Wednesday, September 28, 2016

‘This lodge is your lodge’

The Fourth Manhattan District, known among New York Masons as “The Capital of the Metropolitan Districts,” includes a fascinating diversity of Craft lodges. For starters, there is my own lodge, Publicity 1000, and amid the others is historic St. Cecile Lodge 568—known as The Lodge of the Arts. It meets in the early afternoon because its brethren are employed in the evenings performing the theater, music, etc. of the New York City nightlife that brings us all together.

There will be a special program before its next meeting on Tuesday. From the publicity:

Our upcoming Stated Communication on Tuesday, October 4 at 1 p.m. will be preceded by a Lodge of the Arts tribute honoring Woody Guthrie’s birthday, “This Land is Your Land.” While Guthrie was not a Free and Accepted Mason (to the best of our knowledge), he certainly was a traveling man among Traveling Men, a troubadour for “brotherhood, freedom, and equality,” in solidarity with Kindred Souls & Brothers of the Craft, such as John Steinbeck.

That’s Masonic Hall, at 71 West 23rd Street, in the Empire Room on 12. (Security is pretty tight these days, so bring ID and proof of Masonic membership.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

‘Why the soul is immortal’

Another great opportunity at the School of Practical Philosophy has been announced. A day-long class on Plato’s Phaedo, replete with an outstanding Greek lunch and wine reception, is scheduled for a Sunday next month. No previous knowledge of either Plato or Phaedo is needed, so just go and enjoy, especially if you are a Freemason who ponders the immortality of souls.

This seems to me to be a follow-up class to the one I told you about two years ago.

From the publicity:

Socrates’ Last Day
Plato Study Day
Sunday, October 23
8:30 a.m. - coffee and registration
9 to 3:45 p.m. - program (wine reception follows)

School of Practical Philosophy
12 East 79th Street, Manhattan

$50 per person ($25 for full-time students),
which includes materials, refreshments,
lunch, and wine reception

Tickets available here.

Join us when we will explore Plato’s Phaedo, considered to be an accurate recounting of Socrates’ last day. In our study, we will be present with Socrates and his followers in an Athenian jail in 399 BC. He has been sentenced to death by hemlock and, when the sun sets, so will his life on earth.

Philosophy becomes alive and dramatic as we participate in the conversations that take place from dawn until dusk. We witness Socrates’ courage and compassion as he implores his friends not to fear death, and shows them how to live their remaining days more richly and happily.

Throughout, Socrates makes clear that the unexamined life is not worth living. He does not ask us to accept his views, only to honestly examine our own beliefs, values, and actions. How can we be happy, what prevents us from being so, and how can we lead useful and productive lives? We trust that as the day proceeds you will come to recognize that the counsel he offered on his last day is directly applicable to how you live your life today and tomorrow.

The day will include an opening presentation, group study sessions, light entertainment, a great Greek lunch, and more.

You are encouraged to invite family and friends. No prior knowledge of Plato is needed.

Monday, September 26, 2016

‘Washington Monument closed indefinitely’

The National Park Service closed the Washington Monument for an indefinite period, it announced today, citing nagging elevator malfunction that persists even after years of repairs made to the landmark, located on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

During Masonic Week 2009, Jim Dillman and I successfully escaped the hotel to do some sightseeing in DC, namely the National Mall and the House of the Temple. Magpie file photo

The NPS used its Facebook page this morning to say:

Despite the continuing work on the Washington Monument elevator, we have not been able to determine the causes of the ongoing reliability issues. As a result, we have made the difficult decision not to reopen the Washington Monument until we can modernize the elevator control system. The scope of work to be accomplished while the monument is closed and the duration of the closure are still being determined; we expect to have an announcement with those additional details in the next couple of weeks.

