Esoteric Masons

The group described on this page - the "Ancient, Accepted & Esoteric Freemasons" has as much to do with Esotericism and/or Freemasonry as a dog has to do with mangos!

For more information about Esotericism, please click here.
For more information about Masons who are interested in esoteric matters, there's an excellent FAQ here

It's been happening for - literally - centuries. People create scams to separate the unsuspecting from their hard-earned money. One of the most pervasive scams over the past three hundred years involves Freemasonry. They sell 'degrees' to those who don't know any better or, perhaps, think they're getting into something really big!

By accident, almost, we stumbled across the website for the "Ancient, Accepted & Esoteric Freemasons". It's probably unnecessary, based on the section in which this explanation occurs, to mention that they are, simply, none of the above! They're not ancient - by ANY stretch of the imagination, being an invention for the world wide web in December, 2003. (They have their website with a ©1956 which is truly, truly amazing since they would have been the web's first site beating the ACTUAL first site by 35 years! But the stupidity doesn't stop there.) They're not "Accepted" by ANYONE and should someone join this group thinking perhaps that they'd be able to visit real Masonic lodges, they'd be sadly disappointed. Their claim that "The Grand Lodge of Ancient, Accepted & Esoteric Freemasons (A:. A:. &  E:. F:. ) is the Supreme Mother Lodge for all Esoteric Freemasons. It's descended from the original Grand Lodge of Masons established in England in 1717." is just SO laughable. Don't believe us? Contact the United Grand Lodge of England and ask them if this group stems from them. Oh, and if they laugh at you, don't feel badly. This stuff can sometimes be awfully comical to us Masons. Sadly, it's the public that gets caught and loses their money in the process.

We won't comment on their "Esoteric" bent except to say that they've hidden the fact of their theft of material from various legitimate Masonic websites.

And if all of this didn't give you a clue, then the fact that your check to become a member is to be made out to Universal Gnostic Church at a post office box in a mountain town in North Carolina might.... Oh, and did we mention that while you're sending Betty Reeves (the name that used to be on a bunch of their websites but has since been removed since we created this page) your check, you might also want to pay for your membership in the so-called "Magickal Order of the Golden Dawn - where you can become an adept in a year or less" or maybe you want to be part of the "Modern Order of Essenes" or perhaps buy your license as a "Spiritual Health Coach". If that's not enough, you could simultaneously join the "Order of Mary" or the "Gnostic Yoga Fellowship", all from the same place. Pretty great, huh?  And when we checked back in December, 2008 we found that you can also get involved with Dragon Alchemy (whose Yahoo Discussion Group seems to have gone belly-up), the Alchemy Fellowship, The Octagon Society (where you can get a lifetime membership for only $80 which gives you.... who knows?) and the even more important Temple of Solomon, limited only to those who've achieved the rank of "8/8" in his Octagon Society. (We'd be willing to take a bet that to get to the 8/8 level costs a bunch more than that initial $80....) Surely there are - and will be - many more, the intent of which should be patently obvious.

So, to summarize: they are not, as you might already surmise, real Freemasons. Period. Comically, we've even seen one of the 'disgruntled bloggers' quoting this group! Talk about credibility.

They do, of course have an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page on their website. It begins with a simple question: "Is Esoteric Freemasonry legitimate?" to which they respond, "Yes". Read on its face, one might think that this is referring to the organization but instead, it's addressing "Freemasonry" and not "Esoteric Freemasons" (their group). Well, ok: who defines 'legitimate' then? Ah, answered in the second question: their 'charter' from the "Grand Orient". But let's ask something: when you go to join something, should the first question they want to answer for you is whether or not they're legitimate? Doesn't that make you wonder just a little bit? And then there's this:

Q - What makes it legitimate?
A - Their Charter from the Grand Orient made the Sovereign Grand Lodge legitimate in the beginning.  The Grand Lodge then became an independent Masonic organization under the umbrella of the Universal Gnostic Church which continues to support and recognize the Sovereign and Independent Grand Lodge of Ancient, Accepted and Esoteric Freemasons.

