Saturday, September 22, 2018

‘Equal Night is tonight’

Elm Forest in Autumn by Edvard Munch, oil on canvas, 1919-20.

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the autumnal equinox will arrive tonight at 9:54 (New York time), when our sun will cross the celestial equator, resulting in an equal amount of sunlight reaching both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, and day and night shall be equal (give or take) all around the globe. Equinox means “equal night.”

For us, it spells the beginning of fall.

Nothing Gold Can Stay
Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

It is time for harvest and feasts; for darker days and longer sleep; to retire sweet Virginias for English and Balkan; and for wearing wool, tweed, leather, and denim. We’re halfway to the solstice.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

‘Pennsylvania Academy in October’

It’s been too long—something like three years!—since I got to a Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge symposium. Two great attractions on October 27 probably will induce me to make the 300-mile round trip.

Josef Wäges and John Michael Greer will be the speakers. Greer is a prolific (to say the least) author of books on a multitude of subjects. His Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies has been a favorite of mine for years. Wäges is a Masonic speaker who gets around. Tapped for the Society of Blue Friars this year, Wäges also has become a regular on the Masonic speaking circuit. For example, he will appear at the October 20 meeting of Boynton Lodge Esoteric Research Group in Florida.

Anyway, from the symposium publicity:

October 2018 Speaker Information

Bro. Josef Wäges is a member of the Blue Friars, a member of Plano Lodge 768 and Fate Lodge 802, the Valley of Dallas of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (Southern Jurisdiction), Fellow of the Grand College of Rites, a full member of the Texas Lodge of Research, Michigan Lodge of Research, and life member of the Missouri Lodge of Research. Editor of The Secret School of Wisdom: The Authentic Rituals and Doctrines of the Illuminati, and On Materialism and Idealism. He is currently preparing the forthcoming books, Ecossais Masonry: A History of the High Degrees from the Scots Master to the Order of the Royal Secret, for Scottish Rite Research Society, and The Columbian Illuminati: The Improved System of the Illuminati.


One of the most elusive questions of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite concerns its origins. Where exactly did it come from, and from what source do its rituals emanate? Many scholars have rightfully determined that Étienne Morin, also known as Stephen Morin, is the founder of this system, but it is even less certain precisely whence his authority came, let alone who Morin was. The truth is we have only a partial picture of who he was and the circumstances concerning his authority to establish the rite. Nevertheless, when one assembles all of the evidence and gathers still more, there is still enough light left in the fragments to project a more complete vision of the truth.

Bro. John Michael Greer was Entered, Passed, and Raised in 2001 in Doric Lodge 92 in Seattle, and also is a member of Queen City Lodge 131 in Maryland, and St. Johns Lodge 1 in Providence, Rhode Island. He is active in the Scottish Rite and the York Rite, and has served as presiding officer in all three York Rite bodies. He is also an active member of the non-Masonic Societas Rosicruciana in America. He is a professional writer with more than 50 books to his name, including The Secret of the Temple: Earth Energies, Sacred Geometry, and the Lost Secrets of Freemasonry and the forthcoming The Ceremony of the Grail: Ancient Mysteries, Gnostic Heresies, and the Lost Rituals of Freemasonry. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife Sara.


Ever since Freemasonry came to public notice, some people outside the Craft have insisted that Freemasonry is a front for this or that conspiracy. The truth is far stranger: While Freemasonry generally has stayed out of the conspiracy business, an astonishing number of secret societies of all kinds have borrowed from Masonry. From the struggles over the Jacobite movement in 18th century Europe through the heyday of the Illuminati and the Carbonari, down to the struggle to the death between the Ku Klux Klan and such anti-Klan secret societies as the Order of the Flaming Circle and the Order of Anti-Poke-Noses, a great deal of modern history has been shaped by groups that picked up the tools of the Master Mason and put them to other uses.

Registration Information

Please recognize that a cost is incurred to the program for your registration. If you pre-register and subsequently determine that you will be unable to attend, please have the Masonic courtesy to cancel your reservation by the same method and providing the same information.

Registration will open at 8:30 a.m. with the program beginning at 9:30.
A lunch (requested contribution of $10) will be served at noon, and the program will be completed by 3 p.m. All Masons are welcome to attend. Dress is coat and tie.

