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 Inner Quest Lodge, a “T.O.” lodge in 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).

Sunday, April 12, 2015

‘Prince Hall visit to Peninsula’

Flanked by Peninsulas Wardens, the Worshipful Master welcomes the delegation from neighboring Omega Lodge No. 64, PHA. From left: Senior Warden Bill, RW Bro. Angelo, Peninsula Worshipful Master Omar Morris, Omega Worshipful Master Ronald, RW Bro. Benjamin, and Junior Warden George.

A great night Thursday at (mighty) Peninsula Masonic Lodge No. 99 in Bayonne, New Jersey, thanks to Worshipful Master Omar Morris’ invitation to Omega Lodge No. 64, our Prince Hall neighbors down the street, to visit and teach the brethren about PHA Masonry. RW Bro. Benjamin, his son RW Bro. Angelo, and W. Bro. Ronald, Master of Omega Lodge, arrived in their resplendent regalia. The visit was reciprocal; just two weeks earlier, a delegation of Peninsula brethren visited Omega for the occasion of Omega’s annual rededication ceremony—a tradition that reinforces the brethren’s oaths and obligations.

In his remarks from the East, RW Benjamin told his audience about that rite, emphasizing a Freemason’s need to remember his vows and to recommit himself to his lodge. “That oath tells you what to do,” he said. “Sometimes we drift away, but these are the things you swore to do.”

He also spoke at length on the life and times of Bro. Prince Hall, and about the history of the Masonic fraternity that evolved in his name after his death. If you are a regular reader of this website, you should have some knowledge of these facts, so I won’t offer them here—and there are better places on the web to learn about them—except to point out how Bro. Benjamin noted that on that very date in 1770, Prince Hall was emancipated from slavery. A choice coincidence.

I hope our two lodges continue to visit each other, strengthen the bonds, and labor together for the city’s benefit. As Bro. Benjamin said, “The work is in the street—in our community. We all took that oath.”

The current issue of the Masonic Stamp Club of New Yorks periodical.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

‘A Royal Arch and Kabbalah lecture’

It’s been more than four years since I have presented any kind of educational talk on the subject of Royal Arch Masonry, but I’ll try it again next month in my Chapter.

I delivered this lecture last in Pennsylvania, and I think it went well. I still have not written it, but this essentially is a discussion of how key elements of Royal Arch ceremony and symbolism are defined by Masonic ritual, by the Hebrew Bible, and by that giant body of Kabbalist literature named The Zohar.

Dinner will be served at 7:15 (only seven bucks!), and reservations are required by e-mailing the Secretary at scottchapter4nj(at) no later than Wednesday, May 6.

Attendance, naturally, is only for Royal Arch Masons. Hope to see you there.

‘Quarry Project registration is open’

The Masonic Society, the Masonic Library and Museum Association, and the Masonic Information Center invite you to Phase II of the Quarry Project in September at Indianapolis. The webpages for event registration and hotel reservation are up.

The Quarry Project Phase II:
Masonic Conference
on Research and Preservation
September 18-20

Register for both the conference and the gala banquet here. Register for the conference no later than July 1, and benefit from the reduced fee of $225.

To reserve your hotel accommodations at Hilton Indianapolis Hotel & Suites, click here.

The schedule of events and the list of presenters will be shared soon.

About the Quarry Project:

The Quarry Project is a continuing effort designed to promote Masonic research and preservation by providing instruction and guidance to Masonic writers, researchers, and editors, both within and without the fraternity, and to Masonic librarians and museum curators on the display, preservation, and cataloging of Masonic archives. Phase II will feature a third track on Masonic public relations sponsored by the Masonic Information Center, an arm of the Masonic Service Association. The public relations track will feature presentations on the use of social media and other topics designed to improve communication between Masonic organizations, their members, and the public at large.

The format for Phase II will remain basically the same, with a few tweaks based on feedback from Phase I attendees. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday will begin with a general session featuring a keynote speaker. Attendees will then break out to the instructional sessions of their choice on Friday and Saturday, with both days adjourning at approximately five. Lunch on Friday and Saturday will be included in the registration fee.

