Tuesday, January 17, 2017

‘Trump will not be sworn on Washington Bible’

Magpie file photo

The George Washington Inaugural Bible, at Genesis 49-50, where the first American president placed his hand upon being sworn at Federal Hall in Manhattan on April 30, 1789.

I hadn’t been able to get an answer—which I took as a negative answer—from the Masons I know at St. John’s Lodge in New York City as to whether the 45th American president will take his oath of office Friday with his hand upon the George Washington Inaugural Bible, which the lodge owns, but The Hill reported within the hour that Donald J. Trump instead will have both his personal Bible and the Abraham Lincoln Bible for the swearing in at the U.S. Capitol.

The Washington Bible is on display, alongside handwritten pages of Washington’s first inaugural address, at the National Archives through next Wednesday. The Bible’s appearance there caused some wonder about the historic holy text possibly being used January 20. This Bible typically is displayed at Federal Hall in New York City, where Washington took his first presidential oath of office in 1789.

Click here to read The Hill story.

Click here to read a 2009 Magpie article on the historic Bible and the non-Constitutional addition of “So help me God” to the swearing ritual.

Monday, January 16, 2017

‘Alchemy manuscripts, in English, now on line’


The Rosicrucian Order announced the availability of 16 alchemy manuscripts, translated into English, available on its website. From the publicity:

The Alchemical Manuscript Series is a collection of rare, centuries-old alchemical material made available to English readers. It includes translations of important works by the eminent Alchemists Basil Valentine, Anton Kirchweger, Isaac Hollandus, George Ripley, S. Bacstrom, M.D., Alexander Van Suchten, Baron Urbigerus, Johann Becker, and Artephius.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

‘Captor in Question at Tappan’

DeWint House, the headquarters of General George Washington in Tappan, New York owned and operated as a museum and historic site by the Grand Lodge of New York, will host a celebration of the 285th anniversary of Washington’s birth next month. From the publicity:

Magpie file photo

The 285th anniversary of the birth of our distinguished Brother and our nation’s first President will be observed in the Carriage House on the grounds of DeWint House.

Captor in Question
A new play and re-enactment
DeWint House
20 Livingston Street
Tappan, New York
Sunday, February 19
1 p.m.

The program will feature “Captor in Question,” a new play and re-enactment by Sean Brady and Gary Petagine of a historic event sure to capture your imagination and interest. Everyone is invited to this affair. Bring your families and friends. We always try to promote this beautiful site. Anyone interested in the history of our country, this site had a part in that formation. If you have never been there, now is the time to see the beautiful grounds and walk in the footsteps of George Washington and his troops. Honor the memory of our first President and Brother George Washington with your presence. The committee will be happy to show you the interior of DeWint House and the Carriage House, filled with artifacts from the Colonial era. This is a site that, as a Mason, will fill you with much pride as a member of this fraternity. (Snow date: February 26.)

There also will be a brunch at 11 a.m. at Casa Mia Manor House in Blauvelt. $37.50 per person, paid in advance, by contacting W. Bro. Ken Merring.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

‘Masonic Week deadlines near’

Masonic Week is less than a month away, meaning the deadline for booking rooms and meals is very near.

To see the agenda of all the meetings, click here.

For hotel accommodations, click here. Reserve before February 1.

For meal reservations, click here. Also before February 1.

If nothing else, be sure to attend The Masonic Society’s banquet on Friday night, but click that link to book your seats. Our keynote speaker will be Michael Poll of Louisianascholar, writer, publisher extraordinaire, and editor-in-chief of The Journal of The Masonic Society.

Also, look for our hospitality suite!

See you there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

‘This fall in Rhode Island’


Save the date: The Masonic Library and Museum Association will hold its annual meeting, including election of officers, September 27 through October 1 at the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

‘Solomon’s Temple lecture at Livingston Library’

The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library’s lecture series continues this month with a presentation on the 26th by Pierre de Ravel d’Esclapon. From the publicity:

In a companion lecture to our December 2016 “Evolution and Restoration of King Solomon’s Temple Magic Lantern Slide Show,” which was originally produced in 1926 by the Grand Lodge of New York, this month, RW Pierre de Ravel d’Esclapon, First Vice President of the Library’s Board of Trustees and noted lecturer, will speak on the current body of knowledge concerning King Solomon’s Temple.

