Monday, July 30, 2012

‘Garibaldi EA° in October’

In the recent reconstruction of Washington Square Park, its statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi was moved about twenty feet to the north, and was reoriented to face due south. Is the Grand Master drawing or sheathing his sword? Read more about the monument hereCoincidentally, I just happened to shoot this photo yesterday.

This just in:

Garibaldi Lodge No. 542 will confer the Entered Apprentice Degree on Friday, October 19.

Masonic Hall
71 West 23rd St., Grand Lodge Room (third and fourth floors)

It’s a big room, but it does have a maximum capacity, so let the Secretary know you’re coming. Contact RW Robert Mascialino at garibaldi542(at) no later than Monday, October 8.

My advice: Arrive no later than 6 p.m., and have your own apron and lodge membership card, and be prepared to work your way into a lodge. More information here.

If you do not know about the Garibaldi Entered Apprentice Degree, it probably is a ritual unlike any you have seen so far. I think its origins have been explained to me, but either I have forgotten, or didn’t understand. To make a long story short, this initiation is a very symbolic and highly dramatic work that comes to us from either the Memphis-Misraïm or the Scottish Rite tradition of Masonry. (Garibaldi was Grand Master of the M-M Rite in Italy.) It is spoken in Italian. Alchemical symbolism abounds. There is a true trial by fire. It has to be seen to be believed, and that’s why I’m telling you about it now.

The last time I visited, I brought with me a copy of the First Degree as published in Le Progres de l’Oceanie 1843: The First Masonic Lodge in Hawaii (Sandwich Islands), a bilingual text of mid 19th century Scottish Rite Craft ritual used by a lodge in Hawaii that was founded by the Scottish Rite Supreme Council of France in 1843. I thought I could have confirmed that the lodge was working AASR ritual, and it is very similar to Garibaldi’s ritual, except that it has far more spoken word for the Venerable Master than you’ll hear at Garibaldi.

Anyway, I will see you there.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

‘Art on H.O.T.’

This news just in from Sister Janet:

The Maryland Masonic Research Society will host its annual festive board Monday, August 20, when it will welcome to the podium Ill. Arturo de Hoyos, 33°, Grand Archivist of the A&ASR Southern Jurisdiction, who will discuss “the symbolism in the art and architecture of the House of the Temple.” This will take place at Café de Paris (owned by a Brother Mason) in Columbia, Maryland.

Of the House of the Temple, Janet says “If you’ve visited there, you already know what a fantastic building it is. Come find out what’s really going on!” And I second the motion.

Your meal will cost $39, which also covers tax, gratuity, and wine. A cash bar also will be available.

Of the Maryland Masonic Research Society, Janet explains “The MMRS is open to everybody – Masons, spouses of Masons, friends of the Craft, and prospective joiners. The late Jim Harding set it up that way with approval from the Grand Lodge of Maryland.”

I won’t post Janet’s e-mail address, so if you would like to see the menu choices and make reservations, leave me a note in the comments section. I won’t publish your comment, but leave me your e-mail address and I’ll get back to you. It sounds like a terrific night out, and if it wasn’t 240 miles away, I’d meet you there.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’

Prise de la Bastille by Jean-Pierre Houël. Watercolor, 1789.

Today is French National Day, known colloquially as Bastille Day, the commemoration of the most celebrated event of the French Revolution: the seizing of the Bastille, the notorious prison-fortress, on this date in 1789.

“Liberté, égalité, fraternité,” the French national motto, was coined with the spirit of the revolution. It echoes throughout the degrees of Freemasonry, particularly in the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, itself a descendant of a French system of Masonic degrees.

Of the 32º (Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret), Albert Pike writes:

“...that Equilibrium between Authority and Individual Action which constitutes Free Government by settling on immutable foundations Liberty, with Obedience to Law; Equality, with Subjection to Authority; and Fraternity, with Subordination to the Wisest and Best [is representative of] the True Word of a Master Mason, the true Royal Secret, which makes possible, and shall at length make real, the Holy Empire of the true Masonic Brotherhood.”

The Magpie Mason sends best wishes to the French brethren and lodges wherever so dispersed over the face of the Earth and water, regardless of jurisdiction and status of recognition.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

‘The End is near’

Registration for the Semi-Annual Meeting of The Masonic Society in Philadelphia closes one week from Saturday.
Courtesy 20th Century Fox

There will be events throughout the day and night on Saturday, July 28 in the City of Brotherly Love, including presentations from three Masonic scholars you in New Jersey know well:

RW Ben Hoff, Past Master of New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education; RW Howard Kanowitz, one of our most prolific researchers and writers; and RW Ray Thorne, current Master of the research lodge, all will speak. They will be joined by RW Tom Savini, director of the Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York, who also will make a presentation.

The full itinerary can be read here.

Take notice of the banquet at The Union League. Not to be missed!

The Masonic Society holds its semi-annual meetings in different cities around the country, and this year’s is the closest to New Jersey yet. (Our Annual Meeting is held in Virginia every February during Masonic Week.)

The New Jersey Second Circle of The Masonic Society will meet next on (or about) Friday, November 30 for our annual Feast of Saint Andrew. Details TBA.

Monday, July 9, 2012

‘Landmarks here and there’

The Second Masonic District Book Club and Discussion Group has its summertime plans lined up.

Saturday at 1 p.m., the brethren will host a barbecue to complement the already meaty discussion subject of the Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry. This will take place at Alpine Tilden Tenakill Lodge No. 77, located at 404 Tenafly Road in Tenafly. (That’s in New Jersey, for those of you checking in from Riyadh and Dakar.) Cost per person: only $10.

Reservations are requested. Simply e-mail to 2mdbookclub (at)

Next month, the group will partner with Fidelity Lodge No. 113 for a trip to Virginia to enjoy other landmarks.

