Thursday, September 26, 2019

‘The Great Escape’

Every day is Plato Day for Magpie Mason readers, but October 13 especially is Plato Day, thanks to the School of Practical Philosophy. From the publicity:

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

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

Join us to discover why Socrates said the “unexamined life is not worth living,” and enter into a conversation involving life’s most important questions. In giving serious consideration to these, you may well discover answers for yourself that will positively impact your daily living.

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

Sunday, October 13
Registration opens at 8:30 a.m.
Program: 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Wine reception to follow
12 East 79th Street, Manhattan

Fee: $50: includes materials, refreshments, lunch, and wine reception, or $25 for people enrolled in a full-time course of study (i.e. high school, university, etc.)

I enjoyed this discussion one day a couple of years ago, so I’m going to sit this one out, but you should go. Click here to book seat. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

‘Weird Fact Wednesday: Amity with the Grand Orient’

I hope to make Weird Fact Wednesday a regular feature here on The Magpie Mason, but I also said that of Throwback Thursday, and that isn’t working out. Anyway, today’s Masonic Weird Fact comes from 100 years ago.

You know that the Grand Orient of France became estranged from the mainstream Masonic world in the 1870s after deleting from its constitution an affirmation of belief in deity,* but did you know that grand lodges in the United States re-established relations with the Grand Orient during and after World War I?

(Actually, nearly every grand lodge in the United States broke off relations with the Grand Orient in 1867 on account of the GOF’s meddling in Louisiana Masonry, but that’s another story.)

The First World War transformed Western Civilization and many parts beyond, and it made lasting changes on Freemasonry as well. In the United States, there took place a membership boom that caused the chartering of lodges throughout the then 49 grand lodges, as newly sworn military men sought the rights and benefits of Masonic membership in anticipation of being sent overseas. Plenty of civilians petitioned for the degrees of the Craft as well, of course, and the cumulative effect of all this prompted the construction of who-knows-how-many Masonic temples, Scottish Rite cathedrals, Shrines, and other infrastructure nationwide—those grand marble or limestone or brick, etc. edifices that today have been or are being abandoned as we speak.

In Masonic international relations, the influx of more than a million Americans into France created situations where U.S. soldiers sought lodge memberships in France. The National Grand Lodge of France was only a few years old, but enjoyed the approbation of the United Grand Lodge of England because, frankly, the English created it. There also existed the Grand Lodge of France, which too had been delegitimized and then found itself embraced anew because of the war, but this Masonic Weird Fact concerns the Grand Orient, into whose lodges a number of Americans sought entrance.

“New York set the ball rolling in September 1917 by granting to its members the right to fraternize with the Masons of France during the war,” says a 1918 report by the Grand Lodge of Nevada. “New Jersey went further and unequivocally recognized the Grand Lodge of France and repealed its edict against the Grand Orient. In December 1917, the District of Columbia recognized the Grand Lodge of France without a dissenting vote. California appointed a committee to devise plans for renewing relations with the French brethren, and extended the right to its brethren to visit any lodges in France, Belgium, and Italy. In Kentucky, Utah, Florida, Texas, Georgia, and Alabama also favorable action has been taken enabling their members to fraternize with the craftsmen of France. With the return of peace, this will make easy the establishment of permanent relations of amity and good will.”

Nevada itself joined that list of U.S. grand jurisdictions in 1918. Others, as far as I know (there may be others), would include Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Rhode Island. (Louisiana rescinded recognition after a couple of years.)

In New Jersey, on May 18, 1918, MW Bro. William M. Thompson was appointed Grand Representative to the Grand Orient of France near New Jersey. On July 25, RW Bro. Justin Sicard de Plauzoles was appointed Grand Representative of New Jersey near the Grand Orient. Plauzoles writes:

Dear Brother and Most Worshipful Grand Master,

I have received with joy and gratitude the patent by which the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of New Jersey has constituted and appointed me its representative to the Grand Orient of France. I am very happy and proud of the title, and of your trust and confidence. The Freemasons of France and of the United States possess the same ideals for which formerly Lafayette and now Pershing have crossed the ocean.

At that time, at this time, at all times, we have fought together the same battles for right and liberty.

