Solomon’s Memory Palace

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Solomon’s Memory Palace: A Freemason’s Guide to the Ancient Art of Memoria Verborum [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Bob W Lingerfelt.

Lingerfelt Solomon's Memory Palace

In my book A Bishop’s Advice there is a chapter on memorization for purposes of religious ceremony. There, as in other presentations I have made on memorization of O.T.O. ritual, I avoided discussions of the classical and renaissance “arts of memory,” although I have made extensive study of them elsewhere. I don’t see those techniques as essential for our ritualists, and they seemed perhaps sufficiently exotic to distract from the other points I was making with respect to ritual memorization. I was, however, very interested to read the recent book by Bob W. Lingerfelt, Solomon’s Memory Palace, which is a brief instructional volume for Freemasons on the very subject of applying traditional techniques of locative memory to the memorization of ritual.

While Lingerfelt is clearly well read in the traditional sources and modern scholarship for ars memoriae, his tone is not at all academic. The approach is colloquial and practical, and often at pains to clarify the sort of dated English diction that pervades Masonic ritual texts. He is a Nebraska Mason, and his book makes it implicitly clear that his jurisdiction places a greater emphasis on ritual secrecy (and consequently memorization) than many do, including today’s United Grand Lodge of England. While the introduction of the book seeks to offer it to other readers in addition to Masons, the text was quite evidently written for the benefit of Lingerfelt’s Masonic brethren throughout. That said, anyone engaged in the memorization of liturgy, scripture, or other texts should be able to apply his advice on the memorization method sometimes called “memory palaces.”

Specific instructions on the technique are amplified with a fair amount of other useful and valid advice regarding memorization, and the author’s “Closing Thoughts” speculate productively on the potential thaumaturgy involved in the development of memory, and its role in traditions of fraternal initiation. Three appendices are more illustrative than procedural, and very much grounded in the details of Masonic ritual.

I feel I can earnestly recommend Solomon’s Memory Palace to my Thelemic coreligionists in MMM and EGC.