Sunday, December 31, 2017

‘The Times (London): Mafia’s enthusiastic participation in Freemasonry’

Freemasons in the United States, and probably the rest of the English-speaking Masonic world also, have an enormous blind spot when it comes to the doings of lodges and grand lodges around the world, and how those entities are perceived by the local public. Not the fake stuff; those usually are too secretive to give up any kind of accounting of their activities. I’m talking about established Freemasonry—the bodies that have stood the test of time, and that might enjoy relations with your grand lodges.

The following is Copyright © The Times, December 27, 2017.

Mafia join Italy’s freemasons
to ‘do deals’ with judiciary

Strong links between Italy’s secretive freemasons and the mafia have been exposed by police raids, with 193 crime bosses found to be members of lodges in Calabria and Sicily.

The investigation has confirmed long-standing accusations by magistrates and mob turncoats that freemason lodges in southern Italy are often venues for secret deals with corrupt judges, politicians and business owners.

The mafia’s enthusiastic participation in freemasonry “has led some to believe that the two have become one and the same,” according to a report this month from an anti-mafia parliamentary commission. Masons were “acquiescent” and “tolerant” of the takeover, it added.

The raids were ordered after the heads of Italy’s four main freemasonry orders refused to hand over their membership lists. “It was impossible to get them to collaborate,” said Davide Mattiello, a member of the commission. “Mobsters are joining the masons to meet people who hold power. We need to know how aware of this the masons are.”

The commission’s call for masons to make their secret membership lists public was contested by Stefano Bisi, grand master of the Grande Oriente d’Italia, the biggest order in southern Italy. “The order is ready to defend its sacrosanct right to existence and to maintain the privacy of its members,” he said.

The synergy is reputedly most intense in two towns in western Sicily, Castelvetrano and Trapani, where masons have allegedly helped the mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro to stay on the run for 24 years. Mob-masonry ties are also strong in Calabria, where the local mafia sends members of its top tier committee to do business at lodge meetings, the commission said. In Locri, a Calabrian town notorious for its ties to organized crime, 18 out of 75 members of a local lodge were linked to the mafia.

The report said that the mafia felt at home in the masonry because the organizations shared a passion for keeping secrets and holding ritual ceremonies.

National elections are to be held in March and after that a new anti-mafia parliamentary commission will be appointed. “We only checked in Sicily and Calabria. I hope the next commission will check lodges throughout Italy, because mob infiltration is likely to be a national problem,” said Mr. Mattiello.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

‘Grant Wood’s Masonic painting in Whitney retrospective’

Of course the Whitney’s upcoming Grant Wood show will feature the artist’s Masonic masterpiece. It’s the Whitney.

The Whitney Museum of American Art (99 Gansevoort Street) will open “Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables” on March 2 for a three-month exhibition to end June 10. (Members will have access on February 28.) Thanks to the Iowa Masonic Library and Museum, Wood’s triptych “The First Three Degrees of Freemasonry” will be among the paintings on display.

Courtesy Iowa Masonic Library and Museum

From the publicity:

Grant Wood’s “American Gothic”—the double portrait of a pitchfork-wielding farmer and a woman commonly presumed to be his wife—is perhaps the most recognizable painting in 20th century American art, an indelible icon of Americana, and certainly Wood’s most famous artwork. But Wood’s career consists of far more than one single painting. “Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables” brings together the full range of his art, from his early Arts and Crafts decorative objects and Impressionist oils through his mature paintings, murals, and book illustrations. What the exhibition reveals is a complex, sophisticated artist whose image as a farmer-painter was as mythical as the fables he depicted in his art. Wood sought pictorially to fashion a world of harmony and prosperity that would answer America’s need for reassurance at a time of economic and social upheaval occasioned by the Depression. Yet underneath its bucolic exterior, his art reflects the anxiety of being an artist and a closeted gay man in the Midwest in the 1930s. By depicting his subconscious anxieties through populist images of rural America, Wood crafted images that speak both to American identity and to the estrangement and isolation of modern life. This exhibition is organized by Barbara Haskell, Curator, with Sarah Humphreville, Senior Curatorial Assistant.

