Rituals, Symbols & History
Of the Secret Society
Author: Mark Stavish
The Freemasons are the largest fraternal organization in the world, and one of the most well known mystery societies. Author Mark Stavish is an active Freemason, a Thirty-Second degree member of the Scottish Rite, a member of the Knights Templar and the Order of the Eastern Star. Why is this important? Only someone on the inside, someone familiar with the workings of the Freemasons, could provide such cohesive insight into their history, their philosophy, and how their ideals interact with day-to-day life.
The depth of scholarship in this book are reflected, in part, in the acknowledgments section when Stavish speaks of the assistance given to him by Brother Charles S. Canning, Director of the Harry C. Trexler Masonic Library (Allentown, PA). Brother Canning not only performed research for this book, but he also reviewed the manuscript.
In his foreword, Brother Lon Milo DuQuette speaks of an informal gathering of Freemasons at an undisclosed location, in an incredibly beautiful Masonic Temple. Part of his reflection is on the building itself, and its incredible sense of geometry (something that Masonic Temples are known for). DuQuette indicates that Masonry is once again becoming a secret society, largely because of public concerns over its esoteric nature. He goes on to say that the only demographic group applying for Masonic membership in significant numbers is that of young men passionately interested in the esoteric mysteries of the Craft.
In his introduction, Stavish notes that the symbols used by Freemasonry have their roots in both Jewish and Christian religious and mystical practices, with the fundamental notion of Freemasonry being that of build or creating. Masonry has a great deal to do with how a man lives his life – with the virtues of faith, hope and charity, as well as the Golden Rule being implicit in all Masons. Stavish states that by the example of improving himself, a Mason improves the world around him. A Mason will also be religiously devoted/mystically inclined. Within himself, each Mason constructs the Temple of Wisdom. The mystical nature of a Mason comes last, according to Stavish, because it is most personal.
In the beginning of this book is a short chapter on how to use it. This impressed me, because it placed the reader on notice that this was not just a book to be read, information assimilated, and book set aside. The information presented here is a beginning, and there is a path to be followed. In “Freemasonry”, Stavish presents the events that are behind the origin and growth of Freemasonry, why they are still important today, and how to live a “Masonic” life as a “creator, builder and friend of God and humanity”, whether the reader wishes to wear a Masonic apron or not.
It is suggested that the reader have a notebook handy, along with colored pencils or pens. It is suggested that the reader go over the list of recommended books at the end of each chapter, and read one of them. Another suggestion is to pay attention to your dreams – Bravo Mr. Stavish – excellent suggestion! Another suggestion that I heartily concur with is starting each reading session with a prayer.
Covered in this book are the different types of Freemasonry, he history behind the Temple of Solomon, Masonic initiation, sacred geometry, the Masonic Quest, Scottish Rite, Occult Masonry, the York Rite and the Knights Templar, and Freemasonry and the European Occult Revival. Each chapter ends with a listing of Key Points, Assignments – actions that the reader can take, and a suggested reading list.
The appendices include “Sacred Geometry and the Masonic Tradition”, by John Michael Greer, Symbols of the Tracing Boards and the Degrees, and Excerpts From “Morals and Dogma” on the Three Degrees of Masonry.
For anyone interested in knowing more about Freemasonry, or perhaps in joining the society, this book is an excellent first step on the path of wisdom.
© March 2010 Bonnie Cehovet