Monday, January 18, 2016

Alchemical Outlets: The New Business of an Old Science

It occurred to me recently, having seen yet another notice come across my desktop that I had yet to write anything about a specific aspect of Alchemy that is extremely current - that of the Alchemical business.

I have known a few people who dabble in Alchemy and even admit that I fall into that most famous condition, the source of urban legend - knowing someone who knows someone who does it. Thanks to the internet of course, you can encounter everything, even those things which do not really exist. In this case however, I assure, they really do exist.

A new generation has taken it upon themselves to create businesses around their experiments in alchemy. Today, without passing judgement on any of them - for the simple reason that I have not purchased any of their products - I will present a brief notice of several such businesses. I find them all of sufficient interest to be worth sharing with you all. I do hope that some will find them interesting enough to try out their products. They certainly all are interesting and while they are quite different, they all offer captivating presentations of their products.

Without doubt, one of the most interesting of these purveyors of Alchemical substances is a business calling itself Kymia Arts. Of its origins it says, it is

Plant Stone of Artemisia tridentata
"a foundation for alchemical studies and practices. It provides a platform that educates the public on matters of alchemy, truth, consciousness, and nature. The laboratory work of Kymia Arts focuses mainly on metallic alchemy and animal alchemy, but also incorporates small amounts of mineral and herbal alchemy. Kymia Arts was established in 2013 by Avery Hopkins after a decade’s worth of travel, study, and practice in the alchemical arts. Avery makes his intimately crafted alchemical works available to the world through his writings, Laboratory preparations, and personal mentorships."

One of the most interesting items they have posted about on their Facebook page is a plant stone made from Artemisia tridentata.  According to Avery, plant stones have the ability of extracting all three principles of an herb - sulfur, Mercury, and salt - free of heat in just a few minutes. This serves as part of their working shop, but their products include a range of oils and spagyrics, including oils of mercury, silver, and gold as well as a fearsome sounding Coyote Spagyric,  I urge you to visit their site and learn about all their products.


Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab describe themselves as Purveyors of fine esoteric goods, perfumes and potions, and state that their


"scents are unique to Black Phoenix, are all created in-house by Elizabeth Barrial or Brian Constantine, and every single one is hand-blended. We have over fifteen years of experience in the field, and specialize in integrating mythology, archetypes, folklore, poetry, and visual artwork with scent."

Their oils bear names such as Palmyra, Diable en Bôite, and my favorite, Krampus. All are
followed by lengthy quotes from appropriate literary sources and much briefer, but more useful descriptions which assist in determining what they actually consist of and how they smell. Krampus, for example, is described as smelling like "Sinister red musk, black leather, dusty rags, and wooden switches."

Alchemy Lab Supply does not perhaps cloak its website in quite as much art as the previous two, but it is after all, primarily a lab supply company. Of course, it's equipment is geared toward alchemists rather than the average medical of chemistry lab. Still, there is plenty to entertain the imagination to be had in simply looking at the photographs of their products.  I will have to follow up now pretty soon with some information on recent books on the same theme.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Mystery and Benevolence: Masons and Odd Fellows at the American Folk Art Museum

A fascinating and beautiful exhibition of Folk Art related to Fraternal Organizations will be on view at the American Museum of Folk Art in New York from January 21st- May 8th, 2016.

The majority of the art in this exhibit represents works related to both the various Masonic orders and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a religiously and politically independent fraternal order of odd fellows founded in 1819 by Thomas Wildey in Baltimore, Maryland, United States.


The website of the American Museum of Folk Art describes the exhibit in these words:

Enigmatic, evocative, and often simply strange, fraternal references are a rich part of contemporary American popular culture. But the seductive mystique of secret societies, with their cryptic signs, gestures, and arcane rituals, has been inculcated in our American experience since the early eighteenth century. Before the age of mass production, the artist who painted a portrait or embellished a piece of furniture might have also decorated a parade banner, an apron, symbols on a chart, or a backdrop for a fraternal lodge. More important, he or she encoded the ideals of fellowship, labor, charity, passage, and wisdom—the core of fraternal teachings—into the many forms associated with fraternal practice. The iconic art and objects showcased in Mystery and Benevolence relate the tenets of fraternal belief through a potent combination of highly charged imagery, form, and meaning. The exhibition explores the fascinating visual landscape of fraternal culture through almost two hundred works of art comprising a major gift to the American Folk Art Museum from Kendra and Allan Daniel.

