"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Thursday, July 28, 2022

Michael Poll To Speak To Louisiana's New Goose & Gridiron Lodge 1717 Festive Board Saturday 7/30/22

by Christopher Hodapp

Last year while everybody (including myself) was distracted by the Grand Lodge of Louisiana's recognition and establishment of amity with the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Maryland, but not Louisiana's (for very good reasons), most of us missed another interesting development in that unique Masonic jurisdiction. 

The GL of Louisiana issued a charter for their own Goose & Gridiron Lodge 1717, named for the London alehouse and the lodge that met there in the churchyard of St. Paul's Cathedral when the premiere Grand Lodge of England was famously formed in June 1717.

Back in October of 2018, I posted a story announcing Ohio's chartering of Goose & Gridiron Lodge 1717. That interesting 
'observant-styled' lodge was established with the unique (for the United States) mission of studying and working English Emulation Craft degree rituals. Back in 2001 when we were establishing Lodge Vitruvian 767 in Indiana, getting dispensation from our Grand Lodge to work the English Emulation Craft rituals had been an elusive dream for us for many years until we finally dropped the subject out of frustration. Despite their widespread use throughout the United Kingdom and the rest of world's UGLE lodges, they are rarely seen in this country.

But Louisiana's new lodge won't be following the lead of the Ohio brethren. Their Goose & Gridiron Lodge 1717 joins ten other lodges within the Grand Lodge of Louisiana that currently are permitted to work the Scottish Rite Craft degree rituals descended from the earliest French lodges that predated statehood. These are often mistakenly referred to by American Masons as Louisiana's 'Red Lodge degrees' (as opposed to our usual 'Blue Lodges').

In addition to Louisiana, these Scottish Rite Craft degrees are also worked upon occasion in certain lodges in California, Hawaii, New York and the District of Columbia. But Louisiana's are by far the best known in the U.S.

According to Mike Poll, editor of the Journal of the Masonic Society, Louisiana's Goose & Gridiron 1717 is the first lodge  to be chartered by Louisiana's Grand Lodge in a century permitted to work these rituals.

Speaking of Michael, he will be delivering a Zoom presentation to the lodge's festive board tomorrow evening, Saturday, July 30th at 7:30PM (central). From their Facebook page:

Master Masons are invited to come learn more about Louisiana's peculiar Masonic history and the Scottish Rite Ritual and Degrees unique to our state, most specifically the New Orleans area.
Visiting Master Masons will be presented with education regarding the Scottish Rite esoteric work in lodge, with an open presentation to follow at the Festive Board.

 At 7:30PM, W∴B∴ Michael Poll, P∴M∴, Masonic Historian and Publisher, will present "The Other Scottish Rite Degrees: A little of what we know and don't know about the Louisiana Scottish Rite Craft Lodges" to those assembled as well as online viewers via Zoom at this link bit.ly/GG1717_SRTALK

NOTE: This will be a public talk and nothing will be discussed that is the reserved for a properly tilled lodge.
There will be a catered meal for $15 a plate for those who would like to eat during the Festive Board. If you plan to attend in person please RSVP at this link: bit.ly/GG1717_RSVP1
Goose & Gridiron No. 1717 is the only lodge in Louisiana outside of the 16th Masonic District working in this ritual, and the only Traditional Observance lodge in the US designated as a "Scottish Rite Craft Lodge." 
Visiting Brethren, please note: G&G No. 1717 has a dress code of a dark colored suit for business meeting attendees. Non-Master Masons may attend the festive board presentation.

Tickets available HERE.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Indiana Historical Society's 'History Happy Hour': Freemasons In Indiana Today

by Christopher Hodapp

Tune in today for the 

Join Michael Brumback and Chris Hodapp of the Masonic Library and Museum of Indiana for a discussion on the history of Indiana's Freemasons and see highlights from the Museum’s collection.

"From our founding fathers to several Presidents, the legacy of the Masons has profoundly impacted the United States; but what do we know about them? Join Michael Brumback, President of the Masonic Library and Museum of Indiana, for a discussion on the history of the Indiana Masons and see highlights from the museum’s collection."
This is a free program. 'History Happy Hour' takes place virtually over Zoom. You can either join through an internet-connected device or calling-in via phone. 

This program will be an online Zoom presentation. It begins today (July 20th) at 5:30PM and ending at 6:30 (Eastern Time).


Please note: Registration closes at 3:30PM - two hours prior to the start of the program.

