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TURNING THE HIRAM KEY is available from Amazon US and UK.

The latest release from Masonic author Robert Lomas, Turning the Hiram key, may appear to be a follow-up to his earlier books (with Chris Knight) The Hiram Key and The Book of Hiram, but the similarity in name does not equate to a similarity in content. While his earlier books focused more on historical detective work, most especially uncovering the ‘hidden history’ of Freemasonry, this new release is a far more personal exploration of Lomas’ thoughts on the ‘meaning’ behind the Craft, rather than its history.

Nowhere is this more evident that in the first half of the book, although it begins in an unexpected way. Lomas tells the story of how he once had a moment of ‘cosmic consciousness’ during an electrical storm, when lightning struck the Earth nearby. A scientifically-based materialist, he was perplexed by this ‘spiritual’ moment, although he had certainly read about such experiences in the writings of Masonry – more specifically, in the work of Walter Wilmshurst (author of the seminal 1922 book, The Meaning of Masonry):

From reading Wilmshurst’s published and private works, I knew he claimed that Freemasonry teaches a way of experiencing this ultimate state of mind without needing to be struck by a thunderbolt…so I decided to work through all the Masonic teaching about this state of mind and see how Freemasonry thought it could bring it about.

This prologue sets out Lomas’ personal quest – to explore the bizarre and allegorical rituals of Freemasonry in order to find some greater meaning. He begins this quest by presenting his own story of initiation into Blue Masonry, and subsequent movement through the degrees towards becoming a Master Mason. This section has been quite controversial, with some Masons (and non-Masons) criticising Lomas for betraying his Masonic pledge of secrecy – although this aspect is no doubt a publicity department’s marketing dream. And if the reader buys this book for only that aspect, they won’t be disappointed: approximately 140 pages are devoted to a blow-by-blow commentary of the rituals he took part in.

Lomas describes this commentary as “living the rituals”: he goes through each degree – the rituals, and other experiences like the ‘tracing boards’ – and the effect they had upon him. For me though, 140 pages was far too much detail and reading became quite tedious during this section. Despite the apparent ‘shock value’ of these Masonic secrets, most researchers know that such content has been widely available for some time, such as in Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor (although it must be said that it is a little disconcerting to read Lomas’ description of his pledge of secrecy).

Once this narration is finished though, there is a sudden shift in the content. Part Two dives into the question of whether there is any worth to all these bizarre rituals, positions and memory tests. Here, the link to the Prologue becomes explicit – Lomas thinks that Masonic initiation and ritual are tools for experiencing Wilmshurt’s ‘cosmic consciousness’. In Chapter 8, Lomas explores the idea of ‘memes’ as presented by Richard Dawkins and Susan Blackmore, the brain research of Newberg and D’Aquili, and the effects on the mind of body position treatments such as Alexander Therapy.

Chapter 9 then explores the symbols of Masonry, something which Lomas sees as a tool for enhancing the universality of Masonic practice:

The Craft defines the meaning of its symbols by analogy. This means that people of different backgrounds can use them to share ideas…the scientist can talk to the Christian, the Moslem to the Jew, and all can use a common language of spiritual symbolism. At best it is the calculus of the spirit. The symbols are abstract and geometric but carry deep meaning.

In fact, Lomas goes further, implying that some symbols may be the very language of thought. He cites the research of Professor of Art Betty Edwards, who found that symbols of femininity arbitrarily and personally chosen by her students corresponded with the ancient symbols used to denote the goddess principle. Further to this connection, Lomas also tested his own students’ subconscious responses to neolithic symbols (via galvanic skin response), with positive results.

Chapter 10 sums up the preceding few chapters, concentrating on the effects ritual and symbols can have on the brain. Lomas turns to Michael Persinger’s book, Neuropsychological Bases of God Beliefs, and cites Persinger’s suggestion that ‘god experiences’ can be triggered by electromagnetic stimulation of parts of the brain. After picking up Turning the Hiram Key to escape months of personal reading on Persinger’s research, I couldn’t resist a smile when I ran across his work again in this ‘Masonic’ book.