Thursday, January 26
6:30 p.m.
Masonic Hall
71 West 23rd Street
14th Floor

Join us for an evening of exploration and information! White wine will be served. Seating is limited and preference will be given to those who reserve seats. Please RSVP here. Photo ID is required to enter Masonic Hall.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

‘Grab that lunch, get that drink, have that dinner together’


With the benefit of more than 24 hours to absorb the sad news, and six milk stouts, I am able to gather my thoughts now and say goodbye to a Brother Freemason whose absence will leave a sore wound in our lives that may never heal.

Just recently we were strategizing a lunch together. I figured it was best to wait until after the holidays when life would quiet down. Lunch is simple enough—we would while away hours at either one Brother Mason’s Italian restaurant or another Brother’s Indian place—but because we live about 100 miles apart, the getting together aspect required coordination. I procrastinated. Now I have only an e-mail from him that I waited too long to answer.

He was a pretty amazing figure, both in Freemasonry and without. A giant in physical stature, he possessed a calm and warmth we often associate with veterans of various clergies. Which is not to say he was without a spiritual life—quite the contrary. In fact, his thinking simultaneously permitted him down Freemasonry’s Chivalric and Rosicrucian paths while not leading him astray from his adopted system of a unique martial arts, meditative practice, and metaphysical belief rooted in a Hawaiian tradition. He even went as far as to establish a kung fu order and a martial arts school! (I was delighted to introduce him to Bill Chung one night years ago at an AMD meeting. Bill, gone now also, was H’ung Gar Kung-Fu Grandmaster, Second Generation Disciple of Quanzhou, Shaolin Abbot Chang Ding; and the New York Counselor/Advisor of the Hip Sing Association’s National Headquarters. That’s the Chinese Freemasons. But that’s a whole other story.)

He held the title “Kahu” from Kahu Lanakila K. Brandt on the Big Island of Hawaii, along with permission to teach the ancient Hawaiian metaphysical tradition known as poohuna. He was also a lineage disciple in the Chinese/Hawaiian martial arts style of Grand Master Daniel K. Pai. And if that wasn’t enough, he was an attorney in his professional life.

With the family, at a Commandery banquet, c. 2009.

And he was a dynamic family man! Cautioned against home-schooling his children by the experts in his life who don’t actually have kids of their own, he and his wife (a professional educator) nonetheless home-schooled their brilliant offspring who now are acing college at ages far younger than you and I matriculated. (Quick story: When he and his wife began dating, he brought her to an exclusive restaurant. I forgot the name, but his description of it reminded me of Poon’s in London, which was more like dining in someone’s house, as you sit outside the kitchen at a large table shared with utter strangers with the meals served family style. Anyway, the couple sits down only to find themselves having dinner with Ringo Starr and his wife. Hell, I would have married this guy for bringing me to dinner with one of the Beatles!)

I will miss the many very lengthy and very late night calls we shared, mulling over the pros and cons of Freemasonry, that is, commiserating over the state of the Craft. He was unhappy with things in Pennsylvania Masonry to the point that he left and joined a lodge in New Jersey. He believed things were better in Jersey. “You sure?” I warned him. He was…until, that is, several years ago when he saw what I was talking about. Appalled by what I’ll just describe as abuses of power at the top level, he opted to settle down in one of Philadelphia’s elegant lodges. He also had lodge memberships in Hawaii and London.

Speaking of London, my esteemed friend and brother was a member of one of those English guilds that dates back a million years: Guildable Manor’s Association of the Jurors of the Court Leet, Exchequer Court and Recorder’s Court. The kind of thing we anglophiles blush at.

He was one for whom I had great respect and affection—one of the very few whose advice I valued and heeded. I’m afraid all I really gave him in return was an introduction to Left Hand Brewing’s Milk Stout Nitro. (Which is nothing to sneeze at—it’s done wonders for me—but I still wouldn’t say it’s a commensurate reciprocity.)

Although we did have this thing: When he would ascend to the East of a Masonic body, he’d bring me in for the very first meeting to present a suitable lecture. We did it at Fairless Hills Lodge, then at Kensington-Kadosh Commandery, and then at Abington Chapter. Due to the aforementioned abuses of power, I wasn’t able to appear at his Cryptic Council on time.

You are wondering why he goes unnamed in this edition of The Magpie Mason. Well, I have written of him a number of times here, but several years ago he asked that I remove the actual mentions of his name for reasons I don’t need to disclose now. I’ll continue to honor that.

What I ask of you readers is to remember how little time we all have in this world. When you’re making plans to get together, don’t delay. Grab that lunch, or get that drink, or have that dinner together because you don’t know how much opportunity you have.

Alas, my brother. Until we meet again.

