Thursday, February 28, 2013

Symposium: Charms and Magic in Medieval and Modern Ireland

Roinn na Sean-Ghaeilge/Department of Early Irish
Magic Moments in Maynooth
A Symposium on Charms and Magic in Medieval and Modern Ireland
Saturday 6 April 2013, 9:30-18:00
Iontas Seminar Room


Bernhard Bauer (Universität Wien)  
'Intra-Celtic loanwords in the lexical field of magic'

Jacqueline Borsje (Universiteit van Amsterdam)
'Irish snake and worm charms as export product'

Michael Doherty (University College Dublin)
'Magico-religious cures of farm animals in Ireland?'

Eoin Grogan (NUI Maynooth)
'Taken to the grave - possessions, mementos or charms?'

Barbara Hillers (Harvard University)
''Joint to joint and sinew to sinew': an international healing charm in medieval Irish literature and modern folklore'

Fergus Kelly (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies)
'Early Irish charms for animals'

Rosari Kingston (Skibbereen, West Cork)
'An examination of the therapeutic role of charms and rituals'

David Stifter (NUI Maynooth)
'Towards an understanding of the Early Irish charms in the Stowe Missal (RIA MS 1238 (D ii 3))'

Ilona Tuomi (University College Cork)
'Magic in a manuscript - reading the Early Irish charms in St. Gall MS 1395'

Go rabh míle maith agat ar Marion Gunn fá dtaobh do seo.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Esswe Conference: Western Esotericism & Health

ESSWE 4: The Fourth International
ESSWE Conference,
Gothenburg, Sweden, June 2013 

Western Esotericism and Health

26-29 June 2013, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Issues relating to health (understood in a broad sense) can be seen as an intrinsic part of the field of esotericism, but surprisingly little attention has been given to how health is understood and construed in esoteric discourses. The conference is thus as an attempt to fill an important lacuna in the study of Western esotericism. Suggested topics include (but are not limited to), esoteric notions and discourses on health, sexuality and well-being, "occult" causes for disease, "occult medicine", notions of therapeutic benefits of magic and meditation, alchemical approaches to health, alternative forms of medicine, etc.

Keynote lecturers include:

Peter Forshaw (University of Amsterdam)
James R. Lewis (Tromsø University)
Mark Sedgwick (Aarhus University)
Alison Winter (University of Chicago)

Papers are invited in English. Proposals for 20 minutes’ papers (title and short abstract of approximately 250 words) should be sent to Henrik Bogdan (, with your name and academic affiliation, by January 15, 2013.

Conference Chairman: Henrik Bogdan (University of Gothenburg)

Conference Committee: Egil Asprem, Henrik Bogdan, Per Faxneld, Olav Hammer, Kennet Granholm, Asbjørn Dyrendal and Jesper Aa. Petersen

Conference: Ways of Gnosis

Ways of Gnosis: 
Mystical and Esoteric Traditions
from Antiquity to the Present Time
10-13 April 2013.

All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature
Association for the Study of Esotericism and Mysticism
in collaboration with
Institute "Russian Anthropological School" of the Russian State University for the Humanities (Moscow), the Research Centre for Esotericism and Mysticism at Russian Christian Academy for the Humanities (St. Petersburg), the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE), the Scientific-Educational Centre "Free Philosophical Society"

and supported by
the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE),

International academic symposium

One of the most important elements of mystical and esoteric traditions is the phenomenon of gnosis, defined as prophetic knowledge with soteriological value for its bearers. The gnostic worldview, its symbols and motives can be found in masterpieces of Western art and literature. Over the past two millenniums, Western spiritual culture has been consistently influenced by gnostic thought, and it is now difficult to imagine the history of Western art, literature, science, philosophy and religion without gnosis, that has certain parallels in structure and ideas with some Eastern cultures (for example, India).

The international academic symposium "Ways of Gnosis" plans to examine this phenomenon from different points of view (phenomenological, hermeneutical, and historical); to show its real significance in Eastern and Western mystical and esoteric traditions; to investigate the meeting of worldviews in "Alexandrian gnosis" and the interrelation of "gnostic" currents to each other; to point out the influence of different aspects, symbols, and images of gnostic traditions in daily life; to show the historical continuity of gnostic ideas in the European cultural tradition; to compare different forms of gnosis in Eastern and Western culture; to elucidate different approaches to the phenomenon of gnosis, and, finally, to demonstrate the role of gnostic doctrines in the history of Russian culture.

This symposium brings together two regular conferences previously held separately - "Russia and Gnosis," organized by the Library for Foreign Literature (Moscow) and "Mystic and Esoteric Movements in Theory and Practice," the annual conference of the Association for the Study of Esotericism and Mysticism (ASEM). Thus, the symposium simultaneously hosts the Sixth International Conference "Mystic and Esoteric Movements in Theory and Practice" and the Tenth "Russia and Gnosis" Conference. There will be one joint plenary session and one joint thematic session; however, the two conferences will otherwise have separate programs.

During the symposium, Masonic relics and manuscripts from the Russian collection of the "Museum of Freemasons' Symbols and History" will be exhibited by the "Free Philosophical Society", which will also organize a round-table discussion about "Traditions of Freemasonry and Its Implications for Today". 

Working languages: Russian and English. Translation into English will be provided for those not fluent in Russian.

President of the Organizing Committee: Ekaterina Genieva, Head of the Library for Foreign Literature (Moscow).
Members of the Organizing Committee: ESSWE President Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Amsterdam, Netherlands), Birgit Menzel (Mainz, Germany), Georgy Dergachev (Moscow, Russia), ASEM President Sergey Pakhomov (Saint-Petersburg, Russia), Alexander Petrov (Moscow, Russia), Irina Protopopova (Moscow, Russia), Roman Svetlov (Saint-Petersburg, Russia), Yuriy Zavhorodniy (Kiev, Ukraine), Vadim Zhdanov (Erlangen, Germany). 

