How old is Freemasonry?

How Old is Freemasonry?

The modern incarnation of Freemasonry dates to around 1717, but, was that truly the beginning of the “ancient” and honorable fraternity?

The history of modern Freemasonry is fairly understood, going back to roughly the 1700’s. Beyond that point in time, information starts to become less available. Their are some documents and notable figures prior to that point in time, such as the Regius/Halliwell poem, and notables like Elias Ashmole, but no certifiable records exist to demonstrate organized activity as we have today.

One of the virtues of Freemasonry is that its study and practice allow members to explore this topic, and at times travel outside the bounds of connections typically explored in mainstream history. Some Masonic historians have attempted to draw connections to the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucian’s, Jewish Kabbalah traditions, Hermetica, Alchemy, Christian Mysticism, and to much further back to the precursor Essenes at the time of Jesus. These explorations have been considered in both the past and present Masonic scholarship to varying degrees of acceptance, but many points of contention remain.

In present day, Freemasonry has little changed in the preced-ing 200 years since the founding of the United Grand Lodge of England, and is modeled in a system that was likely little changed for the 150 years prior to that. It is believed that the working aspects of Freemasonry, the form and function of the lodge, comes from the stone working guilds of the European Renaissance and middle ages which, over time as that trade profession became less specialized, attracted new members of non practicing “speculative masons.”

From that shift, the present day fraternity moved from an “operative” guild to a “speculative” one in that the function of the lodge turned to the allegorical and symbolic meanings of the stone masons and less about the physical operation. These changes have evolved to shape the look and feel of modern lodge operation today.

More in the series:

What is Freemasonry? – Part 1: What is a Freemason?
What is Freemasonry? – Part 2: How Old is Freemasonry?
What is Freemasonry? – Part 3: Why are Freemason’s Secretive?
What is Freemasonry? – Part 4: Is Freemasonry a Patriotic Body?
What is Freemasonry? – Part 5: Why Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth?
What is Freemasonry? – Part 6: Why is Freemasonry a Ritual Practice?
What is Freemasonry? – Part 7: Why Does Freemasonry Use Odd Symbols?

From the ebook: What is Freemasonry?


“When you have a million dollar vision you don’t surround yourself with one cent minds.”

R. Lucille Samuel
The 8th Grand Princess Captain
Lone Star Grand Guild

Once again I am pleased to present R. Lucille Samuel, Grand Princess Captain of the Lone Star Grand Guild, Heroines of the Templars Crusade of Texas,  PHA Texas, with her annual (2017) Allocution. This is her last Allocution as Grand Princess Captain as she will be moving on to Royal Grand Perfect Matron of the Texas LOCOP in September.

Samuel is a fighter for being all you can be and getting the most out of your participation in your Fraternity. Never the shy one, she is not afraid to speak up and speak out to inspire and encourage those that she leads to step up to the plate and hit a home run. As many a great leader has done before her she is not afraid to criticize her fraternity or herself when the effort is lacking or the decisions are poor.

A very hard worker, a great speaker, and the definition of a leader here is what she had to say:


Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.

Are you committed to help our fellow brother or sister?

Last year was the Big “D” and now we have arrived in the ALAMO!

R. Lucille Samuel
The 8th Grand Princess Captain
Lone Star Grand Guild

I am thrilled to bring you greetings on behalf of the Lone Star Grand Guild, Heroines of the Templars Crusade of Texas, PHA!  The best in the WORLD!

So much has changed since we convened at this time last year.  Again there are smiles that are missing and empty voids in our lives.  However we continue our Crusade as Christian Soldiers in protecting our banner!  2017 is a New Year and we will embrace it.

Psalms 37:5 – Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

When you are interested in something you tend to do things when it is convenient for you.  When you are committed you make no excuses and you only produce results.  So you set goals for yourself and you start to become immersed in your work.  You put in long hours and become consistent in your strategies.  You are focused and feel confident in yourself.

Well, one day you wake up and you think I have achieved everything that I dreamed about and this show can run itself on autopilot.  So you start to slack off and start making excuses instead of keeping your commitment.

In these organizations today we have too many members that are only interested until they get in the door.  Once they become members we lose their commitment that they swore upon at the Altar.  They start with well you know I have to work late or I have something at church or I forgot about the meeting.   Well as long as you were looking pretty in your aprons, collars and bling it was all great.  When we asked you to serve the needy or feed the hungry or assist with a donation you lost interest.

You start out with innovative ideas and some where along the road you debated in your head and lost your commitment.  All those promises you made fell by the wayside.  Your total behavior has gone South.  Your service is the price you pay to occupy space on this earth.  It is the least you can do.

I have never known anyone to be successful by just being interested.  You have to have that driven desire to be committed.  Talk is cheap.  Put your work where your mouth is and Put Up or Shut Up!

Have you ever met people that have been everywhere and done everything?  Or as soon you speak they speak behind you to belittle you?  Like Social Media Stalkers when you post they are just waiting to post behind you.

If we as members do not retain our commitments to the Masonic Order it will die.  Some are already in the Hearse headed to the cemetery now.  Just because you may be the Leader does not mean you are LEADING!!!!!  When you stand before your Body and notice there are more empty seats than members Houston you have a problem!  They have lost interest in you and the organization.  Some of you that have reached the top floor in the elevator need to send it back down because you need HELP!  There is a fine line between “The Good of the Order and the Good of Self!  Stop promoting your own Agenda.  When your most passionate people become silent or walk away you need to realize your leadership is failing.

We need to switch our focus from our needs to their needs.  Take an interest in your membership.   How often do you visit your local organizations?  I don’t mean when you need a free trip but to really teach and talk to your membership.  Are you an assignment or an attachment?  You must seek to understand before seeking to be understood.  You cannot continue to be selfish and significant at the same time.

Another issue is worrying about what others think of you.  If Christ didn’t care why should we?  Never allow someone else’s opinion of you become your reality.  Education is when you read the fine print and experience is what you get when you don’t.

We need change!  We can’t keep doing the same repetitious programs and expect new results.  Sometimes people need to leave their positions in order for it to work.  Complaining every year about attendance and members not working for the order will not make progress.  I was once told when you have a million dollar vision you don’t surround yourself with one cent minds.

R. Lucille Samuel
The 8th Grand Princess Captain
Lone Star Grand Guild                                                                                                                                                               In closing I ask that we all remember “Wherever you go no matter the weather, always bring your own sunshine!”
I will continue to lead BY THE CROSS,
Lucille Samuel
The 8th Grand Princess Captain
Lone Star Grand Guild

You need to commit to the Order and realize that if you don’t peak their interest or motivate the body you will continue to sink like a Rock!  You have to lead from the front and the back.  If you are not willing to show your sweat and labor then don’t expect it from the members.  Encouragement is oxygen for the soul.  You can begin with an attitude of gratitude and stop being arrogant but try being humble!  You can’t gain the respect of others if you have no respect for yourself.  Materialist items don’t make you important.  Whether you drive a Mercedes or a Hyundai or you use words to intimidate others your effectiveness as a leader is defined by results not attributes.  The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.

Your Energy is Contagious and either you affect people or you infect people.  Which are you?  If you affect people in a positive way it is always a plus.  But if you are a virus that infects people in a negative way then you need to remove yourself before you contaminate your membership.

The Art, Masonic Aprons, and Magic of Ari Roussimoff

artist, Freemasonry, Ari Roussimoff
Ari Roussimoff
Photograph January 2016
By Vivian Forlander

Phoenixmasonry is thrilled to have had the opportunity to interview the multi-talented artist, Ari Roussimoff. His Masonic themed paintings are phenomenal, as are his painted Masonic Aprons through which he hopes to revive an interest in the largely lost art form. It is our hope that Masons and non-Masons alike will take an interest in his work, if they haven’t done so already, as it is well worth the time!

Ari Roussimoff’s art has been shown in places such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Nicholas Roerich Museum, and the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library and Museum. Ari’s paintings are colorful, daring, culturally rich, spiritually rounded, geometrically stunning, and a clear reflection of a profound character.

Elena Llamas, Director of Public Relations for Phoenixmasonry (EL): Thank you, Ari, for this interview. Please tell us about your background.

