Monday, April 29, 2013

The Archaeology of Gatherings: Call for Papers

The Archeology of Gatherings
Institute of Technology, 
Sligo, Ireland
25th-27th October, 2013

A call for papers has been sent out for The Archaeology of Gatherings conference. This thematic international conference will bring together a range of speakers from different disciplines including both academics and professionals.  The aim is to explore the material culture and psychology behind gatherings of people.

With 2013 being the year of 'The Gathering' this theme was chosen to examine why people over millennia have come together, often in large numbers, for religious assemblies, social interaction, to exchange commodities and ideas, along with other reasons such as farewells, wakes, political opposition, inaugurations etc.

Speakers are invited from a diverse range of backgrounds including archaeology, history, ethnography, sociology and event management.  Both archaeological and modern case studies are invited. Papers will be 20 minutes in length, with time for questions.  This important international conference will take place at the Institute of Technology, Sligo, Ireland from 25th to 27th October 2013, and will coincide with the SligoLive cultural festival.  Abstracts of no more than 200 words should be emailed by 3rd May, 2013 to:

Saturday, April 20, 2013

2013 Esoteric Book Conference

The 2013 Esoteric Book Conference will be in Seattle on September 14th and 15th, 2013.
The Esoteric Book Conference is an annual international event to bring together authors, artists, publishers and bookmakers working in the field of esotericism. In addition to presentations by notable authors and scholars, the conference opens it doors to publishers and booksellers showcasing new & used books as well as rare and hard-to-find esoteric texts. For two days the conference hosts the largest selection of esoteric books under one roof. Contemporary esoteric publishing, finepress book arts and antiquarian texts are offered to augment the libraries of readers, scholars and collectors alike.
This multi-disciplined conference will feature presentations by contemporary authorities researching and working in esoteric currents both East & West. Western Esotericism, Gnosticism, Theosophy, Mythology, Shamanism, Rosicrucianism, Sacred Sciences, 'Occulture' and World Religions are among the subjects to be represented. An esoteric book fair and art show will also be on site allowing education, vending and networking in a unique field of literary, historical and cultural arts.
Here's a link to visit the Conference site. While tickets are not yet available, visiting the site will allow you to register for notification when they become available. 2013 is the fifth annual conference and is worth your while.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Libertad, Igualdad, Fraternidad

La Logia Mixta Anáhuac de La Habana, Cuba, felicita al presidente electo de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela y al pueblo venezolano por tener un nuevo presidente, y exhortamos que la unión, la verdad, la libertad y la cordura sean la premisa del nuevo mandatario.

Libertad, Igualdad, Fraternidad.

Todos hermanos, todos iguales.

A nombre de las hermanas y hermanos de la Logia Mixta Anáhuac.

Vicente Jesús Valdés Montero
Venerable Maestro

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Boaz: A Restaurant in Havana

I am pleased to be able to announce the opening of a Cosmopolitan Restaurant run by Freemasons in Cuba.  Needless to say, we hope that anyone visiting the Capital of the land where the palm grows (to quote a famous Cuban Mason - Martí) will do themselves the favor of visiting Boaz for a unique dining experience.  Over the past year, Vicente Valdéz with the assistance of some of his masonic brethren has been working to establish a restaurant in the heart of the old city. Boaz has been a long time in preparation but after much effort and planning it has now opened its doors.

Set in the heart of Habana Vieja (Old Havana), it is in the center of most tourist foot traffic in the Cuban capital. It is just two streets away from Hotel Santander, and a short walk from the El Capitolio, the former capitol building, modelled on the US Capitol building and now home to the Cuban Academy of Sciences. A few minutes from both El Museo del Ron and El Museo del Chocolate,  it would serve as a convenient lunch venue while exploring culinary interests and visiting the other sites of the city or a nice rendezvous for a group, couple, or family at the end of a day.  It is of course, available for private events as well as casual dining.

This effort is one example of the new movement in economic growth and personal proprietorship which is occurring in Cuba today under the government of our neighbor to the south.

The cuisine, first rate in both quality and portions is based on Cuban traditions, and the staff and owners have decades of experience in the catering, restaurant, and hotel business across the entire island. 

The regular menu ranges from traditional Cuban dishes such Ropa Vieja, to Lobster and various pork dishes, a favorite in Cuban cuisine. Cuban cuisine is a heady mix of Iberian, Canary island, and African influences brought here by the many immigrants who came to the island over the centuries.  Prices are reasonable none averaging much about $20 US. Boaz has a fully stocked bar including the best of Cuban Rum and mixed drinks that would please even Hemingway. For those with other tastes, Single Malt Scotches, domestic and imported beers and non-alcoholic beverages are also available.

