Tuesday, October 25, 2016

‘Light! Camera! Aprons!’

What a great night at Masonic Hall underway now! As this edition of The Magpie Mason goes to press, a film crew from Pinstripe Productions Ltd. from Glasgow is filming inside the Livingston Library for an upcoming BBC Scotland documentary on Robert Burns and the importance of Freemasonry to his life and work, but just a little more than an hour ago they were filming a group of us making believe we were in lodge assembled for a philosophical discussion.

Forget Hollywood glitz, this is Glasgow glamour!

The production company contacted Grand Lodge a week ago to express its desire to include New York Masons in this documentary to illustrate how Burns’ poetry is beloved in America. None other than RW Bro. Piers Vaughan—a U.S. citizen with a Brighton accent—was put in command of organizing this thing. (He has experience managing CBS News in Masonic Hall.) So, after securing the permission of the Grand Master, of the Masonic Hall Trustees, and, most importantly, of the building management staff, he was able to corral everybody inside the Empire Room on 12, while securing the altar cloth (but no Washington Bible) and regalia of venerable St. John’s Lodge No. 1 so we’d all look good. We’re told this will be broadcast in the United Kingdom next Burns Night.

As I mentioned, the crew is now in the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library interviewing Librarian Morgan Aronson and Curator Catherine Walter on the library’s various Rabbie Burns artifacts and books, but for our segment, we were seated in the Empire Room for a talk on the Masonic symbolism of the Number 3.

Piers, standing, addresses the East, with RW Jim,
RW Earnest, and Bro. Parker listening.

It was great fun. Nothing was scripted, and I think about 20 of us took turns to be upstanding for the Worshipful Master, holding the Sign of Fidelity, and expounding on the various meanings the Number 3 has to the Masonic Order.

Our impromptu Junior Warden.
I didn’t take a lot of notes because we were supposed to look natural, but the discussion ranged from religious trios (Father, Son, Holy Spirit; Osiris, Isis, Horus) to Masonic ritual (three degrees, three ancient grand masters, three to open a lodge, “three distinct knocks,” three raps of the gavel, etc., etc.) to Craft symbolism (three stages of life, the Trivium, three symbolic supports, Theological Virtues, etc., etc.) and a lot more, even from outside the fraternity, such as the three equal branches of American governance. None of this has anything directly to do with Robert Burns, Freemasonry’s Poet Laureate, but the point was to display to the television audience how a Masonic lodge functions. The more than half-hour discussion probably will be distilled to a half-minute clip in the final production, I’d guess.

Later someone noted there were 33 of us in the meeting!

At some point during the exhibition, The Magpie Mason rose, stood on the Sign of Fidelity, and suggested:

Worshipful Master, in Freemasonry we see the Freemason himself embodying the Number 3. By symbolically being the Rough Ashlar in need of moral improvement; and by being the builder himself who endeavors that work; and finally by becoming the Perfect Ashlar at the end of life’s labors, it is Masonic Man who is the Number 3.

(When it looked as though things were winding down, I also offered: “This is off topic, but when we get to the Festive Board, we will charge our cannons and fire three times,” hoping for more of a laugh than I got!)

WHY IN THE EAST?—Wearing a kilt tonight got
you plum seating for the shoot!

So, those of you in the U.K. should expect to see us, however briefly, on January 25, 2017—Burns Night. Maybe the program will make it to American viewers on one of the BBC cable channels eventually.

God, I love New York Freemasonry.

Monday, October 24, 2016

‘Garibaldi EA° next May’

I realize this comes a bit early, but save the date, mark your calendar, program your phone or whatever for Friday, May 5, 2017 when Garibaldi Lodge 542 in the Tenth Manhattan District will confer its famous and singular Entered Apprentice Degree.

