Almost 6 months ago, on the day of the August, 2017, solar eclipse, I launched a project to publish the third book in the Symbolic Lodge series, The Master Mason. And, (almost) to the date of the January, 2018, lunar eclipse, that book went out to its backers and is available now to the public.
The Master Mason, our third step in becoming a Freemason, is out now.
The blurb for the book reads:
The Master Mason: The Reason of Being – A Treatise on the Third Degree of Freemasonry
Third, in the journey of the Symbolic Lodge, The Master Mason is a formal exploration of the symbolism and allegory at work in the third degree of Freemasonry. Through that lens, this work seeks to find the hidden esoteric connections and their connections with the centuries-old ritual that crowns the process of becoming a Freemason. As with its predecessors, The Apprentice and Fellow of the Craft, this work seeks to find parallel with its esoteric siblings, the Golden Dawn, Thelema, numerology, tarot, the Kabbalah and other arcane and occult traditions.
The Master Mason is a work that strives to understand the process of becoming a Freemason.
As many traditions hold the keys to achieve a degree of perfection, within the Masonic tradition we are shown this path through the becoming of a master. Truly, this degree opens as a mystery, and concludes on another, illuminating a path towards perfection and purpose.
You can find the book online at Amazon and other select sellers. Plus, if you’re a collector, there are a small number of special offers of The Master Mason available for a limited time including signed editions, very limited edition prints, and a collector coin — all of which you can find here.
American Freemasonry, in context, is challenging to understand as it relates to the rest of the world. In many ways American Freemasonry mirrors the form and function of the lodge but, because it grew-up in the crucible of democracy that was itself, at the time, unique and new to the world at large. American Freemasonry is so different, that it has its own unique designation as “American.” But why does this difference exist? To understand this question, it would take an outsider to examine American Freemasonry. And who better than a Frenchman.
Gregory Stewart (GS) Why write American Freemasonry? What inspired Alain de Keghel to be the one to write it?
Alain de Keghel (AdK): American Freemasonry is an issue which keeps rather controversial in some countries abroad, while people writing, reporting or simply delivering messages about it, not always simply knowing what matters. Quite often they sincerely believe to be aware but they never, by themselves, experienced American Freemasonry which is very diverse. America, as a whole, is a wide country and the addition of people of different creeds, different ethnic origins, different languages and specific cultural areas of origin, making together what we call the “melting pot.” And because I had myself the privilege to live in the USA for a long period of time, benefiting also from the Fraternity of American Masons before of that, for example in Germany and Japan, I felt that it may be useful to share this quite rare experience in writing a book without prejudice. Even though I keep of course a specific cultural French reference simply because my basic roots are there, I tried to do it without any partisan point of view. This requires being familiar with American history which includes also the political side.
Of course any one will agree that Freemasonry shouldn’t interfere in politics — but nobody can ignore the geopolitical dimension of the origins of the American Revolution and the French-British competition of two major powers that included important Masonic Figures like Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, La Fayette and of course George Washington. But we have to consider also other Freemasons and political actors like the Admirals Cornwallis and Grasse-Tilly who both took a decisive part along with Rochambeau in the famous battle of Yorktown (October 19, 1781) paving the way to the American independence.
Anyone may conceive that as a former diplomat and a Freemason I have indeed an acute interest in those aspects of French-American relationships as well from an international point of view as from both Masonic and historical ones. All these elements inspired me to write a book to try also to share the analysis from outside America. But I never intended to deliver a message which would pretend to be the “unique truth” which simply does not exist. Objectivity is a noble goal but I frankly believe that it does simply not exists.
GS: The French-British competition? Do you mean the anglo war or some other conflict?
AdK: I was referring more generally to the geopolitics at this period of time where the two then “super powers ” and kingdoms where competing all over the world. And for sure in America during the American Revolution.
GS: The press release for the book puts emphasis on the fact that American Freemasonry was “deeply influenced by the experiences of many early American political leaders, leading to distinctive differences from European lodges.” I’m curious if you could elaborate on this or, perhaps, give an example of one of those influences and what difference it’s manifested into.
AdK: In answering your previous question, I was just referring to major figures and early American political leaders while explaining why I choose to report and analyze American Freemasonry “with French eyes.” America, meaning the United States of America, is a young Nation and it appears to me important to refer to the early roots of this First power in the world today if we try to better understand how it evolved in the run of centuries since the famous arrival of the Mayflower with European refugees looking for absolute freedom of religion. Since absolute freedom of thought belongs to the most fundamental aims of Freemasonry, I would say that many of the first American political leaders spontaneously felt very comfortable with the political philosophy of the Enlightenment which is important for Freemasons all around the world. If you read the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence from Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, you very easily will find references to basic principles and values which belong to the patrimony of the Masonic Order. And it is not by chance because many writers of these texts were Freemasons. By the way, we see here the long lasting influence of this way of thinking since the values they referred to, are still accurate today. It is, to me, the most convincing demonstration that Freemasonry, while preventing of mixing in politics, is by definition a place where the civil society may find some references to ideals and principles of an ethical and political nature.