Me complace poder anunciar la apertura de un restaurante cosmopolitano dirigido por masones en Cuba. No es necesario decir, que esperamos que cualquiera que visite la capital de la tierra donde crece la palma (para citar a un famoso masón cubano - Martí) se va a hacer el favor de visitar Boaz para una experiencia culinaria única. Durante el año pasado, Vicente Valdéz, con la ayuda de algunos de sus hermanos masonicos ha estado trabajando para establecer un restaurante en el corazón de la ciudad vieja. Boaz ha pasado mucho tiempo en preparación, pero después de mucho esfuerzo y planificación ya ha abierto sus puertas.

Situado en el corazón de la Habana Vieja, está en el centro de la mayoría del tráfico turístico de la capital cubana. Está a sólo dos calles de distancia del Hotel Santander, y a pocos pasos del Capitolio, inspirado en el edificio Capitolio de EE.UU. y ahora el hogar de la Academia de Ciencias Cubanas. A pocos minutos del Museo del Ron y El Museo del Chocolate, es el lugar más conveniente para almorzar, explorar intereses culinarios, y visitar los otros sitios de la ciudad. También es perfecto para un encuentro agradable de un grupo, pareja, o familia al final del día. Por supuesto, está disponible para eventos privados, así como para cenas informales.

Este esfuerzo es un ejemplo del nuevo movimiento en el crecimiento económico y de la propiedad personal que está ocurriendo hoy en Cuba bajo el gobierno de nuestro vecino del sur.

La cocina de primer nivel en calidad y porciones, se basa en las tradiciones cubanas, tanto el personal y los propietarios tienen décadas de experiencia en la cocina, restaurantes y hoteles de negocios a través de toda la isla.

El menú regularmente consiste en platos tradicionales cubanos que incluye Ropa Vieja, la langosta y diversos platos de carne de cerdo. La cocina cubana es una mezcla embriagadora de la Péninsula Ibérica, Islas Canarias, y las influencias africanas traídas por muchos inmigrantes que llegaron a la isla a lo largo de los siglos. Los precios son razonables, ninguno excede los $20 dólares EE.UU. Boaz tiene un bar bien surtido que incluye lo mejor del ron cubano y bebidas mezcladas que podría satisfacer hasta al mismo Hemingway. Para los que tienen otros gustos, Single Malt whiskys (de un sólo malta), cervezas nacionales e importadas y bebidas no alcohólicas están también disponibles.

Boaz Hostal - Restaurant
Inquisidor No. 508 E/ Luz y Acosta
La Habana Vieja, Cuba
Telef. (+537) 8623821
Somos Parte de la Historia de Cuba

Friday, April 5, 2013

Rough Ashlar No. 8

A matter of a simple statement poorly understood.

We have a situation today where in various obediences, many people, among them even a few with good intentions, maintain that the "ancient landmarks" claim that one must believe in God, and as we have seen unfortunately of late, some go so far as to further interpret that to mean "my version of God."

In fact, the 1723 constitutions which have been used as a justification for this interpretation and subsequently quite literally, 21st century witch hunts, says nothing of the sort. What Anderson did say was:

 "A Mason is Obliged by his Tenure, to obey the moral law, and if I Rightly Understand the Art, I will never be a stupid Atheist nor an irreligious Libertine. But though in ancient times Masons Were charged in every country to be of the religion of That Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet it is now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that religion in which all men agree, leaving private Their Opinions to Themselves: that is, to be Good men and True, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denomination or Persuasion They may be distinguished, whereby Masonry Becomes the Centre of Union and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons That must have Remained at a perpetual distance."

After a number of very free reinterpretations of his words by various sources, in masonic institutions whose members, especially in the case of Ireland, were engaged in what amounted to sectarian warfare,  at times intellectually and at others with guns, we end up with the constitutions of the United Grand Lodge of England. Along the way, some injudicious editor, or perhaps political schemer, changed the wording from "if I rightly understand the art, I will never be a stupid atheist, etc." to "if He rightly understand the art, He will never be a stupid atheist, etc." That represents a small editorial change but one with vast implications for the scope and interpretation of intent.  We thus end up with a highly political, negotiated, and to my mind severely compromised version which states:

A Mason is obliged by his tenure, to obey the moral law, and, if rightly understands the Art, will never be a stupid atheist nor an irreligious libertine. He, of all people, should understand that God does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. A Freemason, therefore, in particular, will never be forced to act against his conscience. Let a man have the religion or worship you can, and not be excluded from the order provided he believes in the glorious Architect of heaven and earth, and practice the sacred duties of morality.

By charting the changes, from what once was the personal opinion stated by Anderson with a minimal requirement for ethical behavior squarely positioning religious belief to be a private concern of the mason,  to an inviolable rule with a very different implication in the constitution of the UGLE, we can see 18th Century English social and religious politics in action.

