Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Esoterika Lodge

There is an interesting article on a new Symbolic Lodge in Seattle in the current issue of the Scottish Rite Journal entitled "Esoterika Lodge: A Unique Experiment in Freemasonry".

The Lodge was formed by the organizers of Knights of St. Andrew Chapters in the Seattle area. During those organizaional meetings the Brothers discussed the things they felt were lacking in their own Lodges and decided to form one along the lines of the Tradional Observance Lodges of European design. Although I love my own Lodge, I have always felt that there should be something more to it than just the good fellowship, mediocre degrees and business meetings. I have always yearned for something a little more dignified and esoteric. If I lived in Washington State, I would be going out of my way to belong to this Lodge. What's different?

Well, here are a few points from the article that demonstrate the uniqueness:

  • Esoterika Lodge has only four stated meetings per year.
  • Members dress in “uniform” at meetings (black suit, black shirt, and black tie).
  • The fees and dues are set intentionally high, with the annual dues at $100 and Endowed Life Membership at $1000.
  • Members are required to attend all meetings, unless excused by the Worshipful Master, and then only with just cause.
  • Members receive a copy of Albert Pike’s Esoterika: The Symbolism of the Blue Degrees of Freemasonry and are expected to read it in its entirety.
  • Members are expected to become involved with the rites and concordant bodies of Freemasonry and to maintain participation.
  • Esoterika Lodge only accepts candidates for the degrees of Masonry once a year.
  • Every member of Esoterika Lodge is expected to have a candidate to mentor through the degrees of Masonry throughout the year, every year.

Everything mentioned here is what I would like to see in a Lodge - not many out there though that would be willing to change. Hey, I was one of the organizers of the Knights of St. Andrew Chapter for the Valley of Syracuse, maybe it will be up to me to create interest in our own version of Esoterika Lodge No. 316 before I finish my term as District Deputy. It may give me something to look forward to.


It has been nearly a month since my last post and for that I apologize. I have been extremely busy carrying out my duties as District Deputy Grand Master but I have a few items of interest that I will be posting in the days to come. "Happy Thanksgiving" to my American Brothers - keep an eye open for new items.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Got Ink?

In one of my earliest posts on this blog, I had mentioned that I had originally designed the Ars Masonica logo to be a tattoo. When I recently decided that it was time to get that tat, I was told by several artists that it was too detailed for the size & place that I wanted it to go (upper left arm). Rather than "dumbing down" the image, I decide to come up with something else. As you can see, it is much simpler design but I think that it turned out rather well. It was done at Scarab Body Arts in the Armory Square area of Syracuse by Jeremiah Clifford. If you live in the area, check them out. If you would like to see other Masonic tattoos, check out the site Masonic Ink.

Friday, October 06, 2006

New York Times Article

A few days ago, the New York Times printed a very good article about Freemasonry. The article featured interviews with the M.'.W.'. Neal I. Bidnick, Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York and the V.'.W.'. Thomas Savini, Director of the Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library.

Grand Master Bidnick has been made himself very available for discussion of the Craft in public forums since his installation in May. He has also been interviewed on the Radio and for CNN. I think that it's a good idea to give a "public face" for Freemasonry - it helps show that we really aren't a secretive lot plotting to take over the world.

Brother Chris Hodapp's "Freemasons for Dummies" Blog carries the text for the article.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"We will only be out twice a month."

Here in the Grand Lodge of New York Juris- diction, most lodges are opened from September through June while July & August sees them dormant. A few lodges actually are dark during January & February because most of the Brothers are either in Florida or refuse to attempt driving in the snow.

Here in the Onondaga District, things really kick off the week before Labor Day with the Child ID program at the New York State Fair. This is a really big deal and alot of kids are taped each year. Actually, taped is no longer correct. The old system involved videotaping a child's movements & speech and included a data-card. The new system, just implemented, still uses the data-card but now the child is digitally photographed and a more in depth data sheet is filled out and burnt to a CD-ROM. This CD can then be given to law enforcement officials to be uploaded for an "Amber Alert". We had a very successful run, IDing over 3000 kids during the Fair's twelve days.

