Our Top-10 lists aim to represent a particular topic through the selected outstanding books, balancing classic texts and latest titles, popular books and less known must-reads. Here’s a selection on Secret Societies from Watkins Books shelves, suggested by Hugh Thomas, member of Watkins’ staff::
Francis Yates, Rosicrucian Enlightenment
A history of the role that the occult has played in the formation of modern science and medicine, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment has had a tremendous impact on our understanding of the western esoteric tradition. Beautifully illustrated, it remains one of those rare works of scholarship which the general reader simply cannot afford to ignore.
Laurence Gardner, Bloodline of the Holy Grail: The Hidden Lineage of Jesus Revealed
Bringing together revelatory insights into the descendant heirs of Jesus and his brother James, Laurence Gardner sets out to prove that there is an authentic line of succession from the sons of Jesus and James. This book traces the sacred lineage through centuries of persecution and Inquisition, revealing a systematic suppression of authentic records and a strategic manipulation of the New Testament Gospels.
Adam Parfrey & Craig Heimbichner, Ritual America: Secret Brotherhoods and Their Influence on American Society
Ritual America reveals that the influence of fraternal brotherhoods on this country is vast, fundamental, and hidden in plain view. In the early twentieth century, as many as one-third of America belonged to a secret society. The authors of Ritual America contextualize hundreds of rare and many never-before printed images with entertaining and far-reaching commentary, making an esoteric subject provocative, exciting, and approachable.
As will be seen in these pages, the modern global economy, with its bonds, annuities, bills of exchange, alchemical paper “fiat money,” bullion, wage-slavery, national debts, private central banking, stock brokerages, and commodities exchanges, in a sense began in the Middle Ages, for all these institutions began for quite perceptible and specific reasons during that time. The centerpiece in this debate is of course money: what, and who, does it really represent?
A 32nd Degree Freemason offers a candid look at the essential aspects of Freemasonry. Basing his work on original texts and archaeological findings, de Biasi details the Masonic tradition’s history, the degree-based system of the Scottish Rite, and their ethical teachings and philosophies. He also provides evidence of Freemasonry’s origination in the Ancient Western Mysteries, along with its Hermetic and Qabalistic underpinnings.
This key to the world’s esoteric traditions unlocks some of the most fascinating and closely held secrets of myth, religion, and philosophy. Compelling themes range from the riddle of the Sphinx and the tenets of Pythagorean astronomy to the symbolism of the pentagram, the significance of the Ark of the Covenant, and the design of the American flag. Sixteen pages of color plates and 100 black-and-white images by the celebrated illustrator J. Augustus Knapp illuminate this vast and indispensable encyclopedia of the occult.
Arturo De Hoyos, Albert Pike’s Esoterika
Contains the complete text of Albert Pike`s never-before-published esoteric study of the symbols of Blue Lodge Degrees. Subjects include “The Compasses and the Square,” “The Weapons and Blows of the Assassins,” “The Three Grips,” “The Substitute for the Masters Word,” “The 47th Problem of Euclid,” “The Truth,” “Is the Cable-tow a Symbol?,” “Corner Stones,” “The Ladder of Jacob,” “Tubal Cain,” “Shibboleth,” and “Solomon and Hiram.”
In 1660 a small group of men, led by Sir Robert Moray, met in London with a secret plan to reshape the world. They were members of the ‘Invisible College’, better known today as the Freemasons. This group, who had recently been sworn enemies, managed to bridge their social and cultural differences to found a new organization dedicated to the scientific study of nature, the Royal Society. Robert Lomas reveals in compelling detail how the secret tenets and traditions of the Freemasons laid the groundwork for a new revolution.
In Universe of Stone, Philip Ball explains the genesis and development of the Gothic style. He argues that it signified a profound change in the social, intellectual and theological climate of Western Christendom. As the church represented nothing less than a vision of heaven on earth, this shift in architectural style marked the beginning of the argument between faith and reason which continues today, and of a scientific view of the world that threatened to dispense with God altogether.
Farhad Daftary, The Assassin Legends: Myths of the Isma’ilis
For hundreds of years Westerners have been fascinated by stories of the Assassins, their mysterious leader and their remote mountain stronghold at Alamut in Northern Iran. This book reveals an extraordinary programme of propaganda rooted in the medieval Muslim world and medieval Europe’s ignorance of this world. This book also provides the first English translation of French orientalist Silvestre de Sacy’s famous 19th-century “Memoir” on the Assassins.