Bulgaria's Freemasons - from Bogomils to the Failed 21st Century Project and 'The Menace Dan Brown', Part I*
Several Bulgarian Freemasons have been interviewed for this story and their opinions are included below. Most, however, spoke only under condition of remaining anonymous. One of them, Dimitar Nedkov, agreed to give an interview to Novinite.com.
Dimitar Nedkov is considered by many the top expert on Freemasonry in Bulgaria. He was initiated into one of the first Bulgarian Blue Lodges shortly after the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe in the early 1990s. He is an active participant in the restoration of Freemasonry in Bulgaria and has served as Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Bulgaria. Nedkov is a Mason 33 Degree (the highest), co-founder of the Supreme Council, 33 of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, former Grand Orator of the Grand Lodge of the Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons in Bulgaria. An avid Masonic scholar, he is the author of “The Freemasons Returned to Bulgaria” (1998) and “The Third Millennium of Freemasonry” (2000), “The Lessons of Freemasonry (2005). His last book, a fiction - “33 The Menace Dan Brown” appeared on the book stands in December. One of the founders of the Masonic magazine Svetlina (Light) and the web site freemasonry.bg. Nedkov is a member of the International Academy of the Illuminati in Rome
The article below is also based on Nedkov’s book “The Freemasons Returned to Bulgaria” and the book “Masonic Lodges in Bulgaria” by Dr. Mitko Ivanov.
Nowadays, a Masonic Temple can be found in just about every city, but in the history of human kind, there is hardly another organization so much surrounded by mystery, intrigue, secrecy, opposition, and controversy than Freemasonry.
No one has been both revered and hated by the entire spectrum of society as the Freemason. Freemasons are honored by many for their humanitarian beliefs and as the true founders of contemporary democracy, and at the same time, despite the fact they are required to obey the law and banned from discussing religion or politics, Freemasons face the staunch opposition of groups, often as irreconcilable among themselves as they are critical to the Freemasonry - from Christianity to Islam, from Fascism to Communism, and almost everyone in between.
Freemasons have long declared that Freemasonry is not a religion or its substitute; however, the roots of the resistance towards them are most often attributed to the Roman Catholic Church. The controversy stems from the fact that many Freemason teachings (mainly deism) don’t align with the official church’s doctrine - Freemasonry is based on the belief that the Universe is the work of what they call The Grand Architect, who, as the expression of Deity, governs both society and nature.
According to Dimitar Nedkov, the membership of a Lodge is a representative sample of society because all kinds of people are behind it - white and black, Christians and Muslims, monarchists and democrats, rich and poor, powerful and ordinary voters, bad and good people. The Masonic rites and rules make, however, all members strive for harmony in human relations, the harmony that is missing more and more in real life, he says.
Freemasons and their history have intrigued scores of Masonic and non-Masonic researchers, but, as much as everything else, the exact establishment of the Freemason societies remains surrounded by mystery and controversy. For historians, the origins of Freemasonry range from Noah's Ark trough the King Solomon’s Temple and the Great Pyramids in Egypt to the Middle Ages.
The one certain fact is that those societies were created by free men, people, who due to their skills, abilities, knowledge of their craft, were allowed to live independently and move from place to place. They could have been the builders of the Pyramids or of the King Solomon’s Temple. In fact the King of Tyre, Master Hiram and King Solomon are considered in Masonic rituals the three founding Grand Masters. It was the King of Tyre, who sent Solomon of Israel Master Hiram, architects, workmen and material for the Temple’s construction.
In the Middle Ages, unlike the feudal serfs, builders, painters, and stonemasons moved freely across Europe to work on ambitious cathedral and fortress projects, most likely giving the name of today’s Freemasons. Their tools - the compass, the square, the hammer, the chisel, the trowel and others, became the base of the symbolic of Freemasonry.