My dear readers: there is NO SUCH THING as a regular/recognized Grand Lodge of Freemasons of ANY stripe "under the umbrella" of ANYTHING! In fact, there have been de-recognitions of self-styled Grand Lodges when they even APPEARED to be governed by another MASONIC organization, let alone a church. As you can read anywhere on the web, Grand Lodges are sovereign and independent, not by title alone but by their very existence. The above word-dance is patently absurd. However, the Universal Gnostic Church of Ridgecrest, North Carolina seems to have found a pretty good way to gain from folks seeking an easy way (or a perceived 'more enriching' way) to Masonic membership!

November, 2007 update:

Since we last wrote about this group, their website registration is hidden with - you can't make this stuff up, folks - "Secret Registration" using a Post Office box in Swannanoa, North Carolina. This also, curiously, is the very same address as the Biofeedback Association of North America and there are others as well. You can become part of the Alliance of Christian Healers (they ask that you don't call - and they don't provide a phone number because - as their website states - they're just so busy!). Don't overlook their reminder that "Licensed Spiritual Healers™ may use any tools provided by our Father in Heaven to help God-fearing people regain and improve their spiritual, mental, emotional, psychological and physical health. { Note: the trade name Licensed Spiritual Healer™ is jointly owned by the Spiritual Healer License Board and the Alliance of Christian Healers License Board.}". We're not quite sure in what country that Trademark is supposedly registered but a search of the United States (which is where North Carolina was located when we last looked) Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) comes up empty. What were the odds of that, eh?

And if you're going to read Tarot cards through their Tarot Institute (same address), you can - according to Mr. John Gilbert, Ph.D., D.D. protect yourself (maybe) by getting that {supposedly trademarked} spiritual healers license. Our suggestion: don't take legal advice from a Doctor of Philosophy with credentials from someplace unknown and who is the guiding hand behind all of this. Dr. Gilbert was - at one point - claiming to be a Mason in Michigan. When we checked with them, as you might have guessed by now - he was NOT a member. In 2004, he was listed in a self-accrediting group's directory for biofeedback practitioners as follows: "Dr. Gilbert is a Board Certified Diplomate in Neurotherapy and Peak Performance currently retired from clinical practice and doing peak performance research and consulting." Now needless to say, the 'Board Certification' came from the organization which he 'founded'. You can see more about him here but, strangely, no mention of where his Ph.D. came from. How curious. And in 2005 when we first put this page up, we received an e-mail from him as follows:

"I believe you may be in error about the Ancient and Accepted Esoteric Freemasons.  They do appear to have the proper lineage and they have been around at least since the early 1950's when I first came across them."

So if Mr. Gilbert first came across them in the early 1950's, that would mean he's now almost 90 years old - or he came across them as an infant. Why don't these stories ever quite add up? Needless to say, requests for additional information were unanswered. And doesn't this refute their claim that they have a lineage back to 1717? Maybe they found the secret linkage while out hunting raccoons in the hills or something.... (No disrespect meant to North Carolina where we lived for a couple of years and loved the Carolina Blue sky which must be seen to be appreciated!)

You are free to roll your eyes now - but there's still more!

You might want to take some courses from their Universal Seminary although at this writing, that web site is pretty screwed up. Hard to keep your juggling straight sometimes. Yes, they're at PO Box 103, Swannanoa, North Carolina as well. These folks must be one of GoDaddy's biggest customers they way they buy websites. And, of course, they wouldn't be paying for  them every month if they weren't making enough money to cover their costs, would they?

You might also want to join in with their REIKI LICENSE COMMISSION FOR REIKI MASTERS AND HEALERS. It would seem that there's a never-ending string of things you can spend your money on up there in the North Carolina hills.

We've also heard from a non-Mason who contacted them about membership and who was told that "The Acacia Lodge of the A.A.E.F. is a cyber lodge and we have members all over the world. The study materials and initiatory rites are designed to be self directed and self performed." WOW! Pat yourself on the head, twirl around three times, howl at the moon, and call yourself a Freemason. Pretty darn impressive - but we'd LOVE to see you explaining that you're honestly and truly a Mason to the Tyler who guards the door of our (regular & recognized) Lodge. You'd find, we guarantee, the quickest route to the exit door you could ever imagine! What a shame that there are those who will gullibly send their money to people like this.

