Thursday, December 8, 2016

‘(Just Like) Starting Over’

(With apologies to John and Yoko.)

The radio today won’t let you forget how on this date in 1980 John Lennon was murdered outside his home in the Dakota. Only two months past his fortieth birthday and about three weeks after the release of Double Fantasy, the LP that returned him to public life after the better part of a decade of domesticity and scaled down celebrity. (This was so long ago that a rock legend could walk around Manhattan unmolested, except for the occasional autograph or photo.) In promotional interviews, Lennon explained this new record of his and his wife Yoko Ono’s was a message to the fans who had come of age listening to his music, basically saying Hey, I’m still here. Forty years old now, and doing well. Hope you are too.

Lennon was not a Freemason but, when a younger man, was one of the Quarrymen.

Hearing the signature song from that record, “(Just Like) Starting Over,” put me in a mood to share this belated update of my recent Masonic exploits, the biggest of which concerns my exit from New Jersey Freemasonry in favor of New York Masonry. I have preferred the latter for many years, and in fact wanted to make this change more than a decade ago. If you know me, you may have realized I sometimes procrastinate. Also, it was hard deciding on a lodge where I should affiliate. Anyway, I think I reported somewhere previously on The Magpie of my being elected to membership in Publicity Lodge 1000 in Manhattan about two years ago, but this is my first mention of leaving my original lodge, Peninsula 99 in Jersey.

© The New Yorker

It is misunderstood by some at Peninsula that my defection reveals a dislike of the brethren there. This is wholly untrue (except for one old timer). Peninsula Lodge is one of the strongest lodges among the hundred or so constituent to the Grand Lodge of New Jersey; its membership—again, except for that one—are the friendliest Masons you’ll meet. It is true the lodge does not provide what I personally require to enjoy a Masonic cultural experience, but this is not why I quit the lodge. I could have continued as a dual member of both Peninsula and Publicity. I had no particular desire to leave Peninsula. In fact, I’ll be there tonight for the installation of officers.

My demit simply was an escape from the grand lodge. Many of you know why, but if you don’t, ask me next time we meet and I’ll tell you.

But that is the ugly past, and for me, it is a distant past. I requested my demit from New Jersey on April 29 (the day after Grand Master Montuori left office); the lodge balloted on my request May 12; and I received the demit (New Jersey incorrectly spells it “dimit”—figures!—see Mackey’s Encyclopædia, etc., etc.) on June 3. I’m supposed to surrender this certificate to Publicity’s secretary, but I haven’t been able to let it go. It makes me feel good. I never had my 33° patent framed, but I want to have this matted and framed in gilded oak. Except I can’t. I have to give it to my lodge secretary. And I will. Eventually.

I’m having a great time assimilating into Publicity Lodge and New York Masonry. At the earliest opportunity, I qualified for NorthStar certification. That’s the future of Freemasonry, thanks to its basis on ideas obviously gleaned from the Knights of the North, the Masonic Restoration Foundation, and maybe a few other outspoken thinkers. I also passed the Masonic Development Course—and I received parchments in both these things! I want to get them framed too, and I never saved stuff like that. As your faithful blogger, I’m really looking forward to the Digital Square Club’s Webmasters Conference at Masonic Hall next month. At lodge, I’m especially grateful for being able to join this group of cheerful, hardworking Masons. Our Worshipful Master’s enthusiasm is infectious. The dedication of the officers is inspirational. Attendance at meetings is encouraging. About twenty Masons have been made in the past year, and a number of them are active in lodge life. They made me Tiler of the lodge on Monday. You read correctly. The original Tiler had to give it up for some reason, and the Master nudged me to take the job. I would have promised and sworn on a stack of VSLs that my officer days were over, but there I am, alarming at the outer door when the latecomers arrive.

I go to Square Club meetings.

The Magpie Mason is a member of the Square Club. The district’s Square Club! No Masonic education. No esoterica. No philosophy. No mindfulness exercises. No frankincense. Not a single beeswax votive anywhere. They plan parties and stuff. Golf outings. I go to these meetings. Me. There’s one next Wednesday.

As justifiably jaded as I am, starting anew in New York Freemasonry is (just like) starting over.

(God, I just heard Greg Lake has died.)


Sunday, December 4, 2016

‘Rosicrucians to examine Divine Feminine this week’

Beginning tomorrow night and continuing all week, the Rosicrucian Order will present Grand Master Julie Scott for in-depth reviews of what esoteric thinkers term the Divine Feminine. These will take place at the Rosicrucian Cultural Center (2303 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard in Manhattan) nightly at 6:30, except for Saturday’s meet, which will take place at the Brooklyn Museum at one o’clock.

