“A Lodge at Labor: Freemasons and Masonry Today” By Michael R. Poll
“A Lodge at Labor” follows in a theme with books such as, “Measured Expectations” and “A Masonic Evolution”. The goal is simple – to provide a view of the problems that we face in today’s Freemasonry and offer opinions on solving these problems. The one goal is to inspire the reader to realize that Freemasonry is far more than a social club. Once this is realized, then those who are willing can do what is needed to bring the Age of Enlightenment back to Freemasonry. We can elevate our lodges into centers of education designed to help us be more than we are and give us Light in a sometimes dark world.
“A Mosaic Palace Freemasonry and the Art of Memory” By Martin Faulks
“The Warden of the Lodge. . .shall take trial of the art of memory and science thereof of every fellow craft and every apprentice according to their vocation and in case that they have lost any point thereof. . . pay the penalty as follows for their slothfulness..” -Second Schaw Statutes of 1599.
Issued by William Schaw, the royally appointed Master of the Works, the Statutes gave a code of rules governing the activities of operative masons in Scotland. Its often considered the first conception of Freemasonry as exists today.
During the sixteenth century Art of Memory had far greater connotations than it may to the modern reader. It referred to a specific set of memory disciplines and techniques whereby one would create a memory palace. This could be based on areal or imaginary place which, using intensive imagination, one would build up in the memory to the degree that it could be easily visited and used as a kind of mnemonic storehouse.
By Schaws time, this art of memory existed in many different forms. Not only was it commonly believed to be a very good method of memorising speeches, but also a great form of moral training – a goal common to Freemasonry. Beyond this,there were some who believed that this mysterious art had far more potential and could even have supernatural effects on the world.
So why did Schaw make it mandatory for Masons to practice the art of memory, and why did they need to be tested in this art? Was it a reference to Masonic ritual and if so, does this mean the Masonic lodge is a form of memory palace? If this is indeed the case, then by exploring what school of mnemonics it evolved from it can tell us something of the intentions behind the ritual. Was Masonry developed as a form of moral training for good Christian builders, or could its rituals have evolved from a more ambitious or mystical purpose?
“A Pilgrim’s Path: Freemasonry and the Religious Right” by John J. Robinson
It’s a masterpiece…if you’re interested in American Masonry and its impact on our country, this book is for you.―Brent Morris, The Scottish Rite Journal
“A Traditional Observance Lodge: One Mason’s Journey to Fulfillment” By Cliff Porter
The author’s home lodge is different. They suffer from higher than 100% attendance, men wait periods of longer than a year to get initiated, they have never lost a single Entered Apprentice, they have nobody on the roles who is NPD or has been dropped for NPD. Men arrive on lodge days at 8:00 a.m. and are often reluctently leaving for home near midnight or 2:00 a.m. Their dues are high by American standards, the background check is rigorous, and the initiations are solemn and serious. Every lodge meeting is treated as an event and celebrated as such. Dinner is treated as a feast with all its positive connotations. Freemasonry is celebrated in every aspect of the lodge. From the artwork, the furnishings, the set up and the atomosopher; all aspects of the lodge meeting are intentional and meant to create an experience. The Lodge is a Traditional Observance Lodge or T.O. Lodge as it is called by some. Like all labels, the Traditional Observance label has caused fear and fright, anger and frustration, confusion, and edicts. It has also helped to define the practices that make the author’s lodge one of the most successful lodges in the United States by any standard one might choose to measure it. This book does not claim to provide a Masonic magic pill for the ailing lodges of the world. Nor does it claim in any fashion or form that the way this author’s lodge operates is the only way or the best way to operate. What this book does is explain the the Traditional Observance model and encourages ideas in the area of increasing the lodge experience and allowing quality to become the watchword over every aspect of Freemasonry. The writings contains a mixture of personal experiences, practicle advice, and real life examples for creating a Traditional Observance lodge or increasing your lodges fulfillment.
“American Freemasons: Three Centuries of Building Communities” By Mark A. Tabbert
With over four million members worldwide, and two million in the U.S., Freemasonry is the largest fraternal organization in the world. Published in conjunction with the National Heritage Museum, this extravagantly illustrated volume offers an overview of Freemasonry’s origins in seventeenth-century Scotland and England before exploring its evolving role in American history, from the Revolution through the labor and civil rights movements, and into the twenty-first century. American Freemasons explores some of the causes for the rise and fall of membership in the fraternity and why it has attracted men in such large numbers for centuries.
American Freemasons is the perfect introduction to understanding a society that, while shrouded in mystery, has played an integral role in the lives and communities of millions of Americans.
Copublished with the National Heritage Museum
“But I Digress” by Dr. Jim Tresner
A collection of experiences and musings from Dr. James Tresner. Masonic education is fast becoming the watchword of all Masonic Grand Lodges, or those that are developing programs that appeal to those men coming to the Craft with an expectation of some degree of enlightenment. Too often, however, speakers and available material seems radically to one side of a coin or another. Wildly esoteric and delving into occult language that has little interest for many, or completely and utterly dry regurgitating the acceptable Masonic histories and litanies of old. This book strikes a perfect balance and has something for everyone in a tone and approach that feels a little like you have just met up with the character in real life from the old tyler talks. The tone of the book transports you to a wonderful little room, fireplace burning, Jim on his pipe, too wonderfully comfy chairs and great conversation. We can’t let the conversational tone of the book fool us though. There are some real meaty topics handled within this almost 450 page volume. Everything from music to symbolism, from esotericism to morality, no topic seems off limits, but every topic is covered with the same widened and kind approach that is Dr. Jim Tresner.