Ari Roussimoff (AR): Thank you, Elena, for inviting me. I have been impressed for years with the Phoenixmasonry site and what it is doing to promote the culture and history of Freemasonry. As to my background, I am one of those people who cannot be pinned down to one specific place. My family and ancestors have lived in Russia, Ukraine, Poland and even Moldavia among other countries. Although I was born in Germany, the Russian and other East European cultures have always been close to my heart, as much of my artwork reflects this.

Literature, music and art were on the daily menu in my home. Over the years I have been privileged to live and work in both Europe and America.

The Magical Troika, Ari Roussimoff, art, painting
The Magical Troika

EL: Where do you feel most at home?

AR: For the most part, I am at home inside my head and also in my heart. But certain places are quite special to me.

In Europe, Zürich, Switzerland where Mother Nature is at its finest, Amsterdam, Holland with its great collections of Old Master paintings. Any place Rembrandt lived is great.

In the United States, Miami Beach, Florida with its vivid, tropical color is fabulous. I painted its festive carnivals, cafes and crowds. Sometimes I’d even add a little nod to Freemasonry.

Ari Roussimoff, Beach Café, Shriners, ice cream
Detail – Miami Beach Cafe Life

For example, in my panoramic Beach Café painting, I included a merry group of Shriners crossing the street while nearby stands a bearded lady holding her little son’s hand.

Another favorite place is Southern California. When based in San Diego, I’d visit Hollywood and fantasize about the great historic film world of days gone by.

A painting I did of Hollywood Boulevard features many of the classic movie stars congregating in front of the old Masonic Temple (now a television studio where they film the Jimmy Kimmel show).

Featured in the very front of my picture is silent movie legend Harold Lloyd wearing his Imperial Potentate’s Al Malaikah Shriner Fez. There are other masons in there as well: Harpo Marx, Clark Gable, John Wayne and Oliver Hardy.

Ari Roussimoff, Hollywood, art
Hollywood Eternal

EL: When and how did you first become interested in art?

 My father was a writer. So I grew up in a cultural European household. The first artist that spoke to me was Van Gogh. I discovered him at age seven when watching a television documentary devoted to his life and work. Van Gogh became an early passion.

Since then, I’ve collected many books on him and have hunted down his paintings in museums throughout the world.

At fourteen I discovered Rembrandt. My second passion in art. By the way, I started drawing at age three and did my first oil at seven.

[I] also started to exhibit as a child. Luckily, I had parents who supported my love of art.

HOMAGE TO VAN GOGH Van Gogh in his studio with Van Gogh’s paintings on the wall.
Van Gogh in his studio with Van Gogh’s paintings on the wall.
The Boardwalk of Atlantic City
The Boardwalk of Atlantic City

EL: How wonderful! Did any current or artist in particular inspire or influence your work?

 As an artist, you become a sponge of sorts, soaking up influences from many sources. My breath is taken away by the Old Masters. Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, Rubens, the list is endless. Leonardo was the ultimate artistic genius. Each of his paintings are hypnotic.

Some of my other loves include Byzantine art, Russian and other folk arts, Van Gogh and numerous of the moderns. Too many to mention.


“This photograph of me was taken around 1990. Salvador Dali once said that an artist should look like his work. Sounds fine to me. In this photo, I am holding a 19th century Italian Paper Mache Commedia dell’arte mask. The coat I am wearing was once worn by the great Russian Opera singer Feodor Chaliapin. He wore the coat while performing as Ivan the Terrible in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Opera, “The Maid of Pskov” in Paris. I cherish this coat with its unique theatrical history.”
– Ari Roussimoff

EL: And as a teenager, you were invited to lunch with Salvador Dali and his wife Gala. What was that like?

AR: At the age of fourteen I was being managed by Theodore Karr, a representative of the Shorewood Art publishing company, a noted publisher of lithographs by some of the greatest artists in Europe.

A meeting was arranged for me to meet the great master Dail for lunch at a restaurant in the Hotel St. Regis in New York, where he lived for half the year. Our small group consisted of Dali, his wife Gala, Mr. Karr, my father and myself. Naturally I was very nervous when introduced to Dali. My knees were trembling. Surprisingly, Dali’s personality was completely different from the “crazed” image he promoted. Handsomely dressed in a three piece suit, holding a beautiful cane, Dali was polite, soft spoken and to me, he seemed a bit sad.

Then there was Gala. There was a quiet, but hostile dynamic going on between Dali and his wife. Dali’s command of English was far better than how he presented himself during filmed interviews. Oddly enough, he talked mostly about movies. He liked Hitchcock and John Wayne films. Early on Dali had collaborated with the Spanish surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel on two avant garde movies and in later years he worked for Alfred Hitchcock in designing a scene for “Spellbound.” Dali told us he hoped to yet do another film. Toward the conclusion of our lunch, Dali pulled out a portfolio from which he gifted me a signed artist’s proof lithograph. A man in the restaurant had recognized Dali and approached our table to ask for an autograph. Immediately, Dali turned into the eccentric madman he usually portrayed. He propped himself up, soldier like. His eyes bulged and his voice became amplified, with his language having changed into the familiar chaotic Dalinian jargon of English-French-Spanish. He graciously complied and gave the man an autograph. Upon the man’s retreat back to his table, Gala shot up off her chair and berated her husband loudly in French. Customers in the restaurant were glaring. Quite embarrassing! After we left the place, Mr. Karr attempted to explain that Gala’s rant, saying that she resented Dali drawing attention to himself, creating a spectacle. That pretty much describes my encounter with Salvador Dali.

Hiram’s Apron
Hiram’s Apron

EL: That’s an amazing story! Thank you for sharing it with us, tell us about your relationship with Masonry.

AR: I have always appreciated the great achievements of humanity while also being very much aware of the shortcomings. There isn’t a thing about the human condition that cannot be found in the Bible. Since much of my way of thinking is of biblical origin, I understood that humanity was given the ability by God to rise up to advance itself and achieve wonders to benefit one’s self and mankind.

Masonic Melody
Masonic Melody

Art played a significant role in leading me toward Freemasonry. I never felt Art was limited to esthetics. For me it became an expression of the soul. Art is a universal language. French, German, Spanish, Greek, Russian, Polish or African. Any genuine work of art transcends its ethnic origins, and translates into a universal language that speaks to all.

Walking through the streets of Los Angeles, New York and through Europe, my eye often fixated on old buildings that incorporated mystical looking designs. Often I wondered if these were Masonic decorations. My curiosity about Freemasonry started taking form.

I began to read up on the subject and absorb the philosophy and the rich culture accompanying it. What struck me early on is that some of the iconography I had known from early Christian art, such as the All Seeing Eye of God was an important essential component of Freemasonry, as is the Holy Bible. Then I was surprised to recognize similarities between Masonic symbolism and some of the mystical imagery that had been appearing in my own pictures for years.

Detail from Pyramid Of Light
Detail from Pyramid Of Light

Fascinated with the moral philosophies of Freemasonry, I was awed by the abundance of illustrious members, the great philosophers, leaders, authors, artists, musicians, philanthropists, scientists, inventors, poets, physicians. Mozart, Goethe, Voltaire, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Booker T. Washington, Kaiser Wilhelm I, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Pushkin, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain. In my triptych that currently hangs in the Livingston Library there is a tribute to quite a few illustrious individuals who have been Masons.

Detail from Rebirth
Detail from Rebirth

Just a matter of note, in comparison to music, literature and entertainment, there were relatively few artists who were Masons.

There were numerous fine engravers. The most important sculptors and painters included Bartholdi, Hogarth, Mucha, Grant Wood, the great German expressionist Lovis Corinth (who did illustrations of lodge ceremony) and the Cubist master Juan Gris (he served as Master of his Lodge in Paris).

My keen interest eventually led me to the point where I wanted to do a film on Freemasonry. With that project in mind, I visited the wonderful Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library & Museum of the Grand Lodge of New York in Manhattan. Their collection of materials is awesome. And everything was generously put at my disposal for study. This was in 2002. Although this particular film project has not as yet materialized, this was my road to joining. It has been an ever inspiring journey.


