Sunday, April 30, 2017

‘Moments of Vision’

Magpie file photo

Eighteenth century French engraving depicting First Degree ritual on display at the Livingston Library in Masonic Hall.

On Friday, Garibaldi Lodge 542 will meet in the Grand Lodge Room to confer its famous Entered Apprentice Degree. This is the French Rite ritual, entrusted to Garibaldi by l’Union Française Lodge 17, that Garibaldi works in Italian. It is heavy with alchemical and Rosicrucian meanings that one would expect in a European Masonic initiation, and near the end of the ceremony, the Youngest Entered Apprentice has thrust upon him a jolting moment of clarity.

Today is the last day of National Poetry Month. Launched in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, the celebration highlights the importance of poetry to us all by reading, by honoring poets past and present, by sharing books of poems, and by organizing support for poets and poetry. With this in mind, here is a great from 100 years ago.

Moments of Vision
Thomas Hardy

That mirror
     Which makes of men a transparency,
     Who holds that mirror
And bids us such a breast-bared spectacle to see
     Of you and me?
     That mirror
  Whose magic penetrates like a dart,
     Who lifts that mirror
And throws our mind back on us, and our heart,
     Until we start?
     That mirror
   Works well in these night hours of ache;
     Why in that mirror
Are tincts we never see ourselves once take
     When the world is awake?
     That mirror
   Can test each mortal when unaware;
     Yea, that strange mirror
May catch his last thoughts, whole life foul or fair,
     Reflecting it—where?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

‘Assorted Saturday stuff’

Here are a few things worth reading, if you’re not outdoors enjoying this beautiful spring day.

Courtesy GLNY
Ms. Catherine Walker, curator of the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York, has a featured page on Grand Lodge’s website where artifacts and other treasures are highlighted. A few days ago, she shared the Benjamin Franklin Miniature Gold-and-Ivory Trowel.

Read all about it here.

Yesterday was the fiftieth anniversary of the U.S. government’s decision to provide the Temple of Dendur to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A gift from Egypt to the United States, this sandstone temple is on display in the Sackler Wing, just outside the Egyptian Art room. (Actually, Sackler is closed at the moment, but will reopen May 4.)

It was built in the first century BCE, about 900 years after KST, and it features architecture, décor, and other characteristics that would interest a Freemason. Go check it out, and you can read more here.

Courtesy The Met

And speaking of ancient Egypt, what do you suppose is the world’s oldest language?

Archaeologist Douglas Petrovich says it’s Hebrew.

In his first book, The World’s Oldest Alphabet: Hebrew as the Language of the Proto-Consonantal Script, Dr. Petrovich shows Israelites in Egypt took 22 ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs to create the Hebrew alphabet more than 3,800 years ago.

RW Bill Maurer, a historian of some renown in Masonic and local circles, posted on his Facebook page several days ago something cool he found in the February 1786 edition of The Country magazine, namely a list of “New Masonic Toasts.” (Even Shawn Eyer was impressed!) They are:

1. May universal Masonry be the only universal Monarchy, and reign triumphant in the hearts of the worthy.
2. May the Members of Administration be all Masons, that they may act on the square with the people, and keep the tones within compass.
3. May nothing but the charms of beauty bring down the perpendicular uprightness of a Mason.
4. May the tongue of every Mason be the key of his heart; may it ever hang in just equilibrium, and never be suffered to lie to injure a brother.
5. May every Mason’s heart have the ardency of charcoal and the freedom of chalk, but not the coldness or hardness of marble when the distresses of a brother claim assistance.
6. The square in conduct, the level in condition, the plumb-line in rectitude, and the compost in prudence, to all Masons.
7. The glorious memory of the three Grand Masters, and may every Mason imitate the wisdom of the first, the friendship of the second, and the fidelity and skill of the third.
8. The splendor of the East, the repose of the South, and the solidity of the West, to every regular Lodge of free and accepted Masons.
9. May the fragrance of a good report, like a sprig of cassia, bloom over the head of every departed brother.
10. Our Sisters — May they have as much reason to admire our wisdom, as the Queen of Sheba did that of our Grand Master Solomon.
11. May we be entered apprentices to beauty, and fellow crafts in love, but still masters of our passions.
12. May wisdom contrive our happiness, strength support our virtuous resolutions, and beauty adorn our beds.
13. May the rays of celestial light pierce through the veil of ignorance, and perseverance remove the key-stone that covers truth.
14. May the Royal Arch cover every honest Mason’s heart, and the glory of the first temple overshadow all, who act up to the true principles of Masonry.