“Compasses and the Cross” by Stephen Dafoe
“Stephen Dafoe’s “Compasses and the Cross” is a thoroughly researched and lavishly illustrated history of the development of the Knights Templar within Freemasonry, and the very different paths it took in continental Europe, England, Scotland, Canada and the United States. In a way, it is a companion to his earlier “Nobly Born: An Illustrated History of the Knights Templar,” which beautifully tells the story of rise and fall the medieval Templar order. “Compasses and the Cross” picks up 400 years later and tells the story of modern Templary. It is a unique resource for those studying the history of Freemasonry and its labyrinthine degrees and orders. There is no other volume I know of that investigates this important phase of Masonic history in such careful detail. Many have peddled legends that the Templars begat Freemasonry–Dafoe is not in that camp. He has not set out to burst bubbles, but to understand where Masonic Templars came from, and how they became what we see in commanderies and preceptories around the world today.
So much in Freemasonry is explained to its members as “the way we’ve always done it.” That clearly is not so, and that’s no way to answer inquisitive students of the fraternity. For those who want to know why and how and when the Knights Templar rode on their steeds into Masonic history, I strongly recommend this book.” – Chris Hodapp
“Contemplative Masonry” by Chuck Dunning
Part of the work that has become Contemplative Masonry first appeared on the internet in 2000 as an anonymously authored guide to the exploration of Freemasonry through contemplative practices like prayer, meditation, breath work, chanting, and visualization. Sixteen years later, the original author of that material, C.R. “Chuck” Dunning, Jr., has come forward with a substantially expanded edition for those seeking to utilize Masonic symbolism and teachings in a way that is practical, accessible, inspiring, and profoundly transformative. Contemplative Masonry is a much-needed resource for Masons seeking to undertake the challenging and rewarding work of deep self-knowledge and self-improvement. Brother Dunning provides Freemasons with a unique system of practices derived directly from the Degrees of Craft Masonry, without reliance upon other religious, spiritual, or esoteric traditions. He also shares the valuable wisdom and insights that come from decades of personal experience with contemplative practices.
“I would heartily recommend this book to any Mason who has wondered how he might engage more deeply with the Craft and enhance his quest for light. Brother Dunning has mapped out a practical approach to what he terms contemplative Masonry, which can be practiced by any brother, regardless of his religion or spiritual beliefs. I know of few Masons better qualified to serve as a guide to a specifically Masonic path of spiritual growth.” — Jay Kinney, 33°, author of The Masonic Myth and editor of The Inner West
“Chuck Dunning takes us on a wonderful and enlightening journey of what has to occur in a man’s body, mind, and spirit for him to actually improve himself in Masonry. He discusses the nature of inner work in Freemasonry, and he is eminently qualified to do so. He enlightens us with his wisdom and offers us a number of exercises which can lead us to the true treasure of manhood. This book is a must read for anyone wanting to know what is hidden in the language of Freemasonry.” — Robert G. Davis, 33° G.C., author of The Mason’s Words and Understanding Manhood in America
“Crime and the Craft: Masonic Involvement in Murder, Treason and Scandal” by Mike Neville
Crime and the Craft reveals that the Freemasons have been involved in treason, murder, conspiracy, fraud, and scandal from the time of the English Civil War to the 1980s. Nearly every famous case investigated by Scotland Yard-including Jack the Ripper, Oscar Wilde, Dr. Crippen, the Great Train Robbery, and the Kray Twins-is shown to have Masonic involvement. For the first time, it is shown that some fifty lodges have a link to the Jack the Ripper case-with a known suspect identified as a Mason for the first time. The book uncovers Masonic involvement in police corruption, from the Trial of the Detectives in 1877 to Operation Countryman. The true involvement of notorious gangster, Kenneth Noye, in freemasonry is also revealed, as are the full details of the case of the Mason who made secret signs at the judge during a murder trial at the Old Bailey. This book also describes how members of the Craft have been pioneers in the development of forensic pathology, fingerprint evidence, and the use of images to catch criminals. Crime and the Craft answers the question: ‘Is there a relationship between Freemasonry and crime?’
“Cryptic Masonry Education Course” By Robert G. Davis
In the Cryptic Masonry Education Course to the Degrees of the Cryptic Rite, we welcome each Royal and Select Master to engage his mind and heart in the great journey of discovery that represents the Royal Arch or Secret Vault Tradition in Freemasonry. This tradition acknowledges that one of the great mysteries in life is that no man can know the principle of his own life. The power of action, will, of movement and thought, of memory and dreams are all mysteries. Yet we have the impulse to seek the unknown, to see the divine mystery of our being. This course can be studied individually, or as a study guide, moderated by a facilitator in a group of companions of the Council. It is designed to educate Royal and Select Masters in the origin, history, themes, and symbolism of the Degrees of the Cryptic Rite. It is hoped, upon completion of this course, that you will consider yourself much more enlightened in the meanings and relevance of the Cryptic Degrees of the York Rite of Freemasonry.
“Dungeon, Fire, and Sword” by John J. Robinson
Dungeon, Fire and Sword is a good book for all who enjoy a well-written, well-researched story of stupidity, greed, barbarity, unspeakable cruelty, deception, fraud, treachery and sanctimony… John J. Robinson has written a fascinating history of an incredible time.
“Freemasonry: A Journey Through Ritual and Symbol” by W. Kirk McNulty
Explores the origins, development, rituals, and symbolism of Freemasonry, and examines Freemasonry as part of a tradition of Western mysticism going back to the Middle Ages