Thursday, May 28, 2015

‘334 Auburn Avenue’

I read late into the night, and in the summer months I often return to books I had read in my youth. You’ve heard of comfort food? I like comfort comprehension. I am well into The Making of the President 1964 again, Theodore White’s second of what would become his quadrennial four-book series. These are fascinating chronicles that encapsulate many of the social and political forces that shaped those times. The reporting is not only about men campaigning for the presidency of the United States; it is a witness’ account of historic happenings contextualized with details that can make your eyes pop.

So I reach Page 176, early into Chapter Six, titled “Freedom Now: The Negro Revolution” (remember, this was published 50 years ago) which recounts the birth of Martin Luther King’s nonviolent civil disobedience campaign to end segregation in the American South, beginning in Birmingham, Alabama. Excerpted:

“Full plans were drawn up after Thanksgiving, 1962. In December the Alabama Christian Movement leaders met with King at his Atlanta headquarters in the Masonic Lodge building at 334 Auburn Avenue and decided to launch their protest just before Easter.”

I probably noticed the reference to a Masonic lodge when I had read this previously decades ago during high school because my grandfather was a Mason, but obviously that sentence appears larger to me today, and I found it odd just now that the street address would merit mention.

Gotta love Google.

A user named Wally Gobetz posted this history two years ago:

Atlanta - Sweet Auburn:
Prince Hall Masonic Temple

Courtesy Wally Gobetz
The Prince Hall Masonic Temple, located at 334 Auburn Avenue NE, was built in 1937, with an addition in 1941, for the M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia, under the leadership of prominent black leader and Grand Master John Wesley Dobbs. The Renaissance Revival building was designed by Charles Hopson and Ron Howard. The Prince Hall Masons, Georgia’s most influential black Masonic lodge, were first organized in 1871 by Frances J. Peck, the pastor of Big Bethal A.M.E.

Starting 1949, the Masonic Building’s second floor housed WERD 860AM, the first radio station owned and programmed by African-Americans. Jesse B. Blayton Sr., an accountant bank president and Atlanta University professor, purchased the station in 1949 for $50,000, and hired his son Jesse Jr. as station manager. By 1951, “Jockey Jack” Gibson had become the most popular DJ in America.

The Prince Hall Masonic Building currently houses the national offices of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), an African-American civil rights organization. The SCLC traces its origins back to the Montgomery Bus Boycott by the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), under the direction of Martin Luther King, Jr., following Rosa Parks’ arrest in 1955. As boycotts spread across the South, leaders of the MIA met in Atlanta on in 1957 and founded the Southern Leadership Conference on Transportation and Nonviolent Integration, which was later shortened to the Southern Leadership Conference and eventually changed to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Under the direction of its first President, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the SCLC was run out of the first floor of the Prince Hall Masonic Temple. It is said that Dr. King would bang on the ceiling of his office with a broom when he wished to address the public on WERD.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic District, an area bound roughly by Irwin, Randolph, Edgewood, and Auburn Avenues, was established in 1974 and later, in 1977 designated a national historic landmark, and expanded in 2001. The district encompasses the environs in which Martin Luther King, Jr., grew up, from his birth in 1929 until he left Atlanta.

I have to believe every Prince Hall Mason in the world is aware of all this, but it is news to me, and I share it here in case it’s news to you too.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

‘Alchemy exhibit on the Summer Solstice’

Courtesy Rosicrucian Alchemy Museum

The Rosicrucian Order is constructing its Alchemy Museum, to be the first of its kind in the United States. Located at Rosicrucian Park in San Jose, California, the two-story structure is being built amid the Order’s Egyptian Museum and Alchemical Herb Garden. It will feature a fully equipped laboratory and an auditorium for classes in both operative and spiritual alchemy.

In the meantime, the Order is four weeks away from opening an Alchemy exhibit in the Egyptian Museum. Just in time for the solstice, the exhibit will open Saturday, June 20. A dedication ceremony will be held at six o’clock. On Sunday the 21st, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Dennis William Hauck will lead a workshop. And at 7:30, the Order will host its annual Summer Solstice Ceremony.

From the publicity:

All Day Alchemy Workshop
with Dennis William Hauck

Sunday, June 21, 2015
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Spend the day with one of the world’s few practicing alchemists, and probe the intertwined mysteries of mind and matter. Learn how to use the alchemists’ secret formulae in practical work on all levels of body, mind, and spirit. Resonate with the magical imagery of the alchemists’ drawings, harness the archetypal power of the elements, and experience alchemical change within your own being, as you progress through each of the operations of transformation.

The alchemists not only tried to change base metals into gold, but also to rejuvenate their bodies, integrate their personalities, and perfect the very essence of their souls. Although they spoke of furnaces, retorts, and chemicals, they were really talking about changes taking place within themselves. In this unique and inspiring workshop, the secret principles of this ancient art will be revealed using the alchemists’ own writings, drawings, and meditations.

Dennis William Hauck is known for his ability to present these teachings in a way that comes alive in people. While studying for his doctorate in mathematics at the University of Vienna, he completed a three-year apprenticeship in alchemy and was later initiated into a variety of Hermetic traditions in Europe, Egypt, and the United States. He has since translated several old manuscripts and written a number of bestselling books on alchemy, including The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy for Personal Transformation, Sorcerer’s Stone: A Beginner’s Guide to Alchemy, Secret of the Emerald Tablet, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Alchemy. More info on the lecturer here.

In preparing to complete the Alchemy Museum, the Rosicrucian Order welcomes some donations. Click here to see how you might assist.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

‘The Masonic Society begins its eighth year’

If it’s May, it is another anniversary for The Masonic Society. This is the seventh anniversary of our launch, and what has been accomplished is kind of amazing. With ethical, thoughtful, and professional leadership, great things are possible.

