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The Lost Keys of Freemasonry (Also Includes: Freemasonry of the Ancient Egyptians / Masonic Orders of Fraternity) Paperback – August 17, 2006
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About the Author
Manley P. Hall (1901-1990), widely regarded as a sage and teacher steeped in the wisdom of antiquity, was one of the leading esoteric scholars of the twentieth century. The author of the landmark work The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Hall was named a 33° Mason in 1973. It is the highest rank Freemasonry can bestow.
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Having said all that, I will say I am over all disappointed in this book. It has good points in it, thus the three stars, but on the whole, it is EXTREMELY repetitive, with Hall finding fifty different ways to say the exact same thing throughout the book - each one in a much more complicated fashion than the last. I am not averse to complicated books or books on philosophy, but one gets the feeling this book was going out of its way to be complex and use verbiage that the average American reader would need a dictionary for. Reading and understanding Morals and Dogma is child's play compared to how this book is written and the language used within.
The other point I have is the same as others have made - when you look into Manly's background on this particular book, the history he cites, the extremely detailed Egyptian (and other ancient religious and mystery) ceremonies are extremely dubious in reality. He wrote this book in a time before the internet, relying, apparently, on popular rumor or myth of the day. A good portion of the ancient ceremonies and practices he cites and describes in microscopic detail, one can only surmise, were drawn out of his imagination or how he envisioned things were, because there doesn't appear to be any other credible historical source for them. Maybe he found a pamphlet in the 1920's that described these things, but it's nowhere to be found now. Some of it is accurate, yes, without doubt, BUT, what is accurate is mixed in with things that have no other backing in history - making it all rather difficult.
It's a difficult read - you will read each page more than once if you want to absorb it. This is not light reading - six to ten pages and you're mentally worn out and need to take a break. It's worth buying, but be aware, you have to take this one with a grain of salt - this is much more philosophy than it is "lost keys of Freemasonry" - but that doesn't mean there's not a lot of good in here and a lot that's relevant to the Craft and there's quite a bit here that will hit home to the thoughtful Freemason who enjoys philosophical studies. If you don't, stay away from this book!
I often wondered about free masonry before I became one. I knew some masons, some were very honest and honorable men and some were not, and I wondered why? Although I am now a Mason, after reading this I get it. The honorable ones "got it" the others did not, just because they had a ring did not make them a true Mason. We need some of these men in the white house today like we had originally. It gives one a greater respect for our founding fathers.