The Canonbury Masonic Reasearch Center
The Canonbury Masonic Reasearch Center was founded in 1998 as a charitable trust in order to provide a unique environment for the study of, and research into, all aspects of Freemasonry, together with allied traditions, and to make the same available to the public.
The CMRC fosters learning through a programme of public lectures, seminars, and conferences, embodying the highest standards of interdisciplinary and comparative scholarship.
Canonbury Tower, which houses the CMRC, was built in the 16th century by William Bolton, Prior of the Canons of St. Bartholomew's. It is one of the London's most intriguing landmarks, and was once the home of Sir. Francis Bacon.
For further information : Canonbury Masonic Reasearch Center Website
The Canonbury conferences have established themselves as a landmark of the masonic year in Britain.
This volume contains eleven interesting and thought-provoking papers delivered at the seventh conference held on November 2005.
The 2005 conference took a noticeably wider theme than previous events, but one which in the popular imagination of the modern western world is peculiarly associated with Freemasonry: 'Seeking the Light: Freemasonry and Initiatic Traditions'.
The papers collected in the volume demonstrate how the theme of Freemasonry and initiatic traditions has a strong resonance for researchers from a variety of different backgrounds and interests.
In his paper Kirk McNulty conveys something of the spiritual character of masonic initiation. J. Scott Kenney, in his pioneering sociological study of Canadian Freemasonry, also provides some telling illustrations of the way in which modern freemasons are attracted by the character of masonic ritual and its sense of being a legacy from ancient times.
The meaning and significance of 'secret societies' is certainly one of the reasons for public interest in Freemasonry. Henrik Bogdan penetrates to the heart of this question in his valuable paper.
As both Anat Harel and Pauline Chakmakjian memorably demonstrate in their contributions to this volume, masonic ritual has been subject to extraordinary processes of reinvention and revision, even in very recent times. Yet that does not mean that we should assume that no early memories and traditions have been orally transmitted through masonic ritual and that the entire masonic corpus of rituals is a modern invention.
Neville Barker Cryer’s work in York has shown how masonic traditions there reach back further than the landmark date of 1717. We also know through the work of such great masonic scholars as Gould, Hughan and Stevenson that there was a form of Freemasonry – maybe unrecognizable as modern, ‘speculative’ Freemasonry but a direct ancestor of today’s Freemasonry nonetheless – in Scotland by the beginning of the seventeenth century.
It would not be surprising if this early Freemasonry was influenced by Rosicrucianism, which makes the discussion in this volume by Tobias Churton particularly pertinent. Moreover, the existence of this early Scottish Freemasonry makes it impossible completely to dismiss the intriguing suggestion made in this volume by Julia Cleave that early Freemasonry produced some remarkable literary fruits.
A big thank to Prof. Andrew Prescott, for his extended foreword, and to Robert Gilbert BA, for his contribution as one of the chairs of the conference and for his work as editor of this Transactions.
Bruno Virgilio Gazzo
editor, PS Review of FM