Monday, November 26, 2012

Hermes Renascentis

Periodically, I have an irresistible urge to re-experience one of my sources of youthful inspiration. I viewed myself as a young man inclined to the visionary approach in a world devoid of mystics. Few people I knew shared my enthusiasm for the world of visions, dreams, mythology, and fantasy. Apart from my older brother, who was probably responsible for nurturing this tendency, I had nobody to speak with about it. It was acceptable, if perhaps a little questionable in terms of taste, to enjoy fantasy literature, but it had to be strictly a momentary escape from reality. Reality was an infinitely superior endeavor, and clearly more worthy of one's time. One's value as a human had to be in some form of measurable production, be that auto parts, haut cuisine, or in published words. If that production could not be converted into dollars and cents, it was valueless. Knowledge or experience was of no relevance if it did not find its way into the pages of a ledger book. Fortunately for both me and my brother, although our parents might not have approved of everywhere it led us, they encouraged us to read and to pursue artistic interests.

Now,  as I approach 3 score years, the world has only become more obsessed with materialism. As for myself, now within hitting distance of the aforementioned sixtieth birthday, that materialist view appears even less important than it did at 17. I remained chagrinned but resigned to the fact that I live in a world that values little of that which I see as being of worth.

As a teenager, I explored my own inner world extensively and found it often infinitely better than the external world. That does not mean I was withdrawn, lacking a social life, or otherwise uninvolved in the "real" world,  I just was aware of the alternatives. And then it happened.

There were a lot of other approaches to the inner world that I was exploring at the time, but few had as profound an impact upon me as one did. Ironically, I suspect the author of this particular inspiration thought of it largely as entertainment, albeit entertainment with a message. For the most part, I viewed it the same way. However, the message it held for me was the the visionary explorations I took did not represent something I did in isolation. There were others out there who were familiar with other worlds and were capable of accessing them, too.

This particular inspiration came in the guise of the adventures of a profoundly, and at times frustratingly "normal" hero of a tale told in an intentionally anachronistic style. That man was one Jack Flanders, and he had visited another man with the unique name of Meatball Fulton, to share his story. Meatball Fulton, produced and began broadcasting the amazing adventures of Jack Flanders, as old style Radio Dramas, in 1972. The first of these was "The Fourth Tower of Inverness," in which Jack entered an otherwise invisible piece of architecture - the fourth Tower of Inverness Manor, a mansion which in normal reality appeared to have only three towers. In this fourth Tower, he ultimately encounters the Lotus Jukebox, but not in the first story. He does however, need to find the Whirlitzer of Wisdom, the Great Green Jade Jukebox, and the Bodhisattva Jukebox before he can reach the Lotus Jukebox.

His adventures continue later include a trio to North Africa in the Drama entitled "Moon over Morrocco." There have been a number of other Jack Flanders adventures over the years, and several spin-offs for characters such as Mojo Sam, who played a character inspired by a Bogart Movie. However, I did not become aware of these later stories until decades later. For most of my adult life, "Moon over Morrocco" and "The Fourth Tower of Inverness," the first of the Jack Flanders adventure series, which combined elements of Americana and Old-time radio drama with metaphysical concepts such as past life regression, Sufi wisdom, Tibetan Buddhism and shamanistic communication with the natural world, represented the most dramatic parallel to my own inward exploration.

Recently, I noted there was a new Jack Flanders adventure. I admit, I now receive mail order catalogs from ZBS Audio Adventures, the distribution arm of Meatball Fulton's creative nexus. This latest adventure is entitled "Do Angels Really Have WIngs?" It also occurred to me, although I don't recall it in any of the stories I listened to over the years, that there is an uncanny connection between Jack Flanders and Freemasonry. After all, two of his most significant and earliest adventures take place in Scotland and in the Sufi filled world of the North African desert. I wonder when he will meet up with Count Cagliostro.

For the rest of this post, there is not a lot more to comment on. My main thought is to suggest that we can indeed find Hermetic principles in places we hardly expect to, such as in revivalist 1970s Radio Dramas, and perhaps these will inspire us to take some guided flights of fancy, to discover more of our inner world, and what lies beyond the middle chamber.

