Sunday, December 27, 2020

‘British Freemasonry, 1717-1813’

Happy St. John’s Day! I hope it was possible for you to celebrate someway.

The Open Lecture folks took this weekend off, and they shall return next month with a panel of scholars. From the publicity:

We will be back January 23, 2021 with another excellent OpenLFM Lecture which will be delivered by 
Róbert Péter, Cécile Révauger, Jan A. M. Snoek. The trio will introduce their five-volume British Freemasonry, 1717-1813 collection, while Andreas Önnerfors will chair the session and initiate post-discussion afterwards.

For more information, please visit our website.

In this lecture, the volume editors introduce the British Freemasonry, 1717-1813 resource collection and highlight some of the findings. The objective of the edition is to collate diverse rare print and manuscript materials, which provide insights into the history and culture of British and Irish Freemasonry between 1717 and 1813 from a broad spectrum of perspectives. The majority of the sources, including rituals, funeral services, sermons, orations, pamphlets, letters, theatrical epilogues and prologues, newspaper, periodical and magazine articles, have been overlooked in scholarship on the fraternity. The five themed volumes cover Institutions (1), Rituals (2-3), Debates (4) and Representations (5).

The Magpie Mason hereby signs off for calendar year 6020. I wish you all a Happy New Year. Here’s to a calmer, saner 6021 back in our lodges.

Friday, December 25, 2020

‘Grand Lodge safely half mile from blast’

No time is right for a massive explosion, especially Christmas morning, but, as you probably have heard, that’s what rocked Tennessee’s capital city at 6:30 a.m.

Six hours later, no deaths have been reported, but three injuries have been, in what authorities said they suspect was an “intentional act” involving the explosion of a recreational vehicle.

The headquarters of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, on Seventh Avenue, is only about half a mile up Broadway from the explosion site, reported to be 166 Second Avenue. I’ll guess its windows shook for a few seconds. (The Prince Hall Grand Lodge is very safely distanced in Memphis.)

The afflicted area is a tourist destination of significant Music City sites, including the Ryman Auditorium.

The Grand Lodge of Tennessee has a Facebook page, via which it acknowledged the blast, but I thought it also may be useful to post this little information here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

‘Congress as a Prince Hall research resource’


Of course the Library of Congress is a galaxy of opportunity for researchers pursuing any subject, including Freemasonry, but I want to share this note received Monday afternoon by the Masonic Library and Museum Association:

Good morning members of the Masonic Library and Museum Association. I wish to share the link to a LibGuide on Prince Hall Freemasonry:
The Library of Congress’ collections contain a variety of material associated with Prince Hall Freemasonry, the oldest recognized and continuously active organization founded in 1775 by African-Americans, including manuscripts, photographs, and books.
Please note that these are selected resources, and the guide will be updated early next year. (We did not include items where the bibliographic record indicated “missing” or “being processed.” I would be most grateful if you would share with the members of the Masonic Library and Museum Association. Also, if members’ collections contain any manuscripts/collections relevant to Prince Hall Freemasonry, would you please let me know?

Thank you, and my warmest regards. Please remain safe and healthy.

Sibyl E. Moses, Ph.D.
Reference Specialist and Recommending Officer
(African American History and Culture)
Main Reading Room
Researcher and Reference Services Division
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. SE
Washington, DC 20540-4660

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

‘Trump issues architecture order’


Hey, who said the Five Orders of Architecture are dead?

President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order yesterday to determine the architectural styles that may be employed in constructing certain federal government buildings in the future.

The “Executive Order on Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture” specifies how all U.S. government courthouses and agency headquarters, all federal public buildings in Washington, DC, and all other federal buildings that will cost $50 million or more shall be built in “such styles as Neoclassical, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Beaux-Arts, and Art Deco.”

This will be undone by the next president. The short-lived Executive Order will be a conscientious objection to the Comecon-style concrete and the schizophrenic steel and glass impositions that have prevailed for generations.

In promoting Classical architecture, Trump lauds historical figures, including some who are significant to Freemasonry, including Palladio, Christopher Wren, John Soane, and John Russell Pope.

Read all about it here.

For some background from February, click here.