Since the American Folk Art Museum opened in 1961, it has focused on the remarkable traditions of art by the self-taught , commonly referred to as Folk Art. It has been a center of scholarship which has sought to educate the public about the creativity of artists with unique talents that have been forged through personal experience rather than one or another form of structured artistic training. The museum considers folk art to reflect the true values of American culture. Its collection includes more than seven thousand artworks dating from the eighteenth century to the present, from portraits and quilts to works by living folk artists in a variety of mediums.

Co-curators: Stacy C. Hollander, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs, Chief Curator, and Director of Exhibitions, American Folk Art Museum, and Aimee E. Newell, Director of Collections, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library. An exhibition catalog will be available.

American Folk Art Museum
2 Lincoln Square
(Columbus Avenue between 65th and 66th Streets)
New York, NY 10023
212. 595. 9533
info@folkartmuseum.org
Admission is free



Friday, January 8, 2016

Black Freemasonry: From Prince Hall to the Giants of Jazz

Black Freemasonry: From Prince Hall to the Giants of Jazz
By Cécile Révauger

Cécile Révauger traces the history of black Freemasonry from the late 1700s through the 1960s. Black lodges were instrumental in helping American blacks transcend the horrors of slavery and prejudice, achieve higher social status, and create their own spiritually-based social structure, which in some cities arose prior to the establishment of black churches.

Pages : 320
Book Size : 6.00 x 9.00
ISBN-13 : 9781620554876
Imprint : Inner Traditions
Release Date : January 02, 2016
Format : Hardcover Book & Kindle
Illustrations : 29 b&w photographs

The history of black Freemasonry from Boston and Philadelphia in the late 1700s through the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement

• Examines the letters of Prince Hall, legendary founder of the first black lodge

• Reveals how many of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century were also Masons, including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Nat King Cole

• Explores the origins of the Civil Rights Movement within black Freemasonry and the roles played by Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois

When the first Masonic lodges opened in Paris in the early 18th century their membership included traders, merchants, musketeers, clergymen, and women--both white and black. This was not the case in the United States where black Freemasons were not eligible for membership in existing lodges. For this reason the first official charter for an exclusively black lodge--the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts--was granted by the Grand Lodge of England rather than any American chapter.

Through privileged access to archives kept by Grand Lodges, Masonic libraries, and museums in both the United States and Europe, respected Freemasonry historian Cécile Révauger traces the history of black Freemasonry from Boston and Philadelphia in the late 1700s through the Abolition Movement and the Civil War to the genesis of the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1900s up through the 1960s. She opens with a look at Prince Hall, legendary founder and the chosen namesake when black American lodges changed from “African Lodges” to “Prince Hall Lodges” in the early 1800s. She reveals how the Masonic principles of mutual aid and charity were more heavily emphasized in the black lodges and especially during the reconstruction period following the Civil War. She explores the origins of the Civil Rights Movement within black Freemasonry and the roles played by Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois, founder of the NAACP, among others.

Looking at the deep connections between jazz and Freemasonry, the author reveals how many of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century were also Masons, including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Eubie Blake, Cab Calloway, and Paul Robeson. Unveiling the deeply social role at the heart of black Freemasonry, Révauger shows how the black lodges were instrumental in helping American blacks transcend the horrors of slavery and prejudice, achieve higher social status, and create their own solid spiritually based social structure, which in some cities arose prior to the establishment of black churches.


http://www.innertraditions.com/black-freemasonry.html

http://www.amazon.com/Black-Freemasonry

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Holiday Wishes

The Hedge Mason wants to offer the very best wishes to all in this holiday season, no matter how you celebrate them, or not! Most of all, we hope to see much more peace in the coming year.




