Wednesday, May 24, 2017

‘And the Antique of the Day is…’

The Magazine Antiques shared a Masonic moment on its social media today: an acquisition by an “outdoor history museum” in Massachusetts caught the attention of the magazine’s editor at large, who made it the magazine’s Antique of the Day. Check out this beauty:

Click to enlarge.

Historic Deerfield is a village in the Connecticut Valley that preserves many facets of life in 18th century New England. It features historic architecture, museums, a library, and more to educate the public on the way we were during previous centuries.

Here is how it catalogs the silver Masonic piece (you’ll forgive the Corinthians reference):

Probably New England, 1775-1800

John W. and Christiana G.P. Batdorf Fund, 2015.35

Introduced into the American colonies around 1730, Freemasonry achieved great popularity after the American Revolution. Enthusiasm for this fraternal society grew alongside interest in the intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment and new theories on equality.

Jewelry as well as other regalia played an important role in Masonic rituals and ceremonies. The symbols engraved on this medal are primarily drawn from the manual tools of stonemasons, such as the square and compass, the level and plumb rule, and the trowel. This medal also makes use of the pigpen or Masonic cipher, a simple geometric substitution code, which replaces each letter of the alphabet with a different symbol.

The inscriptions translate as “I Am that I Am” (1 Corinthians 15:10), and “Let there be light and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). This silver medal descended in the Putnam family of Connecticut and may have been owned by General Israel Putnam (1718-1790) of Pomfret.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

‘Thoreau bicentennial celebration in Wallkill’

The School of Practical Philosophy continues its bicentennial commemoration of the life of Henry David Thoreau, this time with a study meeting on its beautiful property in the Hudson Valley. (Sorry to say I cannot attend. I’ll be at the School’s townhouse on East 79th for the Plato class.) From the publicity:

Thoreau Bicentennial Celebration
in Wallkill
Saturday, June 3
7 to 9:30 p.m.
The School of Practical Philosophy
846 Borden Circle in Wallkill, NY
$10 tickets here

Henry David Thoreau’s life embodies the Transcendental vision of self-reliance and a love of freedom. His great experiment at Walden Pond was focused on living simply and deliberately. His example teaches us to crave reality by embracing the present and to follow the voice of conscience.

From Walden:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”

Come and join us in celebrating this great American philosopher, whose influence has powerfully shaped the 20th century through the work of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Discover how relevant his ideals are today.

We will explore selected passages from his masterwork, Walden, and selections from the essay “Civil Disobedience.” There will also be a short walk on the beautiful Wallkill property.

If you missed the recent Thoreau Study Day in New York City, this Wallkill event presents the perfect opportunity to appreciate this revolutionary spirit in an appropriately Waldenesque setting.

Family and friends are welcome. No prior study of Thoreau is required.

Tickets cost $10, which includes study materials and light refreshments, and may be purchased here pending availability. Tickets also will be available at the door on June 3.

We hope to see you there.

As this edition of The Magpie Mason goes to press, there are 75 openings remaining.

In other Thoreau news, today was the day the U.S. Postal Service released its Henry David Thoreau Forever Stamp. Here is the press release, with links and art added by me:

The U.S. Postal Service celebrates writer, philosopher, and naturalist Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) on the bicentennial year of his birth.

The forever stamp will be formally celebrated May 23 in an 11 a.m. ceremony at the locale to which Thoreau is most connected: tranquil and picturesque Walden Pond State Reservation (at the Visitors Center) in Concord, Massachusetts.

Thoreau’s personal example of simple living, his criticism of materialism, and the timeless questions he raises about the place of the individual in society and humanity’s role in the natural world, he continues to inspire new generations to assert their independence, reinterpret his legacy, and ask challenging questions of their own.

