Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mysterious ancient markings in Jerusalem

I'm just going to post this and let you draw your own conclusions: The Associated Press has posted a story titled, "Experts stumped by ancient Jerusalem markings."

As the man said: "Those who speak, do not know; those who know, do not speak."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Talk on Freemasonry for a General Audience:
Appearance at Masonic Hall NYC on Wednesday 9/14

The Renaissance Room, Masonic Hall, New York City
I do not often get the opportunity to speak about Freemasonry before a general audience, but I have such an opportunity coming up this week.

On Wednesday evening, September 14th, I will be speaking at Joseph Warren-Gothic Lodge No. 934 in New York City on the topic, “The Mysteries of Freemasonry (Some Assembly Required).” Masonic membership is not required to attend. This is an event for Masons and non-Masons, men and women. Admission is without charge; reservations are not required for the presentation itself. (Concerning after-presentation refreshment, see below.)

Topic: For centuries, rumor has had it that the Freemasons are in possession of deep mysteries. This is entirely true. In this presentation, I explain just what the true Masonic mysteries are. But be advised: these mysteries “require some assembly by the user,” as it were!

Place and Dress: The presentation will be held at Masonic Hall, 71 West 23rd Street, in Manhattan (very near to the corner of 6th Avenue). We shall meet in the magnificent Renaissance Room on the 6th Floor (shown above). Dress is either formal or business attire.

Time: Master Masons are welcome to attend the opening of Lodge at 7 p.m. The general audience will be admitted at 8 p.m.

Book Signing Opportunity: I will be signing my book, Freemasonry: An Introduction (Tarcher/Penguin, 2011) at this event. Should I run out of copies, I will take orders for signed copies that I shall mail to you.

Collation: After the presentation, all and sundry adults are welcome to attend what Masons call “collation”—refreshment—which includes a catered meal and refreshment (including alcoholic beverages for those who imbibe). Collation will be held after the presentation at the dining room on the second floor of Masonic Hall. The cost is $25, all-inclusive. Attendance at collation requires reservations. Reservations may be made by e-mail sent to ; please be sure to mention the number of people in your party.

I hope to see readers of this blog at the event. Be well.

Copyright 2011 Mark E. Koltko-Rivera. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Of Masons and Mormons": This Week on the Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry

For over 150 years, there has been contention about whether the Mormon temple ceremonies were essentially stolen from the Craft degrees of Freemasonry. As it happens, I am a Latter-day Saint, or “Mormon”; of course, long-time readers of this blog are well-aware that I am a Mason, as well. Being intimately familiar both with the Craft degrees and the Mormon temple ceremonies, I have some thoughts on this matter. I shall be presenting those thoughts as a streaming video on the Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry website ( this Saturday, August 20, at 8 p.m. Eastern. Thereafter, the hourlong presentation will be available through the Video tab on the WEOFM website, at least through the end of 2015.

I have wanted to address the controversy on this issue in a productive way for many years. I am very grateful to the Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry, and its current master, Brother Albert McClelland, for giving me this opportunity to present my thoughts. My presentation is respectful to both traditions; this is not an expose of either. This is not a “talking head” show, either; I have included hundreds of photos and illustrations.

I am looking into publishing an expanded version of this presentation through an on-demand publisher. Watch this space for more details. In the meantime, enjoy the video presentation.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Masons Spreading Light—Literally—in India

Light is a central symbol within Freemasonry. Metaphorically, the progress of a Mason through Masonry’s degrees of initiation is a journey to light. Masons also hold dear such values as relief, and service to the community. The Grand Lodge of India is combining these aspects of symbolic Masonry, by spending resources to bring electrification and light to villages throughout India.

The online news service DNA: Daily News & Analysis has reported that the Grand Lodge of India is celebrating its Golden Jubilee by bringing solar-powered electricity projects to 50 villages throughout India. DNA reports that the Most Worshipful Grand Master, Capt. Dr. Balaram Biswakumar stated the following: “We have embarked on project Jyotirgamaya (Let there be light), under which we plan to light up 50 villages in the country using solar energy. Work for the project is in different stages of implementation in 26 villages. We plan to cover 50 villages by October 31.”