Bro. Grant Wood was at labor in Mount Hermon Lodge 263 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “The First Three Degrees of Freemasonry” is his only known Masonic-themed painting (but look for his “Shriner Quartet” litho!). The painting is exhibited in the Iowa Masonic Library and Museum of the Grand Lodge of Iowa, whose skilled experts are packing and preparing the painting for transport to New York City pretty much as I type this.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

‘The Magic of the Kybalion’

Always happy to promote a Mitch Horowitz speaking engagement, so here is one in three weeks in Manhattan. From the publicity:

The Magic of the Kybalion
Wednesday, January 10 at 8 p.m.
The Alchemists Kitchen
21 East First Street, Manhattan
Tickets here

“As above, so below…”

This is one of those great Augustus Knapp prints
Secret Teachings; it is being used
in the promotion of this event.
The Kybalion is one of the most intriguing and widely read occult books of the twentieth century. Published in 1908 under the mysterious byline Three Initiates—and the subject of rumors for more than a century—the book codifies the most thrilling ideas of Greek-Egyptian Hermeticism into a spiritual philosophy for modern people.

In this special evening, PEN Award-winning historian and widely known voice of esoteric ideas Mitch Horowitz explores this occult landmark and reveals its sources, meaning, practical uses, and authentic connection to Egyptian antiquity.

As Mitch explores, The Kybalion is among the most enthralling works of spiritual-psychology ever written—and it provides occult seekers with a genuine thread of connection to our primeval forebears.

We are recipients of a true mystery tradition—and tonight we hear its call.

$20 advance. $25 at the door.

Monday, December 18, 2017

‘Martinism and its spiritual relationship to Freemasonry’

While it wouldn’t have been my first guess at a topic of the keynote speaker at a Masonic festive board, I nevertheless urge you to come hear Piers Vaughan discuss Martinism in a couple of weeks. From the publicity:

Continental Lodge 287 and
Mount Moriah Lodge 20’s
Festive Board
Wednesday, January 3 at 8 p.m.
Masonic Hall, Jacobean Room
71 West 23rd Street, Manhattan

The festive board also will be the official launch of Vaughan’s new book, his translation of Elementary Treatise on Practical Magic (1893) by Papus. Piers’ translation of Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin’s Of Errors & Truth (1775) will be available for sale too.

“We will explore the Masonic roots of the founders of the gnostic, magical, and mystical currents which gave rise to the extraordinary outpouring of Masonic ritual of the late 18th century in France, and how this current was taken up again at the end of the 19th century by a new generation of seekers of light, during that extraordinary period which saw the rise of the Golden Dawn, Spiritualism, the Gnostic Church, and Theosophy, alongside rapid developments in science, and how those pioneers attempted to reconcile the two streams,” Piers says on social media.

Admission costs only $35 per person, so RSVP to W. Rafael Preza here. Photo ID is required to enter Masonic Hall.

Monday, December 11, 2017

‘Who is Liberty Lodge No. 7?’

The long awaited lecture, “Who is Liberty Lodge No. 7?” by the Master of Solomon’s Lodge 196 in Tarrytown, is scheduled for Thursday, January 4. He says:

The presentation concerns a substantial discovery concerning the history of Freemasonry in New York during the “Era of Schisms,” a dramatic period when the Craft was divided against itself.

I can promise a very interesting and educational evening.

Collation: 7 p.m. Gavel: 8 p.m.

Solomon’s 196 is located at 54 Main Street.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

‘A conversation about happiness’

The School of Practical Philosophy will host an open house next month to discuss the many benefits of studying under its tutelage. The school is located at 12 East 79th Street. The open house will be Wednesday, January 3 at 7 p.m.

The school continues its free enrollment for its introductory ten-session course “Philosophy Works” (there is only a $10 administration fee), and the winter semester will begin January 8.

From the publicity:

Come join us for an open conversation about happiness with tutors from The School of Practical Philosophy. Ask questions about the School, find out about the classes offered, and discover how generations of students have benefited from the discovery of wisdom and the study of Practical Philosophy.

Light refreshments will be served.

This event is intended for prospective students and those curious about The School of Practical Philosophy. Current students or students who have already taken Philosophy Works are asked not to register for this event.

Registration for this event will open tomorrow.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

‘The Word’

The Word
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Oh, a word is a gem, or a stone, or a song,
Or a flame, or a two-edged sword;
Or a rose in bloom, or a sweet perfume,
Or a drop of gall is a word.

You may choose your word like a connoisseur,
And polish it up with art,
But the word that sways, and stirs, and stays,
Is the word that comes from the heart.