The stamp features and oil-on-panel painting by contemporary artist Sam Weber of Brooklyn, New York. The painting is based on a famous 1856 daguerreotype by Benjamin Maxham. On the right side of the stamp is Thoreau’s signature of his last name. Below the signature is a branch of sumac leaves. Art director Greg Breeding, of Charlottesville, Virginia, designed the stamp. Weber also was the artist for the 2015 Flannery O’Connor 3-ounce stamp.

1967 five-cent stamp.
This is the second U.S. commemorative for Thoreau. A stamp for the 150th anniversary of his birth issued in 1967 features a drawing by sculptor and illustrator Leonard Baskin.

The first-day ceremony is free and open to the public.

Those expected to be on hand include Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Leo Roy, U.S. Postal Service General Counsel and Executive Vice President Thomas J. Marshall, Select Board Town of Concord Chair Michael Lawson, and Walden Woods Project Board Member, environmentalist and actor Ed Begley, Jr.

Walden Pond, known as a kettle hole in geological terms, was formed by glaciers about 11,000 years ago. Thoreau lived on the northern shore of the pond for two years starting in the summer of 1845. His account of the experience was recorded in Walden (or Life in the Woods), and made the pond famous. The land at that end was owned by Thoreau’s friend and mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Monday, May 22, 2017

‘Mysticism and Spirituality series at RCC’

Next month, the Rosicrucian Cultural Center in New York City will host a series of nine conversations of ways mysticism and spirituality intersect with art and popular culture. The Center is located at 2303 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard. Each hour-long meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. From the publicity:

Steven A. Armstrong
The facilitator of each meeting, Steven A. Armstrong, M.A. Hum., M.A., M.Div., is a professional historian, philosopher, and teacher based in the San Francisco Bay area. He currently serves at the Grand Lodge in Membership Services. He is an active member of both the Rosicrucian Order and the Traditional Martinist Order, and has served as an officer in both Orders.

His current areas of interest include how the Primordial Tradition permeates all world traditions, and the way in which the Rosicrucian and Martinist paths provide a unique and unifying viewpoint on those traditions. He is the author of more than 30 published papers, articles, and podcasts, and is a lecturer for the RCUI. Steven is no stranger to the greater New York City area, as he was an undergraduate at Yale University, and received two Masters Degrees studying at the Rose Hill Campus of Fordham University in the Bronx.

At each meeting, Armstrong will lead the discussion and provide examples of relevant works, but those in attendance also may bring selections they have used for mystical and spiritual purposes.

Monday, June 19
Mysticism and Spirituality
in Popular Music

Wednesday, June 21
Mysticism and Spirituality
in Classical Music

Thursday, June 22
Mysticism and Spirituality
in Poetry

Friday, June 23
Mysticism and Spirituality
in Science Fiction

Monday, June 26
Mysticism and Spirituality
on Broadway

Tuesday, June 27
Mysticism and Spirituality
in Popular Music

Wednesday, June 28
Mysticism and Spirituality
on the Silver Screen

Thursday, June 29
Mysticism and Spirituality
in Classical Music

Friday, June 30
Mysticism and Spirituality
on the Small Screen

Monday, May 15, 2017

‘Esoteric Quest to Scotland’

Courtesy NY Open Center

If I weren’t prohibited by law from leaving the country—I know too much—I’d join this year’s Esoteric Quest (New York Open Center’s travel bureau) to Scotland. No reason why you couldn’t go though. From the publicity:

An Esoteric Quest
in the Western Isles of Scotland
Megalithic, Norse and Hermetic Culture
in the Celtic World
Stornoway, the Outer Hebrides
August 22-27, 2017

Scotland is one of the most esoterically rich countries on earth. The rock of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides is some of the oldest anywhere, and the island is dotted with enigmatic megalithic sites, most famously Callanish, that echo an ancient culture. Lewis is also a place inhabited by Picts, Scots, and Vikings, where Gaelic is still spoken.

