Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Masonic Wake Up Call

I came across a wonderful graphic today online through a friend of mine, and decided to share it with everyone, because I think the message is very much on target today.

Translated it states that "I think that the Masons of today, we do not need light to illumine us, we need a bell to wake us up!"

Mil gracias a R .·. L .·. Francesc Ferrer i Guardia n° 1821.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Project AWE: Where Art Meets Magic


Welcome to Project AWE (Aesthetics of Western Esotericism) = Where Art Meets Magic = Magicae artis occurat

Project Awe invites the public to join them in search of new and inspiring art evidence demonstrating esoteric ideas across time

Project Awe is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization on a mission to explore forgotten connections between Hermetic-Cabalist traditions & Art. Using the esoteric "key", AWE provides new dimensions to understanding & experiencing cultural icons of Western European heritage. Join us in search of new and inspiring evidence demonstrating esoteric ideas across time in the arts from Leonardo Da Vinci to Mozart.

project AWE offers Invisible Museum Tours an art journey to museums led by artists, scholars, & experts in the fields of Art, History, & Esotericism creating unforgettable experiences that change the way we look and interact with art.

The name for these unique tours was inspired by the concept of "invisible college" mentioned in German Rosicrucian pamphlets in the early 17th century.  This society's common theme was to acquire knowledge through experimental investigation.  "Invisible College" seems to have existed in member's minds & hearts rather than in a physical location.

project AWE promotes creativity in visual, literary, and music arts. Programs and collaborations are supported by grants

Project Awe engages via various media including:
public lectures, workshops, conferences, tours, TV series, translation work, publications, art exhibitions, recitals, & performances.

project AWE launched the Young Artist Program (Y.A.P.) to create a support system for young talent & to raise scholarship funds helping the students transition to Art College – making it possible for their dreams to become a career.

“A man that looks on glass,
On it may stay his eye
Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
And then the heaven espy.”
— George Herbert, 1633

Friday, July 17, 2015

Life Experiences – Ruaraidh MacThòmais: Cisteachan-Laighe

Life experiences; they shape us, and our understandings and actions. They alter how we view and interact with the world. I still recall exactly where I was in that moment nearly half a century ago when I had the realization which Ruaraidh MacThòmais speaks about so eloquently in this poem concerning the death of culture, of language death and its impact on those who experience it personally. Though he speaks of painful experience, such experiences may help us forge our path through life in unique and even positive ways. Taking our personal experiences as fodder for a life lived with meaning should be something for which we strive.


Duin' àrd, tana
's fiasag bheag air,
's locair 'na làimh:
gach uair theid mi seachad
air bùth-shaoirsneachd sa' bhaile,
's a thig gu mo chuinnlean fàileadh na min-sàibh,
thig gu mo chuimhne cuimhne an àit ud,
le na cisteachan-laighe,
na h-ùird 's na tairgean,
na saibh 's na sgeilbean,
is mo sheanair crom,
is sliseag bho shliseag ga locradh
bhon bhòrd thana lom.

Mus robh fhios agam dè bh' ann bàs;
beachd, bloigh fios, boillsgeadh
den dorchadas, fathann de'n t-sàmhchair.
'S nuair a sheas mi aig uaigh,
là fuar Earraich, cha dainig smuain
thugam air na cisteachan-laighe
a rinn esan do chàch:
'sann a bha mi 'g iarraidh dhachaigh,
far am biodh còmhradh, is tea, is blàths.

Is anns an sgoil eile cuideachd,
san robh saoir na h-inntinn a' locradh,
cha tug mi 'n aire do na cisteachan-laighe,
ged a bha iad 'nan suidhe mun cuairt orm;
cha do dh' aithnich mi 'm brèid Beurla,
an liomh Gallda bha dol air an fhiodh,
cha do leugh mi na facail air a' phràis,
cha do thuig mi gu robh mo chinneadh a' dol bàs.
Gus an dainig gaoth fhuar an Earraich-sa
a locradh a' chridhe;
gus na dh' fhairich mi na tairgean a' dol tromham,
's cha shlànaich tea no còmhradh an cràdh.

Ruaraidh MacThòmais (Derick Thomson) from Creachadh na Clarsaich/ Plundering the Harp (Macdonald, 1982)


A tall thin man
with a short beard,
and a plane in his hand:
whenever I pass
a joiner's shop in the city,
and the scent of sawdust comes to my nostrils,
memories return of that place,
with the coffins,
the hammers and nails,
saws and chisels,
and my grandfather, bent,
planing shavings
from a thin, bare plank.

Before I knew what death was;
or had any notion, a glimmering
of the darkness, a whisper of the stillness.
And when I stood at his grave,
on a cold Spring day, not a thought
came to me of the coffins
he made for others:
I merely wanted home
where there would be talk, and tea, and warmth.

And in the other school also,
where the joiners of the mind were planing,
I never noticed the coffins,
though they were sitting all round me;
I did not recognise the English braid,
the Lowland varnish being applied to the wood,
I did not read the words on the brass,
I did not understand that my race was dying.
Until the cold wind of this Spring came
to plane the heart;
until I felt the nails piercing me,
and neither tea nor talk will heal the pain.

Ruaraidh MacThòmais (Professor Derick S. Thomson) was a poet, publisher and editor whose impact on the Gaelic language has been immense.

MacThòmais was born in Steòrnabhagh, Leòdhas (Stornoway, Isle of Lewis), in 1921 and grew up in the nearby village of Pabail (Bayble). Following graduation at Aberdeen University and wartime service with the RAF, he studied at Cambridge and Bangor University. In 1948 he was appointed Assistant of Celtic at Edinburgh University. Ruaraidh MacThòmais died in Glasgow, 21 March 2012.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wilmshurst Revisted: Two Overlooked Republished Classics

A few years back there was an intensified interest in enlightened material within mainstream United States Freemasonry. As a result, a number of worthwhile blogs and even podcasts were developed and had a couple of years of life before sputtering. Some are still around, but despite some flag waving, we aren't seeing the numbers reversing.

This is a shame, because even though I believe that the alternatives to UGLE derived Freemasonry have the potential of reinvigorating Freemasonry, I also think that despite its misunderstanding of Anderson's intentions, its refusal to admit women, and its deplorable performance vis a vis integration, UGLE derived Freemasonry retains traditions and knowledge worthy of praise.  I also would gladly see it revive itself and become vibrant and relevant in this century. If any approach to its rituals could help in achieving that goal, I think that reflected in the writings of William Leslie Wilmshurst can lay claim to being such.

One of the authors of the first half of the 20th century who most deserves a second chance, in my opinion, and in the opinion of others, including Dr. Robert Lomas, is Walter Leslie Wilmshurst. Wilmshurst wrote about a dozen works, some were short essays while others were somewhat longer.  As with any author, some are better than others. His critique of some aspects of Freemasonry reflected his own biases, but his works of the spiritual aspects of Masonic practice deserve a place in all Freemason's library.

A few years ago, Plumbstone reissued two of his most important works in revised and annotated versions, including extensive notes clarifying his points and theories which might not be easily understood by most British and American Freemasons. These books include his "The Meaning of Masonry," and "The Masonic Initiation."

A good sampling of several of Wilmshurst's texts may be viewed on Lomas' Website.

Walter Leslie Wilmshurst (22 June 1867 – 10 July 1939) was born in Chichester, West Sussex, England.  He was initiated as a Mason in the Huddersfield lodge in 1889, having moved to the town to become a solicitor, for a time becoming president of the Huddersfield Law Society. He died in Huddersfield, in West Yorkshire, England. He was the founding master of the Lodge of Living Stones in 1927, and served as W.M in that lodge in 1928-1930 and 1937-1938. The Lodge of Living Stones was formed in 1927 in Leeds, Yorkshire, to promote a deeper interpretation of the system of Freemasonry than is usually to be found in the English Constitution.

