“Freemasons For Dummies” by Christopher Hodapp
Fascinated by Freemasons? Freemasons For Dummies is the internationally best-selling introduction to the Masons, the oldest and largest “secret society” in the world. This balanced, eye-opening guide demystifies Freemasonry, explaining everything from its elaborate rituals and cryptic rites, to its curious symbols and their meanings. Find out what goes on in a Masonic meeting. You’ll understand the true purposes of Masonic “secrecy” and philosophy, meet famous Masons throughout history, and discover related organizations like the Knights Templar, the Scottish Rite, Order of the Eastern Star, and the Shriners. Explore the controversies and conspiracy theories that swirl around this organization at the center of Dan Brown’s novel The Lost Symbol, and discover the changes coming to the Craft.
“Haunted Chambers: The Lives of Early Women Freemasons” By Karen Kidd
These women aren’t supposed to have existed. But they did. “Haunted Chambers”, for the first time ever, presents not only the most complete list of early women Freemasons but also as much detail about their lives as can still be found. Here are their stories, long suppressed, ignored and marginalized. They include medieval women stone cutters; so-called “adoptive” women Freemasons; an aristocrat; a countess; an early New Brunswick settler; a war hero; a writer of women’s rights; an immigrant Irish girl; the famed sculptress of Abraham Lincoln’s statue in the US Capitol Rotunda and many whose names are now lost. Some will find this book a challenge. Some would rather it never had been written, let alone published. “Haunted Chambers” is highly recommended to anyone who wants the actual history of these early women Freemasons and aren’t afraid to read it.
“The Genesis of Freemasonry” By David Harrison
This book is a revealing but thoroughly enjoyable journey through the intricate history of English Freemasonry. Historian Dr. David Harrison reconstructs the hidden history of the movement, tracing its roots through a mixture of mediaeval guild societies, alchemy and necromancy. He examines the earliest known Freemasons and their obsessions with Solomon s Temple, alchemy, and prophecy, to the formation of the Grand Lodge in London, which in turn led to rebellions within the Craft throughout England. Harrison also analyzes the role of French immigrant, Dr Jean Theophilus Desaguliers in the development of English Freemasonry, focusing on his involvement with the formation of the mysterious modern Masonic ritual. All Freemasons and more general readers will find much of interest in this fascinating exploration of the very beginnings of Freemasonry, still one of the most mysterious brotherhoods in the world.
“Measured Expectations” by Michael R. Poll
Named Grand Lodge of Illinois “Book of the Year” for 2018! This down to Earth book by Michael R. Poll provides suggestions and advice on dealing with Lodge and Scottish Rite issues such as Masonic law, Lodge operation, visitors, poor degrees, meals, officer roles, poor attendance, Masonic philosophy & history, the future of Freemasonry, and so much more. Written in an easy to read style with the goal of providing the new or seasoned Mason with useful information to help make their Lodge experience of greater value.
“Our Stations and Places: Masonic Officer’s Handbook” By Henry Meacham and Michael R. Poll
One of the most respected Masonic officer’s handbooks has been revised for the 21st century Freemason. The various stations of the lodge are examined and practical suggestions are offered to help each officer best perform his duties. This 2019 revised and updated edition has been expanded to include a new section for the various lodge committees. This is an indispensable tool for all Lodge officers.
“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
“Western Esotericism and Rituals of Initiation” by Henrik Bogdan
For more than three hundred years the practice of Masonic rituals of initiation has been part of Western culture, spreading far beyond the boundaries of traditional Freemasonry. Henrik Bogdan explores the historical development of these rituals and their relationship with Western esotericism. Beginning with the Craft degrees of Freemasonry—the blueprints, as it were, of all later Masonic rituals of initiation—Bogdan examines the development of the Masonic High Degrees, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn—the most influential of all nineteenth-century occultist initiatory societies—and Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft movement of the 1950s, one of the first large-scale Western esoteric New Religions Movements.
“…Bogdan’s book is a valuable contribution to the developing academic discipline of Western Esotericism and new religions … this book will provide an important linguistic and historical step forward in a previously unrecognized field that appears to be—finally—coming into its own.” — Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review
“Bogdan’s book offers a useful brief primer on the history of Freemasonry and scholarship on Western esotericism, presenting considerable bibliographic information for interested scholars new to the fields. For that alone its value is assured. But Bodgan’s work also illustrates important tensions within the study of Western esotericism and the connected field of Pagan Studies.” — The Pomegranate
“…offers a very promising new take on the question of esotericism and its historical continuity.” — Journal of Religion
“This is truly an original work on an important subject. The most significant thing is probably the definition of ‘ritual.’ The field of Western esotericism is a young one, and while some of its terminology is now a matter of common consent, ritual has never been subjected to scrutiny in this context. Bogdan also shows how different rituals convey different elements of the Western esoteric tradition: some Freemasonic ritual teaches alchemy; the Golden Dawn teaches Kabbalah; and witchcraft teaches principles of sexual magic. The entire book has an earnestness about it that makes the reader take these rituals seriously.” — Joscelyn Godwin, author of The Real Rule of Four
“Myth, Magick & Masonry” By Jaime Lamb
Myth, Magick, & Masonry is scholarly badge of a worthy brother’s pursuit of the mysteries of Freemasonry. Brother Jaime Lamb has produced a succinct academic work which at once inspires the reader with the most exalted ideas of the Craft and pleases the academy of Masonic thought by rigorous and faithful sourcing. Though at times Bro. Lamb may seem to reach a little too far for a correspondence or analogy, but the extent of his grip is supported by dutiful research,sincere speculation, and an obvious love for the Gentle Craft.