From the publicity:

Join Grand Master Julie Scott in a five-part exploration of the Divine Feminine, including how She is treated in the world today (in the West and in other parts of the world), Her power throughout history, and how embracing the Divine Feminine can contribute to a healthy, more sustainable future for our species and our planet.

We will explore how the Divine Feminine is perceived and experienced in today’s world, including in major religions such as Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. We also will meet the Primordial Goddess, as worshiped in the mists of time, and will be introduced to Judy Chicago’s epic contemporary work of art, “The Dinner Party,” which presents a symbolic history of women in Western civilization.

All are welcome!

Monday, December 5 – The Divine Feminine

Tuesday, December 6 – Egyptian Goddesses

Wednesday, December 7 – Greek Goddesses

Thursday, December 8 – Goddesses of the East

Friday, December 9 – Embracing the Divine Feminine

Saturday, December 10 – Trip to the Brooklyn Museum: Meet at the Brooklyn Museum to experience Judy Chicago’s epic contemporary work of art, “The Dinner Party,” which presents a symbolic history of women in Western civilization. We also will view objects related to some of the other traditions explored in the Divine Feminine workshops.

Courtesy Brooklyn Museum

Museum admission prices range from $10 (62 and older) to $16 per person. Ages 19 and under are free.

We will meet in the main lobby, near the ticket desk, at 1 p.m.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

‘Ron Cappello, 1951-2016’

Most Wise: Knight Senior Warden, for what reason is this grave prepared?

Senior Warden: Respect for the dead. Because the body is the dwelling and sanctuary of the soul; because the Grand Architect of the Universe made man in His own image; and because our mortal members are the fit instruments of an immortal mind. The four sides of the grave are indicative of the virtues which should adorn the person of every sublime Mason, and which we thus explain:

Reverence, Truth, Justice, and Purity, and are opposed to the vices of the ruffians [that] would destroy Masonry, namely Ignorance, Falsehood, Envy, and Egotism. The sprig of acacia, or myrtle, is the vivifying life that pervades all nature, and the urn implies the intellectual treasure, or immortal soul, the body of man contains.

Most Wise: What now remains to be done?

Senior Warden: To deposit the remains of our lamented Brother in its final resting place.

Most Wise: Let it be done.

Public Funeral Ceremony, on the 23°, of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Freemasonry (c. 1863), as published by the Grand College of Rites of the USA in the 2004 edition of Collectanea.

Of course 2016 has been vicious toward so many of the entertainers we have enjoyed for many years, but this year also has been rough on a number of prominent Freemasons. My thanks to Bro. David for alerting me to this obituary late last night. From the Journal News of New York:

Ronald V. Cappello, age 65, of Yonkers, died Wednesday, November 30, 2016. Ronald was born April 23, 1951 in Mt. Vernon, New York the son of the late Joseph and Marie (Papaleo) Cappello. Ronald was a graduate of Iona College with a Masters Degree in both science and art. He was a history teacher for the Yonkers Board of Education.

Ronald was a devoted Mason serving as Sovereign Grand Master of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis-Misraïm [for the United States], a member of Huguenot Lodge No. 46 F&AM for 34 years, he was also a member of the Bethlehem Crusader Knights Templar, the Royal Arch Masons, the Cryptic Masons, the Grand College of Rites of the USA, the Royal Order of Scotland, the Rosicrucian Order and the Knights Templar Order of the Temple. He was Past Grand Master of the Martinist Order of the Temple, and a representative for the Grand Lodge of Western Australia.

He is survived by his beloved wife Mary Lou (Capone) Cappello, his daughters Robin Foti-Nadzam, Victoria Cunningham and Yvonne Foti, his grandchildren Alora Gerace, Kyra Nadzam, and William Vanderlinden. Also surviving are his sisters Susan DeLorenzo and Frances Shikarides, his sister-in-law Marion LaGrotte, and eight nieces and nephews. Ronald was predeceased by his brother A. Charles Cappello.

Friends may call on Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Sinatra Memorial Home, Inc., 601 Yonkers Ave., Yonkers, NY. The funeral will be Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Eugene’s Church, 31 Massitoa Road, Yonkers. Committal will be private.

