Saturday, March 27, 2010

'At the bindery'

If you ever considered joining the Masonic Book Club, now is an opportune time. The 2009 book is late, but I'm told it is now at the bindery, the last step before shipping.

Members should receive the book, a reprint of Prof. John Robison's Proofs of a Conspiracy from 1798, in about three weeks.

A little more information is here.



This copy of Proofs of a Conspiracy is a fourth edition published in 1798. It is among the items displayed at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library at Lexington, Massachusetts in its current exhibit on anti-Masonry.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library (previously the National Heritage Museum) is now exhibiting Freemasonry Unmasked!: Anti-Masonic Collections in the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives. More information is forthcoming on The Magpie Mason, but in the meantime click here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

‘To debunk Masonic history’

American Lodge of Research will meet Monday, March 29 at 8 p.m. in the French Ionic Room of the Grand Lodge of New York in Manhattan.


In addition to the regular business of the lodge, the brethren will hear “German Freemasons in the American Revolutionary War,” presented by  RW Bro. Uwe Hain.


Before this 346th Regular Communication, the brethren have the option of either getting together for dinner next door at the Limerick House, or – and this is new – visiting the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library. Normally the library would close at 4:30, but now, and by prior arrangement with the library (not the lodge), the brethren may visit after hours while waiting for the lodge to open. To contact the library, click here and take note of the phone number at the bottom of the page.


At the December meeting of ALR, Worshipful Master Pierre F. de Ravel dEsclapon took us back to the late 18th century to examine the activities of French Masons in America, and this month we will look at German Masons of the same era. In his latest From the East message to the lodge, de Ravel dEsclapon quotes ALR’s first Master, MW Charles Johnson, who defined the mission of this lodge: “to debunk Masonic history.” Here’s to another great year at ALR.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Flood

Like the Hermetic sciences before them, it is said the archives of Freemasonry are preserved in ways to protect them from both inundation and conflagration. A good thing, because some of us suffer from periodic flooding.

These photos were shot Sunday morning at the Valley of Northern New Jersey. The depth of the water here is between 24 and 30 inches. By the time the river across the street crests, there will be approximately five feet of water on the property.





Friday, March 12, 2010

‘On the road again’

W. Bro. Mohamad Yatim is going back on the road this spring, speaking at several lodges for the brethren’s enlightenment. Mohamad of course is Worshipful Master of Atlas-Pythagoras Lodge No. 10 in Westfield, New Jersey.

Wednesday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m. – Lecture on “The Chamber of Reflection: V.I.T.R.I.O.L.” at Trenton Cyrus Lodge No. 5 (131 Burd St. in Pennington). Open to Apprentices and Fellows.

Monday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m. – Lecture on “The Chamber of Reflection: V.I.T.R.I.O.L.” at Azure-Masada Lodge No. 22 (478 South Ave. in Cranford). Open to Apprentices and Fellows.

Wednesday, May 12 at 8 p.m. – Powerpoint presentation and lecture on the York Rite of Freemasonry, with emphasis on the Royal Arch Degree at Corinthian Chapter No. 57 (1012 Central Ave. in Westfield). The MEHP has designated the evening a “Bring a Master Mason Night” to show the brethren the vital importance of receiving the Royal Arch Degree.

Thursday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m. – Lecture on “The Chamber of Reflection: V.I.T.R.I.O.L.” at Mt. Zion Lodge (483 Middlesex Ave. in Metuchen). Open to Apprentices and Fellows.


I, for one, plan to catch the Chamber of Reflection talk. The Chamber is one of my favorite topics.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Masonic Week 2010: Masonic Stamp Club


Masonic Week 2010:
George Washington Masonic Stamp Club

I know it is not a new organization, yet I don’t recall ever seeing it represented at Masonic Week before, but there’s no denying it had a table in the registration area of our hotel: The George Washington Masonic Stamp Club.

I collected stamps as a kid, finding it a great way to study history and admire the various fine arts of engraving and printing revealed in serious philately. To this day, I have albums upon albums of First Day Covers and individual stamps.

The club meets only twice annually. In February, on the Sunday after Washington’s birthday (Feb. 22) or on his birthday when it falls on a Sunday, the brethren convene to confer the “Master of Philately Degree” at the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia. And they meet on the Saturday before Labor Day at the Baltimore Philatelic Exposition at the Marriott Hotel in Hunt Valley, Maryland.
 
