Wednesday, March 29, 2017

‘Masonic stained glass stamps mark tercentennial year’

Masonic philately is alive and well at the Royal Mail, with help from the Masonic Philatelic Club. The club has designed new stamps to commemorate the tercentenary this year of the formation of the first Grand Lodge of England. From the publicity:

Click to enlarge.

300 Years of English Freemasonry

News has been received of a new entrant to the Business Customized stamp sheet world in the guise of the Masonic Philatelic Club, with a little help from John Chapman of Bletchley Park Post Office fame it would appear.

This year marks the 300th anniversary of the formation of the first Grand Lodge in England. To commemorate this event, The Masonic Philatelic Club, in conjunction with The Royal Mail, are releasing a beautifully designed commemorative sheet of ten images of Masonic stained glass windows and ten Royal Mail stamps, with an additional printed sheet with background information on the two Churches featured.

The stamps and images of the stained glass windows are framed beautifully by a classic piece of Masonic art, forming the background to the whole sheet. The two churches whose windows are featured could not be more different. The first is Kingston Parish Church in Jamaica, and the second, a little closer to home, St. Peter’s Church in Leicester.

Ken Elston, Chairman of the Masonic Philatelic Club, is responsible for the design and image research for the project, ably assisted by the Masonic Philatelic Club Magazine graphics team. “When starting this project we explored a number of options for the images on the sheet, but our choice was made easier when we came across the two stained glass windows in Leicester and Kingston, Jamaica,” Elston said. “As well as the team at the MPC magazine, we are indebted to Dr. Andrew Green, an Assistant Professor at The University of Nottingham, for his invaluable background information on St Peter’s Church and its Masonic stained glass window.”

Another driving force behind the project has been John Chapman, former Director of the world renowned Bletchley Park Post Office. “The dedicated work of Ken and his team and Andrew Green’s expert background history has allowed us to produce a truly unique commemorative sheet to mark the 300th anniversary of Freemasonry in England. It represents an opportunity for Masonic stamp collectors and general stamp collectors the world over to add a unique piece of Masonic postal history to their collections.”


A total of 500 sheets are being printed and more than 300 sheets have already been pre-ordered. The sheets are priced at £45, and any orders of two sheets or more are reduced to £40 each, plus £2.50 for postage.

For more details, contact John Chapman on email.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

‘An open house for the open mind’

I’ve written many times here about the School of Practical Philosophy, from descriptions of the education offered, to reportage of events I have attended, to announcements of coming attractions, and I am going to do that again now because I cannot recommend the School strongly enough. The courses are a perfect complement to Masonic learning but, of course, even independently of any teachings of Freemasonry, they add tremendous value to anyone’s efforts to understand life.

Many are intimidated by any talk of “philosophy,” fearing overwhelming ideas couched in indecipherable language echoing from ages ago, but this is practical philosophy. The concepts are rendered simply, and the goal is for you to apply this wisdom to your thoughts, words, and deeds in everyday life. While the classes proceed on a weekly schedule, the learning is yours to digest at your own pace. For life. (There are no exams.)

In addition to the classes, the School hosts fascinating lectures and seminars that are open to enrolled students and the general public alike. On May 13, “Reverence: The Forgotten Virtue” will be presented in Wallkill and, on May 21, a Thoreau Bicentennial Celebration will be hosted at 79th Street. (More on these when the info becomes available, and I’m sure other special events will come this summer.)

This event is the School’s open house next week. Naturally, admission is free, but registration is required. As I write this, there are plenty of seats still available. Check it out. Hear about the classes offered; meet the dedicated unpaid tutors; behold the beautiful UWS townhouse just outside of Central Park; and—best of all—enroll in the first level of instruction of ten weeks of classes for only ten dollars.

From the publicity:

The Gift of Happiness
Open House
Wednesday, April 5 at 7 p.m.
School of Practical Philosophy
12 East 79th Street, Manhattan
Register here

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 innate wisdom and the study of Practical Philosophy.