You may work on your word a thousand weeks,
But it will not glow like one
That all unsought, leaps forth white hot,
When the fountains of feeling run.

“The Word” originally appeared in New Thought Pastels (Elizabeth Towne, 1906).

Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Ella Wheeler Wilcox was born on November 5, 1850 in Johnstown Center, Wisconsin. Her poetry collections include Poems of Passion (W.B. Conkey Company, 1883) and Poems of Peace (Gay & Bird, 1906). She died on October 30, 1919.

Courtesy Academy of American Poets. Visit

Thursday, December 7, 2017

‘KST: Separating Fact from Fiction’

The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library at the Grand Lodge of New York will welcome a renowned Masonic scholar back to the lectern next Thursday to present his popular lecture from January. That’s December 14 at 6:30 p.m. The library is located on the 14th floor of Masonic Hall (71 West 23rd Street, Manhattan). Photo ID is required to enter the building.

From the publicity:

Due to popular demand, RW Pierre de Ravel d’Esclapon will reprise his lecture “Solomon’s Temple: Separating Fact from Fiction.”

Magpie file photo
Pierre de Ravel d’Esclapon
We are honored to have this recognized historian deliver this fascinating lecture again at the library. This lecture is a companion lecture to the December 2016 “Magic Lantern Slide Show,” which is available on our YouTube channel. We are excited to learn of the changes in knowledge about this important building which features so prominently in Masonic symbolism.

Pierre de Ravel d’Esclapon is the First Vice President of the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he is a Professor of Law at University of Montréal Law School and, by avocation, is a historian.

He has written extensively on historic topics, and has lectured several times as part of the Distinguished Speakers Series at New-York Historical Society, the John Jay Homestead, the National Arts Club, the Holland Lodge Historical Society, the Bicentennial of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, and, most recently, at The American Lodge of Research.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

‘The Return of the Light’

Another interesting program at the Anthroposophical Society of New York City. I’ll be engaged in the Hudson Valley at another event, but I’d attend this if I could. From the publicity:

The Return of the Light
By Bella Freuman
Saturday at 7 p.m.
Anthroposophy NYC
138 West 15th Street, Manhattan
Donations welcome

The Return of the Light: Hanukkah in the Light of Christmas

What does Hanukkah have in common with Christmas? What do the Menorah, Oil, and Dreidel symbolize? What is the meaning of eight candles and what is the ninth? What can Anthroposophy reveal about the heroes of that time? What are your questions?

Bella Bat’or Freuman was born in and lived in Israel, trained in Germany in film editing, part of a correspondents team covering the Middle East. A child of Holocaust survivors, questions are her stepping stones throughout life.

On Friday the 15th at seven o’clock, Anthroposophy NYC will welcome Andrew Linnell to discuss “Secrets of Da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks.”

“Why were there two paintings? What was Leonardo attempting to depict in the original ‘Virgin of the Rocks?’ Which one is the original? Get ready for an entertaining journey exploring how Florentine schools revived ancient mysteries. Dan Brown fans and art historians will enjoy this!”

Linnell will return the next day at two o’clock to present “Vulcan Beings and the Future Human Body,” an exploration of Rudolf Steiner’s 1921 “A Picture of Earth-Evolution in the Future.” (Steiner envisioned a “welding together of mankind with machines.”) Andrew Linnell is a 42-year veteran of the computer industry, a University of Michigan (MSE ’73) and Emerson College, England (’79) graduate, and a member of the Anthroposophical Society since 1979—and president of the Boston Branch.

$10 donations accepted at both of these lectures.

Also on Saturday the 16th, stick around for “A Christmas Carol,” a one-man performance by David Anderson. Seven o’clock. $20 donation. From the publicity:

Courtesy Daniel Region
A Christmas Carol is the best way I know to become inspired by the season,” says David Anderson of Walking the Dog Theater. Moving fluidly from character to character, Anderson performs the story exactly as Dickens wrote it, both dialogue (in multiple London accents) and descriptive passages.

His rendition, directed by Ted Pugh, revives Dickens’ own manner of storytelling. Bruce Hallenbeck of The Independent called this performance an “amazing one-man show ... what Dickens intended all along!”

