Interview with Masonic Author Julian Rees

Julian Rees is the author of Making Light : a Handbook for FreemasonsThe Stairway of Freemasonry: 30 Short Talks and QuestionsSo You Want To Be A Freemason?The Tracing Boards of the Three Degrees in Freemasonry Explained and Ornaments, Furniture and Jewels.

 

From whence came you Bro. Rees?

I know it sounds a little pretentious, but I know that I came from darkness.

How did you first become interested in Freemasonry?

A neighbour of mine was Worshipful Master of his Lodge, and suggested that I might be interested in Freemasonry.

How long have you been a Mason?

I was initiated in 1968, so that makes it 47 years almost to the day.

What do you feel is the most important or impactful things you’ve taken away from Freemasonry?

Insight. We seldom, in our busy lives, get down and study what the words mean. When I started to do that, some senior brethren in my Lodge told me not to bother: “Just learn the words as best you can – that’s all there is to it”. I persevered however and gained much Light and Insight as a result, leading to the Cornerstone Society and Canonbury Tower Lodge.

What’s your Masonic history?

  • Initiated in Kirby Lodge 2818 in London November 1968 – passed to FC February 1969 – Raise to Master Mason March 1969
  • Joined German-speaking Pilgrim Lodge 238 in London in 1972.
  • Awarded Silver Matchbox for ritual delivery without correction at Emulation Lodge of Improvement in 1972
  • Installed as Worshipful Master of Kirby Lodge October of 1976
  • Installed as Worshipful Master of Pilgrim Lodge December of 1978
  • Promoted to London Grand Rank in 1986
  • Appointed Grand Pursuivant of United Grand Lodge of England in 1996
  • Helped found quarterly journal “Freemasonry Today” in 1997
  • Appointed to precepting committee of Emulation Lodge of Improvement in 1999
  • Founder of The Cornerstone Society 1999
  • Re-appointed Worshipful Master of Kirby Lodge in 1999 for the centenary of that Lodge in 2000
  • Joined Old School Lodge 2001
  • Joined the editorial team of “Freemasonry Today” in 2003 as deputy editor under Michael Baigent (Author of Holy Blood, Holy Grail)
  • Delivered talk in Old Royal Arch Lodge No. 2 in New York “From Ritual to Enlightenment”
  • Founded Canonbury Tower Lodge 9772 working on spiritual principles in London in 2005
  • Promoted to Junior Grand Deacon of UGLE in 2007
  • Installed Worshipful Master of Old School Lodge in 2007
  • Awarded the Order Maconnique de Lafayette in Paris by the Institut Maconnique de France in 2008
  • Installed Worshipful Master of Canonbury Tower Lodge in 2009
  • Delivered talk in Alexandria, VA “The Spiritual Path of Freemasonry” in 2011
  • Resigned from UGLE when they stated that Freemasonry had nothing to do with spirituality in 2011
  • Joined International Order of Freemasonry for Men and Women in 2011

Wow! That’s quite a Masonic career

Do you currently have any Masonic books in the works?

I am working on a book concerning Freemasonry for men and women.

Have you written any non-Masonic works for profit or pleasure?

No but there is a novel inside myself which will one day see the light…

What’s the most interesting Lodge you’ve ever visited, what made it stand out?

Pilgrim Lodge London. They work the Schroeder Ritual and preserve many features of very early European rituals.

 

 

I’ve recently been looking at Tracing Boards of the Three Degrees in Craft Freemasonry Explained and I’d like to ask you a bit about it, while writing this title what did you find to be the most interesting thing you discovered?

That inanimate objects hold great allegorical and spiritual lessons for us.

While writing the book, did you decide to leave any content out?

There must be twice as many tracing boards in the world than those I features – space did not permit more! Apart from that, I am amazed, reading it now six years after first publication, how focused it is. Had I rambled on, as I could have done, my readers would have fallen asleep.

It looks like you’ve released a 2nd edition, what made you decide to release a revised edition?

Strictly speaking, it is not a revision – it is a re-print. The original publisher, despite this being my best-selling book, did not wish to re-print it.

What was your original reason for writing it?

