Friday, January 23, 2015

‘Mongelli in Jersey’

Anthony Mongelli, Worshipful Master of LaGuardia Masonic Lodge in Staten Island, will visit Livingston Lodge No. 11 in New Jersey to speak. This graphic says it all:

And here is something he has planned for his lodge next month:


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

‘Washington’s birthday at DeWint House’

DeWint House in Tappan, New York.

DeWint House, the George Washington Headquarters historic site and museum—owned and operated by the Free and Accepted Masons of New York—has announced its 2015 Washington’s Birthday plans. From the publicity:

His Excellency George Washington’s
Birthday Celebration

The George Washington Masonic Historic Site
20 Livingston Avenue
Tappan, New York

Sunday, February 8
(Snow Day Sunday, February 15)

All are welcome to attend services at the Tappan Reformed Church. Services begin at 10 a.m.

A brunch will be served at Old ’76 House. Serving will begin at 11:30 a.m. Details below. Reservations required.

The Annual Washington’s Birthday program at DeWint House will begin at 1 p.m. Program: Re-enactment of Revolutionary War Events by Gary Petigienne and Sean Grady.

Refreshments will be served following the program.


Monday, January 19, 2015

‘French orientation’

I enjoyed another great evening in Freemasonry at the Old Lodge, one of my favorites of all the lodges at the Grand Lodge of New York’s Masonic Hall in Manhattan. It was an education night, with two of the lodge brethren presenting histories for the benefit of Apprentices and others most likely to benefit from “a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge.” Don’t we all?

First, Bro. Mischa, a former Grand Orient of France Mason, spoke at length on the history and philosophy of, and some of his own experience in, the Grand Orient, which is the oldest and largest Masonic obedience in France. (You may have heard how two of the victims in the Charlie Hebdo atrocity in Paris last week were Freemasons, both of the Grand Orient.) It is not the French Masonic authority we in the United States recognize due to the Grand Orient’s decision in the 1870s to drop the belief in God landmark.

Mischa spoke about more than the G.O. actually, offering insights into the “strange alchemy” of how one can find his way into the Craft. Leaving aside the more than twenty smaller obediences in France (feminine, mixed-sex memberships, and others), he addressed elements of the Grand Lodge of France and the National Grand Lodge of France, the latter being the one recognized by the grand lodges in the United States. Masonic membership typically is obtained through a personal relationship, he explained, specifically through a private conversation between two friends in which a Freemason suggests to his friend that he might be interested in the society of like-minded individuals who enjoy philosophical exchanges. It’s a subtle thing. The French brethren, of any lodge, do not practice the showmanship common to the United States; there are no billboards, bumper stickers, lapel pins, or rings. Mischa also explained that Grand Orient Masonry puts philosophy before philanthropy, another fundamental difference between our two cultures. I suppose it could be said that our not recognizing each other means more than the absence of political amity; it also says we wouldn’t know each other. Throughout France, even in small communities, it is common for lodges from the three jurisdictions to co-exist. It seems there isn’t competition for members because each grand jurisdiction has a different demographic. For example, the Grand Orient attracts education professionals and socialist party members, and the National Grand Lodge draws from among conservative thinkers and men with spiritual inclinations. It’s not that Grand Orient Masons have no interest in the metaphysical, but their concentrations in those matters are left to them, without any requirement set by the grand jurisdiction.

So, let’s say your friend the Mason has approached you in discreet conversation, suggesting you might want to consider being initiated into the mysteries of Freemasonry, and you agree. What happens then, Bro. Mischa continued, is an investigation by the Grand Orient lodge of this prospective newcomer. Three interviews are conducted, one to discover biographical information, another to identify the nominee’s political views, and the third to discuss religious and philosophical thinking. This is done in lodge. If I understood Mischa correctly, the prospective candidate is hoodwinked. And the brethren lob their questions at will. When it is time for balloting, a 75 percent majority in favor is required for election to membership by initiation.

Can you think of anything more foreign to the American Masonic experience? How many of us would survive?

For the Apprentice Degree, the aspirant is hoodwinked. He will spend his first year as a Freemason as an Apprentice, and a silent one at that. He will speak in lodge only to deliver his personal speculative thoughts on what the ceremony of initiation and its symbols mean to him. The Second Degree involves five perambulations and lessons in the Arts and Sciences, and the Physical Senses. No hoodwinking. No Orders of Architecture. And the Letter G is presented as emblematic of Geometry, Gnosis, Genius, Gravitation, and Generation (as in creativity). The Third Degree brings the Fellow Craft through the Hiramic legend, making a Master Mason.

The famous colored engraving depicting a French Masonic initiation. This and six other exposure images are displayed in the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library, having been donated by a Brother from I.R.A. No. 2 three years ago.