You will find an English-language .pdf file describing the Jyotirgamaya project on the Grand Lodge of India website, here. At least for the moment, the home page of the Grand Lodge of India features links to news reports and photographs of the project, available here.

An article on the mobile edition of The Times of India reports how this project is taking shape in Ahmedabad, India, through the efforts of Fellowship Lodge. It looks like each one of these fifty electrification projects will change hundreds of lives.

Freemasonry in India dates back to 1730, less than a generation after the establishment of the first Grand Lodge in London (1717). In the 18th and early 19th centuries, lodges in India functioned under English, Dutch, French, Scottish, Danish, and Irish Constitutions. Although European Masons were the sole members of Indian lodges in early years, the initiation of ethnic Indians began in the early 18th Century, with Muslim Indians initiated at least as early as 1812, Hindu Indians following in 1857, and Sikh Indians in 1861. Lodges under English, Irish, and Scottish constitutions combined to form the Grand Lodge of India on November 24, 1961 (hence the push to electrify fifty villages by the end of October, in celebration of the Golden Jubilee year).

The Masonic brethren of India are to be commended for celebrating their Golden Jubilee with a massive act of service to their communities. This should be an example to all of us, wherever Masonry is found. Such an act of service, addressing a vital community need, is a good example of how Freemasonry is to exert its influence for the good of humankind. Each of us should ask himself, “What is my lodge/Grand Lodge doing?”

[Readers are welcome to share their thoughts using the “comment” link below, and to become “followers” of this blog using the box in the upper-right-hand corner.]

Copyright 2011 Mark E. Koltko-Rivera. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mark Koltko-Rivera Live on Freemasonry: Streaming Video Tonight

Tonight, Ustreem Internet TV, in association with the Learning Annex, will present two brief streaming video lessons featuring me talking about Freemasonry:

  • "Unlocking the Truth Behind Freemasonry": 6:20 p.m.--6:35 p.m. (Eastern)
  • "Debunking Conspiracy Theories and Myths About Freemasonry": 7:00 p.m.--7:15 p.m. (Eastern)
The streaming video is available to view for $0.99 each; register here. (I don't make anything off this, but I do get to plug my book, Freemasonry: An Introduction.) After the original broadcast, the lessons will be archived and available for viewing.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mötley Crüe's Tommy Lee to Host Show Investigating Freemasonry

Here is an item from the You-Couldn't-Make-This-Stuff-Up Department: Today the showbiz newspaper Variety reported that Tommy Lee (yes, that Tommy Lee, drummer of Mötley Crüe, shown in the photo above dressed up for Halloween) will be hosting a television series investigating secret societies—starting with Freemasonry:
Syfy will develop “Culture Shock With Tommy Lee,” in which the former Motley Crue member seeks to uncover and expose secret societies. [Syfy channel president of original programming Mark] Stern said that any show involving a celebrity was a tough sell to him, but that he was won over by Lee's sincerity. “This comes from a very deep-seated, personal desire to uncover the truth behind these secret societies,” Stern said, “starting with his father's membership in the Freemasons.”
The Hollywood Reporter adds that this will be an hourlong “investigative travel show,” in which “Lee will attempt to uncover rituals, symbols, and other mysteries of secret societies.” Lee Stubner and Carl Stubner will act as executive producers for ITV Studios America, which will produce the series.

According to his bio on Wikipedia, Tommy Lee was born in Athens, Greece, his father being David Oliver Bass, then a U.S. Army serviceman, and his mother Vassiliki Papadimitriou, a former Miss Greece. I have no information at present about the Masonic background of Tommy Lee’s father.

