Volume LVNovember 2008Number 4

Book Reviews

"A Song in Stone"
By Walter H. Hunt Reviewed by Cathy Giaimo, Assistant Librarian

Much has been written about Rosslyn Chapel and the Knights Templar. Their history, symbolism and mythology have been a great source of inspiration and imagination. In the fine tradition of timetravelling fiction, "A Song in Stone" by William H. Hunt follows the adventures of a 21st century man as he makes his way through the 14th century.

Ian Graham is an unemployed television broadcaster in Edinburgh, Scotland, when he is offered a job by another network to make a documentary on Rosslyn Chapel. A few days before the filming is to begin, he makes a reconnaissance trip to Rosslyn. While there, he discovers something that is noticeable only to him. It is the mysterious music which only he can hear. On his return trip to the chapel to begin the filming, he discovers where the musical sound is strongest and suddenly finds himself in 14th century Santiago, Spain, on St. James' Day, July 25, 1307. He also discovers that his two travelling companions, Rob and Juan La Rosa, were men he had just met in 21st century Rosslyn. Thus, the story continues on as the three intrepid pilgrims go on their "journey of light." Ian experiences initiation rituals at various stops along the way which reveal a small piece of the puzzle to what his purpose is, as well as channeling his inner warrior. There is danger at almost every turn as forces are out to stop them. Ian must get to Paris before Oct. 13, 1307, if he is return to the 21st century and bring the "healing music" to our world.

The main character, Ian Graham, straddles two worlds throughout the book. He remembers his 21st century life but is not quite a fish out of water, because he also has a vague recollection of being a medieval warrior. Other characters that were part of his modern pop back in as visions during his six initiations. The history of the Knights Templar propels the story forward as author Hunt, a Massachusetts Freemason, employs Masonic symbolism in the story.

The Library has many books on Rosslyn Chapel and Knights Templar - either fiction or non-fiction - that are sure to interest just about everyone. Check out the Circulating Library Web site at www. pagrandlodge.org or call the library at (800) 462-0430, ext. 1933.


"SECRET SOCIETIES AND THE HERMETIC CODE,
The Rosicrucian, Masonic and Esoteric Transmission in the Arts"
By Ernesto Frers Reviewed by Charles S. Canning, MMS, Academy of Masonic Knowledge

The book is divided into four parts: painting, sculpture, architecture and music. Painting represents half of the text. The author illustrates the esoteric elements of some of the most bizarre works of art, especially in painting. He begins with Byzantine icons as sacred, mystical objects and notes that their symbolism "follows strict Hermetic formulas". In Botticelli's "Primavera," we glance at a classical revival of the Renaissance pagan gods. Frers provides an alchemical interpretation to Piero DiCosimo's "The Death of Procrius." He also gives us a Gnostic and Hermetic interpretation of DaVinci's "The Last Supper." Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights" exhibits satirical motifs of eroticism and violence.

The author illustrates the esoteric arts in Albrecht Durer's "Melancholia," where the artist presents elements of alchemy, numerology, Kabbalah and Hermeticism. Frers points out a ladder in Durer's picture as a Masonic symbol. However, the painting is from 1514 and Jacob's ladder was only added to Masonic symbolism in the late 18th century by William Preston.

In the second half of the book, Frers begins with a selection of sculpture that includes the Sphinx, in which he discusses its age and facial likeness. The Venus de Milo represents anatomical perfection. He also discusses Michelangelo's David and Cellini's Perseus with the Head of Medusa. Frers offers no esoteric interpretation, only an analysis of their construction.

In architecture, the author discusses those monuments that were built as edifices for the gods: the Great Pyramid of Cheops, Chartres Cathedral, Notre Dame, El Escoral and Palladio's Villa Cornaro. Chartres, says Frers, was built by the Knights Templar using Hermetic secrets and that Notre Dame contains stone carvings of alchemical symbols. El Escoral is a representation of Solomon's legendary temple.

The final chapter discusses music and the relationship to the astral sounds of the planets. He describes the music of Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Debussy, the Beatles and Led Zeppelin among others, taking us from the classical to the modern rock with Satanic overtones.

The title is misleading. There is no real identification with any secret society. There are only general statements such as, "he was a Mason," or "he studied the esoteric arts..." While there are several pages of bibliography, there are no footnotes. At one point, he identifies the colors red and green as Masonic, but never tells us where these are found in Masonry. The analysis of symbolism in art is interesting. I thought a great opportunity to tie in esoteric thought was overlooked by not giving concrete examples of color and cosmology relating to Kabbalistic and Hermetic thought or Masonic and Rosicrucian symbolism. He lessens the credibility of his work by bringing in questionable popular themes such as the Priory of Sion and the Holy Grail. The reader is left with only a glimpse of the subject that was the focus of the title. It would have been more illuminating had he connected the primary cosmic harmonies of Pythagorus to the tune we all know as "Louie, Louie."


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