If you didn’t know, the Washington Monument was built, in part, with stones contributed by America’s Freemasons to honor their most revered brother. Others throughout the United States, as individuals and groups, also participated, but the Monument always had the distinct tie to the Masonic Order. Whether that is because it is an obelisk, or because of its placement within the formation of the nation’s most prized architecture, or what other intangible force people think they discern, the Washington Monument stands as a nexus where U.S. history and the story of Freemasonry intersect—and, true to form, the elevator is out.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

‘Prince Hall cornerstone ceremony in Jersey’

Prince Hall Freemasons will gather at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Summit, New Jersey next month to dedicate a cornerstone. From the publicity:

Cornerstone-Laying Ceremony
Sunday, October 16
12:15 to 1:30 p.m.
Pilgrim Baptist Church
77 Morris Avenue
Summit, New Jersey

It has been the custom of the ancient and honorable fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons from time immemorial, upon due invitation, to assemble the Craft and, with appropriate ceremonies, to lay the foundation stones of Masonic edifices, churches, and other public edifices. Having accepted the invitation of Pilgrim Baptist Church to lay the foundation stone, we will convene for that purpose.

Pilgrim Baptist Church in Summit, New Jersey.

This ceremony is open to the public. Grand Lodge officers wear tails with their apron and collar of office. Brothers are dressed with the apron and collar of office.

Have you ever seen one of these celebrations? Definitely worth your while, as it offers a glimpse into a centuries-old tradition in Freemasonry that intentionally is shown to the public. Click here to read part of the Brent Morris Short Talk Bulletin on the subject.

‘Arnold Palmer, 1929-2016’

Courtesy Ezekiel Bates Lodge 1870

Golf legend and Brother Mason Arnold Palmer died today, just a few weeks after his 87th birthday, in Pittsburgh. A member of Loyalhanna Lodge 275 in Pennsylvania since 1958, Palmer is one of those Famous Masons whose name appears on all those lists of famous Freemasons, and was one who received numerous accolades and awards in the fraternity.

I just wanted to beat the Dummies blog for once.

‘The Secret of the Golden Silence’

I’ll continue advertising events where the hosts impart mindfulness techniques and insights into mindfulness techniques because I believe in the benefits of certain practices to the individual, and to the Masonic lodge working as a group. Rosicrucians and others already employ some form of this work in their gatherings, and it is sad that almost all Freemasons are missing out. When I spoke at the Masonic Restoration Foundation’s 2015 symposium in Philadelphia, my topic was meditation exercises intended for lodge use. Among my audience of about 75, I think something like 12 or 15 raised their hands when I asked whose lodges incorporate some form of mindfulness work in their labors.

I was stunned.

Of course the attendees of any given MRF event are Freemasons who don’t waste time on the generic fraternal club pap that characterizes probably 95 percent or more of the Craft lodges in the United States, but to see 20 percent or so of that group answer in the affirmative – and then dominate the ensuing half hour of Q&A—was an answer to a prayer.

Anyway, as you may infer from what I wrote here, it is necessary to search outside the Masonic lodge to learn about mindfulness practices, and this edition of The Magpie Mason takes us to the C.G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology on East 39th Street. It’s hard for me to think of December just yet, but on Saturday the 3rd there will be a daylong seminar based on Carl Jung’s writings on contemplative silence through a Taoist prism. From the publicity:

The Secret of the Golden Silence
Led by Royce Froehlich, Ph.D., MDiv, LCSW
Saturday, December 3
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Jung’s Commentary on The Secret of the Golden Flower (1929) presents his insights on the nature of consciousness in the light of Taoist thought, with a nod to Christian gnostics and mystics. In the Chinese text, Jung hears the archetypal call for contemplative silence. Whether to foster communion between one’s subjective self and a deity, the objective psyche, or to focus one’s attention on a task at hand, we are encouraged to follow Jung’s lead to quiet the mind. Contemplative techniques can offer insight to one’s personality and may contribute to a variety of therapeutic benefits for body, mind, and spirit. In Jung’s case, the application of “certain yoga techniques” contributed to the development of The Red Book.

Much of Analytical Psychology’s rich lexicon and clinical language is in this treatise on individuation and mental illness, where Jung engages the subject of we-wei (actively doing nothing), which is the “secret” of the golden flower. Resonant in the mystical thought of preacher and spiritual guide Meister Eckhart, who describes such a state of mind as Gelassenheit (letting-be-ness), the contemplative attitude of doing nothing also inspired the composer John Cage, whose work will inform this presentation. In addition, the workshop will review basic emotion regulation (mindfulness practice) techniques prescribed for the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder in Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

The C.G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology, Inc., SW CPE, is recognized by New York State Education Department’s State Board of Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers 0350.

