Beyond Ritual – Traveling with the Masters Word

Beyond Ritual – Traveling with the Masters Word


Beyond Ritual

Traveling with the Masters Word

Brethren of the Craft, today we embark on a profound journey, delving into the intricate symbolism that lies at the heart of Freemasonry. As we navigate through the enigmatic depths of our cherished fraternity, we shall unveil the profound significance concealed within the question: “What induced you to become a Master Mason?” This query’s response holds layers of symbolic meaning that lead us through the sacred passages of our time-honored traditions.

In the rich tapestry of Freemasonry, we are reminded that our voyage is not limited to the  physical realm. Rather, it constitutes a symbolic odyssey, guiding us towards self-improvement, enlightenment, and dedicated service to humanity. The words, “To obtain the Master’s word, travel in foreign countries, work and receive Master’s wages…” encapsulate profound and multi-faceted truths.  

In the context of Freemasonry, the response to the question elicits several profound symbolic explanations. The aspiration of ancient Brethren to become Masters was driven by the quest for the Master’s word, which acts as a metaphorical key to unlock the ability to “travel in foreign countries.” This answer resonates on different levels. First, gaining the Master’s word signifies a pivotal achievement, akin to a passport that grants access to explore the intricate and diverse realms within Freemasonry. Just as a traveler explores foreign lands with different customs and cultures, Masons delve into the domains of philosophy, history, and symbolism within the Craft.

Importantly, at the core of this response resides the concept of “the Word.” Our Masonic  heritage regales us with tales of a Word of profound significance, known only to a select few but eventually lost to the annals of time. This Word, my brethren, is far from a mere sequence of letters; it embodies divine truth and knowledge, once imparted to the patriarchs of humanity. As Freemasons, our calling entails the pursuit of this elusive truth, to uncover the profound wisdom concealed beneath the surface.  

Symbolically, this Word stands as a beacon of Divine Truth, guiding our Masonic voyage. In  much the same way that a traveler immerses themselves in the intricacies of foreign lands, we  Masons immerse ourselves in the domains of philosophy, history and symbolism as alluded to  earlier. Our journey takes diverse forms – from the Entered Apprentice to the Fellowcraft and  culminating in the Master Mason – each degree marking a step towards enlightenment. Our  pursuit extends beyond mere knowledge acquisition, transforming into a quest for self-discovery and the embodiment of virtue. 

Symbolically “traveling in foreign countries” encapsulates a journey through distinct territories of  knowledge within Freemasonry. These realms are enriched with philosophical insights, historical perspectives, and profound symbolism – each presenting a unique facet of the Masonic experience. With the Master’s word as our guide, we gain entry into these symbolic lands of enlightenment. 

Within this journey, we encounter challenges akin to those encountered by travelers in foreign  lands. Just as a sojourner faces hurdles, we, too, encounter trials. The portrayal of old age and death in the Master Mason degree serves as a reminder that our earthly existence is  ephemeral, and the pursuit of absolute truth may elude us. However, solace can be found in the substitute for the lost Word, a guiding light to wisdom, urging us to await the time when perfect understanding shall be attained.  
Our Masonic voyage, however, extends beyond the confines of our earthly journey. The symbolism alludes to a life beyond the grave, where the recovery of the Word symbolizes a  state post-mortality. This suggests that true enlightenment finds its ultimate fulfillment beyond  the limitations of our earthly existence. Our labor, our unwavering search for the Word,  transforms into a form of worship, a dedication to the pursuit of divine truth. The concept of “to work and receive Master’s wages” transcends mere monetary exchanges; it embodies the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom within the context of Freemasonry. 

These teachings empower us not only for personal betterment but also to excel as husbands,  fathers, sons, brothers and active community members. Armed with the wisdom of our Craft, we become agents of upliftment for ourselves and those around us. While the latter part of the Masonic ritual underscores the importance of supporting ourselves, our families and the Masonic community more broadly – particularly those in need – this assistance encompasses more than mere financial aid. It underscores our duty to apply Masonic teachings, becoming steadfast pillars in our communities, extending compassion and care to fellow Masons, their widows, orphans, and those facing adversity. 

In essence, the Masonic journey mirrors the symbolic framework we’ve explored. The  acquisition of the Master’s Word empowers us to “travel in foreign countries,” embarking on  meaningful explorations into diverse domains of knowledge, achieving enlightenment and  strengthening ourselves and our communities. As Master Masons, we heed this symbolic call –  to enrich ourselves with the Master’s Word and to embark on these profound transformative journeys.  

It is worth noting that our ancient operative Brethren aspired to become Masters to practice their craft while traveling in literal “foreign countries.” In a speculative sense, Freemasons desire to “travel in foreign countries” to study and explore their craft. However, these “foreign countries”  hold a distinct meaning for us – they symbolize the various aspects of Masonic knowledge, philosophy, history, and symbolism awaiting discovery within the fraternity. 