And, in closing, while I’m definitely thankful for you reading The Magpie Mason, there is great wisdom in digital detox. Read “Are You a Digital Hoarder?” from headspace.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

‘Freemasonry in Cuba’

There’s no escaping this on social media today. Definitely stay for the Festive Board, but you must buy tickets in advance.

Click to enlarge.

‘Gurdjieff sacred dances to return to New York’

And now for something completely different: Gurdjieff Movements will be staged in New York City for the first time in a long time. From the publicity:

Gurdjieff Sacred Dances
and Exercises
Sunday, May 21
Noon, 3:30 & 7:30 p.m.
Miller Theatre at Columbia University
2960 Broadway
Tickets: $20-$25 here

These dances, called “Movements,” are practiced as part of the spiritual teaching of G.I. Gurdjieff. Based on ritual dances from ancient traditions, they are a personal study for self-knowledge requiring many years of work to execute as intended.

This is the first public presentation by the New York Gurdjieff Foundation in more than 55 years—a rare opportunity to witness the beauty of Gurdjieff’s exercises as a search for conscious movement.

‘Jolly good show’

Inside the Freemasons, the Sky TV five-part documentary series being presented to television viewers in Britain on Monday nights, is available on YouTube unexpectedly. YouTuber Stewart Charlesworth promises to upload each episode after it is broadcast on television.

These films reveal a little too much, if you ask me. There are snippets of ritual that I wouldn’t think the Grand Lodge would have permitted, but there they are.

Part One, broadcast last Monday:

Part Two, from Monday:


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

‘Live deep and suck out the marrow of life’

July 12 will bring the 200th anniversary of the birth of Henry David Thoreau, a seminal figure, to say the least, in American letters and thinking. The School of Practical Philosophy will mark this bicentenary with a morning of reading and study next month. From the publicity:

Thoreau Bicentennial Celebration
Study Day
Sunday, May 21
8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
School of Practical Philosophy
12 East 79th Street, Manhattan

Henry David Thoreau’s life embodies the Transcendental vision of self-reliance and a love of freedom. His great experiment at Walden Pond was focused on living simply and deliberately. His example teaches us to crave reality by embracing the present and to follow the voice of conscience. From Walden:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived… I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”

Come and join us in celebrating this great American philosopher whose influence powerfully shaped the 20th century through the work of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Discover how relevant his ideals are today.

We will explore selected passages from his master work Walden, and sections from “Civil Disobedience.” All are welcome. No prior study of Thoreau is required.

8:30 a.m. - Sign in/coffee available
9 a.m. - Brief History and Introduction, followed by two study sessions in small groups
Fee: $30 (includes a light brunch and printed material)

To register, click here. Special Events tend to sell out quickly, so it is suggested that you register well in advance to secure a seat.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

‘Parallel Universes and Eternal Life’

Maryland Masonic Research Society will meet in a few weeks for another luncheon-lecture that makes me wish I didn’t live so far away. From the publicity:

Parallel Universes
and Eternal Life
Presented by John Maclay
Saturday, May 6 at noon
410 University Blvd., West
Silver Spring, Maryland

One of the 25 Landmarks of Masonry says “every Mason must believe in a resurrection to a future life.” Scientists are now convinced that there are parallel universes. Is it possible that a future or eternal life exists there? And how might a transition to it occur?