(1) the sheer artistry of these artifacts over the centuries. Starting from the earliest ones, one senses desire of the artists to communicate something – it is for us to find out what. (2) Freemasonry is about allegory, namely representing things in a way that cannot be communicated by words. In Freemasonry (despite our thousands of words of ritual!) we need to interface with these non-verbal aspects for it is they which will lead us on the path of (self) enlightenment.

If readers could only take one thing away from the text, what would you want it to be?

The idea that symbols contain/express allegories, and that to be true Freemasons we need to de-code, de-crypt those allegories and their power.

Is there anything you’d like to say about your other four Masonic works? 

Making Light‘ was conceived as the idea that a candidate who has passed through a ceremony will almost certainly be confused. He/she needs a guiding hand to hold his/hers as they tread the path. I know from what people have told me that they find it very helpful. ‘Stairway of Freemasonry‘ is conceived as study lectures, to be delivered in open Lodge, and then to be studied using the questions printed at the end of each chapter. ‘Ornaments Furniture and Jewels‘ is really an extension of the tracing boards book.

What charitable cause(s) are you most passionate about?

Amnesty International. We are all pioneers of something or other, in our lives and in our minds. Working for/with them is a therapy.

What book, Masonic or otherwise, do you find yourself giving the most as a gift?

Robert Harris novels. Also, for me the best novel of all time, “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Duerr.

Growing up what was your dream career?

To be a doctor. I daily thank T.G.A.O.T.U. that he did not let me succeed.

Have any hobbies you are passionate about?

Woodturning.

If you could have one wish granted, what would you ask for?

That more people, both genders, could see the glory of spiritual and philosophical Freemasonry.

If you could say anything to the Masonic community, and you can now, what would it be?

Work, and work hard, to make my answer to the previous question come true.

I think everyone has contemplated what super power they’d love to have at one point in their life, what power did you always want?

To always and unconditionally be able to love, setting aside my intolerance and prejudice. I am working on it…

 

This interview was conducted via electronic mail between Bro. Julian Rees Kirk White and Bro. Ryan Carl Mercer on December 3rd 2015 AD 6015 AL

7 non-Masonic books every Mason should read (and everyone else too)

 

The basic message here is to pay yourself first, solid financial practices will set you up to better tackle life’s financial challenges from surviving unexpected expenses to carrying less stress knowing you are preparing for your financial future.

 

You can apply the lessons in this book to any situation, not just war. It stresses to know yourself, know your enemy and only waste energy when it’s all but certain you’ll win your ‘battle’.

 

Relationships matter, this title will equip you to build better personal and business relationships.

 

At the turn of the 20th Century J.D. Rockefeller was the richest man alive and commanded the massive monopoly that was Standard Oil Company. While he sometimes gets a bad rap Rockefeller was a MASSIVE philanthropist. Rockefeller spent the last few decades of his life funding efforts that revolutionized medicine, education and scientific research. There are many great lessons to take from his life.

 


Here you find a series of personal writings, a diary, of Marcus Aurelius. It tackles his personal thoughts and ideas on Stoic philosophy. You’ll learn to analyze your judgement o fself and others and to develop a cosmic perspective. For Masons this will certainly equip you to be a beter man and Brother.

 


This text will teach you things such as self-reliance, generosity, brevity, to actually stop to enjoy life, it will stress loyalty and encourage you to be an example of how you want others to be.

 

Written by the CEO of Zappos this book is great even to those that are neither business owners or managers. It touches on concepts such as balancing profits/passion/purpose, building a long-term enduring brand (this can be applied to one’s personal life), how happiness can lead to increased productivity (apply this to your Lodge and personal life), how to deliver a custom experience that makes happier customers (can be applied to candidates and the newly raised Masons).

Interview with Masonic Author Kirk C. White

From Whence come you?

Bethel, Vermont.

How did you first become interested in Freemasonry?

I have been a student of esotericism and the Western Mysteries since childhood. As I traced various groups – their histories, beliefs and practices – back to their roots and influences, I repeatedly found Masonry as an important piece, either as source material or a carrier of earlier material.

What made you decide to petition a Lodge?

So that I could have direct access to that source material and better understand why/how these other groups do what they do.

How long have you been a Mason?

