Friday, November 16, 2018

‘Natives revere the man who simply never could be king’

Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images

Imagine a Kipling story adapted for a Jamie Uys movie, and you’ll see the stranger-than-fiction truth of a tribe in the South Pacific that made the Duke of Edinburgh a focus of their worship.

Nothing wrong with that. Hey, Freemasons supposedly are obliged to tolerate all religions, so the veneration of Prince Philip there is perfectly valid. At age 97, he is the longest serving royal consort, having married HRH Elizabeth II in 1947—their wedding anniversary is next Tuesday—but laws of succession being what they are, Philip never could be king.

But he is a Freemason, the next best thing, having been at labor in The Navy Lodge 2612 since 1953.

Writing for The Vintage News, Stefan Andrews explains:

“He is venerated by the people who live in and around the village of Yaohnanen on Vanuatu’s island of Tanna. They worship the Duke of Edinburgh as their ‘tabu man.’ The designation attributes the 97-year-old royal such qualities that he is considered sacred…

“The islanders believe that the Duke of Edinburgh is the embodiment of an ancient mountain spirit. This spirit, the prophecy says, has traveled miles away to foreign realms of the world, has taken the form of a white man and has espoused himself to a pretty powerful lady….”

Click here to read the fascinating recent story of the good Tanna people.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

‘The Movement Towards Inner Freedom’

Yesterday was the 69th anniversary of the death of George Gurdjieff, the founder of the Fourth Way, whose teachings are kept alive today by inspired followers such as the Gurdjieff Foundation of New York. The Foundation will host another introductory lesson next week. From the publicity:

The Movement Towards
Inner Freedom
Gurdjieff Foundation of New York
Friday, November 9 at 6:30
240 East 53rd Street, Manhattan
(Quest Bookshop)
RSVP here

“Liberation leads to liberation.”
G.I. Gurdjieff

The evening will include presentations, readings, practical exercises in movement, the Gurdjieff/de Hartmann music, conversation, and refreshments.

If you are a thinking Freemason, you may find these studies worthwhile.

The other day, Parabola magazine published online an excerpt from a book to be released in February. Gurdjieff Reconsidered: The Life, the Teachings, the Legacy by Roger Lipsey will be published by Shambhala Publications. Lipsey’s other books include a biography of Dag Hammarskjöld.

One sample paragraph:

G.I. Gurdjieff
The Rue des Colonels Renard is centrally located. Today you might want to stop in a café at the intersection of Avenue Mac-Mahon and the Rue des Acacias, where Gurdjieff often had his coffee, and surely looked from time to time past a receding row of street lamps toward a flank of the Arc de Triomphe not far off. At some point he turned that view into a parable about the distant aim toward which one might well be toiling and the many smaller aims and thresholds, requiring meticulous attention, that precede it. His apartment was nearby in a street like any other. Yet it was là-bas, as one of his pupils put it—there yet far off, another world. “Here in my house,” Gurdjieff stipulated, “all must be quintessence. Rest you do at home.” There was a further rule, captured by another of his pupils: “Here there are no spectators.”

Check out the excerpt here.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

‘The Mitch is back!’

Courtesy Mitch Horowitz

There’s some good news, and some bad news, but some more good news from the Livingston Library:

The good: Mitch Horowitz will return to the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library on Tuesday for another speaking engagement!

The bad: It’s sold out! Well, not actually sold out, because admission is free, but the event is booked. No one who has not already reserved his seat shall be accommodated. Do not go there if you have no reservation, or you’ll experience some non-symbolic Masonic penalties.

The more good: Due to the popular demand, Horowitz will come back to Masonic Hall on Tuesday, November 13 for a reprised talk!

This is a big month for Mitch Horowitz. His new book, The Miracle Club, was just published last week by Inner Traditions. A few weeks ago, he was tapped to serve as a lecturer in residence at the University of Philosophical Research, Manly Hall’s gift to the world, in Los Angeles—where he will be speaking tonight and tomorrow on Manly Hall.