Upcoming meetings are: Saturday, September 4 in Maryland; and Sunday, February 27, 2011 in Virginia. I admit these events are a little outside my usual orbit, so I doubt I’ll ever be able to attend, but this didn’t stop me from signing up for a Life Membership, which cost less than two Manhattans at the hotel bar and affords me the chance to marry my long neglected hobby with my appreciation for Masonic culture.
 
The club publishes Masonic First Day Covers, Washington Birthday Covers, Inauguration Covers, and other special event covers as desired. So we’ll see how it goes. Could be fun.

Friday, March 5, 2010

‘At Atlas-Pythagoras’


‘The Lessons of Atlas,
and the Teachings of Pythagoras’


Having visited Atlas-Pythagoras Lodge No. 10 numerous times over the years and always enjoying myself there, it was a great pleasure to be the guest speaker this evening. The name itself interests me; this lodge is an amalgamation of a number of other lodges – some near, some not so near – so I’ve always been impressed that the names Atlas and Pythagoras were the last ones standing after the repeated acts of combustion inherent in lodge mergers and consolidations. So two names vital to Greek culture comprise this lodge’s hyphenated handle. It could have gone very differently, and in a variety of permutations and combinations. The lodge could have become Atlas-Franklin, or Century-Pythagoras, or Vailsburg-Century, or Atlas-Century-Franklin-Pythagoras-Vailsburg-Merrill-Lynch-Sacco-Vanzetti Lodge. You get the idea.

Actually it was several years ago that Bro. Mohamad first asked me to come to the lodge to speak. He was planning ahead for his term as Worshipful Master. “Sure, I’d love to!” I told him, figuring he’d forget by now and I’d still get to be a good guy for agreeing to do it. But he didn’t forget, and while I absolutely dread public speaking – the Magpie Mason is more of a writer than a lecturer – things went pretty well tonight. Lots of friendly faces out there too: Franklin, John L., Don M., Josè, Don S., Greg, Henry, David D! and others in addition to the actual lodge brothers, like Thurman, Vincent (on his 90th birthday!), Moises, Pete, and the many young Masons who know “A-P 10” is the place to be.

Tonight’s topic? Ah, yes. Getting back to my appreciation for the name, and the incalculable, statistical unlikelihood that two Greek mytho-historical figures would jointly become namesakes of a Masonic lodge in central Jersey, I spoke on “The Lessons of Atlas, and the Teachings of Pythagoras.” (I was very much hoping to add a humorous third segment titled “The Legend of Atmas-Pymagoras,” but the brother who could best tell this amazing true story was not in attendance.)

I find it interesting that a lodge would choose the name Atlas for itself. Unlike Pythagoras, the Atlas of Greek mythology plays no direct role in Craft ritual or symbol. I found nothing in either traditional or contemporary AASR degrees. Didn’t see anything in any of the many Egyptian-oriented rites documented in the past decade by the Grand College of Rites. I mean it’s not unthinkable that a lodge would want to be named Atlas. New Jersey has had Apollo Lodge No. 156, Orpheus 137, Orion 56, and Diogenes 22. But the choice of Atlas (No. 125, chartered in 1872) for a lodge is interesting. But then it may have been named for some guy named Jimmy Atlas. I’ll defer to the lodge historian!

So my goal, as I saw it, was to explain the mythology of Atlas, and direct the brethren’s attention to whatever commonality there may be with Masonic thought.

It’s easiest to just list the items:

His name: Means “very enduring” or “one who endures” or “one who suffers.” A fitting name for most Worshipful Masters, and probably all secretaries.

His family:
  • He is a son of Iapetus, who is the same character as Japhet, a son of Noah in the Book of Genesis, who is known to Royal Arch Masons.
  • He is the father of the Pleiades, seven daughters placed in the heavens as a constellation, which is the cluster of seven stars seen in Master Mason Degree tracing boards, slides, aprons, and other illustrations.
  • Atlas also is the brother of Prometheus (who deserves a lodge of his own). He also is the father of Calypso, the Hyades, and the Hesperides.



Above: In traditional illustrations of Masonic symbols, the seven-star cluster called Pleiades often is seen in the vicinity of the All Seeing Eye and/or the Sun and Moon, as this close-up shot of this classic 19th century print shows. Below: Close-up shot of the Moon and Pleiades.




