Wednesday, June 28, 2023

‘The ALR concludes another year’

Bill Sardone photo

I hereby wrap up the Magpie month of June with an update from The American Lodge of Research. We met last night for our Installation of Officers and to hear one research work.

RW Bro. Ron, a perennial grand rank guy in New Jersey, who also is a New York Mason, returned to the lectern to tell us the truth, “maybe,” about the Morgan Affair. I don’t mind admitting I wasn’t looking forward to this. The Morgan Affair, despite being a long and complicated story that intersects with a variety of historical threads—including, however improbably, U.S. political history—nonetheless is a well covered topic that everyone knows about. Or so I thought.

Ron surveyed the brethren present to assess their knowledge about it, and I was surprised to see a good portion of the room raise their hands to signify they didn’t know what it was. Therefore, Ron’s presentation was a bigger success. I won’t recount his findings of facts because I still think practically everyone knows the basics of the tale, but his paper delves beyond those basics, and he even got me interested with some of the secondary points he discovered. Nicely done.

Then, it was time for the Installation. W. Bro. Michael, who has been a Worshipful Master so many times that I get chest pains just thinking about it, is our new Master. The Magpie Mason continues to Peter Principle his way upward, so now is found in the West. Bro. Yves (whose name, we just learned, does not have the French grammatical liaison between the first and last names) is in the South. Bro. Michael now is found at the right of the Worshipful Master; Bro. Daniel, who wowed us in March with his philological work, is Junior Deacon. Bro. Dave and Bro. Praveen—God bless ’em—remain at the Treasurer’s and Secretary’s stations. I think that’s everyone. (Our bylaws permit us to seat more officers. We just need more Active Members to seek the mantles.)

MW Bill and Bro. Thomas.

A great surprise was meeting Bro. Thomas, who I found somewhat accidentally via the QCCC website because he serves as the Local Secretary for New York. He also is an experienced lecturer who travels to and from Hungary, speaking on Freemasonry in that nation. It seemed natural to me that he might want to attend our meetings, so I invited him, and now he’s getting involved with us. My marketing background isn’t going to waste!

We saw several new faces, in fact. Bro. Chris was raised to the Sublime Degree a few months ago, and already is seeking out Masonic education. And there were others with whom I didn’t get much chance to chat.

MW Bill congratulates PM Conor.

Arguably, the most memorable moment came when MW Bill Sardone, who I think of pretty much as our godfather, thanks to how mightily he contributed to our relaunch two years ago and for attending our meetings since, invited Past Master Conor to the East for a special presentation. In recognition of his own outstanding leadership during these two years of rebirth, Conor received a special Past Master jewel—One of a kind! Ain’t no other PM of The ALR gonna get one!—crafted by Bro. John Bridegroom himself.

The ALR seal at center.
Despite being put on the spot, Conor rendered a gracious acceptance speech, during which he shared a funny story of how his mother had asked if the lodge wouldn’t present him an award for all his hard work. He explained to her that it’s an honor to serve, but now he can show her he has been presented a nice trophy after all.

In other news, the upcoming book of transactions is still upcoming. It’s my fault. I’m sorry. I’m slowly making progress in the editing. And an altar cloth! I volunteered to have one made, stipulating that I’d rather avoid the thick, plush velvet type, because they are expensive and kind of difficult to fold for storage, and instead will procure a simple blue cotton version. I figured it would be simple to commission something from a local tailor. It’s not that easy, apparently, but I’ll get it done, and will unveil it at our next meeting in October on a date to be announced.

In the meantime, look for us on Zoom, where we will supplement our Stated Communication schedule with periodic online discussions. Magpie readers will be the second to know when these events are announced.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

‘A St. John’s Day salvaged’

And that’s the First Presbyterian Church of Cranbury in the background too.
James Anderson was a Presbyterian minister.

I’d had big plans for today—a Saturday St. John Baptist Day in the tercentennial year of Anderson’s Constitutions—involving a feast for about thirty guests, with talks from the lectern about that first book of Masonic jurisprudence, and inside a historic setting too. But I couldn’t get all the planning finished, so I canceled the whole thing and anticipated sulking all day.

But then Don, our Senior Warden at New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786, suggested an informal approach, and that worked out great! There were only seven of us (David from Georgia—the country—drove all the way from Ohio!), but you wouldn’t know it from the quality and duration of the conversation. We were in the Cranbury Inn in central Jersey.