Monday, December 21, 2020

‘MBC’s first offering announced’


The newly reestablished Masonic Book Club’s first title is a in production. The Perfect Ceremonies of Craft Masonry and the Holy Royal Arch are “the lineal ancestors of the official Emulation ritual and lectures,” according to the MBC’s announcement.

Per the stated conditions, the presses will roll only if the sufficient number of copies are sold in advance, and you have until January 21 to place your order (I was the tenth to do so). The cost of this 392-page volume is only $25. Click here.

With its publicity today, the MBC provided a PDF sample of the book that includes seven pages of the 21-page Introduction, and several pages of lodge Opening ritual. This will be a beautiful book, replete with marbled covers, decorated pages, and a satin ribbon—so you won’t have to dog-ear the pages like a savage. A step above the SRRS’s laudable Heredom, which is not an unattractive book.

If Perfect Ceremonies goes to press, it will ship at the end of March; if not, buyers will receive their refunds at the end of January. So order today! I want to see if the lectures are Preston’s or Hemming’s.

Friday, December 18, 2020

‘The Tiler as guardian of our moral compass’


Writing in The Square magazine, W. Bro. Stephen J. Goulding treats us to his personal and mightily insightful reflections on the importance of the lodge Tiler (our New York spelling), in the first of six essays the independent English magazine will publish to define six officer roles.

Goulding has been a Freemason for 42 years and is a 30-year veteran of The Met. When you read his essay, you’ll discern how his operative career work informs his speculative labors in the lodge. And vice versa. After retiring from the police, he became a college lecturer, and he now is retired professionally and teaches Tai Chi and Qigong.

Goulding sees a fourfold existence for the lodge Tiler. In part:

  • “To protect our moral selves.”
  • To ensure the candidates are prepared properly.
  • “To give the proper reports on the door of the lodge.”
  • To wield the implement of his office as it is the embodiment of the tng of gd rpt.

I bring this to your attention because Goulding’s elucidations are brilliant. (I’ve been Tiler of my lodge for several years; suddenly I’m feeling very inadequate and uncertain.) Please do take the few minutes needed to read his essay. There is a 15-minute video as well.

Monday, December 14, 2020

‘New media for Royal Arch’

The General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons International is readying its new website and a redesigned Royal Arch Mason magazine.

The website is here (note the new URL), and it boasts several features that I hope will benefit the Companions wherever dispersed about the face of the earth.

There is a fledgling discussion forum. Also, there is a password-protected members section, but I hope you have better luck than I in registering. There also is a mailing list to join for periodic updates of information.

Most notable will be the pages devoted to education. The Capitular Learning Center promises guidance in practical knowledge (like officer functions and chapter business) and Masonic education (meanings of ritual and symbol, history, et al.).

Something to be proud of. I’m looking forward to the launch and to a commitment to maintaining this site. I wish them great success.

Friday, December 11, 2020

‘Hail the Men of the Malt!’


The brethren of South Bend, Indiana have done it again.

The Scottish Rite valley there has a long-standing habit of establishing new ways of rallying Masons to good and just causes. A number of years ago, it trailblazed in Masonic education with the launch of the South Bend Research Guild, providing a local venue where Masons could gather and enjoy the benefits of learning about esoteric and other aspects of Freemasonry.

Also, South Bend established a Knights of St. Andrew group to serve the valley in organizational support roles. (And I may be wrong about this, but I think I recall South Bend being the first in the NMJ to adopt this practice from the Southern Jurisdiction, where it originated.)

The brethren also initiated the Green Dragon Guild, leavening the valley’s crucially important hospitality duties with merriment and style.

So, who are the Men of the Malt?

This is quite likely the most significant meeting of Masons since nine guys in Charleston stood in a circle in 1801 and pinned medals on each other!

As Bro. John Bridegroom put it just about an hour ago:

Wonderful consecration meeting of the new Men of the Malt Scotch Tasting Guild at the Valley of South Bend! Started with a great steak dinner. After, we signed the charter, approved the by-laws, and elected the officers, we tasted a wonderful rare scotch. Then we retired to the guild room, where we enjoyed fellowship, more scotches, and planned for a bright future.

