Tag Archives: albert pike

Masonry Defined

Masonry Defined: A Liberal Masonic Education: Information Every Mason Should Have compiled by Edgar Raymond Johnston (“Originator of the Questionaire System of Masonic Education”) from the writings of Albert G Mackey and others, the revised and enlarged hardcover from National Masonic Press, circa 1939, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Edgar Raymond Johnston Albert G Mackey Masonry Defined

“The average Mason, after taking his degrees in Masonry, immediately asks himself what it all means.

Few Masons have, or will take, the time to make an exhaustive study of Masonry. It is to this class of busy Masons this work will make an especial appeal. We have culled from the writings of many eminent Masonic scholars the ‘meat’ of the subject, and present it in such form that the busy Mason can get what he wants without the necessity of extensive reading or study.

If you have gone into Masonry in the belief that there is really something to it, and you have a desire to be well informed, you will find in these pages a mine of useful information, and will be well repaid for the time spent in looking up any particular subject.

No Mason can acquire in a few days or months, or even years, all there is in Masonry. Two of the most famous Masons America has ever produced—General Albert Pike, 33°, and Dr. Albert Gallatin Mackey, 33°—spent their entire lives in Masonic study. Their writings have been preserved, and the busy Mason of today can find the real facts of Masonry within easy reach.

There are thousands of Masons who can repeat the ritual, but who have no conception of what it all means. There is nothing said in the ritual that should seem mysterious. Everything in Masonry has a beautiful meaning if rightly understood, and everything done in the ritual work is meant to teach a distinct moral lesson.

Masonry would die out in five years if it had to depend upon about 85 per cent of the membership. It is the small minority—the really interested Masons—who have kept and are keeping the order alive today. These few men give unselfishly their time and intelligence as officers of the lodges. How long would any lodge last if all the members merely paid their dues, rarely if ever attended lodge, and considered their duty done? Does Masonry mean anything to you, or are you just a ‘member’? Some Masons seem to take pride in saying, ‘Oh, yes, I belong to the order, but have not been in a lodge room in years.’ Of what benefit is Masonry to this man, and what earthly benefit is he to Masonry? Then again, you will hear a Mason say, ‘I have lost interest in Masonry.’ He never had any real interest to lose. All he has lost is his curiosity. If he had been interested he would have learned something about it, and his interest would have increased instead of dying out. The Mason who pays his dues because he is ashamed not to, is simply throwing his money away. He gets no benefit whatever, and his attitude of indifference sets a bad example to the younger Masons, who look to him for inspiration and guidance.

Taking the secret work and learning the ritual does not make a Mason any more than learning its A B C’s makes a child a scholar. It is merely the cornerstone; the building is yet to be erected.

How many Masons understand the beautiful lessons of the third degree? If this lesson were learned and understood and practiced, Masonry would be on a higher plane than it is today. There would be more real Masons and fewer ‘members.’

Too many Masons say, ‘I have not the time to read,’ but they had or took the time to take their degrees and learn the lectures. The same amount of time spent in intelligent study would give them the groundwork for a real knowledge of Masonry; for, if Masonry is worth going into, it is worth knowing something about.” — E R Johnston’s Introduction

Morals and Dogma

Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Prepared for the Supreme Council of the Thirty-third Degree, for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States by Albert Pike, is part of the collection at the Reading Room. Although the title page of this copy has A∴M∴ 5641 (1881), the copyright page states that this volume was “Manufactured by L. H. Jenkins, Richmond, Va. September 1917.”

Albert Pike Morals and Dogma

I found this book in an antiques shop in Vancouver, WA around, I think, 1983, about the time when I first moved to the area for high school. I was interested in the material contained, but I recall also being extremely amused by the title. So very obviously amused, in fact, that the shop owner became offended and almost refused to sell it to me until he was finally convinced I was precocious enough to actually care about the contents. I vaguely recall that I had read at least the preface and was able to explain to the shop owner that I understood the intended meaning of the title, as opposed to how amusing it was simply at first glance.

“The following work has been prepared by authority of the Supreme Council of the Thirty-third Degree, for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, by the Grand Commander, and is now published by its direction. It contains the Lectures of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in that jurisdiction, and is specially intended to be read and studied by the Brethren of that obedience, in connection with the Rituals of the Degrees. It is hoped and expected that each will furnish himself with a copy, and make himself familiar with it; for which purpose, as the cost of the work consists entirely in the printing and binding, it will be furnished at a price as moderate as possible. No individual will receive pecuniary profit from it, except the agents for its sale.

It has been copyrighted, to prevent its republication elsewhere, and the copyright, like those of all the other works prepared for the Supreme Council, has been assigned to the Trustees for that Body. Whatever profits may accrue from it will be devoted to purposes of charity.

The Brethren of the Rite in the United States and Canada will be afforded the opportunity to purchase it, nor is it forbidden that other Masons shall; but they will not be solicited to do so.

