|Volume LVI||MAY/JUNE 2009||Number 2|
"The Masonic Magician"
By Philippa Faulks and Robert L.D. Cooper Reviewed by Cathy Giaimo, Assistant Librarian
Freemasonry has attracted many thoughtful and insightful men through the ages, as any knowledgeable Mason will attest. It has also attracted its share of the more colorful personages.
"The Masonic Magician" is a sympathetic look at one of the 18th century's more complicated and controversial men. Philippa Faulks brings her knowledge of Ancient Egyptian magic and the occult, and Bro. Robert L.D. Cooper, Curator of the Grand Lodge of Scotland Museum and Library, brings his Masonic knowledge to the book. Together they weave a story that is at once as intriguing and informative as it is fascinating to read.
Count Cagliostro led an extraordinary life (b. 1743), living in Malta, Egypt, Mecca and Medina as a child, and gaining an education in the sciences and esoteric teachings. As an adult, he became the toast of European society, popular as a healer and psychic to all classes of people. He was also interested in alchemy, mysticism and hermetic teachings which provided the background and impetus to his development of Egyptian Rite Freemasonry. It was ultimately this ritual that was his downfall and led to his arrest by Church authorities. He was put on trial in Rome by the Inquisition and imprisoned for life, dying in 1795.
"The Masonic Magician" is more than a biography of a controversial figure. The authors spend time explaining what alchemy is, who the leading lights of hermetic philosophy were, the origins of Freemasonry and its eventual persecution by religious and political authorities. Perhaps the whole point of this book is the English translation of Cagliostro's "Ritual of Egyptian Freemasonry." The manuscript, written in French, was saved from the fires of the French Revolution in 1789 by Scots Freemason Charles Morison. After his death, it was donated to the Grand Lodge of Scotland by his wife. There are three chapters devoted to this ritual: one on the sources and philosophies that influenced and inspired Cagliostro to write it, the ritual itself and the final chapter that serves as a commentary.
Check the Circulating Library Web site at www.pagrandlodge.org or call the Library at (800) 462-0430, ext. 1933 for more books on Masonic history and biography.
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