Friday, July 23, 2010

Brad Cofield and the 1613 Nation Fraud


The trouble with the internet is that any 13 year old nerd with computer savvy can build a website that looks authentic, or feels like something far bigger and more important than it really is. One bored basement dweller with nothing but time on his hands can create endless online personnas, bestow lavish honorifics on himself and his imaginary sock puppet associates, and make endless claims of knowing the "real" truth and holding the keys to Life, the Universe and Everything. And with a group like Freemasonry that has a reputation for being secretive, the problem gets even larger. Who's legit, and who is just a con artist, proclaiming himself as the Most Frabjous and Worshipful Supreme Magus of the 12th Quadrant, with his pet cat Snowball as his assistant Hierophant? And how much harm can such pranks really cause?

The answer is, they do enough harm to be worthy of a warning now and then.

Over the last few years, I have steered clear of mentioning this subject because I didn't want such miscreants to get any more publicity than they create for themselves. But one in particular has recently crossed some appalling lines, and has caused international furors and misunderstandings - enough that it's worth warning folks who stumble across him and his hijinks.

I refer to Mr. Brad Cofield and his most recent online flimflam, "1613 Nation." Think of it as being analogous to a Nigerian e-mail scam for unsuspecting non-Masons.

Brother Ed King at www.masonicinfo.com has done a good job in detailing Cofield's online antics since he first appeared on the online scene in 2006. Most regular North American Masons have driven him off of online message boards and banned him from their blog comment areas (this one included). His style is pretty easy to spot, even with his endless phalanx of aliases. And even recent irregular and unrecognized breakaway groups like the Grand Orient of the USA have been so pestered by him that they have tried to keep him off of their websites. But his most recent tapestry of deceit is now raising tempers in Europe, as well.

I'll refer you to Ed King's above mentioned article for the bulk of Brad's story. Cofield was initiated and passed in a regular California lodge, but was never raised to the degree of Master Mason. His FC degree was conferred in 2006 when his lodge traveled to the annual "Eblen's Cave Degree," in Kingston, Tennessee, and the experience there was apparently less than positive. Cofield was confronted with blatant racism by regular Masons there, and was rightfully disgusted by it. On his return to California, for whatever reasons, his mother lodge did not choose to advance him, and he left.

Material exists on the web that alleges Cofield had a prior history of internet stalking on a message board about dog breeding, and one lady apparently swore out a police complaint against him in February 2006. If this is indeed the same guy, he clearly has a history of not playing well with others. He will undoubtedly not react well to this posting. He brands most of those who out him for his tactics as "haters."

On the Chequered Pavement discussion forum, he has made the claim, "I was Raised in an Italian lodge, in Italian." Over the years, he has invented his own imaginary Masonic tree forts, and admitted on the same forum that he has "created" his own Rite. When the aforementioned Grand Orient of the USA was formed in Georgia in 2008, he immediately claimed he was a California member. He next created a web page for an imaginary lodge, Temple Sobek-Ra, under a group of co-Masonic "operative Egyptian Masons" called the Masoneria Egipcia del Antiguo Primitivo Rito de Memphis Misraim (M.E.A.R.P.M.M.), offering up 99 (count 'em!) degrees. To give his new lodge that little extra feel of authenticity, he appropriated for his "Magus Masonica" blog site a photo of the lavish and very real Egyptian room at the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania's building in downtown Philadelphia.

Cofield appears as the "National Head" of Memphis Misraim for Washington (state) on the MEARPMM website, which names Frank G. Ripel of Italy as the 99º Grand Hierophante of the order. (Ripel is a self-proclaimed esoteric genius, who has founded a busload of bogus groups, including the "Brotherhood of the Vampires." Really. Somebody get me a zombie.) The site also describes a connection between MEARPMM and the Ordo Templi Orientalis (O.T.O.), which is itself a story much too convoluted to go into here. And as the icing on the cake, the MEARPMM site also takes a moment to sing the praises of Licio Gelli. If you aren't nodding off by now, you may recall Gelli as being the Venerable Master of Italy's notorious, neo-fascist Propaganda Due (P2) lodge. Brad apparently doesn't seem to care whose company he keeps.

