Saturday, August 23, 2008

Book Review: Freemasonry: Ritual, Symbols, and History of the Secret Society

One good thing about being in Iraq is the fact that I have had plenty of time to catch up on my reading. Anticipating this, I brought quite a few books, but as usual, I haven’t read as much as I had planned. Nevertheless, I have done a good bit of Masonic reading. One of the books I recently finished is Freemasonry: Rituals, Symbols and History of the Secret Society by Mark Stavish. I picked up this book quite awhile ago, and was intrigued from the get go. After reading the foreword, written by Lon Milo Duquette, which describes a secret gathering of esoterically inclined Masons, I knew that this wouldn’t be the typical rehash of our Craft’s history. Instead it reads like a textbook, guiding the reader from King Solomon’s Temple, right through to the present day, with sections dedicated to such diverse topics as sacred geometry, occult masonry, and the quest for the lost word. Each chapter includes a list of exercises designed to allow the reader to put into practice the concepts presented in the text. Brother Stavish also suggests further readings for those who wish to delve deeper and obtain further enlightenment. The writing is clear, easy to read, and moves at a fast enough pace to keep even the most easily distracted Brother enthralled. Throughout the book, Brother Stavish presents a unique perspective on our Craft, and ties together the many disparate threads that have influenced its development. He not only highlights the history, but through it elucidates the philosophy and symbols of Freemasonry. A Brother who works through this book will come away with a new understanding of our Fraternity. This book will not only benefit the newly raised Brother, but also the seasoned veteran, and everyone in between. I highly recommend this book to all Masons, particularly those who desire to gain a greater understanding of some of the more esoteric aspects of our Craft.