We were there for four hours!
Turns out, to my great chagrin, it’s about two miles from Hightstown-Apollo Lodge. Had I realized that a month earlier, I could have saved the big party plans, but this was pretty terrific. New Jersey’s top Masonic scholars (I don’t include myself there) and several others who like to listen (I do count myself there) enjoyed hours of conversation about Anderson, Preston, Webb, Cross, Sadler, rituals, research techniques, grand masters, and a lot more.

We had to ourselves the original part of the restaurant, where travelers and diners sat in the 1750s. Perfect. The poor kid waiting on us had to come and go through the room overhearing weird talk of Masons, monks, rituals, saints, Landmarks, Catholics, Protestants, et al. I’m a good tipper generally but, for his suffering, I gave him a Masonic 33 percent.

Kudos to Cranbury Inn. Our meals were pretty simple (burgers, pasta), but everyone ate with gusto. I’d return for certain.

That’s my kind of décor!

What’s the next excuse for a Masonic feast?

‘In the pages of the summer ESM magazine’

ESM magazine

Speaking of White Plains Lodge (see post below), the Immediate Past Master has an article published in the new issue of The Empire State Mason magazine that includes a familiar photo.

It’s weird seeing New Jersey guys in New York’s magazine, but W. Bro. Stephen Petty included this shot from New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786’s meeting of February 19 at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. A very special occasion attended by brethren from around the country and beyond. (Click here for a recap.) The article is about the White Plains Lodge brethren’s enjoyment of the various attractions that wonderful weekend in Alexandria, Virginia.

‘Haight speech at White Plains Lodge!’

At the George Washington Birthday Parade
in Alexandria, Virginia four months ago. That’s Andrew at left.

W. Bro. Andrew Haight was installed in the East of White Plains Lodge 473 on June 7. The installing team was led by none other than MW Bill Sardone (who, I think, will do likewise at The ALR on Tuesday), and the new Master then delivered a wonderful speech to the brethren and Masonic family. Sorry to say I couldn’t be there, but here is the Worshipful Master’s address. Oh, before I forget: Happy St. John’s Day!

Being the will of Divine Providence that I achieve the end of my laborious journey Eastward, I have arrived at this Station standing before this public assembly as Master of Masons. I bow my head in modesty and offer my humblest thanks to the Supreme Being.

I must also thank those earthen-bound individuals, to whom I owe the highest honors:

  • To Most Worshipful Brother William Sardone for his support on this occasion by serving to install myself and the Officers of White Plains Lodge No. 473, I owe my most heartfelt gratitude.
  • To Right Worshipful Brother John G. McAloon and Very Worshipful Brother Raphael S.C. Wong for not only discharging the roles of Installing Chaplain and Installing Marshal, but also for their wisdom and guidance during the years that have led to this point.
  • To Worshipful Brother Stephen Mark Petty, Jr. for his leadership of the Lodge which has not only yielded fond memories and new traditions, but has also supported me as a treasured mentor, preparing me for this very moment.
  • To all the Past Masters of White Plains Lodge for their invaluable advice, their trust, and for paving the way.
  • To the newly installed Officers of the Lodge for their support and effort in faithfully carrying out my designs for the Lodge.
  • And to all the family and friends, Brothers, and mothers, who have joined us today for contributing their goodwill and gladness for the occasion at hand.

Thank you!

Especially to Daniela Petty, wife of Past Master Stephen Petty, who so graciously allowed Stephen to build a better future for White Plains Lodge: I thank you.

Understanding is what led me to knock upon the doors of this Lodge. It was the quest to reconcile the yearning within my heart to understand the divine spark within my soul—that impulse that rings true in each and every one of us to build the life that God has laid out for us, to create a legacy of noble deeds for the sake of posterity, to achieve the blessing of immortality that led to my becoming a Mason, in this very room.

But what takes place within this room? What is accomplished for the sake of the Lodge that calls the attention of so many devoted husbands, fathers, students, actors, composers, businessmen, authors, escape artists, prime ministers, kings, astronauts and, until this point, no less than fourteen U.S. presidents? The likes of Voltaire, Henry Ford, George Washington, or Mozart wouldn’t have been swayed by simply a supper club with a proclivity toward pancake fundraisers and hot dog cookouts, right? So, why would they join?