Sincerely, whether you are interested in a serious study of Hermeticism or not, and even if you believe that Freemasonry is only a social club for men, as the UGLE would have us believe, do yourself a favor and visit Meatball Fulton's site . Go a step further and buy a story. Maybe try one of the shorter ones, although the two big classics of his that I mention here are in my opinion the best place to start. Now, the usual disclaimer applies: I have never received anything free from ZBS productions, unless you count the free downloads they have from time to time offered to everyone who visits their website, nor do I know Meatball Fulton personally or anyone associated with him. You should not assume that because I have claimed to see reflections of Freemasonry in these works, that it was ever the intention of the creator of these stories to draw such a parallel. I won't promise you enlightenment, nor even a serious exposure to hardcore metaphysics. However, if you don't find these stories good, rollicking and brain tweaking fun, you need them more than you know!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Rough Ashlar No. 1

Doubtlessly those of our brethren resistant to the idea that working on the rough ashlar means changing that with which one is comfortable, will accuse me of being unjustly critical of the status quo. I thank them for the complement. I am simply noting the truth. If someone doesn't find the truth comfortable, change it.

With that advice in mind, I will from time to time present a rough ashlar. A rough ashlar is a pithy fact that points out where we, as masons, need to do as we say, rather than as we do. I think that is self explanatory.  These may be observations of my own, or quotes of others. Either way, they represent a specific aspect of our experience which needs improvement. That is after all, what we are supposed to be about, is it not?

I think the following quote by an esteemed brother, Jack Buta, deserves to be Rough Ashlar No. 1.

"It is a sad fact that in 2009 in a country which just elected its first African-American President, 50% of Black Freemasons cannot sit in a mainstream Lodge with their white Brethren."

— Jack Buta, from the preface to "Black Freemasons White America: The History of Prince Hall Freemasonry." 2009.

Let us note that having re-elected our first African-American President for a second term, no substantial change has occurred in North American Freemasonry on this issue.

New Edition of Rito Francés, Roëttiers de Montaleau

Presenting the newest edition of the Journal of the Modern Rite of Roëttiers de Montaleau!

The theme of this edition is the Kadosh Grade and Degree work.

Gracias a Victor Guerra

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Update on the Worshipful Master Shot Outside Prince Hall Grand East in Detroit

Today I was alerted to the continuing struggles of Bro. Harry Weaver, the Worshipful Master of Redeemer Lodge #53, MWPHGL of Michigan.  You may recall the news a while back of the Worshipful Master of a Detroit Masonic Lodge who was shot outside his Lodge, the victim of an attempted robbery. He survived his ordeal and now is in need of some serious fraternal assistance.  If anyone deserves help, it is this dedicated brother.

The following is an appeal sent out by PM Aubrey Brown Sr, MWPHGL of IL:

I have been close to this brother essentially since he became a Mason.
I've watched him mature from a neophyte to an outstanding Masonic leader.

I publicly plead that as we go into the festive holiday season, we recall
our dogma and obligations as one of our own is fighting a battle that will
last the rest of his life. Remember his only action was being a devoted
Worshipful Master leaving his lodge meeting. This could easily have happened
to any of us.

Please donate to the extent of your cabletow and help get this info as far
and wide as possible. Consider this a cyber "GHS".

He is Bro. Harry Weaver, the Worshipful Master of Redeemer Lodge #53, MWPHGL
of Michigan. He and one of his lodge members, Bro. Ed Reed, were shot during
an attempted robbery in front of the Masonic temple after a lodge meeting.
He is now paralyzed from the waist down. He needs a wheelchair accessible
van, renovations in his home to make it wheelchair accessible, and most
importantly he has a wife who is expecting their second child.

Donations can be sent to:

The Bank of Birmingham,
Attention: Harry Weaver Independence Fund,
33583 Woodward Ave., Birmingham, MI 48009


 c/o ADL office
25800 Northwestern Highway,
Suite 980,
Southfield, MI 48075.

You can also donate online at

Weaver has taught countless students a lesson of non-violence as education director for the Anti-Defamation League running a project called "No Place for Hate".

Despite a spinal cord injury and challenging odds, he plans to walk again.  His wife, Dawn, is pregnant with their second child and the family needs help.  They'll need a wheelchair accessible van and renovations at home.  Several funds have been set up to help this man, who has made our community and the world a better place.

Many thanks to my friend Bro. Tom Thornton Cincinatti 3, Madison 93,Lore 1786, NJ.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sovereign Chapter of the Order of Wisdom in Mexico

In Mexico, the French Rite, is represented by 5 regularly constituted lodges, namely the Lodge "Mankind", attached to the Grande Loge Nationale du Canada, the Lodges "La Fayette No. 10" and "Via Hermetic No. 15" attached to the Grande Oriente Ibérico and "Les Amis Réunis No. 5" and "Equitas No. 6" of the Grand Lodge of the Equatorial Andes working the French Modern Rites of 1783/1801.