This will take place at Masonic Hall (71 West 23rd Street in Manhattan) inside the Grand Lodge Room, which accommodates a maximum of, I think, around 1,200 people. I’ve been there when that huge room was full beyond capacity, and the Fire Department ordered hundreds to be removed for safety reasons—causing several bus loads from Pennsylvania to head home before even the first gavel was sounded.

Don’t let that happen to you.

Make group reservations with the lodge secretary by e-mailing him here. Tell RW Mascialino who you are, from where you will be coming, and how many will be in your party to ensure seating will be waiting for you. Bring your Masonic membership identification and your apron, and be ready to work your way into a tiled Masonic lodge. And you’ll need photo identification to enter the building. Make it easy on yourself and everyone else by arriving at Masonic Hall before 6 p.m. The degree will start at eight.

Magpie file photo
Garibaldi Lodge altar.

The allure of the Garibaldi EA° is almost entirely attributable to the ritual that will be worked. It is a French Rite ritual given to Garibaldi Lodge by its sister lodge in the Tenth Manhattan, l’Union Française Lodge 17. Garibaldi modified it by translating it into Italian, and that will be the language spoken during the degree. All other greetings, commentaries, commands, etc. from the East will be in English.

If you know about Scottish Rite lodge degree rituals, then you have an idea of what to expect on this night: highly symbolic and intense floor work with obvious alchemical meanings, as one finds in lodges in Europe and South America. Don’t worry about the language barrier; it only enhances the enthralling otherworldliness of the proceedings—and you’ll still get it, I assure you.

You’ve probably heard something of the Garibaldi EA, but maybe haven’t had the chance to experience it, so take advantage of this more-than-six-months advance notice and plan to get to Masonic Hall next May 5.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

‘Masonic Feast of Feasts next week’

It really is idiomatic to the Southern Jurisdiction of Scottish Rite Masonry in the United States, but there are traditionalist-minded Scottish Rite Masons in the north who like to broaden their horizons, so the Valley of New York City will host its annual Feast of Tishri next Tuesday. From the publicity:

Scottish Rite of New York City
Feast of Tishri
Tuesday, November 1
7:30 p.m.
Masonic Hall
71 West 23rd Street

The first meeting of the Valley of New York City will be held in Banquet Rooms 2 West and 2 Central on the second floor of Masonic Hall on Tuesday, November 1, and will open promptly at 7:30 p.m.

The program for the evening will be the Feast of Tishri performed by the Knights of Saint Andrew. The keynote speaker will be Shlomo Bar-Ayal, 32°.

There is no charge for this ceremony, and it is open to all Masons and friends of Freemasonry, but reservations are required. Please respond promptly with your reservation information (including names of guests) by e-mailing here no later than Friday the 28th.

In traditional Scottish Rite Freemasonry, which adheres to the Jewish calendar, there is a celebration called the Feast of Tishri hosted in a Lodge of Perfection. Inspired by the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot (see Deuteronomy), a harvest thanksgiving, this fraternal Feast of Tishri is, in the words of Ill. Arturo de Hoyos, “the Masonic feast of feasts.”

In The Scottish Rite Ritual Monitor and Guide, de Hoyos writes:

“The origins and significances of the Feast of Tishri make it the most Scottish Rite of festivals. Although originally celebrated as a harvest and gathering festival, no other occasion epitomizes the character and purpose of the Rite more wholly than our historic celebration, held in conjunction with the dedication of King Solomon’s Temple (2 Chronicles 7:8-10). To marshal the meanings of the feast is to summarize the principal ideals and traditions of our Fraternity.

“First of all, we observe the Feast of Tishri because it is an age-old custom that now has the power of law. Under the Statutes of the Supreme Council, the feast is considered an obligatory observance, a sharing of our fraternal spirit.

“Secondly, the rich legendry of the Temple’s dedication, held in connection with the Feast of Tishri, is an essential part of the Fourteenth Degree. The symbolic details of the Temple’s position, design, construction, furnishing, and decoration carry special meaning as they apply to the metaphorical temple of Freemasonry built in the heart of every Brother. Through the symbols of the Temple, we learn to recommit ourselves to building Freemasonry in the hearts of men” and among nations….