In our celebrity-obsessed culture, it is perhaps no surprise that someone with no background in investigation, history, or esoteric research would get a reality show where such credentials would seem to be crucial. (Of course, former professional wrestler and governor of Minnesota, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, has a similar show, “Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura,” on TruTV.) One hopes that someday some television network will produce a show with someone who has the real chops to do such an investigative show, not just name recognition and a colorful persona.

I’m not holding my breath.

(Although, my schedule does have some openings right now.)

Copyright 2011 Mark E. Koltko-Rivera. All Rights Reserved.

[The photo of Tommy Lee at his Halloween Party at Club Medusa was taken on October 30, 2005 by Joel Telling. It was obtained from Wikimedia Commons and appears here under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.]

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Planner of DC Street Layout,
Pierre L’Enfant,
Really Was a Mason!

For a number of years, the more hysterical Masonic-related conspiracy theorists have made the claim that the layout of the streets of Washington, DC, reveals Masonic symbols, including symbols that supposedly indicate devil worship. Also for many years, Masonic historians and authors have indicated that there was no evidence that the designer of this layout, Pierre L’Enfant, was even a Freemason. (I have made this claim myself.)

We were all wrong. L’Enfant was a Freemason, albeit in a very limited sense.

The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, publishes a bimonthly magazine, the Scottish Rite Journal. The March-April 2011 issue carries an article on pp. 10-12 by Right Worshipful Brother Pierre F. de Ravel d’Esclapon, who holds the 32° in the Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. (I know Sublime Prince de Ravel d’Esclapon as a Past Master of the American Lodge of Research, the oldest currently functioning American research lodge, of which I have the honor to be a full member. Plug: corresponding members are always welcome.) This article is titled “The Masonic Career of Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant,” and it details the findings of the author while the author was researching the early history of New York City’s Holland Lodge No. 8 F&AM. (Holland Lodge, which was chartered in 1787, has had such distinguished members as General von Steuben and Commodore Perry; Franklin Delano Roosevelt was raised a Master Mason in Holland Lodge in 1911.)

In Holland Lodge records, the article’s author discovered that Major Pierre L’Enfant was initiated an Entered Apprentice in Holland Lodge on April 17th, 1789, during the same month in which brother George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States, in New York City. As noted in the article, L’Enfant had been in New York City since the preceding year, as he supervised renovations to Federal Hall, where the inauguration was to take place.

There is much more fascinating information in this article, which I recommend for your perusal. Regretably, as of this writing, the website of the Scottish Rite Journal has not been updated to display the March-April issue (only fair, since, after all, we are still in February). However, I would guess that in just a few days it will be possible to see this fascinating article online. (Incidentally, individual copies of this issue are available for US$3 each, and subscriptions within the US are US$15 annually, domestic checks only, sent to Scottish Rite Journal, 1733 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009-3103. And, no, I don’t make a dime off of that plug. It’s just a great magazine.) Brother de Ravel d’Esclapon is to be commended for his discovery, and his excellent report.

So where does that leave us with regard to the idea that L’Enfant embedded Masonic symbols, supposedly including satanic symbols, in the street layout of Washington, DC? This notion is entirely rubbish, every bit as much as before. Consider:

  • Any unbiased observer of L’Enfant’s plan (shown in the illustration above) will see that L’Enfant planned his layout as a right-angled grid, overlaid by a pattern of plazas, from each of which avenues radiated like spokes from a wheel’s hub. With such a pattern, it is inevitable that diagonal angles will be formed. Masonic symbolism (such as the square and compasses) are composed of diagonal angles, so one can see Masonic symbolism like this in the street layout of DC if one really wants to. However, this is much like seeing menacing shapes in cloud formations or Rorschach inkblots. (And I speak as one who first administered the Rorschach in 1987. People see what they want to see in neutral stimuli, folks.)

  • Again, five-pointed stars will inevitably be formed by a hubs-and-spokes pattern. Some of these stars will point downward. However, the downward-directed five-pointed star only took on a sinister connotation in the 19th century, well after L’Enfant’s time, in the writings of the French esotericist Eliphas Levi. Even if L’Enfant had deliberately been trying to create the shape of a downward-directed five-pointed star, that shape had no connection to evil during his lifetime.