Until now, the option of continuation of the work in the higher degrees of Order of Wisdom did not exist, which limited the options of Brethren wishing to continue their initiatory advancement and it is for this reason that the Sublime Council of the Modern Rite for Ecuador, under the Charter of the Supreme Conselho do Rito Moderno - Brazil, which is itself the only legitimate guarantor for the Orders of Wisdom of the Modern Rite worldwide, is pleased to inform Masons worldwide, and particularly in the Valley of Mexico, the installation of the first Sovereign Chapter regularly constituted "Veritas No. 3" Letter Patent of Sublime Modern Rite Council for Ecuador (SCRME), chaired by Mihe Morales - SPR + (IV ° Ord. - Gr 7) in the Valley of Mexico City, November 13, 2012.

Muchas Gracias a MM Yuguito, V ° Ord. - Gr 9, Sublime Commander of the Modern Rite Council for Ecuador

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Masonic Vision: Glimpses of Glimpsing Beyond

Crystal Ball at University of Pennsylvania Museum
SCRYING: Crystals and Magic Mirrors in the history of Freemasonry

Freemasonry as an institution has always been greater than the sum of its parts. So, while some masons today seek, rather amusingly I think, to deny that Freemasonry has anything to do with Hermeticism, alchemy, theurgy, and such spiritual sciences such as divination, the fact remains that these matters have always been found attached to the Craft.

Dr. John Dee's Divination Equipment
For those who may find the subject of interest whether as an operative activity or a purely speculative examination, in this post the Hedge will take a brief glance at the art of scrying, which is the use of crystals or other reflective surfaces to inspire various types of spiritual vision.  The range of surfaces may include rock crystal, either natural or quite often as a polished sphere, natural transparent or translucent stones, glass, mirrors, polished metal surfaces, or water.

Of course, divination by means of inspiring visions (visual hallucinations if you are a neurologist) is one of the most ancient forms of seeking inspiration from the realm of the spirits. It is recorded in ancient Babylonia and Egypt, although most often those cultures used a speculum, or vessel containing some reflective liquid.

Those who would practice this art or science, are advised to use a relaxed gaze rather than a fixed stare, maintaining a steady gaze for no more than five minutes at a time. Depending on the source, the gazer may find their vision clouding over, or the interior of the crystal or scrying surface clouding over, and they may see images or symbols, or even scenes within the object. Alternately as they gaze, they may see their visions upon an internal screen. I will leave the practical comments to these few words and move on to a brief survey of some notable individuals who were Freemasons or by the common imagination may be associated with the masons, who studied or wrote on the subject. 

Dr. Dee at the Court of Queen Elizabeth I
Dr. John Dee (1572-1608)  The first Renaissance figure we might associate with both Freemasonry and Scrying is the legendary Dr. John Dee. Of course, there is no record of his having been a Freemason, but he is an indisputably significant figure in European Hermeticism, and all of the Noble Arts associated with Freemasonry. Some may wish to disassociate the craft from his name, but both Dame Frances Yates and David Stephenson place him firmly within the stream of ideas that contributed strongly to the development of speculative Freemasonry. Dee, born in London of Welsh parentage (his surname was originally Dû pronounced Dee, meaning black) was known for his work in using crystal gazers to communicate with angels.

Eliphas Levi (1810-1875) Alphonse Louis Constant made a living from his writing and by giving lessons in the occult. He renamed himself Magus Eliphas Levi, the hebrew equivalents of his first and middle names. In 1854 he took a trip to London, where he performed a ritual to conjure the spirit of Appolonius Tyana, a renowned magician of ancient times. Levi;s preparation included a week of fasting. Levi dressed in white robes and entered his magic chamber equipped with mirrors on the walls. His incantations went on for 12 hours after which the floor beneath him began to shake, and he saw an apparition in one of the mirrors. While Levi was not a Freemason, he had a great impact upon at least two very famous Freemasons, Albert Pike and A.E. Waite.

Count Cagliostro
Count Cagliostro (1743 - 1795). Moving into the category of individuals who are unquestionably identified as Masons, we come to one of my favorites, The flamboyant Alessandro Cagliostro who utilized scrying within Masonic rituals, as well as in other non-masonic spiritual practices. While a number of authors have discussed Cagliostro's divination practices, Theodore Besterman, devoted a lengthy essay to the subject. 

Frederick Hockley (1808 - 1885), an accountant by profession, was well known in circles which cultivated 'Rejected Knowledge'.Apart from his scrying experiments with crystals and so-called 'Magic Mirrors', which were used to induce trance states, he was a diligent copyist of old magical manuscripts. He became a significant figure in Esoteric Freemasonry in the 19th Century, although not well known by those who are not themselves committed esotericists.

