art, portrait, albert pike, illustration

Travis Simpkins: Interview with the Portrait Artist Taking Freemasonry by Storm

Elena Llamas, Director of Public Relations for The Phoenixmasonry Masonic Museum and Library. Portrait by Travis Simpkins.

Elena Llamas,
Director of Public Relations for The Phoenixmasonry Masonic Museum and Library. Portrait by Travis Simpkins.

If you have a lot of Mason friends and follow various Masonic and related personalities, like I do, you for sure have noticed how profile photos have been shifting to the signature style portrait drawings of artist Travis Simpkins. Phoenixmasonry is pleased to have had the opportunity to interview this prolific artist so we can all learn more about him and his art.

EL (Elena Llamas): Hello, Bro. Travis, thank you for agreeing to this interview. I am honored to have the chance to talk to you about your work, which I have been admiring for quite some time now.

TS (Travis Simpkins): Thank you. It is my pleasure.

EL: Tell us about your training as an artist. When did you know you had an interest and talent for art? Did you study art formally?

TS: I’m sure I must have possessed some innate talent as a child, but I didn’t really pursue many artistic interests until my teen years.


Artist Travis Simpkins

My art education was two-fold:

I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Degree from Anna Maria College [in Massachusetts] in 2002. At Anna Maria, the curriculum focused on traditional forms of art rendered through a diverse range of mediums, from painting to sculpture, but an emphasis was placed on working from life. Working from life means that you are looking at actual 3D models in front of you, be it people or objects.

I also undertook additional studies in Arizona with Photorealist artist James Frederick Mueller. Jim had some success in the 1970’s and 80’s, including a portrait commission of a former U.S. President. Along with the detailed logistics of the method, I learned a very valuable skill from Jim… the ability to create convincing portraits while working from photographs.

EL: Well, your portraits are definitely convincing!

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Freemason and Composer of Masonic Music, by Travis Simpkins

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Freemason and Composer of Masonic Music, by Travis Simpkins

TS: In my work, I still utilize both disciplines on a regular basis. I work from life while sketching objects in museums. With portraits, however, I work from photographs. Using photos offers greater freedom. I’m not limited by proximity and the internet has allowed the whole world to become an accessible market. I can accept commissions and create portraits of people I’ve never met, many of whom live thousands of miles away.

EL: That is wonderful, yes

TS: In the realm of art, portraiture has always been one of the most difficult subjects to master. It offers both a challenge and a sense of accomplishment. If you can render a human face, and do it well, then you can draw just about anything else. There will always be a demand for well-crafted, quality portraits.

EL: I believe you! You have to be true to what you see. It must be quite difficult.

Albert Pike, 33° Scottish Rite Freemason and Author of "Morals & Dogma" by Travis Simpkins

Albert Pike, 33° Scottish Rite Freemason and Author of “Morals & Dogma” by Travis Simpkins

EL: Many portrait artists switch the background or medium of their work. You have a very unique and consistent signature style which involves a, and please excuse my lack of technical knowledge here, to the untrained eye it seems to involve a discreet pink background with black and white strokes in either pencil or charcoal. How did you develop this style and why have you remained consistent using it?

TS: It’s a classic sketching technique, utilized for hundreds of years, reminiscent of Old Master drawings. I just take that historic sense and extend it to contemporary subjects. The end result has a timeless quality, connecting the past and present in a relatable way.

EL: How interesting.

Benjamin Franklin. Statesman, Printer and Freemason, by Travis Simpkins

Benjamin Franklin. Statesman, Printer and Freemason, by Travis Simpkins

TS: I keep making portraits in that particular style for a few reasons. Firstly, I work on commission and create artwork to order. The charcoal drawings are popular and I keep getting requests for that particular aesthetic. As long as the business demand is there, I’ll keep producing them. Secondly, it’s important for an artist to have a unique style; to have their works be instantly recognizable as being created by their hand. For me, these portraits border on that signature element.

EL: Absolutely

TS: Lastly, I simply enjoy creating them. I work quickly and lack the patience for slow and tedious mediums. Drawing offers a sense of spontaneity, immediacy and expressiveness that other art forms don’t.

Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States. Freemason, by Travis Simpkins

Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States. Freemason, by Travis Simpkins

EL: I noticed some of the Freemasons you have drawn portraits for have Masonic pins on their clothes, that is a very nice signature detail of yours.

TS: Good portraits display some attribute, prop or element to convey the subject’s personal interests and passions. Small visual details can help to tell a person’s unique story. Over the course of their Masonic journey, many Masons are deservedly honored for their achievements, and I’ve found that Masonic jewels make great portrait accessories.

EL: Besides drawing a lot of esoteric, personal, and Masonic portraits, you also have a series of archeological drawings, is this another interest of yours?

TS: I work with several museums and cultural institutions, and those sketches are based on works of art displayed in museum collections. I am usually assigned to draw certain objects, but others are chosen for my own enjoyment. Those sketches are interesting in that they offer an interpretive connection with history, with ancient works of art being filtered through my viewpoint as an artist in the present.

Worcester Art Museum: Pre-Columbian Seated Male Figure, 900-1200 AD, by Travis Simpkins

Worcester Art Museum: Pre-Columbian Seated Male Figure, 900-1200 AD, by Travis Simpkins

TS: In my work with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, I create artwork for an ongoing HR program. I am tasked with creating sketches of works in the museum’s collection, which the museum then frames and presents as gifts to noteworthy recipients.

EL: That is awesome!

TS: I greatly enjoy the job, but more than that, I’m truly honored that the Gardner Museum recognizes the quality of my work and has chosen my art to represent their world-renowned collection.

Worcester Art Museum: Ancient Greek Corinthian Helmets, 550-450 BC, by Travis Simpkins

Worcester Art Museum: Ancient Greek Corinthian Helmets, 550-450 BC, by Travis Simpkins

TS: Earlier this year, I began working as an Art Advisor with the Massachusetts Senate. One of our State Senators wanted to have college student artwork from his constituency represented in his office at the State House in Boston, and I helped draft an initiative and offered logistical advice for the project. It is quite rewarding, personally, to see the proud expressions on the faces of the students and their parents as the artwork is put on display at the state capitol.

TS: Last year, I was hired by the Worcester Historical Museum to create portraits of three generations of the Salisbury Family (17th-18th Century benefactors of the city). My artwork was put on display in the circa 1772 Salisbury Mansion, placed alongside paintings by colonial-era portraitist Gilbert Stuart. Gilbert Stuart painted the famous portrait of George Washington (used on the dollar bill) and is one of my artistic heroes, so that was quite an honor.

EL: Wow! That is fantastic!