The place used by those workmen to rest, eat and sleep was called a lodge, a term currently used to designate not as much the location of the Freemasons’ meetings, but rather the basic unit in their organization. While working together for a long time on the huge construction projects, the builders and their families supported and helped fellow members of the group, growing extremely close and fond of each other. To these days this brotherly love is the cornerstone of Freemasonry, where members are called brothers and their organizations - Brotherhood or Brethren.
There is also the widely explored possible connection between the Freemasons and the Order of the Knights Templar, founded in 1117 by the first Crusaders to protect Christian pilgrims, and operating from that same Temple of King Solomon. By the 13th century the order grew into an organization known for its power and wealth. In 1307, Philip IV of France, with an eye on their riches, ordered all Knights Templar to be arrested and executed. Those surviving the massacre escaped to Scotland and, according to some historians, began using the then more unassuming name Freemasons to identify themselves.
The transformation of the order of the Knights Templar to the Freemason society is just one theory, but there certainly has been a connection between the wealthiest organization at the time, funding the ambitious construction projects in Europe and the workmen actually building castles and cathedrals.
With time, large-scale buildings gradually stopped being erected throughout Europe. Work lodges began loosing members and accepting people from all trades and professions, turning them from craftsmen guilds or operative masons into fraternities - alliances of individuals united around common ideals i.e. speculative masons.
June 24, 1717, when the first Grand Lodge, the Grand Lodge of England, was founded, is often mentioned as the official date of the beginning of Freemasonry. Grand Lodges quickly expanded to Ireland, Scotland, France and North America where the first President of the United States, George Washington, became also the first Grand Master.
The George Washington Masonic Temple in Alexandria, VA (Washington, DC suburbs). Private photo
Today, there are an estimated 5 million Freemasons all over the world. They are organized in lodges, mutually recognizing each other i.e. being in amity. Two main Freemasonry branches do, however, exist - the United Grand Lodge of England (UCLE) and the one, considered of the European continental tradition - the Grand Orient de France (GODF). Both branches call each other regular and are not in amity. Because of its larger membership, UCLE is often referred to as the regular branch.
Freemasons have a strict hierarchic system of degrees – Entering Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason. Each Lodge also has specific rituals, all, however, based on the symbolic of the medieval mason’s tools, mainly the square and the compass, and their architectural use.
According to Nedkov, the degrees have only symbolic meaning and correspond to the level of knowledge of the Initiated. The Grand Master is, for example, just a supreme administrator of the Lodge, responsible for preserving the tradition. A higher degree only means more knowledge of the craft of the Freemasons, Nedkov says.
The Bulgarian Freemason expert further points out that the Brotherhood, with its principles and rites, creates the conditions for people to begin thinking about who they are as human beings, and about their role on earth, which, he says, is a very rare opportunity and the key to the biggest wealth a person can acquire in their life.
Freemasons also reject speculations that they are a secret society, surrounded by mystery and conspiracy, and prefer to call themselves esoteric. They state as their main goal “the building of the temple of humanity” where each individual is one single brick striving for perfection. Achieving perfection and brotherly love for others are the cornerstone ideals of the members of the Masonic lodge, while rituals are said to be needed in order for a member to move from the profane world to the one of freemasonry.
The interior of a Masonic Lodge in Washington, DC. Private photo
Nedkov, too, insists that there is nothing from the world of Freemasons that is inaccessible for others and points out libraries, the internet, the movies - everywhere one can read or see everything about the mysterious Masons, their principles, ideals, ways of existence and ritual systems, adding the secrecy for everyone is only to find their own way to decode everything that is happening in the Lodge.
Bulgaria’s highest-degree Mason further rejects talk about conspiracy surrounding the Brotherhood and beliefs that Freemasonry is a secret force, pulling the strings of business and politics around the world.