Published in the Journal News on December 2, 2016.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

‘The Way of Understanding’

The Gurdjieff Foundation of New York will offer another of its introductory events next week to explain a bit about its mystical teachings. This session, titled “The Way of Understanding: A Search in Daily Life,” will be hosted Friday, December 9 at 6 p.m. at the Center for Conscious Living & Yoga (227 East 24th Street, between Second and Third, in Manhattan). If you want to check it out, do them a big favor and reserve your seat by e-mailing the organizers here.

After attending an introductory event, like this one, you have the option of delving a little further into the matter at additional events.

Click to enlarge.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

‘2017 World Conference on Fraternalism, Freemasonry, and History’

Its full title is World Conference on Fraternalism: Including Ritual, Secrecy, Freemasonry, and Civil Society, and it is scheduled for May 26-27 of next year. Hosted by Policy Studies Organization, this will take place at the National Library in Paris. From the publicity:

Convened by the journal Ritual, Secrecy, and Civil Society, in cooperation with the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, France, the second World Conference on Fraternalism, Freemasonry, and History: Research in Ritual, Secrecy, and Civil Society focuses on the study of the lasting influence of the Enlightenment, ritual, secrecy, and civil society vis-à-vis the dynamics of scholarship around the world. The conference explores how civil society, social capital, secrecy, and ritual have been important elements during different episodes of local and world histories, and indeed still are. The WCFFH 2017 is a part of the PSO’s support of research into associations, civility, and the role of non-governmental organizations in democracy.

At the same time in alternate years (2018 and 2020) the PSO hosts a conference in Washington on fraternalism.

Information for Participants
in the 2017 World Conference

A new cafe will be open right by the conference rooms in 2017. During the lunch hour, as in 2015, movies will be shown for those not going out to one of the local cafes. Papers on secret societies depicted in films are welcome, as are papers on the conference musical presentation on Mozart and Freemasonry.

The conference is on Friday and Saturday. On Wednesday and Thursday there is a workshop at the Museum of Freemasonry on the Chevalier Ramsay and his claims for the origin of Masonry. Participation is by application.

Papers on Ramsay are welcome. Since 1717 saw the organization of the first grand lodge of England, papers occasioned by the anniversary are appropriate.

No charge is made for registration for the conference, but registration is requested to plan for catering, headsets, and other conference needs. For information and registration please contact PSO Executive Director Daniel Gutierrez here.

The conference has a general interest in fraternalism and is not confined to Freemasonry, nor is it under the auspices of any lodge. Rather, it is supported by the National Library of France, the Policy Studies Organization, and the American Public University.

Three awards will again be presented in 2017: the Bartholdi Award for Distinguished Scholarship, the Regulus Award for Distinguished Service, and the Kilwinning Award for a long period of distinguished service to the scholarly world.

Click here to RSVP.

Click here to read the amazing preliminary schedule. Lots of names you will recognize.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

‘Research lodge doings in Jersey and Virginia’

New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education No. 1786 will meet Saturday, December 10 for our installation of officers. While we usually meet at Hightstown-Apollo Lodge No. 41 in Hightstown, we will gather at the Trenton Masonic Temple (100 Barrack Street in Trenton) for the biannual installation of officers. Lodge opens at 9:30 a.m.

The lodge concludes a two-year term characterized by common sense stability under the instruction of Worshipful Master Dave Tucker. Ask anyone who is active in a research lodge in the United States (I’m in regular touch with many), and you’ll be told how difficult it is to keep the lodge productive. It has been my chief complaint about the fraternity almost since I was raised a Master Mason that Freemasonry here has done a poor job of cultivating a membership of intellectually curious men. It’s not necessary to hold a Ph.D. to be a Freemason or to enjoy a lodge of Masonic research, but despite the accessibility, research lodges all over suffer from a deprivation of talent and the resulting shortage of scholarly findings for presentation at the lectern. This results in fewer meetings of research lodges, and often in a flickering of weak Light during the meetings that are opened.

Our incoming Worshipful Master is Bro. Robert Howard, who currently serves the Grand Lodge of New Jersey as its Right Worshipful Grand Historian. Bob is a Mason who “gets it.” While he hasn’t divulged to me his overall plans for his two years in office, he has asked me to take the lead at our March 11, 2017 meeting at Hightstown to address the problem I defined above. My talk is titled “Question Everything (And Answer as Best You Can),” and the point is to explain what Masonic research and education means with the goal of demystifying work that really is straightforward and within most Masons’ grasp. More on this in a later edition of The Magpie Mason as that date nears.

