Wednesday, November 15, 2017

‘Sunday: The Great Escape’


The Great Escape! No, not the mass exodus of Masons from the “Grand Lodge of New Jersey,” I mean the School of Practical Philosophy’s Plato Study Day on Sunday! From the publicity:

The Great Escape:
A Day with Plato
Sunday from 8:30 to 4:30
School of Practical Philosophy
12 East 79th Street in Manhattan
($25 for full-time students)
Fee includes reading materials,
refreshments, lunch, and wine reception
22 seats remaining
as of Wednesday morning

Plato’s dialogue Crito enables us to listen in on a dramatic conversation in an Athenian jail cell in 399 BC. The great philosopher Socrates’ execution is set for the next day, and his closest friend Crito arrives offering a foolproof plan of escape. The only question: can he convince Socrates to flee?

Socrates makes it clear that he will only consent to escape if he can be shown that it is the right thing to do—the just and virtuous course of action. Crito, convinced that he has excellent reasons for escape, eagerly presents them one after another. How does he fare? What does Socrates decide? What is his reasoning?

Join us Sunday, November 19 to discover why Socrates said the “unexamined life is not worth living” and enter into a conversation involving life’s most important questions:

  • What is our true nature?
  • How do we attain real happiness and freedom?
  • What is the "price we must pay" to attain these?

In giving serious consideration to these, you may well discover answers for yourself that will positively impact your daily living.

The day includes an opening presentation, group study sessions, a great Greek lunch, light entertainment, and closing reception. Family and friends are welcome and no prior study of Plato is required.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

‘Why King Solomon’s Temple?’

The Scottish Rite Valley of New York City offers a lecture Tuesday night that addresses an important subject, and is open to Master Masons. SP Shlomo Bar-Ayal, 32˚ will present “Why King Solomon’s Temple: Why Did Freemasonry Choose this Building as the Basis for its Lodges Above other Ancient Structures?”

That’s at Masonic Hall (71 West 23rd Street, Manhattan) in the Gothic Room on 12 at 7:30 p.m. Photo ID is required to enter the building. Attire: either black tie or business suit.

I cannot attend, but I would love to hear his research. Many years ago, I also spoke on this subject, relying on the very earliest of Masonic literature to explain how the Tower of Babel had been the architectural focal point of Masonic thought, and how David and Solomon would be embraced as the Biblical models for English and European royal succession. (Succession was a huge deal during the generations leading up to the birth of modern Freemasonry as we know it.)

So make sure you get there, and bring your lodge brothers along.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

‘To remove the statue forthwith’

It seems the Scottish Rite has joined the growing consensus advocating the removal from public space in Washington of the Albert Pike statue at Judiciary Square, if the reporting of the Washington Post is to be believed—not something I recommend typically.

Nevertheless, a story published Monday quotes Ronald Seale writing in agreement on removing the 116-year-old giant bronze and marble rendering of his historic predecessor. The Post also claims Seale was party to an aborted scheme to “whisk away the statue at midnight,” meaning he almost linked himself to the ilk that recently damaged statues of Christopher Columbus, Theodore Roosevelt, and other figures historically essential to American society in the name of constant revolution. Fortunately, reason prevailed after it was realized how federal authority is required to move the monument lawfully.

The story never quotes Seale directly, but cites a letter he allegedly sent in August to a DC councilman saying the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction “will support an action by the District of Columbia to remove the statue forthwith so that it should not serve as a source of contention or strife for the residents of our community.”

Sounds good to me, as I said in the previous Magpie post on this subject, if the statue can be relocated to a Masonic property where, presumably, private property still can be kept safe from mobocracy. However, “contention or strife” are among the principal nutrients for a certain segment of American society that is insatiable for perpetual insurrection, replete with violence against people and property, so they will be back.

It is asked often, including in this Post story, why a Confederate Army general is memorialized in the capital city of the United States. Of course it is a fact that this statue of Pike celebrates Albert Pike the Freemason, and has nothing to do with his brief and undistinguished tenure as a CSA military officer, but perhaps Abraham Lincoln broaches this subject in his second inaugural address, delivered only weeks before he was murdered:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

‘Mark Tabbert in Jersey next month’

Mark Tabbert will visit a Masonic lodge in New Jersey in a couple of weeks to present some of his recent research into George Washington’s Masonic life. This flier has all the details:

Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

‘2018 World Conference on Freemasonry coming to DC’

The “World Conference on Fraternalism, Freemasonry, and History—Including Ritual, Secrecy, and Civil Society” will come to Washington, DC next spring.