In his closing remarks and during Q&A, Bro. Mischa shared more very interesting information. Old Number 2 has a sister lodge under the GLNF: Evangelist Lodge in Cannes. In Grand Orient Scottish Rite, the text placed upon the altar may be “any book of moral value.” That the split of the Grand Orient from the rest of the Masonic world also involved the G.O.’s relationship to “a nascent grand lodge in Louisiana that admitted black men.”

Mischa’s presentation was very well received by the brethren, all of whom had questions and insights, but this left little time for Bro. Michael’s discussion of lodge history, but he managed to share fascinating facts concerning early lodge brethren who played historical roles in spreading the Light of Masonry in the young United States, assisting the establishment of a lodge in Ohio, and a chapter in Connecticut. And the archives of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania hold more clues concerning Old Number 2’s authority to work the Royal Arch Mason Degree. Michael said he is still researching, and hopefully the fruits of his work will be shared before long.

(As always, any errors or omissions are attributable to me, and not to the speakers.)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

‘Voices of the Sacred, and Sculpture Immaterial’

Two events in New York City highlighting performing arts and fine arts I must tell you about.

In two weeks, on Saturday the 31st, New York University Global Spiritual Life will host “Voices of the Sacred” at The Brotherhood Synagogue. The concert will unite “artists representing three of the world’s great faith traditions all gathered together in one of New York City’s most historic religious landmarks. Since its founding almost 60 years ago, through its then unprecedented sharing of sacred space with a Greenwich Village church to its current home in a former Quaker meeting house, The Brotherhood Synagogue has always held as one of its core missions to create bridges of understanding across faiths, a mission that continues to this day.

The Brotherhood Synagogue is located at 28 Gramercy Park South. The concert will begin at 8:30 p.m. Click here for information about the event, videos of the performers, and tickets.

Next month, on the 20th, the Museum of Biblical Art will re-open with the start of a new installation: “Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces from Florence Cathedral” to run through June 14. On Saturday, February 21, MOBIA will host an all-day symposium in conjunction with this exhibit: “Material/Immaterial: A symposium on Fifteenth Century Sculpture.” From the publicity:

Courtesy MOBIA
Donatello, Saint John the Evangelist, c. 1409-11.

During this one-day symposium, nine speakers will engage issues around Renaissance sculpture. These talks will both enrich the understanding of the objects on display in Sculpture in the Age of Donatello and of the artists who created them, and also broaden the show’s horizons to encompass other chapters of the history of fifteenth century Italian sculpture.

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello

Courtesy MOBIA
Donatello, Saint John the Evangelist, detail.
Twenty-three masterpieces of early Florentine Renaissance sculpture—most never seen outside Italy—will be exhibited at MOBIA as the centerpiece of the museum’s tenth anniversary season. MOBIA will be the sole worldwide venue for this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition. These works by Donatello, Brunelleschi, Nanni di Banco, Luca della Robbia, and others were made in the first decades of the fifteenth century for Florence Cathedral (“Il Duomo”), which was then in the last phase of its construction, and are figural complements to Brunelleschi’s soaring dome, conveying an analogous sense of courage and human potential. Like the dome, these statues of prophets and saints express the spiritual tension of a faith-driven humanism destined to transform Western culture.

The Museum of Biblical Art is located at 1865 Broadway, at 61st Street, in Manhattan. Tickets for Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces from Florence Cathedral are available here.

‘Coming soon to the Pennsylvania Academy’

The Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge has announced its plans for March 21. From the publicity:

The 2015 Spring session of the Academy of Masonic Knowledge will be held Saturday, March 21 in the Deike Auditorium of the Freemasons Cultural Center on the campus of the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. 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.

The program for the day includes:

Professor Kenneth Loiselle will speak on topics from his research and his recently published book Brotherly Love: Freemasonry and Male Friendship in Enlightenment France in a lecture titled “From Enlightenment to Revolution: Masonic Friendship in Eighteenth-Century France.”

Kenneth Loiselle, Ph.D., is an associate professor of history and international studies at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Loiselle’s research focuses on the relationship between the Enlightenment and the political revolutions that unfolded during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the history of friendship and private life, and French colonialism in the Americas. He is presently conducting research on a book co-authored with Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire on Old Regime Freemasonry.

Brother George O. Braatz, PGM, Executive Secretary of the Masonic Service Association of North America, is a Past Grand Master and Grand Secretary Emeritus of the Grand Lodge of Ohio. The Masonic Service Association of North America, formed in 1919 and headquartered in Maryland, provides educational material, statistical reports, Disaster Relief and it administers a Hospital Visitation Program across North America. Bro. Braatz, has previously served for many years on the steering committee of the MSA’s Masonic Information Center and also as a member of the board of directors of the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia.

