Sunday, October 28, 2012

‘Postponed: ALR’


Due to the vicissitudes and inclemencies of the season, the meeting of The American Lodge of Research scheduled for tomorrow night has been canceled. Hopefully there will be a rescheduled date to announce soon.

‘Justice Robert H. Jackson Lodge of Research’

Justice Robert H. Jackson Lodge of Research will meet Thursday at Mount Moriah Lodge near Jamestown, New York for its fall meeting, including the election of officers. Lodge opens at 6 p.m.

Jamestown is much closer to Cleveland, Ohio than it is to Manhattan, so the Magpie Mason will have to miss this meeting. Mount Moriah Lodge is located on the Baker Street Extension just outside of Jamestown. The brethren meet three times per year, in spring, fall, and winter, in various locations about the district, says Worshipful Master John Siggins. The lodge publishes its papers also.

On Thursday, Bro. Tom Jordan, of Sylvan Lodge and a Professor of Geology at Duquesne University and the University of Buffalo, will present a program of Masonic interest. To make your reservations, contact W. Siggins at hondo(at) Dinner will be served, and the brethren are encouraged to bring other Masons with them.

‘Second Circle plans’

The Masonic Society’s New Jersey Second Circle will not host a Feast of Saint Andrew next month, as we have done the past two years on November 30, to allow some slack in the cabletow so our brethren might attend the Grand Lodge of New Jersey’s Feast of Saint John the following night instead. Our Second Circle will sit tight through the end of the year, allowing the hectic holidays and Installations to pass, and will get together in early 2013. Plans TBA.

But about this Feast of Saint John: The guest speaker will be Bro. Robert L.D. Cooper, curator of the Grand Lodge of Scotland’s museum, and a knowledgeable debunker of Templar myths and legends. I have no idea what he will say from the podium on the evening of Saturday, December 1, but I’ll be there to hear. I have not attended one of these dinners since Hodapp was the speaker, and that was about five years ago, so I am very happy about this. I am trying to assemble a couple of tables worth of Masonic Society brethren. Tables can be booked for either eight or ten seats, so let me know if you’re interested, even if you’re not a member of The Masonic Society yet. Leave a note in the comments section below—not for publication—with your e-mail address, and I’ll get back to you.

And about Saint Andrew’s Day itself, I just heard Bro. Cliff Porter will be guest speaker at Atlas-Pythagoras Lodge No. 10 on Friday, November 30. Apprentices and Fellows are welcome. See you there too.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

‘EA au français’

Here is another 2013 date to add to your calendars. (This falls during the window of the coming ninety days, so I don’t feel too shaken for advertising it already.)

The Empire State Building no doubt will be illuminated in the blue, white, and red of France’s Tricolour when L’Union Française No. 17 – this is J.J.J. Gourgas’ lodge – will confer the Entered Apprentice Degree, in ritual similar to that of Scottish Rite, and in French.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 6 p.m.
Masonic Hall
French Doric Room, tenth floor

The degree will begin at 6:45, after which no one will be admitted inside.

The Tenth Manhattan District is home to the lodges permitted to work Scottish Rite Craft degrees in French, Italian, and Spanish (and maybe other tongues). See you there.

Monday, October 22, 2012

‘A physical representation’


I feel like I’m the last one to have seen it, but just in case, let me bring to your attention the Grand Lodge of California’s excellent short film that was posted to YouTube two months ago. Titled Emblems of Innocence and Honor: The Masonic Apron, it runs just about ten minutes and does an excellent, credible job of explaining the evolution of the Masonic apron, thanks to interviews with Dr. Aimee Newell of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library in Lexington, Massachusetts; Bro. Adam Kendall, of the Henry Wilson Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry in San Francisco; and Bro. Patrick Craddock, proprietor of The Craftsman’s Apron.