Members of The Masonic Society have been receiving issue number 27 of The Journal—the quarterly periodical that just happened to have revived the Masonic publishing business in the United States. No. 27. Meaning twenty-six issues preceded it. I am reminded of now otherwise forgotten critics who said the Society’s business model was flawed, and that it wouldn’t get more than four issues to its members before folding. (They were championing something called Freemasons Press, which folded before getting four issues to its subscribers, but that’s old news too.) The Society begins its eighth year in service to the Craft. We have a fortune in the bank, so we’ll be around, publishing The Journal and hosting great Masonic events, for a long time.

Names in the news: Bro. Ken Davis of Albuquerque is our new First Vice President, following the departure from that post of Bro. Chip Borne in March. Ken was the obvious choice to fill that vacancy. A retired English professor and former chair of the English Department at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, he is an author of several books. Ken is a Past Master of Lodge Vitruvian No. 767 in Indianapolis, and is active these days in several Masonic groups in Albuquerque, including New Mexico Lodge of Research.

Ken has distinguished himself as a Director of The Masonic Society by serving as the Book Review Editor for The Journal, and was instrumental in creating and writing The Quarry Project Style Guide. (I return to the Board of Directors, taking Ken’s place. My thanks to President Jim Dillman and the other officers and Board members.)

Wanna hear something cool? That style guide has been adopted by the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (Southern Jurisdiction)’s bimonthly periodical Scottish Rite Journal; the Scottish Rite Research Society’s annual book of transactions Heredom; Grand Encampment’s monthly Knight Templar magazine; and Dwight L. Smith Lodge of Research in Indianapolis.

But back to The Journal.

This issue highlights several familiar elements of Masonic ritual and symbol in ways that even longtime Freemasons could find fresh. The Four Cardinal Virtues are a subject I find vital to Freemasonry—I even used to present a popular lecture of my own devising on the topic—so I’ll start by sharing a bit of “The Masonic Relevance of the Four Cardinal Virtues” by Christian M. Christensen. Here, the full member of Texas Lodge of Research reminds us of the meanings of Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance, and Justice, and then takes us from Plato to Cicero to St. Ambrose to Thomas Aquinas and, finally, to the Jachin and Boaz exposure of 1797 for the Virtues’ arrival into Masonic tenets.

“Taking the Cardinal Virtues to heart and living them day by day requires work, just as becoming a better man is hard. Instead it is easier to continue the quest for light, blinding ourselves to the fact that the most important understandings are in front of us already. The Cardinal Virtues are cornerstone of the Craft, easily explained to us and are available for all to live by—if we are ready and willing to pick up our working tools and apply them.”

In his “We Have a Problem with the 47th Problem,” Brian C. Thomas of Washington ponders why Freemasonry prefers Euclid over Pythagoras. I remember one of the first flaws I discerned in Masonic ritual was its attribution of “Eureka!” to Pythagoras, actually exclaimed by Archimedes, which Thomas notes before guiding us through the chronology of the Pythagorean Theorem and its appearance in Masonic thought. His is a reasoned study, and what I appreciate most is Thomas’ inclusion of Benedict Spinoza in his analysis. The well read Freemason must be aware of the Dutch-born philosopher (and Jewish heretic)’s Ethics, which “mimics Euclid and systematically proves that God is the universe, the single substance in which all natural phenomena exists.”

“Such a concept of God could be universally accepted in all religions,” Thomas continues. “Spinoza is clear that we can know God without intersession of the church, and that a spark of the divine is within us to be discovered.” Read all about it on Page 18.

Patrick C. Carr, Grand Senior Warden of Arkansas, reminds his reader that two of the Great Lights of Masonry are tools for moral building. Only by learning and understanding how [the Square and Compasses] work together can we hope to begin to tame our earthly passions and begin to focus on our spiritual development in the Craft,” he advises. “Only then will we start to become true Master Masons with the ability to travel and to seek the eternal.” SMIB.

Isaiah Akin, Historian of historic Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC, presents “Gavels and Contagious Magic,” a photo spread of that most handy of working tools, the gavel. But these have illustrious origins. Gavels made of wood, stone, and ivory connected to highly notable human events. Check out these unforgettable artifacts.

And of course there are the regular features of The Journal. In the President’s Message, Jim Dillman updates us on the recent amazing developments in The Masonic Society, including a hint of things to come that take Masonic education beyond the printed word. Journal editor Michael Halleran, freshly outstalled as Grand Master of Kansas, polishes the shine of Dwight Smith. Smith, as you know from your Knights of the North reading, Laudable Pursuit, was Grand Master of Indiana in 1945. His writings were amazingly prescient for their bold foretelling of the demographic and structural ailments in American Freemasonry we see today. When the size of Masonic membership was at its unimaginable apex and the future seemed so blessed, Smith cautioned “that men judge Freemasonry by what they see walking down the street wearing Masonic emblems, and if what they see does not command their respect, then we need not expect them to seek our fellowship.”

“If we have grown so prosperous and fat and lazy,” Halleran quotes Smith, “there is nothing further to do except revel in our status symbols and create more status symbols [because] we have ceased to possess anything that is vital.” A prophet.

Yasha Berensiner’s “Masonic Collectibles” recalls eighteenth century Masonic newspapers. The good, the bad, and the inaccurate are shown in the yellowed fragile pages of long ago.

The book reviews pages share insights into half a dozen authors’ current offerings, from academic and popular approaches. “Masonic Treasures” depicts an odd ballot box of unknown origin that you have to see to believe, courtesy of Isaiah Akin.

And there is a lot more in the pages of this issue of The Journal. Membership in The Masonic Society, as boasted by many—not just me—is the best $39 you’ll spend in Freemasonry. It is a Masonic fraternity on the move. Never content to rest, TMS continues to grow because it improves the condition of the Masonic Order. Enjoy.

