The Knights and Dames of the Order gather in the Temple, to proceed along a path called “the perfectioning”. This path shall lead them to the knowledge of themselves, of society, of nature and God. The Temple and the act of perfectioning indicate that the Order is an esoteric society.
The term “esoteric” literally means “internal” and refers to a set of doctrines characterized by secrecy, to indicate the teaching devoted exclu-sively to those who belong to the select circle. The opposite term is “exo-teric”, which means “external” and refers to the teachings suitable for all.
In addition to the secret, esoteric societies are based on the initiation, a ritual ceremony through which one is allowed inside. The key feature of the initiation is a complex ritual called “death/resurrection”. Here the candidate passes from an earlier stage (called “Stage of the Profane”) to a new one (called “Stage of the Initiate”): he dies to be reborn to a new life. Rites of initiation are present in all human conceptions, from antiquity to the present day.
The secret and the initiation require, in turn, their own perfectioning. This is the manner by which we improve ourselves through ritual degrees and higher levels of knowledge. The secret, the initiation and the perfection-ing are thus the pillars that support an esoteric society. The rites of initiation, of passage and the revealed truths are known as “Mysteries” to initiates. In antiquity, the Orphic mysteries gained in a particular importance.
The esoteric tradition can be found in every great religion of humanity. It has developed within the religions of the Far East, such as Buddhism and Brahmanism, here assuming the form of Tantrism and of the Zen Buddhism. It can be found also within the Islamic tradition, here assuming the forms of Sufism and is present in the whole history of Christianity: from early Gnosticism to the Kabbalah of the Renaissance and to the French and Bavarian esoteric Catholicism of the nineteenth century. We can find this tradition also in non-religious societies, for instance, in the neo-pagan eso-tericism of the Renaissance, in the Martinism, in the Anthroposophy of R. Steiner and in Freemasonry.