  • The article in the Scottish Rite Journal suggests that L’Enfant never received the second or third degrees of Freemasonry. Thus, he did not have exposure as an initiate even to the majority of the symbols of the basic Blue Lodge of Freemasonry. One would expect that symbols of satanic worship, if they existed within Blue Lodge Freemasonry at all, would be reserved for the famous “third degree.” However, apparently, L’Enfant never received that degree.

The Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon has some excellent on-line articles on these subjects. One is an article on the pentagram as a symbol throughout history. Another is this article on the symbolism supposedly to be found in the street layouts of DC (an article which can only be faulted in its claim, now obsolete, that there was no evidence that L’Enfant was a Mason).

Memo to Masonic-related conspiracy theorists: Please. Enough with the idea of Masonic symbolism in the streets of Washington, DC, already. Come up with something new and original.
Copyright 2011 Mark E. Koltko-Rivera. All Rights Reserved.

[The image of Pierre L’Enfant’s layout of Washington, DC, was obtained through Wikipedia, and is in the public domain.]

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

The New Philalethes Magazine

I’ve got some bad news, and some good news. I have some unpleasant things to say about an American Masonic institution, and I have some high praise for that same institution. What I have to say here will doubtless step on some toes, and may bruise some egos. However, the current generation of Freemasons needs to know about a resource that it should embrace with all its heart.

Even before I became a Freemason, I had heard of the Philalethes magazine. The Philalethes Society was established in 1928 by leading Masonic scholars “who felt that the great mass of Freemasons in the United States should have more information on the fundamentals of Freemasonry,” in the words of its founding president. In my studies on Freemasonry—something I began in earnest in the early 1980s—I often came upon references to articles published in the Philalethes. And no wonder: the Fellows of the Philalethes society have included such giants of Masonic scholarship as Allen E. Roberts, Harold Van Buren Voorhis, Arthur Edward Waite, and J. S. M. Ward. (In our day, these Fellows include such contemporary masters of Masonic scholarship as Robert G. Davis, John Mauk Hilliard, Jay M. Kinney, S. Brent Morris, and Leon Zeldis.) The Society published the first issue of the Philalethes magazine in 1946, and, as the Society’s website truly claims, the Philalethes magazine “has long served as the de facto magazine for North American Freemasonry.”

Imagine my dismay, then, when I began to subscribe to the Philalethes some years ago, and found that it had fallen very far from the standard set in earlier days. I found many of the articles to be amateurishly written, the articles themselves to be uninspiring, the artwork largely mediocre. In particular, the greatest failing for me was that I did not feel that I was learning much about the inner meaning of Freemasonry through the magazine; there were interesting articles here and there about Masonic history, but my interest—much like the interest of many men entering the Fraternity in the last two decades—is in Freemasonry as a living initiatic tradition, and I found little in the magazine that fed this interest. In the words of a friend of mine, it became clear to me that “the Philalethes was no longer compelling reading” for someone with my interests. So, with regret, I let my subscription lapse.

The editors of recent eras have my sympathies. As another friend of mine put it in relation to a non-Masonic magazine that he edited some years ago, “we can only publish what people submit.” Earlier editors of the Philalethes magazine are to be commended for running articles on national and international issues such as the recognition of Prince Hall Masonry.

However, the fact of the matter is that the appetites of many Masonic readers has developed in certain directions over the last thirty years or so. Interest in what we might call the esoteric side of Freemasonry—the idea of Masonry as a truly initiatic experience that conveys timeless wisdom to today’s man—has become a very strong focus of interest for today’s Mason. Unless the mainstream Masonic press pays attention to this matter, unless knowledgeable Masonic writers help Masonic readers to take a more informed stance on these issues, then we abandon the field to the sensationalists, to poor historians, even to the paranoid fringe. Some years ago, I sorrowfully concluded that the magazine had indeed abandoned the field in just this way, and that, for Masonic light on the inner meanings of Masonry, I would need to search somewhere else.

