September Meeting Giveaway

Brethren, greetings and well wishes to you all!

As described we will be having door prizes, raffles, and giveaways at most, if not all, stated meetings and September is no exception. To get us back in the swing of things there will be THREE prizes this month!

Just like the January meeting, a drawing of all the members present will take place at the end of the meeting and these prizes will be delivered as we wrap the evening up over coffee and desserts.

The first Brother drawn will have the pick of the three prizes, the second Brother will select of the remaining two, and the third brother will be presented the remaining prize.

What are the September gifts, you ask?

Mason Square & Compass Neck Tie in Blue and Gold
A Bronze Retro Masonic Pocket Watch With Chain
Masonic Coin – 250th Anniversary of George Washington – minted in 1982




Join us at Mt Pickering Lodge on Saturday, August 20th for a pig roast

Brethren,
Please mark your calendars and join us at Mt Pickering Lodge on Saturday, August 20th for a pig roast from 5-9 PM.
We will have a pig, roasted, seasoned, and pulled or cut with a variety of sides and drinks.

All you can eat, $25 per person, $10 for under 10, and free for under 5 years old. 
There will be take away dinners for $15 each at the lodge.

Mt Pickering Lodge, 218 Byers Rd, Chester Springs PA 19425

RSVPs are appreciated via GrandView (The Grand Lodge Website)

August Message from the West

Brothers,

As summer winds down and we head towards fall, I pray that everyone got their well deserved rest and respite. I was thinking about my last message, being called off from Labor for the summer and going dark. It immediately galvanized a train of though around being called back on to labor and work (in the sends that vacation season is ending), school, and lodge all starting up again after Labor Day; is that Masonically connected? In our country, founded by Masons, so many things are, what about this? This is what I have turned up. I hope you learn something as I did. For those of you who had parents who lived through it, it way be a good story to share as you may find parallels in those story that sound familiar to today’s’ news in a variety of ways. You know the saying from philosopher George Santayana “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Let this not be us.

Equality, Fraternity, Justice and Labor. This sounds a lot like Masonry.

Can America celebrate Labor Day without celebrating the Laborer?

Could there be a connection between Labor Day and Freemasonry through which they share an intersection in the forgotten halls of history and why we celebrate this national American holiday?

The U.S. Department of Labor defines the Labor Day holiday as a day

“…dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

As a day to recognize the common laborer in America, Labor Day can be traced to 1882 when it was first proposed as a holiday by machinist Matthew Maguire who proposed the idea while serving as the secretary of the Central Labor Union of New York.  In just a short time the momentum to make the day a National Holiday grew to a crescendo on the heels of the violent conflict between rail workers and the US military in 1894.

Stemming from, essentially, an unfair control of labor and housing, the Pullman Strike began as the result of a refusal to include reductions in housing costs for the laid-off workers forced to live in the company town of Pullman, today a suburb of Chicago in Illinois.

The town, George Pullman envisioned, would be

“a model community, a total environment, superior to that available to the working class elsewhere…[from which] he hoped to avoid strikes, attract the most skilled workers and attain greater productivity as a result of the better health, environment and spirit of his employees.”

When laid off workers, who had been forced to live in company housing, were let go the company who owned the town (and the housing therein) refused to lower their rents on company owned properties. The result of the layoff and unaltered rents created undue hardships for the laid off workers and their families who had few options because of the sudden loss of income. Company owner George Pullman refused to address the issue, or go into arbitration over it, prompting a wildcat strike with the local Pullman Palace Car Company.

Drawing from Machinists’ monthly journal, Volume 27, By International Association of Machinists, page 413, 1915, from Wikipedia.

Gradually the work stoppage grew into a national strike organized by the American Railway Union reaching its height when it became a national boycott that included train stoppages through the efforts of close to 250,000 workers in 27 states disrupting national transportation lines, and consequently mail delivery.

With a growing strike, the Federal Government under President Grover Cleveland, procured a court injunction and moved in with the Army to end the boycott and alleviate the obstruction of trains which (carrying mail) ultimately cost $80,000,000 in damage due to riots and sabotage. In the end 13 strikers lay dead and another 57 wounded.