From the publicity:

The Secret History of How Mysticism
Shaped Our Nation
An Evening with Mitch Horowitz
Tuesday, November 13
6:30 p.m.
Livingston Library
Masonic Hall, 14th Floor
71 West 23rd Street
RSVP here

Esoteric philosophies and movements, such as Freemasonry, Spiritualism, Theosophy, and New Thought, have wielded a tremendous influence over America’s past and present. From its earliest days, the nation served as a laboratory for the revolutions in alternative spirituality that eventually swept the globe, yet this aspect of our history is often ignored or overlooked.

In this special evening, PEN Award-winning historian and popular voice of esoteric ideas, Mitch Horowitz will discuss the occult influences behind our nation’s culture, politics, and spirituality, including:

  • How colonial America became a magnet for mystical figures and movements
  • The remarkable impact of Freemasonry on the nation’s development
  • The marriage between nineteenth century Spiritualism and the women’s rights movement
  • The occult roots of “Positive Thinking”
  • The impact of African-American magical traditions
  • The lives of mystic Americans, from Marcus Garvey to Madame Blavatsky
  • The legacy and growing influence of Freemason Manly P. Hall
  • Halloween’s rise in our military as a national holiday

Mitch finally asks whether occult principles can point the way toward healing our deep national divide today. This special, in-depth journey through our unknown history is an evening not to be missed.

A widely known voice of esoteric ideas, Mitch Horowitz is a writer-in-residence at the New York Public Library, lecturer-in-residence at the University of Philosophical Research in Los Angeles, and the PEN Award-winning author of books including Occult America, One Simple Idea, and The Miracle Club: How Thoughts Become Reality.

Mitch has written on everything from the war on witches to the secret life of Ronald Reagan for The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Salon, Time, and Politico.

The Washington Post says Mitch “treats esoteric ideas and movements with an even-handed intellectual studiousness that is too often lost in today’s raised-voice discussions.” He narrates audiobooks, including Alcoholics Anonymous and The Jefferson Bible. He has discussed alternative spiritualities on CBS Sunday Morning, Dateline NBC, and NPR’s All Things Considered.

His work has been censored in China.

Mitch will be offering for sale his new book, The Miracle Club, as well as his book Occult America, and will be pleased to sign copies.

Please send RSVP here.

Friday, October 19, 2018

‘Lecture: The Development of Masonic Ritual’

It’s great to see my old friend Ben Hoff still taking to the lectern to help others advance in Masonic knowledge. Ben served as Master of our research lodge a decade(!) ago when he was the most prolific writer of Masonic research papers in New Jersey. He will appear at Philo Lodge 243 next Tuesday. Go to there. From the publicity:

Development of Masonic Ritual
as Illustrated by the MM Degree
Presented by RW Ben Hoff
Tuesday, October 23 at 6:30
Philo Lodge 243
120 Old Bridge Turnpike
South River, New Jersey
RSVP here

RW Bernhard Hoff served as Master of Highland Park Lodge 240 in 2004, 2008, and 2016; was Grand Historian in 2010; and a Past Master of New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786; as well as a Past High Priest of Corinthian Royal Arch Chapter 57; and member of DaVinci Council of Allied Masonic Degrees too. He worked for 27 years for Citibank/Citigroup in New York City, where he served as a financial controller. He also holds BA in Anthropology from University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and an MBA from Tulane University in New Orleans, and currently is an Adjunct Professor in the Mathematics Department at Mercer County Community College.

Ben is a very well read researcher in the evolution of Craft rituals. His Masonic library includes centuries-old copies of the ritual exposures that have permitted tantalizing glimpses into the lodge initiations of England and America. His educational gifts to us include many thousands of written words explanatory of how today’s rituals came to be, which provide insight into many related aspects of Freemasonry’s history. If not for the distance, I would be in attendance Tuesday night, but I encourage you to get there if you can. RSVP here.

Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

‘The Last Day’

If it’s fall, it must be time for a Socrates Sunday at the School of Practical Philosophy.

Doing the good work that Masonic lodges ought to be doing, the school pours philosophy out of the urn where most people merely observe it as a subject, and instead makes love of wisdom urgent so its students may add it to their lives. From the publicity:

Socrates’ Last Day
Sunday, November 11
9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
School of Practical Philosophy
12 East 79th Street
$50 per person—click here

If today were the last day of your life, what would you do? What would you say, and how would you feel as the destined hour approached? What would the wise man or woman do in this situation?

Fortunately, Plato’s dialogue Phaedo provides us with a first-hand account of Socrates’ final day in 399 B.C.—one that ends with Socrates, surrounded by his followers, drinking a cup of hemlock in an Athenian prison.

Join us as we immerse ourselves in the wisdom of Socrates and experience his calm confidence in the face of death. Discover what he meant in saying “The true disciple of philosophy is ever pursuing death and dying.” Come to appreciate how Socrates’ words can help us live happier everyday.

The day includes an introductory presentation, catered luncheon, and wine reception. Family and friends are welcome. No prior knowledge of Plato is required. Enjoy the power of group study, delight in philosophical entertainment and engage in stimulating conversation.

Coffee available at 8:30. Wine Reception at end of day.

Fee: $50 ($25 for full-time high school or college students), which includes refreshments, lunch, wine reception, and reading materials.

Monday, October 1, 2018

‘American Revolution, Masonic Forefathers, and Alcohol’

Next week, Hiram-Takoma Lodge will host the program “American Revolution, Masonic Forefathers, and Alcohol” at its meeting. From the publicity:

Thursday, October 11
Hiram-Takoma Lodge 10
115 Carroll Street NW
Washington, DC
(two blocks from
Takoma Metro Red Line)

6:30 p.m. – Dinner (all are welcome)
7:30 – Lodge (Masons only)
Open Program: “The American Revolution, Alcohol
and our Masonic Forefathers”
(ladies, friends, etc. welcome)

Worshipful Master Scott C. Jacobs will give a brief presentation on the links of the American Revolution, alcohol, and our Masonic forefathers. We will view a Discovery Channel video starring Mike Rowe which explains alcohol’s role in our nation’s roots, followed by an educational discussion of alcohol and the Masonic lodge.

Please RSVP here to ensure a proper amount of refreshment.

I hope they will have Applejack on hand!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

‘Ten years of Magpie goodness’

Thank you for reading The Magpie Mason, which debuted on this date in 2008. Without a heavy, steady flow of readers, I wouldn’t continue it, so I thank you all for checking in, however infrequently, over the years.

I thought it would be of interest to list the most visited Magpie pages. Here are the top ten in ascending order, but they all are No. 1 hits (with apologies to Michael Shelley):

10. “Light! Camera! Aprons!” from October 25, 2016 – Spot coverage from a really fun evening at Masonic Hall in New York City, when Piers Vaughan helped a film crew with its shoot for a UK television program.

Click here.

9. “George Washington’s beer brewed anew” from May 1, 2018 – Has really nothing to do with Freemasonry, but was a heavily trafficked page this spring thanks to the news that Budweiser was to market a lager based on a recipe followed by George Washington. Read the interesting comment left at the bottom.

Click here.

8. “Old Masters Scotch Whisky” from August 10, 2010 – Numbers 8 and 9 are almost tied, with just a click separating the two. Interesting that both are about alcoholic beverages. This post concerns the release of a blended Scotch. Not the greatest taste of malt you’ll find—at the Masonic Society’s suite at Masonic Week, it was generally written off—but I thought it was okay. I’m not a Scotch drinker though.

Click here.

