Another New Blog on the Block.

•February 21, 2007 • Leave a Comment

I got a note from this fellow traveler the other day.

As direct as it can get, this brother is true to his heart and open in what he feels and says. I look forward to reading his growth in Freemasonry and in his knowledge of it.

When you have the time, I suggest checking him out.

Tidings from the West

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The On-Line Freemason

•February 18, 2007 • 3 Comments

A new blog I wanted to mention that I stumbled across today.

The theme is a common one to the on-line masonic community who realized a while back that Freemasonry is not well represented on line and, that in the process of searching for good information, more negative than positive floats to the top.

Greeting to you brother Bondi. I hope the On-Line Freemason casts its light far.

Oprah and the secret of "the Secret"

•February 18, 2007 • 5 Comments

My wife TiVo’s Oprah, and on occasion I watch it with her at night when we get home from work. It just so happened that on February 8th, she had a panel of speakers who were there to do their best to plug the profundity of The Secret“, a new on-line film/DVD that proclaims to reveal centuries hidden knowledge in the span of a 90 minute motivational speech.

After watching the original episode of Oprah on the 8th and her follow-up on the 17th (where the “O” did some fancy dancing to the “no this isn’t an anti Christian message” song), I had to admit that I felt compelled to see exactly what the secret was really about.

And after watching it tonight, I’ll be damned, the message it presents is pretty spot on.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Probably some new age hocus-pocus or some motivational speakers saying you have the power to do what you want (which is was in many ways), but this video took it step further. It said something I have been saying (and doing) for a while now though my own sort of personal discovery of all things Masonic. The message was that we (people) are a part of the God conscious universe, and that our energy resonates with the rest of the universe, and that this energy, when harmonized, has the potential of ANYTHING, good or bad. This harmonic energy is what we put out into the universe also attracts back to us, depending on what we think, feel, desire, wish, or pray for. And our attitudes contribute to what we get in return.

From the Masonic perspective, the degrees of masonry illustrate our ascension into this thought. That, as we are initiated into this ideation and taught how to interpret from what we learn our ultimate step, the placement at the doorway of God, the inner chamber of K.S.T. Our thoughts attenuated to this celestial divine, not without as some external force, but within, as our own manifestation of that Creative Force. We, widow’s sons, are the creators of our universe.

The philosophy in The Secret” should be simple to understand by any Freemason who watches it. Even simpler now that it has been broken down to its barest components, which are: “Know Thy Self”, and “Follow Your Bliss”. With these two axioms, you can control your universe.

For those wondering though, where the producers came up with this Secret Teaching, they give you glimpses at the beginning alluding to their origins, The Knights Templar, Rosicrucian’s, The Romans, the Egyptians, and so one…But there may be some true point of origin here. Out of Hermetica, there comes a myth, the myth of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus. On this tablet were written 13 points of wisdom and these points create the foundation of transformative thought.

The 13 points of the tablet are:

  1. The truth, certainty, truest, without untruth.
  2. What is above is like what is below. What is below is like what is above. The miracle of unity is to be attained.
  3. Everything is formed from the contemplation of unity, and all things come about from unity, by means of adaptation.
  4. Its parents are the Sun and Moon.
  5. It was borne by the wind and nurtured by the Earth.
  6. Every wonder is from it 6a. and its power is complete.
  7. Throw it upon earth, 7a) and earth will separate from fire. The impalpable separated from the palpable.
  8. Through wisdom it rises slowly from the world to heaven. Then it descends to the world combining the power of the upper and the lower.
  9. Thus you will have the illumination of all the world, and darkness will disappear.
  10. This is the power of all strength- it overcomes that which is delicate and penetrates through solids. 11a) This was the means of the creation of the world.
  11. And in the future wonderful developments will be made, and this is the way.
  12. I am Hermes the Threefold Sage, so named because I hold the three elements of all wisdom.
  13. And thus ends the revelation of the work of the Sun.

From these points you can learn the secret.

The one thing I don’t agree with necessarily is that “The secret”, as “the Secret” calls itself, is still only wisdom for those who care to know about it. The owners of “the secret” didn’t hide it. It has been alive and vital in the mystery schools of antiquity for eons, all anyone has to do to gain the secret is just ask…

Maybe, as in ages past, this is the new mode of transference. This is how the secret teachings of the ages are to be communicated to the masses, to merge with our subconscious and manifest into our daily life, so it is never forgotten again.

Either way, I do recommend giving “the Secret” a watching if you have the time, I found it a great reinforcement of my Masonic principals and ideas.

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Intuitive Symbols

•February 17, 2007 • 1 Comment

I ran across this article this morning. Its from a few days back, so I must of been asleep at the wheel…

My brother at Prosperos Books found an article in Scientific American about child development and symbolic thinking. Some of the interesting points he made from it were that Symbolic thinking is a Hallmark of being human, that errors are common, and understanding a symbols both requires seeing it as itself and as depicting something else. It strikes me as a dimensional understanding something.