Light refreshments will be served.

PLEASE NOTE: This event is intended for new and 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.

Monday, March 27, 2017

‘The Passing of Arthur’

Anthroposophy New York City has a calendar full of great events for April, and this one particularly deserves your attention. From the publicity:

The Passing of Arthur
By Third Wheel Collective
Thursday, April 13 at 7 p.m.
Anthroposophical Society of NYC
138 West 15th Street, Manhattan
$20 per person

A one-person telling of the epic tale from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s narrative poems about the Arthurian legend, “The Idylls of the King.” After the 45-minute performance, there will be a half hour of music.

Third Wheel Collective is “a collaboration-based theater company that works within the medium of performance to explore, elucidate, and further develop a compassionate and holistic view of the world, the human journey, and art.”

Séamus Maynard
Séamus Maynard graduated from Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, after training intensively in the Michael Chekhov Technique for several years. Séamus writes music and performs with The Living Roots Trio; he co-founded Quiet in the Head with Jonathan Talbott, an ensemble that composes and performs original, instrumental music for violin and guitar.

Meaghan Witri is
Meaghan Witri
an actor, director, and musician with a degree in Theatre/Performance and English Studies from Muhlenberg College. Among many stage roles she played the title role in the Actors’ Ensemble workshop production of Antigone by Jean Anouilh. Meaghan tours internationally as a soprano soloist performing in cathedrals and sacred spaces, and sings folk music with Séamus.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

‘African-American Freemasons and the Problem of Democracy in the Modern World’

I don’t know what they eat for breakfast at Boston University Lodge, but here is another stellar event for the thinking Mason next Monday, right after this weekend. And admission is free. From the publicity:

Boston University Lodge is proud to sponsor its annual Lecture on Fraternalism. The Lecture will be delivered by Dean Corey Walker, of Winston-Salem State University, who will speak on “The Sovereignty of the Imagination: African-American Freemasons and the Problem of Democracy in the Modern World.”

The Lecture will be in KCB-101 (Kenmore Classroom Building), 565 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, and will begin at 8 p.m.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

‘Richard Cassaro’s cathedral codes’

Bro. Richard Cassaro, of George Washington Lodge 285 in Manhattan, has added several Masonic dates to his speaking tour schedule:


Thursday, March 23, 2017

‘Music at St. Michael’s this May’

Bro. Stephen Rumpf, the Right Worshipful Grand Organist of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York will celebrate his 70th birthday later this spring with an organ recital in New York City. From the publicity:

Organ Recital
St. Michael’s Episcopal Church
225 West 99th Street
(at Amsterdam Avenue)
New York City
Friday, May 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Open to all
Suggested donation: $20

Acoustically and aesthetically, St. Michael’s truly is one of New York’s premier performance spaces. The church houses two fine tracker-action pipe organs built in 1967 by the Rudolf von Beckerath Organ Company of Hamburg, Germany, and a newly restored 1938 Steinway Model B Grand. Together with the superb acoustics of the church building and the great stained glass and mosaic masterworks by Louis C. Tiffany, St. Michael’s is an extraordinary space for worship and music.

More information at 212.222.2700.

RW Rumpf is a Past Master of both Kane 454 and Joseph Warren-Gothic 934 in Manhattan, and he is well known for his musical genius far beyond the Masonic world also.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

‘Rewarding loyalty and faithfulness that has no equal’

Freemasonry is not the first word that comes to my mind when Syria or Lebanon are mentioned, but the truth is the Grand Lodge of New York established its District Grand Lodge of Syria-Lebanon in 1955, the diamond jubilee of which was celebrated recently with a visit by Grand Master Jeffrey M. Williamson. (New York Freemasons can read all about it in the current—Spring 2017—issue of The Empire State Mason Magazine, a Special Commemorative Edition marking the anniversary.) There are ten lodges comprising the District, seven of which pre-date the District’s existence, with the first two having been warranted in 1924—Syrio-American Lodge 1 and New York Lodge 2.

