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Letter to 1927 International Convent

The National Archive of France in Paris contains (a part of) the archives of the French federation of Le Droit Humain. In this archive there is a letter of Farwerck who, since 1923, was the representative of the Dutch federation of this international organisation. At the time of the convent he was even Vice-President of the Supreme Council. I had hoped that the letter would make clear why Farwerck (or seemingly any Dutch representative) was not present at that convent. Instead, the letter turned out to be a 16 page printed and stapled booklet with both in French and in English. Farwerck gives his personal view on the future of Le Droit Humain. He strongly warns against Theosophical influences in spite of the fact that it was Theosophy who led himself to co-Masonry.

The lengthy letter is perhaps the only text in English of Farwerck that I know (or French). It shows again how he wants to work for mankind, how strongly he opposed (certain) influences on Theosophy of Le Droit Humain and why and how he hoped to strengthen the international Masonic movement.


The great task of the 1927 meeting, building on the foundations already laid, is to organise the International Co-Masonic Order “Le Droit Humain” better and more firmly and to enable it, by the solidification of a mighty corporation, to operate with ever increasing vigour for the welfare of mankind.

Unusual difficulties have already been surmounted, and still greater ones probably await us, for our Order initiates something new : it is the first attempt, the first successful one at least, to create an international masonic organisation. Those who know how meagre are the results attained by the masculine Orders in their endeavours towards international co-operation, will understand that we must exert our utmost efforts to pursue the path taken, and that we must set aside personal aspirations and bring universal interests to the front.

When we ask ourselves what these difficulties are, we see that, next to other causes of less importance, international co-operation is in the first place hampered by the fact that, as a consequence of the existing freedom of opinion, in divers countries and in different circles various notions are held about freemasonry. This, as I hope to show, need not of itself be any objection to co-operation. But this difficulty cannot be bridged over, if there are groups who consider that their idea is the only correct one and that really no other opinions about freemasonry should exist than theirs or that their particular opinion must be expressed in the form of freemasonry (in the constitution, ritual, laws etc.).

This attitude, and in my opinion rightly so, most people hold to be far from correct. In freemasonry which, according to tradition, is intended to be the meeting-point of every direction of thought and religious conviction, provided they will conjointly co-operate for the welfare of the human race, no compulsion may be exercised in any definite direction of thought or religious conviction, nor may people otherwise ready and able to work according to the masonic method with masonic means, be excluded by any definite form of ritual.

The principal tendencies of freemasonry which we must take into account are as follows:

1. Freemasonry such as principally met with in English-speaking countries. This is of an ethical, religious, and benevolent nature and clings to traditions without troubling much about its deeper meaning. In the last few decades a change has taken place, but the chief part of masonic study is as yet based on the historical side of Freemasonry.

2. Freemasonry of the Latin countries. This is for the most part anti-clerical and frequently even anti-religious. Politics play a great part and philosophical meditations take the place of religious considerations. In general its fundamental principle is rationalism, it does not attach much value to ritual or the deeper meening [sic] thereof.

3. Humanitarian Freemasonry. This is principally found in the Northern and Central European countries. It emphasizes to man’s duty to endeavour to attain the highest that he as an individual can obtain and the greater part of German masonic literature is occupied with this idea.

4. Christian Freemasonry. This too is chiefly found in Germany. It is not established on the broad basis of the groups already discussed for this reason already, that it already excludes a definite group of people, the non-Christians — and as it is, moreover, generally nationnally inclined, it is of no importance to our Order.

5. Freemasonry according to theosophical ideas. This forms, in relation to the foregoing, but a small group and is not confined to any definite country. Within this group exists a wide divergence of ideas, (just as is, in truth, the case to a certain degree with the other groups). Some base themselves on the three principles of the Theosophical Society, others believe more or less in the modern theosophical system, such as that which has been worked out by our Very Ills. Bro. Annie Besant in particular, others again, whom we might call the extremists — more royal than the king — wish to imbue the world with theosophical ideas by all the means in their power, even where others will have nothing to do with them and they do that sometimes, alas, even without having a sufficient appreciation of the notions of those holding different opinions.

Fortunately these extremists form only a small group and they are kept back from following their schismatic inclinations (which they foster as soon as it appears that domination is not possible) by the more intelligent of their leaders, who quite comprehend that the desired co-operation is impossible. if anyone is to force his own opinion on the others. For this co-operation — and where is this more desirable than in a masonic order which, moreover, is also international — is only possible when there is a neutral platform where we can meet each other: a form which binds us all; a meeting-point from which we, in our way and according to our views, can proceed to accomplish our work for the welfare of mankind.

