Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Season's Greetings

It has been quite some time since I have posted so this one will be all over the place...

I would like to begin by wishing everyone a very "Happy Holiday Season"! With all the commercialism that is now associated with this time of year, it is very easy to forget what is truly important. I wish you & yours all the best. The animated Masonic "Season's Greetings" image is courtesy of Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry. Visit the site, it is one of the best Masonic sites on the internet. My apologies for not crediting them with the image when I first posted this message...

Since my last posting, a lot has gone on in my life here in Syracuse, NY. I was in the middle of my Official Visits when I last was here, but I have since completed all of them except one. My own Lodge, Morning Star No. 524. I was all set to go on December 3rd when we had our first snow storm of the season. I cancelled my visit & rescheduled for January 7th, 2008. Hopefully the weather will cooperate better then. We had our second storm last weekend - not even Christmas yet & I am sick of my snow blower.

On December 5th, my step-son, Steve & his wife, Michelle welcomed their first son, Ian into the world. Everyone in the family is absolutely "over the moon" about the baby with everyone jockeying to hold him.

On the previous Saturday, I was privileged to be initiated into Glencairn Council No. 14, Order of Knight Masons, in Albany, NY. The Grand Council of Knight Masons of the United States of America is an invitational and honorary body created to, among other things, "perpetuate the ancient rituals of the Irish Masonic Canon, (the "Green" degrees) by promoting their frequent and regular conferral inits constituent councils, and by its expectation that such conferral will be executed with an accuracy, a precision, and a dramatic power congruent with the highest traditions of the Masonic institution." I became a citizen of Ireland this summer and I thought that it would be very fitting to accept their invitation. See their website to learn more about them.

Back in October, I managed to not post anything about the 700th Anniversary of the arrest of the Knights Templar. I wasn't because I didn't want to, in fact I was quite ready to, but time constraints kept me from getting here. The Templars are, in fact, related to my story concerning my Masonic membership. I had read John J. Robinson's book, Born In Blood, and found his theory concerning Freemasonry's descendency from the Knights Templar to be very interesting. My interests in the Templars continues and in future posts, I will pass on some non-fiction as well fictional book recommendations concerning them.

Another Templar related item for me is the Order of DeMolay.
"DeMolay is an organization dedicated to preparing young men to lead successful, happy, and productive lives. Basing its approach on timeless principles and practical, hands-on experience, DeMolay opens doors for young men aged 12 to 21 by developing the civic awareness, personal responsibility and leadership skills so vitally needed in society today. DeMolay combines this serious mission with a fun approach that builds important bonds of friendship among members in more than 1,000 chapters worldwide."

We are in the infancy stages of trying to resurrect a chapter here in the Central New York area. It has been a few years since we had a chapter in the area so wish us luck!

Finally, I wouldn't be doing my Librarian duty if I didn't recommend a book. I recently finished Mark Stavish's "Freemasonry: Rituals, Symbols & History of the Secret Society" which is a great introduction to the esoteric elements that can be found within the Fraternity's , well, rituals, symbols & history. It is easy reading and has a great introduction by Brother Lon Milo DuQuette. The group mentioned in his introduction sounds like it practices Masonry as a Path - I wish more could be known about it. Brother Stavish is, for those in the dark, the proprietor of the Institute for Hermetic Studies. If you have an interest in Alchemy, please check out his website and other books.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The State of Masonic Education

My, my, my! How the time has passed! I have been so busy with Official Visits and other District Deputy Grand Master duties that I haven't had any time to post anything new here since our trip to DC.

As someone who likes to promote Masonic Education in all its formats and, as a Professional Librarian as well, I would like to bring to your attention, "The State of Masonic Education."

This will be a Masonic lecture and discussion to be held on Monday, December 10, 2007 at La Petite Auberge Restaurant, 116 Lexington Avenue at 28th Street in New York City. It is presented as part of the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York's Library Dinner Lecture Series.

