Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Back in Action

It's been a while since my last post - I have wanted to log on & comment on a few things here & there, but just didn't get around to it. I contemplated having the blog go "black" until the new year in memory of my father but that seemed like a cop out so I am back.

I have been busy Masonically with Scottish Rite, Royal Arch, Templar & Lodge activities. Last month, I received a "Blue Hat" - Dedicated Service Award from the Valley of Syracuse, AASR and was very pleased to have my wife - Marian, son - Conor, and my mother, Betty present for the presentation. Earlier this month, I attended the holiday party for Central City Commandery No. 25, Knights Templar along with members from my son's DeMolay Chapter, Trinity. I was very proud when Conor and his DeMolay Brother, Shontay presented "The Ceremony of Light" for the very first time. He seems to have a knack for Ritual work and also likes it. I was appointed the "Captain of the Host" for Charles H. Platt Chapter No. 247, Royal Arch Masons for the ensuing year so I have have alot of new Ritual to learn myself.

I have some Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library news to reveal in my next post so stay tuned...

Monday, November 02, 2009

My Dad

Every year has its highs & lows and this year has been no different. I experienced my lowest point on Thursday October 22nd when my Father, Edgar Powell, Jr. passed on after what seems like a long battle against bad lungs, heart & stomach problems.

My Dad was not a Mason. He was many things but I couldn't convince him to become my Brother. He was married for 53 years to my Mom, Betty (in photo) who looked after him religiously - no one could have ever asked for a more devoted wife. He was well loved in my home town of Brushton, NY (try to find it on a map of northern NY State) and he was active with the American Legion, Moira Volunteer Fire Department and almost any youth sporting organization that was to be found in our town. He liked to have fun, but his last few years didn't allow him to get out like he used to - he will be missed by everyone who knew him.

His "send off" was a tribute to him -- my wife described it in emails to family & friends:

We have just arrived home a few hours ago after what has been a very sad week.We did not have the luxury of cell phone or computer access up north, only in the hospital library and my only quick email on that morning was to my boss. Rick's parents live in a region that is not serviced by most modern day communication things.

Edgar passed away Thursday October 22nd at 5:10am. We were there and it was very peaceful, he died in his sleep. He was waked on Friday, and I can honestly tell you hundreds of people came for the two calling hours, one in the afternoon and the other in the evening.

Saturday was the funeral and the Fire Department led the procession to the church and then to the grave site with Edgar's uniform on the back and a black flag flying. Then there was the Rescue (Ambulance) Department who closed off all the roads for the procession to pass and saluted him and they were all decked out in their uniforms. Then there was the American Legion for Military Veterans who gave a twenty one gun salute and presented each grandchild with a spent shell and then presented Betty with a the flag that had draped the casket and the rest of the spent shells expertly wrapped in it and placed it in a display case which is now sitting on our mantel. This makes Rick happy.

Many, many people, both young and old thought the world of Edgar. He was very involved in the community as you can tell from my account. He will be dearly missed.

We have all been very upset about the loss of Edgar and we will all miss him very much. Conor took it the worse when the last call came from the Fire Department while at the grave site. The fire engine radio calls out Edgar's name and calls him for the last call and all the Fire Men were standing to attention. It was heart breaking. Such is the passing of a very good man in a small town and how he is honored.

Dad - you will be missed but never forgotten. Edgar Powell, Jr., 1932-2009

Monday, September 28, 2009


Yesterday (9/27/09) was a very big & emotional day for the Powell family - no we didn't finish reading "The Lost Symbol" (still plugging away - not what they would call great literature, but I am enjoying it) and it wasn't because the Jets won again (J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!). No yesterday afternoon, my son, Conor, was installed as the Master Councilor for Trinity Chapter, Order of DeMolay and following that Installation, DeMolay's Honory Legion of Honor was conferred upon me.

As I said, it was emotional. Not for Conor. Not for my wife, Marian. But for me...

Ok, I am sure that they had their moments but I am usually the very reserved one (much to the surprise of all my old college friends) at these things. But not today. Nope.

At the completion of the Legion of Honor ceremony, I was asked to say a few words. Not a problem, as a Past DDGM, AGL, etc., I have often spoken in front of large crowds. But something happened.

The applause from the crowd turned in to the DeMolay's version which I equate to almost a type of clapping chant. And I lost it.

I tried to thank Marian & Conor for all their support. For all the nights that I am away on Masonic business, for their understanding and their love. I wanted to thank MW Bruce Widger, a Past Grand Master for the State of New York, my Masonic Mentor & friend. I barely got any of it out when I was overcome with emotion. Yeah. That's right. I balled like a baby.

