spans through thirty years of a life - from childhood to adult struggles, mystical societies, liberal Freemasonry, love and back to childhood. Author's motivation behind the book was to reveal the secret parts of his Masonic life, shown in comparison to his everyday existence in a Catholic country where Freemasonry is largely considered dangerous and malicious. His views are written honestly and without embellishing or smearing the Craft, but simply putting it as-is. The author hopes readers will conclude that behind the apron lies a person that can be a friend, a neighbour and a fellow citizen.

Outline

1 – A Word to Begin With – A brief introduction to the book which also serves as hook. Two points are being made: the narrator is a regular, young family man and that is juxtaposed to the fact he is also the head of a mixed Masonic Order in his country.

2 – Super Nintendo – This chapter covers early childhood through a few anecdotes ranging from playing video games to burning down old houses. It is nostalgic and lyrical at points. Early social relationships of the narrator are being formed. Intertwined in the anecdotes are a couple of metaphysical contemplations on reincarnation etc.

3 – You Are Not Anyone’s Best Friend – Continuing to early childhood, this chapter covers elementary school and goes deep into unnecessarily awkward and rough relationships among boys. Conformity assures acceptance and cruelty mixed with strength creates leadership. Again, metaphysical contemplations are woven into the narrative, giving childhood anecdotes meaning from an adult and spiritual perception. First mention of Freemasonry in narrator’s life and it is a negative one.

4 – Jedi Apprentice, Sith Disciple – high school and early college: the first encounter with mysticism, esoteric practices, terrible Internet meeting places for lost souls and seekers. At this point in his life, the narrator started his esoteric/spiritual practice. It was crude, wrong, exciting and had nothing to do with spiritual development. But it did help the narrator to lose many friends and gain a few new ones that were, mildly put, quaint. Many practices/exercises are described. Along with college anecdotes and love affairs.

5 – The Rose and the Cross – After stumbling around the world of spiritual self-development (or at least a very rough approximation of such a world), the narrator decides to join AMORC, a Rosicrucian Order that is, to an extent, open to the public. The chapter describes in detail his experiences in the Order and the unique social interactions that happen in such an environment, along with a very useful practice that became narrator’s before bedtime ritual. It covers a period of two years, through college and narrator’s inability to come to terms with how the world functions. During this time, narrator’s views on Freemasonry were somewhat negative, mostly due to the inability to join. First encounter with Chinese Chan – known as Zen in Japan.

6 – The Abyss – After two years of membership, the narrator has left AMORC and met a real Freemason that seemed to have all the answers. Their bond grew stronger, even to the point where the Freemason acted as the best man on narrator’s wedding to his college girlfriend. Bride’s family tried to stop the wedding from happening. The newlyweds fled to Montreal, Canada in search of a better life, only to be greatly disappointed after realizing their best man, their only connection to possible jobs in Canada, is a hoax.

7 –Playing the Adult – Before fleeing for Canada, the narrator started experimenting with painting. He held a few amateur exhibitions that were successful, but very suspicious. He realized success was just family and family friends being sympathetic and decided to turn to a new profession, but which one? A documentary with Ewan McGregor changes his life, while his wife gets her first real job. Social interactions are reduced to hanging out in a local bar with other unsuccessful friends. Esoteric practices are slowly forgotten and the narrator writes his first book and does not try to get it published.

8 – A Pulse from the Past – At this point in life, adulthood starts looking less grim. New college experience is well under way and life is shaping up nicely. Out of the blue, a person from narrator’s past emerges and introduces him to the Grand Orient Order of Freemasonry. Ignoring a few obvious red flags, the narrator dives into this long awaited, elite world. Or at least the thought it was elite at that time.

9 – The Initiation – This chapter covers the period of a few months before the Initiation in which the narrator was impatient to the degree of being unwell. It also describes Masonic Initiation into the degree of Entered Apprentice. But what was more important than the ritual were the people, the setting, the scent… and what went through the narrator’s mind. Despite all things external, he still felt the same self as he always was. And Zen still held more water than any ritual.