George Washington Masonic Memorial. Cornerstone. Alexandria, Virginia, by Travis Simpkins

George Washington Masonic Memorial. Cornerstone. Alexandria, Virginia, by Travis Simpkins

TS: I also work at the Worcester Art Museum, having taken on various roles from assisting in art classes to monitoring the safety and security of the artwork on display. I have also referred collectors I know to the Worcester Art Museum, and my efforts and connections in that regard have culminated in the addition of more than 300 works of art to WAM’s permanent collection, including 97 woodblock prints by Japanese artist Yoshida Toshi.

Art Security is a major concern of mine as well, both personally and professionally. I hold a certification from the International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection. I am a contributor to various art security forums, conducting research into art theft, preservation and archaeological ethics.

EL: How interesting. Keeping art safe is a challenge! Your wife is also a talented artist.

TS: My wife, Janet, is an amazing artist. She has a wonderful eye for detail. Currently, she is working on a series of miniature paintings, which have been on display in three gallery shows so far this year. We share a mutual love and respect, and I credit all of my success (artistic and otherwise) to her encouragement and support.

EL: Wonderful! How sweet! She does have an eye for detail as can be seen in the miniature painting below.

Janet Simpkins, 2x3 inch mini-painting

Janet Simpkins, 2×3 inch mini-painting

EL: Can anyone contact you for a portrait? If so, how and where?

TS: Portrait commissions can be made through my website:

I can be emailed directly at:

Find my page on Facebook as “Travis Simpkins: Artist & Museum Professional”

Affordable prints of my portraits of historical Freemasons can be purchased through Cornerstone Book Publishers at:

EL: Your work has rightfully earned a vibrant place in the hearts and minds of Freemasons. Is there anything I did not ask that you would like to talk about?

TS: I’m glad to hear others describe my Masonic portraits as a contribution to the fraternity, it’s meaningful to be able to play some part in my own way. It is a wonderful organization and being raised a Master Mason will always be a defining moment in my life. Since joining earlier this year, I feel that I’ve already made many lasting friendships and associations. I have experienced the start of an incredible journey and am open-minded to future opportunities in Freemasonry. All of the brethren at Morning Star Lodge in Worcester and the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in Boston have been very welcoming and helpful. I am looking forward to joining the Scottish Rite Valley of Worcester and the Boston Consistory later this year. I hope to do a lot of traveling over the coming years and experience the Masonic art, architecture and fellowship in other areas as well.

Mark Twain, Author and Freemason. Mark Twain House & Museum. Hartford, CT, by Travis Simpkins

Mark Twain, Author and Freemason. Mark Twain House & Museum. Hartford, CT, by Travis Simpkins

EL: Your work is an outstanding contribution to Freemasonry and the Fraternity is most fortunate to have had you join. Thank you again, for this interview. Bro. Travis’ portraits cost about $200 (for an 8×10 inch drawing) if you would like to get your own or get one as a gift. Phoenixmasonry will certainty keep an eye on your work to let our friends and fans know what you are up to in the future. Thank you everyone for reading!

David Lettelier. Founder of Phoenixmasonry Masonic Museum and Library, by Travis Simpkins

David Lettelier. Founder of Phoenixmasonry Masonic Museum and Library, by Travis Simpkins

John Hancock, Freemason. St. Andrew's Lodge. Boston, MA, by Travis Simpkins

John Hancock, Freemason. St. Andrew’s Lodge. Boston, MA, by Travis Simpkins

Charles Lindbergh. Aviator, Author and Explorer. 1st Solo Flight Across Atlantic, by Travis Simpkins

Charles Lindbergh. Aviator, Author and Explorer. 1st Solo Flight Across Atlantic, by Travis Simpkins


Fred Milliken,Freemason Information,The Beehive

What is Freemasonry? A Response to Tim Bryce & Greg Stewart


As the third writer on Freemason Information I’ll jump in with both feet and take a stab at this question. Both Tim & Greg have attempted to define Freemasonry as an intellectual enterprise of definition devoid of the feelings of individual Freemasons. And it is precisely those feelings that help define the Craft. Sometimes what counts is not reality but perception. One needs to get a sense of what motivates a person to join Freemasonry. Those reasons shed a lot of light on how Freemasonry is perceived, and how it is perceived is really what it is to flesh and bone human beings. The Craft then becomes not what one wants it to be but what it really is to its practitioners.

That is not to take to task my fellow writers for I do not disagree with their conclusions. I come not to bury Caesar but to praise him, which is a little twist on a famous quote. I just don’t think they take their cases far enough. Stewart tells us:

“As a fraternity, Tim’s conclusion is that while not a club, philanthropy, religion or political action committee, Freemasonry is a place where, and I’m paraphrasing here, moral men meet on common ground to act rightly to one another.  He concludes saying that men gathered like this for no more reason than to associate so.”

“While I can’t find a disagreement on that conclusion, one has to ask gather to for what end?”  

That’s a good question I will ask again and answer later. I don’t think Stewart ever really answered it. But first I would point out, as I have done many times before, that Freemasons are on different levels of Masonic development and practice. What one Freemason sees in the Craft another does not. What one man practices in Freemasonry another shuns. Some see Freemasonry as a philosophical society, some as a social organization, some as just a means to networking, some as a claim to prestige, some as a way of life and some as a bonding of like thinking human beings. I think what Stewart was saying is that they are all right.

What we perceive is shaped greatly by our personal experiences, our environment. I have had the pleasure to experience Prince Hall Freemasonry, unlike Bryce and Stewart who have not. And in that experience I have had the joy of some very tight bonding. Brothers in Prince Hall hug or embrace each other, always and often. There is a real concern for a Brother’s well being. We not only pray for a Brother in distress or mourning but we do the same for our sisters in OES and HOJ. We will not hesitate to provide direct aid. We tend to work together on projects outside of Freemasonry. There is one big word to describe this experience – FAMILY. In Prince Hall we are all family.

Now I am by no means putting down Mainstream Freemasonry in this regard. I am sure there is the same concern there. But to me and for me its “stiff upper lip” standoffness is a sharp contrast in demonstration of that concern.

I am at once reminded of the words of H.L. Haywood:

 “Freemasonry does not exist in a world where brotherhood is a mere dream flying along the sky; it exists in a world of which brotherhood is the law of human life. Its function is not to bring brotherhood into existence just as a hot-house gardener may at last coax into bloom a frail flower, though the climate is most unfriendly, but to lead men to understand that brotherhood is already a reality, a law, and that it is not until we come to know it as such, and practice it, that we can ever find happiness, together. Freemasonry does not create something too fine and good for this rough world; it “reveals” something that is as much a part of the world as roughness itself. In other words, it removes the hoodwink of jealousy, hatred, unkindness, and all the other myriad forms of unbrotherliness in order that a man may see and thus come to know how good and pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. The hoodwink of cloth or leather that is bound over a man’s eyes is not the real hoodwink at all, but only the symbol thereof; the real hoodwink, and it is that which Freemasonry undertakes to remove from a man’s eyes, is all that anti-social and unhuman spirit out of which grow the things that make life unkind and unhappy. “Brotherhood is heaven; the lack of brotherhood is hell.”