“If this was possible, the world would be a much more orderly place, but we witness just the contrary. The Masons are not the fathers of democracy or of dictatorship. The creators of any form of society and government have always been the people with their public leanings during a current historical period. In this sense, the possibilities of Freemasonry are much, much weaker than the colossal influence of different religions for example. Yes, if Freemasonry is indeed the expression of the values of a civic society, and if this society is the base of the pyramid of a democratic form of government, then it is the Brotherhood that pulls some strings,” Nedkov says, but explains the negative perceptions are the Freemasonry’s own fault over the deep conservativeness of traditions and the way the Lodges function, leading to the alienation young people.
According to the Bulgarian Mason, the Brethren had turned into a global museum, a world library with values and spiritual practices unintelligible for young people.
The Masonic Temple of the 33rd and Highest Degree of the Scottish Rite in downtown Washington, DC. Private photo
Nedkov firmly discards speculations about sinister Masonic rituals with the calling of demons and human sacrifice, saying, the staging of rituals, especially apocalyptic ones, in human communication has always been of great interest, this is why people make up these stories about the Brotherhood while the sacrifice we make to our own delusions is what terrifies us and leads to unforeseeable consequences.
Freemasons also like to disprove the common belief that one can become a member of their society only by invitation. In fact, most Lodges discourage direct recruitment of members. Anyone can join by application, which the members of the lodge have a certain period to examine and consider. The candidate must, however, be approved unanimously. Membership requirements include: being a free-born man of a certain age, of good reputation and morals, of healthy mind and body, believing in the Supreme Architect of the Universe, and being able to provide references, often including two from members of the Masonic Lodge.
At initiation, candidates are asked pledge to abide by the rules of the lodge, keep the secrecy of the Masonic rituals and symbols and declare belief to the Supreme Architect or Being without having to interpret what this Being means to him.
Nedkov points out that one can tell immediately if someone is a Mason in life if he had been initiated in Freemasonry the right way.
“When someone publicly declares himself a Freemason, he does not declare his membership. He only declares publicly the state of his mind and spirit. There has never been a ban to announce one’s belonging to the Brotherhood. But one cannot reveal the belonging of someone else without their personal permission. The practicing of the trade of Freemasonry is a personal self-determination and state of mind. Only the individual, who had voluntarily taken this road, can give explanations. Only history has the right, without asking you, to declare you a Mason or not,” the Bulgarian Mason explains.
The tradition to not allow women to join dates from the Middle Ages, when they were not considered free-born individuals. Many contemporary Freemasons, including Bulgaria’s Nedkov, see this as an obsolete mandate, impeding today’s Freemasonry. Most Lodges hold discussions about eliminating it as many have eliminated the requirement of healthy body, which in the past stopped disabled people from joining, or the one of being a free-born man in the sense it had in the Middle Age.
Freemasonry in Bulgaria
There is no historic data of the existence of organized Masonry on the territory of the First and Second Bulgarian States (681 - 1396), but many link the roots of Freemasonry to Bulgaria’s Bogomils. Bearing in mind the proximity to Jerusalem, which was primarily accessible in those days through Bulgarian lands, it is probable that Masonic units existed in Medieval Bulgaria.
Documented Freemasonry, however, first appears in Bulgaria in the beginning of the 19th century. Foreigners, initiated in the Brethren, visited Bulgarian towns along the Danube River, and made the first attempts to organize Masonic Lodges and attract mainly Bulgarian merchants dealing with partners from Central and Western Europe. Bulgaria, at the time, was part of the Ottoman Empire where many Turkish high-ranking officers and servants of the Sultan led organized Masonic life, but did not allow Bulgarians to join.
Reports about the first Bulgarian Freemason are contradictory, but several researchers name Archimandrite Efrem from the Besarabian (today in Moldova) city of Chisinau. In 1820, Efrem became member of the Masonic Lodge “Ovidius.” Prominent Russian poet Pushkin is said to have been initiated at the same Lodge. Upon his return to Bulgaria, Archimandrite Efrem attempted to found a lodge in the Danube city of Ruse.