John Maclay is a Past President of Maryland Masonic Research Society, a Past Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Maryland, a Past Master of two lodges, a Past Grand Inspector, and a past presiding officer of five other Masonic bodies.

Lunch at noon. Meeting and presentation at 1 p.m. $20 per person, payable at the door. Please RSVP to the Secretary by Wednesday, May 3. We look forward to having you attend.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

‘Book report: titles coming this fall’

Inner Traditions/Bear & Co., “one of the largest and oldest publishing houses in the world devoted exclusively to the subjects of spirituality, the occult, ancient mysteries, new science, holistic health, and natural medicine,” will release a number of titles in those subjects later this year, including several of interest to Magpie readers. I’ll highlight a few very subjectively.

American Freemasonry: Its Revolutionary History and Challenging Future, the latest from Alain de Keghel of the Grand Orient of France, is due in September. (I had the pleasure of meeting him at Masonic Hall a few years ago.) The man knows his business, and with forwards by Art de Hoyos and Margaret Jacob, this sounds like a winner I look forward to reading. From the publicity:

American Freemasonry: Its Revolutionary History and Challenging Future explores the American Masonic system and its strengths and failings.

  • Examines the history of Freemasonry in the United States from the colonial era and the Revolutionary War to the rise of the Scottish branch onward.
  • Investigates the racial split in American Freemasonry between black lodges and white and how, unlike French lodges, women are ineligible to become Masons in the United States.
  • Reveals the factors that have resulted in shrinking Masonic enrollment in America and explores the revitalization work done by the Grand Lodge of California.

Freemasonry bears the imprint of the society in which it exists, and Freemasonry in North America is no exception. While keeping close ties to French lodges until 1913, American Freemasonry was also deeply influenced by the experiences of many early American political leaders, leading to distinctive differences from European lodges.

Offering an unobstructed view of the American system and its strengths and failings, Alain de Keghel, an elder of the Grand Orient de France and, since 1999, a lifetime member of the Scottish Rite Research Society (Southern Jurisdiction), examines the history of Freemasonry in the United States from the colonial era to the Revolutionary War to the rise of the Scottish branch onward. He reveals the special relationship between the French Masonic hero, the Marquis de Lafayette, and the Founding Fathers, especially George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, including French Freemasonry’s role in the American Revolution. He also explores Franklin’s Masonic membership, including how he was Elder of the lodge of the Nine Sisters in Paris.

The author investigates the racial split in American Freemasonry between black lodges and white and how, unlike French lodges, women are ineligible to become Masons in the U.S. He examines how American Freemasonry has remained deeply religious across the centuries and forbids discussion of religious or social issues in its lodges, unlike some branches of French Freemasonry, which removed belief in God as a prerequisite for membership in 1877 and whose lodges operate in some respects as philosophical debating societies. Revealing the factors that have resulted in shrinking Masonic enrollment in America, the author explores the revitalization work done by the Grand Lodge of California and sounds the call to make Freemasonry and its principles relevant to America once again.

Coming in December will be another hefty study (704 pages!) on one Aleister Crowley by the great Tobias Churton. I cannot say Crowley is a subject that interests me—I admit to carrying a prejudice that I can’t quite articulate and probably won’t shed—but Crowley’s story as rendered by Churton entices even the reluctant reader. Read the publisher’s synopsis, and see if you can resist:

Aleister Crowley in America: Art, Espionage, and Sex Magick in the New World is an exploration of Crowley’s relationship with the United States.

  • Details Crowley’s travels, passions, literary and artistic endeavors, sex magick, and psychedelic experimentation.
  • Investigates Crowley’s undercover intelligence adventures that actively promoted U.S. involvement in WW I.
  • Includes an abundance of previously unpublished letters and diaries.

Occultist, magician, poet, painter, and writer Aleister Crowley’s three sojourns in America sealed both his notoriety and his lasting influence. Using previously unpublished diaries and letters, Tobias Churton traces Crowley’s extensive travels through America and his quest to implant a new magical and spiritual consciousness in the United States, while working to undermine Germany’s propaganda campaign to keep the United States out of World War I.

