At the Sign of the Square and Compasses

Can all of you tell I’m on a review roll? I decided that since I’ve been getting a lot of questions on the side about “what is good to read?” in Masonic terms, I figured I would put my favorites out there.

This one, by Geoffrey Hodson, is not recent but has been recently released again by Kessingers. Quest Books is the original publisher from Wheaton, Ill. The copy that I have and am reviewing is one of the originals with the blue cover shown here, published in 1976.

Geoffrey Hodson was a Co-Mason;he was a member of Le Droit Humaine in the mid-20th century. He was born in 1883 and lived until 1993, with the body of his written work covering the early part of the 20th century. This book covers a lot of interesting esoteric detail in all three degrees with some additional metaphysical additions at the end. It will be apparent to the AF&AM or F&AM Mason that this is not your father’s Masonry. Many of the things he discusses – devas, angels, energies, and colors – are not freely and usually discussed in AF&AM masonic circles.

I say usually because I have spoken to many Masons of those orders who are now turning that way, looking into the symbolism and perhaps more ancient forms of the Craft’s origins. Hodson’s book is rich with his own descriptions of symbols, officers, and basic ritual without being too over-the-top.

There is one section of the book that I have some difficulty assimilating. In the end of the book, he adds in many “advanced” thoughts. He discusses devas and elementals associated with the initiatory process – their appearance, reason for being there, etc. For me, a more pragmatic Freemason, this really wasn’t “me.” While beautifully and plainly written, I found the concepts probably a little too much for some people. Much of his thoughts on these matters probably stem from his Theosophical roots. He spent over 70 years in the organization and was a leading writer and speaker on all topics Theosophical.

While I and many Masons I know do not come from a Theosophical background, I think this is a very valuable work for the Co-Mason to read. It is always a treat for a Co-Mason to find a work that relates to a deeper symbolic reading of our rituals; it’s even more of a treat when it is our own ritual.

The original book is not cheap. In that form, it’s out of print and is currently selling for anywhere from $129 to $150 in very good condition. Kessinger’s version is a copy of the out of print version and is cheaper. While I’m not personally fond of Kessinger’s books, it is a way for someone to read this interesting treatise without selling a kidney to do so.

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