On July 9th of this year, Brad made this announcement:

WGH Frank G. Ripel has bestowed on me the 97º of Memphis-Misraim and the office of International Substitute Head for the English Language (Deputy International Grand Master) for the M.E.A.P.R.M.M. This is a huge responsibility and I am deeply honored.


Of course, all of this presupposes that "Frank G. Ripel" and the MEARPMM website aren't more of Brad's inventions, as well.

A little over a year ago, Cofield stepped up his activities, inventing a new pseudonym, Raum Sariel, and a new "lodge": Lodge Napoleon Bonaparte (perfectly named, both for the image of the vainglorious emperor himself, as well as the stereotypical psychotics who populate cartoons imagining themselves to be Napoleon).


Cofield's branding catch phrase for his new style of Masonry is "Post-Modern Freemasonry." According to his Lodge Napoleon website,

So, we had a few strong and dedicated Freemasons who all shared a common love, the Rite of Misraim. We all seemed to on [sic] opposite sides of the country, and even the globe. Email can only get you so far. Then a [sic] epiphany. Why not take on the approach of Fortune 500 companies with large virtual workforces?

Virtual. As in "not real."

It goes on to say,

"You will have access to the most powerful membership web portal that has ever been in the Masonic world. This is no simple calender with email and a Php message board. This includes a full dashboard, access to hundreds of in depth educational files, case studies, power point educational presentations, recorded and streamed precise alchemical and magickal operations. Not to mention you'll never be alone."

No, you sure won't, with all of Brad's alter-egos and imaginary friends to keep you company.

The Lodge Napoleon FAQ states:

A: Do I have to believe in God in order to join?

Q: No. Once again we understand that someone does not have to be a believer in any dogma or institution in order to be able to receive the light of Freemasonry. In fact your belief or lack of is considered strictly your own. We don't even ask.

Q: What Rituals do you use?

A. We work in the original speculative Rite of Misraim and the operative Egyptian Rite.

Q: In operative do you mean working with stone.

A: No, those would be operative Stonemasons. We are operative Freemasons. What this means is we work in the operative magic Masonic arts. These include the physical alchemy of the Egyptian Rite.

Q: What Grand Lodge do you belong to?

A: None. As a Post-Modern lodge we do not see value in the Grand Lodge system. We do not recognize the authority of any Grand Lodge and thus we are not recognized by them.

The 1613 Nation "Manifesto" explains,

The 1613 Nation is not a grand lodge or orient. There is no grand master nor supreme council. The 1613 Nation is a co operational community guided by principle and held together by mutual benefit and respect.

Then it goes on to explain that the rest of the pesky mainstream Masonic world is not practicing Freemasonry properly, and that his group has the true answer: "There is no greater lodge than the lodge of self. "

Sorta says it all.

His dozens of pretty websites that propagate like bunnies in a hutch all over the web are designed to look like he has scores of members and converts around the world to his "Post Modern Freemasonry," which he doesn't. He claims to have formed at least 18 lodges so far. He has simply snookered people in who don't know any better. With new interest in Freemasonry growing every day, and unsuspecting or unknowledgeable people stumbling onto his stuff, Cofield casts a growing net and convinces people that what he has is the real, authentic Freemasonry that the rest of us unsophisticated boobs in the Masonic world have callously discarded. In fact, Memphis Misraim Masonry has been a notorious degree peddling scheme since its beginnings in Europe. He has even gotten help, briefly, from talented people who have helped him create this tissue of deceit, who discover the truth after a while and walk away.

The most recent development has to do with a purported 1613 Nation lodge allegedly formed in Belgium. Blog Maçonnique, an excellent and informative blog in French, authored by Grand Orient of Belgium Mason Jiri Pragman, reported in a posting A false "Loge Liberté Chérie" and other pseudo-Loges:

The true Loge Liberté Chérie ["Beloved Liberty Lodge"] is particularly dear to the heart of the Belgian Freemasons Lodge since it symbolizes resistance against oppression. It was founded in 1943 by seven Belgian Freemasons deported as dissidents to a concentration camp, Emslandlager Esterwegen VII. It ceased work in 1944. Six of its seven founders died before [allied] liberation.

But a visitor to the Blog Maçonnique now tells us the existence of a pseudo- Loge Liberté Chérie (www.liberte1613.tk) on the web (with a contact address in Olne, [misspelled] as "Olen"). It uses the seal of the original Lodge, adding various symbols (including Solomon's seal) and the reference 1613 Nation. The site is in very bad French.

