“The Better Angels of Our Nature: Freemasonry in the American Civil War” by Michael Halleran
The first in-depth study of the Freemasons during the Civil War
One of the enduring yet little examined themes in Civil War lore is the widespread belief that on the field of battle and afterward, members of Masonic lodges would give aid and comfort to wounded or captured enemy Masons, often at great personal sacrifice and danger. This work is a deeply researched examination of the recorded, practical effects of Freemasonry among Civil War participants on both sides.
From first-person accounts culled from regimental histories, diaries, and letters, Michael A. Halleran has constructed an overview of 19th-century American freemasonry in general and Masonry in the armies of both North and South in particular, and provided telling examples of how Masonic brotherhood worked in practice. Halleran details the response of the fraternity to the crisis of secession and war, and examines acts of assistance to enemies on the battlefield and in POW camps.
The author examines carefully the major Masonic stories from the Civil War, in particular the myth that Confederate Lewis A. Armistead made the Masonic sign of distress as he lay dying at the high-water mark of Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg.
“The Freemasons” by Jasper Ridley
What did Mozart and Bach, Oscar Wilde and Anthony Trollope, George Washington and Frederick the Great, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt have in common? They were all Freemasons, a subject of endless fascination. To the layman, they are a mysterious brotherhood of profound if uncertain influence, a secret society purported in some popular histories to have its roots in the fabled order of the Knights Templar, or in the mysteries of the Egyptian pyramids. They evoke fears of world domination by a select few who enjoy privileged access to wealth and the levers of power. The secrecy of their rites suggests the taint of sacrilege, and their hidden loyalties are sometimes accused of undermining the workings of justice and the integrity of nations.
Though not a mason himself, Jasper Ridley nonetheless refutes many of the outrageous allegations made against Freemasonry, while at the same time acknowledging the masons’ shortcomings: their clannishness, misogyny, obsession with secrecy, and devotion to arcane ritual. In this much-needed reassessment, he offers a substantial work of history that sifts the truth from the myth as it traces Freemasonry from its origins to the present day.
“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.
“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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“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.
“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.
“Freemasonry: Symbols, Secrets, Significance” by W. Kirk McNulty
The ultimate book on Freemasonry, with a rich collection of symbols and lore that illuminate the famous fraternal society.
“The Craft,” with an estimated four million Freemasons worldwide, remains the largest fraternal organization in the world. Written by an active Freemason, this book comprehensively explains Freemasonry through its fascinating visual culture, rich in mysterious and arcane symbols of life, death, and morality that have evolved over centuries of secrecy and that have profound philosophical meaning.
Ceremonial regalia, paintings, manuscripts, tracing boards, ritual swords, furniture, prints, ephemera, and architecture: the book is copiously illustrated with many specially researched items from Freemasonry archives. This unrivaled compendium will appeal both to Freemasons wishing to learn the full story of their order and to a general audience that is intensely curious about this traditionally secretive and closed movement.
The coverage includes
The historical and philosophical background of the order, including the Knights Templar, the medieval stonemasons’ guilds, and esoteric traditions such as Kabbalah and Hermeticism
Its history from the earliest Masons to the present day, including famous members and scandals
Its geographical spread from Japan to California, Sweden to South Africa
“Tell me more about the Mark Degree” by Revd Neville Barker Cryer
Ten five-minute talks to be performed in a Mark Lodge or just to read at home. Including : About the Mark Man and Mark Master, About the Mark, The true meaning oft he Key Stone and the Cornerstone. Discover the symbolism behind The Mark Tracing Board and much much more.