The Memory Code – A Worthy Read

Submitted by RPC Stephen Balke, General Grand Recorder

As Masons, we have been introduced to a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols; a course of instruction on how to live. But how often do we go under the hood to learn about the engine? An English Professor from Australia, while pursuing her doctorate, started asking questions that took her on a journey that may show us from an outsiders perspective – and referencing current academic “normal” – what we could get from our Masonic journey.

The real magic of The Memory Code is that Dr. Lynne Kelly asked some questions that many thought they had the answer to, but without the biases and filters of working in the fields that proposed the answers in the first place. This English Professor tripped upon a topic combining archeology, history, anthropology, and neuroscience and found different perspectives on many accepted explanations of how and why ancient civilizations and relics came to be – and is one of the only academics to expose the power and utility of oral traditions, our mental capacity, and skills that have been all but lost outside of Freemasonry… and isn’t faring well within the Craft.

Cultures based upon oral tradition, or non-literate cultures, didn’t rely on writing it down; rather, they developed skills within their society to retain information and communicate that would be the envy of many scholars today. Systems within systems made it so that everyone could give directions to someone who they had never met but knew to be in alliance with their tribe (point 1), to cross hundreds of miles to find a specific location (point 2), and where all of the available water was along the way (point 3). Specific members could also learn and recite all of the indigenous life in an area, the complete genealogy of a family, laws and governance across multiple tribes, or the appropriate preparation and application of a healing plant. Sound familiar?

In reading about her journey, I found myself drawing many parallels from what we are presented through the degrees, learned the techniques she reviewed and how they could enhance my experience, and reenforced many ideas found in leadership and Neuro-Linguistic Programming courses “breaking ground” today. If you are looking for something that will coincide and explain some of the mechanics of our ritual, give you ideas on how to make your experience more impacting, and/or an interesting perspective on some of our ancient history, I heartily recommend this book. It is available in hardback, paperback, and audio formats.