Brad has especially appealed to women who want to join Masonic lodges, but also men seeking a mixed, co-Mason experience. This is undoubtedly due to the relatively few feminine lodges quietly at work in the U.S. Women outside of Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C. find it almost impossible to find feminine lodges in their areas. Brad's lofty promises and the appearance of a large and growing organization behind him make it seem like an ideal way to establish lodges outside of the biggest urban areas. Too late, they are discovering the truth behind his tall tales. And now they seem to be spreading the word.

A talented gentleman named Darren Young helped to set up and design many of the 1613 Nation websites. Suddenly, this past Tuesday, a letter from Young, W:.M:. of "Sanctum Sanctorum Lodge" (in Scotland, if I am not mistaken) was posted on Facebook by June Lennon, W:.M:. of Lodge Circumspect, in New York City. Both were "1613 Nation" lodges. Mr. Young has requested that I remove the actual text of his posting from this blog, but in it he details his decision to sever his lodge's affiliation with Cofield and 1613 Nation, "in order to save the names and reputations of the members of Lodge Sanctum Sanctorum." He reaffirms Cofield's sock puppet creations "Raum Sariel" and "PD Black", calling him a "charlatan." Young also states that the supposed WM of the new Belgian 1613 Nation "Lodge Libertie Cherie", Jose Magnee, has denied publicly that he has had anything to do with the whole enterprise. Further claims that Magnee is establishing a "1613 Museum" in honor of the original Loge Libertie Cherie are also false.

June Lennon actually traveled to Belgium to investigate Cofield's claims about Lodge Libertie Cherie, and was less than thrilled to discover it was a complete hoax. She and the members of her Lodge Circumspect have also fled Cofield's group, and have formed an independent lodge of women Freemasons. Of course, Cofield immediately claimed that Circumspect was repopulated almost overnight with eager new members. Further discussions of the topic have been heated on the San Diego Freemason blog, written by a member of Lodge New Isis #8 of the George Washington Union of Freemasons of North America, a co-Masonic lodge chartered in California by the Grand Orient of France.

All of this is a tiny back alley in the world of regular, recognized Freemasonry. On the one hand, if someone finds that these irregular lodges offer them a different path that they prefer over what the overwhelming mainstream or Prince Hall lodges in the U.S. provide, God love 'em, and more power to them. They aren't welcome in my lodge, but they know in their hearts whether they are Freemasons or not. But the concern is that with literally millions of people now discovering Freemasonry for the first time, snake oil peddlers like Cofield sing a siren song and get them involved in an elaborate sham and practical joke. What started out as clearly an attempt to lash out at the Masons who gave him a poor experience in his first lodge (or who he just couldn't get along with, whatever the reason), has turned into an obsessive practical joke for him, with dozens of webpages, blog sites, and even foreign language pages. Mainstream and Prince Hall grand lodges need to know what he's up to in our back yards. And non-Masons hunting for more information about the fraternity need to be aware of his activities, as well.

If you are looking to join the Freemasonry that is recognized the world over as regular and the legitimate heir to the traditions of the lodges that formed the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717, click here to find the grand lodge for your state or region. It also includes links to the historically African-American grand lodges of Prince Hall Freemasonry.

If you are female and are looking for information about feminine Freemasonry, click here. The organizations listed have a long history and tradition, and are not fly by night internet inventions.

And to read the very real story of the heroic Masons who founded Lodge Libertie Cherie behind the wire at Esterwegen concentration camp, see the English language translation on Wikipedia here. Cofield's attempts to steal that heritage from those men is beneath contempt.