At its conclusion the U.S. Army, with its court injunction, broke the blockade of trains in Lockwood, Montana, precipitating the end of the strike.

In the end the union was dissolved, the trains were moving, mail began to flow, the American Railway Union leader was imprisoned and American workers were given Labor Day as a national holiday six days following the collapse of the strike. 

Interesting to note, President Grover Cleveland, with the full support of Congress, unanimously voted to create the Labor Day holiday we celebrate today in a conciliatory gesture towards American Labor.

In its foundation, the national celebration of the holiday was to exhibit “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations, with the Sunday before the Holiday a Labor Sunday, dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.”

So how does Freemasonry factor into the complex composition of the creation of this national Holiday?

The Masonic Connection

George Mortimer Pullman

As it turns out, the city of Pullman,and its parent company, the Pullman Palace Car Company, were founded by Freemason George Pullman, a member of Renovation Lodge No. 97, in Albion, New York.

Pullman established Pullman Palace Car Company in 1862 with the goal of building luxury train cars with all the amenities of the day. 

In support of his early factory, the Pullman Company constructed a company town, uniquely named Pullman, within which some 4,000 acres housed 6,000 company employees and their dependents, many of whom were at the center of the Pullman Strike and the creation of Labor Day. 

In one entry about the town, it is suggested that employees were required to live in the town even when cheaper housing was nearby.  Reading the Wikipedia entry on the Pullman Company, its easy to see today how the conflict of corporate and worker interest would conflict. It reads:

The company built a company town, Pullman, Illinois on 4,000 acres (16 km²), 14 mi (23 km) south of Chicago in 1880. The town, entirely company-owned, provided housing, markets, a library, churches and entertainment for the 6,000 company employees and an equal number of dependents. Employees were required to live in Pullman, despite the fact that cheaper rentals could be found in nearby communities. One employee is quoted as saying “We are born in a Pullman house, fed from the Pullman shops, taught in the Pullman school, catechized in the Pullman Church, and when we die we shall go to the Pullman Hell”. Alcohol was prohibited in the town, as George Pullman found it a distasteful habit for his workers; though it was available in the company’s Hotel Florence, primarily for the benefit of the hotel guests as it was generally too expensive for laborers.

Pullman, a member of Renovation Lodge No. 97, Albion, New York, in his construction of the city of Pullman converted the swampy southern Chicago landscape into a planned industrial town complete with facilities for a Masonic Temple. The temple housed Palace Lodge No. 765, A.F. & A.M., Pullman R.A.M. Chapter, and Woodlawn-Imperial R. & S.M. Council.

Such was Pullman’s association with Freemasonry that in 1894 he was given a Masonic Cornerstone laying ceremony in honor of his father, Lewis Pullman (also a Freemason), which hosted two hundred Masons from Albion, Medina, Holley, and Lockport who processed along the Main Street for the cornerstone ceremony at Pullman Memorial Universalist Church of Albion, New York, today part of the Unitarian Universalist tradition.

Eugene V. Debs

On the other side of the labor dispute was labor leader Eugene V. Debs.  Also a man of great passion, Debs was a man possessed with the welfare and well being of the worker who was greatly involved in the developing American labor movements making five runs for the White House under the Socialist Party, his 1912 run receiving 5.99% of the popular vote on a working man political ticket.  While not a Freemason, Debs was an interesting luminary becoming, the most well known socialist living in America.  As the organizer behind the Pullman Strike and boycott, Debs served a six month jail sentence for violating the federal injunction.

While Debs has no Masonic connection, what is interesting to note are his many associations that were grounded in the foundation of fraternal brotherhood namely in the trade unions which you can see carry the earmarks of that mystical chain of union in his  own motto of “Equality, fraternity and justice.” 

Personal ideals aside, Debs held memberships in several national unions including the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, Brotherhood of Railway Firemen, the Industrial Workers of the World, and, of course, the American Railway Union.  Through those affiliations, you can get a sense of his passion for epitomizing what it means to be in fellowship with those you are in union with.