Organizing Committee Secretaries: Alexander Rychkov (Moscow, Russia), Kateryna Zorya (Kiev, Ukraine), Darya Lotareva (Moscow, Russia), Yuriy Khalturin (Moscow, Russia).

Postal address:  Nikoloyamskaya St., 1. Moscow, Russia 109189. Library for Foreign Literature, Centre for Religious and Russian Émigré. Symposium "Ways of Gnosis".

Contact E-mail:

Contact phone numbers: +7 (495) 915-79-86, 8-921-384-30-29.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Freemasonry and Reiki

For those of my readers who are not familiar with what Reiki is, a few words of explanation may be in order. Bear with me. Once I've explained what Reiki is, I will turn to discussing the unusual connection it has to Freemasonry. Reiki is what the medical profession calls a CAM. This acronym stands for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. It's a term for those forms of alternative medical treatment that in recent years the allopathic medical establishment has begun to tolerate if not completely embrace. Reiki practitioners call it a system of energetic treatment.

In most states, Reiki has not been regulated by law, and as a result there is no standard certification process for Reiki practitioners. Reiki deals with the energy body, and western medicine has no way of measuring it. While some Reiki practitioners may touch the body during treatments, others do not. Either way, they at most put hands on the body, they do not manipulate the body or muscles as massage  therapists do. Reiki is essentially "healing by the laying on of hands."

Reiki came into this world in the early years of the last century in Japan. Mikio Usui, a follower of the Buddhist and Shinto religions of Japan, developed Reiki originally as a spiritual system but also began using it as a method of energetic, or spiritual healing.  It was eventually brought to the west by Mrs. Hawayo Takata. Mrs. Takata was a Hawaiian native of Japanese heritage. She first encountered Reiki in 1935 while in Japan. She was impressed by the healing she experienced under the Reiki master Chujiro Hayashi and spent a year studying and mastering the techniques. She returned to Hawaii and practiced Reiki there for decades. Virtually all western Reiki traditions ultimately derive from the lineage established in the west by Mrs. Takata.

As recently as 20 years ago anywhere in the west, Reiki meant simply Usui Reiki as taught by Mrs. Hawayo Takata. Not only that, but for decades the number of Reiki masters was kept artificially limited to a small handful due to the way in which Mrs. Takata enforced a rigid system of  initiation with exceedingly high initiation fees of ten thousand dollars. Mrs. Takata died in 1980, and subsequently the tight control over Reiki dissolved, and in addition to a dramatic lowering of prices, information became available demonstrating that Reiki in Japan was somewhat different from what Mrs. Takata had been teaching. In the past dozen years or so, a myriad different forms of Reiki have blossomed. This blossoming has reached the scale of an avalanche, and while nobody has any accurate count, there are today scores of complex Reiki systems and thousands of special focus reiki "attunements" or energetic treatments. Reiki considers that treatments can alter the flow and vibration of the energy of the person and can thereby alter peoples health and spiritual experiences. An entire side of Reiki is more concerned with spiritual issues than with physical therapy.

Over the past year, I have become aware that there are, perhaps not surprising given the dramatic and eclectic nature of the growth of Reiki, several Reiki attunements which have a connection to Freemasonry. Now, admittedly, those who scoff at anything alternative will be quick to dismiss these as simple con artistry, attempting to garner some respect from borrowing some of the aura of Freemasonry.  Let me hasten to note that Reiki has its own following and these systems hardly represent a large share of the focus of Reiki nor do they share a large part of the Reiki market. They are in fact, a perhaps natural development when one realizes that there has been a great deal of interest in Egypt in some schools of Reiki and an entirely separate system of energetic treatment based on ancient Egyptian traditions called Sekhem has been created or rediscovered. Through this, attention was drawn to Hermeticism, and eventually to Freemasonry.

There are a number of Reiki attunements which focus on either historical figures related to Freemasonry, and even to Rosicrucianism and the Templars. Among these are a Reiki attunement associated with John Dee, who although not known to have been a mason, was involved in much the same areas of spiritual and scientific investigation that early Freemasons such as Alias Ashmole were. More concretely in the area of Freemasonry, there is an attunement dedicated to the energetic principles associated with Cagliostro. Among the energies that this attunement maintains it aids, are healing powers, vitality, resilience, purifying the heart, enlightening the mind, Alchemy, Hermeticism, and wisdom.

Another interesting attunement, is called Metatron's Cube Reiki, named after the angel Matatron, this energetic treatment is inspired by sacred geometry. It also claims to provide an attunement and "empowerment" of the Rose Cross. The other attunement directly claiming a connection to Masonic "energies" is one called the Templar Grade Attunement. The description afforded this Reiki energetic treatment says that it represents "a symbol of oneness and the manifestation of...concsciousness into our world." Also, they note that "the Templar Degree is a wonderfully calm and peacefull attunement that is a valuable stepping stone for any Reiki practitioner."

There are other attunements associated with Hermes, and a number of others focusing on Thoth.

While this inevitably will not thrill certain elements of the North American old guard, nor the materialists among us, it should at least afford the skeptics a moment of amusement or bemusement, and the rest may find it of some interest that those engaged in modern forms of spiritual exploration still turn to the craft for inspiration.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Rough Ashlar No. 4


This must be recognized as the most polarizing and foolish argument in all of Freemasonry. Why would  I say this? Well, first of all, the inspirations if not the direct origin of Freemasonry clearly lies in the Pre-Christian traditions of Egypt, the Middle East, and Europe.