“Good men, by nature, wish to know.”
Leonardo da Vinci

The Lodge is where a Man comes to know himself. He enters apprehensively, trusting that he be in the faithful, capable, hands of men who will endeavor to make him better. Through his experience, over time, the wisdom of his brethren begins to take root; his desire to know Truth unfolds before him as he is guided by his predecessors and learns their thoughts and their ways. When at last the man is made to stand on his own two feet, the work of the evening completed, the Lodge is set to close, dispersing the diverse men of the Lodge back into the world, to mix back into their cultural roles, as if nothing remarkable or out of the ordinary had occurred at all. This is Masonic Love.

The Lodge teaches Love: to Love God, to Love yourself, to Love your family, to Love your neighbors, to Love your country. Masons are taught to Love one another, as only such a pure emotion can call together so many different men, scattered about the lands, to gather themselves for the sake of making another man a better man. While the fruits of that Masonry may, for the time being, go unseen, the Mason knows he has done his portion of labour, and he will never tire of being useful. 

“Zeal is the fire of love, active for duty—burning as it flies.”
W.R. Williams

Now that everyone knows Masonry takes good men and makes them better, I’d like to offer a few of my own reflections, adapted to my own personal interests and inclinations, expressive of a heart truly Masonic, on what it can mean to take a good man and make him better. If you indulge me with attentiveness, I will proceed with candor about Alchemy.

Alchemy may call to mind the manufacture of the Philosopher’s Stone. Its associated activities may seem a bit “Harry Potter” on first thought, however, I assure you that about six hundred years ago the students of medieval Alchemy, were on the cutting edge, searching for immortality as fervently as I had been when I knocked upon the door of this Lodge, and, if they had discovered the substance which turns lead to gold, the need for absolute secrecy would be paramount. So, how can we alchemize?

Solve et Coagula or, separate and join together (or “dissolve and coagulate” in strict Latin) is a line from the practitioners of medieval Alchemy, which is only to say that nothing new can be built if, not before, we make space, breaking the old.

Alchemy is an ancient proto-science tradition, a precursor to modern inorganic chemistry. C.G. Jung saw it as a Western psychology dedicated to the achievement of individuation, as substances, physical states, and molecular material processes could be metaphors for metaphysical matters, spiritual states, and, ultimately, transformations.

Solve et Coagula is the essential alchemical process. “Solve,” or “solutio,” refers to the breaking down of elements; “Coagula” refers to their coming together. In the process of transmuting base metals into gold, this contained both a literal and a metaphorical meaning. “Solve” referred to the dissolving and vanishing of hardened, or calcified, positions and negative states of body and mind. “Coagula” referred to the coagulation of dispersed elements into an integrated whole, representing a new synthesis, of sorts.

We find that this procedure is like the biological process of metamorphosis, where the ability of a physical body to decompose and recompose is highly involved. Many observations have indicated that programmed cell death plays a considerable role during physiological processes of multi-cellular organisms. We find particular interest in Goethe’s phenomenology approach to the subject of plants. Although his ideas of transformation were about the continuous metamorphosis of living things and did not relate our contemporary ideas of transmutation, he did arrive at a sophisticated view on changeability and drew the conclusion that organisms may have within itself the ability to take on the shape which is most suitable for its surrounding conditions.

The idea of survival variability also may describe the tendency of certain chemical classes to combine with certain substances in preference to others. In his novel Elective Affinities, Goethe describes people as chemical beings whose amorous affairs and relationships were like the pairings of Alchemical classes. Alchemists state that there exist in nature two opposing forces. Such energies come from a single source and manifest in all aspects of creation, like mercury and sulphur; sun and moon; feminine and masculine. Two apparently opposite realities that complementary transcend duality.

This eternal binary opposition is a factor of everyday life. In order to make good men better, Masonry teaches men to overcome, and re-integrate in an exalted state. The Philosopher’s Stone, however, is the earthly, not spiritual, treasure of the Alchemists, and is described as a physical substance, which is concentrated, purely divine energy that can be used for performing miracles. If God has made it for us, then it must be possible to achieve.

Alchemy, in this context, can be seen in the simple metaphorical sense of drawing out the divine which is already within us. It is to this end that I dedicate my work, as Master of this Lodge, to reinforce, research, recognize, and achieve. It is my goal, that by endeavoring to manifest the perfection of the Supreme Being, the Brethren of this Lodge may come to understand the beauty of creation promised in a single stanza of William Blake’s poetry:

To see a world in a grain of sand—
and a heaven in a wild-flower.

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand—
and eternity in an hour.

