Freemasonry and the Irish Republican Army

Freemasonry and the Irish Republican Army

MASONIC HISTORY

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

MASONIC HISTORY

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.

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Jason Short
Masonic Revival and Unity

Masonic Revival and Unity

MASONIC HISTORY

Masonic Revival and Unity

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for Brethren to dwell together in unity!”

 Psalm 133

On October 21, some 150 Freemasons assembled at Masonic Hall in New York City for the first Metropolitan Region Table Lodge, a ritualized communal meal exemplary of Masonic tradition. Actually, as Master of Ceremonies Sam Kinsey explained, Table Lodges are tiled, like our lodge meetings, and this event really was a Festive Board, but this didn’t confuse the conviviality of the night’s wholly Masonic experience.

The tradition of Accepted Masons dining together in ceremony predates the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge of London and Westminster in 1717. Ritual, ceremony, and education, whether esoteric or exoteric, had been communicated behind guarded doors of taverns and private homes by Speculative Masons in the seventeenth century.

In attendance at Masonic Hall were dignitaries including R∴W∴ Steven Adam Rubin, Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York, who delivered an inspiring speech on the values of our fraternity; R∴W∴ Kinsey, Chairman of the Custodians of the Work; R∴W∴ James W. Gregg, Grand Sword Bearer, who performed a wonderfully impassioned rendition of “The Dash,” a poem by Linda Ellis; and R∴W∴ Wilber J. Salazar, Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of Peru Near New York, one of the night’s key organizers.

The catering for the evening was on point and there were plenty of libations to go around, but I am still at a loss for words to describe how powerful it was to be in the presence of those 150 Masons singing “God Bless America” and Bro. Robert Burns’ “Auld Lang Syne” in concert. For many in the room, this was their first big Masonic event since the pandemic, and they delighted in reuniting with their brethren. For many more brothers admitted after 2020, myself included, this was the first opportunity to see the Craft celebrated in such a traditional fashion on such a wonderfully attended scale.

In this kind of setting, the progenitors of Speculative Freemasonry literally traced early designs upon the trestleboard we know today. Employing chalk, they drew the symbols on tavern floors while enjoying food and drink with their fellows. As the popularity and culture of Masonry grew, so did the number of lodges where they assembled. This tradition of dining together became the bedrock on which the sublime cornerstone of our speculative tradition was placed.

What made the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge in 1717 so enduring wasn’t a need to establish a governing body for the regulation of lodges; it was intended to unite the brethren to celebrate and uphold Brotherly Love. This Grand Lodge emphasized enjoying the fraternity in meaningful and beneficial ways, extending past the walls of any individual lodge to a broader network that served as a reminder that we are all members of the Universal Lodge, which extends to the four corners of the globe under the magnificent starry-decked heaven.

The Communication held by the Grand Lodge on June 24, 1717 was not the beginning of Speculative Masonry; it was a revival of Craft tradition. Speculative Masonry in London had seen a lull in activity and decline in leadership, as massive social and political upheaval shook England since the Civil War. By bringing together four local lodges of Free and Accepted Masons, and committing to strengthening the fraternity’s network and bonds in celebration, Freemasonry began to flourish and spread around the world so that we inherit it today.

And today our Craft requires revitalization again. It is commonly thought that this must start in our lodges, and I agree, but I also see so many lodges struggling for direction. Though it is critical to offer education and quality events in lodge, I believe it is imperative for the brethren to travel and engage with the fraternity at large. Encouraging attendance at events like the Metropolitan Region Table Lodge, Grand Lodge Communications, Masonic conventions, or the upcoming Grand Jurisdiction Unity Day are ways to strengthen our fraternal ties and pay homage to the traditional celebrations that united our fraternity three centuries ago. Events like these are where we glean the most valuable insights and experiences which help enlighten, engage, and inspire us, especially brethren new to the fraternity. It is by embracing in the Masonic bond that we become more than just members—we keep our Craft valuable, vibrant, and vital to our communities and to the human family at large.

Written by: Bro. Jason W. Short

Presently, Jason is the Treasurer of Aurora Grata-Day Star Lodge No.647, a Royal Arch Mason with Nassau Chapter 109, and 32º Sublime Prince of the AASR Valley of NYC.

Jason Short

Secret History of New York Freemasonry

Secret History of New York Freemasonry

MASONIC HISTORY

The Secret History of
Freemasonry in New York

One Lodge Historian’s Search opened a portal to the past

Have you ever looked in your Lodge’s storage closet and noticed very old Lodge records? Well, Huguenot Lodge No. 46 (Tuckahoe, New York) was cleaning out our storage closet and we came across books that dated to the early 1800s. We started looking at them and noticed several last names that are on street signs throughout Westchester and Bronx Counties and this sent us off on an adventure to discover the early history of our Lodge.

It has amazed us how this process opened up to the history of the American Revolution and not just in our local area. Our Lodge had connections to Nova Scotia, Upstate New York, and even as far away as Sri Lanka! As the Lodge historian, I did a lot of the digging in and after sending multiple texts to our Lodge brothers, I thought, why don’t I just start making videos that will make these people come to life more than random isolated texts?

