The Pride of the Fraternity

The Pride of the Fraternity


The Pride of the Fraternity

“A distressed, worthy brother and his widow must be comforted and guarded so long as the obligation, which makes us Masons, is cherished and remembered.”

Photo: Masonic Home of Utica

M.W. James Ten Eyck, Grand Master, bellowed those eloquent words on June 7, 1892, during the Grand Lodge of New York’s Annual Communication, and went on to regard the new Masonic Home of Utica as “the Pride of the Fraternity.”

Nearly 181 years ago, the Grand Lodge of the State of New York began the illustrious and monumental project of erecting a home for ailing Masons, their widows, and orphans. In 1842, a building fund was started, with a $1 subscription, and paid at the time by Grand Tiler Greenfield Pote, after the project had been commented on by Grand Secretary James Herring. This dream finally became a reality a year later, on June 8, 1843, when 100 Masons signed a petition for the purpose of founding the asylum.

Committees were formed and, by 1851, a recommendation was made to purchase property in Utica because it was located in the “center of the state,” and would be most central for New York Masons. The site was to be placed on “Utica driving park,” which had been used for State Fairs, and sprawled across 230 acres.

Several audacious fundraisers were launched, specifically in 1887, led by the Ladies Masonic Fair Association. The event held in New York City netted $76,000 and helped contribute to the estimated $175,000 needed to begin building the site. Grand Lodge added a $3 per capita assessment in 1889 to help meet the financial needs for the Masonic Home.

On May 21, 1891, the cornerstone, which was hewn of Quincy granite and weighed 1,750 pounds, was laid by M.W. John W. Vrooman, Grand Master, who wielded a magnificent silver trowel during the compelling ceremonies, as brass bands afterward serenaded throngs of spectators, including 6,734 Masons.

Renaissance architecture was chosen for the design, and the material used consisted of quarry-faced stone, with trimmings of brownstone, and Philadelphia front brick for the upper stories. The woodwork was of oak, ash, and white pine. The main center building was for the administrative offices, while the wings were devoted to rooms for patients. The basement contained two large swimming pools, playrooms for children, and dormitories for the workers. The first story had offices, and staterooms, and the second story provided additional dormitories for resident staff, and children. The third floor offered lavish offices and common rooms, and the fourth story was used as an infirmary, subdivided into five rooms for men, women, boys, girls, and nurses.

The City of Utica graciously contributed $30,000 toward the project, and the cost of the home upon completion was roughly $182,000.

On October 5, 1892, the Masonic Home was dedicated by M.W. Ten Eyck and the site officially was opened. “The doors of the home [have] swung wide with true Masonic hospitality to the Brethren of the Craft and their widows, who have needed a friendly and kindly environment in which to wait for life’s sunset, and to the orphans, who in youth needed the protection of affection and incentive for high living and true citizenship,” exclaimed Ten Eyck. “[May] God grant never to close as long as the human heart beats in sympathy with our Brothers’ woes.” Upwards of 8,524 Masons, donning the white lambskin, proudly marched six miles for a grand parade from Bagg’s Hotel to the new Masonic Home. Dignitaries were on horseback, others in carriages, and George Washington’s Bible illuminated the large procession.

On October 5, 1892, the Masonic Home was dedicated by M.W. Ten Eyck and the site officially was opened. “The doors of the home [have] swung wide with true Masonic hospitality to the Brethren of the Craft and their widows, who have needed a friendly and kindly environment in which to wait for life’s sunset, and to the orphans, who in youth needed the protection of affection and incentive for high living and true citizenship,” exclaimed Ten Eyck. “[May] God grant never to close as long as the human heart beats in sympathy with our Brothers’ woes.” Upwards of 8,524 Masons, donning the white lambskin, proudly marched six miles for a grand parade from Bagg’s Hotel to the new Masonic Home. Dignitaries were on horseback, others in carriages, and George Washington’s Bible illuminated the large procession.

The following year, M.W. Jesse B. Anthony, Past Grand Master, was installed as Superintendent, and the first Mason to be received as a resident was Brother James Borden of Greenwich Lodge 467.

During its early years, the Masonic Home offered large rooms that accommodated from two to six people each. The area also featured impressive reading rooms, a billiard hall, a smoking and lounging room, a sun parlor, and an on-site hospital. The site also included a school for kindergarten through fifth grade, and offered a playground and other amenities for children.

From 1892 to 1911, the site cared for 191 children, 892 adults, and operated with a staff of seventy. Rising hour was 6:30 a.m., and lights out was 10 p.m.

Today, the Masonic Home is named the Masonic Care Community, and is a first-class facility that serves 500 people on a majestic 400-acre campus. The mission continues to “support, nurture, and educate” those in need. The center does this by “providing exceptional care and services with compassion and pride guided by the Masonic Principles of brotherly love, relief, truth, and integrity.”

