Friday, November 27, 2015

‘Things to do in December’

With 60° weather during Thanksgiving weekend in New York City, one might forget that December is only days away. There is so much to occupy our thoughts at year’s end, independent of current events and the unexpected happenings of daily life, that perhaps you may be interested in these opportunities to focus the mind and, maybe, form a few questions too.

On Saturday, December 5, Builders of the Adytum will host its Qabalistic Christmas Ritual at Masonic Hall (71 West 23rd Street) in Manhattan. Two o’clock inside the Chapter Room on 12.

BOTA members, guests, and the public are invited to participate in the traditional celebration of light and the holy season as written by Rev. Ann Davies. (This is a special annual event not to be confused with the regular fourth Saturday meeting of the pronaos.)

If you are in the mood for music, the School of Practical Philosophy will host its Concert Matinee at three oclock in the Great Hall of St. Jean Baptiste Catholic Church (184 East 76th Street) in Manhattan. Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and more for just 25 bucks. Register here.

On Saturday, December 12, the Rosicrucian Order will host “Learn About the Martinist Tradition” at 1 p.m. at the Rosicrucian Cultural Center (2303 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.) in Manhattan. From the publicity:

Focusing on the works of Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin, we will explore the foundations of Martinism, a mystical movement deeply rooted in the Western Esoteric Tradition. The facilitator of the discussion will be Julian Johnson, long-time member of both the Rosicrucian Order and the Traditional Martinist Order.

Also on Saturday the 12th, the Gurdjieff Foundation of New York will offer another session in its introductory series titled “The Search for Meaning and Purpose in Our Lives.” The subject that afternoon will be “What are you?”

The Gurdjieff Foundation now meets at Quest Bookshop at the Theosophical Society, located at 240 East 53rd Street (between Second and Third avenues) in Manhattan. Starts at 3 p.m.

For more information, send an e-mail here.

Click to enlarge.

New York Open Center (22 East 30th Street, Manhattan) will have a three-lecture program on “The Way of the Mystic: Insights, Wisdom, and Practices of the Masters.” 8 to 10 p.m. on Tuesdays, December 1, 8, and 15. From the publicity:

What is mysticism? What are mystical experiences and under what circumstances do they occur? In this three-week series, Jon Mundy will first explain what mysticism is, and then identify many of the characteristics of mystical experiences including: the loss of subject/object identity, timelessness, egolessness and experiences of wonder, awe, reverence, freedom, happiness, and bliss. He will then delve into the lives, experiences, and teachings of a number of history’s greatest mystics and, most importantly, describe meditative and other practices that can lead to the exalted states they describe.

Tuesday, December 1
What is Mysticism?

Tuesday, December 8
Medieval Mystics: Meister Eckhart, St. Francis,
and Rumi

Tuesday, December 15
Modern Mystics: Thoreau, Ramana Maharshi,
and Eckhart Tolle

A Lecture Series—Three Sessions
Members: $70/Non-members: $75
Individual Sessions: $28

New York Open Center also brings back Mr. Robert Place for another “Introduction to the Tarot” series of sessions on Wednesdays, December 2, 9, and 16, from 8 to 10 p.m. From the publicity:

An Introduction to the Tarot:
Guidance and Wisdom for Our Spiritual Journey

The Tarot, ostensibly a deck of decorated cards, is in fact a symbolic system whose images express Pythagorean, Platonic and Hermetic mystical ideas. Once one grasps the Tarots philosophy and structure, the cards can be used as an intuitive device to connect with one's inner wisdom.

The Tarot, ostensibly a deck of decorated cards, is in fact a symbolic system whose images express Pythagorean, Platonic and Hermetic mystical ideas. Once one grasps the Tarot’s philosophy and structure, the cards can be used as an intuitive device to connect with one’s inner wisdom. In this class we will study the symbolism of the Tarot as its Italian Renaissance creators intended, come to understand its spiritual messages, and then learn and practice techniques that develop our intuition and enable us to read the cards as messages from our Higher Self.

Note: you will need a Tarot deck for this class, preferably The Alchemical Tarot or the Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery by Robert Place, or the Waite-Smith Tarot. It is also recommended that you have one of Place’s books as a text, Alchemy and the Tarot or the Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination.