By accepting this Charter, it has become my duty to lead this Lodge and instruct its members that it may prosper and foster the spirit of Masonry, that its good effects may be felt beyond the walls of this Temple. To support our entire jurisdiction, and the community from which we proudly take our name, White Plains Lodge No. 473 will realize its destiny and claim its reputation, as not merely a well-run benevolent institution, but as a model, most faithful to the Great Architect’s design, of what Masonry should be, and, in its course, what Masonry will be. For in my mind, excellence is what my Brethren deserve from me, it is what the Lodge deserves from its Brethren, it is what the community deserves from its Lodge of Freemasons, it is what God deserves for making it possible and bringing us together here tonight. As understanding can elicit the divinity within mankind, so must we call upon the Almighty to set us up, as was intended.

In a specific sense, doing what I see plainly as my charge, I formally announce that White Plains Lodge No. 473 establishes a commission to determine in what capacity the resources and history of this Lodge may be leveraged, that we may attend our Patriotic duty to Country, by participating in the semi-quincentennial of American independence in 2026. It is a natural course for us, being the oldest building in the downtown City of White Plains, and with a Lodge history that stretches back even further, we will reveal ourselves for the historic institution that we are.

With more than three years to research and develop the role we may play, I believe the timing is right to coordinate with neighboring Lodges, municipalities, and our Grand Jurisdiction, to put forth our most excellent effort in organizing the 250th anniversary of rejecting tyranny, proclaiming liberty, and the founding of the Country that God has favored: the United States of America.

I have the firmest confidence that the Officers have paid strict attention to the charges and duties of their stations and places, and will happily labor for the harmony and benefit of the craft. Like the mechanism of a watch, each part of us is essential.

I will always lead us toward the wonderful future that awaits us, and I invite you to follow. Our course to be aligned with a bright star in heaven, there is no storm we cannot navigate. If I were to leave you with a statement or quote that will define this is year, it is simply this: 
“Do good. Have fun.”

Our work can be austere and solemn, requiring our attention and focus; we must do good. However, God wants man to be happy, and life was made to be enjoyed. As a heart free from regret is easily filled with gladness, it opens the mind to cheerfulness and the body to delight. I thank each one of you for making this night so special. Having now attended our duties and accomplishing the ceremonies of the evening, the good has been done. Now, let’s go have fun!

Friday, June 23, 2023

‘John Skene conference registration is open’


Registration is open for the John Skene conference in New Jersey! The event last year was something of a rehearsal, but this time will be the real thing. Click here for tickets information. Send email here for more info. From the publicity:

John Skene:
Masonic Influences
on the Development
of Early America
August 18-19
New Jersey

Friday, August 18

6:30 p.m. Meet & Greet
30 Western Drive, Westampton
Attire: Tastefully Casual

Saturday, August 19

9:30 Memorial Service
180 Burrs Road, Westampton
Attire: Tastefully Casual for guests; Jacket & Tie for hosts/staff

11 a.m. Lunch
700 Highland Drive, Westampton
Attire: Tastefully Casual for guests; Jacket & Tie for hosts/staff

Following Lunch: Seminar

Speakers include:

Robert L.D. Cooper is a Scottish Freemason as well as a recognized historian and expert on Scottish Freemasonry. He has authored numerous books and articles on Freemasonry and lectured in Masonic lodges and other venues across the world.

Steven Bullock is professor of history at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and is the author of Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730-1840. Professor Bullock has spoken widely to academic and public groups; commented on Masonry and American history on ABC and NPR; and appeared in documentaries airing on History and National Geographic channels, Channel Four (France), and elsewhere.

Robert Johnson is the host of Whence Came You?, a Masonic podcast, and is co-author of It’s Business Time: Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry. He serves on the Grand Lodge of Illinois Masonic Education Committee.

Robert Howard is a student of history, served (2016) as Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey, and is a Past Master of New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786. He has written a number of articles for the New Jersey Freemason, facilitated the Grand Lodge’s mentoring program, and has made a number of Masonic presentations to lodges around the state.

Erich M. Huhn is Secretary of New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786. He is the author of New Jersey’s Masonic Lodges, and is a Ph.D. Candidate in History and Culture at Drew University in New Jersey.

7 p.m. Dinner

Thursday, June 22, 2023

‘Indian Degree Team coming to St. Alban Lodges’ Gathering’

Happy St. Alban’s Day!