Friday, May 15, 2015

‘A Day with Plato’

I had a great night Saturday at the School of Practical Philosophy on East 79th attending a lecture titled “The Meaning of Meaning,” an exploration of some of the various ways one finds the mean of arithmetic (as the middle of a difference), geometry (proportional measure), harmonics (an average of numbers found in music), and by other, uh, means. It was an one-hour lecture, so there wasn’t time to delve too deeply into a subject that spans four pages of explanation in the Oxford English Dictionary, but the talk was fluid—save for the outbursts of some rude woman in front of me who thought we all paid to hear her speak.

To illustrate a basic definition of a mean in geometry, our lecturer shared a symbol that happens to be found in alchemy, astronomy, and Freemasonry: the point within a circle. With the point as Cause, and the circle as Effect, the mean is a line that connects that point to any part of the circumference. In the parlance of most Masonic lodges, “the Point within the Circle represents an individual brother; the Circle is the boundary line beyond which he is never to suffer his passions to betray him,” so I found it interesting how our speaker likened this symbol’s message to the fundamental philosophic question: Who am I? Borrowing from the Gospel of Thomas, he quoted “He who knows the all, but fails to know himself, misses everything.”

And speaking of interesting, we pondered the meaning of the word interest: inter (between) and est (being). To be between. Like a mean.

We also got into Pythagorean mean, even employing a monochord to match number to tone, and the lecture concluded on the high note of the Golden Mean, an aspect of Sacred Geometry that every thinking Mason should know.

I highly recommend studying at the School of Practical Philosophy. If enrolling in the classes is not feasible, then stay current with the schedule of these lectures. There is one coming in a few weeks that continues the theme of last November’s “The Trial of Socrates.” From the publicity:

The Great Escape
A Day with Plato

Plato’s Crito records a dramatic conversation in a damp Athenian jail between the great philosopher Socrates and his dearest friend, Crito. The stakes could not have been higher. Socrates is to be executed the following day, and Crito stands ready to implement a foolproof plan of escape.

Socrates consents to leave if reason proves this to be the right course of action. Crito has to make the case. How does he fare? What is true freedom worth?

Join us on Sunday, June 7 in a conversation that covers some of the most important questions a human being can consider.

The day includes an opening presentation, group study sessions, a Greek lunch, light entertainment, and closing reception. Family and friends are welcome and no prior study of Plato is necessary.

Reserve a place by purchasing tickets on-line or at the Registration Office on the first floor of 12 East 79th Street.

8:30 a.m.—Coffee and Registration
9 to 3:30 p.m.—Program, and Wine Reception to follow

$45 - Includes Materials, Refreshments, Lunch and Wine Reception
$25 - For full-time students

Thursday, May 14, 2015

‘Livingston Masonic Library’s digital archives’

I’ve been sworn to secrecy since January, but with the Grand Lodge Communication behind us, I feel free to share this great news from the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library. Actually this announcement comes from RW Bruce Renner, President of the Library Board of Trustees:

This year the Library is engaged in another project to bring your Lodge’s history to digital life. As many of you are aware, the Library maintains historical information about Lodges in Lodge Folders, and Im happy to announce a project that will greatly enhance the way these folders are created, updated, accessed, and preserved.

These folders contain documents dating primarily from the 20th century, provided by the Lodges, that cover a wide range, including information about important events, meeting notices, information on notable people, and even Lodge histories. They have been kept in paper folders, and stored the traditional way in metal filing cabinets. The only way to access your folder was to visit the Library, often during your brief visit to Grand Lodge each year; with several hundred Lodges wanting a look at their files, things can get quite congested.

There are many other challenges with these folders. Even for Lodges in the New York City area, there is limited access. Many Lodges, therefore, lose interest in the process, and let valuable historical information be lost. Over time, a Lodge Folder may be forgotten. In addition, many of the documents are fragile. An excellent example is newspaper clipping that demonstrates a public interest in Lodge activity, but which is printed on very cheap paper. Paper folders also are hard to maintain with our limited staff, and duplications occur frequently. Because adding documents, especially remotely, requires some work, good intentions aside, many Lodges fail to get it done. This leads to information gaps sometime spanning many years.

Finally, the only way to search for something is to handle the physical folder and each document. This requires an on-site presence, and exposes the folder to additional handling with all the incumbent preservation issues.

So just how many documents are we talking about? We estimate the collection contains at least 300,000 documents. They are stored in 35 four-drawer filing cabinets, or 140 file drawers. There is a huge variety of documents and even some three-dimensional objects stored with our museum artifacts.

Over the past several years the Library Board and Staff have been moving the Library into the digital age. The collection of Lodge Folders was an excellent target for early digitalization. After some discussion, the Board set aside funds for the project, which amounted to about $35,000. The Library undertook the digitalization of fragile materials that couldn’t be subjected to high speed scanning, but outsourced the rest of the work.

From our Board, RW Ed Chiani, our Technology Chairman, was key to getting this project off the ground.

At a high level, the process is fairly straight forward, although the actual scanning of 300,000 items is not a trivial task. First, items were presorted, and fragile items were separated out. The remaining documents were then packed into file boxes and transported to the outsourcer’s image processing center by their staff. Once there, the remaining documents are processed using high-speed scanners. An important valued added step to this process is that optical character scanning technology allows many of the documents to be indexed for on-line retrieval. The original documents were then returned to the Library. The remaining steps include enabling access for Lodges and Brothers. We expect this to be in beta test sometime this summer.

The Board has recommended not retaining the paper Lodge Folders. Lodges will be given the opportunity to reclaim their folders; unclaimed folders will be stored or discarded at the discretion of the library. The electronic version of the Lodge Folders takes up about 40.5G. It easily fits on a flash drive that fits in the palm of your hand! Now the dream of converting these files into electronic format will be realized!

Lodges should contact the Library to retain contents by July 1. Lodges may only receive folders of the current Lodge and past Lodges that have merged with their lodge. How to file your request:

Worshipful Masters or Secretaries, e-mail your requests with a list of lodge numbers for folders you wish returned. Provide shipping address to receive contents OR arrange for in-person pick-up at the Manhattan Branch by an authorized Lodge representative or DDGM.