I was initiated on Nov. 14, 1991, passed on Dec. 12, 1991 and raised a MM on Feb. 13, 1992.  So almost 24 years.

What do you feel is the most important or impactful things you’ve taken away from Freemasonry?

A deeper and fuller understanding of the initiatic process and how it can be used for the betterment of society.

What’s your Masonic history?

Symbolic Lodge:

  • Past Master of White River Lodge #90 F& AM VT (1997-1998)
  • Charter member and Master of Fibonacci Lodge #112 F&AM VT (Traditional Observance model lodge) (2015-2017)
  • Past Right Worshipful District Deputy Grand Master, Grand Lodge of VT (2013-2015)
  • Right Worshipful Grand Senior Deacon, Grand Lodge of VT (2015-2016)
  • Member of the Grand Lodge Ritual Committee and Grand Lodge Masonic Education Committee

York Rite:

  • Past High Priest of Whitney Chapter #5 VT
  • Past Most Excellent Grand High Priest of Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Vermont (2011-2012)
  • Past Thrice Illustrious Master of Barre Council #22 Royal and Select Masters of VT
  • Most Illustrious Grand Master of Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of VT (2015-2016)Generalissimo of St. Aldemar
  • Commandery #11 Knights Templar of VTPast Puissant Sovereign of St.
  • Helena Conclave #3 Red Cross of Constantine

Adeptus Major and Second Ancient in NH College of Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis

Member of Green Mountain York Rite College #139, the Grand College of Rites, and the Masonic Society. 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason (Northern Jurisdiction)

 

‘Fibonacci Lodge #112’, I always love nicely named Lodges, not far from me we have ‘Lodge Vitruvian #767

Do you currently have any Masonic book(s) in the works?

Several.  But the one closest to completion explores the Renaissance worldview pieces that are embedded in Masonic ritual

Have you written any non-Masonic works for profit or pleasure (I know you have but sounds better in the author’s words)?

I have – three books on spiritual practice for the modern Pagan movement. (The Librarian’s note: these titles are Adept Circle Magic and Advanced Circle Magick: Essential Spells and Rituals for Every Season can be found on Amazon)

What’s the most interesting Lodge you’ve ever visited, what made it stand out?

While I appreciate that beauty, grandeur and craftsmanship that has gone into many lodges, my favorite are tiny, old rural lodges  still heated by a woodstove and which haven’t changed much in 100 years or more. They make me feel closer to the Masonry our great grandfathers probably experienced.

While I don’t belong to the Lodge the three generations before me did, I do belong to the Lodge my father did DeMolay at and the photo I have of him inside the Lodge show the building EXACTLY the same, I know the carpet has been replaced and the walls repainted the same colour but that is the only change and it really does make me feel closer to him despite the fact he passed just before I turned 13

In writing Operative Freemasonry: A Manual for Restoring Light and Vitality to the Fraternity  what did you find to be the most interesting thing you learned/realized? 

For me, it was how simple and yet effective a daily, intentional practice of the Masonic principles could be for personal and potentially societal change.

While writing Operative Freemasonry did you decide to leave any content out, if so what and why?

My goal for this book was to have something short, concise and easy to read. It was intended to be a user’s manual for Freemasonry rather than an academic or scholarly work. So I left out lots of theory, historical and cross-cultural examples, etc. to make it something the average brother would read.

Is there any content in Operative Freemasonry you wish you could change or plan to change in a future version?

There are parts that might be expanded in future editions but I am unsure at this point if they are substantial enough to merit it.

What was your original reason for writing Operative Freemasonry?

To show brothers the actual mechanism through which “Masonry makes good men better”. By understanding why and how things in the ritual and fraternity are as they are, we can then maximize those things that promote further Light and refrain from those things that distract from it.

If readers could only take one thing away from Operative Freemasonry what would you want it to be?

Initiations are designed to change men into brothers on psychological, spiritual and social levels and will do so if taken serious and performed properly. To restore the fraternity, we just need to remember that and make use of it.

What book, Masonic or otherwise, do you find yourself giving the most as a gift?

Recently it would be “Operative Freemasonry“.  Prior to that I loaned/lost lots of copies of Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco.

What charitable cause(s) are you most passionate about?

