Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

‘Rewarding loyalty and faithfulness that has no equal’

Freemasonry is not the first word that comes to my mind when Syria or Lebanon are mentioned, but the truth is the Grand Lodge of New York established its District Grand Lodge of Syria-Lebanon in 1955, the diamond jubilee of which was celebrated recently with a visit by Grand Master Jeffrey M. Williamson. (New York Freemasons can read all about it in the current—Spring 2017—issue of The Empire State Mason Magazine, a Special Commemorative Edition marking the anniversary.) There are ten lodges comprising the District, seven of which pre-date the District’s existence, with the first two having been warranted in 1924—Syrio-American Lodge 1 and New York Lodge 2.

I think that’s kind of amazing.

Grand Master Williamson traveled extensively, visiting lodges (Suleiman 1905, El Berdawni 1907, Three Pillars 1912, and others), but also taking in the natural beauty and historic locations the land offers. There was a stop at Kahlil Gibran’s tomb, sightseeing amid the Cedars of God, a visit to the City of Ehden, a tasting at Ksara Winery—with the chance to meet RW Asaad Zogheib, mayor of Zahleh—and also time for the pleasures of the hookah!

Courtesy The Masters Craft

This edition of The Magpie Mason began four months ago, when Bro. John Bridegroom of the Masters Craft shared this photo on Facebook. John is the prolific creator of Masonic jewels, pins, coins, and other goods, as well as the Art Director for The Journal of the Masonic Society. I asked the Grand Master about the new medal so I could publish information about it here. He asked me to wait until publication of this issue of the ESM, so here we are.

While at the diamond jubilee celebration, MW Williamson welcomed RW Andre Layoun, PDDGM to the podium, and announced: “In commemoration and celebration of 60 years of loyalty and faithfulness demonstrated by the brethren of the District Grand Lodge of Syria-Lebanon, the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York is pleased to proclaim the creation of a new Grand Lodge medal. This medal is named in honor of RW Khaled E. Tabet, the first District Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge of Syria-Lebanon, from 1955 to 1964.”

Writing the article in the ESM, Williamson continues:

“The award consists of a bronze top bar engraved with the words “New York.” Below the ribbon is the round bronze medallion struck with the actual likeness of RW Khaled E. Tabet. Around the medal are engraved the words “Loyalty and Faithfulness.” The medal is suspended on a distinctive red and white ribbon, along with a green stripe running through the center, symbolizing the national flag of Lebanon. This medal will be conferred by the Grand Master to any deserving member within the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, specifically for loyalty and faithfulness to our Grand Lodge.

“The first recipient of the RW Khaled E. Tabet Medal is RW Andre Layoun, who was District Grand Master for 23 years, from 1971 to 1994. His term of leadership within our District Grand Lodge was concurrent with the Lebanese Civil War, which lasted from 1975 to 1990. It is estimated that there were over 250,000 fatalities during this period. RW Andre Layoun’s loyalty to Freemasonry in general and to the Grand Lodge of the State of New York in particular has no equal.”


Monday, March 20, 2017

‘A Prayer in Spring’


Spring Day at Jeløya by Edvard Munch,
1915, oil on canvas, privately owned.

A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

Robert Frost

The Spring Equinox arrived early this morning. Happy Rosicrucian New Year! We even had nice weather to enjoy today in these parts. (New York, not Jeløya.)


Sunday, March 19, 2017

‘Another(!) singular surprise at Masonic Week’

Belated coverage of Masonic Week 2017 slowly continues with this account of the 73rd Annual Consistory of the Society of Blue Friars on Friday, February 10 in Arlington, Virginia.

The proclamation of a new Blue Friar is a very closely held secret usually. I imagine only Grand Abbot Brent Morris and the new appointee are in the know for many months. This year there was an innocent and very temporary slip in social media that revealed this embargoed information. Did you catch it?

Michael Poll, of Cornerstone Publishers, Journal of the Masonic Society, Masonic research, etc. fame, was made Blue Friar No. 106 in a tradition launched in 1932 upon the formation of this unique fraternity comprised exclusively of Masonic published authors.

Bro. Poll had been away from Masonic Week for a long time, probably since it was last known as AMD Weekend, and his appointment to the ranks of the Blue Friars last month was to be his first trip back. Unfortunately, rough winter weather, with lots of snow forecast, menaced the District of Columbia area, and Mike’s flight was cancelled, preventing him from reaching us in Arlington. Even worse, it turned out that not one snowflake fell in the DC area!