All meetings are held at Freemasons Cultural Center in Masonic Village at Elizabethtown (1 Masonic Drive, Elizabethtown, PA).

Live stream of the Symposium

In an effort to allow as many people as possible to participate in the symposiums, the Academy Committee offers a live stream of each event. Additionally, those viewing the live stream may ask questions of the presenters via the live stream chat feature, the Academy Facebook group, and Reddit.

On the day of an Academy symposium, a live stream video will appear on the Grand Lodge YouTube channel here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

‘Brandywine Battlefield Degree’


It’s only a few short weeks until the Brandywine Battlefield Degree in Pennsylvania.

That’s Saturday, October 6. Hosted by Kennett Lodge 475, this conferral of Pennsylvania’s Entered Apprentice Degree will take place at the historic site of the battle between forces commanded by George Washington and William Howe before the latter’s troops seized Philadelphia in 1777.

WM Eric Downs
While the lodge’s officers and ritualists will be attired in period costume, the dress code for everyone else is a casual polo-and-khakis-type combo.

A modest fee of $40 per person is being collected. Use PayPal here.

The dinner menu will be: grilled chicken, mushroom salad, potato salad, pasta salad, cole slaw, corn bread, various desserts, and soft drinks. Cigars and fellowship will round off the evening. (The lodge has acquired several boxes of Hiram and Solomon Entered Apprentice cigars for the occasion.)

I probably will bring a pipe, and a clay at that,
but there will be cigars on hand!

Gather at the site at 4 p.m. for a tour of Washington’s headquarters and the grounds ($8 payable at the visitors center). Dinner will be served at six. The degree will begin at 7:30. This is a rain-or-shine event. Address: 1491 Baltimore Pike in Chadds Ford—about 25 miles southwest of Philly.

There even is a souvenir token awaiting you:

If you are unfamiliar with Pennsylvania Masonic rituals, they are unique in the United States. It’s not that you wouldn’t recognize this EAº, but you would discern many differences from initiations you already know. Pennsylvania lodge officers, especially the Worshipful Masters, make impressive efforts to confer their degrees. Let’s pray for cool weather out of respect for the heavy clothes they will be wearing.

Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

‘C-SPAN tonight: Masonic cornerstone of U.S. Capitol’

Courtesy C-SPAN

Today at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time, C-SPAN will broadcast “225th Anniversary of the Laying of the Capitol Cornerstone,” which will feature Washington, DC Freemasons (perhaps re-enacting the historic event, I guess). Representatives from the U.S. Capitol Historical Society and George Washington’s Mount Vernon will be shown, as will, unfortunately, members of Congress.

‘Camel goes nutzoid at Shriner circus’

Courtesy CBS News

News sources around the nation are reporting the rampage of a camel at a Shriner circus in Pittsburgh on Sunday that caused injuries to six children and one adult. Authorities reviewed video footage of the scene, and one unconfirmed report says a child threw a shovel at the camel, causing the animal to start bucking while a woman and two kids were riding it.

The worst of the injuries was a broken arm suffered by one child. It was said the camel was brought under control in 11 seconds.

Even more startling news is that the Shrine still exists.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

‘That Freemason Mark in Manhattan’

RW Bro. Mark “That Freemason Mark” Koltko-Rivera, Past Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of New York and Masonic author, has a few speaking engagements upcoming at Masonic Hall.

On Wednesday, he will present “The Future of Freemasonry” at Kosciuszko Lodge 1085. Master Masons only. 7:30 p.m. in the French Doric Room on 10. From the publicity:

Mark Koltko-Rivera
In this presentation, much like Charles Dickens’ “Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come,” RW Bro. Mark Koltko-Rivera describes two distinct potential futures for Freemasonry—one very dark, and one very bright. He also describes how we will reach one or the other of these futures entirely on the basis of our choices as Freemasons. Come and learn how what you and your lodge will determine the future of our fraternity.

Mark also will visit Joshua Lodge 890 Wednesday, October 10 to present his lecture “The Vision and Mission of Masonry.”

