Thursday, December 08, 2005

Masonic Website Massacre

Freemasonry on the Web took a terrible hit this week with the loss of several prominent sites.

Freemasonry for the Next Generation, along with several other sites created by Brother Tim Bryce, was closed down by the Grand Lodge of Florida. On face value, this appears to be an act of censorship. If this is the case, then there is something seriously "rotten in Denmark." Freemasonry has always attracted free-thinkers that have made great contributions to the world. With our government already curtailing some of our civil rights, censorship from a Grand Lodge is hard slap in the face. So far, there has been no explanation forthcoming from the Grand Lodge of Florida (that I am aware of) and I really feel that it is owed to Brother Bryce and the site's regulars. We will have to wait & see.

We also lost, which I had plugged some time ago. This site was closed down by its creator, Brother Stephen Defoe. Brother Defoe had created a fantastic forum for the discussion of Freemasonry and it received a large amount of traffic. Unfortunately, the ugly side of many came through on more & more postings as time went on. It seems that many brothers (to be fair, I am not sure all were brothers) felt that it was a good place to post their bigoted remarks. Derogatory comments about others' political views, religion and race contributed to its demise. Those people that are the guilty parties should be ashamed of their behavior & un-Masonic conduct and should "reflect on the amiable character of he whom they have slain." There is no place anywhere for that sort of thinking, especially in Freemasonry.

I would like to thank Brothers Bryce & Defoe for their contributions and wish them luck in their future endeavors (which I hope they have).

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Masonic Traveler

On a recent surfing expedition, I came across the blog and website of a Fellow Traveler from California. Brother Greg Stewart publishes Masonic Traveler and the site Freemason Information. Freemason Information is just that, a site with alot of info concerning the Craft. Masonic Traveler is his blog and serves a similar function as Ars Masonica. He provides commentary on the state of the Fraternity today as well as examining its esoteric side. I highly recommend both sites. We need more brothers to step outside the lodge building and express what Freemasonry means and does for them. It is a way of life, not just something you do one or twop nights a month.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Freemasons for Dummies

It's time to plug a fairly new book, Freemasons for Dummies by Brother Christopher Hodapp.

This book should be on every Mason's bookshelf. It covers all the facts, figures, famous folks and fantasies that have made concerning the great Masonic Fraternity over the years. This would make a great resource for someone interested in the Freemasons as well as the many mis- or non-informed brothers that exist out there.

Check out the and for more reviews and information on how to order.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Deputy Grand Master & the Future

A couple of Saturdays ago, the Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York, R.'.W.'. Neal Bidnick, paid a visit to the Onondaga District. This was part of his "Meet Your Deputy Grand Master" program where he visits the various districts that make up the Grand Lodge of New York.

While he was here, he explained some of the plans that he hopes to implement should he be elected Grand Master next May. Many will utilize modern technology and the Grand Lodge will really begin to make use of the Internet.

Communication always seems to be where organizations break down. The use of E-mail and Websites will allow for communications to be almost instantaneous. The Masonic University of New York (MUNY) should also begin with its online offering in the next year. I applaud the Grand Lodge Committees that are spearheading these programs.

Change is always a frightening venture for some, but if Masonry is to stay viable, change must happen. I am reminded that many lodge resited the postal service when Grand Lodge began using it.

I have a learned a great deal about the Craft from the Internet and have "met" alot of Brothers that I would have never had contact with were it not for the WWW. I look forward to the future of Masonry here in New York.

Monday, October 03, 2005


I find there to be alot of Kabbalistic symbolism in Freemasonry. I know you will be hard pressed to find any Grand Lodge agreeing with this, and fair enough, the discussion of symbolism is a subjective one and can differ from student to student. But from my point of view, there really can be no denying that the Fellowcraft standing between the two columns in the Second Degree is very symbolic of the three pillars of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.