Courtesy NY Open Center
This year’s Esoteric Quest—the 13th in a series on Western spiritual traditions, stretching back to 1995—will continue our theme from our 2016 Quest in Iceland of exploring the mysteries of the North. This time we will encounter the meeting of Celtic and Norse cultures, experience the mystical beauty of these islands in the North Atlantic, and go deeply into Scotland’s more recent esoteric traditions, from alchemy to Freemasonry. Our home base will be Lews Castle, a 19th century estate recently restored to perfect condition.

We invite you to join us on this Quest and participate in one of the most highly regarded series to be found anywhere on the planet on the half-forgotten spiritual history of the West.

Pre- and Post-Conference Journeys:
Callanish, Scotland
Findhorn, Scotland
Westfjords, Iceland

There will be a pre-conference day visiting the megalithic sites on Lewis and Harris, and two Post-Conference Journeys: one to the celebrated eco-village and spiritual community of Findhorn, followed by three days on the most sacred of all Scottish islands, Iona. The other will return to the expansive grandeur of the Westfjords of Iceland, a realm of cosmic ocean vistas, ever present rushing waterfalls, and immense, profound silence.

A brochure and more info here.

It seems registration is not yet open, but I will update this when that happens.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

‘Mindful healing with the Rosicrucians’

Events coming later this month at the Rosicrucian Cultural Center are open to all who work toward achieving peace of mind. The center is located at 2303 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard in New York City.

(Masonic brethren sometimes ask me what Rosicrucianism is. I’m not up to the task of answering the question conclusively, but I can say two things: 1) Rosicrucianism chiefly is about healing—mending others, but first helping oneself so as to be able to help others. 2) Rosicrucianism differs from Freemasonry in that its organized doings concern only The Work. That is, there are no ritual competitions, hot dog eating contests, kiddie groups, and the endless other frivolities that trivialize Masonic lodges to the verge of irrelevance. You know what I’m talking about.)

From the publicity:

Rewriting Your Personal Story
May 15 through May 19
6:30 to 7:30 nightly

Are there things in your life that you blame others for causing? Do you have memories from your past that haunt or embarrass you each time you think about them? Have you ever wanted to rewrite your “life script” and feel at peace with difficult situations from your past?

Forgiving oneself and making peace with the past is necessary for a good life today, and a promising tomorrow. You deserve harmony and joy each and every day. Join our session and be prepared to lose anger and judgment, and to begin developing a healthy love and respect for yourself and others.

Facilitating the discussions will be longtime Rosicrucian Patricia Downes, OD/HRD Specialist, Relationship and Organizational Systems Coach, and Certified Life Coach.

Discuss Spiritual Laws
with Dr. Lonnie Edwards
Saturday, May 20
1 to 5 p.m.

It is important for us as students of spirituality and mysticism to become aware and acquainted with the tremendous resources that are available to us to make our lives more harmonious. Once we learn to tap these inner resources, living will become an invigorating affair, advancing and expanding the consciousness.

We need to keep foremost in our consciousness certain principles, conditions and laws to gain access to spiritual tools and to arrive at permanent solutions to life’s challenges. Through lectures, participation in meditation, and visualization exercises, we will be given the opportunity to experience the value of discussing these principles in a group setting.

Facilitating the discussions will be Dr. Lonnie Edwards, Vice President of the EGL Board of Directors, and author of Spiritual Laws that Govern Humanity and the Universe.

Living in a State
of Awareness and Mindfulness
Friday, May 26 at 6:30 p.m.

Have you been standing on the sidelines, looking in from the outside at your life, not liking what you see and feel? Do you desire more joy and aliveness in some areas of your life?

In this session, we’ll explore options for improving the quality of our lives so that we are better able to move forward in life with bravery and courage. We will conduct exercises that further this state of being and will practice techniques that support us in achieving the objectives.

Facilitating the discussion will be longtime Rosicrucian Patricia Downes, OD/HRD Specialist, Relationship and Organizational Systems Coach, and Certified Life Coach.

