Saturday, November 30, 2019

‘Steiner bookstore holiday sale’

The Rudolf Steiner Bookstore is offering a sale for the holiday season. All books are marked down 15 percent, and certain titles have deeper price cuts. That’s at the Anthroposophical Society’s New York City headquarters at 138 West 15th Street, between Sixth and Seventh avenues. The store is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 2 to 6 p.m., and also before and after the Society’s events. From the publicity:

When you arrive, you will notice that the subject categories have been expanded and the books are much easier to find by topic and interest. There are too many new categories to list here, but you will be happy to find expanded Art, Music, Medicine and Therapy, Agriculture, and Meditation sections. Spirituality topics are easier to find, and we have a Technology section, including both journals and books about computers, machines, and AI. Walter Alexander’s book Hearts and Minds is also in stock.

We continue to sell art supplies and Waldorf materials, like main lesson books, watercolor paints, paper, brushes, block crayons, and musical instruments. For the holiday season, you will find a larger selection of beeswax candles and handmade items for your gift purchases.

We are also currently seeking new bookstore volunteers. As a volunteer shopkeeper, you are destined to have some of the most interesting conversations with our visitors! It is a wonderful way to share Anthroposophy with the general public. You are also eligible for a 15 percent Bookstore discount on all your personal purchases. Are you curious what it takes to be our bookstore volunteer? Join us for the orientation session with tea and cookies on Saturday, December 14, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Rudolf Steiner Bookstore will have a mini-bookstore at the Brooklyn Waldorf School Holiday Fair December 7. We are looking for assistance with transportation and selling items. Please let us know if you have any interest in assisting.

‘UCLA’s Esotericism and Masonic Connections’


Next April will see the ninth annual International Conference on Freemasonry at UCLA, this time with the theme “Hidden Meanings: Esotericism and Masonic Connections.”

The theme is important, because the conference is moving forward without the political content that characterized previous events there, and now is organized under official California Masonic auspices.

From the publicity:

Hidden Meanings: Esotericism
and Masonic Connections
UCLA International Conference
on Freemasonry
Saturday, April 18, 2020
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
UCLA: 330 De Neve Drive
Covell Commons, Grand Horizon Room
Los Angeles
Tickets here

Freemasonry offers everyone a pathway to self-improvement, fellowship, and community. For the committed few, it holds the promise of even more.

For more than 300 years, Masonic teachings and symbolism have attracted those in search of deeper, secret meanings about the natural and even supernatural world. These esoteric pursuits, shrouded in mystery and mysticism, have endured through the centuries and even today continue to fascinate seekers around the world.

On April 18, 2020, experts and scholars on Freemasonry will meet on the campus of UCLA to discuss the eternal quest for esoteric knowledge and its broader relationship to the craft. The ninth annual UCLA International Conference on Freemasonry is a rare chance for Masons and non-Masons to dive deep on metaphysics, antiquity, and the occult.

Freemasonry and the Esoteric:
Elitism, Insecurity, and
Unenlightened Self-Interest
Ric Berman, author of several books
on Freemasonry, including Espionage, Diplomacy & the Lodge

Although Masonic esotericism hints at ancient secrets, it was in fact not widely introduced into the craft until the 1730s—a means of appealing to an elite aristocratic and mostly French audience. The success of that marriage in the eighteenth century led to Freemasonry’s systematic introduction into the United States, a consequence not of politics or spirituality but economic self-interest.

The Esotericism of the Esoteric
School of Masonic Research
Henrik Bogdan, professor of Religious Studies, University of Gothenburg

The founding of London’s Quatuor Coronati Lodge in 1884 gave birth to a new school of Masonic history and research, based on legitimate texts and study rather than the subjective or “inspired” Masonic writers of the past. However among this new school were a subset of scholars approaching research from what historian R.A. Gilbert called the “Esoteric School of Masonic Research”—part of a broader milieu of fin-de-siecle occultism.