Nevertheless Poll appeared at his two planned speaking engagements—Blue Friars and Masonic Society—thanks to quick thinking and technology. His Blue Friars address, titled “The Role of the Masonic Writer,” was video recorded and made available to us via the interwebs, to wit:

Unquestionably a first for the Blue Friars. Not that they’d want to make it a habit, but it’s good to know an option like this can save the day. But this isn’t even what is meant in the title of this edition of The Magpie Mason. No. Something else unexpected occurred that made the meeting even more memorable.

Nearing the end of the meeting, the Grand Abbot, who wields supreme dictatorial powers by the way, announced a surprise: Another Blue Friar was being made!

BF 107 was in attendance, sitting in near anonymity on the sidelines: Robert L.D. Cooper of Scotland!

Grand Abbot S. Brent Morris, right, greets Blue Friar 107 Robert L.D. Cooper of Scotland after surprising him with the prestigious appointment at the Societys 73rd Consistory last month in Virginia.

Among the books Bob Cooper has authored are Cracking the Freemasons Code, The Red Triangle, and (my favorite) The Rosslyn Hoax. Please read The Rosslyn Hoax. He is curator of the Scottish Masonic Museum and Library, and is a true expert on the subjects that confound so many well intentioned Freemasons: Rosslyn Chapel, the Sinclair family, and the Templars. If you think you know something about these, do yourself a big favor and read Cooper’s findings.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

‘North American Convocation of Academic Lodges’

Just two weeks away! Admission to the conference is free, and the Saturday night dinner (with open bar) costs only $50 per person. Click here to get started. From the publicity:

North American Convocation
of Academic Lodges
March 31-April 1
Grand Lodge of Massachusetts

The North American Convocation of Academic Lodges was formed as a way for the Harvard, Boston University, MIT Lodges to assist each other in their respective work. The tradition was begun in 1930 and restarted in 2006. We are pleased to welcome members of Boston-area Academic Lodges this year, as well as guests from fellow Academic Lodges both near and far, in addition to other Masonic and non-Masonic guests for yet another wonderful year of Fraternity and Scholarship “on the Level.”


Panel: The Path of Freemasonry and Its Relevance in Early and Modern Society

Shawn Eyer: The Philalethes Society

Wisdom of the Founders: Over Three Centuries of Masonic Learning

Shawn Eyer
Shawn Eyer, PM is a writer on Masonic symbolism, history, ritual, and philosophy. Brother Eyer is a Past Master of Academia Lodge 847 in California, and Junior Warden of The Lodge of the Nine Muses 1776 in the District of Columbia. He holds a Master of Arts in Transpersonal Psychology, and a dual Baccalaureate degree in Psychology and Religious Studies.

Tom Worrel: Writer and World Traveler

An Early and Unknown Esoteric Order of American Freemasonry

Tom Worrel
Thomas Worrel has an MBA from the University of San Francisco as well an MA in Theology from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California. Brother Worrel has published in Masonic journals such as Ad Lucem and Ahiman: A Review of Masonic Culture & Tradition. He has articles in other journals such as The Ogdoadic Journal of the Western Mysteries. He has published in magazines such as GNOSIS: Journal of the Western Inner Traditions and The Philalethes. Brother Worrel also authored a chapter in Bro. Jay Kinney’s book The Inner West titled “The Quest of the Magus.” Thomas Worrel now lives in New York City.

Saturday’s Keynote Speaker:
Mitch Horowitz
Masonic Nation: How the Ideals
of Freemasonry Touched America

Mitch Horowitz
A writer and publisher with a lifelong interest in man’s search for meaning, Mitch is a PEN Award-winning historian and the author of books including Occult America (Bantam); One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life (Crown); and Mind As Builder: The Positive-Mind Metaphysics of Edgar Cayce (A.R.E. Press).

Horowitz is a vice president and executive editor at Penguin Random House, and frequently writes and speaks on alternative spiritual topics in the national media including Dateline NBC, CBS Sunday Morning, CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.


6 p.m. - Welcome and Presentation of Speakers

8:30 p.m. - Refreshments


12:30 p.m. - Registration

2 p.m. - Greetings from the East, Presentation of Conference Gavel, and Receiving of District Deputy Grand Master, Right Worshipful Robert F. Stanley, and his Suite.

2:30 p.m. - Session I

James Tyler Carpenter: Masonry Re-Loaded at the Millennium: A Psychologists Looks at the Craft and Esoteric Knowledge.

Keith MacKinnon: The Historical Relevance of Masonic Artifacts.

Elliot Chikofsky: Behold How Good: The Hidden Message of the 133rd Psalm.

