Saturday, April 30, 2022

‘You snooze, you lose’


“You snooze, you lose,” as we say in the Select Master Degree (and its variants), and I definitely feel self-defeated thanks to procrastination, disorganization, and some legit busyness. That which was lost to me, although I probably will get to it eventually, is a paper I have been intending, for more than a year, to write for my research lodges on a revealing story of nineteenth century U.S. Masonic history.

I’m hardly the first to have the idea. Jacob Norton (1814-97) is well known about the apartments of the Temple in Massachusetts. A Jewish man who was made a Mason in England, he emigrated to the United States seeking a better life, like so many. He continued his Masonic labors in a Massachusetts lodge, but his experience in the United Grand Lodge of England did not brace him for the sectarian Christian content of Craft rituals in 1850s Massachusetts.

Norton and several other Jewish Masons wrote the grand master to ask if reforms might be possible to achieve “universal fellowship,” in effect bringing their rituals into accord with English dechristianized rituals. The grand master advised the group to leave Freemasonry.

There are many colorful details about Norton that I believe would make his story far more vital than just some reproachful review of the way things were long ago in the Puritan Commonwealth. For instance, his Masonic penpals included Albert Pike and the founders of Quatuor Coronati 2076.

My paper would have concluded (and, again, still might) with the facts of a successor grand master who made a point of ensuring the Craft of his time was a brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God, thus making the two leaders’ words bookends that shape Norton’s life story within and without Freemasonry.

Anyway, I kind of feel as though I lost out because of a new paper. Israeli scholar Peter Lanchidi has published “Jacob Norton and the Quest for Universal Freemasonry: Jewish Masonic Consciousness in a Christian Fraternity” (Johns Hopkins University Press). You might recognize his name from the Freemasonry on the Frontier collection.

Of course there was no competition; he’s a bona fide historian, and I’m a boneheaded hobbyist, but learning of this paper, which I have not read yet, admonishes me to get busy and resume the work I once somewhat was known for. I’ll start by clearing away the eight pounds of paper and debris from my desk. Tomorrow.

Friday, April 29, 2022

‘New tartan for the Cryptic Clan’


Not to be outdone by the Royal Arch Masons, the Cryptic Rite now advertises an official tartan for its companions. The former revealed its pattern last year, and the latter unveiled its purplish plaid today. From the Cryptic Clan publicity:

We are pleased to offer kilts and other tartan items using our registered General Grand Council tartan, woven in a 13-ounce and 80 percent wool/20 percent cotton blend. In addition to our five-yard kilt and seven-yard great kilt, we have a range of tartan kilt and dress accessories, including fly plaids, flashes, vests, cummerbunds, neckties, bowties, and pocket squares.

There also are ranges of General Grand Council Crest jewelry and accessories available to complete your kilt outfit. We are developing other items using the General Grand Council Crest that can be purchased for yourself, as gifts, or used as awards.

The items are unique to the General Grand Council and are not available anywhere else. The profits generated will be used to support CMMRF and other programs.

Twenty-six orders are needed to start production. Expect three to four months for delivery, but subsequent purchases should come faster.

I’m not a kilt guy myself, but maybe flat caps are in mind for future sales.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

‘New meaning to Craftsman’s Wages’

Founders Brewing Co.

The brethren at the Detroit Masonic Temple have collaborated with their neighbors at Founders Brewing Co. to celebrate our Ancient and Honorable Fraternity.

Craftsman’s Wages is on tap at the bar. It is described as an “old fashioned German-style altbier” with flavors of “caramel, bitter earthy hops and apricot notes” and an alcohol content of 5.7 percent.

Why not take the tour of the Temple tomorrow night before visiting Founders to receive your Wages? Fifty bucks for the two-and-a-half-hour tour, followed by Craftsman’s Wages and some food.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

‘News you can use’

Random News
In no particular order:

9) The Center for Fraternal Collections and Research aims to raise $5,000 via Crowdfunding to continue its work. Click here to help.

3) If you are not a subscriber to Biblical Archaeology Review, frankly a must read for the thinking Freemason, it offers a $5 annual rate right now. Click here.

11) The 2022 International Gathering of St. Alban’s Lodges will be held at St. Alban’s Lodge 6 in Bristol, Rhode Island September 30. RSVP here.

5) The June 18, 1967 issue of Observer Magazine actually printed Boaz during the 250th anniversary of the United Grand Lodge of England. Writing in The Guardian the other day, Chris Hall looks back.

12) Did you know the English have a lodge for cigar enthusiasts? Hazara 4159 has an illustrious history dating back to 1920, and in recent years was reoriented as a lodge for brothers of the leaf to smoke on the Square. Next meeting: Tuesday, May 17 in the Grange White Hall Hotel. RSVP here.

6) In Greece, an unnamed 36-year-old man was arrested for vandalizing the Masonic temple in Thessaloniki. Police said he damaged the door with an axe and also discharged a shotgun. No motive was mentioned.

2) What’s a fine cigar without a good drink? Maybe the Pickleback isn’t the ideal complement to a smoke, but read Bro. John Roberts’ history of the bizarre shot & chaser here.

13) In Latvia, the Riga Museum of World Freemasonry needs funds to complete construction and open its doors before the year is out. If you can help, click here.

1) When the Grand Lodge of New York meets in two weeks, the flag of Ukraine will be displayed on the dais in the East.

8) And finally, Quatuor Coronati 2076 will meet May 12 in Sheffield. Bro. Niall Johnson will present his “Taking French Leave: Masonic English Napoleonic Prisoners, 1803-1814,” winner of the Norman B. Spencer Prize. Four o’clock in Tapton Masonic Hall.