That was then. This is now—and now is a truly wonderful place to be.

We have just seen the completion of the first six issues of the new Philalethes magazine under the editorship of brother and Editor Shawn Eyer, P.M., and I am extremely impressed with the results. I would now recommend the Philalethes magazine to any and every Freemason who is deeply interested in the inner meanings of our Masonic symbolism and initiatory experience.

First of all, the magazine itself is physically stunning: it has had a contemporary redesign that puts it on a par, visually, with the finest general interest magazines now being published. (And you are hearing this from a subscriber to The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, and a raft of literary magazines, including Agni, Boulevard, n+1, and Tin House.) The artwork is inspiring, and even thought-provoking, as a perusal of the most recent six covers would suggest, such as the covers reproduced above (from the Summer 2010 and Winter 2011 issues). I only wish I could show you some of the interior art. Heck, the cover paper itself is even of higher quality than the magazine used to have.

But the real joy of the magazine is its content. I don’t know what the new editor is doing, but he has found a way to have people who have thought very deeply about Masonic symbolism and philosophy submit some great articles to him, specifically for the sections on Masonic education. For example, I am thinking of Ed Halpaus’s article, “Truth: A Masonic Meditation, and Erastus Allen’s piece, “Knowing, and Still More to Know,” both from the Fall 2009 issue. Beginning with the Winter 2010 issue a year ago, each issue typically has one article each on Masonic education specifically tailored for the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason. (What a godsend for Masonic education at one’s Stated Communications!) The new magazine features almost 20% more content, specifically to accommodate the need for better Masonic education.

The feature articles are a special delight. Readers over the past six issues have enjoyed such treasures as “The Function of Secrecy in the Work of Freemasonry” by Michael Pearce (Chair of the Art Department at California Lutheran University); the man references Iamblichus, Mircea Eliade, and Georg Simmel, for heaven’s sake—I’m in scholar heaven—but makes it all understandable to the general Masonic reader. Robert G. Davis’s article on William Preston finally clarified in my mind what this “architect of the American Craft ritual” was all about.

Editor Eyer himself has contributed some of the articles that I found most interesting. He treated with scholarship and clarity such subjects as the Mosaic pavement, the symbol of the Beehive, and the inner meaning of the symbols of the Fellow Craft’s wages (the latter article being available for free on the website).

Of especial interest to the budding Masonic scholar is a paper by Editor Eyer that is also made available for free on the Society’s website: “Writing a Masonic Paper.” Every lodge that requires its initiates to deliver papers in lodge should make this paper available to its initiates. Every Masonic lodge of research should make reference to it in an editorial.

I could go on. And on. I haven’t even touched upon most of the fascinating historical articles—the one on Thomas Paine, by Shai Afsai, was a favorite—nor the book reviews, alas. But my point should be clear: The new Philalethes is now as compelling a collection of Masonic reading as any I have ever seen. The magazine focuses on the deeper aspects of symbolism and history while avoiding both the Scylla of sensationalism and the Charybdis of superficiality. The articles are on-point, well-researched, well-written, accessible to the general Masonic reader, and serve as well-prepared food for the soul.

Could I pick nits? Sure I could. Someone left off the page numbers in the Spring 2010 issue, for example. And Editor Eyer might reconsider some of his own article titles. For example, “The Transvaluation of Status in the First Degree” (Summer 2010) is technically correct as a title for what is actually a very clear and accessible article—one which I highly recommend—about how the First Degree encourages a change in a new Mason’s personal values, but putting “transvaluation” in the title makes it sound like a poster from the Modern Language Association convention, Incomprehensible Division. This is unfortunate, because the article itself is a model of clarity, and very valuable for Masonic education.

But these are minor peccadillos. As far as I am concerned, the Philalethes is at the center of the target when it comes to reading intelligent, accessible literature about the real meaning and current relevance of our symbolism and tradition.