Interesting Facts: 

  • The site at one time bolstered an impressive farm: 104 cows, seventy-five pigs, sixty sheep, and plenty of chickens.
  • At least twenty-three boys who grew up at the Masonic Home valiantly served their country during World War I. Three were wounded in battle.
  • During the early 1920s, the cost of maintenance averaged $200,000 annually.
  • The Masonic Home once used more than 3,000 tons of coal a year.
  • Fifty barrels of flour were once used per month.
  • Upwards of 25,000 visitors came every year.


Lang, O., History of Freemasonry in the State of New York, Grand Lodge of New York, 1922.

Greene, N., History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, New York State Masonic Home at Utica, 1925.

Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, 1892.

The Illustrated American, June 13, 1891.

The Masonic Home, The Trustees of the Masonic Home and Asylum Fund, 1911.

By W. Bro. Kyle A. Williams

Bro. Williams, a collector of New York Masonic history, is Worshipful Master of Wallkill Lodge 627 in Walden, New York, where he also is lodge Historian.

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial

Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial



MEET BRO. Ronald F. “Ron” Tunison. The developer of the Friend to Friend Memorial

Outside of Independence Day, the first week of July brings another anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the bloodiest single battle of the American Civil War. (Antietam was the deadliest one-day battle in American history). Masons often point to the “Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial” to highlight the strong commitment Masonic brothers have to each other.

Photo: “Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial”

The idea of the memorial was the brainchild of Brother Sheldon Munn, a Brother of Lafayette Lodge No 194 in Pennsylvania and Licensed Battlefield Tour guide and his friend Dr John Schwartz of Good Samaritan Lodge No 336. With over 1,000 memorials on the battlefield, but none about the strong bonds of brotherhood and friendship. They convinced the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania to work with the National Park Service to jointly develop a memorial at Gettysburg to the Freemasons of the Union and the Confederacy that their unique bonds of friendship which enabled them to remain a brotherhood undivided even as they fought in a divided nation, faithfully supporting their respective governments.

Note: The memorial depicts Union Army Captain Henry H. Bingham assisting the severely wounded Confederate Brigadier General Lewis Armistead after Pickett’s Charge.

A public/private development of such a memorial had never been done. The cemetery Annex was an area the Park Service had long wanted to develop but had not been able to get funding. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania agreed to help with the general development of the Annex, and the Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial. The final location was one that was recommended by Jose Aguilar Cisneros, the Superintendent of the Gettysburg National Military Park. The general idea was to show the friendship between Confederate General Lewis Addison Armistead and Union General Winfield Scott Hancock. Since the two had been friends since childhood, but they did not meet on the battlefield, it was suggested that the documented incident of Captain Henry Bingham providing comfort to a dying Armistead shortly after Pickett’s Charge on July 3, 1861, by the park’s historian, Kathleen Harrison.

Bro. Maynard Edwards, 32°, KCCH, details the history behind the “Friend to Friend Memorial.”

The concept was approved at the National Park Service in Washington and noted historical artist Bro. Ron Tunison was selected to develop the monument. At that time, Tunison lived in the Catskills of New York. Tunison was intrigued by the concepts of the fraternity and joined his local lodge, Mountain Lodge No 529 in Windham, New York The Sculpture was cast in the Tallix Foundry, then in Beacon, New York — now part of the Urban Art Projects in Rock Tavern, New York. Sadly, Bro. Tunison passed away in October 2013 at the age of 66.

Photo: Ronald F. “Ron” Tunison, 1946-2013

Besides Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial, Bro. Tunison was an internationally acclaimed sculptor of nine heroic bronze monuments: “General W. Crawford,” near Little Round Top on the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania National Battlefield, the bas-relief “Delaware State Memorial” on Tanneytown Road, and “The Gettysburg Civil War Women’s Memorial” at Evergreen Cemetery. On the Antietam Maryland National Battlefield is Tunison’s “Irish Brigade Monument.” “The Bivouac.” is at the entrance to the Civil War Soldier’s Museum at Pamplin Historical Park near Petersburg, Virginia. “The Delaware Continentals” heroic size bronze monument of three advancing Revolutionary War soldiers stands atop a twenty-five-foot granite pedestal in front of Legislative Hall at Dover, Delaware. At Ringgold Gap in Atlanta, Georgia is Ron’s life-size General Patrick Cleburne statue.
Written by: Bro. Harry Williams Bro. Williams was raised in 1993 and is a member of three symbolic lodges in New York – Geneva-Ark No. 33, Warren No. 32, and Adonai No. 718. He helped to consolidate the Columbia, Dutchess and Greene-Ulster District into the Majestic Mid-Hudson District and bring about a new, revitalized district.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

Freemasonry in Lebanon and Morocco: History, Culture, and Societal Influence

Freemasonry in Lebanon and Morocco: History, Culture, and Societal Influence


Freemasonry in Lebanon and Morocco:

History, Culture, and Societal Influence

The history of Freemasonry in the Middle East is a complex one that is intricately entwined with the political, social, and cultural environments of the region, particularly Lebanon and Morocco, where there are challenges that could lead to the decline, or even extinction, of Masonry there.