Sounds to me like they forgot the cigars, but—hey—it’s their first night. Slainte mhath, brethren!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

‘Launch of Prince Hall cigars’


Bro. David Blanco, of Blanco Cigars, announced Monday the release of a line of Nicaraguan sticks named for one of the most significant figures in the history of Freemasonry.

The launch was slowed by complications arising from the pandemic, but the first run of the two lines of Prince Hall cigars is reaching stores now. They are available online also.

From the publicity:

Prince Hall by Blanco Cigars are manufactured in Estelí, Nicaragua by Blanco Cigars at the family’s factory, and blended by Master Blender and fifth generation Master Mason David Blanco.

The genesis and creation of the brand started over a year ago, but due to COVID-19, is just now making its way to market as a regular production cigar. The impetus behind the brand was a desire to recognize and honor a great man and legend in the history of the United States and Freemasonry: Prince Hall. He was known as one of the most influential free black leaders during the founding of the United States in the 1700s, fighting slavery as one of the leading abolitionists and for equal education rights. He is also famously known as the father of Black Freemasonry which, to this day, is known as Prince Hall Masonry.

Available in two wrappers.

Habano Maduro
A full body cigar with rich, robust flavors and aromas. Including notes of leather, wood and earth with a floral bouquet and hint of spice throughout the retro-hale. Culminating with a clean, smooth finish.
Wrapper: Habano Maduro (Nicaragua)
Binder: Sumatra
Fillers: Nicaraguan
5 x 50 Square
6 x 52 Compass
6 x 60 Level
7 x 70 Boaz

Habano Rosado
A medium body cigar with complex notes of oak, leather and caramel with a pleasant floral aroma. Culminating in a slightly sweet, creamy, textured smoke with a clean, smooth finish.       
Wrapper: Habano Rosado (Nicaragua)
Binder: Nicaraguan
Fillers: Nicaraguan
5 x 50 Square
6 x 52 Compass
6 x 60 Level
7 x 70 Jachin

Square, Compass and Level sizes come in 50 count boxes and are also available five packs.

Boaz and Jachin sizes come in 30 count boxes and are also available in five packs.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

‘New QCCC Local Secretary’


Over in New Jersey, one of the research lodge’s very own has been tapped to serve Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle. Congratulations Bro. Erich! He’s the new Local Secretary.

QCCC is the corporate arm of Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076, and it serves to unite Freemasons wherever dispersed around the world in a membership that receives Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, the annual book of transactions published by the lodge.

The official announcement:

Welcome to Erich Huhn,
new Local Secretary
in New Jersey

Erich Morgan Huhn is a PhD student in History & Culture at Drew University, Madison, New Jersey. His research focuses on the historical role of membership as a ‘placing marker’ within society, with a particular interest in the history of Freemasonry in the English-speaking world.

Erich’s upcoming capstone paper will examine the role music has played in Masonic culture. Erich has presented on various Masonic topics, collects rare Masonic texts, and in 2019 published New Jersey’s Masonic Lodges, which provides a photo guide analysis of the development of Masonic architecture from the Colonial period to the present. Erich was raised as a Master Mason in November 2013 and is active within New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education, No. 1786. He has also participated in QC’s North American Conferences, most recently in Alexandria.

Erich can be contacted here.


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

‘The Prince Hall secret is out’

A work in progress: Bro. Ryan has been laboring on a portrait of Bro. Prince Hall for months. He revealed this photo via social media Monday.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

‘Azim 7 officers elected’


Azim Grotto No. 7, the handsome Veiled Prophets in New York City, elected its officers two weeks ago at Kinahan’s, where the following were chosen to lead for 2021:

Monarch A. Ruffini

Chief Justice B. Neri

Master of Ceremonies E. Zaremski

Venerable Prophet B. Donlon

Secretary A. Haight

Sorry to say I couldn’t be there, but attendance was capped at ten, and I thought it better to leave room for relevant Prophets. But I’m very much looking forward to a new year of, as one Grotto history book puts it, “weird ceremonies” and “red letter days!”

Monday, November 30, 2020

‘Masonic Values Art Competition’


The results of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania’s 2020 Masonic Values Art Competition are announced.

Bro. Ryan’s oil on canvas, “The Master and the Apprentice,” took the Grand Master’s Prize (and sold for $2,000).