So Freemasonry is a brotherhood with camaraderie. OK, but what difference does it make what it is, isn’t it really all about what it does, especially for the individual Freemason? So what does Freemasonry provide to its members?

My answer is that it provides Community. Everybody needs Community, from the gangbanger to the single mother with 3 children to the Freemason. It is an inherent need of all humankind, the social animals that we are.  If you have read Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled, Timeless Edition: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth you know what I am talking about. In case you haven’t Peck has a brief explanation of Community for us.

  • Inclusivity, commitment and consensus: Members accept and embrace each other, celebrating their individuality and transcending their differences. They commit themselves to the effort and the people involved. They make decisions and reconcile their differences through consensus.
  • Realism: Members bring together multiple perspectives to better understand the whole context of the situation. Decisions are more well-rounded and humble, rather than one-sided and arrogant.
  • Contemplation: Members examine themselves. They are individually and collectively self-aware of the world outside themselves, the world inside themselves, and the relationship between the two.
  • A safe place: Members allow others to share their vulnerability, heal themselves, and express who they truly are.
  • A laboratory for personal disarmament: Members experientially discover the rules for peacemaking and embrace its virtues. They feel and express compassion and respect for each other as fellow human beings.
  • A group that can fight gracefully: Members resolve conflicts with wisdom and grace. They listen and understand, respect each others’ gifts, accept each others’ limitations, celebrate their differences, bind each others’ wounds, and commit to a struggle together rather than against each other.
  • A group of all leaders: Members harness the “flow of leadership” to make decisions and set a course of action. It is the spirit of community itself that leads and not any single individual.

I think Bryce & Stewart are trying to make the symptoms the disease.

So if Freemasonry is Community we are back to Stewart’s question we promised to answer, for what purpose? First of all to be  Community. That’s enough of an explanation in itself. But to personalize it more to Freemasonry, to be a very special Community of morality and purpose with a message, to practice all of the above – all that has been written in all 3 articles on this subject.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts on what Freemasonry is in the comments below.

Also Read A Response to Tim Bryce’s What is Freemasonry?  and A Response to Tim Bryce & Greg Stewart

Rooftop Raising

rooftop raising - opening the lodgeSome days you don’t even feel like getting out of bed. Saturday, April 27, 2013 was one of those days and while I slept in I didn’t stay in. Oh no, no way. For there was a rooftop raising to go to and I was to be the Chaplain. So with a cold, muscular-skeletal issues, nevertheless, I persevered because this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity.


Arriving early I was able to take pictures as the rooftop space was being set up and in the light of day. We opened Lodge as the sun set and 6 Fellow Crafts were raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason in the night. We had two sidelights and the lighting of the three lesser lights around the altar. That was all.

This whole idea was the brainchild of Worshipful Jerome D. Lacy, Master of Metropolitan Lodge #146, DeSoto, Texas, a Lodge of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas. We gathered on the 5th floor rooftop of a building on the side of a hill in Dallas along I35 just south of downtown Dallas. From this vantage point one could see a beautiful view of the core city of Dallas.

The degree was performed by a degree team comprised of Brothers from many of the Lodges of the 11th Masonic District. All 11 Lodges of the district had representatives present to watch this degree. Both the Grand Master and Deputy Grand Master were present to lend their support.

What a sight it was to see 6 Brothers at the altar taking their obligation illuminated just by the three lesser lights and 75 Master Masons on the right and the left. The Master was on the East side of the altar under the wands and the Chaplain on the West side under the wands.

Only a little bit later these 6 Brothers were raised under the canopy of a true starry decked heaven, the one that God made. Afterward we all sat down for a meal under the stars and fellowshipped only as Master Masons can.

The night was a huge success and when anybody asks me about this “Masonic male bonding thing,” I always tell them you got to see it and experience it to believe it. This was one of many great instances where being a Freemason was proved to be something special!

Hando Nahkur Plays Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto

Brother Hando Nahkur Plays Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3

Brother Hando Nahkur and Br. Beehive

Brother Hando Nahkur and Br. Beehive

It was a pleasure to once again go to watch the wondrous talent of Brother Hando Nahkur performing this time with the Irving Symphony Orchestra. Nahkur is emerging as one of the great new concert pianists.

He holds a Bachelor’s of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Gabriel Chodos, a Certificate in Performance and Master’s of Music degree from Yale University School of Music, where he studied with Boris Berman and Artist Diploma from Texas Christian University School of Music, where he studied with Tamas Ungar. Currently Nahkur is continuing his studies with Joaquin Achucarro at SMU Meadows School of the Arts.

He has garnered many top prizes in both national and international piano competitions including the USA, Canada, Estonia, Italy, Russia and Greece. In recognition of his achievements he was awarded a prestigious Golden Medal of Merit in Canada.

April 13, 2013 Nahkur performed with the Irving, Texas Symphony Orchestra Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor. This piece is judged by experts to be one of the most difficult piano selections in the world to play. After a flawless hour long performance Nahkur received three standing ovations from a most appreciative audience.

When Nahkur isn’t studying and practicing, arranging music, making CDs, teaching piano and playing for his church every Sunday he spends time with his Masonic Lodge in Fort Worth Texas.

It took more than 6 months for Nahkur to start from scratch and learn Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.3. The Beehive congratulates Nahkur’s accomplishments and continued success. As he is a regular reader of The Beehive perhaps you might want to pass onto him your congratulations also!

Florida Masonic Scandal

Grand Master Repeal Rule 3

Most Worshipful Grand Master:

Florida Masonic ScandalWith all due personal and Masonic respect, in the spirit of Masonic “due and timely notice,” I feel compelled to address your Ruling and Decision No. 3, of 2012. While your ruling is unique to the Florida Jurisdiction, it has stirred a major controversy; adverse to the peace and harmony amongst regular Freemasons, beyond your Jurisdiction.

As a particular case in point, it was thoroughly, passionately and constructively discussed at my most recent Lodge meeting. It is also currently scheduled to be discussed in at least one other Lodge in the Seattle area, which I’m aware of. None present at my Lodge’s most recent meeting indicated any magnitude of agreement with your position, as expressed in your Ruling and Decision No. 3. However, one of the points of the discussion was whether or not it was appropriate to advocate that the Washington Grand Lodge remove its recognition of the Florida Grand Lodge.

In the spirit of Freemasonry, and in hope of contributing to the healing of any controversy surrounding your Ruling and Decision No. 3, I respectfully request that you seriously consider the following viewpoints:

1.Your ruling clearly cites the “Landmarks” submitted by Dr. Albert Mackey; which, in their entirety, did not actively serve Freemasonry when they were written. Nor have these “Landmarks” been at all widely accepted, to any appreciable degree, by Freemasons as the basis for Masonic Jurisprudence; unique Masonic Code coincidence excepted.