I think that’s kind of amazing.

Grand Master Williamson traveled extensively, visiting lodges (Suleiman 1905, El Berdawni 1907, Three Pillars 1912, and others), but also taking in the natural beauty and historic locations the land offers. There was a stop at Kahlil Gibran’s tomb, sightseeing amid the Cedars of God, a visit to the City of Ehden, a tasting at Ksara Winery—with the chance to meet RW Asaad Zogheib, mayor of Zahleh—and also time for the pleasures of the hookah!

Courtesy The Masters Craft

This edition of The Magpie Mason began four months ago, when Bro. John Bridegroom of the Masters Craft shared this photo on Facebook. John is the prolific creator of Masonic jewels, pins, coins, and other goods, as well as the Art Director for The Journal of the Masonic Society. I asked the Grand Master about the new medal so I could publish information about it here. He asked me to wait until publication of this issue of the ESM, so here we are.

While at the diamond jubilee celebration, MW Williamson welcomed RW Andre Layoun, PDDGM to the podium, and announced: “In commemoration and celebration of 60 years of loyalty and faithfulness demonstrated by the brethren of the District Grand Lodge of Syria-Lebanon, the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York is pleased to proclaim the creation of a new Grand Lodge medal. This medal is named in honor of RW Khaled E. Tabet, the first District Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge of Syria-Lebanon, from 1955 to 1964.”

Writing the article in the ESM, Williamson continues:

“The award consists of a bronze top bar engraved with the words “New York.” Below the ribbon is the round bronze medallion struck with the actual likeness of RW Khaled E. Tabet. Around the medal are engraved the words “Loyalty and Faithfulness.” The medal is suspended on a distinctive red and white ribbon, along with a green stripe running through the center, symbolizing the national flag of Lebanon. This medal will be conferred by the Grand Master to any deserving member within the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, specifically for loyalty and faithfulness to our Grand Lodge.

“The first recipient of the RW Khaled E. Tabet Medal is RW Andre Layoun, who was District Grand Master for 23 years, from 1971 to 1994. His term of leadership within our District Grand Lodge was concurrent with the Lebanese Civil War, which lasted from 1975 to 1990. It is estimated that there were over 250,000 fatalities during this period. RW Andre Layoun’s loyalty to Freemasonry in general and to the Grand Lodge of the State of New York in particular has no equal.”


Monday, March 20, 2017

‘A Prayer in Spring’


Spring Day at Jeløya by Edvard Munch,
1915, oil on canvas, privately owned.

A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

Robert Frost

The Spring Equinox arrived early this morning. Happy Rosicrucian New Year! We even had nice weather to enjoy today in these parts. (New York, not Jeløya.)


Sunday, March 19, 2017

‘Another(!) singular surprise at Masonic Week’

Belated coverage of Masonic Week 2017 slowly continues with this account of the 73rd Annual Consistory of the Society of Blue Friars on Friday, February 10 in Arlington, Virginia.

The proclamation of a new Blue Friar is a very closely held secret usually. I imagine only Grand Abbot Brent Morris and the new appointee are in the know for many months. This year there was an innocent and very temporary slip in social media that revealed this embargoed information. Did you catch it?

Michael Poll, of Cornerstone Publishers, Journal of the Masonic Society, Masonic research, etc. fame, was made Blue Friar No. 106 in a tradition launched in 1932 upon the formation of this unique fraternity comprised exclusively of Masonic published authors.

Bro. Poll had been away from Masonic Week for a long time, probably since it was last known as AMD Weekend, and his appointment to the ranks of the Blue Friars last month was to be his first trip back. Unfortunately, rough winter weather, with lots of snow forecast, menaced the District of Columbia area, and Mike’s flight was cancelled, preventing him from reaching us in Arlington. Even worse, it turned out that not one snowflake fell in the DC area!