That’s 7 p.m. Apprentice and Fellows are welcome! From the publicity:

Freemasonry has been described many ways over the past three centuries. Most of these obscure the fact that the fraternity has very specific purposes and distinctive objectives. In other words, Masonry has both a vision and a mission. In this presentation, RW Bro. Mark Koltko-Rivera explains precisely what this vision and mission are, and how we, as Freemasons, can further this mission and actualize this vision.

Come to learn more about the vision and objectives of Freemasonry; leave with inspiration and determination to make that vision real, and fulfill those objectives.

RW Bro. Mark Koltko-Rivera, Ph.D., is a Past Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in the State of New York. He was raised a Master Mason in Winter Park Lodge 239 in Florida. Having moved to the New York City area, he is now also a member of Heritage Lodge 371 and Joshua Lodge 890, which meet at Masonic Hall in Manhattan.

He is the author of three books on Freemasonry: Freemasonry: An Introduction, The Mysteries of Freemasonry, and his latest The Resurgence of Freemasonry: Why Masonry Must Not Just Survive But Thrive—and How Masons and Their Lodges Can Make That Happen.

He holds a doctorate in psychology from New York University. At MEKR Consulting, he is a foresight consultant for the business and investment communities. He also consults to Masonic grand lodges on membership issues.

‘Ryan Flynn coming to Manhattan’

Dunedin Masonic Temple, by Ryan J. Flynn,
oil on canvas, 2015-16.

The details have yet to be announced, but save Saturday, November 3 for the visit of Bro. Ryan Flynn to Maimonides-Marshall Lodge 739 at Masonic Hall. He will present “The Fine Arts and Freemasonry: The Forgotten Bond” at 1 p.m.

I had the good luck to hear Ryan give this lecture three years ago in Philadelphia at the Masonic Restoration Foundation’s annual symposium. A highly accomplished painter himself, Ryan recounts the history of how Freemasons participated in the fine arts, altruistically supported artists, how Masonic culture otherwise has been intertwined with the arts, and advocates a return of Freemasonry’s embrace of the fine arts and performing arts. (At least that’s how I remember it.)

By the time he finishes, you’ll be ready to grab an artist and commission him to paint murals on your lodge room’s walls—no matter the cost!

I don’t know if this will be a tiled meeting of the lodge or what other particulars will arise, but I’ll update this as things develop.

Click here to see some of Ryan’s work, including Masonic paintings.

‘Things to do this fall’

Autumn is only days away, so you’re probably wondering what there is to do to celebrate the season. Well, it’s a good thing you read The Magpie Mason! Here are a few suggestions.

Sunday, September 23 at 1 p.m.
Catherine Walter at Kearney House
in Alpine, New Jersey

The curator of the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library and Museum reprises her lecture from January titled “The Civil War and Freemasonry: Reunion of Brothers in the Blue and Gray.” This concerns a Confederate captain (and Freemason) who saved the lives of three Union soldiers (also Freemasons) who were dying at the Second Battle of Bull Run.

Also that day at the site, a Civil War encampment, with demonstrations, talks, and other activities from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday, September 29, noon to 5
McGarrah’s Oktoberfest in Monroe

Hosted by the Cornerstone Masonic Historical Society, the philanthropic arm of Cornerstone Lodge 711, this Oktoberfest raises funds for the continued restoration and maintenance of McGarrah’s Stagecoach Inn and Museum.

All you can eat. All you can drink. 300 Stage Road in Monroe.

Food: Wursts from Schaller and Weber, German food prepared by Culinary Institute graduate Max Wessels.

Beer: Spaten Oktoberfest, Franziskaner, and someone named Bud Light.

Live music, raffles, a climbing wall, games, bounce house, building tours, ghost tours, and more.


Day of event: all you can eat/drink: $40 (alcohol included) or $30 (no alcohol)

Kids 12 and under: $10

And before the Oktoberfest, at 11 a.m., there will be a 5K run, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Sunday, October 7 at 1 p.m.
Grand Masters Day at Tappan

The annual event at DeWint House, the Grand Lodge of New York’s George Washington Historic Site in Tappan.

Brunch at 11:30 a.m. at Casa Mia Manor House (577 Route 303 in Blauvelt). $36 per person. Contact Bro. Ken Merring here to arrange your pre-paid reservation.