Members: $105/Non-members: $115

If you’re baffled by the names of various tarot decks, please understand there is a limitless variety of decks. There probably is a Simpsons tarot deck. A new Masonic deck is in the works, I’m told. Today I learned of the Hillbilly deck, which has this variation of The Fool:

But the aforementioned Rider-Waite deck surely is the most common and familiar.

And the month of December ends and the New Year will begin with the Anthroposophical Society’s Holy Nights programming. No announcements there yet, but I’ll post the news on The Magpie when it becomes available.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

‘2016 Prestonian Lecture in New Jersey’

New Jersey Lodge of Masonic
Research and Education No. 1786

Proudly Presents

The 2016 Prestonian Lecture

New Light on the Formation and
Early Years of the Grand Lodge
of England

Presented by Bro. Richard Berman
United Grand Lodge of England

Thursday, January 14, 2016
Stage House Tavern
366 Park Avenue
Scotch Plains

$49 Per Person

by Advance Payment

PayPal $51 (includes transaction fee)

Or bring your $49 check, payable to NJLORE 1786,
to our December 12 meeting.

Be among the first in the world
to hear the 2016 Prestonian Lecture!

Deadline for reservations: Thursday, January 7


Saturday, November 21, 2015

‘18th Century Freemasonry and the Arts’

The coming year will feature yet another entity outside the Masonic fraternity—see here and here—that will show its considerable interest in the Masonic fraternity.

The 47th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies will be hosted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania March 31 through April 3, 2016. Among the subjects to be taken up is “Eighteenth Century Freemasonry and the Arts,” chaired by Rebecca Dowd Geoffroy-Schwinden of the University of North Texas.

From the publicity:

Freemasonry represented a new social and cultural institution during the eighteenth century. The ideologies of Freemasonry opened new frontiers to the application of Enlightenment philosophy to lived experience, to the creation of new spaces of socialization, and to the integration of new forms of spirituality with Newtonianism and sensationism. The practices and ideologies of Freemasonry called for humans to rethink their relationships: with themselves and their peers, with authority figures, and toward the natural and supernatural realms.

Artists across the visual, performing, and literary arts came to occupy a crucial role in the development, expansion, and sociality of Masonic lodges. This panel seeks to explore the significance of the relationship that Freemasonry, from its rituals to its social structure to its values, shared with the arts. Recent scholarship has begun to reveal the rapport between Freemasonry and the visual, performing, and literary arts. This panel aims to bring scholars of the arts into conversation to pursue a holistic theoretical and methodological framework through which to understand the mutual influence of Freemasonry and the arts during the eighteenth century.

Rebecca Dowd Geoffroy-Schwinden
Rebecca Dowd Geoffroy-Schwinden is a faculty member in the College of Music at University of North Texas. Her current project mobilizes archival evidence to demonstrate how musicians during the French Revolution (1789-99) regenerated their profession through pre-existing social networks, economic uncertainty, and Enlightenment philosophy. She also researches sound studies, traversing film music, audible history, and digital humanities, and has taught courses on music, writing, and politics from the eighteenth century to the present.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

‘Sympathie, Égalité, Fraternité’

Landmarks throughout Manhattan were drenched in the blue, white, and red of France’s Tricolour as an emotional display of solidarity with Paris, where 130 innocents were murdered last Friday. Here is the Arch of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.

In the aftermath of the terror attacks in Paris last Friday, in which 130 victims perished, the Grand Lodge of New York issued a communiqué to the National Grand Lodge of France.

RW Brother Claude Legrand
Grand Secretary
Grande Loge Nationale Française
12 Rue Christine de Pisan
75017 Paris

Subject: Expression of Sympathy & Sorrow

Dear Right Worshipful Grand Secretary,

The Helmsley Building
on Park Avenue
in midtown Manhattan.
Our Grand Master, MW William J. Thomas, wishes me to express to you, your Grand Master, and your entire Grand Lodge our sincere and heartfelt expression of sympathy and sorrow for the loss that your nation has suffered. There are few places other than New York that can truly understand what you are now feeling and the length of time before you are even able to fully express your grief. We stand ready to help you if and when we are asked to do so.

A statement to the public is delivered at the Consulate General
of France on Fifth Avenue Saturday night.

When you are finally in a position to do so, we would very much appreciate it if you would provide us with the names and contact information of any Masons who were directly affected by this unspeakable horror. Thank you.

With tears of sorrow and with fraternal love and affection,

Paul M. Rosen
Grand Secretary
Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York

The flags of France and the European Union were flown at half-mast outside the Consulate General of France in Manhattan Saturday in mourning of the victims of the terror attacks in Paris the previous day.

