Dr. Margaret Jacob on Masonic Central

Origins of Freemasonry by Margaret Jacob

Origins of Freemasonry by Margaret Jacob

Some say that history is written by the victors.  Triumphs are in fact triumphant, and losses are only momentary set backs in a progressive path to the eventual story that you read in the history books.

But at times some histories run concurrently with others, and that there isn’t really a victor or vanquished, but instead parallel paths that points merge and blend together.  Freemasonry, it would seem, is just one of these histories where its various paths of existence seem to weave in and out of society and with other branches of itself.

For many years the fraternity has sprouted its own cadre of story tellers, its own historians.  From Anderson’s early mythologies of Freemasonry’s existence, to Yarker and Pike to name but a few, none have ever really stepped out of the box to understand the intricate workings as it relates to society.  Robinson has done some justice, as has Ridley in his work, but neither brought the study of the Freemasons out of the realm of the speculative and in to academia, at least not in any meaningful way.

It wasn’t until about a decade or so ago that the study of Freemasonry took on a more meaningful study, where today the craft stands at a turning point in the broader study of civil society.  And, at the helm of that ship is the scholarship of Dr. Margaret Jacob.

Masonry still has its arm chair and library historians, but Dr. Jacob has elevated the speculative history of our gentle craft to the hallowed halls of the university, and its from this study that our understanding of the fraternity today has far exceeding beyond what our understanding was of it before.

On Sunday, March 15, 2009, Dr. Margaret Jacob, the distinguished professor of History at UCLA, sat down with Masonic Central to  discuss her academic study of Freemasonry, as recorded in her books: The Origins of Freemasonry: Facts and Fictions, Living the Enlightenment: Freemasonry and Politics in Eighteenth-Century Europe, and The Radical Enlightenment – Pantheists, Freemasons and Republicans.

Additional topics to include: the Paradox of Masonic Secrecy in the 18th Century, Freemasonry in academia, and the role that Freemasonry occupies in the broader study of Civil Society.

 

It was a very interesting evening of discussion with the pre-eminent scholar of American and European Freemasonry.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to attend a lecture given by Professor Jacob, or have heard said that you should, this is the program for you.  Dr. Jacob has a unique unbiased insight to our Masonic institution as her academic endeavors come from outside of the fraternity, rather than the inside.

Two publications Every Mason should pick up!

tms_journal_cover_2-sm

Two publications that I happened upon today (one that landed in my mailbox and the other that landed in my cart).

The first happens to be a Masonic publication from The Masonic Society, aptly called The Journal of the Masonic Society, issue No. 2.

You may recognize the cover, I know it’s familiar to me. This second issue is late in coming for the Autumn edition, but worth the wait. It contains some very key contributions from across North America on topics including membership, esoterica, and a lil something in there from me. Its not often that an artist gets to write his own introduction to his work. This publication is living up to its early press and delivering a quality piece of work with a wide array of content and insight. And the artwork and layout is just stunning.

Secret Societies

The other publication has been out for a while, but after seeing a copy in a lodge brothers hand, I knew I had to pick myself up one.

This one comes from the US News and World Report and is a compendium of their series on Secret Societies aptly called Mysteries of History – Secret Societies. Its a pretty dense issue pushing almost 90 pages and no ads. I found my copy on the newsstand, but it was the last copy on the shelf. It goes into some detail (from the cover) on the Masons, Religious Cults, Scientology, Opus Dei, the Mafia, Skull and Bones, and more! Not exactly the cast of characters that Freemasonry likes to be associated with, but certainly a conspiracy theorists dream journal.

I’m looking forward to the chance to dig into them, but have to admit I’ve read through the Journal most of the way through today. Both will be good reads for anyone looking for a news or book lite experience. And, they look pretty spiffy too.

You can get The Journal of the Masonic Society Here
and You can pick up the Mysteries of History – Secret Societies Here.

Masonic Central Podcast

Br. W. Kirk MacNulty

Masonic author W. Kirk MacNulty

Join us for this episode from March 8, 2009, as Greg and Dean are joined W. Kirk MacNulty, who is an exceptional Freemason and author of several books on the fraternity. A longtime Freemason, MacNulty brings a special understanding of Freemasonry delving into the esoteric and deeper “mystical” underpinnings of the craft. In this conversation we go deep about finding the divine presence through Freemasonry.

Br. Kirk has been an inspiration for many on the mystical ideas of Freemasonry and its deep rooted ties to the Renaissance and scientific revolution that followed.  But interestingly, his take on Masonic Mysticism does did not originate from the familiar sources that we associate with it today.  Also, we plan to explore the meaning and need of allegory and myth, as it pertains to the fraternity.

I do think generally speaking, that there is probably a greater interest now in the in the mystical or metaphysical dimension than there used to be.

W. Kirk MacNulty

With perhaps in a more poignant tone, this episode talks about the reawakening of the new age idea and philosophy of the the development of the inner Temple and how that act is shaping the face of Freemasonry in the 21st Century.

Some of the topics we cover include:

  • The origins of Freemasonry
  • Freemasonry in the Renaissance
  • The Hermetic Cabalistic tradition
  • Dame Francis Yates
  • Manly P. Hall
  • Knights Templar
  • And much more.

Works by W. Kirk MacNulty include: The Way of the Craftsman, Freemasonry: Symbols, Secrets, Significance and Freemasonry: A Journey Through Ritual and Symbol.

Sadly, W. Kirk MacNulty passed in November of 2020 at the age of 88.

In Memoriam: W. Kirk MacNulty, FPS.

Jessica L. Harland-Jacobs author of Builders of Empire

builders of empireHow influential was Freemasonry to the growing British Empire of the 18th Century?

In this podcast we delve into the subject matter with Professor Jessica Harlan-Jacobs who is the author of Builders of Empire: Freemasons and British Imperialism, 1717-1927.

This book, while not an exotic expose of the mysterious secrets of the ancient fraternity, it is a well paced analysis of its most formative period of growth across the globe.

Listen to the Pod-Cast Now!

During the pod cast we discuss the world of British Colonialism in which Freemasonry grew to maturity and what that meant for both the British Empire and to Freemasonry. Also we will explore the growing study of Freemasonry in academia.

Originally recorded in 2008