But, unlike in Europe, the same American segments of the society who emigrated to preserve their sacred right to practice their belief without fearing prosecution, these segments of society have also sometimes developed “protective reactions” which may seem contradictory to their aims. I refer here more specifically to the famous Morgan affair which I explain in my book. This was a major challenge to American Freemasons leading once to the candidacy of an “anti-Masonic party” running for federal elections. Since then, we can observe that the memberships of American Freemasonry kept totally away from its involvement in the political life of the American society.
European lodges never experienced this kind of extreme challenge and still keep outmost interested in debates over new issues like bioethics, control of birth, justice or death penalty just to list a few examples. In some countries, like France, lodges used to be a kind of “laboratory” or think tank where these kinds of issues belong to, of course beside and outside of the political partisan debate. This is one of the major distinctive differences with American Freemasonry which avoids playing any societal role and privileges the practice of ritual and of charity. It is not a critique but simply a matter of fact.
Another major difference remains, of course, and reflects specific social specificities on both sides of the Atlantic. In America white and black lodges work, mostly but not exclusively, seperately. In France, Masonic lodges are places where this kind of separation simply does not exist and could not be possible. But here again it is part of different histories.
GS: I’ve had the chance to speak with both Margaret Jacob and Arturo De Hoyos, so I’m familiar with their exemplar work on Freemasonry, but I’m curious why you chose them to pen the forwards for this book?
AdK: Because I am today mainly dedicated to research and academic activities, writing books and sharing my knowledge as a scholar all over the world. I spend a lot of my time working with Universities and Libraries which simply belong to the natural environment to collect and share accurate information and reliable sources. Having spent many years in the USA and still keeping the good habit to visit your country at least once a year, I have an ongoing good relationships with American academics.
Margaret C. Jacob, PhD, is best known as a professor of history at the UCLA and is one of the world’s foremost Masonic scholars. She is considered a pioneer in the field of the history of civil society with emphasis on Masonic history. For that reason it was important to me to have her delivering, also to American readers, a point of view which matters.
For other reasons, my old friend Art de Hoyos appears to me as one of the American Masons best entitled to write comments on my research since he also is recognized worldwide for his sophisticated Masonic education and knowledge. A Grand Archivist and Grand Librarian of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction he allowed me, as a French life member of the Scottish Rite Research Society, to implement very important research activities in Washington, DC in order to put more light on the French-American Masonic ties throughout time.
But let me also refer here to my other friend, the past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of California, John Cooper, who also agreed to write an important afterword taking into account what we together did in the nineties and later on for the promotion of inter-Masonic exchanges in Sacramento, Edinburgh and in Paris.
As a matter of fact, these choices reflect a reciprocal confidence of people having different experiences but sharing the same values and one goal: building bridges among people of goodwill!
GS: The title of the book, its dust jacket and interior art leans heavily on the pantheon of American early American Freemasonry. In your work, how deeply did you delve into the other ‘American’ Freemasonry in say Mexico, Canada and further down into South America?
AdK: I am very grateful to you for this question which provides me the opportunity to embrace American Freemasonry in its diversity as I honestly did in my research. If you read my book you will learn that I was also for several years a French Diplomat in charge of representing my country at several inter-American bodies: Organization of American States, ECLAC (a specific body of the UN for economical affairs in Latin America and the Caribbean countries), the Inter-American Bank of Development and the American Regional Health Organization (OPS). My American overview includes, for this reason, a global analysis with a special focus on Latin America. But in my present book, I do not write about this specific and very important dimension. But I just have directed and published, early in July 2017, a new book totally dedicated to Latin America and the Caribbean region. It may be soon also translated in Spanish.
GS: What is this book? Is it out now or is it coming soon?
AdK:This book was meanwhile published — in French so far — in July 2017: L’ Amerique Latine et la Caraibe des Lumieres, Dervy, Paris. It is about to be translated into Spanish and edited in Buenos Aires, Argentine.
One word more about Canada: the Freemasonry in this country belongs to the Conference of American Grand Lodges and I have of course also included a chapter to present it to English speaking readers.
