I have learned a lot from Walter Leslie Wilmhurst's book "The Meaning Of Masonry", originally published in 1922. W.L.W. was a British Mason of
high regard, who shows the true path of regeneration for those Masons who would strive to achieve "a quality of life previously unexperienced."
The contents reveal the following:
Intro: The Position and Possibilities of the Masonic Order
Chapter I: The Deeper Symbolism of Masonry
Chapter II: Masonry as a Philosophy
Chapter III: Further Notes on Craft Symbolism
Chapter IV: The Holy Royal Arch
Chapter V: The Relation of Masonry to the Ancient Mysteries
He explains in plain laguage how a Master Mason begins his quest as a natural man, and through the disciplines taught by the rituals, can become a
"regenerated perfected man".
He is taught through the levels of E.A., F.C., and then M.M. to 1) purify and subdue his sensual nature, 2) to purify and develop his mental nature,
and finally, 3) rise from the dead (no, not physical death!!) a just made man, ready as an instrument to be used by the Great Architect to rebuild the
Temple of fallen humanity.
Mr. Wilmhurst further explains that this enlightenment and illumination (and thus evolution of man to superman) was the real purpose of the Ancient
Mysteries, and to join the Craft for any other purpose was to misunderstand its true meaning.
For those interested in such esoterica, he mentions what to me sounds like the old "firing of the chakra's" (a.k.a. "Kundalini awakening",
"Solar Fire" etc. etc.). He explains that such a man's body and mind have become sublimated and expanded to a condition that is "immensely" in
advance of average humanity.
But he points out that the Master Mason knows how to handle these energies (are these the "seething energies of Lucifer" mentioned by Manly Palmer
Hall?). He also points out that [these] energies, if applied by an "unfaithful initiate" can be turned and perverted to unholy, demonaical, astral
and dangerous uses!
The Chapter V section on the relation to the the Ancient Mysteries doesn't really go in depth into Sacred Geometry and such, but explains that the
Craft is a rudimentary modern day version of the Mysteries, mostly focused on the translations (of them) coming out of Greece and Palestine. He
mentions Plato's "Phaedo" as a book that every diligent student of Masonry should read.
I also recently read "Turning the Hiram Key", and although it was an OK read, the rituals talked about would have seemed like foolishness to me if I
hadn't studied and understood what they are really meant to convey by the allegory and symbolism used to keep the higher meanings from those who
would but profane the secrets contained therein.
BTW, the Wilmhurst book is an easy read (216 pages, large type).
ars longa, vita brevis!