In both cases, the middle pillar and the Fellowcraft are in a state of balance between the extremes of the columns on the right and left. Both philosophies espouse the virtues of leading a balanced life. The center path of the Tree of Life is a direct route to the Grand Archirect of the Universe. Following that balanced path would seem to fulfill the Masonic promise to make good men better.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Spirit of Freemasonry

This past weekend I began the Individual Development Course. This is a management course developed by the Grand Lodge of New York along the lines of those of Franklin-Covey. While talking to few of the participants, it became clear that many were interested in the esoteric side of the Craft and were looking for a place to study these aspects. During our discussions, many of us agreed that there were alot of Brothers in the Craft today that completely unaware of Masonry's esoteric side and only see the Craft as a charitable organization.

While reading "The Meaning of Masonry" by W.L. Wilmhurst, I came across the following:

"What seems now needed to intensify the worth and usefulness of this great Brotherhood is to deepen its understanding of its own system, to educate its members in the deeper meaning and true purpose of its rites and its philosophy. Were this achieved the Masonic Order would become, in proportion to that achievement, a spiritual force greater than it can ever be so long as it continues content with a formal and unintelligent perpetuation of rites, the real and sacred purpose of which remains largely unpercieved, and participation in which too often means nothing more than association with an agreeable, semi-religious, social institution. Carried to its fullest, that achievement would involve the revival, in a form adapted to modern conditions, of the ancient Wisdom-teaching and the practice of those Mysteries which became proscribed fifteen centuries ago, but of which modern Masonry is the direct and representative descendant..."

That was written around 1922, and yet it seems that is what many within Masonry today seek.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Ars Masonica Ring

Gordon Spurlock of Gordon's Masonic Rings has created a new ring using the Ars Masonica Logo. I think that it has come our very nicely. Please visit his site for this and many other fantastic Masonic Rings made in Stainless Steel.

Friday, September 02, 2005

GLoNY Responds to Katrina

Grand Lodge of the State of New York
September 1, 2005
To all members of the Masonic Community in the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in New York State:
Brethren ...
We must all be aware of the magnitude of the National disaster which has impacted our nation and fellow countrymen by Hurricane Katrina. Words are simply inadequate to describe the extent of the human misery we have been viewing for the last number of days since this storm of the century impacted on the Florida and Gulf coastal regions. We have yet to fully comprehend the extent of this calamity...some have called it an American Tsunami. Nevertheless, we must react now and begin our efforts to help, aid and assist those whose lives may have been changed forever.
Once again I am calling upon our Masonic fraternity, our families, friends and business associates to respond as generously as their finances permit to help alleviate the suffering of our fellow citizens. Our fraternity has a long and distinguished history of rising to the occasion when the need has been there ... from Valley Forge to 9-11 and as recently as the devastating Tsunami earlier this year.
As your Grand Master I am asking you to please respond now to this appeal and make a generous tax-deductible contribution to the Masonic Brotherhood Fund earmarked for...
"Hurricane Disaster Relief."
Let us count our blessings and thank the Great Architect that we are in a position to donate personally as well as through our businesses and Lodges and District Associations. Thank you in advance for your consideration and generosity. God Bless you and yours and...
God Bless America!
Grand Master

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

My apologies for not posting anything new in the last couple of weeks. I have been busy with work and getting ready for another year as Assistant Grand Lecturer.

Today, I would like to send out thoughts and prayers to all who have been affected by Hurricane Katrina. This is truly the worst natural disaster to hit America in my lifetime. I urge all, from the Grand Lodges in the US to every individual who is able, to contribute in some manner for the relief of those in need. Money, blood, food & supplies will all be needed. It will take some time to rebuild New Orleans and the other communities on the Gulf Coast.

Disasters like this often bring the scam artists out in full gear, so please be cautious when contributing.

Good Luck & Godspeed.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Website Plugs

Today, I would like to plug a couple of Masonic websites hosted by a remarkable Canadian Brother, Stephen Defoe, who also happens to host an excellent Knights Templar site.

Masonic Dictionary is the newest of his ventures. A truly resourceful site for Masonic researchers, it boasts over "600 individual pages and well over 1500 individual entries, articles and sound files." It also has the Masonic Service Association of North America's Short Talk Bulletins from 1923-1935. It is worth checking out just for that.

The Lodge Room is a Masonic Forum that has existed in some form or another for a number of years. Its members are from all over the world and interesting discussion abounds.

