Saturday, February 28, 2009

Haitian Masonry and Agape

W. Bro. David Lindez and three Masons from Haiti display the flag of Haiti.

Only at Alpha Lodge can the Master bring the brethren to Haiti without having to move the charter!

The journey through time and space took place Wednesday night, as the lodge catered to the five senses in recreating the Haitian Masonic experience, topped with the screening of a video documenting the St. John’s Day festivities held last June in Jacmel, Haiti.

We departed New Jersey upon entering the lodge room. The air was thick with incense of various aromas. The only illumination was the G and the collective glow of scores of candles: beeswax tapers about the altar; others in the South, West and East, and elsewhere about the lodge.

Do not adjust your monitor. This image captures the candle-lit, incense-laden atmosphere inside historic Alpha Lodge during its sojourn to Haiti.

W. Bro. David Lindez gave the brethren a history of Freemasonry in Haiti, a very colorful description that goes a long way toward explaining the highly esoteric nature of the fraternity there. It’s the story of Pasqually, Willermoz, Rectified Scottish Rite, Strict Observance, and Elu Cohens.

Then the brethren adjourned downstairs for the feast, a true Masonic Agape with exotic dishes (goat!) and other ethnic comestibles on the menu, all homemade right in the lodge’s kitchen by an experienced chef.

The Grand Orient d’Haiti dates to 1824. Its 6,000 brethren are at labor in 51 lodges found among numerous cities and towns. The lodge shown in the video is Parfaite Sincerite No. 4 in Jacmel.

This documentary shows the lodge’s annual public procession in celebration of St. John the Baptist Day 2008. Now it’s one thing to listen to Bro. Trevor Stewart discuss the Masonic processions of 18th century Britain, but it is quite something else to view the esoterica, solemnity, hierarchy and regalia of the Haitian brethren as they undertake their culturally significant ritual, enduring what looked like crippling heat, in a public square.

It is not easy to describe all that was captured by the camera, but it must be explained that the Freemasonry of this island nation is commingled with church, resulting in Masonic and ecclesiastic organizations running parallel, if not actually integrated. The hierarchy of those in the procession was evident. Those attired in regalia marked with Templar crosses comprise the inner ring of a huge throng of circumambulating Masons encircling the altar. A pyre actually, built of specially chosen woods with sacramental elements liberally splashed upon it and prayers inscribed on paper ritually placed within it. The next ring of celebrants is attired in what Scottish Rite Masons would recognize as Rose Croix regalia. Look closely! There’s Bro. David from All Seeing Eye Lodge in New York! Still others display the Triple Tau. The Master Masons, easily identified by their aprons, form the outermost ring of Masons; those outside of that are family and friends of the brethren. All carry candles to illumine the massive procession, except those bearing the banners of their respective Orders, plus one brother with a Flaming Sword. All are barefoot, for they know the ground where they walk is sacred.

The small group of men at the very center, those applying the sea salt, holy water and other elements to the ritual pyre, are not adorned with special symbols. Simple white. Everyone knows who they are.

And this procession is not mere marching. On the stone pavement about the altar is drawn a circular map of spiritual progression revealing the first 24 names of the Shemhamphorasch. (One must be very careful here. This is not for the casual, kidding himself Kabbalist. These divine signs often are exploited by hard-hearted manipulators of hedonists and other weaklings.) The brethren here affect ritual steps, just as one would upon entering or leaving the lodge, signifying their conformity with one another and with deity.

It is a dizzying demonstration. The heat of the pyre warms your face, and the humidity in the air hugs the body. The juxtaposition of familiar symbols with foreign rites renders the whole scene dreamlike and cinematic, and yet nothing to these Masons is more real and immediate than this ritual. The power of the union achieved by the brethren is palpable.

The film ends. The lights come up. We are returned from Haiti.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

On this day in 1732

In Manhattan at the beginning of Fifth Avenue, on the north side of Washington Square Park, stands the Beaux Arts monument of Tuckahoe marble displaying two huge likenesses of George Washington, warrior, statesman, Freemason.


George Washington was born at his father’s plantation on Pope’s Creek in Westmoreland County, Virginia, on February 22, 1732. His father, Augustine Washington, was a leading planter in the area and also served as a justice of the county court. Augustine’s first wife, Janet Butler, died in 1729, leaving him with two sons, Lawrence and Augustine, Jr., and a daughter, Jane. The elder Augustine then married George’s mother, Mary Ball, in 1731. George was the eldest of Augustine Washington’s and Mary Ball’s six children.

In 1735 Augustine moved the family up the Potomac River to another Washington home, Little Hunting Creek Plantation (later renamed Mount Vernon). In 1738 they moved again to Ferry Farm, a plantation on the Rappahannock River near Fredericksburg, Virginia, where George spent much of his youth. Little is known of Washington’s childhood, and it remains the most poorly understood part of his life. Popular fables illustrating his youthful honesty, piety, and physical strength have long taken the place of documented fact. Some of these fables are more plausible than others. The story that Washington threw a silver dollar across the Potomac River – an impossible feat – had its origins in the recollections of a cousin that George could throw a stone across the much narrower Rappahannock River. But others, including the familiar story of Washington and the cherry tree, seem to have been invented by one of Washington’s first biographers, Mason Locke Weems.

When George was eleven years old, Augustine died, leaving most of his property to George’s older half brothers. The income from what remained was just sufficient to maintain Mary Washington and her children. As the oldest child remaining at home, George undoubtedly helped his mother manage the Rappahannock River plantation where they lived. There he learned the importance of hard work and efficiency.

Little is known about George’s formal education. Commonly the children of Virginia gentry were taught at home by private tutors or in local private schools. Boys generally began their formal education around the age of seven with lessons in reading, writing, and basic arithmetic. Later they were taught Latin and Greek, as well as such practical subjects as geometry, bookkeeping, and surveying. Wealthy planters often sent their sons to England to finish their schooling, as was done with George’s two elder half brothers, Lawrence and Augustine.

The death of his father, however, made schooling abroad an impossibility for George Washington. He may have attended a school near his home for the first few years. Later he went to another school, either in Fredericksburg, Stafford County, or Westmoreland County. He excelled in mathematics and learned the rudiments of surveying. But he was not taught Latin or Greek like many gentlemen’s sons, and he never learned a foreign language. Nor did he attend college. His formal education ended around the age of 15.