Friday, January 6, 2017

‘Masons, Rosicrucians, and Martinists at Mariners’

Mariners Lodge 67 in the First Manhattan District will meet next Wednesday, and will present the next installment of its Voyage into Mystery series of talks. From the publicity:

Mariners Lodge 67
Wednesday, January 11
7 p.m. Opening
Masonic Hall
71 West 23rd Street
Doric Room on eight
Apprentices and Fellows welcome

Voyage into Mystery, Chapter VIII: “The Triple Flame, or Mystic Link, Between Masons, Rosicrucians, and Martinists” by Bro. Terence Cipriani.

This month’s Communication will feature an esoteric lecture by Bro. Terence Cipriani, an active member of Mariners and the Rosicrucian Order. His lecture will unlock the mystery of the tie between Masonry, Rosicrucianism, and Martinism. He will cover these topics in addition:

  • Esoteric Christianity
  • Spiritual Alchemy in Masonry
  • The Rosy Cross
  • The Gnosis of Masonry
  • High Magic and Invocation

It will be followed by our legendary Festive Board at 9 p.m. Attire: black tie for officers, business for guests.

Menu: Chicken alla Parmigiana, Eggplant alla Parmigiana, Chicken alla Franchese, Pasta con Prezzemolo, Sautéed Broccoli and Garlic Zucchini, Assorted Cannoli, Fruit Salad, plus soft drinks and the Lodge’s Infamous Mariners Punch.

Seating for the dinner is LIMITED and costs $35 per person. RSVP for the meeting and confirm your seat for the Festive Board here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

‘New website’

Courtesy Livingston Library

Check out the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library’s new website. Click here.

Monday, January 2, 2017

‘Compassion and commitment at the Prince Hall research lodge’

The brethren in lodge assembled Thursday night.

I had a great time Thursday night at New Jersey’s “other” research lodge. The MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New Jersey has Lodge of Research & Education 2006 at labor (I guess they look at my research lodge as the “other” research lodge). It is a traveling lodge, bringing Masonic Light to the many Craft lodges in the jurisdiction, and this time the brethren gathered at Tyre Lodge 29, which meets at the Grand East in Newark.

The meeting was a pretty big deal, with both Bro. Tisan Rasool Dawud, the Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master; and Bro. James G. Allen, the RW Grand Secretary in attendance. While I didn’t know a soul in the room, it was obvious there were many other eminent brethren present, particularly at the Treasurer’s and Secretary’s stations.

RW Dawud was the keynote speaker for the evening, presenting not a research paper, but an inspirational message that exhorted the brethren to embrace a “commitment to finish.” But W. Bro. Ronald F. Sapp, Jr., the Worshipful Master for this two-year term, spoke first, discussing the need for Freemasons to remember to be patient and understanding with their brethren when disappointment strikes. The two talks, their messages paired unintentionally I’m pretty sure, posed to the lodge a duality as necessary as those embodied by, say, the two pillars, or the checkered pavement, or even the Square and Compasses themselves.

W. Sapp’s short talk reminded us all of the times in life when we “worked second shift, or had a part time job,” or had military service, or family obligations, or something else that prevented us from attending Masonic meetings and functions, and to make sure we “give a little grace” when judging the struggles of our brethren who today are hamstrung by short cabletows.

Delivering the main address of the meeting, RW Dawud emphasized the need for Masons to have a “commitment to finish,” meaning a plan and drive to satisfy the obligations and goals we claim in life. Without that, he said, “you just have promises and hopes” because just being “interested in finishing” is not the same as being committed to finishing. The secret, he added, is to have the right mindset—a positive attitude that takes ownership of what one has committed to finish; to set realistic goals with daily and weekly targets; to focus on what is important in life, and not be distracted by superfluities; and to hold oneself accountable, thus remaining motivated. He concluded with a quotation from, of all people, racing legend Mario Andretti: “Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal—a commitment to excellence—that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”

These two Masons’ points of view could seem incompatible at first, but when one considers that the Worshipful Master would have us looking with compassion at others, while the Deputy Grand Master wants us to be committed to ourselves, then it becomes clear how the two perspectives complement one another in a very Masonic way. Think Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.

It was announced LORE 2006’s next meeting will be held Thursday, March 30 at a location to be announced (although the website says Camden, so we’ll see).

Sunday, January 1, 2017

‘Big news for 2017’

Cinema Group Ventures

New Year’s greetings to everybody in Masonic cyberspace, and thank you for reading The Magpie Mason, which begins its ninth full year with this post you’re reading now. I don’t know what everyone has been eating for breakfast lately, but readership has been in the several thousands per day during the past month or so, a reach I don’t think I’ve seen since the golden age of Masonic blogging back in 2009-10. Honestly, it is humbling to learn how what is basically a hobby of mine can be interesting enough to so many others who make time to read it. My thanks to you all.