Monday, November 16, 2015

‘Calvi and P2 Lodge topics next month’

Bro. Michael Kearsley, who served the United Grand Lodge of England as its Prestonian Lecturer in 2014, will return to New Jersey next month for another speaking engagement. On the first Saturday of December every year, the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of New Jersey hosts its Feast of St. John, which is highlighted by a keynote speaker. Rarely is there a Masonic topic—if I’m not mistaken, 2007 was the last such talk, delivered by Chris Hodapp, which was the only of these events that I’ve attended—but Bro. Kearsley is slated to break with form and present something of important and odd Masonic history.

Feast of St. John
Saturday, December 5
Social Hour at 5:30
Dinner at 6:45
Program at Eight

Fellowship Center
1114 Oxmead Road
Burlington, New Jersey
$45 per person

RSVP no later than Friday. Tables for eight or ten guests can be booked. Phone 609.239.3950, and have your credit card ready.

RW Michael Kearsley
RW Bro. Michael Kearsley will speak on “The Roberto Calvi Affair.” In addition to his Prestonian tenure, Bro. Kearsley served as the Right Worshipful Grand Orator of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Middlesex, and is a Past Master of four lodges, and is secretary of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076. His research is widely published—one paper garnered QC2076’s Norman Spencer Prize—and he is editor of The Square, among other distinctions.

Roberto Calvi, nicknamed “God’s Banker,” was murdered in outlandish circumstances in 1982 after being at the center of the billion dollar mafia-Vatican bank collapse that is said to have involved a Masonic lodge named Propaganda Due, or P2 for short.

Don’t Google it. Let Bro. Kearsley’s telling of the story stimulate you and leave you with much to talk about.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

‘Presenting the 2016 Prestonian Lecture’

New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education No. 1786 is immensely proud—we can hardly sit still!—to present Bro. Richard Berman, the 2016 Prestonian Lecturer, who will deliver his lecture titled Foundations, on Thursday, January 14, 2016.

The location, dining fee, and other necessary details are not worked out yet, but they will be publicized here and throughout social media soon. For now, please save the date.

From the publicity:

The 2016 Prestonian Lecture

Foundations: New Light on the Formation
and Early Years of the Grand Lodge of England

The 2016 Prestonian Lecture explores the evolution of Freemasonry, queries long-standing myths, and explains the factors that gave rise to the step change that occurred with the creation of the first English Grand Lodge in 1717.

Ric Berman outlines the connections between Freemasonry and the British establishment in the eighteenth century, and how and why its leaders positioned Grand Lodge as a bastion of support for the government. He also touches on how Freemasonry was used to advance Britain’s diplomatic objectives and for espionage.

The Lecture marks the upcoming 300th anniversary of the formation of the first Grand Lodge, and sets a context for 2017’s celebration.

The Prestonian Lecturer is appointed by the United Grand Lodge of England. This year’s lecturer, Ric Berman, is the author of Foundations of Modern Freemasonry, first published in 2011 and now in its second edition; Schism (2013), which discusses the conflict between Moderns and Antients Freemasonry; and Loyalists & Malcontents (2015), a history of colonial and post-colonial Freemasonry in the American South.

Richard Berman
Dr. Berman has been a Freemason for almost 40 years. He is a Past Master of the Marquis of Dalhousie Lodge No. 1159 (EC); Treasurer of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 (EC), England’s oldest research lodge; and a PM of the Temple of Athene Lodge No. 9541 (EC), the research lodge of the Province of Middlesex. He holds London and Provincial Grand Rank.

An extended version of the lecture is available for purchase via Amazon. The proceeds are donated to charity. Ric Berman’s Amazon page is here.

TAKE NOTE: Bro. Ric will NOT have copies of his lecture available for sale at this event. Please make your purchase from Amazon, and bring the book with you for inscribing.

Bro. Ric’s tour of the United States includes:

January 7 to 9 – American Historical Association, Atlanta, Georgia: Chairing the session “Freemasonry – The First Global Society,” and giving the paper “Antients or Moderns? Reflections on the Genesis of American Freemasonry.”