At completion of this workshop participants will be able to:

• Offer an overview of a key text in the development of Jung’s analytical psychology and its application in clinical practice.
• Show the relationship between analytical psychology and contemporary models of psychotherapy that include mindfulness techniques.
• Identify common elements in Jungian theory, spiritual practice, and the arts.

Royce Froehlich, Ph.D., MDiv, LCSW, is a Jungian analyst with a private practice in New York City. A graduate of Columbia University’s School of Social Work, Union Theological Seminary, the New School for Social Research, and the European Graduate School, he is on the faculty of The C.G. Jung Institute of New York, The C.G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology, and teaches in The Open Center’s Holistic Psychology certification program.

General Public: $90
Members/students: $75

Register here.

‘The Work for Awakened Attention’

The Gurdjieff Foundation of New York will offer another of its introductory events next month to explain a bit about its mystical teachings. This session, titled “The Work for Awakened Attention,” will be hosted Friday, October 7 at 6:30 p.m. inside the lecture hall of Quest Bookshop (240 East 53rd Street, between Second and Third, in Manhattan). If you want to check it out, do them a big favor and reserve your seat by e-mailing the organizers here.

After attending an introductory event, like this one, you have the option of delving a little further into the matter. On the following weekend, on Saturday, October 15, the group will host another event, including a screening of a Ken Burns film. The talk will be “A Way of Life,” and the film is Vézelay, made by Burns in 1995, and this will take place in The Sheen Center (Studio A), located at 18 Bleecker Street, from 4 to 5:30. RSVP here.

Click to enlarge.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

‘LaPlace to head MSANA’

Simon R. LaPlace
Connecticut Past Grand Master Simon R. LaPlace will become Executive Secretary of the Masonic Service Association of North America beginning October 1.

LaPlace will succeed George O. Braatz, the Past Grand Master and Past Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Ohio who announced his retirement earlier this year after serving the MSANA for five years as Executive Secretary.

Launched in 1919, the MSANA serves as a clearinghouse of educational publications and demographic data, as well as fulfills philanthropic needs as an organizer of disaster-relief funding in the Masonic fraternity. It also administers its Hospital Visitation Program for the benefit of military veterans across North America.

Monday, September 19, 2016

‘Emerson’s point with circles’

The School of Practical Philosophy will host another study day to examine more writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson next month. This will be a different class from what you might have read about previously on The Magpie. From the publicity:

Emerson Study Day
Sunday, October 16
8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

$30 per person,
includes light brunch and printed materials

School of Practical Philosophy
12 East 79th Street

Click here for tickets.

Come explore the spiritual and intellectual legacy of America’s great philosopher and teacher Ralph Waldo Emerson. At this study day, we will consider selected passages from “Circles,” an essay in which Emerson expresses man’s unlimited, ever-changing and expanding nature. His words are both inspirational and fortifying, and always address a love of freedom.

From the essay:

“Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn rising on mid-noon, and under every deep, a lower deep opens.”
(First Series 1841)

All are welcome. No prior study of Emerson is required.

8:30 a.m. – Sign in. Coffee.
9 a.m. – Introduction and brief history, followed by two study sessions in small groups.

Class led by Barbara Solowey.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

‘Setting out for the Masonic frontier’

The deadline for registration is near for The Masonic Society’s “Freemasonry on the Frontier” conference in California in three weeks. From the publicity:

The Masonic Society Announces
Speakers for ‘Frontier’ Conference

The Masonic Society has announced the line-up of nine speakers for its conference “Freemasonry on the Frontier” to be held October 7-9 in Morgan Hill, California. A registration form and hotel information can be found here.

“We’ve built the event around a particularly distinguished slate of speakers,” said Society President Kenneth W. Davis. “When possible, we’ve arranged topics chronologically and geographically, tracing the growth of Freemasonry from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.”

Samuel Clemens, better known as “Mark Twain,” will kick off the program with an after-dinner speech Friday evening. Brother Clemens’ talk is made possible by Jefferson H. Jordan, Jr., immediate past grand master of Masons in New Mexico.