In the final section, Lomas applies this new knowledge about the mind back to the ‘meaning of Masonry’, and the ‘cosmic consciousness’ which Wilmshurst says is accessible via Masonic ritual. Indeed, Wilmshurt’s main thrust appears to be that Freemasonry is a highly evolved system of spiritual arousal, through which initiates “pass from mere manhood and carnal understanding to conscious Godhood whilst we are still in the flesh…it is the realisation of our fundamental unity and identity with the ultimate of ultimates.”

In this area I must say I was quite puzzled at Lomas’ quest. Throughout the book, he makes it quite clear that he is a materialist, and does not have a belief in ‘spiritual realms:

Wilmshurst believed he had found a direct telephone line to god. And, although as a scientist I find this unlikely, it is an issue about which I have no quarrel with him. There is no objective way to say which of us is right.

It’s gratifying to see that Lomas leaves others to their own beliefs. However, I’m not sure of the attraction of Masonry to Lomas’ eyes in this case – if Wilmshurst saw it as ‘spiritual arousal’, it is then just ‘arousal’ for Lomas? In this case, why spend 17 years of practicing Masonic ritual, when five grams of Psilocybin mushrooms from the local cow field would lead him to cosmic consciousness? Certainly, I must admit to not being a materialist, and so I find it difficult to identify with Lomas here – so this may be a result of my own biases, and in the same spirit exhibited by Robert Lomas I can only say “I have no quarrel with him”. Perhaps further explanation of how Masonry contributes to the growth of the materialist human being may have been worthwhile in this concluding section though, for all the non-materialists out there…

Placed in the middle of the concluding chapters is a return to the ‘Lomas of old’, with some historical detective work into the origins of the Kirkwall Scroll, “an early Masonic floorcloth showing the [seven] steps of this spiritual path”. Interestingly, the Scroll appears to include the goddess principle through the Norse goddess Freyja – a fact which Lomas interleaves nicely with a truly fascinating quote by Wilmshurst on the origin of the Masonic appelation, the ‘Son of the Widow’. He concludes his research over the Hiram series with:

I have developed an hypothesis that modern Freemasonry was created by William St Clair during the building of the Chapel at Roslin. I believe that he drew on various religious traditions, such as Enochian Judaism, Phoenician Goddess worship, Christianity and the Norse mythology of Freyja. ..the path of Freemasonry evolved from a mix of some of the oldest teachings on spiritual growth.

Turning the Hiram Key shows the literary growth of Robert Lomas. His narration is stronger than in previous books, he uses humour to good effect, and scenes are set with descriptive flourishes. As noted, there are also problems – almost one half of the book is devoted to “living the rituals”…unfortunately I was closer to sleeping the rituals. In my opinion, it would have been far more worthwhile to devote some of this space to cross-cultural investigation – reaching beyond Masonry and modern neuroscience, to encompass the various shamanic techniques of ecstasy, the multiple strands of Yoga (the positional techniques of Hatha Yoga would have been very apt), and the rituals of ceremonial magick. Some discussion of the possible ‘reality’ of these spiritual states also could have been warranted, such as evidence from the NDE of Pam Reynolds.

Nevertheless, I found the second and third parts of the book fascinating, and opened up some new avenues of exploration for myself – despite a few years of research on these topics myself. This book is far from being simply a description of Masonic ceremony; rather it is an excellent introduction into the effects of spiritual techniques and symbols upon the mind and body. However, I think Masons in particular will find Turning the Hiram Key a worthy acquisition, as many would be in the same position as Robert Lomas…interested, but confused as to the purpose of the Craft. With this book, Lomas takes up the legacy of Walter Wilmshurst and – albeit from a different philosophical standpoint – tries to reimbue Masonry with meaning.

  1. Excellent review, Greg.
    I’m curious, did the book speculate about the seeming conflict of interest that is inherent in the Masonic culture? Specifically, while Freemasonry “teaches a way of experiencing the ultimate state of mind”, i.e., god experiences, does the book explain how that ultimate state of mind is compatible with the majority of the world’s power elite (who are Masons), including America’s founding “fathers”, leading us by the nose to their idea of OWO?