GS: Interesting in your follow up there, you say Canada belongs to the CoAGL (Conference of American Grand Lodges) Why do you think that is?
AdK:It is not an opinion but a matter of fact. Mexican Grand Lodges similarly also included into this masonic regional conference.
GS: In the press release, you establish that there’s a difference between American and European lodges. Could you illustrate a few of what your work defines as differences?
AdK:The answer to this important issue is in fact easy: I have honestly tried to compare both sides and readers will discover in my book what I consider as fundamentally different. So if you allow me would prefer not to elaborate here and to keep the “surprise” for those who will read. But you may have already noticed that I was referring to one major difference. The “racial issue” simply does not exist in European lodges — unlike in America. It appears to me to be a very important difference but there are others which I address in my book. Maybe some reactions of American readers and a kind of dialog could arise from that.
I must confess that this would be of outmost interest for me and some way a privilege to establish such an exchange and dialog with American readers.
GS: Do you think these differences have affected membership levels on both sides of the pond?
AdK: For sure these differences had and still have, in my opinion, an impact on the memberships — but mainly on the influence or input of the Masonic values in the civil society. If you simply look at American statistics — and I do it also quite extensively in my book — you will realize that the memberships is steadily declining in American Lodges since the late 40s of the last century, while it is increasing in France. It is clearly one of the results of differences in addressing Masonic education, societal topics and actual issues.
Masonic education and Masonic tradition are of course both important. But young people connected with a very demanding society expect certainly more.
GS: Do you think the European version of lodge work could be implemented straight out of the box in America?
AdK: I would never say: “Do like us, and you will do better.” It would be, first, very arrogant — but also inaccurate because every society has its own rules resulting from history and culture.
But you raise a good question. Would it make sense to try to experiment with other practices? This is what some American Grand Lodges have already have begun to implement with some impressive success. It is the case in California, for example. No one has a miraculous recipe to offer. But “building the bridges,” a principle I was several times referring to in the run of this interview, may be part of the solution. It is my conviction that everyone has something to learn from encounters in a global world or a “world village” as someone once said. It is part of cross culture, a reality of modern times.
GS: Are there, or do you know of any examples of this implementation?
AdK: Of course yes. I know that specifically at least one Grand Lodge has recently engaged in this policy. It is the Grand Lodge of California.
GS: What do you hope American’s take away from reading American Freemasonry? What do you hope European (or non-American) Masons to take away from it?
AdK: In writing American Freemasonry, first in French, I had mainly in mind to explain to my fellow European Masons what I have learned from my American Masonic experience because they too often have a poor knowledge of America in general and quite often misunderstand it. I had claimed, in a previous answer, to build bridges, and my book is part of that. As an American Publisher, Inner Traditions (American Freemasonry’s publisher) accepted the idea to have my book also translated into English and edited in the USA. I was of course delighted to contribute this way to entertain a dialog with my American Fellow Brethren which is also part of building bridges and reciprocal confidence. At a period of time where the flow of information obeys the law of instantaneity and of superficiality, within the so called social networks with their “like” and “friends” who never encounter beside on the networks, I do hope that my writings may help to develop a better understanding founded on knowledge and not on prejudice.
Maybe, American Masons eventually could also be interested to discover how a French freemason sees them? But I may be mistaken and possibly nobody cares? Let us try!
Freemasonry bears the imprint of the society in which it exists, and Freemasonry in North America is no exception. While keeping close ties to French lodges until 1913, American Freemasonry was also deeply influenced by the experiences of many early American political leaders, leading to distinctive differences from European lodges.
Offering an unobstructed view of the American system and its strengths and failings, Alain de Keghel, an elder of the Grand Orient de France and, since 1999, a lifetime member of the Scottish Rite Research Society (Southern U.S. jurisdiction), examines the history of Freemasonry in the United States from the colonial era to the Revolutionary War to the rise of the Scottish branch onward. He reveals the special relationship between the French Masonic hero, the Marquis de Lafayette, and the Founding Fathers, especially George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, including French Freemasonry’s role in the American Revolution. He also explores Franklin’s Masonic membership, including how he was Elder of the lodge of the Nine Sisters in Paris.
The author investigates the racial split in American Freemasonry between black lodges and white and how, unlike French lodges, women are ineligible to become Masons in the U.S. He examines how American Freemasonry has remained deeply religious across the centuries and forbids discussion of religious or social issues in its lodges, unlike some branches of French Freemasonry, which removed belief in God as a prerequisite for membership in 1877 and whose lodges operate in some respects as philosophical debating societies. Revealing the factors that have resulted in shrinking Masonic enrollment in America, the author explores the revitalization work done by the Grand Lodge of California and sounds the call to make Freemasonry and its principles relevant to America once again.