Brother Lamb does a good job where many authors of esoterica fall short: he properly puts his work within a reasonable scope. Deep into the book, he reiterates the purpose of his work as he dives into Mithraism’s commonalities with Freemasonry.
“As we examine the body of correspondences existing between Freemasonry and Mithraism, it is important to bear in mind that it is not the purpose of this work to endeavor to establish an uninterrupted lineage, nor to imply any kind of direct cultural inheritance – an argument of this sort would, of course, require a detailed anthropological study beyond the scope of the present work – we are merely highlighting a set of commonalities which, it is hoped, will serve to provide substance for further contemplation.”
This quote and others like it serve to ground the lofty ideas of Myth, Magick, & Masonry, giving them some academic credibility. With a well balanced balanced approach and four sections delegated to frame Bro. Lamb’s thoughts within the book, the text is approachable without losing its mental rigor.
Each section begins with a quote not unlike the one above, stating the section’s purpose and overall scope. He then executes due diligence by providing background information on his various subjects, which include the tenets of Freemasonry, a cursory introduction to Western Astrology, a crash course in Mithraism, and a cursory overview of various other mainstream Western esoteric concepts and systems.
Bro. Lamb did not go dangerously deep into any one abstract subject, but rather delved just enough under the surface to represent the validity of his observations, all the more enticing the appetite of the contemplative Mason. After setting the stage for the premise of each section, Bro. Lamb pulls from the likes of Campbell, Jung, and Manly P. Hall to support his observations. Other behemoths of Western Esoteric thought are referenced throughout including Levi, Pike, and Regardie. And even further, the more niche Freemasonic, Mithraic, and Hermetic subjects got their scholarly nod. Though I did not necessarily agree with all of his correspondences or points, the author’s earnest tone and prolific referencing forced me to consider his position.
One will not find any magick formula or practical exercises in this short book. However, one will see a variety of new sign posts and helpful hints on the Masonic path. Though all the sign posts might not be what anyone one brother may be able to read or provide information about a destination that he is interested in, the broad scope and plentiful references will surely provide the reader with tools and information that would have only been otherwise obtained through in-depth research and analysis.
As a Brother who has thought about such esoteric subjects within and without the Lodge, I found Bro. Lamb’s work to be supportive and thought provoking. There were many points that I had not considered, and also a multitude of references and sources that I will surely keep handy in my future endeavors of Masonic exploration. For myself personally, I found comfort and encouragement in finding another brother that was traveling East on a road not dissimilar to my own. To see a modern take on a subject often reserved for yesterday’s pen is an inspiring thing indeed.
Myth, Magick, & Masonry is not the be-all end-all of Masonic esoterica. It is, however, an extremely useful and laudable work that binds the wandering thoughts of modern Masonry and links them to other esoteric schools of thought in a cohesive and digestible fashion. This book deserves a spot next to Meaning of Masonry and Secret Teachings of All Ages, to serve the contemporary Mason in framing his lofty thoughts.
– Review by Brother Thom Carter
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“The Ceremony of Initiation” by W.L. Wilmshurst
The Ceremony of Initiation was originally written for the instruction of the members of the research lodge, known as the Lodge of Living Stones, founded by W.L.Wilmshurst in Leeds. Walter Leslie Wilmshurst was born in 1867 in Sussex. At the age of fifteen he was articled to a solicitor in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, and worked as a solicitor there until his death in 1939. He was also one of the best-loved writers about Freemasonry of the twentieth century as well as the founding Master of The Lodge of Living Stones. His first best-selling book, The Meaning of Masonry, was soon followed by the equally popular The Masonic Initiation, and in addition he was a prolific writer of essays about the esoteric side of Freemasonry. Wilmshurst’s style of writing, highly formal and typical of his Victorian education, can make him a difficult read for modern Masons. Hence Robert Lomas, himself a popular writer on Freemasonry, and the Associate Membership Secretary of the Lodge of Living Stones, decided to revisit some of Wilmshurst’s less well-known books and restate their ideas in a more modern idiom so as to alert new Masons to the deeper meaning of the rituals of their Craft. This edition contains Wilmshurst’s complete original text, as well as Lomas’s modern retelling.