Among the gentry class, strong social skills were also considered an essential part of a young man’s or woman’s education. After the death of their father, George began to spend a great deal of time with his older half brother, Lawrence, at his home, Mount Vernon. Lawrence became a mentor to his younger brother, tutoring him in his studies, teaching him social graces, and helping to introduce him into society.

Throughout his life, Washington regarded his education as defective. He consciously made up for some of what he did not learn in school through reading and study on his own. Over the years he amassed a large and diverse library, and in his later years he subscribed to several newspapers. He became a skilled and prolific writer. Perhaps as a result of his lack of formal education he strongly believed in the value of a good education and left money in his will for establishing a school in Alexandria, Virginia, as well as for establishing a national university.

One of Bro. Washington’s aprons.

In 1752, Washington was initiated into Freemasonry at a Scottish lodge at Fredericksburg.

Washington Square Park in Philadelphia.

Washington’s chair at Independence Hall, where the Second Continental Congress issued the Declaration of Independence, remains in place. It is adorned with a sun, of which Benjamin Franklin said “I have often looked at that behind the president without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now I... know that it is a rising...sun.”


Bro. Sal Corelli, a New Jersey Mason, manufactured
and manned the MLMA’s information display at Masonic Week.

Sticking its toe into the waters, as it were, for the first time at Masonic Week was the Masonic Library and Museum Association.

Not joining the program of meetings or banquets to be sure, the MLMA wisely arranged to have a display among the various research societies, authors and vendors on site, including The Masonic Society, the SRRS and Chris Hodapp.

Bro. Sal Corelli of New Jersey was the MLMA’s representative. He not only manned the display during the busy hours, but he also made it from scratch. Members of the Valley of Northern New Jersey – especially Glenn and Dave, the curators of its Museum of Masonic Culture – would be proud to know that the main illustration of the display is a photograph of their work.

Close-up shot taken inside the Museum of Masonic Culture
at the Valley of Northern New Jersey.

Bro. Sal is a faithful supporter of the cause behind Masonic libraries and museums. He has been instrumental in building up his lodge’s library; has become indispensable to the MLMA, traveling cross-country to support its meetings; and is cheerful about helping others get their own Masonic repositories started.

The mission of the MLMA is straightforward: “…to assist and support, through education, facilitation of communication, coordination of effort, those individuals charged with, or interested in, the collection, management, and preservation of Masonic heritage.”

A benefit of this is important and intangible, namely that when the authors and producers who put Freemasonry into the public eye with their books and films endeavor to learn about Freemasonry, they wind up at the major facilities that hold MLMA membership. And when lesser known academics perform their research in support of their theses, they visit MLMA members large and small. It is not an overstatement to say the MLMA plays a vital role in sparking the process that attracts people to Freemasonry, so if any grand lodge officers are reading this, please consider getting involved in the hard work of preserving and exhibiting Masonic artifacts and records. If you like the way popular culture has suddenly made your lodges appear to be relevant, then support the means by which the creative process is guided by historical facts.

Bro. Sal also displayed the MLMA’s new promotional literature, and made sure scores, if not hundreds, of Masonic Week attendees received copies.

One of the more innovative ways for grand lodges to get involved is to sponsor the digitalization of their archives of grand lodge meeting proceedings. This is being done by the George Washington Masonic Memorial, of which nearly all mainstream U.S. grand lodges are constituent members. The cost is approximately $500 per book. Several grand lodges have pursued this to date.

‘How good and how pleasant…’

They made it official a few days ago: The Grand Lodge of New York and the Grand Lodge of Washington, DC again are in amity.

The Grand College of Rites

It is very easy to explain why the Grand College of Rites is one of my favorite groups of Masons: It is focused on a single, important job, and it performs that task perfectly. I imagine the work behind the scenes is sometimes a bit like making sausages, but the work gets done, and without the usual fanfare of Masonry. Let those who have ears hear.

Last year, there was an inconvenient shortage of American flags in the meeting rooms of Masonic Week, and the Magpie Mason had to appeal to the front desk to ensure one was delivered to the AMD’s meeting place. No such problem arose this year when, in fact, several of the events had color guards present the Stars and Stripes. At the GCR’s meeting, the color guard included none other than M.I. Urban T. Peters, the Grand Chancellor himself. He was accompanied by a delegation from Washington Council No. 3 of the National Sojourners.

One of the Sojourners then gave “A Toast to the Flag.” (If you’re tempted to think this a little hokey, remember that Masonic Week takes place on the weekend before Washington’s birthday, and that we’re in Virginia, having left the Hotel Washington, our home for nearly 80 years. It was the bicentennial year of Washington’s birth that coincided with the creation of the original AMD Weekend participants.)

It being the annual meeting, the officers for 2008-09 were installed. Our new M.I. Grand Chancellor is David D. Goodwin of New York. “I’m going to rely on Art de Hoyos for direction, and do nothing that Thurman says!” he joked about his plans for the year.

And there were a few surprises too. R.I. Gary D. Hermann, our long-serving Grand Registrar, announced his retirement. “Due to my advanced age and approaching senility,” he said to sympathetic laughter, “I do not wish to be re-elected.”

R.I. Billy Koon rose to pay tribute to this valued officer, recounting the circumstances of 12 years ago that led Gary to the Grand Registrar’s desk. Apparently, his predecessor was less than diligent in getting the work done, maintaining proper records, etc. The College’s funds were not accounted. The computer purchased for him to discharge these duties was instead put to other uses. Archives were stored in boxes on a wet concrete floor. With an administrative performance like that, it’s a wonder the GCR remained functioning. So R.I. Hermann restored order and helped guide the College through more than a decade of stability and growth. (In fact, it was mentioned later that this year saw the largest expansion of GCR membership in its history.) After a round of applause, Billy introduced a motion, seconded by Thurman Pace, to make Hermann our Grand Registrar Emeritus. Passed unanimously of course.

Remember that mysterious briefcase from Pulp Fiction? Yeah, it belongs to the GCR. Here, R.I. Gary Hermann announces his retirement as its guardian.

While those of us in the ranks of the GCR were surprised by Hermann’s retirement, I bet no one was at all shocked by the decision to aptly reward both Dan Pushee and Paul Newhall, the two coordinators of events at Masonic Week, with the GCR’s Knight Grand Cross, a badge of distinction given in thanks to those few who labor especially hard for the College.

Paul Newhall, left, and Dan “As Below, So Below” Pushee, right, were honored with the GCR’s Knight Grand Cross.