Really, why should any mason be ruled by the poor interpretation of one man's expression of personal opinion? Anderson said that if he understands the art rightly he will never be a stupid atheist nor an irreligious Libertine. However, he also states quite clearly that the only religion the fraternity requires is that a mason be good and true, or of honor and honesty and on the subject of religious affiliation that they "keep their opinions to themselves."

Seems to me that however much the followers of the UGLE dislike it, the correct interpretation comes from the GOdF and not the UGLE. 

NB: As masons, if Anderson was correct, my religious views are none of your business. For the record though, I am neither a stupid  atheist nor an irreligious libertine.  I will note that there can and are intelligent atheists and religious libertines. Now, those who object to the use of reason, and who are mired in more negative and rigid worldviews will define Libertine as "one devoid of most moral restraints, which are seen as unnecessary or undesirable, especially one who ignores or even spurns accepted morals and forms of behaviour sanctified by the larger society. "  However, a more accurate interpretation is "one who is a freethinker especially in religious matters." It should go without saying that just because a particular moral position is sanctified by the larger society does not make it correct. At one time, the larger society even sanctified slavery.

I have friends who are atheists, and though I disagree with them, and view them as unenlightened on matters of the spirit, I have no qualms about sitting at lodge with them. Like, Anderson, I believe that if I rightly understand the art I will never be an atheist nor irreligious. I also think that by admitting an atheist to my lodge, I open the door to his gaining a different view, should he or she so be inspired by a personal understanding of the art. However, like Anderson, in relation to my fellow lodge members, I am wise enough to keep my opinion to myself. To do otherwise is simply not masonic. 

As for myself, some might consider me to be a religious libertine, as opposed to an irreligious one. Who am I to disagree?

Gracias a Victor Guerra por las ideas metido aquí.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Robert W. Service: A famous if Brief Mason

Robert W. Service. (1874-1958)

Robert W. Service was a sometimes successful bank employee who longed for a more romantic life, as a cowboy or gold miner, a Master Mason, and a poet.

Thankfully for all of us, he was bored by his job, because this set the stage for the blossoming of a poetic talent that has delighted people for generations. I am only sorry that he was another one of the literary characters to die just a little too soon for me to have contacted.  Ella Young, the Irish writer and revolutionary was another.

According to  Jim Bennie of Lodge Southern Cross No. 44, Brother Robert William Service was born in Preston, England on January 16th, 1874 to Robert Service, a Scottish bank clerk and Emily Parker, the daughter of an English factory owner. He was the first of ten children. 

It was in Kilwinning, at age 6 in 1880, Robert offers the blessing at supper on the occasion of his birthday; his first recorded poem. 

God bless the cakes and bless the jam; 
Bless the cheese and the cold boiled ham. 
Bless the scones Aunt Jeannie makes, 
And save us all .from belly-aches. Amen 

Myth surrounds Robert W. Service, in part I think because the people who love his poems want to believe that he was larger than life, just like the characters he presented in his poetry. In fact, he spent most of his life in the banking business, and not as a tycoon. He did eventually coral a successful writing career, and in the early 20th century was able to earn enough from the success of his books to become financially independent. His poetry was wildly successful. According to Sharon Smulders in "Studies of Canadian Literature," (2005) Service eventually earned $100,000 from "Songs of a Sourdough." That would have been a far more significant amount at the time than it appears today. His most famous works were "The Shooting of Dan McGrew," "The Cremation of Sam McGee," and "The Call of the Wild."

Service's Cabin in the Yukon

He travelled to Europe, making himself enemies in Soviet Russian and in Hitler's Germany because of his biting satire while he lived in Brittany. He eventually was forced to return to Canada, returning after the war to Europe. ending up in 1946 in Monte Carlo where he spent the remainder of his life.

His masonic career was apparently brief and relatively uneventful. He had ties to Kilwinning, but only went as far as Fellow Craft, at least according to the written record, and that was with Yukon Lodge, No. 45, in Dawson, where the cabin in which he lives has been maintained as a landmark.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Rough Ashlar No. 7

Why has Freemasonry seemed to forget all its positive traditions - esotericism, hermeticism, universal spirituality, personal as opposed to institutional charity, self reflection, love of education? Where has the willingness to take personal risks, to be at the forefront of changing society for the better, being the leaders of social change rather than being the conservative rear guard, supporting cosmopolitanism as opposed to provincialism gone? Why does it seem intent on embracing and fighting to maintain all of its intellectual shortcomings in the name of "tradition?"

Such shortcomings include racism, sexism, and sectarian bias.

There is still time to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. It only takes courage and the ability to remember what Freemasonry was founded to be, rather than what it has been allowed to become. I'd like to think that Freemasons are capable of such change.