Alain de Keghel served as chair of the Supreme Council of the Grand Orient of France from 2002 to 2008. In 1994 he became a lifetime member of the Scottish Rite Research Society (Southern U.S. jurisdiction). The chair of an independent European Masonic Research Society, he has worked with the Philalethes Society in North America and with the research lodge Quatuor Coronati no. 8 in Germany. He is the former Consul General of France in Tokyo and Washington, D.C., and lives in Paris.
As with the past books, this work is being made available to early adopters through a Kickstarter campaign designed to provide a mix of old and new rewards for those students of the work to commemorate its publication.
Following the path laid out thus far in The Apprentice and The Fellow of the Craft, The Master Mason sets out to complete the path of the Symbolic Lodge giving us firm footing in the climb into the Lodge of perfection. Focusing on the nuances of the degree, the Master Mason ritual is an enigma of sorts in that it’s telling follows a divergent path from its predecessors. It is because of this difference that those who undergo it’s rites experience something new in their becoming a master. As with the earlier works, The Master Mason delves further upon the Kabbalistic Tree of Life taking the necessary detours to explore the symbolism and history of the ritual.
For those veteran contributors, you’ll notice a significant difference from the previous campaigns. This change is some of the lessons learned in undervaluing and short sighting some of the hurdles that come with self-publishing a book like this. If you’re new to this book series and collecting the work, there are definitely opportunities to become a sponsor and ensure a spot in the progress of the Great Work.
And, because of the special history of bringing this work to life, I thought it only fitting to launch it on the day of the full solar eclipse in 2017. Truly, a day from darkness into light.
My thanks to you, in advance, for your support in this passion project of mine.
Back in 2013, I wrote a book titled, “Stand Up for MORALITY” which discusses the virtues of morality, and how to promote it. This became the basis for a talk on the same subject which I presented on July 17, 2013 at the Dayton Masonic Center in Ohio. The speech was an abbreviated version of my normal talk. Interestingly, the presentation was videotaped and recently brought to my attention.
The session is one hour and twelve minutes in length (1:12) and you can watch it for free by clicking HERE. Although Masons made up the audience, this session is applicable for non-Masons as well (and they’ll learn a little about the Craft in the process).
Having just finished Graham Hancock’s Fingerprints of the Gods and Magicians of the Gods, I feel as though I’ve been walking in the footsteps of the gods, and it’s made me a believer.
Seldom do I binge watch more than a few TV episodes at a time. When I do, it feels like an information overload that makes the whole thing hard to process and nearly impossible to enjoy. The same could be said for books and reading. When I finish one book on a particular subject I like to move on to another, to cleanse the mental palate and process what I just read.
I thought about this when I picked up Graham Hancock’s Fingerprints of the Gods. Fingerprints was one of those books I’d spent the better part of 30 years avoiding just out of sheer will because, I had thought, it was an alt-history cavalcade and the well-spring of countless conspiracy, cryptozoology and pre-history anecdotes. This hesitancy in picking up Fingerprints was on the heels of an Art Bell fascination and right around the time I became a Freemason.
Still, like the mantra emblazoned on Fox Mulder’s poster — I wanted to believe.
The idea of a pre-history has always fascinated me. I had my own theories from history courses in college. Early on, I considered a minor in Greek and Roman art history, but sufficed myself on being an armchair historian consuming academic and literary explorations of ancient history. Field work on the subject, however, wasn’t in the cards.
But all the while, nagging at the back of my brain (along with Fingerprints maybe) was the notion that the timeline of history couldn’t possibly be sufficient to achieve some of the marvels that spawned out of a few short centuries only to go so silently quiet.
So, I’d passed on Fingerprints… and waited. I waited so long I had, for the most part, forgotten about it and lost myself in studying Freemasonry. Fingerprints of the Gods had receded so far in my head that when I caught a YouTube video with Graham Hancock presenting his ideas and theories, it all came back to me such that, within a week I was out at my local book seller buying a new copy to start reading on the spot.
So, in the span of a few weeks, I consumed Fingerprints of the Gods, feeling as though I was right there with Graham climbing the steps of the Giza pyramid and digging around in the water worn stone of the Sphinx. Reading it slowly, I measured every word of every chapter and gave considerable thought to the ideas he put forth — ideas, I’ll add, that while on the fringe of academic study, are not outside the philosophical reality as they intersect the realms of the history before history. Isn’t that part of the great mysteries of the human species? How did we build the pyramids? Why did we build them?