Since 1995, Civil War Lodge of Research No. 1865 has been a forum where Masonic scholars mutually enjoy research into the innumerable ways the story of Freemasonry intersects with the history of the U.S. Civil War. Chartered by the Grand Lodge of Virginia—which probably holds the record for having the most lodges of Masonic research within one jurisdiction’s borders (I’ve lost count. Either five or six.)—and authorized to travel about Virginia and beyond, this lodge convenes meetings at various lodges, historic sites, and other venues where this singular focus of academic endeavor fits. Membership is open to Master Masons within and without Virginia. One of the Past Masters is a New York Mason!

The lodge’s installation of officers will take place Saturday, December 10 at Manasseh Lodge No. 182 (9810 Cockrell Road in Manassas). Lodge opens at 10 a.m. and the installation will begin at 11:30. Lunch to follow.

For 2017, the lodge plans to meet April 8 at Appomattox, July 8 at Winchester, and October 7 at Fredericksburg. Details to come.

Friday, November 25, 2016

‘Mozart’s Masonic Magic Flute at The Met and at the movies’

Courtesy Metropolitan Opera
Mozart’s Masonic opera The Magic Flute will return to the Metropolitan Opera for its annual end-of-year run, but if you cannot get to the city to enjoy that, a film version will be screened in movie theaters around the country next weekend too.

If you are a Freemason but are unfamiliar with The Magic Flute, this opera is remembered as Mozart’s Masonic masterpiece thanks to themes and imagery revealed in the action. To be clear, Mozart was a Freemason in Austria, meaning the rituals and symbols he experienced are not identical to what we in the English-speaking Masonic world know, but be assured you will recognize plenty!

The Met’s production will run from December 20 through January 5. Buy tickets here.

Courtesy Metropolitan Opera

From the publicity:


Tony-winner and Oscar-nominee Julie Taymor brings this innovative and magical recreation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute to life—complete with dancing bears and giant flamingos! The production is sung in English and shortened to just 100 minutes to form an abridged holiday version perfect for families.

Courtesy Metropolitan Opera


Pursued by a serpent in a strange land between the sun and the moon, Prince Tamino soon finds himself at the center of a wild adventure when he is saved by the mysterious handmaidens of the commanding Queen of the Night. Sent on a mission to save the Queen’s captured daughter Pamina with a magic flute and bumbling servant Papageno, Prince Tamino’s trials have just begun as he loses his heart to the Princess and comes to realize that the nature of good and evil in this odd place may not be as clear as they first appear.

Courtesy Metropolitan Opera

Sung in English with titles in English, German, and Spanish.

Run time: One hour and 40 minutes, with no intermission.

Adapted to suit ages six and up.

The production presented in the upcoming movie event also comes from The Met’s stage. Filmed about ten years ago in HD, this Magic Flute has been screened in movie theaters and broadcast on public television before. This time it comes to a theater near you next Saturday—December 3—at 12:55 p.m. Same time no matter where you are in the country. Run time is about two hours.

Click here for tickets.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

‘A Landmark Century nears’

Courtesy GWMNM

Seven years sounds like a long time off—it was the duration of apprenticeship in the world of medieval operative masons, according to the Halliwell Manuscript—but November 2023 will arrive soon enough, marking the start of a second century for the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. The brethren charged with superintending this Masonic treasure and National Historic Landmark endeavor to complete a daunting list of capital improvements and restorations before the centennial celebration of the cornerstone-laying.

We may help, aid, and assist by joining the Landmark Century Campaign. Click here to read a summary of the scope of the work needed, and to learn how to send your (and your lodge’s) gifts to the Memorial.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

‘Restoration of King Solomon’s Temple’

Long before there was PowerPoint, and even predating the Kodak Carousel by decades, there was a marvelous technology named Magic Lantern. Among its users were lodges of Freemasons, which employed this wizardry to, er, illuminate the lecture portions of the three degrees of initiation in a time when tracing boards were being phased out.

Courtesy Livingston Library

The slides were hand-painted glass lenses encased in wooden frames that were bigger than your hand, and that had to be inserted into and removed from the Magic Lantern projector by hand as the narration of the lecture proceeded.

Next time you clean out your lodge’s attic or other forgotten, neglected storage space, and you happen upon these quaint and mysterious objects, that’s what they are.