2.If “Mackey’s Landmarks” (25) are to be the basis for strict modern Masonic jurisprudence, it is academic that they must be considered in their entirety. Such would be unacceptable, just by virtue of their assertion that any Grandmaster is entitled to make “Masons at site.”

3.If followed, “Mackey’s Landmarks” – and your Ruling and Decision No. 3 – regarding religion, would by extension, imply the necessary exclusion of those, amongst others, of the Jewish faith; while accepting those of the Islamic following – with a predictable accompanying furor, however irrational such may be. Certainly, the expense and monetary consequences of potential civil litigation need to be considered; add the predictable PR damage to the Masonic fraternity.

4.If continued, your Ruling and Decision No. 3 is clearly and logically destined to force a ‘comparative review’ of the Christian religion, in general; with potentially damaging viewpoints and associated consequences – to ultimately be associated with not only “Freemasonry,” but your personal legacy as a Grandmaster. Just within the confines of Freemasonry, any such exchanges are overwhelmingly unconscionable, particularly having been instigated by a Masonic Grandmaster, inadvertently or otherwise.

5.Additionally, your Ruling and Decision No. 3 sends the clearly implied message that the Masonic doors and Lodge rooms are open to liars; while punishing members of integrity and honesty. Worse, fearing an unpredictable ‘purge, a significant percentage of members of any Florida Lodge would find it instantly compelling to resort to dishonesty; as the easiest resolution to a clearly distasteful ruling – with a consequent and enduring distrust of the Florida Grand Lodge, per se.

6.I would also encourage you to consider the potential for your Ruling and Decision No. 3 also being locally viewed and noted as a personal violation of the Florida Jurisdiction’s Master Masons’ Obligation, prohibiting any act which would wrong either a Lodge or an individual Master Mason; regardless of whether or not Masonic charges are asserted.

Accordingly, in the interest of Masonic peace and harmony, I implore you to withdraw your Ruling and Decision No. 3.

Fraternally and Respectfully,
Ralph W. Omholt P.M.

masonic seminar, leading a masonic lodge

Charity as a Core of Our Craft

Today’s article comes from Brother Wayne Anderson of Canada who runs a weekly Masonic Newsletter, publishing a new article each Sunday to everyone on his list. If you wish to get on Anderson’s List E-Mail him at  The Beehive has published articles with a similar point of view in regards to Masonic charity in the past. Today’s article once again reaffirms the corruption of Freemasonry in some jurisdictions.

Charity as a Core of Our Craft

The Relevancy of Charity in the Masonic World II
R.W. Bro. Thomas W. Jackson
2004 Blue Friar Lecture

300px-Square_and_compasses2My Brothers, I have had the great privilege and pleasure for more than 2 decades, to visit many Grand Lodges, in North American as well as in much of the rest of the world, and to see how Freemasonry operates over the better part of the globe.  As you might expect, one of the most striking characteristics of it, is the similarity of its principals and precepts.  It is quite evident that its basic philosophical reasons for existence are universal.  This feature is the glue that holds it together, and has done so for centuries.  The universality of Freemasonry on a world scale is totally dependent upon maintaining these principles and precepts.  That is not so say that there have not been differences between or variances within individual Grand Lodges, but Regular Freemasonry has not deviated from its basic philosophy.

One unexpected observation that I did find however was that the operational philosophies of Freemasonry did vary; depending upon the part of the world in which it existed.  The tenants of Freemasonry were ever present, but the forces driving it, made it relevant to the environment in which it existed.  Jasper Ridley, in his recent book, The Freemasons: A History of the World’s Most Powerful Secret Society, made the same observations, historically.  His observations, however, tended more to define individual Grand Lodges, or limited geographical regions.  The observations I made covered continents.

I found in Europe for example, that Freemasonry has retained much more of the philosophical qualities that characterized it in its early life.  This is not too difficult to understand since its origin was in Europe, and there was a greater degree of stability existing due to the age of the countries, and therefore with a lesser stimulus to diverge.  Hence, European Freemasonry displays a more philosophical form of Freemasonry than is found in the rest of the world.

In contrast to this philosophical style, Central America, and South America have a form of Freemasonry more driven by sociological demands of its environment. It retains the basic tenets of Freemasonry, while its operations practices tend to take on a more idealistic and progressive approach in establishing the goals of the Craft, to meet the needs of the society in which it exists.  Its idealism causes it to seek more lofty goals than is generally found elsewhere in the Masonic world.  Hence we find a more sociological form of Freemasonry.

While Mexico mirrors much of the socio-graphical qualities by which the Craft if known, probably due to an acquired complacency coupled with a lack of a force driving it.  Certainly it has been true in recent years.  Perhaps this complacency is a result of an absence of the same social needs as those in the countries to our south.  What we have evolved into however, is an organization that places much emphasis and effort on raising money and funding charities.  The resultant recognizable image of Freemasonry in North America is one of being a charitable organization.  Although charity is a core value of the Craft, it is not  the core value.  We have other core values that have crafted an organization the likes of which the world had never seen before, nor has it been matched since.

We as a North American Craft seem to have developed a driving need to raise money for charity, and as a result, I find myself out of step with much of North American leadership in this regard.  I feel strongly that this mantle of charity with which we cloak North American Freemasonry,  does a great disservice to the philosophical intent of the Craft, and has lead to a general dilution of our influence in society.

There are many charitable organizations designed for the specific purpose of promoting charitable objectives, but I know no other, whose professed purpose is to take good men and make them better.  Doctor E. Scott Ryan in his book, The Theology of Crime and the Paradox of Freedom, observed, “the wonderful work of Masonic charities is by no means synonymous with the wonderment of Masonic spirituality – and that’s a shame, when one considers how many fine charities there are and how few fine spiritualities there are”.  My brothers, think of how unique we were, how unique we are.  Think of how much and for how long, we have altered the direction taken in that ongoing quest for civility in a civil society.  Even most of the organizations modeled after us have long ago ceased to exist.  There can be little doubt, my brothers that our success and survival rests upon the uniqueness that characterizes Freemasonry.

Before I go any further, let me emphasize that I have absolutely no objection to Freemasonry’s commitment to helping others.  Indeed, it would be difficult to comprehend how we could involve good men, and avoid helping others.  This is not, however, the reason for our existence, and we depend too much upon this single feature to generate our image to society.  We, therefore limit ourselves to niches that many other organizations have inhabited longer, and were designed to do better.  And yet, long before we adopted this approach, we created more of an impact on the evolution of civil society and this world than any organization every conceived in the mind of man.  This has truly been the glowing accomplishment of Freemasonry, and is what historians are finally acknowledging about us today.

We have, in North America evolved into the world’s greatest charitable organization, but my brothers, Freemasonry is not a Charity.  It did not originate as a Charity, it did not function and survive as a Charity, it is not recognized by government agencies as a charity, and it certainly did not change the world as a Charity.  Its avowed purpose it making good men better.  By making good men better, we improve the quality of the man and therefore the quality of the world.  But of what value will be our charitable nature if we fail to survive to support any Charity.