There are certain folks who believe their own brand of Masonry is the only authentic variety in the world and everybody else is wrong, even if it is just seven deluded members marching around in their socks in somebody's living room. Cofield has duped a small number of people with his practical joke, but all lodges having anything to do with the "1613 Nation" should be considered bogus—if they exist at all. These include:

Lodge Morganrote -
Dortmund , Germany (Rectified Rite of Misraim)

Lodge Human Stone -
Tel Aviv, Israel (Rite of Schroeder)

Lodge Ptah -
Conyers, Georgia (Rite of Memphis)

Lodge Via Hermeticae -
Mexico City, D.F. (Memphis-Misraim & French Modern Rite)

Lodge Corazon- Mexico City, D.F. (National Mexican Rite)

Lodge Ojo de Horus -
Quinto, Ecuador (Memphis-Misraim)

Lodge Helios -
Johannesberg, South Africa (Memphis)

Lodge Hera-Pleasanton -
CA (Hellenic Rite)

Lodge Artemis -
Charlotte, NC (Hellenic Rite)

Lodge Demeter- Rogers -
AR (Hellenic Rite)

Lodge Star of Minerva's Dawn -
Quinto, Ecuador (Hellenic Rite)

Lodge of Nine Tears -
Miami, FL (Misraim)

Lodge Napoleon Bonaparte -
(Rite of Misraim)

Lodge John Yarker -
London, England (in formation) (Memphis-Misraim)

Lodge of the White Rose -
Washington D.C. (in formation) (Memphis Misraim)

----------------------
UPDATE


In October, Brad announced even more brand spankin' new, imaginary lodges, in ever farther-flung corners of the globe, proving he has enough gall to be divided into three parts:

Lodge of the Standing Skull (!)
Santa Cruz, Boliva

Lodge Even Hahamim
Jerusalem, Israel

Lodge Proletarius
Chicago, IL USA

Lodge Lux et Veritas
Phoenix , AZ USA

Lodge Romanov
Moscow, Russia


===============================
UPDATE


Updated known aliases of Brad Cofield on Facebook and other Masonic forums:

Raum Sariel
Frater Pyrrho
Soror Rose
Soror Agape
Frater Atrum Sapientiae
Sekhet Bast Ra
Ville Valo
Abd Class
Frater Ardor
Frater Oz
Frater Xavior
P. D. Black
Michelle Walker
Joshua Walker, aka "Hyperion"
Asmoday Remliel

In January 2011 he was finally tossed off of the "Masonic Forum of Light" for threatening to sexually assault a Freemason's wife. Not only was Cofield banned from that board which is open to even the fringiest of "Masonic" groups, but so was anyone else—real or invented—claiming to have any connection with the 1613 Nation.

18 comments:

Nathan said...

This kind of thing is exactly why Grand Lodges need active public relations departments who actually know their stuff.

Not only that, the CGMMNA and other groups should be actively disavowing these spurious Grand Lodges and ensuring that the public is aware that they have nothing whatsoever to do with mainstream Freemasonry.

Chris Hodapp said...

Did some more digging and added this to the article: Cofield's international buddy, Frank G. Ripel, is a self-proclaimed esoteric genius, who has founded a busload of bogus groups, including the "Brotherhood of the Vampires."

Really.

Somebody get me a zombie.

47th Problem of Euclid said...

Brother Chris, thanks for pointing this out. I encountered Brad when I first started writing for FreemasonInformation.com, and he's been like chewing gum on the sole of your shoe. When I found out that he created a bogus resurrection of Loge Liberté chérie, I was pretty deeply offended. I've been to his 1613 Nation website, and looked at the sock-puppet lodge websites linked to it, and it disgusts me. Thanks for warning the Masonic community about this.

Chris Hodapp said...

The offensive Belgium lodge business was what pushed me over the edge, as well. That takes it beyond mere prank status.

Dawson (Clawson) said...

Bro. Chris,

I've been an off/on reader of your blog since before I was made a Mason. I can definitely say that websites like the 1613 and other non-recognized organizations made the research process difficult. Luckily, I found resources like Masonic forums and Masonicinfo that showed me the real/not-so-real sides of Masonry. Only being a Mason for a year, I'm doing my best to "walk and act as such", and am acknowledging the challenge of it. Seeing other Masons interact in this manner, it's good to know that it isn't easy to come by for everyone.

Anyway, I really appreciate your passion and your sense of humor. Thanks for all the great info.

Bro. Chris Dawson
Onion Creek Lodge#220
Austin, Texas
(you should come visit sometime)

Rolf1960 said...

Same thing over here. On Brad's fake site there is link to a lodge called : Lodge Morganrote - Dortmund , Germany. The Homepage doe not exist, but it is reserved.

There is defintly no Lodge with that name working in Dortmund or in Germany, under which jurisdiction ever.