Our video project began with a trip to the Livingston Library to view our Lodge’s first meeting notes from 1796. The Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge of New York is one of the world’s largest collections of books, artifacts, memorabilia, and archival holdings relating to the subject of Freemasonry. At the library we learned how we went from Westchester Lodge No. 46, to Huguenot Lodge No. 448 and then to Huguenot Lodge No. 46. We also learned many other important facts, such as the names of the founding brothers of the Lodge, where some of them were raised and the fact that two brothers from Royal Arch No. 2 were the Lodge’s first visitors in 1796.

As we started researching the names of these men, the results were stories about the experiences they lived through and some of the amazing people who were related to them. Some are even portrayed in the musical Hamilton and what we learned about our local area and the Revolutionary War was a complete surprise. These men were common folks and others were from the wealthiest, most powerful and influential families of Colonial New York.

Image: With a catalog of 60,000+ books, 37,000 artifacts, and 13,000 photographs and slides, the Livingston Masonic Library is ideal for Masonic research.
We have produced several videos, but the work continues and we hope people enjoy the videos as much as we have enjoyed making them. We also would love to see our work encourage other Lodges to research their history and discover the interesting brothers of their past as well.

Written by: Bro. Lionel Justo, Huguenot Lodge No. 46, Tuckahoe, New York

Bro. Juston is also a Senior Demolay, Yonkers Chapter and an active member of Yorktown, Diamond, Thistle #555, as well as the Scottish Rite, Valley of the Hudson and Knights of St Andrew.

The Transformative Influence of Freemasonry

The Transformative Influence of Freemasonry

MASONIC EDUCATION

The Transformative Influence of Freemasonry

Freemasonry has been a guiding force in my life, instilling the values and principles that have shaped my character and perspective. It has provided a framework for personal growth and the soul’s development, encouraging us to continually seek knowledge, cultivate virtue, and strive for excellence. It has equipped me with a compass, guiding me through the trials and tribulations of existence. Through its teachings and rituals, Freemasonry has shaped my character to become a better son, a better brother, a better friend, and a better member of the community. Freemasonry also fosters a sense of unity and brotherhood that transcends boundaries of race, religion, and nationality. It allows us to see past the body and look deep into the soul. It has surrounded me with like-minded individuals who have become my extended family, always offering support, wisdom, and unwavering camaraderie. Through Freemasonry, I have discovered a profound sense of purpose and a deeper connection to the world around me. Its allegorical teachings, symbolic rituals, and profound ceremonies invite us to contemplate the mysteries of existence and our place in the universe. By engaging in these rituals, embodying these virtues, and embracing these principles, one can cultivate a deeper understanding of oneself, strengthening their connection with the Divine. It provides tools, teachings, and practices that assist individuals in their quest for self-discovery, moral growth, and spiritual enlightenment. It encourages us to explore the depths of our being, utilizing our time wisely as it is our most precious commodity. Time is a gift bestowed upon us, and we are responsible for making the most of every moment in our daily lives. Freemasonry has taught me that true fulfillment comes not from material possessions or worldly achievements but from the impact we make on the lives of others. It has taught me to serve God, my fellow brethren, and society at large. By practicing charity, compassion, and brotherly love, we contribute to the betterment of humanity and leave a lasting legacy that transcends our mortal existence. In a fast-paced world filled with distractions and demands, Freemasonry reminds us to pause, reflect, and reconnect with our inner selves and our divine creator. It calls upon us to lead with integrity, to listen with empathy, and to act with kindness. Freemasonry teaches us to respect the rights and opinions of others, to work toward the betterment of humanity, and to strive for a society built upon justice, tolerance, and equality. It encourages us to actively participate in our religious institutions and communities, seeking opportunities to serve and uplift those in need. And It is through these daily acts of mindful living that we improve ourselves and inspire others to follow a similar path of enlightenment and personal growth.

Freemasonry has the power and potential to uplift, inspire, and nourish the soul on its lifelong journey of self-discovery and spiritual evolution.

To my Brethren, let us remember the immense influence and responsibility we hold in the Lodge and the lives we touch. Let us use our time wisely, investing it in meaningful pursuits that honor the principles of our Craft. Let us continue to support and uplift one another, creating an environment that nurtures personal and collective growth. May we all continue to embrace the teachings of Freemasonry, living our lives as beacons of light and pillars of virtue. Together, let us positively impact the world around us, inspiring others to seek enlightenment, embrace Brotherly Love, and strive for a better tomorrow.
Written by: WB Brian Budhram Harmony Lodge No. 241, Queens, New York Worshipful Brian Budhram is serving his second year as Worshipful Master at Harmony Lodge no. 241, one of the premier lodges of the esteemed Queens District, NY. Additionally, he has served three years as President of the John C. Ross School of Instruction, and a second year as an Associate AGL; he sits as Chairman of the Queens Master’s and Wardens Committee (a proud committee of the Queens Masonic Association). He is a lover of ritual, education, and Lodge leadership. Brothers enjoy his fellowship at many of the district social events as well as charitable endeavors such as the Queens District Blood Drives, which occur quarterly.