    As referenced in today’s news, in The Power Elite, C. Wright Mills describes the power elite as “men whose positions enable them to transcend the ordinary environments of ordinary men and women; they are in positions to make decisions having major consequences. Whether they do or do not make such decisions is less important than the fact that they do occupy such pivotal positions: their failure to act, their failure to make decisions, is itself an act that is often of greater consequence than the decisions they do make. For they are in command of the major hierarchies and organizations of modern society. They rule the big corporations. They run the machinery of the state and claim its prerogatives. They direct the military establishment. They occupy the strategic command posts of the social structure, in which are now centered the effective means of the power and the wealth and the celebrity which they enjoy (Mills, pp. 3-4, 1956).”

    1. Please cite your source that
      Please cite your source that “the majority of the world’s power elite” are Masons.

      For that matter, even if that were the case, there are adherents to Christianity, Islam, etc., whose behavior does not live up to the ideals set forth in their creed. Should the entire body, the majority of whom are decent folk, be written off simply because of these people?

      In the final analysis, simple greed, and lust for power, are sufficient motivators of, and explanations for, the behavior of many in the “power elite”.


      1. We agree that the majority of
        We agree that the majority of Masons are good people — how did that majority get written off?

        The power elite are not numbered among that majority. Just as a small sampling, match a list of the top 100 of the Fortune 500 company CEOs against a Masonic membership list. Add the powerbrokers in BushCo for good measure. Then you do the math. Afterwards you’ll be able to cite the most believable source of all — yourself.

    2. Puzzling
      As a Freemason, I find several things about this author troubling.

      For one thing, this quote: “Throughout the book, he makes it quite clear that he is a materialist, and does not have a belief in ‘spiritual realms”.

      A Mason who is a materialist and has no belief in a spirtual realm would be like a professional athlete who sees no point in excercise and sports.

      Also, the fact that this man took an oath not to reveal the secrets that he now has published worldwide calls into question his character. Put a little more bluntly, it reveals his character to be extremely flawed.

      He has made quite a nice living recycling old Templar legends and packaging it with some internet conspiracies into a pablum suitable for the New York Times Bestseller crowd in his previous works. Now he completely violates his oaths, and for what: a paycheck from a publisher?

      Every Mason has inwardly explored the ritual and come to our own conclusions. This man obviously decided that would be a great way to make a buck.

      In the end, he definitely proves himself to be exactly what he claims: a materialist. The Masonic journey of spirituality can be a highlight of a man’s life; or he can sell that experience for 30 pieces of silver.

      I pity Mr. Lomas.

      1. Not Really!

        You know as well as I do that after one has attained the first three degrees, there is, or was anyway, a speed course that will/would allow a Mason to attain the next 29 degrees in about two weeks, maybe more or maybe a little less. My father did it. In any case, some of those people, like my father, didn’t do it for the love of Free Masonery. The did it for business and/or other reasons.

        For the record, I’m not a Free Mason.


  2. Freemasons not all bad

    I can easily see how some disciplines or teachings that try to promote conciousness, would culminate in a desire for a One World Order (if by that you mean the conformist, head-bashing, everybody watching everybody else form just so we don’t have the wars that “they” don’t want), if that form of conciousness included a sense of hubris that made its adepts think they were the Chosen Ones, and Always Right. But you’re right–such a spiritual discipline really isn’t very “ultimate”. However, I would hazard a guess that not every Freemason is a power-mad control freak, but rather that many of them make proper use of their teachings–intelligent minds can agree to differ on the goals of their studies. Unfortunately, many people mistakenly believe that higher forms of consciousness need to include the desire for undue control over others, instead of encouragement of their higher ideals, etc.–the same happens in some other spiritual movements too. I think this mistaken belief comes from the usual sources: the physical rush from having power over others, unmoderated by proper observation of how people really work, etc. One person’s “ultimate state of mind” is another person’s prison guard. “Ultimate” human consciousness (if there is such a thing) is too big and complex, and continually evolving, to be confined within any single discipline–many disciplines can contribute, as well as allowance for invention by each individual, which is one of the primary keys missing from many spiritual disciplines–a beneficial “tension” between what’s known as being good for us, and that which we discover. That’s one problem I have with the idea of becoming a Freemason, or part of any specific discipline, though not being a Mason, I don’t know how much leeway they give to individual discovery and invention.