‘Next Saturday: Celebrating the Craft’

If it’s May, it must be time for Celebrating the Craft, the fun fundraiser hosted by the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in the United States that highlights the entertaining talents of its members. Your tax-deductible gifts will support the efforts to maintain and preserve the indispensible House of the Temple and the RiteCare charity, which aids children coping with speech and language disorders.

The performers next week will include mostly musicians and singers, but also one “carnival act.” Hmmm.

It’s always a good time, and it will be webcast here. Dust off your credit card, and send some money.

Click here to see two Scottish Rite Masons, Brent and Art  I dunno, must be newwith an urgent message.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

‘Living in the Know’

I always recommend the School of Practical Philosophy for both its coursework and its special lectures, and, if you don’t believe me, make time June 3 to enjoy a lecture on Plato. No previous knowledge of the philosopher or his books is required; the talk will give you an appetite for them. From the publicity:

Plato’s Divided Line: a How-To Guide
A talk by Preethi Gopinath
Saturday, June 3 at 7 p.m.
School of Practical Philosophy
12 East 79th Street, Manhattan
$25 tickets here

The Divided Line, which appears in Book VI of Plato’s Republic, is a simple yet magnificent illustration of the various levels of knowledge, indicated as sections on a straight line. This elegant structure provides us with a guide for conscious seeing and learning, enabling us to uncover what and how we know anything.

Plato divides the world into the Realm of the Senses which is ever-changing, and the Intelligible Realm which is constant. He presents these Realms as existing on two sides of a divided line:

  • The Visible World of opinion and belief, lit by the Sun, perceived by the senses.
  • The Intelligible World of knowledge and understanding, authored by the Good, realized by the faculty of reason.

Join us for this presentation as we walk the line from the dark shadows into the light of the Good. Through the process of studying Plato’s Divided Line, we will find answers to some big questions:

  • What do we know?
  • Is it knowledge, or is it opinion?
  • Is it true?
  • How do we know?

And further, discover how we can use our understanding of the Divided Line to make our way to the Good in our own daily living.

Friday, May 5, 2017

‘Celebrate 15 years of OHNY at Masonic Hall’


Open House New York is an annual city-wide event in which hundreds of landmarks and other notable properties are made open to the public—or made more open than is usual—so the curious may enjoy tours highlighting architecture, art, décor, and history. Masonic Hall, featuring all the above in abundance, is a generous participant, and it will be there that OHNY will throw its Spring Benefit later this month. From the publicity:

Open House New York
15th Anniversary Spring Benefit
Monday, May 15 at 7 p.m.
Masonic Hall
71 West 23rd Street
Tickets here

Since 2003, Open House New York Weekend has opened thousands of buildings across New York City to educate and engage the public about architecture, urban design, and the future of the city.

The 15th Anniversary Spring Benefit will be held in the legendary Masonic Hall, one of a handful of sites that has opened its doors for OHNY Weekend every year since the first. Following cocktails in the Grand Lodge Room, guests will sit down to dinner in one of several exuberantly decorated rooms that Open House New York will open for the evening.

Please join us in celebrating the importance of openness and access to a vibrant civic life.

Click to enlarge.
How many rooms in Masonic Hall can you identify from the little images in the background?

Open House New York is the second city, following London, of what has become a worldwide movement to engage a broad public in a conversation about architecture, public space, and the future of urban life. Open House London was founded by Victoria Thornton in 1992. Thornton’s motivation was a simple one: open to the public the buildings that Londoners walk past everyday and in doing so foster a greater appreciation of the built environment. The Open House model was transferred to New York City in 2001 by OHNY founder Scott Lauer, a volunteer for Open House London before returning to his native United States. Taking shape in the months and years immediately following September 11, 2001, OHNY became an important platform for celebrating New York at a critical moment in its history. At a time when much of the city was closing itself off through increased security measures, OHNY offered a countervailing force, one that advocated for openness and access as key components of an enlightened and vibrant civic life. There are now more than thirty Open House cities around the world, ranging from Tel Aviv to Barcelona to Melbourne. Each Open House city is run as an independent organization but all adhere to a shared set of values and ideals.
The first Open House New York Weekend was held in 2003 as part of the city’s first Architecture Week. With the help of three hundred volunteers, the first OHNY Weekend included 84 sites in all five boroughs. Since the inaugural year, the event has grown exponentially, increasing its outreach and audience participation; the number of sites, talks and tours; and developing additional thematic and interpretive programming. The 2015 OHNY Weekend had more than 250 participating sites and tours with an estimated 80,000 visitors and more than 1,200 registered volunteers.

