Sunday, November 27, 2016

‘2017 World Conference on Fraternalism, Freemasonry, and History’

Its full title is World Conference on Fraternalism: Including Ritual, Secrecy, Freemasonry, and Civil Society, and it is scheduled for May 26-27 of next year. Hosted by Policy Studies Organization, this will take place at the National Library in Paris. From the publicity:

Convened by the journal Ritual, Secrecy, and Civil Society, in cooperation with the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, France, the second World Conference on Fraternalism, Freemasonry, and History: Research in Ritual, Secrecy, and Civil Society focuses on the study of the lasting influence of the Enlightenment, ritual, secrecy, and civil society vis-à-vis the dynamics of scholarship around the world. The conference explores how civil society, social capital, secrecy, and ritual have been important elements during different episodes of local and world histories, and indeed still are. The WCFFH 2017 is a part of the PSO’s support of research into associations, civility, and the role of non-governmental organizations in democracy.

At the same time in alternate years (2018 and 2020) the PSO hosts a conference in Washington on fraternalism.

Information for Participants
in the 2017 World Conference

A new cafe will be open right by the conference rooms in 2017. During the lunch hour, as in 2015, movies will be shown for those not going out to one of the local cafes. Papers on secret societies depicted in films are welcome, as are papers on the conference musical presentation on Mozart and Freemasonry.

The conference is on Friday and Saturday. On Wednesday and Thursday there is a workshop at the Museum of Freemasonry on the Chevalier Ramsay and his claims for the origin of Masonry. Participation is by application.

Papers on Ramsay are welcome. Since 1717 saw the organization of the first grand lodge of England, papers occasioned by the anniversary are appropriate.

No charge is made for registration for the conference, but registration is requested to plan for catering, headsets, and other conference needs. For information and registration please contact PSO Executive Director Daniel Gutierrez here.

The conference has a general interest in fraternalism and is not confined to Freemasonry, nor is it under the auspices of any lodge. Rather, it is supported by the National Library of France, the Policy Studies Organization, and the American Public University.

Three awards will again be presented in 2017: the Bartholdi Award for Distinguished Scholarship, the Regulus Award for Distinguished Service, and the Kilwinning Award for a long period of distinguished service to the scholarly world.

Click here to RSVP.

Click here to read the amazing preliminary schedule. Lots of names you will recognize.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

‘Research lodge doings in Jersey and Virginia’

New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education No. 1786 will meet Saturday, December 10 for our installation of officers. While we usually meet at Hightstown-Apollo Lodge No. 41 in Hightstown, we will gather at the Trenton Masonic Temple (100 Barrack Street in Trenton) for the biannual installation of officers. Lodge opens at 9:30 a.m.

The lodge concludes a two-year term characterized by common sense stability under the instruction of Worshipful Master Dave Tucker. Ask anyone who is active in a research lodge in the United States (I’m in regular touch with many), and you’ll be told how difficult it is to keep the lodge productive. It has been my chief complaint about the fraternity almost since I was raised a Master Mason that Freemasonry here has done a poor job of cultivating a membership of intellectually curious men. It’s not necessary to hold a Ph.D. to be a Freemason or to enjoy a lodge of Masonic research, but despite the accessibility, research lodges all over suffer from a deprivation of talent and the resulting shortage of scholarly findings for presentation at the lectern. This results in fewer meetings of research lodges, and often in a flickering of weak Light during the meetings that are opened.

Our incoming Worshipful Master is Bro. Robert Howard, who currently serves the Grand Lodge of New Jersey as its Right Worshipful Grand Historian. Bob is a Mason who “gets it.” While he hasn’t divulged to me his overall plans for his two years in office, he has asked me to take the lead at our March 11, 2017 meeting at Hightstown to address the problem I defined above. My talk is titled “Question Everything (And Answer as Best You Can),” and the point is to explain what Masonic research and education means with the goal of demystifying work that really is straightforward and within most Masons’ grasp. More on this in a later edition of The Magpie Mason as that date nears.