Masterfully recreating turn-of-the-century America in all its startling strangeness, Churton explains how Crowley arrived in New York amid dramatic circumstances in 1900. After other travels, in 1914 Crowley returned to the U.S. and stayed for five years: turbulent years that changed him, the world, and the face of occultism forever. Diving deeply into Crowley’s five-year stay, we meet artists, writers, spies, and government agents as we uncover Crowley’s complex work for British and U.S. intelligence agencies. Exploring Crowley’s involvement with the birth of the Greenwich Village radical art scene, we discover his relations with writers Sinclair Lewis and Theodore Dreiser and artists John Butler Yeats, Leon Engers Kennedy, and Robert Winthrop Chanler while living and lecturing on now-vanished “Genius Row.” We experience his love affairs and share Crowley’s hard times in New Orleans and his return to health, magical dynamism, and the most colorful sex life in America. We examine his controversial political stunts, his role in the sinking of the passenger ship Lusitania, his making of the “Elixir of Life” in 1915, his psychedelic experimentation, his prolific literary achievements, and his run-in with Detroit Freemasonry. We also witness Crowley’s influence on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and rocket fuel genius Jack Parsons. We learn why J. Edgar Hoover wouldn’t let Crowley back in the country and why the FBI raided Crowley’s organization in LA.

Offering a 20th century history of the occult movement in the United States, Churton shows how Crowley’s U.S. visits laid the groundwork for the establishment of his syncretic “religion” of Thelema and the now flourishing OTO, as well as how Crowley’s final wish was to have his ashes scattered in the Hamptons.

My own interest in Knights Templar, both the medieval and neo varieties, is kaput, but I might check out Freddy Silva’s First Templar Nation: How Eleven Knights Created a New Country and a Refuge for the Grail, coming in November. From the publicity:

First Templar Nation overturns the long-established historical narrative about the origins and purpose of the Knights Templar.

  • Explains how and why the Templars created Europe’s first nation-state, Portugal, with one of their own as king.
  • Reveals the Portuguese roots of key founding members, their relationship with the Order of Sion, the Templars’ devotion to Mary Magdalene and John the Baptist, and the meaning and exact location of the Grail.
  • Provides evidence of Templar holy sites and hidden chambers throughout Portugal.
  • Includes over 700 references, many from new and rare sources.

Conventional history claims that nine men formed a brotherhood called the Knights Templar in Jerusalem in 1118 to provide protection for pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. Overturning this long-established historical narrative, Freddy Silva shows that the Order of the Temple existed a decade earlier on the opposite side of Europe, that the protection of pilgrims was entrusted to a separate organization, and that, in league with the Cistercian monks and the equally mysterious Order of Sion, the Templars executed one of history’s most daring and covert plans: the creation of Europe’s first nation-state, Portugal, with one of their own as king.

Including over 700 references, many from new and rare sources, Silva reveals Portugal, not Jerusalem, as the first Templar stronghold. He shows how there were eleven founding members and how the first king of Portugal, a secret Templar, was related to Bernard de Clairvaux, head of the Cistercians. The author explains the Templars’ motivation to create a country far from the grasp of Rome, where they could conduct their living resurrection initiation—whose candidates were declared “risen from the dead”—a secret for which the Church silenced millions and which the Templars protected to the death.

Placing the intrepid Knights in a previously unknown time and place, Silva’s historical narrative reveals the Portuguese roots of key founding members, their relationship with the Order of Sion, the Templars’ unshakeable devotion to Mary Magdalene and John the Baptist, and how they protected a holy bloodline in Portugal. He also provides evidence of secret Templar holy sites, initiation chambers, and hidden passageways throughout Portugal, often coinciding with pagan and Neolithic temples, and explains how their most important site forms a perfect triangle with the Abbey of Mont Sion in Jerusalem and the Osirion temple in Egypt. The author also reappraises the meaning of the Grail and reveals its exact location, hidden in plain sight to this very day.