The great objective in Freemasonry is to gain useful knowledge, and the Academy provides a great opportunity for the brethren to learn and to understand more about the significance of the Craft. Plan to attend and bring a brother or two with you.

Pre-registration is required. Please send your name, address, lodge number and telephone to amksecretary(at)

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.

I notice there is no mention here of what Braatz will discuss, but at the October session, which I still have yet to write about here, it was said he will disclose the results of a recent nationwide survey of things Masonic.

‘Rosicrucian book sale and other news’

Michael Poll of Cornerstone Publishers offers the following tremendous sale on three essential Rosicrucian titles. From the publicity:

Rosicrucian Bundle
Originally $62.40
On Sale for $37.44

The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, by A. E. Waite
(6×9, softcover, 652 pages)

Photographic reproduction of A. E. Waite’s classic 1924 work on the Rosicrucian Order. Waite presents his view of the development and history of the Rosicrucians from the very early days in the Middle Ages and takes them through their various incarnations. A fascinating and detailed work. Many consider this the finest book on the Rosicrucians available.

The Masters and The Path, by C.W. Leadbeater with foreword by Annie Besant
(6×9, softcover, 252 pages)

C.W. Leadbeater offers an enlightened study of the Path of Discipleship under the Guidance of the Ascended Masters. While existing in our troubled world, we can see in this work the place of initiation and its role in both our spiritual and physical selves. Beautifully written in a manner to both guide and instruct, this classic book is of timeless value to all students of Initiation and Guided Wisdom.

The Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians, by Magus Incognito
(6×9, softcover 156 pages)

This book provides a classic understanding of the teachings of the Rosicrucians as well as general Rosicrucian thought. Written by William Walker Atkinson, using the pseudonym “Magus Incognito,” this reprint of the 1918 edition is a valuable addition to any Rosicrucian student or those interested in their teachings. Includes: “The Soul of the World,” “The Planes of Consciousness,” “The Seven Cosmic Principles,” “The Aura and Auric Colors,” and much more.

If we do not buy books, there will not be books to buy, so take advantage of this generous sale price, and spread the word, and continue celebrating the Rosicrucian quadricentenary.

And speaking of esoteric books, in other news, the Esoteric Book Conference has digitized lectures from its recent annual events. Hear directly from Brian Cotnoir, Trevor McKeown, Paul Hardacre, Pam Grossman, and many more. Click here.

And there’s a new EBC lapel pin:

Not actual size.

Monday, January 12, 2015

‘The Quarry Project, Part II’


Exciting news from Bro. Jim Dillman, President of The Masonic Society:

The Masonic Society, the Masonic Library and Museum Association, and the Masonic Information Center are pleased to announce that Phase II of The Quarry Project will be held September 18-20 in Indianapolis. The conference will be held in a downtown hotel to be determined within a few weeks.

The Quarry Project is a continuing effort to promote Masonic research and preservation by providing instruction and guidance to Masonic writers, researchers, and editors both within and without the fraternity, and also to Masonic librarians and museum curators on the display, preservation, and cataloging of Masonic archives. Phase II will feature a third track on Masonic public relations sponsored by the Masonic Information Center, an arm of the Masonic Service Association of North America.

The format for Phase II will remain basically the same with a few tweaks based on feedback from Phase I attendees. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday will begin with a general session featuring a keynote speaker. Attendees will then break out to the instructional sessions of their choice on Friday and Saturday with both days adjourning at approximately 5 p.m. Lunch on Friday and Saturday will be included in the registration fee. A banquet will be held on Saturday evening. Sunday will feature a roundtable discussion immediately after the morning keynote address and the conference will adjourn by noon.

We invite anyone, Freemason or not, with an interest in these topics to attend the conference. The programs are currently being developed and will be made available as soon as they are complete. Further information will be released as it becomes available. Registration will begin March 1.

In conjunction with The Quarry Project, The Masonic Library and Museum Association will hold its annual meeting prior to this event on Thursday, September 17. Please contact the MLMA for further details on that meeting.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

‘Masonic Society news’

Issue No. 26 of The Journal of The Masonic Society is reaching members’ mailboxes now and, since it is still St. John’s Day, I thought I’d share the details with some other news. First, for those who can attend Masonic Week in Virginia next month, please know The Masonic Society’s Feast and Forum (our annual meeting) will be hosted Friday, January 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the hotel. Click here for the Masonic Week meal reservations form, and don’t forget New Year’s Day is the deadline for reserving your accommodations.

Second, if you want to advertise in the pages of The Journal, have a look at our rate card, and contact me at ads(at)themasonicsociety(dot)com to make the arrangements.