The event itself is an enjoyable program centered around the dedication of an exotic tree planted on the impressive 12-acre grounds of the historic site. Click here to see many photos of past Grand Masters Days.

Sunday, October 7, 11 a.m. to dusk
Traubenfest 2018 at Tappan

That same day, the brethren of the Ninth Manhattan District host their 800th annual Traubenfest at German Masonic Park, also in Tappan. Go to both events. Traubenfest means Strawberry Festival, but this basically is an Oktoberfest with plenty of German music, food, and beer. Vendors will be hawking stuff. A great time. Click here for photos of previous Traubenfests.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

‘UGLE to introduce Solomon’

Freemasonry Today magazine revealed the other day that the United Grand Lodge of England will provide a new avenue for Masonic education for its members this fall.

United Grand Lodge of England
RW Bro. Stuart Hadler, Provincial Grand Master of Somerset, and RW Bro. Anthony Howlett-Bolton, PGM of Berkshire, delivered an address Wednesday at the Grand Lodge’s Quarterly Communication titled “Solomon: Fostering Curiosity, Developing Understanding.”

Solomon has been in development for three years, and will be unveiled in November, they said. The planning was begun in response to a membership survey, which prompted a desire “to promote Freemasonry as a relevant, worthwhile, and attractive organization in the 21st century.” That survey revealed a need for the fraternity to deliver instruction on Masonic symbolism, moral and philosophical issues, history and traditions—particularly in Royal Arch Masonry.

“Whilst the performance of ritual is a highly valued tradition of our constitution, and social and charitable aspects are of key importance, we were failing many new and current members who seek to improve themselves through greater insight, knowledge, and understanding of Freemasonry,” said the two PGMs. “Furthermore, that only through a personal ability to communicate and share these values can Freemasonry hope to demonstrate its worth and value in the 21st century.”

They acknowledged how books and the web can offer plenty of material to read and enjoy, but “the opportunity to offer an explanation in the lodge or chapter can be much more effective. This can signpost relevant material, and help us along our own personal Masonic journey.”

“Many members are curious and have a sincere wish to improve their understanding,” they added. “They have expectations when they join and these should evolve over time. We have a responsibility to ensure that our members have ready access to the intellectual and practical resources to enhance their Freemasonry, fulfill their interest and help them become more rounded and committed members. There is a genuine concern that a concentration on the performance of ritual, without appreciating what we are doing and why, overlooks the important messages that lie within and is one reason why some members choose to leave.”

What is Solomon?

“Solomon is a central repository of informative material that will answer some of the questions, and point members along the path of daily advancement in Masonic knowledge,” they explained. “It is designed to be used by individual Masons, lodges, chapters, provinces, and districts, and to fit comfortably with the needs of all levels of experience and interest. It can be used on multiple platforms, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, and currently contains over 350 items. It will continue to grow and evolve.”

There are no “definitive” answers offered, as the Grand Lodge does not advance official points of view of the speculative matters, but “Solomon is a collection of credible views and interpretations. So you may find different explanations of a symbol or ceremony. This variation in interpretation should stimulate discussion and debate. Such is the nature of Freemasonry.”

Congratulations to the United Grand Lodge of England, and to the brethren who are bringing this project to fruition. That is what real leadership gets you.

‘New book: Mayan Masonry’

Bro. Richard Cassaro of George Washington Lodge 285 has a new book coming next week. From the publicity:

Mayan Masonry: Were the ancient Maya an older branch on the Masonic family tree?

In this thrilling and adventure-filled quest penetrating deep into the Mesoamerican jungles, iconoclast author and popular lecturer Richard Cassaro rivets our attention on the great architectural and cultural achievements of the Maya.

These monuments are not the remnants of a raging warrior people drenched in sacrificial blood, as commonly portrayed, but rather reflect a sophisticated spiritual legacy—a Masonic legacy—that stretches back over many millennia.

Maya “Master Masons” built some of the most advanced stone pyramids, temples, aqueducts, and ceremonial centers in the world. Mayan art and architecture represents a civilization focused on metaphysical self-knowledge and inner development. Mayan temples are gateways bridging the material and spiritual worlds, capable of healing, divination, and raising consciousness.

Click here to order your copy.