Atlas was one of the Titans, the generation of proto-gods who ruled earth before being overthrown by Zeus. In his victory, Zeus banished Atlas to an existence of servitude in which he, depending on the story you hear, used his great strength to uphold the earth, or uphold the heavens, or uphold the two pillars that support heaven and earth. From the first version, we get our name for a book of maps. From the second comes the name of the Atlas Mountains in North Africa. And the third? If you will cast your eyes to the West, you will behold two pillars, one supporting the earth, and one supporting the heavens. (Again, I’m not alleging causality, but simply noting some commonality.)

He also is the namesake of Atlantis, the legendary island defined by Plato as a wonderland, but that went missing in the Atlantic, the ocean named for it.

So where is the Lesson of Atlas?

Atlas is also frequently associated with Heracles (Hercules), and in the Heraclean legends the hero is given 12 labors to execute as punishment for murdering his family. Labor No. 11 is a mission to seize the Golden Apples of the Hesperides, which were wedding gifts given by Mother Earth to Hera that were guarded by Atlas’ daughters. I will let Bro. Robert Graves, the renowned scholar and author, conclude the story:

Nereus had advised Heracles not to pluck the apples himself, but to employ Atlas as his agent, meanwhile relieving him of his fantastic burden; therefore, on arriving at the garden of the Hesperides, he asked Atlas to do him this favor. Atlas would have undertaken almost any task for the sake of an hour’s respite, but he feared Ladon, whom Heracles thereupon killed with an arrow shot over the garden wall. Heracles now bent his back to receive the weight of the celestial globe, and Atlas walked away, returning presently with three apples plucked by his daughters. He found the sense of freedom delicious. ‘I will take these apples to Eurystheus myself without fail,’ he said, ‘if you hold up the heavens for a few months longer.’ Heracles pretended to agree, but having been warned by Nereus not to accept any such offer, begged Atlas to support the globe for only one moment more, while he put a pad on his head. Atlas, easily deceived, laid the apples on the ground and resumed his burden, whereupon Heracles picked them up and went away with an ironical farewell. (Source: The Greek Myths.)

The lesson? If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is! (Sorry. I promised the Worshipful Master I’d be serious tonight.)

For his part, Pythagoras has much more to say to Freemasons of course. Being not at all qualified to discuss Pythagorean mathematics and geometry, I instead read to the brethren The Golden Verses of Pythagoras. These 71 lines of philosophical monologue – none of that Socratic stuff here – are timeless pieces of advice conducive to mankind living in brotherhood, under the fatherhood of deity. (And again, I do not allege any connection between the Pythagorean mystery school and Freemasonry, but there are undeniable similarities between the universal truths in these verses and our Masonic teachings.) And I should point out that the 71 verses are not necessarily 71 distinct sayings, but they are numbered as are biblical verses, meaning one concept may be expressed in multiple lines.

The Golden Verses are understood in two denominations: the Practical Virtues, and the Divine Virtues. The former are 47 in number, and are intended to make a good man better. The latter complete the body of 71, and are intended to perfect good men, so as to render them worthy of the Grand Architect’s use.

It’s getting late, so I will list only a few good examples:

5. Of all the rest of mankind, make him a friend who distinguishes himself by his virtue.
6. Always give ear to his mild exhortations, and take example from his virtuous and useful actions.
7. Avoid as much as possible hating a friend for a slight fault.
8. (And understand that) power is a near neighbor to necessity.

In 5 and 6, we are reminded of some of the standards to maintain when considering a petitioner for initiation. Nos. 7 and 8 hint at the Closing Charge.

9. Know that all these things are as I have told you; and accustom yourself to overcome and vanquish these passions:
10. First gluttony, sloth, sensuality, and anger.

11. Do nothing evil, neither in the presence of others, nor privately.
12. But above all things respect thyself.

This quatrain recalls the first goal of the Apprentice: to learn to subdue the passions and improve oneself in Masonry.

13. In the next place, observe justice in your actions and in your words.
14. And accustom not yourself to behave in any thing without rule, and without reason.

These two verses neatly summarize the virtues of circumspection, right thinking, and right action.

24. Observe well, on every occasion, what I am going to tell you:
25. Let no man either by his words, or by his deeds, ever seduce you.
26. Nor entice you to say or to do what is not profitable for yourself.
27. Consult and deliberate before you act, that you may not commit foolish actions.
28. For it is the part of a miserable man to speak and to act without reflection.
29. But do that which will not afflict you afterwards, nor oblige you to repentance.
30. Never do anything which you do not understand.
31. But learn all you ought to know, and by that means you will lead a very pleasant life.