Freddy Silva is a leading researcher of alternative history, ancient knowledge, sacred sites, and the interaction between temples and consciousness. He has appeared on Discovery Channel, BBC, and Coast to Coast AM radio. He is the author of five books and lives in Portland, Maine.

The Metaphysical World of Isaac Newton: Alchemy, Prophecy, and the Search for Lost Knowledge by John Chambers, due next February, recounts “Newton’s heretical, yet equation-incisive, writings on theology, spirituality, alchemy, and prophecy, written in secret alongside his Principia Mathematica.” From the publicity (mention of the Flood brings to mind Antediluvian Freemasonry):

The Metaphysical World of Isaac Newton shows how Newton’s brilliance extended far beyond math and science into alchemy, spirituality, prophecy, and the search for lost continents such as Atlantis.

  • Explains how he was seeking to rediscover the one true religion that existed prior to the Flood of Noah, when science and spirituality were one.
  • Examines Newton’s alternate timeline of prehistory and his study of prophecy through the Book of Revelations, including his prediction of Apocalypse in the year 2060.

Isaac Newton (1643-1727) is still regarded by the world as the greatest scientist who ever lived. He invented calculus, discovered the binomial theorem, explained the rainbow, built the first reflecting telescope, and explained the force of gravity. In his famous masterpiece, Principia Mathematica, he described the mechanics of the physical universe with unimagined precision, proving the cosmos was put together according to laws. The perfection of these laws implied a perfect legislator. To Newton, they were proof that God existed.

At the same time Newton was writing Principia Mathematica, he was writing a twin volume that he might have called, had it been completed, Principia Theologia—Principles of Theology. This other masterpiece of Newton, kept secret because of the heresies it contained, consists of thousands of essays providing equation-incisive answers to the spiritual questions that have plagued mankind through the ages. Examining Newton’s secret writings, John Chambers shows how his brilliance extended into alchemy, spirituality, the search for lost continents such as Atlantis, and a quest to uncover the “corrupted texts” that were rife in the Bibles of his time. Although he was a devout Christian, Newton’s work on the Bible was focused not on restoring the original Jewish and Christian texts but on rediscovering the one true religion that existed prior to the Flood of Noah, when science and spirituality were one.

The author shows that a single thread runs through Newton’s metaphysical explorations: He is attempting to chart the descent of man’s soul from perfection to the present day. The author also examines Newton’s alternate timeline of ancient history and his study of prophecy through the Book of Revelation, including his prediction of an Apocalypse in the year 2060 followed by a radically transformed world. He shows that Newton’s great hope was that these writings would provide a moral compass for humanity as it embarked upon the great enterprise that became our technological world.

John Chambers is the author of Victor Hugo’s Conversations with the Spirit World and The Secret Life of Genius. He has contributed essays to Forbidden Religion: Suppressed Heresies of the West. He lives in Redding, California.

Gotta go. Ranger game.

Friday, April 21, 2017

‘Next Friday: seems like old times’

It’s that time of year. Already.

On April 30, 1789, Bro. George Washington, America’s most famous Freemason—a title he retains to this day!—was inaugurated as his country’s first president in a ceremony at Federal Hall on Wall Street. Next Friday, a group of New York Masons will host their annual re-enactment of that historical event, right where it happened 228 years ago. From the publicity:

of George Washington’s
Inauguration as First President
of the United States
Friday, April 28 at 11 a.m.
26 Wall Street, Manhattan

The George Washington Inauguration Reenactment Committee requests the pleasure of your company at the annual re-enactment. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the ceremony at 11:30 sharp.

The Most Worshipful Jeffrey M. Williamson, Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York, will be in attendance, accompanied by his Grand Line. A true replica of the Bible upon which our First President took his Oath of Office will be on display during the event, courtesy of St. John’s Lodge No. 1, AYM.

Take a lunch break and join your brethren in commemorating our Founding Fathers. Federal Hall is providing us with a hospitality room where we will serve sandwiches, side dishes, refreshments, coffee, and cookies immediately after the event.