Let me put it this way: I had the privilege of being in charge of Masonic education in my mother lodge for eight months, until I relocated from Winter Park, Florida to New York City. I would have agreed to do outdoor door-to-door sales for a day in the August Florida heat, if that was the ordeal required to have had six issues of the new Philalethes to base my Masonic education on. The magazine is simply that valuable.

To the editor of this new Philalethes: ad multos annos, and long may you wield your editor’s pen.

You can learn more about the Philalethes Society and the Philalethes magazine on their (similarly revamped) website, which has what must be the easiest-to-remember URL in all of Masonry: .

[Disclosure: I have published in the Philalethes in its earlier incarnation, and I hope someday to publish there again. Take a look at the magazine yourself and see whether I am biased in my estimation of its current status and value.]

Copyright 2011 Mark E. Koltko-Rivera. All Rights Reserved.

[The images are of the covers of the Summer 2010 and Winter 2011 issues of the new Philalethes magazine; they were obtained from the Philalethes Society website.]

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Available Now: Freemasonry: An Introduction

Today is the official publication date of my new book, Freemasonry: An Introduction, published by Jeremy P. Tarcher, an imprint of Penguin Books. The book is available at a substantial discount through clicking on the ad to the right. (Disclosure: ordering through the ad also nets me a little cash). You can read the publisher’s description in this earlier post, but in today’s post I thought I would explain what I think is special about this book.

Over the years, I have read a lot of books introducing Freemasonry. I have often come away from such books feeling that I really have not learned why someone would become a Freemason in the first place, what it brings to his life, what it does for him. I wanted people to know what Freemasonry could mean in the life of the individual Mason. So, for this book, I wrote a 15-page chapter, “Why Men Become Freemasons,” where I go into the meaning of initiation, and ways that Masonry is a vehicle for self-development, a fellowship, a place of ritual, and a set of opportunities for service. I also describe the outer and inner experiences of being a Freemason in a 20-page chapter, “How Freemasonry Works.”

One of the most disappointing things for me about many introductions to the Fraternity is that they either downplay or wildly overplay the idea of both secrets and esoteric knowledge within Freemasonry. The fact is that Freemasonry has both, and I think that we as Masons should be very clear about that, and about how that is so, especially given that this is a major reason why many men these days are looking into the Fraternity.

The secrets of Freemasonry come in two flavors. There are the signs of recognition, whereby Masons from different regions may know one another as Masons. The signs of recognition provide an important link to centuries of Masonic tradition and our mythic history. There is also the inner transformation of a Mason as he comes to contemplate the Fraternity’s symbolism; this is a secret because it can only be known through one’s personal experience. So, in this book, I write about the meaning of Masonic secrecy, and its meaning in the modern world.

When I say that esoteric knowledge is available within Freemasonry, I am not referring to what Masons call “the esoteric work,” the precise and confidential wording of our ritual. Rather, I mean that Freemasonry does convey knowledge that is “esoteric” in the formal sense, in that it is of unusual interest but is conveyed only to a specially initiated group. So, in this book, without giving any confidential knowledge away, I write about Freemasonry in connection with a number of esoteric topics: the initiatic tradition in ancient times; the Temple built by Solomon, as a symbol; the interest of 17th and 18th century Freemasons in topics like alchemy. I do not give credence to the unsupportable assertions of some authors, but I do not ignore the interests of early Freemasons in esoteric knowledge.

Another thing that bothered me about many introductions to Freemasonry is that they give a superficial gloss on areas of controversy concerning Freemasonry. Yet, it is such controversies that often appear in the newspapers, leaving potential candidates for Masonry confused regarding what to think about the Fraternity. So, for the book, I wrote a 29-page chapter, “Masonic Controversies,” where I give an up-front consideration of Masonry’s stance toward women and African Americans; allegations accusing Albert Pike of involvement with the Knights of the Golden Circle, the Ku Klux Klan, and Satanism; and efforts in Great Britain aimed at requiring public registration of Freemasons in law enforcement, the judiciary, and the armed forces. I also wrote a 21-page chapter, “Anti-Masonry: Accusations Versus Truth.”