Henceforth, nothing shall be able to break the bonds of friendship which unite our nations.

The admiration and gratitude for your heroes make more precious the title which you have conferred upon me.

I thank my beloved brethren of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of New Jersey most heartily, and beg you to believe me to be your faithful and devoted brother.

Maréchal Bernard Magnan
Further correspondence between New Jersey and the Grand Orient ensued. In October 1918, the secretary of the GOF’s Council of the Order (in 1871, after France’s defeat by Germany, and the fall of the Second French Empire, the office of grand master was abolished—its final grand master being Bernard Pierre Magnan, Marshal of France—and was replaced by a President de l’Ordre) wrote to ask if GLNJ would object to the Grand Orient conferring the degrees of Freemasonry upon New Jersey natives currently located in France. New Jersey’s response was to say no blanket approval was possible, but that a waiver of jurisdiction would have to be granted on an individual basis. New Jersey’s Grand Master, speaking to the 132nd Annual Communication of his Grand Lodge in Trenton on April 16, 1919, said:

The resumption of our former friendly relations with the Grand Orient of France by the rescission of the interdict of non-intercourse led to correspondence which has indicated not only a lively appreciation of our action, but as well an apprehension of conditions arising from the war and American participation therein and a sense of the Masonic properties involved, that justifies making it in part a matter of record in this address.

And later:

The great war has convulsed nations, cost emperors and kings their heads, and disturbed the great heart of mankind, but Freemasonry emerges from the conflict stronger than ever in her history. The eyes of all the world are upon the craft. They realize the tremendous possibilities for good that rest in our organization, and expect great things from us in the reorganization of society. I have no hesitation in affirming that we will live up to every expectation.

Ours in an order that shall stand
A light upon a nation’s hill,
A voice forbidding all that’s ill—
A source of strength for all that’s good
In Justice, Love, and Brotherhood.

In the Grand Lodge of New York it was said: “We still question, nevertheless, the wisdom of the move, from a Masonic standpoint, and we trust New Jersey will, before long, reconsider the matter. We love her too much to see her go astray unwarned.” (The Grand Orient had chartered a lodge in New York City, which didn’t sit well with GLNY.)

I do not know when the American grand lodges resumed their fraternal divorce from the Grand Orient—or maybe they never did, and everyone forgot? Maybe the amity lasted to 1940, when the Grand Orient was shuttered during the Nazi occupation? I’ll keep reading.

*The story is more complicated than that. Writing his Modern Masonry, Joseph Fort Newton explains:

As a matter of fact, from its foundation till 1849, the Constitution of the Grand Orient contained no declaration of belief in deity, yet during all those years it was fully recognized by the Masonic world. In August 1849, the following clause was inserted in the Constitution: “Freemasonry has for its principles the existence of deity and the immortality of the soul.”

As this declaration brought the Grand Orient into direct conflict with the Church—on the ground, as the clerical party affirmed, that it was setting up a rival religion—in September 1877, the following words were substituted:

Bro. Frédéric Desmons
“Masonry has for its principles mutual tolerance, respect for others and for itself, and absolute liberty of conscience.” For making this change, the Grand Orient was disfellowshipped by nearly every Grand Lodge in the world, especially in English-speaking lands, whereas it was only a return to its original position, when, as has been said, it was regarded as truly Masonic. The change was proposed, not by an atheist—if there be such a thing outside an insane asylum—but by Brother [Frédéric] Desmons, a Protestant Christian minister, the object being to parry the criticism that Masonry was trying to foster a spurious religion. At the same time it was left optional with the lodges to display or not to display the Bible in their ceremonies.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

‘A Mark Mason’s marvelous remuneration’

As the Royal Arch Grand Chapter of New York’s Grand Representative Near New Jersey (I never can remember the title properly), I am duty bound to stay up to date on the fantastic happenings of all kinds in the Royal Arch chapters of New York. So here is something really cool.

Tonawanda Keystone Chapter 71, way up and out in Amherst, is making a new chapter penny available to the companions there. Actually it is a reboot of a design from the 19th century used by Buffalo Chapter:

Chapter penny obverse.

Chapter penny reverse.