Hidden and Visible:
Mormon Garments in Community
Nancy Ross, assistant professor, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences,
Dixie State University

Weighted with meaning, sacred (and secret) undergarments have long been a highly important, though seldom discussed, part of the Mormon church. Indeed, across religions, sacred garments like these have presented profound dilemmas and indicated deeper meanings for wearers and their broader communities.

Freemasonry and Neoplatanism
Jan Snoek, historian of religions,
Institute of Religious Studies,
University of Heidelberg

Several philosophers, expanding on the teachings of Plato, developed theories without which Freemasonry could never have found its form. From Abbot Suger’s construction of the church of St. Denis—Europe’s first gothic cathedral, dedicated to light and beauty—to the third-century parable of the sculptor who must perfect himself, meet the thinkers who paved the way for modern Masonry.

Stephen Freeman
on Antigua and London:
A Respectable Rosicrucian
Susan Mitchell Sommers, professor
of history, Saint Vincent College

The recent discovery of a single surviving pamphlet by a quack doctor, Stephen Freeman, living in Antigua in the late 18th century offers a rare glimpse into not only the thinking of a fringe medical professional, but also paints a stunning portrait of the lives of striving middle-class emigrants in the West Indies struggling for respectability. Largely by leaning on connections through societies including the Freemasons and esoteric Rosicrucians, those like Freeman hoped to improve their lot in society and find deeper meaning—in both cases, often unsuccessfully.

The UCLA International Conference is sponsored by the California Masonic Foundation and the Grand Lodge of California.

Friday, November 29, 2019

‘My new favorite thing in Freemasonry’

You know John Keats died too young in Italy in 1821, and you know P.B. Shelley died too young in Italy in 1822, but did you know there is a lodge in Rome named Keats and Shelley Lodge?

Well, there is.

The first lodge on the roll of the Gran Loggia Regolare d’Italia celebrates its 45th anniversary this year. It’s an English-language lodge (no surprise there, I guess) that meets on the fourth Saturdays of February, May, September, and November.

I dont know if the lodge has any relationship to Keats-Shelley House.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

‘Lecture: Freemasonry in the Spanish Antilles’

The next lecture at the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library will bring back to the lectern Bro. Jorge Romeu. From the publicity:

An Overview of Freemasonry
in the Spanish Antilles
by Bro. Jorge Romeu
Tuesday, December 10 at 6:30
Chancellor Robert R. Livingston
Masonic Library
71 West 23rd Street, 14th floor
RSVP here

This month we are proud to welcome back Bro. Jorge Romeu to present his research providing a historic overview of the history of grand lodges in the Spanish Antilles during the 19th century. Freemasonry appeared, first and briefly, in the Spanish Antilles (Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic) as a result of the Haitian slave revolt at the beginning of the 19th century. Haiti’s French colonizers moved to the neighboring Spanish islands, taking Freemasonry with them. Freemasonry reappeared in the 1860s after an interlude of 30 years when it was forbidden by Spain. Freemasonry was then instrumental in these islands’ struggle for political autonomy, and eventually for independence.

Jorge Luis Romeu
Bro. Jorge L. Romeu holds dual Masonic memberships in New York (Liverpool-Syracuse 501, The American Lodge of Research, and Western New York Lodge of Research) and in Puerto Rico (Jose Celso Barbosa Lodge 106 and Jose G. Bloise Lodge 113). He holds doctorate and master’s degrees in Operations Research from Syracuse University, and serves as a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Research Professor. Romeu is director of the Juarez Lincoln Marti Project, dedicated to enhancing faculty development exchanges. He is a member of the Fulbright Speakers Specialist roster, which has provided the opportunity to teach at numerous international universities.

Photo ID is required to enter Masonic Hall.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

‘2020 Prestonian Lecturer’

And the envelope please…

Magpie file photo
The Prestonian Lecture for 2020 will be “A System of Morality: Aristotle and the Making of the Ritual” as presented by W Bro. George Boys-Stones, Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies.

Congratulations, Bro. Boys-Stones! Please let me know if your travels bring you to the United States, particularly the New York City area. I have some experience in arranging Prestonian speaking engagements.