Since 1995, Civil War Lodge of Research No. 1865 has been a forum where Masonic scholars mutually enjoy research into the innumerable ways the story of Freemasonry intersects with the history of the U.S. Civil War. Chartered by the Grand Lodge of Virginia—which probably holds the record for having the most lodges of Masonic research within one jurisdiction’s borders (I’ve lost count. Either five or six.)—and authorized to travel about Virginia and beyond, this lodge convenes meetings at various lodges, historic sites, and other venues where this singular focus of academic endeavor fits. Membership is open to Master Masons within and without Virginia. One of the Past Masters is a New York Mason!

The lodge’s installation of officers will take place Saturday, December 10 at Manasseh Lodge No. 182 (9810 Cockrell Road in Manassas). Lodge opens at 10 a.m. and the installation will begin at 11:30. Lunch to follow.

For 2017, the lodge plans to meet April 8 at Appomattox, July 8 at Winchester, and October 7 at Fredericksburg. Details to come.

Friday, November 25, 2016

‘Mozart’s Masonic Magic Flute at The Met and at the movies’

Courtesy Metropolitan Opera
Mozart’s Masonic opera The Magic Flute will return to the Metropolitan Opera for its annual end-of-year run, but if you cannot get to the city to enjoy that, a film version will be screened in movie theaters around the country next weekend too.

If you are a Freemason but are unfamiliar with The Magic Flute, this opera is remembered as Mozart’s Masonic masterpiece thanks to themes and imagery revealed in the action. To be clear, Mozart was a Freemason in Austria, meaning the rituals and symbols he experienced are not identical to what we in the English-speaking Masonic world know, but be assured you will recognize plenty!

The Met’s production will run from December 20 through January 5. Buy tickets here.

Courtesy Metropolitan Opera

From the publicity:


Tony-winner and Oscar-nominee Julie Taymor brings this innovative and magical recreation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute to life—complete with dancing bears and giant flamingos! The production is sung in English and shortened to just 100 minutes to form an abridged holiday version perfect for families.

Courtesy Metropolitan Opera


Pursued by a serpent in a strange land between the sun and the moon, Prince Tamino soon finds himself at the center of a wild adventure when he is saved by the mysterious handmaidens of the commanding Queen of the Night. Sent on a mission to save the Queen’s captured daughter Pamina with a magic flute and bumbling servant Papageno, Prince Tamino’s trials have just begun as he loses his heart to the Princess and comes to realize that the nature of good and evil in this odd place may not be as clear as they first appear.

Courtesy Metropolitan Opera

Sung in English with titles in English, German, and Spanish.

Run time: One hour and 40 minutes, with no intermission.

Adapted to suit ages six and up.

The production presented in the upcoming movie event also comes from The Met’s stage. Filmed about ten years ago in HD, this Magic Flute has been screened in movie theaters and broadcast on public television before. This time it comes to a theater near you next Saturday—December 3—at 12:55 p.m. Same time no matter where you are in the country. Run time is about two hours.

Click here for tickets.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

‘A Landmark Century nears’

Courtesy GWMNM

Seven years sounds like a long time off—it was the duration of apprenticeship in the world of medieval operative masons, according to the Halliwell Manuscript—but November 2023 will arrive soon enough, marking the start of a second century for the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. The brethren charged with superintending this Masonic treasure and National Historic Landmark endeavor to complete a daunting list of capital improvements and restorations before the centennial celebration of the cornerstone-laying.

We may help, aid, and assist by joining the Landmark Century Campaign. Click here to read a summary of the scope of the work needed, and to learn how to send your (and your lodge’s) gifts to the Memorial.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

‘Restoration of King Solomon’s Temple’

Long before there was PowerPoint, and even predating the Kodak Carousel by decades, there was a marvelous technology named Magic Lantern. Among its users were lodges of Freemasons, which employed this wizardry to, er, illuminate the lecture portions of the three degrees of initiation in a time when tracing boards were being phased out.

Courtesy Livingston Library

The slides were hand-painted glass lenses encased in wooden frames that were bigger than your hand, and that had to be inserted into and removed from the Magic Lantern projector by hand as the narration of the lecture proceeded.