Companions need only attend a chapter meeting and plunk down ten bucks to have one. (Needless to say, these beauties were brought to fruition by Bro. John Bridegroom of The Masters Craft.)

The penny is yet another instructive symbol in Masonic learning. In the Mark Degree—and Tonawanda Keystone Chapter terms this token a Mark coin—it is the compensation paid to a laborer for his daily toil. Its small denomination rings odd to the modern ear, but of course it simply represents any remuneration.

Tonawanda Keystone Chapter convocations are held on the fourth Tuesday of the month, and the companions have an active schedule: the MEMº today, a table chapter October 22, and the Royal Arch Degree November 26. I wish they weren’t 5,000 miles away.

Well done, Companions!

Monday, September 23, 2019

‘Sing a song of seasons!’

Autumn Fires

Robert Louis Stevenson

In the other gardens
And all up in the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over,
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

There isn’t much talk in Freemasonry of the equinoxes. It’s all about the solstices, starting, even, with an allusion during the First Degree—as another dichotomic pair, like checkered pavement, directional opposites, twin pillars, spirit and matter, and other contrasts balanced for harmony.

My lodge is located in the middle of Manhattan, so an autumn bonfire like Stevenson recommends would be impractical. The building trustees would suffer paroxysms of all sorts. Still, there is much the individual can do to acknowledge the quick period of “equal night” that strikes at this very moment. For me, the autumn fires will involve the transition from Virginia pipe tobaccos to mixtures containing healthy doses of Latakia. Maybe wear some tweed to lodge. Nothing pumpkin spice, thanks.

Robert Louis Stevenson is said to have been a Brother Mason in Scotland. My query via social media to the Grand Lodge there went unrequited, but in his Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, he delves very much into paradoxical human nature: good versus evil; public versus private; civilization versus barbarism. Just as we do in our lodges.

From Stevenson’s novella: “I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both.”

And so it goes in our initiatic rituals. Darkness overcome by Light at first; Ignorance cleansed by Knowledge in the second; and Death defeated by Eternal Life in the Sublime Degree. We can’t have one without the other in the perpetual labor.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

‘Journal of the Masonic Society 46’

Editor-in-Chief Michael Poll announces the new Journal of the Masonic Society:

Issue 46 of The Journal of the Masonic Society is at the printers. Before long, it will be showing up in the mailboxes of members and subscribers. The line-up for this issue is an impressive one. Papers include:

  • “Personal Ritual: A Contemplative Tool for Masonry Beyond the Lodge,” by C.R. Dunning, Jr.
  • “Ancient Charges Scroll Case: Putting Craftsmanship Back into the Craft,” by Martin Bogardus
  • “Who Are We, and Where Do We Stand?” by Robert L. Poll
  • “The Boyer Model of Scholarship: Application to the Craft,” by Michael L. Moran and Seth C. Anthony
  • “The Symbolism of Preparation,” by Mark St. John
  • “Brother, Brother - Brother, Brothers,” by Anthony Whitehawk Cabello
  • “Concept of Masonic Renewal: What Does it Mean to You Now and in the Future?” by Christian M. Christensen
  • “Why Freemasonry?” by Barry A. Searle
  • “Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism: Ludibrium or Logic?” by Michael E. Ludwig

The great collection of reading in this issue will also include the regular book reviews, “Editor’s Corner,” W. Bro. Greg Knott’s great “Camera’s Lens” feature, W. Bro. John Bridegroom’s “Masonic Treasures,” and more. If you are not a member or subscriber, you should be!

And in other Journal news, Mike shared this recently:

I have an announcement to make concerning The Journal of the Masonic Society that I am not happy about, and a second one that does bring me pleasure. First, it is with regret that I announce the retirement of Bro. Tyler Anderson as Book Reviews Editor of The Journal. I have very much enjoyed working with Bro. Anderson, and his work for the Society has been outstanding. We all wish him the greatest success in the future.

So, who will be the new Book Reviews Editor? That brings me to the second announcement. It is with pleasure that I announce the appointment of Bro. and Dr. Michael Moran as the new Book Reviews Editor of The Journal of the Masonic Society. Bro. Moran comes to us with considerable editorial experience and has been a frequent contributor to The Journal. I know Bro. Moran from his work with the Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge and do look forward to working with him. I know he will bring The Journal top quality work and reviews.

