Book Review: Freemasonry: Its Hidden Meaning

George H. Steinmetz has long held a reputation as one of the foremost Masonic writers of the age. A specialist in promoting the staples of occult and New Age ritual and practice, he is the author of such lauded works as The Royal Arch: Its Hidden meaning, The Lost Word: Its Hidden Meaning, and of course, Freemasonry: Its Hidden Meaning. In the third of these works, Freemasonry: Its Hidden Meaning, George H. Steinmetz takes readers on an unforgettable journey through the fascinating and complex world of one of the Western tradition’s oldest and most mysterious brotherhoods – a brotherhood still well and thriving in today’s modern age. This book is lauded as being one of the best treatises around for those seeking an in depth and meticulously researched guide to the wide reaching and fascinating world of Freemasonry.

The book is organized into a lengthy foreword, followed by twelve chapters. The topics covered by these are an introduction in the first chapter, followed shortly by “Masonry – Religion” in the second chapter, “Mental Science” in the third, “Evolution” in the fourth, “The Secret Doctrine” in the fifth, “Entered Apprentice” in the sixth, “EA Lecture” in the seventh, “Fellow-craft” in the eighth, “Middle Chamber Lecture” in the ninth, “Master Mason” in the tenth, “The Great Moral Lesson” in the eleventh, and finally, “Master Mason Lecture” in the twelfth. As the average reader should be able to surmise from these titles, Steinmetz’s Freemasonry: It’s Hidden Meaning is quite the comprehensive read for anyone looking for information on this ancient and most venerable society.

The book spends a great deal of time covering the tenets of Freemasonry as both organization and way of thinking and living, in addition to its connections with various religions. Indeed, Steinmetz as an author of Masonic literature seems absolutely determined that if nothing else, his audience will take away greater knowledge of the customs that drive the spirit of Freemasonry, and the reasons for those very customs, not to mention the beliefs upon which the brotherhood was founded.

As for the language of the text itself, much of it reads like a typical volume of philosophy – common enough on a college student’s bookshelf or in the book collections of most self purported intellectuals. On one hand, while this may appeal to a more well read or intellectually curious audience, the average reader might find the writing style pretentious, overwrought, or simply too troublesome to parse. Its use of slightly esoteric language may be a little off putting to those who are not used to such turns of phrase, though the book is quite far from unreadable – on the contrary, Steinmetz occasionally uses downright beautiful ways of phrasing his ideas and the concepts of Freemasonry. Indeed, it’s important to note that for those willing to wade through the the relatively dense language, there’s a wealth of insight to be found. That said, it may not be the best choice for beginning students and scholars of Freemasonry, as the book seems to be most popular among circles of established Masons who can truly appreciate the nuance of revelations in the text. In either case, however, the book is a good one to have in any collection of Masonic literature, provided that one’s taste in reading is up to the task of getting through the volume. It is, after all, a veritable treasure trove of juicy information on this most fascinating sect of Western civilization, and well worth taking a look at. Those who are curious enough to pick up George H. Steinmetz’s book are unlikely to leave in disappointment.