In Fingerprints of the Gods, Hancock sets the theoretical stage for a cataclysmic event at about the period of Younger Dryas (about 14,500 years ago) that wiped out a civilization more advanced than its contemporary hunter-gatherer counterparts. His theory is that this civilization, in collapse, struck out across the globe establishing megalithic monuments and reorganizing the hunter-gathers enclaves they encountered into porto-civilizations turning them into agricultural-socities. Hancock’s theory in Fingerprints was an earth crust displacement that moved and sizable landmass from a habitable zone into an inhospitable one — destroying in an instant an ancient advanced civilization. Upon its demise, this great civilization fled the disaster zone and seeded themselves around the globe erecting megalithic monuments to memorialize the event and warn subsequent generations of the cataclysm that happened to them and it’s recurrence in the future.
Immediately I was sucked into the text with the mention of an ancient map accurately depicting the coastline of Antarctica. It was compelling, and took me down the rabbit hole I’d so long resisted — loving every word of it. While some of the conclusions were broad in their scope, I had to admit that the conclusions were plausible and worth greater consideration. Why couldn’t a species that’s been on the planet only have created a “modern” society in barely the last 7,000 years. Personally, I don’t take this to mean there were flying machines in antiquity or weapons of mass destruction that wiped out society. But, notion of history before history was just as intoxicating to think about in consideration of the imaginings from the sundry religious texts Hancock sites as parallels to his theories.
Finishing Fingerprints, I was compelled to immediately start reading his follow up book Magicians of the Gods.
Written in the same mesmerizing fashion as his earlier work, Magicians was different. Published 22 years after Fingerprints, Magicians of the Gods felt in one hand a mia culpa (on the earth crust displacement and link to the Mayan calendar 2012 debacle) and a in the other a substantiation on the cataclysm of the Younger Dryas period, illiterated across the globe in the surviving (and reachable) megalithic structures, in particular the nascent discovery of Gobekli Tepe in the Anatolia region of Turkey. As in his earlier work, Hancock paints an even greater detailed picture of the province of ancient antediluvian culture. In Magicians of the Gods, with the aid of science and observational inputs, Hancock adds further mass to his scaffold of an ancient civilization being wiped from the memory of time. I don’t want to give too much away but Hancock’s arguments are compelling and worthy of deep consideration and, dare I say, exploration further.
A point in the work I did find of great interest was a reference in the text to the esteemed Masonic author Timothy Hogan and his observational analysis of marks in Temple of Bacchus in Lebanese megalithic structure at Baalbeck. Another was, much to my surprise, was a broad weaving in of the Hermetic texts, expounding the very oft mentioned “as above, so below” but with great consequence in his meaning. In a very brief encapsulation, resting on Hermetica, the thrust of his hermetic connection is that the universe affects life on Earth, and the Earth reflects the effect of the universe upon it. This reflection is encoded in the megalithic monuments of that share uncanny similarities in their construction and in the sheer mass of their existence from a time before recorded history.
In a general reference, Hancock writes of the cataclysmic events that they were,
…embedded in myths and legends and in mathematical and architectural precepts that would be passed on and renewed again and again by the different cultures that received them, thus boosting the signal and allowing it to remain intact for thousands of years. Even if those through whose hands and minds the signal passed no longer understood its meaning, the weight of sacred tradition, hoary with age would ensure that they were continued to transmit it and would do their utmost to keep it free from interference.
Throughout Magicians, Hancock seems reflective of what on what he’s discovered — different than the tone of the Fingerprints when the reporter turned author was carving out a Hyperborean like view of humankind emerging out of the era of hunter-gathers in the prehistoric Clovis period. Maybe the reflectiveness comes at the realization of what he’s proposing is very real and, again, set in a framework of a very clear and present danger in the annual annual passing through the Taurid meteor showers.
Yet, the cycle of the universe moves slowly, and the mysteries of processional time and the rise and fall of the human species is forgetful — it’s an informational overload at a glacial pace. Hancock’s declaration may be a solitary voice in the wilderness with the message of Fingerprints of the Gods and Magicians of the Gods. But science, it seems, is teasing points of validation to both works, if even in validating ancient comet strikes or finding ancient megalithic sites bedecked in astronomical corollaries dating to near the period of the Younger Dryas event. Hancock made me a believer, or at least validates my suspicions of ancient history and the history before history, whether upon the shores of Antarctica or the now underwater regions submerged in the great flood, a point Hancock brings into full focus with the mystery of Atlantis.