Hosted by Policy Studies Organization, and normally in Paris, the conference will take place at The Whittemore House in the Federal City. (WCFFH will return to Paris in 2019.) The theme for May 17-18, 2018 will be “Not Men Only: Sisters, Sororities, and Ritualistic Societies.”

List of speakers so far here.

From the publicity:

The World Conferences on Fraternalism are held alternatively in Paris in odd numbered years (2019, 2021), and in Washington in even numbered years (2018, 2020). The Paris conferences are held at the French national library, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and the Washington conferences at the historic Whittemore House.

The conferences have themes but they are not exclusionary of other topics. For example, the 2017 Paris conference examined the career of the Chevalier Ramsay, a famous 18th century figure in French fraternalism, but there were many papers on other themes. We welcome papers on all aspects of fraternalism and its ties with social capital. The papers on Freemasonry should not foreclose papers on many other aspects of the subject, including gender, college fraternities, clubs like Rotary, African-American topics, guilds, labor unions. The conferences gain from having a variety of subjects discussed. The committee is also open to presentations of art, dance, folk music, and others, if related.

Papers are both published in the Ritual, Secrecy, and Civil Society Journal, and in books by Westphalia Press. Simultaneous translation is offered at the French conference. Both Paris and Washington are preceded by workshops to which scholars are invited to consider original materials and problems in fraternal research.

A theme of the May 2018 conference in Washington will be women’s fraternalism. A theme of the June 2019 conference in Paris will be the origin and creation of degrees and rites in fraternalism.

A look at past conferences on this site will help in answering questions about panel possibilities, hotels, and other queries.

Conference Chairs:

  • Paul J. Rich, President of the Policy Studies Organization, Westphalia Press
  • Pierre Mollier, Editor-in-Chief of the Ritual, Secrecy & Civil Society Journal
  • Guillermo de los Reyes, University of Houston


Sunday, October 15, 2017

‘Dead Sea Scrolls conference next month’

If you believe Qumran has something to do with your secret society, then you ought to attend educational conferences like this one to improve yourself. NYU does it again. (While a student there decades ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Professor Schiffman, who was the lead researcher when the university obtained the Scrolls on microfilm in the first release of the treasures outside of Israel.) From the publicity:

The Rose-Marie Lewent Conference:
The Dead Sea Scrolls at 70

The NYU Center for Ancient Studies, in conjunction with the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, announces the Rose-Marie Lewent Conference:

The Dead Sea Scrolls at 70
November 16-17
Hemmerdinger Hall
Silver Center for Arts and Science
32 Waverly Place, Manhattan
Free and open to the public

Thursday, November 16

Session 1: The Community/Communities behind the Dead Sea Scrolls

9:15 a.m. Welcome
Matthew S. Santirocco, NYU

9:30 a.m. What Does Archaeology Tell Us about the Community/Communities behind the Dead Sea Scrolls?
Jodi Magness, University of North Carolina

10:15 a.m. Archaeology and Text: Khirbet Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls
Lawrence H. Schiffman, NYU

Session 2: Insiders and Outsiders in the Dead Sea Scrolls

11 a.m. Sectarians and Their Semantic Domain: How Best—or Least Badly—to Identify the People of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Maxine Grossman, University of Maryland

11:45 a.m. Isolated in the Judean Desert? The Qumran Sectarians in Imperial Contexts
Alexandria Frisch, Ursinus College

Session 3:
The Projects of the Israel Antiquities Authority

2 p.m. The Conservation and Preservation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 70 Years Later
Pnina Shor, Israel Antiquities Authority

Session 4:
The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Mysterious

2:45 p.m. Magic and Demonology in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Retrospect and Prospect
Joseph Angel, Yeshiva University

3:30 p.m. Angelology, Exorcism, and Other Ancient Jewish Sciences: Before and After the Dead Sea Scrolls
Annette Yoshiko Reed, NYU

