Friday, April 17, 2015

Rough Ashlar No. 19: What's the Matter?

What's the matter with of Freemasonry? That's an interesting question. Actually, it's an interesting set of questions. What's the matter with Freemasonry? What's the matter of Freemasonry?

I'd like to suggest that what's the matter with Freemasonry is the matter of Freemasonry!

To answer the first question, we have to understand the second. 

If anyone reads my posts with any amount of frequency, they by now assume I will answer the questions I pose. I'm going to burst your bubble if that's what you expected. At least this once. I don't promise to make that a habit, though. 

For many, the matter of Freemasonry is laws, rules, rituals, regalia, offices, and lots of pomp and ceremony. For some, the matter of Freemasonry is legends, lectures, and grand architecture. For others, the matter of Freemasonry is a sense of belonging, a sense of shared importance. Maybe for some, the matter of Freemasonry is mystery. Maybe for a few, the matter of Freemasonry is spirit.

I cannot answer what the matter of Freemasonry is for anyone but myself. To me, that is a very personal matter, although not necessarily a secret. However, I urge everyone who calls themselves a Freemason, to give this question some very serious thought. 

Because what is the matter with Freemasonry is all about what the matter of Freemasonry is to each of us. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Words & Deeds: Written law vs. Ethical Behavior

Recently, I read an excellent piece of architecture by Iván Herrera Michel, published on the website of the Revista Cultural Masones de la Lengua Española New York.  I am not translating the work in its entirety, but wished to use it as a basis for a few observations and perhaps a rhetorical question or two.

Members of mainstream North American lodges will no doubt be familiar with the symbolic explanation of the schism between Liberal and Conservative (or Imperial) Freemasonry under the flagship of the UGLE. I refer to the claim, no doubt believed in by the rank and file, that the UGLE offered for branding the Continental Freemason persona non grata. The decision of the GOdF to eliminate the requirement of a belief in the GATU was used as a pretext by the UGLE for an act of aggression against Liberal Freemasonry.

While it mainly succeeded in insulating its membership from creative thought, the advent of war in Europe - first WWI and subsequently WWII caused the destruction of much if not most of Continental Freemasonry. As Bro. Herrera notes, "Amid this European tempest, the United Grand Lodge of England decided, as more convenient for her, to further reinforce its differences with Progressive Freemasonry by unilaterally enacting eight Basic Principles for the Recognition of Grand Lodges in 1929." Later,  in the face of the widespread devastation inflicted upon Freemasonry on the continent during WWII, including the deaths of thousands in Nazi Death Camps, the UGLE and the American Lodges did not lift a brotherly hand to help in any attempts to rebuild Liberal Masonic institutions. Apparently petty sectarianism continued to be a greater Masonic Value than Universal Brotherhood.

As a result, it has taken more than half a century for much of Liberal Freemasonry to regain lost ground. In the case of Spanish Freemasonry, the persecution lasted until the early 1960s under Franco.  However, Liberal Freemasonry is rebounding, and it has the advantage of something which the mainstream masonry of the Anglophone now lacks - innovation and youthful energy.

So, I leave you now with a couple of somewhat rhetorical questions. What is the significant characteristic in Freemasonry that may be described as dogmatic or adogmatic; is it really about belief in the GATU or about petty sectarianism? Which is more important for Freemasons, the adherence to narrow rules and regulations, or demonstrating true universal brotherhood, in spite of a few doctrinal differences?

There are hints that an extremely few wiser minds among Anglophone Freemasonry in the United States are making some very tentative steps toward establishing better communication with Liberal Freemasonry. It remains to be seen whether these attempts will in the end be determined to be "too little too late" or "better late than never."

GLSE ratifies Re-Election of GM for Three Years

Nieves Bayo, 9s re-elected as Grand Master of the GLSE

April 16, 2015

The Symbolic Grand Council of the Spanish Symbolic Grand Lodge (GLSE) has ratified the result of the elections for Serene Grand Master of Obedience, proclaiming the office is to go to Sister. ·. Nieves Bayo Gallego, who was re-elected for another three years, 2015-1017.

The Grand Master will be installed by the General Assembly of the Order which will take place in Seville on June 6.

The Spanish Symbolic Grand Lodge (GLSE) limits its territoriality to the Spanish State. However, as decided by the General Assembly, it may permit the formation of Lodges under its auspices in other nations where there is no liberal Obedience, or in the case of Lodges expressly wish to work in one of the official languages of the Spanish State.

The GLSE's Rite of Obedience is the Ancient and Accepted Scottish, and in this Rite all work of the Obedience is performed. This does not preclude that  the individual Lodge level, the use of other rites may not be authorized.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

New Cuban Grand Master - Faustino Lázaro Cuesta Valdés

CUBA: The Sovereign Grand Commander Faustino Lázaro Cuesta Valdés was elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Cuba
Friday, March 27, 2015

Havana, Cuba. From 22 to 23 March 2015 elections for the office of Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Cuba were held. Faustino Lázaro Cuesta Valdés was elected Grand Master (2015-2018) after his resignation as Sovereign Grand Commander. To apply, Cuesta Valdés, Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council for Cuba, has resigned from that position and  organized elections for the office of Sovereign Grand Commander. Alonso José Ramón Viñas is the new leader of the Scottish Rite in Havana.

CUBA: El Soberano Gran Comendador Lázaro Faustino Cuesta Valdés fue elegido Gran Maestro de la Gran Logia de Cuba
viernes, 27 de marzo de 2015

La Habana, Cuba. Del 22 al 23 de marzo de 2015 se celebraron elecciones para el cargo de Gran Maestro de la Gran Logia de Cuba. Lázaro Faustino Cuesta Valdés fue elegido Gran Maestro (2015-2018) después de su renuncia al cargo de Soberano Gran Comendador. Para poder postularse, Cuesta Valdés, Soberano Gran Comendador del Supremo Consejo para Cuba, ha presentado su dimisión y ha organizado elecciones para el cargo de Soberano Gran Comendador. José Ramón Viñas Alonso es el nuevo líder del Rito Escocés en La Habana.

Source: agencia de prensa

Modern Revivalist Bantu Divination System

Although this product, concerning a modern bone divination system,and not unrelated to the Egyptian Hermetic divination which survived in references and practice among later Egyptian inspired Greek Hermetic traditions, is in no way connected to the Hedge Mason, because of my interest in this evolving divination system, and my respect for the people who are offering this package, I've decided to repost their announcements here. Check them out. These are very interesting offerings and deserve your consideration. If you do not know much about this sort of divination and wish to learn more, feel free to contact the Hedge, and I will provide you with links and will be happy to discuss the matter with you.

At long last, the hotly anticipated Ancestor Healing divination kits are here! Hot off the presses in a limited run of 154, this special edition divination kit – codenamed “Crossroads Shaman” – is unlike anything you’ve ever seen or used before, whether you’re involved in hoodoo/conjure, Santeria/Voodoo/Palo, or something else entirely!

Based on the solar cosmogram of the Bantu Kongo, the central divination cloth features stunning, full-saturation colors on heavyweight cotton cloth, easy to fold and store, but large enough for the most demanding and complex investigations. Each quadrant intersects and reflects the energy fields of all the others, opening up a portal to a world rich in complexity and spiritual inspiration, and equally adaptable to tarot reading, dice, runes, or whatever suits your fancy.
Inspired by West Central African divinatory traditions and included in the 5×7″ red satin bag with hot stamp gold print are 22 hand-chosen throwing pieces covering every conceivable life situation, energy and archetype, from misfits and authority figures, to healing, cursing and the list goes on….! These aren’t cheap, plastic trinkets but real roots, resins, bones and charms, collected at great effort from the four corners of the globe.

So you don’t get lost in your travels, we’ve included a guidebook and red-covered manual (sample chapter here) to get you started, covering the meanings of all the throwing pieces, full explanations of the medicines and energies involved and sample throws and interpretations to inspire your explorations.

Finally, the set is ritually “fed” (in the traditional Central African style), the cloth is stamped with special ritual ingredients, and each set is packed with a numbered certificate of authenticity (red and black color palette), guaranteeing that yours is one of only 154 “Crossroads Shaman” divination kits in existence.

There will be other editions in the future, but none with this exact combination of book cover, throwing piece bag, certificate and stamp colors, pieces and accompanying ritual consecrations. Order now as supplies are limited, and when they’re gone, they’re gone!
Due to the “hot” nature of the consecration ritual employed, this edition is recommended for those already initiated into an African Traditional Religion or similar indigenous practice. If you’re uncomfortable with primal traditions, you may wish to consider the spiritually consecrated “Community Healer” edition instead.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Feminine Grand Lodge of Memphis-Misraim Conference May 2015

The Feminine Grand Lodge of Memphis-Misraim announces a public conference this May 2, 2015 in Brigoles (Var), France on the theme: "From profane woman to woman initiated" by its president Dominique Palfroy.

A public conference is an opportunity to meet with an obedience. In this case, it is also an opportunity to meet many sisters of ritual and practice.

The Feminine Grand Lodge of Memphis Misraim Masonic Obedience is incorporated as a non-profit organization subject to the law of July 1, 1901. Founded in 1965, it is currently one of the oldest denominations practicing the rite of Memphis-Misraim (called "Egyptian" rite) before the break and the dissolution in 1998 of the Grand Lodge of French Primitive Rite of Memphis-Misraim.

The Feminine Grand Lodge of Memphis-Misraim demonstrates the importance of sincere work in the stability of persuasion.

It is open to all women of good will who want to help build a more just and fraternal world, whatever their nationality, their origin, color, or creed.

With 50 lodges, 1300 sisters, it offers an essentially spiritual and initiatory process, because of its rite that borrows from ancient Egypt symbolic, putting people at the center of the cosmos, even as it borrows its ethical and philosophical approach from Greek thinkers and the Age of Light. It's approach is secular, led by women involved in the city who want to carry beyond the Temple their work and questioning "how to make the world more beautiful? ".

Lilithemently yours,


Masonic Participation in Brazilian Protests this Week

For those following the political protests in Brazil against political corruption, many calling for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, it comes as no surprise that many sectors of Brazilian society are actively involved. The calls for her ouster and the backlash surrounding a government mired in corruption is now widespread.

What may come as a surprise, at least to North American masons, is the active and visible role that many lodges throughout Brazil are playing in such protests. We are not talking about small liberal lodges either, but regular masonic lodges throughout the country. In Brazil, Freemasons are examining and debating how Freemasonry needs to change to be relevant in the 21st century. THey recognize that the institution must find new ways to engage society if it is to survive.

In Manaus, in the Northern Central Brazilian Amazon, The Grand Lodge of Amazonas (Glomam) will launch on Saturday a campaign to gather signatures to the popular initiative bill called 'Corruption never'. The action is non-partisan. The launch will take place in the Masonic Palace of Amazonas, in Flores, at 8.30 am, and will be held simultaneously in 27 major lodges in the country.

The Leader of the Grand Orient of Brazil, in Goiás, (A regional branch of GOB, in Central Brazil) says political reform is a priority for  the institution and urges Masons to participate more actively in policy decisions. The lawyer and university professor, Luis Carlos de Castro Coelho leads a legion of approximately 4,800 individuals in Goiás, prepared individually and culturally who have always been at the forefront of the major changes in the country and the state. The Grand Orient of Brazil is the oldest Masonic power of Brazil, founded in 1822 on the eve of Independence.

In Sorocaba, (in Southern Brazil) the MBL sought the support of students fighting for the free pass and hopes to bring 5000 people to Largo Canyon. In Presidente Prudente, 20 entities joined the protest in People's Park, including Freemasonry, the Order of Lawyers of Brazil and the Rotary Club.

The Union of Masonic Lodges of Uberaba and region (Central Brazil) have raised billboards with slogans against corruption in the country. After the march in repudiation of allegations of corruption in the country, the Masonic Lodges of Union of Uberaba and Region returned to protest in favor of democracy. With the proposal to bring the message to the entire population, the group decided to publish messages on several billboards in Uberaba and in five other cities. "We spread the billboards at various points, showing that we have to fight against corruption and keep alive the movement," said Mario José Afonso Caetano. In all, 16 were placed outdoors in Uberaba, Conceição das Alagoas, Sacramento, Nova Ponte, Conquista and Campo Florido.

The two main divisions in the twentieth century include the GOB (Grand Orient of Brazil) and its State Grand Lodges and COMAB (Masonic Confederation of Brazil).  It should be noted that all divisions in Brazil are due to elective processes rather than doctrinal differences. It is reasonable to estimate that Brazil has more than 6,000 masonic lodges, and nearly 200,000 members. These represent the so-called regular powers.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Esoteric Degree Programs

 Gradually, interest in Esoteric Studies has been growing at the University level. Several universities have begun to offer degree programs, either in stand alone programs/departments, or as specialities in existing departments such as Religious Studies. Here, we find a small survey list of the variety of programs that are being offered. No claim is made to being exhaustive. The intent is simply to whet the reader's appetite.

Master of Arts in Western Esotericism / Univeristy of Exeter, England

The new MA in Western Esotericism at the University of Exeter represents the first initiative in this subject at a UK university. The subject is already taught in Continental Europe at the University of Amsterdam and at the Sorbonne, whose Emeritus Professor in the History of Esoteric and Mystical Currents, Antoine Faivre, established its disciplinary scope and methodology from the early 1970s onwards. Exeter, Amsterdam, and the Sorbonne are presently the only universities offering postgraduate courses or doctoral supervision in Western Esotericism.
The Western esoteric traditions reach back to Hermeticism, Neo-Platonism, Gnosticism, and theurgy in the Hellenistic world during the first centuries AD. These early sources often reveal theosophia,wisdom or knowledge in things divine, attained through spiritual exercise, contemplation and ecstasy. The early Church Fathers regarded such theosophy and gnosis ambivalently, and their variable reception in the Western and Eastern churches during the early Middle Ages is now an expanding field of inquiry. The introduction of Greek, Arab and Jewish traditions into the medieval Latin West paved the way for the rediscovery of ancient texts and led to the scholarly revival of magic, astrology, alchemy and Kabbalah in the Renaissance.
After the Reformation, these Hermetic sciences gave rise to such movements as Theosophy, Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry, with their proliferation of esoteric rites and symbolic systems in the eighteenth century. The modem revival of esotericism extends from Romantic Naturphilosophie to nineteenth-century occultism involving Swedenborgianism, Mesmerism, spiritualism, the ancient wisdom-tradition, and ceremonial magic and para-masonic orders. Today, Helena Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society, Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy, C. G. Jung and his archetypal psychology, and Fourth Way movements are among the major currents of modem esotericism, providing an inspiration to contemporary thinkers and practitioners in the arts, education and medicine.
Western esotericism has exerted a profound and increasingly acknowledged influence on philosophy, religion and science, culture and literature, politics and society.

Concealed Knowledge: Gnosticism, Esotericism and Mysticism
Master Degree in Concealed Knowledge: Gnosticism, Esotericism and Mysticism / University of Groningen, Netherlands

Knowledge of the mystical and esoteric currents in the history of religion in Europe, as well as the impact of Hermetic and Gnostic spirituality, is important for a better understanding of European religious and cultural identities.
This Master's degree programme is unique due to its multidisciplinary nature. It combines philological, religious-comparative and cultural-historical approaches. In addition, we offer the first diachronic overview of esotericism from the very beginnings of our Western Culture in ancient Greece to its latest manifestations in modern multicultural society.
After a solid introduction to ancient philosophical esotericism, and to Hermetic and Gnostic lore, you will:
learn about mystical traditions and the influence of Kabbalistic esotericism in Western culture from Late Antiquity down to the present day
be able to analyze and understand ancient and modern esoteric discourses
study the processes of exchange between East and West that have shaped contemporary religious landscapes
uncover underlying connections between ancient and modern religiosity and ponder the persistence or rebirth of religious conceptions and rituals.