Historic England
7) Also in the U.K., the public agency Historic England, which works toward preservation of diverse legacy locations, has allocated £180,000 to benefit Phoenix Hall in Sunderland, which has served the brethren there since 1784. One of Trevor Stewart’s lodges, if I recall correctly.

4) The Masonic Book Club confirms that Masonry Dissected will be published anew, thanks to all the pre-paid orders. Expect your copy in the mail in July.

10) The Anthroposophical Society of New York City will conduct a walking tour Sunday, May 1 to visit a number of locations in Greenwich Village that are historically important to the Society. Visit here for more info.

Friday, April 15, 2022

‘Masonic time capsule to be opened’

WHIZ photo

Another chapter in the catastrophic demise of the Zanesville Masonic Temple in Ohio three months ago will be written when the time capsule secreted in the structure will be opened in June.

WHIZ reported last week that the repository, which was installed on St. John Baptist Day 1902, will be opened on June 25.

The building, no longer owned by a Masonic entity but still home to Lodge of Amity 5 and other groups, was destroyed by fire in January.

The revelation of the box’s contents will be the highlight of a dinner at a local college; the event will be a fundraiser to prepare for building a new meeting place for the lodge.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

‘The ALR’s new Fellows’

The vote took place during our meeting two weeks ago, but it was announced yesterday that The American Lodge of Research’s newest Fellows are…Arturo de Hoyos and S. Brent Morris!

If you read this website regularly you have an understanding of how important and treasured these brethren are. Both are titans in Masonic research, Masonic education, Masonic publishing, Masonic leadership. This fraternity would look very different if we didn’t have the benefits of Art’s and Brent’s industry.

As I always say (and possibly at some cost), the politicians come and go, usually unaccomplished, but the scholars provide consistent guidance and inspiration, as well as legacies after they’re gone.

Congratulations, brethren! Hopefully a meeting celebrating you both and showcasing your expertise can be hatched soon.

Monday, April 11, 2022

‘Making the Warrior-Mystic’


If I’m not mistaken, it has been a very long time since the Fourth Manhattan District’s Square Club convened a meeting, but the brethren are rebounding zealously this month with a dinner-lecture featuring what I think will be an inspiring message. The graphic above has all the particulars.

Bro. Angel Millar is Senior Warden of The American Lodge of Research, as well as the new editor of Fraternal Review, the periodical of Southern California Research Lodge. He is the author of several books on Freemasonry, and others, such as The Path of the Warrior-Mystic: Being a Man in an Age of Chaos (2021) and The Three Stages of Initiatic Spirituality: Craftsman, Warrior, Magician (2020). So his topic on April 27 is thoroughly conceived.

I don’t know what’ll be on the menu, but I do know we have many Filipino brethren in the club, so I’m envisioning lechon—probably the size of a Harley Road King.

My lodge, Publicity 1000, is a constituent of the “Glorious Fourth,” and I’ll try to organize a solid group turn-out.

Hope to see you there too.

Friday, April 8, 2022

‘Wendell K. Walker Lecture’

I.R.A. 2 photo
Oscar with Worshipful Master Matthew.

April really snuck up on me so I missed the Wendell K. Walker Lecture last night. It’s an annual tradition at Independent Royal Arch Lodge 2. This year’s speaker was Oscar Alleyne, President of the Masonic Society and Past Junior Grand Warden.

Oscar presented “Man’s Argument with His Inner Self.” Hopefully we’ll get to hear that in other venues in the future.

(I’m envious. My longstanding offer to speak on “Fire and Clay: Tobacco in Early New York Lodges” has ignited no response.)

Thursday, April 7, 2022

‘The Spiritual Quest and Freemasonry’


For late spring, the Grand Lodge of California has planned an online symposium with three speakers of diverse experiences to be united in “The Spiritual Quest and Freemasonry.”

On Thursday, June 16, Henrik Bogdan, Josef Wages, and Lon Milo DuQuette will “debate the role of spirituality within the Craft.”

Attendance is free and open to the public. Register here. Will begin at 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

‘Kybalion screening Saturday’


UPDATE: Another screening has been scheduled for Saturday, May 21 at seven o’clock.

In keeping with the news of films and videos in recent days, here’s an update on Ronni Thomas’ The Kybalion I told you about a long time ago: The movie was released earlier this year and has been shown here and there. On Saturday, The Kybalion will be screened in Brooklyn. From the publicity:

The Kybalion
Saturday, April 9
7 p.m.
Film Noir Cinema
122 Meserole Avenue, Brooklyn
Tickets here

This film is an adaptation of the 1908 occult manuscript The Kybalion, and explores the seven principles of Hermetics. It is a surreal documentation of the supernatural world around us.

Q&A with writer Mitch Horowitz and director Ronni Thomas will follow after the film.

The Kybalion is not Freemasonry, but Hermetic thought is evident in the rituals of the lodge. I recommend The Kybalion text published a few years ago and edited by Horowitz.

‘Demystifying the House of the Temple’

The Southern Jurisdiction of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite shares videos on a YouTube channel to educate its members, other Freemasons, and the public alike. New content is uploaded almost weekly, and one recent video gives viewers a tour of the House of the Temple, the jurisdiction’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Check out the channel, and check back often.

Friday, April 1, 2022

‘The Magpie endorsement’

Ex-grand master
It’s sad only seven golden months remain in the tenure of the grand master of the grand lodge in New Jersey—although he is free to extend his term—but an encouraging recent announcement has lifted my spirits. Ex-grand master Glenn Trautmann is seeking re-election to his old job!

The Magpie Mason endorses this candidacy without any hesitation, mental reservation, etc. Give Glenn the tools to finish the job.