Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fiat Lux!: Let there be light.

Rediscovering Masonic Light

The York Rite includes the famous and evocative statement, "I beg you to observe that the Light of a Master Mason is Darkness Visible." Recently I have had a number of thought provoking discussions with a mason whose goal in life is to emulate the legendary Dutch boy who put his finger in the dyke to save his town from being inundated by the sea.

This brother seems to think no innovation has occurred in the fraternity since the Pharoah Narmer created the whole kit and kaboodle in two days; we mustn't have any talk of one day events, here! We must keep everything pure and unadulterated, no innovation, and God forbid, no change. Also, there is only one form of Freemasonry and even the smallest variation is a sin. And oh, we never advertise. I daresay, he'd rather the entire fraternity disappear than be one iota different than it is in his imagination.

Well, fortunately for us, this has not always been the view held by our brethren. In 1923, a Packard auto dealership in L.A. purchased the first commercial neon signs from Georges Claude. We don't know when or where the first use of neon signs by a Masonic Lodge occurred, but we know that for decades they were extremely popular. Neon signs have made darkness visible in front of lodges across the nation for more than half a century, shamelessly! Dare we say it, they advertised the presence of the fraternity for all to see, even in darkness.

Here are just a small handful that I found. In an effort to share the light, I offer them to you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. More than that, I hope they serve to remind all Masons, whatever obedience they may belong to, that we must not ask whether we are allowed to share our light in innovative ways, but that if we fail to do so, we will indeed make our darkness visible for all to see.

Fiat Lux!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Conference: The Source of Masonic Symbols: The Western Esoteric Tradition.

Aux sources des symboles maçonniques : la tradition ésotérique occidentale

A Conference to be delivered by Jan Snoek this Tuesday, February 28 as part of Gremme will be devoted to exploring the sources of Masonic symbols, shedding new light on specific elements of the symbolic construction of and naming of different degrees.

Conference Summary: The study of "Western esotericism" as a scientific discipline, including astrology, Neoplatonism, Gnosticism, alchemy, Kabbalah, hermeticism, the cult of Astrea, Rosicrucianism, or the occult in the nineteenth century. Freemasonry is also included. Although all these currents are distinct, their founders were still scholars familiar with the literature produced by earlier movements. Thus, we find many traces in Freemasonry. In this lecture, Professor. Snoek will give examples of symbols and methods characteristic of Freemasonry, whose sources are probably to be found in the movements discussed above as the perfection of oneself (Neoplatonism), the cubic stone (alchemy), the how to spell sacred words (Christian Cabala), or the revival of the golden age under the reign of Astraea (Astraea worship).

Dr. Jan Snoek, Ph.D. (1987) in the Sciences of Religions, University of Leiden (The Netherlands), is attached to the Institute for the Sciences of Religions at the University of Heidelberg (Germany), and published widely about the development of masonic rituals. With Jens Kreinath and Michael Stausberg he published Theorizing Rituals (two volumes), Brill 2006 & 2007, and with Alexandra Heidle Women’s Agency and Rituals in Mixed and Female Masonic Orders, Brill 2008.

When: Tuesday, February 28 at 18h
Where: at CIERL, 17 av. F. Roosevelt, 1050 Brussels
Admission: Free admission, no reservations
Information: Anna Maria Vileno avileno@ulb.ac.be

Jan Snoek studied Religious Studies at Leiden (Netherlands). After his PhD he was devoted to the history and development of Masonic rituals. It is in this context that he published some eighty articles. In 1996, the ULB conferred on Prof. Snoek The Chair of Théodore Verhaegen. Since 2000 he is professor at the Institute of Religious Sciences at the University of Heidelberg (Germany). In 2009 he was appointed Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Wales, Lampeter. Recently, he published: Einführung in die Westliche Esoterik, für Freimaurer (Introduction to Western Esotericism, for Freemasons), Zürich 2001. Soon appear on his book "Rite of Adoption" (in English by Brill in January 2012 and French in Dervy in September 2012).


Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Story of the Scottish Rite Lodge of New Orleans

The Story of the Scottish Rite Lodge of New Orleans
Edited by Gerry L. Prinsen
Introduction by Michael R. Poll


For many years in the mid to late 1800's, and in all of the classic Louisiana Masonic history books of the time, it was believed and written that no Freemasonry existed in New Orleans before the creation of Perfect Union Lodge #1 and Etoile Polaire Lodge #1 in the 1790's. Then came a startling discovery in an old lodge in France. Records of an unknown Freemasonry in New Orleans much earlier than the 1790's changed the known history of Freemasonry in Louisiana. This is The Story of the Ecossais Lodge of New Orleans.