We readily admit that we are declining, not only in numbers, but also as a visual image in modern-day society.  Even as our numbers are decreasing, even as our buildings are crumbling, even as the quality of our membership is waning, we continue to dedicate much of our effort to raising money for Charity.  We cannot continue to concentrate most of our efforts on raising money to give away.   We cannot buy admiration and respect, and my brothers; this is exactly what we are attempting to do.  To be charitable is an admirable quality, but our charitable character must never cloud our singular most important purpose, to make good men better.

There is another consideration that it would behoove us to pause and deliberate upon.  Dr. Ryan also made a very succinct observation when he stated, “if we become a charity, which we are certainly tending toward, and the government assumes that role which it is tending toward, then our purpose for existence will no longer exist”.

My brothers, history is littered with the remains of organizations, many patterned after Freemasonry, that were forced out of existence  for the very reason that the government assumed the role for which these organization existed.  Take time my brothers, to look back in North America and its fraternalism.  I was nothing short of astounded when I began to comprehend how many hundreds of fraternal organizations were created, existed, and died, many as a result in changes instituted by our governments.

Freemasonry has not been exempt from these changes.  This is one of the reasons why we may be less attractive to the current generations than we were to those of the past.  The need for brotherly love and dependence upon one another is not nearly as great today as it was in our not too distant past, simply because today the public is taxed to do what we did free for generations.  The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania for many years operated the Patton School for orphan boys.  We prided ourselves in the quality of the young men we were graduating some become significant leaders in society.  Notwithstanding we were forced to close the school when the government took over the responsibility for providing foster homes at taxpayer’s expense.  The fact that we did better, and at no cost to the taxpayer was not relevant.

David T. Beito notes in his book, From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State: Fraternal Societies and Social Services, 1890-1967, that “fraternities have declined in influence since the depression, especially as providers of mutual aid and philanthropy” and that “We have yet to find a successful modern analog to the lodge”.  He also observed that we were moving from the character of Fraternalism to that of Paternalism”, and “in order to attract members the leadership was willing to de-emphasize their commitments and abandoned the qualities that made them distinctive”.  Please note that last comment, my Brothers, for he may be quite probably hitting upon the major cause of the decline of the Craft, both quantitatively as well as qualitatively.  He definitely reinforced, with that observation, the contention that the leadership lost sight of the qualities that made Freemasonry, Freemasonry.

Those charitable organizations that have survived, have survived with intent toward a specific charitable objective.  Freemasonry and its affiliated organizations, however, have taken the support of so many different charities, that most of our members are not even aware of them.  Do you know, for example, that in addition to our Masonic homes for children and the elderly, we support in some form, research or assistance programs involving the diseases of cancer, arteriosclerosis, heart disease, muscular dystrophy, retinal disease, tuberculosis, arthritis, lung disease, cerebral palsy, leukemia, diabetes, aphesis, dyslexia, schizophrenia, kidney disease, and that certainly does not cover all.  We also have research hospitals, we provide dental care for the handicapped, we deliver food to the poor, we provide hearing dogs for the deaf, and we support major scholarship programs.  I am confident that if it were known, there are probably many other charitable projects undertaken by our subordinate lodges and affiliated bodies.

Now, if we don’t know what we support, I wonder how many outside the Craft know.  They do know, however, about the Cancer Society, The Heart Disease Foundation, The Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, and all the other charities that were designed for the specific purpose of collecting funds just for that disease.  What we are doing, is contributing our efforts and funds to support charities that will get the credit for those funds.

How did Freemasonry in North America develop into the world’s greatest Charity?  There are several factors that probably influenced this evolution, but we must remember, that according to many scholars, our philanthropic character was taken on in the Middle Ages and prior to our becoming a Speculative Craft.  During the construction of the great cathedrals, the stonemason’s set aside funds for their injured members and their families and widows.  Even today, it is still “known” that, right or wrong, “masons take care of their own”.  Note, however, this was not a public charity; it was taking care of their own.

For many people on the early in daily struggle to survive supersedes any consideration of what they might do for others.  The very concept of Charity is nonexistent, but when Freemasonry came to America it found a new soul in Charity.  Unfortunately over time it lost sight of the realization of our purpose, that of improving the world through the improvement of the man.  Our long-range vision had become drastically shortened and significantly clouded.  We are now not seeing the forest for the trees.  We have shrouded ourselves in short-term and less significant functions and lost our understanding of those great potential achievements that the Craft is capable of, and that the World deserves.  We are not only failing to recognize the impact of our past, but also the potential impact of our future.

I would suspect by now that most of you sitting here have developed the opinion that I am opposed to Freemasonry’s involvement with Charity.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The charitable nature of Freemasonry has been an integral part of it, as I have noted, since prior to its conversion into its speculative form.  Without its concern for its members as well as for society in general, it could not have become what it has.   A Brotherhood of Men under the Fatherhood of God would be a lifeless shell indeed, if it lacked the essence of a charitable concern for our fellowman.

The concern I express is not what we do for Charity, but what we do not do to fulfill our purpose because of the concentration of effort we put into charity.  We might argue that by supporting charities we are making men better, and this is not untrue, but if this is all we make Freemasonry today we are failing our heritage.  My brothers, Freemasonry made this world, and did so by providing much more than charitable gifts.  It made men, better men than it took in, one man at a time.

It is imperative that we place, and keep in proper perspective the relationship of charity to Freemasonry.  If our charitable objectives, in any way distract us from the primary purpose of the Craft, it must not be tolerated.

Freemasonry in North America is at a critical crossroads in its life.  We the leaders of today are being forced to determine where it is that we really want it to go.  For over thirty years we have declined in numbers and reduced or image in society.  We have not reduced the loss or improved our image by the amount of monies we give in charity, although lord knows we tried.

The time has come for us to look at ourselves, to become more introspective, to realize that if we fail to look out for ourselves, we may very well lose our ability to look out for others.  Rest assured, there will be no one looking out for us when we need help.  Regretfully, for all that we have meant in the world, for all that we have given, there have been considerably more of the citizenry of the world looking for us to fail than to succeed.

We must become more cognizant of just how important we have been in the development of civil society.  There is perhaps no organization more ignorant of its past, than is North American Freemasonry.  We cannot afford to allow ignorance to consume us while we concentrate our efforts on programs that do not fall within the purview of our reason for existence.  We cannot continue to allow our buildings to become eyesores by which the public may judge us while we use our resources for other purposes.  We cannot continue to emphasize the need for more members, instead of more quality members.  And, we must generate an image so that those outside of us will see us more than a source of funding for other organizations.