These two men are responsible for executing all the plans – not just for the GCR – set by the Masonic Week organizers, and for “herding the grand masters,” as one phrased it, ensuring that everyone is properly registered for their events. In short, Dan and Paul make everything happen, and if you’ve ever attempted to arrange a single event anywhere in Freemasonry, you should appreciate what these poor souls suffer, yet they make it look easy.

Anyway, the purpose of the Grand College of Rites is embodied by its Publications Committee, quarterbacked by Grand Archivist Arturo de Hoyos. The GCR has three aims:

• The study of the history and ritual of all Rites, Systems and Orders of Freemasonry not under the control, jurisdiction and/or stewardship or regularly existing and recognized Masonic bodies.

• The elimination of sporadic efforts to resuscitate or perpetuate Rites, Systems and Orders of Freemasonry in the United States, except to bring them under control of the Grand College of Rites.

• The collection and preservation of rituals of various Rites, Systems and Orders of Freemasonry ordinarily not available to Masonic students.

These goals culminate every year in the publication of “Collectanea,” the transactions of the GCR. Each book consists of a body of rituals from defunct Masonic fraternities, and sometimes the constitutions and other defining literature. For the past decade, “Collectanea” has explored the many variations and permutations of what used to be the Rite of Memphis. Since 1999 we’ve read:

• Ritual of the Ancient and Accepted Egyptian Rite of Memphis 96º, also Constitution and By-Laws of the Sovereign Sanctuary, Valley of Canada.

• Lectures of a Chapter, Senate & Council: according to the forms of the Antient and Primitive Rite, but embracing all systems of High Grade Masonry. Translated from the French by John Yarker, 33-96º.

• Rituals of Calvin C. Burt’s Egyptian Masonic Rite of Memphis, Sovereign Sanctuary (95º) of the Valley of Chicago.

• Statutes, Public Ceremonials and History of the Antient & Primitive Rite of Masonry … for the United Kingdom [by John Yarker].

• Constitution and General Statutes for the Government of the Antient & Primitive Rite of Masonry … for the Continent of America [by Alexander B. Mott].

• Manual of the Degrees of the Antient & Primitive Rite of Masonry … for Great Britain and Ireland [by John Yarker], Part 1, 4º–33º.

The Magpie Mason doesn’t mind admitting that he’s a little Memphis’ed out after all that reading. But to be fair, this is pretty important information to some of us, not just for the historic and educational values, but because there have been con artists in recent years who sold degrees and regalia of the Memphis Rite. Some of you know who I mean, but it must also be understood that there are sincere workings of Memphis in America, albeit in organizations that go unrecognized by the mainstream. And then there are jurisdictions abroad that are recognized by the mainstream that work the Memphis degrees, so it gets pretty confusing. (David, feel free to jump in here.)

The history of the GCR is intertwined with that of Memphis Masonry.

In 1931, J. Raymond Shute II, of Monroe, North Carolina, obtained information from Harold V. B. Voorhis, of Red Bank, New Jersey, that the Right Reverend Henry V. A. Parsell of New York, New York, was a surviving member of the defunct Egyptian Rite of Memphis in the United States.

Following some correspondence between Brothers Shute and Parsell, and talks with a few other interested brethren, it was decided and agreed to revive this Rite and thus gain control of it, together with its rituals and archives. The purpose of such action was to give a body to be subsequently formed—a Grand College Rites—some material to publish, namely rituals. The idea of forming of a Grand Body to print rituals of dormant Masonic bodies having been already planned by Brother Shute and a few brethren interested in such a project.

I guess it could be said that the GCR itself is a Memphis spin-off.

Admittedly, it – like a lot of Freemasonry – could sound frivolous to an outsider, but the doings of the Grand College of Rites are hugely significant to the efforts to conserve Masonic heritage. No one was really shocked by the discussion of another group in the United States that is busy encroaching on the GCR’s identity and mission, resulting in the College now having to spend its money on lawyers to safeguard its intellectual property. Who says Freemasonry is a sacred retreat from the concerns and employments of the world?

Look well to the briefcase! – R.I. Martin Starr and Grand Archivist Art de Hoyos keep an eye on things.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Grand Council of AMD

From left: Richard Gan, deputy grand secretary, Mark Masons Hall; Brian Wareham, deputy supreme ruler, Order of the Secret Monitor; Peter Glyn-Williams, supreme ruler, OSM; John Paternoster, supreme magus, SRIA; Roy Leavers, intendant general, Surrey Red Cross; and Tommy Thompson, grand tyler, Mark Masons Hall. Most Worthy Brother Williams delivered the signed concordat establishing relations between the Order of the Secret Monitor of America and Britain Feb. 14.

When I began attending this busy Masonic Week event, it was called AMD Weekend, because the meetings and functions spanned the weekend, and those hosted by the Allied Masonic Degrees were considered the most important. Things have changed; now there is a full day of all kinds of meetings and meals on Thursday, thanks to the addition of St. Thomas of Acon and the expansion of Rosicrucian activities.

And, if a group of us who gather at Gadsby’s Tavern have our way, there will be something to do on Wednesday Feb. 10, 2010 too.

Well, I guess it is safe now to discuss what could have happened on the eve of this Masonic Week. Mark Tabbert at the George Washington Masonic Memorial and the Magpie Mason were planning a special event for that Wednesday: a daylong celebration of Masonic culture with a colloquium, ritual exemplification, a catered meal, and more, all at the Washington Memorial.

So what happened?

After three months of weighing options and choosing the best mix of speakers and other considerations, we settled on a too-good-to-be-true agenda. Leaders of the Rose Circle Research Foundation, who happen to be officers of St. John’s Lodge No. 1, AYM in New York City, would start the day with two lectures on the meanings and methods of initiation. Then an exhibit of Masonic regalia hosted by Toye, Kenning & Spencer Ltd., one of Britain’s leading manufacturers (since 1685!). Then a great meal together. Capping the event was to be an exemplification of an EA° of Emulation ritual, provided by the officers of Benjamin B. French Lodge No. 15 in Washington, DC. There even would have been shuttles taking our guests to and from the Alex Mark.

So what happened?

About eight minutes after the final touches were put on this plan, the Grand Lodge of New York pulled its recognition of the Grand Lodge of DC over the Lebanon thing. Naturally this would make it difficult for New York and DC Masons to work together, even in Virginia. The two jurisdictions reconciled right after Masonic Week.