Francis George Irwin (1828 -1892). Irwin was Chief Adept of the Bristol Soc. Ros. College. Irwin joined in succession several lodges and, according to Gould, so great was his desire to obtain more light, that there was scarcely a degree in existence, if within his range, that he did not join. In scrying seances during the years 1872-3, he communicated with none other than Cagliostro, who told him that 'the Crystal you have will be of little use. It is charged with an antagonistic principle.' Cagliostro came again on 29 October 1873 when he delivered the message that 'I am afraid that at present I cannot give (you) anything to be continuous.' Thereafter, between 31 October and 9 November Cagliostro communicated on four separate occasions and, according to Irwin's 'Spiritual Journal', dictated almost word for word the substance of the 'historical introduction' to the Fratres Lucis ritual.

John Yarker
John Yarker (1833 - 1913). John Yarker, was a prolific Masonic writer who dealt with many historic topics but was especially interested in esoteric topics. Not much admired, it would appear, by Albert Pike. Although that speaks highly of his character, among his other positive credentials was that he wrote a brief work, which was never published in full on the topic entitled "The History and Mystery of the Magic Crystal."  These final words of advice, should anyone care to try for themselves comes from Yarker's aforementioned work.  

"After carefully investigating the visions in their subjective and objective phases for nearly 20 years I imported an Indian or Bhattah Mirror in May 1886 and produced for a few friends a model that answered in every particular quite equal to the expensive original at a tenth of the cost Many investigators from some perhaps congenial cause getting no satisfactory results after repeated trials with the Ball or Egg shaped Crystals may try flat polished pieces of Rock Crystal quartz Cannel Coal Bloodstone or Obsidian or Mirrors their shape suiting them best but they must not forget that no matter whatever may be the cause of individual failure the power to see is in themselves aud not in anything they may..."  (quoted in Rosicrucian Brotherhood, vol. 1-3 (in one volume) p. 145.) S.C. Gould. 1907.

I hope that this brief post does not make any of my masonic brothers or sisters uncomfortable. If by some chance it does however, I admonish them to take a long hard look in the mirror. Any mirror will do. Take a break after five minutes, and try again.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

10th Annual Masonic Book Fair in Paris

I don't imagine many of the readers of my blog will be finding themselves in Paris with nothing to do this weekend, but if you happen to be in that happy condition, here's a suggestion for an opportunity to while away a few hours.

More information, including a schedule of events may be found at the following link to Masoneria Siglo XXI:

If you happen to get there, I'd love to hear from you as to what you found.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2nd Cycle of Studies of the Modern Rite

The 2nd Cycle of Studies of the Modern Rite Conference to be held in Porto, 2012

November 24, 2012

Speakers to include: 

António Vilar – “Adeus ao Estado social?”
João Luís Oliva – “O Tempo e o Modo, a Maçonaria e a Crise: um olhar Profano.”
José Adelino Maltez – “O Estado à Procura do Político.”
 Luís Gonzaga, MM da R L Passos Manuel – “Como um Rito Escocês é Francês, o Rito Francês é Inglês e o Rito Inglês nem sequer é Rito.”
Montesquieu, MM da R L  Passos Manuel – “Cadeia de União”
Victor Guerra, MM “O Rito Francês – origem e atualidade.”; “Ordens de Sabedoria do R F M

 Alexandre Herculano, MM da R L Universalis – “A Simbólica”
José Servo MM da R L Teixeira de Pascoaes – “Saudade do Futuro e o V° Imperio”

Alexandre Herculano, Mui Sabio, Cap. Igualdade
Br. Falcão
António Casimiro Ferreira


 Participaçao conditioned of Inscriçao to
Deadline November 11. Costs:
 Attendance - 10 €
• Agape (Dinner) € 15, confirmation  should be made by email for the payment, which will accepted until 11/17/2012.

The Chamber of Reflection in the French Rite

The following is the first installment in a very lengthy piece posted by my friend and brother Victor Guerra on one of his many blogs, in Spanish. Since I tend to post shorter pieces on my blog, and since I have to juggle many items, including other work I am translating, I will be posting this work in a serial form. I hope you all enjoy. 

Please feel free to offer comments and feedback. As part of my long term goal is to provide access to Continental materials which have long been absent in the American literature, feedback will be very helpful.

The Chamber of Reflection and its Symbolic Artifacts
A view from the French or Modern Rite and its contrasts with other rites 
By Victor Guerra.