Please forward this notice to your brothers throughout the jurisdiction, we would love to pack the Hall.

Did Bro. Washington improvise the “So help me God” at the end of his oath? Read all about it here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

‘In Thy light shall we see light’

The title of this edition of The Magpie Mason derives from Psalm 36, and it is the motto of Columbia University, the elder of the two Ivy League institutions located in New York State. Columbia is in the Masonic news today thanks to the effort being undertaken to establish a Masonic lodge with a relationship to the university. I told you about Illumination Lodge last month, and now Grand Lodge’s Fraternity on Campus Committee is seeking brethren to create Morningside Alma Mater Lodge 1754.

Morningside Heights is the area of Manhattan where the university is located, and 1754 is the year when the institution was founded as King’s College. Bro. Misha from Old No. 2 is leading this effort. From the publicity:

Some of you may be aware that, at our last Grand Lodge session, a motion was passed to lower the admission age to 18. Since then, the Grand Master has formed the Fraternity on Campus Committee, which was tasked with establishing lodges to be dedicated to serving institutions of higher learning in New York State, identifying young men who are interested in Freemasonry, and facilitating a safe environment for them to learn and grow beyond the university setting. After months of meetings and planning, the committee has approved moving forward with the petition to establish a lodge serving the Columbia University community, comprising students, alumni, faculty, and staff of Columbia’s degree-granting faculties.

This is a call to all brothers who wish to support this historic initiative as founding members of this lodge, which will be named Morningside Alma Mater Lodge. It is also a call for members of the Craft in New York and beyond to propose eligible men to be considered for admission into Morningside Alma Mater.

Please make your interest in joining and/or your ideas about possible new petitioners by email here.

I don’t know if anyone on the 17th floor reads this website, but I am free to organize a group to work on Perstare et Praestare Lodge 1831. Or maybe Washington Square Lodge 1831.

I love being part of a Grand Lodge that makes Freemasonry so significant in so many ways!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

‘Making the good Isle of Man post better’


Philatelist Freemasons have something more to look forward to this spring. Isle of Man Post Office will release six postage stamps commemorating the tercentenary of the establishment of the Grand Lodge of England. And there are secrets! From the publicity:

300 Years of Freemasonry Set

This set of six 300 Years of Freemasonry stamps (20p, 1st, 50p, £1.30, 1.74, £3.40), have been printed with gold foil highlighting HM Queen’s head and the words ‘Isle’ and ‘Man’. Each stamp features a badge of office for senior officers within the lodge. There are additional discreet references to six important locations at the top of the stamps and other hidden mysteries, including some visible only under UV light.

The sheet sets contains six sheets, made up of ten of each design.


Both the sets and sheet sets are available in Mint condition and cancelled to order.

International purchases are welcome. Click here to buy yours. (Images courtesy Isle of Man Post Office.)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

‘Donald Weiser, R.I.P.’

Shoppers at the original Samuel Weiser Bookstore on Fourth Avenue circa 1940, amid what had been the great book dealer district in Manhattan.

I’m not trying to turn The Magpie Mason into the obituary blog, but here is today’s sad announcement from Weiser Books:

Legendary bookseller and publisher Donald Weiser passed away peacefully at age 89 in his home in Florida, surrounded by his wife and family, on April 12, 2017. As a young man, Donald worked alongside his father Samuel Weiser in the eponymous bookstore that changed the lives of countless people. Samuel Weiser Bookstore had opened its doors in New York City in 1926 and grew to become the world’s largest esoteric bookstore, attracting customers from every country. One of its better known patrons was magician Harry Houdini, but Karl Germer, Harry Smith, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Jimmy Page, Patti Smith, Barbara Somerfield, and many others were also regulars.

Over its nearly 70 years in New York City, the bookstore moved four times from its origin on Fourth Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets, to Broadway between 13th and 14th, two locations at Astor Place and Broadway, and finally 24th Street between Park and Lexington. In the 1960s, Donald was joined by brother-in-law Fred Mendel at the Astor Place location. Business skyrocketed as contemporary culture embraced Eastern religions, and Occult and New Age thought.