So mote it be.

48. But never begin to set the hand to any work, till you have first prayed to the gods to accomplish what you are going to begin.

Just as Masons never undertake any labor without first invoking the blessing of Deity.

54. You will likewise know that men draw upon themselves their own misfortunes voluntarily, and of their own free choice.
55. Unhappy that they are! They neither see nor understand that their good is near them.
56. Few know how to deliver themselves out of their misfortunes.
57. Such is the fate that blinds mankind, and takes away his senses.
58. Like huge cylinders they roll to and fro, and always oppressed with ills innumerable.
59. For fatal strife, innate, pursues them everywhere, tossing them up and down; nor do they perceive it.
60. Instead of provoking and stirring it up, they ought, by yielding, to avoid it.
61. Oh! Jupiter, our Father! if You would deliver men from all the evils that oppress them,
62. Show them of what dæmon they make use.
63. But take courage; the race of man is divine.
64. Sacred nature reveals to them the most hidden mysteries.
65. If she impart to you her secrets, you will easily perform all the things which I have ordained.
66. And by the healing of your soul, you will deliver it from all evils, from all afflictions.
69. Leaving yourself always to be guided and directed by the understanding that comes from above, and that ought to hold the reins.
70. And when, after having divested yourself of your mortal body, you arrive at the most pure Æther,
71. You shalt be a god, immortal, incorruptible, and death shall have no more dominion over you.

To which I can only add Ecclesiastes 12:

1. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;
2. While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:
3. In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened,
4. And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low;
5. Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:
6. Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.
7. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.



Thanks for the hospitality brethren. I will see you soon.
     

Thursday, March 4, 2010

‘Masons in Marblehead’


Many thanks to J.L. Bell at Boston 1775 for alerting The Magpie Mason to this exhibit at the Marblehead Museum & Historical Society.















The Masons in Colonial Marblehead

Through early May

The Freemasons are an international fraternal order dedicated to charity and fellowship. The Marblehead Lodge, originally known as St. John’s Lodge was chartered in 1760, and is the third oldest Masonic lodge in the Massachusetts. The organization’s name was changed to Philanthropic Lodge in 1797, when Paul Revere was Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts. Since the 18th century, Masons have assembled at various locations throughout Marblehead.

“America’s Revolution was led by people from many backgrounds, but it is notable that both nationally and locally, many Revolutionary War leaders were Masons,” said Pam Peterson, museum director. “This year, Marblehead’s Masonic Lodge celebrates its 250th anniversary, and MMHS celebrates the early Marbleheaders among them who contributed to our nation’s freedom.”



Eighteenth century punch bowls decorated with Masonic symbols are pretty common sights in museum exhibits of Masonic items, especially in the original 13 states.

If, like me, you are not from the area, but plan to attend the symposium next month on the Scottish Rite campus in Lexington, maybe I’ll see you here too.

Monday, March 1, 2010

‘Masonic Week 2010: Grand College of Rites’





Grand Chancellor David Dixon Goodwin, at podium, gets a ‘Standing O’ from the officers of the Grand College of Rites at the annual meeting February 13 during Masonic Week in Alexandria, Virginia. (Click on the photo to see everyone.)

On Saturday morning (February 13), it was time for the Grand College of Rites to meet, install officers, pay some bills, and unveil the new edition of Collectanea.

If you are not familiar with the Grand College of Rites, and if you enjoy reading rituals (that you don’t have to memorize!) and like learning genuinely arcane Masonic history, then please do visit our website and pursue membership. Every year, the College publishes one volume containing either the rituals or the jurisprudence or other defining literature of a Masonic body now defunct. This book is titled Collectanea, and represents the hard work of Grand Archivist Arturo de Hoyos, who also is Grand Archivist and Grand Historian of the Supreme Council, 33º, A&ASR, Southern Jurisdiction.


The 2009 book (Vol. 20, Part 2), contains the 19º to 45º of the Egyptian Masonic Rite of Memphis.

You didn’t know there were degrees beyond the 33°, did you? Well, keep in mind that Collectanea reveals the secrets of defunct Masonic bodies, and Art de Hoyos and the Publications Committee undoubtedly withhold crucial esoterica to prevent any chance of modern day entrepreneurs, however benevolent and well intentioned they may be, from working these rituals and jumpstarting these orders.