The constitution of the Grand Orient of Holland, and rightly so, state that Freemasonry seeks to avoid what divides and looks for that which unites. This statement should be the fundamental thought for the discussions in the meetings of the Convent and in this way only we can find a basis which consolidates the above-mentioned directions of thought.

In my opinion, such a basis may be met with in the ritual that. next to its proper functions, also has the task of binding together. And for that reason no one-sided direction of thought may have expression in the ritual, as it hinders co-operation, and, by basing the symbolical forms, words or actions on definite philosophical or religious notions and thus calling forth but one interpretation, renders impossible visiting the Lodge of those holding different opinions.

Here we arrive at the sixth tendency in Freemasonry which through its synthetical standpoint is on a higher plane than those already mentioned and whose representatives are to be found in the first three of the groups mentioned.

6. This is symbolical Freemasonry. The standpoint of this group is that everyone is absolutely free to have his own opinion as regards Freemasonry. and his own interpretation of all traditional and symbolical forms, but that on the other hand the masonic forms and, in the first place, masonic ritual, may not harbour any dogmas of any definite faith, nor any definite philosophical or religious forms, if they, through their non-symbolical character place a one-sided stamp on the ritual. In other words, it adheres the view that the ritual must be capable of a manysided interpretation and should not necessarily point to and lead to one single definite conviction.

This is a standpoint that offers no obstacles to the tendencies named under 1. 2 and 3. There indeed is expressed not so much the desire to lay down a definite conviction in the ritual, but rather the reluctance to accept in the ritual anything clashing with private conviction, a reluctance that is sometimes even so great that forms intended to be taken symbolically, are taken literally and removed. A typical example thereof is the question at issue, which keeps Anglo-Saxon and Latin Freemasonry apart: the G. A. of the U. The literal view thereof as the God of the Roman Catholic Church has caused the anti-clerical Latins to decide on the withdrawal of this symbol from the rituals. If they had adopted the views of group 6 and in fact considered it as a symbol (interpreting it as suited them best), then there would have been no objection for them either to maintain that symbol.

The symbolical standpoint does not hold for the freemasons of group 1, who premise a real religious conviction and express this in their rituals. It also appears to be a stamblingblock [sic] for many from group 5, since we find hereby a tendency towards definite one-sided notions of the ritual. An example thereof is the sacrifices to the elementals, a custom that, before it was introduced into some lodges by theosophists, so far as can be traced, did not occur in any single masonic ritual in the world. These elementals are non-material beings, which fulfil their part in the world of spirits according to theosophical teaching; they have only a recognised meaning for those who accept this teaching and it is impossible to give a symbolical meaning thereof to those holding other opinions. Theosophically thinking persons are at liberty to give to a universally accepted ritual that interpretation which seems to them the most acceptable, but no one is at liberty to employ such forms in the rituals which result in the exclusion Bros of other lodges, or other countries.

Co-operation, international as well as inter-ideal, must be possible in Freemasonry and it is possible, if all groups refrain from introducing into the rituals, forms which are only capable of a one-sided interpretation; in other words, if the rituals remain purely symbolical. The rituals transmitted to us from the 18th and 19th centuries conform fairly to this precept, apart from the fact that they are also of great use in other respects. They certainly display mutual differences, but unity of ritual (an ideal as good as unattainable) is not so necessary as purity of symbols. The following precepts should therefore hold good for our rituals:

a. They must be in agreement with the old traditional forms.
b. They may be freed from non-symbolical parts which have evidently crept in.
c. They may (sparingly and only if necessary) be supplemented by generally suitable symbols.
d. They may not contain any dogmatic teachings (in word, act, or form) nor any parts which only admit of a one-sided interpretation.
e. They must be approved of by the Supreme Council, which accepts the points a-d as precepts.

In this way, and with this control, we shall have rituals in which no dogmatic tenets occur, and in which there is nothing to keep others back from co-operating with us.
This is avoidance of what divides.
And with these rituals everyone will be able to work, everyone, interpreting them in his own way, will be able to assent to.
This is the search for what unites.

In this way, we shall have a basis on which all tendencies of thought can work together in harmony, and the Convent, by taking decisions to this effect, will help to assure the internal harmony in our Order such and keep disturbances by one-sided aims far.

Vice-President of the Supreme Council.
Representative of the Supreme Council for Holland
and Delegate of the Supreme Counsil [sic] for Germany, Austria,
Czecho-Slavakia, Yougo-Slavakia and Hungary.

The opinions set down in the above are to be regarded as personally expressed and do not bind either the Supreme Council or the Dutch Jurisdiction, or the other Jurisdictions the undersigned is delegate of.

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