I haven’t received my copy of The Journal yet, but Bro. Leif in Norway got his, and Bro. Makia in Jersey received his, and Secretary Nathan in Indianapolis took delivery on the overruns a few days ago, so it’s getting around. Anyway, in this Fall 2014 issue, you shall find a complementary mix of writings providing insight into ritual, some current events, smart analysis for best practices, and other, frankly, must read info you need to know.

Casey A. Fletcher, a Member of the Society, presents “Elus in an Envelope,” an exploration of the 9°, 10°, and 11° of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (Southern Jurisdiction) of Freemasonry. The “Elu Degrees” convey an alternative story from what is revealed to Master Masons in most Masonic lodges in the United States. Fletcher provides his readers description of the action in these rituals, which is indispensible to those who haven’t received these SJ degrees, and he explains some of the vexing esoteric aspects of the degrees that I hope will entice Master Masons to pursue membership in the A&ASR-SJ.

In her “A Brief Historiography on the Persecution of Freemasons During the Spanish Inquisition,” anthropology Ph.D. candidate Laura M. Wilhelm of University of Nevada-Reno compares and contrasts distinct historical narratives from the fifteenth through nineteenth centuries that show Freemasons as hunted victims of the Inquisition in Europe and the New World, and Freemasons as masters of the world, spreading around the globe with the rise of British Empire, and its unbridled proliferation across the United States. Of course the two streams of history are not mutually exclusive. Freemasonry is a human society that adapts to any locale; it can be revolutionary and heretical where dissent from authority is needed to spark liberty, and it can be peacefully conservative in free societies. It can be compromised and compliant in Cuba. Long story short: Ms. Wilhelm does a fine job of piecing together less known facts to relate a story that will advance your Masonic knowledge.

I smiled when I read the headline of Mohamad Yatim’s article “Freemasonry and Your Return on Investment,” knowing that my friend’s professional background in finance and his honed leadership skills in Freemasonry would result in a bold opinion that needs to be heard: Namely, that the officers of Masonic lodges must be thoughtful and practical in structuring the revenue side of a lodge’s budget.

Long ago, when the iconoclast Stephen Dafoe compiled his Masonic Dictionary, the letter D entry was “Dues that Don’t Anymore” by Masonic secretary-treasurer extraordinaire Nathan Brindle (actually the Secretary-Treasurer of The Masonic Society), who patiently explained the urgency for lodges and other bodies to assess their financial needs and manage their dues rates accordingly. From what I can see in my own Masonic memberships and observations of others, Nathan’s call has been heeded. As far as I’m concerned, the goal is not to raise dues for the sake of raising dues, nor even to “keep out the riff-raff”—riff and raff very often will come up with the money if motivated—but to ensure the lodge is adequately funded every year, and able to save some for tomorrow. Being adequately funded by the lodge’s membership reaps two principle benefits: That Masons themselves accept the basic obligation of sustaining their lodges, and that lodges need not trick the public into paying the bills either by renting the premises or, worse, hosting the abominable pancake dinners and spaghetti breakfasts that no one admits are tacky and unprofitable.

Anyway, Mohamad illustrates how the decline of the U.S. Dollar has been ignored for many years by lodges in the United States, and he makes the compelling case—the only argument worth hearing—that Freemasons should pay sufficient annual dues to create a quality Masonic experience. Proper maintenance of building and grounds; meals we’d be proud to serve and eager to eat; furniture, décor, paraphernalia, regalia, etc. in great shape; and some parity with other men’s attractions, like golf club memberships, are vital exterior characteristics that make a Masonic lodge appear relevant in the 21st century. How does your lodge fare?

Michael Halleran, our Executive Editor (and Grand Master of Kansas), suggests an “Implausible Collaboration?” in which he tells the story of a Mason named Charles Gray, a doctor in the U.S. Cavalry during the Civil War. Drawing from Gray’s diary, Halleran presents the amazing personal story of a Union officer who was permitted to travel to lodges despite being… a prisoner of war. The New York (Ark Lodge) Mason was captive in South Carolina, where he visited lodges and enjoyed hospitality and gifts from the local brethren. Any well read Mason ought to know facts and fables of Masonic civility between combatants, particularly during the U.S. Civil War, which show how Masonic brotherhood can transcend borders and conflict when the Masons involved give life to the spirit of the brotherhood, but this is “a direct, contemporaneous, and unimpeachable account of actual Masonic collaboration between enemies.” But not all was brotherly love. Some Masons among the Confederates passionately objected to the fraternization, and made damning charges against those who treated their captured brethren to fairly extravagant comforts.

In the end, Dr. Gray was released from incarceration in July 1862, and he returned to New York, but then resumed a career in the Army. “For reasons unknown,” as Halleran concludes with this startling detail, “[Gray] withdrew his membership in Ark Lodge on 3 May 1870.”