7. “Is Harry Potter a Freemason?” from April 8, 2018 – The Maryland Masonic Research Society hosted a talk on that subject in May. Most of my posts on the MMRS draw a lot of traffic for some reason. I’ve never attended a meeting, due to the distance, but maybe one day.

Click here.

6. “Grant Wood’s Masonic painting in Whitney retrospective” from December 20, 2017 – For the three months prior to the opening of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Grant Wood exhibit this year, and for several months afterward, this post was very popular. I hope everyone got to the museum for a rare look at Wood’s “The First Three Degrees of Freemasonry,” because otherwise you’ll have to visit the Grand Lodge of Iowa.

Courtesy GL of Iowa Museum and Library

Click here.

5. “Register now for the 2017 MRF Symposium” from May 30, 2017 – I cannot account for this post’s high visibility, except that maybe the Masonic Restoration Foundation needs help with SEO.

Click here.

4. “Cleveland Rocks” from August 7, 2018 – Although only seven weeks old, this post has reached the top five because a) Bill Hosler linked to it on Facebook; and b) it mentions the forever infamous GOOFUS.

Click here.

3. “Food for thought in Tennessee” from March 15, 2016 – it occurred to me very after-the-fact that this may have offended a friend from the Volunteer State—and I’m sorry if that’s so—but sometimes you have to say something.

Courtesy Scottish Rite Research Society

Click here.

2. “Swedish Rite in Germany” from April 9, 2009 – Spot coverage from an unforgettable night at historic Alpha Lodge, when Bro. Oliver visited from Germany to discuss his jurisdiction’s teachings, ritual structure, regalia, and more. At the time I posted this, there wasn’t much on the web about the Swedish Rite—and that doesn’t seem to have changed much—so I did what I could to be informative while safeguarding secrets of the Rite.

Bro. Oliver at Alpha Lodge No. 116.

Click here.

Statistically, by far, the No. 1 most heavily visited post in Magpie history is…

Bro. Jim, our tour guide, and unidentified photo bomber
at the H.O.T., February 9, 2009.

“At the House of the Temple” from March 6, 2009 – In February of that year, Bro. Jim and I visited the House of the Temple in Washington, DC for a tour. A first for us both. I shot a lot of photos, and shared a bunch here, which I think is why this post draws so much curiosity—probably from Masons and anti-masons alike. The H.O.T. has undergone renovations since then, but have a look at the main attractions here.

One could think this ranks first because it has been up almost since day one, but the truth is this post always has been the most visited Magpie page.

Honorable Mention: One post, since taken down, from April of 2013 seemingly was read a dozen times by each and every Mason in Pennsylvania.

Click here to read the very first Magpie Mason post.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

‘Equal Night is tonight’

Elm Forest in Autumn by Edvard Munch, oil on canvas, 1919-20.

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the autumnal equinox will arrive tonight at 9:54 (New York time), when our sun will cross the celestial equator, resulting in an equal amount of sunlight reaching both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, and day and night shall be equal (give or take) all around the globe. Equinox means “equal night.”

For us, it spells the beginning of fall.

Nothing Gold Can Stay
Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

It is time for harvest and feasts; for darker days and longer sleep; to retire sweet Virginias for English and Balkan; and for wearing wool, tweed, leather, and denim. We’re halfway to the solstice.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

‘Pennsylvania Academy in October’

It’s been too long—something like three years!—since I got to a Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge symposium. Two great attractions on October 27 probably will induce me to make the 300-mile round trip.

Josef Wäges and John Michael Greer will be the speakers. Greer is a prolific (to say the least) author of books on a multitude of subjects. His Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies has been a favorite of mine for years. Wäges is a Masonic speaker who gets around. Tapped for the Society of Blue Friars this year, Wäges also has become a regular on the Masonic speaking circuit. For example, he will appear at the October 20 meeting of Boynton Lodge Esoteric Research Group in Florida.