Afterward, the NY State Master Councilor, Andrew Roberts spoke and reminded us all that a reaction such as mine usually springs from very strong feelings. He is absolutely correct. In the Order of DeMolay, I have found an organization that I wish I had known about as a teen ager - I would have loved it as, I think, my own son does. In today's fast & loose society, it's still nice to see an organization that promotes such things as love of parents, reverence for sacred things, courtesy, comradeship, fidelity, cleanness and patriotism. It's nice to know that you can be a part of all these things and still be cool. And cool they are...

But these guys need Advisers. If you are a very active Freemason and even if you are not that active, these young men need you, your Lodge, your Scottish Rite Valley, your York Rite bodies to step up and support them. They need money, yes that always helps, but more importantly they need your involvement. Go find the nearest DeMolay Chapter and volunteer to be an Adviser - they always need rides to & from events, help at their meetings and they need new members so bring in your sons, grandsons and nephews. It will be the most rewarding thing you will ever do. It has been for me.

After I composed myself, I asked Trinity Chapter to stand. I told them "this award may have been for me, but it is all about you." And it is. DeMolay is a great organization and I am extremely honored & humbled to be a new Legionnaire, but it's not about us, it's about them. Those young men are our future. Think about that...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sneak Preview

Tomorrow's the big day! Freemasons everywhere, brace yourselves for the onslaught of "Lost Symbol" mania...

Yesterday, Parade Magazine had Dan Brown and his new book as its cover story. Here you can read a sneak preview of the book with its prologue and first chapter. They also have an interview with Mr. Brown here.

The Prologue starts the book at the House of the Temple with Dan Brown's idea of Masonic Initiation - mind you, he is not a Freemason, so it's his interpretation of something he has not experienced. Initiation has to be experienced - reading (or writing, in this case) about it can never do it justice and always creates inaccuracies.

That said, I for one, hope that he has done justice to the fraternity and I look forward to reading it beginning tomorrow...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What, Me Worry?

Well, we are just a couple of days away from the release of Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol"...

What have I been up to since my last post? Not worrying about his book - looking forward to it but not worrying about. After all, most of us expected this book about 3-4 years ago and were preparing for it then. Let's read it before we panic.

What I have been up to this summer is keeping busy despite the crappy weather we experienced. I attended the New York Council of Deliberation, the New York DeMolay State Convention, worked at a Safety ID session with Trinity DeMolay Chapter and drove my son to soccer tryouts (he made the Varsity team as a Freshman).

At the DeMolay State Convention, I learned that I was to receive their Honorary Legion of Honor - a very big surprise so I am very excited & honored by this. It will be conferred upon me on Sunday September 27th - the same that I hope to also see my son installed as Master Councilor of Trinity Chapter.

A busy summer, yes, but not spent worrying about "The Lost Symbol" - there will plenty of time for that on Tuesday...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Face of the Lost Symbol

The cover of Dan Brown's followup to "The DaVinci Code" was revealed yesterday. The US cover (left) shows a background of Alchemical symbols with a tear revealing the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Smack dab in the middle of the page is a wax seal of the 33rd Degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. The UK cover (below right) depicts a key with the Masonic Square & Compasses over the Capitol.

Rumors for the past several years have hinted that the novel will concern the Freemasons and our Nation's Capitol. The covers seems to suggest the same. I guess it is time to brush up Alchemy, Scottish Rite symbolism - and that means Albert Pike and the "mysterious" lay out of Washington.

I would like to thank Brother Chris Hodapp who also pointed out a very interesting blog detailing "tweets" concerning the book - check out "Key to the Lost Symbol Tweets"

"The Lost Symbol" hits the shelf on September 15th, 2009.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Scottish Rite Leadership

A couple of Saturdays ago, I attended a Leadership Retreat for the Officers of the Valley of Syracuse, AASR.

The session was very well attended by our Valley Officers both present & past as well as some from neighboring Valleys as well. An enjoyable time was had by all and here is a couple of things that were mentioned by attendees:

Several Brothers mentioned the great programs being spear-headed by the Southern Jurisdiction and would like to see the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction follow suit.

One Brother mentioned that there seems to be a trend to dumb down our Rituals and Teachings - many were in agreement and expressed disappointment in this trend.

I am in agreement with both of these observations. A lot of Brothers come to the organization looking for "more light" - sometimes light of a more esoteric nature, only to attend a degree that seems to be a badly written version of a morality play that has been revised to death to be more likable to a "modern" pallet. There's a treasure trove of symbolism in those Scottish Rite degrees and it seems to be a shame that we in the NMJ have to constantly look to the SJ for what we crave.

