The Secret Teachings of all Ages is the near 700 pages long Magnus Opus by Manly P. Hall. The book wears the subtitle: An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian symbolical Philosophy – Being an Interpretation of the Secret Teachings concealed within the Rituals, Allegories, and Mysteries of all Ages.
Each of the nearly 50 chapters is so dense with information that it is the equivalent of an entire short book. If you read this book in its entirety you will be in a good position to dive into subjects such as the Qabbala, Alchemy, Tarot, Ceremonial Magic, Neo-Platonic Philosophy, Mystery Religions, and the theory of Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry. Although there are some questionable and controversial parts of the book, such as the outdated material on Islam, the portion on the Bacon-Shakespeare hypothesis, and Hall’s conspiracy theory of history as driven by an elite cabal of roving immortals, they are far outweighed by the comprehensive information here on other subjects. For many years this book was only available in a large print edition which was hard to obtain and very expensive.
From the author’s introduction:
“Work upon the text of this volume was begun the first day of January 1926, and has continued almost uninterruptedly for over two years. The greater part of the research work, however, was carried on prior to the writing of the manuscript. The collection of reference material was begun in 1921, and three years later the plans for the book took definite form. For the sake of clarity, all footnotes were eliminated, the various quotations and references to other authors being embodied in the text in their logical order. The bibliography is appended primarily to assist those interested in selecting for future study the most authoritative and important items dealing with philosophy and symbolism. To make readily accessible the abstruse information contained in the book, an elaborate topical cross-index is included. I make no claim for either the infallibility or the originality of any statement herein contained. I have studied the fragmentary writings of the ancients sufficiently to realize that dogmatic utterances concerning their tenets are worse than foolhardy. Traditionalism is the curse of modern philosophy, particularly that of the European schools. While many of the statements contained in this treatise may appear at first wildly fantastic, I have sincerely endeavored to refrain from haphazard metaphysical speculation, presenting the material as far as possible in the spirit rather than the letter of the original authors. By assuming responsibility only for the mistakes which may’ appear herein, I hope to escape the accusation of plagiarism which has been directed against nearly every writer on the subject of mystical philosophy. Having no particular ism of my own to promulgate, I have not attempted to twist the original writings to substantiate preconceived notions, nor have I distorted doctrines in any effort to reconcile the irreconcilable differences present in the various systems of religio-philosophic thought.”
Download the illustrated Public Domain version of The Secret Teachings of All Ages here (675 pages/ 14.9MB):