Thursday, December 30, 2010

‘The Enemy Within’

All the brethren, their families, and friends are invited to the Grand Lodge of New York’s annual celebration of the birthday of none other than George Washington, a Freemason and, if I’m not mistaken, a president of the United States, and possibly a general before that. This event (Reason No. 367,712 why the Grand Lodge of New York is the center of the Masonic universe in the tri-state region) will take place Sunday, February 27, 2011 at the George Washington Headquarters National Historic site in Tappan, New York, otherwise known to Magpie readers as DeWint House.

A “living history” play will be staged. The Enemy Within: Arnold Returns Home features Gary Petagine as Benedict Arnold, and Sean Grady as a captured soldier. After committing his treason, Arnold is made a brigadier general in the British army. His forces invade New London, Connecticut (his home state), and the play’s action concerns Arnold’s conversation with a prisoner of war while a massacre is committed at nearby Fort Griswold.

This program at DeWint House will begin at 2 p.m., and there will be a “no host” buffet luncheon, sponsored by Knickerbocker Chapter No. 13 of the National Sojourners, at 11:30 a.m. just around the corner at Old ’76 House. (If you like history, you can’t do much better than a tavern that has been in continuous service since the 1600s, and that served as the jailhouse of Benedict Arnold’s accomplice, Major John Andre.)

Cost per person: $25. Pay at the door.

This birthday celebration is brought to you by Grand Lodge’s George Washington Historic Site at Tappan Committee and the Trustees of the Masonic Hall and Home, who I’m confident will keep their speeches brief.

About the featured producers, writers and players:

Gary Petagine (Benedict Arnold)

A teacher for more than 30 years, Gary has been a master teacher for the Living History Education Foundation for eight years. He is a Colonial/Revolutionary War re-enactor with the 5th New York and has portrayed Patrick Henry, Gen. Richard Montgomery, and Samuel Adams. Gary co-founded A Living History: The Revolutionary War at Carmel High School and has been featured in Putnam-Westchester County’s Journal News.

Sean Grady (Captured Soldier)

A teacher for more than 10 years in Westchester County, Sean’s “Living History” approach to teaching has been highlighted in The New York Teacher Magazine and other regional publications. Sean has been a master teacher for the Living History Foundation for eight years. He and Gary Petagine created Flight of the Dark Eagle, a course that allows teachers to walk in the footsteps of Andre and Arnold as their plot of treason unfolded throughout the Hudson Valley. A veteran of the stage, Sean has performed in more than 50 theatrical productions across New York State.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bro. Washington on St. John’s Day

Another Magpie Mason crosspost with the famous American Creation blog.

December 27 is the Feast Day of Saint John the Evangelist, and therefore is one of two major celebrations for Freemasonry (June 24, the Feast Day of Saint John the Baptist, is the other). On the 27th of December, 1779, while encamped at Morristown, New Jersey during the Revolution, the Masonic brethren serving under Gen. George Washington celebrated the Feast Day in the Masonic style of that period, with a church service, a lodge meeting, and a meal together.

From the records of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey:

“…the headquarters of Washington, at the close of the year 1779, were at Morristown, in this State. The American Union Lodge, which was an army Lodge, whose Warrant had been granted by Colonel Richard Gridley, Deputy Grand Master of Massachusetts, was at that time with the army under Washington at Morristown. At the festival meeting of this Lodge, held to celebrate the festival of St. John the Evangelist, December 27, 1779, the record shows the presence of sixty-eight brethren, one of whom was George Washington.”

One of Washington's aprons
is displayed in the museum
of the Grand Lodge
of Pennsylvania.
Considering the hardships faced by the Continental forces at Morristown (better informed historians know it was Morristown, not Valley Forge, that was the site of the most grueling, bitter winter for the troops during the war), it is not surprising that Masonic paraphernalia was not on hand for this celebration. The daunting feat of sending to Newark for the proper regalia was successful, and St. John’s Lodge No. 1 answered the call, providing the needed items. (St. John’s Lodge still exists, and will celebrate its 250th anniversary on May 14, 2011.)

It was at this meeting where a project was launched to bring some order and unity to the Masonic fraternity in the colonies by establishing a single grand lodge for America. Mordecai Gist, representing the Masons in the armed forces of Maryland, was made president of the committee that several months later would formally issue the call for this general grand lodge... with Gen. and Bro. George Washington as its Grand Master.

From this committee’s petition:


The Grand Masters of the Several Lodges
in the Respective United States of America.

Union.    Force.     Love.

The subscribers, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons in convention, to you, as the patrons and protectors of the craft upon this continent, prefer their humble address.