The publishing company Samuel Weiser, Inc. grew organically from the bookstore. It was incorporated in 1957, first releasing several important reprints of pamphlets that Samuel and Donald realized were too important to remain solely as rare book items. Under Donald’s leadership, Samuel Weiser, Inc. grew to well over a thousand titles, internationally respected as the major esoteric publishing house in the English language.

Rising rents ultimately encouraged Donald to relocate to York Beach, Maine in 1981. The NYC bookstore closed its doors in the early 1990s. In Maine, Donald focused exclusively on his publishing and distribution efforts, then-wife Betty Lundsted’s Nicolas-Hays line, and rare book sales through Weiser Antiquarian Books. In the 1990s, Donald was also involved with the Watkins bookstore in London. In 2000, the publishing company was sold to Red Wheel/Weiser.

In 2005 Donald left Maine and relocated to Florida with wife Yvonne Paglia-Weiser. Retirement eluded Donald, however, as he and Yvonne continued with Nicolas-Hays and started Ibis Press. They have since produced some 150 titles of the world’s finest esoteric literature.

Donald is survived by Yvonne, four children, six grandchildren, and his beloved sister Helene.

A celebration of his life will be held at a later date in New York City.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

‘Death of a past grand master’

Today on social media the sad news of the death of Bro. Anthony Montuori was spread. Tony was grand master of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey in 2015.

MW Anthony Montuori
Grand Master, 2015
I can’t say I knew him well, but several years ago, when I really needed friends in high places, he was there to help me out of a jam. Honestly, I don’t know why he chose to get involved, other than doing so fit his understanding of Masonic obligations, but he did. This was before he became grand master.

By the time he had taken office, I had become a New York Mason, and basically had turned my back on the New Jersey approximation of Freemasonry, so I don’t know firsthand what things really were like during his tenure. I’ve read eyewitness accounts of events that struck me as hard to believe. Maybe Tony wasn’t flawless, but he wasn’t a EDITED—like EDITED—either.

Alas, my brother.

‘Inside the Freemasons to be broadcast next Monday’

Don’t ask me how or when television viewers in the United States might be able to watch this documentary, but Sky TV will broadcast “Inside the Freemasons” beginning next Monday at 8 p.m. in the United Kingdom.

Originally a four-hour series meant for broadcast across four evenings, the film was expanded to five hours. In addition to Sky1, the series will be shown on Now TV, TalkTalk, and Virgin Media also all in the U.K. The United Grand Lodge of England will make DVDs available for sale after the series has been aired.

From Emporium Production’s website:

Courtesy Emporium Productions

Sky Television in England will be saying welcome to Freemasonry. Having been granted unique and unprecedented access to the Freemasons, “Inside the Freemasons,” asks who are Freemasons and what do they do? As the United Grand Lodge of England celebrates its tercentenary in 2017, the presenters go beyond the myth and legend to discover what it means to be a Freemason today through the words and lives of Freemasons themselves.

Produced by Emporium Productions which was set up in 2015 by award-winning Executive Producer Emma Read, and leading UK independent television production company Hat Trick, the five one-hour programs will explore what lies behind the familiar concept of Freemasons, and ask:

  • What has motivated generations of men to join its ranks?
  • What does the symbolism mean?
  • How does public perception differ to reality?
  • And what does Freemasonry have to offer men and society in the 21st Century?