The Panel for the evening will Researchers & Scholars from the Quatuor Coronati Lodge in London, the "premier lodge of Masonic research:
  • S. Brent Morris (Worshipful Master & 1st native-born American to hold that Office)
  • Peter Currie (Senior Warden & Editor of Ars Quatuor Coronati)
  • Yasha Beresiner (Past Master, lecturer & published author)
  • Trevor Stewart (Past Master & Prestonian Lecturer)
  • John Wade (Sheffield University's Centre for Research into Freemasonry)

It looks to be a great evening for anyone with an interest in things Masonic that goes beyond the usual watered down education that many get. S. Brent Morris is, of course that author of many an article for the Scottish Rite Research Society as well as "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry."

My only complaint about this event is that it is held on a Monday instead of on a weekend. Many who would like to attend are, like myself, working stiffs from places other than New York City and it would be far easier to make plans for a weekend get away. Livingston Trustees take Note for the next lecture!!!

Go here for more information.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Masonic District Trip to Washington DC

When I became District Deputy Grand Master in May 2006, I decided that I wanted to try a couple of things in my District that I hadn't seen done since I have been a Mason. One was to organize a Masonic Conference that leaned towards the esoteric. My idea there was to plan it around the arrival of the next Dan Brown book and have public & private sections. The public section would be held at either a public library or a bookstore and would create a forum for the public to learn more about us. Perhaps we could get Chris Hodapp to come by, speak & sign a few books and maybe attract some other Masonic Scholars to the weekend event. But, alas, Mr. Brown is dragging his feet with this new novel so that project is on the back burner for now.

The other project that I was interested in getting together was a trip to Washington DC - our nation's Capitol, a town with alot of Masonic connections and perhaps the coolest city on the planet. I asked one of my "Fellowship & Family Involvement" Chairmen, W.'. Richard Torrey to see what he could put together and, boy, did he not disappoint!

On Friday, August 17th, we packed 49 people onto a bus & headed to DC for a fun-filled time. While many of us knew each other, there were a few that we were meeting for the first time but we all quickly became fast friends. We visited many of the usual spots - Washington Monument, National Mall, National Archives, the Capitol Building and the Library of Congress, just to name a few.

About a dozen of us went to a Mets-Nationals baseball game and were surprised to find more Mets fans at the game than those cheeing for the Nats. How can a team with such a weak following justify the money that is being put into a new baseball stadium when a soccer team in the same city pulls many more fans & is having a hard time getting a stadium deal together? Can you tell that I am a soccer fan? Go DC United!

We had hoped to visit the House of the Temple, the headquarters for the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Masonic Jurisdiction but with the Joint Supreme Council session starting the week after our visit, it was closed to visitors. Perhaps a good reason for another trip. We did visit the magnificent George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, VA. This a fantastic place to see even if you are not a Mason. For the Mason, it can almost seem like a pilgrimage of sorts. Lots of photos were taken without, within and from the top. Check it out the next time you are in DC!

All in all, we had a great time despite a bus driver that seemed to get lost turning around. Everyone took it in stride and enjoyed it for waht it was - a great town to visit and great company to do it with. I would like to send out a huge "Thank You" to W.'. Richard Torrey and his wife Ann for all their hard work in getting this weekend together & insuring that all were well taken care of and having a good time. Great Work!!!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Masonic Reading

“Masonry, as now organized and employed, is not adequate to the demands of a realistic generation, and that to go on making men Masons, as we are doing, wholesale, without giving them an intelligent and authentic knowledge of what Masonry is, or what it means, with no definite objects beyond fellowship and philanthropy – objects to which other orders are equally devoted – is for Masonry to lose, by ignorance or neglect, what has been distinctive in its history and genius, and invite degeneration, if not disaster.” – M.'.W.'. Dwight L. Smith, Past Grand Master of Indiana, MSA Short Talk Bulletin, September 1928.

