I personally always get worried when I see people citing the work of non-Masons as authoratitive on Freemasonry! AS I am sure we all understand a man must first experience our Ceremonies before he can begin to interpret them and Manly was finally Initiated some 30 years after he wrote his first book of Freemasonry.
Manly Palmer Hall (18/03/1901 â€“ 29/08/1990) probably the most famous Masonic authority that actually wasnâ€™t. He wrote several books specifically about Freemasonry unfortunately many people mistakenly apply his Masonic pedigree retrospectively. He wrote his books as a complete cowan and in fact was describing the philosophies of Theosophy which he mistakenly though was the same as Freemasonry as at the time he was a student of comparative religion.
The Lost Keys of Freemasonry in 1923,
Secret Teachings in 1928
Freemasonry of the Ancient Egyptians in 1937
The Secret Destiny of America in 1944
Masonic Orders of the Fraternity in 1950
He did not actually become a Freemason until his 1954 Initiation into Jewel Lodge No. 374, he went onto to join the AASR and gained the 33rd degree in 1973. He himself, admitted that he had written as a non-Mason, in the foreword to the 10th edition (1967) of Lost Keys, he stated that all he knew about Freemasonry at the time "was from a few books commonly available to the public". Despite this many, both Masons and non-Masons, still make the mistake of claiming him as a kind of authority on Freemasonry.
PREFACE TO THE TENTH EDITION
It is gratifying indeed that after more than forty years of continuous publication, and 30,000 copies having been printed, the demand for this little book justifies a new edition. At the time I wrote this slender volume, I had just passed my twenty-first birthday, and my only contact with Freemasonry was through a few books commonly available to the public.
It was from the study of comparative religion that I first became aware of the secret philosophical schools and societies of the ancient world. It was not possible to contemplate the State Mysteries of Egypt, Greece, India and Persia and not be profoundly impressed by the nobility of their teachings, the beauty and solemnity of their rites and ceremonies, and the profound meanings of their symbols, emblems and initiatory rituals. It became evident to me that these sacred institutions and colleges were the custodians of a universal wisdom, and conferred upon their initiates the keys to a sublime science or art dedicated to the regeneration of man and the reformation of human society. Moved by this conviction, I wrote The Lost Keys of Freemasonry.
Many changes have been wrought in the two score years since this writing came to print. A sickly sophistication threatens our way of life, and the very survival of human culture is at hazard. Through long years of confusion, depression, war and tyranny, Freemasonry has stood for the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. It has defended the right of every man to receive a proper education. It has taught respect for Constitutional government. It has sought to unite men in a fraternity of good works â€“ these being the proper labours of a Master Mason.
Feeling that the time had come for all men who believed in the dignity of the human soul and the utility of enlightened ethics to stand and be counted, I petitioned for membership in the Masonic Order in 1954. In November of that year I was raised in Jewel lodge No.374, F.& A. M., San Francisco, California. A year later I took the Scottish Rite Degrees, and am a member of the San Francisco Consistory MRS. In 1961 I received the Investiture of Knight Commander of the Court of Honour.
I am happy to say that the admiration I had so long held for the Masonic Order was increased and deepened by a more intimate knowledge of its principles and a closer personal communion with my Brethren.
Manly P. Hall 32Â° K.C.C.H
Los Angeles, 1967