George Boys-Stones
W. Boys-Stones, unsurprisingly, is a professor of Classics, a member of the Classics Department at Durham University from 1999 to 2019 before joining the faculty of the University of Toronto for the 2019-20 term. He is a prolific author on subjects pertaining to the philosophies of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, and is managing editor of Phronesis, a journal of ancient philosophy. Earlier this year, he published Platonist Philosophy 80 BC to AD 250: An Introduction and Collection of Sources in Translation which, among other feats, puts into English for the first time a number of Platonist primary writings.

Click here to see other books.

A Prestonian Lecturer is appointed every year by the United Grand Lodge of England in a tradition commenced in 1818, thanks to a bequest to the Grand Lodge from William Preston, that has gone uninterrupted excepting for the years of the Second World War (if I recall correctly).

Having attempted myself to speak a number of times on the Four Cardinal Virtues, I’m very eager to hear this Prestonian Lecture because I glossed over Aristotle, jumping from Plato to Aquinas.

‘John Acaster, R.I.P.’

There are times when news of someone’s death makes you gasp loudly in disbelief and dismay, and that was the case for me today upon learning of the loss yesterday of Bro. John Acaster.

I’ll enjoy fond memories of chatting with him about things Masonic, especially things Masonic education. He was one of the greats. He founded several Craft lodges and a Royal Arch chapter. He was a scholar and Past Master for QC2076 and Manchester Lodge of Research, and was a joy to hear from the lectern.

Magpie file photo
This seems to be my only photo of John Acaster, center, in dark blue regalia. Taken at Alpha Lodge 116, December 2007.

It was about 12 years ago that I first met him. It was a special event at historic Alpha Lodge 116, but it was after hours, downstairs in the dining room, where I got to talk with John at length about his enthusiasm for focused research and for general learning. If I’m not mistaken, he would have marked his golden anniversary in Freemasonry next year.

What got to me was how I considered him “the young one” of the Quatuor Coronati members.

Rest in peace.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

‘Wellness services planned for New Rochelle’

MW Bro. William M. Sardone, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York, released a brief statement today on the subject of the acquisition of the campus of the former College of New Rochelle (see previous two Magpie posts). Excerpted:

“For several years and with the support of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, the Trustees have been searching for a suitable site closer to the Metropolitan New York City area. This long-range plan was to bring some of the services available in Utica, New York closer to Masons who live in the New York City area. When it was learned that the former campus of the College of New Rochelle became available, it was acknowledged that this property would not only provide that opportunity, but also wellness services to a larger community.”

Monday, November 25, 2019

‘Bankruptcy court approves Grand Lodge college purchase’

Courtesy WCBS/Channel 2
Today a New York bankruptcy court approved Grand Lodge’s $32 million purchase at auction of the defunct College of New Rochelle campus in Westchester.

News story here.

Now we await an announcement from the 17th floor disclosing our fraternity’s intention for the property.

More Magpie information here.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

‘Grand Lodge acquiring defunct college property’


Courtesy Bloomberg News

With a winning bid of $32 million, the Grand Lodge of New York prevailed days ago in an auction of the 16-acre campus of the former College of New Rochelle, according to a news report published late last night.

No, me neither.

Courtesy Westchester Magazine

No title has been transferred yet. Tomorrow a hearing in bankruptcy court will convene to discuss approval of this plan. The College of New Rochelle went bankrupt in September in a criminal financial fraud leaving behind liabilities of approximately $80 million.

The buyer actually is the Masonic Hall & Asylum Fund, which is the corporation entrusted with the management of Grand Lodge’s real properties, from Masonic Hall in Manhattan to the Masonic Care Community in Utica, and also DeWint House and Camp Turk.

Campus Wellness Center.

The property is located in Westchester County, located northeast of Manhattan and near the Connecticut border, less than 20 miles from midtown via I-95.

Courtesy New York Times
Leland Castle, built in the 1850s and landmarked, is part of the campus. 

Read all about it here. These photos of the campus are culled from assorted news sources.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

‘Congratulations to one in a million’

On Thursday, the inimitable, irrepressible, and inspiring Jim Hogg was honored in the United Grand Lodge of England, where he was made a Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden!