Story of my life.

Where was I going with this? Yes! The AMD.

Saturday at 2 p.m. saw the annual meeting of the Grand Council. Actually, at 10 a.m. was the meeting of Nine Muses Council No. 13, a function which is open to all Masons because its purpose is to present one outstanding paper for the brethren’s advancement in Masonic knowledge. I don’t know what happened there, but I stepped outside for two seconds and the meeting was over.

William Robert Logan of South Carolina
is the new Sovereign Grand Master of Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States.

But Grand Council’s meeting was interesting in its own way. Seventeen new Councils around the country received their charters. A bunch of others lost theirs for not filing their annual returns for several years, including two in New Jersey: Hudson Valley No. 58 and Dabar No. 161. (I learned this morning that both of these Councils are still active, so hopefully their secretaries will get in gear and correct the problem.)

Other news: Our British brethren in the Order of the Secret Monitor had voted on April 15 to reciprocate the U.S. extension of recognition made last February. This means intervisitation can take place. In Britain, the OSM is its own fraternal order; it is not under the AMD. MV Kenneth B. Fischer, right, reads the concordat.

It also allows for the importation of the Order of the Scarlet Cord which, not coincidentally, was conferred that night.

The Marvin E. Fowler Award was presented to James Wilson, Jr.

James Wilson, Jr. and Franklin Boner have a laugh during MV Ken Fischer's allocution at Grand Council’s annual meeting last Saturday. Wilson was then presented the Marvin E. Fowler Award for service to the fraternity.

MV Ken Fischer, our outgoing Sovereign Grand Master, delivered a very eloquent, humorous and touching allocution. I wish I could read my notes.

In the VIP department, among those introduced to the brethren were: John R. Paternoster, of the Red Branch of Erie for England and Wales; and Peter Glyn Williams, Grand Supreme Ruler of OSM in Britain, who delivered the signed concordat establishing relations between the American and British OSM brethren.

Along those lines, a new committee for international relations was formed.

“This won’t create a lot of ‘green jobs,’ ” said Chairman Allen Surrat, “but I assure our Board of General Purposes that all my taxes have been paid!”

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Knight Masons of the USA

Just got back from the taping of tonight’s broadcast of The Late Show with David Letterman (sample joke that will not make it on air: “Today, A-Rod tested positive for bullsh*t!”) followed by a smoke and a few pints at Club Macanudo. But duty calls and it’s time for the Magpie to resume his labors.

The Magpie Mason opted to skip the 7 a.m. – what is this, the Army? – breakfast on Friday hosted by the Convent General of the Knights of the York Cross of Honor, conserving strength for the full day’s agenda of events. First up: the annual meeting of the Grand Council of Knight Masons of the USA followed by the meeting of Great Chief’s Council 0.

Seems like it was only yesterday when M.E. Donald Street took office as our Great Chief. Now it’s time for the installation of Dennis Zier and his officers for the ensuing year.

Dennis Zier, front and center, with his officers,
take their oaths of office.

Knight Masons?

This is another of the small, honorary, invitational bodies under the York Rite. Membership is reserved for Royal Arch Masons who are recognized for their talents and accomplishments, who then are invited to join.

Knight Masonry works the so-called “Green Degrees” of Irish Masonry. Click here for a taste of the history of this fraternity, written by Cousin David Lindez.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Society of Blue Friars

I’m going to jump out of chronological order, just for my own convenience, in recapping the events of Masonic Week. On Friday we enjoyed the 65th Annual Consistory of the Society of Blue Friars.

This might be the perfect Masonic fraternity: one meeting per year, no dues, no ritual, no rank for us on the sidelines, no problemo.


There are three officers: Grand Abbot S. Brent Morris, Deputy Grand Abbot Arturo de Hoyos, and Secretary General Dick Fletcher. Then there are the Blue Friars themselves. These are published authors in the Masonic world (not dopey bloggers, but real researchers and writers) hailing from all over the globe. There have been 98 Friars to date, of whom 25 are active now. To become a Friar, an existing Friar nominates a Mason from a Grand Lodge in amity with his own, and then the Grand Abbot makes the selection, choosing one per year, unless the current membership falls below 20, in which case the Grand Abbot may choose multiple nominees.

(The title “abbot” shares etymological roots with the salutory appellation of our Operative Grand Master, but I digress.)

The first Grand Abbot and first Friar was none other than J. Raymond Shute, II of North Carolina. A very interesting man and Mason who was crucial in the history of the Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States. His leadership was equally vital to most of the other organizations that have comprised the doings of Masonic Week since its inception more than 70 years ago, like the Grand College of Rites and the Masonic Rosicrucians.

Shute was a state senator in North Carolina, representing its 19th District in 1934-35. He later served two terms as mayor of Monroe.

Blue Friar (2000) Art de Hoyos and the 2009 Blue Friar.

But we gathered on Friday to welcome the newest Blue Friar, Bro. Yasha Beresiner, Past Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 in London. (It’s funny how these things work out, but Bro. Yasha also was to be the keynote speaker that evening at The Masonic Society’s First Circle Gathering.)

His topic for the Blue Friars that morning was Scottish influence on the early development of Speculative Masonry. Starting us at 1176 C.E., when the first stone bridge was erected in England, he led us forward two centuries to the period when the first organizations of stone masons, with their own rules and regulations, appeared in London and York. He explained how the English had guilds, and the Scots had corporations, which were very similar, but with this difference: The guild had a lodge at its worksite. The corporation had a lodge of its own, not linked to any particular construction site, “a physical body that runs parallel to the corporation of stone masons.” We’re not sure what they did – it seems they did seek to avoid the authority of the civil government – but they did have candidates.

Fast forward to the late 16th century and we see “non-Masons are being accepted, men of standing and authority.” A degree system was in place, with advancement from the 1° to the 2°. And there was a Master’s Word.

Schaw’s Statutes of 1598-9 provide 28 rules and regulations. There were regular meetings with minutes taken. “These separate the lodges from what they had been.” The first Schaw Statute appears Dec. 28, 1598 – unmistakably only a day after the Feast Day of St. John the Evangelist, the patron of Scottish stone masons lodges.

Shortly thereafter are dated the first clues of Speculative Masonry in England, namely the odd diary-like jot by Elias Ashmole, clearly a gentleman who never labored in stone.