10 – Two Good Years – What ensued were two good years of quality meetings, ritual, accepting new members… This chapter describes the interviewing process, but from the other side. The esoteric side of Freemasonry is described, along with a few other interesting practices found in the meantime. Brothers and Sisters from Slovenia are revealed to be very eccentric and almost cult-like, however in a benign and amusing fashion. The narrator wishes to share all his experiences with his friends, but is reluctant to do so due to the stigma Freemasonry carries, especially in Croatia. Having some friends who are strongly Catholic and live by the motto ‘God and Croats’, he is forced to be quiet or to lose his friends one more time.

11 – The Pelican – Narrator’s lodge decided to introduce Memphis-Misraim High Degrees (instead of either Scottish or York rites), due to the Worshipful Master already being initiated into the highest degrees of that Order. The initiation into the 18th degree is described, along with first signs of things getting out of hand. People, at the end, turn out to be just people with petty motivations and large egos.

12 – Parent, Engineer, Mutineer – Worshipful Master comes to an end of his service and a dark period for the lodge starts. Countless Masonic rules are broken by the new Master and the narrator, who is currently serving as the Senior Warden, the second man of the lodge, decides to act and salvage what is left to be salvaged. Ten people leave the lodge and bridges are burnt. In his private life, the narrator becomes a parent and an engineer and his life is thoroughly changed. This chapter describes how Freemasons should act towards one another and towards outsiders to better describe the breaches of our lodge.

13 – The Hardware Store – After pondering what to do next, one of the Brothers who left the lodge with the narrator remembers he has contacts in the British Federation of the Le Droit Humain – a Masonic Order for men and women – much like the one they had just left. First live contact with their Grand Commander happens on a very hot night in Zagreb, over a few beers. Excited by the degree of enthusiasm he encountered, the Grand Commander decides to help bring Le Droit Humain back to Croatia, after decades of inactivity. It is back to square one and a temple must be built from scratch.

14 – A True Brotherhood – This chapter describes how Le Droit Humain was reintroduced to Croatia with the narrator as the Worshipful Master. All the Brothers who had left the Grand Orient and stayed together have found peace, although for a short while. The narrator realizes only his ego is pleased with the new position in the Order. Under all the aprons and badges lies the same child who loved playing Super Nintendo with his sister. Many spiritual questions are asked and the answers are more inclusive and more honest than before. He also travels to the United States, becomes firmly rooted in IT and gains new insights on the streets of San Francisco.

15 – The Reality of Societies – Since people are, as mentioned earlier, just people, another unpleasant situation inside Freemasonry emerges and narrator’s view of the Order is shaken. He starts rethinking the whole idea of being a member in any society. Is it possible to have a true brotherhood among men? Is Zen the answer, or love? Go home and love your family, somebody with more compassion once said. The narrator wants to leave the order, but also does not want to let down the Brothers depending on him. Besides realizing the reality of secret societies, the narrator also realizes the reality of unhealthy friendships – a most unusual silent conflict is depicted and he realizes what kind of people make true life companions.

16 – A Life Worth Living – Is the face of a newborn the face of God? Is every person someone’s mother, or father, or sister? This chapter concludes the narrators search for God, the esoteric, the mystical and sums up the lessons learnt over more than a decade since the beginning of the search. It is not a formula for success. It is not the path to enlightenment, but a whisper of a man who believes is finally on the right road – having been there all along, putting obstacles in his own way.

Audience

Four main groups of readers are identified:

- Readers interested in secret societies in general, without much prejudice, who want to learn more.

- Readers interested in conspiracy theories. One of the aims of the book is to show that there is no conspiracy as such, at least not to the knowledge of the author.

- Other Freemasons and members of similar societies.

- Lovers of memoirs.

