Monday, February 18, 2013

Book Review "The 32 Secret Paths of Solomon - A New Examination of the Qabbalah in Freemasonry"

Okay, so let me start this review by saying I don't personally know the author.  While that shouldn't have to be said review of new Masonic books sometimes ( a lot of times) are done by men and women who personally know the author and want to give him/her a good review.  Go and look up recent Masonic publications on Amazon, and you will see what I mean.  The problem is that today, most anyone can publish either through an e-book or through hard copy.  So I believe I am as impartial as they come when it comes to  this review.

The Book "32 Secret Path of Solomon A New Examination of the Qabbalah in Freemasonry"  written by Bro Timothy Hogan is a quick primer and look at potential applications of the Qabbalah in Freemasonry.  Bro. Hogan wrote in the introduction:

"Within Freemasonry itself, in the fourth degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (SJ), we are likewise taught that qabbalah is the key to Freemasonry, and in fact, Freemasonry cannot be understood unless one has at least a preliminary understanding of qabbalah."

I was drawn to this book, as more and more books coming out about Freemasonry concern themselves with an historic account or accuracy of our Craft.  Either within a specific time period (Civil War, French Revolution, etc) or trying to explain the reality of the events depicted in our rituals as being either historic or rather "Masonic Tradition".  This book refreshingly does not attempt any of that, rather to give the reader the basic tools and understanding of the qabbalah in regards to western esoteric thought.  The challenge the author had is that qabbalahism is one of the most studied and written aspects of the Hebrews, and is very complex.  The author attempted to break it down simply in how it relates to our Masonic initiation, and how we may meditate and apply it when attempting to apply the rich ritualism and symbols we are taught.

My knowledge of qabbalah before reading this book is little to none, which made me the target audience for the author who wrote this pithy 96 page book as a quick primary to the qabbalah and how some of these concepts directly relate to Freemasonry.  The book does a good job of introducing what are very basic concepts of qabbalah, different schools of interpretation and explanation of the tree of life.  The author does a good job of picking concepts within qabbalahism such as the Sephir Yetzirah and the explanation of said concept.  Hogan also does a good job in relating the symbolism threads within the first three degrees of Freemasonry and qabbalah, and if you were not an initiated as a Freemason, would be somewhat confusing.

The down side of the book?  For 96 pages you pay $15 (or $10 if you own a Kindle).  Also, while someone did go through and edit the book, there are repeated phrases in the book like "I should also mention", which after a while I think the author is sending us code.  Also, there are some parts of the book that I don't understand, including his personal interpretation of the Tree of Life and the "correct path", which seems contrary to any rudimentary look up of the tree of life (along with his own incorporation of Tarot Cards).  It appeared that he started to make assertions, that were left unfinished, or under defended.

I would recommend this book as it is an excellent way to start examining your Masonic journey and the potential incorporation of the qabbalah.  It is also refreshing to see an honest look at applications of qabbalahism without it taking over all of your free time.