Monday, December 4, 2017

‘Winter Solstice with the Rosicrucians’

The Rosicrucian Order will gather in New York City to celebrate the Winter Solstice. From the publicity:

Winter Solstice
Thursday, December 21 at 5:45 p.m.
Rosicrucian Cultural Center
2303 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Blvd.
New York City

Come and celebrate the return of the Light with an evening of ritual, reflection, and giving.

Please bring:

  • A small item to give away. This item should have meaning to you and represent a challenge that you have overcome.
  • A votive candle in a small class candle holder.
  • A coat or jacket for our annual coat drive (We know that several of you have already brought several coats, so this is optional.)

Schedule for the evening:

5:45 p.m. Prepare for the Council of Solace Meditation

6 p.m. Council of Solace Meditation

6:30 p.m. Winter Solstice Circle

7:30 p.m. Prepare for the Festival of Light Ritual (AMORC members)

8 p.m. Festival of Light Ritual (AMORC members)

9 p.m. Imperator’s Universal Attunement (AMORC members)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

‘Can old gods thrive in a modern world?’

The Masonic Philosophical Society will meet next Sunday to answer the question “American Gods: Can Old Gods Thrive in a Modern World?”

That’s December 10 at 2:30 p.m. in the Whitestone Masonic Temple, located at 149-39 11th Avenue in Whitestone, New York.

From the publicity:

You are invited for our next hosted discussion and study. Each month a different topic, ranging from philosophy and science, to religion and metaphysics, is discussed and debated. This group, which is open to the public, is where non-members can learn more about Freemasonry, as well as meet local Freemasons.

December’s topic will be conducted by Brother Cat Pedini on a study of “American Gods: Can Old Gods Thrive in a Modern World?” After a short lecture, a discussion and debate by the group will follow.

“American Gods” is a novel by Neil Gaiman, now a TV series made for Starz by Bryan Fuller. It posits the idea of gods as immigrants, brought from the old country by old believers, now trying to exist in a modern world, a world more inclined to worship technology and media than Odin or Anansi. What would happen if these, the old gods and the new, were to wage a war for dominance in the minds of men? Where would the battle wage, what would wining or losing look like, and how would this war change the world? Can Freemasonry provide a structure within which all gods can exist?

The Masonic Philosophical Society embraces the concept of learning, not for school, but for life, and believes that all men, who seek it, deserve access to continued education. We further embrace the concept of a community environment, where ideas can be shared and debated in an open forum. From the Seven Liberal Arts to the arcane, we seek to gain and to share the knowledge that is the legacy of mankind.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

‘2018 Prestonian Lecturer is…’

Magpie file photo
Earlier this fall, the United Grand Lodge of England announced the 2018 Prestonian Lecture:

Bro. Christopher P. Noon will present “A Good Workman Praises His Tools: Masonic Metaphors in the Ancient World.”

I’ll make my usual inquiries into a Prestonian visit to America.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

‘Masonic Week 2018 info is posted’

The program for Masonic Week in February has been posted, as has the hotel registration page. Click here. I see some significant changes in the schedule, so have a careful look.

But the Masonic Society dinner remains in place on Friday night. We are finalizing the keynote speaker’s arrangements now, so there will be an announcement on that coming soon.

I am retiring from Masonic Week. Going forward, it’ll just be Masonic Friday for me, with the Masonic Society’s Board meeting that afternoon and the dinner later. After that, I’ll be heading home.

I started attending in 2002, when it was known as AMD Weekend. I was Senior Warden of my Council at the time, and it was a revelation seeing AMD’s top brass do their thing. I luckily enjoyed so many fun times over the years: The late night conversation in the hospitality suites; the Cabal’s top secret doings at Gadsby’s; and, of course, the birth of the Masonic Society in 2008 in the aftermath of a most interesting Philalethes annual meeting! Things have changed though. Many of the brethren who I delighted in seeing have stopped attending. And, at long last, I must give up my dream of becoming Grand Bung. I just wasn’t made for these times.

But we’ll have a great time at the Masonic Society banquet on Friday. See you there.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

‘BOTA Christmas Celebration at Masonic Hall’

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” in New York City: the tree coming to Rockefeller Center, heightened security measures all around, and rats the size of reindeer bumping into you. But seriously, the city’s Builders of the Adytum will host their Christmas Celebration at Masonic Hall next week! I am not a BOTA member, but I did attend its Christmas ceremony several years ago, and I want to go again. From the publicity:

May Light and Love fill your hearts this Christmas season with the healing and blessings of Fraternal Harmony to warm all living creatures who pass your way.