The next major event on the Masonic Society calendar will be our annual meeting during the Masonic Week festivities on Friday, February 7, 2020. Come here Bro. Mark Tabbert present his new research into the Masonic life of George Washington, and enjoy a great meal together. The reservations info should be available soon.

Monday, September 16, 2019

‘New Jersey’s Masonic lodges’


Lots of great news coming out of the weekend.

Research lodge’s
festive board

First, mark your calendars for Saturday, November 30 for New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786’s Festive Board at Cranbury Inn. That’s the Feast Day of St. Andrew, patron saint of Scottish Freemasonry. Details are still being worked out, but 65 guests are welcome at $40 each, payable in advance. I’ll have more info soon and will post it on the Magpie.

A brother’s book
to be published

A relatively new Master Mason, Bro. Erich Huhn, will have a book published next month. New Jersey’s Masonic Lodges is due out October 28 from Arcadia Publishing. This is one of those 128-page paperbacks filled entirely with archival photographs that Arcadia prints. $21.99, available for preorder. From the publicity:

Across New Jersey, thousands of men have entered through the doors of Masonic Lodge buildings, also known as “temples,” over the fraternity’s more than 250-year history in the Garden State. These buildings, from humble meeting spaces to elaborate single-purpose centers, stand tribute to the memory and influence of one of the oldest fraternities in the world, founded on the tenets of faith, hope, and charity. From governors and U.S. Supreme Court justices, to carpenters and stonemasons, Freemasonry has welcomed men from all walks of life, and the temples they built have played important roles in the civic, social, and charitable life of many towns. Although some lodges have been lost, many still remain and are presented here for the first time through photographs and images collected from various historical societies, museums, libraries, and Masonic organizations. This book attempts not to serve as an encyclopedic source but rather to catalog and organize the development of the Masonic temples in New Jersey.

Erich Morgan Huhn is a historian of Freemasonry and fraternalism and a member of Cincinnati Lodge 3 in Morristown. He has degrees from Rider University and Seton Hall University. His work focuses on demographics and social history, with a concentration on the Freemasons and fraternities of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Adam, Ryan,
and Yasser to speak

I haven’t seen any of these outstanding Masons in years, especially Adam, and it’ll be good to shake their hands again.

Admission is free. This flier says it all. See you there.

Click to enlarge.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

‘How to serve as lodge historian’

Busy day today. This morning, at New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786, I presented this brief talk on the practical means of serving as historian of your lodge. This evening, I’ll do it again in J. William Gronning Council 83 of Allied Masonic Degrees. Fortunately, both groups meet in the same place: Hightstown-Apollo Lodge 41 in Hightstown, New Jersey.

What we have here is nothing I have written myself, but is an item I discovered inadvertently in the pages of the Grand Lodge of California’s annual book of proceedings for 1919. Actually, it originates in a Grand Lodge of Texas report, but I have not been able to find that. I don’t know if it also is from 1919 or from a previous year, or in what form it takes.

These books are excellent starting points for research into Freemasonry. They contain tons of statistics on demographics, finances, lodge locations, and other data, so much of the content is quite dry, but there also are written texts that make for interesting reading. The grand master’s message to the grand lodge assembled is one such item. Of wider interest is the report of the correspondence committee, assuming the committee has material to work with and that it knows what to do. What happens—or should happen—is the grand lodges in amity with the grand lodge in question send in their news (sometimes their own books of proceedings) to the correspondence committee, and this committee collates the information, selects what is thought to be most relevant, and compiles it all in its report for publication (not for reading aloud to the grand lodge meeting). Some grand lodges provide only basic news of who has been elected/appointed to grand rank, of notables who have died, and maybe some major legislation that passed. But then, other grand lodges provide troves of information for the enlightenment of Masons wherever dispersed about the face of the earth.

I gather that is what happened here. The Grand Lodge of Texas forwarded to California this primer on what a lodge historian can do to preserve the story of his lodge, keeping information that otherwise would go the way of most ephemera, so that future generations may know the real way and manner others have gone before. It’s a solid framework, but of course it could be expanded, depending on the needs and wants of your lodge.