Mark Tabbert, director of collections at the George Washington Masonic Memorial, and author of several acclaimed Masonic books, will deliver Saturday morning’s keynote address. His topic will be “George Washington and the Masonic Frontiers of the 1700s.”

Also on Saturday morning, William Miklos, past master of Northern California Research Lodge, will speak on “Masons Pushing or Pulling the Constitutional Convention,” and Moises Gomez, past grand historian of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey, will speak on “Early Traveling Lodges of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey: Bringing Light to the American Frontier.”

Adam Kendall, collections manager and curator of exhibits for the Henry W. Coil Library and Museum at the Grand Lodge of California, and editor of The Plumbline, the quarterly bulletin of the Scottish Rite Research Society, will keynote the Saturday afternoon sessions, speaking on “Pilgrimage and Procession: The 1883 Knights Templar Triennial Conclave and the Dream of the American West.”

Also speaking Saturday afternoon will be Kyle Grafstrom, of Verity Lodge 59, Kent, Washington, and author of articles in both The Philalethes and Living Stones, on “Freemasonry in the Wild West.” Wayne Sirmon, past master of Texas Lodge of Research and instructor and fellow at the University of Mobile, will present “West by Southwest: The Expansion of Frontier Freemasonry in the Old Southwest.”

John Bizzack, fellow and board member of The Masonic Society, fellow of the Rubicon Masonic Society in Kentucky, and author of five books on Freemasonry, will deliver Saturday evening’s after-dinner speech, “The Expansion of Freemasonry into the West: The Pivotal Role of Kentucky, 1788-1810.”

John Cooper, past grand master and past grand secretary of Masons in California and current president of the Philalethes Society, will keynote Sunday morning with “Freemasonry and Nation-Building on the Pacific Coast: The California Experience.” His speech will be followed by a panel of all speakers, discussing with the audience “Freemasonry on the Frontier.”

Sunday afternoon will feature a tour of the Winchester Mystery House, with Masonic connections, and said to be haunted.

The conference is directed by Gregg Hall, member of Morgan Hill Masonic Lodge, California, and The Masonic Society’s board of directors.

Friday, September 16, 2016

‘The Resurgence of Freemasonry’

The Livingston Library is at it again, this time welcoming the Right Worshipful Grand Historian to the lectern. The library is located on the 14th floor of Masonic Hall, located at 71 West 23rd Street in Manhattan. From the publicity:

The Resurgence of Freemasonry

Join us on Thursday, September 29 at 6:30 p.m. for what is sure to be an exciting lecture! Friends and family are welcome.

In his presentation, R.W. Bro. Mark E. Koltko-Rivera argues that the last thirty years of the fraternity’s history make it clear that, unless very serious and radical changes are made to the status quo, American Freemasonry will become all but extinct within the lives of the men whom we are now initiating. Koltko-Rivera explains why this is so, how we arrived at this juncture and, most importantly, what Masons can do to not only arrest the decline of Masonry, but also to bring about the resurgence of the Craft to a state where we have more Freemasons—and stronger Masons—than we ever had in the United States.

Please RSVP here.

About the Presenter

The Right Worshipful Mark E. Koltko-Rivera, Ph.D., is the Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of New York. He is the author of the book Freemasonry: An Introduction, and the forthcoming The Resurgence of Freemasonry. He has appeared on Discovery Channel and History Channel as an expert on the American Founding Fathers and Freemasonry. He is also the founder and chief educational officer of The School of Freemasonry (, an online enterprise. Koltko-Rivera holds a doctoral degree in psychology from New York University. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, and currently teaches as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Hunter College, The City University of New York (CUNY).

Thursday, September 15, 2016

‘Next Week: Knight of the Sword’

If you’re a Cousin in Knight Masonry, you ought to consider attending the meeting next week of Northern New Jersey Council, where the Knight of the Sword Degree will be conferred.

That will be Wednesday, September 21 at Pantagis Renaissance (Snuffy’s Restaurant) at 250 Park Avenue in Scotch Plains. Cocktails at six. Dinner at seven ($32 per person). Meeting will open after dinner. Contact the Scribe to let him know you are coming.