Nevertheless Poll appeared at his two planned speaking engagements—Blue Friars and Masonic Society—thanks to quick thinking and technology. His Blue Friars address, titled “The Role of the Masonic Writer,” was video recorded and made available to us via the interwebs, to wit:

Unquestionably a first for the Blue Friars. Not that they’d want to make it a habit, but it’s good to know an option like this can save the day. But this isn’t even what is meant in the title of this edition of The Magpie Mason. No. Something else unexpected occurred that made the meeting even more memorable.

Nearing the end of the meeting, the Grand Abbot, who wields supreme dictatorial powers by the way, announced a surprise: Another Blue Friar was being made!

BF 107 was in attendance, sitting in near anonymity on the sidelines: Robert L.D. Cooper of Scotland!

Grand Abbot S. Brent Morris, right, greets Blue Friar 107 Robert L.D. Cooper of Scotland after surprising him with the prestigious appointment at the Societys 73rd Consistory last month in Virginia.

Among the books Bob Cooper has authored are Cracking the Freemasons Code, The Red Triangle, and (my favorite) The Rosslyn Hoax. Please read The Rosslyn Hoax. He is curator of the Scottish Masonic Museum and Library, and is a true expert on the subjects that confound so many well intentioned Freemasons: Rosslyn Chapel, the Sinclair family, and the Templars. If you think you know something about these, do yourself a big favor and read Cooper’s findings.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

‘North American Convocation of Academic Lodges’

Just two weeks away! Admission to the conference is free, and the Saturday night dinner (with open bar) costs only $50 per person. Click here to get started. From the publicity:

North American Convocation
of Academic Lodges
March 31-April 1
Grand Lodge of Massachusetts

The North American Convocation of Academic Lodges was formed as a way for the Harvard, Boston University, MIT Lodges to assist each other in their respective work. The tradition was begun in 1930 and restarted in 2006. We are pleased to welcome members of Boston-area Academic Lodges this year, as well as guests from fellow Academic Lodges both near and far, in addition to other Masonic and non-Masonic guests for yet another wonderful year of Fraternity and Scholarship “on the Level.”


Panel: The Path of Freemasonry and Its Relevance in Early and Modern Society

Shawn Eyer: The Philalethes Society

Wisdom of the Founders: Over Three Centuries of Masonic Learning

Shawn Eyer
Shawn Eyer, PM is a writer on Masonic symbolism, history, ritual, and philosophy. Brother Eyer is a Past Master of Academia Lodge 847 in California, and Junior Warden of The Lodge of the Nine Muses 1776 in the District of Columbia. He holds a Master of Arts in Transpersonal Psychology, and a dual Baccalaureate degree in Psychology and Religious Studies.

Tom Worrel: Writer and World Traveler

An Early and Unknown Esoteric Order of American Freemasonry

Tom Worrel
Thomas Worrel has an MBA from the University of San Francisco as well an MA in Theology from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California. Brother Worrel has published in Masonic journals such as Ad Lucem and Ahiman: A Review of Masonic Culture & Tradition. He has articles in other journals such as The Ogdoadic Journal of the Western Mysteries. He has published in magazines such as GNOSIS: Journal of the Western Inner Traditions and The Philalethes. Brother Worrel also authored a chapter in Bro. Jay Kinney’s book The Inner West titled “The Quest of the Magus.” Thomas Worrel now lives in New York City.

Saturday’s Keynote Speaker:
Mitch Horowitz
Masonic Nation: How the Ideals
of Freemasonry Touched America

Mitch Horowitz
A writer and publisher with a lifelong interest in man’s search for meaning, Mitch is a PEN Award-winning historian and the author of books including Occult America (Bantam); One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life (Crown); and Mind As Builder: The Positive-Mind Metaphysics of Edgar Cayce (A.R.E. Press).

Horowitz is a vice president and executive editor at Penguin Random House, and frequently writes and speaks on alternative spiritual topics in the national media including Dateline NBC, CBS Sunday Morning, CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.