It's probably up to those of us here in the trenches to get something started at the ground level - maybe that's how it been done in the SJ only to be picked up & supported bu the Supreme Council. I don't know.

I have been tempted to get a group together locally to study this sort of thing but under a general "Blue Lodge" heading. Maybe I should get it together with some Scottish Rite Brothers, start with a study of the Symbolic Degrees and then move onto the 4th though the 32nd Degree. What do you think? I welcome all suggestions and idea, especially from anyone in the area.

It was announced at our gathering that I, along with fellow Brothers Norm Kruth and Harley DeShane, had received the Valley's Dedicated Service Award and we are therefore eligible to wear the Blue Hat pictured above. Wish me luck as I enter my two year term as our Consistorial Orator and Secretary of our Knights of St. Andrew Chapter.

NY & DC Are Cool...

As a follow-up to my post last month about more trouble possibly brewing between the Grand Lodges of New York & the District of Columbia, I have heard that all is well and everything that had been agreed upon has been taken care of.

My source is a local Brother here in the Syracuse area who is also a member of a Lodge within the District of Columbia. Good news all around!

Friday, June 05, 2009

York Rite College

A few weeks ago, I had the distinct honor to be initiated into the Central New York York Rite College No. 27.

The York Rite Sovereign College of North America exists primarily to be of service to the York Rite of Freemasonry. Constituent colleges must declare fealty to the Grand Lodge of their respective jurisdictions. The pre-requisite for membership, which is by invitation only, is good-standing in all four York Rite bodies: Lodge, Chapter, Council and Commander or Preceptory (Canada.)

The Reference for the following information is a pamphlet published by the York Rite Sovereign College of North America.
"Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave: even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve." Matt.20:26-27-28


"This craft came into England, as I tell you, in the time of good king Athelsan's reign; he made then both hall, and also bower and lofty temples of great honor, to take his recreation in both day and night, and to worship his God with all his might. This good lord loved this craft full well, and purposed to strengthen it in every part on account of various defects that he had discovered in the craft. He sent about into all the land, after all the masons of the craft, to come straight to him, to amend all these defects by good counsel, if it might so happen, He then permitted an assembly to be made of divers lords in their ranks, dukes, earls, and barons, also knights, squires and many more, and the great burgesses of that city, they were all there in their degree; these were there, each one in every way to make laws for the state of these nations. There they sought by their wisdom bow they might govern it; there they found out fifteen articles, and there they made fifteen points."----Regius Manuscript, circa 1390----Regius Manuscript, circa 1390


The York Rite takes its name from the Ancient English city of York, around whose minster, or cathedral, cluster many Masonic traditions. Here , these traditions tell us, Athelstan, who reigned more than a thousand years ago and who was the first king of all England, granted the first charter to the Masonic guilds. Here, in 1705, a Grand Lodge in London, to whose constitution the Grand Lodge of England later appealed as the true source of authentic Freemasonry. Though early disappearing from the Masonic scene, this Grand Lodge left an indelible impression upon the institution, and its name --- York --- will survive as long as Freemasonry continues.


The York Rite Sovereign College of North America came into being in the City of Detroit, Michigan on January 6, 1957. It was the result of a meeting called by Richard W. Lewis, Past Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Michigan, and attended by the heads of the four Michigan York Rite grand Bodies and a number of distinguished Masonic leaders from other States. These founders, responding to a need which had long been recognized in the York Rite, outlined the structure and purpose of the new organization and arranged for its incorporation.


The purpose of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America, as set forth in its Constitution and By-Laws, are as follows:
(1) To foster a spirit of cooperation an coordination among each of the Bodies of York Rite Masonry.
(2) To assist in worthy efforts to improve the ritualistic and dramatic presentation of York Rite work.
(3) To conduct an education program in order to inculcate a greater appreciation of the principles, ideals and programs of York Rite Masonry.
(4) To strengthen York Rite Masonry in every possible manner.
(5) To build up a love of country and to aid and support genuine Americanism.
(6) To reward outstanding service to York Rite Masonry by awards, honors and other methods of proper recognition.
(7) To support Charitable and Benevolent Endeavors of Freemasonry.

Following my stint as the Onondaga District DDGM, I have found myself active once again in my Royal Arch Chapter. Unfortunately, I have yet to find the time to fit in The Cryptic Council or Commandery, although, I do belong to both.

I think that the York Rite Bodies are sometimes overshadowed by the Scottish Rite in this country. It is often said and I quite agree, that the Holy Royal Arch completes Blue Lodge Masonry. There are many ritual & symbolic similarities between the Royal Arch Chapter and the Scottish Rite's Lodge of Perfection - I highly recommend that you try both.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

More NY/DC Trouble Brewing?