Unlike other editions, this edition contains a photographic reproduction of the original handwritten French text, a French transcription and an English translation. Published in association with the Louisiana Lodge of Research.

Part of the Cornerstone Scottish Rite Education Series

Published by Cornerstone Book Publishers under the dedicated eye of Bro. Michael R. Poll.

A sample chapter can be viewed at http://www.cornerstonepublishers.com/lodgeno.pdf

The Hedge Mason believes in giving recognition where it is due, and I believe few have done more to advance the publication of thought provoking and worthy Masonic titles in the US in the 21st Century than has Bro. Michael Poll. Let it be duly noted that the Hedge Mason gets no favors nor remuneration for highlighting any title or work. I haven't even gotten a free copy of any book I mention here, and I have bought most of them.

Mystères Vaudou: Divinities Loas

Mystères Vaudou: Divinities Loas
A Photographic Exhibition

For the tenth anniversary of its opening, La Cantada II is placing itself under the sign of Vodou. The start of the festivities will be marked by an exceptional group show entitled "Vodou Mysteries," which brings together the work of twenty photographers. They will present the core interpretation of the Loas(spirits, angels, entities) of the Voodou pantheon or Haitian Creole religion and you will discover the many facets of the beautiful and sometimes dangerous Erzulie, spirit of love, the disturbing Dantor Ti Jean, fierce spirit, Gran Bwa, the spirit of the forest or Labalenn, Nibo Guede, the Marassa Twins, Baron Samedi ... With photographers: Isaure Anska, Nico Arach, Phylida Dolohov, Elizabeth, Roman Fournier, Christophe Guerin, Soizic Hess, Severine Jambot, Klomoh, Olivier Lelong, Chloe Lynn Dah, Caz In The Machine, Sandrine Mercier, Nicolas Meunier, may Rohrer, Stephane Roy, Lizzie St. in September, Julie Salvain, THN Thierry, Lily Von Venus, and Dorianne Wotton The exhibition (which will last two months) will begin with an opening designed as a Vodou service, with a special Vodou playlist of performances throughout the evening. You can enjoy the vévés (symbolic drawings) of each Spirit represented, painted on the floor of the Cantada. A booklet showing the different deities photographed will also be published and distributed. Opening January 13 at 7:30 pm.

Cantada II
13 Rue Moret , 75011 Paris, France

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Initiating Women in Freemasonry: The Adoption Rite

Initiating Women in Freemasonry: The Adoption Rite
By Jan A.M. Snoek

Freemasonry is generally regarded a male phenomenon. Yet, both before 1723 and since 1744, women were initiated as well. This book is about the rituals, used for the initiation of women in the Adoption Lodges, since the middle of the 18th century. It describes their contents, roots and creation before reviewing and conceptualising their development in the past three centuries. It analyses the different families of rituals within the Adoption Rite, and gives an overview of specific developments, showing how the rituals were adapted to their changing contexts. Apart from its relevance for the history of Freemasonry in general and the Adoption Rite in particular, the book also writes a hitherto unknown chapter of women’s history. Of particular interest for the history of feminism is the chapter about the 20th century, which could only be written now that the documents concerning it, which had been moved to Moscow in 1945, had been returned in 2000.

Dr. Jan Snoek, Ph.D. (1987) in the Sciences of Religions, University of Leiden (The Netherlands), is attached to the Institute for the Sciences of Religions at the University of Heidelberg (Germany), and has published widely about the development of masonic rituals. With Jens Kreinath and Michael Stausberg he published Theorizing Rituals (two volumes), Brill 2006 & 2007, and with Alexandra Heidle Women’s Agency and Rituals in Mixed and Female Masonic Orders, Brill 2008.

What can we say about Brill as a publisher? They amaze us constantly for the unique subjects of the material they select, the quality of their authors, and their outrageously steep prices, even for academic publishers. The SRP for this title is $237.00, a bargain at $2.30 per page.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Real Valentine's Day Story

Now, this is a true love story, and one which everyone should stand in awe of.

Mildred Jeter was of African American and Native American descent, and Richard Loving was a white man. The couple met when she was 11 and he was 17. He was a family friend and years later they began dating. They lived in Virginia, where interracial marriage was banned by the Racial Integrity Act of 1924. When Mildred was 18 she became pregnant, and the couple decided to marry in June 1958. They traveled to Washington, DC to do so.