Prestonian Lecture presentations:

January 9 to 10 – Greensboro, North Carolina
January 11 to 12 – Chapel Hill, North Carolina
January 13 – Des Moines, Iowa
January 14 – New Jersey (location TBD)
January 15 – Washington, DC

Of course January is early in the year, and it is not impossible Bro. Ric could return to the United States later in 2016 for more appearances.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

‘Mindfulness and the Arts’


MindfulNYU offers another public event next week, which I publicize here (and will attend) largely for Parabola’s Tracy Cochran’s involvement. From the publicity:

Mindfulness and the Arts
Hosted by MindfulNYU
Wednesday, November 18
7 to 8:30 p.m.
238 Thompson Street, Room 461
New York City

Free tickets here.

What do a cast member of Star Trek, a pioneering social justice filmmaker, and a highly accomplished journalist have in common? Mindfulness!

Join MindfulNYU’s Generation Meditation, Stressbusters and three mindful artists for a night of interactive activities and stimulating discussion as we explore how mindfulness can enhance our creative lives.


‘Journal 29 is out’

The Journal of the Masonic Society No. 29 has been reaching Society members these past weeks. Dubbed “The Review Issue,” this Journal offers opinions on a variety of goods marketed to Freemasons—from books to clothing to regalia, and beyond—in addition to feature articles, Masonic studies, analysis of the state of the Craft, plus the Journal’s regular features.

The Journal is the primary, but not only, benefit to members of The Masonic Society—the best $39 you’ll spend in Freemasonry. Membership is open to regular Freemasons from recognized grand lodges. Click here for more membership information.

Patrick C. Carr, the Right Worshipful Grand Senior Warden of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, treats us to his “In Search of the Genuine Æthelstan,” in which he reviews the known history and biography of the early English king who figures so prominently in Freemasonry’s embryonic literature. Carr reasons “While we cannot ever know exactly what impact King Athelstan and his rule did directly for the Craft, we can agree that King Athelstan and his actions provided the world with a laudable set of values in which we should meet, act, and part. Whether or not it directly impacted the creation of the fraternity is irrelevant. What it did manage to do was place the beliefs of the king strictly into the rituals and the belief systems that Freemasonry still teaches today.”

Always a popular topic of conversation is Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma, the dense collection of lectures the early Sovereign Grand Commander of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (Southern Jurisdiction) intended to accompany the 32 degrees, as worked by A&ASR bodies for many decades. Giovanni A. Villegas, of Jacobo Zobel Memorial Lodge 202 in the Philippines, bravely offers his “Unabashed Literary Book Review” outlining the problems he perceives in the text. “The true test of understanding Morals and Dogma is finding the honesty to first admit that one does not fully understand it,” he says, “or at least not immediately.” He continues, explaining how factors such as the period style of the writing, Pike’s lifting of text from earlier sources, and Pike’s personal interpretations of mystical subjects conspire to leave readers in 2015 vexed. He concedes M&D is “essential reading” for the Scottish Rite Mason who can weather it, but also recommends the casual reader seek out more recent texts, including Rex Hutchens’ A Bridge to Light, and, of course, Arturo de Hoyos’ Annotated Edition, which provides tons of clarifications, corrections, references, and other useful guides to those who want the full Morals and Dogma experience.

Yasha Berensiner’s regular feature “Masonic Collectibles” treats us to a look at William Hogarth, the eighteenth century (today is his 318th birthday) English artist and satirist—and brother Mason—whose “comic histories” paintings chronicled London life, and didn’t spare the Masonic fraternity his lampooning. Perhaps you are acquainted with his Times of the Day prints but, if not, seek it out, and get an eyeful of the one titled “Night.”

Under “Thoughts on the Craft,” Stephen J. Ponzillo, III, a Past Grand Master of Maryland, visits the touchy topic of lodge dues and other expenses in his “The Cost of Belonging: Is it Enough?” In the early years of this century, when the Knights of the North and the Masonic Restoration Foundation were advancing the simple view that lodges must collect in dues the revenue they need to function properly and survive into the future, it was so inflammatory to the establishment that a mere whisper of responsibly addressing lodge financing would prompt anger and panic. Today, younger and wiser heads are prevailing in lodges all over the country, and appreciation for the cost of living these days affects how forward-thinking lodges plan their financial futures. In his article, inspired by a recent discussion on the Masonic Society’s Facebook page, he scores several points structured around his comparing and contrasting cost of living figures of 1957 and 2014. It’s actually not simply a matter of inflation; Ponzillo illustrates the more significant facts of what Freemasonry asked men to pay for initiation and dues during those two periods. It’s about the percentage of a man’s annual income. In 1957, for example, a lodge that collected a $75 initiation fee from a man who earned $5,000 for that year was taking 1.5 percent of that income. In 2014, a man making just less than $70,000, and paying a $250 initiation fee, gave about a third of 1 percent of his annual pay to join a lodge. Is it enough? Indeed.