Author

The writer under the pen name of Jore Clair became interested in mysticism and the so-called secret societies in his teens and his search brought him unique insights into a clandestine world existing in parallel with our everyday lives. He also developed a love for writing, ranging from poetry to novels. However, he has never attempted to become a published author, up to this point.

He has two bachelor degrees: one in communication studies and an another in information technologies. Lack of decent work with the first degree brought him to his second BA, which proved to be a success. Being a full-time software engineer does not just provide a living, but acts as a strong counterweight to his quirky metaphysical adventures.

Since 2012, his metaphysical experiences are centred around his memberships in two liberal Masonic Orders and Zen, which he never practices enough, or so he says. Being a Freemason in a strongly Catholic country brought him many unexpected experiences and an idea for a book was born. "If only others knew what I knew, maybe the Freemasons would not seem that dangerous any more", he thought to himself.

When he is not working, Jore spends his time with his wife and two little children. He also likes practicing Wing Chun and reading.

Jore Clair lives and works in Zagreb, Croatia.

Promotion

Main promotion would be the Twitter account @joreclair, along with the website freemasonthebook.com. Both were created on the same day of writing these lines (June 24th 2017) and they will have much more content in time.

Competition

The Prisoner of San Jose by Pierre S. Freeman (published by Wheatmark in 2008) - this memoir tells the story of a man who was a member of a Rosicrucian Order AMORC and claims he has been a victim of mind control for over 20 years. Since I have been a member of AMORC prior to becoming a Freemason, I have a different view of that particular Order. My book does not center on the negative - it shows both the good and the bad and the reasons for the "bad" are not sinister and malicious, but simply rooted in human beings themselves.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (published by Doubleday Group in 2003) - A mystery-detective novel that finds it's motivation in the mystical/hidden aspects of religion. Books about secret societies are most often fiction or "professional literature" for other seekers. My book is neither - while it does aim to invoke interest in the reader with Freemasonry, it's neither fiction, nor it's a mystical textbook. It is real life.

My Life by Marc Chagall (published by Da Capo Press in 1994, first published in 1959) - this book by the famous painter Marc Chagall tells the story of his life in a poetic manner. While I am not a famous artist, I do love writing that sometimes intertwines with poetry. His book is not a year-by-year account of his life, but a reflection. Such is the case with my book, as well.

33 Degrees of Deception: An Expose of Freemasonry by Tom C. McKenney (published by Bridges-Logo in 2011) - this book, as the title suggest, has a somewhat negative tone in it's revelation of Masonic secrets. My book, on the other hand, does not aim to smear, but to let the reader decide. It aims to connect people because we are all people.

My Family Right or Wrong by Ephraim Kishon (first published in 1977) - while this collection of short satire stories is, at the first glance, not related to my book in any way, in reality they are closer than they appear. Scattered throughout my books are anecdotes from my family life, with a dash of satire. However, I tried keeping the humour level lower than in Kishon's book to set a different tone of the book.

Sample

1. A Word to Begin With

         Accept this book as a handshake. You may walk by me while strolling on Ban Jelačić square. A typical family man, you would probably say, as I carry my daughter around and tell her ice cream is out of the question because she already had some sweets today. My wife is sauntering next to me, pregnant to her teeth, but with a never-ending smile.

         You would never say I am a Freemason, nor would you want to put me in a box labelled ‘conspirator’, especially in my geeky t-shirt and worn out skating shoes. This is not an act. It is my regular life, while the masonry part takes place once or twice a month and doesn’t change the fact I am your fellow citizen who is looking forwards to the weekend and a human being whose top priority is getting a hug from his daughter. And a little nap would be nice, but I have a feeling that’s out of the equation until kids start school.

         I have a need to tell you my story. Perhaps, by the end, some of the myths surrounding Freemasonry will have perished and we’ll agree on being brothers and sisters due to the planet we share. Do you believe in the Big Bang? You see, I do. And if that theory is correct, we were, at a certain point, one.