It still meets on a monthly basis in Leeds to discuss and promote these same ideas and to help the development of any brother Mason who finds its principles resonate with his own internal "tuning fork."

According to their website, there are currently twenty-four full members of the Lodge and thirty Associate members.

The Annual Unpleasantness of July 12: The Orange Order Now and Then

The Orange Order gets back in the news every year around July 12th. Most recently it is because a major figure in the Orange Order has been charged with attempted vehicular homicide. A teenager, Phoebe Clawson was trapped under a vehicle after an incident in Ardoyne, Belfast.
In what can only be viewed as equivalent to policemen keeping their jobs after murdering innocent, unarmed victims, a prominent Orangeman has been granted bail after appearing in court accused of attempting to murder two people knocked down by a car during a riot in Belfast.

John Aughey (61), was released on the condition he adhered to strict bail restrictions. Phoebe Clawson (16) was trapped under the vehicle after the incident at the Ardoyne in north Belfast on Monday night. Police and nationalist residents moved swiftly to lift it off her. She is in a stable condition in hospital having suffered multiple broken bones.

Mr Aughey, from Brae Hill in north Belfast, is charged with her attempted murder and faces the same count in relation to another pedestrian allegedly struck by his vehicle. The incident unfolded during a loyalist riot at a sectarian interface between the nationalist Ardoyne area and the unionist Woodvale area. The lawyer questioned the appropriateness of the charges, claiming the alleged offenses were of a dangerous driving nature, not attempted murder.
Aughey, dressed in a black and white polo shirt, spoke only to confirm he understood the charges during the low key hearing.

About the Orange Order:

The Loyal Orange Institution, more commonly known as the Orange Order, is a Protestant fraternal organization based primarily in Northern Ireland. It also has a significant presence in the Scottish Lowlands and lodges throughout the Commonwealth and United States. It was founded in County Armagh in 1795 – during a period of Protestant-Catholic sectarian conflict– as a Masonic-style brotherhood sworn to maintain Protestant dominance. Its name recalls the Dutch Protestant king William of Orange, who defeated the army of King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Its members wear Orange sashes and are referred to as Orangemen. The Order is best known for its yearly marches, the biggest of which are held on 12 July which have long instigated violence.

It's foundation should be contextualized by the understanding that during the period in which it was created, in 1791 the United Irishmen were founded. The United Irishmen was a self-consciously non-sectarian organization, which included both Protestant and Catholic Irish intent upon gaining independence for the nation. It's founder, Theobald Wolf Tone was a Belfast Protestant. The United Irishmen had many ties at the time to Freemasonry, and it was only after the brutal suppression following the failure of the uprising in 1798, that Freemasonry began to be considered an anti-Irish institution in Ireland, which led, not surprisingly to the revisionist claims in some circles that Freemasons who supported the Irish cause were somehow not legitimate masons.

Politically, the Orange Order is a ultra-conservative British unionist organization with links to right wing political movements, paramilitary organizations, and even Nazi inspired organizations and the Klan. It campaigned against Scottish independence in 2014. The Order sees itself as defending Protestant civil and religious liberties, whilst critics accuse the Order of being sectarian, triumphalist and supremacist. As a Protestant society, non-Protestants cannot become members unless they agree to adhere to the principles of Orangeism and convert, nor can Protestants married to Catholics.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Freemasons: What if We Really Were to Seek Light?

Freemasons, what if we really were to seek light? If we did, what would that oblige us to do? We cannot sit back and talk about things. We must be ready to take chances and insist upon change. Here's something to think about: if we don't radically change the direction our world is heading in, Freemasonry, and a whole lot more, won't matter, because in 100 years there will be no humans to call masons. We must become part of the solution, or else we will just be part of the problem, but not for long.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

UMURM: now a legal U.S. non-profit

Finally we have received the legal papers from the United States Government confirming that the "Unión Masónica Universal del Rito Moderno, UMURM", is an official 501c3 non-profit legally registered with the United States Government. With this letter from the United States Government Internal Revenue Service stating we are a legal entity, we open our activities with the intent of strengthening research and academic development between our Members in relation to the Modern or French Rite in the European and American Continents.