“The consecration of the Temple must also be observed at the Feast of Tishri because it teaches the equality and unity of all members of the Rite. The people of Israel, unified under Solomon, were equal in their devotion to the Lord and equal in their sovereignty to all other nations. In the Feast of Tishri, all Perfect Elus and those of higher Degrees can join at the banquet table and share the bond of fraternal unity.

“Yet another reason to keep the Feast of Tishri is that such observance fosters the spirit of fellowship. We meet at a common table, express our mutual esteem, and so promote that essential bond of cordiality and respect which lightens and shares the weight of our Masonic endeavors. Such social amenities open us to each other in an atmosphere elevated beyond the sphere of normal, day-to-day communication. Within the context of the Feast of Tishri, we realize more deeply than ever before the value of our fellow men, without which the individual is lost in a self-imposed prison of human isolation.

“Finally, the law, legendry, peace, equality, unity, and fellowship of the Feast of Tishri combine to make this the Masonic feast of feasts. At the reflection table, all men—Jew, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and others—join in a common voice of thanksgiving where every man can share his gratitude and express his sincere thanks to Him Who made all things. The Deity has given us life, the strength to live it fully, and the joy of sharing the beauty and goodness of His creation with our fellow men. Most of all, He has given us freedom. The Feast of Tishri celebrates this freedom the Israelites won with the guidance of Providence, despite the shackles of Egypt and the armies of the Philistines.

“This ancient victory celebrated in the dedication of Solomon’s Temple is kept forever fresh through our keeping of the Feast of Tishri. It promises to all men that the burdens of tyranny are temporary, that the darkness will yield to light, that knowledge will conquer ignorance, and that the Creator intended all men to be free. The message of Tishri comes to us strongly and clearly from across the ages because it has been so preserved in the symbolism and allegory of the Scottish Rite. Through our observance of this great feast of thanksgiving, we, as heirs of Solomon, perpetuate his magnificent Temple of freedom in our lives, our communities, our country and, most of all, in our beloved Rite.”

The Feast of Tishri is among the constitutional celebrations of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite-Southern Jurisdiction, and is unknown in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (where the Feast of the Paschal Lamb is hosted in proximity to Passover and Easter), but the brethren in New York City will host their Feast of Tishri nonetheless. I missed it last year, but I hope to see you next Tuesday.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

‘New Light on the Golden Dawn’

This just in from the Rose Circle Research Foundation:

Magpie file photo
Christopher McIntosh
On March 18, 2017, Rose Circle Fellow Christopher McIntosh will speak at our spring symposium in New York City, delivering a most disruptive lecture titled “New Light on the Golden Dawn.”

In the founding of the 19th century English occult society the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a key role was played by an alleged German Rosicrucian adept called Fräulein Anna Sprengel, who had the magical motto Sapiens Dominabitur Astris (the wise person overcomes their stars). In this lecture, historian Christopher McIntosh will reveal a sensational discovery that he made about Fräulein Sprengel, and will speak on its significance in the history of the Golden Dawn.

I believe this most likely will take place at Masonic Hall, but I’ll certainly share all details as they become known.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

‘The Ashmole anniversary’

Attention Freemasons, wherever dispersed:

Three hundred and seventy years ago today, renowned scholar, antiquarian, and public official Elias Ashmole was reportedly initiated into Freemasonry in England, so raise a glass and drink to the memory of our famous predecessor.

According to his notes:

Elias Ashmole (1617-92)
Oct. 16, 1646 at 4:30 p.m. “I was made a Free Mason at Warrington in Lancashire, with Coll: Henry Mainwaring of Karincham in Cheshire. The names of those that were then of the Lodge: Mr. Rich Penket, Warden, Mr. James Collier, Mr. Rich. Sankey, Henry Littler, John Ellam, Rich. Ellam & Hugh Brewer.”