    I find Lomas’ observations on memes to be interesting–I’ve always wondered about how much of what’s been built into us over millions of years, that we don’t make use of, to our detriment. The balance between the good things built into us, and the not so good, as well as new things we discover, and how to control, exploit, unfold, etc. these things in ourselves, is the story of our lives.

    Greg says he’s puzzled over Lomas’ materialism, versus his interest in a spiritual discipline; however, this isn’t really very puzzling–disciplines like Freemasonry, whether you call them spiritual or something else, are mainly about trying to get the brain to fire on all cylinders, which is a goal that materialists aren’t exempt from–in fact, materialists (which I count myself mostly being) would argue that materialism may be more of a route to firing on all cylinders, since many forms of spiritualism renounce too much of the physical world, where we do honestly see many things happening that affect us. Certainly, our better relationships with each other can feel “spiritual”, but if they devolve into just “spiritual”, intangible aspects, then we lose touch with other aspects of reality which are needed to allow us to feel spiritual. It’s disingenuous to believe that we’re only spiritual, and that matter doesn’t matter, and is somehow “gross” and in the way. As you can see, I’m not someone who’s convinced our physical bodies are merely “vessels” for some totally nonphysical conciousness–the idea is paradoxical, since if the highest form of concsiousness is no physicality, why would some nonphysical entity that doesn’t need to be physical, want to be encased in matter? Sure, some might argue “for a richer experience”, but wouldn’t that merely be slumming for such a being, and thus not be “ultimate”? Our minds may at times be unaware of the physical basis for our conciousness, but that doesn’t mean our consciousness can’t be based on the physical. We can at times feel “above” physicality, but that’s when we’re feeling our “eternal human” qualities, but even at such moments, we’re still human, in bodies. After all, you need a radio transmitter to transmit radio waves (though radio waves are also physical, it sort of illustrates my point). Recognizing that consciousness has a physical basis, I don’t have a real problem calling higher consciousness “spiritual”, and believing in it, even as a “materialist”. Part of what this means is that I’m more careful with myself, to preserve the physical basis of my spirituality, and don’t believe that smashing my car into a tree and dying would be but a mere bother, with me then carrying on even better than before.

    By the way, simply taking a drug, any drug (Greg refers to psilocybin mushrooms), no matter how “cosmic” it might make you feel, isn’t guaranteed to actually MAKE you think in a truly cosmic fashion–thought requires gathering facts through observation, and if someone simply takes a drug, though this can awaken some “memes” in some people, and lets some people see how some things they already know, fit together in ways that they didn’t see before, it won’t necessarily have as much effect as when that person is also engaged in a lifelong course of study, adding to the ideas and information needed to make such a drug truly useful. Though I have my doubts about the necessity of any psychoactive, some people have other opinions and experiences–there’s that aspect of individual discovery that needs to be allowed that I referred to above.

    1. masonry
      Although I have not read Lomas’ book, I would like to write to what is being written by others regarding masonry in general and to offer a simple solution to the problems[chaos] that fraternalism creates in order to institute fraternal [monied]order. But first, masonry must be broken down to its core ‘elements’.

      Ask: Who/what at the core does masonry represent? I believe that history has shown clearly that masonry is a ritualized borg-like machined collective in pursuit of power at any and all costs. Masonry in a larger context is a fraternal organization that espouses fraternal ideals, morals, dogma, and logic that is used as a tool to be used to garner more power at the expense of non-fraternalists generally speaking. In short, fraternalism is a craft in pursuit of money as power used as a tool and engine of growth in order to socially engineer society into a fraternal society.

      Fraternal power is gained through the accumulation of money as power. Therefore it can be stated that fraternalists of all ilk are nothing more than lovers of money at their respective cores and beliefs systems. Given that the love of money is the root for all evil, it can be stated then that fraternalists are lovers of money and love monied evil as a brotherhood that bond together as brothers with/through the implementation of the occultic power of monied evil at the expense of others.

      Previous masonic[fraternalist] authors have clearly stated that masonic fraternalists worship lucifer as God. Given that lucifer is most often considered as an ‘evil’ entity, it can now be considered as fact that masonic fraternalists worship lucifer, some’thing’ less than God and in fact worship the anti-thesis of God as the ‘grand’ architect of fraternal monied reality created from monied evil.

