Tag Archives: celtic revival

The Hiram Key

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasonry, and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus by Christopher Knight from the Fair Winds Press:

Christopher Knight's The Hiram Key from Fair Winds


This book has been the source of some heat, if little light, among students of esoteric history.

The scholarship in The Hiram Key is not profound, and it compares poorly with other books that treat similar themes and topics, such as Robertson’s Born in Blood or Assmann’s Moses the Egyptian. It is certainly wide-ranging, and seems to incorporate a dozen other recent theories on the Shroud of Turin, Templar survival in Scotland, Egyptian elements in Hebrew religion, lost Christian scriptures, and Masonic origins.

The picture of Gnosticism presented by Knight and Lomax is a caricature. Their theories of Egyptian origins for Masonry are in many cases laughable, such as using the ancient Egyptian doctrine of Ma’at (denoting both physical/architectural and metaphysical/moral order) as proof that the central metaphors of Masonry must descend directly from Egypt.

Perhaps the most novel and interesting material in the book concerns the authors’ readings of Hebrew scripture, and their theories of Hebrew custody of “the Sequenere resurrection ritual.” Fortunately for serious students who may become impatient with the irritating journalistic style of the book, each chapter has a single-page “Conclusion” which can substitute as a summary for the chapter as a whole. I recommend reading the “Conclusions,” and only going back to the actual details of the chapter for those that strike a personal interest.

The authors state in their first chapter that they “are very aware that the information which [they] give here may be considered by some Masons a betrayal of those secrets” which they have sworn to conceal. In fact, they give very detailed accounts of the Craft ceremonies as they received them in English lodges. We are expected to forgive them these willful exposures and violations of their oaths for two reasons:

1. “The United Grand Lodge of England considers only the means of recognition to be the protected secrets of the Order.” (So much the worse for the United Grand Lodge of England! Masonry benefits from a stricter reading of the obligation of secrecy, where initiates acquire and demonstrate the discipline of confidentiality.)

2. The authors took their obligations on the condition that “they would not interfere with [their] freedom as moral, civil or religious agents,” and they claim that to maintain secrecy on the matters discussed in the book would violate that condition.

Having read the book, I can find nothing in it which would create a moral, civil, or religious imperative for ritual exposure. The action agenda to which the authors’ thesis builds, is to excavate under Rosslyn Chapel in search of early Christian MSS. The real imperative for the authors must surely have been the prospect of making some money off of a book to be sold to the general public. That being so, I recommend that Masons interested in the book check it out of a public library or buy a used copy, in order to avoid contributing to the royalty stream for the authors. [via]



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The Celtic Golden Dawn: An Original & Complete Curriculum of Druidical Study

The Celtic Golden Dawn: An Original & Complete Curriculum of Druidical Study by Hermetic Library fellow John Michael Greer is due Feb 2013, published by Llewellyn.



“A century ago, groups decending from the famed Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn fused the occult lore of the Western magical tradition with the nature spirituality of the Druid Revival. They invoked Pagan Celtic powers instead of the Judeo-Christian names and symbols. Respected occult author and Grand Archdruid John Michael Greer has re-created a complete magical system based on the Celtic Golden Dawn traditions. This new book provides students with a complete curriculum of Druidical magic and occult wisdom, including training in ceremonial magic, meditation, pathworking, divination, geomancy, and herbal alchemy, allowing self-initiation into the three degrees of Ovate, Bard, and Druid. It features spectacular magical techniques for such things as invisibility, etheric shapeshifing, and conjuring spirits.” [via]


Although the book description doesn’t say so, I’ve seen some comments which state this work has to do with the Celtic Revival of William Butler Yeats, and will cover materials related to Yeats’ attempt to create rituals for his Castle of Heroes and a neo-romantic reconstruction of Celtic Mysteries which was his focus for a time. I was curious whether that was the case, so I asked John and he clarifies:

“Since only fragmentary material survives from the Druid/Golden Dawn hybrid orders of the early 20th century — orders such as the Cabbalistic Order of Druids and the Ancient Order of Druid Hermetists — the sole available option was for someone with a solid grasp of Golden Dawn and Druid traditions to reverse engineer a fusion between them. Since I have the qualifications, I decided to give it a shot. The completed system is an original creation of mine, based on my sense of what the study program of such an order would have been like.” — John Michael Greer [via email]