“The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet”
From the very first Kabbalistic work, through the Talmud, through an impressive array of rabbinic literature, great minds have found the Aleph-Beis to be a gold mine of wisdom and guidance. This fascinating best-seller weaves these golden threads into a glorious tapestry, presenting hundreds of ideas and comments on the Aleph-Beis, including: the Aleph-Beis as the force of Creation, as a primer for Jewish living, and as a fountainhead of Torah insight and mystical meaning. The product of decades of learning, thinking, and teaching by the revered educator, lecturer, and community activist Rabbi Michael L. Munk. A treat not to be missed.
“Revolutionary Brotherhood” by Steven Bullock
In the first comprehensive history of the fraternity known to outsiders primarily for its secrecy and rituals, Steven Bullock traces Freemasonry through its first century in America. He follows the order from its origins in Britain and its introduction into North America in the 1730s to its near-destruction by a massive anti-Masonic movement almost a century later and its subsequent reconfiguration into the brotherhood we know today. With a membership that included Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Paul Revere, and Andrew Jackson, Freemasonry is fascinating in its own right, but Bullock also places the movement at the center of the transformation of American society and culture from the colonial era to the rise of Jacksonian democracy. Using lodge records, members’ reminiscences and correspondence, and local and Masonic histories, Bullock links Freemasonry with the changing ideals of early American society. Although the fraternity began among colonial elites, its spread during the Revolution and afterward allowed it to play an important role in shaping the new nation’s ideas of liberty and equality. Ironically, however, the more inclusive and universalist Masonic ideas became, the more threatening its members’ economic and emotional bonds seemed to outsiders, sparking an explosive attack on the fraternity after 1826. American History
“Living the Enlightenment: Freemasonry and Politics in 18th Century Europe” by Margaret Jacobs
Long recognized as more than the writings of a dozen or so philosophes, the Enlightenment created a new secular culture populated by the literate and the affluent. Enamoured of British institutions, Continental Europeans turned to the imported masonic lodges and found in them a new forum that was constitutionally constructed and logically egalitarian. Originating in the Middle Ages, when stone-masons joined together to preserve their professional secrets and to protect their wages, the English and Scottish lodges had by the eighteenth century discarded their guild origins and become an international phenomenon that gave men and eventually some women a place to vote, speak, discuss and debate. Margaret Jacob argues that the hundreds of masonic lodges founded in eighteenth-century Europe were among the most important enclaves in which modern civil society was formed. In France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Britain men and women freemasons sought to create a moral and social order based upon reason and virtue, and dedicated to the principles of liberty and equality. A forum where philosophers met with men of commerce, government, and the professions, the masonic lodge created new forms of self-government in microcosm, complete with constitutions and laws, elections, and representatives. This is the first comprehensive history of Enlightenment freemasonry, from the roots of the society’s political philosophy and evolution in seventeenth-century England and Scotland to the French Revolution. Based on never-before-used archival sources, it will appeal to anyone interested in the birth of modernity in Europe or in the cultural milieu of the European Enlightenment.
The English Masonic Union of 1813
The bringing together of the Antients and Moderns to form the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813 was a tricky matter. How all this came about is not just an English tale but an Irish and Scots one as well. Complexities concerning ‘union’ included what to do about other masonic orders, especially the Royal Arch and the Knights Templar. For the first time ever this account provides a birds-eye view of the issues and personalities behind one of the big events of masonic history still affecting us today. “In this pioneering and stimulating book, John Belton tells with verve and enthusiasm the story behind the events which led up to the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813. Providing completely new perspectives on this key event in the history of British Freemasonry, John’s book will be of interest not only to freemasons but to all those who are interested in the contribution of Freemasonry to British culture and society.” – Prof Andrew Prescott, Kings College London
“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.
“Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry?” by Arturo de Hoyos and S. Brent Morris
For as long as there have been Freemasons, there has been a calculated effort to disparage and discredit them as well as their practices. But why does this incessant attack exist, and where does it originate from? In this insightful text, masons Arturo de Hoyos and S. Brent Morris explore the origins of the anti-Masonic mind-set and delve into the falsehoods on which critics have based these perennial sentiments. Confronting opponents one at a time, the authors methodically debunk the myths that have surrounded Freemasonry since its establishment, investigating the motives and misconceptions that drive these antagonists to spread deceit about Masonic traditions. With close readings and thorough research, they uncover a history of fallacies that have been handed down through the generations, and ultimately expose anti-Masonic prejudices that reach almost three hundred years into the past.
“William Hogarth: A Freemason’s Harlot” By Jeremy John Bell
William Hogarth, England’s most famous artist, was one of the first Freemasons to receive the Third Degree from the newly created Grand Lodge of England. Curiously, he hid all the signs, passwords and secret ‘knocks of recognition’ within his most popular artwork. Concealed so brilliantly within his paintings, they have not been seen for nearly three centuries. Hogarth also hid several details that slandered the ‘Father of Freemasonry’, Jean Desaguliers. The artist featured the third 3rd Grand Master covered in wax, dressed in drag, and ‘catching a fart’. Other curious details that have confused commentators for centuries can now be finally explained by their Masonic connection: Masturbating Kings, Ejaculating Ministers, Orgasmic Curtains and a Stabbed Chicken. However, the most shocking discovery is that Hogarth exposed a Earl and a Viscount as homosexuals, using graphic details within his most popular paintings. He did this in order to defend his Grand Lodge against a rival faction of Jacobite Freemasons. Over 300 illustrations explain this fascinating story of how Hogarth was commissioned by the Premier Grand Lodge to ensure its very survival. It will be of great interest in this, the Tercentenary of the inception of Modern Freemasonry. William Hogarth – A Freemason’s Harlot – with a foreword by Professor Sean Shesgreen author of Complete Engravings, (Dover Fine Art, 1973), Hogarth Times of Day, (Cornell, 1983). Available at brotherhogarth.com – Jeremy Bell has written articles on Freemasonry for the British Art Journal and articles on art for the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
“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
“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