Anyway, from the symposium publicity:

October 2018 Speaker Information

Bro. Josef Wäges is a member of the Blue Friars, a member of Plano Lodge 768 and Fate Lodge 802, the Valley of Dallas of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (Southern Jurisdiction), Fellow of the Grand College of Rites, a full member of the Texas Lodge of Research, Michigan Lodge of Research, and life member of the Missouri Lodge of Research. Editor of The Secret School of Wisdom: The Authentic Rituals and Doctrines of the Illuminati, and On Materialism and Idealism. He is currently preparing the forthcoming books, Ecossais Masonry: A History of the High Degrees from the Scots Master to the Order of the Royal Secret, for Scottish Rite Research Society, and The Columbian Illuminati: The Improved System of the Illuminati.


One of the most elusive questions of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite concerns its origins. Where exactly did it come from, and from what source do its rituals emanate? Many scholars have rightfully determined that Étienne Morin, also known as Stephen Morin, is the founder of this system, but it is even less certain precisely whence his authority came, let alone who Morin was. The truth is we have only a partial picture of who he was and the circumstances concerning his authority to establish the rite. Nevertheless, when one assembles all of the evidence and gathers still more, there is still enough light left in the fragments to project a more complete vision of the truth.

Bro. John Michael Greer was Entered, Passed, and Raised in 2001 in Doric Lodge 92 in Seattle, and also is a member of Queen City Lodge 131 in Maryland, and St. Johns Lodge 1 in Providence, Rhode Island. He is active in the Scottish Rite and the York Rite, and has served as presiding officer in all three York Rite bodies. He is also an active member of the non-Masonic Societas Rosicruciana in America. He is a professional writer with more than 50 books to his name, including The Secret of the Temple: Earth Energies, Sacred Geometry, and the Lost Secrets of Freemasonry and the forthcoming The Ceremony of the Grail: Ancient Mysteries, Gnostic Heresies, and the Lost Rituals of Freemasonry. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife Sara.


Ever since Freemasonry came to public notice, some people outside the Craft have insisted that Freemasonry is a front for this or that conspiracy. The truth is far stranger: While Freemasonry generally has stayed out of the conspiracy business, an astonishing number of secret societies of all kinds have borrowed from Masonry. From the struggles over the Jacobite movement in 18th century Europe through the heyday of the Illuminati and the Carbonari, down to the struggle to the death between the Ku Klux Klan and such anti-Klan secret societies as the Order of the Flaming Circle and the Order of Anti-Poke-Noses, a great deal of modern history has been shaped by groups that picked up the tools of the Master Mason and put them to other uses.

Registration Information

Please recognize that a cost is incurred to the program for your registration. If you pre-register and subsequently determine that you will be unable to attend, please have the Masonic courtesy to cancel your reservation by the same method and providing the same information.

Registration will open at 8:30 a.m. with the program beginning at 9:30.
A lunch (requested contribution of $10) will be served at noon, and the program will be completed by 3 p.m. All Masons are welcome to attend. Dress is coat and tie.

All meetings are held at Freemasons Cultural Center in Masonic Village at Elizabethtown (1 Masonic Drive, Elizabethtown, PA).

Live stream of the Symposium

In an effort to allow as many people as possible to participate in the symposiums, the Academy Committee offers a live stream of each event. Additionally, those viewing the live stream may ask questions of the presenters via the live stream chat feature, the Academy Facebook group, and Reddit.

On the day of an Academy symposium, a live stream video will appear on the Grand Lodge YouTube channel here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

‘Brandywine Battlefield Degree’


It’s only a few short weeks until the Brandywine Battlefield Degree in Pennsylvania.

That’s Saturday, October 6. Hosted by Kennett Lodge 475, this conferral of Pennsylvania’s Entered Apprentice Degree will take place at the historic site of the battle between forces commanded by George Washington and William Howe before the latter’s troops seized Philadelphia in 1777.

WM Eric Downs
While the lodge’s officers and ritualists will be attired in period costume, the dress code for everyone else is a casual polo-and-khakis-type combo.