1646 Oct. 16 4H.30pm I was made a Free Mason at Warrington in Lancashire, with Coll: Henry Mainwaring of Karincham in Cheshire. The names of those that were then of the Lodge: Mr. Rich Penket, Warden, Mr. James Collier, Mr. Rich. Sankey, Henry Littler, John Ellam, Rich. Ellam & Hugh Brewer.

In 1682 he was invited to attend the lodge of the Stone Masons Company of London. What did he do in London then, asked Beresiner. The answer will settle the question of the origins of Speculative Freemasonry, “I’m convinced.”

After the Great Fire of London, no building could be constructed unless made of stone. The only surviving documents of the Stone Masons Company are its treasurer’s reports. There was a single fee paid by members, but a double fee paid by outsiders. There must have been an Acception Ceremony! In time, the lodge would separate itself from the Company, and the six years between the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge and the publications of its Constitutions would see “unadulterated pleasure and enjoyment by the Masons.” The Tavern Age.

Returning to the reach of Scottish influence, Beresiner expanded on the significance of the Constitutions. Dr. James Anderson, the author, was initiated in Scotland. He “digests” the Old Charges of Scotland’s Operative Masons, making “obvious references to Scottish Masonry.” Cowan, Entered Apprentice and Fellowcraft are “terms that appear in English for the first time in the Constitutions of 1723.”

Brent Morris brings the Q&A to a close.

Unfortunately only an hour is allotted to the Blue Friars, and our time together was coming to an end. To allow for a Q&A session, Grand Abbott Morris adroitly concluded the lecture, explaining that “Those who insist on either English or Scottish origins miss the point that it’s the British Isles.”

Monday, February 16, 2009


I finally got tired of repeatedly visiting DC and environs without ever budgeting any time for sightseeing. So, on Thursday, Bro. Jim from Logan Lodge No. 575 in Indianapolis and I set out to the House of the Temple and then to the National Mall and Memorial Parks.

I shot more than 100 photos at the House of the Temple. More on that later.

Since it was Feb. 12, the bicentennial of President Lincoln’s birth, we visited the Lincoln Memorial. This year also is the centennial of the debut of the Lincoln penny and the golden anniversary of the change of that coin’s reverse to the Memorial design. I can still remember the delight as a very young numismatist of obtaining a near Mint condition penny, and upon close examination discovering that the Lincoln statue was visible inside the tiny Memorial on the back.

Note the two fasces beneath his hands. An ancient symbol of authority, the fasces depict bundles of rods. It is employed repeatedly in American symbolism. Take a look at the reverse of a dime, or examine the seal of the U.S. Senate. It was a symbol long before Mussolini’s fascists got hold of it.

The penny, long at risk of being discontinued, receives more changes upon this bicentennial celebration. As has been done with quarter dollars in recent years, the penny will be struck with different reverses.

(But we, as Free and Accepted Masons, should ever remember the original design of Victor D. Brenner: the so-called “Wheat Penny.” Wheat of course is partially what is meant when “corn” is cited in the rituals.)

Anyway, I didn’t mean to write about coins.

On the walls inside the Memorial are numerous symbols rendered in paint and stone.

Two murals at the top represent freedom, justice, unity, brotherhood and charity.

The weather all week was beautiful. Some rain had been forecast, but never arrived. Each day was sunny and clear, with temperatures reaching into the high 50s.

‘The Rosicrucians’

Masonic Week 2009 is history, but perhaps these photos will help preserve that history. During the course of about 72 hours, the Magpie Mason shot approximately 300 photographs, of which 255 were keepers.

Obviously, not all can be displayed here, but I’ll post a number of the better ones in a series of updates. Herewith is Part I, “The Rosicrucians.”

On Thursday afternoon, after a committee meeting of The Masonic Society (held in the ominously numbered room 2012 of the hotel), I happened to catch the colorful exit of the fratres of the High Council of Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis, presided over by MW William H. Koon II, Supreme Magus.

Philippe & Co. carrying banners.

Oliver has the strength of ten men.

Secretary General Franklin Boner.

Chris Jessen (IX°), Minister of Music, also is grand organist of a number of the groups that meet at Masonic Week. His musicianship adds so much to the proceedings that I cannot remember what it was like without him. His keyboard sounds like the pipe organ at the Royal Albert Hall.

Fratre David, Grand Archivist, exits the Council. David is Worshipful Master of historic Alpha Lodge No. 116 in East Orange, New Jersey. He is an enthusiastic and diligent laborer and leader in several fields of esoteric studies.

For me, this one says it all. Fratre David (IX°), left, confers with Past Supreme Magus Thurman C. Pace, Jr. It is hard to explain what Thurman means to a great many Masons, especially a number of us in New Jersey.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

LESS than meets the eye!

The Magpie Mason writes to spread the word about the cultural joys of Freemasonry: music, theater, literature, history, libraries, museums, architecture, mythology, esoterica, philosophy...

And then this week comes a newspaper story from the Magpie's own backyard. Hilariously, the headline of this story is "More to Freemasonry than meets the eye," but the reporter takes the same angle as all reporters: famous Masons (with errors), no secrets, just a charity, AARP, spaghetti dinners, ZZZZZZZZZ. She shows there is LESS than meets the eye.

Is it Masonic Week yet?!

More to Freemasonry than meets the eye

Wednesday, February 4

MANSFIELD -- Warren County residents Michael Iannitelli, James Taylor and Dwayne Dolly II share a common connection with such famous figures as Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Franklin D. Roosevelt; political activist Benjamin Franklin; Astronaut Neal Armstrong; jazz musician Louis Armstrong; actors John Wayne and Bob Hope; magician Harry Houdini; and businessman James C. Penny, founder of J.C. Penny department stores. Along with millions of other renowned and just plain regular guys in centuries past, they proudly call themselves Masons.

Throughout history people have called Freemasonry the most "exclusive fraternal order" and associated it with ancient traditions, doctrines, ceremonies, symbolism, brotherhood, and mystery. No longer shrouded in the rigid secrecy of the past, members of the Mansfield Masonic Lodge 36 are welcoming people to learn more about the good works of the organization.

Although the "Regius Poem," dated in 1390, makes mention of a chartered Masonic Lodge operating in 900 A.D., the first recognized Grand Lodge was chartered in 1717 in England with other Constituent Symbolic Lodges (local Blue Lodges) following throughout the world. The North American Lodge was chartered in Boston in 1733 and the first in New Jersey, St. Johns #1, was chartered on July 3, 1787. It is speculated the organization was started by stone masons.

