In the occult scene of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a term for occult secret societies devoted to the study and practice of evil magic. Many of the occult writers of this period treat the existence and activities of the Black Lodges as a matter of common knowledge, and discuss in detail the differences between the true path of occult initiation and the corrupt and counterfeit path offered by the Black Lodges to their initiates. In practice, however, the term was used by members of rival occult orders to slander their opponents. Even Aleister Crowley, himself considered a black magician by most of his contemporaries in the occult community, used the term to describe his doctrinal opponents. See Crowley, Aleister; lodge; Magic.
Specific definitions of the Black Lodges varied depending on the beliefs of the lodge or occultist defining them. In the teachings of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, for example, the Black Lodges were composed of necromancers working with the energies of the mysterious Dark Satellite and its hierarch, Ob. Theosophical writings of the same period claimed that the Black Lodges glorified the separate individuality, while the Great White Lodge sought to lead all souls into the Divine Unity. See Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor (H.B. of L.); Theosophical Society.
In fact, to judge by all the evidence, Black Lodges of the sort described in occult literature did not actually exist in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By the last decades of the twentieth century, however, several organizations that fit the old definitions exactly had come into being and were advertising for members on the Internet. Magical orders such as the Temple of Set and the White Order of Thule, drawing on modern Satanism and the mythology of German National Socialism, duplicated the teachings and practices of the Black Lodges as described by occult writers of a century before. Fictional secret societies have inspired real ones so often that the roots of today’s “black lodges” may include a good deal of inspiration from their imaginary nineteenth-century equivalents. See Satanism; Temple of Set; White Order of Thule.
The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies : the ultimate a-z of ancient mysteries, lost civilizations and forgotten wisdom written by John Michael Greer – © John Michael Greer 2006