A modest fee of $40 per person is being collected. Use PayPal here.

The dinner menu will be: grilled chicken, mushroom salad, potato salad, pasta salad, cole slaw, corn bread, various desserts, and soft drinks. Cigars and fellowship will round off the evening. (The lodge has acquired several boxes of Hiram and Solomon Entered Apprentice cigars for the occasion.)

I probably will bring a pipe, and a clay at that,
but there will be cigars on hand!

Gather at the site at 4 p.m. for a tour of Washington’s headquarters and the grounds ($8 payable at the visitors center). Dinner will be served at six. The degree will begin at 7:30. This is a rain-or-shine event. Address: 1491 Baltimore Pike in Chadds Ford—about 25 miles southwest of Philly.

There even is a souvenir token awaiting you:

If you are unfamiliar with Pennsylvania Masonic rituals, they are unique in the United States. It’s not that you wouldn’t recognize this EAº, but you would discern many differences from initiations you already know. Pennsylvania lodge officers, especially the Worshipful Masters, make impressive efforts to confer their degrees. Let’s pray for cool weather out of respect for the heavy clothes they will be wearing.

Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

‘C-SPAN tonight: Masonic cornerstone of U.S. Capitol’

Courtesy C-SPAN

Today at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time, C-SPAN will broadcast “225th Anniversary of the Laying of the Capitol Cornerstone,” which will feature Washington, DC Freemasons (perhaps re-enacting the historic event, I guess). Representatives from the U.S. Capitol Historical Society and George Washington’s Mount Vernon will be shown, as will, unfortunately, members of Congress.

‘Camel goes nutzoid at Shriner circus’

Courtesy CBS News

News sources around the nation are reporting the rampage of a camel at a Shriner circus in Pittsburgh on Sunday that caused injuries to six children and one adult. Authorities reviewed video footage of the scene, and one unconfirmed report says a child threw a shovel at the camel, causing the animal to start bucking while a woman and two kids were riding it.

The worst of the injuries was a broken arm suffered by one child. It was said the camel was brought under control in 11 seconds.

Even more startling news is that the Shrine still exists.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

‘That Freemason Mark in Manhattan’

RW Bro. Mark “That Freemason Mark” Koltko-Rivera, Past Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of New York and Masonic author, has a few speaking engagements upcoming at Masonic Hall.

On Wednesday, he will present “The Future of Freemasonry” at Kosciuszko Lodge 1085. Master Masons only. 7:30 p.m. in the French Doric Room on 10. From the publicity:

Mark Koltko-Rivera
In this presentation, much like Charles Dickens’ “Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come,” RW Bro. Mark Koltko-Rivera describes two distinct potential futures for Freemasonry—one very dark, and one very bright. He also describes how we will reach one or the other of these futures entirely on the basis of our choices as Freemasons. Come and learn how what you and your lodge will determine the future of our fraternity.

Mark also will visit Joshua Lodge 890 Wednesday, October 10 to present his lecture “The Vision and Mission of Masonry.”

That’s 7 p.m. Apprentice and Fellows are welcome! From the publicity:

Freemasonry has been described many ways over the past three centuries. Most of these obscure the fact that the fraternity has very specific purposes and distinctive objectives. In other words, Masonry has both a vision and a mission. In this presentation, RW Bro. Mark Koltko-Rivera explains precisely what this vision and mission are, and how we, as Freemasons, can further this mission and actualize this vision.

Come to learn more about the vision and objectives of Freemasonry; leave with inspiration and determination to make that vision real, and fulfill those objectives.

RW Bro. Mark Koltko-Rivera, Ph.D., is a Past Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in the State of New York. He was raised a Master Mason in Winter Park Lodge 239 in Florida. Having moved to the New York City area, he is now also a member of Heritage Lodge 371 and Joshua Lodge 890, which meet at Masonic Hall in Manhattan.