Lebanon: A Legacy of Independence and Cultural Enrichment

Under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, Palestine Lodge 415, Lebanon’s first regular Masonic lodge, was founded in 1861. Operating in French, the lodge soon gained prominence among Lebanese professionals, intellectuals, and businessmen who were drawn to the Craft’s values of integrity, brotherhood, and intellectual pursuit (Morris, 2005). Notable individuals such as Arab nationalist and scholar Emir Shakib Arslan found inspiration in the fraternity to work toward social and political reforms in Lebanese society (Cleveland, 2004).

During Lebanon’s early twentieth century path to independence from the Ottoman Empire, Freemasons became influential members of the nationalist cause. They fought for political change, encouraged harmony among the various Lebanese communities, and made a substantial contribution to the debate on ideas and culture that shaped the young country (Fawaz, 1994). Lodges were lively salons that promoted conversations about literature, philosophy, and the arts, enhancing the nation’s cultural landscape. Palestine Lodge’s Bechara El Khoury, eventually the first President of Lebanon, personified the Freemasons’ dedication to promoting national prosperity and unity.

Even through the Lebanese Civil War, Freemasonry showed incredible fortitude. Lodges persisted, if somewhat covertly at times, offering a haven for communication and comprehension among the mayhem (Khalaf, 2010). They actively worked to bridge religious barriers by highlighting their non-sectarian nature and dedication to the brotherhood of man. Prominent Sunni scholar and Grand Orient of France member Sheikh Salim Takieddine served as an example of the fraternity’s dedication to interfaith harmony and dialogue.

Morocco: Navigating Colonialism and Modernity

Freemasonry arrived in Morocco in the late nineteenth century, during the period of European colonialism. The first lodge, La Réunion Française, was founded in Tangier in 1883 and served predominantly French residents (Pennell, 2013). However, it was not long before Moroccan intellectuals and elites became interested in Freemasonry’s ideas of enlightenment, progress, and global brotherhood (Dumper & Stanley, 2007).

Moroccan Freemasonry experienced unique obstacles as a result of the country’s complex politics under French and Spanish rule. Lodges frequently had to find ways to uphold Masonic values and while respecting authorities’ sensibilities (Rogerson, 2003). However, Freemasonry gained popularity among Moroccan nationalists, who saw it as a way to link with European ideals and institutions, promoting a sense of modernity and development (Hoisington, 1995). Prominent figures, like Thami El Glaoui, the Pasha of Marrakesh; and Mehdi Ben Barka, a leading opposition figure, were Freemasons who significantly impacted Moroccan politics and society (Maxwell, 2018). El Glaoui was a Mason under the Grand Lodge of France. Ben Barka’s affiliation remains uncertain, with some sources suggesting he was a member of the Grand Orient of France.

Freemasonry thrived in Morocco, helping the nationalist struggle and the advancement of Moroccan intellectual and cultural life. After Morocco attained independence in 1956, Freemasonry continued to evolve, responding to new political circumstances and societal changes. Lodges became more open, accepting members from a variety of backgrounds and embracing a unique Moroccan identity (Pennell 2013). Notable personalities, such as former Prime Minister Abderrahman El Yousoufi; and Mohamed El Fassi, a notable Islamic scholar and reformer, were Freemasons who contributed significantly to the country’s growth.

The Future: Challenges and Uncertainties

While Freemasonry has a long and varied history in the Middle East, its future is questionable. Diminishing membership, societal trends toward more conservative ideals, and ongoing distrust from governmental and religious authorities all pose serious obstacles to its survival.

The persistent political instability and economic crisis in Lebanon have made it difficult for Freemasonry to thrive. The “brain drain” exodus of young professionals does not bolster the fraternity’s prospects. Furthermore, the rise of religious conservatism and sectarian conflicts in Lebanese culture has heightened scrutiny and distrust of Freemasonry, which may impede its expansion and outreach.

While Freemasonry in Morocco has adapted to a post-colonial era, it still confronts obstacles in terms of public perception and government regulation. Some Moroccans perceive secrecy and hold suspicions of Western ideas. Furthermore, the government’s limits on freedom of organization and assembly may hinder lodges’ capacity to operate freely and attract new members.

While the extinction of Freemasonry in Lebanon and Morocco is not imminent, it is a real risk. Masonry has included prominent figures who helped influence their countries’ political, social, and cultural environments. To maintain its future, Freemasonry must address the issue of dwindling membership by actively interacting with younger generations and emphasizing its relevance in the modern world. It must also actively engage with the public and the government to dispel myths and foster trust.