The title of this edition of The Magpie Mason quotes Craddock. In the final minute of the video, he explains his role as a craftsman of bespoke Masonic regalia. “I want to create aprons that a brother says ‘This is me. This is a physical representation of my commitment to the Craft.’ ”

I guess there’s no sense reading about it when you can watch it–and I’ll spare you my obligatory rant about New Jersey Masonry, where no lodge or brother has the freedom to commission aprons that speak to individuality. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

‘A grand evening’


Wednesday night was the occasion of the public apron re-presentation for both RW J. Scott Nagel, District Deputy Grand Master of the First Manhattan District, and RW Jason Sheridan, Grand Director of Ceremonies, at Masonic Hall. St. John’s Lodge No. 1 specifically. Scores of guests, dozens of dignitaries, more than several speeches, and the main event itself made for a dizzyingly eventful evening.

Opening the historic George Washington Inaugural Bible before the start
of the public ceremony.

Posting the colors.

Jason, left, accepts his Commission from Deputy Grand Master Bill Thomas.

Scott, flanked by his wife and Grand Master James Sullivan,
accepts his Commission.

VW Piers Vaughan, Worshipful Master of St. John's,
presented Jason his jewel of office.

The Solomonic Chair of St. John's No. 1, AYM.

The gavel.

Friday, October 19, 2012

‘The KJV at A-P’

This just in:

Bro. Oscar Alleyne will speak at Atlas-Pythagoras Lodge tonight! Topic: the frontispiece of the first edition of the King James Bible from a Masonic perspective.

If you are not familiar with this famously symbolic page of early publishing, here it is:

But seriously, this should be an excellent presentation. If you want to prime your appetite a bit in anticipation, click here for some Magpie coverage of the KJV’s quadricentennial celebration.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

‘Keep the ClockWorks ticking’

The Cosmic Bicycle Theatre and The ClockWorks Puppetry Studios is the acclaimed venue of wondrous and spectacular sights and sounds that has enchanted audiences from Boston to Brooklyn for nearly a quarter of a century. It entertains children, enlightens adults, and even has a production titled The Alchemical Work! Our Masonic Brother Jonathan Cross, a.k.a. Jonny ClockWorks, is the creator and, uh, I shall say, master of it all.

And, yes, this is the same theater that partnered with Norah Jones a few months ago, setting experimental puppetry to the inspired songs of her latest album Little Broken Hearts. The collaboration, titled Theatre of Little Broken Hearts, was so successful as an integral attraction in the launch of the record, that a four-week run (of six shows per week) was produced back in Brooklyn over the summer.

The following is an appeal from Jonny Clockworks:

Dear Friends of The ClockWorks,

Thanks to the fantastic turn-out at the “Save The ClockWorks” edition of our Das WunderKammer - Puppet Kabarett, as well as generous donations from many of you, we have raised two-thirds of the funding needed, but we are still woefully short of our goal.

We still need a minimum of $4,000 to remain open past the end of this month. We have only until Monday, October 22 to raise these necessary funds. The sooner we make this goal, the sooner we can layout the plans of the rest of our season. Instead, we are hedging our bets, and figuring out how we could quickly save the art and equipment from our current home.

WE NEED YOUR HELP! Please consider making a donation TODAY. We have set up a PayPal account to receive your generous donations.

I promise to continue the fight, but I cannot do it alone. We are praying that we can resolve this quickly with your assistance in time to celebrate another Halloween at The ClockWorks. Thank you for your belief and support.

Sincerely Yours,

Jonathan Edward Cross
a.k.a. Jonny ClockWorks

Thursday, October 11, 2012

‘From East to West...someday’

I cannot promise I’ll ever be able to visit, but Western New York Lodge of Research No. 9007 is at labor in the Buffalo area, and in fact will celebrate its 30th anniversary on Saturday.

The brethren will salute the lodge’s founders and Past Masters at the Cheektowaga Masonic Center at 10 a.m. This tiled meeting will be followed by lunch at a local restaurant. All Master Masons are welcome.