 Introduction. -
To start it is necessary to indicate something that seems obvious, not all Rites contain the Chamber of Reflection, or at least it is not interpreted in the same way, and that chain as Philippe Langlet explains, is  "from the dark room of the Emulation Rite, the RER preparation chamber, through the Cabinet "type" of the AASR, or the French Rite ".

Its essence is constituted, as the respected Freemason Oswald Wirth explained - and based upon two sets of symbols, "one representing death and the other life ", combined to create the old mythic image of the cave - which at the end of the day " comes to represent a simplified summary of the message that comes from the macabre dances and art from the Middle Ages and plays an important role as an initiation rite. "

Despite being one of the quintessentially Masonic elements to have penetrated the popular consciousness in so-called "Masonic Mysteries", we find that as a symbolic subject, it has not been addressed much, much less within the Modern Rite.

Primarily within the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, we find paradoxically, the chamber has been magnified and so loaded with inks and colors and schools of thought, that the result could said to have ended up defining the "standard model" or image of the Chamber of Reflection, although the inheritance comes from the "modern", the "old" ended up modifying it to tailor it to the needs of the times and fashions.

Do not forget that in the Emulation Rite there is no such Chamber of Reflection, and that the rituals of this rite should "not make the mistake of subjecting the candidate to it". The layman must be placed in a dark and secluded space free of symbols or inscriptions, on the other hand in the York Rite there is provided instructions to create a preparation room, but no further details.

Therefore we can state without fear of contradiction that the Chamber of Reflection found its way to France through the development of the first settlement of Masonry with the creation of the French rite and then underwent a fuller development within the REAA.

This does not mean we can expect to find much information on the Chamber of Reflection in  REAA literature or even of the Masonic initiation ceremony, or on the form in which it develops in much of the popular literature on Masonry. Indeed, there are many references, but they tend to be circular, each referring back to the other. A demonstration of this intellectual scarcity, is that hardly more than a single reference work of any quality exists, that being G. Persigout:  Simbolique du Gabinet Reflection. It is out of print and when it can be found in bookstores can reach as much as 300 euros, although Beresniak has also written a book about it.

What evidence exists on the subject takes the form of many and varied small pieces of work generally intended for Masons to read in Lodge. These generally relate to the symbolic elements. Why do we find a such a large gap in terms of thinking about the presence and development of as significant and unique an element in Masonic ritual as this and silence on the presence of such unique elements as those found in the Chamber of Reflection?

This explains why when scholars and authors like Frau Abrines touch on the issue of the Chamber of Reflection, they do a juggling act. and move on to other topics without giving a precise explanation of the phenomenon, which shows the difficulty that  these authors encounter looking for a logical thread explaining why something that was not present in the primordial English Freemasonry,  and which still does not have a place there, develops through a complex but apparently unobserved process leading to the current Chamber of Reflection, a feature so important in the continental Masonic world.

Moreover, this calls attention to its becoming a major element in the early Mason initiation, yet it is paid so little attention to in the same rituals, and in many cases we are hardly offered more than a slight description or sketch, even though its symbolic forcefulness not otherwise mentioned in the work within the lodge, remains the first contact that the layman has the Masonic endeavor.

This lack at least from a historical point of view does not make much sense, as   Rene Le Moal notes in his introduction to the work of  "Le Cabinet of reflection. simboles Des pour toute une vie" , which was published in the prestigious journal  La Chaine d ' Union,  No. 6 - July-2012.

It was this article which has led me to investigate The Chamber of Reflection in the French Rite, because despite the anger of certain pseudo French brothers by the publication of our work, it seems that the French Masonic world wishes to claim as its own the French or Modern Rite and its different parts, and yet offers little on a topic as innocuous yet as significant as the Chamber of Reflection.

This led me to check its impact on the REAA of the GODF apart to see what its presence in the ritual texts was, and also what might be found in the various publications associated with the GODF, such as the magazine cited above: La Chaine d'Union,  number 6, July 2012 where you can check the weight and substance of the published work, which is mostly related to Escossism.

For that reason through this modest blog, I intend to further investigate the role of the Chamber of Reflection in the Modern French Rite as the French Brothers who practice this ritual do not seem interested in extending their examination and as history suggests  La Chaine d'Union , and apart from other minor works in the lodge collection logiales Paris, collected within the GODF between 1979 and 1989, that seek to patent it, or who seem to see its significance within the corpus of reflections GODF French Masons of the time, and so it will wither, René Le Moal, need not to worry now essentially the question is moot. TO BE CONTINUED...

To see the original in its entirety, in Spanish, click here: