Monday, March 30, 2015

‘Meaning, laws, and attunement in life’

Unbelievably, April is practically here, and I haven’t yet written about Masonic Week, Royal Arch weekend in Albany, and a number of other memorable events from winter. I’ll get there, but in the meantime, here is news of coming attractions surely of interest to Magpie readers in or around New York City.

The Gurdjieff Foundation of New York will offer another introductory discussion on Friday, April 10. Titled “The Search for Meaning in the Midst of Life,” this program will begin at 6:30 p.m. at 104 Berry Street in Williamsburg. Reservations are recommended. See the flier for info:

Click to enlarge.

“Only by beginning to remember himself does a man really awaken. And then all surrounding life acquires for him a different aspect and a different meaning.”

G. I. Gurdjieff

On April 18 and 19, the Rosicrucian Order will host another Mystical Weekend at the Rosicrucian Cultural Center at 2303 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard in Manhattan.

Saturday, from 1 to 5 p.m.: “Discuss Spiritual Laws” with Dr. Lonnie Edwards, author of Spiritual Laws that Govern Humanity and the Universe. Open to all.

Sunday, from 1 to 5 p.m.: Various sessions and discussion for brothers and sisters of the Order.

On the following Saturday, April 25, Builders of the Adytum will host its annual Vibratory Attunement Ritual. This is an exercise involving devotions and sensory perception of sound and color—a very interesting experience that I recommend. This is open to the public, and will take place at 4 p.m. at Masonic Hall (71 West 23rd Street, 12th floor Chapter Room, in Manhattan). The event follows BOTAs regular fourth Saturday Elements in Tarot and Hebrew session which begins at 10 a.m.

And you Freemasons, don’t forget W. Anthony Mongelli will appear Wednesday at Livingston Lodge No. 11 in New Jersey.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

‘Savini to present Walker Lecture’

One of the many great traditions in New York Freemasonry is the annual Wendell K. Walker Memorial Lecture sponsored by Independent Royal Arch Lodge No. 2 in the First Manhattan District. RW Bro. Thomas M. Savini, Director of the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library, will be this year’s honored speaker. This will take place Thursday night at 7:45 in the library, located on the 14th floor of Masonic Hall at 71 West 23rd Street in Manhattan.

Old No. 2 also will host dinner afterward ($50 cash per person) at Aleo on 20th Street at Fifth Avenue. Sorry for the late notice, but if you wish to attend the event, make your reservation right now by contacting Junior Warden Larry Wolff at jw(at) Right now as in immediately. The deadline was Sunday. The Sunday that was two days ago.

This memorable occasion is open to Masons, their ladies, and friends. Business attire please.

Monday, March 16, 2015

‘The slender thread of life’

Mortality is a huge subject in Freemasonry. Maybe it’s not the dominant topic or theme, but death looms almost everywhere in Masonic ritual and symbol; in tenet and teaching. The thing is, death is discussed as the natural inevitability that follows long life. As the Master Mason Lecture of your lodge might phrase it, give or take a word: “The tender hopes of youth, the blushing honors of manhood soon vanish, and are succeeded by the withering frosts of age; and the sands of life, whether slowly or rapidly, will surely ebb away.”

Magpie file photo

W. Bro. Tony Brown, Master of historic Allied Lodge No. 1170 in New York City, lost his life Friday night unpredictably and unbelievably. He was 33 years old. The lodge will meet tonight for its regular communication, with Grand Master Bill Thomas sitting in the East, to eulogize its Worshipful Master. In Craft Masonry there isn’t much to prepare the bereaved for the loss of one so young.

Masonic funeral services: Guarino Funeral Home of Canarsie. Saturday, March 21. Brethren assemble at 2 p.m. Masonic service at three oclock. Viewing 4 to 7 p.m. Service at seven o’clock. Attire is black (or dark) suit and tie with plain white apron and gloves.

Courtesy Cliff Jacobs
Grand Master William J. Thomas with W. Bro. Tony Brown.
I had the privilege of sitting in lodge with W. Tony only once or twice that I recollect. I didn’t know him personally, but saw him here or there in Masonic Hall. Masons die all the time of course, but the news typically concerns an elderly brother who practically was unknown to most who are active in lodge currently. Some kind words are spoken, and maybe a team can be sent to the funeral to present the Masonic obsequy before the mourners, but generally there often is a visible distance between mortality’s centrality to Masonic culture and the reality of how the death of a brother is absorbed by his lodge. That will not be the case tonight.