  • Cleveland, W. L., A History of the Modern Middle East, Westview Press, 2004.

  • Dumper, M., & Stanley, B. E., Cities of the Middle East and North Africa: A Historical Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO, 2007.

  • Fawaz, L., An Occasion for War: Civil Conflict in Lebanon and Damascus in 1860, University of California Press, 1994.

  • Hoisington, W. A., Lyautey and the French Conquest of Morocco, Palgrave Macmillan, 1995.

  • Khalaf, S., Lebanon’s Predicament, Columbia University Press, 2010.

  • Maxwell, G., Lords of the Atlas: The Rise and Fall of the House of Glaoua, 1893-1956, Eland Publishing, 2018.

  • Morris, S., Freemasonry in the Holy Land: A History of the Craft in Palestine, Israel, and Jordan,B. Tauris, 2005.

  • Pennell, C.R., Morocco Since 1830: A History, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2013.

  • Rogerson, B., Morocco, Globe Pequot Press, 2003.

Written by: Bro. Anis D. Okbani

Bro. Okbani is a proud New York Mason, being a member of Anchor-Astoria Lodge 729 and Cornucopia Lodge 563, Queens District and Queens Masonic Association; a 32° Scottish Rite Mason; a Royal Arch Mason; and a Noble of the Mystic Shrine.

Freemasonry and the Irish Republican Army

Freemasonry and the Irish Republican Army


To Obey the Moral Law

When There Is Lawlessness:

Freemasonry and the Irish Republican Army

On April 24, 1922, gunmen of the Irish Republican Army seized Freemasons’ Hall in Dublin, commencing a 38-day occupation of the headquarters of the Grand Lodge of Ireland.

And that was the good news.

After the First World War, a Nationalist movement gained momentum in Ireland, which had been domineered by England since the reign of King Henry II in the twelfth century. By the twentieth century, something had to give, and the Irish Nationalists succeeded in winning independence for almost the entire island, and the Republic of Ireland was born. As you know, the six counties of Northern Ireland remain part of the United Kingdom. That’s a whole other story, but please know the Grand Lodge of Ireland unifies our Craft across Ireland—both the Republic and Northern Ireland—to this day.

But during that civil war a century ago, Freemasonry was trapped between Nationalists and Unionists; Catholics and Protestants; neighbors and neighbors. Lodges were ransacked and burned, and Masons and their families had to flee their homes in fear of violence. The Masonic fraternity was considered part of the English-Protestant establishment despite the Grand Lodge being established 197 years earlier by lodges that naturally were older than that.

I’ll get straight to the record, drawing from both Masonic and outside sources.

During the Grand Lodge of Ireland’s December 27, 1922 St. John’s Day Stated Communication, Deputy Grand Master Claude Cane summarized what had transpired at Freemasons’ Hall, Dublin earlier that year:

“What happened here in the South of Ireland during the past year, and especially in this house of ours, is so fresh within your memory that I need not elaborate it very much. You all know and will remember how on the twenty-fourth of April, this beautiful Hall of ours was suddenly invaded by a number of armed and lawless men, and taken forcible possession of. The occurrence was not wholly unexpected, fortunately perhaps, because I had heard warnings of it for some weeks before. I took upon myself, some six weeks before the occurrence actually took place, to remove all the archives and things which really mattered as far as the history of the Grand Lodge of Ireland was concerned from the doubtful security of our strong room and safes downstairs to a much safer place, a place where they were in absolutely perfect safety all through the trouble, and where they still remain. Naturally the current books, and things you were using every day, had to remain in the Hall and take their chance. But I am alluding more particularly to the old minute books and old records and things of that sort, belonging to the Grand Lodge ever since the year there first was a Grand Lodge in Ireland, nearly two hundred years ago, which would have been absolutely irreplaceable. These were all absolutely safe the whole time.

“As you may imagine, after the occupation became an accomplished fact, my frame of mind was not a very enviable one. I had to assume a very great deal of responsibility, and I felt that any wrong step on my part, or on the part of those with whom I took counsel, might lead to very much worse things than had already happened. I felt that anything would be better than having this building and all its contents destroyed; I felt that sooner than rush things, it was better to submit to what was an undoubted indignity, and a great pain and grief to all of us for some time rather than run the risk of seeing all that we held most sacred go up in flames and ashes. So for six weeks I, and others who were advising me, had to possess our souls in patience. So many Brethren gave me such valuable help during that time—with advice and work as well—that it would really be invidious to name anyone in particular, with the exception, I think, of one Brother whose work was not at an end when we got this Hall back, but to whom we all owe a very deep debt of gratitude for all he has done in restoring us to our possessions here, and that is your Grand Superintendent of Works, Brother G. Murray Ross.