‘Masonic Week schedule posted’

The Masonic Week organizing committee has published a draft of the schedule of events awaiting Masonic Week attendees next February in Virginia. Click here.

I’m happy to report the always highly anticipated Masonic Society banquet will be back on Friday night this time. It’s one of those Masonic Week events that leaves everybody kind of glowing in the aftermath—and it’s not even open bar.

We’re not yet ready to announce the keynote speaker, but I’ll certainly share that information here when the time comes.

Friday, October 14, 2016

‘Current events in the Keystone Craft’

Courtesy Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania

Sorry to say I will not be able to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge’s Fall Session tomorrow in Elizabethtown, but there is some other news from the Keystone State to share.

Actually, first of all, the PAMK session will be streamed live. Click here at about 9:15 a.m. The first speaker should take to the lectern at 9:30.

Speaking of Elizabethtown, this just in: On Saturday, November 12, Mark Tabbert will be the guest speaker at the annual banquet of Abraham C. Treichler Lodge No. 682, discussing the Masonic career of George Washington. The lodge meets at E-Town, but this affair will be hosted at the Spring Garden Conference Center in Middletown.

Only $25 per person, and you can look forward to a great meal served family style. Book your seats by e-mailing the lodge secretary here or by visiting the lodge website and paying with PayPal.

There is a somewhat new blog by and for Pennsylvania Freemasons that I learned about only this week. Masonic Rezon (if you recognize that second word, you probably know it alludes to the Grand Lodge’s book of constitutions) was launched at the end of last year, and offers this mission statement:

Welcome to the Masonic Rezon. A blog spot for the Right way to do Freemasonry. We are Pennsylvania Freemasons. We do things a little bit differently, but the big picture is still the same. This blog is solely for the purpose of expressing our feelings of what Freemasonry is about, and how we, as a fraternity, strive to make those around us better. We will be keeping our commentary open to the public and upright in discourse. We expect that those commenting do the same. I hope you enjoy what follows.

Masonic Rezon is not an academic forum, esoterica teaser, or avenue for finding one’s way into Freemasonry’s too numerous appendages. It consists of heartfelt, short writings by Craft lodge brethren who share their thoughts on real life Masonic meanings. Sometimes, when you’ve gained more experience in Freemasonry than you ever really wanted, it is healthy to reflect on intuitions and interpretations on the point of it all—such as those published here by these Masons.

Check it out here.

And finally, it was announced recently that all back issues of The Pennsylvania Freemason magazine, dating back 62 years, have been uploaded to the Grand Lodge’s website for you to enjoy. Click here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

‘Piers Vaughan reading and book signing next month’

The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library and Museum will not host its usual fourth Thursday lecture in November, due to the Thanksgiving holiday, and instead will bring us all in on the third Thursday to hear Piers Vaughan.

Piers just published Renaissance Man & Mason, and he will come to the library for a reading and book signing on November 17 at 6:30 p.m.

That’s Masonic Hall (71 West 23 Street in Manhattan) on the 14th floor.

I’ll share more news on this when it’s announced. Read a little about Renaissance Man & Mason here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

‘Voyage into Mystery at Mariners next week’

My Brother Mason Ari Roussimoff will be the keynote speaker next Wednesday at Mariners Lodge 67, in a meeting that will be open to friends of Freemasonry. From the publicity:

Voyage into Mystery, Chapter V:
My Travels Through Freemasonry With Art
Presented by Ari Roussimoff

Wednesday, October 12
7 p.m. for brethren
7:30 for non-Masons
Masonic Hall
71 W. 23rd Street, Manhattan
Eighth Floor, Doric Room
Black Tie for officers; business for guests

Mariners Lodge No. 67 presents the fifth chapter of our “Voyage into Mystery” lecture series, as we host legendary Masonic painter and artist Bro. Ari Roussimoff.