When you register, you will receive a link and phone number through the email you used to register about two hours before the program begins. Don’t see the email? Make sure to check your spam or junk folder.

Also, if you don't already have a free Zoom account, consider signing up ahead of time to help avoid connection delays. Visit Zoom HERE.

The Indiana Historical Society collects and preserves Indiana’s unique stories; brings Hoosiers together in remembering and sharing the past; and inspires a future grounded in our state’s uniting values and principles. IHS is a Smithsonian Affiliate and a member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.

IHS is headquartered in the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center in Indianapolis.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

BBQ For The Brain in Nashville August 12-14: Randall Carlson and "The Ancient Art Of Design"

by Christopher Hodapp

I received this message last week from WB Ryan Turbeville, WM of West Nashville Phoenix Lodge 131 in Nashville, Tennessee:
"In [a recent post] you mentioned how some lodges are focused on community involvement and fundraising, and others are focusing on education and the esoteric. This is our attempt to blend the two. We hope this is a new model that still provides events for the public and charitable fundraising while focusing on Masonic philosophy, education, and bringing light to the world. Consider this a "BBQ for the brain" :) 
We are hosting a workshop with Brother Randall Carlson titled:

There will be a Masons Only Friday night dinner and presentation titled Freemasonry and Sacred Geometry, and a workshop on Saturday and Sunday that is open to the public. Sunday will conclude with a tour of Nashville's Parthenon, the only full scale replica of the Parthenon in the world.

The schedule is as follows:

Friday August 12, 2022
  • 6 - 7:30pm Freemasons Only Presentation 
  • 7:30pm Freemasons Only Dinner
Saturday August 13, 2022 
  • 7:30 Registration Begins
  • 8 - 9am Breakfast On-Site
  • 9 - 11:30am Workshop
  • 11:30 - 1pm Lunch Break
  • 1 - 6pm Workshop
  • 6 - 7:30pm Dinner On-Site
Sunday August 14, 2022
  • 8 - 9am Breakfast
  • 9 - 11am Workshop
  • 11 - 12pm Lunch
  • 12:00 - 2pm Tour of the Nashville Parthenon 
All proceeds go to charity. The Friday night Masons only ticket includes dinner. The Saturday and Sunday workshop includes 4 meals, $125 worth of drawing materials including a handmade wooden compass by Randall Carlson, free parking, and a tour of Nashville's Parthenon.

There is a livestream option for the workshop for those who can't join us in person.

The promo video, tickets and all information can be found at: https://www.westnashvillephoenix.org/geometry

The direct link to the video is https://youtu.be/EmB_-MATt60

Saturday, July 16, 2022

South Pasadena Masonic Lodge's Masonic Con 2022: "Masonry in the New Millennium" July 22-24

by Christopher Hodapp

Beginning next Friday, July 22 through Sunday July 24th, I'll be in Pasadena, California to take part in the South Pasadena Masonic Lodge's Masonic Con 2022. The theme of this year's event is "Masonry in the New Millennium." 

Masonic scholars from across the country will participate in discussions on various topics geared to enlighten the listener on the far-reaching impacts Freemasonry has among men, and the best practices for Freemasons to become better equipped in the New Millennium. There will also be three panels of well-qualified Masons discussing topics such as: Innovations in Freemasonry; Masculinity and The Craft; and The Masonic Legacy Society,

This event will be open to all Masons and to the interested public. The weekend kick's off on Friday evening with a gala Festive Board that will include a seven-course meal—punctuated with traditional Masonic toasts and songs.

In addition to myself, speakers include:
  • Jaime Paul Lamb - "The Archetypal Temple"
  • Robert G. Davis - "It is Time to Cross the Rubicon and Battle Our 20th Century Ruffians"
  • Chuck Dunning - "Nurturing the Renaissance of Masonry in the 21st Century"
  • Brad Drew - "The Masonic Legacy Society"
  • Chris Murphy - “Upon the Tablets of his Heart”: Creating Harmony through Masonic Myth-making"
  • Kirk White - "Nones in the Temple"
  • Akram Elias - "The Masonic Legacy Society"
  • Michael Jarzabek - "The Masonic Legacy Society"
  • Angel Millar - "Manhood and Freemasonry"
  • Rod Duncan - "Innovations In Masonry"
  • Cesar Rubio - ""Innovations In Masonry"

Three Masonic films will be screened during this weekend, followed by an audience Q&A featuring at least one of the filmmakers.
  • Brian T. Evans - "The Masonic Table: The Art of Dining in Freemasonry"
  • Mitch Horowitz - "The Kybalion: Hermeticism(s) and Modern Spirituality"