      It should be clear that masonry specifically and fraternalism in general terms is something less than a good thing to be and represent.
      It should also be obvious that I am not a mason or fraternalist but am familiar with their rites, rituals, and beliefs. The reason I write about fraternalism/masonry is because I want to show the errors of fraternalism/masonry to fraternalists/masons in order to highlight a solution to the ugliness that fraternalism/masonry hides in plain sight in order for frateralism/masonry to make better choices.

      Perhaps an over-simplification but nonetheless valid: fraternalism in general terms is the love of money personified. Clearly, the love of money as a economic system is capitalism. Capitalism is based on darwinian greed in pursuit of green paper and gold as God. In other words, the pursuit of naked greed at the expense of others. Capitalism in its current form has clearly failed to provide for expanding freedom and enabling growth for all, and ITs only intent is to benefit the few at the expense of the many. Since fraternalism clearly embraces the capitalist ideals, morals, dogmas and logic, it can be surmised that fraternalism is only interested in providing for the future of fraternalism while justifying ITs practices with fraternal ideals, morals, dogmas and logic through the implementation of institutionalized monied evil.

      What fraternalists do not seem to understand is that their ‘craft’ is nothing but a cult of occultists practicing greed religiously as a brotherhood of true-believers-inc being programmed by degrees over generational timespans and are destined to become less than human through and by the selling of their souls to the luciferian energy/entity that is in business to buy and sell souls.

      The solution to the mess being outlined is simple, as simple solutions always solve complex problems.

      Learn to share for the good of all our relations through a simple restructuring of the capitalist economic system.


      Create a two-tiered free-market economy where all in-common goods and services are usury free for all[including lovers of money], as a foundational economic system with all un-common goods and services being open to any and all usury based capitalist terms for those pursuing any and all un-common good[s] and service[s]. Both markets will support the other because both markets will depend on the other to generate opportunity, prosperity and growth for all.

      Serious comments welcome on the economics of this post. Rebuttals regarding fraternalism/masonry will only further serve to expose the monied evil and monied lies of fraternalism/masonry.

      Hope this helps.
      Pass it on.

      1. An interesting argument.
        You have raised some interesting points here and formed a pretty logical argument which I believe is based on flawed propositions. Should this be the case, then even if your logic is flawlessly valid it is not necessarily true (I am sure you know that logic does not prove what is true, simply what is consistent). I hope you do not mind if I offer a point-by-point analysis of what I think you propose, for clarity.

        1. You claim that history has “shown clearly” that masonry is a device that makes free thinking men into some kind of cruel capitalist automata mindlessly and aggressively supporting their system.
        2. That Freemasonry is synonymous with free-market capitalism. 2.1 FMC unpacks as “the love of money”.
        3. Love of money is the root of all evil.

        Surely you can’t be so prejudiced as to seriously contend that all Freemasons are free-market capitalist fascists, can you?

        If so, I must point out that your logic is not sound as your premises are massive overgeneralisations that cannot be correct.

        You say that you “believe that history has shown us clearly that….. [all freemasons are brainwashed fascist bullyboys]”. Give me your sources as I can’t see how this is “clearly shown”. I am not a Mason, nor a wannabe (I dislike religious organisations and bang no drums), but I can honestly say that I have met, and worked with, Masons who have done their cause proud in terms of their charitability and simple good-will. You claim that “All x” is fallacious. There is good & bad in all organisations.

        When you write, “Given that love of money is the root of all evil” – you neither prove, nor demonstrate this to be the case, but simply take this as a “given”. And there’s that “All” word again… I can think of cases of homicide (for example) that have nothing at all to do with money, it simply is not a factor. Therefore, according to your logic these murders, not being motivated by money, cannot be “evil”. Come on….

        “Previous masonic authors have clearly stated…. [that the Freemasons are Luciferian]”. I take it you are referring to the likes of Albert Pike with this claim? If so, the jury is out on that one – the evidence seems to suggest he was a fraud trying to attract attention. To which authors to you refer and what are their credentials?