Ultimately, Debs passion was the betterment of the working class based on fairness, the basis for which he found in his saying “Those who produce should have, but we know that those who produce the most – that is, those who work hardest, and at the most difficult and most menial tasks, have the least.”  This could, perhaps, summarize his involvement with the labor movements.  Today, Debs work is remembered through a Terre Haute Indiana foundation founded in his name, The Eugene V. Debs Foundation, whose mission is to “keep alive the spirit of progressivism, humanitarianism and social criticism epitomized by Debs.

From these two, Pullman and Debs, we can see parallels in passion for brotherhood and, while at odds with the promulgation of those passions, both at the nexus of recognizing the importance of Labor in America.  Pullman, a Freemason, saw at some level the importance of the spiritual need to belong to a fraternal chain of union and Debs the physical political manifestation of that ideal in the real life condition of workers in brotherhood raising the common lot of those whose blood and sweat continue to serve the growth of American prosperity.

From their intersection of history, the Pullman and Debs conflict gave us the Labor Day holiday so that while we take a much appreciated rest at the end of summer we can celebrate the esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations whose efforts have given us this day to be celebrated.

July Message from the West

Brothers,

As we celebrate the Independence of our great nation, it is hard not to see the turbulence and divisiveness about our Great Nation.

In these concerning times I encourage us all to embrace our ritual to set the examples we follow.  Let me share a few short examples.

“Masonry accepts men of every country, sect and opinion.” While we may believe in a different Supreme Being than another Brother, or not necessarily agree with a Brothers’ perspective, we still love each other as Brothers. We will continue to treat each other as such, not because writ dictates but because we are better men. It also means that we are welcoming of all men of good moral character regardless of race, religion, class, creed, background, social standing, or pedigree. We are Brothers, regardless of these qualities and will continue to treat each other as such.

Here’s an important and appropriate message we are reminded of often.

“Every human being has a claim upon your kind offices. Do good unto all.” Brethren, we are honored to hold the title of “Mason”. Honored. We are fortunate that there are other good men in our community who will replace us when it’s time for us to lay down our working tools. “Do good unto all.”  doesn’t just mean the people you like, or the people in your neighborhood, or just the Lodge. It doesn’t refer to those who share likeminded views, or those from your generation. All means All – everyone! Regardless of their background, standing in the world, or their position in the Lodge. Don’t only do good for some – do good unto all.

So, as we come together this month to celebrate our Nation’s Independence, I share these closing words with you. Now more than ever, the world, our nation and our Jurisdiction need Freemasonry. They need men of strong moral character. They need men who stand true to their obligations. They need men who are good husbands, fathers, grandfathers and community members.

Brethren, we are Masons both within and without the walls of our Lodge. Please remember to use social media in a positive and informative way. Abide by the laws of your city, state and nation. Wear your Masonic ring with honor and integrity. Always practice Brotherly Love, Hope, and Truth. Wave the flag of our country with pride, be the change you wish to see. Be the Brother you wish to see. Influence the change we know is right.

Brethren, I wish you a safe and happy 4th of July Holiday weekend. I look forward to seeing you in Lodge soon.

Upper Uwchlan Day 2020

On Saturday, 18th of June, Mt. Pickering hosted a tent at the Upper Uwchlan Day Block Party.

Great participation from the Brethren, and a few offspring and spouses thereof.

A fairly aggressive selling schedule this year was greatly thwarted by the weather. In addition to the cotton candy, which is the annual staple, we also had planned sales of water and popcorn in the first tent, and candy, water, hand forged knives, cigar box guitars, hand made dog leashes, survival bracelets, obsidian jewelry, hand made pottery, and a spray paint art painting station in the second tent. Unfortunately, with the wind strong enough to blow the tents away, which almost happened a few times, some items were put away so they were no blown away.

As we are taught, we went hand in hand with unamimity and success crowned our efforts. We persevered with cotton candy and water in the first tent and had a record setting year; great job Brothers!