In his “The Observant Mason” column, Andrew Hammer presents “Perfecting Our Points of Entrance.” Here, the author of Observing the Craft explains how ritual might benefit from a reordering of the Perfect Points of Entrance. As we know them, the guttural, the pectoral, the manual, and the pedal correspond to the Four Cardinal Virtues. In Hammer’s estimation, “the four perfect points of entrance may correspond to the four realms of existence as found in the Kabbalah. These realms take us from the temporal to the spiritual plane, and correspond to overlapping areas of the Sefirot, or Tree of Life.”

In short, this most thoughtful and esteemed speculative Mason reassigns each Point of Entrance to a different Cardinal Virtue. Readers familiar with Hammer rightly can expect another clearly reasoned suggestion for improved understanding of Masonic ritual and symbol, and those who do not know Hammer yet may be startled by his unapologetically being right all the time.

And finally in the feature article department is my own reportage of the 2014 Masonic Restoration Foundation Symposium at Cincinnati in August. I cannot believe it’s been four months already, and I’m glad I wrote this story so I don’t forget what happened. The full text of the article is below; it is a slightly different and definitely longer version than what could fit in The Journal.

Elsewhere in The Journal are the usual features:

  • President’s Message – The lovely and talented Jim Dillman delves into Indiana Masonic history to find a valuable lesson in charity.
  • News of the Society – Cool current events in the Craft. And some weird, scary stuff too.
  • Conferences, Speeches, Symposia & Gatherings – our calendar of Masonic events in your district and around the world.
  • Book Reviews – Contemporary and classic titles reviewed by the sharpest minds.
  • Masonic Collectibles – An exclusive look at exceptional rarities courtesy of—who else?—Yasha Beresiner. Not to be confused with Masonic Treasures, which adorns the back cover.

If you are a Freemason in a lodge under a grand lodge that is part of, or in amity with, the Conference of Grand Masters of North America, then you should join The Masonic Society, and enjoy the benefits of membership. Our quarterly Journal, a membership patent you’ll want to have framed for proud display, and other tokens of fraternal esteem are waiting for you. Click here and take it from there.

Here is my news from the MRF 2014 Symposium:

Masonic Restoration Foundation
meets in Ohio

The Masonic Restoration Foundation hosted its Fifth Annual Symposium in August in Cincinnati, Ohio, drawing hundreds of Freemasons from around the United States to learn about the Observance movement from those who have set T.O. lodges to labor. Founded in 2001, the MRF, according to its website, serves as a clearinghouse of best practices in Freemasonry. Its supporters share ideas and information, discuss Masonic topics, and conduct local, regional, and national Masonic education conferences upon request of members or lodges, and with permission of the Grand Lodge in which its events are held. This weekend event was hosted jointly by Caliburn Lodge No. 785 and Arts & Sciences Lodge No. 792, both of Ohio, with Lodge Vitruvian No. 767 of Indiana and Lodge Ad Lucem No. 812 of Pennsylvania. The itinerary kept its participants and guests active with discussions, lectures, meals, and ritual, among other attractions. It should be noted how all seven brethren who presented lectures during the symposium are members of The Masonic Society.

The location was the Cincinnati Masonic Center, a beautiful example of neo-classical architecture built in 1928. Its origins begin in 1916, when the Cincinnati Masonic Temple Company began acquiring contiguous properties in the Queen City’s downtown business district with the goal of erecting a temple. The Scottish Rite Valley of Cincinnati and Syrian Shrine joined the effort (although the Shrine did not move in), and the result is the grand landmark on East Fifth Street, a location well known in the city thanks, in part, to its Taft Theater, a popular performing arts space. Bro. Donald Crews, author of the newly published book Cincinnati’s Freemasons (and a TMS Member), began the symposium with his lecture recounting the history of Freemasonry in Ohio, an informative and very interactive talk that engaged many brethren from out of state whose grand jurisdictions played roles in the establishment of the fraternity in Ohio during the 1790s.

Bob Davis at the informal
Sunday panel discussion.
The brethren adjourned to the ballroom for a festive board hosted by Lodge Vitruvian No. 767 of Indianapolis. The fine meal with ample libations for the toasts would have been enough, but MRF Past President Robert G. Davis of Oklahoma (a Founding Fellow of TMS) complemented the affair with his well received lecture “Journey to the Masculine Soul,” his thoughtful explanation of why good men should explore the mysteries of Freemasonry. “When we create lodges where the overriding vision is social honor and we select men of status to join our ranks, we sustain the cultural paradigm upon which Freemasonry was erected,” he said. “We educate and demonstrate to every generation of members the Masonic importance of status. And the way we sustain status in our lodges over time is when the upper level men become mentors to the lower level men and the upper level men are consciously aware that the subject of mentoring is social honor—which can only be taught through life experience and symbolic interaction.”