Throughout the summer until Labor Day in-person pick-ups can be made by appointment at the Manhattan Library. Alternatively, we will also arrange for weekly shipments. DDGMs can also make pick-ups for Lodges in their districts. After Labor Day, future requests for contents will be processed on an annual basis—delivered to Lodges at St. John’s Weekend if they are still available.

Please contact the Library’s Manhattan branch by email above, or at 212-337-6619 with any questions.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

‘You know any Freemasons?’

Anyone catch the mention of Freemasons on Mad Men Sunday night? Roger Sterling and Peggy Olson were getting high on vermouth(!) while Roger packed his personal belongings for the move to McCann. He pulls out a Masonic ceremonial trowel, and asks Peggy if she knows any Freemasons. She laughs appropriately.

Where did Roger get that trowel? Could he have been a member of my own lodge, Publicity 1000?

I can’t get my DVR to talk to my iMovie, so here is a crude recording of the scene. Courtesy Lionsgate Television and American Movie Classics.


I hate to be like a groupie about it, but I’m going to miss this show. Only two episodes remaining. Losing this, and Letterman, and Vin Scelsa on the radio, all at the same time, is robbery.

©The New Yorker

‘The Bernie’

One of the highlights of the Masonic calendar in Pennsylvania is near. It’s always a good time. Make sure you get there. From the publicity:

Shiloh-MacCalla Masonic Lodge No. 558
Presents the Bernard H. Dupee, PM
Memorial Lecture

Tuesday, June 2
Social Hour: 6 p.m.
Dinner: 7:15
1017 DeKalb Pike
Gwynedd, Pennsylvania

The 2015 Bernard H. Dupee, PM Memorial Lecturer is none other than Brother Pierre G. “Pete” Normand, Jr. of Texas.

Pete is known internationally for his contributions in the field of Masonic research, writing, and publishing. In 1986, for the Texas sesquicentennial, he wrote and published The Texas Masons: The Fraternity of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons in the History of Texas.

Magpie file photo
He is a Past Master of Texas Lodge of Research, having served as Master of the lodge in 1989, and was named the lodge’s 15th Fellow in Masonic Research in 2003. In 1991, just before the appearance of the internet as a means of transmitting Masonic news, he created the St. Alban’s Research Society, and its quarterly publication, American Masonic Review. As a result of those efforts, he was named the 1996 Fellow of Maine Lodge of Research.

In 1991, he was one of eight founding members of The Scottish Rite Research Society, and was named one of the first Fellows of the Society, and served for ten years as editor of The Plumbline, the Society’s quarterly bulletin. He continues to serve on the Society’s Board of Directors.

He has served as a director on several Masonic boards, including the Brazos Valley Masonic Library and Museum, the Houston Scottish Rite, the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, and the Masonic Restoration Foundation.

In 2010, in recognition of his contributions in the field of Masonic research, he was named the 99th member of the Society of Blue Friars.

Three-course dinner with wine. Choices of entrée: Chicken Marsala or Blackberry-Barbecued Pork or Mediterranean Pasta. Reservations should accompany a check for $45 per person payable to “Shiloh-MacCalla Lodge No 558” no later than May 26. Event is for Masons only. Jacket and tie required.

Drop me a note in the comments section (not for publication) with your email address, and I’ll send you the remittance mailing address.

Friday, May 1, 2015

‘Abraham Lincoln and Anthroposophy’

Things to do and places to be in Anthroposophy this month in and near New York City.

Friday, May 1—“Inquiries on God: A Talk by Joe Serio” From the publicity: “Bringing fruits from his years of research, Joe Serio will present thoughts arising out of both East Indian thought and anthroposophy, leading to a conversation.

Admission: $15 suggested donation. 7:30 p.m. at Threefold Educational Foundation’s School of Eurythmy at 260 Hungry Hollow Road in Chestnut Ridge, New York.

Saturday, May 9—Marcus Macauley piano recital: works by Mozart and Beethoven.

Admission: $20 suggested donation. Pre-concert talk at 7:30 p.m. and concert at eight at School of Eurythmy, Hungry Hollow Road in Chestnut Ridge, NY.

The Human Being between the Michaelic
and Raphael Forces
by Walter Roggenkamp.
Monday, May 11—“Bringing the Lemniscate to Life.” Linda Larson, instructor in Eurythmy, will lead exercises to awaken creativity. (Bring soft-sole shoes.)

Admission: $20 (but free for first time visitors). 7 p.m. at the NYC Branch of the Anthroposophical Society at 138 West 15th Street in Manhattan.

Wednesday, May 13—“The Five Spiritual Events and Basic Human Tasks in the Michael Age.” Thomas Meyer lecture. From the publicity:

“Spiritual knowledge is not given to us as in ancient times. By spiritual means it must be struggled and striven for against a host of demons... We must therefore get to know the powers that would cover up and obscure all spiritual knowledge,” writes T.H. Meyer, in the preface of his forthcoming book on this topic. “The world seems to be standing within a demonic storm that threatens to overwhelm it.” Appeals to traditional religious belief will no longer pacify this storm, and neither will mere good will suffice. How can we better recognize the deeper significance of these times and orient ourselves accordingly?

Thomas Meyer is founder of Perseus Verlag, Basel, and editor of the monthly journals Der Europäer and the new The Present Age. His books include Reality, Truth, and Evil, Rudolf Steiner’s Core Mission, D.N. Dunlop, Ludwig Polzer-Hoditz, and The Development of Anthroposophy since Rudolf Steiner’s Death. He also edited Light for the New Millennium describing Rudolf Steiner’s association with Helmuth and Eliza von Moltke.

Admission: $20 (but free for first time visitors). 7 p.m. at the NYC Branch of the Anthroposophical Society at 138 West 15th Street in Manhattan.

Thursday, May 14—“The Reflections of Ancient Egypt on the Current Era: Thoughts on Rudolf Steiner’s First and Fourth Mystery Dramas” by Thomas Meyer.