In his President’s Message, Jim Dillman humorously bemoans his efforts to meet his deadline, but in all seriousness, he writes on “Uncovering Freemasonry’s History,” urging us to look at what is right in front of us—as in lodge records, ephemera, books, etc. stored away in lodge closets and corners. “I’m going to challenge each of you to take a day, a week, or a month off from social media or your time-waster of choice, and devote the time you would have spent to some sort of Masonic research. Go back and read the minutes of your lodge from 50 or 100 years ago,” he says. “Dig through some of those old boxes lying around.” I know we all want to uncover the mysteries of Masonic secrets, but a curious and diligent brother can do his lodge great good simply by bringing to life local Masonic history for his own lodge.

There is a lot more to Issue 29: “The Masonic Baseball Game,” current news from around the globe, the detailed calendar of Masonic events through next May, and a great “Guide to Masonic Encyclopedias” by Tyler Anderson of New Mexico, among other attractions.

In other Masonic Society news, the Board of Directors and Officers gathered in St. Louis over the weekend to give shape to some serious plans for the Society’s future. We’ll meet again at Masonic Week to finalize some of these designs upon the trestleboard, and when you find out about them, your eyes will pop. Stay tuned to The Magpie Mind in February for those details.

The Masonic Society Board of Directors’ marathon planning session over the weekend at the St. Louis Airport Hilton just happened to coincide with the annual meeting of something named St. Matthew’s Grand Lodge. In fact, when I arrived at the hotel Friday afternoon, I found the lobby crowded with their members and Eastern Star ladies having a grand time. This photo partially shows the schedule of Saturday events posted in the lobby. Unfortunately, I couldn’t undertake my usual membership development efforts, as St. Matthew’s exists outside the mainstream of the Masonic fraternity. (Click here for membership guidelines.) I wonder what they thought of us!

And speaking of Masonic Week 2016, the registration information should be posted this week, I’m told, and you’ll see the Masonic Society’s banquet has been moved from the Friday night to Saturday, making us the only official dining choice for that evening. President Dillman will announce the choice of keynote speaker shortly, and I hope those of you who will attend Masonic Week will elect to be with us that night. We will have a number of big announcements.

See you there.

This blurry photo shows the left arm of the guy in front of me on line to board the plane back to New York. That tattoo is an attempt (it doesn’t have it quite right) to ink the Hand of Fatima, or the Khamsa, an ancient symbol from the Middle East that is significant to both Jews and Muslims. ‘The eye in its palm wards off the evil eye,’ according to The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Signs and Symbols. In modern times, it is a kind of peace symbol, showing how the two great faiths share much in common, the book also says.

‘Introduction to Martinism Saturday’

The Traditional Martinist Order will host an Introduction to Martinism Saturday afternoon in New York City. In January, the Order will undertake a new cycle of classes, and I gather this meeting will provide answers about the Order and its teachings. Julian Johnson will lead the discussion. From the publicity:

Introduction to Martinism
Saturday, November 14
1 p.m.
Rosicrucian Cultural Center
2303 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.
New York City

Focusing on the works of Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin, we will explore the foundations of Martinism, a mystical movement deeply rooted in the Western Esoteric Tradition.

We anticipate people will ask about how and when they can receive the Associate Degree Initiation, as well as other questions pertaining to membership in New York Heptad.

On the following Saturday, November 21, the local heptad will confer the Associate Degree. (New York Heptad now meets at the Theosophical Society/Quest Bookshop at 240 East 53rd Street in Manhattan.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

‘Book sale’

Courtesy Kristine Mann Library
Just in time for the holiday gift-shopping season, the Kristine Mann Library at the C.G. Jung Foundation in Murray Hill is hosting its book sale again, now through December. Plenty of reading material by and about Carl Jung and countless related subjects await you—and at good prices—and your purchases will help the library’s fundraising endeavors too.

28 East 39th Street (between Madison and Park avenues). Open Mondays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. And Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A word to the wise: don’t delay. The library is not a bookstore, so while it offers many great titles for sale, it does not replenish inventory.