         In March 2016, something rather spectacular happened in my homeland. After more than 70 years of absence, since before the WW2, the Masonic order called Le Droit Humain once again established a presence on our ground. Why is that spectacular and not just a party for sectarians?

         On a broader level, it meant that our small, often narrow-minded country was getting larger. The clear majority of my countrymen will probably never hear of this event that took place in their neighbourhood. For the last 20 years or so, the only Freemasons in Croatia were members of male lodges, no women allowed. A few of us were members of the Grand Orient, a Masonic order much like Le Droit Humain, but not on Croatian soil. Le Droit Humain, founded at the end of the 19th century, was the first Masonic organisation to fully accept women as rightful members and it's return to Croatia meant our society is indeed going forwards. Sure, there are not many of us. We are still in our infancy, but we already have stories to tell.

         Are we conspirators, thieves or simply pure evil or are we trying to make our country and ourselves better? Surely there is no time for such frivolous undertakings when there are much more serious matters to attend to, such as sacrificing goats, ruining the youth and making money. You would be surprised. We are men and women who lead the same lives that you lead. We love our families and friends and we feel neither special, nor entitled. We come from most various social backgrounds you could imagine and most of us are far from rich and powerful.

         There is also the personal aspect to why this event had a huge impact on my life. I was elected by my brothers and sisters to be the first Worshipful Master.


2. Super Nintendo

         A few weeks ago, my family and I visited my parents for lunch. We were in their building, waiting for the escalator, when I caught the scent of moist coming from the basement of the building. As the odour poured over my nostrils, so did the memories start pouring over my mind. We used to play all over these hallways and the basement was a place of magic, fear and adventure. One day we decided to do some “ghost conjuring” as we called it. An old man died in an apartment closest to the basement and we thought we might contact him. Naturally, nothing had happened, so one of the girls started screaming and claiming she saw a ghost and ran away. Nobody took it too seriously, but I was so scared I couldn’t walk near the basement alone for weeks. I just waited for the ghost to drag me into the dark.

         It makes me very sad that I will never be able to go back to my childhood, at least for a day. It wasn’t all sunshine, but despite the occasional tear, I do miss it. Ever spent the whole day playing Mario Bros on Super Nintendo with your older sister? You should. Ever spent the whole day playing football, using improvised goal posts near a road? You probably did. The number of footballs lost to traffic was staggering, but somehow, in all those years, we managed not to get hurt or break anything.

         I would eat all the chocolate I can fit into my mouth and sleep until lunchtime, not necessarily in that order. My mother would wake me up with a smile and it felt like the embodiment of love and safety. Despite the poor marriage my parents had, my mother always tried to give us her best. If it was such a day that my sister and I were in a mood for it, we would fire up the Nintendo and start playing. She was way better at it and it made me jealous.

         - Wow, look at how I finished this part, I’m so good! - I said.

         - You didn’t. I did. - she replied, already annoyed.

         - No, I did.

         She would storm out of the room, turning off the console as she left. If it happened to be dark, she would have also switched the lights off and closed the doors. I would be left sitting in pitch dark with a controller in my hands. But that was the extent our arguments went to. We were great siblings and best friends. My sister’s capacity for either taking up with my teasing or forgiving me was an infinitely deep pool. Sometimes she’d return the favour. We played and broke something. In a blink of an eye, she was already sitting on the toilet, opening the doors and asking nonchalantly ‘what did you just do?’. But there is a memory that makes me very sad every time I remember it. It was the first snow of the season, a most exciting event for children glued to the windows with eyes the size of plums.

         - Can we go out?

         - It’s three quarters to ten, you can go in the morning - our mother replied. You see, ‘three quarters to ten’ sounds later than ‘nine fifteen’. Usually we could go out as soon as first snow fell, but this snow was an hour late. In the morning, my sister and I donned our snow suits (which would always get wet in the end), took our sleigh and started down the walkway that led directly to a small artificial hill built specifically for winter joys. I even got my sister to drag me along with the sleigh.