But the big news for 2017 mentioned in the subject line concerns The Masonic Society, which also begins its ninth year this year.

Next month, The Masonic Society will hold its annual meeting in Virginia. That’s Friday, February 10, amid the Masonic Week festivities to take place at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City at Reagan National Airport in Arlington. This is one of the few events on the Masonic Week calendar that all Masons, their ladies, and friends of Freemasonry may attend. But unlike, say, the Society of Blue Friars meeting, our banquet is not free of charge. The food was terrific last year, and I’m sure it will be again, but we pay in advance. Click here to take care of that.

Our keynote speaker for the banquet will be Michael Poll, a Fellow and Past President of The Masonic Society, as well as the editor in chief of The Journal of the Masonic Society. Mike is owner of Cornerstone Book Publishers, and is a New York Times bestselling writer and publisher, in addition to being a prolific writer, editor, and publisher of Masonic and esoteric books. Additionally, he is a Fellow of the Philalethes Society, a Fellow of the Maine Lodge of Research, secretary of the Louisiana Lodge of Research, and a full member of the Texas Lodge of Research. As time permits, he travels and speaks on the history of Freemasonry, with a particular focus on the early history of the Scottish Rite.

If you plan to attend Masonic Week in any way, or if you live in the Washington, DC area and want to check it out, please make sure you get to this banquet—arguably the highlight of the annual event’s calendar.

Looking later into 2017, The Masonic Society will host its annual conference in Kentucky. “Celebrating 300 Years of Freemasonry” is the theme of this event to take place September 7-10 at the Embassy Suites in Lexington. Our cosponsors are Lexington Lodge 1 (chartered in 1788), the Rubicon Masonic Society, the Grand Lodge of Kentucky Education Committee, William O. Ware Lodge of Research, and Ted Adams Lodge of Research.

More details on everything to come later in 2017, but do anticipate a roster of nationally known speakers, a formal festive board at Spindletop Hall(!), and tours of local attractions, like the Kentucky Horse Park.

The initiative behind this upcoming conference in Kentucky is John Bizzack, a Fellow of the Society, and a member of its board of directors. You may know him through any of the five (I think it’s still five) books on Freemasonry he has written, or through the Rubicon Masonic Society and other educational groups and activities in Kentucky, or from Masonic cyberspace.

Speaking of Masonic cyberspace, The Masonic Society has a new member on our board of directors. Eric Diamond of Chicago joined the team in late 2016 upon the resignation of José Diaz. Eric is a Past Master of Oriental Lodge 33, Chicago’s oldest lodge. Surely you know him from X-Oriente, the podcast—actually the granddaddy of Masonic podcasts—that has been educating Freemasons all over the world since 2004.

The leadership of The Masonic Society is an all-star team, like the Harlem Globetrotters, or the 1927 Yankees, or the ’94 Rangers. The weak link in the chain is myself, but the other officers and the board members are Masons whose work you have been enjoying for years, even if you don’t know their names. Writers, researchers, lecturers, makers of bespoke regalia, officers at the national level—all proponents of improving the condition of the fraternity. (If you have noticed the degree of turnovers in our leadership ranks, let me explain it is because of the demands of serving The Masonic Society. It’s real work. I can name a number of Masonic groups that are happy with the prestige of gathering eminent Freemasons among their leaders, but The Masonic Society asks much of its officers and directors, and sometimes a brother decides it’s better for all concerned if he steps aside to allow for another to carry on the labors.)

The chief labor of The Masonic Society is its quarterly periodical The Journal of The Masonic Society, the 34th issue of which reached members’ mailboxes in December. Under the guidance of Editor-in-Chief Mike Poll and Art Director John Bridegroom, The Journal has a new look and a sharper editorial focus now. (Advertisers, contact me here to place your message in the pages of The Journal.)

Issue No. 34 features:

Fascinating content from the Society’s Fall 2016 conference in California: “Freemasonry on the Frontier.” John Bizzack (there he is again!) offers “The Expansion of Freemasonry into the West: The Pivotal Role of Kentucky, 1788-1815,” in which he explains how America’s first western state was home to American Freemasonry’s westernmost grand lodge, which set about chartering lodges throughout the nation’s north, south, and west regions. This resulted in a kind of standardization of customs and usages based on Kentucky’s own, with results enduring through today.