Fast forward to 2016 (Is even fast forward a thing any more?) and the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York will host a presentation of a collection of the Magic Lantern images from 1926 in a holiday season gathering open to Masons and friends of Freemasonry. From the publicity:

The Restoration
of King Solomon’s Temple
Presented by RW Peter A. Flihan
Thursday, December 15
6:30 p.m.
Livingston Library
Masonic Hall
71 West 23rd Street, 14th Floor

RW Peter A. Flihan
Grand Treasurer
Join us December 15 for a journey through time. Reading from a script prepared in 1926 for Masonic education, RW Peter A. Flihan will narrate the story of the Restoration of King Solomon’s Temple while we marvel at the projected images of the original hand-colored slides.

Surrounded by candlelight, with eggnog in hand, friends and family will enjoy this meaningful tale perfectly timed for the holiday season.

This presentation is free and open to all. Please RSVP to the library here.

Thursdays usually are impossible for me, but with the promise of eggnog, I will be there. Remember, photo ID is required to enter Masonic Hall, and don’t forget to RSVP to the library.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

‘From the desk of the Grand Master’

Click to enlarge.

Monday, November 14, 2016

‘Thursday! Piers Vaughan on the Purpose of Initiation in Freemasonry’

Piers Vaughan Reading and Book Signing
Chancellor Robert R. Livingston
Masonic Library
Thursday at 6:30
Masonic Hall, 14th Floor
71 West 23rd Street

Photo ID required to enter building.

RSVP here

Author and Freemason extraordinaire Piers Vaughan will appear at the Livingston Library Thursday night to read from his latest book Renaissance Man & Mason. The library seating area is a small space, so get there early.

Renaissance Man & Mason is, according to the title page, “A Miscellany of Talks Given Over 20 Years.” It delivers 22 of Piers’ thoughtful interpretations of things Masonic (and more). Even if you have heard some of these before, there is no substitute for having the text in hand for greater comprehension and further reference. On Thursday, we will hear the chapter titled “The Purpose of Initiation in Freemasonry.”

The library, its lecture series, and this event in particular are among the myriad reasons why the Grand Lodge of New York is the center of the Masonic universe on the East Coast. This lecture is sponsored by the Queens Masonic Association.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

‘U.S. Blues?’

By now you must have heard something about the results of the American presidential election five days ago and, if you’ve been as unlucky as I, you have gaped in disbelief at countless lurid outbursts, dripping with idiocy, ignorance, and hypocrisy, on social media from people you’ve known—or thought you had—for years.

Simply by happenstance I also saw a few photos that have nothing to do with anything in current events, and that put me in a happier state: snapshots of the Grateful Dead in somewhat Masonic contexts.

In an undated photograph but, it was said, possibly March 3, 1968, here are Jerry, Phil, and Bobby (can’t see the drummer) on stage, or flatbed, outside the former Park Masonic Hall, next to the crazy Haight Theatre at Haight and Cole streets in San Francisco:

Opening with “Viola Lee Blues,” here they are November 10, 1967, in a four-night stint at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles:

Like so many (most?) Dead shows, this was recorded and, just this year, a three record set—vinyl!—was released by Rhino.

Courtesy Amazon

And I’ll wrap up this frivolity with a link to their January 21, 1979 show at the Detroit Masonic Temple with a “U.S. Blues” encore.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

‘Bookstore holiday sale next week’

Courtesy Anthroposophy NYC
The Rudolf Steiner Bookstore in New York City will begin its annual book sale next Tuesday, offering 15 percent off everything through January 6, 2017.

That’s 138 West 15th, between Sixth and Seventh, in Manhattan.

The management says the inventory is freshly stocked with new titles from Steiner Books and “all the essential classics,” and I’ll also say there is no need to be an Anthroposophist to shop, and there is more to find on the shelves than Anthroposophical texts. Freemasons, Rosicrucians, and others should check it out. The place has been renovated recently, and is looking sharp.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

‘Quatuor Coronati Conference 2018 in Virginia’

Today is the feast day of the Four Crowned Martyrs, so what better time to share the news of the 2018 Quatuor Coronati Conference planned for the George Washington Masonic National Memorial?

A call for papers has been published. From the publicity:

Magpie file photo
The George Washington Masonic National Memorial.
(Yes, National is back in the name.)