Unhappily, the distinctions of interest, the political views, and national disputes subsisting between Great Britain and these United States have involved us, not only in the general calamites that disturb the tranquility which used to prevail in this once happy country, but in a peculiar manner affects our society, by separating us from the Grand Mother Lodge in Europe, by disturbing our connection with each other, impeding the progress, and preventing the perfection of Masonry in America.

We deplore the miseries of our countrymen, and particularly lament the distresses which many of our poor brethren must suffer, as well from the want of temporal relief, as for want of a source of LIGHT to govern their pursuits and illuminate the path of happiness. And we ardently desire to restore, if possible, that fountain of charity, from which, to the unspeakable benefit of mankind, flows benevolence and love. Considering with anxiety these disputes, and the many irregularities and improprieties committed by weak or wicked brethren, which too manifestly show the present dissipated and almost abandoned condition of our lodges in general, as well as the relaxation of virtue amongst individuals, we think it our duty, Right Worshipful Brothers and Seniors in the Craft, to solicit your immediate interposition to save us from the impending dangers of schisms and apostasy. To obtain security from those fatal evils, with affectionate humility, we beg leave to recommend the adopting and pursuing the most necessary measures for establishing one Grand Lodge in America, to preside over and govern all other lodges of whatsoever degree or denomination, licensed or to be licensed upon the continent, that the ancient principles and discipline of Masonry being restored, we may mutually and universally enjoy the advantages arising from frequent communion and social intercourse….”

While Washington was not named in this petition, it was made known that he was the choice of the brethren. Washington did not accept the position, and the general grand lodge in America never came to fruition.

Friday, December 10, 2010

‘Rose Circle and Rose Cross’

On Saturday, February 26, the Rose Circle Research Foundation will host another of its world renowned conferences, welcoming to its podium none other than Dr. Christopher McIntosh in celebration of the new publication of his The Rose Cross and the Age of Reason: Eighteenth-Century Rosicrucianism in Central Europe and its Relationship to the Enlightenment in January by SUNY Press in its continuing Western Esoteric Traditions series. This will take place at Masonic Hall, the headquarters of the Grand Lodge of New York, located at 71 West 23rd Street in Manhattan.

First published in 1992, The Rose Cross and the Age of Reason has been heralded as an indispensible text, and has fetched prices in the many hundreds of dollars in the secondhand book market. SUNY Press offers this title at $80 per copy.

The publisher offers this summary of the revised text:

“This new edition of Christopher McIntosh’s classic book on the Golden and Rosy Cross order is eagerly awaited. The order stands out as one of the most fascinating and influential of the high-degree Masonic and Illuminist groups that mushroomed in Europe from the eighteenth century onward. Active mainly in the German-speaking lands, it recast the original Rosicrucian vision and gave it renewed vitality. At one point it became politically influential when the Prussian King, Frederick William II, was a member of the order. Historians have often perceived the Golden and Rosy Cross as having had a conservative, anti-Enlightenment agenda, but this study – drawing on rare German sources – shows that the matter was more complex. The members of the order practiced alchemy and operated a degree system that was imitated by later orders, such as the Golden Dawn. Like the latter, the Golden and Rosy Cross exerted a wide and enduring cultural influence. Both the alchemy of the order and its powerful ritual system are insightfully described in Christopher McIntosh’s clear and compelling style.

According to Rose Circle:

Christopher McIntosh was born in England in 1943 and grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland. He studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford, and German at London University, later returning to Oxford to take a doctorate in history with his dissertation on the Rosicrucian revival in the context of the German Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment. After working in London in journalism and publishing, he spent four years in New York as an information officer with the United Nations Development Program, then moved to Germany to work for UNESCO. In parallel, he has pursued a career as a writer and researcher specializing in the esoteric traditions. His books include The Astrologers and their Creed (1969); Eliphas Lévi and the French Occult Revival (1972); The Rosicrucians (latest edition 1997); The Rose Cross and the Age of Reason (1992), based on his dissertation; The Swan King: Ludwig II of Bavaria (latest edition 2003); and Gardens of the Gods (2005). His fictional work includes the occult novel Return of the Tetrad (1998). He also has a long-standing interest in nature-oriented belief systems. He has lectured widely and is on the faculty of the distance M.A. program in Western Esotericism at the University of Exeter, England. His home is in Bremen, North Germany.

McIntosh is indeed a Freemason, a longtime member of Pilgrim Lodge No. 238 in London. This lodge was founded in 1779 by Germans in London, and still conducts its rituals in German. Read more about it here.
The Magpie Mason also is the publicist of the Rose Circle Research Foundation, and expects to unleash a blizzard of publicity in a few days in support of this remarkable event. If you are interested in learning about Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, other esoteric disciplines, or European history, do not miss this conference.