Knights of the North alum (and possibly the most handsome man in Freemasonry) Bill Hosler, who likes to scatter his lodge memberships among a number of states to keep people guessing, asks “Living Stones or Bricks?” in which he weighs the meanings of making oneself better in the Masonic context.

Barry Denton, also of Kentucky, submits “Thoughts of Freemasons: Freemasonry and the Generational Gap,” that endeavors to make some sense of what Masons of different generations require of the fraternity.

In addition, there are book reviews (with maybe a literary feud in bloom!), poetry, breathtaking photography, the Masonic Treasures feature on the back cover, and much more.

C’mon, it’s $45 a year for membership in the United States. Make it a New Year’s resolution, and join now.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

‘Only 44 days, and counting’

GCR membership jewel.
With only 44 shopping days remaining before the annual meeting of the Grand College of Rites of the United States of America, here is a reminder for you to bring two worthy Freemasons into the group, while treating yourself to a new membership jewel to wear with pride for years to come. Go on, wear it to lodge* and get the old hens clucking.

I am prompted here by my receipt of the annual dues notice, which contains some news of the College. “We are going to print,” writes Grand Registrar Gerald Klein, referring to the book for 2016: William H. Peckham’s Cerneau Scottish Rite, Part 2, 10º-13º, which should hit the mail “within the next few weeks.” (Click here for some information on Part 1 of this series.)

Also, the GCR has reprinted several classic volumes of Collectanea: The Hermetic Rite, from 1957; Le Coeur Enflamme (The Fiery Heart), from 1961; The Royal Oriental Order of Sat B’Hai, from 1972; and Fratres Lucis, from 1978. These books are available to members in limited supply.

In addition to the nominal dues, the College asks one simple thing of each of us members: to bring in two additional members. Obtain a petition for membership here, and entreat those brethren you know who “get it” to join this cherished and singular Masonic fraternity that conserves fascinating rituals of orders and rites from years gone by. I’ve been plugging membership in the Grand College of Rites on social media for something like 15 years by now, going back to the early days of Yahoo! Groups. I don’t know if anyone ever listened, but you should.

* The Magpie Mason advises consulting your grand jurisdiction’s constitution and laws concerning the wearing of regalia in lodge. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Monday, December 26, 2016

‘Shocking videos of real Freemasons!’

You lucky ones who have little to do at work this week may wish to occupy yourselves with videos of the lecture series underway at the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library at the Grand Lodge of New York. Piers Vaughan, Mark Koltko-Rivera, Angel Millar (my lodge brother), and other bankable Masonic educators await you on YouTube.

Click here.

Friday, December 23, 2016

‘2016 Rose+Croix Journal is out’

Of the various periodicals disseminated by the Rosicrucian Order, that with the most substantial and wide-reaching content is the annually published Rose+Croix Journal, the 2016 issue of which is now out. From the publicity:

The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, 1616.
Copyright © 2016 Adam McLean.

The Rose+Croix Journal editorial board and staff are pleased to announce the publication of our 2016 issue, now available.

Featuring humanities, liberal arts, and scientific papers on topics of interest to Rosicrucians, the Journal continues the spirit of free philosophic inquiry that characterized the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, prominent figures in which included Rosicrucians. Now entering its fourteenth year, the Journal has established itself as a source of philosophic and esoteric literature and has recently been added to the Library of Congress database.

This volume’s papers include:

  • “The Roots of a Science of Consciousness in Hermetic Alchemy” by Dennis William Hauck
  • “The Use of Virtual Reality as a Meditative Neurotechnology (A Pilot Study)” by Ranjie Singh, Paula Rayo, and K. Nirvana Singh
  • “The Perfect Fifth: The Science and Alchemy of Sound” by John Beaulieu
  • “The Pattern that Connects” by Eleanor D. MacGregor

Our “currents” section contribution, “The Scientific Method and Psi Research,” co-authored by seven fratres and sorores (Pat Downes, Shelley Higgins, Frank Hutchinson, Allen Jackson, Sara Petty, Othel Rolle, and Ranjie Singh), invites readers to share their thoughts on the “scientific method after next” and the research protocols that it will demand. Comments will be forwarded to the emerging standards/research team, and academic level commentary will be posted on the Rose+Croix Journal website at the mutual discretion of the commentator and the Grand Lodge. Future editions of the Journal may offer a commentary link for all papers.

Journals such as ours are possible only because of the labors of our authors and our all-volunteer editors (47) and staff. They don’t “just happen.”