Today is the Feast Day of the first Christian martyr in the British Isles, an anniversary previously employed by Freemasons for convivial observance. Maybe in some places it is still, but Bro. Pete, at St. Alban’s Lodge 1455 and Texas Lodge of Research, says St. Alban’s Day was the summertime celebration occasion for English Freemasons before St. John’s Day, on the 24th, was chosen.

Why switch? Pete says it simply was because the Baptist’s Feast Day was an official holiday in English life, so it made more sense to delay the festivities for two days and synchronize the Masonic partying with everyone else’s.

I think we deserve both, but no one listens to me. Here’s more on St. Alban.

So, a couple years ago, I told you about the International Gathering of Lodges Named for St. Alban that was scheduled for Long Island, home of St. Alban’s 56. As you recall, the pandemic resulted in everything being canceled. (The brethren did get together last year at St. Alban’s 6 in Rhode Island.) But this party—the seventieth—is on!

October 13-15 in Rockville Centre.

One added feature I heard about will be the appearance of the Oklahoma Masonic Indian Degree Team. Founded circa 1950, according to OMIDT Secretary David Dill, the Degree Team travels the United States (and has a few times to England) to confer the Third Degree in full Native American ceremonial attire. I saw them in New Jersey about twenty years ago, and remember that the ritual is Grand Lodge of Oklahoma standard work, which differs slightly from what we know in New York, but the treat is the ritual garb in the Masonic setting. It means a lot.


The team’s last visit to New York was 1999, Bro. Dill says. “The team is loosely based out of Tulsa. Members belong to multiple lodges in northeast Oklahoma, and we also belong to several different tribes,” he adds.

“Right now, the tribes represented are Muscogee (Creek), Cherokee, Pawnee, Ottawa, Apache, Choctaw, and Seminole. In the past there have been many other tribes represented as well. To be on the the team, you must belong to a tribe, know multiple parts in the Master Mason Degree (Oklahoma ritual), have regalia, be able to dance (a native dance like what you would see at typical pow-wow), and be able to travel up to two times per month,” Dill continues.

“Our outfits are actually dance clothes you would normally see at a pow-wow. The different outfits belong to different dances. We make our outfits ourselves. We all have real eagle feathers. New members must serve a year-long apprenticeship. Full membership is attained by a vote of the team at one of our biannual meetings. We have had non-native members in the past. These are special exceptions and in these cases these members are ‘adopted’ into the team, much like a tribe can adopt non-members.”

“For us to travel, we require three things: transportation costs, lodging, and meals while we’re away. We do not charge for degree work.”

It could be another couple of decades before the team returns to New York, so try to get to this event. For information, contact Bro. Scheu here.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

‘From the Library of Publicity Lodge No. 1000’

Latin mottos: ‘Let There Be Light’
and ‘Know Thyself.’

Speaking of fine arts (see post below), there was one lot on eBay last week of particular interest to my lodge. I didn’t bid, but I hope one of the brethren won it when the gavel dropped last night. I’d told them about it via our Faceypage.

It is a bookplate from what, I suppose, was a library maintained by Publicity Lodge. I don’t know where the stacks might have been, but I’ll guess the lodge once upon a time leased one of those small offices that inconspicuously occupy the odd-numbered floors of Masonic Hall. Maybe part office for the treasurer and secretary, and lodge library, and storage, and smoking lounge. I wish we could do that today.

You’re wondering why the lodge would keep a library when the Livingston Library is on 14. From the look of this bookplate, I’ll guess it dates to the 1930s, and that’s when the Livingston Library was born. Maybe there was no Publicity library. The lodge published a history in the early ’30s, and maybe this bookplate was commissioned specially for the book’s print run. This is all guesswork on my part. I’ll have to delve into the voluminous lodge minutes to see what was going on there.

‘Mucha merchandising’


Speaking of the fine arts (see post below), if you are a Freemason and a lover of Art Nouveau, then you cherish Bro. Alphonse Mucha, the Bohemia-born master who made the style his own at the turn of the last century. Well, I guess he has achieved a vendible status he didn’t ask for, because an online retailer is offering decorative and functional items, including pillow cases and ceramic mugs, with Mucha’s art on them. (This edition of The Magpie Mason is not an endorsement of any product. Caveat emptor.)

From the venerable website of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon:

Alphonse Maria Mucha
July 24, 1860 - July 14, 1939

Mucha was born in Bohemia (Moravia, in what is now the Czech Republic) in 1860 and moved to Paris in 1890 where he became the star of the poster-art movement under the patronage of Sarah Bernhardt. After World War I, he returned to Czechoslovakia, inspiring a slavic arts and crafts movement which combined elements of art nouveau with classic national themes. In addition to commercial art, jewellery design, interior decoration, sculpture and stage design, Mucha experimented with lettering and calligraphy to produce excellent source material for unique typefaces. Mucha’s style is widely considered synonymous with French Art Nouveau and he is one of the most imitated artists and designers of all time.