Also, as you read, do keep in mind that this dates to an era when lodges were being chartered rapidly and in numbers across the nation.

So, here it is, verbatim from the book:


Correspondence Committee Report


If the Educational Committee could enlarge their activities so as to gather valuable material regarding the past history of the men and events connected with Masonry that are not embodied in the Grand Lodge Proceedings, and which will soon be lost, they would perform a lasting service.

The same statement also applies to individual Lodges. It is a most interesting study, but like the work of a Correspondence Committee, it must be necessarily a labor of love.


With a view to uniformity and comprehensiveness, and to assist those Brethren appointed to prepare their lodge histories, we suggest the following skeleton or outline of the work, which should be varied according to circumstances. And we here remark that all members of the lodge should lend their assistance and co-operation in this work, especially in gathering up the facts that do not appear in the lodge records.



Section 1 Geographical location surroundings, history, population, development and general conditions social, and otherwise, of the community

Section 2 Preliminary steps to formation of the lodge. Names of the Brethren actively concerned in the movement and of those who signed the petition for the dispensation or charter, their occupations. Masonic records and brief biographies. Other particulars of interest connected with them or the lodge in its early stages.

Section 3 If an old lodge formed prior to the adoption of the present form, a full copy of the petition with signatures would doubtless be of interest. Give name and number of the lodge that recommended the petition.

Section 4 To what Grand Master or Deputy Grand Master the petition was presented. His action thereon and the date. Names of the Brethren appointed Master and Wardens of the new lodge.

Section 5 When, by whom, and in what building the lodge was opened under dispensation. Minutes of the first several meetings or copious extracts or summaries thereof showing how the new lodge started off.

Section 6 If an old lodge chartered prior to adoption of present form, a full copy with signatures of the petition for a charter. To what Communication of the Grand Lodge was it presented, when, and where did the Grand Lodge meet, the report of the Committee on Lodges Under Dispensation or other committee thereon, and the action of the Grand Lodge. If refused, follow up the doings of the lodge till the charter was granted.

Section 7 Where, by whom, and in what building was the lodge constituted. Names of its officers given in the charter and installed, minutes or summary thereof, and the social or other functions incident to the occasion, if any.

Section 8 Any facts of general Masonic historical or local interest connected with the experiences and progress of the lodge, and of Masons in the community. Copious summaries of the minutes might be of service.


Section 1 List of all the Worshipful Masters of the lodge and the year in which each was elected and installed in chronological order.

Section 2 A roll, in chronological order, of all the members of the lodge since its first organization, those made Master Masons by the lodge in one column, and those affiliated in another.

Section 3 A list of all Brethren who have died while members of the lodge, with date of death and noting observance of the burial service, if any, with names of officers performing same, and other Brethren present.

Section 4 A brief historical account of the several lodge rooms occupied, the time of the occupancy of each and the circumstances connected with or causing the changes, the leasing or building of each. A mention of any of the old lodge furniture or appurtenances might be of interest.

Section 5 All traditions of interest connected with the lodge especially in the early days and contemporaneous events in the community in which the lodge or any of the Brethren were directly or indirectly concerned.


Section 1 Note time and circumstances connected with each visit of a Grand Officer, including the District Deputy Grand Master, to the lodge and the social functions, if any, incident thereto.

Section 2 If the lodge was named for other than the town or some noted historical or Biblical character, explain the circumstances with biography of the namesake if a person or history of the case.

Section 3 Biographical sketches of other prominent and deserving members of the lodge, past and present, but avoiding fulsome praises of the living.

Section 4 Special mention of any member or members of the lodge who have held office in any of the Grand Bodies of Masonry in Texas or elsewhere before coming here or in the public service local, state, or national.


Section l Accounts with dates and full particulars including officers, members present, etc. of all notable functions or events in the lodge, public or private, such as a St John’s Day celebration, and public installations, Cornerstone ceremonies, or any other Masonic, patriotic, etc.


Section 1 Brief mention of other Masonic bodies in same town or county, with date of charter and other particulars.

To these outlines could be added other features of interest, especially of things not preserved in Printed Proceedings of the Grand Lodge.

