“A Mosaic Palace Freemasonry and the Art of Memory” By Martin Faulks
“The Warden of the Lodge. . .shall take trial of the art of memory and science thereof of every fellow craft and every apprentice according to their vocation and in case that they have lost any point thereof. . . pay the penalty as follows for their slothfulness..” -Second Schaw Statutes of 1599.
Issued by William Schaw, the royally appointed Master of the Works, the Statutes gave a code of rules governing the activities of operative masons in Scotland. Its often considered the first conception of Freemasonry as exists today.
During the sixteenth century Art of Memory had far greater connotations than it may to the modern reader. It referred to a specific set of memory disciplines and techniques whereby one would create a memory palace. This could be based on areal or imaginary place which, using intensive imagination, one would build up in the memory to the degree that it could be easily visited and used as a kind of mnemonic storehouse.
By Schaws time, this art of memory existed in many different forms. Not only was it commonly believed to be a very good method of memorising speeches, but also a great form of moral training – a goal common to Freemasonry. Beyond this,there were some who believed that this mysterious art had far more potential and could even have supernatural effects on the world.
So why did Schaw make it mandatory for Masons to practice the art of memory, and why did they need to be tested in this art? Was it a reference to Masonic ritual and if so, does this mean the Masonic lodge is a form of memory palace? If this is indeed the case, then by exploring what school of mnemonics it evolved from it can tell us something of the intentions behind the ritual. Was Masonry developed as a form of moral training for good Christian builders, or could its rituals have evolved from a more ambitious or mystical purpose?
“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
“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: 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
“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
“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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“Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse
The classic novel of a quest for knowledge that has delighted, inspired, and influenced generations of readers, writers, and thinkers—a perennial favorite for graduation gifts. Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read Though set … Read More
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“The True Masonic Experience” by Roberto M. Sanchez
The purpose of this book is to allow Freemasons, new and old an opportunity to learn and experience some of the practices that have fallen out of custom in our lodges. We have gotten away from what our forefathers originally intended, and have become satisfied with the mediocre fellowship endured over a spaghetti dinner on paper plates. We owe it to our members to give them Masonry, which is what they are asking for. Since you are going to give them that, why not make it the best experience possible, why not give them The True Masonic Experience.