(Books:) Freemasonry: An Introduction


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Publisher's Description

An experienced Freemason and award-winning psychologist provides a precise and engaging exploration of the core meaning and practices of Freemasonry for the new generation of people interested in joining the order, and those who are simply curious.

Entertaining books and movies often depict Freemasonry as a shadowy, mysterious, and possibly sinister organization, and the TV and magazine specials on Freemasonry that inevitably follow often leave us with more questions than answers. 

Mark E. Koltko-Rivera, a practicing thirty-second-degree Scottish Rite Freemason, has created a simple, authoritative, and easy-to-understand introduction to the history, rites, and meaning of Freemasonry. It may be the single most reliable short guide to Masonry, written by a widely recognized scholar, not only of psychology, but of esoteric history as well. 

Koltko-Rivera's trustworthy handbook explores all the basic issues around Masonry, including the following:  

  • What is Freemasonry, and what is its history?   
  • How does one become a Freemason?   
  • What are some of the most important Masonic symbols?   
  • What do Masons get from their involvement in Freemasonry? What changes does it make in their inner and outer lives?   
  • What is it like to participate in the initiatory rituals of Freemasonry?   
  • What are some of the great historical controversies and myths surrounding Freemasonry?   
  • How is Masonry relevant today? 


Author Statement

 Here is what makes this book different from many other introductions to Freemasonry. 

Over the years, I've read many introductions to Masonry. I often come away feeling that I really haven't learned why someone would become a Freemason in the first place. So, 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."

Many introductions to the Fraternity either downplay or wildly overplay the matter of secrets and esoteric knowledge. The fact is, Freemasonry has both, and introductions to Masonry should give these matters careful consideration, especially since these interests are a major reason why many men these days are looking into the Fraternity. This is why I wrote about the meaning of Masonic secrecy in the modern world, and how men develop through Freemasonry.

Freemasonry conveys knowledge that is "esoteric" in that it is of unusual interest but is conveyed only to a specially initiated group. So, without giving any confidential knowledge away, I wrote about Freemasonry in connection with several esoteric topics: the initiatic tradition in ancient times; the ways in which the Temple built by Solomon is a symbol; the interest of 17th- and 18th-century Masons in topics like alchemy. I do not give credence to the unsupportable claims that some authors make, but I do not ignore the interests of early Masons in esoteric knowledge.

Another thing that has bothered me about many introductions to Freemasonry is that they superficially gloss over areas of controversy concerning the Fraternity. Yet, it is such controversies that often appear in the newspapers and on the Internet, leaving the public confused regarding what to think about Masonry. Therefore, I wrote a 29-page chapter, "Masonic Controversies," where I give a straightforward consideration of Masonry's stance toward women and African Americans; allegations about the famous 19th-century Masonic leader, Albert Pike, in which is his accused of being involved 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 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 book 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. I wrote this book to put an affordable yet dignified book into the hands of potential candidates and new brothers. 

Top Amazon Review

 "Looking for the best short introduction to the world of Masonry? Mark Koltko-Rivera's Freemasonry: An Introduction may be the perfect choice." --Shawn Eyer, editor of The Philalethes magazine.  (Rated 5 stars of 5. Average rating: 4.5 of 5 stars, with 26 reviews as of 9/2/2019.)

 "Looking for the best short introduction to the world of Masonry? Mark Koltko-Rivera's Freemasonry: An Introduction may be the perfect choice.

"Concise, clear and accurate, this little book artfully provides basic information about what Freemasonry is, what initiation really means, and what symbols are and how Freemasons use them. Along the way, Koltko-Rivera also sheds needed illumination upon the fallacious claims of "anti-Masons" (as critics of the fraternity are known) and the misconceptions of the Craft which are so frequently seen in popular culture (such as Dan Brown's novels).

"For the current generation of American Masonic readers, this is the first primer on Freemasonry that really embraces the concept of the Masonic experience as an initiatic tradition. That is what most strikingly sets Koltko-Rivera's book apart, and what makes it particularly relevant to today's readers. "

Annotated Table of Contents

Who this book is for * Why I wrote it

1. FREEMASONRY: WHAT IT IS: Different perspectives on Masonry (social fellowship; place of ritual and symbolism; vehicle for spiritual growth) * What it is not (a religion; a path to power or status; a conspiracy) * "But what about the 'mysteries'?" * Masonic secrecy

2. WHY MEN BECOME FREEMASONS: Masonry as an initiatic tradition (what initiation is; initiation throughout history; initiation in Masonry; 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 Mason: The inner experience (lifelong journey to light; walking uprightly before God and man; treating one other as brothers; behaving as a gentleman in society; service to community and society; upholding religious tolerance)

4. MASONIC SYMBOLISM: Square * Level * Plumb * Compasses * Square and Compasses * Altar, Volume of Sacred Law, and Temple built by Solomon * Letter G * More

5. HOW FREEMASONRY BEGAN: The initiatic tradition in ancient times * Medieval Knights Templar * Medieval stonemasons of Europe * Late Renaissance and early Enlightenment * Founding of first Grand Lodge * Masonry and the founding of the United States

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

7. ANTI-MASONRY: ACCUSATIONS VERSUS TRUTHS: Masonry and religion in general * Accusations of devil worship * Masonry and Christianity in general * The occult * International conspiracy * Masonry and Roman Catholicism * Thoughts on anti-Masonry

8. FREEMASONRY IN FICTION: MYTH VERSUS REALITY: From Hell * The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen * The Da Vinci Code * National Treasure I & II * The Lost Symbol

9. HOW TO BECOME A FREEMASON: Establish eligibility * Find local lodge * Get to know some local lodge brothers * File petition * Meet with investigation committee * Undergo "trial of the ballot box" * Receive the degrees of Freemasonry * After receiving the 3 basic degrees of Freemasonry

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

GLOSSARY: 24 entries on terms such as "Initiate" and "Regular Freemasonry"

REFERENCES: Full source information for 130 works

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

INDEX: 12 pages

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Scholarly credentials and specific Masonic affiliations