We celebrate with a Triple Vivat!!!

Olga Vallejo Rueda, Vº Orden, Gr.·. 9
General Secretary of UMUMR

About the UMURM:

The UMURM shall at all times be open to any body who practices the Philosophical Modern Rite in the Five Orders of Wisdom,  which seeks admission, once their initiatory descent has been adequately documented.

The Universal Masonic Union of the Modern Rite (UMURM) incorporates the creation of an International Academy 5th. Order Modern Rite, with two main tasks:

1 - To be a Laboratory of thought to reflect on the meaning, philosophy, values, and ethics fundamental to the Modern Rite.
2 - To be an Academy of the Rite with the capacity to investigate and disseminate materials so that it can assume the role of a true conservatory of the Modern Rite, and finally advise any Supreme Council General Grand Chapter or other Philosophical body that requests it.

This Academy will operate without territorial or obediential limits, without normative rules, respecting the absolute independence of each of its members.

This Academy will be open to any Sovereign Power or Independent Chapter, but also in a personal capacity to any holder of the 5th. Ord. of Wisdom of the Modern Rite, stating his desire to be part of it and possession of documentary proof of their titles.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Letras del Año in Cuba Merge

Faustino Lázaro Cuesta Valdés, former Sovereign Grand Commander of Cuba's Scottish Rite, current Grand Master of La Gran Logia de Cuba and one of the Babalaos who founded the Organising Commission of the Letter of the Year (Comisión Organizadora de la Letra del Año) has announced the merging of the two competing Letras del Año in Cuba.

The Letter of the Year is the divination performed by committees of Babalaos or high priests of Ifa (A Yoruba religion) in Cuba to determine the character of the coming year and which serves as practical religious and daily life for followers of many Afro-Cuban religions.

Fabian Flores published that the two main currents of Cuban Santeria which produced different “Letters of the Year” prophecies at the beginning of each January have announced that they will come together and make public a single version of the predictions by the popular oracle Ifa.

"At a time of political pacts and ecumenical alliances, the two groups agreed that, as of December 31 this year, only one “Letter of the Year” prophecy will be announced in Cuba, with the support of the two main Santeria groups on the island."

Lazaro Cuesta, a Babalao who is one of the founders and organizers of the commission responsible for the Letter of the Year, and Jose Manuel Perez, chair of Cuba’s Yoruba Cultural Association, joined in a press conference to announce their agreement, seen as consolidating the community of Afro-Cuban religion practitioners. The historical accord resulted from several exchanges and a final meeting, held on June 20.

"For many years, the two groups struggled to establish the supremacy of their separate oracles and released their prophecies simultaneously in Havana. Currently, in addition to those announced in Cuba, there is also the Letter made public by Babalaos who have emigrated to Miami and others in Puerto Rico, Venezuela and elsewhere"

The existence of two bodies of oracular prophecies on the island was also a sign of the division within Afro-Cuban religions and suspicion surrounding the Yoruba Cultural Association, because of its praise for official government policy and the support received from Antonio Castañeda Marquez, the Babalao who achieved a high position within State institutions.

Castañeda who passed away last year had been consecrated as a Babalao in 1965. From ostracism and exclusion he passed to official recognition and became the chair of Cuba’s Yoruba Cultural Association (with official government support) in 1991. In 2008, he was elected representative at the National Assembly of the People’s Power (parliament).

Cuesta and Perez agree that this pact seeks to avoid confusion and the lack of confidence that the two Letters of the Year were creating among believers, but note that agreement does not mean that the existence of divergent thought and postures within the religious community will be ignored. Rather it demonstrates that “one can walk down different roads while looking in the same direction,” as Cuesta explained.

Next year (2016) will start with a unified Letter of the Year, at a time when everything in Cuban society is undergoing change, including the political landscape that will develop after the end of Raul Castro’s presidential term in 2018.