In conclusion, Brethren, our journey within Freemasonry is a profound and intricate one. The  symbolism inherent in the Word instructs us to seek divine truth, to traverse the uncharted  realms of knowledge, and to labor diligently for personal enlightenment and the upliftment of our  families and communities. The pursuit of light becomes our mission, and through the pursuit of  knowledge, we unearth the profound depths of Freemasonry’s allegorical nature.

Let this wisdom serve as a guiding Light on your Masonic voyage. Let us remember that our true reward is not solely found in words or rituals, but rather in our personal growth,  enlightenment, the impactful contributions we make as Freemasons, and the indissoluble bonds of Brotherhood that are formed as a derivation of our travels. In our unwavering quest for divine truth, let us continue to plumb the limitless depths of our Craft, tirelessly striving to enhance ourselves and our world.

Written by:

John Pasqualicchio, Master Adonai Lodge #718, Highland, New York

Jason Short

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
Masonic Revival and Unity

Masonic Revival and Unity


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

Shriners 149th Imperial Session Held in Charlotte, NC

Shriners 149th Imperial Session Held in Charlotte, NC



This year the 149th Imperial Session was held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Shriners from all over the world came together to do the annual work of Shriners International. Of course, fellowship, food and fun played a major role. 

During the day we received reports on the status of our beloved Fraternity. We also engaged in votes that affect each member including an increase on per capita. The evenings were filled with a Shrine parade (no one does a parade better than Shriners), hospitality rooms, a concert and, most of all, fun.

As Potentate of Tigris Shriners, it is my responsibility to find a restaurant to take all the members that came to the Imperial Session. This year we went to Chima Steakhouse where our table was provided with a wide assortment of meats to try. We enjoyed great food, fellowship and laughter.

Along with Tigris Shriners and their Ladies, we were honored to have Most Worshipful Richard J. Kessler, Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York, join us.

Congratulations are in order to the various Shrine Temples in the New York/Ontario Shrine Association. They have seen growth in their membership during the first half of the year for the first time in many years. Shriners International has also seen membership growth in the first half of this year. This has not happened since 1978!

Old friends and new friends, all part of one Shrine Family, come together like this every year. All of our differences regarding how the fraternity should proceed were immediately swept aside when our main reasons for traveling to Charlotte came up to the stage. Gianna and Juan were named the 2023/2024 International Patient Ambassadors. They shared their stories and the message of “No Boundaries”.

We all share the love for our Philanthropy and the Children we care for. That is reason enough to visit and join the Shrine Experience.

Written by:
Duane Crapser 
Potentate Tigris Shriners 2000, 2021 and 2023






I met Brother/Noble/Prophet Victor Mann at a Mecca Shriners meeting back in 2009 for the first time. He was with several other Nobles and there was something about his disposition that caught my attention. He pointed out why he was there, what the plan was, if any, and who really was in charge. I liked him immediately.

In 2011, he along with Brother/Noble/Prophet Isaac Moore convinced me to join Azim Grotto. I blindly agreed. The following year, Victor was elected as the Potent Monarch of Azim Grotto (The Most Handsomest Grotto in the Realm), at the same time I was elected as Potentate of Mecca Shriners. We agreed to come to each other’s scheduled meetings and wear our Fezzes representing our elected positions in both Fraternities. Victor understood that pollination was, and is, a path forward for our Fraternities.

Consolidating his passion in 2016, he decided to run for the Grand Captain of the Guard of Grottoes International (formerly known as Grottoes of North America) and won the election by a single vote. Since that day, he has been a “Mann” on a mission, building from the opportunity that was given to him by his Fellow Prophets. None of this would have been possible without the incredible support of his beautiful wife, Lady Angelique Mann, who presently serves as the Supreme Zulette in the Daughters of Mokanna.

My friend and now the Grand Monarch of Grottoes International was elected on Friday June 30, 2023 and installed on Saturday, July 1, 2023 in Pittsburgh, PA. Azim Grotto was established in 1893 and has only had five other Prophets hold the honor of serving as Grand Monarch; and it has been 110 years since an Azim Prophet has been elevated to the highest honor of serving within our Grottoes. This was a very special day for myself but also for all Azim Grotto Prophets. I was also installed and given the pleasure to serve as the Grand Sentinel of our beloved Fraternity. I am looking forward to continuing to work with my friend as he leads us forward with Sympathy and Good Fellowship. HUZZAH!

Written by:
Brother Dominic Falcone
PM Mt Masada/Galaxy Lodge #902 -Past Master
PBC 2nd West/Putnam District- Past Brotherhood Chairman
GL Convention Committee- Grand Lodge

PM Azim Grotto 2016- Past Monarch
SCDD 2016-2023- Supreme Council District Deputy
SCGS 2023-24- Supreme Council Grand Sentinel

P.P Ill. Sir Dominic Falcone Mecca Shriners 2013- Past Potentate
Shriners International Marketing and Communications Director Region #11