Initiated 1898, Paris;
Founder of Czech Freemasonry; and
Sovereign Grand Commander, Supreme Council Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Czechoslovakia, 1923.

Mucha’s sensitive and meditative spirit drew him to the esoteric aspects of Freemasonry. He was initiated into a Masonic Lodge in Paris in 1898. The influence of Masonic symbolism is evident throughout his work, especially in his decorated book Le Pater. After the formation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, Mucha was instrumental in establishing the first Czech-speaking Lodge, the Komensky Lodge in Prague, and he soon became Sovereign Grand Commander of Scottish Rite Freemasonry for Czechoslovakia. He later became the second Sovereign Grand Commander of Czechoslovakia.

Mucha Foundation

This self-portrait captures him in ceremonial Masonic regalia complete with the hat, jewels, and sash decorated with the embroidered number 33, indicating the highest rank of the Scottish Rite, surrounded by the sacred triangle. Standing in front of Art Nouveau style wallpaper, Mucha deliberately framed himself against an aureole made of stars, a signature motif of the “Style Mucha.”

From the 1880s until the First World War, western Europe and the United States witnessed the development of Art Nouveau (“New Art”). Taking inspiration from the unruly aspects of the natural world, Art Nouveau influenced art and architecture especially in the applied arts, graphic work, and illustration. Sinuous lines and “whiplash” curves were derived, in part, from botanical studies and illustrations of deep-sea organisms such as those by German biologist Ernst Heinrich Haeckel (1834–1919) in Kunstformen der Natur (Art Forms in Nature, 1899). Other publications, including Floriated Ornament (1849) by Gothic Revivalist Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-52) and The Grammar of Ornament (1856) by British architect and theorist Owen Jones (1809-74), advocated nature as the primary source of inspiration for a generation of artists seeking to break away from past styles.

The unfolding of Art Nouveau’s flowing line may be understood as a metaphor for the freedom and release sought by its practitioners and admirers from the weight of artistic tradition and critical expectations. . .

The term Art Nouveau first appeared in the 1880s in the Belgian journal L’Art Moderne to describe the work of Les Vingt, twenty painters and sculptors seeking reform through art. Les Vingt, like much of the artistic community throughout Europe and America, responded to leading nineteenth-century theoreticians such as French Gothic Revival architect Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (1814-79) and British art critic John Ruskin (1819-1900), who advocated the unity of all the arts, arguing against segregation between the fine arts of painting and sculpture and the so-called lesser decorative arts.

Deeply influenced by the socially aware teachings of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement, Art Nouveau designers endeavored to achieve the synthesis of art and craft, and further, the creation of the spiritually uplifting Gesamtkunstwerk (“total work of art”) encompassing a variety of media. The successful unification of the fine and applied arts was achieved in many such complete designed environments as Victor Horta and Henry van de Velde’s Hôtel Tassel and Hôtel Van Eetvelde (Brussels, 1893-5), Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald’s design of the Hill House (Helensburgh, near Glasgow, 1902-4), and Josef Hoffmann and Gustav Klimt’s Palais Stoclet dining room (Brussels, 1905-11).

Saturday, June 17, 2023

‘Embodying Masonic Values art contest’


Even more Pennsylvania news! It’s time for your entires in the Grand Lodge’s sixth annual Embodying Masonic Values contest, sponsored by the Masonic Library and Museum in Philadelphia. Click here to apply. From the publicity:


All artwork entries must display a visual interpretation of some aspect of Freemasonry in Pennsylvania, whether it be philosophical, historical, scientific, social, fraternal, charitable, architectural, etc. Selected artwork will be exhibited in the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia. 


Brother Travis Simpkins, Artist
John McDaniel, Artist
Elaine Erne, Artist/Teacher


Any amateur or professional artist or college art student may enter, but all will be judged as equals for competition purposes. Artists must be at least eighteen years of age. All submissions must be original; they may have been created within the past two years and may have been previously exhibited. No work previously produced on a commission will be accepted. All submissions must be available for purchase.