He is the author of three books on Freemasonry: Freemasonry: An Introduction, The Mysteries of Freemasonry, and his latest The Resurgence of Freemasonry: Why Masonry Must Not Just Survive But Thrive—and How Masons and Their Lodges Can Make That Happen.

He holds a doctorate in psychology from New York University. At MEKR Consulting, he is a foresight consultant for the business and investment communities. He also consults to Masonic grand lodges on membership issues.

‘Ryan Flynn coming to Manhattan’

Dunedin Masonic Temple, by Ryan J. Flynn,
oil on canvas, 2015-16.

The details have yet to be announced, but save Saturday, November 3 for the visit of Bro. Ryan Flynn to Maimonides-Marshall Lodge 739 at Masonic Hall. He will present “The Fine Arts and Freemasonry: The Forgotten Bond” at 1 p.m.

I had the good luck to hear Ryan give this lecture three years ago in Philadelphia at the Masonic Restoration Foundation’s annual symposium. A highly accomplished painter himself, Ryan recounts the history of how Freemasons participated in the fine arts, altruistically supported artists, how Masonic culture otherwise has been intertwined with the arts, and advocates a return of Freemasonry’s embrace of the fine arts and performing arts. (At least that’s how I remember it.)

By the time he finishes, you’ll be ready to grab an artist and commission him to paint murals on your lodge room’s walls—no matter the cost!

I don’t know if this will be a tiled meeting of the lodge or what other particulars will arise, but I’ll update this as things develop.

Click here to see some of Ryan’s work, including Masonic paintings.

‘Things to do this fall’

Autumn is only days away, so you’re probably wondering what there is to do to celebrate the season. Well, it’s a good thing you read The Magpie Mason! Here are a few suggestions.

Sunday, September 23 at 1 p.m.
Catherine Walter at Kearney House
in Alpine, New Jersey

The curator of the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library and Museum reprises her lecture from January titled “The Civil War and Freemasonry: Reunion of Brothers in the Blue and Gray.” This concerns a Confederate captain (and Freemason) who saved the lives of three Union soldiers (also Freemasons) who were dying at the Second Battle of Bull Run.

Also that day at the site, a Civil War encampment, with demonstrations, talks, and other activities from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday, September 29, noon to 5
McGarrah’s Oktoberfest in Monroe

Hosted by the Cornerstone Masonic Historical Society, the philanthropic arm of Cornerstone Lodge 711, this Oktoberfest raises funds for the continued restoration and maintenance of McGarrah’s Stagecoach Inn and Museum.

All you can eat. All you can drink. 300 Stage Road in Monroe.

Food: Wursts from Schaller and Weber, German food prepared by Culinary Institute graduate Max Wessels.

Beer: Spaten Oktoberfest, Franziskaner, and someone named Bud Light.

Live music, raffles, a climbing wall, games, bounce house, building tours, ghost tours, and more.


Day of event: all you can eat/drink: $40 (alcohol included) or $30 (no alcohol)

Kids 12 and under: $10

And before the Oktoberfest, at 11 a.m., there will be a 5K run, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Sunday, October 7 at 1 p.m.
Grand Masters Day at Tappan

The annual event at DeWint House, the Grand Lodge of New York’s George Washington Historic Site in Tappan.

Brunch at 11:30 a.m. at Casa Mia Manor House (577 Route 303 in Blauvelt). $36 per person. Contact Bro. Ken Merring here to arrange your pre-paid reservation.

The event itself is an enjoyable program centered around the dedication of an exotic tree planted on the impressive 12-acre grounds of the historic site. Click here to see many photos of past Grand Masters Days.