Ivan Vedar is, however, considered to be the real founder of the Bulgarian Regular Freemasonry. He studied the principles of the Freemasonry during his travels across Europe and was initiated in a British Lodge in Istanbul where he reached the highest level in the hierarchy of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. Vedar was in close contact with the members of the Bulgarian Central Revolutionary Committee (BCRK) in Bucharest, Romania, who were in charge of organizing the fight for political independence in the 1870s.
Vedar introduced to Freemasonry many prominent Bulgarian revolutionaries and, after the Liberation, political leaders of Bulgaria. During the Russian-Turkish Liberation War (1877 – 1878), due to established Freemason ties between Vedar and a Turkish high-ranking officer, the Bulgarian managed to prevent the destruction of the most European Bulgarian city at the time – Ruse.
Immediately after the Liberation of Bulgaria in 1878, Ivan Vedar began organizing the first Bulgarian Regular Lodge and initiated in Freemasonry several fellow citizens from Ruse. When their number became sufficient, the new Bulgarian Freemasons requested the establishment of their own Freemason society.
In 1880, with a patent of the Great Orient of Portugal, the Light was illuminated at the first Bulgarian Regular Lodge named “Balkanska Zvezda” (Balkan Star), based in Ruse. Soon the activities of the Lodge spread to other Bulgarian towns. “Balkan Star” was also frequented by Prince Alexander Battenberg, the first Prince to take the Bulgarian throne. Before coming to Bulgaria, Battenberg had been a member of an Austrian Lodge. The first Bulgarian Grand Masonic Lodge was founded in the Black Sea city of Varna in 1884, but its existence was short-lived.
The young and inexperienced Freemasonry in Bulgaria failed to stay away from the political controversies in the new Bulgarian State. In order to avoid the discrediting of the Bulgarian Freemasonry, in 1887, Ivan Vedar put to sleep “Balkan Star” and soon after that the second Bulgaria Lodge “Bratstvo” (Brethren) in the capital Sofia. In the next 25 years many Bulgarians became members of foreign Lodges, mainly French and German, kept their ties, but the idea to create again Bulgarian Lodges reappeared in the beginning of the 20th century.
In 1914, the Lodge “Zaria” (Beam) was founded in Sofia and received acknowledgment for regularity from the Grand Lodge of France. Bulgarian Freemasons began researching the possibilities of establishing an independent Grand lodge of Bulgaria. After numerous consultations throughout Europe, in 1917, the Grand Lodge of France gave its consent to divide “Zaria” into two Lodges – “Zora” (Dawn) and “Svetlina” (Light) so that they can form the Grand Lodge of Bulgaria.
The installment of the Grand Symbolic Lodge of Bulgaria was proclaimed on January 7, 1918 in Sofia. Its first Grand Master became General Alexander Protogerov. The Bulgarian Freemasons issued a declaration acknowledging the principles of the International Freemasonry and vowed to adhere strictly to them. The motto of the Grand Lodge was “Love, Truth and Labor.”
During the 1918 - 1940 period, the Grand Symbolic Lodge was very active in its National Orient and in International Freemasonry. This is generally the time when Tsar Boris III was on the Bulgarian throne (1918 – 1943). These were also times of political and social tensions. In 1920, the leader of the Agrarian Union, Alexander Stamboliyski, won the general elections. He officially acknowledged the Grand Symbolic Lodge, and this recognition was not revoked after his murder in 1923.
Lodges were established in Ruse, Varna, Plovdiv, Burgas, Pleven, Kyustendil, Yambol and Dupnitsa. Over 500 Bulgarian men were initiated as Freemasons. Many of them were prominent personalities with great public importance and recognition in Bulgaria and abroad – scientists, politicians, factory owners, bankers, merchants, diplomats and army officers. 17 Bulgarian Prime Ministers are known Freemasons. The Grand Symbolic Lodge played an important role in all aspects of life in the country.