Oh, and if you think that maybe we've gotten a couple of different groups mingled together, you should know that the Post Office Box mentioned above in Ridgecrest, North Carolina (Population not even listed on the state of North Carolina website, it's so small!) is less than a 6.5 mile/10.5 kilometer drive from the one in Swannanoa (Population 4,132). Those reading this page from Los Angeles or London may assume that to be a long drive but remember, this is rural North Carolina. Microsoft Streets & Trips (2007) shows it to be a journey of EIGHT MINUTES, probably much faster if you take the Interstate highway.

We could just go on and on with this stuff but it is SO typical of those who are involved with "Fake Masonry". Their web of deceit is seemingly limitless and is presented in a way to ensnare you before you discover the facts. Don't be misled!

A telling interview

At the same time we were updating this page with the November, 2007 update (above), our Masonic Brother Cory Sigler who writes and publishes The Working Tools magazine was preparing an issue featuring the subject of Esotericism. For this, he interviewed Mr. Gilbert, the self-styled Grand Master of the organization.

The concept of a "self-initiation" process making one more imbued with the secrets of the universe is, at best, self-delusion. Realistically, one might just as easily over-imbibe in alcohol or take mind-altering drugs. Here's what Mr. Gilbert had to say:

Q - How do the "regular" Lodges react to their members joining Esoteric Freemasonry Lodges?
A - Most "regular" Masonic groups expel any of their members who also join an Esoteric Freemasonry Lodge. For this reason, most "regular" Masons keep their membership in an Esoteric Freemason Lodge a secret. <Masonicinfo Note: That's pretty presumptive - and what Mr. Gilbert is stating is that Masons would LIE and would violate the rules and regulations of their organization in order to become 'more enriched in his interpretation of cosmic consciousness or whatever. Somehow that doesn't make much sense ~ at least to someone familiar with the 'real' Freemasonry.> Others do not take any of the optional obligations of an Esoteric Freemason thus avoiding the dual membership problem. <Masonicinfo Note: Oh. So they don't belong but can still get the secrets of the universe from you?? Hmmmm....>  A few "regular" Masons do join openly because their Lodge doesn't mind. <Masonicinfo Note: Absolutely false to fact - and we directly challenge Mr. Gilbert to provide proof of this claim.>
Q - How many of the obligations in Acacia Lodge #1 are optional?
A - All of them. No Esoteric Freemason is ever required to take any obligation. <Masonicinfo Note: So it's like joining Costco or Sam's Club, eh? Only with them, you ostensibly get a discount. Oh, wait: here you get the secrets of the universe.... Sorry.>
Q - If they don't take an obligation, how can they become a member?
A - Any "regular" Mason can become a member anytime by asking. Taking an obligation does not make a person a member. Asking to become a member does. <Masonicinfo Note: AND, Mr. Gilbert should have added, send him MONEY!> Any "regular" Mason can go through all the degrees without becoming a member.
Q - How and whom does a person ask to become a member?
A - By filling out an application and paying the lifetime fees for membership. <Masonicinfo Note: Nothing more. You pay your money and you get what Mr. Gilbert is selling. No requirements at all. Anybody can join.>
Q - Do I receive a membership card when I pay my dues?
A - No, we do not send out membership cards. <Masonicinfo Note: "Doctor" Gilbert might consider Avery. They have nice stuff you can do on an ink jet printer. Then again, the five year olds they may get as members probably wouldn't be too interested. And why take a chance with U.S. Postal investigators charging you with fraud with you can just say 'We don't do membership cards...." >
Q - What do I receive for my money?
A - All of the teaching materials and rituals of the Lodge. When you become a Master Mason, you may help other people become Master Masons. As soon as you and two other Masons ask for a Charter, the Grand Lodge will issue you a Charter for your own Esoteric Freemason Lodge. All along the way, you have access to volunteers who will assist you in any way possible. <Masonicinfo Note: Uh-huh.... Do they get a 'piece of the action' or are they just making money for Gilbert out of the goodness of their heart in thankful appreciation for him giving them the secrets of the universe? So many questions...>
Q - How do I find other people near me that want to be Masons?
A - You can ask. You're free to invite anybody in your life to consider Esoteric Freemasonry. People under the age of 18 may become members with the permission of a parent. Any person you know is eligible to become an Esoteric Freemason as we do not discriminate against seekers after Divine knowledge. <Masonicinfo Note: Bring in all your friends: help support more of "Doctor" Gilbert's self-created groups....>

What Mr. Gilbert apparently didn't realize in his answers was how very telling they were in terms of 'realism'. This group has no more connection to Freemasonry than my fireplace has to my automobile!