I came across that quote in a paper by Brother Stephen Dafoe, recently published in Volume 14 of Herodom, entitled “Reading, Writing and Apathy: The Rise and Fall of Masonic Education.” Herodom is, of course, the published Annual Transactions of the Scottish Rite Research Society. The Society is, in my opinion, the best Masonic Research Society in the United States and right up there with the British Quatuor Coronati. Its annual dues fee is the best $40 that you will ever spend. The paper was originally given at a communication of Lodge Vitruvian No. 767, F & AM, Indianapolis, Indiana on July 26, 2005. Brother Defoe outlines the topics covered by several Masonic publications over the past century and a half and shows that those covering Masonic Ritual, Philosophy & Symbolism have been on the decline while those covering famous Masons and fluff pieces have increased. A survey of three booksellers also seemed to indicate the same pattern. We have all seen it. So what can we do about it?

“I am a Librarian for a Law Firm here in Syracuse and I occasionally work for the County Library System as well so I am in the habit of recommending books and that’s where I will start today. I have no problems with “fluff” like “The DaVinci Code” or “National Treasure” but if you are looking for novels, why not check out Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum or even Katherine Kurtz’s fantasy “Two Crown’s for America”.

But if you really want to sink your teeth into some serious Masonic material, I highly recommend the following three books:

Just released by the Scottish Rite Research Society is the “Scottish Rite Ritual Monitor & Guide” as compiled by Arturo deHoyos, 33˚. This is one massive tome concerning the Ritual, Symbolism and Education of the Supreme Council of the AASR for the Southern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States. It contains a treasure trove of Albert Pike Scottish Rite material. Coming in at nearly 1000 pages, it is well worth more than the asking price. As a Scottish Rite Mason from the Northern Jurisdiction, I am very envious of the Southern Jurisdiction’s commitment to its Ritual and wish the my Jurisdiction would consider returning top their Ritual as opposed to constantly changing & watering down ours.

Also from Brother deHoyos is last year’s “Symbolism of the Blue Degrees of Freemasonry, Albert Pike’s Esoterika” which I have previously mentioned here. These two books alone will provide years of study for the esoterically bent Freemason.

I would also like to recommend Brother W. Kirk MacNulty’s “Freemasonry: Symbols, Secrets, Significance”. This book is beautifully put together with lots of Masonic information and many illustrations and photographs that I haven’t already seen a million times.

Buy these books, recommend them to your Masonic & Public Libraries, but more importantly, read these books and spread their Masonic Light onto your Brethren.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Annual Communication GLoNY

May 7th & 8th marked the 226th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of New York. There were Delegates from all around New York State as well as from a few other countries. There was the usual amount of pomp & circumstance and long speeches but the feeling of Brotherhood was everywhere.

The only low point in my opinion came from the guest speaker at our Grand Master's Dinner on Monday evening, former Wisconsin Governor and now Presidential Candidate Tommy Thompson. The speech mostly came off as something of a political statement concerning many of his accomplishments while Governor and US Secretary of Health and Human Services. Now, I will be honest with you. I don't care for political speeches from anyone - it doesn't matter what the party is. I think a quick reading of his biography would have been sufficient and then a speech detailing how Freemasonry has helped shape his life & ideals would have been quite appropriate. I guess you can't please everyone.

A number of Bibles were used during the two days including the infamous "George Washington" Bible on loan from St. John's Lodge No. 1. Pictured, I believe is a 16th Century Bible on loan from Francis Lewis Lodge No. 273. It was printed by Henry Middleton in 1585, 35 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Pretty impressive!

Friday, May 04, 2007


Last weekend, the New York College of the Masonic Societas Rosicruciana in Civitabus Foederatus (MSRICF) met in Liverpool, NY to begin the process of rebuilding the organization. The MSRICF is really the only organization that I belong to that doesn't ignore the Esoteric side of the Craft.
I expressed my disappointment in the lack of symbolic education within the symbolic lodges of modern Freemasonry. Grand Lodges seem to have adopted the attitude of "if we ignore the esoteric symbolism and promote business management education, then the public will stop asking about it and we won't look silly trying to explain it."
This group really gets me going. When someone mentioned the "raising of energy" during the opening of Lodge, I really got psyched! Yes, there are others that want to experience the same as me. This very same person suggested that perhaps it was time for Freemasonry to have an Inner and an Outer Order. The Outer would deal with the Public, raise money for charities and keep the Lodges organized properly. The Inner Order would attend to the Esoteric/Spiritual Heart of Freemasonry. I think he may be onto something.
All this talk can't last though. I am preparing to head to New York this weekend for the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of New York. It's time to get back to business.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Masonic Peace Institute