BOTA Christmas Celebration
Saturday, December 2 at 2 p.m.
Masonic Hall, Chapter Room
71 West 23rd Street, Manhattan
Photo ID required to enter building
More information here

Builders of the Adytum is an international non-profit teaching and training order for those interested in the Western Mysteries.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

‘The first Jewish Grand Master of New York’

I’m late in posting this, but there is plenty of time to add this to your calendar. The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York continues its monthly lecture series in November with a presentation by a beloved figure from the First Manhattan District. From the publicity:

Livingston Library Lecture Series
Thursday, November 30 at 6:30 p.m.
Masonic Hall
71 West 23rd Street, 14th floor

Join us as we welcome Most Worshipful Daniel M. Semel to speak about the first Jewish Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York.

Magpie file photo
A 2016 Distinguished Achievement Award recipient, MW Semel has been an active member of the fraternity throughout his entire Masonic career. He served as Judge Advocate for the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York from 1978 to 2015. Semel also helped facilitate the recognition of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the State of New York, of which he is an Honorary Past Grand Master. Additionally, Semel previously has served as the Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, and as the District Deputy Grand Master of the 6th Manhattan District in 1976.

This event is free and open to the public. White wine will be served. Photo ID is required to enter Masonic Hall.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

‘Sunday: The Great Escape’


The Great Escape! No, not the mass exodus of Masons from the “Grand Lodge of New Jersey,” I mean the School of Practical Philosophy’s Plato Study Day on Sunday! From the publicity:

The Great Escape:
A Day with Plato
Sunday from 8:30 to 4:30
School of Practical Philosophy
12 East 79th Street in Manhattan
($25 for full-time students)
Fee includes reading materials,
refreshments, lunch, and wine reception
22 seats remaining
as of Wednesday morning

Plato’s dialogue Crito enables us to listen in on a dramatic conversation in an Athenian jail cell in 399 BC. The great philosopher Socrates’ execution is set for the next day, and his closest friend Crito arrives offering a foolproof plan of escape. The only question: can he convince Socrates to flee?

Socrates makes it clear that he will only consent to escape if he can be shown that it is the right thing to do—the just and virtuous course of action. Crito, convinced that he has excellent reasons for escape, eagerly presents them one after another. How does he fare? What does Socrates decide? What is his reasoning?

Join us Sunday, November 19 to discover why Socrates said the “unexamined life is not worth living” and enter into a conversation involving life’s most important questions:

  • What is our true nature?
  • How do we attain real happiness and freedom?
  • What is the "price we must pay" to attain these?

In giving serious consideration to these, you may well discover answers for yourself that will positively impact your daily living.

The day includes an opening presentation, group study sessions, a great Greek lunch, light entertainment, and closing reception. Family and friends are welcome and no prior study of Plato is required.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

‘Why King Solomon’s Temple?’

The Scottish Rite Valley of New York City offers a lecture Tuesday night that addresses an important subject, and is open to Master Masons. SP Shlomo Bar-Ayal, 32˚ will present “Why King Solomon’s Temple: Why Did Freemasonry Choose this Building as the Basis for its Lodges Above other Ancient Structures?”

That’s at Masonic Hall (71 West 23rd Street, Manhattan) in the Gothic Room on 12 at 7:30 p.m. Photo ID is required to enter the building. Attire: either black tie or business suit.

I cannot attend, but I would love to hear his research. Many years ago, I also spoke on this subject, relying on the very earliest of Masonic literature to explain how the Tower of Babel had been the architectural focal point of Masonic thought, and how David and Solomon would be embraced as the Biblical models for English and European royal succession. (Succession was a huge deal during the generations leading up to the birth of modern Freemasonry as we know it.)

So make sure you get there, and bring your lodge brothers along.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

‘To remove the statue forthwith’

It seems the Scottish Rite has joined the growing consensus advocating the removal from public space in Washington of the Albert Pike statue at Judiciary Square, if the reporting of the Washington Post is to be believed—not something I recommend typically.

Nevertheless, a story published Monday quotes Ronald Seale writing in agreement on removing the 116-year-old giant bronze and marble rendering of his historic predecessor. The Post also claims Seale was party to an aborted scheme to “whisk away the statue at midnight,” meaning he almost linked himself to the ilk that recently damaged statues of Christopher Columbus, Theodore Roosevelt, and other figures historically essential to American society in the name of constant revolution. Fortunately, reason prevailed after it was realized how federal authority is required to move the monument lawfully.