Jesse M. Whited, Chairman
Committee on Correspondence

Friday, September 13, 2019

‘Diluvian Origins of Craft Masonry’


Maryland Masonic Research Society will meet again next month and hear a presentation by Jason Richards of The Masonic Roundtable. From the publicity:

Saturday, October 12 at noon
10800 Edmonston Road
Beltsville, Maryland
$20 for lunch. RSVP here.

Diluvian Origins:
The Influence of the Noahide
Flood Myth of Craft Masonry

Presented by Jason Richards, Past Master of Acacia Lodge 16 in Clifton, Virginia; member of The Colonial Lodge 1821 in Washington, DC; and co-host of The Masonic Roundtable podcast. Richards also is a writer, editor, and speaker on Masonic topics, having written for The Midnight Freemasons and The Voice of Freemasonry in the District of Columbia.

“Diluvian Origins” is a comparative study of worldwide flood myths that explores the similarities of various oral traditions and cultural memories of catastrophic flood events, and demonstrates the links between the Noahide flood myth and the York Craft Guild system, and examines historical records that imply the story of Noah was at one time a central theme in early 18th century Masonic Third Degree rituals.

Lunch at noon. Presentation at 1 p.m. When booking your seat, please mention if you require a vegan meal, and reserve no later than October 8.

Just a few thoughts: It is true that what is religion to one man may be mythology to another, but in Freemasonry we do not look at the Book of Genesis as myth, as this first book of the VSL particularly informs Craft ritual and symbol. And, in Freemasonry, we spell it “Noachide.” Noah and his sons was one of the first topics I addressed many years ago as Master of New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786, so I remember the Graham Manuscript of 1726, which places Noah in the raising position we today know is held by our GMHA. I regret not being able to attend this event because I am curious to learn of the additional rituals or documents that explain. Of course there is Royal Ark Mariner, but that tells a different story. Highly recommended if you are able to attend. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

‘Things to do this weekend’

Busy this weekend? Didn’t think so. Why not make some time to try these activities?

Rosicrucian Healing
Friday, September 13
6:30 p.m.
Rosicrucian Cultural Center
2303 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.
New York City

From the Rosicrucian perspective, the best way to treat any illness or dis-ease is by bringing both the psychic body and the physical body into an harmonious state. By developing our ability to maintain this state of harmony, we are able to bring even more health and vitality into our lives.

Join us in this experiential workshop where we will practice Rosicrucian healing techniques.

Actually, you might want to arrive at 5:45 for a meditation session. It’ll put you in the right frame of mind.

Saturday, September 14
9:30 a.m.
New Jersey Lodge of Masonic
Research and Education 1786
535 North Main Street
Hightstown, New Jersey

Two papers scheduled to be presented: Bro. Frank Conway on “A Masonic View of Benedict Arnold,” and myself on “How to Serve as Lodge Historian.”

Breakfast and lunch to be served. We should be finished by 1 p.m.

Saturday, September 14
1:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Geometry Salon:
Vedic Squares
Click here.

Saturday, September 14
3 to 4:30 p.m.
“What Causes Dreaming?”
Masonic Philosophical Society
Whitestone MasonicTemple
149-39 11th Avenue
Whitestone, New York

During the early to mid 1900s, scientists believed that dreaming was a mechanical process that helped to reboot the mind each night. Through the years research has shown that the mind is doing more than acting like a computer. So what is the mind up to at night?

Many individuals speak to having prophetic dreams that speak to them of future events and feelings. There are those who say that they can connect with other realms each night through dreaming. Are they exaggerating their capabilities or is there something to deeper going on? Join us as we discuss this relevant and personal topic through the perspective of a Mason. Come ready to investigate What Causes Dreaming?

Through January 12, 2020
Beyond Midnight: Paul Revere
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
(at 77th Street)
New York City

This exhibition on MW Bro. Paul Revere opened last week. In an email from the museum, I have been informed that “this exhibition does touch on his Masonic membership and network.”

I’ll be there Sunday morning.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

‘Geometry Salons at Anthroposophy NYC’

Saturday afternoon, the Anthroposophical Society of New York City will host a talk on Vedic Squares. This will be the first in a series running through next August. From the publicity:

Geometry Salon:
Vedic Squares
Saturday, September 14
at 1:30 p.m.
Anthroposophical Society of NYC
138 West 15th Street, Manhattan
Suggested donation: $5

The Vedic Square is a variation on a typical 9×9 multiplication table, which is a source of many Islamic patterns and symmetric art patterns.