Moderators for the weekend include:
  • Erik Strom
  • Robert Johnson
  • Ian E. Laurelin
For tickets and information, visit the Masonic Con website HERE.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Journal of the Masonic Society: The Future of Freemasonry and What We Have to Offer

by Christopher Hodapp

Issue 57 of the Journal of The Masonic Society landed in the mailbox over the July 4th weekend. The cover features a beautiful photo of the steps of Indiana’s Battleground Lodge 313 taken by Wbro. Dave Hosler. Dave continues to make stunning photos of Masonic subjects, along with being an indefatigable Mason who seems to turn up everywhere, and we're lucky to have him here in Indiana.

Editor Michael Poll has once again assembled a fine lineup of articles this issue: 

The Lively Career of Brother William Robinson: a.k.a. Chung Ling Soo by Triston Wilkinson

A Qabalistic Interpretation of Freemasonry by Rodney McGillvary

A Treasure Hunt in the Archives of Lodge 43 by Nathaniel Gilchrist

One and Twenty by M.C. Lee

On the Esoteric Masonic Nature of Psalm 127

But the one article I especially want to point out in this issue is Freemasonry Struggles for Relevance in the Modern World it Helped Create by Wes Regan, Worshipful Master of Vancouver Lodge of Education and Research. The piece is subtitled ‘A Response to Professor John Dickie.’ WB Regan is a Canadian Mason in the Grand Lodge F&AM of British Columbia and Yukon. The article he has written for the Journal is one of the most thought provoking pieces about the future of the fraternity I’ve read since Angel Millar’s article in The Plumbline last year, entitled The Future of Freemasonry and What We Have To Offer. Unlike the doomers and gloomies who continue to predict the end of Freemasonry as we know it within the next two decades, Regan presents a completely different alternative. 

The Craft book cover
Last year, Professor John Dickie published The Craft: How the Freemasons Made the Modern World. Although not a Mason himself, he presents the history and influence of our fraternity partially by examining the roles of noteworthy Masons and the fraternity itself at major turning points in world events. If you haven’t read it, you’ll find that it’s a pretty evenhanded treatment of Freemasonry and a somewhat unique way to explore the role our fraternity has played at major turning points in history. 

Dickie spoke last December at the Vancouver Lodge of Education and Research, and during the Q&A period, he opined that Freemasonry needs to reconsider its real and perceived secrecy, its relationship with religion, and its continued exclusion of women. He warned that ignoring these issues will adversely affect our sustainability in the coming years. It is these remarks that Brother Regan addresses in his article. 

North American Masons have been splitting between the actively social lodges that concentrate on family activities, community outreach and service, breakfasts, fund raising and other similar pursuits, versus a growing number of more philosophical, esoteric-minded, contemplative lodges (that can go by several labels, including traditional observance, observant style, epicurean, European concept, or 'best practices' lodges). 

Recent Pew polls have shown that North American men have been drifting away from the sort of organized, mainstream faith traditions of the mainline churches that their families followed for decades or even centuries. Over the last 15 years, religiously unaffiliated Americans have been steadily growing in number, and currently make up almost one third of the population. (See chart above.)

When such men knock at the door of the lodge, they more and more frequently answer the question concerning a belief in God by saying “I’m spiritual, not religious.” One of Wes’ main points is that the esoteric-minded, observant-styled lodges are exactly the sorts of organizations such men are attracted to, in part to perhaps explore different notions of spirituality and discover their own paths by having such discussions with other Masons without fear of censure or ridicule...

And what’s wrong with that? 

Freemasonry as a fraternal organization has been elastic enough to adapt itself to vastly different societies all around the world for more than three centuries. And a quick glance at a list of the swollen number of appendant groups that require Masonic membership as a prerequisite (Royal Arch, Knights Templar, Scottish Rite, Shriners, Grotto, DeMolay, Rainbow, Job’s Daughters, Eastern Star, Amaranth, Allied Masonic Degrees, High Twelve, National Sojourners, Widow’s Sons, ad infinitum) clearly shows that Freemasonry has the ability to provide comfortable niches for an enormous variety of individual interests.

Central to Regan’s piece are the writings of the late Tom Jackson, Past Grand Secretary of Pennsylvania, who spent the overwhelming majority of his long Masonic career urging the fraternity to actively seek out better leaders, embrace Masonic scholarship (while rejecting sensationalistic fairy tales and conspiracies), and most important, return to our longstanding demands for better standards of conduct, work and achievement that used to demonstrate that the Masons really were worthy of being known as the movers and shakers in their communities. 