Freemasons are known as the largest single charitable organization. They head Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children and Burn Institutes and support state and national foundations for research, teaching and treatment or rehabilitation services for children with learning and health issues. They also help brother Masons and their families; sponsor scholarships and other community programs.

Mansfield Masonic Lodge, located on Route 31, was chartered in 1814. Iannitelli, who lives in Lopatcong, holds the esteemed position of Worshipful Master, the highest office within the lodge. He became a Mason over 14 years ago.

"It's not what Freemason does for you; it's what you can do as a Freemason," Iannitelli said of the fraternity. "It gives you the opportunity to become a charitable person."

The Mansfield lodge currently has about 200 members. A time honored process must be followed to gain membership to any Masonic Lodge. Iannitelli explains, men interested in joining must first "ask" a member to recommend them. They do not solicit members. After filing a petition, an investigative committee interviews the candidate to see if they are "of good character" and votes. If accepted, the candidate must then successfully complete a series of three "symbolic degrees" and one "proficiency" to advance, which involves the study of "morals and lessons" to gain "sufficient knowledge" of the organization.

Iannitelli said the process helps Masons distinguish each other and is not for purposes of secrecy.
"We are not a secret organization. If we were a secret, you wouldn't see our building out in the open as we are," Iannitelli said. "The only secrets there are in Masonry is the ability to prove you are a member. As a member of the fraternity I can probably go anywhere in the world and engage in Masonic communication and attend meetings. I would be able to prove I am a Mason."

Although Masons only accept male members, other spin off groups that welcome women are the Order of the Eastern Star, Order of Amaranth and Order of the Golden Chain. Groups for young people are the Order of Rainbow for girls and Order of De Molay for boys.

Taylor, who resides in Buttzville, joined the Mansfield Masons in 1991 after seeking recommendation from a friend. He serves as secretary this year and has held numerous officer positions within the organization.

"When I was growing up, all the people I admired were Masons. Everyone I met who I wanted to be like, were Masons," Taylor admits. "I thought it would be a good influence on me and it has been. I've been able to associate with people who have the same thoughts and beliefs I had."

Taylor said as a Mason he strives to act in ways that reflect the "ritual" and what is expected of members -- be a good person, help community members, visit people in the hospital, be quiet and peaceful in society, support the Lodge, be a good citizen, and support the government.

"If you hang around with people that are true to their government and just to their country and always try to help people, then you will be a better person," Taylor said. "That is one of the precepts to Masonry -- taking good men and making them better."

Although Dolly, who lives in Washington Borough, joined the Mansfield Lodge two short years ago, he moved up the ranks quickly and is serving as senior deacon this year.

"The most important value of the organization is equality. It doesn't matter who you are or what you do, once you're in the lodge everyone is equal, regardless," Dolly said. "For every one of those famous guys who have been a member, there are thousands and thousands of regular guys who are members."

Mansfield Masonic Lodge holds regular business meetings twice monthly. They also host a spaghetti dinner for the Boy Scouts each April to fund their camp, annual blood drives, and AARP Defensive Driving courses. Their goal is to be more active in the community and develop other fundraisers to contribute to worthy causes and projects. For more information, call the Mansfield Masonic Lodge at (908) 689-2533 or e-mail

‘Diogenes’ Lamp’

It’s been months since the Magpie Mason reviewed a book, and now that the 2008 offering from the Masonic Book Club is out, what better opportunity?

“Diogenes’ Lamp” by Adam Weishaupt is subtitled “Or, an Examination of Our Present-Day Morality and Enlightenment.”

If you know who Weishaupt was, you realize his present day was the late 18th and early 19th centuries – the Enlightenment – and that he founded the storied and feared Illuminati. But it would be wrong to view this as an Illuminati book. This originally was published near the end of Weishaupt’s life, several decades after the Illuminati was suppressed by the state, and the author renounced his affiliation with the order.

Diogenes of course was the Greek philospher of the Cynic school who carried a lamp in broad daylight in his search for an honest man.

“When I compare our world of today with the worlds of older times – the worlds of the Greeks and the Romans, or even just the Middle Ages – the differences appear so great to me that, by my way of thinking, people from those distant eras would have trouble recognizing themselves in us or convincing themselves that the scene of their former activities is still the same place and that we are their descendants,” Weishaupt begins his book. “Not just people and actors have changed, but also objects and things. Both Heaven and Earth have expanded since that time, and entirely new peoples have shared in the ruling of this earthly globe. Where, in the older world, nomadic tribes wandered with their flocks through the wilderness, states have now arisen that, like so many powers of the first water, have advanced the direction of European political knowledge.”

If only the man could have seen how his own name and his Illuminati would fuel the minds of paranoid, benighted kooks and opportunist authoritarians alike in generations to come.

“Diogenes’ Lamp” is a discourse in the first person. Not divided into chapters or subjects (he really could have benefitted from an editor), this book is a clarion in Weishaupt’s voice calling for man to arise to right thinking and right action. It is a philosophical treatise, and reading it, one cannot help but wonder why he continues to inspire so many conspiracy theorists. Not only is his philosophy non-threatening to decent people and just societies, but there isn’t even anything “new” in his thinking.

“For about four thousand years, as far back as our history goes, we humans have, on this earth, thought, acted, believed, taught, and governed. Despite all this, it is widely and generally believed that we remain unchanged, and not one iota better than before. If this belief has grounds, then thinking, believing, teaching, and governing are the most unnecessary things in the world, and it would be impossible to make their disgrace and disparagement more plain.”

Here he seems to reject Rousseau’s grim view of human nature and culture. He continues:

“Our assessment of humanity’s moral behavior does not look much better. In this area as well, all human beings hold very high opinions of themselves. Humanity’s finer side conceals such opinions behind the veil of modesty. But this so-pleasant virtue is for the most part just a facial expression we assume... As a result, everyone has the greatest difficulty suspecting themselves capable of flaws and afflictions.”

I’m reminded of Decartes and his “Discourse on Method,” in which his wit and candor are set to labor, very effectively, to make the reader laugh at human foibles. Weishaupt however is more blunt than witty.

“I am malicious, if this way of being different deserves to be called malicious, because I am neither a flatterer nor blind; because I distinguish between the better driving forces and the worse ones; because no one could wish more for things to be better than they are; and because at the same time I am convinced that things cannot be better until people stop failing to recognize the true forces driving their actions. If using a higher standard to determine people’s true value indicates maliciousness, then I cannot deny that I am malicious, and I believe I would be the loser if I were any other way.”

