Freemasons for Dummies

“Freemasonry is an Ancient Organization in a new world, and sometimes even secret societies have to blow the dust off themselves.”

It has taken a while, but I finally finished reading “Freemasons for Dummies”, by Chris Hodapp. I am very familiar with the “…for Dummies” line of books. I myself have purchased Non-Profits, Dogs, Computers, and Internet “…for Dummies”, and I had heard about the upcoming “Freemasons for Dummies”. But like so many other Masons, I cringed in fear for how the topic would be approached. Don’t get me wrong, “…for Dummies” is a great series, but I felt violated and that my fraternity was being commercialized. I felt that Freemasonry was not a subject for, well “…Dummies”.

I have to admit, after reading it; I realized that it is a great overview of Freemasonry. It is the perfect vehicle for someone wanting to get a quick glimpse into the fraternity. Hodapp, has drawn together the Masonic universe to weave into this text. At times it reads formulaically and some sections seem to repeat themselves, but these are conventions of the “…Dummies” books. It is not meant to be read cover to cover (as I did), but used as a reference manual to pull information from quickly. Each section is contextualized to how it relates to Freemasonry. Hodapp writes in a straight forward manner that is tongue in cheek at times, but very clear and concise when it needs to be. Many passages are punctuated with humor which makes for nice interludes for an otherwise daunting volume of information. I believe this to be the best book in print explaining Freemasonry today. It does not just cover meetings and rituals; it covers Freemasonry’s origins (including the Regius manuscript in the appendix) to an explanation of the Shrine’s red fez. It demystifies the legacy of Aleister Crowley and touches on the Morgan Affair’s impact. The book spells out recognition issues and explains and then de-bunks the myth of Baphomet. But one section I found particularly useful (and enjoyable) was his analysis of the Masonic symbols from the densely packed 18th century tracing board. But the analysis goes well beyond the tracing board to cover all of the symbols relevant to Freemasonry.

My only complaint with the book is Hodapp squarely declares that any connection between Freemasonry and the Ancient Mystery schools is “a load of crap”. He qualifies the statement by saying much of the source material used by early Masonic patriarchs (Mackey, Pike, and Hall) was flawed from its source. I have my own opinions and ideas about Freemasonry, but I’ll leave it to you to decide on this one. I do think the inclusion of this message is meant to derail the notion of Freemasonry from being an esoteric tradition and more of a social club. I felt it read as a denial to the foundations of Freemasonry.

All said, I highly recommend adding this book to your library. It is informative, well written, and a valuable learning asset to anyone interested in developing a working knowledge of Freemasonry. Suitable for both mason and non-Mason alike, this book is a concise collection of the Masonic Arcanum and a suitable tool to start any informational journey. It needs to be in your library!

You can find
Freemason for Dummies here:

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~ by Greg on July 9, 2006.

3 Responses to “Freemasons for Dummies”

  1. Nice review brother!
    I also am starting to get the notion that many freemasons of American GL systems want no part of the ancient mysteries and their teachings? Maybe in the 18th and 19th century, a move was made to try and steer it away from the mysteries as Albert Pike claims is the case?
    I don’t know and don’t have the answers, but I love the peering into the ancient mysteries and seeing where it will lead one. The deeper mysteries are more interesting and slowly, the young awakening men will soon gravitate owards each other and hopefully infuse the mystery teachings back into our Temples of Learning!
    Ex Oriente Lux

  2. I don’t know if it’s so much that American FMs dont’ want any part of the ancient and esoteric, so much as most of them dont’ want to bother with the explanations of such. For all the New Age thought out in the public domain, it seems that more and more Christians look askance at anyone professing a desire for some spiritual gnosis via any other route than through their own church.

    Let’s not forget, too, that many Masons are still quiet, almost secretive about discussing the mysteries in front of non-Masons. I don’t blame them, either, because for the msot part it’s difficult. There is a reason that the Tao that can not be told is not the eternal Tao – when you try to explain the deeper philosophies behind Taosim or Zen most people roll their eyes and wander off. Some things have to be experienced to be known.

  3. I really enjoyed the book. Please visit our web site:
    Masonic Ambassador

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