I will be with my lodge elsewhere in the building conferring the Fellow Craft Degree this evening, but my thoughts will be with Allied Lodge at this time of mournful disbelief. Alas, my brother.

Friday, March 13, 2015

‘The Great Masonic Debate’

I really want to be there, but my Masonic lodge is to confer the Fellow Craft Degree on a number of Apprentices Monday night. Maybe I’ll head uptown regardless.

Anyway, the alluring event in question will involve two learned Freemasons presenting their understandings of “Masonic Regularity,” a matter of some urgency for Prince Hall Masonry due to a never-ending confusion that vexes so many Masons, make believe “Masons,” and the general public alike.

This flier has all the details:

Click to enlarge.     

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

‘Pennsylvania Academy to host Rashied’

A late change of plans was announced a few minutes ago by the Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge. George Braatz will not appear at the March 21 meeting at Elizabethtown, and Rashied Sharrieff-Al-Bey will speak instead.

Well, you can read the flier yourselves:

Click to enlarge.

Monday, March 9, 2015

‘Ancient Judaism and Christianity at NYU’

New York University’s Center for Ancient Studies announces the 
Ranieri Colloquium on Ancient Studies. From the publicity:

Integrating Judaism and Christianity
into the Study of the Ancient World

March 26-27, 2015

New York University
Hemmerdinger Hall
Silver Center for Arts and Science
32 Waverly Place

Thursday, March 26

5 p.m. Welcome
, Matthew S. Santirocco, NYU

5:15 Keynote Address: The New Testament as a Source for the History of the Jews and Judaism
 by Lawrence H. Schiffman, NYU.

6:15 Public Reception

Friday, March 27

Session 1 (Session Chair, Jeffrey Rubenstein, NYU)

9:15 a.m. Samson in Stone: New Discoveries in the Ancient Synagogue at Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee
 by Jodi Magness, University of North Carolina.

9:55 Jesus the Jurist: Written Law and Its Interpretation in the Christian Gospels
 by Daniel Fleming, NYU.

10:35 The Dead Sea Scrolls “Instruction” Text and Its Hellenistic Context 
by Hindy Najman, Yale University.

11:15 The Treaty of Apamea, the Decline of the Seleucid Empire, and Their Consequence
for Jewish Martyrology 
by R. Steven Notley, Nyack College.

Noon Lunch

Session 2 (Session Chair, Michael Peachin, NYU)

1 p.m. Jews and the Imposition of Nicene Orthodoxy in the Late Antique Mediterranean Diaspora
 by Ross Kraemer, Brown University.

1:40 Selling Souls: Early Christians (and Their Neighbors) as Religious Entrepreneurs by 
Nicola Denzey Lewis, Brown University.

2:20 Practices of Seeing God(s) in Late Antiquity by 
Laura Nasrallah, Harvard University.

3:00 The Rise of Authoritative Scripture and Its Interpretation in Ancient Judaism by Alex Jassen, NYU.

This conference is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact the Center for Ancient Studies at ancient.studies(at), or at (212) 992-7978.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

‘Intendant of the Building’

When we attend our various meetings and other functions at Masonic Hall, I suppose we do not give much thought to building maintenance and operations. It certainly is not a lack of appreciation, but it is the normal result of never having a single worry about the stewardship of the premises. Mr. Peter Chiofolo gets much of the credit for ensuring that peace of mind. The Maintenance Foreman was part of the Masonic Hall team for more than half a century.

Pete passed away in his sleep during the early hours of Tuesday.

“Peter was the Head Porter for Harvard Maintenance, and a good and faithful member of the Building Management team for 54 years,” said Building Manager Harold Wissing. “That is one-half the age of this beautiful edifice called Masonic Hall. We shall all truly miss him.”

Magpie file photo

“Although, he was not a Mason, Peter Chiofolo always demonstrated the good and genuine character of a Mason,” Grand Pursuivant Richard Bateman said. “He was the recipient in the year 2000 of the Grand Master’s Award of Appreciation.”

