“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.
“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.
“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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“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.
“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 Journey of the Elu to Enlightenment: A Contemporary Interpretation of the Teachings of the Scottish Rite” By Robert G Davis
The Scottish Rite is the most philosophical of all the branches of Freemasonry. It meets the brother immediately following his awakening to the condition of his own life, with all its challenges and victories. It directs him on a new journey of self-discovery; of personal and spiritual growth. It provides him a higher understanding of how this newly discovered light and mindfulness can then be played out in the real world and become a guiding force in his life. The Rite offers a facilitated path for each Initiate to find and apply the best that is within him in all the activities of his life.This journey is nothing less than the journey to the mature masculine soul. This book takes a new look at how the teachings of the Scottish Rite serve both the individual and humanity in advancing the ideals of peace, enlightenment, and freedom for all mankind. It introduces the themes and quests of the Rite, and outlines how each degree or level of instruction fulfills an important element in the attainment of three of Freemasonry’s highest principles—enlightenment, freedom, and toleration. It also recognizes that the historical settings, language, pageantry, and form of instruction of the degrees were all penned during the 18th and early 19th centuries. As beautiful and meaningful as these are, the presentations can create a disconnect between the ancient settings of the teachings and the contemporary life of the men who experience them. This work is an effort to bridge the gap between the ancient symbols, themes, quests, and philosophies offered by the Scottish Rite; and how these profound ideas can be communicated, understood, and applied in today’s world.
“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