In addition to OHNY Weekend, Open House New York organizes year-round programs that extend the conversation that begins during the two days of the Weekend. Programs include the Projects in Planning lecture series, which explores the design process and unique challenges involved with designing and building large-scale projects in the contemporary city; the Field Guide series, in which a variety of architecturally and culturally significant sites in one neighborhood welcome visitors over the course of a Saturday afternoon to explore how different uses of space work in concert to create a sense of place and local identity; and the ongoing Urban Systems Series, year-long thematic programs that explore important issues in New York City’s built environment, from manufacturing, to food, to waste. Open House New York’s year-round programs are a significant platform for fostering discussion about how the city might take shape in the years ahead, and address issues including planning, preservation, infrastructure, and contemporary design.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

‘The wise man knows himself to be a fool’

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

Touchstone in As You Like It
William Shakespeare

The visual medium of the tarot deck, laden with lessons in symbols, could be an ideal way to unpack the varied meanings intertwined in the plots and dialog of William Shakespeare’s tragedies and comedies. This Shakespeare Tarot might be proof.

This is not the first attempt to marry Shakespearean meanings with the voice of tarot cards, but I want to share the news of the publication of this deck because the art created here is arresting for its fascinating (but sometimes a little too busy) Renaissance-style imagery.

Click the images to enlarge.

Touchstone, Page of Crowns.

Ace of Cups.

Edmund, 5 of Swords.

Malvolio, 4 of Crowns.

Ophelia, 9 of Swords.

Othello, The Devil.

Richard II, 2 of Staffs.

Virgin Queen, High Priestess.

Designed by Chris Leech and published by Welkin, this 78-card deck has the 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor, and there is an explanatory book available to decode it all. The cards measure 5.75 x 3.5 inches, bigger than typical decks.

The deck can be purchased for $50; the key also costs $50; but they can be bought together for $75 by clicking hereAs far as I can tell, it is due out in July.

Read the content of the website and peruse all the cards. There is a passion here I can admire.

Monday, May 1, 2017

‘Piers Vaughan at the Valley’

The flier says it all, but take note of the “open to Master Masons” part.

Click to enlarge.

‘Traveling Man Bluegrass Festival next month’

The lodges of the Ninth Manhattan District will be back at German Masonic Park to host its Sixth Annual Traveling Man Bluegrass Festival, with five new acts to perform all afternoon on Sunday, June 11. The park is located at 89 Western Highway in Tappan, New York, and is owned and operated by the Ninth Manhattan, which is home to New York City’s historic German heritage lodges.

This year, the brethren are promising additional attractions, like a classic car show, vendors, Shriner clowns, and that child ID thing.

Admission: $15 at the gate, or $10 in advance here. Children 12 and under admitted free. Gates open at 11 a.m., and the music starts at 1 p.m. (Music Workshop at noon.) Lots of free parking. Food and drink, including beer and wine, for sale in the park.

The bands slated to perform are:

RJ Storm and the Old School

Blue Plate Special

Feinberg Brothers

Jim Gaudet & Railroad Boys

Pork Chop Willie

It’s always a fun time. If you don’t know bluegrass music, or think you won’t enjoy it, you’re probably wrong. Bluegrass is heard best when heard live, so check it out. Proceeds go to several charities.