The Independent Magazine for Freemasons
By: Philippa Faulks and Robert Cooper
Philippa Faulks has had a long association with Lewis Masonic and Bob Cooper is well known in Masonic research circles as the curator of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Previous books on Rosslyn Chapel exposed the myths of Dan Brown. Now the two have collaborated on this book about Count Cagliostro. This fascinating character was the subject of the lead article in the last issue of The Square and the present book was cited as a source and for further reading. If you were interested in knowing more about Count Cagliostro then this is the book for you. It is a complete and detailed resumé of his life, his work, his ideas and his achievements and some might say, lack of achievements. The appendices and endnotes reveal the detail that has gone into the book. Texts had to be translated from French, Latin and other languages and the authors have included the full Egyptian Rite ceremony for readers to contemplate. It is a translation of a manuscript held in the Museum of the Grand Lodge of Scotland which was rescued after the French revolution by a Charles Morison who finally donated it to the museum on his death. Was this genuine or yet another forgery? Cagliostro, it appears, intended it to be an addition to Craft ritual and not a replacement of it. What then does it add or offer?
The rest of the book is given over to a detailed presentation of the life of Cagliostro – the people he met and influenced, the places he visited, the trials and tribulations, the successes and triumphs, his treatment in the hands of the authorities and the Catholic Church and his many wanderings from place to place. As one reads it becomes clear what an enigmatic and unusual character he was. Was he genuine or a charlatan? Was he convinced by what he said or was it all a confidence trick? Well, you will need to read the book and decide for yourself. Again, this is not a quick read. It is a ‘real’ history book and will require time and thought to digest all it contains – but I think you will find that the effort was worthwhile and that the authors have done a good job in bringing Cagliostro to our attention. As the introduction to the book says ‘He appears as an enigma, a challenge, an unfathomable puzzle. Freemasons love mysteries; they are always debating where, when and who they originated from. Historians love a mystery, always hoping there will be untold hidden depths to their research. This is why the legend of Count Cagliostro still tantalises us and continues to evoke such strong opinions’. Now read on…
Reprint edition (20 July 2017)
Paperback, 368 pages with illustrations and photographs