Yes, it’s extraordinary. Yes, it’s a lot to take in. And, no, it isn’t a scientific treatise. Fingerprints of the Gods, and it’s follow up Magicians of the Gods, are fantastical works about the fluid history past, present and future of humankind. And, just as Hermetica (and Hancock in the conclusion) reminds us,
The forces do not work upward from below, but downward from above…All the world which lies below has been set in order and filled with contents by the things which are placed above… The source of all earthly things are on high: those sources pour forth upon us by fixed measure and weight; and their is nothing that that has not come down from above.
Graham Hancock knows it, his Fingerprints of the Gods and Magicians of the Gods illustrates the points. You should probably know it, too. Even if you have to binge read it like I did.
Masonic author Joshua Lorenzo Newett spent some time recently to talk about his new work of fiction, In Remembrance of Things Lost. Yet, as Joshua tells it, the work is underpinned with Masonic and esoteric themes that center on purpose, recovery and the story of one mans journey of becoming a Freemason, a journey that, in some respects may mirror the authors.
Masonic Traveler (MT): Joshua, thanks for taking the time to talk about yourself and your new book. Let’s start at the beginning, tell us, who Joshua Lorenzo Newett is?
Joshua Lorenzo Newett (JLN): Well here are the particulars. I am 36 years old, and am currently a lecturer at the Korean Navy Academy in Jinhae, South Korea, although I am originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I am a member of Pusan, Korea Lodge, No. 1675, on the Rolls of the Grand Lodge of Scotland as well as a member of the Seoul Valley of the Scottish Rite (SJ).
MT: How long have you studied Freemasonry? What led you there?
JLN: An uncle of mine is a Freemason so, from a young age, I’ve been aware and interested in the organization.
In high school and university I got into existential philosophy which asks all of the big questions: Where are we? What are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? Why does it matter? What is the good life? Existential philosophy led me to the study of history and International Relations which eventually led me back to the original questions posed.
When I was thirty three I contact a member of Pusan Lodge via the internet and went to my first meeting.
In Remembrance of Things Lost by Joshua Lorenzo Newett
JLN: I originally started it as a first person narrative written from the vantage point of Count St. Germaine but that story-line took a back seat to a third person narrative about Thad Gordon, a boy who becomes troubled after his family moves from Walpole, Massachusetts to East Hampton, New York. He is a bit self-defeating in his undertakings and sabotages several important relationships in university. He becomes totally disillusioned and moves to Korea to sort of drink himself to death. I don’t want to spoil the plot for anyone so I won’t go any further.
MT: You mentioned in your initial inquiry that that the protagonist meets a man that may, or may not, be the legendary Count St. Germain who leads him to find Freemasonry which later helps him put his life in order. Would you say this is more a story about the journey, the destination or both?
JLN:I’d say this story is more about the journey. In most tales I find the journey is the most interesting part of the story. For example I recently read a book about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, (The Devil in the White City) and while the fair was interesting the journey undertaken to bring it into existence was far more so.
MT: What inspired the book? What made you put pen to paper?
JLN: With all my books I try for three things; the reader learns something about the world at large, they relate to the characters and when the book is finished it stays with them, maybe even changes them in some small way. Ralph Waldo Emmerson said “I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” I really believe that. Reading is such an intimate thing. It lets you occupy the same mental space as the author. For me there is nothing like finding an author I can really relate to. I guess at the end of the day that’s why I write.
My books usually start out as something completely different. I think the genesis of this one came years ago while I was reading Blood Meridian. The Judge Holden character leapt off the page. I loved the way Cormac McCarthy wrote him, how it was subtly suggested he may be immortal and have supernatural powers, but I didn’t like the way Holden, who was a real historical figure, represented the animalistic and base aspects of humankind. I wanted to create a similar character but make him more benevolent and nuanced. A few years later I was reading up on Count St. Germaine and I thought this guy is your Judge Holden.
Another aim I had in writing the book was to pique the curiosity of non-masons and get them interested in masonry.
MT: How so? What were some of the kernels of Masonry that you included?
JLN: First there are several images used, such as a description of a masonic ring. Thad picks up a thread with what may or may not have been the journal of CSM and follows it to his local lodge. He joins it then he joins the SR. I purposefully left the details sparse so if the readers’ interest was piqued they’d look for answers on their own.
MT: What was the hardest thing about writing this book?
JLN: For me the hardest part about writing in general are the endless revisions. When I finish a first draft of a book I let it sit for a bit and then go back and reread it. For the most part I usually really like it and actually often surprise myself like “oh wow I wrote that? I don’t even remember writing that!” I like that a lot. Then comes the hard part, rewrites and revisions. I’ll do several rewrites and revisions before I send it away to my agent for an initial read. He’ll send it back with suggestions. Several more rewrites later I’ll send it to my editor, then when it comes back rewrite it again. That process repeats several times.