Next time you clean out your lodge’s attic or other forgotten, neglected storage space, and you happen upon these quaint and mysterious objects, that’s what they are.

Fast forward to 2016 (Is even fast forward a thing any more?) and the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York will host a presentation of a collection of the Magic Lantern images from 1926 in a holiday season gathering open to Masons and friends of Freemasonry. From the publicity:

The Restoration
of King Solomon’s Temple
Presented by RW Peter A. Flihan
Thursday, December 15
6:30 p.m.
Livingston Library
Masonic Hall
71 West 23rd Street, 14th Floor

RW Peter A. Flihan
Grand Treasurer
Join us December 15 for a journey through time. Reading from a script prepared in 1926 for Masonic education, RW Peter A. Flihan will narrate the story of the Restoration of King Solomon’s Temple while we marvel at the projected images of the original hand-colored slides.

Surrounded by candlelight, with eggnog in hand, friends and family will enjoy this meaningful tale perfectly timed for the holiday season.

This presentation is free and open to all. Please RSVP to the library here.

Thursdays usually are impossible for me, but with the promise of eggnog, I will be there. Remember, photo ID is required to enter Masonic Hall, and don’t forget to RSVP to the library.

Monday, November 14, 2016

‘Thursday! Piers Vaughan on the Purpose of Initiation in Freemasonry’

Piers Vaughan Reading and Book Signing
Chancellor Robert R. Livingston
Masonic Library
Thursday at 6:30
Masonic Hall, 14th Floor
71 West 23rd Street

Photo ID required to enter building.

RSVP here

Author and Freemason extraordinaire Piers Vaughan will appear at the Livingston Library Thursday night to read from his latest book Renaissance Man & Mason. The library seating area is a small space, so get there early.

Renaissance Man & Mason is, according to the title page, “A Miscellany of Talks Given Over 20 Years.” It delivers 22 of Piers’ thoughtful interpretations of things Masonic (and more). Even if you have heard some of these before, there is no substitute for having the text in hand for greater comprehension and further reference. On Thursday, we will hear the chapter titled “The Purpose of Initiation in Freemasonry.”

The library, its lecture series, and this event in particular are among the myriad reasons why the Grand Lodge of New York is the center of the Masonic universe on the East Coast. This lecture is sponsored by the Queens Masonic Association.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

‘U.S. Blues?’

By now you must have heard something about the results of the American presidential election five days ago and, if you’ve been as unlucky as I, you have gaped in disbelief at countless lurid outbursts, dripping with idiocy, ignorance, and hypocrisy, on social media from people you’ve known—or thought you had—for years.

Simply by happenstance I also saw a few photos that have nothing to do with anything in current events, and that put me in a happier state: snapshots of the Grateful Dead in somewhat Masonic contexts.

In an undated photograph but, it was said, possibly March 3, 1968, here are Jerry, Phil, and Bobby (can’t see the drummer) on stage, or flatbed, outside the former Park Masonic Hall, next to the crazy Haight Theatre at Haight and Cole streets in San Francisco:

Opening with “Viola Lee Blues,” here they are November 10, 1967, in a four-night stint at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles:

Like so many (most?) Dead shows, this was recorded and, just this year, a three record set—vinyl!—was released by Rhino.

Courtesy Amazon

And I’ll wrap up this frivolity with a link to their January 21, 1979 show at the Detroit Masonic Temple with a “U.S. Blues” encore.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

‘Bookstore holiday sale next week’

Courtesy Anthroposophy NYC
The Rudolf Steiner Bookstore in New York City will begin its annual book sale next Tuesday, offering 15 percent off everything through January 6, 2017.

That’s 138 West 15th, between Sixth and Seventh, in Manhattan.