Freemason activities were aimed at achieving a more humanitarian attitude towards Bulgaria and Bulgarians on the part of the countries winning World War I. Freemasons finally managed to earn the sympathy of the authorities and the public opinion. The Grand Symbolic Lodge was also able to receive the acknowledgment of almost all significant international Brethren; to enter in close contacts with them, and actively participate in the life of International Freemasonry. Bulgarian delegates took part in almost all international Freemason forums. The Grand Symbolic Lodge of Bulgaria became a founding member of IMA (the International Freemason Association) in 1921. In1939, it also became a member of the Executive Committee. Bulgarian Freemasons participated in all meetings of the Convention of the IMA as well as the work of the Administrative and Consultative Committee. The Lodge was actively engaged in translating and publishing works of European authors, presenting Freemasonry as a humanitarian society. Bulgaria was visited by several prominent European and American Freemasons while Bulgarians were imitated in the high-degrees of the Regular Freemasonry in European Lodges.
In 1936, the Bulgarian Freemasons established the Supreme Council of the High Degrees and the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, conferring degrees numbered from 4° up to 33°. The Grand Lodge, working with the three levels of the Blue Freemasonry – Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Grand Master, did not become dependent of the Supreme Council.
The Bulgarian Freemasonry began facing some difficult times with the arrival and establishment of the nationalist and fascist ideologies in Europe in the 1930s. Under their influence, Bulgarian media launched mass discrediting of the Freemasonry. Despite the efforts of the Grand Lodge, backed by several civic organizations, to defend and maintain the legal existence of the Brethren, the Act for the Defense of the Nation was passed in 1940, banning Freemason societies in Bulgaria. The Act also legalized the local genocide of the Jewish population, carried out in pro-fascists European countries.
The Grand Symbolic Lodge of Bulgaria dismissed itself and all other Lodges even before the Act was passed while its documentation and properties were transferred out of the country. Curiously enough, the then Prime Minister, Bogdan Filov, known for his pro-German ideas and policies, Foreign Minister, Petar Gabrovski, one of the initiators of the Act, and Transport Minister, Ivan Goranov, were all known high-degree Freemasons. Bulgaria at the time became the only country where Freemasons and Jewish people were not reached by a common fate of extermination. The Bulgarian Lodges were closed, but Freemasons were not persecuted and the cabinet did not lead an active anti-Masons campaign while renowned Freemasons such as Gabrovski actively collaborated with the Nazis.
The end of World War II marked the arrival of the Communist regime in Bulgaria and placed the country under a strong Soviet dependence. The repressions against intellectuals and all democratically thinking individuals inevitably affected the Freemasons. The so-called Communist “People’s Tribunal” sentences to death many only because they have belonged to Freemason societies before September 9, 1944. Freemasons were publicly declared agents of foreign intelligence services.
During the Cold War, the Communist Security Services were authorized to use all available methods of repression to not allow the resurrection of Freemasonry under any form. Some radical intellectuals continued to discuss in secret and in closed circles the principles of Freemasonry while there is limited and unconfirmed information that some Bulgarians were still initiated in foreign lodges during trips and stay abroad in the 1960s and 1970s.
The first publication about Freemasonry appeared in official media in 1979. Many high-ranking Communist party functionaries were labeled then “enemies with a party membership” and removed from their posts over having knowledge and interest in Freemasonry and attempting to democratize the Bulgarian society, which, at the time, was fully isolated form the Western world. Many Bulgarian Freemasons defected, but unlike those from Russia, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania, failed to get organized in their own, emigration Grand Lodges and became members of foreign Lodges.