In the scores of book reviews Tom Jackson wrote for the Scottish Rite NMJ magazine, The Northern Light, he was always in search of books that that treated Freemasonry (whether written by and for Masons, or not) authentically, that were neither too boastful of Masonry’s accomplishments and position in the past, nor too phantasmagorical about its allegedly secret , magical, mystical powers. Books and TV shows that exaggerate everything about Masonry wind up influencing men to join in search of these things, only to walk away when they don’t find it in reality in the lodge.

Ultimately, the conclusion WB Regan comes to is that to thrive in 21st century society, it’s long past time we stop pretending that Freemasonry is monolithic worldwide (or nationwide, or even statewide), and to embrace the wide variety of lodges and their individual cultures and interests that have been developing. Just as it did in the late 1700s in England, we have room for both the knife & fork (or ‘leg o’ mutton’) lodges that love the pancake breakfasts, the chili and bean suppers, family nights, golf tournaments, Hawaiian shirt nights, etc, as well as the ‘blue stocking’ (tuxedo) lodges that explore the esoteric side of Masonic philosophy, concentrate on Masonic and philosophical scholarship, or who delight in the old fashioned customs of the formal festive boards.

I obviously can’t do justice to his piece here, and for the time being, it’s only available to members of the Masonic Society in its Journal. If you aren’t a member or subscriber, visit masonicsociety.com
  • US Membership is US$45.00/yr
  • Canadian Membership (Canadian mailing addresses): US$49.00/yr
  • Overseas Membership (non-US/Canada): US$67.00/yr. 
  • Lodges, libraries and institutions, as well as Masons unrecognized by COGMMNA lodges may subscribe to the magazine alone for the same price.

Masonic Society certificate

Monday, July 11, 2022

Tennessee Masonic Lodge Destroyed: Local Firefighter Charged With Six Arson Fires

by Christopher Hodapp

Nineteen-year-old volunteer firefighter Leslie Roy Winchester has been arrested and charged in connection with eight arson fires that took place in June and July, in and around the town of Waverly, Tennessee. 

One of the fires destroyed Cotton Valley Masonic Lodge 345 on July 6th.

From the New York Post on Sunday:

A Tennessee volunteer firefighter allegedly set a series of suspicious fires that burned a church, Masonic Lodge and other buildings in a small community over the past month.
Leslie Roy Winchester, 19, was arrested in connection to multiple fires that were set in the community of Waverly beginning in June, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) said.

The first fire linked to Winchester happened last month in the 5500 block of Bakerville Road in Waverly, the TBI said. Four other suspicious fires occurred between July 1 and July 8 at various locations in the community.

Buildings damaged or destroyed in the fires included a church, Masonic Lodge, a former fire hall and a vacant house, according to authorities.

The town of Waverly is located about 65 miles west of Nashville, with a population of about 4,000. All of the fires occurred in remote, rural locations, which made pumping water to douse the flames almost impossible. One firefighter was transported to the hospital after suffering an arm and knee injury while fighting the flames at the Cotton Valley Lodge. The Glenwood Church of Christ on Pumpkin Creek Road was also destroyed.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation officers identified Leslie Winchester as the suspect in the case, and he was booked into the Humphreys County Jail on a $1,746,000 bond. Winchester is a volunteer firefighter, but no motive has been suggested by authorities. He was arrested and charged with three counts of arson, three counts of aggravated arson, six counts of criminal trespassing, and six counts of vandalism in excess of $10,000. 

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Affinity Lodges: UGLE Charters Science Fiction & Fantasy Lodge 10016

by Christopher Hodapp

On Saturday, July 9th, the United Grand Lodge of England announced the official consecration of their newest Masonic lodge: Science Fiction and Fantasy Lodge No. 10016.  The lodge meets in the Rugley Masonic Centre on Pottal Pool Road in Peckridge.

(If you squint carefully at the photo, you'll see a pair of lightsabers, and a Klingon bat'leth held by their Tyler, as you would expect, forming a square and quadrant and resembling a Past Master's jewel.)


Many of our grand lodge jurisdictions have hundreds of lodges, and there's a strong argument to be made against identical, cookie-cutter lodges. Twenty years ago, my friend WB Jeffrey Naylor (founding Master of Indiana's Lodge Vitruvian 767 and fellow Knight of the North) was strongly advocating unique Masonic lodges, based on outside interests of groups of Masons. 