4:15 p.m. The Scope and Purpose of Encrypted Writing in the Dead Sea Scrolls
Jonathan Ben-Dov, University of Haifa

Session 5: Keynote Address
5:30 p.m. Introduction: The Dead Sea Scrolls at 70
Lawrence H. Schiffman, NYU

6 p.m. Violence and the Dead Sea Scrolls in Scholarship and Popular Media
Alex P. Jassen, NYU

7 p.m. Public Reception

Friday, November 17

Session 6:
Sacred Texts and Their Interpretation

9 a.m. The Emergence of the Biblical Text and Canon in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Armin Lange, University of Vienna

9:45 a.m. How They Read the Genesis Apocryphon Then and How We Read It Now
Moshe J. Bernstein, Yeshiva University
Session 7: God and Humans

10:30 a.m. The Offering of Lips: What is Prayer in the Dead Sea Scrolls?
Daniel Falk, Pennsylvania State University

11:15 a.m. Some Thoughts about Prayer, the Divine, and the Human Self at Qumran
Angela Kim Harkins, Boston College

This event is generously supported and co-sponsored by the Salo W. and Jeannette M. Baron Foundation, the Israel Antiquities Authority, and the NYU Dean of the College of Arts and Science, the Dean for the Humanities, the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Science, the Center for the Humanities, the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, and the Religious Studies Program.

This conference is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Center for Ancient Studies here.

Friday, October 13, 2017

‘NYC Ben Franklin Circle’

These Ben Franklin Circles sound like a great complement to Masonic lodge activities—at least until such a time when Masonic lodge activities start to resemble the doings of Ben Franklin Circles. One Circle meets at the 92nd Street Y, but here’s one close to Masonic Hall.

I’ll be at lodge Monday night, but otherwise I would check out this meeting. From the publicity:

Ben Franklin Circles in New York City
Monday, October 16 at 7 p.m.
114 East 35th Street in Manhattan

Improve Yourself. Improve Your World. Join our Ben Franklin Circle!

Ben Franklin Circles bring people together for open and fun discussions about our lives, our values, and our community. The Circles are based on a “mutual improvement club” started and run by Ben Franklin. He and 12 friends meet weekly to talk about how they could improve themselves and their world. Join us for this exciting and fun opportunity to talk about big issues and to meet some new people.

Friday, October 6, 2017

‘The Journey in Esoteric Societies’

Piers Vaughan will be the guest speaker of Atlas-Pythagoras Masonic Lodge in New Jersey in two weeks. He will present “The Journey in Esoteric Societies” on Friday the 20th. The event will be open to all Freemasons, their families, and friends.

Lodge will open at 7:30 p.m. The address is 1011 Central Avenue in Westfield.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

‘Grand Masters Day at Tappan’

Magpie file photo
DeWint House is located at 20 Livingston Avenue in Tappan, New York.

I think I’ve neglected to spread the news of this year’s Grand Masters Day, but it’s coming soon. On Sunday, October 15 at 1 p.m., the brethren and the public are welcome to visit DeWint House, the George Washington Headquarters historic site owned and operated by the Grand Lodge of New York, for the special occasion.

It is a historic treasure and beautiful piece of property. The museum and the grounds are a must see. That is 20 Livingston Avenue in Tappan, New York. Click here to have a look at the place.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

‘Masonic Nation’

There’s never a bad speaker—I can fix that!—in the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library’s lecture series, but the speaker this month is an exceptional talent.

Author Mitch Horowitz will take to the lectern Thursday, October 26 at 6 p.m. to present “Masonic Nation.” From the publicity:

Mitch Horowitz
Although misrepresented by conspiracy-mongers and fantasists, Freemasonry has had a long and deep-seated influence on American culture and civics, extending back to the nation’s formative days. Join PEN Award-winning historian and widely known voice of esoteric ideas, Mitch Horowitz, for a special exploration of how the symbols, ideals, and personas of Freemasonic tradition left an indelible mark on the way we live and how we view ourselves as Americans—and Mitch’s new vision for Masonry in the twenty-first century.