6 p.m. - Welcome and Presentation of Speakers

8:30 p.m. - Refreshments


12:30 p.m. - Registration

2 p.m. - Greetings from the East, Presentation of Conference Gavel, and Receiving of District Deputy Grand Master, Right Worshipful Robert F. Stanley, and his Suite.

2:30 p.m. - Session I

James Tyler Carpenter: Masonry Re-Loaded at the Millennium: A Psychologists Looks at the Craft and Esoteric Knowledge.

Keith MacKinnon: The Historical Relevance of Masonic Artifacts.

Elliot Chikofsky: Behold How Good: The Hidden Message of the 133rd Psalm.

Aaron Sherman: Guided Tour of Grand Lodge.

3:30 p.m. - Session II

Ori Noked: The Hebrew Origins of Masonic Symbols.

Oscar Alleyne: The Prevalence of Clandestine Masonry in the USA.

Jamie Gorton: The Meaning of Masonry: A Critical Examination of Walter Leslie Wilmshurst’s Seminal Work.

Aaron Sherman: Ordo Esoterica

4:45 p.m. - Keynote Address by Mitch Horowitz - Masonic Nation: How the Ideals of Freemasonry Touched America.

Q&A, Presentations, Closing, Reception and book-signing.

7 p.m. - Dinner with open bar (ticket required: $50 prepay or $65 at the door).

Hotel accommodations: The Bostonian. Click here to reserve your room.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

‘Autism: On the Spiritual Threshold and Living Inner Development’

Sorry for the late notice, but this weekend brings the annual SteinerBooks Research Seminar at New York University. (And don’t forget the after party on Saturday at 5:30 at Anthroposophy NYC, located at 138 West 15th Street.) From the publicity:

2017 SteinerBooks
Research Seminar
March 17 and 18
Kimmel Center at NYU
60 Washington Square South
New York City

It seems that nothing related to Autism Spectrum Disorders is simple or straightforward, no broad statement immune to disputation.

The prevalence of ASD, most especially in the United States, but also elsewhere, appears to have increased dramatically in the last 40 years. (The most current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates for the U.S. are that 1 in 68 children is identified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder; for boys: 1 in 42.) Some voices, however, insist that this apparent increase is due to better detection techniques and broader awareness; while more than one study has suggested that the increase cannot possibly be attributed to these factors alone. Then there are the complex (and controversial) questions of contributing factors: genetic predispositions versus environmental toxicity factors such as the mercurial preservative thimerosal that is widely used in vaccines.

As a phenomenon of our current moment in history, the broad examination of ASD, its consciousness and controversies, as a symptom and as a riddle, can undoubtedly be a useful entry point for discerning something about the world in which we are living. And yet, lest we become too theoretical, there is also the ever-present reality of the individual human being to consider. For parents and grandparents, teachers and caregivers, doctors and therapists, this is the first consideration. And this is the focus of our program.

From a purely therapeutic standpoint, and in the presence of a unique living individual human being, these broader questions, disputes, and controversies can take a backseat to the utterly singular person before us. Here the tools and insights of anthroposophical spiritual science are not merely useful but ultimately necessary. How can we use these insights to meet the one before us with an even greater love and out of a deeper wisdom?

Click here for the complete program, and:

After Party III

Make the short walk uptown for the SteinerBooks Spiritual Research Seminar After Party at our branch home just a few blocks away from the NYU Kimmel Center. We’ll again be offering a meeting place for seminar attendees to enjoy warm company, live entertainment, biodynamic wines, and light refreshments. We invite everyone (not just seminar attendees) to join us for hearty conversations before heading out into NYC nightlife.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

‘Livingston Library’s March lecture’

The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York hosts a monthly lecture series on Thursday nights to the delight of standing room only audiences and for the betterment of the Craft. On March 30 at 6:30, the library will welcome to the lectern William M. Sardone, grand master of DeMolay International. The library is located on the 14th floor of Masonic Hall (71 West 23rd Street in Manhattan). From the publicity:

Courtesy DeMolay International
Order of DeMolay Grand Master Bill Sardone
at the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Library.
The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York is extremely proud to welcome William M. Sardone, Grand Master, DeMolay International, who will speak about the history of the medieval Knight Templar after whom the Order of DeMolay is named.