I am a member of the Rotary Club and am a major instigator in revitalization of my town’s social, cultural and business aspects. I donate a lot of time and money to various activities including our town’s “pop-up university”:www.betheluniversityvt.org .

Ok, now time for the fun questions! 

Growing up what was your dream career?

Being Gandalf.

Really?!? Gandalf?!?! I always wanted to be Thomas Covenant the White Gold Wielder from Stephen R. Donaldson‘s various Thomas Covenant fantasy works.

Have any hobbies you are passionate about?

The Great Work is my hobby. So I spend most of my time trying to increase Light (knowledge/ exposure to unknown things) in world in both big and small ways. My home is host to a variety of exotic and esoteric events ranging from Hermetic and Qaballistic study groups to being the site of the regional Burning Man event. A favorite quote of mine is: “Tis an ill wind that blows no minds”.  Occasionally I take a break and shoot hoops.

Are you a reader? If so, favorite book/genre/author? 

Esoteric texts.  Recently lots of Renaissance grimoires, theological tracts, etc.

Renaissance grimonires you say… Clavicula Salomonis Regis and I are old friends.

If you could have one wish granted, what would you ask for?

World harmony (which would require an end to war, social injustice, pollution, etc., etc.)

If you could say anything to the Masonic community, and you can now, what would it be?

Here’s my recent soapbox:

Recent findings of the Pew Poll of Religious Identification and other similar research have identified that within the Millennial and Gen-X generations of men and women (last teens to mid-30’s), the fastest growing segment identify religiously as “None”. These folks have a strong desire for spiritual knowledge and experience but are not interested in identifying with a specific denomination that dictates theology and specific ethical codes. They want to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences and not be told who or how to worship. THIS generation is the future of Freemasonry. They are desiring the exact thing we have to offer. They want a spiritual experience in lodge and they expect to have to learn and study things. The trick is for the fraternity to not lose them by being stodgy and boring…. by having these young guys lose the Light because the Mystic Tie they expected turned out to be a bunch of grumpy old men, long boring business meetings, poor ritual, no mentorship or understanding of the meaning of the ritual, and seemingly endless fundraising. These guys WILL pay higher dues to avoid fundraising, WILL learn the ritual perfectly, and WILL spread the Light to other younger brothers just like them if we don’t stifle the passion and hopes they have upon joining. We need to do better and we need to do it now while the opportunity exists.

I agree 100% Brother.

I think everyone has contemplated what super power they’d love to have at one point in their life, what power did you always want?

Teleportation — so I can go everywhere and do everything.  I’m a Gemini.

Me too! But I’d like to add not only teleportation but you need to have the ability to understand space and time as well, if you think about ityou have the same issue you would with time travel, basically the Earth is moving 66k miles per hour through our solar system, while the sun moves 43k miles per hour around the galaxy, and the galaxy is chugging along at 483k miles per hour through the universe ( and our universe, in my opinion, is certainly part of something even larger and is likely moving far far faster through it) so if you’re standing on earth and think “I want to teleport to the break room 30 feet away” even at the speed of light you’d find yourself floating in space rethinking your life choices. Ha!

 

Thank you so much for your time Bro. Kirk!

 

This interview was conducted via electronic mail between Bro. Kirk White and Bro. Ryan Carl Mercer  on November 13th  2015 AD 6015 AL

10 must read Masonic books for all Freemasons

This list is compiled from the personal views of myself, Amazon sales charts, Goodreads and general discussion of must-read Masonic texts from various Brothers around the internet. These books range from titles excellent for the individual curious about Freemasonry or the newly raised Brother to those who’s Masonic careers are long in the tooth and simply want to expand their knowledge of the Craft. In no particular order, onward to the list:

 

  • The Mason’s Words: The History and Evolution of the American Masonic Ritual – the meticulous, documented, research in this text provides a fantastic look at Freemasonry from the 18th and 19th centuries and is presented in such a way that it engages the reader and is actually an enjoyable experience, later books in this list can be quite dry at times but this book is an exception.

  • Freemasons For Dummies – in this book Bro. Hodapp masterfully enlightens readers on the basics of Freemasonry. This text is a must-read for those that are curious about Masonry and newly raised Brothers.