The Virginia Racial Integrity Act of 1924 criminalized marriages between white and non-white persons. After the Lovings' return home to the tiny town of Central Point in Caroline County, they were arrested at night by the county sheriff, who had received an anonymous tip. The Lovings were charged under Virginia's anti-miscegenation law with "cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth."

The Lovings pled guilty and were convicted by the Caroline County Circuit Court on January 6, 1959. They were sentenced to one year in prison, suspended for 25 years on the condition that they leave the state. They moved to the District of Columbia. In 1964,frustrated by their inability to travel together to visit their families in Virginia, Mildred Loving wrote in protest to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Kennedy referred her to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU filed a motion on the Lovings' behalf to vacate the judgment and set aside the sentence, on the grounds that the statutes violated the Fourteenth Amendment. This began a series of lawsuits which ultimately reached the United States Supreme Court. On October 28, 1964, when their motion still had not been decided, the Lovings began a class action suit in United States district court. On January 22, 1965, the district court allowed the Lovings to present their constitutional claims to the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Virginia Supreme Court Justice Harry L. Carrico wrote the court's opinion upholding the constitutionality of the anti-miscegenation statutes and affirmed the criminal convictions. (He was later Chief Justice of the Virginia Court.)

The Lovings and ACLU then appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The case, Loving v. Virginia, was decided unanimously in the Lovings' favor on June 12, 1967. The Court overturned their convictions, dismissing Virginia's argument that the law was not discriminatory because it applied equally to and provided identical penalties for both white and black persons. The Supreme Court ruled that the anti-miscegenation statute violated both the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Lovings returned to Virginia after the Supreme Court decision.

Mildred Loving said she considered her marriage and the court decision to be God's work. She supported everyone's right to marry whomever he or she wished. In 1965, while the case was pending, she told the Washington Evening Star, "We loved each other and got married. We are not marrying the state. The law should allow a person to marry anyone he wants."

Many thanks to this remarkable couple!


Where is Saint Valentine?

For those who might be curious about the real Saint Valentine, here's the dirt on where he lies in rest today, and for nearly two hundred years. The information can be found on
the website for the Irish Carmelites. I have lifted a few pertinent comments from their site.

Throughout the centuries since Valentine received martyrdom there have been various basilicas, churches and monasteries built over the site of his grave. Many restorations and reconstructions took place at the site, therefore over the years. In the early 1800s such work was taking place and the remains of Valentine were discovered along with a small vessel tinged with his blood and some other artefacts.

In 1835 an Irish Carmelite by the name of John Spratt was visiting Rome. He was well known in Ireland for his skills as a preacher and also for his work among the poor and destitute in Dublin’s Liberties area. He was also responsible for the building of the new church to Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Whitefriar Street. While he was in Rome he was asked to preach at the famous Jesuit Church in the city, the Gesu. Apparently his fame as a preacher had gone before him, no doubt brought by some Jesuits who had been in Dublin. The elite of Rome flocked to hear him and he received many tokens of esteem from the doyens of the Church. One such token came from Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846) and were the remains of Saint Valentine.
On November 10, 1836, the Reliquary containing the remains arrived in Dublin and were brought in solemn procession to Whitefriar Street Church where they were received by Archbishop Murray of Dublin. With the death of Fr Spratt interest in the relics died away and they went into storage. During a major renovation in the church in the 1950s/60s they were returned to prominence with an altar and shrine being constructed to house them and enable them to be venerated. The statue was carved by Irene Broe and depicts the saint in the red vestments of a martyr and holding a crocus in his hand.

The Shrine to St Valentine is found on the right hand side of the church as one enters the main body of the church. The casket sits beneath the marble altar in a niche which is protected by an ornate iron and glass gate. Above the altar stands the life-sized statue of the saint set into a marble mosaic alcove. The saint is also barefoot. The casket is wooden and on top bears the papal coat of arms of Gregory XVI along with two large gold plates which have the letter of Cardinal Odescalchi inscribed in English upon them. Between these to plates and beneath the papal crest is a smaller plate with the inscription: This shrine contains the sacred body of Saint Valentinus the Martyr, together with a small vessel tinged with his blood.

