Richard Cassaro. Written in Stone. Deeper Truth Books, 2011.

The ancient megalithic buildings of the world are, for the most part, a mystery to us in the current era. From Stonehenge and Avebury here in Britain to the Pyramids in Egypt and Macchu Picchu in Peru, structures built with massive stones by methods that are fiercely debated today are the subject of puzzlement and curiosity. One the one hand, someone comes along and ‘solves’ what the structures do, only for this to be shouted down by the next theorist. Stonehenge is an observatory, but then becomes noted for its acoustic properties. The Great Pyramid is a tomb until it is suggested that it is a mechanism for transporting the Pharaoh’s soul to the Pleiades.

And so on and so on. From our vantage point in the 21st Century, because our science has achieved so much in a few hundred years compared to the thousands before spent travelling by horse and lighting our houses with candles, we now seem to feel it as an affront that we cannot solve every problem going, including that of what these enigmatic edifices, some incredibly old, were used for. Were they temples? Were they developed for something more intricate than that? Or were they, as quite a few folk writing today would have it, keepers of occult knowledge that can speak meaningfully to us even now.

I think that it is fair to say that Richard Cassaro falls into the last category. In brief, Written in Stone tells of a spiritual message that transcends time and is part and parcel of every major ancient civilisation that left large stone buildings behind. When this vital piece of information to humankind was covered up, firstly by Judaism then by Christianity, it was smuggled into the holy buildings of the latter by the mediæval guilds of stonemasons so that the enlightened could decode it. The stonemasons evolved into modern, speculative Freemasonry where, although the message itself was still transmitted from one generation to the next, the meaning was forgotten and has had to be rediscovered now.

Some gripes. Firstly, I found that quite a few of the pictures suffered from being too small. I have nothing against pictures if you can see what points they are trying to make. If you cannot then it is a waste of time, effort, ink and paper to put them in. Early on in the book they tend to crowd around the text in a breathless fashion, competing with the writing for attention. I personally feel it is much better to have either fewer and larger pictures or a bigger book. It may seem a minor point, but it had enough impact for me to mention it specifically. I find this is becoming a trend in books dealing with speculative archæology, and an irritating one at that. As I say, pictures are only of any use if they can be seen clearly, so I hope that this is something that can be worked on for the future.

It could have been trying to read around the pictures, but I also felt that the author was rushing sometimes. The presentation seems very busy, and (in his eagerness to impart his world view) he segues from one subject to another at speed. I would have preferred more time explaining fewer examples, but maybe that is a personal issue.

The next point to be made is about the Freemasons, and it is this. No-one, not even the Freemasons themselves, knows quite how they originated. They themselves have speculated that they were descended from the aforementioned mediæval guilds of stonemasons who came over from the Continent after constructing the wondrous Gothic cathedrals and went around Britain to spread their (possibly occult) knowledge by building ours. When they, or rather their descendants, had finished this noble and holy task they settled here and kept their secrets by admitting members of the gentry to their lodge meetings. Thus, everything has been preserved until the present day.

The trouble with this is that there is very little evidence for it, and some Masonic scholars even dispute this version of events. There are also plenty of researchers who are convinced that Freemasonry came about as the Knights Templar were forced underground in 1307. Richard Cassaro does not address the issue of the uncertain origins of the Freemasons. He just assumes that speculative stonemasonry spawned the organisation, with no alternative offered or debated. I have to say that, to miss this point out in a book that hinges on the claim that the hidden knowledge descended specifically from actual builders in stone to a gentlemen’s club with rituals is baffling, to say the least.

Having said that, the book does raise intriguing questions as to the spread of both spiritual concepts and architectural features in the ancient world. The author’s observation that the triptych (in this case one feature flanked by two smaller, such as a tower or a doorway) as being universal is rather striking, and something that does not seem obvious until it is pointed out. Then, it seems widespread and something that asks for an explanation, which leads us back to the book.

Richard Cassaro’s theory, however, that the concept of the dying and rising god/king was fairly common in Europe then, with the advent of monotheism, was diverted from its use as a tool of Hermetic wisdom and changed into an instrument of general suppression is fascinating. Certainly there were many gods who died and rose again, and they were worshipped around the time that Christianity was forming. The idea that our old selves “die” and we, spiritually, are “reborn” is commonly available today – ironically, especially in the notion of the born-again Christian. It was not the case in a Western world dominated by Christian orthodoxy. I will stick my neck out and say that it is a fairly safe assumption that Freemasonry, especially in the ritual of the Third Degree, has preserved the idea of spiritually dying and rising, so in that respect at least I concur with the author. However, I remain to be convinced as to the road that this knowledge took to get there. -- Trevor Pyne

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