I think I may have to track this article down…

New Face To Brother George

•February 12, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Something new is afoot at the U.S. Mint.

Not a paper printing snafu, or a overrun of green ink. It seems that the U.S. Mint, Seven years from the introduction of the Sacajawea dollar coin, and twenty-five years following the Susan B, Anthony coin, has decided to release the dollar coin again, only this time starting with the image of our founding President, George Washington.

The program is planned, like the state quarter program, to release 4 coins a year with representations of the US Presidents, as they held office up to 2016 and Richard Nixon. The first series is set to represent Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison; all set for release this year, starting with Br. George’s this coming Thursday.

I think this is a very cool series, and look forward to collecting them, as I did with the Quarters. Funny thing with the quarters, I only recently got into it with my son’s and as we dug through piggy banks and loose change jars, I realized how much fun it really was.

This may be a fun way to collect the presidents, and even a separate Masonic series of president coins.

Cool thing on the Mint site is that they recall that

“President Washington himself laid the cornerstone for the United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C., on September 18, 1793.”

I may try and go out Thursday to see if I can find one.

THE POLITICS OF FREEMASONRY

•February 10, 2007 • 8 Comments
Reprinted from Freemason Information

Theodor Seuss Geisel, 1904-1991

THE POLITICS OF FREEMASONRY

by W:.Tim Bryce, PM, MPS
timb001@phmainstreet.com
Palm Harbor, Florida, USA
“A Foot Soldier for Freemasonry”

“Evil (ignorance) is like a shadow – it has no real substance of it own, it is simply a lack of light. You cannot cause a shadow to disappear by trying to fight it, stamp on it, by railing against it, or any other form of emotional or physical resistance. In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must shine light on it.”

– Shakti Gawain

For a society that is supposed to be devoid of politics, Freemasonry seems to have more than its fair share. We see it in Grand Communications, in Masonic elections, and whenever we walk in the door to a Craft Lodge. Man is by nature a social and political animal fraught with frailties and insecurities such as ambition, jealousy, suspicion, and hate. As Masons, we are taught to subdue our passions and do what is right for Freemasonry collectively, but as long as we have egos, we’ll always have politics. From this perspective, Masons are no different than the members of any other society.

I believe there are a couple of reasons for the rise of politics in Freemasonry; first, there is a general lack of trust and loyalty in today’s society where you are recognized more for rugged individualism as opposed to team effort. Consequently, there is more of a natural inclination to compete as opposed to cooperate. Although the spirit of Freemasonry is to work collectively, many of us have difficulties subduing the attitudes of the outside world when we enter the Lodge.

Second, as our membership declines, many are beginning to panic over the fraternity’s future. And instead of trying to work collectively to change this situation, we are divvying up sides as to who has the true faith to perpetuate the fraternity, the traditionalists or the reformists. Whereas a traditionalist tends to be unbending, the reformist seeks to change the status quo. True, certain traditions need to be observed in Freemasonry, but not at the expense of losing touch with a changing world. But it is this polarization that is fueling the politics of Freemasonry at all levels. The reality, of course, is that we need a careful balance of both traditions and reforms; you simply cannot have one without the other.

For example, consider some of the religions of the world who are considered out of step with the times. Critics scoff at some of their customs and beliefs. But hard-line traditionalists claim they have the true faith and everyone else is an infidel. Reformists, on the other hand, see the traditionalists as barbaric and believe they have a more contemporary perspective on their religion. Politics at this level is about who has the dominant ideologue and seeks control. We see this in government (conservatives versus liberals), religion, and Freemasonry. And it is at this level that politics turns vicious and is at its ugliest. For example, we scheme, plot and undermine in order to subvert and control the environment.

Thanks to the Internet, I hear many tales of woe over what is going on in both Craft and Grand Lodges. Some of it is very disturbing, but most of it comes down to petty politics. A lot of it is so bizarre, it would probably curl your hair. Frankly, I classify most of it under what I call “Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.” Instead of what we should be doing as Freemasons, we tend to play games of one-upmanship.

Masonic politics is typically at its ugliest during elections when Brothers are charged with un-Masonic conduct for “electioneering.” I find this all rather amusing as I believe our process for electing officers is far from perfect. Further, I don’t think I have ever seen a Lodge election where there isn’t some form of politics involved. As a small example, when I was running for the East at my Lodge, there was a full-court press by traditionalists to keep me out (which I overcame). Nevertheless, instead of admitting there is electioneering in Lodges, we pretend it doesn’t exist.