        I do find it interesting that you use the term “Luciferian” rather than “Satanist” as, in the true understanding of the term, Lucifer was the “Bearer of Light”, the angel that deceived Adam & Eve into eating from the Tree of Knowledge and thereby partaking of the knowledge of Good & Evil. “Luciferian” therefore seems to me to denote a seeker of knowledge and, in its more refined form, knowledge of Good & Evil. This intrigues me, for is this not what all religions do (try to discern and teach Good from Evil)?

        The Catholic church is equally susceptible to many of the charges you lay against the Freemasons: they are (in the main) a fraternity, have a huge library devoted to the knowledge of Good and Evil and are highly involved in corporate banking. They operate exclusive clubs and also conduct many of their highest rituals in secret. This is true of most religions – exclusivity and supporting the brethren define their innermost core, anything less would be self- destructive. Is your argument levelled against all religions, or just the Freemasons?

        I find your economic model interesting and will give it some thought, as I believe some form of distributive justice is long overdue, but this is a debate for another place.

        I don’t have time to give a full logical analysis and formulate a proper counterargument at the moment, but I am very interested in the basis of your claims.

        Your parting line is something of a self-fulfilling prophesy and grossly unfair. Basically it means that you have aired your views, expect others to listen to them (or you would not have committed them to a public medium), but are utterly closed to any form of objection, seeing such in a certain light without even considering the arguments in themselves.

        Personally, I believe in debate and reason over dogma.

        Pass it on 😉

  3. Are people still calling Masons evil?
    This is probably a very moot comment considering this article was posted about a year ago. However, it never fails to tickle me…the usual responses to a piece on Masonry. There are always a few people who take it upon themselves to “educate” people on the inherent evil of Masonry and their sinister plans for world domination.

    Masonry has fascinated me since I was a little girl. I’m descended from a long line of Masons, and at least four older men in my family are current Master Masons in good standing with their particular temples (or lodges if you prefer.) I’m sure my fascination stemmed from the adults around me telling me that what goes on at Masonic Temple was a secret. They enrolled the girls in our family in Job’s Daughters (I’m a former honor queen, as was my mother before me) and the boys in DeMolay, and when you became an adult you joined The Masons or Eastern Star depending on your sex.

    I myself never ventured further in the organizations than Job’s Daughters. However, I never stopped studying Masons. I wrote several papers on the subject in college, and I’ve read every book I can obtain on Masonry (including all of the Knight & Lomas books.) All that being said, I don’t consider myself an “expert”. What I DO know is that there is no conspiracy. Masons are not an evil, power-hungry cabal of wealthy elites looking for world-domination. They are not “devil” worshippers. People who can express such a belief with a straight face have done no serious study of the subject, nor been a member of the organization.

    As far as Mr. Lomas breaking his vows of secrecy, I can see where that would upset some Masons very much. However, one cannot expect to keep completely secret the practices of an organization that has been around this long, and has become this famous. Human nature dictates someone will find out, and tell someone else.

    Also, some believe that Masonic history could help bring to light more that we don’t know about regular history. If what Knight & Lomas postulate is true then their history is something everyone should know.

    For the Mason who commented in this section:

    “He has made quite a nice living recycling old Templar legends and packaging it with some internet conspiracies into a pablum suitable for the New York Times Bestseller crowd in his previous works. Now he completely violates his oaths, and for what: a paycheck from a publisher?”

    If you’d like to continue believing the tired, severely flawed “official” explanation of the origins of Masonry you are certainly welcome to do so. On the other hand, some of us have never bought it and were thrilled to see a different theory. Furthermore, judging by your little synopsis of Lomas’ previous works I would conclude you either have never read the books, or read them with extreme bias towards discrediting the work.

  4. I love this book and the
    I love this book and the Hiram Key, and after reading them I have decided to become a Freemason. (happening this month)
    Thank you Robert Lomas. Also, I should say that I’m a neuroscientist, and thus Lomas’ more scientific perspective got my attention more than anything. I am not a reductionist though. I think it will be possible to investigate in more detail the effects of rites on the brain. The neuro story of the book was somewhat simplistic, but extremely inspiring. Uniting the worlds of the brain and the mind (qualia) will be a great achievement. Finally I feel I belong somewhere. Next book on my list is Uriel’s Machine. I already can’t put it down. Thoughts running on my head: Panspermia? Francis Crick … Directed Panspermia?

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