Please check these sites out & tell'em who sent you.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


As one of the Assistant Grand Lecturers for my Masonic District, I am required to write a monthly column in our area Masonic newspaper, "The Word". Usually, it consists of reminders to lodges on ritualistic & degree matters, but occasionally I have tried to take it beyond that.

Last February, I waxed esoterically...

Esoterically, Masonry could be looked upon as a Quest. A Quest, you ask? Yes, a Quest – not unlike the Quest for the Holy Grail. The individual Mason is on a Quest for Perfection. This Quest fulfills the Masonic promise to “Make Good Men Better.” The real reward is not so much the destination but the journey. The knowledge that you have continued to work at bettering yourself and that you are never really finished, should be enough to continue that journey.

A great place to begin that Quest for Perfection is with the presentation of our Ritual. Not just the memorization, but the presentation. Remember the candidate is just beginning his journey and he deserves to receive a quality introduction to set him on his path. Get beyond the simple memorized lines and go out & impress the new Brother. There are many great Ritualists in our district and what sets them apart from others is the fact that, even when others tell them that they have done a brilliant job, they are not satisfied. They know that it still isn’t perfect and they work harder for the next time. Everyone should adopt this attitude – not just concerning Masonic Ritual – but for their lives in general. When you have given up your Quest for Perfection, your journey hasn’t come to an end, it never started.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Council of Deliberation

On Saturday, I attended the New York Council of Deliberation. This is the equivalent of a Grand Lodge session for the New York State Valleys of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite.

The morning kicked off with a Leadership Training session presented by Brother Rev. Duane A. Kemerley. His presentation, while not presenting anything that I haven't heard before was interesting and was worth the hour & a half that was devoted to it.

The CoD officially opened following the training session. The usual reports and announcements occured during that hour and then we broke for lunch.

The afternoon began with a presentation of the play "December's Rose" by the Valley of Syracuse. Even though I am a member of this Valley, I had never seen this performed. It was very nicely performed by my local Brethren and should you ever have a chance to see this play done, please go see it.

We then completed the reports, awards and so forth to close out the CoD session. I find that Scottish Rite is a well oiled organization, well, at least my Valley is. It is extremely well run and and accounted for.

The degrees that Scottish Rite offers contain a wealth of esoteric symbolism and lessons. The Lodge of Perfection in particular, logically follows as a "sequel" of sorts to the three degrees of the Symbolic or "Blue" Lodge and runs parallel with those of the York Rite's Holy Royal Arch.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Masonic Ring

Yesterday, I received an early birthday present from my wife, a stainless steel Masonic ring from Gordon's Masonic Rings. It is really a sight to behold, handmade by a brother from Georgia. Check his site out.


The Ars Masonic logo and a future tattoo.

Monday, July 18, 2005


Welcome to the Ars Masonica Blog.

My name is Richard J. Powell. I am nearly 42 years old, married with one son and two step-sons. I am a Librarian by profession, reside in Syracuse, NY and have a multitude of interests that will raise their ugly heads at some point here on this blog.

I was Raised in Morning Star Lodge No. 524 on December 18th, 1995 and served as Master in 2000-2001. I served as the Second Onondaga District Umbrella Chairman for Membership Development from 1998-2000 under R. W. Lee Edwards and Brotherhood Education from 2002-2004 under R. W. Richard Gilbert. I am a member of Central City Council No. 13, Cryptic Masons; Central City Commandery No. 25, Knights Templar; Tigris Temple, A.A.O.N.M.S. and the New York College, Masonic Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis. I have served as or is currently an officer for Morning Star Chapter No. 289, Order of the Eastern Star; Masters, Wardens & Deacons Association; Past Masters Association; Charles H. Platt Chapter No. 247, Royal Arch Masons; and the Valley of Syracuse, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite.

Currently, I serve the Onondaga District of the Grand Lodge of New York as one of two Assistant Grand Lecturers. I am also serving as the Thrice Potent Master of the Central City Lodge of Perfection, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite. In 2004, I also spearheaded the formation of a Chapter of the Order of Knights of St. Andrew.

This blog will serve as a forum for my Masonic thoughts. I will also pass on links & books of a Masonic interest as I come by them.