(Books:) The Mysteries of Freemasonry


Full Title

The Mysteries of Freemasonry: Essays on Masonic history, symbolism, the esoteric, and the future of Freemasonry.

Online Purchase Links

Available online at these sites (click on form of the book): 

Publisher's Description

In this book, noted Masonic author Mark E. Koltko-Rivera, Ph.D. (author of Freemasonry: An Introduction) collects his best Masonic writing as published in journals and magazines, and as delivered as Masonic addresses. The 16 papers collected here include the following:

Part One: Masonic History

  • Chapter 1. Why bother with Masonic history?

  • 2. Freemasonry, the founding of the United States, and the American future.

  • 3. The transmission of esoteric knowledge and the origins of modern Freemasonry.

  • 4. The Masonic roots of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

  • 5. Of Masons and Mormons: The relationship between Freemasonry’s rituals of initiation and the Latter-day Saint temple ceremonies.

  • 6. Freemasonry in nineteenth century New York: A true story of murder, resurrection, and the Illuminati.

Part Two: Masonic Symbolism

  • 7. The Inner Order of Freemasonry: Attitudes towards and methods for the study of symbolism.

  • 8. The Temple and Tabernacle: Symbols of transformation. [Note: this chapter includes instructions for a visualization exercise to further personal development.]

Part Three: The Esoteric

  • 9. The mysteries of Freemasonry (some assembly required).

  • 10. Secret knowledge and the value of Freemasonry.

  • 11. Freemasonry and the esoteric: Thoughts on esoterically oriented Masonic education and research. [Note: this chapter comes with extensive suggestions for further.]

  • 12. Kabbalah: A primer for Freemasons.

Part Four: Building A Future for Freemasonry

  • 13. A central purpose of Freemasonry: Personal transformation.

  • 14. A Masonic manifesto for the 21st century.

  • 15. The resurgence of Freemasonry: Why it is needed and how it can be accomplished. [Note: this chapter includes a clear program to bring about the Resurgence. The author treats this subject in more detail in his book The Resurgence of Freemasonry--see page in the Books tab above.]

  • 16. Freemasonry and global domination: Simple steps to ruling the world.


Author Statement (from the Preface)

Why have I written so much about Freemasonry over the last decade or so? This book is structured around four main themes—Masonic history, symbolism, Freemasonry’s connection to esoteric traditions, and the Fraternity’s possible futures—and I have written about each of these for somewhat different reasons.

Why I Write About Masonic History

Freemasonry has inspired people to do fascinating things. Some of these are bold things, such as when, apparently, Masons helped to mold the principles underlying the American Constitution. Other accomplishments involve the exploration of deeper aspects of spirituality and spiritual power; this impulse seems to be the impetus behind the founding of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn by one group of British Masons, and it is part of the inspiration for the composition of the Latter-day Saint temple ceremonies by one especially prominent figure in American religious history who was a Freemason. It is why a group of New York Freemasons established one of the first free public schools in the United States.

The lessons of history demonstrate that Freemasonry can inspire Masons today to do bold and good things. As someone with my particular background and academic degrees in psychology, I am deeply interested in connections between people’s ideals and values, on the one hand, and their behavior, on the other. This is where history really lives for me as a subject, and I have explored this aspect of Masonic history in my writing. (I expect to do more of this in the future, as well.)

Why I Write About Masonic Symbolism

Masonic symbolism is fascinating to me for several reasons, again having much to do with my interest in psychology. The evidence of history and the explorations of Jungian psychology converge to affirm that symbols are powerful in forming human thought and behavior. A single symbol may be a point of connection for many ideas, differing both in the ways that they apply to human life, and in the levels of complexity that they pose to the human mind. Ideas may be nested within other ideas, like a series of Russian dolls; the same symbol may yield different types of interpretations when viewed from different angles, much like the different views and sparkles one sees in different facets of a cut diamond.

