Sunday, July 25, 2021

‘Masonic essay contest’

MW Cameron M. Bailey
I’ll be engaged in other editorial deadlines through the end of the month so, unless something either very good or very bad arises, I’ll conclude July with today’s news of a writing contest.

On his Substack page, MW Cameron Bailey, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Washington, calls for papers on Masonic topics, and there is prize money to be won!

Check out the criteria and other specifics here. (No, I won’t enter the contest.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

‘DeWitt Clinton Lodge AF&AM’


And the third and last post about my recent trip to Massachusetts (see two previous posts) shares several photos of DeWitt Clinton Lodge in Sandwich.

I can attest to DeWitt Clinton’s motto: “The Lodge with the Hearty Welcome.” And it was great to meet, after many years of Masonic cyberspace acquaintance, RW Bro. David Catten.

And speaking of Right Worshipfuls, this meeting, like the previous night at King Hiram’s Lodge, featured the Fraternal Visit of the DDGM. A different district, so a different District Deputy. This time I successfully evaded conscription into the entourage. (Somehow I have forgotten the specific term used for the reception of the DDGM in the lodge.)

It was another great night as a visitor. There are some notable differences in Opening ritual from those I’m used to. Also, a memorial service for departed brethren in which the Master, Wardens, and Senior Deacon place evergreen sprigs on the altar is worth emulating.

Some photos:

The altar, after Closing.

The lodge’s namesake also is a ubiquitous presence in New York Freemasonry, where he served as Grand Master from 1806 to 1819.

U.S. Navy Captain Gerald F. DeConto was raised to the Sublime Degree April 4, 1998. Murdered at the Pentagon September 11, 2001.

Jeffrey W. Coombs was raised to the Sublime Degree December 21, 1983. Murdered aboard American Airlines 11 at New York City September 11, 2001.

‘Cape’ spelled backward.


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

‘King Hiram’s Lodge AF&AM


To continue from last Tuesday (see post below) about a quick trip to Massachusetts in May, my stay on Cape Cod coincided with the monthly meeting of King Hiram’s Lodge.

As I recall, this was the brethren’s second lodge meeting since the end of COVIDmania. It was obvious they were very grateful for their Masonic labors!

King Hiram’s is a historic lodge. When you’re a Freemason in the eastern United States, it is easy to take for granted the existence of lodges set to labor during the eighteenth century, that even may be older than the country itself, and which have included historic personages in their memberships over the passing centuries. This is one such Craft lodge.

Warranted by Paul Revere in 1795, when he was grand master of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, King Hiram’s Lodge has counted among its members a number of town fathers, a proud tradition that continues today.

While greeting and meeting everybody present that night of Monday, May 3, I shook hands with several local VIPs. The proprietor of one of the historic, renowned restaurants, for one. After the meeting, a few of us grabbed a few drinks around the corner; one of those brethren is Provincetown’s new Town Crier.

This was the lodge’s 2,184th Communication. In its 226 years, King Hiram’s Lodge has not missed a meeting. During the War of 1812, one of His Majesty’s warships blasted the hell out of this tiny town. A ship’s chaplain was sent ashore to enquire about a surrender. During the discussion, it was ascertained that the ship’s captain and others were on the Square. They were invited to attend the lodge’s meeting, and they did so. Even through the COVID-19 scare, a nucleus of devotees kept the Great Lights beaming (and the bills paid).

On the agenda this evening was the reception of RW John Allen Eldredge, the District Deputy Grand Master, who was making his Fraternal Visit. (Other grand lodges term these events Official Visits, or something similarly institutional. Kudos to Massachusetts for this choice of words.) As a fraternal visitor myself, I was invited to join the DDGM’s procession into the lodge room. I tried to talk my way out of it, not knowing if it involved any floor work unfamiliar to me, but the hospitality is strong at King Hiram’s, so in I went, getting a taste of the grand rank life. My rationalization was “Well, why not? I am President of the Masonic Society after all!” Massachusetts also has District Deputy Grand Secretaries and Marshals.

It was a very enjoyable experience. I’m surprised I didn’t snap more photos, but here are the best of what I have:

Bro. Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, used this trowel in the cornerstone ceremony of the Pilgrim Memorial Monument, August 20, 1907.

The Pilgrim Memorial Monument.

It must be remembered that Paul Revere was a silversmith. He crafted this set of officer jewels for King Hiram’s Lodge. The set is one of eleven known to exist.

Edward Horseman (sometimes Horsman) (1775-1819) made these aprons in 1814. 

I have been hoping to have an apron almost exactly like this made for me for my travels.

Tracing board.

Altar Bible.

Murals in the lodge room.