Bro. Cassaro also will lead a tour of Mayan ruin in Mexico November 3 through 10. Click here.

‘Lao Tze and how the universe is governed’

The School of Practical Philosophy teaches Western Thought, but it does have a yen for Eastern philosophies. Registration opens Monday for this lecture. From the publicity:

Returning to the source is Stillness, is called Returning to Life.
Returning to Life is Eternal, knowing the Eternal is called Realization.
Not knowing the Eternal, misfortune is foolishly created.

Lao Tze

Lao Tze and the Eternal Tao
With Mr. John Li
Saturday, October 13, 7 to 9 p.m.
School of Practical Philosophy
12 East 79th Street, Manhattan
Register here

What is in a name? How is the universe governed?

Both questions are answered in the first verse of the Tao Te Ching and illuminated in the subsequent 80 verses. They are reflections of knowledge that everyone is equipped to verify. What experiences might be reflected in these verses? How do they accord with our own?

Join us to explore how the ancient wisdom held in the Tao Te Ching can be translated into experience as we penetrate the deeper meanings expressed in this ageless Chinese poetry.

The evening’s talk will draw upon selected verses based on new translations and root meanings of chosen Chinese texts.

Tickets at $25, which includes light refreshments, are available here.

One translation of the Tao Te Ching can be read here.

‘Discovering Greece and Rome in Gotham’

I really need to pay closer attention to the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art. Located just a mile north of Masonic Hall, the ICAA offers great events, to wit:

Classical New York:
Discovering Greece and Rome
in Gotham
Thursday, September 27
6:30 to 8:30
20 West 44th Street, first floor
Register here

During the rise of New York from the capital of an upstart nation to a global metropolis, the visual language of Greek and Roman antiquity played a formative role in the development of the city’s art and architecture. Join Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis, Matthew McGowan, and Francis Morrone, three of the authors of the upcoming book Classical New York: Discovering Greece and Rome in Gotham (Fordham University Press), for an evening of interdisciplinary exploration of New York City’s classical roots.

Classical New York examines the influence of Greco-Roman thought and design from the Greek Revival of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries through the late-nineteenth-century American Renaissance and Beaux Arts period and into the twentieth century’s Art Deco. At every juncture, New Yorkers looked to the classical past for knowledge and inspiration in seeking out new ways to cultivate a civic identity, to design their buildings and monuments, and to structure their public and private spaces.

Following an introduction to classical reception and its importance in New York City, the three authors will speak on their papers from Classical New York:

Fordham University Press

  • Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis’s “The Gould Memorial Library and Hall of Fame: Reinterpreting the Pantheon in the Bronx”

  • Matthew McGowan’s “In Ancient and Permanent Language: Artful Dialogue in the Latin Inscriptions of New York City”

  • Francis Morrone’s “The Custom House of 1833-42: A Greek Revival Building in Context.”

Copies of Classical New York: Discovering Greece and Rome in Gotham will be available for purchase following the event.

Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis is Assistant Professor and Acting Executive Officer of the M.A. Program in Liberal Studies (MALS) and director of the MALS track Archaeology of the Classical, Late Antique, and Islamic Worlds at the City University of New York. She majored in history, archaeology, and classics at Cornell University, where she graduated summa cum laude, and she earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in archaeology at Oxford University. She has taught at Oxford and Royal Holloway–University of London. Macaulay-Lewis is the editor or author of five books, including the 2017 work Housing the New Romans: Architectural Reception and Classical Style in the Modern World, and the author of over a dozen articles on ancient Roman and Islamic gardens and architecture.

Matthew McGowan is Associate Professor and Chair of Classics at Fordham University. He is interested in Roman poetry, ancient scholarship, and classical reception. He has published broadly on a variety of Greek and Latin topics and is the author of Ovid in Exile: Power and Poetic Redress in the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto (Brill, 2009). Alongside editing Classical New York, he is compiling a guide to the Greek and Latin inscriptions of New York City. He teaches a wide range of courses, from classical myth to Latin prose composition, and has instituted the spoken Latin table at the Rose Hill campus. He was President of the New York Classical Club (2009-15) and is now Vice President for Communications and Outreach for the Society for Classical Studies.