In preparing this work, the Grand Commander has been about equally Author and Compiler; since he has extracted quite half its contents from the works of the best writers and most philosophic or eloquent thinkers. Perhaps it would have been better and more acceptable, if he had extracted more and written less.

Still, perhaps half of it is his own; and, in incorporating here the thoughts and words of others, he has continually changed and added to the language, often intermingling, in the same sentences, his own words with theirs. It not being intended for the world at large, he has felt at liberty to make, from all accessible sources, a Compendium of the Morals and Dogma of the Rite, to re-mould sentences, change and add to words and phrases, combine them with his own, and use them as if the were his own, to be dealt with at his pleasure and so availed of as to make the whole most valuable for the purposes intended. He claims, therefore, little of the merit of authorship, and has not cared to distinguish his own from that which he has taken from other sources, being quite willing that every portion of the book, in turn, may be regarded as borrowed from some old and better writer.

The teachings of these Readings are not sacramental, so far as they go beyond the realm of Morality into those of other domains of Thought and Truth. The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite uses the word ‘Dogma’ in its true sense, of doctrine, or teaching; and is not dogmatic in the odious sense of that term. Every one is entirely free to reject and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him untrue or unsound. It is only required of him that he shall weigh what is taught and give it fair hearing and unprejudiced judgement. Of course, the ancient theosophic and philosophic speculations are not embodied as part of the doctrines of the Rite; but because it is of interest and profit to know what the Ancient Intellect thought upon these subjects, and because nothing so conclusively proves the radical difference between our human and the animal nature, as the capacity of the human mind to entertain such speculations in regard to itself and the Deity. But as to these opinions themselves, we may say, in the words of the learned Canonist, Ludivicus Gomez: ‘Opiniones secundùm varietatem temporum senescant et intermoriantur, aliæque diversæ vel prioribus contrariæ renascantur et deinde pubescant.’” — preface

Éliphas Lévi and the Kabbalah

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Éliphas Lévi and the Kabbalah – The Masonic and French Connection of the American Mystery Tradition by Robert L Uzzel.

Robert L Uzzel Eliphas Levi and the Kabbalah

Even the clumsy style and sloppy research of this book is overshadowed by the typos, misspellings and bad grammar. The author is a Texas Mason and pious Christian, and I can only hope that this book has been little improved over its original composition as a Ph.D. dissertation—or else Baylor University is dispensing its degrees quite cheaply.

The topic is certainly interesting, and the overall structure of the study is reasonable. Uzzel attempts to trace Levi’s influence on American metaphysical religion (or as he puts it without clarification, “the American Mystery Tradition”), with a biography of Levi, an examination of Levi’s legacy in Europe, a consideration of Levi’s influence on Albert Pike, and an inventory of Levi’s legacy among American sects and initiatory orders.

But, oh! Why an explanatory footnote for the word zeitgeist? Why did Uzzel—who actually bothered to correspond with OTO Treasurer General Bill Heidrick on the topic of Levi’s influence on Aleister Crowley—use Colin Wilson’s Mammoth Book of the Supernatural as his chief reference on Crowley? Isn’t there a better source than Holy Blood, Holy Grail to cite regarding Levi’s relationship to Charles Nodier? I see that Uzzel raised Carl Raschke’s claims about Levi in Painted Black in order to take issue with them, but shouldn’t they be beneath the contempt of actual scholarship?

The meatiest part of the book is the chapter about Albert Pike. But in the final analysis, Uzzel contributes little to an understanding of Levi’s influence on Pike besides a digest of choice selections from Rex Hutchens’ Glossary to Morals and Dogma.

Uzzel’s syntheses and conclusions are less than gripping. He gives Levi credit for the prominence, or perhaps even the presence, of Templarism and Rosicrucianism in Masonic high degrees. (I don’t think the facts are with him, here.) He compares Levi’s aspirations for universal religious synthesis to the project of the World’s Parliament of Religions, but the comparison is vague and unproductive. He also offers some entirely unpersuasive, Newagey reflections on the mystical and holistic implications of quantum physics.

It’s obvious that a lot of labor went into this text, and its positive potentials make it a more frustrating read than it would otherwise be, given its glaring deficiencies. [via]


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New enlarged edition of The Secret Source

You may be interested in a new enlarged edition of The Secret Source: The Law of Attraction and its Hermetic Influence Throughout the Ages by Maja D’Aoust and Adam Parfrey published by Process Media.

“The new clothbound edition of The Secret Source includes a new chapter highlighting The Law of Attraction as promoted by secret societies through the ages, including Albert Pike for Scottish Rite Freemasonry, and new images from the fraternal brotherhoods.” [via]

“The Secret Source was originally published in 2007 with a paperback edition, and now it’s been released in an attractive hardcover edition with further material on Sex Magic of the 19th Century.” [via]