Ph.D. In Religious Studies: Gnosticism, Esotericism, Mysticism (GEM) / Rice University, USA

Traditional understandings of religion often focus on events, figures, and ideas that are more or less amenable to orthodox framings of what constitutes religious truth and practice. But what if we do not privilege these public “winning” voices, but look also at those heterodox or esoteric currents of the history of religions that have been actively repressed, censored, or simply forgotten by their respective cultures? What if, moreover, we privilege the psychology and phenomenology of religious experience over the authorial framing of these events by the faith traditions, even as we explore and analyze the profound ways the faith traditions shape these same “individual” experiences?

The comparative categories of mysticism, gnosticism, and esotericism are all modern constructs, each different in nuance but all designed to ask just these sorts of dialectical questions, to relate orthodoxy to heterodoxy, and vice-versa.

This area of concentration in the Ph.D. program at Rice provides students the opportunity to study the varieties and commonalities of mysticism, gnosticism, and esotericism as these phenomena are both shaped within and marshaled outside (or even against) discrete religious traditions. The Department’s approach to the study of mysticism, gnosticism, and esotericism is grounded in the rigorous study of single traditions, to the extent that it demands distinct philological and historical training in particular cultural areas. It is also explicitly comparative, to the extent that it draws on multiple traditions—from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, to Hinduism, Buddhism, and the New Age—for its comprehensive materials and theorizing.

2015 Esoteric Book Conference

Esoteric Book Conference 2015 

The 2015 Esoteric Book Conference will be in Seattle on September 26th and 27th, 2015.

The Esoteric Book Conference is an annual international event to bring together authors, artists, publishers and bookmakers working in the field of esotericism. In addition to presentations by notable authors and scholars, the conference opens it doors to publishers and booksellers showcasing new & used books as well as rare and hard­-to-­find esoteric texts. For two days the conference hosts the largest selection of esoteric books under one roof. Contemporary esoteric publishing, fine press book arts and antiquarian texts are offered to augment the libraries of readers, scholars and collectors alike.
This multi-­disciplined conference will feature presentations by contemporary authorities researching and working in esoteric currents both East & West. Western Esotericism, Gnosticism, Theosophy, Mythology, Shamanism, Rosicrucianism, Sacred Sciences, Occult and World Religions are among the subjects to be represented. An esoteric book fair and art show will also be on site allowing education, vending and networking in a unique field of literary, historical and cultural arts.
This conference offers several opportunities for promotion, networking and exhibition for publishers, authors and artists who work in the esoteric publishing field. There will be two days of presentations wherein authors and scholars may present lectures as well as a book fair with scheduled book signings. On Saturday night there will be an evening of entertainment featuring various ritual performances.

Call for Submissions 

The dates are September 26th & 27th, 2015 and the conference will be hosted this year at the University of Washington.
Proposals for the 7th annual EBC are now being accepted.
Speakers are encouraged to submit talks touching on historical or contemporary esoteric subjects. As the specific focus of the EBC is on Esoteric Books, presentations that relate to esoteric book[s] in particular or coincide with a new or recent release are given preference in determining the line up of guest speakers. The focus should be on presentations as opposed to practical workshops. Talks should be 45 minutes in length including time for questions. A short abstract describing the talk and its title should accompany contact information.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Assisting a young brother

It is rare that I make a personal appeal and I am not going to do so again in the near future, but every so often some goal or personal quest seems of worth. I myself do not have the resources to personally assist this young brother, but I can let others know about his situation.

Joachim Kuzimbila (Universté de Kinshasa, 2008 · Master/DEA Agronomy; University of Lubumbashi 2003 · Zootechnie) who currently lives in Gungu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo is seeking to attend the Galilee International Management Institute's training on "Sustainable Development and Project Management in the 21st Century" from 14 to 27 July 2015 in Israel.

His goal is to be able to bring the information and skills he may learn there back to his home to help his community which very much is in need of technical assistance in such areas. he needs funding and a sponsor. If you or anyone you know is able to be of assistance, please contact me so that I can connect you with him.

It should be noted that this is an example of a brother who is seeking to do something to assist his own community in its efforts to improve their living conditions, health and well being. This young man is demonstrating the best of what the fraternity seeks to inspire in its members. I urge any group of individuals who may have the resources to assist him, to do so.