The simple reason is "Morganroete" is not even a german word. The correct Word would be "Morgenröte" it describes the morning light just before the sunrise.

And of Course a Lodge in Germany would call itself Loge insted of Lodge(exept ACGL Lodges)

There used to be a Lodge called "Morgenröte" in Frankfurt about 1830. It was one of the first -if not the first lodge in Germany which accepted Jews. Therefore "Morgenröte" is a name that is dear for us.

Thanks for bringing this to light.

PS:What happend to Brads Websites, a few of them seem to have problems.....
Rolf

2 BOWL CAIN said...

I read that french blog and what BC was trying to do. Pretty amazing what some will do!

He is why GOUSA is very selective and have had to move some out!
Quality over quantity, and BC is of a quality that was not needed.

Good post, factual and should not set him off too much!
LMAO

J said...

What a travesty.

Rmoahals said...

Funny stuff!
He really seems to be showing you guys that he is relentless in his pursuit to inflate his Ego!

Good thing lying, cheating and verbal assaulting is only a part of his Post Modern garbage, and not a Traditional Masonic Characteristic......

Thanks for the article.

Masonic Traveler said...

Chris,

I started this exploration shortly after hearing the latest... and at about word 499.... hit delete and decided I didn't want to go down the rabbit hole....

taupneumatikos said...

I've been watching Brad Colfield's antics for quite some time now, and when he sent me a friend request under the name of Raum Sariel, I knew who he really was and accepted in order to see what he was going to say.

Last week he posted a message stating that the 1613 Nation was celebrating over 1000 members. When I looked at the number of friends he had on Facebook at was the same number he quoted. So it seems he sees his FB friends as members of his bogus Masonic order. He also included a link to has recent blog, in which he trashed the masculine Masons. I am a Co-Mason in LDH and my husband and several of our friends are masculine Masons. I was truly offended by the things he said about mainstream, masculine Masons and decided to write a blog about him but you beat me to it and did a much better job.

I linked it to my FB page. It will be interesting to see how my 'friend' reacts to it!

Magus Masonica said...

I have never stated that the Nation has had 1000 members, but the paranoid delusions of some are far more entertaining than the truth.

BTW: I haven't sent a friend request on FB in over a year. If someone was a recent friend they friend requested me. Seems like they did so under false pretenses. Fun.

As a friend would say , keep on smiling. Oh and happy holidays to everyone.

IN LVX 1613,
BC

taupneumatikos said...

Difficult to believe anything you say Brad. Your lies precede you. Before I started posting what I know about you on my FB page, I thought you were just a poor deluded soul. But you have trashed the masculine Masons so much that I now see you as a deluded menace.

You also ripped off Ormus Lodge's talisman and put it on one of your bogus sites. I knew something was fishy when you kept asking about Ormus Lodge on my Facebook page so I did some checking and found where you ripped off their Logo. So you are not only a liar, but a thief as well. It's a good thing you are not a real Mason as you would be a disgrace to the Craft.
http://lodgeptah.yolasite.com/rite-of-memphis.php
Here is the original on the Ormus Lodge site:
http://www.lightofthegnosis.org/ormus.htm

taupneumatikos said...

LOL! Looks like Brad did the honorable thing and removed the Ormus Lodge logo that he misappropriated from them. Good. Now he will probably try and deny it but I am satisfied that enough people saw it while it was there.

jasonkeppler said...

http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=8948405417&topic=17434

It would seem Brad's done it again! Only this time, he is making overt and public threats against Masons AND their wives!

jasonkeppler said...

http://staffs.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=noticeboard&action=display&thread=6698

Here's another source on that!

ChiefOren said...

As Senior Warden of Lodge Even Hahamin in Israel, I must inform that Brad Cofield was banned from our association. Any claim by him of "Founding" our lodge is bogus!!.

Israel Oren
Senior Warden
Lodge Even Hahamin
Israel

ChiefOren said...

This is to inform all, that any claim by Brad Cofield of founding the Lodge Even Hahamim in Israel is BOGUS. Brad was expelled from our association now for more than 6 months.

Lodge Even Hahamim was Founded by Alex Ryblka and myself.

Israel Oren
Senior Warden
Lodge Even Hahamim
Israel