Officially, Freemasonry is adogmatic - even "mainstream" Freemasonry claims that the Grand Architect of the Universe, the GAOTU  is a symbolic term which may represent the deity of any religion, or the creative force of the Universe for those who do not care to anthropomorphize their deity.

However, in the late 19th Century, in the heat of the delusional mindset of the "Victorian Error" against which the western world is still struggling, the Anglophone Masonic organization, ever in search of excuses to express their distaste for their French brethren, used the removal of the assertion of a belief in  deity by the GODF to deny them recognition.

Their objection to this change represents a political fiction. If it had the appearance of credibility at the time, it has long since ceased to appear sincere.

There are plenty of Freemasons in the Liberal Obediences who are sincere believers in one or another religion. Although "mainstream" obediences require that their members espouse a belief in a divine creator, it is inconceivable that no mason has ever either intentionally lied about this in order to gain admission to their lodges, or has so sworn in spite of serious private reservations concerning their own beliefs, or who, having later ceased to hold such beliefs, maintained silent concerning their loss of faith out of convenience. Beyond that, it is quite common in all times for people to espouse belief who are fundamentally casual and indifferent to the matter, practicing religion as a social convention alone. Such people will swear a belief in God without having really given the matter any serious thought.

Regardless of all this, the matter is folly. There is no justification for refusing to recognize one or another obedience for matters of individual dogma. Freemasonry is Freemasonry, and given the overall decline of the craft in modern times, we need to seek a more open and accepting approach to other obediences. The only truth behind this is one of callous political self-interest.

Today, in much of the United States, the belief in a supreme deity is an excuse for religious bigotry, intolerance, and most recently, literal witch hunts. While it may be wise to make the belief optional since even Grand Masters are guilty of both misinterpreting it and abusing it to forward their own more narrow beliefs, at the very least it is no excuse for not accepting that other groups exist with an equal right to bear the name "Freemason."

Change is long overdue.

A Piece of Architecture: Grianán Ailleach

Tógadh an ráth seo thart fá 1000 A.D, san áit ina rabh an ráth ársaigh (thart fá 3000 B.C). Deirfear gur thóg an Dagda é. Bhí an Dagda ina riogh ar na Tuatha De Danann. Bhí comhnaigh ar na Uí Neill, Ard Rioghthe na Éireann ann 'sna 5adh h-aois. Ina dhiadh sin bhí comhnaigh ar Chlann Uí Dhomhnaill 'sna Ghrianán. Bhi Clann Uí Dhomhnaill ina gceann urraigh ar Dhún na nGall. De réir na réamhstaire deirfear gur áit adhreachta gréine a bhí sa Ghrianán agus deirfear fósta gur áit geimhriugh Ghráinne, bandia gréine na gCeilteach a bhí ann. Tá Inis Eoghain le feiceáil o thuaisceart na ráithe agus tá radharcanna álainne de Loch Suilibh agus Loch Feabhail uaidh chomh maith. Má tá an aimsir go maith ann, tá cúigear de chondaithe Chúige Uladh le feiceáil ó na h-uchtbhallaigh na Grianána. Tá go leor sgéaltaí béaloideasa ag bainnt le Grianán Aileach. De réir sgéal amháin bheartaigh Niall Frasach (Ard Riogh na hÉireann 743-770 A.D), a rugadh in aice láimhe i bhFathain, bheith ina mhanach nuair a bhí sé sa nGrianán agus is ón láthair seo a d'imigh sé go Mainistir Cholmcille ar Oileán Iodha. Creidtear go seadh gurbh ag Grianán Aileach a bhaist Naomh Pádraig an taoiseach Eoghan sa bhliain 450 AD. Ainmiughadh Inis Eoghain ar an leathinis i ndiaidh an taoiseach sinsireach Eoghan.

This Rath or fortification was built around 1000AD on the site of the ancient rath of about 3000 BC. It is said that the Dagda (Chief Deity of the ancient Irish, lit. Good God) who was the king of the Tuatha de Danann (People of the Goddess Danú). The Uí Neill, High Kings of Ireland in the 5th Century lived here. After that, it became the seat of the Clann Uí Dhomhnaill, who were the rulers of Donegal. According to legend, sun worship was practiced there and also that it was where Gráinne, the Celtic sun goddess hibernated. The Rath overlooks Inishowen to the north, providing a beautiful vista of Lough Swilly and Lough Foyle. On a clear day one can see five of the nine counties of Ulster from Grianán's parapets.

There are many tales associated with Grianán Aileach in Irish folklore. One such tale relates that Niall Frasach (High King of Ireland 743-770AD) who was born at nearby Fathan decided to become a monk at Grianán and that it was from there that he journeyed to Colmcille's monastery at Iona. It is also believed that Eoghan, after whom Inishowen is named, was baptised at Grianán by St. Patrick in 450AD.

The Rath suffered repairs in the 19th Century, and while that served to stave off continued decay, it represented an archeological disaster.
During the excavation work of the 1870s, Bernard documented the discovery of a number of artefacts. Behind a niche in the doorway, a large stone (0.4 metres (16 in) wide) was found. It had a round hole in the centre, 7.6 centimetres (3 in) deep and 3.8 centimetres (1.5 in) in diameter. A rotten piece of wood was found in the hole. Bernard was unable to decipher its use suggesting only that it could have been a sundial.

Bernard discovered many animal bones including sheep, cattle, goats and birds. He found stone items including 'sling-stones', 'warrior's clubs' and a 'sugar-loaf-shaped stone with a well-cut base, 25 centimetres (10 in) long, 38 centimetres (15 in) round base, 36 centimetres (14 in) round centre and 25 centimetres (10 in) round top. The most interesting stone object was 'a slab of sandstone, chequered into thirty-six squares'. Lacy believed it to be some kind of gaming board. Among the miscellaneous items found were a plough socket, an iron ring, some coins and a bead.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Abandoned Glories: An Elks Lodge in the Bronx

One of the unfortunate realities of the 21st Century for Freemasonry is that we are able to find many abandoned lodges throughout the country. As time goes on, the Hedge Mason hopes to present photo-documentation of abandoned lodges throughout the country, or indeed the world. We have spontaneously presented such photos in the past, but it is now a stated intention to do so when they become available to us.  We hope you will share our interest in this subject.

Elks Lodge No. 871 
2050 Grand Concourse at Burnside Avenue
Bronx, New York 10457

The Elks were founded in 1868 as a social club (then called the "Jolly Corks"). It was established as a private club to elude New York City laws governing the opening hours of public taverns. After the death of a member left his wife and children without income, the club took up additional service roles, rituals and a new name. The fifteen members voted 8-7 in favor of the elk over the buffalo. Early members were mostly from the theatre business in New York City. It has since evolved into a major American fraternal, charitable, and service order with more than a million members, both men and women, throughout the United States and the former territories of the Philippines and the Panama Canal.

When founded, membership in the BPOE was denied to blacks. Because of this policy, an unaffiliated, primarily black organization modeled on the BPOE was formed in 1898. This "Improved Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks of the World" (IBPOEW) remains a separate organization to this day. Membership in the BPOE was opened to African Americans in the 1970s

In the early 1900s, Lodge #871 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the Bronx had a membership of over 450 and was one of the largest and most prosperous branches of the Elks order in the metropolitan area. The group had outgrown their quarters in Masonic Hall, on Washington Avenue, and made plans for a larger clubhouse. 

In November, 1908, the lodge purchased a plot measuring 50 by 102 feet on the northeast corner of the Grand Concourse and Burnside Avenue. The new clubhouse had three stories and a sub-story, and there was a roof garden and pergola. Architect James Riely Gordon designed a facade in the Italian Renaissance style, with a base of limestone and light-colored brick and stone timmings above the first story. In the sub-story level were bowling alleys, a rathskeller, and mechanical equipment. On the ground floor were the clubroom, lounging room, billiard room, library, Secretary's room, and a buffet. The lodge room, entered from the second floor level, included a gallery and had a seating capacity of 670. At the rear was the foyer with dining rooms on either side. Built at a cost between $75,000 and $100,000, the new facility opened in 1909. By the 1980s, membership had declined and the building was abandoned. In 1995, Lodge #871 merged with Lodge #756 in New Rochelle, N.Y..

After the Elks' relocated, the building was used by the Citizens Advice Bureau, a local non-profit group. By 1995, the building was abandoned. In 2008, St. Barnabas Hospital announced plans to demolish the old Elks Lodge and erect a 10-story out-patient facility on the site. In February of 2013, the building is still standing.

Readers interested in contributing photos should contact me via email at 

Many thanks to Anthony Perez.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Book Presentation & Conference on the Modern Rite

Book Presentation:

"En oro y azur" (In gold and azure) by Joaquim Villalta Mata.

"El Régulateur du Maçon 1º, 2º, 3º y Trabajos de Banquete" (The Masonic Regulator 1-3 and Banquet Lodge) by Victor Guerra and Joaquim Villalta Mata.


"The History of the Modern Rite in Masonry"
Speakers: Victor Guerra and Joaquim Villalta Mata
Presentation: Ernesto Nicolás Liendo.


Centre d'Estudis Històrics i Maçonològics Lux Veritatis


Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 18 hours
Biblioteca Central de Terrassa
Passeig de les Lletres, 1,
Barcelona, Catalunya

Gracias a Victor Guerra
Gràcies a Joaquim Villalta Mata

Rough Ashlar No. 3

It's time to turn our attention to a subject which represents, if anything can be viewed as more unmasonic than the withholding of recognition for what with very rare exceptions represents political maneuvering, the most egregious overstepping of legitimate authority that grand lodges or grand orients  have engaged in, ie, claims of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction.

The only purpose claiming Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction serves is to limit the potential for legitimate competition. Since ultimately, Masonic battles are never about the principles and ethics of Freemasonry, but rather about blatant political control, this is at best driven by the most selfish and unmasonic of motives.

Beyond that, it has always been something of a straw man argument. After all, there is no real legal recourse that any Masonic obedience or Grand Lodge can have recourse to, unless the competing organization is attempting to represent itself as that organization. Since no Masonic organization owns the rights to the name "Mason," unless another masonic group attempts to fraudulently represent themselves as agents or representatives of that specific objecting organization, simply declaring themselves masons is legal. Despite vague claims that non-mainstream masonic organizations are misleading and scamming sincere aspirants, there is no real substance to such claims beyond the belief of those who make them that they possess the one and only true path to Masonic light.

There are very few states in the United States in which either Prince Hall or so-called "irregular" Prince Hall or other Liberal Masonic obediences do not exist. For any mainstream Masonic Lodge to claim that they have Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction, they essentially have to pretend that such institutions do not exist and operate in their self-designated jurisdictional area.  In simple terms, Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction is a fiction, and a fairly pointless one at that.

How much more Masonic, not to mention simply adult it would be for the mainstream Grand Lodges to recognize that whatever differences of doctrine they might have with other forms of Freemasonry, that these other forms are in fact Freemasonry, and have, whether they are happy about it or not, as much right to follow their masonic lights as they themselves do.

Whether or not mainstream lodges will stop the unseemly practice of name calling or not, a corner has been turned. Intelligent and mature members of even mainstream lodges have publicly recognized that  Liberal masonry represents a viable alternative to the mainstream brand, in cases where the behavior of leaders of mainstream masonic Grand Lodges has been indefensible, and have said as much in a public forum. I refer of course to the recent Florida fiasco. Of course, the larger elephant in the closet continues to exist - the rampant and overt racism of a significant portion of the Grand Lodges in North America.

Continuing to behave as if the old ways can be continued unchanged is pure delusion. The mainstream lodges will die an ugly and reasonably swift death if they do not begin to accomodate different views and lifestyles in their midst. They have less time than they imagine. Like global warming, a larger issue which may make all forms of masonry moot, the results of social change and the as yet unrecognized influence of the light that the internet sheds on practices, as well as the shrinking of the masonic universe by the increasing access to information on different forms and ideas, will accelerate the decline of regular Freemasonry in the US.

It doesn't have to be that way. However, changing the direction of the dinosaur will require some fairly visionary leaders. Can mainstream Freemasonry find such a vision, and will they be willing to extend a hand across the aisle to other forms of Freemasonry who just might be willing to assist with ideas and mutual support? I don't know. Although I sincerely hope they will, I rather doubt it. What I can say with certainty is that it will be a pity if they don't.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Freemasonry in the Brazilian Carnaval

The origin of carnival

The celebration probably has its origins in pagan festivals, such as those held in honor of Bacchus, the god of wine, and the Roman Saturnalia and Lupercalia, or those that took place in honor of the bull, Apis in Egypt.

According to some historians, the origins of carnival festivities date back to ancient Sumer and Egypt more than 5,000 years ago, with similar celebrations in the Roman Empire, from whence the custom spread throughout Europe, being brought to America by Spanish and Portuguese navigators who colonized from the fifteenth century on.

Carnival also is said by some to date back to the Celtic pagan festivals, the contemporary festival known as Carnival may have had its origin in the need to eat all meat and animal products such as eggs and butter before beginning the period of Lent to avoid their spoilage. According to Catholic tradition during Lent one should not eat meat, only fish and vegetables.

However, the true origins of Carnival are still unknown. There is no way to verify where and when the carnival was born. Studies estimate that the first service that would later be known as the Carnival was made years before Christ, when farmers gathered in the summer, with masked faces and bodies painted entirely around a bonfire to celebrate fertility, soil productivity and a good harvest and to ward off evil spirits.

The first documentation of a festival with the characteristics of carnival was in Egypt. The party was nothing more than dancing, singing, and the participants wore masks and costumes as a symbol of the absence of social class.

Subsequently, the tradition arrived in Greece. In the sixth century BC, it was the custom of riding a boat with wheels (navalis carrus) where people danced all types of dances.

In Rome, it was dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis, and also spreading the cult of the Celts and Germans.

The ceremonies were a common point. They were associated with spiritual phenomena, astronomy and natural cycles, and manifested through expressions such as dance, music, satire, masks, and disorder. In a society with many social differences, the parties satisfied, at least temporarily,  the need for freedom for all.

Rich and poor mingled during carnival unrecognized. Then came the carnival of Venice, and from there it spread everywhere. And it gradually acquired its modern characteristics, with variations depending on the customs of each country. But generally, the carnival is defined by masks, costumes, floats, parades, dances, etc.

The date of Mardi Gras varies from year to year. Many people wonder how you calculate the date of the Carnival?

The start date of Easter (Palm Sunday) is calculated by the lunar month (28 days) and Sunday for the first full moon after the spring equinox (March 21). In other words, Easter can only begin no later than March 22 until April 18. Therefore, it varies from year to year.

So the custom was taken to calculate the dates of Carnival, only counting backwards 40 days from Palm Sunday. This day will be Wednesday, and is the day Lent begins.

The date of Mardi Gras varies from year to year. And the calendar is marked by the Catholic Church, which is calculated by the date of Easter Sunday.

At first the church was against Carnival. They considered it too indulgent of the emotions, pleasures and desires of people. For the church, the carnival represented the disorder, the forbidden. Still, carnival continued, and the church, realizing that it was impossible to stop, just officially adopted the party, in 590 ad, and starting to schedule it into the church calendar.

The first Wednesday after the carnival called "fourth ash", starts the Lenten period in which Christians must refrain from all kinds of pleasures, such as meat, eggs, sex, and fun in general.

Because of this, the carnival is calculated in relation to Easter. Between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday have to pass about 40 days.

Moreover, this date also closely coincides with the holiday of Passover. Held on the first moon (full moon) in the spring and 14 days after the new moon.

The Moon takes over 27 days to translate around us, but in the meantime, the sun also changes its position in the sky each year as it travels across the sky. So, the moon needs 2 more days to reach the sun and it happens in 29 days, 12 hours and 44 minutes and a fraction, to go from one new moon to the next.

Thus, most of the Jewish months alternate between 29 and 30 days, Adar the first 30 days, the second Adar, 29, Nissan, 30, Iyar, 29, Sivan, 30 and so on, and except Cheshvan and Kislev, in the fall, given that correspond to 44 minutes and also other adjustments.

An important adjustment is applied on the day of the New Year, known as Rosh Hashanah ("early this year"), it should never fall on a Sunday, Wednesday or Friday.

This is done to prevent later, Yom Kippur ("Day of Atonement"), which is 10 days later, from falling on the sabbath, because two days off could hamper the proper celebration of both, and also to keep the Sabbath coincides with another holiday there this month. So, oddly enough because of these adjustments, Rosh Hashanah often falls on the new moon.

As you can appreciate, in order to compensate for all of this the holiday is determined to be a moveable feast.

The following is an explanation a bit more complicated for the use of some terms not very common for those who are not Jews, but also helps us understand some of the dates, but this carnival and Easter:

In the Jewish calendar, 2008, for example, (this day) is the 6th of the month of Adary this year is the "first Adar" or "Adar Aleph," because it is a leap year. The months is followed by "Adar Beth" or "Ve-Adar" ("and" "Adar"), the second Adar, an extra month added over time.

Of course, keep in mind that the Jewish calendar follows the moon: "Rosh Chodesh" ("earlier this month"), the first of the month always falls on the New Moon, when the Moon's position in the sky passes by the Sun . Afterwards, we can see a crescent moon shortly after sunset.

Masonry in the Carnaval of 2008


Extracts from the Web Page

"Popular amusements"

The figure illustrated is in oil, representing a regional festival by the artist Chico Laranjeira - Francisco Carlos Laranjeira Coelho. This piece was on the cover of the Masonic journal, "A Trolha," nº 222, of April, 2005. Today it is on display in the anteroom of the Grtand Master General of the Grand Orient of Brazil.

The artist is a member of Masonic Lodge Arautos do Progresso nº 30 de Recife, PE and according to the Masonic magazine, "The Trowel" is also a musician and an interpreter of various pieces performed for lodge ceremonies.

MANAUS - The samba school Reino Unidos da Liberdade presented at the Sambadrome on Saturday, February 2, 2008, the theme "Fair and Perfect, the release of the Black Race in the Amazon.

The theme exalts Freemasonry and the struggle for the liberation of the slaves even before the 'golden law'.

The Amazon was the second Brazilian state to free slaves. They were released on July 10, 1884, while the golden law was not signed by Princess Isabel until May 13, 1888, hence the importance of this theme.

GrÍmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Reino Unido da Liberdade on Saturday 02/02/08, honored Freemasonry in the samba for carnival. The composers were: Mingal, Pierre, and Elvis de Paula e Daniel, and the interpretation was arranged by Wilsinho de Cima.

Fantasy of the 16th Wing - Provincial Deputies
4th sector: Fair & Perfect – Masonic Abolitionism in Amazonas

Fantasy of the 17th Wing - Companies Liberators
4th sector: Fair & Perfect - Masonic Abolitionism in Amazonas

Fantasy of the 18th Ward - The Central Commission for Abolitionism
4th sector: Fair and Perfect - Masonic Abolitionism in Amazonas

Fantasy of the 19th Ward - Masonic Pride
4th sector: Fair and Perfect - Masonic Abolitionism in Amazonas

Fantasy of the 20th Ward - The News - "The Official Abolitionist"
4th sector: Fair and Perfect - Masonic Abolitionism in Amazonas

In Amazonas, Freemasonry played a unique role in the struggle for the liberation of slaves succeeding through their strength and organization, the redemption of Amazonas Province on July 10, 1884, four years before the Golden Law (May 13, 1888 ) be signed by Princess Elizabeth in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Theodureto Souto, Master Mason, who as president of the province of Amazonas, in just five months (from March 11 to July 12, 1884) along with the two Masonic Lodges Esperança e Porvir, Nº 1 and Amazonas, Nº: 2 that continuing the growing abolitionist movement from the Government of José Paranaguá, encouraged the creation and strengthening of Sociedades Libertadoras and Sociedades Emancipadoras, which resulted in the DECLARATION OF ABSOLUTE EQUALITY, in Manaus, on May 24, 1884 and preceded the STATEMENT OF THE END OF SLAVERY AND EQUAL RIGHTS OF THE POPULATION OF THE AMAZON, less than two months later.

Thus, by noon on July 10, 1884, at the Praça 28 de setembro (today Piazza Heliodoro Balbi) President Theodureto Souto said: "... in honor of the civilization and the homeland, on behalf of the Amazonian people, that the sovereign will of the same people and by virtue of its laws, there are no more slaves in the territory of this province, from north to south and from east to west, thus today and forever abolished slavery and proclaimed the Equal Right of all its inhabitants ".

Manaus is today a strong city for Carnaval.

Muito obrigado a meu caro irmão Daniel Lucio, quem é o único responsável por este material!

Message from the Sublime Council of the Modern Rite of Ecuador, 2013

Message for 2013
Sublime Council Modern Rite of Ecuador (SCRME)

My Dear Brothers:. & Sisters :. all and Readers in general:

It was only in the middle of 2011 that  the Modern Rite Sublime Council for Ecuador (SCRME) was created, with the stated mission of encouraging the growth of French Modern Rite Craft Lodges and Sovereign Chapters of male, female and mixed membership, working respectively, and on a regular basis, according to custom and rituals, and in order to transmit the values emanating from the Grand Chaptre General of France between 1784 and 1786 for the Orders of Wisdom and of Regulation conducted within the Grand Orient of France from 1783-1786 for the Symbolic Degrees of Freemasonry, and share the fruits of this work and research, meeting and joint exchange to offer Masons of all persuasions, jurisdictions, or Lodges, Federations of free and sovereign Lodges, knowledge of the days and places where they can experience the fraternity of the Valley or Orient they wish to visit, provided they have the required grades in relation to the work they wish to participate.

However, this mission could not be achieved if we did not start with the promotion of Freemasonry in its original form from its roots, and this is why it la Gran Logia Mixta de los Andes Ecuatoriales (GLMAE) was created for that purpose, thereby closing the training circle ffrom blue Freemasonry, to the philosophical degrees, while this benefit is provided with a transnational constitution, not to grab territory in Masonic politics; as we view the world being large enough so that all organizations which capable of doing so can coexist without selfishness or prominence of any kind.