Cuesta, who as noted has achieved the highest ranks in "regular" Cuban Freemasonry, is also involved in various Masonic endeavors. He recalled that "in the past we established  a Masonic national school and university for the brothers who did not have the economic ability to study. Another project, the Masonic National Asylum, was created in 1918 and is the only one surviving."

There is a black mark on the history of relations between Freemasons and religions so some may be surprised that a babalawo can occupy high office in Freemasonry. Cuesta explained that even "Masons require belief in a supreme being, which we call the Great Architect of the Universe."

He added however, that "we are not allowed to express religious views within the lodges because as there are so many variants of faith that can hurt other ties and Freemasonry wants to unite its members, making links in a great chain. So we respect any belief, we accept an evangelist pastor, a Jehovah's Witness, a Muslim or a Yoruba religionist. We do not measure the faith of any of the people who are part of our institution, we believe that the most important thing is communication among men. Masonry and politics live together because the Masons are also political but must personally take a non-institutional (within Masonry). In the lodges we still have brothers who are against the system and others who support the revolution, but the institution is strengthened by the thought of all, when this is transparent and honest."

Lazaro Cuesta notes that "that there was a distiction between before and after Fidel Castro recognized that a religious person can join the Communist Party (1992). Until then be Mason constituted almost a crime. There was no law (regarding this) but we were regarded with suspicion. Today the situation has changed but still find some are recalcitrant, with a hostile attitude. But the state's relations with Masonry are today quite healthy and respectful."


Fernando Ravsberg:

Fabián Flores:

Julio Batista:

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Dignity and Economic Responsibility Today in Greece

Hoy la bandera de Grecia es la bandera de la dignidad.

Today the flag of Greece is the flag of dignity.

Gracias a Iván Hererra Michel

Spirit Builders: A New Free Illuminist Memphis Misraim Book Released

Spirit Builders
A Free Illuminist Approach to the Antient & Primitive Rite of Memphis Misraim
Written & Illustrated by Tau Palamas

SPIRIT BUILDERS explores a radical expression of a little known branch of mystical Freemasonry for men and women, and provides a ritual monitor and guide for those desirous of practicing this avant-garde system.

Book One—In Free Communion, explores the movement of Free Illuminism, its central tenets, the spiritual transmissions it has inherited, the nature of the points-chauds empowerments & the relationship of the Rites of Memphis+Misraim with these same empowerments.

Book Two—The Violet Lodge, provides a complete three-degree system for working bodies to fully integrate the points empowerments in a Lodge setting.

Book Three—Hauts Grades, includes a complete ritual monitor & guide for working all 97 Degrees of the Antient & Primitive Rite of Memphis+Misriam, according to the Ecclesiastical Revision of 1921-22, and as expounded upon by Free Illuminists in the Jean-Maine lineage. Book Three also functions as one of the expressions of the intuitional instrumentations of the INNER RETREAT as found in the Third Year Course of the Monastery of the Seven Rays.

Appendices include an Afterword by T Allen Greenfield, an Elemental Mass of the Misraim and multiple essays by Free Illuminists from around the globe who are experimenting with the points-chauds empowerments.

Soft Cover Edition Retail $90
Shipping $6.00 within the U.S. Per Volume.
Worldwide shipping $30.00 Per Volume.

See Spirit Builders: An Amazing Book on Memphis Misraim for more more information and images from the book!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Michael Poll and the The Supreme Council of Louisiana

This post is about the original Scottish Rite Masonry of New Orleans. To give it its correct name, The Supreme Council of Louisiana. It was founded in the late 18th or early 19th century and the records of the Grand Commanders of this Council stretch from 1839 until today. Common wisdom suggested that it ceased to exist in the late 1800s, but recent work by Michael Poll has uncovered that it is still active.

This post is however, in another way, as much about, as I will present it, Brother Michael Poll's research as it is the fruit of that research. I hope he will forgive me for saying this, as I know he is a modest man. He is as stubborn and as dedicated a researcher into obscure history as I am, and extremely talented!