My favorite:

Artist D TAG’s archival pigment print on Hahnemühle FineArt paper measures 40″ x 40″ x 2″. This photograph is a composition of folded dollar bills to reveal the message “Order From Chaos.” The idea was to capture the design and architecture on the U.S. currency associated with Masonic culture and the connection to Philadelphia.

Read all about it here.



Saturday, November 28, 2020

‘NPR asks What is the point?’


On October 16, National Public Radio’s Christianna Silva contacted the Masonic Society in researching how Freemasonry is coping with the pandemic, and what the Craft’s role in society today is.

An hour ago, NPR went live with its story. Click here. You’ll recognize a few names from TMS.

(The reporter is the daughter and granddaughter of Masons.)


Sunday, November 22, 2020

‘James Wasserman (1948-2020)’


The Wasserman family announced today on social media that James Wasserman had died November 18 after a long illness. Funeral arrangements are being made.

While I know nothing of O.T.O. nor of his writings on that subject, Wasserman also wrote books of interest to Freemasons, and he was a friend to the Livingston Library, and was an engaging speaker to Masonic audiences. I do not know if he was a Brother Mason. R.I.P.


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

‘CoinWeek explores the Mark Penny’


Courtesy CoinWeek

CoinWeek, an online periodical devoted to numismatics, occasionally addresses topics orbiting Freemasonry in articles about Masonic persons, places, and things commemorated on U.S. money. Last Friday though, it ran a piece not on coins or cash, but on a facet of exonumia well known to Mark Masons: the Mark Penny.

I recommend the article for the art that accompanies the text, because most of Tyler Rossi’s reporting is annoyingly bad. We can pardon the outsider’s nescience with our jargon, but it also sounds like he wants to misrepresent, such as when he claims the Craft has “a vitriolic opposition to the Roman Catholic Church.” He does cite sources, listing seven references in a bibliography, but he could have done better.

The value of this article is based mostly on the research delivered in Masonic Chapter Pennies (Vols. 1&2) by Dr. B.P. Wright from 1903 (a reprint from the July 1901 edition of The Numismatist). From there, I suppose, it is impossible to materially err.

Anyway, the article shares some exotic variations on the Mark Penny. Great, because if you’re like me, you know only the commonplace coinage from catalogs.

I’m rambling when I need only provide the link. Read all about it here.

Courtesy CoinWeek

Courtesy CoinWeek

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

‘Philly Temple closed’


The Masonic Temple in Philadelphia, headquarters of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, has been ordered closed through the end of the year by the city government.

At a press conference Monday, Mayor Jim Kenney and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley announced a list of precautionary measures for managing the pandemic, including a city-wide ban on indoor gatherings and events, whether public or private. The order was made effective to January 1 to permit time for desired benefits of the lockdown to materialize, because a vaccine will not be available until January, and because it is thought the spread of the virus will not abate until winter arrives. It is possible the ban on gatherings may be extended.

The list of varying prohibitions also affects businesses, schools, religious sites, museums, libraries, and other destinations.

The Grand Lodge announced the closure through its social media accounts after the mayor’s press conference.


Sunday, November 15, 2020

‘Congratulations, Grand Master!’


I’ve never been, but I figure Oklahoma must be a special place since its flag depicts a smoking pipe among its symbolism. Now I know the Grand Lodge there imparts a special Freemasonry to the world, because yesterday Bro. Robert G. Davis was installed Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons.

Congratulations, Bob!

Actually, congratulations to the brethren of Oklahoma! It is not common for a brother who you want to ascend to the top to do so. The kind of Mason who authors essential books and who lectures thoughtfully on the meaning of Masonry typically does not seek high profile office, but that is what happened here.

Who says 2020 is a bust?

I wish you a productive year unhindered by quarantine, inclemencies, smoking bans, or other troubles.

I first “met” Bob about 20 years ago in the Masonic Light group, and met him for real at the 2002 AMD Weekend in the Hotel Washington in DC. Ah, you could smoke at the lobby bar then. I noticed Bob enjoyed Hoyo Excalibur IIIs, a preferred cigar of mine as well. (I don’t know why I keep bringing up smoking. It’s just past noon here, so it’s time for a pipe.)