The management says the inventory is freshly stocked with new titles from Steiner Books and “all the essential classics,” and I’ll also say there is no need to be an Anthroposophist to shop, and there is more to find on the shelves than Anthroposophical texts. Freemasons, Rosicrucians, and others should check it out. The place has been renovated recently, and is looking sharp.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

‘Quatuor Coronati Conference 2018 in Virginia’

Today is the feast day of the Four Crowned Martyrs, so what better time to share the news of the 2018 Quatuor Coronati Conference planned for the George Washington Masonic National Memorial?

A call for papers has been published. From the publicity:

Magpie file photo
The George Washington Masonic National Memorial.
(Yes, National is back in the name.)

Quatuor Coronati Conference:
Freemasons in the Transatlantic World
During the Long Eighteenth Century
September 14-16, 2018
George Washington Masonic National Memorial
Alexandria, Virginia


Subject Fields: History, Freemasonry, Eighteenth Century, Biography, Prosopography

Sponsors: Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association

Title: The Academic Committee of the 2018 Quatuor Coronati Conference, co-sponsored by Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 of the United Grand Lodge of England, and the George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association, invite proposals for papers presenting new research in the form of biographical or prosopographical findings in the history of Anglo-American Freemasonry during the long eighteenth century, including studies of Freemasons in or from Britain, Ireland, all of North America and the Caribbean. Early and mid-career academics are particularly encouraged to apply, though proposals from senior and independent scholars are also welcomed.

Abstracts/proposals of up to 500 words, along with a brief CV, should be submitted in the body of an e-mail to Susan Sommers here with “QC 2018” in the subject line.

The closing date for submissions is May 1, 2017.

And if that isn’t enough QC2076 news for you, I just learned from W. Gerald Reilly, everybody’s favorite from the ML group, that he will attend Quatuor Coronati tonight to receive the Norman B. Spencer Prize(!) for his paper: “Urbanization of Harwich and Freemasonry.”

Congratulations, my venerable and beloved brother!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

‘Mozart, Mendelssohn and more at the Concert Matinee’

It is time again for the School of Practical Philosophy’s annual concert in New York City. Tickets here. From the publicity:

Concert Matinee
Saturday, December 3
3 to 5 p.m.
Theatre of St. Jean
184 East 76th Street
$30 per person

Hosted by the School of Practical Philosophy Choir, and featuring professional singers and instrumentalists, the concert offers:

  • Magnificent music from the ninth to the 20th centuries, including works by Mozart, Handel, Mendelssohn, and Stravinsky
  • A jazz piano improvisation
  • A diverse array of solo repertoire
  • A festive reception for all after the concert

Join us for the first time in the Theatre at St. Jean, with its professional stage, grand piano, comfortable theater seating, wonderful acoustics, and an excellent view of the performance from every seat.

Delight in hearing the fine talent of students in the School of Practical Philosophy, many of whom have performed in prestigious venues in New York City.

The program:

Suite Italienne for Violin and Piano
(selected movements)
Igor Stravinsky

“Thus Saith the Lord”
“But Who May Abide the Day of His Coming?”
Solo Recitative and Aria for baritone
from The Messiah
G. F. Handel

Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello in C major (K.548)
(1st movement)
W. A. Mozart

“Rex Caeli Domine” (organum) for choir
(circa 850)
Scholia enchiriadis

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano
(2nd movement)
Felix Mendelssohn

“Ombra mai fù”
Alto aria from Xerxes
G.F. Handel

from Missa Brevis in C (K. 259)
W. A. Mozart

“Dona Nobis Pacem”
for choir and instruments
Traditional round

A jazz piano improvisation

Songs of the Season
Audience and Choir

Thursday, November 3, 2016

‘Congratulations in the Glorious Fourth’

Click to enlarge.
I cannot attend the festivities tomorrow night, so I want to extend my best wishes to the four honorees, who will be reinvested with the regalia of their offices, in a black tie gala at Masonic Hall hosted by the Fourth Manhattan District.

In New York Freemasonry, those who attain grand rank receive their aprons and other regalia upon being installed in office, and there also are local celebrations, where the regalia is re-presented in a setting their lodge brethren and loved ones may attend more conveniently.

I’m happy for you all. See you Monday at Publicity.