Lodges are a system of organization and membership for magical, esoteric, and fraternal groups. Magical lodges have their roots in medieval trade guilds.
Traditionally, trade and fraternal guilds were economic and social organizations, intended to help members with wages, homes, health care, community support, and other needs. Freemasonry was the most significant movement to fuse the concept of these organizations with esoteric activities, creating a large system of exclusive and secret lodges open only to initiates. In the late 19th century, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn established what became a model for magical lodges to come, emphasizing both ritual work within the organization and individual ritual work by initiates.
A magical lodge is a bridge between worlds, a place where the physical realm comes into contact with the spiritual realm. It is composed of individuals who share a common purpose or vision. It is organized around a chartered heritage or philosophy. The inner workings of a lodge—its rituals, symbols, and teachings—are secret.
Lodges have hierarchies, officers, by-laws, and rules governing the structure of their activities and the roles of initiates. Teachings are organized around grades of proficiency and knowledge, through which a member advances. A lodge has its own physical space, akin to a temple, where meetings are conducted and rituals are performed. The designs of lodges are planned and laid out to incorporate the important magical elements and symbols of the lodge.
Black lodges are said to be organized to serve the powers of darkness and evil. Belief in them was high during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, though evidence of their existence is scant.
- Greer, John Michael. Inside a Magical Lodge: Group Ritual in the Western Tradition. St. Paul, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications, 1998.