Many years ago, a prominent psychologist who focused on human development groused to me in front of a group of students about a question I had posed to her about the potential application of her theory to helping people change their lives. As I recall, she put it, “you counseling and clinical people are always trying to change people!” That is not quite true. At their best, therapists work to help people change themselves

My research has taught me that symbols can play a powerful, transformative role in people’s lives. (This is something of which contemporary psychology, for the most part, is unaware.) Freemasonry is itself a treasure house of symbols that can help people transform their lives for the better. In addition, Masonry provides a way for Masons to access the symbolism of a variety of traditions from across human history.This is why I have written about Masonic symbolism—and why, I expect, I shall be writing more about it in the future.


Why I Write About Esoteric Traditions

I am interested in esoteric traditions largely for the same reasons that I am interested in Masonic symbolism. Esoteric traditions each represent a technology, of sorts, to help human development in intellectual, moral, and spiritual growth. 

In the world at large, Freemasonry has the reputation of having access to the world’s dark secrets, and immense wealth. [1] The fact is, Masonry has none of this in the sense that the world thinks it does. 

Freemasonry has something much, much more valuable.

Masonry is a point of entry, as it were, into the world’s esoteric traditions. There are Masonic experts who find explicit use of alchemical and kabbalistic symbolism in Masonic ritual (which is, after all, just acted-out symbolism). Beyond that, by providing Masons with a common symbolic language, and a common way to approach symbolism, Freemasonry helps Masons approach any body of symbolism. [2]

We live in a world where humanity’s technological prowess in both creation and destruction has raced along far beyond humanity’s general wisdom in applying that very technology. This world desperately needs what it is barely even aware of: the mature judgment that comes from developing oneself through, for example, the esoteric traditions of the world. Freemasonry gives Masons a way to develop that inner maturity. This is why I write about Masonry and esoteric traditions—and, again, why I expect to write more.


Why I Write About Potential Futures for Freemasonry

Freemasonry has much to offer, both to individuals and to society at large. However, as I explain in my paper “The Resurgence of Freemasonry” in Part Four, if current trends hold, Freemasonry is headed for extinction within the lifetimes of men whom we are initiating today. We must not let this happen.

Freemasonry can do much to help individual Masons fulfill their potentials and grow, deepen, and mature as people. Through helping individual Masons, Freemasonry can help human societies, even human civilization as a whole. (Those who think I am getting carried away here should ponder what human civilization would look like today if there had never been Masons to instill the American Constitution with the principles of democratic rule, universal franchise, freedom of religion, and so forth.) We must not let Freemasonry disappear. To the contrary, we must help Masonry to make even greater contributions to the well-being of individual Masons and the human race as a whole. This means that we must thoughtfully address the membership crisis.

Masonic organizations and jurisdictions have taken a variety of approaches to addressing the membership crisis, some from one direction, some from another. Perhaps I flatter myself, but I think that I have something to add to this discussion, in terms of an overarching strategy that addresses the several roots of the problem at once, as I outline in the “Resurgence” chapter. 

This is why I have written about possible futures for Freemasonry: we have it within our power to form a solid, fulfilling future, one largely of our own choosing, that will greatly benefit individual Freemasons, and society as well. This is why I plan on one of my next two Masonic books being an expansion of the “Resurgence” chapter. [Note: Mission accomplished. See the Books tab above to see the web page for that book, The Resurgence of Freemasonry.] This is why I plan on opening a consulting practice to Grand Lodges and Particular Lodges, to help further the Resurgence. [Note: Mission accomplished here, too. See the Consulting tab above.] And this is why I plan to write more about how to bring about the Resurgence.

So that is why I have written so much about Freemasonry, and why I plan to write more—much more—in the future, with the grace and help of the Divine in my life. 


[1]  One thinks of the ballrooms of Templar treasure depicted in the film National Treasure as being hidden beneath Trinity Church in downtown Manhattan, under the care of Freemasons. As someone to whom I was once married put it jokingly: “If you Masons have all this treasure, where’s my gold bar?!?” (Alas, my dear, alas.)

[2]  If an extraterrestrial race were to land a spacecraft on the Great Lawn of New York’s Central Park and present humanity with its symbolism, Freemasons would be prepared to lend a hand in the interpretation.