Quatuor Coronati Conference:
Freemasons in the Transatlantic World
During the Long Eighteenth Century
September 14-16, 2018
George Washington Masonic National Memorial
Alexandria, Virginia


Subject Fields: History, Freemasonry, Eighteenth Century, Biography, Prosopography

Sponsors: Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association

Title: The Academic Committee of the 2018 Quatuor Coronati Conference, co-sponsored by Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 of the United Grand Lodge of England, and the George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association, invite proposals for papers presenting new research in the form of biographical or prosopographical findings in the history of Anglo-American Freemasonry during the long eighteenth century, including studies of Freemasons in or from Britain, Ireland, all of North America and the Caribbean. Early and mid-career academics are particularly encouraged to apply, though proposals from senior and independent scholars are also welcomed.

Abstracts/proposals of up to 500 words, along with a brief CV, should be submitted in the body of an e-mail to Susan Sommers here with “QC 2018” in the subject line.

The closing date for submissions is May 1, 2017.

And if that isn’t enough QC2076 news for you, I just learned from W. Gerald Reilly, everybody’s favorite from the ML group, that he will attend Quatuor Coronati tonight to receive the Norman B. Spencer Prize(!) for his paper: “Urbanization of Harwich and Freemasonry.”

Congratulations, my venerable and beloved brother!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

‘Mozart, Mendelssohn and more at the Concert Matinee’

It is time again for the School of Practical Philosophy’s annual concert in New York City. Tickets here. From the publicity:

Concert Matinee
Saturday, December 3
3 to 5 p.m.
Theatre of St. Jean
184 East 76th Street
$30 per person

Hosted by the School of Practical Philosophy Choir, and featuring professional singers and instrumentalists, the concert offers:

  • Magnificent music from the ninth to the 20th centuries, including works by Mozart, Handel, Mendelssohn, and Stravinsky
  • A jazz piano improvisation
  • A diverse array of solo repertoire
  • A festive reception for all after the concert

Join us for the first time in the Theatre at St. Jean, with its professional stage, grand piano, comfortable theater seating, wonderful acoustics, and an excellent view of the performance from every seat.

Delight in hearing the fine talent of students in the School of Practical Philosophy, many of whom have performed in prestigious venues in New York City.

The program:

Suite Italienne for Violin and Piano
(selected movements)
Igor Stravinsky

“Thus Saith the Lord”
“But Who May Abide the Day of His Coming?”
Solo Recitative and Aria for baritone
from The Messiah
G. F. Handel

Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello in C major (K.548)
(1st movement)
W. A. Mozart

“Rex Caeli Domine” (organum) for choir
(circa 850)
Scholia enchiriadis

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano
(2nd movement)
Felix Mendelssohn

“Ombra mai fù”
Alto aria from Xerxes
G.F. Handel

from Missa Brevis in C (K. 259)
W. A. Mozart

“Dona Nobis Pacem”
for choir and instruments
Traditional round

A jazz piano improvisation

Songs of the Season
Audience and Choir

Thursday, November 3, 2016

‘Congratulations in the Glorious Fourth’

Click to enlarge.
I cannot attend the festivities tomorrow night, so I want to extend my best wishes to the four honorees, who will be reinvested with the regalia of their offices, in a black tie gala at Masonic Hall hosted by the Fourth Manhattan District.

In New York Freemasonry, those who attain grand rank receive their aprons and other regalia upon being installed in office, and there also are local celebrations, where the regalia is re-presented in a setting their lodge brethren and loved ones may attend more conveniently.

I’m happy for you all. See you Monday at Publicity.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

‘Light! Camera! Aprons!’

What a great night at Masonic Hall underway now! As this edition of The Magpie Mason goes to press, a film crew from Pinstripe Productions Ltd. from Glasgow is filming inside the Livingston Library for an upcoming BBC Scotland documentary on Robert Burns and the importance of Freemasonry to his life and work, but just a little more than an hour ago they were filming a group of us making believe we were in lodge assembled for a philosophical discussion.

Forget Hollywood glitz, this is Glasgow glamour!

The production company contacted Grand Lodge a week ago to express its desire to include New York Masons in this documentary to illustrate how Burns’ poetry is beloved in America. None other than RW Bro. Piers Vaughan—a U.S. citizen with a Brighton accent—was put in command of organizing this thing. (He has experience managing CBS News in Masonic Hall.) So, after securing the permission of the Grand Master, of the Masonic Hall Trustees, and, most importantly, of the building management staff, he was able to corral everybody inside the Empire Room on 12, while securing the altar cloth (but no Washington Bible) and regalia of venerable St. John’s Lodge No. 1 so we’d all look good. We’re told this will be broadcast in the United Kingdom next Burns Night.