Jacques DeMolay lived from 1244-1314, and joined the Knights Templar, a group of “warrior monks” who were charged by the Catholic Church to protect pilgrims to Jerusalem, and who also fought in the Crusades. Eventually, the Knights Templar became very wealthy, and were targeted by local lords, who won from the Church condemnation of the order in 1312. Jacques DeMolay remained loyal to his fellow Knights, even under pain of torture. He was burned at the stake and became a symbol of loyalty and friendship.

The Order of DeMolay is a Masonic youth group founded in 1919. It is open to young men between the ages of 12 and 21. In order to join, the young men must also be of good moral character. They must also believe in a supreme being, with all religions welcome.

RW William M. Sardone is credited with the revitalization of the Order of DeMolan New York State, and was elected as the Grand Master of DeMolay International in June of 2016. He has served on the following Boards: NYC Business Advisory Council, NYC Department of Education, President Executive Board of AT&T Northeast Chapter Pioneers, Executive Board of New York Junior Achievement, Associate Board of USO and Harlem Boys and Girls Club. In addition, Sardone served 38 years in the U.S. Army Active and Reserves, receiving numerous medals and commendations. He also has more than 30 years experience in established and start-up companies, and credits his DeMolay foundation for his success.

Seating is limited. Please RSVP here.

White wine will be served.

Photo ID is required to enter the building.

The timing is right! Remember March 18 is the anniversary of DeMolay’s execution in Paris. I hope that white wine ain’t French!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

‘The beauty of math at The Met’

The Invention of the Compass (Plate 2)  Second plate from a print series titled New Inventions of Modern Times, engraved by Jan Collaert I, after Jan van der Straet, called Stradanus, and published by Philips Galle. Illustration of man working with a compass at his desk in a large room. On the right side of the room is a bed. There is another desk with other books and geographical tools. To the man’s left a dog lies on the floor. Hanging from the ceiling is a model ship. The window in the background provides a view of boats sailing in the ocean and people walking along the beach.

“A Point is the beginning of all geometrical matter. A Line is a continuation of the same. A Superfices has length and breadth without a given thickness. A Solid has length and breadth with a given thickness, which forms a cube and comprehends the whole.”

Middle Chamber Lecture
Fellow Craft Degree

Through May 8, the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibits a collection of drawings, prints, and other works that celebrate, as the Middle Chamber Lecture phrases it, “the powers and properties of magnitudes in general, where length, breadth, and thickness are considered. From a point to a line from a line to a superfices, and from a superfices to a solid.”

Picturing Math” is a collection of art created by ten mathematicians and scientists spanning 500 years. From the publicity:

“The visualization of mathematics has taken many forms since the advent of printing. Animated by tensions between the abstract and the figural, the geometric and the gestural, these works from The Met collection show how artists from the 15th century to contemporary times have engaged in the creation and communication of mathematical knowledge through the use and production of images.”

All images courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art. Click to enlarge.

Francesco Curti, “Garden of Mathematical Sciences,”
(engraving, Italy, 17th century).

Johann Sadeler I, “Geometria,” (from The Seven Liberal Arts,
after Maerten de Vos, 1570-1600, engraving and etching).

Georges Reverdy, “The Architect,” (etching, France, 1529-57).

“Plate 24: Geometria XXIIII,” from E-Series Tarocchi Cards,
(engraving, Italy, 15th century).

Albrecht Dürer, Underweysung der messung mit dem zirckel un richt scheyt, printed by Hieronymus Andreae, called Formschneyder, (woodcut in book, 1525).

Peter Flötner, “Perspectival Drawing with Three Cubes,”
(pen and black ink, brush and grey wash, 1528).

Underweissung der Proportzion und stellung der possen, designed by Erhard Schön, printed by Christoff Zell, bound by William Chatto, (woodcuts in book, 1538).