Admission: sliding scale, $10-$30. 7:30 p.m. at Threefold Auditorium, 260 Hungry Hollow Road in Chestnut Ridge, NY.

Saturday, May 16—“The Bread of Life.” From the publicity: Lecturer Walter Alexander, medical writer and former public and Waldorf educator, “will lead a brief meditation workshop on Rudolf’s Steiner's adaptation of The Lord’s Prayer. We will consider its connection with Steiner’s Foundation Stone meditation and the relation of both to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.”

Donations welcome. 7 p.m. NYC Branch of the Anthroposophical Society. 138 West 15th Street in Manhattan.

Saturday, May 16—“The Little Prince” performed by Matthew Dexter. Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s tale brought to life in dramatized storytelling.

Admission: sliding scale, $5 to $30. 7 p.m. at Threefold Auditorium, 260 Hungry Hollow Road, Chestnut Ridge, NY.

Friday, May 22—“Spiritual Science and the Role of Technology in Evolution” by Andrew Linnell. Topics: the future of human-machine interaction; robotics and avatars; neuroplasticity of the brain; and electricity, thinking, and consciousness. Andrew Linnell is a 41-year veteran of the computer industry, and vice president of the Anthroposophical Society of Greater Boston. He lectures on various themes from art history to ancient mysteries, to artificial intelligence, and more.

Admission: sliding scale to $30. 7:30 p.m. at The Living Room at Threefold Main House, 285 Hungry Hollow Road in Chestnut Ridge, NY.

Thursday, May 28—“Abraham Lincoln: Spiritual Aspects Connected with His Task for the United States and Humanity,” by Virginia Sease, a member of the Executive Council of the International Anthroposophical Society at the Goetheanum in Switzerland. Admission: $15. 7:30 p.m. Threefold Auditorium, 260 Hungry Hollow Road in Chestnut Ridge, NY.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

‘That’s Italian!’

Magpie file photo

It’s an event that deserves six months advance notice, so mark your calendars and charter your buses. Garibaldi Masonic Lodge in New York City will confer the Entered Apprentice Degree in November at Masonic Hall.

Garibaldi Lodge No. 542
First Degree of Freemasonry
Friday, November 6
8 p.m.

Grand Lodge Room
Masonic Hall
71 West 23rd Street
New York City

This is the wonderfully alchemically symbolic ceremony of Masonic initiation from the French Rite, delivered in the Italian language.

Apprentices and Fellows are welcome and, in fact, are seated in the East with the Master and dignitaries, but must be accompanied by Master Masons when admitted. Bring aprons and identification, and be prepared to work your way into the lodge room.

Contact the lodge secretary, RW Bro. Robert Mascialino, no later than October 30 to report how many Masons are in your party. My advice is to arrive at around six o’clock to ensure you’ll find seating.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

‘Sad news: MOBIA to close’

Sad news announced this afternoon by the Museum of Biblical Art:

Museum of Biblical Art Board of Trustees
Announces Closure of Museum

It is with great sadness that the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Biblical Art announces that the Museum will close to the public on Sunday, June 14, 2015 and cease operations on June 30, 2015. MOBIA will not reopen in a new location. The Museum’s current exhibition, “Sculpture in the Age of Donatello,” will remain on view for its scheduled run through Sunday, June 14, 2015.

MOBIA had its origins as an art gallery founded in 1997 by the American Bible Society; the gallery opened in 1998 in the ABS building at 1865 Broadway, New York. In 2004, MOBIA became an independent art museum. MOBIA opened to the public in 2005, remaining on the second floor of ABS’s New York headquarters and continuing to receive significant in-kind and financial support from ABS. ABS sold its New York building in February of this year and will relocate to Philadelphia. With the building sale, MOBIA was required to find a new home. The Museum explored multiple options for a new site and potential partners with whom to collaborate. It was ultimately impossible in such a short timeframe to raise the funds needed for the increased operating budget necessitated by leasing and renovating a new site.

The Museum of Biblical Art, an independent non-profit arts institution, has as its mission examining the Bible’s influence on the Western visual tradition, and on artists from the historical past to the present day. The Museum has taken a secular perspective on the Bible’s pivotal role in art history, looking at how this text impacts artistic practice in both familiar and surprising ways. MOBIA has been committed to being inclusive and non-sectarian, inviting visitors of all beliefs and viewpoints to participate in its programs and engage with ideas at the intersection of a range of disciplines-from aesthetics to cultural history to religious studies.

MOBIA is located between Columbus Circle and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts at 1865 Broadway. For more information on MOBIA and its programs prior to the conclusion of the “Sculpture in the Age of Donatello” exhibition and the Museum’s closing, click here.

It seems like all the places in New York City I love are disappearing.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

‘Rose Circle on Facebook’

It made me realize it has been—amazingly—nine years since the Rose Circle Research Foundation’s first conference, but today the official Facebook page for Rose Circle went live. Facebook users click here.

I don’t write about Rose Circle much because it’s been more than four years since the last event—and I remember now that I never even got around to telling you about that—but if you don’t know, the Rose Circle Research Foundation is an independent educational non-profit group that unites many of the top thinkers in the field of Western Mystery Traditions. Rosicrucianism, Spiritual Alchemy, Freemasonry, Tarot (not the fortune-telling nonsense), and other studies are investigated by world renowned researchers and authors who speak from the podium at Rose Circle’s very well attended conferences in the New York City area. An announcement of a new event is expected next month.

That first event took place April 29, 2006 at the Bayonne Masonic Temple in New Jersey, the home of my Olde Mother Lodge. That one day brought together Michael Buckley, Chic Cicero, Sean Graystone, Trevor Stewart, Piers Vaughan, and others for an incredible and unforgettable celebration of enlightening the mind and invigorating the heart. To see these people, plus Robert Davis, Ron Cappello, Aaron Shoemaker, Thurman Pace, and more still seated in my Masonic lodge was a big thrill. (See below for the summary I shared with the Masonic Light group a few days later.)