As I mentioned, the crew is now in the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library interviewing Librarian Morgan Aronson and Curator Catherine Walter on the library’s various Rabbie Burns artifacts and books, but for our segment, we were seated in the Empire Room for a talk on the Masonic symbolism of the Number 3.

Piers, standing, addresses the East, with RW Jim,
RW Earnest, and Bro. Parker listening.

It was great fun. Nothing was scripted, and I think about 20 of us took turns to be upstanding for the Worshipful Master, holding the Sign of Fidelity, and expounding on the various meanings the Number 3 has to the Masonic Order.

Our impromptu Junior Warden.
I didn’t take a lot of notes because we were supposed to look natural, but the discussion ranged from religious trios (Father, Son, Holy Spirit; Osiris, Isis, Horus) to Masonic ritual (three degrees, three ancient grand masters, three to open a lodge, “three distinct knocks,” three raps of the gavel, etc., etc.) to Craft symbolism (three stages of life, the Trivium, three symbolic supports, Theological Virtues, etc., etc.) and a lot more, even from outside the fraternity, such as the three equal branches of American governance. None of this has anything directly to do with Robert Burns, Freemasonry’s Poet Laureate, but the point was to display to the television audience how a Masonic lodge functions. The more than half-hour discussion probably will be distilled to a half-minute clip in the final production, I’d guess.

Later someone noted there were 33 of us in the meeting!

At some point during the exhibition, The Magpie Mason rose, stood on the Sign of Fidelity, and suggested:

Worshipful Master, in Freemasonry we see the Freemason himself embodying the Number 3. By symbolically being the Rough Ashlar in need of moral improvement; and by being the builder himself who endeavors that work; and finally by becoming the Perfect Ashlar at the end of life’s labors, it is Masonic Man who is the Number 3.

(When it looked as though things were winding down, I also offered: “This is off topic, but when we get to the Festive Board, we will charge our cannons and fire three times,” hoping for more of a laugh than I got!)

WHY IN THE EAST?—Wearing a kilt tonight got
you plum seating for the shoot!

So, those of you in the U.K. should expect to see us, however briefly, on January 25, 2017—Burns Night. Maybe the program will make it to American viewers on one of the BBC cable channels eventually.

God, I love New York Freemasonry.

Monday, October 24, 2016

‘Garibaldi EA° next May’

I realize this comes a bit early, but save the date, mark your calendar, program your phone or whatever for Friday, May 5, 2017 when Garibaldi Lodge 542 in the Tenth Manhattan District will confer its famous and singular Entered Apprentice Degree.

This will take place at Masonic Hall (71 West 23rd Street in Manhattan) inside the Grand Lodge Room, which accommodates a maximum of, I think, around 1,200 people. I’ve been there when that huge room was full beyond capacity, and the Fire Department ordered hundreds to be removed for safety reasons—causing several bus loads from Pennsylvania to head home before even the first gavel was sounded.

Don’t let that happen to you.

Make group reservations with the lodge secretary by e-mailing him here. Tell RW Mascialino who you are, from where you will be coming, and how many will be in your party to ensure seating will be waiting for you. Bring your Masonic membership identification and your apron, and be ready to work your way into a tiled Masonic lodge. And you’ll need photo identification to enter the building. Make it easy on yourself and everyone else by arriving at Masonic Hall before 6 p.m. The degree will start at eight.

Magpie file photo
Garibaldi Lodge altar.

The allure of the Garibaldi EA° is almost entirely attributable to the ritual that will be worked. It is a French Rite ritual given to Garibaldi Lodge by its sister lodge in the Tenth Manhattan, l’Union Française Lodge 17. Garibaldi modified it by translating it into Italian, and that will be the language spoken during the degree. All other greetings, commentaries, commands, etc. from the East will be in English.

If you know about Scottish Rite lodge degree rituals, then you have an idea of what to expect on this night: highly symbolic and intense floor work with obvious alchemical meanings, as one finds in lodges in Europe and South America. Don’t worry about the language barrier; it only enhances the enthralling otherworldliness of the proceedings—and you’ll still get it, I assure you.

You’ve probably heard something of the Garibaldi EA, but maybe haven’t had the chance to experience it, so take advantage of this more-than-six-months advance notice and plan to get to Masonic Hall next May 5.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

‘Masonic Feast of Feasts next week’

It really is idiomatic to the Southern Jurisdiction of Scottish Rite Masonry in the United States, but there are traditionalist-minded Scottish Rite Masons in the north who like to broaden their horizons, so the Valley of New York City will host its annual Feast of Tishri next Tuesday. From the publicity:

Scottish Rite of New York City
Feast of Tishri
Tuesday, November 1
7:30 p.m.
Masonic Hall
71 West 23rd Street

The first meeting of the Valley of New York City will be held in Banquet Rooms 2 West and 2 Central on the second floor of Masonic Hall on Tuesday, November 1, and will open promptly at 7:30 p.m.