Francis Morrone is an architectural historian and the author of eleven books including Guide to New York City Urban Landscapes (W.W. Norton, 2013); The New York Public Library: The Architecture and Decoration of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (with Henry Hope Reed, W.W. Norton, 2011); and architectural guidebooks to Philadelphia and Brooklyn. As a historic preservation consultant he has written countless building histories and neighborhood surveys in New York and beyond. He worked as an art and architecture critic for the New York Sun. Collectively, his work represents one of the most comprehensive bodies of research on the built history of New York City.

The Gould Memorial Library and Hall of Fame. My alma maters previous library in the Bronx. Only a tiny piece of it was relocated to Washington Square, where the current library stands. Bobst Library looks...ah, different.


‘Need help identifying this pin’s origins’

There is no prize for the correct answer, but maybe someone can help MW Simon LaPlace track the origins of this pin. He was presented this September 11 commemorative piece several years ago, but does not recall whence it came.

If you know, please contact MW LaPlace (he is E.D. of the MSANA) here.

‘Judaism lectures at Anthroposophy NYC’

The Anthroposophical Society of New York City will begin a ten-lecture stint on Judaism beginning next Wednesday. From the publicity:

David Taulbee Anderson
Anthroposophy NYC
138 West 15th Street, Manhattan
Monthly through June 2019
$20 donation please

These ten lectures will build a picture of Judaism and its role in world history. They should be of interest to both Jews and non-Jews. For non-Jews, penetration and insight into the essence of Judaism will become possible through observing the historical phenomena and allowing the inner “ensouling” content to speak, just as we look at an individual’s biography to find the soul revealing itself in and through it to an observer who approaches it with loving interest. The study of Judaism presents us with a rich spiritual content that has formed an especially important component of the total spiritual fabric of the evolution of mankind. It is hoped that those already familiar with the Jewish religion as their own will find much of interest to them and enlivening, new, and fresh ways of looking at an old, but evolving subject.

Part 1: September 19  The Spiritual Geography of Palestine (geomancy).

  • The Kingdom of Heaven is within.
  • Geomantic earth chakras. The seven mountains of Israel and the seven chakras.
  • Palestine as an archetypal landscape.

Part 2: October 17 – The Patriarchs (1900-1500 BC).

Part 3: November 14 – The Kingdom.

Part 4: December 12 – Fall of Samaria (772 BC).

Part 5: January 16, 2019 – Return of Judea (520 BC).

Part 6: February 13, 2019 – Roman Rule (63 BC).

Part 7: March 13, 2019 – Islam (600 AD).

Part 8: April 17, 2019 – From Spain to Turkey.

Part 9: May 15, 2019 – Opening the ghetto gates and entering the outside world.

Part 10: June 12, 2019 – The Liberty Bell.

David Taulbee Anderson has taught drawing and painting around the world. He has a Masters in Art, and certificates from Emerson College (Waldorf education), and the Wagner School at the Goetheanum (teaching painting).

(Also, mark your calendar for the classical guitar concert on Saturday, October 27!)

‘Inside the Freemasons debuts on Netflix’


Inside the Freemasons, Sky TV’s 2017 documentary about Masonic life in the United Grand Lodge of England, debuts on Netflix today.

Click here.

Be advised: Netflix categorizes the program “Controversial.”

‘Library lecture: The Missing Degree!’

This month’s lecture at the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library will bring Bro. Michael LaRocco to the lectern to discuss “The Missing Degree!” From the publicity:

Livingston Library
Thursday, September 27
6:30 p.m.
“The Missing Degree!”
Presented by Bro. Michael LaRocco
RSVP here
Free and open to the public

Through his lecture, Bro. Michael LaRocco will explore the parallels between Freemasonry and ancient rites of passage to manhood. Drawing from the men’s spirituality movement, LaRocco will examine the components of rites of passage, how the absence of such rites manifest negatively in our lives, and how the esoteric symbolism of Freemasonry can fill a need and become The Hero’s Journey, providing a path for masculine self-actualization.

Michael LaRocco is a 32° Scottish Rite Mason, a Royal Arch and Cryptic Mason, and a Knight Templar. He also is Magus Templi (founder and presiding officer) of the Magus Guild of the Valley of Rockville Centre, whose mission is to increase the esoteric experience of Scottish Rite Masonry.