Contrary to resembling the architect of a godless, totalitarian “New World Order,” Weishaupt reveals himself in these pages as an optimistic thinker with highly Catholic tastes. (He was Jesuit educated.)

“Our men of the world are completely correct when they claim that a person can act morally, be a very upright, generally respected, and beloved man, and still be able to deny the future. People certainly have sufficient other reasons for behaving justly and correctly. They do not require the gallows or the wheel to do so. A certain moral behavior results from the nature of the relationships under which we live. Our needs force us to fulfill certain obligations. Some of the ends we pursue with themost yearning cannot be achieved without our suppression of our own demands and self-interest. It is in every man’s interest to be just and moderate… There is also no lack of examples of men who denied the future and yet lived as philanthropists.

“This may well all be probably perfectly true. A morality built on unbelief may be completely adequate for humans to become the way they currently are, but it is not adequate if people want to become more than they currently are; it is not adequate if the source of our lamentations is to be lifted. it does not suffice for making people into what they are capable of becoming, or ennobling the mind itself as the source of all behavior. it does not suffice for people to act uniformly and always in this same manner. It does not raise the mind up above all temptations and attractions, to do the opposite. there are situations in which the usual reasons for correct behavior do not pass the test. There are situations that raise people up above the usual considerations...

“Therefore, if men of the world call upon the philanthropy and goodness of their actions as evidence of higher morality, they may indeed be very good, when judged by their effects, but this does not prevent the source from being dishonest and the foundation from being shaky. What is truly good is found not in the actions but in the convictions. The virtue exists not in individual deeds, because virtue is a Whole, and where it is not, there can be good deeds that are not good, and there are only too many of those.”

For Weishaupt, the perfect society is a busy place. Its citizens are striving for happiness, each by bringing his strengths and weaknesses into balance. In Masonic history, Operative Masonry was the laborious construction of physical buildings, which gave way to Speculative Masonry, as in the improvement of the self through gradual embracing of high minded ideals. Adam Weishaupt takes us full circle. His Operatives would metabolize the Speculative teachings, making them second nature, and then resume their labors in constructing, not stone cathedrals, but societies founded on virtues.

Of course that is what agitates the manipulators of religion and politics. In short, his thesis is the twin of that of the 32° of Scottish Rite Masonry, which came to light almost simultaneously to the publication of this book.

Drawing his conclusion, Weishaupt says “...we would be very much in error if we wanted to believe that this insight and conviction are for everyone. Convincing oneself that such a way of acting is the only way and the best way requires, if you do not want to fool and undermine yourself with empty words, great understanding of the overall situation, and thus a very highly developed mind. It presupposes that you first know how many ways of acting exist, which effect result from each of them, how every deed, emotion, and idea behaves in relation to what has already happened. It requires you to be able to prove the agreement and the contradictions of yourself and others, and to be able to distinguish the apparent agreement or contradiction from the real. All of these are great and unusual prerequisites and characteristics.

“In general, acting in accordance with the purest of motivations and highest principles is such an equivocal thing, associated with so many difficulties, that in reality it is one of the rarest of occurrences.”

▲▼ ▲▼ ▲▼ ▲▼ ▲▼ ▲▼ ▲▼ ▲▼ ▲▼ ▲▼ 

It is essential reading, but there are big problems with this book. Masonic Book Club publications often are facsimiles of original and rare titles, allowing the modern eye to see the books as they were intended for the first readers. Because Weishaupt’s original is in German, a direct reproduction is impossible. The typeface chosen for this printing makes an already challenging content a little more difficult to read for comprehension. I don’t know the name of this font, but it is italicized and has exaggerated serifs. The accumulated effect of hundreds of pages of this is not kind to the eyes.

Also, Weishaupt, a native of Bavaria, obviously composed his teachings in German, so this publication is an English translation. (The text is translated by Amelia Gill.) Nevertheless, the text includes numerous quotations of Greek, Latin and French sources, and there is extensive use of German; none of these are translated into English. Footnotes could have been used, or even an appendix, but no such luck. A rotten editorial judgment that detracts from this book’s usefulness because Weishaupt uses these quotations for direction before expanding on their meanings.

Even worse, frankly, is the 20-page, two-part introduction authored by Mark Bruback, who inexplicably is credited as a Knight Templar. What that affiliation has to do with this book or with the MBC is lost on me. He also is listed as the project coordinator, a mysterious appellation requiring a visit to his MySpace page for clarification. As it appears on February 8:

“I acquired the dusty old volume, Lara Croft style, in an old Masonic Library where I instantaneously recognized the author’s name and proceeded to carefully flip through the aged manuscript. Printed in Austria in 1804, its brittle 368 pages stirred in me a wonder.”

And then:

“Even though I have been offered thousands of Dollars by various private individuals and churches to sell the original book, I felt it so important to continue this project I had to turn them down. Afraid they might try and destroy it and/or slant it in their own unknown agendas, I declined their offers when the prospect (and need) for money in my life was very strong.

“In order to safe guard the book, I heavily insured it and mailed it to the Masonic Temple in Evanston, Illinois. I let my contact, (the Knight Templar commander who knighted me there in 2001) know the importance (and financial value) of safeguarding the book and suggested it be put in the large vault within the sanctified walls of the temple.”

There is no explanation of how this rare and valuable book, once the property of a Masonic library, came to be owned by Sir Knight Bruback for his disposal. (If SK Bruback is reading this, he is cordially invited to post a comment to explain. The lamp Diogenes carried, after all, was to help him find on honest man.)

He goes on to say he intends to publish this commercially.

“I am relieved now as the Masonic Book Club of America is releasing this gem in December of this year, slated as their book for 2008… This is by no means the stopping point of this project. My literary agent J. Joyce is working hard, as we speak, to find a major publishing house to release this book to the masses.”

I would direct his attention to page iv, where the MBC’s copyright is printed.

Anyway, his introduction to “Diogenes’ Lamp” rambles in a juvenile voice, displays a variety of style inconsistencies, and distracts the reader with countless errors in punctuation and grammar. Note to the editor: The ampersand (&) is not universally interchangeable with “and,” the proper conjunction that eluded you. Albert Mackey’s name has become MacKey. And on, and on. These transgressions are so numerous and so damaging to the book that longtime members of the MBC are in for a staggering shock. Perhaps the patrician reliability of the Club is being dropped in an appeal to the My Space generation. (If you do not know, the Masonic Book Club has begun a new era under new management upon the recent retirement of Robin Carr. I hope the new management gets the help it needs. Today.)