The Leader of it All

We should, in all fairness, provide Dr. Gilbert's credentials as found on the web:

Dr. Gilbert has a Ph.D. from Rocky Mountain University in Education Administration, Supervision, and Curriculum Development. He holds a Doctorate in Comparative Religions and is currently a doctoral candidate in Naturopathy with a major in neurotherapy and nutrition. Dr. Gilbert is employed by Lexicor Medical Technology where his duties include educating clinicians in the use of brain mapping and neurotherapy equipment. Dr. Gilbert is a professor of meditation, yoga, and Kaballah at the Universal Theological Seminary in Boulder, Colorado.

His Ph.D. is from a distance learning (then most often referred to as 'mail order') school which began in 1998 - although based on their current status, he must have 'lucked out' in getting his degree in their early days. And there's also a very interesting history of the seminary where he was, he fails to mention, not only a professor but also an ARCHBISHOP. (It's that self-same Universal Seminary mentioned above which he apparently now owns.) Yep, it just gets more and more convoluted as it goes along. See the story here.

We would, of course, welcome any corrections or amplifications to this very intriguing web of connected 'organizations' which all seem to lead to the wallet of John Gilbert.

What his biography DIDN'T mention....

"Doctor" Gilbert is, it seems, quite the fellow. Not only does he manage all of the above-referenced groups AND MORE! but he also does - yes, it just makes sense, doesn't it? - web design. His own Qhiron Corp. has four pages of examples of groups he's done website creation for. Would you believe that they're all somehow related to HIM? Naw, that'd make you think this was just a big internet scam machine. Why the good 'doctor' even has a place in his heart for single women (who'd have thought, huh?) and has set up a non-profit organization (we checked and, believe it or not, this is the one claim he's made that's true!) to solicit donations. In fact, we're always impressed with charity and when you see this list of their supporters, we're SURE that you'll want to sign up too: it would be nice to have a non-Gilbert organization on there. Those in the US who decry the abuse of non-profit tax status would do well to look at things like this!

So whether it's spiritual speaking, bionetics (don't ask us!), esoteric freemasons, web design or single women, he's got you covered - all right there in the North Carolina mountains. It's pretty amazing.

Remember, though, it's all about learning and you can get some of their super-duper courses at VERY affordable prices. Want to become a Detoxification Coach? Hey, he's got just the thing for you:

$395 to $195 to $95 - Hmmmm....

But WAIT. This says "Anatomy and Physiology Workshop in the header - and in the description below, it's  AROMA THERAPY! That or the poor man just has SO many of these rinky-dink things going on that he must get so confused.... And who will you be 'licensed' by? Why The Licensing Commission in New York so it MUST be legit, right? Ah, not so fast folks: just like another anti-Masonic scammer from days gone by, that address of 8417 Oswego Road #131, Baldwinsville, NY 13027 is actually - TA DA - a UPS Store that does mail forwarding. Oh, and in 1954-1958, a John Gilbert attended Baldwinville Academy, their local high school. Now what are the odds of THAT, huh?

UPS Stores EVERYWHERE

It's really pretty comical how folks like this can do their 'shuck and jive'. So you looked at the address for one of the above groups and found it was in Colorado? Surely things have changed, right? WRONG!

Just put the address (without the #xxx) into Google search and guess what: you'll find that there's a UPS store at that address. Now do you think that the Biofeedback folks are working in the same building with the same suite number? Not bloody likely....

Note: The above quotes from TWT Magazine used by permission.

This page updated on 2 June 2008, 27 December 2008, 2 December 2009, 3 July 2010, a bit more on 24 September 2012 and a comment about their 1956 copyright of their website <ROFL> on 28 September 2013.

 

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