June Message from the West

Brothers, as we are now through the first half of our Masonic year, the time has come upon us to “Go Dark” and forgo stated meetings for July & August.  I hope everyone has a wonderful, festive, and safe summer full of family, fraternity, and fun.

I have to tell you, though, I have never liked that term, “Go Dark”.

We, as Masons seek light.  True Masonic light.  I feel that the notion of “Going Dark” has a negative connotation, and perhaps even sends the wrong message.  After performing some research on it, why it is done, or was done historically, my opinion hasn’t changed but I have learned some new facts, allow me to share:

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The Masonic term “go dark” means that a lodge ceases to operate as a lodge.

When a lodge “goes dark” or is said to have “gone dark”; it either:
1. Ceases to exist as a lodge (permanently closes its doors),…or
2. “Went dark” and ceased to have Stated Meetings for an agreed upon period of time:
A. This occurs in farming communities wherein when a large number of the lodge’s members are farmers and must tend to their crops during the Summer; it is agreed that the lodge should “go dark” (no meetings) until Fall when their crops have been harvested.
This also applies to other trades and livelihoods such as if a large number of the lodge’s members are fishermen and are at sea for periods of time or military lodges whose members are deployed.
B. Some lodges “go dark” for a period of time each year. Some lodges choose not to “go dark” during any period of time during the year. And, some lodges “go dark” (do not have Stated Meetings, especially during the Summer) and members are delegated to tend to other Masonic duties such as:

  • Large job Lodge maintenance (cleaning, polishing or stripping of the lodge’s floors, painting, etc.)
  • Clean up and or mowing or trimming at Masonic cemeteries and widow’s homes; visiting the elderly or those in nursing homes and hospitals.
  • Highway cleanup, community partnerships, charitable acts,  etc.
  • If the lodge offers a Masonic scholarship, the lodge’s delegated scholarship team contacts local area high school(s) and begins the application process for the next school year. Masonic scholarships are typically education scholarships offered by the lodge to qualifying high school students in their local community who wish to attend university.  Qualifications vary between lodges, but most are based on a student’s academic grades and their financial need.  There are no requirements placed upon the student to become a member of the lodge in the future.

Here is what Albert Mackey, Freemason author and historian, said in his Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry (1929) page 262 about “Darkness”:

Darkness

“Darkness has, in all the systems of initiation, been deemed a symbol of ignorance, and so opposed to light, which is the symbol of knowledge.  Hence the rule, that the eye should not see until the heart has conceived the true nature of those beauties which constitute the mysteries of the Order.

In the Ancient Mysteries, the aspirant (candidate) was always shrouded in darkness as a preparatory step to the reception of the full light of knowledge.  Among the Druids of Britain, the period was 9 days and nights; in the Grecian Mysteries, it was 3 times 9 days; while among the Persians, according to Porphyry, it was extended to the almost incredible period of 50 days of darkness, solitude and fasting. 

Because, according to all the cosmogonies, (the study of the origin of the universe) accounts of the universe, darkness existed before light was created, darkness was originally worshipped as the firstborn, as the progenitor of day and the state of existence before creation.

The apostrophe of Young to Night embodies the feelings which gave origin to this debasing worship of darkness:

O majestic night!
Nature’s great ancestor!  Day’s elder born!
And fated to survive the transient sun!
By mortals and immortals seen with awe!

Freemasonry has restored darkness to its proper place as a state of preparation; the symbol of that antemundane (being or occurring before the creation of the world) chaos from whence light issued at the Divine command; of the state of nonentity before birth, and of ignorance before the reception of knowledge.

Hence, in the Ancient Mysteries, the release of the aspirant (candidate) from solitude and darkness was called the act of regeneration, and he was said to be born again, or to be raised from the dead. 

And in Freemasonry, the darkness which envelops the mind of the uninitiated being removed by the bright effulgence of Masonic light, Freemasons are appropriately called the “sons of light.”