Earlier this week I was in New York City to attend the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of New York. The meetings went well even without our Grand Master present. He is still recovering from a series of recent surgeries, but he is making progress and I wish him a speedier recovery.

There were the usual number of visitors from other jurisdictions. The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland was there to present an award to my mentor, M.'.W.'. Bruce Widger, Past Grand Master of New York, who was also recently approved as our Grand Representative to Scotland.

Also present was the current Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, M.'.W.'. Kwame Acquaah, who was received with much praise for his handling of the Syria-Lebanon situation earlier this year. New York Past Grand Master M.'.W.'. Gary Henningsen had many good things to say about Grand Master Aquaah but he was unhappy to report that there were some within the Grand Lodge of D.C. that are not willing to follow their Grand Master's decision on that matter. It sounds like Recognition is again in jeopardy if things are not cleared up within the next month or so.

Keep your eyes & ears open for more news on this as it happens...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Hair today, gone tomorrow...

On Sunday, March 22nd, I participated in a St. Baldrick's Foundation Event locally with my son and one of his DeMolay Brothers.

The photo to the left shows the before & after shots for your viewing amusement.

I am happy to report that our event has raised $212,508.25 to help conquer childhood cancer! This number is rising and based on calculations it should come in around $272,000 before we are through.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St. Baldrick's Foundation

This Sunday, March 22nd, I will be participating in our local St. Baldrick's Foundation event at Kitty Hoynes in Syracuse.

I will be representing our Trinity Chapter, Order of DeMolay and will be joined by our Junior Councilor and my son, Brother Conor as well as Brother Tom Perry. We will have our heads shaved as we raise money to find a cure for kid's cancer.

Please consider sponsoring us by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

I'd like to raise a pint to all of the Irish out there today! Of course, everyone considers himself Irish on St. Patrick's Day. I, myself, officially became a citizen of Ireland fairly recently so I, will raise a pint of Guinness a wee bit later today.

Before you head out for the festivities, why don't you check out the website for the Grand Lodge of Ireland. Ireland boasts the second oldest Grand Lodge is the world and I highly recommend a visit to the country as well as their website. You'll have a fantastic time and meet some great Brethren while there.

I will also take some time to plug the Knight Masons. The Grand Council of Knight Masons has its seat in Dublin, Ireland but we have our own Grand Council here in the States as well.

The Grand Council of Knight Masons of the United States of America, in consideration of its origin strives to:

1. 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.

2. Elevate to membership in its constituent councils only those Freemasons who in their character and persons have amply and thoroughly demonstrated in their Masonic lives, by means of a faithful attachment to the institution, a true and honorable record of service to its goals, and a genuine dedication to its high ideals.

3. Foster in its constituent councils the regular exploration and studyof the Masonic Tradition and Heritage by means of an aggressive program of scholarly inquiry and research, and to pursue that Masonic learning in the spirit of our Celtic forbears who kept the light of faith burning in times of darkness.

4. Encourage its constituent councils to discover in the pleasures and diversions of the festive board that warm fellowship and that joyous fraternity, which have ever characterized and actuated the great spirit of this Ancient Craft.

5. Promote the charitable dimension so central to, and inherent in, Masonic life and tradition by obliging its constituent councils to contribute with customary Masonic liberality to those institutions, both Masonic and non-Masonic, which serve the needs of the greater community.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New York DeMolay

This month, DeMolay International turns 90 years old! That's right, it was 90 years ago that Brother Frank S. Land created the DeMolay Fraternity as a result of wanting to help out the son of a late Lodge member.

Since then, the organization has grown dramatically with more than 1000 Chapters worldwide. Along with several Brothers, I helped start Trinity Chapter here in the Syracuse area only a year ago. The Chapter is really starting to grow and the lads are having a great time.

In celebration of this birthday, New York DeMolay is sponsoring a gathering at the Grand Lodge building on Saturday, March 28th. From the State Master Councilor, Brian Bidnick:

"On March 28th, the members and advisors of New York DeMolay and many other jurisdictions will come together in New York City for a celebration in honor of this historic event. The event will be held in Masonic Hall, New York City, the location of where the original chapter in New York State met and one of the premier Masonic Buildings in the world. The plan is to have all the things that makes DeMolay great - good food, good fellowship, and good fun combined with the initiation of new Brothers from our jurisdiction and others."