What concerns me more these days is when Masonic politics turns dirty, which I refer to as the “dark-side” of the fraternity and something we do not like to discuss. For example, I know of a Worshipful Master and Treasurer who were removed from office by a Grand Master after they were accused of misappropriating money from a Brother they helped put into a Masonic Home. A couple of Masons from their Lodge, who shared no Brotherly love for the officers, started a campaign to oust the officers over this alleged infraction. First, they were able to bend the ear of the Grand Master who, acting upon their hearsay, removed the Lodge officers. Second, Masonic charges were brought against the former officers who were able to successfully refute them (the Lodge voted to drop the charges). And Third, criminal charges were filed against the officers and a nine month investigation ensued by local police investigators. In the end, the police dropped all of the charges and the Lodge officers were completely exonerated of any wrongdoing. Regardless, they were still ousted by the Grand Master who refused to apologize to the officers for his actions.

Now the big question, “Why was this done?” The accusers had a deep-seated resentment over the Lodge officers who reformed the Lodge and, in the process, overturned some of the Lodge’s traditions, many of which were enacted years ago by the accusers. But instead of confronting the officers with their concerns, they circumvented protocol and went straight to the Grand Master and the police. Bottom-line: this had nothing to do about a Brother being cheated out of anything, but rather a clever ruse to seek retribution for other issues. The result was that the Lodge suffered due to the political upheaval (e.g., members started going to other Lodges), and the officers who, up until now, had unblemished records, saw their Masonic reputations go into the toilet. Even worse, here were two hardworking Masons who became so disenchanted with the fraternity, they left it. All because of politics.

Such stories of Masonic politics makes one wonder why there isn’t a separate judicial branch in Freemasonry to prohibit such shenanigans from happening. Instead, jurisprudence and penal affairs fall under the authority of the Grand Master. Inevitably, I suspect we will be plagued with politics for quite some time.

We join Freemasonry for a lot of different reasons, one of which is that we might find a forum where we will be honestly and fairly treated “on the level.” There is enough contention in the world without having to add another layer. Consequently, politics has an adverse effect on membership and attendance. Want to drive people away from Lodge or inhibit participation? Bring on the politics.

There is an old expression in psychology whereby, “You cannot treat a patient if he doesn’t know he is sick.” Perhaps the best way to address Masonic politics is to stop kidding ourselves that it doesn’t exist. We would all like to believe Freemasonry is above the fray of politics, but we’re not. After all, we’re only human and, as such, politics is a natural part of human life. Once we admit this, we can then devise suitable rules and regulations today’s Masons are more familiar with and promote how to best work and best agree.

Keep the Faith.
NOTE: The opinions expressed in this essay are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of any Grand Masonic jurisdiction or any other Masonic related body. As with all of my Masonic articles herein, please feel free to reuse them in Masonic publications or re-post them on Masonic web sites (except Florida). When doing so, please add the following:

Article reprinted with permission of the author and
“FreeMason Information”

Please forward me a copy of the publication when it is produced.

I had wanted to see this happen…

•February 8, 2007 • 1 Comment

It seems Layfayette-Greylock lodge has a ghost. Several even.

At some point I had heard about this lodge being haunted, but I can’t remember from where or when. It was a television show that walked cameras around, with people pointing to vague blury spots on far walls to see all the spooky things, but it wasn’t a big show. Essentially they said Layfayette-Greylock Masonic Lodge, under the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, was haunted.

But it looks like things haven’t changed. Its still haunted, and has a bit of a following now, even its own resident ghost hunters, the Berkshire Paranormal Group (who’s members happen to be lodge members). But now, the Ghost Hunters, from the Sci-Fi channel are coming to town.

I’m not usually a shameless plug guy, but

  1. I’m a Mason, and
  2. I watch Ghost Hunters.

And the two combined, just puts me into television Nirvana.

But this is about the local appearance, so I wonder if they will cut a show on it?

But for these interested about the lodge, it seems that the haunting’s of this came from well before the square and compass came to rest there.

Said of the house:

There are mixed versions of this story, but I believe the following is a pretty accurate account. In the early 1900’s, the mansion was the residence of North Adams’ first mayor, Albert C. Houghton and his family. Four deaths are associated with the mansion, all occurring within just 11 days of each other. On August 1st, 1914 the Houghton’s chauffeur, John Widder, was driving Albert Houghton, his daughter Mary and a family friend, Sybil Hutton to Vermont in the family’s Pierce Arrow. They came upon a road crew on a mountain road, so Widders swerved to the edge of the road to avoid them. The vehicle hit a soft shoulder and rolled violently down a steep embankment.

Sybil died at the scene and Mary died enroute to the hospital. Both John Widders and Mayor Houghton suffered minor injuries. The chauffeur was deeply depressed and highly emotional. The following day, in the early morning hours, Widder was found dead in a barn behind the Mansion. He had committed suicide by shooting himself with a pistol. Mayor Houghton died just 9 days later…some say because of overwhelming despair.

Happy hunting. I hope they find something.