EL: Your work is a very skilled and inspiring contribution to the smaller body of Freemasonic art. Currently, you have art on display inside the Grand Lodge of New York building. Is there anything you would like to share about the exhibition?

AR: Yes, my paintings called Hiram’s Apron and King Solomon’s Vision, which have become widely known, were the first to be exhibited at the Livingston Masonic Library & Museum.


Currently, the museum is displaying my triptych titled Parable Of Light and Dark which consists of three paintings, which tell a symbolic story about Freemasonry through the past, present and an eye toward possibilities for the future. The first piece is called Foundations. It depicts the beginnings of Freemasonry, starting with Hiram and the building of the Holy Temple. The composition then moves upwards to Medieval times with Knighthoods and Cathedrals paving the way towards modern times.


At the very top in Foundations, I depict art and culture with portraits of Mozart, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Pushkin and Voltaire.


The middle painting is called Eclipse. The idea behind ‘Eclipse’ is that within any darkness, there is a light of inspiration that can, if recognized for the possibilities it offers, lead one to a positive path.


The last painting in this group is called Rebirth. Hiram and King Solomon appear at the bottom amidst the ruins of a city. The King, like Noah years before him, sends a dove out into the future. Inspired by Masonic fundamentals, the future is represented by builders constructing a new and improved civilization.


EL: Profound symbolism. It is nice that you always include your thoughts on each painting on your website and social media. Tell us about your painted Masonic Aprons. What inspired you to make them, what do you hope to accomplish through them?


AR: Painted aprons are a lost art within Freemasonry.

During the 18th and early 19th centuries, many Masonic aprons were beautifully hand painted and also embroidered. Some were folksy in style, others elaborate. Eventually came the standardization of aprons and the painted ones were relegated to the pages of history.

For my part, I wish to bring this lost Masonic tradition up into the here and now and also hopefully into the future.

My painted aprons are never imitations. They are highly symbolic, as I instill in them the classic ideals and virtues of Freemasonry. But I do this as a modern artist, with the voice coming from my soul.


Being signed artworks, it is not necessary for my aprons to be worn. They can be displayed on a wall. I am happy to say that my painted Masonic aprons are in fine collections throughout the world. And I very much love making them.

THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR This rather Medieval themed Masonic painting dates from 2013. The symbolism encompasses lessons in regards to morality, spirituality, chivalry and the mortality of all humankind. Ari Roussimoff.
This rather Medieval themed Masonic painting dates from 2013. The symbolism encompasses lessons in regards to morality, spirituality, chivalry and the mortality of all humankind.
Ari Roussimoff.
Receiving The Light
Receiving The Light

EL: Your aprons are incredible! You also do special Masonic portraits where you combine painting with photography. Tell us about that.


These are pictures I do on commission.  I integrate portrait photography with my painting. Likenesses can sometimes be tricky and problematic. Even a great master like Rembrandt had occasional problems in this department.

The story goes that a man commissioned Rembrandt to do a portrait of his wife (or daughter). Upon seeing the final painting, the man was displeased because he did not see a likeness and demanded his money back. Ha. Ha. Can you imagine?!!

What I do can be called mixed-media portraits. No one will ever complain about a lack of likeness. The process consists of first, the client gives me a favorite photograph of themselves or whoever they wish me to create a portrait for.


Next, I have the photo enlarged and transferred onto a canvas of the desired measurements.

The last step is for me to paint a complete composition surrounding the photo, which I do not alter. The painted elements will reflect elements in that person’s life or imagination.

Voila! Never an issue regarding likenesses. A Lodge commissioned me to do one of the retiring Grand Master of California. It was gifted him during a special presentation ceremony. And I did one as my personal gift for the retiring Grand Secretary of New York, a wonderful man.

By the way, these pictures are also made for non-masons. I’ve created them for weddings, anniversaries, births, people’s parents. Anything someone might like to have.

Abraham Sacrificing Isaac
Abraham Sacrificing Isaac
Ari Roussimoff, Art, ukraine
Spirit of Ukraine

EL: I read that, for you, art is a spiritual experience. Would you share with us something about the process of bringing forth such wonderful images? Spiritually speaking, what is it that you experience?

AR: For me the act of painting is like praying.

It originates in my heart and my soul.

Spirituality in art is not limited to the confines of one or another religion. It is at the very core of all life.

Painting, like prayer, is a spiritual experience. Magical in many ways. And I am certain that being a painter is what God intended for me to be.

Otherwise I’d be doing other things. Too many people depend only on the limitations of their eyesight. They’re not able to touch base with the soul. Hence the four eyes in some of my paintings.

EL: I love your four eyes theme!

Detail from Eclipse
Detail from Eclipse

AR: In this self-portrait, the two pairs of eyes have a mystical meaning.

It is my belief that one should try to develop two sets of eyes.

One set represents our innermost self: the heart, passions and spirituality. This is the soul. The other set are those of the mind: logic and intellect. All four eyes together can give one excellent vision.

Selfportrait With Pipe In Red
Selfportrait With Pipe In Red

In art, it isn’t required that an artwork depict a religious subject in order to be spiritual. That special spirit is very much embedded within any true work of art. Spirituality can be felt in florals, landscapes, portraits, figurative or abstract compositions and whatever. Same holds true for music, literature and all other arts.

EL: On your website, linked here at the end of this interview, in addition to Masonic subjects, your art is presented in three other categories: Old Russia, Jewish life, Phantasmagoria.

AR: These are among the subjects I have painted throughout my life.

Art has been my lifelong passion. It is easiest to categorize works by subjects. There is also a general section called “Newest Works” featuring a cross section of paintings and also an interview. We are preparing to update the site. There are lots of new additions and improvements coming!


EL: I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next! You are also an award-winning director of motion pictures and have created sets for Broadway shows. You have done costume design, performance art, and have hosted a three-part television music program on MTV.

AR: All the arts are related. Being primarily visually oriented and a lover of classic movies, it had long been a desire to also express myself in film.

My first feature was a surrealist horror film featuring a cast of underground stars, even several Andy Warhol superstars. Federico Fellini, the brilliant Italian filmmaker, saw a rough edit of some of the early footage of bikers, and his admiration brought us further funding.

My best movie was the documentary Freaks Uncensored: A Human Sideshow which took years of research and dealt with the history of physical human anomalies throughout the ages. My significant other of many years Vivian Forlander wrote the screenplay and I directed it. It opened at the Anthology Film Archives in New York, to standing room only crowds and has been released on both VHS and DVD.

As for MTV, I hosted a special three-episode Russian style spoof of the MTV hits countdown. It was called MTV-ski and I was the Russian V-J, all dressed up in fur hat and rubaschka, peasant blouse. My old performance group went under the name “The Trans-Siberian Cossacks”, We performed in theaters, discos and art galleries.

As for the stage, I was chosen by impresario Ralph Mercado to create sets and paint a mural for an Eastern European show he was importing from Argentina.



Here I am on stage in 1991 with my old performance troupe “The Trans-Siberian Cossacks”. We are doing a live multi-media show at the Limelight Club in New York City. While our group lovingly exhibited Russian style, the name cossack was used metaphorically for individualism and inspired rebelliousness against status-quo trends (the initial meaning of cossack was rebel). We performed our uniquely circus-like shows in theaters, art galleries and discos. Venues ranged from the Limelight to Howard Guttenplan’s Millennium Film Workshop. This was a great way to incorporate elements of theater, painting, music and film. Cast members would often be interchangeable (based on locations). Performers included: Big Bob Bear, Clayton Patterson, Valerie Caris, Taylor Mead, The Magnificent Lori “W”, Vivi-Vixen and Brooks Rogers. In this photo at the Limelight, Clayton Patterson is the man holding the flag and the Queen of house music herself, Screamin’ Rachel is doing her wild thing in the far right, under the big screen (where we presented excerpts from one of my films).

It has been quite a few years now since I have retired “The Trans-Siberian Cossacks” (although occasionally, I get an urge to resurrect them). Even nowadays when giving a talk on my paintings, I like incorporating various elements. It makes for a more stimulating and also fun presentation.”

