Volume LIVFebruary 2007Number 1

Book Suggests Influence on Early Freemasonry
by Bro. Charles S. Canning, Academy of Masonic Knowledge

A Review of "The Path of Alchemy: Energetic Healing and the World of Natural Magic" by Bro. Mark Stavish

I met the author recently at a preliminary meeting of the soon-to-be first Traditional Observance Lodge in Pennsylvania. The book intrigued me. It is in that classification of books that are not Masonic, but of Masonic interest. It contains material in the realm of 'esoterica,' which stems from the pre-Enlightenment period. One might review Masonic scholars like McNulty to get a Masonic orientation to understand esoteric thought and the Renaissance mystical tradition. Most Masonic scholars do not include the esoteric schools in their writings, yet we find esoteric references as contributing to the development of the Craft.

"The Path of Alchemy" is a guide to plant and mineral alchemy, which explains how to create and apply "medicines for the soul." Bro. Stavish ties alchemy with the Kabbalah, astrology and the four elements in the process of creating distillations for physical healing and spiritual growth. Behind these procedures, elixirs, "stones," distillations, astrological tables and levels of "worlds" in the Kabbalah tree of life, we can find concepts and principles that can give us background and understanding of our Masonic ritual. The text acquaints one with alchemy, laboratory procedures, the initiatic experience, symbolism and learning. Those interested in the spiritual side of Masonry may find "The Path of Alchemy" a guide to that inner experience. The text reminds us of the early period of history when the natural sciences were developing, and early Freemasonry included scientific thinkers, who also engaged in alchemy, the Hermetic tradition.

Bro. Stavish provides an idea of initiation, the beginning of our going deeper and deeper into our own awareness to meet the "Master" within. A Masonic journey is one of self-understanding with the goal of becoming that "perfect ashler." There seems to be a similar ring, as the goal of alchemy is to perfect the human personality.

This is not a Masonic text, yet I found "The Path of Alchemy" to be an interesting and informative read. One may speculate how much ancient knowledge may have contributed, at least indirectly, to the development of Freemasonry. The text helps us appreciate a historical perspective of those aspects of traditional western magic that may shed light on the Masonic degrees and the development of speculative Freemasonry.

A Masonic Book Review to Peruse
by Cathy Giaimo, Assistant Librarian, The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania

Rosslyn Chapel had been the subject of many theories connecting it to Scottish Freemasonry, Knights Templar and "lost treasure," not to mention the part it played in the book and movie The Da Vinci Code. Now author and Scottish Freemason, Bro. Robert L.D. Cooper tries to sort out fact from fiction in "The Rosslyn Hoax? Viewing Rosslyn Chapel from a new perspective."

Bro. Cooper, curator of the Grand Lodge of Scotland Museum and Library, has had ample opportunity to consider the many questions that arise from the ideas espoused by Masons and non-Masons. He begins by identifying two approaches to the study of Freemasonry, the "Academic Approach" and the "Popular or Alternative (or Mythological) Approach," as well as the various techniques used by authors to get their points of view across to the reader.

Bro. Cooper then delves into some of the history of the Scottish stonemasons' connections to the Sinclair (St. Clair) family in the early 17th century, Scottish Freemasonry and the various individuals important to Freemasonry's formation and history. This leads into chapters on the history of the St. Clair family, who built the chapel and their relevance to Scottish Freemasonry. Other chapters are devoted to Rosslyn Chapel, its description and the meaning of the symbolism found inside, the Kirkwall scroll and its link to Freemasonry, as well as other "evidence" that has been used by writers to support their Templar theories.

Also included in this book is an extensive bibliography not only of the usual historical sources (which are numerous), but also a number of titles that fall into the speculative or alternative history, some of which can be found in your library.

By writing this book, Bro. Cooper hopes to add some thoughtful evidence to the Rosslyn Chapel story from a Scot's viewpoint, while pointing out the unique aspects in Scottish Freemasonry. While not wishing to destroy the myths that have surrounded it, he has put forth reasonable explanations that the reader may want to consider.

To borrow this book or any others, visit the Circulating Library at www.pagrandlodge.org, or call (800) 462-0430, ext. 1933.

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