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Jan Snoek

Formen und Inhalte freimaurerischer Rituale – Jan Snoek (2017)

Jan Snoek (1946-) is a renowned Masonic scholar. This works both ways: he is a scholar, he is a Freemason and since many years, Freemasonry is his main object of investigation.

I have ran into Snoek several times. Of course because he is one of the best known Dutch scholars in the field and because he used to lecture about the subject. Snoek did not remain in the Netherlands though.

Snoek is an avid writer. He is a member of several study lodges. He does nto confine his subjects to those of “regular” Freemasonry, as he also writes about Freemasonry and women and it is also in that field that I found writings of him before.

For Snoeks 70th birthday, his studylodge in Bayreuth, Germany, published a “Festschrift” in which many of Snoeks previously published texts are bundled. The texts are both in English and German, about 50/50 and span a variety of subjects. Usually they are very interesting, especially because Snoek is not afraid to swim against the stream here and there. Also interesting, in notes Snoek sometimes gives updates from between the original writing of the text and the republication in this book.

It is quite amazing how the book contains subjects that I had decided to delve into some time, such as the variations on the Hiram myth (no use for my anymore to invest time in that now!). Snoek also collected a massive amount of ritual texts, old, new, famous and obscure, which he refers to a lot.

What may be Snoeks most ‘controversial’ stand is that besides the known Masonic traditions known as those of the “antients” and the “moderns” there were other traditions, most interestingly the elusive Rite called Harodim or Heredom. What is probably even more controversial is that Snoek argues that this Harodim tradition started to initiate women and slowly Harodim symbolism found its way into the so-called “adoption” lodges (initiation women). Adoption lodges which have been there almost from the start, when contemporary Freemasonry crossed the Canal from the UK to France.

Although being a scholar, Snoek is also interested in the esoteric side of Freemasonry, so you can also read about Masonic connections to currents such as Kabbalah or Hermeticism.

Very, very interesting indeed!

2017 Salier Verlag, isbn 3943539857

Women’s Agency And Rituals In Mixed And Female Masonic Orders – Alexandra Heidl & Jan Snoek (editors) (2008)

This book is published by the Dutch academic publisher Brill and these books are always very expensive. The publisher sells the book for € 181,-, the Amazon prices start at $ 194,-. It seems that when you are affiliated to a University, you can get a cheap (€ 25,-) printing-on-demand through

As the title suggests the book is about women in Freemasonry and similar orders. It is a collection of essays of a variety of authors. There are some very interesting texts in the book based on meticulous investigations, so it is too bad that these are only available to a specialist audience. Brill has many interesting titles, but you either have to dig deep into your pocket to buy it or to be lucky.

After a lengthy introduction by Jan Snoek, the first text is from the hands of Bärbel Raschke. Raschke writes about Masonic-like organisations that involved women in the early days of Freemasonry. He mostly looks at the well-documented case of Ordre des Hermites de bonne humeur (‘Order of the happy Hermits’) in Sachsen-Gotha (1739-1758). This was an organisation founded by an aristocratic woman who knew many early, German Freemasons. The author writes about the history and a bit about organisation and ritual.
Malcolm Davies wrote the next essay about a very early (1752) lodge of adoption in Den Haag (The Hague), Netherlands. Lodges of adoption were lodges created for the women of Freemasons. They were mostly ‘Freemasonry-like’ with adapted rituals and under patronage of a male Mason. La Loge de Juste seems to have been more of a mixed gender lodge and for a short while it worked under the same Grand Master as the men-only organisation in the Netherlands. Scandals and financial problems brought the end of both the “regular” and adoption organisations. Eventually the (still existing) Dutch “regular” organisation (the Grand Orient of the Netherlands) would only be founded in 1756.
Probably the most controversial essay is of Andreas Önnerfors who wrote about plans to start a Maçonnerie des Dames (‘Ladies Masonry’) of the very conservative Strict Observance. Önnerfors found 57 pages with detailed plans (including rituals for five degrees) in the Masonic archives in Copenhagen, Denmark. Many of these pages are reprinted at the end of the article.
James Smith Allen describes how the rise of women’s rights movement in France ran parallel with the rise of mixed gender Freemasonry. Many persons can be found in both movements.
Anton van de Sande describes the discussion within the Grand Orient of the Netherlands about the admittance of women. A decision that was almost made (!) but when mixed gender Freemasonry reached the Netherlands, the point was put in the refrigerator.
Leaving Freemasonry Hendrik Bogdan presents his essay about women in the Golden Dawn.
The next text initially does not seem to be about women in Freemasonry. In an article translated from French Bernard Dat investigates the claims of Etienne Stretton that he was a high ranking member of an operative organisation in the early days of Freemasonry. At the end the role of women is shortly treated.
More women rights in the text of Ann Pilcher Dayton Freemasonry and Suffrage: The Manifestation of Social Conscience.
Andrew Prescott has a detailed biography of Annie Besant who was very important in the expansion of mixed gender Freemasonry. She was an extremely active and very versatile person.
The last text is a masters thesis investigation into the perception of the three different rites within the Dutch federation of Le Droit Humain by its members.