The Failed Resurrection of Bulgaria’s Freemasonry in the Transition Years
The process of resurrection of the organized Freemasonry in Bulgaria began almost immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Initially, several societies, close to the ideas of the Freemasons appeared, but due to their para-Masonic character failed to lay the foundation of the new Bulgarian Regular Freemasonry. The attempts of some totalitarian, Communist forces to become legitimate again through the Freemason structures also played a significant role in this delay. These new, emerging Freemason societies were quickly overtaken by former high-ranking Communist party members and former Secret Security agents.
In 1992, an attempt to publicly announce the establishment of a Grand Lodge by para Masons fails. None of those bogus Freemason organizations actually managed to obtain legitimate status from Masonic Brethren outside Bulgaria. This, however, led to many dignified Bulgarians with high public prestige refusing to become part of these para-Masonic organizations, which had the sole goal to secure privileges for certain people.
The 50-year-long iron curtain, including information blackout regarding the essence of the Freemasonry and its role for the progress of democracy and humanity, the ideology of Marxism-Leninism, the imposed atheism, the lack of opportunities to freely express opinions, the lack of media freedom, reflected on the adequate abilities of Bulgarians to understand the complex philosophy of Freemasonry.
Bulgarian citizens, who become initiated in May 1992 in the German “Lessing” Lodge, are considered by many the true founders of the Regular Freemasonry in Bulgaria after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The highly regarded and respected among German Freemasons Bulgarian emigrant, who has been leaving in Germany since 1932, Dr. Ivan Voynov, with his extreme persistence and active efforts, became the driving force of the revival and recognition of the Bulgarian Freemasonry.
Those initiated in the “Lessing” Lodge quickly learned the art of establishing Freemason organizations and upon retuning in Bulgaria, in 1994, found in Sofia the Lodges “Svetlina (Light), “Zora” (Dawn), and “Serdika.” Two years later, in 1996, the “Zaria “(Beam) Lodge is established again in Sofia along with the first Lodge outside the capital – “Chernomorski Priyateli” (Black Sea Friends) in Varna. Masonic organizations soon appear in the cities of Shumen, Ruse, Dobrich with the intent of growing into full-pledged Lodges. Freemasons in Bulgaria continue to receive help and support from German Freemasons.
On September 20, 1997, the five Sofia Lodges from the Sofia Orient and the Varna Lodge from the Varna Orient proclaim the establishment of the Bulgarian Grand Lodge of the Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons. Ivan Stavrev becomes the first Grand Master and the first issue of the Magazine “Svetlina” is soon published. The establishment of the Bulgarian Grand Lodge is carried out with the agreement and the assistance of the United Grand Lodges of Germany. The special ritual is led by German Freemasons and on September 22, 1997, the United Grand Lodges of Germany distribute to all Freemason organizations around the world a memorandum recommending the recognition of the regularity of the Bulgarian Grand Lodge and the establishment of contacts with it.
Soon the Bulgarian Grand Lodge receives recognition and establishes contacts with over 100 Lodges around the world. Bulgarian delegations take part in all significant international meetings and events.
The Grand Lodge also proceeds in founding official Lodges in Shumen, and Ruse. A second Lodge, “Morska Zvezda” (Sea Star) is established in Varna and a new Lodge – “Zvezdata na Sofia” (The Star of Sofia) appears in January 2000. In 2002 they are a total of 17 Lodges in Bulgaria. On January 7 2001, the Supreme Council of the 33rd and highest degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite is also installed in Bulgaria.
During the week of June 21-27, 2003, Bulgarian Freemasons welcome Ill. Robert W. Woodward, 33°, G.C., Deputy, Scottish Rite Bodies, NATO Bases, as a Brother whose name is engraved with golden letters in the Masonic history of Bulgaria. The visit of Ill. Woodward to Bulgaria elicits several prominent newspaper stories, thus benefiting the positive profile of Freemasonry and the Scottish Rite in Bulgaria.
The schism between Bulgaria’s Freemasons, however, occurs in 2000 when the Brethren split into two grand lodges over the fight of who is going to be on the helm, Freemasons say off the record. The two exist until today and are: the United Grand Lodge of Bulgaria (UGLB) and the Grand Lodge the Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons (GLAFAMB).