Jim is a Florida Mason who holds dual membership in UGLE’s Internet Lodge 9659, where he served as Worshipful Master. He was one of only six brethren so honored from among the 166 lodges of the Provincial Grand Lodge of East Lancashire. This is the highest honor that may be bestowed on a brother by a Provincial Grand Master. The brethren enjoyed a meeting and festive board at King George’s Hall in Blackburn.

To know Jim is to love him—and to groan in incurable agony at the ceaseless torrent of puns and cracks he improvises throughout his waking hour. And likely in his slumbers too!

He also is a Founding Fellow of the Masonic Society, where he served a number of years on our Board of Directors, so I can attest to his outstanding leadership qualities.

Congratulations, Jim! Wear that beautiful regalia in good health for many years.

Photos courtesy Jim Hogg

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

‘Speakers Bureau is a go’


Illinois Lodge of Research announced Saturday the launch of a speakers bureau. More than 60(!) Masons have said they would travel the state to present topics of Masonic interest.

It’s not a free-for-all. The speakers are vetted. Suitable topics are understood in three denominations: history, symbolism/esoterica, and ritual/literature.

Read all about it here.

Bravo, brethren!

Monday, November 18, 2019

‘The Working Tool for the holiday season’

Straight from the publicity:

The George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association is proud to offer for the 2019 holiday season a beautiful gold and enamel plated ornament—The Working Tool: United in Brotherly Love.

This ornament unites several essential Masonic symbols that illustrate the crucial and divine lesson of brotherly love. The triangular frame, topped by the Masonic emblem over a sky blue circle, represents the fraternity. The raised Trowel is every Master Mason’s primary tool. As the Trowel spreads the cement that unites the many different stones or bricks of a building into a single, strong whole, so Master Masons spread brotherly love to unite men throughout the world. Behind the Trowel shines the Blazing Star, an ancient Masonic symbol of Divine Providence, representing the divine nature of brotherhood. As President and Brother George Washington used an ivory-handled trowel to lay the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol, the trowel inspires Masons to use brotherly love to overcome their differences. The new American Republic united all the states under the motto E Pluribus Unum, “from many, one.”

To order yours, please visit our website here.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

‘Great day planned for MMRS’

It’s that time of year for elections and installations of officers, and Maryland Masonic Research Society will meet for its annual meeting on Saturday, December 7 for a nicely well rounded gathering.

9:15 a.m. – a light breakfast will be served ($12 per person).

10:15 – the meeting, with a presentation by S. Brent Morris on “A Timeline of High Degree Masonry,” and the “very quickly done” elections/installations.

Then a tour of Freemasons Hall, the headquarters of the Grand Lodge of Maryland.

The group asks for a $5 entrance fee to defray the costs of renting the Gothic Room.

Kindly book your seat for breakfast no later than Tuesday, December 3 by writing the secretary here.

All Masons and their guests are welcome to attend.

From the publicity:

“A Timeline of High Degree Masonry” focuses on the remarkably complex and interconnected group of Masonic organizations. We will begin our exploration from the base, where the Craft Degrees are controlled by Grand Lodges, and grafted onto these are “High Degrees” that expand and amplify the basic Craft ceremonies. This talk traces the first appearance and growth of High Degrees from the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge to the creation of the first Supreme Council in 1801.

Courtesy Dummkopf Blog
S. Brent Morris is a Past President of Maryland Masonic Research Society, Past Master of both Patmos Lodge 70 in Maryland and Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076 in London. He is managing editor of The Scottish Rite Journal, a Past Grand Abbot of the Society of Blue Friars, and the author and editor of numerous books and articles on Freemasonry. He is a Founding Fellow of the Masonic Society, a Fellow of the Philalethes Society, and an Honorary Fellow of the Phylaxis Society. A 33° Mason in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite for the Southern Jurisdiction, he also is a recipient of the Grand Cross of the Court of Honor. He is a mathematician by training and a magician by inclination.

