Julian Rees is the author of Making Light : a Handbook for Freemasons, The Stairway of Freemasonry: 30 Short Talks and Questions, So You Want To Be A Freemason?, The Tracing Boards of the Three Degrees in Freemasonry Explained and Ornaments, Furniture and Jewels.
From whence came you Bro. Rees?
I know it sounds a little pretentious, but I know that I came from darkness.
How did you first become interested in Freemasonry?
A neighbour of mine was Worshipful Master of his Lodge, and suggested that I might be interested in Freemasonry.
How long have you been a Mason?
I was initiated in 1968, so that makes it 47 years almost to the day.
What do you feel is the most important or impactful things you’ve taken away from Freemasonry?
Insight. We seldom, in our busy lives, get down and study what the words mean. When I started to do that, some senior brethren in my Lodge told me not to bother: “Just learn the words as best you can – that’s all there is to it”. I persevered however and gained much Light and Insight as a result, leading to the Cornerstone Society and Canonbury Tower Lodge.
What’s your Masonic history?
- Initiated in Kirby Lodge 2818 in London November 1968 – passed to FC February 1969 – Raise to Master Mason March 1969
- Joined German-speaking Pilgrim Lodge 238 in London in 1972.
- Awarded Silver Matchbox for ritual delivery without correction at Emulation Lodge of Improvement in 1972
- Installed as Worshipful Master of Kirby Lodge October of 1976
- Installed as Worshipful Master of Pilgrim Lodge December of 1978
- Promoted to London Grand Rank in 1986
- Appointed Grand Pursuivant of United Grand Lodge of England in 1996
- Helped found quarterly journal “Freemasonry Today” in 1997
- Appointed to precepting committee of Emulation Lodge of Improvement in 1999
- Founder of The Cornerstone Society 1999
- Re-appointed Worshipful Master of Kirby Lodge in 1999 for the centenary of that Lodge in 2000
- Joined Old School Lodge 2001
- Joined the editorial team of “Freemasonry Today” in 2003 as deputy editor under Michael Baigent (Author of Holy Blood, Holy Grail)
- Delivered talk in Old Royal Arch Lodge No. 2 in New York “From Ritual to Enlightenment”
- Founded Canonbury Tower Lodge 9772 working on spiritual principles in London in 2005
- Promoted to Junior Grand Deacon of UGLE in 2007
- Installed Worshipful Master of Old School Lodge in 2007
- Awarded the Order Maconnique de Lafayette in Paris by the Institut Maconnique de France in 2008
- Installed Worshipful Master of Canonbury Tower Lodge in 2009
- Delivered talk in Alexandria, VA “The Spiritual Path of Freemasonry” in 2011
- Resigned from UGLE when they stated that Freemasonry had nothing to do with spirituality in 2011
- Joined International Order of Freemasonry for Men and Women in 2011
Wow! That’s quite a Masonic career
Do you currently have any Masonic books in the works?
I am working on a book concerning Freemasonry for men and women.
Have you written any non-Masonic works for profit or pleasure?
No but there is a novel inside myself which will one day see the light…
What’s the most interesting Lodge you’ve ever visited, what made it stand out?
Pilgrim Lodge London. They work the Schroeder Ritual and preserve many features of very early European rituals.
I’ve recently been looking at Tracing Boards of the Three Degrees in Craft Freemasonry Explained and I’d like to ask you a bit about it, while writing this title what did you find to be the most interesting thing you discovered?
That inanimate objects hold great allegorical and spiritual lessons for us.
While writing the book, did you decide to leave any content out?
There must be twice as many tracing boards in the world than those I features – space did not permit more! Apart from that, I am amazed, reading it now six years after first publication, how focused it is. Had I rambled on, as I could have done, my readers would have fallen asleep.
It looks like you’ve released a 2nd edition, what made you decide to release a revised edition?
Strictly speaking, it is not a revision – it is a re-print. The original publisher, despite this being my best-selling book, did not wish to re-print it.
What was your original reason for writing it?
(1) the sheer artistry of these artifacts over the centuries. Starting from the earliest ones, one senses desire of the artists to communicate something – it is for us to find out what. (2) Freemasonry is about allegory, namely representing things in a way that cannot be communicated by words. In Freemasonry (despite our thousands of words of ritual!) we need to interface with these non-verbal aspects for it is they which will lead us on the path of (self) enlightenment.
If readers could only take one thing away from the text, what would you want it to be?
The idea that symbols contain/express allegories, and that to be true Freemasons we need to de-code, de-crypt those allegories and their power.
Is there anything you’d like to say about your other four Masonic works?
‘Making Light‘ was conceived as the idea that a candidate who has passed through a ceremony will almost certainly be confused. He/she needs a guiding hand to hold his/hers as they tread the path. I know from what people have told me that they find it very helpful. ‘Stairway of Freemasonry‘ is conceived as study lectures, to be delivered in open Lodge, and then to be studied using the questions printed at the end of each chapter. ‘Ornaments Furniture and Jewels‘ is really an extension of the tracing boards book.
What charitable cause(s) are you most passionate about?
Amnesty International. We are all pioneers of something or other, in our lives and in our minds. Working for/with them is a therapy.
What book, Masonic or otherwise, do you find yourself giving the most as a gift?
Robert Harris novels. Also, for me the best novel of all time, “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Duerr.
Growing up what was your dream career?
To be a doctor. I daily thank T.G.A.O.T.U. that he did not let me succeed.
Have any hobbies you are passionate about?
If you could have one wish granted, what would you ask for?
That more people, both genders, could see the glory of spiritual and philosophical Freemasonry.
If you could say anything to the Masonic community, and you can now, what would it be?
Work, and work hard, to make my answer to the previous question come true.
I think everyone has contemplated what super power they’d love to have at one point in their life, what power did you always want?
To always and unconditionally be able to love, setting aside my intolerance and prejudice. I am working on it…
This interview was conducted via electronic mail between Bro. Julian Rees Kirk White and Bro. Ryan Carl Mercer on December 3rd 2015 AD 6015 AL