Special thanks to our “back office” volunteer staff: the copyedit team (Kristin Pfanku, Helen Heightsman Gordon, and Shelley Higgins) and title/abstract translation team (Alexis Bulgari, Aicy Karbstein, Anne-Marie Kritzler, Patricia Mel-Gach, Feliciano Orozco Olague, and Wendy Keslick) who serve in a vital, but often invisible, capacity.

We believe that this issue and our archival issues will enrich your Rosicrucian experience substantially.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

‘How Emerson Reshaped America’

The School of Practical Philosophy has another discussion on the philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson planned for early next year. The details are below, but first please know the School continues its amazingly generous offer of the $10 registration fee to enroll in its first semester of classes. That’s ten weeks of introductory schooling for ten bucks. Click here to get started.

Emerson’s Legacy:
How He Reshaped America
A Talk by David Beardsley
Saturday, February 4, 2017
12 East 79th Street, Manhattan
7 to 9:30 p.m.

Central to the philosophy of Emerson was his “one doctrine: the infinitude of the private man.” He understood the divinity of each human being and urged people to look at the details of their lives and celebrate them, not trying to be something they are not.

In this talk we will look at three examples of people in the next generation who took this challenge: Charles Ives, a composer still regarded as ahead of his time. Emily Dickinson, the reclusive poet sitting alone in her room, who created a whole world from her own imagination, and Swami Paramananda, an Indian guru who took Emerson’s writing as a starting point for a deeper understanding of the Indian scriptures.

The hope is that the example of these three will inspire each of us to look for the fingerprints of that “infinitude” in our own lives.

Fee is $25, which includes refreshments. Register here for this event.

David A. Beardsley has been attending classes in Practical Philosophy since 1994, and is drawn to its recognition of wisdom from the East and the West. He tutors Introduction to Philosophy at the New York School, where he hopes to communicate his own “love of wisdom.” David has written three books on the Western wisdom tradition, and maintains the website idealinthewest.com. He also wrote and directed the video biography Emerson: The Ideal in America.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

‘A Hermit’s Winter Night’

Hermit card of the Rider-Waite tarot deck, c. 1910.

I’m not saying either Robert Frost or his poem here has any connection to tarot symbolism. I’m only personally putting the two together during a cold weekend on the precipice of winter. H/T to the Academy of American Poets for all the text below.

“An Old Man’s Winter Night”
By Robert Frost

All out of doors looked darkly in at him
Through the thin frost, almost in separate stars,
That gathers on the pane in empty rooms.
What kept his eyes from giving back the gaze
Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand.
What kept him from remembering what it was
That brought him to that creaking room was age.
He stood with barrels round him—at a loss.
And having scared the cellar under him
In clomping there, he scared it once again
In clomping off;—and scared the outer night,
Which has its sounds, familiar, like the roar
Of trees and crack of branches, common things,
But nothing so like beating on a box.
A light he was to no one but himself
Where now he sat, concerned with he knew what,
A quiet light, and then not even that.
He consigned to the moon,—such as she was,
So late-arising,—to the broken moon
As better than the sun in any case
For such a charge, his snow upon the roof,
His icicles along the wall to keep;
And slept. The log that shifted with a jolt
Once in the stove, disturbed him and he shifted,
And eased his heavy breathing, but still slept.
One aged man—one man—can’t fill a house,
A farm, a countryside, or if he can,
It’s thus he does it of a winter night.

Bro. Colin Browne’s Masonic tarot deck Hermit.    
“An Old Man’s Winter Night” was originally published in the 1916 edition of Mountain Interval (Henry Holt and Company) and appeared again in the revised edition of Mountain Interval in 1921 (Henry Holt and Company).

Robert Frost was born on March 26, 1874, in San Francisco. His collections of poetry include New Hampshire (Henry Holt and Company, 1923), Steeple Bush (Henry Holt and Company, 1947), and In the Clearing (Holt Rinehart & Winston, 1962). Frost won four Pulitzer Prizes during his lifetime and served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 1958 to 1959. He died on January 29, 1963.

‘Celebrate the solstice’

In these parts, the Winter Solstice will arrive Wednesday at 5:44 a.m. It’s hard to find a good solstice celebration anymore, and it’s a shame there isn’t much in Freemasonry for St. John Evangelist Day either. Anthroposophy NYC is preparing its annual Holy Nights programming, but hasn’t announced what that will be. The Rosicrucian Order has plans for this week though. From the publicity:

Celebrate the Winter Solstice
Wednesday, December 21
5:45 to 9 p.m.
Rosicrucian Cultural Center
2303 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.

Come and celebrate the return of the Light with an evening of ritual, reflection and giving.