This past weekend, we had the Onondaga District Apron Presentations. Morning Star Lodge No. 524 presented the District Deputy Grand Master Apron to me while Brothers R.'.W.'. Larry Egnaczyck, Grand Sword Bearer, R.'.W.'. Rev. J. Michael Thesier, Grand Chaplain, R.'.W.'. Richard Gilbert & V.'.W.'. Kevin Parker, Assistant Grand Lecturers received theirs from their respective lodges. The Guest Speaker for the evening was the M.'.W.'. Neal I. Bidnick, Grand Master of Masons for the Grand Lodge of New York. The event was also graced by the presence of Past Grand Masters, M.'.W.'. Bruce Widger and M.'.W.'. Calvin Bond. Great fellowship was had by all. The standing joke for the night was a line that I am sure many a Mason gave to their significant other when considering membership: "We will only be out twice a month."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Busy Masonic Weekend in Syracuse

I had a very busy Masonic weekend a few weeks ago. The New York Council of Deliberation, the Scottish Rite's equivalent to a Grand Lodge session, was held here in the Syracuse area. It was a great session with Brothers from Scottish Rite Valleys from all over New York State. Representatives were here from other concordant bodies as well as most of the Grand Line from the Grand Lodge of New York. Most were in great form but as with most things, a few complainers reared their ugly heads here and there. This is very disappointing for me as I feel these individuals have totally missed the boat as to the lessons of Freemasonry. Common courtesy is due, not only to fellow Brethren, to all members of the human race. We would all do well to remember this.

After spending Saturday (7/22) helping with C.O.D. festivities with the Knights of St. Andrew, I moved onto Sunday's activities with the GLoNY's Scholarship Presentations. It was great to see all the students (our future) show up to receive their scholarship awards from Grand Lodge. In the evening following the Scholarship Presentations, the Grand Master, the M.'.W.'. Neal I. Bidnick, the Grand Line & their wives met with our District Staff and the Worshipful Masters of our District Lodges & our wives. It is a very grass roots method of getting his message out and the addition of the wives was a very nice touch. Change is a must for Freemasonry to continue into the 21st Century and the change needs to begin at the Lodge level. Grand Master Bidnick is taking his message there. Pictured is the Grand Line and the Onondaga District Masters and Staff.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Masonic Compact

In celebration of the 225th Anniversary of the Grand Lodge of New York, a committee brainstormed the Masonic Compact. The Compact very nicely states the principles of our order and what it means to be a Freemason.

Because I am a Freemason, I know that the rich tradition of Freemasonry and its framework of Ritual are important platforms for growth and learning; therefore I vow to stand upon these platforms to improve myself as a human being, and I vow to help in the mission of the Craft to provide tools, atmosphere, challenges and motivation to help each Brother do the same.

To

Thursday, June 29, 2006

St. John's Day

The Grand Lodge of New York celebrated St. John's Day on Saturday, June 24th at the Masonic Care Community in Utica, NY. This is quite the place, sporting a state of the art medical research facility, an independant retirement community (Acacia Village), short & long term care as well as residential adult care facilities. It was hot & sunny as the District Deputy Grand Masters, Grand Lodge Staff Officers, Assistant Grand Lecturers marched with the Grand Master, the M.'.W.'. Neal I. Bidnick, and his elected and appointed line. Receiving appointments from the Onondaga District were V.'.W.'. Kevin Parker & R.'.W.'. Richard Gilbert, Assistant Grand Lecturers, R.'.W.'. Lawrence Egnaczyk, Grand Sword Bearer and myself, District Deputy Grand Master. M.'.W.'. Bidnick gave his message outlining his plans for the ensuing year. Of great interest is the Masonic Compact which will be posted here in the near future. Pictured is R.'.W.'. Lawrence Egnaczyk, myself and the Mid-State District Officers.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ars Masonica Store Is Open

I have opened a Cafepress shop that has a few items available with the Ars Masonica Logo. I would ask that you do not print, paint, stamp, stain, hew, cut, carve, mark or engrave my design upon anything as it is personally my property. If you like it, please feel free to purchase something from the shop. Thank you.

Monday, May 22, 2006

DaVinci Mania

Well, DaVinci Mania has begun! There has been a flurry of History & Discovery Channel programs, Church seminars and a rash of books both pro & con. A lot of folks are cashing in on the popularity of Dan Brown's bestseller. I enjoyed the book - not great literature, but a great story with lots of elements that Freemasons of an esoteric nature are familiar with. I haven't seen the movie yet but the critics seem to hate it. That usually means that it will be great fun.

On May 17th, I was asked to appear on a local program called Bridge Street to discuss the "DaVinci Code" phenomenom. A click on Bridge Street will take you to the video clip as long as it is available. While I was on the show in my capacity as a Librarian, I did manage to mention my Masonic membership and the fact that I thought that members of the Craft were many of the first people to "get into" the book. Hopefully, I can get invited back when the book's sequel comes out.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Grand Lodge of New York 2006-2008

At 3:00 AM, on Tuesday morning, May 2nd, I left Syracuse to attend the last day of the 2006 Grand Lodge Convocation in NYC, and in particular, the elections. Our new Grand Master is the M.'.W.'. Neal I. Bidnick; Deputy Grand Master, R.'.W.'. Edward G. Gilbert; Senior Grand Warden, R.'.W.'. Dennis A. Breheny and Junior Grand Warden, R.'.W.'. Stephen S. King. As usual the elections proved to confusing, frustrating and exciting all at once. I think that is is past time to restructure the method of voting. Maybe it is time to go electronic?