Friday, December 4, 2015

Mainstream US Freemasonry should Follow Scotland's Example

A little holiday cheer. If all the mainstream Grand Lodges in the US would follow Scotland's example and provide the equivalent at all lodge meetings, membership would quadruple overnight.



Grand Master Mason's CHOICE whisky. Produced exclusively for The Grand Lodge of Antient Free & Accepted Masons of Scotland by the Isle of Arran Distilleries this robust 46% proof Single Scotch Malt Whisky is a reflection of the character of Arran Malt Whisky but of Scottish Freemasonry itself! 



Monday, November 23, 2015

American Historical Society Conference Panel, Jan. 2016: Freemasonry: The World’s First Global Social Network


Atlanta, January 7-10, 2016
Global Migrations: Empires, Nations, and Neighbors

Panel: Freemasonry: The World’s First Global Social Network

AHA Session 86
Friday, January 8, 2016: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Room 311/312 (Hilton Atlanta)
Chair:
Richard Berman, Oxford Brookes University
Papers:
Navigating the “Republic of Masonry”: Print Culture in Masonic Communication and Connection in the 18th-Century Atlantic and Beyond
Hans Schwartz, Clark University
Ancients or Moderns? Reflections on the Genesis of American Freemasonry
Richard Berman, Oxford Brookes University
Caliban and the Widow’s Sons: Some Aspects of the Intersections and Interactions between Freemasonry and Afro-Caribbean Religious Praxis
Eoghan Craig Ballard, HistoryMiami Museum & Roosevelt Center for Civic Society and Freemasonry

Comment:
Richard Berman, Oxford Brookes University

Session Abstract
In the 1700s, Masonic lodges and freemasons could be found from the East Indies to the West Indies to the Indian Country of the North American frontier, all across Europe, and throughout the farthest flung colonial possessions of the British, French, and Dutch empires. By the end of the century it had become an important organizing tool and intellectual force in the African Atlantic diaspora as well. Freemasonry was an emergent, self-created social movement of the 18th century Enlightenment which boasted its own faux history, republican ideology, international diplomacy, meta-economy, and extensive organizational structures. Within a few decades of the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717 there were Masonic lodges and grand lodges throughout the Americas, the Caribbean, India and in some parts of Africa. Ideologically and socially, freemasonry connected men across political, ethnic, racial, religions and class borders. It served as a vital fraternal link in the lives of Atlantic seafarers, soldiers, planters and craftsmen and formed a vast network of overlapping networks which greatly impacted social and commercial relations both within and between far flung communities in every corner of the global in which European culture had penetrated.
This panel will seek to explore the role of freemasonry as an international phenomenon, elucidating the nature and implications of the overlapping social, commercial and intellectual networks created by freemasons, white and Black, on both sides of the Atlantic.

ஃ Navigating the “Republic of Masonry”: Print Culture in Masonic Communication and Connection in the 18th-Century Atlantic and Beyond
Hans Schwartz, Clark University

Within a few decades of the foundation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717 the Masonic fraternity could be found from the East to the West Indies to American Indian country and was a major social movement of the Enlightenment throughout Europe and the European colonial world. In a speech before Paris' Lodge of Nine Muses, Benjamin Franklin referred to this international brotherhood as, "The REpublic of Masonry." One of the most fascinating and little understood elements of freemasonry's successful spread is the manner in which masons, often merchants or sea captains, were able to arrive in ports of call from Batavia to Boston and beyond and easily locate the meetings of this "secret" society. This investigation demonstrates how various types of print culture were created or adapted to the purposes of masonic. Specifically, this presentation will focus on Masonic almanacs and lists of lodges printed and distributed by Grand Lodges in Europe and reprinted in a wide variety of pamphlets and books; the use of colonial newspapers, particularly in Boston, the most prominent hub of British Masonry in the Americas to circulate Masonic news and contact information; and the highly detailed Tableaux of the French Caribbean Masonic network centered in Saint Domingue. This will include the use of print culture in the early republic to promote Black freemasonry emanating from Boston. All of these sources were circulated, exchanged, and reprinted in a manner which linked the widespread Masonic networks of Bostonian merchants, French creole planters, and European seafarers.