By the time the book is ready, I’ve read the material so many times I’m sickened at the thought of having to read it again.
MT: I totally get that feeling. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to shoot from the hip, but unless you’re a dead-eye, you end up with some pretty wild grammar. Any future book plans?
JLN: This is my third book. My second, Wine Tasting is Bullshit, will be out in December of 2016. I am also finishing the first draft of a new one tentatively titled Hiraeth about a great cataclysm that brings civilization to its knees and the survivors who restart and preserve the knowledge of the past. I’m also working on a concept album and an accompanying book of short stories about the fictional character of John Melhern (1898- 1983). The album and stories are about his life. A lot of it is about war. The time he spent in Europe in WWI, losing one of his sons in WWII, and his grandson being drafted into the Vietnam War. It’s also about the passage of time and his inability to understand what the world has become.
And of course there are a few loves stories thrown in for good measure.
MT: Joshua, thanks so much for taking the time to share your work with us. It sounds like a non-traditional take on some old traditional themes.
You can find Joshua Lorenzo Newett’s book, In Remembrance of Things Lost, in print and as an epub on Amazon. And, you can follow more of Joshua Lorenzo Newett’s work at his website, joshua-lorenzo-newett.com.
Managing the Future of Freemasonry A Book of Optimism
A new book takes an optimistic approach to the vexing issue of declining membership. Managing the Future of Freemasonry: The Book of Optimism, by Dr David West, is a work by a man who understands philosophical thinking. A graduate in and of Philosophy from the University of Leicester, West has taught at universities in England and Canada and worked in top industries and holding government roles working to fathom the the future of work. He has been an adviser to a Cabinet Minister and founded The Working Manager Ltd, creating the core content of its management education process. An active Freemason of his mother lodge, St Laurence No. 5511, West suggests he sees the possibilities of the future.
From the press release about his book,
The numbers are staggering; since 1959, worldwide membership of Freemasonry has declined by almost 75%, akin to numerous other societies and groups tasked with being positive pillars of the community.
According to Dr. David West, this sudden decline is the result of significant negative changes to society as a whole. In his powerful and evidence based new book, West outlines the problem and suggests plausible solutions for a revival of Freemasonry.
The golden years of Freemasonry have passed with the departure of a world never likely to return. We cannot pretend that our membership problem will simply go away. If we are to rescue our order, we must take an objective look at ourselves and understand the society we now face. Our challenge will be to renew our ideals and bring them to the attention of a new audience, one that we as yet know little about. This will require hard work, open-mindedness, creativity and above all leadership. The optimism which runs through this book depends upon our ability to change, knowing that holding on to the past will be the last thing our order does. West says,
I’m totally convinced that a resurgence of Freemasonry is possible, However, we must first take an objective look at how our society has changed, what has caused this change and what needs to be done to repair things. When we know this, we can ‘redesign’ Freemasonry to be a vital building block in getting society back on track. It’s all down to proper management, lateral thinking and a departure from our old mind-set.
Hard work, open-mindedness, creativity, and above all leadership are skills that Freemasonry needs to hone and be willing to put into action because, after all, reversal of the decline will be far from immediate. Complacency has already become our enemy and, with societal discord now at an all-time high, we have a bold opportunity ahead of us to work for tangible change.
Robert V. Lund believes that The Hidden Code in Freemasonry: Finding Light through esoteric interpretation of Masonic Ritual is a book that should be read by all Freemasons. The work, he says, strives to provide a deeper understanding of the hidden information at work behind the scenes of the rituals of Freemasonry. What makes this book different, the author claims, is that it looks beyond the literal veil to the hidden code that underlies each of the craft rituals and the truer meaning of its ceremonies. I talked recently with Robert about his book in hopes of catching a peek behind the veil.
Masonic Traveler (MT): Let’s start at the beginning. Who is Robert Lund?
Rob Lund (RL): I am a Past Master of Kilwinning Lodge #565 of Toronto, Ontario (Canada), and currently serve as Secretary. I have served as Chairman of the Toronto West District Education Committee for a number of years and served one year in the Grand Lodge Committee on Masonic Education. I am [the] editor of our Lodge newsletter and write at least one article for it every month. I also run our Lodge website.
I have written lectures on the esoteric meaning of our rituals and presented them numerous times throughout the district. I have also presented at one of the Ontario Masonic Education Conferences. I have had articles published in The Lightbearer, a magazine of the Canadian Theosophical Association.