The library is located on the 14th floor of Masonic Hall, located at 71 West 23rd Street in Manhattan. Photo ID is required to enter the building. RSVP here.

This lecture is sponsored by the Fourth Manhattan District and Helena Valley Winery.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

‘Be an almoner of God’s bounties’

Q: What is the seventh great Truth in Masonry?

A: The immutable law of God requires, that besides respecting the absolute rights of others, and being merely just, we should do good, be charitable, and obey the dictates of the generous and noble sentiments of the soul. Charity is a law, because our conscience is not satisfied nor at ease if we have not relieved the suffering, the distressed, and the destitute…. We are the Almoners of God’s bounties.

Albert Pike
Prince of Mercy Degree (26º)
Morals and Dogma

This is a request for charity in its material form, inspired by charity in its spiritual form: sincere fraternal regard and kindness.

A lodge brother has set up a Go Fund Me page to help, aid, and assist a Mason in need. Click here to contribute to a veteran of our nation’s armed forces (ten years in not one, but two airborne divisions) and a career school teacher sidelined by medical challenges. I know him to be a virtuous being who deserves far better than what the unkind vagaries of fate have dealt him recently.

His lodge, the lodge’s district, and the grand lodge have done what they can, and hopefully Magpie readers could keep the energy moving.

Click here. To donate, click the orange Donate Now button at top right. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

‘Respect for the word’

I get the feeling there isn’t a book by Owen Barfield that isn’t thoroughly lovable for the way they smoothly hum with the electricity of learning. His History in English Words unlocks the system of the world that is language, its structures and its evolutions. Barfield, the reluctant lawyer, passionate professor, Inkling, and Anthroposophist, published the book in 1953.

This book’s foreward, written by none other than W.H. Auden, begins:

Many who write about ‘linguistics’ go astray because they overlook the fundamental fact that we use words for two quite different purposes: as a code of communication whereby, as individual members of the human race, we can request and supply information necessary to life; and as Speech in the true sense, the medium in which, as unique persons who think in the first and second person singular, we gratuitously disclose ourselves to each other and share our experiences. Though no human utterance is either a pure code statement or a pure personal act, the difference is obvious if we compare a phrase-book for tourists traveling abroad with a poem. The former is concerned with needs common to all human beings, hence, for the phrases given, there exist more or less exact equivalents in all languages. No poem, on the other hand, can be even approximately translated into any other language. A poet, one might say, is someone who tries to give an experience its Proper Name, and it is a characteristic of Proper Names that they cannot be translated, only transliterated.

The foreward moves forward brilliantly for five more pages and concludes with a quotation from Dag Hammarskjöld:

Respect for the word is the first commandment in the discipline by which a man can be educated to maturity—intellectual, emotional, and moral.

Respect for the word—to employ it with scrupulous care and an incorruptible heartfelt love of truth—is essential if there is to be any growth in a society or in the human race.

To misuse the word is to show contempt for man. It undermines the bridges and poisons the wells. It causes Man to regress down the long path of his evolution.

(Hammarskjöld, of course, was secretary general of the United Nations from 1953 until his death in a plane crash in 1961. Freemasons, among others, should appreciate him for, among other things, creating the Meditation Room inside the UN headquarters in New York City. Hopefully the room is open again, having been off limits in recent years due to construction nearby.)

We know Freemasonry communicates very special meanings with certain impressive words. Just as Auden says, these terms are employed to “request and supply information necessary to life,” and they permit us to “disclose ourselves to each other and share our experiences.”

Deep into History in English Words, Barfield unpacks vocabulary important to Freemasons.

We have adopted from Latin the word initiate, which meant ‘to admit a person to these Mysteries,’ and the importance attached to secrecy is shown by the fact that ‘muein,’ the Greek for ‘to initiate,’ meant originally ‘to keep silent.’ From it, the substantive ‘mu-sterion’ was developed, thence the Latin ‘mysterium,’ and so the English word. The secrets of the Greek Mysteries were guarded so jealously and under such heavy penalties that we still know very little about them. All we can say is that the two principal ideas attaching to them in contemporary minds were, firstly, that they revealed in some way the inner meaning of external appearances, and secondly, that the ‘initiate’ attained immortality in a sense different from that of the uninitiated. The ceremony he went through symbolized dying in order to be ‘born again,’ and when it was over, he believed that the mortal part of his soul had died, and that what had risen again was immortal and eternal.