“I should like also to personally thank Brother Besson, of the Hibernian Hotel, for the very prompt way in which he came to our rescue and gave us the resources of his house and a room in which to establish a temporary office. It was a great advantage to us to only have to cross the street and to be saved from the trouble of looking out for someplace where the business of Grand Lodge could be carried on. Brother Besson was most accommodating and most kind to us all through that time. (Add arson story.)

“I am bound to say that during all the negotiations carried on with the view of getting this building restored to us, I was treated with the very greatest courtesy and consideration by those members of the Provisional Government with whom I came in contact. They seemed to realize fully what our Order is. I am speaking particularly now of two men who are no longer living, no longer in the government: Mr. Michael Collins and Mr. Arthur Griffiths. They seemed to realize that, so far from our being a dangerous body, we were a body, as we are, bound to support, and give all the assistance we can, to any legally constituted government of the country in which we live, and that we are entirely deserving of the support of that government. When I found that they were in this frame of mind, I must say that a great load was lifted from my mind; I felt that we in our future, once law and order were established in Ireland, would be assured, and I believe that it will be so. No government with any sense at all can fail to recognize that a body composed as we are, and holding the principles that we do, and taught, as we are taught, in our ceremonies and ancient charges, can be anything but a source of strength to any reasonable government.

“At the same time I wish to remind you again, as I did last year, that it is our bounden duty, not as an organization, because we are forbidden to act as a political organization, but as individual members it is our bounden duty as Masons to be good citizens and to support the Government under which we live, so long as that Government protects us. Both here in Southern Ireland, and in Northern Ireland, where there is a different Government, that applies.

“It is a very bright spot in our future outlook to find how thoroughly in accordance with us our Brethren in the North are. Whatever divisions otherwise may happen in Ireland, there is not the slightest prospect, at present at any rate, of any division between the Masons of Northern Ireland and the Masons of Southern Ireland. The Masons of Ulster, equally with the Masons of Dublin and the South have one great common heritage: the Grand Lodge of Ireland. The Grand Lodge of Ireland is the Grand Lodge of Ireland, not of any particular section of Ireland. As long as it remains the Grand Lodge of Ireland, it ranks as the second Grand Lodge in the world, and in point of everything except a few years of age, I think we can claim full equality with the mother Grand Lodge of the world, England.”

Grand Secretary Henry C. Shellerd expanded on the subject:

“In many parts of the country, the buildings used for Masonic purposes were wrecked by irresponsible individuals, who seemed to delight in the destruction of all sorts of property not adequately protected. The Grand Master, in the wise exercise of his discretion, prohibited the meetings of the lodges in all the Provinces of Southern Ireland for a considerable part of the year. During the past three months, however, a better spirit seems to have prevailed, and the exercise of the discretionary power granted to Provincial Grand Masters to permit lodges to meet, has so far been attended by no unpleasant incidents. That the Dublin Freemasons’ Hall has been handed back to the Order without any wanton injury to the edifice or its contents is an indication that there is no special hostility to our Order in the Metropolis.

“The fact that the annual returns from lodges in the South and West of Ireland are reaching headquarters daily proves that the lawlessness which was rampant some months ago is being steadily brought under control, and that our Brethren in every part of the country, North and South, are acutated by an intense desire to uphold the Great Principles of Peace and Goodwill with which our Order, throughout its whole history, and in every part of the world, has been so closely identified.”

Beyond Dublin, matters were not as amicable. The Spectator, in its June 3, 1922 edition, reports:

“Many Masonic halls have now been destroyed, one of the first to suffer being that at Ballinamore. In Mullingar, the Masonic Hall was raided, and all the windows were smashed. Petrol was poured over the broken furniture, and the complete destruction of the place was prevented only by the intervention of the local priest. In Dundalk, which is not very far from the Ulster frontier, there were three Masonic lodges with a fairly large membership. Their hall was raided and the books and other property seized. Many of the members received a few days’ notice to leave the town, and some of them had to escape hurriedly to Belfast. As a consequence of these proceedings, the meetings of these lodges have been indefinitely suspended. … No man residing in the ‘Irish Free State’ whose name appears on the roll of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons of Ireland can, at the present time, have any sense of security for himself or his family. He can only look to his brethren in Great Britain to use their influence with the British Government on his behalf. The preservation of life and property is not a matter of party politics; it is an elementary principal of any Government, and it is the absolute duty of the British Cabinet to see that it is maintained in Ireland.”

The Builder, one of the great Masonic periodicals of early twentieth century America, includes letters to the editor in its September 1922 issue that tell more. Right Worshipful Claude Cane, the Deputy Grand Master quoted earlier, writes in part in a letter dated May 30: “I do not believe there is any general hostility to the Order in Southern Ireland, nor do I believe that any feeling of the sort is encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church, which fully appreciates the difference between Irish Freemasonry and that carried on by the so-called Continental Grand Lodges, which reject our first and principal great Landmark, and consequently are not recognized by us.”

