“The Jew in the Lotus: A Poet’s Rediscovery of Jewish Identity in Buddhist India” by Rodger Kamenetz
While accompanying eight high–spirited Jewish delegates to Dharamsala, India, for a historic Buddhist–Jewish dialogue with the Dalai Lama, poet Rodger Kamenetz comes to understand the convergence of Buddhist and Jewish thought. Along the way he encounters Ram Dass and Richard Gere, and dialogues with leading rabbis and Jewish thinkers, including Zalman Schacter, Yitz and Blue Greenberg, and a host of religious and disaffected Jews and Jewish Buddhists.
This amazing journey through Tibetan Buddhism and Judaism leads Kamenetz to a renewed appreciation of his living Jewish roots.
“Moses Cordovero’s Introduction to Kabbalah: An Annotated Translation of His or Ne’Erav” By Ira Robinson
First published in 1587, Moses Cordovero’s now classic introduction to Kabbalah, Or Ne’erav, was intended to serve several purposes; it was meant both to provide a justification for the study of Kabbalah and to encourage that study by providing detailed instructions for interested laymen on how to go about that study; indeed, it was intended as a precis of Cordovero’s much larger Pardes Rimmonim.
In many ways, Cordovero was ideally suited to compose such a work. His teacher of rabbinics was no other than R. Joseph Caro, author of the Shulhan Arukh, which rapidly became the halakhic code par excellence. His master in Kabbalah was Solomon ha-Levi Alkabetz, whose sister he subsequently married. The result of his studies with both was no less than a kabbalistic “code”, a systematic kabbalistic theology of the Zohar, the basic text of Jewish mysticism. But this work was too large, and too complex to be easily mastered. Moreover, it assumed too much previous knowledge to serve as an introduction to the subject; hence the need for Or Ne’erav.
Or Ne’erav succeeded in fulfilling all these purposes, and has remained a classic introduction to the study of Kabbalah – and is used as such to this day. Dr. Robinson’s accurate but readable translation is the first English rendition of this essential work.
“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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“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
“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
“Bulletin of the Council for Masonic Light” (Winter 2018) + Review
This collection of Masonic articles gathered by Bro. Phil Greco is an appropriate amalgamation of ideas and topics diverse enough in subject to spark the interest of almost any Mason. The bulletin begins with a fascinating subject that no Mason … Read More
“The Masonic Initiate: A Guide to Light” by Bradrick A. Joyner
The Fraternity of Freemasonry supplies the necessary resources, that when properly applied, can assist a man in bettering himself not only mentally and physically, but also spiritually. In an attempt to revive the interest, within the Fraternity, of the practical applications of the deeper spiritual lessons provided within the degrees, “The Masonic Initiate – A Guide to Light” confirms for every Brother that his Fraternity is furnished with the necessary tools to erect his spiritual temple. This book provides a foundation to begin the “journey of the soul” through the manifestation of the teachings of the degrees of Freemasonry. This book focuses on the Entered Apprentice degree of Freemasonry, covering it’s symbolism, forms and ceremonies. It takes the lessons and symbols of the first degree of Freemasonry, and reveals content that can be applied through both traditional and contemporary forms of spiritual development. This book gives a fresh perspective; it links spiritual practices, like visualization and meditation, to the teachings of Freemasonry. “The Masonic Initiate – A Guide to Light” can be beneficial for the youngest member of the Fraternity, as it attempts to clarify the nature of the forms and ceremonies of his degree, and shed Light on what it means to be “initiated.” At the same time, it offers a fresh perspective on some of the symbols and ceremonies that can be well received, enlightening, and even quite refreshing for the elder Brother.
“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
“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?’