As I get older, I appreciate these lodge officer portraits more.

Provincetown was my family’s vacation spot during the 1960s and ’70s. I was there in May to scatter my mother’s ashes. I really doubt I’ll ever get there again.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

‘Fascinating Masonic fact!’

While there may be a lot to say for Masonic online activities, there is no substitute for getting out and visiting in person. In May, I had reason to travel to Cape Cod, and while there, I enjoyed attending both King Hiram’s Lodge and DeWitt Clinton Lodge. Don’t ask why I still haven’t posted photos after two months, but those will come in the next editions of The Magpie Mason. Today’s Magpie post imparts a fascinating Masonic fact:

The Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, on Boston Common, is just a few hundred feet from L.J. Peretti!

Located at 186 Tremont Street, this headquarters of the hemisphere’s eldest grand lodge actually is its third location, dating to 1898. L.J. Peretti, nexus of avid enthusiasts of tobacco, opened for business in 1870.

I think we can see why our brother Masons settled on that neighborhood!

But now, some photos:

A tobacco scale featuring pillars, an arch, and a keystone!

Various Dunhill straight shapes.

My purchase consisted of an ounce of each of various English, Balkan, Oriental, and Cavendish mixtures. The quality is superb! If you’re agonizing over trying to get a sample of any Esoterica mixture, do yourself a favor and just order L.J. Peretti house blends. They’ll ship to you. I’ve been puffing happily since I left the store. 

I was on my way home, and it was almost past visiting hours at the grand lodge, so I didn’t knock on the door. Nor did I have time to get to Leavitt and Peirce in Cambridge. Definitely next time.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

‘The Mosaic Pavement and the Chessboard’


Here’s a lecture topic that’s near and dear to my heart: “The Mosaic Pavement and the Chessboard: A Lesson for Life.” It’s not that I know what W. Bro. Massoud El Baini is going to say, but we chess players have to stick together. (Chess players are a little loco in the cabeza. And chess-playing Freemasons? God help us.)

But on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. (New York time), something called the Masonic Circle will open a meeting online. Thirty minutes later, Bro. Massoud will begin his presentation. From the publicity:

The mosaic pavement and the chessboard have a lot in common. They teach life lessons that go beyond time, space, and matter as they are universal in their content. They remain valid in all times and in all societies. As a professional chess player since 1997, W. Bro. Massoud El Baini will take us on a journey on the chessboard to meet the pieces. During 40 minutes, we will live their adventures and learn the messages they convey to us, although in complete silence.

With all our different backgrounds, traditions, and languages, we will live the chess motto, “We are one people,” same as we do in our lodges.

Attendance is free, but register in advance here.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

‘Grand Lodge at Utica this fall’


While this is not a Masonic secret, I don’t know how widely known it is because I don’t hear any talk of it, but Grand Lodge will host its next Annual Communication this fall.

That will be Saturday, October 23 in the Masonic Care Community at Utica for the first full session since COVIDmania ruined everything. The highlight, of course, will be the election of officers, particularly that four-way contest of superstars for Deputy Grand Master.

Also, please know there will be “Welcome Back” festivities in September to herald our return to regular labors. Two Saturdays: September 11 and 18, the first at Vestal, out in Broome County, and the second at DeWint House in Tappan.

I think we can expect more than the typical food and fellowship because of the added energy we’ll all feel from being liberated and together again after so long. I can’t even remember when I last visited DeWint House.


Friday, July 9, 2021

‘Jeremy Bell at Livingston Library’

UPDATE: My mistake. This actually will be an online event. Click here to RSVP.

From William Hogarth: A Freemason’s Harlot.

Bro. Jeremy Bell, the art historian who postulates on Masonic clues he discerns in the artwork of Bro. William Hogarth, will lecture at the Livingston Library on Thursday, July 29 at 7 p.m.

The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library is located on the fourteenth floor of Masonic Hall at 71 West 23rd Street in Manhattan.

Photo ID is required to enter the building, and you should reserve your seat by contacting the library here.

For more on Bro. Bell and his research, click here.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

‘Masonry Dissected is MBC’s next’

Courtesy MBC
The recently relaunched Masonic Book Club notified its members Wednesday how its next offering will be Masonry Dissected, the seminal ritual exposure that informs historians of the earliest available form of the Master Mason Degree.

So, yes, you’ll want to make certain you have this. The MBC did print this title back in the seventies, but this edition will augment that classic text (with Harry Carr’s commentary) with new thoughts from Brent Morris and Arturo de Hoyos. MBC members will get the memo when it’s time to place orders.

