A Cycle of Necessity

The history and legacy of Freemasonry in Puerto Rico

My name is René Pérez Liciaga and I’m a native New Yorker, lecturer, published researcher, martial artist, actor and a Freemason of Puerto Rican descent. As a Boricua (the original identifier for Puerto Ricans from the language of the indigenous people of the Caribbean), my parents educated me to be proud of my ethnic background and history. As a child growing up, going back and forth to visit family on the island brought me closer to my raices (roots). My commitment to the cultural representation and the advancement of Puerto Rican heritage has helped to highlight my published papers to a wider audience.

My research has influenced educational institutions, scholars and the general public to rethink the origins and existence of the Taino, who were the first people that Columbus encountered in the Caribbean and who are also part of my admix ancestry. I had the opportunity to feature in the National Geographic Magazine with the help of a close friend to spread awareness to the fact that the Taino were never EXTINCT as most historians falsely claim.

In 2018, I entered my Masonic journey shortly after a transformative period in my life, initiated by my father’s transition. It instituted a pursuit of knowledge, spiritual awakening and more in me. In aligning with the Order, I deepened my esoteric knowledge while forging diverse relationships with brothers in various cities and countries. As a frequent guest speaker, lecturing at lodges throughout the country, I share my expertise on topics that I am most passionate about: astrology, Hermetic and esoteric studies. In tracing my roots, I came to learn that I am the 4th cousin, six times removed, of the first Grand Master of the Grand lodge of Puerto Rico Santiago R Palmer who helped found the first official national lodge of Puerto Rico Logia Adelphia No. 1 in Mayagüez.

This is also the lodge that I had the privilege of visiting back in 2020.

I am working on affiliating with Logia Adelphia as a member soon. While taking a tour of the Grand Lodge of Puerto Rico, I had the honor of standing next to the remains of Grand Master Santiago R Palmer, who I was not aware at the time was my relative. As I researched more on my roots, I discovered another Masonic connection to a well-known politician, medical doctor and prominent Freemason – Dr. Ramon Emeterio Betances, a notable figure in Puerto Rican political history, is also a distant relative.


Some people claim there is something called “ancestral blood memory” which apparently explains why people are intrigued by a specific topic or spiritual calling. Others will call it “reincarnation” or a term used by the Pythagoreans transmigration. I prefer to call it “A Cycle of Necessity,” a title of one of Manly P Hall’s books.

Pictured: Bro. Rene standing in front of a mural of Santiago R. Palmer in Puerto Rico

A Sufi order called the Order of the Melevites or the “Whirling dervishes” is purported to have encountered the warrior monks known as the Knights Templars. There are other claims that this Order has similarities to Freemasonry. The Order was founded by “Mevlana Jelau’d-din Mohammed el Balkh er rumi” who was a mystic and supposedly developed extraordinary spiritual powers by his sixth year. In Mesnavi I Ma’Navi Book IV Jelau’d-din writes:


A stone I died and rose again a plant.

A plant I died rose an animal.

I died an animal and was born a man.

Why should I fear.


I truly believe I did not find Freemasonry, but it found me when I needed it. Masonry is about building one’s character to find that stone which the builders rejected. As a martial artist, I recognize that the art and Freemasonry contain similar concepts and principles. While climbing the ranks in Karate you receive a black belt, similar to becoming a Master Mason. However, some individuals get a belt and stop training as if they have received all the secrets and forms in the art or the Craft, not realizing the term Shodan in Japanese means “to begin.” That is when the true work starts. As you climb up the ranks in Karate or any other martial arts, you go through an initiation process as you would in Freemasonry. The word initiation also means “to begin.” Martial arts, like Freemasonry, is a lifelong journey in which you never stop learning and there is always room for improvement.
Pictured: Bro. Rene being accepted in Logia Adelphia No. 1, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico
As a child growing up, I was always intrigued by finding a teacher or master who would instruct me on certain secret techniques and lifelong lessons. As I got older, I realized that this person only exists on TV because the true teacher and master I have been looking for is myself. A true martial artist just like a Master Mason is not only a master of the art or the Craft but a Master of himself that is the true stone the builders rejected.
Written by:
Bro. René Pérez Liciaga
George Washington Lodge #285
Manhattan, New York