Click here to read David Lindez’s recent blog post on the subject of the degrees of Knight Masonry. The Order of Knight Masonry is a fraternity attached to the York Rite. Members are notable Royal Arch Masons who are invited to receive these “Green Degrees” that originate in Ireland.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

‘Friday the 16th’

It’s September, so our Masonic lodges are emerging from hibernation. My lodge, Publicity 1000, will hold its first meeting of the new Masonic year on Monday, and another lodge I’m fond of will meet soon to host a brother who I like too.

Atlas-Pythagoras Masonic Lodge No. 10 will welcome Oscar Alleyne as the evening’s guest lecturer next Friday. His topic will be “The Tools of Symbolism.” See the flier below, but let me add one missing detail about Oscar’s Masonic work: He serves on the board of The Masonic Society! (Try to get that in there next time, Mohamad!)

See you there.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

‘Guggenheim to exhibit Symbolist art of the Rose+Croix salons’

Okay, calm down. It won’t open until next summer, but it will happen, and it will be a first for any museum.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will present about 40 works of Symbolist art first presented in fin de siècle Paris in Sar Péladan’s annual Rosicrucian salons. Péladan founded his own idiomatic system of Rosicrucian thought (don’t we all), and the art he cultivated in his Rose+Croix salons drew deeply from Christianity and Greek mythology, among other sources, to breathe some shock and awe spirituality into the Paris art scene, which was dominated by Realism at that time.

The exhibit will be open from June 30 through October 4, 2017. Then the collection will go to Venice to be shown in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection from October 27, 2017 through January 7, 2018.

From the publicity:

Mystical Symbolism:
The Salon de la Rose+Croix
in Paris, 1892-1897

In 1892, Joséphin Péladan (1859-1918), a Rosicrucian, self-proclaimed high priest of the occult, author, and critic, organized the first Salon de la Rose+Croix. This annual exhibition in Paris showcased mystical Symbolist art, particularly a hermetic, numinous vein of Symbolism that was favored by Péladan and dominant during the 1890s, a time when religious and occult practices often intertwined. Mysterious, visionary, and mythical subjects, often drawn from literary sources, prevailed in the art at the salons.

Orpheus Death by Jean Delville, 1893.

Images of femmes fragiles and fatales, androgynous creatures, chimeras, and incubi were the norm, as were sinuous lines, attenuated figures, and anti-naturalistic forms. Cosmopolitan in reach, the salons featured artists from Belgium, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland, such as Antoine Bourdelle, Jean Delville, Rogelio de Egusquiza, Charles Filiger, Ferdinand Hodler, Fernand Khnopff, Alphonse Osbert, Armand Point, Gaetano Previati, Georges Rouault, Carlos Schwabe, Alexandre Séon, Jan Toorop, Ville Vallgren, and Félix Vallotton.

“Mystical Symbolism: The Salon de la Rose+Croix in Paris, 1892-1897” will capture a fascinating, transnational cross section of artists—some well known, others less so—and invite a fresh look at and new scholarship on late 19th century Symbolist art. Organized by Vivien Greene, Senior Curator, 19th- and Early 20th-Century Art, with the assistance of Ylinka Barotto, Curatorial Assistant, “Mystical Symbolism” will feature about 40 works culled from the six Salon de la Rose+Croix exhibitions, as well as pertinent historical documents. A musical component with pieces by Erik Satie and others will complement the presentation and underscore how composers played key roles in the development of the movement. The exhibition will highlight central artworks shown at each salon in order to tease out themes such as the role of Orpheus, the adulation of the Primitives, and the cult of personality that developed around figures including Richard Wagner and Péladan himself. These carefully chosen works and groupings, in turn, will allow for an in-depth exploration of the diverse and sometimes opposing concepts that informed Symbolism in the 1890s.

A fully illustrated catalogue will comprise essays on the salon and its main themes (Greene); the contemporary reception of the salon (Jean-David Jumeau-Lafond, independent scholar); and the connections between Symbolists tenets and those of early 20th century avant-garde artists (Kenneth Silver, Professor of Art History, New York University). It will also contain a selected bibliography and artist entries authored by emerging scholars.