Masonry Dissected burst onto the London Masonic scene in 1730, and was reprinted and reproduced multiple times around England in just a couple of weeks. Whether it was intended to be an aid to the memory for the brethren’s benefit or a malicious betrayal of secrets, I don’t know. What I can promise you is you’ll be amazed by both the form of Masonic ritual in the early eighteenth century and by how much you’ll recognize from what your lodge does today.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

‘Masonic folk art coming to museum’


And speaking of Masonry in museums (see previous two posts), an exhibit is coming this fall to Texas.

Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk Art” will run from November 13 through March 2022 at Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin.

From the publicity:

Through arcane and alluring artifacts, such as grave markers, serpent-headed staffs, richly embroidered textiles, and ceremonial regalia, this exhibition showcases the “Golden Age” of American secret societies, when folk art and decorative art were brought together to confer a sense of legacy, status, and belonging in a newly established country. The exhibition is drawn from a curated collection donated to the American Folk Art Museum by Kendra and Allan Daniel.

Visit the museum here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

‘Are the Ancient Landmarks Ancient?’


Policy Studies Organization’s World Conference on Fraternalism will do it again in Paris next spring.

The topic: “Are the Ancient Landmarks Ancient?”
That will be May 26-28, 2022 at the Grand Orient of France’s Museum of Freemasonry.

No word yet on a call for papers, but save the date. Hopefully this will be a live, in-person event available to see via the web.

Monday, July 5, 2021

‘Masonic museum explores York Rite’

A museum exhibit will open tomorrow that will showcase the York Rite of Freemasonry.

The Iowa Masonic Library and Museum will unveil “York Rite Freemasonry: The Story Continues.” Various pieces of regalia, ephemera, documents, and more from the institution’s collections will tell the story of Royal Arch, Cryptic Rite, and the Masonic Templars.

The exhibit will run through the end of the year. The Iowa Masonic Library and Museum is located at the Grand Lodge campus in Cedar Rapids. The museum is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Well done, Bro. Bill!

‘Research society to honor Brent Morris’

The flier explains it all:

Click to enlarge.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

‘A confederacy of moral republics’

Magpie file photo
George Washington’s ‘Sun’ chair inside Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

Without anything original or profound to say on the occasion of Independence Day, I instead will reproduce a snippet of history recently reported by the Masonic Society. The following few sentences move me simply because we don’t hear oratory like this from the Craft’s leaders anymore, and one cannot help but wonder about that when looking at the state of American life today.

Masonic Lodges are a confederacy of moral republics—her temples, centers of law and order, citadels of stability—for aside from its spiritual, altruistic significance, a Masonic Temple has its utility side. It is as practical as a soldier’s ration. It has to do with government and with the home. It is an auxiliary in the State house, to the church, to legislation, and an active partner to any institution or cause whose aim is the uplift and betterment of man. This Temple will be a college of manhood, a university where Americanization will be fostered, a home of brotherhood and fellowship, and a sanctuary of friendship and a school of patriotism and liberty. It is the reserve line in every battle for free government, good citizenship, civic virtue, and education. It has enemies, as all have who aggressively fight ignorance, bigotry, and wrong. They affect our purposes no more than winds against granite rock, and to those enemies Freemasonry sends its challenge:

“Hammer away,
ye hostile hands,
Your hammers break,
God’s anvil stands.”

When completed, there will be built within this Temple an altar; upon the altar, a Bible; draping both, an American flag. Upon their knees, with hands upon these symbols of faith, every Mason must pledge his loyalty to God, country, home, and his fellow man. In Masonic temples, creed is optional, loyalty to country and God imperative. All in all, Masonry is organized righteousness—mobilized patriotism.

Those words were spoken by Bro. Alva Adams in 1921 at the cornerstone ceremony for the Rocky Mountain Consistory. Adams had served three non-consecutive terms as governor of Colorado, and also was prominent in Freemasonry there, having been Grand Lecturer of the Grand Lodge, and the Sovereign Grand Inspector General of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite at that time. The couplet comes from the poem “Hammer and Anvil” by Samuel Valentine Cole, which I recommend to you.

If your lodge is reducing Independence Day to a cookout and maybe participation in a local parade, remember Adams’ clarion for a moral republic and a college of manhood.

Friday, July 2, 2021

‘Fascinating Facts discussion’

Fifty-five years ago on this very date, MW J. Blan Loflin, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma, granted the dispensation that launched Oklahoma Lodge of Research. What does this have to do with you?

Well, the least you can do is sit in when the lodge will host a discussion via Zoom next Saturday morning.

W. Bro. Daniel Hanttula, the Junior Warden, will present “Fascinating Facts in Masonic Research” on July 10 at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

Get started here.

And if you’re motivated to do more than the least you can do, membership info is available here.