Cheektowaga Masonic Center is located at 97 Lucid Drive in Buffalo.

For more information about the lodge, please contact Bro. Mark Robson at markrobson(at)

‘At home and on the road’

The American Lodge of Research will meet on Monday the 29th at Masonic Hall. Not our usual French Ionic Room, but the Colonial Room this time. The usual 8 p.m. Opening, but please join the brethren at six for a “no host” meal at Sagaponack, on 24th near Fifth Avenue. The paper to be presented this evening will be Bro. Conor Moran’s “Freemasonry and the Holocaust.”

And next month, on Saturday the 10th, the lodge will take it on the road to Liverpool, New York. That’s Lee Miller country. Way up north. Beatles’ hometown, etc., etc. This Special Communication will be convened at Masonic Hall, located at 608 Oswego Street for an Upstate Festive Board of Research! The paper to be presented will be the Worshipful Master’s “A Brief History of Freemasonry in India.” The cost per person will be $15.

(The Magpie Mason will be absent from this one. The 10th is a big Scottish Rite day in New Jersey, and I will be engaged there.)

Monday, October 8, 2012

‘Back to the Bowery’

Bust of Tompkins
at the church
Freemasonry is headed back to the Bowery this weekend.

Beginning the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction’s celebration of its bicentenary, the New York Council of Deliberation will re-dedicate the gravesite of Daniel D. Tompkins, the first Sovereign Grand Commander of the NMJ, on Saturday morning.

Click here for information about the site and a previous celebration of Tompkins.

The gravesite is located at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, at 131 East 10th Street, at Second Avenue. The brethren will gather there at 11 a.m.

Any questions should be directed to Event Chairman Moises Gomez at gomez1rego(at)


If you define a vacation as the act of taking off several days (at least) from work, traveling a notable distance – and one outside your usual orbit – and settling in at one location (at least) for recreation and nothing but, then last week I took my first vacation since the summer of 1994. (Yeah. I know that’s 18 years.)

Provincetown, Massachusetts was my family’s vacation spot every August in the 1970s when I was a child, and it was there I returned for 72 hours of sightseeing, seafood dining, beer tasting, and cigar smoking. The sightseeing included visiting several places of Masonic interest right in the middle of town.

The first stop was obvious: Masonic Place, the address of King Hiram’s Lodge, chartered in 1795 by none other than Paul Revere, Grand Master.

In Provincetown, street signs can be found wherever.

Had I arrived a day earlier, I could have visited the lodge.

Every square foot on Commercial Street is valuable... and occupied. Retail shops, art galleries, inns, restaurants, and other entities are crammed into every possible lot, separated by a network of alleys, driveways, byways, snickelways, and paths. As you can see, King Hiram Lodge has retail space in its frontage, and there is a club in the rear. This Buddhist monk appeared by pure happenstance.

Constructed in the first decade of the 20th century, the Pilgrim Memorial Monument towers over Provincetown from its hilltop perch. Its construction began with a Masonic cornerstone-laying ceremony in 1907, and ended with a Masonic consecration in 1910.

The Monument stands 252 feet. On the way up, you will see dozens of markers placed by sponsoring societies, municipalities, and others who made construction of the landmark possible. Here is that of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.

Also on the grounds of the Monument is the Provincetown Museum. Among the artifacts on display are ephemera concerning Masonry’s role in bringing the Monument to fruition. Here is the printed program for the cornerstone-laying ceremony of August 20, 1907.

A time capsule was enclosed in the Monument construction. Among its contents is a book of Grand Lodge proceedings from 1907.

An outdoor marker on the grounds of the Monument.

As above, so below.

While surveying the scenery from the top of the Monument, I spotted a cemetery. Visiting Provincetown Cemetery, I did not find any grave markers from the 17th or 18th centuries, as I had hoped, but I certainly did come across a number of Masonic headstones, and some of these were notable.

Bro. McIntosh had the Keystone of Mark Masonry
engraved into his headstone.