Later gatherings, in 2008 and 2011, featured Steve Burkle, Chic and Tabatha Cicero, R.A. Gilbert, David Lindez, Christopher McIntosh, and many others, who I won’t embarrass by including them among the Pantheon, but all have dazzled with their esoteric understandings, historic findings, and other weighty stimuli. Just incredible events.

And here is that report from the first Rose Circle conference of nine years ago. Please read this patiently. The facts and concepts expressed here were almost totally foreign to me in 2006, and are only slightly familiar today. All errors and omissions are attributable to me, and not to the speakers. Sorry to say I have no photos of this event. I sat in the Senior Warden’s station with my old Minolta SLR and dutifully shot several rolls of film—that’s right: rolls of film!—and the prints are long gone. Anyway, happy anniversary, Rose Circle.

On Saturday, the newly blossomed Rose Circle Committee hosted its premier symposium on matters concerning and relating to the Craft. The Western Mystery Schools in Modern Masonry Conference met at the Bayonne Masonic Temple in New Jersey and was attended by approximately 100 men and women of all ages. No fewer than seven scholars presented multimedia programs on their fields of interest.

Bro. Aaron Shoemaker of Missouri, whose introductory address focused on the crucial need for mainstream Freemasonry to provide the secret teachings that many young Masons and prospective Masons are seeking. His insightful remarks definitely set the tone for the day; we in the audience had no doubt that the “thinking Mason” would be celebrated that day.

These Masons have “interest in pursuing the various rites and degrees, and not in collecting more aprons, titles and pins,” he said. He then charged us with the tasks of writing papers for our lodges and publications and to serve in leadership and committees for the very “survival of the fraternity.”

He concluded his remarks with words from Manly Hall’s The Lost Keys of Freemasonry:

“Masonry is eternal truth, personified, idealized, and yet made simple. Eternal truth alone can serve it. Virtue is its priest, patience its warden, illumination its master. The world cannot know this, however, save when Masons in their daily life prove that it is so. Its truth is divine, and is not to be desecrated or defamed by the thoughtlessness of its keepers. Its temple is a holy place, to be entered in reverence. Material thoughts and material dissensions must be left without its gate. They may not enter. Only the pure of heart, regenerated and transmuted, may pass the sanctity of its veil. The schemer has no place in its ranks, nor the materialist in its shrine; for Masons walk on hallowed ground, sanctified by the veneration of ages. Let the tongue be stilled, let the heart be stilled, let the mind be stilled. In reverence and in the silence, stillness shall speak: the voice of stillness is the voice of the Creator. Show your light and your power to men, but before God what have you to offer, save in humility? Your robes, your tinsel, and your jewels mean naught to Him, until your own body and soul, gleaming with the radiance of perfection, become the living ornaments of your Lodge.”

Next, Bro. Sean Graystone, 33° of New Mexico and a Board member of the Scottish Rite Research Society spoke on “Kabbalistic Symbolism in Freemasonry.”

He explained that the Kabbala of Western Hermetic thought is not identical to the classic Hebrew Kabbala, but is a “fabricated language of mysteries” drawing from Hebrew, Greek and Latin. He addressed gematria, a “highly sophisticated cyphering method,” that has enormous implications for esoteric Freemasonry. Taking the first word of Genesis, Graystone explained that this word in Hebrew (Bereshith) is an acronym for “In the beginning the Elohim saw that Israel would accept the law.”

Looking at the Hebrew word for “stone,” he explained that it is spelled with the Hebrew letters Ab (meaning “father”) and Ben (meaning “son”). Turning to Psalm 118, he said that the gematria of “the stone rejected by the builders” = 274, which equals that of the name Hiram Abiff.

Next, Bro. Chic Cicero, Grand Standard Bearer of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Florida, delivered a dramatic talk on the “History and Modern Manifestations of Rosicrucianism.” Explaining that Rosicrucianism is a three-fold mix of alchemy, psychology and mysticism, Cicero spoke at length on the power of the number 3 as a symbol to aid seekers in their quest for spiritual awareness. “The goal of alchemy,” he said, “is to bring humanity to its pre-ordained state of perfection” through the uncovering of inner wisdom that will carry “man’s lower nature to a higher attainment.”

Rosicrucian labor was shown to consist of a “dissolve and coagulate” method in which heat is applied to cause separation and solvents are used to attain purification before recombination is achieved.

Making parallels between psychology and faith, Cicero maintained that “the psyche is as real as the body is real,” and explained that events in the New Testament (Christ’s descent into Hell, for example) illustrate how confrontation is a step that need be taken toward reaching self-awareness.

Bro. Cicero does not mince words. At his conclusion he stated without hesitation that atheists and hedonists can never attain what the “true mystic” can because of their inability to suppress the ego.

It must be noted that there actually was an eighth speaker during the memorable day. VW Bro. Piers Vaughan of St. John’s Lodge No. 1, AYM, serving as emcee, took to the podium after each presentation to draw the conclusions that helped the rapt audience segue into each upcoming lecture. I think his job was the most difficult because the seven lecturers (for the most part) had their prepared texts and PowerPoint files, but Vaughan had to speak extemporaneously and with authority on each of these diverse topics, while establishing commonality among them all. To cite just one example, after Shoemaker’s introductory lecture on the allure of esoteric symbolism and before Graystone’s talk on Kabbala (and during the retooling of the audio/video equipment), Vaughan spoke convincingly of the urgent need for grand lodges to stop buying billboard space to tell the world that Masonry has no secrets. It’s not the meals and the charity that draw people to Masonry and the societies that surround it, he explained, but it is the religious (but not dogmatic) themes and the esoteric meaning of their rituals that are rooted in ancient Israel.

Bro. Michael Buckley addressed the conference on the subject of “Martinism and the Way of the Heart,” a topic perfect for him, as he is Grand Master of both the Martinist Order of Unknown Philosophers and the Hermetic Order of Martinists.