The tentative schedule for the event is:

3:30 PM to 5:30 PM New York State DeMolay Chapter opens – Grand Lodge Room

Initiatory and DeMolay Degree Portrayals (open to Master Masons and Advisors)

Historical Presentation (open to the public – 5:00 PM)

5:30 PM to 7:30 PM Dinner - 2nd Floor ($15.00 per adult, Youth below 18 - $10.00)

7:30 PM to 8:30 PM Magic Show presentation – Grand Lodge Room (see Flyer attached)

8:30 PM to Midnight Dance – 2nd Floor (everyone welcomed as our guests)

"We would like you to join us. Mark the date and come out as the entire state throws the party of the century, and invite all of your friends and family to come along. All active and senior DeMolays, candidates for membership, advisors, sweethearts, Masonic members, OES and all those that are interested in the youth of our country are welcomed and encouraged to attend. Degrees will be performed by New York DeMolay that afternoon, and several jurisdictions are bringing many prospective members to share in the fun!

I, along with several members of Trinity Chapter will be there. For more information, visit the New York DeMolay website."

New York Freemasonry

So what's up with Masonry in the State of New York? Wellllll...

Most of you know that the Grand Lodge of New York has restored its recognition of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia.
Details can be found on Brother Hodapp's "Freemasons for Dummies" Blog and Brother Hochberg's "Magpie Mason" Blog. I am very pleased to see that this is getting cleared up and applaud both Grand Masters for their dedication.

Speaking of our Grand Master, M.'.W.'. Edward G. Gilbert -- he is currently resting at home following bypass surgery. I would like to wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him around New York State Lodges again very soon. Watch the GLoNY's website for further updates.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

French Scottish Rite Rose Croix Pendant

Here's another recently added piece from the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library's Artifact Collection.

It is a pendant dating from the mid 1800s that was worn on a Master's collar in France.

More information on this item can be found here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Livingston Masonic Library

Last Friday, I crawled out of bed at 2:45 AM so I could drive 4.5 hours to New York City to assist other Trustees as well as the Staff of the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library with an assessment project for the American Historical Association.

The ability to make the journey was dubious from the get- go: it's January in CNY so bad weather can stop everything in its tracks, my wife & son had the flu so I was worried about leaving them and I never know these days when I am going to wake up with vertigo. The stars aligned and everything worked out. Two Mountain Dew Amps later and I was in Manhattan. The meeting went well and we are moving forward with the project.

Something that many people miss who visit the Library's website is the Artifact Collection, which includes a large number of items that the Library's Curator, Catherine Walter, has photographed and posted.

I hope to make these artifacts a part of my blog by highlighting the new items as they are posted to the site as well as by showing some off from the collection.

Today's piece is "a Grand Master's jewel that was sculpted by Brother Gutzon Borglum, who also made Mount Rushmore."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Templars: The Secret History Revealed

Remember Processus Contra Templarios- a reproduction of Vatican documents relating to the Trial of the Templars, that I reported about way back when? Well the person who came across those documents in the Vatican's Secret Archives has written a book.

From Amazon.com:

Product Description
At its height, the Order of the Knights Templar rivaled the kingdoms of Europe in military might, economic power, and political influence. For 700 years the tragic demise of this society of warrior-monks amid accusations of heresy has been plagued by controversy, in part because the transcript of their trial by the InquisitionÑwhich held the key to the truthÑhad vanished.

Templar historian Barbara Frale happened to be studying a document at the Vatican Secret Archives when she suddenly realized that it was none other than the long-lost transcript! It revealed that Pope Clement V had absolved the order of all charges of heresy. Using this sensational new information, Frale chronicles the TemplarsÕ spectacular rise and fall against a sweeping backdrop of war, religious fervor, and the struggle for dominance, and finally lifts the centuries-old cloak of mystery surrounding one of the worldÕs most intriguing secret societies.

About the Author
Barbara Frale is a historian on staff at the Vatican Secret Archives. A specialist on the Templars, the Crusades, and the papacy, she earned her Ph.D. at the University of Venice. She lives in Viterbo, Italy.

This looks like it may be of interest. My copy is on the way...

Missing in Action

A very belated "Happy New Year" to all - I apologize for being away for so long. I came down with a case of vertigo a few weeks before Christmas and I have been fighting it ever since. Hasn't been terribly bad since that first spell but I have been a bit "fuzzy around the edges." I am feeling a bit better these past few days so I hope to begin posting again.

Since my last post the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library held another of its Library Diner Series, this one being entitled "Freemasonry and the Arts". I didn't get a chance to attend but Fellow Blogger, "The Magpie Mason" was there and has some great photos and commentary starting here. Check it out.

I haven't been saying much about the conflict between my Grand Lodge of New York and the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia because, as far as I know, there still hasn't been any sort of resolution. It is a pain but I am trying to respect our Grand Master's Decree and since I am not privy to the discussions, I will not comment.