Over the last few years we have engaged in a friendly exchange. Apart from this enjoyable communication, without any doubt this gentleman deserves complements. He is a superb academic researcher. Far too many who call themselves Masonic historians are amateurs, and not all who have academic training are talented researchers. A good researcher requires both skill and talent. There is nothing amateur about the work of Michael Poll. In my view, he has thrown himself into what may be the most unique and important research on Masonic history in the United States. It certainly is, in my opinion, the most interesting research of recent years.  As you will discover when you watch this video he has recorded, he is also a great raconteur in the old tradition.

After becoming aware of this work and the video Bro. Poll created to present an account of his own discoveries, I sat down with a beer and a cigar to enjoy a fifty minute account of his research on the original Supreme Council of Louisiana.

What followed for me represents a fascinating account of the best sort of research. Allow me to make a preliminary observation of my own. Research by definition deals with persistent and hard work. It requires an attention to detail and the willingness to spend sometimes untold hours reading through often mind-numbingly dry material, looking for specific hints that may (or may not) lead to what one is seeking, and when we are very lucky, this can lead to information we had no idea even existed. When one is on the correct trail, in my opinion, spirit steps in. Synchronicity and serendipity play a role in good research. Listening to Bro. Poll's account of his research we see how unexpected connections occurred again and again! These seeming coincidental occurrences can lead someone who is in the flow of true connections, to the most amazing discoveries. What Michael Poll describes here, in a very personal and natural way, indeed a very engaging way, provides the viewer with a front row seat to a most fascinating voyage of discovery in the living history of New Orleans, Louisiana, and American Freemasonry.

Along the way, we are not only treated to a fascinating story of discovery, but for those who are attuned to and interested in such matters, insight into the techniques and nuances of a careful and thorough field researcher. I note that because for those not familiar with research, the distinction is an important one. There are researchers who spend all their days in rooms looking at old documents, and while that is both important and difficult work, there is another kind of research. Those who go beyond the library and seek information concerning living history and living culture require an additional set of skills. Those who are capable of excelling at both are rare. This video details exactly that rare form of research and Michael Poll makes it sound as if it was as simple as a drive on a Sunday afternoon. Don't allow his "natural" presentation fool you. There were years of hard work behind this video.

What Poll has discovered is nothing short of remarkable. This research has uncovered not a history of an ancient and now defunct obedience of Scottish Rite Masonry which played a role in the development of that Rite in the 18th and 19th centuries, but that this obedience has survived up to our own day, little noticed and largely ignored, hidden in plain view. Not only does he present the first information of this remarkable survival, but an invaluable record of the process of research and discovery, which will be of interest to academics almost as much as the discovery of the original Supreme Council of Louisiana itself.

Rather than repeat the content of the research Michael Poll discusses in this video, in part because I don't wish to give the reader any spoilers, but also because his own account is too fascinating to paraphrase, I urge you to watch this video and experience a unique window into how the best Masonic research should be done. He suggests that further videos will follow, and I for one hope they will, as this one simply whets the appetite!


 A personal look at the discovery of the continued existence of a long lost supreme council.

To communicate requesting further information on this subject, send  an email to:

A Production of
The New Orleans Scottish Rite College
Views expressed in this video are those of Michael R. Poll and not necessarily those of any Masonic Body.

Funded by
Cornerstone Book Publishers

Educational support by
The Louisiana Lodge of Research

Additional Readings:

"Outline of the Rise and Progress of Freemasonry in Louisiana" by James B. Scot,Introduction by Alain Bernheim, Afterword by Michael R. Poll (

"Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in Thirty-three Degrees" by Robert B. Folger (

"Historical Inquiry into the Origins of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite" by James Foulhouze Foreword by Michael R. Poll

"In His Own (w)Rite" by Michael R. Poll

"The Schism Between the Scotch & York Rites" by Charles Laffon de Ladébat

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