Please bring:

A small item to give away. This item should have meaning to you and represent a challenge that you have overcome.

A votive candle in a small glass candle-holder.

A coat or jacket for our annual coat drive. (We know that several of you have already brought several coats, so this is optional.)

Schedule for the evening:

5:45 Prepare for the Council of Solace Meditation
6:00 Council of Solace Meditation
6:30 Winter Solstice Circle
7:30 Prepare for the Festival of Light Ritual (AMORC Members)
8:00 Winter Solstice Ritual (AMORC Members)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

‘2017 Prestonian Lecturer’

It’s been no secret, so this is no scoop, but the United Grand Lodge of England’s Board of General Purposes announced its choice to serve as Prestonian Lecturer for 2017: Bro. Jim Daniel! “The Grand Design” is the title of his lecture.

I was among the fortunate to hear him speak in April 2012 at the Bernard H. Dupee Memorial Lecture in Pennsylvania, and we’ll have to inquire into getting him back stateside.

His bio, according to Quatuor Coronati:

Jim was appointed DGS of UGLE in 1998 and served as GS from 1998-2001, when he retired to his native Cornwall. He was Grand Secretary General of the Supreme Council 33° (1989-98). He is an honorary member of the North American Conference of Grand Secretaries; a Past Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario; Past Senior Grand Warden of the Grande Loge Nationale Française; and a member of the Texas Lodge of Research. Jim was awarded a Ph.D. by the University of Sheffield for his thesis “The 4th Earl of Carnarvon (1831-90) and Freemasonry in the British Empire,” and his collection of papers Masonic Networks and Connections was published in Australia by the ANZMRC and in England by the Library and Museum of Freemasonry. He became the interim Secretary of QC in 2009; his Masonic offices include Substitute Grand Master of the Royal Order of Scotland, and Chief Steward of his mother lodge, Apollo University Lodge No. 357, Oxford.

Magpie file photo
RW Thomas Jackson and RW James Daniel, 2012.

He served as Worshipful Master of Quatuor Coronati 2076 in 2003-04.

The Prestonian Lecture is an English Masonic tradition that dates to 1822. It is named for William Preston, the author and printer and ritualist whose book Illustrations of Masonry provides the basis of the ritual used in most of the English-speaking Masonic world to this day. He died in 1822 and bequeathed the sum of £300 to the United Grand Lodge of England for the purpose of endowing a lecture of Masonic education that would be presented to the brethren every year. This endured to the 1860s, when it fell into abeyance, but the tradition was revived in 1924 and—except for the years of World War II—has continued to the present day, with the UGLE’s Board of General Purposes selecting a Prestonian Lecturer annually.

Monday, December 12, 2016

‘Patriots Week almost here’

Magpie file photo

The Fifes & Drums of the Old Barracks march into the Trenton Masonic Temple at an appendant body event May 14, 2011.

Patriots Week, the annual celebration of U.S. history and early American culture in Trenton, New Jersey, is just two weeks away, and because a few events involve a Masonic temple, I thought I’d share the info.

Every December, during the closing week of the calendar year, a celebration of colonial life, including victory in the Revolutionary War, is held in this capital city of the state renowned as the Battlefield of the Revolution. The activities of Trenton Patriots Week (click here for the full schedule) are centered around a few places like the Old Barracks, a historical site that originated in 1758 as British military housing during the French and Indian War, and was still in service in 1776 when George Washington and the Continental Army defeated the British and Germans in the Battle of Trenton.

Situated across the street is the Trenton Masonic Temple, which several years ago became the headquarters of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey Freemasonry.

On Tuesday, December 27—St. John Evangelist Day, if you remember—a program of “Revolutionary Music” will begin at 1 p.m. From the publicity:

This lecture and musical demonstration will discuss the specific tunes performed by the New Jersey Regiments and Philadelphia Batallions of 1775-77 as well as the more entertaining side of music during wartime. Musicians John Lane, Drew Wierzybowski, and Stephen Hudak will perform. Admission: free.

And on Friday the 30th, join the party at the Colonial Ball. From 7 to 10 p.m., the Ball gives you the opportunity to dance with soldiers of the Battle of Trenton and “learn their favorite dance steps!” Advance tickets cost only $17.76 and $20 at the door.

The Trenton Masonic Temple is located at 100 Barrack Street. Parking? Uh, don’t ask me.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

‘Hitler declares war, blames a famous Mason’

I thought that subject line would get ya!

But I promise that is no mere clickbait. There actually is a point to this, and it involves Hitler—and not in one of those reductio ad absurdum ways either.