In books, news media, and television, Mitch Horowitz is one of today’s leading voices on alternative spirituality. The Washington Post says Mitch “treats esoteric ideas and movements with an even-handed intellectual studiousness that is too often lost in today’s raised-voice discussions.” Mitch’s books include Occult America and One Simple Idea, a history and analysis of positive thinking, which was recently censored in China. Visit him @MitchHorowitz.

Open to the public. Photo ID needed to enter Masonic Hall. RSVP here.

You know by now that the Livingston Library is located on the 14th floor of Masonic Hall, which is located at 71 West 23rd Street in Manhattan.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

‘New film: 33 & Beyond’

A new film is being marketed as a definitive source of knowledge on the subject of Freemasonry. A press release disseminated yesterday says 33 & Beyond: The Royal Art of Freemasonry will be screened in 10 American cities, beginning with San Francisco on October 13. Excerpted from the publicity:

33 & Beyond: The Royal Art of Freemasonry is noted as the first film to fully examine the entire American Masonic structure, providing answers from prominent members of the Masonic brotherhood to long-time questions: the purpose and meaning of the rituals, why people join, the unique culture of the Masonic fraternity, and where the future of the ancient society is headed.

The film provides the viewer with a real behind-the-scenes perspective of the Masons’ path to enlightenment, as Freemasons from across the country share their personal experiences within the fraternity and the ultimate overarching narrative of their own “hero’s quest.”

“What begins to surface is a realization that we [the candidates] are able to be the hero or the villain in our daily lives, based on the choices we make. Freemasonry truly is a progressive moral science interlaced throughout the narrative structure of the Hero’s Quest,” says director Johnny Royal.

33 & Beyond: The Royal Art of Freemasonry is a film about the shared experiences of membership in the world’s oldest fraternity. Through poignant interviews and beautiful photography, the film highlights the worldwide legacy of Freemasons and their perspectives on these timeless rituals and their place in the world around them.

I have contacted the publicist to ascertain the dates, times, and places of New York City showings, and will share the information here. The San Francisco ticket prices range from $15 to $50.

‘May secrecy round be the mystical bound’

Magpie file photo
John Steell's gigantic bronze of Robert Burns is found in Central Park's Literary Walk. It was dedicated October 3, 1880.

It seems like only yesterday but, on this date in 1781, Robert Burns was passed and raised in Lodge St. David in Tarbolton, Scotland. (Hat tip to Missouri Lodge of Research.)

Be on the lookout for Burns Suppers in January. Aurora Grata 647 announced theirs today, but that isn’t the only one by any means. These are held on or around Burns’ birthday on January 25.

One of his Masonic pieces:

Masonic Song (1786)

Ye sons of old Killie, assembled by Willie,
To follow the noble vocation;
Your thrifty old mother has scarce such another
To sit in that honoured station.
I’ve little to say, but only to pray,
As praying’s the ton of your fashion;
A prayer from thee Muse you well may excuse
’Tis seldom her favourite passion.
Ye powers who preside o’er the wind, and the tide,
Who marked each element’s border;
Who formed this frame with beneficent aim,
Whose sovereign statute is order:
Within this dear mansion, may wayward Contention
Or withered Envy ne’er enter;
May secrecy round be the mystical bound,
And brotherly Love be the centre!

Friday, September 29, 2017

‘Ric Berman to return to New Jersey’

Thank you all for reading The Magpie Mason. With this post, we begin our tenth year together.

The first post on this website, on this date nine years ago, told of a lecture presented that evening by a Past (2004) Prestonian Lecturer in New Jersey. This post tells of another Past (2016) Prestonian Lecturer who will visit New Jersey in a few months for a speaking engagement.

Bro. Richard Berman
New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education No. 1786 hosted Bro. Ric Berman in January of last year for a terrific dinner-lecture. He tells me he will return to New Jersey in January of next year for another event, this one hosted by a different group.

When those details are confirmed, I’ll share them here.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

‘Hugh Hefner was the poster boy for Ecclesiastes 12’


Verses from the Hebrew Bible, known to most Freemasons in the United States, come to mind when seeing the mourning of the death of Hugh Hefner in Masonic social media.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

‘More Light’

“Do open the shutter of the bedroom so that more light may enter.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
(His actual last words.)

The Masonic Light group logo was designed by Bro. Drew Horn, of the Master's Jewel, in 2005.