Bro. Francis P. Smith has a monument illustrated with the Beehive, the Square and Compasses, and the three-link chain of Odd Fellowship. The Odd Fellows of Marine Lodge No. 96 were an important force in the social and philanthropic lives of Provincetown.

Close-up of the emblems.

Bro. Joshua P. Atkins has the S&C inside the Mark Master Keystone.

I do not know if Capt. Ira B. Atkins was a relation
or only a Masonic brother.

This one could not escape notice.

Bro. Reuben Ryder also has the links of Odd Fellowship with his S&C.

I photographed other stones, and there were others still that I did not stop to shoot, but you get the idea.

I left town on Friday morning, taking the scenic route for a while, and when passing through Sandwich, I happened across Dewitt Clinton Lodge, instituted in 1885.

The lodge building was a church constructed in 1847.

The brethren will host an open house on October 20.
The lodge is located at 175 Main Street.

I cannot help but wonder how a street earns the name
Good Templar Place, but there it is in Provincetown.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

‘Coming to Mariners’


This just in:

RW Bro. Ben Hoff, Past Master of New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education No. 1786 and Highland Park Lodge No. 240, will appear at the podium of historic Mariners Lodge No. 67 in New York City next February.

I know, I know. It’s a long way off, but do mark your calendar for Wednesday, February 13, 2013. Mariners meets in Masonic Hall (71 W. 23rd Street in Manhattan), inside the Doric Room on the eighth floor.

Ben, a Past Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey, is well known about the apartments of the Temple here for his research into the origins and evolution of Craft lodge rituals. I don’t know what his topic for Mariners will be, but I highly recommend attending. It is important to hear a common sense approach containing factual information about Masonic rituals to help you discern reality and history from the fantasy and wishful thinking found in too many contemporary books and papers. Ben draws straight from the source materials – the ritual exposures, monitors, jurisprudence, and other texts – in his skillful investigations into how the degrees and ceremonies we employ today really came to be. Sometimes he travels with a few of these 18th and 19th century treasures from his library for the brethren to see.

No doubt I will post reminders about this as the date nears and more information (dinner, etc.) becomes available, but record the date in your smartphone or whatever.

Monday, October 1, 2012

‘Harry Potter lectures’

You can count on the Anthroposophical Society to host all kinds of interesting programs, none of them directly involving Freemasonry, but many geared to gratify the curiosity and hunger of the Masonic mind.

So naturally I missed the one I hoped to see Saturday.

It was the first in a four-part lecture series courtesy of Eugene Schwartz, a Waldorf educator, on Harry Potter and the Secret Brotherhoods.

From the publicity:

Is there really anything more to be said about the Harry Potter series? The awe-inspiring sales figures of the books (almost 500 million copies) and the record-breaking grosses of the movies ($7.7 billion) are pointed to as evidence of spiritual vacuity, and the fact that they were written as children’s books supposedly defines the limits of their author’s vision. Eugene Schwartz contends that there is a great deal more to be said about Rowling’s seven volumes, especially if they are read as bold forays into the shadowy domains of the “secret brotherhoods.” Eugene will draw us into the surprisingly profound world of children’s books and movies and explore the “open secret” of contemporary spiritual visionaries.

No familiarity with any of the Harry Potter books is necessary. Let us know in advance that you are going to attend any one (or all) of the lectures and Eugene will send you plot summaries.

Lecture 1: As a backdrop to our Harry Potter explorations, we will look at some children’s classics of the 20th century: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ring trilogy, C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series, and (the anthroposophist) Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story.

Future lecture dates:

Jan. 26, 2013: Harry Potter, Volumes 1, 2, and 3;
April 6, 2013: Volumes 4, 5, and 6; and
May 11, 2013: Volume 7.

Click here to visit Anthroposophy NYC, and scroll down through the calendar. Check out the programs on Sacred Geometry, and other interesting subjects.