If you love reading, then these books are charming ways to learn of the language used by Masons of generations past, especially if you are from a jurisdiction that has made changes to its rituals over the years. For much of this decade, the GCR has been publishing various versions of Memphis Masonry, and I find in their prayers, odes, charges, and other orations some truly beautiful verbiage, the kind of speech totally outdated today, but highly literate and enjoyable. I mean enjoyable to read; I would not want to be a ritualist responsible for conferring this work.

From the 29°, titled Knight of Time:

Time is a great mystery, the general relation in which all things perceptible stand to each other in regard to their origin, continuance, and dissolution. It is a movable image of eternity, or the interval of the world’s motion, illimitable, yet silently ever rolling and rushing on, like an all-embracing ocean tide, on which we and the universe swim like apparitions, which are, and then are not. The means employed at different periods of the world’s history for reckoning Time, have been both varied and numerous. The constellation of the Great Bear was the first great time-keeper. This constellation was at that time much nearer the North Pole than at present, and was seen to revolve around it, the extremity of its tail, indicating the different seasons, as the hands of the clock now indicate the hours of the day. When it pointed to the East, it was springtime; when it pointed to the South, it was summertime; when it pointed to the West, it was autumn; and when it pointed to the North, it was wintertime. The second great time-keeper was the Moon, which revolves around the earth once every thirty days, twelve of its circuits being equal to one of the Great Bear. The third and last great time-keeper was the Sun, which to our ancient brethren appeared to revolve around the earth thirty times during the circuit of the Moon, and three hundred and sixty times during one circuit of the Great Bear.

From the 34°, titled Knight of the First Property of Nature:

The essential, or first part of Nature, of which the sensible universe is now composed (that is neither mind nor force), is called matter. Of the intimate nature of matter itself, we know nothing, but through its external properties only do we know that it exists. The origin of matter is beyond the domain of human knowledge. It is to us not only unknown, but unknowable. Our faculties are so limited that we cannot imagine nor conceive how matter could be originated. We cannot conceive how it could be created out of nothing – how it could have come into existence in any manner whatever. All we know is the simple fact of existence, and must content ourselves with studying the phenomena of its action, and the evidences of its action in the past, and must infer its properties and forces from its action. Contemplating matter as in existence in a chaotic and perhaps nebulous condition, we can form some imperfect conception of the gradual formation of our earth and solar system, and of some of the changes which the earth, its surface and atmosphere, underwent before it was fitted for the abode of man. As a Masonic symbol, matter vividly illustrates the darkness, confusion, and ignorance of the uninitiated and our final advancement from darkness to the light of Masonic knowledge. It also illustrates the dark change which was believed to take place between our earthly residence and that in the A*****u.





M.I. David Dixon Goodwin delivers his allocution, closing his term in office as Grand Chancellor of the Grand College of Rites, as R.I. Franklin Boner, incoming Grand Chancellor, listens.

The College’s officers for 2010 are:

M. Ill. Grand Chancellor Franklin C. Boner
R. Ill. Senior Vice Chancellor Martin P. Starr
R. Ill. Junior Vice Chancellor David L. Hargett, Jr.
R. Ill. Grand Registrar Craig C. Stimpert, KGC
R. Ill. Grand Treasurer and Grand Registrar Emeritus Gary D. Hermann, KGC, PGC
R. Ill. Grand Registrar Emeritus Herbert A. Fisher, KGC, HPGC
R. Ill. Grand High Prelate Pierre G. (Pete) Normand
R. Ill. Grand Archivist Arturo de Hoyos, The Premier KGC, HPGC
R. Ill. Grand Redactor Lawrence N. Jolma, Jr.
R. Ill. Grand Mareschal Lawrence E. Tucker
R. Ill. Grand Seneschal Sid C. Dorris, III



One of the truly great moments of Masonic Week 2010 was this surprise. Fellow Aaron Shoemaker was called to the podium to deliver his annual report as the GCR’s webmaster, but before he could resume his seat, M.I. Goodwin bestowed on him the College’s Knight Grand Cross for his years of outstanding service. Congratulations Aaron!





And after his installation as our new Most Illustrious Grand Chancellor, Franklin Boner, left, received the Knight Grand Cross from his predecessor, David Dixon Goodwin.



‘The Number 7’


I want to tell you about the progress enjoyed by The Masonic Society, the research and education foundation created in 2008 to serve the Craft in North America.