Davis’ term “social honor” is key. “In the hierarchical relations of lodge, (and we are informed in the Entered Apprentice Charge of this relationship), we are indeed superiors, inferiors, and equals to each other, and it is essential that we play roles as all three,” he added. “We must be prepared to pass from one position to another just as we are born, age and die. We must be taught, as we must teach others. This is the true dynamic of our society of Brothers. There is a time to rule, a time to be ruled, and finally, there is a time to pass the reins to the next generation.”

“Tying this to social honor—the inferior, no less than his superior—regulates the social contract we have with each other as Brothers,” Davis explained. “This is why an inter-generational contract works. The ideal type of equality is friendship. We cannot have friends who are not equals. The social contract required in Freemasonry is that friendship lives in honor. Honor determines status because again, above all else, a specific style of life is expected from all those who wish to belong to the inner circle. In a fraternal sense, style is our group identity. We dress and act like others whose company we cherish. Honor in an aristocratic sense is an exclusive concept. Only peers are considered capable of honor.”

The altar of Arts & Sciences Lodge No. 792 holds six VSLs.

The next morning a lodge of Master Masons was opened by Arts & Sciences Lodge No. 792, an Observant lodge set to labor four years ago. Six Volumes of Sacred Law appear on the altar. In addition to the Holy Bible there are the Tanakh, the Koran, a Shinto text, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Jefferson Bible, Thomas Jefferson’s interpretation of the Gospels published after his death. The solemn opening impressed the brethren assembled, who filled nearly every seat in the spacious Eastern Star Room. Refreshment was called so that the day’s programs could begin. Four lectures were offered in pairs in the morning, forcing the attendees to make hard choices of which to attend. TMS Member Oscar Alleyne of New York presented “Fides, Vita, Rex: Communicating Esoteric Topics without Making Them Run for the Hills,” and TMS Founding Member Daniel Hrinko of Ohio, a psychologist, discussed “The Initiatory Experience and Human Nature.” Hrinko explained in plain language the mutual benefits of a lodge bringing a new man into the fraternity, and cautioned that each petitioner deserves particular care. It is essential to both those who initiate and those initiated that time and effort be invested and for familiarity to be established—steps far beyond what an investigating committee takes, and even what one mentor can offer. He advocates devoting up to six months to help a petitioner and the lodge decide if they are right for one another—a busy period of establishing trust, building a potentially lasting connection that is a fundamental to the initiatory experience. “We do things for emotional experiences, so try to understand why he petitions for the degrees of Freemasonry,” Hrinko added. “Tell him our reasons to help him discover his reasons. Make it personal.” The months leading to an Entered Apprentice Degree should be a mutual personal investment with readings (Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave,” for example) and honest discussions to build friendship. And when the time arrives for initiation, the lodge must fill its role as a sacred space that receives new members with respect and solemnity.

Paul Smith
The second pair of lectures were delivered by Shawn Eyer of Washington, DC (a Founding Fellow), who praised the virtues of music in lodge with “And Hinder Not Music,” and Member Paul Smith of New Hampshire, who spoke with moving candor of “Forming a New Lodge: Sharing the Reality.” Smith recounted his tale of laboring in the quarries of his mother lodge, and weathering various frustrations in the process, before his personal studies led him to the Traditional Observance movement—and the real headaches began. The steps taken by Smith and a small group of like-minded brethren were common sense and necessary; he explained in detail how a club was formed to examine the many aspects of T.O. lodges and figure the best ways to incorporate them into a local lodge. “What do we envision?” they asked reflectively. The organizing—matters of regalia, lodge paraphernalia, and the like—were easily addressed, but they faced resistance when presenting the concept to other Masons, including close friends. Those who have been around long enough recognize that obstacle. Accusations of elitism and similar conduct abounded, but the founders of what would become Phoenix Lodge No. 105 responded with a Masonic relations campaign to clarify the myths and facts of T.O. lodges, including sending forth brethren to speak in other lodges about the virtues of the T.O. model. When it was time to call a vote of the Grand Lodge, it was unanimously in favor of chartering the lodge. Smith explained the commitment the lodge makes and its candidates’ reciprocity. One requires eighteen months of activity before being raised to the Third Degree: six as a petitioner, six as an Apprentice, and six as a Fellow Craft. This time includes making presentations to the lodge that demonstrate understandings of Masonic ritual and symbol, and other displays of understanding.

Smith’s overall message to those embarking on creating their own Observant lodge is don’t believe for a minute that it will be easy and will enjoy the support of the grand lodge. The reality is not only will there be opposition, but that even some of your supporters will change their minds, but if there is room for convivial Masons and charitable Masons, there also must be room made for those brethren who work toward excellence in meaningful ritual and continuous Masonic education.