         - Promise you won’t hog the sleigh once we get there?

         - Promise - I replied.

         But I did hog them and wouldn’t give her a go. She started crying and started walking home. I immediately felt sorry for her and offered the sleigh, but it was too late. She just kept on going and I was dragging along behind her. I am sure I did something worse to her more than once during our lives, but for some reason, this memory makes me most sad. If I could go back in time, I’d slap myself hard on the face. And then I’d force my little self to watch as she enjoys herself up and down the hill until lunch.

         We didn’t have mobile phones back then so going to the hill meant possibly meeting some friends. It was very exciting, not knowing who might you see. If you didn’t meet them on the hill, you could still ring their intercom and ask their moms or dads if they are home.

         - This is Jore, can Johan go out and play? - I would ask.

         - After lunch.

         He was my first friend ever. Living in the same apartment building probably helped a lot. Our parents were friends since they all moved in. Our whole neighbourhood was newly built at the beginning of the 80-ies and young families started flocking in. It was a good hood in New Zagreb mainly because you had to pay real money for an apartment, which was not always the case in socialist Yugoslavia. If you were very well off (regardless of the source of the wealth), you would probably own a house under mount Medvednica to the north. If you were below average, you couldn’t afford an apartment in a new neighbourhood. It sounds harsh, but it acted as a kind of a filter.

         - Wanna burn something? - Johan asked after lunch.

         - Sure, got matches?

         - No, but I have some change, just enough.

         The lady at the kiosk didn’t mind selling anything to kids so we were soon equipped with not one, but two packs of matches.

         - Ok, let’s gather some old paper and sticks and head out to the usual place - the usual place being a small niche in our building, hidden by a shrub. Come to think of it, it was a miracle we didn’t set the building on fire, along with our parents in it.

         - Look - he held out a small paper that burned on one end. I looked and he scorched my eyebrows and bangs. Fire causes a unique interest in children. I believe in reincarnation and it is not because I am inclined towards the East, but an inclination towards all spiritual paths and the spiritual path of the West proposes reincarnation, as well, just not in mainstream religion. Our minds are born anew, but our souls learn and grow through countless lifetimes. Fire is the same every time we are back. So is the night sky, the ocean and the mountains. Interacting with those constants causes very deep, uncharted feelings that we can understand only intuitively. Setting sticks on fire made us feel primordial, it was almost a meditative experience. Aside for the fact it was a violation of the law and one time a few of us caused quite a fire in an abandoned cafe (luckily it was a small, self-standing building scheduled for demolition). Turns out soft, plastic ice-cream wrappers burned like hell.

         When a local fruit store had closed due to the appearance of larger shopping centres, it’s thick glass roof with a metal frame was left intact. You could climb onto it and in three or four nimble moves, you would find yourself on top of a large entrance to our building. The buildings in our neighbourhood had several large, concrete entrances and ten to thirty apartments per entrance. Socialist architecture at its best. Being on top of an entrance was daring. An angry neighbour saw us once and we quickly descended the roof. I was the last to go, so I jumped from the entrance to the roof and went right through the glass and on the ground. Fortunately, the glass was very breakable, like in a car, and all I got was a large, but very shallow scratch on my left thigh that didn’t even leave a scar. It’s amazing what kids can go through without serious injury. I’d probably break both my legs if the same thing happened to me today. When I got home, my mother didn’t know what happened, but she did notice the scratch at one point during the evening.

         - My God, where did you get this?

         - This is from a fall - my father said. They were both doctors so they were good at recognising different types of injuries.

         - OK, they know it was a fall - I thought - I better come up with an alternative story that doesn’t include trashing the roof of the fruit store. For some reason, I was a very naive child and believed others would believe the same nonsense you could sell me any day of the week. The explanation I gave them was borderline idiotic.