Last Wednesday, we observed the 75th anniversary of Imperial Japan’s devastating sneak attack on the American military bases at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which brought the United States into what would become known as World War II. The day after that surprise attack, the U.S. Congress, at the request of President Franklin Roosevelt, declared war on Japan. In less than four years, America would completely vanquish Japan’s land, sea, and air forces, and reduce much of the Japanese home islands to rubble, including a few parts that were caused to glow in the dark. But you know that already.

The Germans were not too keen on being at war with the United States again. With total war being waged against both the British Empire and the Soviet Union already, the last thing the Nazi leadership wanted was a third great power as a foe, particularly the one with the seemingly limitless economic potential. But Japan was Germany’s strategic partner, and if Hitler wanted Japan to join the fight against the Soviets, he would have to agree to support Japan’s war on the United States.

So, on this date in 1941, Hitler, standing before the Reichstag, explained why he wanted war against the United States, and did so in a speech that mostly was calling Roosevelt names—and that gave a shout-out to Freemasonry. Excerpted:

And now permit me to define my attitude to that other world, which has its representative in that man, who, while our soldiers are fighting in snow and ice, very tactfully likes to make his chats from the fireside, the man who is the main culprit of this war…

But it is a fact that the two conflicts between Germany and the U.S.A. were inspired by the same force and caused by two men in the U.S.A.—Wilson and Roosevelt… But why is there now another President of the U.S.A. who regards it as his only task to intensify anti-German feeling to the pitch of war? National Socialism came to power in Germany in the same year as Roosevelt was elected president. I understand only too well that a worldwide distance separates Roosevelt’s ideas and my ideas. Roosevelt comes from a rich family and belongs to the class whose path is smoothed in the Democracies. I am only the child of a small, poor family and had to fight my way by work and industry. When the Great War came, Roosevelt occupied a position where he got to know only its pleasant consequences, enjoyed by those who do business while others bleed. I was only one of those who carry out orders, as an ordinary soldier, and naturally returned from the war just as poor as I was in autumn 1914. I shared the fate of millions, and Franklin Roosevelt only the fate of the so-called Upper Ten Thousand.

After the war Roosevelt tried his hand at financial speculation: he made profits out of the inflation, out of the misery of others, while I, together with many hundreds of thousands more, lay in hospital. When Roosevelt finally stepped on the political stage with all the advantages of his class, I was unknown and fought for the resurrection of my people. When Roosevelt took his place at the head of the U.S.A., he was the candidate of a Capitalist Party which made use of him: when I became Chancellor of the German Reich, I was the Führer of the popular movement I had created. The powers behind Roosevelt were those powers I had fought at home. The Brains Trust was composed of people such as we have fought against in Germany as parasites and removed from public life…

While an unprecedented revival of economic life, culture and art took place in Germany under National Socialist leadership within the space of a few years, President Roosevelt did not succeed in bringing about even the slightest improvements in his own country. And yet this work must have been much easier in the U.S.A…. Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation was all wrong: it was actually the biggest failure ever experienced by one man. There can be no doubt that a continuation of this economic policy would have done this President in peacetime, in spite of all his dialectical skill. In a European State he would surely have come eventually before a State Court on a charge of deliberate waste of the national wealth; and he would have scarcely escaped at the hands of a Civil Court, on a charge of criminal business methods.

This fact was realized and fully appreciated also by many Americans including some of high standing. A threatening opposition was gathering over the head of this man... He was strengthened in this resolve by the Jews around him. Their Old Testament thirst for revenge thought to see in the U.S.A. an instrument for preparing a second “Purim” for the European nations which were becoming increasingly anti-Semitic. The full diabolical meanness of Jewry rallied round this man, and he stretched out his hands.

I will pass over the insulting attacks made by this so-called President against me. That he calls me a gangster is uninteresting. After all, this expression was not coined in Europe but in America, no doubt because such gangsters are lacking here. Apart from this, I cannot be insulted by Roosevelt for I consider him mad just as Wilson was. I don’t need to mention what this man has done for years in the same way against Japan. First he incites war then falsifies the causes, then odiously wraps himself in a cloak of Christian hypocrisy and slowly but surely leads mankind to war, not without calling God to witness the honesty of his attack—in the approved manner of an old Freemason.

Franklin Roosevelt was initiated in Freemasonry in Holland Lodge 8 in New York City on October 11, 1911. The lodge is still at labor, and you can visit the room in Masonic Hall and see the altar where that happened. For more on Hitler versus Freemasonry, read this from the Masonic Philosophical Society.