A Bro. George A. Anderson of Pennsylvania writes: “A large number of the Masons in America do not know how conditions are in Ireland, neither do they know the real cause of it all, and I think they should know.” He also included a letter from Bro. W.J. Allen in Belfast who says:

“The condition of things over here has not improved very much of late, except that there are not so many shootings in our own city. … The Masonic Halls are being raided, and in many cases destroyed. The Grand Lodge premises in Dublin are at present in the occupation of the I.R.A. There was a curious result of that the other day.

“We were starting a new preceptory in Belfast in connection with our lodge and had applied for a warrant. Before the warrant could be issued, the premises in Dublin has been seized, and all the forms were kept there. The Masonic authorities had to get a copy of the latest warrant issued, and from this they made a fresh copy all in the writing of the Grand officer. This warrant was used last Saturday and is in the possession of our Registrar. The Masonic authorities here, for some reason or other, do not want to appeal to Freemasons outside or to make ‘political capital’ of the seizure, but I think it would be well if the Freemasons of America were freely told of the campaign that is going on against the Order in Ireland. Perhaps you could help a little in this in a quiet way among your own associates. There was one man, whom I know personally, who had a narrow escape in the recent murders in County Cork. He is a Methodist clergyman, and was in one of the houses that were visited. He escaped from bed in his nightshirt and got away into the fields. It was the middle of April and the weather was very cold at the time. Three or four others were shot dead the same night. His brother is a member of my lodge, is Registrar of my chapter, and first Preceptor of the new preceptory. He is a past Provincial Senior Grand Warden of the Province of Antrim. That is the Masonic province of course, which is practically the same as the ordinary County of Antrim.”

A clipping from the May 18 edition of a Belfast newspaper also was provided to The Builder. It reads, in part: “Recently one of the South of Ireland gun clubs issued a statement boasting that they were going to compel all Freemasons and Unionists in the ‘Free State’ to supply food, clothing, and housing accommodation to Roman Catholic unemployed. Their fellow ruffians had for a long time been burning down Masonic and Orange Halls and persecuting Freemasons along with other Protestants.

“The continuance of these outrages, which there is no evidence to show the Free State forces now responsible for law and order ever tried to stop, has caused the Earl of Donoughmore, Most Worshipful Grand Master of Irish Freemasonry, to issue an order suspending all meetings of Masonic lodges in Southern Ireland.”

To conclude, I draw from the January 1923 issue of The New Age Magazine, published by the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction. It quotes from the October 7, 1922 edition of The Northern Whig and Belfast Post story “Masonry in Ireland,” which covered the previous day’s annual concert in Ulster Hall benefiting Masonic charities. The Provincial Grand Master’s remarks were relayed:

“He thanks those present for their attendance there that evening, not so much for the pecuniary support for the object for which the concert was being held—that was their Masonic charities—but for the moral support they gave to the Order by their presence there. In those days he must say that Freemasonry needed all the support it could get not only from those inside the Order, but from its many friends outside the Order.

“Freemasonry in Ireland has been coming through very difficult times. Their halls had been raided and burned, and their brethren in many cases had been ill-used in other parts of Ireland. Scandalous and scurrilous charges had been brought against their Order. He did not say their Order was perfect. It was, after all, only a human institution, and no human institution was perfect—not even their churches and their ministers, who perhaps ought to set the highest standard—so Freemasonry could not claim perfection, but it was strange that the charges that were brought against them were chiefly under two heads, on which they were absolutely guiltless.

“First of all, the charge was made that Freemasonry was a political society, but if there was one thing above all other that was never mentioned inside the walls of the Masonic lodge, and that was absolutely barred by the laws of their Order, it was anything in the nature of politics. They were also blamed for being an irreligious society. They were perhaps irreligious in a sense because the word religion was unfortunately too often mixed up—and oftener in Ireland perhaps than anywhere else—with sectarianism. Freemasonry was absolutely nonsectarian, and it was a calumny to say that any Order whose fundamental tenets were the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man was an irreligious Order.”

It is Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723 whence modern Freemasons receive our charges to be good, and religiously circumspect, citizens where we make our lives. “A Mason is a peaceable Subject to the Civil Powers, wherever he resides or works,” it reads, “and is never to be concern’d in Plots and Conspiracies against the Peace and Welfare of the Nation, nor to behave himself undutifully to inferior Magistrates.…”

The First Charge, the famous one, titled “Concerning God and Religion,” states:

“A Mason is oblig’d by his Tenure to obey the moral law, and if he rightfully understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist nor an irreligious Libertine. But though in ancient Times Masons were charg’d in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet ’tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguish’d, whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remain’d at a perpetual Distance.”

