Many of the typical 18th century esoteric pursuits are sufficiently dated and so much a product of their time that they are of not much interest to modern esotericists. Some of the so-called esoteric topics espoused by Stephen Freeman and Ebenezer Sibly, include “Cabala”, astrology, futurism, Secrets of the Medics and Mercurius Termaximas, the sacred Medicine of the ancient Egyptians, Arabs, Gymnosophists, etc. Modern esoteric topics such as mysticism, yoga and meditation are on a much higher plane than their 18th century esoteric predecessors.
Esoteric Freemasonry vs. Mainstream Masonry
There are two different types of practicing Freemasons. Mainstream Masonry is dedicated to sociability, charity and respectability. Most Masons fall into this first category. First Bro. Stephen Freeman became a mainstream Mason for financial gain and social advancement. After Freeman was able to met Masons of wealth and influence, he then aggressively solicited them to his “esoteric” enterprises such as his fraudulent Royal Ark Masonry.
Within this first group of mainstream Freemasons there exists a sub group of Masons who find that neither mainstream Freemasonry, nor mainstream society are sufficiently profound or spiritual enough to sustain them. Some eccentric Freemasons having an authentic esoteric experience of life do not regularly attend a Masonic Lodge.
Technically, esoteric Freemasonry could mean anything about the Supreme Being that is meant for a small audience. In my opinion esoteric Freemasonry also means meditating upon Oneness with God in solitude.
The word esoteric means intended only for a few. A select few brother Freemasons pursue their longing for genuine secrets of the spirit in the golden silence of blissful solitude.
Urban London hucksters Freeman, Sibly and Bell had serious entrepreneurial interests in their self-constructed world of esoteric philosophy.
Late 18th Century Esoteric Huckster Stephen Kingstone, alias Stephen “Freeman”
Bro. Stephen “Kingstone” Freeman (1739-90), first worked to achieve status as a secular fraternalist and then he turned to the late 18th Century esoteric Freemasonry topics of his day such as the perennial interest in Egyptians, innumerable Divines, and the “Cabala”, as Freeman spells it in his public relations materials.
Here is a 1780 advertisement from Freeman addressed, “To the Learned”:
ADVERTISEMENT FROM THE SIBLYS OF LONDON: To the Learned From Stephen Freeman
“Any Gentleman acquainted with the secret Key to the Cabinet of the sacred Medicine of the ancient Egyptians, Arabs, Gymnosophists, &c of former Ages, before the Time of Galen, or Hyppocrates, even anticipating the Days of Magus and AEsculapius, up to the Days of Serug, Abraham’s Great Grandfather; a Secret that always had a Being with some few since Nature was capable of formula: But had been neglected by Medics, and was lost to the Word for some short Time, and discovered again by Mercurius Termaximas, who contrived a Cabala, by which, covertly to reveal the same to innumerable Divines, and to some few Medical Gentlemen, who enjoyed it in different Parts of the World, many of whom in our Days are not known. Therefore, whoever is blest with the Secret in this Kingdom, whether a Professor of Medicine, a Divine, or other Person, Dr FREEMAN, would be clad to correspond with him upon the miraculous Effects of such a Discovery. –No Curious Letters will be answered nor received, unless Post paid.”
Freeman & Sibly Were In It For The Money
Freeman was advertising a sort of correspondence course with his “To the Learned” advertisement. He advertised for subscriptions, and made presentations, claiming he had made a great discovery that he would give to the world, if only a sufficient number of contributors would compensate him for the trouble and expense of the discovery. First in the list of his patrons is Sibly’s acquaintance Charles Rainsford. Rainsford belonged to a range of English and Continental Masonic rites, including the high degrees beyond Master Mason and Royal Arch. Rainsford is recognized as one of the foremost 18th Century esoteric Freemasons and fraternalists of the age. Bro. Freeman was in good company as he exploited Freemasonry for his own financial gain and social advancement.