The Shrine to St Valentine is found on the right hand side of the church as one enters the main body of the church. The casket sits beneath the marble altar in a niche which is protected by an ornate iron and glass gate. Above the altar stands the life-sized statue of the saint set into a marble mosaic alcove. The saint is also barefoot. The casket is wooden and on top bears the papal coat of arms of Gregory XVI along with two large gold plates which have the letter of Cardinal Odescalchi inscribed in English upon them. Between these to plates and beneath the papal crest is a smaller plate with the inscription: This shrine contains the sacred body of Saint Valentinus the Martyr, together with a small vessel tinged with his blood.


Conference: History of Feminine Freemasonry

La Gran Logia Feminina de España is hosting a conference on Thursday, Feb. 16th, 2012, at Club La Provincia c/Leon y Castillo, 39, Las Palmas, under the direction of Ana María Lorente Madina, Gran Maestra de la Gran Logia Feminina de España with a special presentation by Carmen Morales Camino.

The Hedge Mason endeavors to help make North American Freemasons aware of what is happening in other parts of the Masonic world. That is an exposure which is sorely wanting, and we try to serve this need to whatever small degree we may.

Tristram P. Coffin, Folklorist.

Tristram P. Coffin, Folklorist, Dies at 89
Published: February 13, 2012

A version of this article appeared in print on February 14, 2012, on page A18 of the New York edition with the headline: Tristram P. Coffin, Folklorist, Dies at 89.

Tristram P. Coffin, a folklorist who unearthed worlds of meaning in the ordinary rituals of which nearly every American partakes, including holidays, baseball and sex, died on Jan. 31 in Wakefield, R.I. He was 89.

The cause was pneumonia, his family said.

Professor Coffin, a retired member of the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote many books for a popular readership. They include “The Book of Christmas Folklore” (1973), “Uncertain Glory: Folklore and the American Revolution” (1971) and “The Old Ball Game: Baseball in Folklore and Fiction” (1971).

If folklore, as Professor Coffin cheerfully wrote in the introduction to “Our Living Traditions” (1968), a volume he edited, is “a bastard field that anthropology begot upon English,” then he came at the field unequivocally from the English side, mining literature high and low — novels, plays, poems, folk songs — for what it revealed about ritual and belief of all kinds.

Little escaped his scrutiny, from “The Great Gatsby” (Daisy Buchanan, he argued in a 1960 article, is a Jazz Age incarnation of the beautiful, seductive Fairy Queen of Celtic lore) to “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (an evocative scene, he pointed out, centers on the old folk belief that loaves of bread, filled with quicksilver and floated along a river, will locate a drowned body).

Professor Coffin was a particular authority on English, Scottish and American ballads, which together are a glorious narrative riot of love, war, sex, death, jealousy and superstition. These themes, as he said in a 1957 essay, reveal much about the minds and mores of the “folk” who transmit the ballads.

“A ballad survives among our folk because it embodies a basic human reaction to a dramatic situation,” he wrote, adding: “Ballads resemble gossip. They are transmitted like gossip, and their variation comes about in much the way gossip variation occurs.”

Professor Coffin trained his eye not only on word but also on deed: the celebratory rituals and everyday rites that to folklorists are suffused with meaning.

He wrote about holidays, including official ones, like Thanksgiving (possibly descended from Lammas — “loaf mass” — an ancient British festival celebrating the harvest), and unofficial ones, like Groundhog Day (heir to a similar European rite involving a badger).

He wrote about sports, arguing that as depicted in news accounts of the 1910s and afterward, Babe Ruth — with his prodigious public abilities and private appetites — was an archetypal “prowess hero” in the tradition of Paul Bunyan.

In “The Proper Book of Sexual Folklore” (1978), Professor Coffin took on a subject of universal interest, ranging over its manifestations in literature and in games like spin the bottle, in which children began to enact adult social roles.

Tristram Potter Coffin was born in San Marino, Calif., on Feb. 13, 1922, the son of Tristram Roberts Coffin and the former Elsie Potter Robinson. His was a distinguished family: a 17th-century forebear, Tristram Coffin, was among the first settlers of Nantucket.

Tristram P. Coffin received a bachelor’s degree in English from Haverford College in 1943. After wartime service in the Army Air Forces and the Signal Corps, he earned master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied under the distinguished folklorist MacEdward Leach.

Professor Coffin taught at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, before joining the Penn English faculty in 1959. After Professor Leach established the university’s graduate program in folklore in 1962, Professor Coffin held joint appointments in English and folklore.

In the mid-1960s Professor Coffin was the host of “Lyrics and Legends,” a series about folk songs, broadcast nationally on public television.