 

 

  • The Builders: A Story and Study of Freemasonry – in The Builders Bro. Newton offers us a scholarly look at the general origins and history of Freemasonry. Written in 1914 it’s possible readers will find the style a bit… different than they are accustomed to but it’s by no means bad. The ancient mystery religions as well as the birth of ‘modern’ speculative Freemasonry in the early 18th century. The Librarian prefers The Mason’s Word to this title but still finds it a worthy read for all Brothers.

 

 

  • The Meaning of MasonryThe Librarian has several copies of this book on his shelves, he received a copy or two as gifts after being raised and is guilty of buying a copy or four himself. Written by Wilmshurst roughly a century ago this title is still a treasure, all Masons should own a copy (and in fact, Amazon regularly has used copies for as little as a penny plus shipping so there’s no excuse).

 

  • Encyclopedia Of Freemasonry: Extended Annotated Edition – ideally try to find one of the leather bound 100ish year old editions, otherwise the Extended Annotated Edition is good enough. Bro. Mackey put together a wonderful resource when he made these two volumes and every Brother should have it on their shelves, even if to simply turn to a page at random and read from time to time.

 

 

 

  • Morals and Dogma: Of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry – Yes, it says Scottish Rite. Bro Pike has lecture after lecture in this title which pushes it to nearly 900 pages and is by no means at all a book one should expect to tackle quickly. Every Mason should read this sometime in their life, if they choose to go Scottish Rite or not. Do yourself a favor and spend a little extra, find one of the older leather versions.

 

Interview with Masonic Author Ill. Dr. James Tresner

Whence come you Bro. James Tresner?

I was born in Enid, Oklahoma, now living in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

How did you first become interested in Freemasonry?

In my family, it was inevitable. One joined DeMolay at 13, got a driver’s license at 16, petitioned the Lodge at age 21. In fact, on my 21st birthday my parents handed me a petition, filled out, and my Grandmother handed me a check with which to pay the fees. So far as we can tell, I am a fifth-generation Mason. My Father and Grandfathers on both sides were active in Freemasonry, especially in the Scottish Rite. Both Grandmothers were active in Eastern Star, Amaranth, and White Shrine of Jerusalem. At the time, by Father was the youngest man to receive the 33rd Degree. I actually “took” the Blue Lodge and Scottish Rite Degrees by the time I was 5 years old. I had my hair cut, along with my Father, at Fox Barber Shop in Enid. Most of the customers were Masons, and frequently when we went in on Saturday mornings for a haircut, there would be five or six men there, “running language” either for a Blue Lodge Degree or an upcoming Scottish Rite Reunion. My Father was deeply interested in the philosophy of the Rite as he was in comparative religion, and so there were frequent discussions at home about the topics. I loved reading, and he loaned me his books on Masonry, so that I had read Morals and Dogma by the time I was 11 years old. I’m still trying to grasp it fully.

Well, I wanted to ask what made you decide to petition a Lodge but looks like we’ve covered that using your own words “It was foreordained”.

Bro. Jim, how long have you been a Mason?

Nearly 53 years.

What do you feel is the most important or impactful things you’ve taken away from Freemasonry?

Very difficult to answer. One certainly is how to be a friend. Another is the understanding that nothing is as it seems. Almost always there are deeper and deeper layers if one looks. A symbol may seem simple on the surface, but may lead you into the most profound depths of human experience.

Would you mind telling us a bit about your Masonic history?

(Remember, you asked for this) Originally (and still) a member of Garfield Lodge #501 in Enid, Oklahoma. Also a member and Past Master of Albert Pike Lodge #162 in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Member of the York Rite (made Knight Commander of the Temple by the Grand Encampment). Member of the Guthrie Valley Scottish Rite, Director of the Work there, 33o , Grand Cross in the Rite. Book Review Editor for the Scottish Rite Journal. Holder of the Oklahoma Masonic Medal of Honor and the Kansas Grand Master’s Medal of Honor. Honorary Past Grand Master of Arkansas. Anson Jones Lecturer. Holder of the Duane Anderson Medal in Masonic Education. Member of the Order of the Eastern Star. Publications Editor, Grand Lodge of Oklahoma. Royal Order of Scotland. Blue Friar. Mackey Medal for Excellence in Masonic Research from the Scottish Rite Research Society.