During this time, a total of 7 Lodges distributed in different geographical locations have joined the GLMAE :

R.L. Manuelita Sáenz No. 1, ubicada al Or. de Quito, Ecuador

R.L. Mariscal Antonio José de Sucre No. 2, al Or. de Barcelona, Spain.

R.L. Lux Veritatis No. 3, al Or. de Terrasssa, Spain.

R.L. Andrés Ibáñez No. 4, al Or. de Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.

R.L. Les Amis Réunis No. 5, al Or. de Veracruz, México.

R.L. Équitas No. 6, al Or. de México D.F., México.

R.L. de Investigación "Los Modernos" No. 7, al Or. de Asturias, Spain.

On the level of Philosophical Grades, the following have been received:

S.C. Jean Pierre Graffin No. 1, en los VV. de Quito, Ecuador.

S.C. Eloy Alfaro No. 2, en los VV. de Barcelona, España.

S.C. Veritas No. 3, en los VV. de México D.F., México.

In addition to its V° Order Assembly, the Grand Council of Kadosh Gr 8 and a Sublime Council Gr. 9, are located in the Valley of San Francisco de Quito, a city where the GLMAE and SCRME historically have had their administrative headquarters.

On this occasion, I would like on behalf of the G:.M:. of the GLMAE, and the Supreme Commander of the SCRME, to bring to each and every one of you, citizens of the world, the most sincere wishes for the welfare and prosperity for the new year 2013, both personally, and on behalf of each of the members that make up our Lodges and Chapters, committing every day to work "for the moral and material improvement of mankind", a process that takes shape only through constant effort, which we are called to glorify.

We desire that henceforth our world begins to achieve that much desired awakening of consciousness, for which all call.


M:.M:. Yuguito
(OEVR - V:.M:.I:. )
V° Ord:. - Gr:. 9
S:.G:.M:. de la Gran Logia Mixta de los Andes Ecuatoriales
Sup:. Com:. Del Sublime Consejo del Rito Moderno para el Ecuador

Friday, February 8, 2013

Superbowls, Mercedes Benz, and Hitler - a history of Anti-masonry

I thought for a while before adding my voice to the chorus of my fellow masonic bloggers offering objections to the by now infamous Super Bowl ad for Mercedes Benz which placed a masonic ring on Satan's finger. This was not because I was insufficiently outraged by the way in which Mercedes Benz so easily took up an old Nazi tactic of defaming Freemasonry, but because I wanted to add something new to the discussion rather than simply repeating what was already being so effectively stated by my friends and fellow masons. In casting about for something to write about, I landed upon Bro. Cooper's book, "The Red Triangle." Robert Cooper, of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, was it has been suggested, was inspired to write this book out of outrage over the abuse of the Craft after the Dunblane Massacre in Scotland. The English and Scottish Media suggested, incorrectly as it turns out, that the perpetrator was associated with Freemasonry.  In spite of Bro. Cooper's book, Freemasonry continues to be low hanging fruit for a sensationalist press culture which most recently presented dramatic scandals as a result of the criminal activities of the Rupert Murdoch investigations.

In the United States, Freemasonry managed to avoid persecution in the 20th Century, although in nearby Mexico, right wing anti-masonic activity did occur during WWII. The Nazis claimed that high degree Masons were willing members of "the Jewish conspiracy" and that Freemasonry was one of the causes of Germany's loss of the First World War. In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler wrote that Freemasonry has been infiltrated by Jewish instigators and had become an "excellent instrument" to fight for their goals and to use their connections and influence to involve the upper classes in their imagined plots. 

Anti-masonic Hoodie
To those who are eager to dismiss references to the Nazi's, which admittedly are abused as a comparison by our politicians, let me quote a 1994 article by Paul Bessell ( ) where he notes that even within the last 20 years, powerful individuals in the United States have targeted Freemasonry as dangerous or anti-social, or even totally evil:

"In 1991 Pat Robertson, who has a good deal of influence in the United States, published The New World Order. In that book he attempted to exonerate individual Masons, but condemned "the Masonic connection" with phrases such as Masonic power, dark side, international conspiracy, occult, Rothschilds, Jews, wealth, secret society, and world power. Others also attack Masonry today as allegedly promoting devil worship, leading religious men away from the "right" way to find God, or being inconsistent with the religious beliefs of certain denominations. These people who attack Masonry with exaggerated language, and without accepting reasonable explanations of what Freemasonry really is, would probably say that their use of language about Masonry that is strikingly similar to that which was used by the Nazis and other vicious attackers of Freemasonry in the past does not mean that they are following in the footsteps of the Nazis. But certainly fair people would understand that those who have suffered so much persecution and death at the hands of people who used this type of language would rightly be very frightened to see it being used in America in the 1990's. It is difficult to believe that the lessons of such a recent past may already be forgotten."

Robert L.D. Cooper
Ironically, as Bro. Cooper points out, an institution which has contributed so much to the positive innovations of the modern world democracy, science, and humanitarian principles, continues to be targeted. It makes sense when you realize those who slander Freemasonry are those who oppose a more liberal and free society. 

Today, in Europe, Freemasonry is experiencing fresh growth in countries where it had been repressed such as Spain and Romania, where totalitarian regimes had banned Freemasonry for decades. With the end of the Franco regime in Spain and the fall of Communism in Romania, and elsewhere, Freemasonry has begun an enthusiastic revival.