One of Freemasonry’s greatest charitable accomplishments has been through the efforts of our members rather than through the contribution of our dollars, and those efforts were stimulated through the teaching of Masonic ideals and the encouragement of Freemasons to participate.  Thus, we fulfill our charitable commitments while fulfilling our professed philosophical purpose.  We take good men and make them better.  If we can fill that purpose and continue to be the world’s greatest Charity, then so be it.  If a choice must be made, however, let us never fail to make good men better.  That is more than our duty, that is our privileged and it is our purpose.

Usain Bolt and the Masonic Ring.

This should be filed under the material culture of Freemasonry, the validity of which is open to interpretation.  Yet, the video illustrates the story itself.

The footage comes from the Usain Bolt’s DJ Challenge channel on YouTube within which the Olympic medalist talks about his love of music from a 2010 spot for the 2010 Singapore Olympic Games.

In the video, at about 10 second mark, you can see his sporting of a gold Masonic ring with a red jewel and  a gold square and compass in the center.

It’s been a topic of conversation in the Godlike Productions conspiracy internet forum which is where I noticed the 2010 video being bantered about a week or so ago.  It was a topic of a photo of the athlete published in a 2010 piece in Jahkno! asking if Bolt was a Freemason then as the same ring is clearly shown on his pinky.

Needless to say, its made for a cavalcade of suggestive connections to the Illuminati, Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, and the hip hop underground of secret societies and world domination.

Yet, after a brief search on the web, all that seems to come to the surface are mentions of Bolt’s success because he is a Freemason, world domination from Freemasons, and how the Illuminati is running the world through actors like Bolt nothing readily comes to the surface about his affiliations.  So, I file this one under the material culture of Freemasonry as another example of Masonry in the world.

The Personification Of A Mason

Brother Otto Klotz

Brother Otto Klotz

Here is something to frame and hang on your wall nearby where you can glance at it now and then.

This excerpt is taken from the Address to the brethren given very close to the end of the installation of the officers of a lodge according to the “English” or British Columbia “Canadian Work”  It comes from the Masonic Publication “The Educator” but seems to be an adaptation of an original piece of work, The Ideal of a Freemason written by Brother Otto Klotz in the mid 1800s.

According to Cal Christie the piece The Ideal of a Freemason was written by Bro. Otto Klotz and incorporated into the General Charge at Installation of Lodge Officers in the Ontario working.

“Born in Kiel, Holstein Germany, brewer and hotelier, Otto Klotz, immigrated to Preston, Ontario in 1837. Within a year, he was elected to the Board of School Trustees where he served as secretary-treasurer, almost without break, from 1839 to 1891. In 1845 Preston’s school became Ontario’s first “Free” school.

He also served as Chief Engineer of the Preston Fire Brigade in 1850, Justice of the Peace in 1856, and, among other offices, was the President and long time director of the Waterloo County Agricultural Society.

Highly regarded by Ontario Freemasons, Klotz was made an Honourary Past Grand Master in 1885. Excerpts from an article he wrote, published in The Canadian Craftsman on 15 March 1868, entitled The History of Freemasonry have been incorporated into the ritual of most lodges in Canada as The Ideal of a Freemason.
– from the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon:

The Personification Of A Mason

“If you see a man who quietly and modestly moves in the sphere of his life; who, without blemish, fulfills his duty as a man, a subject, a husband and a father; who is pious without hypocrisy, benevolent without ostentation, and aids his fellowman without self-interest; whose heart beats warm for friendship, whose serene mind is open for licensed pleasures, who in vicissitudes does not despair, nor in fortune will be presumptuous, and who will be resolute in the hour of danger.”

“The man who is free from superstition and free from infidelity; who in nature sees the finger of the eternal master; who feels and adores the higher destination of man; to whom faith, hope and charity are not mere words without any meaning; to whom property, any, even life, is not too dear for the protection of the innocence and virtue, and for the defence of truth;”

“The man who towards himself is a severe judge, but who is tolerant with the debilities of his neighbour; who endeavours to oppose errors without arrogance, and to promote intelligence without impatience; who properly understands how to estimate and employ his means; who honours virtue, though it be in the most humble garment, and who does not favour vice though it be clad in purple; and who administers justice to merit whether dwelling in palaces or cottages.”

“The man who, without courting applause, is loved by all noble-minded men, respected by his superiors and revered by his subordinates; the man who never proclaims what he has done, can do, or will do, but where need is, will lay hold with dispassionate courage, circumspect resolution, indefatigable exertion and rare power of mind, and who will not cease until he has accomplished his work, and who then, without pretension, will retire into the multitude because he did the good act, not for himself, but for the cause of good.”

“If you, my friend, meet such a man, you will see the personification of brotherly love, relief and truth; and you will have found the ideal of a Freemason.”

Across the Atlantic Masonic History In The Making

Opening the PHA Grand Session

Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas

Something that doesn’t happen every day of the week, no something that doesn’t happen every year, no something that doesn’t happen every decade…let’s put it this way. When was the last time you heard of a Grand Master traveling thousands of miles to another Continent to establish a Lodge under its jurisdiction (excluding military Lodges)? Well that is exactly what the Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas, the Honorable Wilbert M. Curtis has done.

An invitation was extended to Grand Master Curtis from a group of Masons, lead by Brother Louis Metan, from Cote d’Ivoire, Africa to organize and consecrate a Lodge there in the Prince Hall family under the jurisdiction of The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas.

On February, 7, 2012 Grand Master Curtis with a delegation of Prince Hall Texas Grand Officers arrived in Cote d’Ivoire to perform this mission.

The Texas Prince Hall Junior Grand Warden and Grand Historian, Frank Jackson, who was among the Brothers that made this historic trip tells us:

“Cote d‘Ivoire is a West African country with a surface area of 322,462 km, bordered on the northern part by Mali and Burkina, on the west by

gift, tablecloth, presentation

The Gift of Table Cloth

Liberia and Guinea, neighbored to the east by Ghana and on the south by the Atlantic Ocean. The population of Cote d‘Ivoire is estimated at 21,058,798 inhabitants in 2011. The political and administrative capital of Cote d‘Ivoire is Yamoussoukro (the economic capital is Abidjan), the official language is French and the currency is the franc CFA. The country is also a member of the Economic Community of West African States (E.C.O.W.A.S.).”

Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas Grand Session 2012

The Brothers of Cote d’Ivoire selected as the name of their Lodge Roots Lodge UD.

Again Jackson informs us:

The Brothers of Cote d‘Ivoire chose the name Roots Lodge to symbolize the indomitable connectivity between Africans on the continent and Africans in the Diaspora.

Bro. Metan said, “The name Roots, is taken from Alex Haley‘s famous book, and is representative of men of African descent all over the world. Roots is a rallying name in which they all recognize themselves. Its powerful symbolism is sacred and spans time and space in answer to the distant call from our forefathers, who used similar symbolism with the adoption of the name African Lodge. The adoption of the name, African Lodge, in that time, was a call to Mother Africa from where they expected blessings to flow for the success of their ambitions. Likewise, the Brothers of Roots Lodge U.D. believe that the bond of union is established from now on between Africans worldwide and across centuries, provided that they use the Square and the Compass and are righteous.”