I won’t get too detailed here, as Buckley spoke of Martinism’s history, degree structure and other facts that are likely on the web. If I understood him though, the philosophy of Martinism can be likened to the ideals of Voltaire and the politics of Rousseau.

And I will say that I’m sorry to have missed ML’s very own Bro. Ron Blaisdell, Past Provincial Grand Recorder/Chancellor, who said he was coming from Florida. Ron, I don’t know if you made it to Bayonne, but if so, I am sorry I didn’t find you! Unfortunately I had to leave before the start of the panel discussion to help a brother catch a train at the Hoboken terminal and I couldn’t make it back to Bayonne because of heavy traffic. I did get to shake hands again with Ill. Robert Davis of Oklahoma, who I hear will return to New Jersey June 3 to speak at our Scottish Rite Council of Deliberation. Bob, I’ll have some cigars for you.

Bro. Gregory White, of Circle of Friends Chapter in California (I don’t know what this is a chapter of), gave us all “An Introduction to Tarot, Book ‘T’ of the Rosicrucian Manifesto.”

“The tarot deck,” said Bro. White, “is a map that moves us through the world” and “keeps the mind from wandering and helps redirect our thinking away from anger.” It is said that when the perfectly preserved corpse of Christian Rosenkreutz was discovered, in his hands was Book T, which, it was explained here, is the tarot deck. White mentioned that there are several very common tarot decks, but that the one appearing in his PowerPoint slides was “very Masonic.” And as regards spirituality, he borrowed from author David Hawkins’ “Spheres of Influences,” which charts the progression from Mundane to Astral to Spirit, a journey that I think is undertaken by prayer, followed by theurgy (ritualized prayer), followed by meditation, followed by use of the tarot cards.

And how are the cards employed? White showed one set of placement. Imagine four blackjack players and a dealer. The four are abreast of each other and the dealer is alone. The four settings are Past, Action, Result and Future, and the dealer is Present. White said (I think) the order of the five actually doesn’t matter because the cards will find their rightful places. (I’m sure someone here can make sense of this because I probably misunderstood.) He also showed the 22 trump cards and explained some of their archetypal natures. The Fool always means potential, he said, so there may be hope for me yet.

The sole speaker to receive a standing ovation was New Jersey’s own Bro. Taras Chubenko, who I’m privileged to know through my York Rite activities. He is protopresbyter of New Jersey’s largest Orthodox congregation and I know him as a very inspirational and thoughtful man who has made an enormous difference in the lives of two people I care about. His topic was “The Rectified Current of Christian Masonry and Mysticism in the Chivalric Orders,” which took him entirely by surprise. He digressed and spoke without notes on how our everyday concerns and activities can conspire to occlude Light from reaching us and reflecting off us. “We circumvent faith and want to see everything on paper,” he observed, “but there is nothing holy about the Bible (as an object). It is the CONTENT that can be holy to those who ‘see’ holiness.... There is an aura around each of us. Your ‘third eye’ can see it.”

On chivalry, he suggested its purest definition calls men to be true in the “embracing of the other sex” and be “accepting of women.” Yet another instance of this conference’s seeming mirroring of ML.

In conclusion, and perhaps provoking the aforementioned ‘standing O,’ Chubenko left the audience with this thought: “Heaven isn’t ‘up there’ and Hell isn’t ‘down there,’ but Heaven is right in front of you.”

Continuing on the theme of tolerance, VW Vaughan reminded us of how KST had many different groups of workers all doing their own tasks but working as one, united toward achieving a common goal. He repeated a call for which he is known: that Freemasonry’s fundraising experts, ritualists, dinner planners and scholars need to support each other’s endeavors because each represents an important facet of the Craft.

And last, but not least, and returning to New Jersey for the first time since his appearance as Prestonian Lecturer in 2004, Bro. Trevor Stewart of Quatuor Coronati opened all our eyes to Joséphin Péladan and his Salons de la Rose-Croix. Unfortunately time did not allow for more enjoyment of the dozens of PowerPoint slides showing off the truly stunning “symbolic art” paintings produced in Paris from 1892 to 1897 for these exhibitions. There’s truly nothing I can say to describe any of them. They must be viewed intently and joyfully, and perhaps accompanied by Holst’s work “The Planets.”

There were six Salons de la Rose Croix in this period, each dedicated to a Babylonian deity. The following is the list matching deity with planet and with (mythological) attribute.

The stated purpose of the Salon de la Rose Croix was “to ruin realism, reform Latin taste and create a school of idealist art.” This invitational Order was flawed, said Stewart, in that its purpose was defined not in terms of what the salon was, but in terms of what it was not, quite possibly resulting in the absence of France’s leading artists of the day. For example a lengthy list of prohibitive rules excluded the following subjects: history painting; patriotic and military painting; representations of contemporary life; portraits; rustic scenes; landscapes; seascapes and sailors; all humorous things; “merely picturesque Orientalism;” all domestic animals and those relating to sport; flowers, fruit, still lifes “and other exercises that painters ordinarily have the effrontery to exhibition.”

The list of acceptable themes was much shorter, but covered many media. Of architecture: “since this art was killed in 1789, only restorations or projects for fairly tale palaces are acceptable.”(!)

The results briefly glimpsed via PowerPoint were shocking in their daring originality. Even the posters made to advertise the events were stunning, including one depicting Perseus clutching Zola’s decapitated head.

“When the simple is ambiguous, what does it mean?” asked Stewart on behalf of M. Péladan. “Symbolic art is subjective. It appeals to the irrational and the variable.”

Despite having missed the panel discussion on “Esoteric Orders Today,” to which the audience was encouraged to submit written questions, this conference meant so much to me I can’t even articulate it. [Sorry, Magpie readers, but I have to omit several sentences here.] And then along came Piers Vaughan and the Rose Circle Committee and their outstanding symposium, bringing together experts and seekers from across two continents... and all under my own roof, to boot. It was hugely inspirational to look around my lodge room and see Trevor Stewart and see Robert Davis and Taras Chubenko and all the diverse, eclectic personalities in the audience... sitting at the edge of their seats.