Michael Clevenger
The Keynote Presentation of the day came from Michael Clevenger, a Past Master of New England Lodge No. 4 in Ohio, a Leadership Instructor for the Grand Lodge, and a TMS Founding Member, who discussed “Becoming Masonry.” For this writer, it indeed was the most salient summation of not only the specific cause of the Masonic Restoration Foundation, but also of the meaning of Freemasonry itself. Clevenger presented practical philosophy; he puts into the brethren’s hands the tools needed to craft a Masonic life. This is not recitation of ritual, but a way to use ritual and symbol to create daily lessons that modify one’s attitudes and behavior, augmented by plans that reinforce Masonic teachings and in effect serve to organize the mind along Masonic philosophy. In Clevenger’s system, each degree and every Working Tool provides ways to apply Masonic teaching to daily life. Worksheets give the Masonic student a place to write down and compare ideas, such as what the ritual says, for example, about the Common Gavel; what the Common Gavel means to the Mason personally; and how he will use these concepts in real life. In addition, the brother is challenged to envision how the Common Gavel and his knowledge of it will benefit his life, his family, job, community, and—yes—Masonic lodge. In setting specific goals, Clevenger’s method encourages daily reinforcement of Masonic values. A Freemason is to know himself, through reflection, evaluation, and learning; to know others by developing relationships; to be of value to others by assuming an attitude of service; to show respect by practicing the Golden Rule; and to be a leader who displays Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.

In addition to the ritual oaths and obligations of Masonic degrees, Clevenger devised “My Masonic Obligation,” a philosophic guide to life: “I am a Mason because I believe that no man should live his life in a random manner. He should be guided by a plan that honors his God, supports his fellow man, and provides a way to improve himself daily. Masonry provides this plan for me, and I will live in pursuit of knowledge and understanding for the purpose of providing for my family, supporting my Masonic brethren, and improving my community. My continued hope is that I live respected and die regretted.”

Chris Hodapp and Mark Tabbert

It’s always a treat to meet the authors of the books we love, and rounding out the lectures with informality and ease were TMS Founding Fellow Chris Hodapp and Member Andrew Hammer, author of Observing the Craft as well as the President of the MRF, appearing separately for Q&A with the brethren. The session with Hodapp was facilitated by Founding Fellow Mark Tabbert, of the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Virginia, who made the most of Hodapp’s breadth of knowledge as the tireless traveling man who probably has visited more lodges than anyone in promotion of his book Freemasons for Dummies, which has sold more than 120,000 copies, making it the best selling book on Freemasonry in generations. “Traditional Observance is not the savior or golden goose for us all,” he cautioned. “At Vitruvian, we sometimes have more visitors than members. So pay attention to the visitors. You are influencing their thoughts.” Attentiveness to new brethren is key also. “A Mason’s fourth meeting is the most important one,” Hodapp added, “because that’s when he sees if the fraternity practices what it preaches.” He also noted a change in what’s being preached, meaning the most common question facing the fraternity in recent years was what does the lodge do for the community, but with a generational change, that thinking has vanished. Remedies he’d like to see include increases in annual dues and assessments, so that Masonry places a higher value on itself; the abandonment of one-day mass initiations; and a split of the Shrine from Freemasonry to allow the Nobles to do everything necessary to raise funds for their hospitals. “I’m very optimistic about the fraternity,” he concluded. “A younger generation will come in like a freight train, raising dues and insisting that ritual work be better.”

But the day was not over yet. The brethren returned to the lodge, and the Craft was called back to Labor to witness Lodge Ad Lucem No. 812 of Pennsylvania confer the Master Mason Degree of its jurisdiction’s ritual. Unique among the various Craft rituals of the United States, the Pennsylvanians’ ritual is akin to certain lodge rituals of England. One Fellow Craft was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason in a ceremony none will soon forget. Contributing toward the spirited community of the brethren was the closing event of the day: a Scotch Harmony—a lesson on pairing savory hors d’oeuvres with exotic whiskies, with generous samples of all and the guiding hand of a Scotch whisky expert.

The Sixth Annual Masonic Restoration Foundation Symposium will take place August 21-23 at the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania’s famous Masonic Temple in Philadelphia.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

‘The Holy Nights at Anthroposophy NYC’

Another terrific line-up of events planned for the coming weeks at the Anthroposophical Society of New York City. Every evening will begin at seven o’clock, except where noted. Admission to each is free, but donations are welcome. The Anthroposophical Society of New York City is located at 138 West 15th Street in Manhattan.

Celebrating the Holy Nights
at Anthroposophy NYC

Friday, December 26Joyce Reilly on “The Christmas Truce of 1914.”

Saturday, December 27 – Jesús Amadeo on “Compassion.”

Sunday, December 28 – Fred Dennehy on “The Esoteric Dimensions of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.”

Courtesy New York Times
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival's cast of The Tempest, 2009.