If there is a single message that sounds clearly through the very engaging and passionate writing of Robert Cooper, it is that if Jews throughout the world can rally behind the notion that the horrors of the Holocaust must not be forgotten, Freemasons must be cognizant of their own history of persecution and must not remain silent in the face of such aggression when it occurs today.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Templar Chant — Salve Regina

Feeling in a medieval state of mind, I thought I would share this antique beauty with you all tonight. Sometimes it is just healthy to escape the modern world, and what better way to do it than through music? Consider this then, a meditation to cleanse yourself of the ills of modernity at least for a while.

Popular tradition concerning this Marian antiphon is that it was written to be used by the crusaders. 
It has also been attributed to Adhémar, Bishop of Podium (Puy-en-Velay), whence it has been styled  Antiphona de Podio (Anthem of Le Puy). Adhémar was the first to ask permission to go on the crusade, and the first to receive the cross from Pope Urban II.   Before his departure, towards the end of October, 1096, he composed the war-song of the crusade, in which he asked the intercession of the Queen of Heaven, the Salve Regina (Migne,   Dict. des Croisades , s. v. Adhémar).

Salve, Regina
Salve, Regina, mater misericordiae;
vita, dulcedo et spes nostra, salve.
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae.
Ad te suspiramus gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia ergo, advocata nostra,
illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte.
Et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, o pia, o dulcis Virgo Maria.

V. Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix.
R. Ut digni efficamur promissionibus Christi.

Oremus. Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui gloriosae Virginis Matris Mariae corpus et animam, ut dignum Filii tui habitaculum effici mereretur, Spiritu Sancto cooperante, praeparasti, da, ut cuius commemoratione laetamur; eius pia intercessione, ab instantibus malis et a morte perpetua liberemur. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

(Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,

our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.

Turn then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Pray for us O holy Mother of God,
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: Almighty, everlasting God, who by the co-operation of the Holy Spirit didst prepare the body and soul of the glorious Virgin-Mother Mary to become a dwelling-place meet for thy Son: grant that as we rejoice in her commemoration; so by her fervent intercession we may be delivered from present evils and from everlasting death. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.)

Thanks to Mary Armstrong.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Book Review: La Masonería by Pedro González Blanco

The Gonzalez brothers are natives of Luanco (Asturias). Pedro Gonzaléz Blanco wrote a book entitled Freemasonry in 1933. It is being republished by the journal FREEMASONRY, presented by the Club del Diario La Nueva España de Gijon, on Thursday February 7, 2013.

Why this book?

Maybe the best justification for this book being reissued is that Pedro Gonzaléz Blanco, both a writer and translator, belongs to a famous family of writers born in Gijon (Asturias). After his university studies and adventures in Madrid he commenced a random existential journey through Latin America. He then settled again in Spain to begin his Masonic career (1930-1939), joining the Lodge of the Worshipful Union of the Grand Orient of Spain (GOE), located in the valley of Madrid.

Along with Brothers Serradel, Benlliure, etc ... and others he co-founded and launched other lodges within the GOE and the Spanish Grand Lodge (GLE).  He wrote this brief work FREEMASONRY , a synthesis of his thinking about Freemasonry and its historiographical developments for Latomia magazine, along with several other successful titles.
Perhaps his work is best explained in his own words :

"Más anda tan pobre la bibliografía masónica por tierras de España, que aumentarla con esta poquedad más, no me parecido del todo desconcertado.
Lean estas páginas los que conocen del arte real, advertidos de lo poco que valen. Y si los enterados sacan de ellas alguna sugestión, o siquiera alguna noticia, se dará por harto satisfecho"

(Masonic literature treats little on matters in Spain, which if that makes this small contribution of value, I will not feel entirely embarrassed.
Read these pages concerning the royal art, aware of their limited value. And if aware of this, you still receive some ideas, or even any wisdom, I will be satisfied)

It has been Victor Guerra's intention with this expanded edition of this book "Masonry" to make available the works of a renouned Asturian Mason, Pedro Gonzalez Blanco (1879-1961) from Luonco, who besides having an eventful life, has been an illustrious Masonic thinker who contributed significantly to the magazine Latomia (1932-1934) and this book.

But Pedro González Blanco is more than just a standard writer of bland matters of Masonic obligations and advice, the sort of pablum filled with down home and folksy commentary that all to often in the US at least passes for philosophy. He went far further and if you scan the covers of the Masonic magazine  Latomia,  in which he published several papers, you will note one in particular,  Historical Corrections, it is clear that his views were not appreciated in some circles, which of course make them all the more valuable. According to Pedro Gonzalez:

"No branch of history more needed to rectify its mistakes than that of the history of Freemasonry. The secrecy that the brotherhood required and the disappearance of far too many files had been fertile ground for all sorts of fantasies and invective: Diaz Perez, the so-called "Jhon Truth", Morayta, los modernos Usero, Suárez, Guillén y Díaiz did not contribute more work than copying Thory, specifically Fidel and Clavel,. Without Acta Latomorun Truht and Pérez Díaz would have written nothing and Morayta most of the time consulted nothing, attributing to Masonry features which often didn't exist. Other authors cited that revolve around these three or four 'historians.'"

Without going into greater detail, it may be some small consolation to North American freemasons to realize that they are not alone in the world in having problems in producing real history. We in North America are not the only masons to have fallen into the trap of producing fiction instead of history. Let us take a look at those works and those masons who were willing, where ever we may find them, to produce an accurate and critical examination of masonic history, as opposed to books full of wishful thinking and fantasy.

Pedro Gonzaléz Blanco, was one such masonic historian.

To find and order this book (we do not yet have it available in English) visit:

All thanks due to Victor Guerra who produced a solid introduction to this new edition.