         - There was a hole in the street due to some construction going on near it. The workers put a large glass on top of the hole. I walked backwards and fell through it.

         They just looked at me. Falling from a tree would have made a very plausible explanation, but I opted out for surrealism. A few days later I got home and mom was angry at me - she had found out. But how?

         - Your sister’s friend Andrea saw you and told your sister and she told me.

            There’s no honour among little children.

         As a teenager, I ambivalent feelings towards religion. I fantasised about becoming a priest or a monk and I remember saying to my mother once how I will move to Tibet to be a monk one day. I don't remember if I was influenced by movies such as Seven Years in Tibet or was it a genuine desire. Later, I developed an interest in the Franciscan order but I still cannot say whether it was genuine or was I drawn to the prospect of a life in which everything was predetermined, much like the army. Sort of an escapism because I couldn’t picture a life in which I had to do something and provide for myself.

         My sister and I were not baptised until the two of us asked our parents for it when she was nine and I was seven. At that time, Croatia was at war with Serbia. If you were not baptised, there was a chance you are Serbian (even today I fail to see the logic in that, since both the Serbs, and the Croatians, are Christian). Other children would not just tease you, but you could be molested. There was this fellow, Phil, who wasn't baptised and whose father happened to be of Serbian descent - allegedly - although that had absolutely nothing to do with their religious views. He got picked at almost every week, but he was amused by provoking. Sometimes even by me, although we were friends. Looking back at that time, I feel ashamed at how children can be cruel.

         After the Confirmation, I kept saying to myself how I should start going to church on Sundays. I started reading the New Testament every evening before sleep because I wanted to learn something before going back to mass. Occasional threats of hell struck me as odd and I couldn't force myself to believe it. Maybe that is why I never went back or the fact we had to collect stamps to prove we were at mass to be admitted for Confirmation. Or maybe it was the priest - the word on street was he often took goods intended for the poor and distributed the valuable ones among his close church-going friends.

Months of deliberation passed and I decided not to attend church for the time being and stopped reading the New Testament. High school brought out my nervous side and I started worrying a lot about my academic competence, though there was no need for it. I would sit through the classes shaking my leg. My head itched every day and I got dandruff. The idea of failure engulfed me. On top of that, before the end of elementary school I developed a liking for heavy metal music (which I still like today). There was nothing sinister about any of it, but the opinion of the majority was it was all Satanism. So, my friends and I played a long, impersonating tough guys that we never were. The pinnacle of our insurgency was when my friend Marc and I sang Iron Maiden at 2 a.m. in the park, after which we ran away laughing. Rock on.

. . .

8. A pulse from the past

         A month has passed since I had started my second college experience. Except this wasn’t a college experience at all like the last time; I was learning a lot and getting closer to my new career.

         - I’ll be an engineer - the thought rang, almost unreal, especially due to the fact I quit a degree in physics before even starting it. Despite the excitement, I was terribly afraid that I will fail as a software engineer. Unlike the younger students around me, I had no previous computer science experience. It was around that time that I’ve learned about the impostor syndrome. I watched a short presentation on the topic and it had saved me from getting an ulcer. My interest towards all things mystical was getting more and more silent and my memories of it seemed like watching a train from a far, without hearing its roar. While I still had a strong inclination towards Zen and my non-religious belief in God has been deeply enriched in the past years, I had lost the edge I once had when it came to pompous spreading of unverified esoteric secrets and so-called truths. Zen theory, more than my occasional meditations, had stripped me of all unnecessary practice, or so I had thought.

         An email popped in my inbox with a title ‘Contact’. It contained a message, ‘Enjoy…’ and a link to a very badly built web page. The website was about a civil association called The Mercury Society and it spoke quite plainly about it being a breeding ground for various esoteric practices. Subtle. Two people could have sent this too me. Five years ago, it could have been twenty people, but now it’s only two, especially if website’s bad writing and presentation were considered. Possible culprit number one was Frater Rick from my Rosicrucian days. Culprit number two could also be from the same bunch, Frater Ned. We parted on friendly terms but haven’t heard since. Both loved exploring everything esoteric they could get their hands on to. Both wanted to be more prominent in the profane world, as both had quite unsuccessful careers and endured hardships in their private lives.