In short, I packed a lot of material into a pocket-sized, 196-page book, material that would be useful to the man interested in looking into Freemasonry, to family members who might continue our tradition, and to many a brother as well—all at a very affordable price. I deliberately wrote this in such a format that it would be both useful and economical for Particular and Grand Lodges to make copies available to prospective candidates and new initiates alike.

This is what I think is special about this book. Below, I give an annotated table of chapter titles. (Each chapter also comes with a brief summary.)

INTRODUCTION: Who this book is for • Why I wrote it • Acknowledgements.

1. FREEMASONRY: WHAT IT IS: Different perspectives on Freemasonry (social fellowship; place of ritual and symbolism; vehicle for spiritual growth) • What Freemasonry is not (a religion; a path to power or status; a conspiracy) • “But what about the ‘mysteries’?” • Masonic secrecy.

2. WHY MEN BECOME FREEMASONS: Freemasonry as an initiatic tradition (what initiation is; initiation throughout history; initiation in Freemasonry; symbols and teachings) • A vehicle for self-development • Fellowship • Ritual • Service.

3. HOW FREEMASONRY WORKS: An evening at Solomon’s Lodge #987 • Affiliated groups (the Rites; groups for family members; “fun” groups) • Being a Freemason: The inner experience (lifelong journey to light; walking uprightly before God and man; treating each other as brothers; conducting oneself as a gentleman in society; service to the community and society; upholding religious tolerance).

4. MASONIC SYMBOLISM: The Square • The Level • The Plumb • The Compasses • The Square and Compasses • The Altar, the Volume of Sacred Law, and the Temple built by Solomon • The Letter G • Other symbols.

5. HOW FREEMASONRY BEGAN: The initiatic tradition in ancient times • The medieval Knights Templar • The medieval stonemasons of Europe • The late Renaissance and early Enlightenment • The founding of the first Grand Lodge • Freemasonry and the founding of the United States.

6. MASONIC CONTROVERSIES: Women and Freemasonry (Freemasonry has a right to be a fraternity; Masonic-affiliated organizations that involve women; alternative forms of Freemasonry) • African Americans and Freemasonry (the reception of African Americans into the Lodge; recognition of Prince Hall lodges) • Albert Pike (rumors involving him in the Knights of the Golden Circle, the Ku Klux Klan, and Satanism) • Violating Masonic civil rights in England.

7. ANTI-MASONRY: ACCUSATIONS VERSUS TRUTHS: Freemasonry and religion in general • Freemasonry and accusations of devil worship • Freemasonry and Christianity in general • Freemasonry and the occult • Freemasonry and international conspiracy • Freemasonry and Roman Catholicism • Some thoughts on anti-Masonry.

8. FREEMASONRY IN FICTION: MYTH VERSUS REALITY: From HellThe League of Extraordinary GentlemenThe Da Vinci CodeNational TreasureNational Treasure: Book of SecretsThe Lost Symbol.

9. HOW TO BECOME A FREEMASON: Establish eligibility • Find the local lodge • Get to know some of the local lodge brothers • File a petition • Meet with the investigation committee • Undergoing the “trial of the ballot box” • Receive the degrees of Freemasonry • After receiving the three basic degrees of Freemasonry.

10. LEARNING MORE ABOUT FREEMASONRY: Introductions to Freemasonry • Masonic symbolism • Masonic history • Responses to anti-Masonry.

GLOSSARY: 24 entries regarding terms with meanings special to Freemasonry, such as “Initiate” and “Regular Freemasonry.”

REFERENCES: Full source information for 130 works referenced in the book.

ILLUSTRATION CREDITS: Full source information for 13 public domain illustrations, many available on the Internet.

INDEX: 12 pages of index entries.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: My scholarly credentials and specific Masonic affiliations.

Copyright 2011 Mark E. Koltko-Rivera. All Rights Reserved.