Jeff wrote, 

"If you can get enough Master Masons who like to dress up like train engineers and who want to start Lionel Lodge No. 769, or whatever the number is now, let the cheer go up and celebrate the chartering of a new lodge. These guys have something in common, they want to pull together and appeal to a particular group of men whose interests are not antithetical to the fraternity and who might just bring quality men into Freemasonry. Don't fight it, embrace it, promote it." 

It's been twenty years now since Jeff wrote that, and our English brethren have been doing this sort of thing for quite some time.

The UGLE has not been squeamish about the establishment of all sorts of affinity lodges, made of members who enjoy certain hobbies or who share the same occupations. There are lodges for fishermen, gamers, F1 auto racing fans, actors and musicians, various sports like rugby, and many more. That's in addition to their ongoing Universities Scheme, which encourages the establishment of lodges near colleges and universities, designed to attract administrators, faculty and staff, as well as students.

While some purists may argue that a science fiction and fantasy-themed lodge is somehow degrading, embarrassing, or in some way makes Masonry seem like a frivolous pursuit, quite the contrary. It can be argued that it helps tap into a portion of men who might otherwise have never even given a moment of thought to the notion of petitioning a lodge. And it helps to fight against the perception that Masonry is nothing but a haven for cranky old men with squealing hearing aids, and lonely, basement-dwelling incels. 

"There are many special interests lodges in the UK, an F1 Lodge, a rugby lodge, etc. For the members it is a way to marry two of their greatest passions which can only serve to strengthen the Lodge and the fraternity in general. We had over 130 in attendance at our consecration, with a growing list of joining members as well as eager visitors. With the exception of a few specific implements in the Lodge, as seen in the photos, the ritual and the Lodges meeting will be conducted the same as any other. Where we hope to truly set ourselves apart will be at the festive boards as well as our social events."

Sadly, the affinity lodge concept never really became a big hit in the United States. That's a shame, because with scores or hundreds of lodges in a jurisdiction, that means there are myriad laboratories in which to experiment, as long as the landmarks are followed. There is much to be said for thinking outside the box when it comes to exploring the notion of chartering a new lodge (or in trying to rejuvenate an existing one).

While not exactly affinity lodges, in my own jurisdiction of Indiana we have had a number of unique, special purpose lodges: 
  • Bartimaeus Lodge U.D. ("under dispensation") was organized in the 1960s specifically to help lodges in the state to confer the degrees of Masonry on handicapped and disabled candidates. 
  • Transylvania Lodge U.D. was formed to meet once a year (on or around Halloween) in order to operate a blood drive. Its Master, Bob Hilgediek, was an extraordinarily tall man with a gaunt face and was affectionately as 'Drac' – he presided over their annual meetings dressed in an appropriate long black cloak. A blood donation truck was parked in the lot outside and remained open throughout the day. Sadly, the lodge died when Bob passed away in 2001.
  • Schofield Lodge 1818 U.D. was created specifically to support the ongoing restoration and operation of the historic Schofield House in Madison, Indiana – the site of the first official meeting of the Grand Lodge of Indiana.
  • St. Luke Lodge 761 in Franklin, Indiana (location of our Masonic retirement home, known today as Compass Park) originally started as an occupational affinity lodge for doctors and others in the medical professions. 
Throughout our history, we have also had a handful of lodges that did their Masonic work in German. An enormous number of Indiana's early settlers emigrated from the German states in Europe, and these German lodges were quite popular in their day. New York had several lodges in New York City that performed their meetings and ceremonies in Italian. I'm sure other states had their own foreign language lodges that were established during the various regional periods of mass immigration. I understand there are several lodges in and around Washington DC that still do their work in French. 

(Honestly, with the huge influx of Hispanic immigrants to the U.S. over the last 40+ years, I'm astonished that almost no one has attempted to organize Spanish language lodges across the country. That seems like a terrible oversight and a foolish one, to ignore this rapidly growing demographic – especially since Masonry currently thrives in Mexico, Cuba, and Central and South America these days.)

But in addition to hobbies, pastimes and professions, there has been a slow growth of a different type of affinity lodge in the U.S. I'm speaking of the rise in lodges made up of Masons who are looking for a more contemplative, philosophical, esoteric-minded lodge experience. 

That's for another post. More along this line of thinking in an upcoming post later on this week.

Meanwhile, congratulations to the founding members of Science Fiction and Fantasy Lodge No. 10016. May you truly live long and prosper.