         - Is it Rick or Ned? - I replied.

         - It’s Rick, who else! You interested? - I had forgotten he liked using exclamation marks all over the place.

         - Sure, we can have a drink.

         - Where and when? I can do tomorrow!

         - Let’s meet at Fresh beer - it was a noisy bar full of smoke very close to my college and I had a lecture the next day. I wondered if he had changed a lot. I remember the man… slim, somewhat rugged and strict, avid smoker and with glasses thick as windows. And sure enough, it was the same man! Maybe a couple of pounds more which made him look healthier. His voice had changed, though, it became worn out and I had trouble connecting the man in front of me with the person from my past. Good news was, he quit smoking. Not that it made any difference in a bar where air was only called so in a lack of a better word.

         - My wife said to me ‘such a big mystic you are, talking about enlightenment, but still smoking, ha!’ and I quit smoking the very same day.

         - That’s good to hear - I replied, thinking how his wife was smart to play on the ego card - So what’s this about?

         - Look here - he said importantly - this is sort of a nursery for esotericism and behind it is an esoteric masonic order.

         Despite the very bad presentation that had a nice sectarian ring to it, I was interested to know more. The old interest towards Freemasonry, that I had burned and buried, emerged like a phoenix. Could this be it, finally?

         - What kind of an esoteric masonic order? - I knew there were many self-proclaimed masonic orders, not recognised by anyone outside themselves.

         - The Grand Orient!

         Are those trumpets I hear? The Grand Orient finally has a foothold in Croatia? And oddly enough, my old pal Evgeni had nothing to do with it. I know because he and Rick didn’t exactly see eye to eye and there wasn’t a chance in this world for them to collaborate. I wonder what he’s up to, anyway, old Evgeni.

         - How did you come to be in contact with them?

         - Through Damon. You remember him, right?

         - Of course, I do, I liked him very much when we were members of AMORC.

         - Yes. We’re not members of AMORC anymore, any of the old gang, but that’s a story for a different time. What’s important is this, now. See here, this is big. It can grow! Right now, we’re still traveling to Slovenia, two hours’ drive, because the Lodge is over there. Damon knows them, they’ve been in contact for a while now. With new members, we can expand to Croatia. There’s only three of us involved right now.

         - Who’s the third one?

         - It’s Remy, he was also an AMORC member, but after your time in the order.

         - Yeah, I haven’t heard of him.

         - So, what do you say? Interested?

         Damon and the Grand Orient put together made a pretty strong argument regarding the legitimacy of this endeavour. I wasn’t completely certain that it all sounded right, at least according to my gut feeling, but this might be my only chance to enter Freemasonry. At this point, it was more about ego, than it was about personal growth. I wanted it, but I knew I didn’t need it in my search for God.

         - I’m in.

         - Great! You need to submit your CV and a motivational letter. You can email it directly to Damon. After that, we’ll set up a meeting at my place.

         I couldn’t wait to talk to Myra about all this. To my surprise, she wasn’t as interested as I had hoped she would be. On the contrary, she was uncertain and a bit reserved when she heard Frater Rick is involved. She didn’t know him much, but considered what she had heard in the past years, caution was a natural response. Saying that I didn’t feel the same way would be an outright lie, but I had to silence that part of my mind - it couldn’t be allowed to stand in the way of my desire.

         - I should give him a chance - I started my reasoning - it’s been years, the man has surely changed. He seemed a bit more down to earth - if fact, he didn’t, but I wanted it that way. Myra tends to see the best in people on any given day, so being sceptical was a big warning flag. However, her support for me can be measured in celestial terms, especially since I was still looking for my place in the world.