A banquet will be held on Saturday evening. Sunday will feature a roundtable discussion immediately after the morning keynote address, and the conference will adjourn by noon.

We invite anyone, Freemason or not, with an interest in these topics to attend the conference. The programs are currently being developed and will be made available as soon as they are complete.

You may register for the conference at this website only. Please note that you must register separately for the Saturday evening gala banquet. It is not included in the conference registration fee.

You may reserve a room at the Hilton Indianapolis Hotel and Suites by visiting this link, which is dedicated to The Quarry Project.

There are a limited number of rooms available at this rate. For those interested in sharing a room, please note that the King Bed Deluxe Room includes a king size bed and a sofa-bed. For more details, please visit the hotel website. Parking in the hotel parking garage is available at a reduced rate of $12 per day. There is no hotel shuttle to or from the airport. The airport is approximately eight miles from the hotel and a one-way cab ride averages about $25.

In conjunction with The Quarry Project, The Masonic Library and Museum Association will hold its annual meeting prior to this event on Thursday, September 17. Please contact the MLMA for further details on the meeting. MLMA members may reserve a room for September 16 at the conference rate by using the dedicated reservation website above.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

‘Rosicrucian Themes in the 17° and 18°’

The Passion Cross Banquet Table at the Feast of the Paschal Lamb
hosted by New York City Chapter of Rose Croix March 26 at Masonic Hall.

I had a great time last Thursday visiting the Scottish Rite Valley of New York City on the occasion of its Feast of the Paschal Lamb, the ecumenical memorial service for departed brethren that taps into Jewish and Christian traditions under the auspices of a Chapter of Rose Croix. It is one of the very few opportunities the public may witness a serious Masonic ritual, and the Scottish Rite Masons who brought that ceremony to life deserve to be commended—Most Wise Master Henry Colon in particular for ensuring a solemn and meaningful evening.

Along those lines, the Valley of New York City will host a four-body meeting (Lodge, Council, Chapter, and Consistory) next Tuesday at Masonic Hall when Ill. Piers Vaughan, 33° will present a lecture titled “Rosicrucian Themes in the 17° and 18°.” Masonic Hall is located at 71 West 23rd Street in Manhattan, and the brethren will be found on the 12th floor in the Gothic Room at 7:30. Piers a Past Most Wise Master of the Chapter of Rose Croix, and is 1st Lieutenant Commander of the Consistory, and of course is more than worthy and well qualified to discuss this topic thanks to his background in Rosicrucianism and other paths. Wish I could be there.

The Feast of the Paschal Lamb borrows from the lessons
of both Passover and Easter for a distinct Masonic experience.


‘Starting a second century’

Courtesy AMORC
Click to enlarge.

One hundred years ago today, the Rosicrucian Order established itself in New York City, bringing traditions and beliefs from across the Atlantic and from centuries past. (I am always amused to see Masonic jargon adopted by the Order, and this charter is full of such terms.) Click here to read a summary history of the Order.

Monday, March 30, 2015

‘Meaning, laws, and attunement in life’

Unbelievably, April is practically here, and I haven’t yet written about Masonic Week, Royal Arch weekend in Albany, and a number of other memorable events from winter. I’ll get there, but in the meantime, here is news of coming attractions surely of interest to Magpie readers in or around New York City.

The Gurdjieff Foundation of New York will offer another introductory discussion on Friday, April 10. Titled “The Search for Meaning in the Midst of Life,” this program will begin at 6:30 p.m. at 104 Berry Street in Williamsburg. Reservations are recommended. See the flier for info:

Click to enlarge.

“Only by beginning to remember himself does a man really awaken. And then all surrounding life acquires for him a different aspect and a different meaning.”

G. I. Gurdjieff

On April 18 and 19, the Rosicrucian Order will host another Mystical Weekend at the Rosicrucian Cultural Center at 2303 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard in Manhattan.

Saturday, from 1 to 5 p.m.: “Discuss Spiritual Laws” with Dr. Lonnie Edwards, author of Spiritual Laws that Govern Humanity and the Universe. Open to all.