EL: In a way, the group has been resurrected in your work. Ari, what else would you like to mention that I didn’t ask?

Just this week, I completed a Masonic composition which I call Pyramid Of Light.

Currently I am putting finishing touches to a painted apron. There are a multitude of paintings stored inside me, each competing against the others to make its way out and onto canvas first. And I haven’t a clue which one it will be. Freemasonry, with its great teachings of morality and positive energy, provide me with tremendous inspiration. I hope to do many paintings in that direction.

EL: The readers and I are hoping too, Ari, I am sure.

Pyramid Of Light
Pyramid Of Light

EL: Let’s end this interview with some of your amazing paintings. Thank you very much for letting us pick your brain. We would love to check-in with you periodically to let our readers know what you are up to.

BUSY DAY AT THE MARKET PLACE This is where all the action is: the Marketplace. Painted in 1973 and I added some finishing touches to it in 2003. Ari Roussimoff.
This is where all the action is: the Marketplace. Painted in 1973 and I added some finishing touches to it in 2003. Ari Roussimoff.
GOING FISHING IN THE OLD COUNTRY Here are fisherman doing what they love to do in an old Ukrainian or Russian village. One of my fun Cubist style paintings from 2004. I have always enjoyed watching fisherman at work, even though I do not eat sea food. Ari Roussimoff
Here are fisherman doing what they love to do in an old Ukrainian or Russian village. One of my fun Cubist style paintings from 2004. I have always enjoyed watching fisherman at work, even though I do not eat sea food. Ari Roussimoff

You can find Ari Roussimoff work online at his website at

The Craft Unmasked

A book review by Frederic L. Milliken

From the day I was raised 26 years ago I have always heard that Freemasonry was an outgrowth of the Medieval Stone Masons Guilds that gradually took on speculative members as church building waned. Then along came historian John J. Robinson who wrote in Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry,

There remained no reasonable doubt in my mind that the original concept of the secret society that came to call itself Freemasonry had been born as a society of mutual protection among fugitive Templars and their associates in Britain, men who had gone underground to escape the imprisonment and torture that had been ordered for them by Pope Clement V.

Those were not the only two theories of Freemasonry’s origin that existed but in my time they were the two most common theories debated. John Nagy in his book, The Craft Unmasked – The Uncommon Origin of Freemasonry and its Practice, lists many other theories:

The Origins of Freemasonry

The Origins of Freemasonry

The Craft Unmasked

The Craft Unmasked

And #13 is Nagy’s Unmasking of the Craft, his answer as to the origin of Freemasonry. And what is that answer? Oh no, that you are going to have to find out by reading the book. Besides you wouldn’t believe him without all the corroborating evidence that is in the book to back up his claim. If I printed all of that in this review I might as well have just scanned the whole book and posted that. Of course that would be cheating Brother Nagy out of just compensation. If this was a murder mystery review you wouldn’t want me to tell you who did it now would you?

Nagy warns that the book could be upsetting to some Freemasons and that, “Revealing anything in this book to others who have yet to read it, shall both ruin the intended experience of the book for them and prevent you from having a rich discussion about it with an informed person.” So take due notice and govern yourselves accordingly.

Nagy tells us, “It should be abundantly clear that stonemasonry and Freemasonry are nowhere near the same.”  He goes on to say, “At one point in time in the Middle Ages, it took seven years to earn the right to be a Journeyman, otherwise known as a Fellow in the Craft. For an Apprentice to become a Fellow Craft within the Freemasonic Order, no skill development or servitude under a Mentor is required. Memorization of words, signs and grips are almost universally required. Some Apprentices are required to know the Obligations they learned during their first Degree.”

Next comes a lament you will find throughout Nagy’s book, “Candidates Entering the Society usually have high hopes of being surrounded by men who have actually developed Life Masteries. What they find is a wide assortment of males who have yet to master themselves, much less the principles of the Craft. They also find men obsessed with memorizing things that they have no desire to understand, much less apply.”

“With no true leadership or examples of what the Society can actually do to develop good men into Better men, some members soon realize that the organization is not what they expected. Couple this with meetings that provide little to no nourishment  for those who attend, it becomes very clear to any man who was initially excited about joining the Society, that if offers little more than activities that maintain the process of Initiating men three times over.”

He goes on to say this about candidates:

“They are provided an Instruction Set in the form of ritual as to what they should do to become Better men but they are provided no support to assure that they learn how to become Better men. They are only required to memorize that Instruction Set, not Execute it. It is clear that this activity and their limits do not support Freemasonic Craft in being a Progressive Science, only a stagnant script to follow that very few members understand.”

And why do few members understand Freemasonry?

Nagy claims, “Without a foundation in classical literature, scripture and related materials, there is little likelihood of any man truly appreciating anything other than superficial aspects of what the Society offers him. What’s more, when they don’t appreciate what is offered, they do not stick around much.”

Nagy is a big critic of Freemasonry’s claim to actually helping its members yet he sees in it a grand design that can change lives.

“Wouldn’t it make sense to teach men the significance of Ritual in general,” Nagy writes. “What is it supposed to activate within them? What is the significance of certain symbols, words, and gestures to as man, to what they refer within specific moments in history, and how they have been viewed in the past? Wouldn’t proper preparation include educating the man, not in what he shall experience, but in the significance of the words, phrases, gestures, symbols and allusions that he shall encounter on his journey?”

“The cultures surrounding the society today are not ones to provide unsophisticated Candidates. Not many new Candidates will willingly engage in such activities.  Today’s Candidates want continuity between the act and the reality it is supposed to improve.”

“It’s most unfortunate that the society never developed itself beyond the roles it asks its members to act out. Had it taken what its scripts espouse to the next level, and provided authentic and functional support to its members in achieving what its Rituals have pointed its members toward, its membership and surrounding structure would indeed be far grander than what is currently presented.”

“Once again, it is not ever emphasized that any member understands anything that he memorizes and repeats. It is never emphasized that he must do any of the work which any of what he is memorizing points toward. He need not understand the lessons. He need not understand what the Symbols mean toward what work they direct his attention. He is not even required to discuss how he can use what he is told to memorize to Better himself. It is only important that he be able to memorize and recite back what is asked of him by his Jurisdiction.”

But as we noted before this does not lessen the potential of Freemasonry in Nagy’s eyes one bit:

“The central power of the Freemasonic Society is the mutual agreement of all its members to play the part inside and outside the Lodge.  This means that the entire world is their theater and members are expected to play the part for the rest of their lives.”

“Perhaps the greatest service Freemasonic society can ever offer a man is the ability to release himself from the everyday world and immerse himself in a reality that offers him fellowship that’s not contingent upon anything other than wanting to be together for all the right reasons. In this way, Ritual does indeed Bring Order to Chaos.”

“Moreover, Freemasonry is perhaps the single most inclusive way for any man to freely and willingly immerse himself within a nurturing environment of Moral instruction that excludes the varying degrees of politically corrupting influences of any one religion.”

“Furthermore, there are some deeply spiritual men who shall never ever step foot in any religion based facility who desire to commune with other Seekers of like Mind and Spirit. For them there is and shall always be Freemasonry”

“And all members reap the benefit of their presence and wisdom as a result.”

“The Freemasonic Organization places a spotlight on every single Candidate going through each of the first three Degrees. Like a limelight in a spectacular production, the Candidate is both highlighted and at the same time shown what role he must play in life to better himself. At each Step along the way he is shown what he must focus upon to Build himself into a Better man.”

“For some time now  I have described Freemasonic ritual as ‘Roadmaps for Personal Transformation.’

When you come right down to it Nagy believes that ,“Simple in its deliverance and Masterful in its design the Craft does indeed do what it set out to do and in Grand Fashion.”

”Simply Masterful it is in every way and in ways that the majority have not recognized and understood until now.”

The meat of the book is the unmasking of the Craft and the discovery of its true origins, which you will have to read and digest yourself by buying the book. There is also Nagy’s critique of how the Craft could be better than it already is while paying due homage to its greatness at the same time. These are the points you don’t want to miss and that will provide hours of contemplation and discussion.