In a free and peaceful society, this is done effortlessly, but when domestic tranquility is imperiled I imagine one requires disciplined application of all Four Cardinal Virtues—with innate reliance on the Theosophical Virtues as well—to remain steadfast.

(In medieval England, the various Statutes of Laborers regulated masons’ qualifications, remuneration, ability to meet, and other details, but the statute of 1405 specifically compelled such workers to take an annual oath to comply with the law.)

Perhaps the condition of Freemasonry today is not ideal in instances. Could be the content of lodge meetings isn’t exactly how we prefer it; or maybe the size of the membership remains a worry; or some may think their grand master is a bum—but things have been, and can be, far worse.

Written by: W. Bro. Jay Hochberg

WB Hochberg is the Senior Warden of The American Lodge of Research in Manhattan; is a Past Master of New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786; and also is at labor in Civil War Lodge of Research 1865 in Virginia.

The Masonic Hall: Getting to Know a Crucial Author

The Masonic Hall: Getting to Know a Crucial Author


The Masonic Hall:

Getting to Know a Crucial Author

“To learn is to live, to study is to grow, and growth is the measurement of life, the mind must be taught to think, the heart to feel, and the hands to labor. When these have been educated to their highest points, then is the time to offer them to the service of their fellow man, not before.”

Manly Palmer Hall

Every esoteric member of our Craft is, or ought to be, acquainted with Illustrious Brother Manly Palmer Hall (1901-90). Known mostly for his magnum opus published in 1928, An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic, and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy, being an Interpretation of the Secret Teachings concealed within the Rituals, Allegories, and Mysteries of All Ages (better known as The Secret Teachings of All Ages), Hall spent the latter seventy of his eighty-nine years dedicated to an inexhaustible study of spirituality, arcane wisdom, and comparative philosophy.

His extraordinary collection of published work and more than 8,000 lectures cover such a vast range of culture and occult topics, it’s hard to believe a single man accomplished such a feat. Author Mitch Horowitz, who was a source for this article, recounts a brilliant summation of Hall’s eclectic knowledge in his own book Occult America:

In an obscure astrology magazine of the 1940s, an Indian journalist wrote a personal profile of Hall, which held an interesting, if somewhat fanciful, passage: The first question Mr. Claude Bragdon, American mystic, asked Mr. Hall after their first meeting in New York in 1937 was: “Mr. Hall, how do you know so much more about the mathematics of Pythagoras than even the authorities on the subject?” Standing beside both these dear American friends of mine, I was wondering with trepidation in my heart what reply Mr. Hall would make. “Mr. Bragdon,” answered Mr. Hall quickly, unhesitatingly, and with a simultaneous flash of smile in his eyes and on his lips, “you are an occult philosopher. You know that it is easier to know things than to know how one knows those things.”

Regarding Freemasonry, Manly P. Hall is something of an enigma. Hall wouldn’t be initiated into the Craft until 1954 when he was made a Mason at Jewell Lodge 374 in California. Yet for more than twenty years prior, Hall had been credited as one of the foremost Masonic philosophers of the time. Between 1922 and 1923, and with no formal instruction on the matter, Hall published two books that garnered the attention of Masonic brethren around the world. Both The Initiates of the Flame and The Lost Keys of Freemasonry display clear comprehension of Masonic ritual, symbol, and thinking that even some lifelong members of the Craft struggle to comprehend.

While some critics to this day say these books lack credibility because Hall wasn’t a Mason, many esoteric thinkers in the Craft appreciate the author’s understanding and recognize the research that went into the writing. The Lost Keys of Freemasonry is an excellent exploration of Masonic symbolism and philosophy. (See Craftsmen Online’s Reading Room discussion on Chapter VI “The Qualifications of a True Mason.”)

During the 1920s, Hall quickly rose to celebrity status among the New Age followers of California. His income from regular public lectures and publications was supplemented by Caroline and Alma Estelle Lloyd, a mother and daughter with oil industry money. Caroline and Hall had common interests, and it was with her financial assistance that he traveled across Europe and Asia to study ancient spiritual practices and cultures of antiquity.

Returning from abroad, Hall was ready to dictate The Secret Teachings of All Ages. Released before his twenty-eighth birthday, the original 1928 publication was a massive 13 by 19 inches, complete with fifty-four original full color illustrations by artist J. Augustus Knapp. The first two editions, amounting to 1,100 copies, sold out in pre-sales at $100 a copy ($1,775 in today’s money), propelling its author into national acclaim.

The incredible success of the book and his celebrity as a speaker made possible the founding of the Philosophical Research Society in 1934. The PRS campus became Hall’s sanctuary, and personal library until his death (under suspicious circumstances, some say) in 1990. Throughout his life he would speak countless times before Masonic and general audiences on topics concerning Freemasonry, the occult, religion, ancient wisdom, and philosophy. His continued work and dedication to bettering the publics interest and understanding of Freemasonry was recognized by the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in 1973 when he was coroneted a 33º Mason.