Sunday, from 1 to 5 p.m.: Various sessions and discussion for brothers and sisters of the Order.

On the following Saturday, April 25, Builders of the Adytum will host its annual Vibratory Attunement Ritual. This is an exercise involving devotions and sensory perception of sound and color—a very interesting experience that I recommend. This is open to the public, and will take place at 4 p.m. at Masonic Hall (71 West 23rd Street, 12th floor Chapter Room, in Manhattan). The event follows BOTAs regular fourth Saturday Elements in Tarot and Hebrew session which begins at 10 a.m.

And you Freemasons, don’t forget W. Anthony Mongelli will appear Wednesday at Livingston Lodge No. 11 in New Jersey.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

‘Savini to present Walker Lecture’

One of the many great traditions in New York Freemasonry is the annual Wendell K. Walker Memorial Lecture sponsored by Independent Royal Arch Lodge No. 2 in the First Manhattan District. RW Bro. Thomas M. Savini, Director of the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library, will be this year’s honored speaker. This will take place Thursday night at 7:45 in the library, located on the 14th floor of Masonic Hall at 71 West 23rd Street in Manhattan.

Old No. 2 also will host dinner afterward ($50 cash per person) at Aleo on 20th Street at Fifth Avenue. Sorry for the late notice, but if you wish to attend the event, make your reservation right now by contacting Junior Warden Larry Wolff at jw(at) Right now as in immediately. The deadline was Sunday. The Sunday that was two days ago.

This memorable occasion is open to Masons, their ladies, and friends. Business attire please.

Monday, March 16, 2015

‘The slender thread of life’

Mortality is a huge subject in Freemasonry. Maybe it’s not the dominant topic or theme, but death looms almost everywhere in Masonic ritual and symbol; in tenet and teaching. The thing is, death is discussed as the natural inevitability that follows long life. As the Master Mason Lecture of your lodge might phrase it, give or take a word: “The tender hopes of youth, the blushing honors of manhood soon vanish, and are succeeded by the withering frosts of age; and the sands of life, whether slowly or rapidly, will surely ebb away.”

Magpie file photo

W. Bro. Tony Brown, Master of historic Allied Lodge No. 1170 in New York City, lost his life Friday night unpredictably and unbelievably. He was 33 years old. The lodge will meet tonight for its regular communication, with Grand Master Bill Thomas sitting in the East, to eulogize its Worshipful Master. In Craft Masonry there isn’t much to prepare the bereaved for the loss of one so young.

Masonic funeral services: Guarino Funeral Home of Canarsie. Saturday, March 21. Brethren assemble at 2 p.m. Masonic service at three oclock. Viewing 4 to 7 p.m. Service at seven o’clock. Attire is black (or dark) suit and tie with plain white apron and gloves.

Courtesy Cliff Jacobs
Grand Master William J. Thomas with W. Bro. Tony Brown.
I had the privilege of sitting in lodge with W. Tony only once or twice that I recollect. I didn’t know him personally, but saw him here or there in Masonic Hall. Masons die all the time of course, but the news typically concerns an elderly brother who practically was unknown to most who are active in lodge currently. Some kind words are spoken, and maybe a team can be sent to the funeral to present the Masonic obsequy before the mourners, but generally there often is a visible distance between mortality’s centrality to Masonic culture and the reality of how the death of a brother is absorbed by his lodge. That will not be the case tonight.

I will be with my lodge elsewhere in the building conferring the Fellow Craft Degree this evening, but my thoughts will be with Allied Lodge at this time of mournful disbelief. Alas, my brother.

Friday, March 13, 2015

‘The Great Masonic Debate’

I really want to be there, but my Masonic lodge is to confer the Fellow Craft Degree on a number of Apprentices Monday night. Maybe I’ll head uptown regardless.

Anyway, the alluring event in question will involve two learned Freemasons presenting their understandings of “Masonic Regularity,” a matter of some urgency for Prince Hall Masonry due to a never-ending confusion that vexes so many Masons, make believe “Masons,” and the general public alike.