But there are other parts of the book that also spread Light. We won’t mention them all but one that Nagy finds important is definitions. He seems to feel that too many misunderstandings take place because we are misdefining (that’s a new word I just made up) the words we use in Freemasonry. The biggest offense comes in the use of the words “Masonry (and Mason) versus Freemasonry (and Freemason). According to Nagy:

Freemasonry – The Organizational Structures, Rules, Laws, Traditions, Lore and Rituals that support the Practices of the Freemasonic Society.Building Better Builders

Freemason –  A Member of the Society of Free & Accepted Masons; an Accepted Mason.

Masonry –  The Art and Science of Building.

Mason –  A Builder

While we are at we will include one other definition.

The Craft – 1. The Whole of Freemasonic Practice.  2. Those who collectively Practice Freemasonry

Nagy comments that confusion reigns when both Freemasonry and Masonry are used interchangeably and also when some assign the word Freemason to those in the Craft who practice the principles of Freemasonry and Mason to those in the Craft who do not practice the principles of Freemasonry.

Nagy further explains, “By taking the issue of practice outside the Society and assigning it strictly to practice versus non-practice, these Brothers have assigned a distinction that removes membership from the equation defining Masons. They have opted to define Freemasons as mere members of the society of Free & Accepted Masons while in the same effort defining Masons as individuals who Practiced Principles that transform males toward maturity and wisdom regardless of affiliation.”

“In the eyes of some, Freemasons were members of a Society whereas Masons were Builders.”

“None of these definitions denoted that there was mutual exclusivity between the two. They didn’t mean that members could not be Builders too or that Builders could not be members. It merely communicated a base understanding that one was not necessarily the other and one didn’t have to be one to be the other.”

Another chapter you don’t want to miss is the one on the Word.

Nagy tells us, “From the Perspective of Freemasonic Practice, the Master’s Word is Played out every time a Member Portrays Masonry Authentically.”

“The Word is not something you can hold, say or write. You cannot possess it in any way. If anything, It must be something that possesses you and does so legitimately and authentically.”

The Word is a Metaphor. It is intended to represent something other than an actual word. To understand this metaphor, one must seek not what is communicated in its normal sense but to seek the character of what is communicated beyond the words used. Hence, to seek and actual word would be foolish, but to seek the character of The Word would be wise.”

“This is why it is so crucial to understand that The Word cannot be given to anyone. It is something that a person Becomes as a result of diligently applying Wisdom, Strength and Beauty in agreement to all he does. One does not possess The Word, One Becomes The Word; and does so through dedication and commitment of specific Work.”

“The Word is Excellence from oneself to the Degree that one does all these things Masterfully. The Word is a metaphor for Masterful Achievement.”

I also call the Nagy the question man. On Facebook or in his books he is always asking questions. I bet that if I met him in person one of the first things he would do is ask me a question.  At the end of The Craft Unmasked are some questions for you to answer, or at least think about. Questions like:

“Do you know exactly what Society Ritual points toward that if pursued would continue to help transform you toward the Better?”

“If you were to step upon sacred ground, would it mean more to you knowing this fact before you stepped upon it or long after you left that soil?”

John "Coach" Nagy

John “Coach” Nagy

There is no doubt that what Nagy, affectionately referred to as the Coach, has written a book of much controversy. It will burst the bubble of many a Masonic scholar and researcher, and the Coach knows this. And I think he is ready for the flak that will come his way, as they used to say in Vietnam “INCOMING!” It does not seem to be in his nature to be confrontational, however, but rather to be an educator and he goes where his research has taken him.

It is so important that we understand our roots and where that leads us, where we began and where we are now going.

Nagy reminds us, “Yet, even though the Craft is hidden in plain sight, the Mystery of Masonry escapes the understanding of far too many of its members and non-Craft members. This doesn’t prevent individuals from practicing it and benefiting from its practice. Such benefits are a direct result of its application and it doesn’t require an awareness or understanding of the Craft, just a Mastering of it. The Craft is that empowering.”

“Many have come to its quarry. Many have Mastered its ways. Many have profited from its Practice. But, few actually Understand what they are truly doing. Somehow, along the way, the Craftsmen have forgotten what their Craft actually is and for what Purpose it is Practiced.”

But the Coach wants to put this all out for discussion not controversy. It is only through the meeting of minds that we shall discover ourselves as Freemasons and who we really are and where we are going. It is only through greater understanding of where we have been that we can figure where we must go in the future.

“When you remain even loosely active in Craft activities and have taken the time to discuss it at length and in depth with others, you shall soon become acutely aware that there are many aspects of the Craft that appear to be confusing at best, and deeply disconcerting at worst. These aspects shall continue to plague the Craft until such time that all members find themselves harmoniously discussing differences.”

Let’s hope that by adding this book to your library that you will be having those harmonious discussions and delving evermore deeper into the roots of Freemasonry in order to be able to shape its future for the better.

You can find Nagy’s book on Amazon here: The Craft Unmasked – The Uncommon Origin of Freemasonry and its Practice and on his website:

American Academy of Ophthalmology to Develop Knights Templar Eye Foundation Pediatric Ophthalmology Education Center

First-of-its-kind online medical resource to provide ophthalmologists globally with the latest clinical information for treating children’s eye diseases and disorders

Knights Templar Eye Foundation - A Masonic Charity

Knights Templar Eye Foundation
A Masonic Charity

The American Academy of Ophthalmology today announced a new partnership with the Knights Templar Eye Foundation (KTEF) to establish the first online medical resource center dedicated to children’s eye care. Made possible through a generous grant from KTEF, the virtual skills transfer center will provide ophthalmologists globally with the latest clinical information for treating children’s eye diseases and disorders.

The creation of the Knights Templar Eye Foundation Pediatric Ophthalmology Education Center (KTEF Education Center) is an important step toward addressing a large and growing burden of vision loss. An estimated 19 million children worldwide under the age of 15 are visually impaired, 1.4 million of whom are blind. [1] Many cases of childhood blindness could be avoided with interventions using existing knowledge.[2]

The KTEF Education Center aims to help prevent pediatric blindness by supporting the lifelong learning needs of pediatric ophthalmologists and the on-demand learning needs of comprehensive ophthalmologists. Regardless of location and formal training, it will allow ophthalmologists to have access to the most current surgical and clinical guidance and instruction. The KTEF Education Center’s content will address the needs of residents and fellows, mid-career practitioners as well as physicians training in less-developed countries. Resources will include:

  • Urgent diagnostic and treatment guides – Reference quick guides on diagnostic and treatment criteria for children in critical and emergency situations.
  • Video guides – Watch demonstrations on surgical techniques, symptomology and diagnostic approaches particular to childhood eye disorders.
  • Expert clinical advice from peers – Share and find expert clinical advice on certain cases or general clinical challenges.
  • Latest developments and standards of care – Review the latest in evolving standards in diagnosis and treatment, both medical and surgical, and access evidence-based preferred practice patterns based on peer-reviewed literature.
  • Guidance for pediatric practice management – Learn how to understand and navigate the changing health care environment as it pertains to childhood eye care.

The KTEF Pediatric Ophthalmology Education Center is expected to launch in 2015. The executive editor will be Faruk Örge, M.D., director of the Center for Pediatric Ophthalmology at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland and vice chair of clinical affairs at the University Hospitals Eye Institute, Case Medical Center. The deputy executive editor will be K. David Epley, M.D., a past president of the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.

The center will be housed within The Ophthalmic News & Education Network®. The Academy’s ONE® Network is the world’s largest online source of peer-reviewed, high-quality news and education for ophthalmologists. Funded by the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (FAAO), the ONE Network provides more than 50 interactive cases and courses, full-text access to nine leading journals, self-assessment questions, practice guidelines, and thousands of videos and clinical images. It also provides summaries of the Academy’s practice guidelines in eight languages and is used by ophthalmologists in more than 140 countries.