I love photographing this place.
Thursday, August 9 – a trip to the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, and a visitation to Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22, which meets within the Memorial. There will be a special speaker in lodge that evening, and a Festive Board of course. Cost per person for dinner: $5.

Friday, August 10 – a daytrip to Washington, D.C. to visit the House of the Temple. The headquarters of the Mother Council of the World has been benefitting from renovations in recent years, with more improvements to come as the centenary of this John Russell Pope masterpiece nears.

Also on the itinerary is a stop at Mount Vernon. Known formally as George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum and Gardens, this indeed is the residence of Martha and George Washington. It has been a good friend to Freemasonry in recent years. I think it is safe to say that as a repository of Washington’s effects, Mt. Vernon was excruciatingly slow to acknowledge Freemasonry’s role in the man’s life, and vice versa, but an exhibit was installed several years ago that highlighted Washington the Freemason. More recently, the newly celebrated Mt. Nebo Lodge apron was displayed there. Even the gift shop seems to offer some interesting Masonry-related items.

Simply e-mail to 2mdbookclub (at) to get involved.

Monday, July 2, 2012

'ALR Festive Board'

Friday night was the occasion of The American Lodge of Researchs Annual Meeting for the election and installation of officers, and other necessary business. Oh yeah, and the Festive Board!

Bro. Mark Koltko-Rivera
A new change in by-laws has rescheduled our Annual Meeting from St. John Evangelist Day, when holiday travel and the inclemency of the season prevents a well attended meeting, to the proximity of St. John Baptist Day, when there are no such concerns, and we align ourselves with the regular calendar of New York Freemasonry. It was a good move, smartly thought out by the proposers. So ALRs schedule of Stated Communications now is June 24 (unless June 24 lands on a weekend, holiday, or other religious observance, or coincides with Grand Lodges Saint Johns Day activities, in which case the Master will select a near weekday), October 29, and March 29.

Rather than have the 2012 officers jostled so soon into their original term, the line will remain in place, except for a switch of the Wardens. Bro. Henry now is in the West, and Bro. Daniel returns to the South. But we gained a Marshal upon the election to Active Membership of W. Henry Colon, junior Past Master of Shakespeare No. 750, who was installed moments after being made eligible to serve as an officer. The Installing Master was none other than RW Bill Thomas, the new Deputy Grand Master, who is a Past Master of ALR.

In other exciting news, RW Pierre F. de Ravel d’Esclapon was elected to Fellowship in ALR. The lodges Active Members elect Fellows extremely rarely, and only on the basis of outstanding Masonic research, and it was Bro. Pierre who settled centuries of uncertainty surrounding the Masonic membership of another Pierre, namely the designer of the Federal City, Major Pierre Charles LEnfant. In the course of Bro. Pierres research into his terrific paper on French lodges in 18th century New York City, he also discovered in the meeting minutes of Holland Lodge No. 8 the evidence that answered the lingering question into LEnfants Craft membership. Click here to read about that.

The firing glass.
Then it was time for the Festive Board. We headed to Sagaponack, one block down on 22nd Street, for a typically excellent meal with plenty of wine and various beers and ales. As Senior Deacon I was tasked with proposing the toast to MW James E. Sullivan, the new Grand Master. Bro. Mark Koltko-Rivera delivered the keynote, titled "A Primer for Esoteric Research," that acknowledges the reality of esoteric studies entering the field of Masonic research. I think it is safe to say modern Masonic research, beginning with the appearance of Quatuor Coronati 2076, has concerned historical facts (e.g. LEnfant), and that doesnt have to change if students approach the esoterica with the same determination to get at the truth. It is a tougher job, because facts are facts, but matters of the spirit ... are spiritual matters. Anyway, Bro. Marks lecture will appear in next years Book of Transactions.

Along the way, Bro. Henry unveiled the designs of various pieces of regalia and attire coming our way from Toye, Kenning and Spencer, including new officer aprons, membership jewels, neckties, and cufflinks.

As above: The ALR apron of Past Master Harold V.B. Voorhis photographed in its display case at a Scottish Rite valley.

So below: The TKS design (that's only a sheet of paper!) of one of the officer aprons coming soon to ALR. Looks like we're keeping it traditional. I am envious of the brethren in New York who have no Grand Lodge parameters on regalia design.

We didnt get out of there until midnight. This was a really great evening, perfect even. The only blemish was found on my end at 12:10, when I exited the restaurant and found my car had been towed.

The finest public servants in the city work at Pier 76.


Sunday, July 1, 2012


Among the anti-Masonry in the entertainment media is the prejudice of one Inspector Morse, the eponymous character in the long-running (thirty-three episodes!) detective series from ITV. One story in particular, titled "Masonic Mysteries," from 1990, shows the Chief Inspector framed for a murder, seemingly by Freemasons. There's even a sub-plot concerning the staging of Mozart's The Magic Flute.

The origins of Morse's anti-Masonic leanings went largely unexplained, other than the general, perennial fear of Masonic conspiracy inside the institutions of justice in Britain, but this also lands squarely during the period of real life suspicion of Masonic inspired corruption of British institutions, leading up to Jack Straw's edict in 1997 mandating judges and magistrates to declare if they held Masonic membership.

Anyway, tonight on PBS, the prequel to the Inspector Morse series just concluded a moment ago. Titled "Endeavour," it depicts Morse on his first case, the murders of two young people near Oxford, with a related prostitution ring led by an automobile salesman. Confronted by Morse, the car dealer warns the young detective, bragging of having very important contacts in his circle of friends. "Or square," as he put it.

And thus, the viewer is given a glimpse into how the inspector came to his jaundiced view of the Craft.