Sunday, October 7, 11 a.m. to dusk
Traubenfest 2018 at Tappan

That same day, the brethren of the Ninth Manhattan District host their 800th annual Traubenfest at German Masonic Park, also in Tappan. Go to both events. Traubenfest means Strawberry Festival, but this basically is an Oktoberfest with plenty of German music, food, and beer. Vendors will be hawking stuff. A great time. Click here for photos of previous Traubenfests.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

‘UGLE to introduce Solomon’

Freemasonry Today magazine revealed the other day that the United Grand Lodge of England will provide a new avenue for Masonic education for its members this fall.

United Grand Lodge of England
RW Bro. Stuart Hadler, Provincial Grand Master of Somerset, and RW Bro. Anthony Howlett-Bolton, PGM of Berkshire, delivered an address Wednesday at the Grand Lodge’s Quarterly Communication titled “Solomon: Fostering Curiosity, Developing Understanding.”

Solomon has been in development for three years, and will be unveiled in November, they said. The planning was begun in response to a membership survey, which prompted a desire “to promote Freemasonry as a relevant, worthwhile, and attractive organization in the 21st century.” That survey revealed a need for the fraternity to deliver instruction on Masonic symbolism, moral and philosophical issues, history and traditions—particularly in Royal Arch Masonry.

“Whilst the performance of ritual is a highly valued tradition of our constitution, and social and charitable aspects are of key importance, we were failing many new and current members who seek to improve themselves through greater insight, knowledge, and understanding of Freemasonry,” said the two PGMs. “Furthermore, that only through a personal ability to communicate and share these values can Freemasonry hope to demonstrate its worth and value in the 21st century.”

They acknowledged how books and the web can offer plenty of material to read and enjoy, but “the opportunity to offer an explanation in the lodge or chapter can be much more effective. This can signpost relevant material, and help us along our own personal Masonic journey.”

“Many members are curious and have a sincere wish to improve their understanding,” they added. “They have expectations when they join and these should evolve over time. We have a responsibility to ensure that our members have ready access to the intellectual and practical resources to enhance their Freemasonry, fulfill their interest and help them become more rounded and committed members. There is a genuine concern that a concentration on the performance of ritual, without appreciating what we are doing and why, overlooks the important messages that lie within and is one reason why some members choose to leave.”

What is Solomon?

“Solomon is a central repository of informative material that will answer some of the questions, and point members along the path of daily advancement in Masonic knowledge,” they explained. “It is designed to be used by individual Masons, lodges, chapters, provinces, and districts, and to fit comfortably with the needs of all levels of experience and interest. It can be used on multiple platforms, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, and currently contains over 350 items. It will continue to grow and evolve.”

There are no “definitive” answers offered, as the Grand Lodge does not advance official points of view of the speculative matters, but “Solomon is a collection of credible views and interpretations. So you may find different explanations of a symbol or ceremony. This variation in interpretation should stimulate discussion and debate. Such is the nature of Freemasonry.”

Congratulations to the United Grand Lodge of England, and to the brethren who are bringing this project to fruition. That is what real leadership gets you.

‘New book: Mayan Masonry’

Bro. Richard Cassaro of George Washington Lodge 285 has a new book coming next week. From the publicity:

Mayan Masonry: Were the ancient Maya an older branch on the Masonic family tree?

In this thrilling and adventure-filled quest penetrating deep into the Mesoamerican jungles, iconoclast author and popular lecturer Richard Cassaro rivets our attention on the great architectural and cultural achievements of the Maya.

These monuments are not the remnants of a raging warrior people drenched in sacrificial blood, as commonly portrayed, but rather reflect a sophisticated spiritual legacy—a Masonic legacy—that stretches back over many millennia.

Maya “Master Masons” built some of the most advanced stone pyramids, temples, aqueducts, and ceremonial centers in the world. Mayan art and architecture represents a civilization focused on metaphysical self-knowledge and inner development. Mayan temples are gateways bridging the material and spiritual worlds, capable of healing, divination, and raising consciousness.

Click here to order your copy.

Bro. Cassaro also will lead a tour of Mayan ruin in Mexico November 3 through 10. Click here.