The story never quotes Seale directly, but cites a letter he allegedly sent in August to a DC councilman saying the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction “will support an action by the District of Columbia to remove the statue forthwith so that it should not serve as a source of contention or strife for the residents of our community.”

Sounds good to me, as I said in the previous Magpie post on this subject, if the statue can be relocated to a Masonic property where, presumably, private property still can be kept safe from mobocracy. However, “contention or strife” are among the principal nutrients for a certain segment of American society that is insatiable for perpetual insurrection, replete with violence against people and property, so they will be back.

It is asked often, including in this Post story, why a Confederate Army general is memorialized in the capital city of the United States. Of course it is a fact that this statue of Pike celebrates Albert Pike the Freemason, and has nothing to do with his brief and undistinguished tenure as a CSA military officer, but perhaps Abraham Lincoln broaches this subject in his second inaugural address, delivered only weeks before he was murdered:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

‘Mark Tabbert in Jersey next month’

Mark Tabbert will visit a Masonic lodge in New Jersey in a couple of weeks to present some of his recent research into George Washington’s Masonic life. This flier has all the details:

Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

‘2018 World Conference on Freemasonry coming to DC’

The “World Conference on Fraternalism, Freemasonry, and History—Including Ritual, Secrecy, and Civil Society” will come to Washington, DC next spring.

Hosted by Policy Studies Organization, and normally in Paris, the conference will take place at The Whittemore House in the Federal City. (WCFFH will return to Paris in 2019.) The theme for May 17-18, 2018 will be “Not Men Only: Sisters, Sororities, and Ritualistic Societies.”

List of speakers so far here.

From the publicity:

The World Conferences on Fraternalism are held alternatively in Paris in odd numbered years (2019, 2021), and in Washington in even numbered years (2018, 2020). The Paris conferences are held at the French national library, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and the Washington conferences at the historic Whittemore House.

The conferences have themes but they are not exclusionary of other topics. For example, the 2017 Paris conference examined the career of the Chevalier Ramsay, a famous 18th century figure in French fraternalism, but there were many papers on other themes. We welcome papers on all aspects of fraternalism and its ties with social capital. The papers on Freemasonry should not foreclose papers on many other aspects of the subject, including gender, college fraternities, clubs like Rotary, African-American topics, guilds, labor unions. The conferences gain from having a variety of subjects discussed. The committee is also open to presentations of art, dance, folk music, and others, if related.

Papers are both published in the Ritual, Secrecy, and Civil Society Journal, and in books by Westphalia Press. Simultaneous translation is offered at the French conference. Both Paris and Washington are preceded by workshops to which scholars are invited to consider original materials and problems in fraternal research.

A theme of the May 2018 conference in Washington will be women’s fraternalism. A theme of the June 2019 conference in Paris will be the origin and creation of degrees and rites in fraternalism.

A look at past conferences on this site will help in answering questions about panel possibilities, hotels, and other queries.

Conference Chairs:

  • Paul J. Rich, President of the Policy Studies Organization, Westphalia Press
  • Pierre Mollier, Editor-in-Chief of the Ritual, Secrecy & Civil Society Journal
  • Guillermo de los Reyes, University of Houston


Sunday, October 15, 2017

‘Dead Sea Scrolls conference next month’

If you believe Qumran has something to do with your secret society, then you ought to attend educational conferences like this one to improve yourself. NYU does it again. (While a student there decades ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Professor Schiffman, who was the lead researcher when the university obtained the Scrolls on microfilm in the first release of the treasures outside of Israel.) From the publicity:

The Rose-Marie Lewent Conference:
The Dead Sea Scrolls at 70

The NYU Center for Ancient Studies, in conjunction with the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, announces the Rose-Marie Lewent Conference:

The Dead Sea Scrolls at 70
November 16-17
Hemmerdinger Hall
Silver Center for Arts and Science
32 Waverly Place, Manhattan
Free and open to the public

Thursday, November 16

Session 1: The Community/Communities behind the Dead Sea Scrolls

9:15 a.m. Welcome
Matthew S. Santirocco, NYU

9:30 a.m. What Does Archaeology Tell Us about the Community/Communities behind the Dead Sea Scrolls?
Jodi Magness, University of North Carolina