It’s my understanding that other Rose Circle conferences are to come. I recommend keeping an eye on this and buying your tickets early.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

‘Rules of Civility, gratis’

Civility: Without it, there can be no society worth inhabiting, no human interaction in peace, and certainly no life in a private square of friends like Freemasonry. The urgency of civility in the Masonic lodge is emphasized by Grand Master Bill Thomas, speaking from the East in his travels about New York. Civility is at the root of civilization—and not just etymologically speaking either.

Around the time I was initiated into Freemasonry in 1997, I was attracted to a book by Richard Brookhiser, biographer of Washington, Hamilton, the Adamses, Madison, and other giants of U.S. history. He created a slim hardcover text titled Rules of Civility: The 110 Precepts that Guided Our First President in War and Peace that consisted of lessons in ethical and sophisticated behavior George Washington gleaned from a 17th century book intended to advise young men on mature attitudes and conduct. Today, those very lessons—all timeless, relevant, and in dire need in 2015—are available free of charge to you, courtesy of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Virginia. From the publicity:

Our Gift to You:
George Washington’s Rules of Civility

George Washington’s many virtues have, for centuries, led Masons to regard him as a true exemplar of the dignity and morality that our Craft espouses. He was twenty years old when be was initiated into Freemasonry and became exposed to the beautiful values taught in our degrees. But we know that Washington was already thinking about values and decorum about four years prior to that. Francis Hawkins’ 1661 book, Youth’s Behavior, Or, Decencie in Conversation Among Men, was a popular volume used in the education of young people in Washington’s day. At some point during Washington’s adolescence, he had occasion to make a copy of a section of this book.

The section is titled, “The Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation,” and Washington’s manuscript of it still survives in the Library of Congress. It is a manual of behavior comprising 110 guidelines for maintaining friendly and respectful relations among people. They show young Washington’s concern for civil behavior in public, in private, in business, and in all other realms of life. While some of the rules seem antiquated to us now, most are as useful today as they ever were. They provide important reminders for civil discourse and offer a fascinating window into the values that shaped George Washington from his very youth.

The George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association has published George Washington’s Rules of Civility as a 36-page booklet, and we are proud to make it available to you free of charge (North America only). Simply click here to request your copy today!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

‘MRF Symposium 2015’

Today the Masonic Restoration Foundation announced the plans for its Sixth Annual Symposium scheduled for Philadelphia in August. I am happy to report most of the presenters this year are brethren of The Masonic Society. Yours truly will be among the ten presenters, and I hardly can contain my excitement to be working with these Freemasons.

All the copy that follows is taken directly from the MRF’s website, but here are the essential links:

Symposium registration here. Hotel accommodations here. Full program here.

Click to enlarge.

The Masonic Restoration Foundation Symposium is the largest gathering of Masons in the United States who are expressly committed to observing the highest standards of excellence in the Craft. This year we are honored and privileged to be holding this great event at what is arguably the most beautiful Masonic temple on the continent: the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

The Symposium will take place from August 21-23, with meetings conducted in Corinthian, Ionic, and Norman Halls. The event will begin with an authentic English-styled Festive Board held in the Grand Banquet Hall on Friday evening, conducted by the brethren of Fiat Lux Lodge No. 1717, an English Emulation Lodge chartered under the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, and featuring comments from our Keynote Speaker, Robert Herd. Along with our usual lineup of interesting speakers, brothers will have the opportunity to see an Entered Apprentice degree using the unique Pennsylvania ritual, conferred by Fritz Lodge No. 308, the host lodge for the Symposium. Registration for the Symposium is $110.00.

This event is not to be missed, and we have secured excellent rates for accommodation at the Courtyard directly across from the Temple. All the information you need to participate is found here on this web site. We look forward to seeing you at the Symposium!

Brian Skoff
Master, Fritz Lodge No. 308
Organizer, MRF Symposium 2015

What is the MRF Symposium?

The MRF Symposium is a meeting place for Masons who are seeking the highest form of Masonic experience they can attain within their lodges, while strictly conforming to the laws, resolutions, and edicts of their respective grand lodges. It is a gathering for those who pursue quality in the Craft to share ideas and discuss their work. The Symposium begins on Friday evening at 7 PM, with a Festive Board in the Grand Banquet Hall, and concludes at noon on Sunday. We are fortunate to have an excellent program of speakers and presenters this year.

Who May Attend the Symposium?

Any Mason in good standing may register for the Symposium, provided he is a member of a Grand Lodge which is a member of, or is recognized by any of the Grand Lodges which are members of, the Conference of Grand Masters of North America. Registration for the Symposium is $110.00.

Topics and Panels

  • Freemasonry’s “Near Death” Experience
  • Constituting a New Observant Lodge
  • Restoring an Existing Lodge
  • The Initiatory Experience and Human Nature
  • Incorporating the Fine Arts into the Lodge
  • The Role of the Masonic Restoration Foundation
  • Restoration Through the Centuries
  • Come to Your Senses
  • Admit Him if Properly Clothed
  • Can We Transform a Brotherhood of Change?

Oscar Alleyne will give the Symposium's
Closing Address on Sunday morning.

Andrew Hammer, President of the Masonic Restoration
Foundation, will present the Opening Address.

Robert Herd will deliver the keynote address
at the Festive Board on Friday evening.

Dress Code for the Symposium: The Festive Board Friday evening will be formal (tuxedo is preferred, but black suit and black tie will be acceptable).

Saturday all attendees are required to wear dark suit and tie. No jeans or sneakers are permitted in the Temple.

Sunday will be business casual.

Note on Parking: A 20 percent discount will be provided only at the parking garage located at 1201 Filbert St, Philadelphia (if you exit the 13th Street side of the garage, the rear of the hotel is across 13th Street).