Volume LVIMAY/JUNE 2009Number 2

"The Secrets of Masonic Washington:
A Guidebook to Signs, Symbols, and Ceremonies
at the Origin of America's Capital"
By James Wasserman Reviewed by Bro. Charles S. Canning, MMS, Academy of Masonic Knowledge

"The Secrets of Masonic Washington" is termed a "guidebook" and provides a description of the District of Columbia, its history and the archetypal motif the District represents with its classical style of architecture. Included in the first 70 pages of text are photos, maps and anecdotes to add an understanding of the drama that the developing Capitol city portrays. Each traveler who follows the guideposts will find treasures in the concepts, architecture and statuary that reveal to the seasoned Mason their inner secrets.

Wasserman provides a fascinating tour with insightful commentary. While "Masonic Washington" may not make a direct correlation of Masonic ideas to all the statuary and symbols in the text, there is significant information that credits Freemasons or relates to our teachings. "Masonic Washington" is an interesting reading, if for no other reason than to reinforce our national vision and guiding principles.

Wasserman provides a tour of Washington and makes it all too clear that a belief in God is an integral part of our heritage. In 100 pages, he takes us on a walking tour of the Capitol, Union Station, Judiciary Square, Federal Triangle, the White House, Lafayette Park, the Federal Reserve, the National Academy of Science, West Potomac Park and the Tidal Basin and the National Mall. The tour provides maps and crystal-clear photographs of the most vivid displays of classical art. Its influence is seen in Freemasonry and undeniably in the public image of Washington, D.C.

Wasserman provides a detailed sketch of our underlying American values represented in the art and architecture. The text reveals a broader picture of our national collective consciousness and at the same time weaves Freemasonry into the theme.

The classical gods brought back to life in the Renaissance found their way into the Neo-classical art of Washington. While not true Masonic symbols, they still have a place in Masonic art. Apollo is depicted in the seal of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. Other classical figures are emblematic of Masonic concepts as well, and provide interesting discovery in the federal architecture.

The national memorials to our country's great and greatness are physical testimonies of the collective vision that leads us. In Wasserman's tour, we can find outright Masonic emblems and symbols, allegorical representations of Masonic tenets, art and architecture produced by or illustrative of Freemasons, and buildings and statuary that are not Masonic but portray concepts and ideals that reflect Masonic thought. As an example, the Library of Congress or the National Archives are not Masonic Temples but represent temples of knowledge and enlightenment, which can help guide every Freemason.

The text is recommended for novice and veteran Masons alike who want to better understand our national heritage and search for Masonic ideals illustrated in the federal city.

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