“The Knights Templar Eye Foundation is a tremendous partner for ophthalmologists and our patients, and this grant is an extraordinary gift for the profession,” said David W. Parke II, M.D., CEO of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “The KTEF Pediatric Ophthalmology Education Center will ensure a strong educational foundation for current and future generations of ophthalmologists. It will speed the adoption of new knowledge, technology and treatments, and will eliminate a lack of ophthalmic education as a contributor to global blindness. No such resource currently exists.”

“We are proud to expand our relationship with the Academy and contribute to the advancement of ophthalmic education through this innovative new resource,” said KTEF President David D. Goodwin, who also serves on the FAAO Advisory Board. “The KTEF Pediatric Ophthalmology Center will provide a real opportunity to make a difference and improve the outcomes in eye care for children worldwide.”

Incorporated in 1956, KTEF is a charity sponsored by the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, a Masonic fraternal organization. Their mission is “to improve vision through research, education, and supporting access to care.” For the last 19 years, the KTEF has been a key supporter of the FAAO’s public service program EyeCare America, which provides sight-saving services to the medically underserved across the United States.

About the Knights Templar Eye Foundation
The Knights Templar Eye Foundation, incorporated in 1956, is a charity sponsored by the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar. The Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees comprised of the six elected officers of the Grand Encampment, all Past Grand Masters of the Grand Encampment, and six trustees-at-large elected from and by the membership for a term of nine years. It is exempt from federal income taxation under Section 501 (c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Code and contributions made to the Foundation are deductible by donors.

The original mission of the Foundation was “to provide assistance to those who face loss of sight due to the need for surgical treatment without regard to race, color, creed, age, sex or national origin provided they are unable to pay or receive adequate assistance from current government agencies or similar sources and to provide funds for research in curing diseases of the eye.”

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology, headquartered in San Francisco, is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons — Eye M.D.s — with more than 32,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the three “O’s” – ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who has the education and training to treat it all: eye diseases, infections and injuries, and perform eye surgery. For more information, visit

The Academy’s EyeSmart® program educates the public about the importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve healthy vision. EyeSmart provides the most trusted and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. OjosSanos™ is the Spanish-language version of the program. Visit or to learn more.

About the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology
Established in 1980, the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology raises financial support and implements programs that advance ophthalmic education resulting in the best possible eye care for the public. Funds raised by the Academy Foundation are used to develop new Academy educational products and services and to preserve the history of ophthalmology and that of the Academy. Since its inception, the Foundation has worked to advance ophthalmic education and provide better care for the public. More information can be found at



GM Joseph Warren Offered A Masonic Warrant To Prince Hall

The Plumbline

The Plumbline

A recent story in the Scottish Rite Research bulletin newsletter, “The Plumbline,” titled “A Scottish Lodge in the Grand Jurisdiction of Massachusetts” intrigued me.  Written by old friend Michael Kaulback and Richard Van Doren it chronicles the early growth of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts with a heavy concentration on Saint Andrews Lodge. Saint Andrews Lodge became the first Lodge of the “antients” working in the colonies, as the authors tell us, chartered by the Grand Lodge of Scotland. There already was a Provincial Grand Lodge of “moderns,” most often referred to as St. John’s Grand Lodge, operating in Massachusetts Bay Colony since 1733. Soon after Saint Andrews partnered with three military antient Lodges attached to the British Army, No 58 English stationed with the 14th regiment, No 106 Scottish stationed with the 64th regiment and No 322 Irish stationed with the 29th regiment, to form a Grand Lodge.

In 1768 Saint Andrews petitioned the Grand Lodge of Scotland to have Joseph Warren as their Grand Master. He was so appointed and served until he was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775. The battle between the antients and the moderns was more than just about ritual and the regularity of practice. It was just as much about the makeup of the two Grand Lodges. St. Johns Grand Lodge was made up largely of wealthy merchants, traders and landed gentry. Saint Andrews Grand Lodge was made up of what we would today call “blue collar” working men, men who worked with their hands. Kaulback and Van Doren give us an example of some of the Saint Andrews members.

  • George Bray – Baker
  • William Burbeck – Carver
  • James Graham – Chair maker
  • Samuel Peck – Glazier
  • Thomas Milliken – Bricklayer
  • John Jenkins – Baker
  • Moses Deshon – Auctioneer
  • Joseph Webb, Jr. – Ship Chandler
  • Samuel Barrett – Sail maker
  • Paul Revere – Silversmith
  • Joseph Warren – Doctor

Two very interesting stories come from this article. The first is that on August 28, 1769 William Davis was made the first Knight Templar in the United States at Saint Andrews Lodge. Paul Revere followed on December 11, 1769 and Joseph Warren on May 14, 1770. Davis and Warren distinguished themselves at the Battle of Bunker Hill, Warren not surviving the ordeal. This means that before the United States became an independent nation we had Knights Templar on our soil. That is an important development in the history of Freemasonry because at that time the degrees were so new. But the conferring of the degrees  Excellent, Super Excellent, Royal Arch and Knight Templar laid the foundation for what would become the “American Rite.”

Joseph Warren

Joseph Warren

Paul Revere became the second Grand Master of the union of antients and moderns into the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts that occurred in 1792. Saint Andrews Lodge held out until 1807 when they reached a final agreement with the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Kaulback told me personally when I spoke to him by phone that the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts is much more reflective of the antients because the antients won. The union with the moderns was on their terms and the practice of Freemasonry in Massachusetts henceforth was really a practice of antient Freemasonry.

The other interesting story to come from this article is that Grand Master Joseph Warren met with Prince Hall who wanted to form a Masonic Lodge and he agreed to give Hall a warrant to open his Lodge. Before he could execute that decision Warren was killed in the Battle of Bunker Hill. This decision is recorded in the minutes of Saint Andrew’s Grand Lodge minutes. MONUMENTAL! What a game changer that would have been. Of course Prince Hall found another avenue to obtain his warrant.

Perhaps Hall went quickly to another source because Warren told him that while he wanted to give him a warrant the majority of his members would never approve it. Perhaps Hall chose a British antient military Lodge because Saint Andrews had formed itself into a Grand Lodge by association with the same and he was told that. THAT’S ALL SPECULATION. But one has to wonder if Prince Hall had waited and bided his time to approach Warren’s successor, what American Freemasonry would have looked like over the next 200 years.

Prince Hall

Prince Hall

What we can say is fact that is that Massachusetts was the leader of the nation in the abolitionist movement, that in the 1750s and 1760s Massachusetts had a number of freed Blacks, more than any other state, and that according to the minutes of Saint Andrews Lodge it had 7 Black members in the 1780s and 1790s.

People change and times change and an opportunity lost is sometimes lost forever and sometimes lost for just a long, long time. Sometimes the opportunity lost changes the course of history. GM Joseph Warren was killed in battle so he did not get to give Prince Hall his warrant. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and a bitter and acrimonious post Civil War Reconstruction followed that never would have happened under him. JFK was also gunned down and Lyndon Johnson hurtled us headlong into the Vietnam War, a move JFK would never have made. Men who rise to the occasion sometimes get shot down and we are all the poorer for it.

But dream with me a minute. Let’s change the clock of history and go back, back, back to 1775. GM Warren doesn’t die in the Battle of Bunker Hill and he does right away grant Prince Hall his warrant to form a Masonic Lodge. That would have set a precedent for every other Grand Lodge in the United States. You have got to think that New York and Pennsylvania and other northern states would have followed suit. Oh, maybe the South wouldn’t have gone along. But then again post Civil War they too might have admitted Black men into their Lodges. Freemasonry could have changed the whole history of this nation and maybe, just maybe the 60s wouldn’t have been the bloody 60s of Civil Rights battles. And maybe Martin Luther King, another assassination that changed history, would still be with us.

Dreaming is fun but it’s not reality. Yet I have to believe that Freemasonry still has a major role to play in the world because it changes the hearts of men. The current world conflict between Muslims, Jews and Christians could be ameliorated by Freemasonry and peace could be made by a Freemason who rose to the occasion. If one does let’s take protective measures to assure that he does not die before his mission has been completed.

Don’t Mess With Texas!