A resident of Wakefield, Professor Coffin is survived by two sons, Mark T. and Jonathan P., known as Jock; two daughters, Patricia C. Fry and Priscilla C. Widlak, known as Ricki; 11 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His wife, the former Ruth Anne Hendrickson, whom he married in 1944, died last year.

Professor Coffin returned often to his great scholarly love, the Anglo-American ballad. In his academic writings he argued that many ballads, especially those about the death of the hero, had arisen out of narrative obituary verse, a curious type of folk poetry for which he had great affection.

Printed on broadsides and read or sung at funerals, narrative obituary poems flourished in 18th-, 19th- and early-20th-century America. They were graphic, purple and obsessively interested in the particulars, as in this verse from 1910:

The car came rushing down the line,

The motorman saw him, but not in time,

Then quick as a lightning flash, not long,

Which hurled him into the great beyond.

In deference to norms held dear, the like won’t be attempted here.

A version of this article appeared in print on February 14, 2012, on page A18 of the New York edition with the headline: Tristram P. Coffin, Folklorist, Dies at 89.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Conference: Emergence of French Freemasonry in the 18th Century

Conference: Emergence of French Freemasonry in the 18th Century

For the Glory of the Grand Architect of the Universe, the Universal Union of the Modern Rite and the Sublime Council of the Modern Rite for France.

The R:.L:. Santo Eustello and its Chapter are organizing a Conference entitled "The Emergence of French Freemasonry in the 18th Century and the spirit of synthesis which was to be named the principal French Rite" on Saturday 24 March, 2012 at 10:30 in circle of St. John, 164 Chemin Saint Jean du Désert 13005 Marseille, Fr.

Keynote Speaker: Herve Vigier
Grand Inspector General of the Supreme Council of the Modern Rite for France. The conference will be followed by a banquet. The Conference is open to brothers and sisters of all rites and obediences and their non-masonic friends and family.

Participation: 20 Euro (appr. $27)

Reservations must be received before March 20th, 2012, accompanied by payment of 20 Euro per person made out to the order of:

Luigi Sorrento - Résidence la Bastide - A2 - Traverse des Cyprès
13013 - Marseille
Tel: 0601745549

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Following the Count

There is probably no Freemason in history who elicits more interest and simultaneously more controversy than Alessandro di Cagliostro (2 June 1743 – 26 August 1795). The earlier accounts of his life paint him most frequently as at best a person who was less than discreet in his choices of friends, and at worst, himself a scoundrel. It would remain until the end of the 19th Century for biographers to give the accounts, and the documented records a second look. As we give the briefest account of his life, I thought it might be interesting to trace it with images of various buildings in which he was known to live.

Photos included
in this Blog Entry

We see, in order from top to bottom:
a bust of the count;
the street where he was born in Palermo where Casa Cagliostro has been converted into holiday apartments available for rent over the internet;
an ironic use of floor tiling in one of the Casa Cagliostro apartment bathrooms;
a home in which he dwelt in Strasbourg;
another in Paris;
Il Castel di San Leo
Much of the earlier accounts of his life have the feel of legend about them. They are weak on facts, and long on mystical reveries and charges of infamy. In his early life, he was said to have traveled to Egypt where he was initiated in the pyramids themselves. He returned to Italy, lived in France, and England, where he variously was feted by the elite for his wonderful knowledge of Freemasonry and his magical cures. He was implicated (apparently falsely) in the theft of royal jewels, which occasioned his removal to England, and ultimately upon the instigation of his wife, returns to Rome. He fell back on Freemasonry to earn a living, and was arrested by the Inquisition, he and his wife are imprisoned, tortured, and he eventually dies in Castel San Leo, in the Marche region of Italy. His burial site remains undetermined, but the armies of Giuseppe Garibaldi came in a belated attempt to rescue the Count.
When writers in the late 19th century did look anew at his history, a different picture begins to emerge. The Count at the least appears a less dubious character than before. This occurs because apparently many of the respectable elite who knew him spoke only in positive terms and his humanitarian acts toward the destitute and poor are well documented. He is remembered by the Italian peasantry near where he was held captive by the pope and ultimately died, as practically a saint.

It is perhaps no accident, Masonically speaking, that troops loyal to Garibaldi came in search of the Count. Cagliostro was famous for his Rite of Egyptian Freemasonry, and it undoubtedly greatly influenced the development of both the Rite of Memphis and that of Mizraim, which were later to be joined as the Memphis Mizraim. Garabaldi was an initiate of this form of Freemasonry, and modern Italy is the home of the only regular Grand Lodge which includes it among its active inventory of rites.