MT: Do you belong to any other esoteric or initiate rites or bodies?
RL: I am a member of the Rosicrucian Order AMORC, and the President of the York Lodge of the Theosophical Society (founded by H. P. Blavatsky) and a member of the Board of the Canadian Theosophical Association. For a couple of years, I was a member of another masonic Rosicrucian order, the SRIA.
MT: How long have you studied Freemasonry?
RL: I’ve been a Mason for around ten years now. I always knew I would be a Mason since my early twenties but just never got around to pursuing it.
MT: What finally led you there?
RL: For the past forty years, I have been a seeker of truth: the truth behind religions (especially Christianity); the truth behind human origins, and the truth regarding our existence and purpose on earth. These interests go back to my teens. I’ve always felt that there is more to life, this world, and the universe than meets the eye and it’s only in the last decade that I started doing something about it.
The Hidden Code in Freemasonry: Finding Light through esoteric interpretation of Masonic Ritual
RL: My book [The Hidden Code in Freemasonry] is a product of my Masonic, Rosicrucian, and Theosophical journeys and it ties them together. It shows how the composers of our Masonic ritual have embedded information taken from the esoteric mystery traditions and teachings perpetuated for thousands of years, to be discovered by those who have eyes to see, and to be acted upon in order to fulfill their purpose. The book provides the evidence of this hidden “code” and gives a detailed analysis of the three craft degrees showing what these hidden messages are and what they mean. And, since knowing is of little avail without action, the book makes suggestions for next steps.
MT: Interesting. What inspired you to put pen to paper (or finger to keys)?
RL: All through the three degrees, I was waiting for the “secrets and mysteries of Ancient Freemasonry” to be revealed to me. They never came. I was disappointed enough to consider leaving Freemasonry.
All Masons talk about receiving light but, how many actually know what that means? How many actually actively seek further?
It was after reading certain Masonic authors such as Manley P Hall, JSM Ward, and more especially W. L. Wilmshurst, that I began to see the light. That’s when I started my own analysis of the craft degrees, using Rosicrucian and Theosophical teachings. My discoveries are what I want to share with all Masons because the underlying messages are very important to everyone.
MT: What was the hardest thing about writing it?
RL: Let me first tell you the easiest thing about writing this book: finding the material.
Over the years, as I learned things, I wrote articles and lectures and so the material was at hand. What was much harder was putting them together in a cohesive way in a structure that would make it readable. I had help from some of my Masonic Brethren which assisted in achieving this.
MT: I love the cover, is there any particular symbolism at work there?
RL: The cover photo is one of the many fine lodge rooms in the Detroit Masonic Center. I added the additional artwork.
The parchment background is to signify the contents being of ancient origins. The symbols signify the source of the knowledge (Theosophical, Rosicrucian, and Vedic).
MT: Plans for future books?
RL: I am working on another book that deals more specifically with the symbols within Freemasonry and its rituals. However, this will not be ready for quite some time.
Thanks for this Robert. I can’t wait to read the book and I wish you the best for its success.
Fellow of the Craft – a Treatise on the Second Degree of Freemasonry
The challenge has been in how to reveal something that is and should be already apparent and known. That is not meant as flippant or assuming. To the contrary, it is to express a sentiment we are each taught from the very earliest of days in our Masonic upbringing, that our progress is measured and celebrated in what we learn and how we grow from those lessons. That is the heart of what it means to be passed as a Fellow of the Craft.
That craft is the intangibility behind the scenes of doing Freemasonry. It’s in the catechism, the lessons of association and the mechanism by which good men become better. The intangibility comes in the day-to-day lessons of knowledge we gain and its byproduct of wisdom. Certainly, it has been written and codified in a myriad of teachings esoteric and exoteric, hidden in plain sight and cloaked in unintelligible symbols the meaning of which we devote lives to the study of.
So then, the becoming of a fellow is the degree of passing, the movement through time and space such that its transit is imperceptible and shapes our moral vantage point.
The importance of it all is in how we go about that transit. This is the heart of BECOMING – the path of time and space along the curve of the compass turn. In a more esoteric sense, it is the replication of the first which makes two – the same unit in its polar opposite, the Janus head or the opposite side of the same coin.
This understanding may seem unimportant, but that is not the case. It is as important as becoming the reflected image in the mirror who stares back in contemplation as one gazes into their soul. It is you, the same but no longer the Apprentice. It is as a fellow amongst many on that journey.
So would have begun the Fellow of the Craft. What was that alternate path? You can find that answer and more in the release of the new book Fellow of the Craft – a Treatise on the Second Degree of Freemasonry.