Steve Pomerantz
The Geometry Salon meets monthly to explore the intersection of Art and Geometry. Topics have included Islamic and Cosmatesque Design, Projective Geometry, Classical Constructions, Form Drawing, and more. Our main presenters are Steve Pomerantz, John Lloyd, and Steve Bass. We rotate facilitators to lead discussions and drawing through a range of examples taken from history.

Steve Pomerantz
Accessible to people with all levels of drawing experience. Bring your imagination—and a ruler, compass, paper, pencils. Additional materials that could be useful include: colored pencils, watercolors, and some paper at least 8½ x 11. We will have some extra supplies for people who need them.

We will meet in a beautiful sunny room generously provided by Anthroposophy NYC. We are requesting a $5 contribution from everyone to cover the use of the space.

Future dates: October 12, November 9, December 21, January 11, February 22, March 14, April 18, May 16, June 6, July 11, and August 8.

Steve Pomerantz
At September’s meeting, we will be drawing patterns based on magic squares from the Vedic Tradition, which John Lloyd learned from Pieter Weltevrede and Mavis Gewant.

In October, Steve Pomerantz will show us how to draw Cosmati patterns. In November, Steve Bass will be showing us how to draw Rose Windows. In December, Steve Pomerantz will continue to show us how to develop Cosmati patterns. In January, Kelly Beekman will be show how to draw the planetary seals of Rudolf Steiner (based on a seven pointed star). In the Spring of 2020, we will explore patterns from Islamic Cultures and learn how to draw the Shri Yantra from the Vedic Tradition.

Geometry images below are by Steve Pomerantz.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

‘The UGLE Americans?’

And from our Masonic Weird Facts Department…

Did you know the United Grand Lodge of England has not one, but two Craft lodges at labor on United States soil?

In St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, there are Harmonic Lodge 356 and its daughter lodge St. Thomas 9679. The former marked its bicentennial anniversary last October, and the latter reached its 20th year last November. They are part of the District Grand Lodge of Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. Masonic Hall is located at 10 Wimmelskat Gade in the capital city of Charlotte Amalie.

And you shouldn’t have English lodges without a chapter, so there also is Zetland Chapter 356, chartered in 1871 by the Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of England.

Friday, September 6, 2019

‘Traubenfest: Sunday, October 6’

The official announcement is posted: Traubenfest is scheduled for Sunday, October 6!

Traubenfest, meaning “Strawberry Grape Festival,” is the annual all-day Oktoberfest bash hosted by the lodges of the Ninth Manhattan District at German Masonic Park in Tappan, New York.

Gates will open at 11 a.m., and the festivities—plenty of German food, beer, and music—will continue to sundown. It is a rain-or-shine event. Plenty of free parking. Admission: $5 for adults; free for children under 14.

German Masonic Park is located at 89 Western Highway South, very close to DeWint House, if you want to make more of a day of it.

Always a good time, and we never seem to suffer bad weather. (Watch, I probably just jinxed it.)

‘Book Club: Campbell and Ehre texts’

Bro. Jeph has announced the topics of the next Fourth Manhattan District Book Club meeting of October 16:

The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell, and The Three Legged Table by Victor T. Ehre, Jr.

The book club will meet in the Wendell K. Walker Room on the ground floor of Masonic Hall at 7 p.m. The meeting will be open not only to all Masons, but also to interested people who are not Masons.

The Power of Myth is not a work authored by Joseph Campbell, but actually is taken from the lengthy interviews of Campbell for PBS by Bill Moyers in 1985 and 1986, which were broadcast in six one-hour episodes in the summer of 1988, shortly after Campbell’s death. They speak in some detail of the definition of myth, of the forms of myths, and, naturally, of Campbell’s work in delineating what he terms the monomyth.

Their interview, perhaps inevitably, turns to Freemasonry. Excerpted:

Moyers: Is the Masonic order an expression somehow of mythological thinking?