Admit it, you have abandoned the Yahoo! Groups you once enjoyed for Masonic conversation. Facebook did us in even though it’s almost impossible to find intelligent discourse anywhere on there.

Fortunately, Josh Heller refuses to give up on Masonic Light. The co-founder, with Chris McClintock in 2000, of the most informed, diversely populated, and useful online Masonic discussion forum of early e-Masonry recently resumed the reins (from yours truly), resolved to make the group a haven for thinking Freemasons again.

After a group purge, to wash away all the obsolete email accounts and ensure the group is home only to the living, Josh has a plan that will be launched October 1. He has enlisted the help of six other members who each will take possession of one day of the week to spark discussion. These are:

Sundays: Josh Heller
Mondays: Magpie Mason
Tuesdays: Charlie Persinger
Wednesdays: Jason Mitchell
Thursdays: Clay Anderson
Fridays: Rashied Sharrieff-Al-Bey
Saturdays: Gerald Reilly (the famous Gerald Reilly)

We do welcome new members. Check us out here.

‘Philadelphia Opera’s Magic Flute’

You know it’s a small world when a Freemason in Florida alerts a New York City Mason to a Magic Flute production in Philadelphia, but here we are. (Thanks, Scott.)

Only two performances remaining at the Academy of Music, tomorrow and Sunday.

From the publicity:

In Mozart’s masterful comedy about love, truth, and the pursuit of enlightenment, Prince Tamino sets off to rescue Pamina, the beautiful daughter of the Queen of the Night, from the mysterious Sarastro. But, with the help of the bird-catcher Papageno and three Spirits as their guide, Tamino discovers an even bigger adventure, and is united with his love along the way. Celebrated co-directors Suzanne Andrade and Barrie Kosky present The Magic Flute in a playfully subversive, crowd-pleasing production that evokes a meeting between 1920s silent movies and David Lynch, with the singers performing amidst fanciful animated projections. Created by the British theater group 1927, the L.A. Times calls this Magic Flute “a stunning live-action cartoon. It is fun for the whole family.”

Full synopsis here.

Tonight at seven, there will be screenings of silent short films that inspired this Magic Flute staging. Click here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

‘AMD Gathering next month’

The brethren of the Allied Masonic Degrees in New York have announced their state gathering. From the publicity:

New York AMD Gathering
Saturday, October 1 at 10 a.m.
Schenectday Lodge 1174
394 Princetown Road, Schenectady

Most Venerable Gary B. Hinson, KGC, Sovereign Grand Master of the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States of America will be attending.

The Council will open at 10:30 with a brief paper by RV Oscar Alleyne. Other papers may be presented. Lunch will be served, followed by the First Grade of the Scarlet Cord Degree. Presentations will be made after the degree.

Please inform the brethren of your AMD Council of this important and memorable event.

Additional details to follow as we approach the Most Venerable Sovereign Grand Master’s visit.

Contact Frank Karwowski here if you plan to attend, as well as how many will be making a reservation for lunch. MOL reservations accepted by those who have access to it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

‘The Art of the Pipe at Hiram-Takoma’

Magpie file photo

It’s been too many years since I last visited Hiram-Takoma 10 in the District of Columbia. (Nothing personal. I’m 250 miles away.) But I’d love to make the trip next week for this meeting. From the publicity:

The Art of the Pipe
Thursday, September 28 at 7:30
Hiram-Takoma Lodge 10
Takoma Masonic Center
115 Carroll Street NW
Washington, DC

This open program is about the art of pipe smoking, presented by Bro. Jacob E. Easton. Dress is business casual. RSVP to W. Bud Michels here to ensure sufficient amount of refreshment.

Dinner (all welcome) at 6:30 p.m. Lodge (Masons only) at 7:30. Program (non-Masons, ladies welcome) at eight o’clock.

Maybe the brethren will form a pipe club. Yeah. A pipe club that meets during Masonic Week! Yeah, that’s it.

Magpie file photo

‘Masonic identity in funerals’

Maryland Masonic Research Society will gather for a meeting next month to hear about facets of Masonic obsequies that you might not have considered before. From the publicity:

Regular Meeting
Maryland Masonic Research Society
Saturday, October 14 at noon
209 Washington Blvd. in Laurel

Carolyn Bain, Ph.D. will present “Masonic Funerals: Identity, Performance, and Transformation—Constructing a public-facing identity of Freemasonry within historical, contemporary, and theoretical contexts.”