I received a great comment on my last post from one of the organizers of the Masonic Peace Institute. This is an organization well worth checking out. The following "Declaration" is from their website:

We, the members and supporters of the Masonic Peace Institute, are committed to the peaceful coexistence of all peoples, no matter where dispersed. To this end we will toil, spreading the cement of Brotherly Love and affection throughout humanity. We will work with any like-minded individuals and/or groups, no matter their nationality, culture, color, sex, language, rank, race, residence, or religion."

We furthermore, affirm and promote:
The equal dignity and rights of all people.
The pursuit of peace, liberty, justice, and compassion for all.
The right to the values of enlightenment, through education and unbiased information. Peaceful conflict resolution.
Truth as expressed in all cultures and recognized by all human beings.
Taking responsibility for the consequence of all action, processes and understanding.
The truth as expressed in all religions, philosophy and cultures, but proselytize none.
The men & women, of all times and from all nations, who have promoted or do now, promote peaceful civilization.
The principles of equality found in the theories of democracy, without proselytizing any political agenda, action or system.

To these ends we will act to:
Establish relations with other national and international peace organizations
Participate in worldwide events representing the humanitarian vision of democracy and peace
Conducting surveys or research and disseminate information
Become involved in peace processes where possible, proposing, participating in, and supporting peace talks and conflict resolution
Support like minded individuals and organizations
May Brotherly Love Prevail.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

It's a Mad World

The tragedy of the shootings at Virginia Tech yesterday took over the news that was previously obsessed with Imus and Anna Nicole Smith.

My mind is just spinning. What is going on in this world? What would possess someone to take a gun and begin shooting people? How can someone think that a racist comment would be funny? Why is the paternity of some innocent child suddenly our business?

It really seems like the world has completely come unbalanced (the weather would seem to support that idea as well - I am really sick of snow right now). Everything is done to the extreme while moving at break neck speeds. I think that it would do us all a great service to slow down and consider our choices in life and their impact upon those around us. It seems to be the new American Way to take drastic means to an end while laying the resposibility of the consequences on other folks.

That needs to change. Let's start within our Masonic Lodges - it's what were are supposedly there to do right? Find balance - maybe while standing between two columns (a little Fellowcraft Degree symbolism for those of you not following along). Leadership and responsibility skills can be grown & developed within our Lodges. But we need to take it outside its walls.

It's a mad world out there. I challenge all Masons around the world to step up and begin bringing some balance to their communities. It has to start somewhere...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bureaucracy and Brotherhood

There's a lot of bureaucracy in Freemasonry at the organizational level. I am not really a fan of it but I understand that for an organization to exist, there must be rules, regulations and the like. This means paperwork. I hate paperwork but understand its necessity and, unfortunately for me, I am pretty good at getting it done. I would much rather be studying Masonic philosophy than filling out yet another Lodge Survey that needs to be turned in within the next couple of days. It's just part of the job that I signed on for when I agreed to be District Deputy Grand Master. I am so busy with the bureaucracy that I sometimes forget what it really means to be a Freemason.

A couple of days ago, I participated in smething that helped me remember. It wasn't a lengthy discourse on the symbolism of the "All Seeing Eye" but something much simpler. I was asked by the Master of my Lodge if I could accompany him and a Past Grand Master (also a member of my Lodge) to present a 50 year pin to a Brother (with a capital B) who is very ill and living in a nursing home. Now, this is something that I admit I am not very comfortable or good at doing, but I agreed to go. None of us knew the Brother in question - he belonged to a Lodge that "merged" with ours nearly 10 years and we had never met. When we arrived, it was very clear that this Brother was extremely ill. Fortunately, his wife was present and we were able to present the plaque & pin to her for which she was very grateful. We had the chance to learn more about our Brother, his life & family. We reminded his wife that we were there should she ever need anything.