Aaron Sherman: Guided Tour of Grand Lodge.

3:30 p.m. - Session II

Ori Noked: The Hebrew Origins of Masonic Symbols.

Oscar Alleyne: The Prevalence of Clandestine Masonry in the USA.

Jamie Gorton: The Meaning of Masonry: A Critical Examination of Walter Leslie Wilmshurst’s Seminal Work.

Aaron Sherman: Ordo Esoterica

4:45 p.m. - Keynote Address by Mitch Horowitz - Masonic Nation: How the Ideals of Freemasonry Touched America.

Q&A, Presentations, Closing, Reception and book-signing.

7 p.m. - Dinner with open bar (ticket required: $50 prepay or $65 at the door).

Hotel accommodations: The Bostonian. Click here to reserve your room.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

‘Autism: On the Spiritual Threshold and Living Inner Development’

Sorry for the late notice, but this weekend brings the annual SteinerBooks Research Seminar at New York University. (And don’t forget the after party on Saturday at 5:30 at Anthroposophy NYC, located at 138 West 15th Street.) From the publicity:

2017 SteinerBooks
Research Seminar
March 17 and 18
Kimmel Center at NYU
60 Washington Square South
New York City

It seems that nothing related to Autism Spectrum Disorders is simple or straightforward, no broad statement immune to disputation.

The prevalence of ASD, most especially in the United States, but also elsewhere, appears to have increased dramatically in the last 40 years. (The most current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates for the U.S. are that 1 in 68 children is identified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder; for boys: 1 in 42.) Some voices, however, insist that this apparent increase is due to better detection techniques and broader awareness; while more than one study has suggested that the increase cannot possibly be attributed to these factors alone. Then there are the complex (and controversial) questions of contributing factors: genetic predispositions versus environmental toxicity factors such as the mercurial preservative thimerosal that is widely used in vaccines.

As a phenomenon of our current moment in history, the broad examination of ASD, its consciousness and controversies, as a symptom and as a riddle, can undoubtedly be a useful entry point for discerning something about the world in which we are living. And yet, lest we become too theoretical, there is also the ever-present reality of the individual human being to consider. For parents and grandparents, teachers and caregivers, doctors and therapists, this is the first consideration. And this is the focus of our program.

From a purely therapeutic standpoint, and in the presence of a unique living individual human being, these broader questions, disputes, and controversies can take a backseat to the utterly singular person before us. Here the tools and insights of anthroposophical spiritual science are not merely useful but ultimately necessary. How can we use these insights to meet the one before us with an even greater love and out of a deeper wisdom?

Click here for the complete program, and:

After Party III

Make the short walk uptown for the SteinerBooks Spiritual Research Seminar After Party at our branch home just a few blocks away from the NYU Kimmel Center. We’ll again be offering a meeting place for seminar attendees to enjoy warm company, live entertainment, biodynamic wines, and light refreshments. We invite everyone (not just seminar attendees) to join us for hearty conversations before heading out into NYC nightlife.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

‘Livingston Library’s March lecture’

The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York hosts a monthly lecture series on Thursday nights to the delight of standing room only audiences and for the betterment of the Craft. On March 30 at 6:30, the library will welcome to the lectern William M. Sardone, grand master of DeMolay International. The library is located on the 14th floor of Masonic Hall (71 West 23rd Street in Manhattan). From the publicity:

Courtesy DeMolay International
Order of DeMolay Grand Master Bill Sardone
at the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Library.
The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York is extremely proud to welcome William M. Sardone, Grand Master, DeMolay International, who will speak about the history of the medieval Knight Templar after whom the Order of DeMolay is named.

Jacques DeMolay lived from 1244-1314, and joined the Knights Templar, a group of “warrior monks” who were charged by the Catholic Church to protect pilgrims to Jerusalem, and who also fought in the Crusades. Eventually, the Knights Templar became very wealthy, and were targeted by local lords, who won from the Church condemnation of the order in 1312. Jacques DeMolay remained loyal to his fellow Knights, even under pain of torture. He was burned at the stake and became a symbol of loyalty and friendship.

The Order of DeMolay is a Masonic youth group founded in 1919. It is open to young men between the ages of 12 and 21. In order to join, the young men must also be of good moral character. They must also believe in a supreme being, with all religions welcome.