         - If you really want this, you should do it. Worst thing that can happen is disappointment, in which case you can always resign.

         I’ve prepared my CV and my motivational letter, as instructed. Off it went, into the digital ocean. A few days have passed with no response. Finally, an interview was arranged for late December, two month from now. Why not sooner? Is this a deliberate delay with a goal to test me? I didn’t know how to pass the time, although I had my studies and my wife and I often had friends over, or had drinks outside. Up until Rick’s re-emergence from my past, I had no trouble what so ever passing the time. By all worldly standards, my life had been quite alright. It is a wonder what the mind does to a person. Had he never contacted me, nothing would have changed and I would be the same old, satisfied me, but my mind was just promised a new toy and it wanted it now. I believe real love and spirituality are very similar: they take their time, preferring long investments over quick gratifications. If I am joining to enrich my spiritual path, there should be no impatience, anxiety or rush.

         The day of the interview had arrived and I was sitting in Rick’s yellow and brown living room, nicely decorated with a masonic symbol here and there. Nothing over the top, which came as a bit of a surprise. Damon was wearing his suit - I don’t remember ever seeing him without a suit. His short, grey hair was pointing upwards, like I remembered it. There was a certain aloofness to him, a presence that was not complete. I couldn’t make out what exactly it was. Perhaps he was just being a bit reserved to play his role in the interview. I had expected him to be more excited to see me, like I was excited to see him after five years. However, he barely knew me back then and the appreciation I had of him was obviously going one way.

         As I later learned, the interview I had passed was not the same kind of interview a complete outsider would have gone through. They knew me, especially Rick, and they had basically decided in advance that I would be accepted as a member. Damon was playing it cool, while Rick’s jitters were hard to conceal. They also told me the interview took this long to organise because Remy and Rick had to travel to Slovenia with Damon to be raised to the degree of Master Masons and couldn’t, according to the rules, participate in an interview before that. Remy was not there, but I had found him on Facebook a few days before and I was having trouble envisioning him as a Freemason because his profile showed a fun-loving, fashionable and quirky person. I recognise this issue in almost all outsiders as Masons are imagined as elderly gentlemen in dark suits, no smiles allowed.

         - Is this Remy? - I showed the Facebook profile page to Rick. A man in his early thirties, tattooed, in a buttoned-down shirt and a hipster hat was smiling from my phone.

         - Yes, it is - Rick replied.

         - He seems quirky.

         - He’s totally crazy - he replied conversationally.

         Damon took over and explained to me that the initiation would most likely be held in February or March at the latest. That meant at least two more months of waiting. I can take that. Not that I have an alternative. He also told me I wouldn’t be the only candidate – at least two women would be initiated at the same time. It was good to hear we will have female members right from the start, as a mixed order should have.

         - We will be performing the initiation according to the York ritual - he said.

         - Oh - I was a bit disappointed - why not the Scottish ritual?

         The York ritual and the Scottish ritual are two main ritualistic currents in Freemasonry. They tell the same story, but in a different way. The Scottish ritual was said to be more dramatic as it involved swords and other props, as well as parts of the ritual that do not exist in the York version. I liked the drama and it triggered a memory of my 1st Temple initiation in AMORC, years ago.

         - The main reason is the required space - Damon explained - or the lack of it. We’re using Rick’s house in the country.

         - You have a house in the country? And we’re not doing it in Slovenia? - I was confused.

         - Well, yes, but it’s an old dual house, it’s not in a very good condition… half belongs to me, half to my brother. It’s not in a good condition, but, you know, it will be more mystical that way. And don’t worry about the ritual, Damon included some elements from the Scottish one to make it more interesting. We’re doing it here because we want to bring the order to Croatia as soon as possible. You see, we’ll be under their control, but still on our ground.

         The whole operation had a guerrilla feel to it. I remember thinking to myself, ‘so this is what beginnings look like.’

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