Monday, December 29 – Cliff Venho on “Exploring Artistic Depictions of the Threefold Human Being.”

Tuesday, December 30 – Gisela Wielki on “The Call of Time.”

Wednesday, December 31Kevin Dann on “The Fourth Sacrifice of Christ and the Three Preparers of the Path to Golgotha.”

Courtesy HW Sands
New Year’s Day – Joyce Reilly on “A ‘Janus’ Evening.”

Friday, January 2 – Albert Spekman on “Rhythms of Time.”

Saturday, January 3Rita Costanzi, harpist, presenting “The Christ Child’s Lullaby” and more.

Sunday, January 4 – Festival and Pot Luck (4 to 7 p.m.). Opening talk by Walter Alexander. Artistic Program: “In a Midwinter Mood.”

Monday, January 5Brigida Baldszun on “Eurythmy: Behold That Star.”

Tuesday, January 6 – Epiphany/Three Kings, and “The Dream Song of Olaf Åsteson.

Also from the publicity:

“That which we believe to be born anew symbolically every Christmas Night is the human soul in its original nature, the childhood-spirit of man as it was at the beginning of earth-evolution, [before] it descended as a revelation from the heavenly heights. And when the human heart can become conscious of this reality, the soul is filled with the unshakable peace that can bear us to our lofty goals, if we are of goodwill. Mighty indeed is the word that can resound to us on Christmas Night, do we but understand its import.”

Rudolf Steiner
December 26, 1911

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

‘To help the Widow’s Son’

While I had learned of this ghastly devastation practically as it happened, it was only a minute ago when I found out the victims were Masonic family. W. Bro. Anthony White of Samson Lodge No. 66, under the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New Jersey, lost five of his kin, aged six weeks to 79 years, in a hell that engulfed a residence in East Orange on December 7.


Grand Lodge had been accepting financial contributions to assist the family in managing the funeral expenses. You may contact Senior Grand Warden Tisan Rasool Dawud at 908.966.1088 to help. There also is a Go Fund Me page. Click here. Individuals, lodges, foundations, etc. may donate.

A statement on Go Fund Me from Golconda Temple No. 24 of Ancient Egyptian Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine:

Many of our Jersey family may have already heard about the fire this morning in East Orange that fatally blazed through several homes on North 17th Street, leaving at least five people dead, including a six-week-old child. Many of you may not know, but this was the family of our Dear Noble Anthony White who just recently coped with the loss of his son.

This campaign was started to support the family to assist with necessary burial costs. We can only imagine the pain and heartache this family has already had to endure. So I ask you, especially during this Christmas season, to please find it in your heart to help his family with this financial burden and continue to keep him, his family, and all other families affected by this catastrophic event in your prayers. Thank you.

To send condolences, Samson Lodge 66 meets at 190 Irvine Turner Blvd., Newark, NJ 07018.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

‘Ancient Tools for Our Modern World’

The Rosicrucians of New York City have a workshop planned for this weekend. “The Kabala, the Tarot, and the Tree of Life: Ancient Tools for Our Modern World” will take place Saturday the 27th (St. John the Evangelist Day) and Sunday the 28th at 10 a.m. at the Rosicrucian Cultural Center, located at 2303 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard in Manhattan. From the publicity:

This workshop will include a review of ancient lessons of Kabala, the Tree of Life and the Tarot as well as the Modern Lesson of the process of Cell Division (Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase and Telophase).

The principles gleaned from these studies will help turn around our lives for the better; using resources that are dormant in each of us. The discussion will lead us on the path of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. It will help discover the DNA of happiness, success in business, family relationships, true love, financial independence, peace of mind, access to riches not destroyed by time and making our daily living an unparalleled success and a life of profound satisfaction.

The workshop will discuss the origin and development of the Cell and DNA, the Kabala, the Tree of life, Tarot, the Holy Scriptures, and the principles that guide our affairs.

The facilitator of this workshop, Fratre Ben Ogunkua, MD, Ph.D. was a Past Master of the Traditional Martinist Order. He helped with the re-establishment of TMO in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. and served as Provincial Master of TMO for the Mid-Atlantic Region for more than a decade. Fratre Ben is a physician and a researcher in the Biomedical Sciences. He is an accomplished artist who is versed in the techniques of the Flemish Masters and Classical European Artists in Oil Medium. Brother Ben has given many lectures in “The Kabala, the Tree of Life and the Tarot” in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.

Many of the lectures have been opened to the public and some of the lectures are restricted to advanced students of the Mysteries who are affiliated members. Fratre Ben has also given many talks on the “Cell” the unit of life and the how the cell and functions can be understood using the ancient Tools of the Mysteries.

The workshop will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. A convocation for AMORC members will follow the workshop at 4 p.m. on Sunday.