10:15 a.m. Archaeology and Text: Khirbet Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls
Lawrence H. Schiffman, NYU

Session 2: Insiders and Outsiders in the Dead Sea Scrolls

11 a.m. Sectarians and Their Semantic Domain: How Best—or Least Badly—to Identify the People of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Maxine Grossman, University of Maryland

11:45 a.m. Isolated in the Judean Desert? The Qumran Sectarians in Imperial Contexts
Alexandria Frisch, Ursinus College

Session 3:
The Projects of the Israel Antiquities Authority

2 p.m. The Conservation and Preservation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 70 Years Later
Pnina Shor, Israel Antiquities Authority

Session 4:
The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Mysterious

2:45 p.m. Magic and Demonology in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Retrospect and Prospect
Joseph Angel, Yeshiva University

3:30 p.m. Angelology, Exorcism, and Other Ancient Jewish Sciences: Before and After the Dead Sea Scrolls
Annette Yoshiko Reed, NYU

4:15 p.m. The Scope and Purpose of Encrypted Writing in the Dead Sea Scrolls
Jonathan Ben-Dov, University of Haifa

Session 5: Keynote Address
5:30 p.m. Introduction: The Dead Sea Scrolls at 70
Lawrence H. Schiffman, NYU

6 p.m. Violence and the Dead Sea Scrolls in Scholarship and Popular Media
Alex P. Jassen, NYU

7 p.m. Public Reception

Friday, November 17

Session 6:
Sacred Texts and Their Interpretation

9 a.m. The Emergence of the Biblical Text and Canon in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Armin Lange, University of Vienna

9:45 a.m. How They Read the Genesis Apocryphon Then and How We Read It Now
Moshe J. Bernstein, Yeshiva University
Session 7: God and Humans

10:30 a.m. The Offering of Lips: What is Prayer in the Dead Sea Scrolls?
Daniel Falk, Pennsylvania State University

11:15 a.m. Some Thoughts about Prayer, the Divine, and the Human Self at Qumran
Angela Kim Harkins, Boston College

This event is generously supported and co-sponsored by the Salo W. and Jeannette M. Baron Foundation, the Israel Antiquities Authority, and the NYU Dean of the College of Arts and Science, the Dean for the Humanities, the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Science, the Center for the Humanities, the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, and the Religious Studies Program.

This conference is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Center for Ancient Studies here.

Friday, October 13, 2017

‘NYC Ben Franklin Circle’

These Ben Franklin Circles sound like a great complement to Masonic lodge activities—at least until such a time when Masonic lodge activities start to resemble the doings of Ben Franklin Circles. One Circle meets at the 92nd Street Y, but here’s one close to Masonic Hall.

I’ll be at lodge Monday night, but otherwise I would check out this meeting. From the publicity:

Ben Franklin Circles in New York City
Monday, October 16 at 7 p.m.
114 East 35th Street in Manhattan

Improve Yourself. Improve Your World. Join our Ben Franklin Circle!

Ben Franklin Circles bring people together for open and fun discussions about our lives, our values, and our community. The Circles are based on a “mutual improvement club” started and run by Ben Franklin. He and 12 friends meet weekly to talk about how they could improve themselves and their world. Join us for this exciting and fun opportunity to talk about big issues and to meet some new people.

Friday, October 6, 2017

‘The Journey in Esoteric Societies’

Piers Vaughan will be the guest speaker of Atlas-Pythagoras Masonic Lodge in New Jersey in two weeks. He will present “The Journey in Esoteric Societies” on Friday the 20th. The event will be open to all Freemasons, their families, and friends.

Lodge will open at 7:30 p.m. The address is 1011 Central Avenue in Westfield.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

‘Grand Masters Day at Tappan’

Magpie file photo
DeWint House is located at 20 Livingston Avenue in Tappan, New York.

I think I’ve neglected to spread the news of this year’s Grand Masters Day, but it’s coming soon. On Sunday, October 15 at 1 p.m., the brethren and the public are welcome to visit DeWint House, the George Washington Headquarters historic site owned and operated by the Grand Lodge of New York, for the special occasion.

It is a historic treasure and beautiful piece of property. The museum and the grounds are a must see. That is 20 Livingston Avenue in Tappan, New York. Click here to have a look at the place.