This flier has all the details:

Click to enlarge.     

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

‘Pennsylvania Academy to host Rashied’

A late change of plans was announced a few minutes ago by the Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge. George Braatz will not appear at the March 21 meeting at Elizabethtown, and Rashied Sharrieff-Al-Bey will speak instead.

Well, you can read the flier yourselves:

Click to enlarge.

Monday, March 9, 2015

‘Ancient Judaism and Christianity at NYU’

New York University’s Center for Ancient Studies announces the 
Ranieri Colloquium on Ancient Studies. From the publicity:

Integrating Judaism and Christianity
into the Study of the Ancient World

March 26-27, 2015

New York University
Hemmerdinger Hall
Silver Center for Arts and Science
32 Waverly Place

Thursday, March 26

5 p.m. Welcome
, Matthew S. Santirocco, NYU

5:15 Keynote Address: The New Testament as a Source for the History of the Jews and Judaism
 by Lawrence H. Schiffman, NYU.

6:15 Public Reception

Friday, March 27

Session 1 (Session Chair, Jeffrey Rubenstein, NYU)

9:15 a.m. Samson in Stone: New Discoveries in the Ancient Synagogue at Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee
 by Jodi Magness, University of North Carolina.

9:55 Jesus the Jurist: Written Law and Its Interpretation in the Christian Gospels
 by Daniel Fleming, NYU.

10:35 The Dead Sea Scrolls “Instruction” Text and Its Hellenistic Context 
by Hindy Najman, Yale University.

11:15 The Treaty of Apamea, the Decline of the Seleucid Empire, and Their Consequence
for Jewish Martyrology 
by R. Steven Notley, Nyack College.

Noon Lunch

Session 2 (Session Chair, Michael Peachin, NYU)

1 p.m. Jews and the Imposition of Nicene Orthodoxy in the Late Antique Mediterranean Diaspora
 by Ross Kraemer, Brown University.

1:40 Selling Souls: Early Christians (and Their Neighbors) as Religious Entrepreneurs by 
Nicola Denzey Lewis, Brown University.

2:20 Practices of Seeing God(s) in Late Antiquity by 
Laura Nasrallah, Harvard University.

3:00 The Rise of Authoritative Scripture and Its Interpretation in Ancient Judaism by Alex Jassen, NYU.

This conference is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact the Center for Ancient Studies at ancient.studies(at), or at (212) 992-7978.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

‘Intendant of the Building’

When we attend our various meetings and other functions at Masonic Hall, I suppose we do not give much thought to building maintenance and operations. It certainly is not a lack of appreciation, but it is the normal result of never having a single worry about the stewardship of the premises. Mr. Peter Chiofolo gets much of the credit for ensuring that peace of mind. The Maintenance Foreman was part of the Masonic Hall team for more than half a century.

Pete passed away in his sleep during the early hours of Tuesday.

“Peter was the Head Porter for Harvard Maintenance, and a good and faithful member of the Building Management team for 54 years,” said Building Manager Harold Wissing. “That is one-half the age of this beautiful edifice called Masonic Hall. We shall all truly miss him.”

Magpie file photo

“Although, he was not a Mason, Peter Chiofolo always demonstrated the good and genuine character of a Mason,” Grand Pursuivant Richard Bateman said. “He was the recipient in the year 2000 of the Grand Master’s Award of Appreciation.”

I snapped the photo here during the centenary celebration of Masonic Hall in December 2010. Here he is with then Grand Master Vincent Libone, who had summoned a very reluctant Pete to the floor amid the cheers of the hundreds of us spectators.

I didn’t know him personally, but I’ve been one of the multitudes who have benefitted from his professional touch while enjoying the countless hours of great times at Masonic Hall. I can’t imagine his absence will disrupt the consummate management of building affairs—further proof of his expert contributions to making our experiences in Masonic Hall so carefree.

Services for Peter Chiofolo

Thursday, March 5
2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m.
30 Nelson Avenue
Staten Island, New York

Friday, March 6
9:45 a.m. Mass
110 Nelson Avenue
Staten Island, New York