As one popular Masonic author phrased it yesterday, “The good news is that we at last have the first book of authentic Illuminati writings translated into English. The bad news is it's this one.”

This misstep aside, the MBC is worthy of the brethren’s support. I think. Membership is limited to 1,500 and vacancies exist. There is a new website.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

‘To keep and conceal?’

Nutley Lodge Master Franklin Suco presents a gift to W. Ben Hoff in thanks for the lecture delivered there Monday night. Hoff is Master of New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education in Trenton.

The yearlong Masonic education program at Nutley Lodge No. 25 continued in fine style Monday night with the appearance of W. Ben Hoff. The Worshipful Master of New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education in Trenton journeyed north to share with the brethren one of his always illuminating presentations. This one concerned the history and diversity of ritual ciphers.

Ben is an avid researcher of Craft Masonry rituals – their history, variations and, when possible, their appearance in cipher books, official or otherwise. His personal library of ritual books includes genuine antique treasures like “The Master Key” by John Browne from 1794 (a book that even Mackey said was rare, and that was 150 years ago), and the more famous Antient ritual exposures from the 1760s, like “Three Distinct Knocks.” Of more modern publications, Ben has a library of American and English ritual books, some published officially, others not.

When giving these talks, Ben always brings a batch of these texts for the brethren to see and handle. Monday night we had the chance to peruse a variety of books, including a handwritten ritual book, in code, from Aurora Lodge No. 3 in New Hampshire (which no longer exists). I think it was a 19th century vintage. Its code was the “dreaded single-initial” abbreviation style, as opposed to the unique symbol characters in the ciphers of New Jersey and elsewhere. And he also distributed brief excerpts from New Hampshire’s official ritual book of 1948. In both samples, it was hard to decipher everything because that jurisdiction’s language differs very slightly. But other variations are major, like the absence of Deacons taking up the Word during the opening.

The proliferation of ritual exposures was natural, Ben explained. Although published commercially and without official sanction of the Grand Lodges, these books were mightily sought by the brethren for use as memory aids. Even those books published by anti-Masons for the purpose of diminishing the fraternity’s mystique and allure were snatched up by Masons struggling to study independently. “We’re not supposed to write (the secrets of the degrees),” he added, “but nobody ever said anything about buying.”

One might be tempted to think the study of Masonic ritual ciphers would be dull and dry. The truth is the real story of Freemasonry is encoded in those pages. The comparison of one modern ritual to its ancestors reveals more about the Craft than any dozen lame “Templar Chapel Decoded!” type books on the point-of-sale rack in Barnes & Noble. But it requires patience, and it is necessary to read history for context. From there you can see with your own eyes how the lodge of the tavern became the lodge of the temple; how lectures were taken away from the brethren assembled and assigned to a lone orator; how Openings were changed from the EA° to the MM°; and how beautiful prose was excised by ritual committees that had no idea of the meaning and purpose of those words.

There were changes arising outside the temple as well.

William Morgan’s ritual exposé resulted in the scandal that almost destroyed the fraternity in the early 1800s. To cope and attempt a comeback, many of the Grand Lodges sent delegates to the Baltimore Convention in 1843, where the feasibility of a nationwide standardized ritual was seriously proposed. The anti-Masonic movement of the era produced America’s first political third party: the Anti-Masonic Party, which enjoyed significant electoral success, even electing a governor in Vermont.

During the Civil War, the prolific author Rob Morris devised his Mnemonics system, which he offered as a potential standard ritual for the country’s recovering Masonic fraternity. That ritual is seen today in the work of Connecticut’s lodges, among others.

The advent of ritual books caused the fraternity to obsess over its ceremonies. By having the printed word for reference, Masons became devoted to letter-perfect performance of the degrees. Ceremonial form became more important than instructive substance, and passing generations of mistaken Masons came to believe there never have been changes to their rituals. Sound familiar?

“The essence of ritual is not the precision of the words,” said Hoff, whose research will result in a book on the evolution of Craft ritual, the chapters of which he presents as papers to our research lodge. “Originally there was no standardized ritual. To this day in England there is no standardized ritual!”

The point, he added, is that these ceremonies need consist only of their necessary initiatory elements (the entrance, circumambulation, etc.). This does not mean anything goes in the degrees, but rather lodges do not have to be the cookie-cutter clones we have today. “Lodges with non-standardized rituals have brethren who are more passionate about preserving their lodges’ rituals and heritage.” They have to be more careful; they don’t have books to pass around. “They also spend more time visiting other lodges to see what they do differently. It’s cool!”

As regards New Jersey’s ritual, what we see today printed in plain English in our books once was merely commentary on the actual ritual, which we know in code. This added commentary gradually became incorporated into the ritual itself, making the ritual more complicated... resulting in the demand for written texts.

New Jersey ritual ciphers date back more than a century, to “King Solomon and His Followers: A Valuable Aid to the Memory.” The MM° Opening in this unauthorized book shows the Deacons being summoned to the West; charged by the SW to satisfy themselves that all present are MMs; and then traveling East by the North and South. No Word is taken up. Instead, a Deacon halted in front of an unfamiliar brother, until he was properly avouched.

Another unofficial New Jersey cipher, titled “Ecce Orienti” circa 1918, begins with a 13-page discussion of the Essenes, a term used to confound the uninitiated (and incidentally a term used about 30 years before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls).

The publishers of both of these books also printed versions for other Masonic jurisdictions. Remember this was the golden age of fraternalism, when publishers, manufacturers and vendors of all kinds could earn their livelihoods by gratifying the needs of the hundreds of thousands of men who comprised the countless fraternities, benefit societies, and other groups upon which people depended for their social lives and economic security. The codes employed in these pages are recognizable to Masons today.

The same is not true of the aforementioned Browne’s “The Master Key.” That author devised a cipher that replaced vowels with the letters of his last name.

A = B
E = R
I = O
O = W
U = N
Y = E

So, of course, the use of a B could indicate an intended A... or it could just be the B.

The Magpie reader who can decipher the following phrase will receive a pint of Guinness and a fine cigar next week at the Alex Mark Hilton.

Thrko Ngbndthrc Rbftwoth