We reminded ourselves that this is what Brotherhood was all about. This is why we are Freemasons.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Snow Day

Everyone at my house had a snow day yesterday. That's a bit unusual since we get alot (I mean ALOT) of snow here in Central New York State. We usually adapt to it rather quickly but yesterday we had a Nor'easter meet up with our usual Lake Effect Snow. We received somewhere in the vacinity of 18-20 inches at my house & I had to take out the snowblower twice in order to clear out my driveway. I really shouldn't bitch - those living in Oswego County, just north of us have received in excess of 14 feet and much of that came in a five day period. Keep them in your thoughts & prayers while they try to dig out while it continues to snow.
The snow can really screw up your Lodge plans as well. My Lodge has had 4 attempts at getting the First Degree done since November. Twice the candidates had problems and twice the weather was the problem - we will try again next Monday.
A couple of weeks ago about 42 Brothers risked the drive to our District in order to film bits for the Grand Lodge of New York's new DVD version of their Lodge System of Masonic Education. This DVD is meant for educating new Brothers in the Craft. We have had a VHS version for a number of years but our Grand Master rightly decided that it was a good time for an update. We had a pretty good time despite the fact that filming can actually be very slow & tedious. We had a bit to eat & shared a number of humerous moments during the filming. Thankfully the weather cooperated and the snow stayed away for the evening. Many thanks to the Brothers who came from the Oneida, Herkimer and Livingston Districts. look for all of us when the DVD is finished & released!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy New Year!

I see that it has been a very long time since my last post, so much so that we have lived through another holiday shopping season. Beyond that, let me wish all of a very "Happy New Year!"

In my district here in Syracuse, NY, I offered up the following Masonic New Year Resolutions (adapt them, as you will for you own jurisdiction):

  1. Improve your Ritual work. Our AGLs are available to assist with your upcoming Degrees – remember: a candidate’s first real impression of Freemasonry comes with his Initiation in the Entered Apprentice Degree. 1) Improve your Ritual work. Our AGLs are available to assist with your upcoming Degrees – remember: a candidate’s first real impression of Freemasonry comes with his Initiation in the Entered Apprentice Degree. RW Dick Gilbert & VW Kevin Parker can help you make that first impression. Let them help you. They are also planning a Lodge of Instruction & Ritual Competition in March. See their column for more details.
  2. Further your Masonic Education. The job of the Grand Lodge Staff Officer is to attend to the Masonic Education of the Brethren in his District. RW Larry Egnaczyk will finish the “Masonic Development Course” this month & will soon follow it with either “The Road to the East” or the new edition of the “Leadership Development Course”. If you would like to learn more about Masonry and improve your leadership skills, plan on attending one of these courses. Watch his column for more information. You can also take advantage of the Livingston Masonic Library or the Masonic University of New York (MUNY) – you can find their links on the Grand Lodge website (
  3. Attend Masters, Wardens & Deacons sessions. This meeting on the 4th Wednesday of each month is an excellent opportunity for you to learn what is happening in the other Lodges of the Onondaga District and to discuss issues that are important to Masons & Masonry. This meeting is not just for the Masters, Wardens & Deacons of our Lodges – anyone who is interested is more than welcome to attend. Our next meeting is on January 24th at the Memorial Masonic Center in North Syracuse at 7:30 PM.
  4. Make an effort to attend Masonic Funeral Services. There is nothing more embarrassing than having only a couple of Brothers show up to a service after a family has asked for it. Freemasonry obviously meant a lot to the deceased Brother & his family because they have asked for the service. Make an extra effort to show them that it means a lot to you as well. Worshipful Masters: if you know of a Masonic Service, please email the details to me at and I will forward it onto the other Masters, who, I would hope, will forward it onto the Brothers for whom they have email addresses, and get the word out.

After my post about Esoterika Lodge, I received calls from a Brother from that Lodge and another in Minnesota offering their encouragement. So far, I haven't heard from anyone in this District interested, but I will see.