“This name also reflects the beginning of our Work, its roots. We pray that the originators and those that follow increase in the wisdom of the Sacred Law. The roots are also symbolic of a very strong African tree, the Iroko, under which we, like our ancestors pray for so many spiritual intercessions. On the banner the Iroko is white, to express the ingenuousness of our ambition and its capacity to progress forward in a perpetual cycle of accomplishment that never stops. The Master Mason‘s work never stops. The Iroko tree, super-imposed against the sun represents the dawn of a new day and more light. So this is how one must read our banner: the wisdom resides at our work, supported by Strength and adorned in Beauty. May we always express the fact of this boundless dream,” said Bro. Metan.

Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge Texas line, 2012, Roots Lodge

Grand Master Curtis with the Roots Lodge Brothers

Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas Opening

Roots Brothers at the Installation

Before leaving, Grand Master Curtis extended an invitation to Worshipful Master Metan and the Brothers of Roots Lodge to attend the summer Grand Session of The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas, June 21-24, 2012 and to perform the opening ritual for the Grand Session which they accepted.

On Friday June 22, 2012,  Roots W.M. Louis Metan and his officers opened the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas’ 137th Grand Communication performing the ritual in the French language. As Arkansas Prince Hall Grand Master Cleveland Wilson was later to say, “I didn’t understand a word they said but I could follow exactly what they were doing.” The largest attendance of a Texas Prince Hall Grand Session in many a year gave the Roots Brothers a standing ovation that seemed as if it would never end.

Throughout the four day Grand Session the Brothers from Roots attended all the functions of the Grand Lodge, its business, elections and all the social functions, the festivals and banquets.  Whether at breakfast at the host hotel or during a break at Grand Session one by one Texas Brothers would engage them in conversation and exchange a token of brotherly love and affection. The language barrier didn’t exist for we all spoke the Masonic language, that understanding that only Brothers of the Craft can share.

Gift of Dacshiki

Grand Master Curtis in his Allocution announced that Roots lodge UD was no more. Grand Lodge had voted to charter the Lodge as a full working Lodge. Now it was Roots Lodge #656 of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas. And he announced that Roots Lodge would be taking back with them a dispensation to open a second Lodge in Cote d’Ivoire. Soon he said there would be a third Lodge consecrated. This all follows a master plan. Three Lodges can come together to form a Grand Lodge. Someday in the near future there will be a Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Cote d’Ivoire.

candle presentation

Presenting a special candle at the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas Opening 2012

The last day of the four day Grand Session was the Tri Installation of officers of The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas, The Heroines of Jericho and Eastern Star. At the very end W.M. Louis Metan made a special presentation to Grand Master Curtis. First of all he thanked all the Brethren for the great hospitality of the Grand Lodge. Having immersed themselves in the brotherly love and affection of all the Texas Brethren he said that he and his delegation were leaving with much joy and inspiration. He said that they all had listened, watched and learned from this experience and that they had received helpful information that they would take back to Cote d’Ivoire to use in Roots Lodge.  Lastly he presented Grand Master Curtis with gifts of the flag of Cote d’Ivoire, a special candle, a Dashiki and a tablecloth for Mrs. Curtis.

There remained nothing left to say but “au revoir mon frère.”

En français:

Continent au continent Histoire maçonnique dans la fabrication

Quelque chose qui ne se produit pas chaque jour de la semaine, aucune quelque chose qui ne se produit pas chaque année, aucune quelque chose qui ne se produit pas chaque décennie… nous a laissés la mettre de cette façon. Quand la dernière heure vous avait-elle lieu des milliers de déplacement entendus parler d’un maître grand de milles à un autre continent d’établir une loge sous sa juridiction (à l’exclusion des loges militaires) ? Jaillissez est exactement qui ce que le maître grand de Prince le plus adorable Hall Grand Lodge du Texas, Wilbert M. Curtis honorable a fait.
Une invitation a été prolongée au maître grand Curtis d’un groupe de maçons, avance par le frère Louis Metan, le d’Ivoire de Cote, d’Afrique pour organiser et consacrer une loge là dans la famille de prince Hall sous la juridiction de Prince le plus adorable Hall Grand Lodge du Texas.  En février, 7, 2012 le maître grand Curtis avec une délégation de prince Hall Texas Grand Officers sont arrivés dans le d’Ivoire de Cote pour exécuter cette mission.

Le gardien de Texas Prince Hall Junior Grand et l’historien grand, Frank Jackson, qui était parmi les frères qui ont fait ce voyage historique nous dit :

Le Ivoire de Cote d est un pays d’Afrique occidentale avec une superficie de 322.462 kilomètres, encadrée à la partie nord par le Mali et Burkina, à l’ouest par le Libéria et la Guinée, neighbored à l’est par le Ghana et aux sud par l’Océan Atlantique. La population du ` Ivoire de Cote d est estimée à 21.058.798 habitants en 2011. La capitale politique et administrative du ` Ivoire de Cote d est Yamoussoukro (le capital économique est Abidjan), la langue officielle est française et la devise est le franc CFA. Le pays est également un membre de la communauté économique des états d’Afrique occidentale (E.C.O.W.A.S.).

Les frères du d’Ivoire de Cote choisis comme nom de leurs racines de loge logent UD. Encore Jackson nous informe :

Les frères du ` Ivoire de Cote d ont choisi les racines de nom logent pour symboliser la connectivité invincible entre les Africains sur le continent et les Africains dans les Diaspora. Bro. Metan a dit, « les racines de nom, est pris du famousbook du ` s d’Alex Haley, et est représentant des hommes de l’origine africaine partout dans le monde. Les racines est un nom de rassemblement dans lequel elles toutes s’identifient. Son symbolisme puissant est sacré et enjambe le temps et espace en réponse à l’appel éloigné de nos ancêtres, le symbolisme semblable whoused avec l’adoption de l’adoption africaine du nom Lodge.The du nom, loge africaine, dans ce temps, était un appel pour enfanter l’Afrique d’où ils se sont attendus à ce que les bénédictions coulent pour le succès de leurs ambitions.

De même, la loge U.D. de racines de Brothersof croient que le lien de l’union est établi dorénavant entre les Africains dans le monde entier et à travers des siècles, à condition que elles utilisent la place et la boussole et soient justes. » « Ce nom reflète également le début de notre travail, ses racines. Nous prions que les créateurs et ceux qui suivent l’augmentation de la sagesse de la loi sacrée. Les racines sont également symboliques d’un arbre africain très fort, l’Iroko, sous lequel nous, comme nos ancêtres prions pour tant d’interventions spirituelles. Sur la bannière l’Iroko est blanc, pour exprimer l’ingénuité de notre ambition et de sa capacité de progresser en avant dans un cycle perpétuel de l’accomplissement qui ne s’arrête jamais. Le travail principal du ` s de maçon ne s’arrête jamais. L’arbre d’Iroko, superposé contre le soleil représente l’aube d’un nouveau jour et de plus de lumière. Ainsi c’est comment on doit lire notre bannière : la sagesse réside à notre travail, soutenu par force et orné dans la beauté. Pouvons nous exprimons toujours le fait de ce rêve illimité, » a dit Bro. Metan.