RW William M. Sardone is credited with the revitalization of the Order of DeMolan New York State, and was elected as the Grand Master of DeMolay International in June of 2016. He has served on the following Boards: NYC Business Advisory Council, NYC Department of Education, President Executive Board of AT&T Northeast Chapter Pioneers, Executive Board of New York Junior Achievement, Associate Board of USO and Harlem Boys and Girls Club. In addition, Sardone served 38 years in the U.S. Army Active and Reserves, receiving numerous medals and commendations. He also has more than 30 years experience in established and start-up companies, and credits his DeMolay foundation for his success.

Seating is limited. Please RSVP here.

White wine will be served.

Photo ID is required to enter the building.

The timing is right! Remember March 18 is the anniversary of DeMolay’s execution in Paris. I hope that white wine ain’t French!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

‘The beauty of math at The Met’

The Invention of the Compass (Plate 2)  Second plate from a print series titled New Inventions of Modern Times, engraved by Jan Collaert I, after Jan van der Straet, called Stradanus, and published by Philips Galle. Illustration of man working with a compass at his desk in a large room. On the right side of the room is a bed. There is another desk with other books and geographical tools. To the man’s left a dog lies on the floor. Hanging from the ceiling is a model ship. The window in the background provides a view of boats sailing in the ocean and people walking along the beach.

“A Point is the beginning of all geometrical matter. A Line is a continuation of the same. A Superfices has length and breadth without a given thickness. A Solid has length and breadth with a given thickness, which forms a cube and comprehends the whole.”

Middle Chamber Lecture
Fellow Craft Degree

Through May 8, the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibits a collection of drawings, prints, and other works that celebrate, as the Middle Chamber Lecture phrases it, “the powers and properties of magnitudes in general, where length, breadth, and thickness are considered. From a point to a line from a line to a superfices, and from a superfices to a solid.”

Picturing Math” is a collection of art created by ten mathematicians and scientists spanning 500 years. From the publicity:

“The visualization of mathematics has taken many forms since the advent of printing. Animated by tensions between the abstract and the figural, the geometric and the gestural, these works from The Met collection show how artists from the 15th century to contemporary times have engaged in the creation and communication of mathematical knowledge through the use and production of images.”

All images courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art. Click to enlarge.

Francesco Curti, “Garden of Mathematical Sciences,”
(engraving, Italy, 17th century).

Johann Sadeler I, “Geometria,” (from The Seven Liberal Arts,
after Maerten de Vos, 1570-1600, engraving and etching).

Georges Reverdy, “The Architect,” (etching, France, 1529-57).

“Plate 24: Geometria XXIIII,” from E-Series Tarocchi Cards,
(engraving, Italy, 15th century).

Albrecht Dürer, Underweysung der messung mit dem zirckel un richt scheyt, printed by Hieronymus Andreae, called Formschneyder, (woodcut in book, 1525).

Peter Flötner, “Perspectival Drawing with Three Cubes,”
(pen and black ink, brush and grey wash, 1528).

Underweissung der Proportzion und stellung der possen, designed by Erhard Schön, printed by Christoff Zell, bound by William Chatto, (woodcuts in book, 1538).

Thursday, March 9, 2017

‘The conference has a contest’

Courtesy COGMNA
The Conference of Grand Masters of North America was held a few weeks ago, and evidently one of the ideas that sprung forth was of an essay contest on the subject of Masonic Renewal. The details are popping up on social media. After reading Rule No. 2, the inventive sentence structure, punctuation, syntax, grammar, and other oddities in the message are even harder to gloss over—actually, just look at No. 3. I won’t edit any of this to make it professional, but I’m willing to share it here in case someone wants to explain to the grand masters that the answers to Masonic Renewal are found in the rituals, lectures, charges, etc. of the Craft degrees, and have been promulgated excitedly by the Knights of the North, Masonic Society, Masonic Restoration Foundation, and others for years. I better not say more.

Competition Rules

1) There will be one category open to all Masons of North America regardless of age, race, religion, ethnicity with this year’s competition.

2) Entries in this essay competition must be titled, “Concept of Masonic Renewal – What does it mean to you now and in the future?” While the content of the essay is of primary concern, proper grammar and spelling will also be factors in the judging.

3) Each entrant must be an active Mason in good standing of the competition and the deadline for submission, with his Masonic lodge.

4) The essay must be an original work by the entrant and must be 1000 to 1500 words. The absolute minimum or maximum number of words must be observed.

5) Prizes will be awarded for first place, second and third places, respectively, solely at the discretion of the judging panel.

6) All entries must be typed, double-spaced and must be submitted electronically using the word.doc format. The author’s name, address, phone number, e-mail address, lodge name and jurisdiction (Grand Lodge) must be the only items on the cover page.

