It was a very cold night, a cold that not even the strongest whiskey could ward off. I traveled my usual way down a few roads the short distance to the magnificent edifice that was home to our order. The main spire of the old brownstone building reached up, a bell-less steeple, to the reflected light of the lunar orb that illuminated the icy night with an eerie glow. As I approached the rear entrance as was my custom long before everyone else, I was surprised to find the heavy oak doors with the ornate brass handles slightly ajar and a sliver of warm brightness from within. With keen interest I creaked open the door and walked toward the source of the warmth and light at the top of the stairs.
The ante room was filled with paintings and artifacts the likes of which just by their existence added to the mystery and majesty of the gentile craft of which I proudly called my own and along the back wall by a large fireplace sat an aged Brother staring at the fire like a work of art. He did not stir as I approached, he just sat there in quiet communion with the fire before him and there in his hands was an old key. As I sat down next to him breaking the trance he turned his familiar grey eyes to me and without words handed me the key. I recognized it on sight and wondered why this was the first time that a Brother gave me an intricate old key...............
Well... thats not exactly how it happened but at my last lodge meeting a Brother lent me his copy of The Hiram Key. It is strange that of all the Masonic or quasi Masonic books that I have devoured in the past five years I had never gotten this book. Maybe it is because of the controversy that surrounds the book or perhaps because it does expose some aspects of Masonic ritual I had never approached it, but here it was free for my consumption and consume it I did.
Even though I am in the middle of three other books, the other night I picked it up and spent two days devouring its contents. Its funny how when my Brother gave it to me and tried to explain some of its contents I was so quick to question and dismiss some of the ideas expressed within and yet as I read the same ideas I found myself getting sucked right in also.
It began with two mason Brothers, Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas trying to find out more about the foggy origins of Freemasonry and blossoms into an intriguing web of theory and speculation linking the earliest civilization of man in Sumeria to Egypt, Jesus, the knights Templar, Braveheart, America, all the way to the average Joe tying on an apron at his monthly lodge meeting. It takes just about everything in the world of history that I hold dear and puts them all together under one cover. I read with open eyes and no judgement and truly enjoyed the book. Being a seeker of the hidden secrets myself, I was easily drawn into their theory and found many parallels with other works I had read and many ideas struck a chord with me. It wasn't until after I had finished that I did my internet search and read counter points and the negative reviews but even then I found that I still think they trampled upon some valid connections.
The biggest problem some people have with the book is that they the authors constantly and quickly turn their conclusions into fact and move on to the next part without indisputable proof, but that is what I enjoy about it because you walk along with them in their excitement. I can just imagine how I would feel having the celebratory drink after a realizing that I made a connection that no-one else had or even dreamed of, even if some are a bit far fetched. The thing is that they create a good narrative and prove their theories as good as a couple of non-historians can.
If you are a Master Mason and wish to explore some alternative histories and interesting theories and make your own conclusions it is a very fun book. If you are just starting to research Freemasonry and are planning to knock on a lodge door soon, wait because they do, without giving up any secrets of the craft, expose in detail many of the rituals and things that make the Masonic experience so special and enjoyable.
I kind of want to start a book discussion group in my lodge and crack this book with a few of my own Brothers and see where we can go with some of the ideas.
Can you say Junto anyone? (Ben Franklins autobiography is one of the books I put down to read this one)