The program for the evening will be the Feast of Tishri performed by the Knights of Saint Andrew. The keynote speaker will be Shlomo Bar-Ayal, 32°.

There is no charge for this ceremony, and it is open to all Masons and friends of Freemasonry, but reservations are required. Please respond promptly with your reservation information (including names of guests) by e-mailing here no later than Friday the 28th.

In traditional Scottish Rite Freemasonry, which adheres to the Jewish calendar, there is a celebration called the Feast of Tishri hosted in a Lodge of Perfection. Inspired by the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot (see Deuteronomy), a harvest thanksgiving, this fraternal Feast of Tishri is, in the words of Ill. Arturo de Hoyos, “the Masonic feast of feasts.”

In The Scottish Rite Ritual Monitor and Guide, de Hoyos writes:

“The origins and significances of the Feast of Tishri make it the most Scottish Rite of festivals. Although originally celebrated as a harvest and gathering festival, no other occasion epitomizes the character and purpose of the Rite more wholly than our historic celebration, held in conjunction with the dedication of King Solomon’s Temple (2 Chronicles 7:8-10). To marshal the meanings of the feast is to summarize the principal ideals and traditions of our Fraternity.

“First of all, we observe the Feast of Tishri because it is an age-old custom that now has the power of law. Under the Statutes of the Supreme Council, the feast is considered an obligatory observance, a sharing of our fraternal spirit.

“Secondly, the rich legendry of the Temple’s dedication, held in connection with the Feast of Tishri, is an essential part of the Fourteenth Degree. The symbolic details of the Temple’s position, design, construction, furnishing, and decoration carry special meaning as they apply to the metaphorical temple of Freemasonry built in the heart of every Brother. Through the symbols of the Temple, we learn to recommit ourselves to building Freemasonry in the hearts of men” and among nations….

“The consecration of the Temple must also be observed at the Feast of Tishri because it teaches the equality and unity of all members of the Rite. The people of Israel, unified under Solomon, were equal in their devotion to the Lord and equal in their sovereignty to all other nations. In the Feast of Tishri, all Perfect Elus and those of higher Degrees can join at the banquet table and share the bond of fraternal unity.

“Yet another reason to keep the Feast of Tishri is that such observance fosters the spirit of fellowship. We meet at a common table, express our mutual esteem, and so promote that essential bond of cordiality and respect which lightens and shares the weight of our Masonic endeavors. Such social amenities open us to each other in an atmosphere elevated beyond the sphere of normal, day-to-day communication. Within the context of the Feast of Tishri, we realize more deeply than ever before the value of our fellow men, without which the individual is lost in a self-imposed prison of human isolation.

“Finally, the law, legendry, peace, equality, unity, and fellowship of the Feast of Tishri combine to make this the Masonic feast of feasts. At the reflection table, all men—Jew, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and others—join in a common voice of thanksgiving where every man can share his gratitude and express his sincere thanks to Him Who made all things. The Deity has given us life, the strength to live it fully, and the joy of sharing the beauty and goodness of His creation with our fellow men. Most of all, He has given us freedom. The Feast of Tishri celebrates this freedom the Israelites won with the guidance of Providence, despite the shackles of Egypt and the armies of the Philistines.

“This ancient victory celebrated in the dedication of Solomon’s Temple is kept forever fresh through our keeping of the Feast of Tishri. It promises to all men that the burdens of tyranny are temporary, that the darkness will yield to light, that knowledge will conquer ignorance, and that the Creator intended all men to be free. The message of Tishri comes to us strongly and clearly from across the ages because it has been so preserved in the symbolism and allegory of the Scottish Rite. Through our observance of this great feast of thanksgiving, we, as heirs of Solomon, perpetuate his magnificent Temple of freedom in our lives, our communities, our country and, most of all, in our beloved Rite.”

The Feast of Tishri is among the constitutional celebrations of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite-Southern Jurisdiction, and is unknown in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (where the Feast of the Paschal Lamb is hosted in proximity to Passover and Easter), but the brethren in New York City will host their Feast of Tishri nonetheless. I missed it last year, but I hope to see you next Tuesday.