In the summer of 2009, GLAFAMB appointed their new Grand Master and new Grand Lodge leadership. Also in 2009, the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons of North America's Commission on Recognition published the following report:
“Little progress has been made in unifying Freemasonry in Bulgaria, as it continues to function under two Grand Lodge structures, namely the United Grand Lodge of Bulgaria (UGLB) and the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Bulgaria (GLAFAMB). Last year, the Commission again strongly encouraged the two Grand Lodges to actively meet and work toward the resolution of their differences. The services of several impartial mediators were offered to facilitate the process. These attempts have not been accepted. The UGLB offered to relax the requirements of the “regularization procedure”, but later rescinded the offer. Most members of the GLAFAMB are unwilling to be subjected to the requirements of the procedure as defined. Several options have been offered by the GLAFAMB, but none are seriously being considered.
The UGLB states they believe the GLAFAMB is irregular and they therefore cannot communicate with them. After five years of unsuccessfully urging the two organizations to actively pursue avenues of unification, the Commission will not receive any additional presentations from either Grand Lodge until there is substantive evidence of progress in resolving their differences.”
When commenting on the issue, Dimitar Nedkov points out the split is not a schism because Freemasonry is not a religion and unification of Bulgaria’s Brethren only as a formal subjugation of the entire Masonic community to one administrative would not lead to a real Masonic society over the need for all Initiated to have a common feeling for the Masonic values.
Dimitar Nedkov lectures about Freemasonry. Photo by Standard News
“Freemasonry is a state of mind, aimed at collecting the dispersed differences at one place, at accumulating the positive energy of diversity. The unification of Bulgarian Freemasonry will make sense only as a union of all Initiated around the common humanitarian principles of the Brotherhood. Until the issue is only who would be Chief, any effort in this direction is futile,” Nedkov says.
The Freemason also firmly rejects rumors of Bulgaria’s Freemasonry being reinstated after 1989 by the CIA as having no valid ground and insists that Bulgarian Masonry had been reestablished by Bulgarian citizens. Since the Brotherhood is not a political organization it cannot attract attention of services such as the CIA, he says.
“One of the biggest global speculations regarding Freemasonry is the belief it is controlled by the special services. To the contrary, these same services often have problems with their own employees who are vested in the Brotherhood and who refuse to blindly follow orders that would lead to new human tragedies. All over the world, the Masonic Community is maybe the only voluntary union of people, which does not judge its members by the color of their skin, their religious affiliation, political beliefs, wealth, or status in society, Nedkov says, adding speculations about adherence to a Masonic Lodge with the goal of obtaining personal profits are also voiced daily. According to him, in Bulgaria, precisely this lack of knowledge about the true essence of Freemasonry leads to the constant travesty scenarios in which the membership is used for personal profiteering.
Nedkov insists Freemasonry in Bulgaria, like most everything during the long years of transition after 1989, did not happen the right way. According to him, precisely the endless argument about legitimacy between the different Masonic organizations, which resembles very much all religious and ethnic disputes typical for our part of the world, places Bulgarian Freemasons light years away from the principles of the Brotherhood and in the context of Freemasonry from two centuries ago.
“The state of Freemasonry is a reflection of the state of society. The centuries-old, traditional for Bulgarians interpersonal conflicts are the base for the split of Bulgaria’s Freemasonry. The culture of self-promoting, the disregard for the other human being, is still the foundation of the Bulgarian mentality. The lack of real societal elite is the most direct proof for the absence of a real Freemason society in certain territory,” Nedkov explains.
*Part II will examine the connection between the Bulgarian Bogomils, the Rosicrucian, and the Order of Knights Templar; the attitude of mistrust of most Bulgarians towards Freemasonry and will offer a list and biographies of some of Bulgaria’s most prominent Freemasons.
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