Since introducing ourselves, membership in the Society has grown to nearly 1,100! Issue No. 7 of The Journal is now arriving in our members’ mailboxes, and our on-line discussion forum is buzzing with 687 members discussing 3,464 topics.

And we are prepared for a busy 2010 in the wake of our annual meeting held two weeks ago at Masonic Week in Virginia.

The Journal is a quarterly magazine containing Masonic information written by authors from all over the world. Speculative papers, academic writings, news stories, history, fiction, poetry, great photography, insightful opinion and other editorial elements reviving the golden age of Masonic publishing.

Features in the new issue include:

“The Secret’s in Our Sauce,” by Roger S. VanGorden

“The Operatives Meet in London,” by Thomas Johnson

“Restructuring American Freemasonry, Part II: Appendant & Affiliated Bodies and York Rite Freemasonry,” by Mark Tabbert

“The Odd Fellows and Their Journey to Inclusiveness,” by Dr. R.L. Uzzel

“George Washington Masonic Memorial Celebrates a Century,” by George Seghers

“Fluid Freemasonry” by Michael Poll

“Walking the Walk: Regular Steps in Freemasonry” by Randy Williams

“Applying the Lessons of the Craft” by Jason Marshall

“Eastbound Night” by Kerry D. Kirk

“The Enigmatic Masonic Calendars” by Christopher L. Hodapp

Plus the latest in Masonic news from around the world, Masonic Treasures, and more. And news of current events, info on terrific Masonic happenings this spring, and other news from around the Masonic world. It is a top quality publication that, frankly, has inspired other national Masonic periodicals to revise their own operations. (Issue No. 8 of our Journal will be released in April.)

A subscription to this magazine is only one of the benefits of membership. Members are granted access to the Society’s on-line forum, where hundreds of Masons from around the globe interact every day, helping each other learn more about our fraternity.

And of course it wouldn’t be a Masonic organization without goodies like pins and membership cards, but the Society cranks up the quality of these items, producing elegant symbols of membership that earn accolades. In addition, each member receives an 11x14 patent, personalized and highly stylized that you’ll want professionally framed. It is a very impressive document, on parchment with a hand-stamped wax seal.

But the true benefit of membership in The Masonic Society is the learning experience. Whether it’s an eye-popping topic in the magazine, or just simple conversation in the forum, there is no end to what a Mason can learn from his brethren in this organization. It’s the best 39 bucks I’ve ever spent in Masonry.

Our new President is Michael Poll, the publisher of Cornerstone Books.

Our Editor-in-Chief is W. Bro. Chris “Freemasons for Dummies” Hodapp.

And our Directors, Officers and Founders include many leaders in Masonic education, including authors, publishers, curators, lecturers and Master Masons like you and me.

Brethren, there is a lot of confusion in the Temple over Freemasonry. “Dan Brown this,” “Templar treasure that” and all kinds of superstitions never should distract the brethren from Truth. The Masonic Society offers one way to uphold Truth with like-minded Masons from all over the world, and have some fun doing it. I hope you’ll check us out.


Chris Hodapp and Billy Koon at The Masonic Society’s annual meeting February 12 in Alexandria, Virginia.

Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge



The Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge will meet Saturday, March 20 at Freemasons Cultural Campus in Elizabethtown. Two speakers are scheduled:

Bro. C. DeForrest Trexler of Pennsylvania will discuss “Degree Rituals of the Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.”

Bro. Sean Graystone, Superintendent of the House of the Temple, will speak on “Esoteric Freemasonry.”

(With any luck, he’ll talk to Trexler about Esoteric Freemasonry in the Rituals of the Scottish Rite!)



Trexler is particularly well qualified to address his topic, as he is the Grand Secretary General of the NMJ, and is the man behind many of the changes made to the NMJ’s rituals in recent years. I am only assuming, but this may be similar to his remarks at the recent Royal Order of Scotland meeting.

Graystone is a favorite among Masonic and Rosicrucian esotericists. He was among those who spoke at the first Rose Circle conference. (Has it been four years already?!)

It’s been a year and a half since the Magpie Mason attended the Academy. Gotta make the effort this time.

Registration at 8:30 a.m., program to begin at 9:30. Lunch at noon, and the day will end by 3 p.m.

If you go to the Academy, you will pass this owl on your way upstairs. If I’m not mistaken, this and other architectural treasures were rescued from buildings the fraternity gave up over the years, and were installed here.