ஃ Ancients or Moderns? Reflections on the Genesis of American Freemasonry
Richard Berman, Oxford Brookes University

American freemasonry was created in the mould of the Grand Lodge of London & Westminster, later the Grand Lodge of England, and initially reflected the pro-establishment mores of its founders, providing its affluent upper middling members with an exclusive blend of ‘ancient’ ritual, fraternal association and drinking and dining. But from the late 1750s and 1760s, the organization split, a division not based more on social differences that political differences – loyalist against patriot.
Dr Berman’s paper traces the debt American fraternalism owes to the more egalitarian and inclusive Irish form of freemasonry, pushed not only by the Grand Lodge of Ireland but by the more aggressive Antients Grand Lodge, formed in London in 1751 and shaped by London’s Irish diaspora, especially Laurence Dermott, its pioneering and long-serving Grand Secretary and later Deputy Grand Master.
Antients freemasonry became a locus for the aspirational lower middling rather than the incumbent social and political elites, and developed a powerful social and economic function, providing mutual financial assistance and an accessible social infrastructure for those seeking self-betterment. It extended formal sociability beyond the elites to create one of the first modern friendly societies and, in an American context, took over the mantle of revolutionary Enlightenment politics in the upswing to the War of Independence.

ஃ Caliban and the Widow’s Sons: Some Aspects of the Intersections and Interactions between Freemasonry and Afro-Caribbean Religious Praxis
Eoghan Craig Ballard, HistoryMiami Museum & Roosevelt Center for Civic Society and Freemasonry

After Freemasonry spread across Europe in the 18th century, it was inevitable that its influence should reach the Caribbean. Masonic lodges were founded in France's colony of Saint Domingue as early as 1738. It was not long before men of African descent entered the fraternity. Some of these men went on to hold leadership positions in the Haitian Revolution. It was inevitable, given the wide distribution of African inspired religious practice in the Caribbean, that Freemasonry would interact with African religions. Elements of Masonic symbolism reflect back from the graphic systems employed in Haitian Vodou and Afro-Cuban Palo, a religion of Congo origin. Hand gestures and ritual movements in the Asson tradition of Haitian Vodou have been credited with Masonic influence, and significant elements clearly identifiable as being of Masonic origin, comprise parts of the intiation rituals of Quimbisa, a religion of Central African origin in Cuba. Such exchanges do not reflect a single direction. Recently a Grand Commander General was appointed to the Scottish Rite for Cuba, who is a practicing member of the Abakuá, a tradition originating in the Cross River area of Nigeria, and also one of the founding Babalawo's of Cuba's internationally recognized Yoruba annual divination committee, which is viewed as religious guidance on three continents. In Haiti, a Masonic Rite was founded which invokes certain Lwa or spirits of Haitian Vodou, which are recognized throughout the international community of Vodou religious praxis as Masonic spirits. One of Vodou's most iconographic spirits, Baron Samedi, the Lord over the dead, unmistakably combines Masonic regalia with the iconic skull used in the initiatic Chamber of Reflection. Even in Brazil, the temples of Umbanda, a modern Afro-Brazilian faith, are replete with Masonic elements, and it is not uncommon for freemasons in Brazil to also be initiates in Umbanda.

http://www.historians.org/annual-meeting

Panel: Freemasonry: The World’s First Global Social Network

Sunday, November 15, 2015

November 15th: The National Day of Umbanda in Brazil

Many blessings to all my brothers and sisters, and the friends of Umbanda, a religion that despite prejudice responds with joy and love ... A Brazilian religion, a religion that unites three religious cultures found in Brazil: The culture of Africa, the culture of Native Americans,  as well as European spiritualism and Catholicism.

Saravá Umbanda