South Central Guild #3

“We’re the best in Texas, yes we are.”  “They come to watch us from afar.” (or something like that)

Left, left, left, right, left…to the right – MARCH…Halt, one, two…Right face…about face…forward march… to the rear march…

Such was a tiny micro example of the precision marching of the Lone Star Guild Drill Teams that I witnessed at Prince Hall Texas’ recent York Rite Conclave. Now I know of men’s Knight Templar drill teams but I have never heard of or seen women within Freemasonry performing within drill teams. Then again I haven’t been a York Rite member or a Prince Hall Mason for a long time either.

Bro. Frederic L. Milliken with Two South Central #39 Guild Members

Bro. Frederic L. Milliken with Two South Central #39 Guild Members

I don’t know for sure but I’m going to bet that my Mainstream Brethren have never heard of this. But it does go to show what a Masonic family is all about. In Prince Hall’s it means meeting with the female Bodies in the same building at the same time and coming together for some common functions and some good times. Luncheons, banquets, social mixers, yearly allocutions, awards ceremonies and installations are gender mixed. This builds a strong bond between the men’s side and the women’s side. And it provides strong cross support going both ways.

The Lone Star Guild Drill Teams Performances was one more thing that brought the

Prince Hall Family together. And it was a real morale booster. I left feeling really inspired and confident that my fraternity was going to do great things in the future. This sense of solidarity is a vital component of a healthy, growing, motivational Freemasonry and one that should be emulated elsewhere.

Grand Princess Captain R. Lucille Samuel was responsible for the creation of the Texas Guild’s drill teams and she will further educate us on how they came about and what they do.





In February of 2006 I was elected as the Grand Princess Captain of the Lone Star Grand Guild of Texas.  It was not until 2008 when I traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina that I came up with an idea.  At the Annual International Grand Encampment and International Grand Court of Cyrene Crusaders Session I saw men and women Drill Team competitions.  At the time the Right Eminent Grand Commander of Texas, Tony M. Moore had a men’s drill team.  There were only two members at this time but they stole the show.

Being a Retired Army Veteran I thought this could be a piece of cake as well as so much fun for the Guilds to compete in Texas.  Little did I know we would go on to the International Session and bring home 1st Place 2 years continuously.

When I returned to Texas, I sent out an email with the Drill Guidelines to all the Princess Captains and Special Deputies.  Each Guild Drill Team was to perform at the 2009 Grand Conclave in Killeen, Texas.  The Drill Team that competed was South Central Guild #39 of Killeen, Texas.  We were the host for the International Grand Encampment that year in Ft Worth, Texas.  South Central Guild placed first and became the 2009 International Grand Champions.

In 2010 we had two more Drill Teams to emerge at the Texas Grand Conclave in Houston giving us a total of 3.  They were Heart of Texas #38 of Temple Texas, South Central Guild #39 of Killeen, Texas, R. Lucille Samuel Guild #41 of Waxahachie, Texas.  At the International Session in Memphis, Tennessee all 3 Guilds placed.  4th Place R. Lucille Guild #41, 3rd Place South Central Guild #39 of Killeen, Texas and the 2010 International Grand Drill Team Champions Heart of Texas Guild #38!

In 2011 because there were no Teams Registered for competition in Baton Rouge, Heart of Texas Guild #38 remain the reigning International Grand Champions.

In February 2012 these 3 Drill Teams met again at our Texas Annual Grand Conclave in Dallas.  South Central Guild #39 (Valiant Ladies) are the Texas State Champs once again!

As you can see each Drill Team is unique in their own uniforms and styles of Drill and Entertainment.  It takes a lot of hard work, practice and dedication to ensure each member of the Drill Team is on the same step and beat as the others.  The Drill Teams have been watched and evaluated by myself and other Veterans or Sir Knights.  It is a competition but the most important thing is that they perform together as “ONE”.

The Drill Team Competition not only brings notoriety throughout the State and Nation but it gives these ladies a sense of pride and builds their self-esteem to compete in public.  It builds camaraderie among the Guild members and hopefully will encourage other members to form Drill Teams for their Guilds.  We have 12 Guilds in the state of Texas.  I am very proud of each and every member.  It is my dream that one day each Guild will have their own Drill Team.   “DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS!”

Please do not hesitate to contact Grand Princess Captain Samuel at and tell her what you think.

Will Our Organizations Sustain? ~ A Wake-Up Call

2012 York Rite Grand Commandery – PHA

I attended my first York Rite Grand Conclave recently. It was held in Dallas so I didn’t have to travel to all ends of Texas, a big state. Grand Sessions in Prince Hall Texas are great gatherings of celebration. Business is done but the emphasis is on camaraderie, fellowship, motivation and inspiration.

One of the things I like about Prince Hall is that it holds Grand Sessions of the men’s and women’s Bodies in the same building at the same time. Separated for most of the time they come together for meals, installation and a joint deliverance of each other’s annual allocution.  In this case it was the Grand Commandery and the Grand Guild coming together.

First up for the joint presentations of allocutions was the Grand Princess Captain of the Grand Guild, R. Lucille Samuel. Now annual allocutions, like state of the union addresses, are usually recounts of travels and accomplishments with maybe a bit of reinforcement and goals for the coming year…”I went here, I went there, we did this, we did that, our membership grew/lost, I have this new program for next year, etc.”

So I settled back in my chair, relaxed and lazily squinted up at Grand Princess Captain Lucille Samuel. Within minutes I sat bolt upright with a big smile of admiration. I was not going to have to listen to the usual pabulum this day. This Sister challenged her Body and all of us! And she did so boldly without the slightest hint of timidness, with the Right Eminent Grand Commander on one side of her and the Grand Master of Prince Hall Masons in Texas on her other side.

Below in her own words is what she had to say. The next day before our joint installation I approached her and told her that her message needed to be heard by others and that I can do that. So here is something that could be a wake-up call for your organization.

Will Our Organizations Sustain?  A Wake-up Call

By R. Lucille Samuel
Grand Princess Captain
Lone Star Grand Guild of Texas PHA

As I stated last year change is coming whether we are ready or not.  There are two things that can happen, we may stand still and allow life to pass us by or we can get on Board and transform from a Yard into a Garden.  We may have to alter our attitude but it is worth the risk for our Organizations.

We have a very important question to ask ourselves.  WILL OUR ORGANIZATIONS SUSTAIN and if so for how long?  At the present time we are walking on a very unstable foundation.  The infrastructure of our organizations is slowing weakening.  In order to remain strong and present a united front we have to work as ONE.  The statement I use quite often is “If You Don’t Stand For Something You Will Fall For Anything”!   At this time we are not standing we are sitting and allowing our organizations to slowly crumble around us.  We are so busy placing blame on each other instead of taking the time to SUSTAIN our organizations.

A lot of times leaders feel that if they have the financial security then the organization will remain strong and invincible.  This is only a short term fix to a long term problem.  You may have a brand new roof on your home but what good is it if the foundation is shaky!  If you want your organization to remain strong you have to employ the membership to SUSTAIN the foundation!

So what do we need to do to SUSTAIN our organizations?  We need to create programs that appeal to the interest of our membership.  We need to attract members that have a genuine interest in our mission.  Our focus needs to be on the Community and future of our youth.

Instead of the competitive struggles of each other we need to concentrate on the issues at hand.  We are losing our membership because we have lost our focus on the main objective.  These organizations were created to assist with charity, community service, educational assistance and support of our youth and elderly.  As leaders we are here to educate and train others to prepare to replace us in the future.  The problem is we have stopped teaching because we are too busy in competition with each other.  It should not matter who gives the most donations or raises the most money in fundraisers.  You may be educated by academics but you display ignorance in people skills.  Many of our leaders spend too much time worrying about losing their positions instead of researching why our membership is dwindling.  If you are losing more members than you are recruiting there should be a RED FLAG!  Talking down to others, rude attitudes or ignoring your officers and advisers is a sign of insecurity.  The last time I checked these are Non-Profit Organizations and we pay to become members.   Remember nothing on earth is permanent.  We all have a voice and a vote.  The same way you are voted in you can be voted out!

We are all here for a common purpose.  There should be no animosity toward another leader because their organization is excelling beyond the others.  The membership should not have to endure the pettiness of their leadership.  We need to TEACH what we PREACH!

