A Review of “The Craftsman’s Symbology” Book One, Selected Symbols of the First Degree.
Written by Brother Anthony Mongelli Jr.
Reviewed by Brother Shawn M. Gorley
As a Freemason that takes very seriously our obligations to always improve upon ourselves, I in the last few years have had the wonderful opportunity to review and edit a whole lot of books related to Freemasonry. I believe one of the greatest ways a man can improve himself is through the written word. While I can’t take any credit on editing the first book in the series “The Craftsman’s’ Symbology” by Brother Anthony Mongelli, he did very graciously ask me to review it for him, which for me was an absolute honor! Brother Mongelli has established himself as not only a driving force for furthering Masonic education but he is also a gifted writer as well. I have always enjoyed reading his various articles as well as his blog, so for me it was a no brainer, of course I wanted to read and review his first book.
In my book reviews I try not to compare one book to another as the review should be about the book at hand, however in this case I strongly feel that it is important to ignore this in order to drive home just how important to Freemasonry Mongelli’s book really has the potential to be. Many newly raised Brothers have either been given or read “The Craft and its Symbols” by Allen Roberts and this book has been a great starter to enlighten a Brother on the various symbols and their relation to the Craft, it is a timeless classic. Now, why I have mentioned this is because after reading the first book in the “Craftsman’s Symbology” series by Brother Mongelli, I honestly feel that upon completion of the series of nine books he intends to write; three per degree focusing on the relevant symbols, he will have also written timeless classics pertinent to the education of Freemasons everywhere and will be more in depth studies of the symbolism of the three craft degrees than the above mentioned work by Allen Roberts. This series of books will live on long after any of us will, and I am not the least bit hesitant to say that Anthony Mongelli, with this series of books, is going to be on the list of the great Masonic writers that Freemasonry has produced and because of his work generations of Freemasons will gain a deeper understanding of the complex topic of symbolism in relation to the craft of Freemasonry.
In this the first book Mongelli focuses on three of the symbols from the entered apprentice degree, the circumpunct or point within a circle, the apron and the pillars. Now, we have all learned a thing or two about these symbols, but my guess is that the average Brother has learned the ‘exoteric’ definitions; as in definitions anyone could find anywhere without much effort. In this book the author has gone to great lengths to provide the more ‘esoteric’ explanations, and as he has pointed out in his book, symbology is a tricky topic in the sense that most if not all symbols have more than one meaning or translation and multiple uses throughout history. In discussing and sharing with the reader the various symbols, the one thing I and am certain many other readers will appreciate is the meticulous footnotes and source lists that the author has included in this work so that it can more easily enable the reader to venture off into their own journey of discovering the meanings and translations and history of the various symbols. I found the information in this first book, in my opinion to be one of the most exhaustive treatments of the three symbols covered that I have had the pleasure to endure, the book will without doubt open the reader up and into a whole new ‘light’ when it comes to viewing these symbols along his Masonic journey. Another notable thing that I liked is that Mongelli included an expanded and revised version of the essay “Some Words to Newly Made Masons”. I have always loved this particular essay and including it in his book was an ingenious idea because it feels as you’re reading it that it is your grandfather of some other older wiser Brother speaking directly to you.
To sum up my opinions on this book, I cannot recommend it enough that each and every Mason can and will gain useful knowledge from this work, not merely newly made Brethren but older and more learned will as well. My hat goes off to Brother Anthony Mongelli for his valiant efforts and meticulous dedication and hard work in producing this highly informative book. The gentle craft and brotherhood of Freemasonry is without a doubt going to be better as a result of it! I very much look forward to his upcoming books in the series so that I may further my own Masonic education, as I am sure many other Brethren will as well.
The Craftsman’s Symbology Book One, Selected Symbols of the First Degree by Anthony Mongelli Jr. © 2013 Anthony Mongelli Jr. ISBN# 978-1-304-22614-3
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Books can be ordered at www.anthonymongelli.com
1) The Craft and its Symbols by Allen E. Roberts. ©1974 Allen E. Roberts, published by Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Inc. ISBN# 978-0-88053-058-3