And later:

Let us try to trace the origin of some of the meanings which are commonly attached to the word love. As in the Mysteries, so at the heart of early Greek philosophy lay two fundamental assumptions. One was that an inner meaning lay hid behind external phenomena. Out of this, Plato’s lucid mind brought to the surface of Europe’s consciousness the stupendous conception that all matter is but an imperfect copy of spiritual ‘types’ or ‘ideas’—eternal principles which, so far from being abstractions, are the only real Beings, which were in their place before matter came into existence, and which will remain after it has passed away. The other assumption concerned the attainment by man of immortality. The two were complementary. Just as it was only the immortal part of man which could get into touch with the eternal secret behind the changing forms of Nature, so also it was only by striving to contemplate that eternal that man could develop the eternal part of himself and put on incorruption. There remained the question of how to rise from the contemplation of the transient to the contemplation of the eternal, and, for answer, Plato and Socrates evolved that other great conception—perhaps even more far-reaching in its historical effects—that love for a sensual and temporal object is capable of gradual metamorphosis into love for the invisible and eternal.

From my early years in Freemasonry I encouraged anyone who would listen to use their lodge’s ritual as a map. More than memorize, examine it for content, including using a dictionary to learn the vocabulary that is unfamiliar, at the very least.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

‘Mytho-Hermetic Dictionary coming this fall’

It’s not due out for another two months, but Ouroboros Press is making a classic text available in its typical high style. First published in the 1750s, Mytho-Hermetic Dictionary is one of those reference books that either unpacks a host of meanings for you, or simply enhances understandings of hidden wisdom you thought you knew. Not necessarily Masonic, but, in my view, a must read for the thinking Freemason. From the publicity:

Mytho-Hermetic Dictionary

Translated by Joseph Zabinski
Book Design and Typography by Joseph Uccello
352 pages, more than 80 illustrations, 7.5” x 10”
Classic reference work, hundreds of entries
Illustrated with emblems and engravings
Bibliographic details and footnotes
Cross-references and wayfinding typography
Quality bookmaking for beauty and longevity

Written in 1758, the Mytho-Hermetic Dictionary defines the most obscure of terms, substances, and concepts employed by the enigmatic authors of the alchemical texts. Its entries unlock the Hermetic mysteries veiled by the motifs, allegories, and symbols of the classical myths, as well as making clear what substances are implied by the terms expressed by the Language of the Birds.

In addition to the comprehensive entries, the Mytho-Hermetic Dictionary is a treasure-house of classical and alchemical imagery, containing more than 80 illustrations in the text and featuring the symbols, signs, and iconography of the art.

“Finally, thanks to Ouroboros Press and Joseph Zabinski’s insightful translation, Antoine-Joseph Pernety’s Mytho-Hermetic Dictionary is now available. The Mytho-Hermetic Dictionary is a must-have work for anyone researching alchemy, hermeticism, philosophy of science, mythology, lexicons, etc. As important and useful as this dictionary is in focused and direct research, it is also a book that rewards random perusal. In fact, because of its dense web of cross-references, an interesting ‘Hermetic game’ suggests itself—pick a word and follow Ariadne’s thread through the lexicon’s maze. It truly is a Mytho-Hermetic education in itself. Maybe start with the dieties Hecate and Mercury as your guides, or my favorite, the ‘House of the Chicken of the Sages.’

Brian Cotnoir
author of Alchemy: The Poetry of Matter


Ouroboros Press is a labor of love. The research, translations, typesetting, design and production all require time and investment prior to the printing of the book. While we can offer our time in advance of the publication, the printers require funds upfront. Popular literature such as fiction has a much wider audience and returns are swift, but with specialized content such as this we rely on our readers’ pre-orders so that we can bring texts such as the Mytho-Hermetic Dictionary to the world. Please consider subscribing this title now. All readers who pre-order will receive their copies first in October and each copy ordered will be accompanied by the signatures of the translator and the publisher. Thank you for your kind support!

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