A member of the Order of the Eastern Star, Texas Chapter 219 and president of the award-winning, digital media services firm, Bain Pugh & Associates, Inc., Bain is a noted researcher, author, and presenter.

For the Masonic Service Association, she co-authored “Moving Masonry into the 21st Century” and consulted on the Mark Twain Award Project. For the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, she produced the award-winning film “On the Wings of Words.” She has spoken for many Masonic audiences including the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and the International Conference on the History of Freemasonry.

Lunch ($20 payable at the door) will be served at noon. The meeting will open at 1 p.m. RSVP to the Secretary here before October 10.

Monday, September 18, 2017

‘Who is Liberty Lodge No. 7?’

Two events this week in the Hudson Valley must be mentioned.

The Master of Solomon’s Lodge 196 in Tarrytown will present a lecture Thursday at the lodge’s meeting.

EDIT: Lecture is rescheduled to Thursday, December 7.

“Who Is Liberty Lodge No. 7?” is the result of W. Bradley Corsello’s research into the period of New York Masonic history characterized by the schisms that might have left the state with various competing grand lodges.

Solomon’s Lodge is located at 54 Main Street. Dinner at 7 p.m. Lodge opens at eight.

On Saturday afternoon, Colonial Day at Tappan will be hosted at DeWint House, the Washington Headquarters owned and operated by Grand Lodge.

That’s noon to five o’clock at 20 Livingston Street. Sponsored by Tappantown Historical Society. From the publicity:

Step back in time and visit Colonial America. Tour the Carriage House Museum and the DeWint House with costumed guides. See Colonial Army re-enactors, encampment soldiers, farm animals, and preparations for winter in the DeWint House kitchen. Watch spinners, lace-makers, quilters, embroiderers, woodcarvers, a sheepshearer, blacksmith, and colonial singers and dancers. For the children there is apple-pressing, stenciling, candle-dipping, writing with quill pens, making tussie mussies, juggling, and making a mob cap. Refreshments available.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

‘Live from Masonic Week?’

This week’s X-Oriente podcast just concluded (will be posted soon), and the brethren were thinking out loud about possibly going live from Masonic Week in 2019, or maybe even giving it a go next February. It’s not even an embryonic idea yet, but Eric and Jason are interested in exploring the feasibility of hosting their show from the hotel.

The questions they ask now are: Would you attend in person and perhaps take part or observe; or would you watch on line from afar?

Or “if you think this is a horrible idea,” they want to hear from you also. Topic suggestions are welcome too.

Eric launched X-Oriente more than a decade ago to continue the magic of Masonic Week (then called AMD Weekend) conversations year round. Masonic Week consists of the annual meetings of a bevy of obscure Masonic fraternities, which can be pretty dull but, outside and between these meetings, Masons from all over meet in hospitality suites and other nooks to discuss the meaning of Masonry. Friendships are cemented, and it is not unusual for the brother you’ve just met to wind up guest lecturing at your lodge later in the year. (Some of these guys have been dining out on the same lectures for ten years! Hmmph.)

But check in with X-Oriente to make your opinions heard. Click here.

‘The Over Soul’

The School of Practical Philosophy has another Emerson Study Day in store next month. The School delivers a curriculum and these extra-curricular occasions that comprise an ideal complement to Masonic studies, and I commend them to you. (I may miss Grand Masters Day at Tappan for this.) From the publicity:

The Over Soul
School of Practical Philosophy
Sunday, October 15 at 8:30 a.m.
12 East 79th Street
$30 per person, click here

Come explore the spiritual and intellectual legacy of America’s great philosopher and teacher, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Drawing on the wisdom of Plato and the Eastern traditions, Emerson knew from direct experience and observation that Unity is the true reality. He spoke of “one mind common to all” and “one soul which animates all things.” His affirmation of Unity was total, and he encouraged people to discover this for themselves.

We shall study selected passages from his most transcendental pronouncement. The Over Soul is his description of the Supreme Self, the Param Atman, the Divinity within. This essay offers wise and practical advice on how to remain open to the Unity by living in “an attitude of reception,” receiving and reveling in “the disclosures of the Soul.”