In the book of Samuel there is a story of Saul the first King of Israel.  He made David his special assistant because he admired his work.  Although Saul was anointed by God he was also possessed by an evil spirit and he defied God.  He became jealous of David and tried to kill him on numerous occasions.  He nearly killed his own son because he was caught up in being superior to others.  In the end he took his own life.

The fact is this happens amongst our members of various organizations.  We become so fixated on our titles that we forget where we came from.  We treat our members without respect and honor.  We don’t stop to think how others feel or even ask their opinions.

In our organizations today we are not motivated for the right reasons.  Our motivation comes from the desire to reach the top before we have even scraped the bottom.  Whatever happened to work your way up and on the way receiving a few bumps and bruises to remind us why we started this journey in the first place.

It is very frustrating to watch what our pioneers shed blood and tears for slowly fade away.  We need to reflect back on our traditional values and goals.  In order to SUSTAIN our organizations we need to engage in two way communication.  It seems that we are not able to TALK to each other but we can TALK about each other.  There is so much work that needs to be accomplished that there is no room for envy or back biting.  If we spent as much time working together as we spend working apart this Jurisdiction could ROCK the Universe!

“People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within!”  We have to stay focused and assist members in their thirst for knowledge.  We need to renew our commitment to the organization.

In the story of Cain and Abel jealousy consumed Cain.  In order to SUSTAIN our organizations we have to realize that this is not a contest but it is all about the mission that brought us here.  Some of us panic at the thought of someone else learning our jobs.  We are afraid to share knowledge or experience in fear of replacement.  We stress out or make up untruths about others because we want them to feel inferior or incompetent.  We coerce or persuade members to vote against each other because of our insecurities.

We are an organization based upon the Christian religion.  There is no such thing as a part time Christian.  You cannot shout on Sunday and back-stab on Monday!  However it is a known fact that if you give more than is expected of you, you will get more than you expect.  Fulfillment is not what you receive but what you give.

We have to be flexible and able to adapt to change.  We cannot continue to use the same old strategies that were used to create organizations in the past.  There has to be a continuous improvement so the organization does not become complacent.  Involving the members and listening to their ideas also promotes growth.  Reward members when possible and publicize their positive achievements.   Fresh innovative ideas are needed in order to maintain our focus.  We cannot remain as the “status quo” to become what we want to be.  In order to attract and retain quality membership they have to be motivated and assured that they are crucial to our success.  Members also need to feel there is room for progression and acceleration within the ranks.

Our organization is similar to the engine of your car.  If you don’t perform the required maintenance the engine tends to not function properly and this affects the whole automobile.  Sometimes a major overhaul is needed.  No vehicle can perform effectively if the engine is not operational.  A leader cannot function without the assistance of their membership.

I challenge all leaders to forget about what we used to do and start focusing on what WE NEED TO DO!  Working against each other will never SUSTAIN our organizations.  If we don’t start now by supporting each other and working as ONE Jurisdiction there will be no future for the Masonic Family.  This is not a PROMISE this is a FACT!

Ask yourselves have I been a blessing to someone today or shared a blessing?  ‘Don’t look at me…Look at who is in charge of me…  Remember I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Jesus had no servants, yet they called Him Master.
Had no degree, yet they called Him Teacher.

Had no medicines, yet they called Him Healer.
Had no army, yet kings feared Him.
He won no military battles, yet He conquered the world.

He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him.
He was buried in a tomb, yet He lives today.
Feel honored to serve such a Leader who loves us.

R. Lucille Samuel

Grand Princess Captain
Lone Star Grand Guild of Texas PHA
Heroines of the Templars Crusade
International Grand Junior Shepherdess
International Grand Deputy of Texas
International Grand Court of Cyrene Crusaders


Please do not hesitate to contact Grand Princess Captain Samuel at and tell her what you think.

Knights Templar Turn To Be Degraded

Templarsign7Why should Freemasonry take all the hits? Let’s demean someone else, what say you? Time the Knights Templar got besmirched

Would you believe that a Mexican Drug cartel is the new champion of truth, justice and the Mexican way?  That’s right! They are the new Knights Templars dedicated to enforcing a new ethical code. Wonders never cease.

In a story tearing up the Internet and originally reported by the Associated Press are the details here.

MORELIA, Mexico –  Patterned after the most famous of the medieval Western Christian military orders, a drug cartel in Mexico, calling itself the Knights Templar, is publicly appealing to Mexicans living in Michoacán.

Claiming to be fighting a war against poverty, tyranny and injustice, the crime gang is distributing books outlining its “mission” and “code of conduct.”

Federal police said they seized copies of the cartel’s “code of conduct” booklet during an arrest of cartel members in the western state of Michoacán last week, but refused to release its contents Tuesday, saying they didn’t want fan the flames of the quasi-religious movement.

But a copy of the 22-page “The Code of the Knights Templar of Michoacán,” illustrated with knights on horseback bearing lances and crosses, was obtained by The Associated Press this week. It says the group “will begin a challenging ideological battle to defend the values of a society based on ethics.”

There is no indication that Freemasons are involved or are being used or hijacked in this situation. But one might conjecture how soon it will be before someone makes the connection. And might we ask where is the church – the Catholic Church in all this? Has it taken one too many KT hits to open its mouth?

York, christian knight, templar descendant, english knight, Order of the Temple of the Commandery



York, christian knight, templar descendant, english knight, Order of the Temple of the Commandery

York Rite Cross and Crown – A Cross and Crown laid upon the Cross Pattée inscribed with “In Hoc Signo Vinces”

The LORD said to me, “Take a large scroll and write on it with an ordinary pen: Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. And I will call in Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberekiah as reliable witnesses for me.

Then I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the LORD said to me, “Name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. Before the boy knows how to say ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria.” Isaiah 8:1-4

This passage will more than likely spark the interest of those who have taken the Order of the Temple of the Commandery in the American York Rite. When I opened up my Bible to examine this bit of scripture, I was not terribly excited. I find the book of Isaiah to be the Revelations of the Old Testament. Interpreting and understanding prophesies is something that I am very uncomfortable with and find that examining such writings typically results in a headache. But determined to find some sort of applicable meaning in this passage, I focused on the task at hand and forged ahead in a bit of Biblical research.

I thought that perhaps the name Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz might be the key to understanding this passage. This name is defined in the New International Version of the Bible as “quick to the plunder, swift to the spoil.” Considering the last part of the piece of scripture quoted above, this definition does not seem odd. But when considering its place in the Order of the Temple, this meaning does not seem to make much sense.

However, this passage from scripture is actually referring to information found in the seventh chapter of the book of Isaiah. In this chapter, King Rezin of Aram and Pekah, son of Ramaliah King of Israel, have decided to fight Jerusalem and overtake the city. Ahaz, the king of Judah, is troubled by these events, but God sends Isaiah to tell Ahaz:

It will not take place, it will not happen, for the head of Aram is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is only Rezin. Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be too shattered to be a people. The head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is only Remaliah’s son. If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” Isaiah 7:7-9

These pieces of scripture are relevant to the period during the Order of the Temple when the candidate is symbolically serving his three years as a pilgrim warrior. A pilgrim is a person that is on a spiritual quest, a religious journey. He is a traveler who has humbled himself and whose piety has urged him to seek a holy destination. As a warrior, he is engaged in a cause or conflict. Therefore, the ninth verse of the seventh chapter of Isaiah couldn’t be more applicable: “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.”

But what is faith? Is it that blind belief of something that can not be proven? The eleventh chapter of Hebrews says “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” However, this makes the word faith, as found in Isaiah, seem rather worthless. Considering this definition, without an irrational belief in something with no empirical evidence, you will not stand at all. But what if faith is something more?

The Mason should exhibit wisdom, strength, and beauty in all that he does. If you have no faith in God, you have no wisdom; if you have no faith in yourself, you have no strength; if others have no faith in you, you have no beauty. Therefore, if you have no wisdom, strength, or beauty, you will not stand at all. Perhaps the name Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz really means that without this wisdom, strength, and beauty a Mason’s life will be easily plundered and spoiled.

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