Oil, Three-dimensional, Drawing and Print-making, Water-Based Medium, Digital Imagery


$200 Prize per winner, per category
$500 Grand Master’s Prize
$1,000 Best in Show Prize

Entrance Fee

First entry: $25
Second and Third Entry: $10
(Limit of 3 entries per artist)


If the artists in the Grand Exhibition choose to participate, their entered works may be auctioned at the Exhibition Gala, with 80 percent of the auction value going to them and 20 percent to The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania. The artist may set a reserve price, as well as a direct purchase price for the original work to be revealed after the auction.


Entry deadline: Thursday, August 10, by midnight, E.D.T. Submissions must be made here.

Jury selection to be announced Friday, August 25.

Opening Reception: The Grand Exhibition Gala will be held at the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia on Friday, October 6, featuring a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception, live music, announcement of winners, and a silent auction of selected artwork.

Exhibition: The Grand Exhibition will be open to the public to view starting on Tuesday, October 10, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays, until November 11. Masonic Temple, 1 North Broad Street, Philadelphia.

Friday, June 16, 2023

‘For Your Love book release party’


The New York book release party for Bro. Francis Dumaurier’s For Your Love will take place on Tuesday the 27th. For Your Love is the biography of Bro. Giorgio Gomelsky, the rock and roll impresario of Swinging Sixties London who later became a Freemason in l’Union Française Lodge 17 in Manhattan. From the publicity:

For Your Love
Book Release Party
Tuesday, June 27 at 6:30
Free admission, but RSVP here
27 West 24th Street, Manhattan

Francis Dumaurier, author and close friend of Giorgio, will present his recently published book about the incredible life of Giorgio Gomelsky. Raul Gonzalez, musician, late friend, and last manager of Giorgio’s Red Door, will co-host the event and share some of the works his band, Barra Libre, produced with Giorgio.

If you would like to collaborate in this event and have something about Giorgio you would like to share (multimedia, videos, photos, etc.), or share a story about Giorgio, please contact Raul here.

A limited number of copies of the book will be available for sale ($20) and will be signed by the author upon request.

To order a copy, click here.

RSVP by Friday, June 23 here.

Number 9. Number 9. Number 9. Number 9.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

‘Masonic researchers to visit Gettysburg’


And speaking of Pennsylvania (see post below), Civil War Lodge of Research 1865, chartered in Virginia, will meet at Gettysburg next month.

As it has done before, the lodge will travel to Good Samaritan Lodge 336 for a meeting before heading into Gettysburg National Military Park for a tour that will include little known facts imparted by local brethren, and then a cookout on the grounds. This will be the weekend following the calamitous battle’s 160th anniversary, so the area will be more crowded than usual. From the publicity:

Friday, July 7
Dinner at 6:30
2 Baltimore Street

Saturday, July 8
9 Lincoln Square
Coffee and pastries at 8:30 a.m.
9 a.m. - officer rehearsal
(time permitting)
10 a.m. - lodge meeting
Noon - lunch (TBD)
1 p.m. - Gettysburg battlefield tour
6 p.m. - Cookout at camp site MG4
3340 Fairfield Road

The Worshipful Master will grill burgers, brats, and hot dogs; and sides, soft drinks/beer, and dessert will be served. A good idea to bring a chair.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

‘Philly Masonic Temple re-dedication’

GL of Pennsylvania

Are you busy on St. John’s Day? The brethren of Pennsylvania will re-dedicate the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia, the Grand Lodge’s headquarters with all the cool rooms and artwork, that day. From the scant publicity:

Join us on Saturday, June 24 at a re-dedication ceremony for the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia, celebrating its 150th anniversary this year! The event will begin at 3 p.m., with free guided tours of the building before and after. Livestream the ceremony here.

Disclaimer: I pitched the idea of attending to a trusted brother in NJLORE as an ideal way to enjoy a Masonic St. John the Baptist Day, and his answer was returned: “It’s a good thought. Problem is, it’s part of the annual Philly summer festival in Center City. Crowds be like absolute madness. Music concerts, street venders. Nearly impossible to get into the city and impossible to park anywhere. Even public transportation will be chaotic.”

So traveler beware.

A sign of the times.


Monday, June 12, 2023

‘Thrice in 24 hours’

In some places, the tide might ebb and flow twice in twenty-four hours, but what can you do when you have three Masonic meetings in the same period? If you’re like me, meaning you have nothing better to do, then you attend them all.

This is the only weekend this year when my Cryptic council, research lodge, and AMD council have stated meetings on top of each other. Hectic, but enjoyable.