Avant de laisser le maître grand Curtis a prolongé une invitation à Master Metan adorable et les frères des racines logent pour assister à la session grande d’été de Prince le plus adorable Hall Grand Lodge du Texas, 21-24 juin 2012 et pour effectuer le rituel d’ouverture pour la session grande qu’ils ont acceptée.

Vendredi 22 juin. 2012 racines W.M. Louis Metan et ses dirigeants ont ouvert le prince Hall Grand Lodge de communication grande du Texas la 137th effectuant le rituel dans la langue française. Car prince Hall Grand Master Cleveland Wilson de l’Arkansas était plus tard pour dire, « je n’ai pas compris un mot qu’ils ont dit mais je pourrais suivre exactement ce qu’elles faisaient. » Le plus grand assistance de Texas Prince Hall Grand Session pendant de nombreux année a donné aux racines des frères une ovation debout qui a semblé comme si elle ne finirait jamais.

Dans toute la session grande de quatre jours les frères des racines ont assisté à toutes les fonctions de la loge grande, ses affaires, élections et toutes les fonctions de social, festivals et des banquets. Si au petit déjeuner à l’hôtel de centre serveur ou pendant une coupure à la session grande un Texas Brothers les engagerait dans la conversation et échangerait une marque de l’amour fraternel et de l’affection. La barrière linguistique n’a pas existé pour nous tout le rai la langue maçonnique, cette compréhension que seulement les frères du métier peuvent partager.

Le maître grand Curtis dans son allocution a annoncé que la loge UD de racines n’était pas plus. La loge grande avait voté pour affréter la loge comme pleine loge fonctionnante. Maintenant c’était la loge #656 de racines de Prince le plus adorable Hall Grand Lodge du Texas. Et il a annoncé que la loge de racines rapporterait avec elles une dispense pour ouvrir une deuxième loge dans le d’Ivoire de Cote. Bientôt il a dit qu’il y aurait une troisième loge consacrée. Ce tout suit un programme-cadre. Trois loges peuvent venir ensemble pour former une loge grande. Un jour dans un avenir proche il y aura Prince le plus adorable Hall Grand Lodge d’Ivoire de Cote.

Le dernier jour de la session grande de quatre jours était la tri installation des dirigeants de Prince le plus adorable Hall Grand Lodge du Texas, les héroïnes de Jéricho et étoile orientale. À la fin W.M. Louis Metan a fait une présentation spéciale au maître grand Curtis. D’abord de tous il a remercié tous les frères de la grande hospitalité de la loge grande. Après s’être immergé dans l’amour fraternel et l’affection de tout le Texas Brethren il a dit que lui et sa délégation partaient avec beaucoup de joie et d’inspiration. Il a dit qu’ils tout avaient écouté, observé et appris de cette expérience et qu’ils avaient reçu l’information utile qu’ils prendraient de nouveau à Cote le d’Ivoire pour employer dans la loge de racines. Pour finir il a présenté le maître grand Curtis avec le drapeau de Cote d ” Ivoire, des cadeaux d’une bougie spéciale, d’un Dashiki et d’une nappe pour Mme Curtis. Enfin, il a présenté le Grand Maître Curtis avec des cadeaux du drapeau de la Côte d’Ivoire, une bougie spéciale, un Dashiki et une nappe de Mme Curtis.

Là non resté rien laissé pour dire mais « frère de lundi de revoir d’Au.


Fraternal Oddities

An interesting find is the turn of phrase that introduces each new visitor to the New York Obscura Antiques shop captured in the now three season program Oddities on the Science Channel.

Shop owners Mike Zohn and Evan Michelson are joined by buyer Ryan Matthew who together bring to this slice of Reality TV heaven a real sense of the obscure items that most are afraid to acknowledge exist or that they have an interest in.

The production plays exactly like a reality TV show but because of its eclectic nature is free from the mannequin like people of most instead being chock full of characters from the other side of life.  Reality wise, the show is one part Storage Wars, one part American Pickers, and a healthy does of Jim Rose’s Circus, such that it is every bit the reality TV show for the Alt mainstream American.

One of my favorite parts of  the show are the reactions to some of the more ‘out there’ artifacts that people come looking for or bring in to sell.  Some of the most sought after treasures include quack medical equipment, pickled two headed animals or shrunken headhunter trophies, all of which could be described in a single episode.

Besides the featured items of the programs name sake, I have been making a visual count of all the fraternal items in the shop sitting on the shelves behind the owners as they haggle with patrons over the cost of many of the stores cabinet of curiosity curios.

One of the items that stood early on was the Knight Templar uniform, complete with its flair of embroidered embellishments on a mannequin.  Resting on the shelves in other episodes was the uniforms matching feathered chapeau.  I’ve spotted a number of other Masonic oddities in the background too (all of which I’d love to have in my own collection) including beautifully adorned aprons, alter dressings, banners, flags, and a sparkling crimson Fez from the Shriners.

You can clearly see the Fez in this Oddities clip with Judah Friedlander.

One of the more curious items in the background is the skeleton in a coffin, which one episode pointed out was a fraternal prop with articulated joints and jaw wired to move in the delivery of a poignant ritual lesson.  Store buyer Ryan describes just such a purchase at an upstate Masonic temple in his show bio which gives us a good idea of how the masonic material ends up in the store.

You can catch a stunning antique Apron in this clip

Another cool item in the shop, picked up by an aspiring Steampunk aficionado, is an old Odd Fellows hoodwink with alternating lenses.

While the goggles may not be overtly Masonic, they do still bear the fraternal hallmark of an object with an esoteric purpose.

What I find most interesting about oddities, from a fraternal point of view, is the amount of material culture gathered into their oddities collection.  With so much history disassociated from its source (which is true of most everything on the show) the fraternal items in Obscura stand out in contrast as most of the fraternal items are from groups that still meet today.  Thinking about it presents an interesting perspective on the change in culture and the shift in the relevant.  The question it raises is about the stewardship of the material culture to go from what was likely once a proudly owned piece of ephemera to an oddity in a collection of progressively curious forgotten memorabilia.

Oddities airs on Saturday nights at 10PM, or in multiple re-broadcast on the Science Channel.  While you wait, you can watch clips from past episodes on the programs website.

If you really can’t wait, and you’re in the market to fill your cabinet of curiosities, look no further than the Obscura Antiques Facebook page where you can find lots of photos of their obscure treasures (look for the Knights Templar skull and cross bones apron in a photo in their album).