The next two years should be very interesting as M.'.W.'. Bidnick has some very good ideas. My interpretation is that he hopes to bring the Craft back to many of its basics while ushering it into the 21st Century.

As the newly appointed District Deputy Grand Master of the Onondaga District, I hope to echo the Grand Master’s philosophy of getting back to the basics of Masonry while utilizing modern technology to get our message out. I urge all the Onondaga District Lodges to take more time in selecting your candidates and getting them through the Degrees. This is not a race. Masonry is supposed to “take good men & make them better” and that takes time.

And the time is now...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Masonic Traveler's 100th Posting

Congratulations to Brother Greg Stewart who has posted his 100th message on his blog Masonic Traveler. Brother Stewart always has keen insight into the working of modern Masonry and I highly encourage you to check out his blog and "brother website" Freemason Information.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


I have been very bad about adding new material to the blog lately but my life at home, work and Masonically has been very busy. So this entry will consist of some quick comments on a variety of things that I have had in mind for Ars Masonica...

First, I would like to extend my thanks to everyone who has posted comments. I appreciate knowing that you enjoy the blog as random as it is.

There are alot of new books with a Templar theme in the book stores and libraries. "The Last Templar" and "The Templar Legacy" are two recent novels that are on the shelves right now. I am sure that "The DaVinci Code" has had a great influence in this subject matter. My interest in Freemasonry sprang from an earlier interest in the Knights Templar. Can the public interest in the Craft be peaking soon as well? Will we be ready?

I am due to finish the Grand Lodge of New York's Individual Development Course this coming weekend. As mentioned in an earlier entry, it was designed as a management course for current and future Grand Lodge Officers. It is commencing with a group project. My group's project is the development of a survey which we hope will assist lodges in learning why their meeting attendance is low. With luck the results of the survey would indicate what sort of programs the Brothers are looking for. The course has had its low and high points but overall, the group dynamic has been great.

I have recently taken up Tai Chi. I learned that one of my neighbors has been a practitioner for over 25 years and he offered to instruct my wife and me. We are both enjoying it and I highly recommend it to everyone. This has also lead me to reading a bit about Taoist Philosophy with its Yin-Yang symbol. The basic principle seems to be seeking balance. In this manner, the Yin-Tang could easily be equated with the Pillars, Jachin and Boaz.

Every thing is related...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Oracle Lodge No.1003 - Dublin, Ireland

I have been extremely busy of late hence the lack of posts. I would be remiss, however, if I didn't make mention of Oracle Lodge No. 1003 in Dublin Ireland. I had the fortune of attending a communication of Oracle Lodge before leaving Ireland back in January. Oracle Lodge is fairly new as lodges go but its members are Brothers with an interest in Masonry's symbolic and esoteric side. I listened to a facinating paper from Brother Paul Hearns "On the Origins of Certain Symbols" before retiring to a very nice meal. I you are ever in Dublin & have the chance to attend one of their communications, make sure you do.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


During our brief time in Glasgow, Scotland, we decided to visit Roslyn Chapel. I had read about this place long before "The DaVinci Code" was ever written and had wanted to visit ever since. It was a doomed trip...

To get to the Chapel, we traveled 40 minutes by train from East Kilbride to Glasgow, another 55 minutes from Glasgow to Edinburgh and yet another 45 minutes by bus to the small town of Roslin. When we finally arrived at the Chapel, my son asked me why there was a hearse there. It turned out that there was a funeral in process and access to the Chapel was closed until its conclusion. Time was running short for us to catch the next bus back to Edinburgh when we finally were allowed in. We had a fleeting 20 minutes to look arouns and to make matters worse, the batteries in my digital camera were fading out and half the photos that I thought were taken were lost. None the less, the meer 20 minutes were well worth it and we have promised to return again someday. All Masons visiting Scotland would do well to visit. Pictured above is the Apprentice Pillar.

Back in Edinburgh, it was my sincere hope to at least pop into the Grand Lodge of Scotland - well by the time I got there, it had already closed down for the night. I guess I have will have to visit Edinburgh again as well.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Happy New Year

A very belated "Happy New Year" to one & all! I have been away from home for a few weeks and haven't had the chance to post anything new. My family traveled to Ireland for the holidays - we spent Christmas in Ennis, County Clare and New Year's Eve in Dublin with my wife's brothers & their families. We also traveled over to Glasgow, Scotland for four days to see some cousins.

I have a few photos and stories which I will post in the next few days after things settle back down at work. Patience...