7) Only one essay will be accepted from each author.

8) All essays must be received by the Secretary William H. Berman, PGM of New Jersey, of the Masonic Renewal Committee at no later than November 30, 2017. A national judging panel will be established through the offices of the Masonic Renewal Committee of North America and the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Masonic Jurisdiction. At all levels of judging, the panelists will not know the name of the author or home jurisdiction.

9) Prize winners will be informed by mail and appropriate presentations of prize checks made. The announcement of prize winners will be made at the 2018 Conference of Grand Masters in Indianapolis, IN. The Masonic Renewal Committee of North America reserves the right to publish winning essays in appropriate publications. All essays become the property of the Masonic Renewal Committee of North America.

10) Previous winners of the essay competition will not be considered for another prize.


2017 David R. Bedwell Memorial Masonic Renewal Essay Competition

Sponsored by The Masonic Renewal Committee of North America in collaboration with the Conference of Grand Masters of North America

Interested in Winning some cash? The Essay Competition awards to the three top levels:
Champion- $1500
2nd Place- $1000
3rd Place- $500

Turn that spare time into cash…express your feelings on a thought provoking issue…use your computer skills…and walk away a winner!


“Concept of Masonic Renewal – What does it mean to you now and in the future?”

Yours thoughts in conveying about the concept of Masonic Renewal are needed by the Masonic Renewal Committee to reunite and re-generate our efforts to revitalize Freemasonry. The MRC Committee has in the past published the following resources to assist Lodges in their efforts to revitalize Masonry in their Lodges: 101+ Ways to Improve Interest and Attendance in Your Masonic Lodge; 150+ Ways to Involve Your Lodge with the Family and in the Community; Leadership Development Program and recently a Leaders Resource Handbook. These publications are available and in use by Lodges today. Also, in the 1990’s, the Committee was instrumental in the collection of data about Masonry and the profane. This survey was very useful by Grand Lodges and Lodges to pinpoint and concentrate efforts to expand the knowledge of the profane about Freemasonry.

Enter the 2017 Masonic Renewal Essay Competition and share your thoughts and ideas on the theme: “Concept of Masonic Renewal – What does it mean to you now and in the future?”

WHAT IS Masonic Renewal?

The Masonic Renewal Committee (MRC) of Canada, the United States and Mexico is charted by the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America, Inc. Its purpose is to facilitate the innovative endeavors of Masonic Jurisdictions as they strive to move the Craft forward. To do this, the MRC draws on the expertise of a number of Past Grand Masters as well as representatives from the Northern and Southern Jurisdictions of the Scottish Rite and Shriners International. In addition, the MRC gathers information provided by a growing number of contacts from within various Masonic Jurisdictions. This way, the MRC is able to collect information from both the top down and grassroots sources of Masonic development. The reason why the MRC collects and organizes this information is so the innovative efforts of lodges, Grand Lodges, committees and so forth are able to be researched and viewed so other Masons do not waste time, energy and resources reinventing the wheel. In addition, it will serve as a means to give credit to those efforts and help inspire others to follow.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

‘Illumination Lodge (UD)’

RW Bro. Ted Harrison is leading an effort to lend purpose to this newfangled trend of bringing teenagers into Freemasonry with an approach I can agree with, so I thought I should promote it here.

While I disagree, for reasons I think are obvious, with the growing movement in American Freemasonry to lower the minimum age for initiation to 18, in New York there now is a plan to make it worthwhile for the fraternity to make that change. I still don’t want to sit in lodge with teenagers, but I’ve been an admirer from afar of the United Grand Lodge of England’s Universities Scheme, and I like the idea of New York Freemasonry attempting something similar, although this endeavor is not quite the same thing. (As an aside, years ago I tried to work with my alma mater’s alumni relations department, which was working to organize “affinity clubs,” to create a Masonic club for NYU people, but to no avail.) Ted circulated an e-mail yesterday on the subject:

Courtesy CUNY

“Some of you may be aware that, at our last Grand Lodge session, a motion was passed to lower the admission age to 18. Since then, the Grand Master has formed the Fraternity on Campus Committee which was tasked to establish lodges to be dedicated to serving specific institutions of higher learning, and identifying young men who are interested in Freemasonry and facilitating a safe environment for them to learn and grow. After months of meetings and planning, the Committee is finally ready to start working on a lodge under dispensation which will cater to City University of New York students. Any alumni, faculty, or staff from any CUNY institution, who wishes to take part in this historic event and become founding members of this lodge, are encouraged to contact the committee here.”