In Doctor Oliver’s Signs and Symbols, there is a lecture “On the Mysterious Darkness of the Third Degree.”  This refers to the ceremony of enveloping the room in darkness when that Degree is conferred – a ceremony once always observed, but now, in this country at least, (e.g.  United States), frequently but improperly omitted.

The darkness here is a symbol of death, the lesson taught in the Degree, while the subsequent renewal of light refers to that other and subsequent lesson of eternal life.

Information herein was collected and quoted from multiple sources which are not cited here.
Both Dr. Oliver (1782-1867) and Dr. Albert Mackey (1807-1881) were renowned Masonic historians and authors.  Dr. George Oliver lived in Lincolnshire, England.  Dr. Albert Mackey lived in Charleston, South Carolina.  

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All of this is great information, and appreciated by those, such as us, that consume it.

What it doesn’t address is the fact that Masonry doesn’t “Go Dark”.  It talks around it a little, or describes the changing of the work during these periods, but it doesn’t refer to the Brothers.

During this time, I encourage everyone to recall their obligations, and bring the charges into your mind.  We, as Masons, are not “Going Dark”.  We simply are not having stated meetings at the Lodge.  We must persevere without the monthly or weekly reminders of how to act, to be kind to others, be generous, be patriotic, to look after our Brothers widow.

Remember your Brothers during these months.  There are going to be a few events to keep the membership active and involved for those of you that wish to partake.

The Upper Uwchlan Day is June 18th
Tuesdays in July there will be Summer School of Instruction at Thompson Lodge in Paoli
We will have the roadside cleanup of Fellowship Road
There is a Masonic Book Club at the lodge
We will be having a Pig Roast in August

That said, people may already have plans to travel, entertain family, or are otherwise committed.  It’s fine if you can’t make any of these events.  Keep your Brothers in your heart.  Be the Mason away from the Lodge you are withing it.  Spread our message though actions and let others see the LIGHT we bring to the world, for we are Masons wherever we survey.

So no, we’re not “Going Dark”, we are the Light.

June Meeting Giveaway

Brethren, greetings and well wishes to you all!

As described we will be having door prizes, raffles, and giveaways at most, if not all, stated meetings and we continue that into June.

As are now at the end of our 2nd Masonic quarter of the year we have transitioned from three prizes to one. As in previous meetings, a drawing of all the members present will take place at the end of the meeting and the prize will be delivered as we wrap the evening up over coffee and desserts.

What is the June prize, you wonder?

A pair of Great Lights cuff links. If you don’t have a pair, now is a great chance to get one!

May Message From The West

Brothers, it’s time for our next rendition of the Message from the West.  From the pulpit of the Senior Warden I would like to speak a bit about this month’s theme, The Memorial Holiday.

First, Let’s start off with a bit of trivia and history

  • Memorial Day is only an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2022 will occur on Monday, May 30, and became an official federal holiday in 1971.
  • Did you know that Memorial Day was originally called “Decoration Day”?
  • Each year on Memorial Day a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.
  • In 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. It celebrated the day on May 5, 1866—was chosen because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags. On May 5, 1866, the Village was decorated with flags at half mast, draped with evergreens and mourning black
  • For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date General Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. The change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.

Early Observances of Memorial Day

The Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865, claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history and required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries.

The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.

By the late 1860s, Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.

Anyone who would like to know more about this holiday, it’s traditions, or significance, please let me know. 

As a Veteran myself, Memorial Day is significant to me.  I have personal opinions about the loss of friends and loved ones amidst highly dramatic events of geopolitical nature in the name of Freedom.

As a Mason the values of Patriotism and freedom are at our core, more especially here, not just as a Mason within the United States, but in Pennsylvania.  Our very roots are deep and strong in the thick of it all.

This month, allow us to pay tribute and homage to our dearly departed, be it Brothers in Arms or Brother in Blue.  Remembering is a way to keep them alive in our hearts and provide the opportunity for their legacy to carry on.