Click here for a story in Friday’s Mail.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

‘Livingston Library lecture and debut of Ari’s Art’

The lecture series at the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York will continue in three weeks with the return of Bro. Ari Roussimoff, who will discuss the Masonic inspirations behind his paintings, and will unveil a new painting. From the publicity:

Ari Roussimoff Lecture and Exhibit
Thursday, April 27 at 6:30 p.m.
Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Library
Masonic Hall
71 West 23rd Street, 14th floor

Magpie file photo

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, and symbolic Masonic themes have earned him much praise. Early on, his work was even lauded by the modern art masters Marc Chagall and Oskar Kokoschka. Having become a Freemason in 2002, he has devoted many paintings to Masonic subjects. Inspired by Freemasonry and its rich symbols, he incorporates Masonic ideas and philosophies into uniquely imaginative compositions. In addition, Roussimoff has revived painted Masonic aprons, embedding them with his very own artistic vision.

He will be speaking about how the symbols and ideals of Freemasonry have given him the inspiration to create artwork that integrates the Masonic spirit into an altogether universal context. Roussimoff will also be debuting his newest Masonic artwork.

Seating is very limited, so please RSVP here.

We serve white wine and water at our lectures. Note: Photo ID is required to enter Masonic Hall.

In other library and museum news, an exhibit will be installed on the ground floor of Masonic Hall to present a sampling of the Livingston Library’s massive collection of Masonic aprons. Click here to see more. Click here to see Catherine Walter’s blog post introducing the exhibit. (Photos courtesy Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library.)


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

‘Piers Vaughan at Mariners next week’

I had the good fortune two weeks ago to visit Mariners Lodge 67 on the occasion of its Entered Apprentice Degree done tavern style. (They had me at “tavern.” All you have to do is add tavern to the name of whatever you’re doing, and I’m there. I even brought a clay pipe with me…just in case.) It was a great night with the First Section conferred expertly in the lodge room, with the Junior Warden in the East, and the Lecture and remaining work presented next door in the dining room. The Lecture really was done tavern style—not just with the brethren seated at table with food and drink, but in a way similar to how Masons did it in ye olden days—with the call-and-response method of the Master posing questions, and the brethren answering. Not all of us. To keep things orderly, a group of eight or so did the talking while the rest of us did the eating and drinking. (If you’re not aware, the modern lecture we see today—the monologue of twenty minutes or so—is an example of how things have changed over the generations. In the tavern age of Masonic meetings, the lecture was a group function. The Master asked questions, and the brethren on the sidelines took turns answering them. This form of lecture has become the Opening ritual, and there were lectures for all three degrees.*)

Anyway, it was a great night for those reasons and others, and another outstanding evening is planned for next Wednesday. From the publicity:

Mariners Lodge 67
Wednesday, April 12 at 7 p.m.
Masonic Hall
71 West 23rd Street
Doric Room, 8th floor

Work of the Evening: Talk by RW Piers A. Vaughan titled “Symbolism, and Freemasonry as a Mystery School.”

Brother Vaughan became a Mason in England in 1979, and he joined a number of orders before joining St. John’s Lodge No. 1 in New York, of which he is a two-time Past Master. He has traveled extensively across the United States and other countries giving lectures on a variety of topics ranging from Masonic history to talks on the symbols and esotericism of Masonry. He is the author of several books on Masonic topics, including Renaissance Man and Mason, which was published in October 2016. He is a longtime friend of Mariners Lodge and we are delighted to have him back as this month’s speaker.

Maritime Festive Board Menu: a Jamaican feast including Stewed Oxtail; Jerk Chicken; Grilled Snapper Jamaican Herbs and Spices; Rice & Peas; Callaloo (Jamaican-Style Stewed Greens); Shredded Steamed Cabbage & Carrots; Caesar Salad; Mixed Fruit Bowl; Soda and the Infamous Mariners Lodge Punch.

Cost of the Festive Board is $35 plus transaction fees. Reservations, before Monday the 10th, are required. Click here.

Don’t forget the lodge’s charity gala too:

And in other news, Worshipful Master Anthony Kofi A. Osei-Tutu visited Havana about a week and a half ago, and met with the Grand Master of Cuba!

*If you want to learn why lodges open only on the Third Degree, RW Samuel Lloyd Kinsey, a Past Master of Mariners, will present his lecture “The American System: Why We Open on the Third Degree” on Thursday, April 20 at Old Number 2.