Bob, God bless! I’m sorry Masonic Week won’t happen in February, but I look forward to shaking your hand again soon.


Saturday, November 14, 2020

‘Civil War meeting’

On this date in 1995, the Grand Lodge of Virginia issued a warrant to a lodge of Masonic research named Civil War Lodge of Research 1865, which has the unique mission of exploring historical facts of Freemasonry intersecting in the U.S. Civil War. Happy Silver Anniversary, brethren!

This morning they hosted a meeting via Zoom, and the lodge is scheduled to meet in person for a called communication in three weeks on December 5.

That will take place at Spurmont Lodge 98 in Strasburg. The custom weekend schedule is on, with dinner Friday night, lodge meeting and museum tour Saturday, and dinner that evening. Reservations are required. Click here for all the details.

Sankey Lecture on Sunday


I just learned the 2020 Sankey Lecture, postponed in March, is rescheduled for...Sunday! Free and online.

Professor Cécile Révauger, University of Bordeaux, on “Enlightenment, Gender and Race: Personal Reflections on Leading Issues in Masonic Studies.”

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

‘Cryptic Festival next May’

UPDATE: This event has been rescheduled to Saturday, October 9, 2021.

The Cryptic Rite companions of New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts will gather for a day of degrees next spring on the Hudson. From the publicity:

Cryptic Festival
Saturday, May 8, 2021
Saugerties Masonic Temple

Royal Master Degree by Connecticut.
Select Master by Massachusetts.
Super Excellent Master by New York.

I haven’t seen Super Excellent since I received it 20 years ago. Looking forward to this!

To paraphrase Churchill, who was opining on something completely unrelated, “I would let the clever Masons learn Royal Arch as an honor, and Cryptic as a treat.”

Monday, November 9, 2020

‘Kirk MacNulty, R.I.P.’


W. Kirk MacNulty, the renowned Masonic author, died Sunday, according to Shawn Eyer, who disclosed the sad news on Facebook. He was 88.

To read his books is to cherish them: The Way of the Craftsman (1988), Freemasonry: A Journey Through Ritual and Symbol (1991), and Freemasonry: Symbols, Secrets, Significance (2006).

MacNulty was made a Mason in 1961 in Carson Valley Lodge in Nevada, and subsequently affiliated with lodges in England, Hawaii, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington, DC. He served in the East of Lodge of Living Stones 4957 in England three times, and was the Charter Master of Lodge of Nine Muses 1776 in DC in 1997.

“Few brothers have done more for the speculative mission of the Craft in recent times,” Eyer writes. “When he wrote The Way of the Craftsman in the 1980s, he helped midwife the renaissance in Masonic philosophy that we are all now enjoying.”

Alas, my brother.


Sunday, November 8, 2020

‘The jewel of the Master’


The George Washington Masonic National Memorial’s 2020 Commemorative Ornament is available for pre-ordering. Click here for The Square.

Friday, October 30, 2020

‘Live from New York, it’s Craftsmen Online!’


An online magazine devoted to Freemasons in New York went live Wednesday nightCraftsmen Online is an independent labor coordinated by Bro. Steven Rubin (he is the Right Worshipful Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge as well)Rubin says:

I am extremely excited to introduce Craftsmen Online, a website started by New York Brothers for New York Brothers. This is not an official Grand Lodge site, but simply a means to connect Brothers, and to champion everything that is special about Freemasonry in New York.

For those wishing to locate my “Buildings and Lodges 101” series, those recordings and material for each program will be posted on this site.


We also will post other lectures and blogs of interest to members of the Craft. Within the site, we will highlight New York Brothers who are Craftsmen—Craftsmen who are craftsmen—in our monthly spotlight on operative Brothers, their businesses, crafts and Masonic connections.


We will further explore the many historic Masonic locations and places within the State of New York.


Within our segment titled Masonic Ink, every month we will profile a new Brother to learn how Masonic symbols become works of modern art.


This is only the beginning, and I am asking for your help. If you want to be involved in this new venture, we are looking for storytellers, connectors within our Lodges, and Brothers with talents from photography to graphic design. Or if you simply know a Brother, person, place, or event whose story should be told, we value that contribution as well.