Ari Roussimoff, a critically acclaimed painter and film director, has been called one of the most prolific and creative artists of his generation. His paintings of Russian, Ukrainian, Jewish, symbolic and Masonic themes have earned him much acclaim and they have been shown in over 80 exhibitions worldwide. He is also a member of Consolidated Lodge No. 31 in the First Manhattan District.

In this lecture, he will take us on a visual voyage using his artwork, as he expounds on the Mysteries he has encountered and illustrated the lessons he’s learned through his Freemason experience. Bro. Roussimoff hopes to spark a new interest in Masonic painting and art.

It will be followed by our legendary Maritime themed Festive Board. Menu:

  • Caesar Salad
  • Asian Orange Chicken
  • Mongolian Beef & Onions
  • Sweet & Sour Pork
  • Oriental Stir Fry
  • Wild Rice
  • Fruit Bowl
  • Water, sodas, wine, and the infamous Mariners Punch

Seating for the dinner is limited, and costs $35 per person. RSVP for the meeting and confirm your seat for the Festive Board here.

This is an event of high interest and tickets for the dinner will go fast. Once all tickets sold, all further RSVPs will be waitlisted.

Monday, October 3, 2016

‘Renaissance Man & Mason’

Piers Vaughan has a new book out as of last week. Renaissance Man & Mason is available via Amazon. From his compound overlooking the Hudson River, Piers released this announcement about an hour ago:

Piers A. Vaughan
I’m delighted to announce that my book, Renaissance Man & Mason, is now available on amazon.com, amazon.co.uk and even amazon.fr (hint, hint to my French friends!). It contains over 20 years of talks I have given on Masonry and mysticism, frankly all over the world. It contains talks I have given in the U.S., Belgium, France, New Zealand, Romania, etc. Topics include Blue Lodge, York Rite, Scottish Rite and many aspects of esoteric schools.

The audience is really anyone who either wants to deepen his or her knowledge, and most importantly the ability to know what to look for, and is particularly aimed at new Masons as a counterbalance to those who keep saying “There are no secrets in Freemasonry!” Americans can find the book through this link. My friends in Europe and elsewhere can simply go to their amazon site and search on my name! Oh, and don’t forget to leave a nice review—if you enjoy it.

From the book’s publicity:

This series of short talks was collated from over twenty years of lecturing in Lodges and Chapters, in Europe and the United States, by a Past Grand High Priest of New York State. The author covers a broad range of topics, covering elements of Blue Lodge, York Rite and Scottish Rite, and explores both history and symbolism in this series of papers. Some go more deeply into the esoteric symbolism and the messages hidden in the Degrees. This is a book for anyone who has an interest in the Gentle Craft, of any fraternal line, and will satisfy the need of both younger members entering the Craft with a strong idea of what they wish to learn, and the mature member who seeks to make that daily advance in knowledge.

Piers A. Vaughan was born in Brighton, England, and attended Brighton College, Oxford and Cranfield Universities. He was an avid musician, singing in a local church, playing several instruments, conducting and composing; he was also a keen fencer, and enjoyed appearing in local plays. He even appeared as an extra in Star Wars and Quadrophenia!

He has an MA in Psychology, an MBA in Business Studies and an MA in Divinity. He has worked for a number of banks, including Midland, HSBC, and Deutsche Bank, living in several countries, moving to the USA in the early 1990s.

His Masonic membership began in England in 1979, and he joined a number of Orders before joining St. John’s Lodge No. 1 in New York. He has traveled extensively across the USA and in many countries abroad giving lectures on a number of topics, ranging from history to talks on the symbols and esotericism of Masonry. An interest in 18th century French Masonic Ritual led him to translate a number of important treatises and rituals into English.

He is also very involved in a number of Orders outside of Freemasonry, predominantly ones that have esoteric backgrounds, and is also the head of a church descended from the Pre-Nicene Church of Richard, Duc de Palatine.

Now I have to find my VHS of Quadrophenia!