Modern Esotericism might indeed look different today had the movement chosen to take more inspiration from the documented works and rituals of Cagliostro, than those of the self promoting Crowley. Some actually believe that the Comte de Saint-Germain and Count Cagliostro were one and the same.

If you wish to learn more, there has probably never been another Freemasonry about whom more books have been written. There have even been a few movies, although they are unlikely to leave you very entertained, and most certainly no better informed. The Hedge Mason recommends you investigate the following titles to avoid some of the dross:
Cagliostro and His Egyptian Rite of Freemasonry. Evans, Henry R. NY: MacCoy, 1930.

Cagliostro: The Splendour and Misery of a Master of Magic. Trowbridge, W. R. H. London: Chapman & Hall,1910.

The Last Alchemist: Count Cagliostro, Master of Magic in the Age of Reason. McCalman, Iain. NY: Harper Collins, 2003.

The Masonic Magician: The Life and Death of Count Cagliostro and His Egyptian Rite. Faulks, Philippa, Cooper, Robert L D. London: Watkins, 2008.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

We See Dead People

This was just too juicy to pass up. If you will forgive the bad pun, I have always loved haunting the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. I first became aware of this museum when I was in grade school. Back in the 1950s, the museum produced a television series which aired on Philadelphia's WCAU TV called What in the World.Produced by the Penn Museum, and created by its then director Froelich Rainey, What in the World was a pioneering museum education project during the dawn of the telecommunications age. Penn Museum's Peabody Award-winning popular weekly half-hour television program was first seen in 1951 and which ran for 14 years. By the early 1960s it was one of the oldest programs on television.

Seeing this program every week on television and discovering that I lived only a mile from the place where it was recorded was too much to resist. I begged my older brother to take me there whenever I could get the chance. Fortunately, he often obliged. Later, my first grade school girlfriend's mother worked in the museum gift shop and that was an even better excuse to visit.

When I entered graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, I made weekly visits to the museum and the University's library dedicated to Anthropology which is housed within the museum, as well as taking classes under the auspices of the Dept of Anthropology which occupies an upper floor.

So, when I saw this video "teaser" this morning, I simply could not resist sharing it here. Check it out. And if you are curious, check out the old footage of What in the World, there are a few examples on Youtube and although very dated, they are still worth watching. By the way, the University of Pennsylvania Musuem has an amazing Egyptian collection, including many mummies, and the reconstruction of the throne room of the Merenptah Palace from Memphis, which was sacred to the god Ptah, his consort Sekhmet and the third member of the Memphite Triad, Nefertem.

See the ghostly denizens of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Just perhaps I was a student of one of them. Alas, you will have to travel back in time a few months if you wish to attend the event, which was part of their program for school children, but it is none the less a fun way to introduce people to this wonderful resource. Check out their extensive website, the gift shop, and if you find yourself in Philadelphia, you really must include a visit to this amazing location. The extensive Egyptian collection should fascinate any Freemason, and the mummies will delight the kids if you have them with you.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Lázaro Cuesta Valdés appointed Cuba's new Sovereign Grand Commander

An announcement in Havana has indicated that the new elected Sovereign Grand Commander of Cuba is Lázaro Cuesta Valdés. Mr. Cuesta has previously served on the Commission for External Relations of the Supreme Council of Cuba with Adalberto González Concepción who is the new Lieutenant Grand Commander. Mr. Cuesta occupies a position of importance in the Abacuá society of Cuba and is a founder of "Organising Commission of the Letter of the Year," one of two annual meetings of Babalawos in Cuba to determine the "letra" or letter which indicates the spiritual forces that represent the dominant influences for the year, according to the Afro-Cuban religious community.

It is an auspicious decision for several reasons. This choice unequivocally demonstrates that participation in the religious life which is the dominant faith of the island nation no longer represents an impediment to achieving recognition and positions of authority in the broader institutional life of Cuba. It can only be good for Freemasonry in Cuba, as a man who has the depth of familiarity with the practice of various Afro-Cuban religious institutions that Lázaro Cuesta unquestionably possesses will be uniquely aware of the important role that Freemasonry has played in the evolution of the popular religion and culture of Cuba, and of its historical role in the cause for Cuban independence.

The Hedge Mason is pleased to extend its congratulations and sincere respect to Baba Lázaro from Liberal Freemasonry in the United States.