The tour will follow Brent’s lecture and will be led by Stephen J. Ponzillo and Edward Heimiller.

Freemasons Hall is located at 304 International Circle in Cockeysville, Maryland. Free parking is available.

‘Lecture: Origins of Masonry’

On Tuesday, December 3, Hancock-Dirigo-Adelphi Lodge 23 will host a brother from Holland Lodge 8 to present a lecture. From the publicity:

The Origins of Masonry:
from Operative to Speculative
by RW Andrew Paine
Tuesday, December 3 at 7 p.m.
Masonic Hall, Manhattan
Doric Room on 8

We are honored and privileged to have RW Andrew Paine presenting this lecture, and we invite brethren of your lodge to attend. Candidates are welcome to attend, accompanied by their lodge sponsor.

Reserve by email here with your name, lodge, and degree, and write “Masonic Light with RW Andrew Paine” in the subject line. Your current membership card will be needed at the door. Photo ID is required to enter Masonic Hall.

Dinner to follow, at $35 per person, in the Jacobean Room.

‘Tuesday: 1919 time capsule opened’


Last month, a time capsule installed a century ago inside the cornerstone of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital at the Masonic Care Community in Utica was excavated and opened by the new director of the Livingston Library and Grand Master Sardone. On Tuesday night, the treasures formerly kept and concealed will be shown to the brethren at Masonic Hall. From the publicity:

Chancellor Robert R. Livingston
Masonic Library
Monthly Lecture Series
1919 Time Capsule
from the Soldiers and Sailors
Memorial Hospital Cornerstone
Tuesday, November 19 at 6 p.m.
Masonic Hall, Manhattan
French Ionic Room on 10

Bro. Fellow Craft Alexander Vastola, of Yorktown-Diamond Thistle Lodge 55, director of the library, will reveal the contents of the time capsule, and will discuss the histories of the artifacts and their donors. Prior to becoming library director, Vastola worked as the archives assistant for the Century Association Archives Foundation, as an archives consultant for Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, Inc., and as a researcher for the New York Preservation Archive Project. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from Vassar College, a Certificate in Museum Studies from SUNY Purchase, and a Master of Library and Information Science Degree, with a Certificate in Archives, from Pratt Institute’s School of Information.

Photo ID is required to enter Masonic Hall. Please book your seat by writing the library here.

‘See the original “Garibaldi” degree!’

Okay, so you attended Garibaldi Lodge two weeks ago to witness the amazing 18th century French Rite ceremony of initiation, and were duly dazzled by the Rosicrucian ritual elements you had no idea existed in Masonic rites—well, now you can visit the lodge that gave Garibaldi its Entered Apprentice ritual, and experience it in its original French.

That lodge, l’Union Française 17, also in the Tenth Manhattan District, will confer the EA° on two aspirants Tuesday night. (In fact, No. 17 is the eldest lodge in the Tenth Manhattan, dating to 1797. This was J.J.J. Gourgas’ lodge.)

This will take place on the tenth floor inside the French Doric Room, a small space—tiny compared to the Grand Lodge Room, where hundreds visit Garibaldi—where we sideliners really can view the ritualists’ labors. The lodge shall open at 6 p.m. The degree will begin at 6:45. No one will be admitted after the degree has started.

As you reasonably may expect of a French lodge, there will be a sumptuous feast afterward. That’s $45 per person, cash, which covers everything, including wine, taxes, and gratuities.

Bring your photo identification to enter Masonic Hall, and your current membership card to enter the lodge, but leave the French-English dictionary at home. You’ll be able to follow along despite the language barrier. (I’d see you there, but urgent Grotto business awaits downstairs.) Enjoy!

Saturday, November 2, 2019

'Masonic Week registration is open'

To get started, click here.

Remember, the Masonic Society dinner-meeting on Friday night costs only $55 per person. A sirloin entree will be served. Open to all Freemasons and guests.

Come hear Bro. Mark Tabbert present the keynote: "A Deserving Brother: George Washington and Freemasonry."

This will be our Annual Meeting, with elections of officers, presenting new Fellows, and other exciting announcements.