From the essay:

“Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the eternal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal One. And this deep power, in which we exist and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one.”

All are welcome. No prior study of Emerson is required. Sign in at 8:30. The program will begin at 9 a.m. Registration fee covers a light brunch and the printed reading materials. Tutor: Barbara Solowey.

Click here to read the essay at hand.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

‘Die Zauberflöte AND The Magic Flute at The Met this fall’

The Met is serving a double-shot of Mozart’s Masonic opera The Magic Flute this season. The annual holiday crowd-pleaser production, in English (less than two hours), will come in November, but Die Zauberflöte, the German staging (more than three hours), will open in about a week and a half with tickets starting at 25 bucks. From the publicity:

The Metropolitan Opera
Die Zauberflöte
September 27 through October 14
Tickets here

Courtesy The Met

Music Director Emeritus James Levine conducts the full-length German version of Mozart’s magical fable, seen in Julie Taymor’s spectacular production, which captures both the opera’s earthy comedy and its noble mysticism.

Die Zauberflöte—a sublime fairy tale that moves freely between earthy comedy and noble mysticism—was written for a theater located just outside Vienna with the clear intention of appealing to audiences from all walks of life. The story is told in a Singspiel (“song-play”) format characterized by separate musical numbers connected by dialogue and stage activity, an excellent structure for navigating the diverse moods, ranging from solemn to lighthearted, of the story and score. The composer and the librettist were both Freemasons—the fraternal order whose membership is held together by shared moral and metaphysical ideals—and Masonic imagery is used throughout the work. The story, however, is as universal as any fairy tale.

Courtesy The Met
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91) died prematurely three months after the premiere of Die Zauberflöte. It was his last produced work for the stage. (The court opera La Clemenza di Tito had its premiere three weeks before Die Zauberflöte, on September 6, 1791, though its score was completed later.) The remarkable Emanuel Schikaneder (1751-1812) was an actor, singer, theater manager, and friend of Mozart. He suggested the idea of Die Zauberflöte, wrote the libretto, staged the work, sang the role of Papageno in the initial run and even recruited his three young sons to join the roster.

The libretto specifies Egypt as the location of the action. Egypt was traditionally regarded as the legendary birthplace of the Masonic fraternity, whose symbols and rituals populate this opera. Some productions include Egyptian motifs as an exotic nod to this idea, but many more opt for a more generalized mythic ambience to convey the otherworldliness that the score and overall tone of the work call for.

Courtesy The Met

Die Zauberflöte was written with an eye toward a popular audience, but the varied tone of the work requires singers who can specialize in several different musical genres. The comic and earthy are represented by the baritone, Papageno, while true love in its noblest forms is conveyed by the tenor, Tamino, and the soprano, Pamina. The bass, Sarastro, expresses the solemn and the transcendental. The use of the chorus is spare but hauntingly beautiful, and fireworks are provided by the coloratura Queen of the Night.

‘Library lecture: Prince Hall and African Lodge’

Coverage of last weekend’s Masonic Society Conference in Kentucky is still to come, but here is some news from Masonic Hall concerning a lecture in a few weeks. From the publicity:

Prince Hall and African Lodge 459
Presented by Jo-Ann Wong
Thursday, September 28 at 6:30
Livingston Masonic Library
Masonic Hall, 14th Floor
71 West 23rd Street

Prince Hall
Jo-Ann Wong, Librarian of the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library, will present a lecture focused on the treasures of the Library’s Books and Artifacts Collection related to Prince Hall and the beginnings of African Lodge 459. Materials include a 1792 pamphlet containing a “charge” that Prince Hall led in Massachusetts, a facsimile of the charter for African Lodge, and related archival material.

Jo-Ann Wong received her Master’s Degree in Information and Library Science, with certification in Archives, from Pratt Institute. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature, with a minor in Mathematics, from SUNY Geneseo. She has worked in New York Public Library’s Map Division and Gagosian Gallery. Now, she is responsible for supervising the library sector of this institution and for maintaining its bibliographic and archival material for future preservation and access.

Make your reservation here. Photo ID is required to enter Masonic Hall. White wine will be served.