Scott Council 1

If you followed the travails of Scott Council 1 these past eight or so months, you might recall we were marked for euthanasia. Long story. Today, the prognosis is improved. Big challenges remain, like in personnel, but with committed leadership and help from Grand Council, there’s a good chance the situation will continue to improve.

No, we typically do not serve cake. It was our District Deputy’s birthday.

The help Friday night came in the form of a Council of Instruction. The MIGM himself guided us through a relaxed (casual attire!), but informative, exploration of the RM Degree. I’ve never been a ritualist in the Cryptic Rite, so this was more valuable to me than it may have been to the others. We dissected the ceremony and examined the floor work section by section, posing questions throughout. A very positive experience. Fun, even.

We expect to confer the degree a few meetings hence, which could be next February.

LORE 1786

Saturday morning, it was time for New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786. Three speakers were scheduled, but we wound up with four.

First, Bro. Harry, a Past Master of historic Brearley Lodge 2, presented his findings on the dues and fees structure of his lodge during its earliest years. In short, it cost a man dearly at Brearley to receive the degrees of Freemasonry in the 1790s, and to remain a member in good standing, and even to cover the fines levied for unexcused absences, whereas none of that is true today, resulting in a neglected lodge building and other familiar headaches. Oh, and the brethren meet in the lodge’s original building from the 1790s.

Naturally, being a Knight of the North, I could not be more sympathetic; and, hearing Brearley 2 is increasing its dues and fees, I couldn’t be happier for them. Harry, however, made it sound like it may be too late.

As an editor, I’ll correct the writer in his many conversions of eighteenth century money to our current worthless currency. No such calculations are possible. Not only was the Federal Reserve not even a spark of a nightmare in Thomas Jefferson’s psyche, but American money itself was in its infancy. The average guy on the street was walking around with coins minted by states, or even by private hands, plus money from Britain, France, and Spain. (If you ever wondered why the New York Stock Exchange, founded 1792, denominated shares in eighths of a dollar, it’s because of pieces of eight.) But his point is well taken.

Brearley Lodge is named for David Brearley, a Founding Father, first chief justice of New Jersey, and first grand master of the grand lodge there. Yesterday was the anniversary of his birth in 1745.

Bro. Glenn discusses Psalm 133 while Senior Deacon David looks on.

Next, Bro. Glenn, our Tyler, delved into the meaning of Psalm 133. I know not every grand lodge’s rituals employ this song of King David in the First Degree, but many of us do, and Glenn enchanted his listeners with explanations of ointments, beards, Hermon, and even a certain postulate concerning divine energy passing downward through the body. Nicely done.

Thirdly, Bro. Jim of Hightstown-Apollo 41, encouraged us to seek the elusive book The Early Masonic Catechisms by Knoop, Jones, and Hamer. If you are the one in 10,000 Freemasons interested in the embryonic years of Freemasonry, then this book is for you—except you probably will have to be content with an online version, as printed copies are rare and consequently very expensive. (I don’t have a copy. I’ve been getting by for fifteen years with photocopied pages in a binder that Bro. Franklin gave me.)

It’s essential reading. Check out the second edition here.

Bro. Jim alerts the brethren to the existence of a rare book we need to read.

Things that Jim found intriguing were the citation of cassia, a variety of cinnamon, once placed at a certain burial site to camouflage foul odor, where we today would place acacia; and the various ritual practices that were discarded over the years as the Grand Lodge of England gave shape to the three-tier initiation system.

A final presentation was not on the meeting agenda. Bro. Jay, of Livingston Lodge 11, had a clipping from a trestleboard from the eighties, when his father was Master of his lodge, from which he read short essay titled “An Estate.” Perfect for our meeting before Fathers Day.

The lodge wants a new ‘logo,’ and solicited designs from the brethren. I think about a dozen were submitted. All had our name worded incorrectly.

J. William Gronning
Council 83

Finally, on Saturday night, it was time for the Allied Masonic Degrees. J. William Gronning Council 83 is where I’ve been for more than two decades. I was Master there in 2003, but I’m really doubting I will continue my membership for much longer. There’s not much going on there. We had one presentation that a) was not original writing; b) had nothing to do with Freemasonry; and c) started with a few paragraphs that made some of us twitchy.

I’m twenty-six years into this fraternity, and I foresee myself soon specializing in my Craft lodge and two research lodges only. The rest can be nice, but I don’t find any of it compelling any longer. Selah.