Burmistrov Konstantin

Mystical vision and its evaluation in the Russian freemasonry of the late 18th — early 19th century

Burmistrov Konstantin (2022) "Mystical vision and its evaluation in the Russian freemasonry of the late 18th — early 19th century ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia. Religiovedenie, 2022, vol. 102, pp. 73-86 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturI2022102.73-86


In the richest manuscript heritage of Russian freemasons, who lived two centuries ago, there are numerous descriptions of various mystical experiences. These are visions and mystical dreams in which beings from the other world appeared, as well as deliberately evoked mystical states by which an adept attempts to penetrate into the other world. For censorship reasons, this aspect of the activities of Russian brothers practically did not go beyond the narrow circle of initiates. The article will attempt to present the main types of mystical experience reflected in the manuscripts of Russian freemasons – mostly diaries and correspondence. The most valuable information of this kind is contained in so-called “Masonic dreams”. These stories constitute a special genre of Masonic literature and preserved in a significant number of manuscripts. They were based on the idea of a special inner, spiritual vision, which has an adept and which allows him to achieve clairvoyance. Masonic dreams contain a significant amount of details related both to the Masonic ritual and symbolic decoration of the premises of Masonic lodges, and to those practices of moral self-improvement that are important for the Masonic path. Russian freemasons paid considerable attention to the problem of evaluating such experience – is it a gift from the divine essences or a temptation sent by demonic forces? The question of the significance of such an experience was also important: is it an accidental consequence of Masonic work, a hindrance on the way, or, on the contrary, a kind of confirmation of progress in following the Masonic path? The Orthodox Church, to which the Russian freemasons belonged, is extremely negative about such forms of mysticism. Therefore, they were forced to seek explanations for such phenomena in Catholic and Protestant mysticism, as well as in the European esoteric tradition. The article attempts to answer these questions, based on the analysis of a wide range of Masonic manuscripts of the 18th - early 19th centuries, preserved in the families of Russian Masons and today located in the Moscow archives.


dreams, dream records, psychology, Russian freemasonry, Masonic ritual, visions, predictions, paranormal states of consciousness


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Information about the author

Burmistrov Konstantin

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Philosophy;
Place of work: Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences; 12/1 Goncharnaia Str., Moscow 109240, Russian Federation;
Post: senior researcher;
ORCID: 0000-0003-0687-2531;
Email: kburmistrov@hotmail.com.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.