I always find it interesting to read about people swimming against the stream and this book makes it look like that quite some people did in the early days of Freemasonry. Apparently the major players ‘won’, because the subject about women in Freemasonry is as controversial today as it was in these days. More even. Most essays are about the periode 1700 up until 1800, but after that it took a century before actual mixed gender Freemasonry would be developed.

Indeed, an interesting book. Too bad it is not exactly easy (or cheap) to get.

2008 Brill, isbn 9004172394

Masonic And Esoteric Heritage – Andréa Kroon, Marty Bax, Jan Snoek (2005)

On 20 and 21 oktober 2005 held in Den Haag. The conference was a co-organisation between the “Stichting OVN” (“foundation for the advancement of academic research into the history of Freemasonry in the Netherlands”, site under construction) together with Wouter Hanegraaff of Amsterdam Hermetica. The subject of the conference was important: “new perspectives for art and heritage policies”. The decision if a building, a garden, an interior or whatever should get the status of monument is usually taken by people who are unaware of Masonic or esoteric symbolism. Also for examples buildings designed with certain ideas are often wrongly restored or altered to serve modern needs and I even haven’t mentioned paintings or other forms of contemporary art. The organisers of this congres think it is time to combine the knowledge of art-historians and scholars on the field of Western esotericism to prevent more important heritage to be lost. Also people should be aware that a Masonic temple is as valuable as a Christian church from the same time and therefor worth preserving. The organisers thought it wise to start with a conference to make scholars of other fields acquainted with esoteric symbology and also to draw attention to the subject.

How expensive the conference was, as cheap is the very nice publication that followed it. You can get the book from Stichting OVN for only 10 euro plus shipping. For this you will get a very nice book of 246 pages with 17 essays and a long list with references where to get more information. The essays are by Wouter Hanegraaff who opens with a general introduction into Western esotericism; Henrik Bogdan with a (in my opinion slightly out of place) text about Gustav Adolph Reuterholm; Diane Clements who speaks about the architecture and art of the Freemason’s Hall in London; Christopher McIntosh who has a very nice text about symbolic garden design; Melanie Í–hlenbach who says something about Philipp Otto Runge (a painter); then follows a text about both “Goetheaniums” designed by the founder of the Antropsophical Society Rudolf Steiner, by Helmut Zander; Marijo Ariëns-Volker writes about the esoteric side of Picasso and contemporaries; Giovanna Costantini does the same with Giorgio De Chirico. Then we turn to the heritage with Alan Solomon, a stockbroker who ran into a strange symbol in a building near NY’s “ground zero”; Masonic garden design is spoken about by Erik Westengaard; Eugène Warmenbol describes Masonic temples in Belgium; Malcolm Davies writes about Masonic music; Andréa Kroon informs you about the (changing) atitude towards (possible) esoteric buildings in the Netherlands and Marty Bax renders a year-long investigation of a building with Theosopnical architecture. The last part is about “interdesciplinary research and conservation”, opened by Andreas Í–nnerfors and Jonas Andersson who give information about Swedish freemasonry; Andrew Prescott who sees “Freemasonry as part of national heritage” and Kroon closes off with “the pilot-study ‘Masonic heritage in the Netherlands, 1735-1945′”.

Now that Amsterdam has a university chair for the study of Western esotericism the academic knowledge of (the existence) of it is finally growing, so the possibilities to join forces grew. Many art-students follow the classes of Hanegraaff and his followers, which proves that the tide is indeed changing. This is important, because (as Kroon describes in her essay) important buildings get lost because of the ignorance property developers and of the people having to decide about monument-statuses. Global scholars now joined forces to inform their colleges in other disciplines, so hopefully most of what is left can and will be preserved in the future.

An important subject and a very nice book to read for the non-scholar (like myself) too. There could have been more examples (images) in the book though. In America I have ran into numerous obviously Masonic buildings, monuments and grave-stones, but if people even don’t recognise the compass and the square, how should they recognise the more ‘hidden’ symbols (or symbology in the architecture itself)? People who may be interested in the subject and get this publication as guideline, might want to have a few examples so they know what to look for. For the rest, and especially for this price, nothing but praise!

2005 Stichting OVN, isbn 908077782X