I will close this month with a reminder, though somber in nature to address our own mortality, please remember that if it is YOUR wish to have Masonic services when you pass through the West Gate, you may complete and submit the Grand Lodge of PA Masonic last wishes form, which I will attach to this message.  Your family may also request on your behalf, but this form certainly reduces the ambiguity.  And please, Brothers, if you have the opportunity to remember the Lodge in your final words, it would go a long way to both keep Mt. Pickering moving forward as well as to honor your memory.

S&F,
Steven Wilson
Senior Warden
Mt Pickering Lodge No. 446

May Meeting Giveaway

Brethren, greetings and well wishes to you all!

As described we will be having door prizes, raffles, and giveaways at most, if not all, stated meetings and we continue that into May.

As are now into the 2nd Masonic quarter of the year we have transitioned from three prizes to one. As in previous meetings, a drawing of all the members present will take place at the end of the meeting and the prize will be delivered as we wrap the evening up over coffee and desserts.

What is the May prize, you wonder?

A Blue and Gold Masonic Tie. If you don’t have one, now is a great chance to get one!

April Message From The West

I am beginning a messaging program I am calling ‘Message From The West’ which will be items of interest, news from the Lodge, or Fraternal greetings from my Chair as Senior Warden.

For my inaugural communication to you outside the Lodge I will reverb the Masonic Monthly Theme: Masonic Education.

April is Masonic Education Month and for those that are not aware I am the 40th Masonic District Education & Mentoring Officer, so it is dually important to me.  Along those lines I am compelled to remind everyone that on Monday Nights, 7:00 pm at the lodge, we have an open invitation to all members for Mentoring and practice.  During that weekly session we have the availability to go over any work, be it a refresher to the workings of the lodge for those that didn’t make the Rusty Trowel meeting, to members that are preparing to certify at School of Instruction.

That’s a great segue to remind the Brethren that the First and Third Wednesday of each month is the 40th Masonic District School of Instruction at SpringFord Lodge.  You can find more information on the district website, www.pa40th.org.

For those that are unaware, there are three award program for furthering your Masonic journey within the lodge named Master Builder, Master Craftsman, and Master Pillar. Information can be found about these on the Grand Lodge Website, https://pagrandlodge.org, but you may simply ask me and I would be happy to tell you all about them. Completion of each program is presented with a plaque signed by the Right Worshipful Grand Master.

This past weekend members of the 40th, along with the District Deputy Bill Herz, attended the Region 1 Mentoring Workshop at Norristown Lodge.  During this workshop we received messaging from the Right Worshipful Grand Master about his initiative to increase Masonic Mentoring, increase Masonic Education, and find ways to measure our progress.  This is a positive message for those that have been away from the lodge for awhile as new programs of revitalization are being rolled out which will be openly advertised, and you may participate in, as much as you wish.

Did you know that there are free, continuing Masonic education resources available to every member? If not, you can learn about Masonic History in Pennsylvania at Masonic Questions & Answers or you can use the Education Portal at Online Education & Mentoring Program. If you wish to know more, please feel free to reach out to me directly.

In alignment with Past Right Worshipful Grand Master Tom Gamon IV initiative, we are working on some programs to bring awareness outside the Lodge in conjunction with the Masonic Awareness Committee, or MAC.  The goal isn’t to make Masonry a household name, as much as it is to fill in the gaps, bring positive light to darkness, and share our message of Faith, Hope, and Charity. Members of this committee are Christopher Foy PM, from Perkiomen No 595, Kenneth Good PM from Phoenix No 75, and William E Harner IV PM form Boyertown No 741.

Lastly, I would like to announce the future launch of a Masonic Podcast, which is expected to launch in the early June time frame, called “Men Wearing Aprons“.  In this podcast, or internet radio show if you will, we will be posting some Masonic talks, interviews with Masons from the 40th District, and other small topics or Masonic relevance.  Look here or on the lodge & district websites for the lunch announcements.

That’s all for today Brethren, and believe me, I have plenty more!
Stay safe, stay healthy and I look forward to seeing you for dinner on April 11th

S&F,
Steven Wilson
Senior Warden
Mt Pickering Lodge No. 446