There is a genius in Halls texts and lectures evident in how he translated the arcana of mysticism for new generations despite his lack of a formal education—although that may be what distinguished him from others. His fresh and often poetic prose is easy to digest and is enjoyable to hear. I very much enjoy reading Hall’s books. I can imagine his voice and tone behind every word, and it was no surprise to learn that he had dictated the majority of his published works. Numerous lectures given at the PRS were recorded and are available today.

In reflecting on Manly P. Hall’s legacy, one cannot help but be inspired by the breadth of his curiosity and the depth of his understanding. His works, particularly Secret Teachings, remain essential guides for those navigating the rich waters of Masonic lore and esoteric wisdom. Halls journey from an uninitiated author to a recognized Masonic authority underscores the universal appeal and enduring significance of his research and teachings. His writings are not merely collections of information; they are invitations to a lifelong journey of discovery, encouraging readers to seek the light of knowledge and understanding in all their endeavors.

Seeking Light: Introduction to the Works of Manly P. Hall

Want to learn more about Manly P. Hall? Introduce some of his material to your lodges book club! Whether youre seeking further light personally or interested in bringing esoteric conversation to your lodge, this list of Manly P. Hall’s books and lectures will get you up to speed.

Manly P. Hall presents this Collection of Mystical Allegories” as a way to awaken the reader to the mystical truths of the world. Consisting of eight stories of ordinary people whose lives are changed by mystical experiences that lead them to realizing greater meanings in all things.

Halls first book is a wonderful introduction to ancient myths, esoteric philosophies, and the value of initiation—without revealing too much, leaving the reader eager for more. I recommend the recent Deluxe Edition, with an introduction by Mitch Horowitz.

A collection of essays and lectures pertaining to the story of the United States and the legend of its secret spiritual purpose and destiny. An easy and enjoyable read (also available as an audiobook).

His second published work is a delightful philosophical discourse on Freemasonry, its three degrees, and the legend surrounding legendary Grand Master Hiram Abiff. Its a quick read, and a wonderful way to start up a discussion on the deeper significance of the Craft’s symbolism and esoteric wisdom.

This is one of Craftsmen Online co-founder and podcaster extraordinaire W. Bro. Michael Arces favorites. Though it can be difficult to find a hard copy, they are out there (and at reasonable prices). This book interprets ancient initiatory rites of the Egyptians, explores magic, the Osirian cycle, and Platos entrance into the mysteries.

It should go without saying, but Secret Teachings is an amazing introduction to the world of esoteric wisdom. Though you can enjoy this tome cover to cover, the author intended it to be an encyclopedia and reference on the occult to guide seekers to greater light. In essence it can be regarded as a roadmap to the ancient mysteries, pointing you in the direction of many further areas of study. If youre so lucky to find an affordable original copy of the book printed at a massive 19 by 13 inches, snag it. The PRS re-released a readers version in the 1990s that made it much more accessible. I also recommend the audiobook which is as close to Halls original dictation of the material as one can get.

Mitch Horowitz brings Halls magnum opus to the modern age with this companion to The Secret Teachings of All Ages. It also provides a wonderful biography of Hall’s early years, and the legacies of Secret Teachings and the Philosophical Research Society. I also recommend both Horowitzs Occult America and Modern Occultism which include further Hall biography.

Louis Sahagan, award-winning journalist from the Los Angeles Times, presents this colorful account of the life of Manly P. Hall. This biography shows how a young Canadian immigrant, raised by his grandmother, was able to rise into an international celebrity and master of the mysteries.

This collection of lectures is available through the Manly Hall Society YouTube channel.

The Golden Verses of Pythagoras
Pythagorean Theory of Number 1: Basic Philosophy of Numeration
Pythagorean Theory of Number 2: The Tetractys and Motion of Number
Pythagorean Theory of Number 3: The 47th Proposition
Pythagorean Theory of Number 4: (poor audio)
Pythagorean Theory of Number 5: The Symbolism of Numbers
Pythagoras on the Therapeutic Value of Music and Poetry

Manly P. Hall’s works are a treasure for anyone ready to embark on a journey of Masonic and esoteric discovery. His writings offer invaluable insights into mystical traditions and symbolism. Whether for group study in a lodge or personal exploration, these books and lectures are essential resources. Dive into Hall’s profound wisdom and let it illuminate your path to greater understanding.

Written by: Bro. Jason W. Short

Presently, Jason is the Treasurer of Aurora Grata-Day Star Lodge 647, a Royal Arch Mason with Nassau Chapter 109, and a 32º Sublime Prince of the Scottish Rite Valley of New York City.


Jason Short