Under Masonic Education, the first issue gives us W. Bro. Galen Kaback, Master of Service Mizpah Lodge 586, who discusses special meanings embedded in the lodge opening and closing rituals. The Masonic History page offers insight into how the Utica Temple’s museum came about.


The Craftsmen feature tells the story of W. Bro. Nathan Davis of Cobleskill 394, who makes briar pipes for our smoking pleasure, and he also is a distributor of Kaywoodies.


Masonic Ink introduces us to W. Bro. Jason Chaplin of Mount Zion Lodge 311 in Troy, who sports a variety of tattoos you’ll want to see. He truly is the illustrated Mason!


This well written and designed website has a lot more thus far. Check it out. It is dedicated to “Connecting New York Freemasons,” as it reads on the homepage. New York is a huge, bustling, and growing Masonic jurisdiction, and I think we all benefit from having a variety of media sources—and the more independent, the better—to find each other. The Editor-in-Chief is Bro. Michael Arce. Bro. Anthony Dicarro is another editor. I congratulate them and whoever else is on the team. Keep up the great work, and thank you!


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

‘Grand Lodge interested in former Buffalo seminary land’


New York Freemasonry was among the parties interested in real estate previously used as a Roman Catholic seminary, before the diocese withdrew the property from the market while it works on its bankruptcy filing, according to a story published this morning in The Buffalo News.


Specifically, it’s the Masonic Hall and Asylum Fund, the Grand Lodge of New York’s corporation that owns and operates the fraternity’s real properties, including the Masonic Care Community of New York, the 320-bed health care residence in Utica.


Masonic representatives expressed interest in the 117-acre Christ the King Seminary property, located in Aurora, in August.

It was last November when the Masonic Hall and Asylum Fund, purchased the 16 acres of the former College of New Rochelle, at a cost of $32 million, to expand the health care services provided at the Utica campus to the New York City area.

Friday, October 9, 2020

‘Masonic Week 2021 to be canceled’

A formal decision and an announcement will be forthcoming in about a week, but I think it is safe to say that Masonic Week 2021 will not take place in person. Some of the host groups may conduct their constitutional annual meetings online.

Monday, September 28, 2020

‘Stream The Magic Flute on Thursday’

The Met is closed until (at least) next September, so the annual Christmastime staging of Mozart’s Masonic opera is “on refreshment” but, on Thursday, you may stay home, leave the tuxedo in the closet, and enjoy The Magic Flute on your streaming device.

Stars Golda Schultz, Kathryn Lewek, Charles Castronovo, Markus Werba, Christian Van Horn, and René Pape. Conducted by James Levine. Originally transmitted live on October 14, 2017.

They actually are showing Mozart’s seven key operas all this week. Click here to check them out. These recorded performances will begin at 7:30 p.m., and can be seen through 6:30 the next afternoon.

Without box office sales, the Met would appreciate and benefit from donations. Click here.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

‘Freemasonry as a Way of Awakening’

News from Rose Circle today concerns a new book! Piers Vaughan explains:

I am excited to announce the publication of the English translation of Rémi Boyer’s book Freemasonry as a Way of Awakening, expertly rendered into English by Michael Sanborn. Rémi is very well-known on the French esoteric and Masonic scene, and this is the first of a series of books examining Freemasonry, Martinism, the Rose Croix and the Scottish Rectified Rite, or CBCS.

Masonry has long been troubled by the fact that, as with most organizations, the concept looks perfect on paper, but then you have to populate it with people, who bring to it all their petty aspirations, politics and pre-conceptions; and the problems begin! Throughout history Masonry has been a two-way struggle. On the one side are those who see it as a social club where people can get together, have nice meal, give some money to charity to feel good, and occasionally put on a funny little play to bring in more dues-paying members. Then there are the esotericists who believe that Masonry contains Truths (with a capital T), and spend their lives meditating, studying, and analyzing every word of the ritual. For them, the things which attract the former kind of Mason mean nothing to them. The Ritual is all.

There is no doubting Boyer’s focus is on the second kind of Mason, as he devotes his book to seeking out the spiritual side of the Order. He dedicates the book to “all the free masons who know how to escape forms to recognize the liberatory essence of the quest.”