Campbell: Yes, I think it is. This is a scholarly attempt to reconstruct an order of initiation that would result in spiritual revelation. These founding fathers [of the United States] who were Masons actually studied what they could of Egyptian lore. In Egypt, the pyramid represents the primordial hillock. After the annual flood of the Nile begins to sink down, the first hillock is symbolic of the reborn world. That’s what [the Great Seal of the United States] represents.

There is more significant talk of ritual and its potential powers, as well as a wealth of other subjects of interest to thinking Freemasons. Professor Campbell is beloved for making the esoteric aspects of mythologies accessible to the general public, and this book often surfaces in conversation in Masonic intellectual circles as the most useful entry point into Campbell’s work. Even if you cannot participate with the Book Club, do make a point of reading The Power of Myth when you can.

I am not familiar with Victor Ehre’s The Three Legged Table: The Three Principles of Life Living, but here is what Amazon says:

Isaac Newton’s Second Law of Inertia postulates that a body in motion tends to continue at the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an outside force. The book, The Three Legged Table, challenges the reader not to accept things in their lives as they are, but presents the three Principles in every person’s life and how one can affect the changes needed to redirect them towards the goals they seek. The Three Legged Table offers eighteen words that, when they are applied to the Personal, Social, and Spiritual principles which govern your life, will give you the choices to redirect the path you are on. This book will not only focus you on how to achieve success through these powerful words, but will also point out the pitfalls in life that often keep people from reaching their fullest potential. How can you achieve your fullest Personal Growth? There are only five words to greater success. How can you achieve greater Social growth? There are only ten words you need to live by to achieve stronger social interactions and success with others. Finally, how can you achieve greater Spiritual Growth and peace in your life? The Three Legged Table offers the three words that will lead you to understanding and recognition of God’s involvement in your Life. The Three Legged Table reaffirms the truth that each and every one has one Most Valuable and Precious Resource. To achieve your Maximum Potential and complete Balance in your life, a commitment to the eighteen words shared here to your fullest abilities and talents will allow you to apply the outside forces of change Isaac Newton postulated to alter your course through life and achieve lasting growth, success and peace.

Those 18 words? They are divided into three axioms, but I will give only the 10-word saying here since you will know it: “Treat others the way you would want to be treated.”

Taking on two titles for a single meeting of a book club is risky, but it should make for a lively evening together.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

‘Their primitive Mason mark’

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Derbyshire maintains a busy presence on social media (and frequently does me the honor of sharing links to this website), and this morning published this poem by an unknown writer.

Mason Marks

They’re traced in lines on the Parthenon,
Inscribed by the subtle Greek;
And Roman legions have carved them on
Walls, roads and arch antique;
Long ere the Goth, with vandal hand,
Gave scope to his envy dark,
The Mason craft in many a land
Has graven its Mason mark.

The obelisk old and the pyramids,
Around which a mystery clings,-
The Hieroglyphs on the coffin lids
Of weird Egyptian kings,
Syria, Carthage and Pompeii,
Buried and strewn and stark,
Have marble records that will not die,
Their primitive Mason mark.

Upon column and frieze and capital,
In the eye of the chaste volute, -
On Scotia’s curve, or an astrogal,
Or in triglyp’s channel acute,-
Cut somewhere on the entablature,
And oft, like a sudden spark,
Flashing a light on a date obscure,
Shines many a Mason mark.

These craftsmen old had a genial whim,
That nothing could ever destroy,
With a love of their art that naught could dim,
They toiled with a chronic joy;
Nothing was too complex to essay,
In aught they dashed to embark;
They triumphed on many an Appian Way,
Where they’d left their Mason mark.

Crossing the Alps like Hannibal,
Or skirting the Pyranees,
On peak and plain, in crypt and cell,
On foot or on bandaged knees; -
From Tiber to Danube, from Rhine to Seine,
They needed no “letters of marque;” -
Their art was their passport in France and Spain,
And in Britain their Mason mark.

The monolith grey and Druid chair,
The pillars and towers of Gael,
In Ogharn occult their age they bear,
That time can only reveal.
Live on, old monuments of the past,
Our beacons through ages dark!
In primal majesty still you’ll last,
Endeared by each Mason mark.