I snapped the photo here during the centenary celebration of Masonic Hall in December 2010. Here he is with then Grand Master Vincent Libone, who had summoned a very reluctant Pete to the floor amid the cheers of the hundreds of us spectators.

I didn’t know him personally, but I’ve been one of the multitudes who have benefitted from his professional touch while enjoying the countless hours of great times at Masonic Hall. I can’t imagine his absence will disrupt the consummate management of building affairs—further proof of his expert contributions to making our experiences in Masonic Hall so carefree.

Services for Peter Chiofolo

Thursday, March 5
2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m.
30 Nelson Avenue
Staten Island, New York

Friday, March 6
9:45 a.m. Mass
110 Nelson Avenue
Staten Island, New York

Sunday, March 1, 2015

‘Two tours of France’

I don’t feel France is the place for me, but here are two opportunities for you to visit the Hexagon in June. Both Esoteric Quest and old friend Tim Wallace-Murphy will lead groups through the Languedoc region. From the publicity:

An Esoteric Quest for the South of France:
Troubadours, Cathars, Templars,
and the Grail in Medieval Languedoc
June 4-9, 2015

Join us for the eleventh in the Open Center’s series of international conferences on the Western Tradition as we journey to Carcassonne, Languedoc, in an exquisitely beautiful region of the South of France.

Long known as a focal point for numerous spiritual streams, this area was at the heart of the high medieval culture of both the Troubadours and the Gnostic Christian Cathars. “The Bons Hommes,” as the Cathars called themselves, created one of the most remarkable and enigmatic spiritual movements of the Middle Ages, the destruction of which was one of the great tragedies of European religious life. The Troubadours were the first to bring romantic love to the Western world in poetry and song of great elegance and charm that expressed a new merging of the erotic and the mystical.

Languedoc, with the neighboring domains of Catalonia and Provence, is filled with culture and spiritual history. It is a region that carries significance for the medieval Grail stories and is imbued with the mythology of Mary Magdalene. This Quest will explore the aura of mystery that still clings to the castles and villages of the region, and will drink deeply of its wisdom and legacy.

We invite you to join us and meet others who share an attunement to this brief, beautiful but unforgettable time when love, esoteric spirituality, and appreciation of the divine feminine and its immense gifts reigned supreme.

The Esoteric Quest starts with an optional pre-conference day visiting Montségur, the last stronghold of the Cathars, and Puivert, an important center of Troubadour culture in the 12th century.

We also will offer two post-conference journeys: one heading south into the wild beauty and hilltop villages of Catalonia, Spain; the other traveling east into the azure skies and brilliant sunlight of Provence.

Co-sponsors: The Lumen Foundation and the Divination Foundation.

Lure of the Languedoc:
Group tour with authors
Tim Wallace-Murphy and Jeanne D’Août
Land of Mystery, Myth, and Magic
June 7-14, 2015

The mystery, magic and intrigue of the Languedoc range far beyond the mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau, which is a minor affair, or the more important story of Mary Magdalene. This land has been at the cultural, commercial and spiritual crossroads of the known world for more than 20,000 years and is redolent with spiritual energy.

The Phoenicians, the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Visigoths, the Jews, the Moors, the Knights Templar, the Knights Hospitaller, the Troubadours, and the Cathars all have played their part in molding the spiritual heritage that is so apparent here. On this tour we will explore Neolithic sites that resonate with tangible, telluric energy; see cave paintings which are among the earliest archaeological spiritual artifacts known to man; visit castles, churches, and towns associated with the Knights Templar; explore the rich local heritage (which, according to many historians, was so creative that it would have sparked the Renaissance in the 1300s had it not been for the Crusade against the Cathars); visit castles that are imbued with the history of the Troubadours; and, most important of all, just be in this wondrous landscape and absorb its peace and its sacred, transformative atmosphere.

The tour will be led by two authors who live here and know this landscape well. Tim Wallace-Murphy and Jeanne D’Août will share their insights to enhance your understanding and appreciation of this beautiful country where historic sites and sacred geometry are an integral part of a much larger holistic spiritual entity—the land itself.

Click here to see the detailed itinerary.