But as well as discussing the theoretical side of this approach, examining what initiation is and what purpose ritual serves, the book is filled with practical advice and insights which can be used in a real Lodge. The type of Masonry discussed is Egyptian (read Memphis), but the lessons can be applied to any form of Masonry. That makes the book particularly useful to practitioners of so-called Observant Masonry, where great emphasis is placed on meaningful ritual and sound education.

This is an important book. It approaches Masonry in a practical manner, yet for once its purpose is not to teach us how to attract more members, extract more money out of them, or plan nice banquets This book teaches us how to approach the very heart of Freemasonry, to undertake the purpose of initiation, as well as its practical steps, discussing the overall approach, the context in which the process takes place, the process itself, the notion of the “three persons” in the process (the secular person, the sacred person, and the witness). It also considers what can go wrong in the process, and suggests steps to remedy these.

For those seeking a completely new way of looking at the Craft, I highly recommend this book.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

'A point within a city'

The Nat Sherman Townhouse closed permanently this afternoon at 3:45, just one act in the tragedy of the near complete dissolution of the 90-year-old institution. Only the luxury cigarette line will remain. No more cigars, and certainly no more pipe mixtures. And no more Townhouse, the venerable retailer’s fourth Manhattan location since Jimmy Walker was mayor, and Prohibition was the law of the land.

I don’t know how we’re supposed to have a New York City without Nat Sherman.

Nor have I any idea whether anyone in the Sherman family (they sold the business to Altria about four years ago) ever had any connection to the Masonic fraternity, but I personally drew something of a parallel.

On the night of my first admission into the worshipful lodge, on a steamy June evening in 1997, a symbol was revealed to me that, in my irreverence, instantly reminded me of the Nat Sherman logo.

If you care to retrieve your copy of the Fall 2014 issue of Pipes & Tobaccos magazine, you can read my feature article on the Townhouse.

'Masonic Book Club is back!'

Art de Hoyos just shared this on Faceybook:

A merged terrestrial and celestial globe sitting on an open book atop a pillar capital
The Masonic Book Club (MBC)was formed in 1970 by two Illinois Masons, Alphonse Cerza and Louis Williams. The MBC primarily reprinted out-of-print Masonic books with a scholarly introduction; occasionally they would print original texts. (See “Past Publications” tab.) After some 40 years of service to the Craft, the directors in 2010 decided to dissolve the MBC. The club originally was limited to 333 members, but the number eventually expanded to nearly 2,000, with 1,083 members when it dissolved in 2010.
In 2017 MW Barry Weer, 33°, the last president of the MBC, transferred the MBC name and assets to the Supreme Council, 33°, SJ USA. The revived Masonic Book Club has the goals of publishing classic Masonic books and of supporting Scottish Rite SJ USA Philanthropies. Membership is open to anyone 18 years or older who is interested in the history of Freemasonry and allows you to purchase MBC editions at a pre-publication discount.
The new MBC will have a different business model than the old. Most significantly, there will be no dues; being a member entitles you to purchase books at a pre-publication discount. Check out the FAQ section below for more details. For specific questions, write to

Monday, September 14, 2020

‘Freemasonry and self-actualization’


The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York continues its lecture series on Zoom. On Tuesday night, W. Bro. Michael LaRocco, Master of Lynbrook-Massapequa Lodge 822, will present “Freemasonry: The Craft of Self-Actualization, A Western Path to Enlightenment.” From the publicity:

Tuesday, September 15
7 p.m.
Register here

Freemasonry is an enigmatic fraternity whose origins are lost in antiquity. Its purpose, however, is something each generation must decide.

W. Michael LaRocco will attempt to challenge us to perceive how the esoteric and exoteric symbols of Freemasonry lead us to self-actualization, and also to how our toleration for religions, traditions, and cultures aids us in dissolving prejudice, which removes obstacles to enlightenment.

Michael LaRocco
Utterly fascinated with the fraternity, Michael is a Scottish Rite and York Rite Mason. In the Scottish Rite, he is the founder and presiding officer of the Magus Guild of the Valley of Rockville Centre whose mission is to increase the esoteric experience.

Michael’s goal is to discover the essence of Masonry and its connection to mysticism, magic, and personal development, thereby inspiring his brethren to create the best versions of themselves.