Busting my chops a little, haha, wow you’ve had quite busy Masonic ‘career’ those nearly 53 years! I feel like I’m slacking as a Brother here it’s been a decade and this is book club, which wasn’t even my idea, is my first real attempt at contributing to the Craft.

What Masonic titles have you written and do you currently have any Masonic books in the works?

Previous books include:

I’m currently working on a book I’m calling Bad Mason! Baad Mason!! It’s about the lamentable and unfortunate (and therefore funny) things which have happened in my Masonic life. I’m about ready to try to find a publisher.

I’ll have to keep an eye out for Bad Mason! Baad Mason!! The bit of sample you let me read was quite fun and I think everyone will love it once it’s published!

Have you written any non-Masonic books?

No

In writing/compiling “But I Digress” what did you find to be the most interesting thing you learned/realized?

Most of the book is a collection of material I originally wrote for the New Age/Scottish Rite Journal. Other material consists of speeches, papers, and a play written at various times and for various reasons. The thing I found most surprising was just how much of it there was. I had never collected it or even paid much attention to it before.

Is there any content in ‘But I Digress’ you wish you could change or plan to change in a future version?

There really isn’t anything I plan to change in another edition, and I suspect I should have left out more than I did. The reason I pulled it together what several younger Brethren contacted me from time to time asking about something they had read or someone had told them about. Two of three of them really pushed me to collect all of it, and I thought it would be fun to do.

If readers could only take one thing away from ‘But I Digress’ what would you want it to be?

If readers take any only one thing, I wold have they realized just how vast a topic Freemasonry is, and how it ranges from those whose pleasure is learning and performing the ritual to those who look for the hidden meaning of things. It is an exploration of human potential—it is part of the great quest tradition which always asks the question “Who are you?” The realization that we do not know who we are, and that the discovery of identity is one of the most compelling, interesting, and essential tasks we can undertake—that is what I hope people learn. And that it is a hell of a lot of fun on the path.

What book, Masonic or otherwise, do you find yourself giving the most as a gift?

The book I give most often as a gift is Morals and Dogma. It is amazing how many copies can be found in library sales, estate sales, etc.

I wonder how often those copies of Morals and Dogma go unread, I must admit I’ve a few copies I’ve found at Goodwill stores and as of yet I’ve never read it’s entirety.

Growing up what was your dream career?

Growing up I wanted to be a college teacher. And I got to do that for a while.

Do you have any favorite books/genres/authors that you like to read?

Thorne Smith, P.G. Wodehouse, Albert Pike, Jole Chandler Harris, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and the Harry Potter books.

If you could have one wish granted, what would you ask for?

If I could have one wish granted it would be to spend a couple of days in conversation with Albert Pike.

If you could say anything to the Masonic community, and you can now, what would it be?

If I could say one thing to the Masonic community, it would be not to sell Masonry short. It is an astonishing voyage of discovery if you have the courage to take it.

Thank you so very much for your time Bro. Jim.

 

This interview was conducted via electronic mail between Bro. Tresner and Bro. Ryan Carl Mercer member of Speedway #729 of the Indiana Grand Lodge F&AM on October 26th and 27th 2015 AD 6015 AL

I'm looking for some science fiction series recommendations

So I've been reading lists/blog posts/other people liked this on amazon & goodreads etc trying to find some series to read that are similar to some of my more recently read (past 5 years or so) favorites. Here's what I've really liked:

Stuff I did not like:

LEGO 71011 Minifigure Series 15

Now THAT is how you start a weekend off right, with all of Lego 71011 Minifigure Series 15. Say hi to the Farmer, Wrestling Champion, Janitor, Flying Warrior, Jewel Thief, Shark Suit, Kendo Fighter, Tribal Woman, Laser Mech, Ballerina, Animal Catcher, Faun, The Queen, Frightening Knight, Clumsy Guy and Astronaut!

Yes, I do have the grappling hook for Jewel Thief, I just forgot to put it in her gun. Yes, I also know the balelrina's torso is on backwards. *shrugs*.