Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I met the Masters.

In my last post I recalled arriving for the first time at what was to become my mother lodge. We host a casual meeting on Sunday mornings called "Meet the Masters", which is sort of an open house for people to tour the lodge and ask questions, and even more so just a time to hang out with the other members in a casual setting.

This lodge was very different in style and adornment to the previous lodge I had visited. It was certainly older. The lodge room itself was a bit more ornate, and even had the famous "Checkerboard Floor" in it's center, made of actual marble. I would even say this lodge was beautiful in its own strange way, and even now over a year later I am still learning things about it's genuine hidden secrets. I even caught a glimpse of the "Chamber of Reflection", which was super cool and super spooky. But more on that later.

I felt right at home and met a wide variety of men that day. They were older, they were younger. They were black, jewish, muslim, hindu, christian, deist, you name it. They cracked jokes, they slurped coffee, they teased eachother. Most importantly they seemed to genuinely enjoy eachothers company. However, all the jokes and jibs and jabs dropped abruptly when the actual topic of Masonry was broached, and each became very serious about their dedication to "The Craft".

I knew this was it, this would be my lodge, and if they would have me, I would become a Freemason.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Third time's a charm.

In the coming weeks, after my second visit to a Masonic Lodge;  I followed up with a member I met at the reception for the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Iran in Exile. He and I got along fairly well. We found common ground in our work in entertainment and Hollywood. He had previously invited me to check out his lodge, which I eventually learned he was once Master of.

I was invited to stop by on a Sunday morning at another, different lodge. This one was also very close to my home.  (Who knew there were so MANY!) I was assured that this was an extremely casual get together. Bagels, coffee, t-shirts, shorts. I still wore a jacket and dress shirt, thinking better to be overdressed than under.

I arrived at Culver-City Foshay Lodge #467 on a sunday in July 2013. Little did I know how much this three story building, on an unassuming corner of Culver City would come to mean to me.

This place was different. Very different. To start, I immediately noticed the cornerstone, erected in 1927. Anyone from Los Angeles knows that that is actually very old for this town. At the entrance my attention was brought to a  large brass square and compass; embedded in a a circle bounded by parallel lines. It was so worn and pressed into the ground by untold numbers of feet that crossed it's threshold that it was nearly rubbed away.

I went in through the open door, and walked up the staircase to the second floor. I noted a very old, almost crumbling painting on rolled canvas. It depicted strange symbols and a spiral staircase. I continued up the stairs.

Once again I found myself at another threshold. I found a room full of strangers. However, this time a different feeling washed over me. I felt an immediate sense of warmth, of comfort. I extended my hand in friendship to the first man I met...

I knocked again.

After jumping ship on the "Hiram Award", and my less than spectacular first introduction to this local lodge; I wrote the Worshipful Master to thank him. I explained that I'd like to come by for a visit on a less important occasion to see what a typical lodge dinner would be like. I was invited back in a few weeks for another dinner.

Undaunted, I suited up and headed out for my second lodge visit. I approached the lodge, and those sturdy wooden doors once again. Upon entering the dining room again, I saw it was once again set up for a special event. In fact, it seemed that this was an even more important event than the "Hiram Award". The place was packed. I found a table with a spare seat and two men that seemed of similar age and style.

It was explained to me that this night was a reception for "The Worshipful Master of the Grand Lodge of Iran in Exile". OK! I had no idea what a lodge in exile was, but I figured that this was a special night and if I was invited in, I would go, regardless of any hesitation or equivocation.

Dinner was an excellent spread of persian food, humous, tabouleh, baba ganoush etc... I had a fantastic time chatting with several Freemasons at dinner. I met two men who worked in entertainment (as I do) and had a really nice time. Both were actually members of two different lodges, who were there just to see this exiled Grand Master speak. One of which invited me to his lodge for a visit some time. (More on that later.)

After dinner, I was invited once again for to enter the lodge room for the rest of the reception. I felt... something... I'm still not sure what it was, but it was an identifiable vibration on entering the lodge. A combination of nerves, fascination, curiosity and history hit me.

The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Iran in Exile was introduced. He gave an amazing speech. I was energized. He spoke of America. He spoke of opportunity. He spoke of his ancestors fleeing Persia due to persecution, and how Freemasonry welcomed them with open arms when they arrived in California.  His morals, his ethics, his appreciation of hard work, study, and family, moved me in a profound way. This was an evolved man. This was the type of man I wanted to surround myself with.

This was my first real taste of what Freemasonry was all about.

So, I knocked.

The day had arrived. It was time to visit the lodge. I was under the impression that the dinners that most people get invited to tend to be somewhat casual, a great way to get to know some of the members and figure out if Freemasonry was really something you were interested in.

I parked near the entrance of the lodge and walked towards the door. I saw another man who looked equally confused and nervous, he took note of my suit and tie and asked "GOSH! Do I need a tie for this!?". I confessed that I had no idea, and that this would be my first visit. He ran back to his car to get a tie. Needless to say I was even more nervous.

I walked up to the door. It was sturdy with a brass Square and Compass fastened to the door handles. I walked into what looked... a lot like a 1950's rec room. However the room was set with tables, table cloths, place settings, and everyone was fairly dressed up. I introduced myself to some people and I was informed that tonight was a very special night. The lodge would be giving something called a "Hiram Award". I had no idea what that was, but it sounded important.

I met the Worshipful Master very briefly. Another member was kind enough to give me a tour of his lodge. He put me at ease. He was a very intelligent man with long hair, one of the few not wearing a suit. We found common ground as musicians and guitarists. He explained he was a "Past Master" of this lodge, and what that meant. He showed me the portraits of the many previous "Masters" and some interesting antique curiosities. He pointed to some closed doors and explained that inside was the actual "lodge". After the tour I began to settle in and enjoyed a very nice meal and met some very genuine and kind people.

When dinner was finished, everyone started walking towards "THE LODGE" for the "HIRAM AWARD!" Not having any real understanding of what was going on, I honestly freaked out a bit and blurted "I don't think I'm supposed to go in there!" I was assured that I was welcome, but in my confusion I made up some BS excuse and took off, thinking I would only be allowed to join the dinner.

I left. I was confused, a little embarrassed, but still very intrigued.

First Contact

One of the great misconceptions of Freemasonry is that you must be "chosen" or "asked" to become a Mason. In fact, the truth is the complete opposite. To become a Freemason you have to seek out a lodge, find some Masons and ask to become a member. It's actually forbidden for most Masons to solicit you in any way to join the club.

I managed to locate a lodge that was about halfway between my home and my office. They had a pretty decent website, and looked like they even had some younger members. I figured it couldn't hurt to reach out and contact them via email. I still wasn't sure if this was something I wanted to do, or honestly why I was headed in this direction. By nature I am a bit of a loner. I don't have many acquaintances and I have even fewer friends. I am certainly not someone who would join a "fraternity". I continued to feel some sort of pull towards this organization. I needed to find out more.

I contacted the Worshipful Master of this local lodge, (Worshipful Master I later learned, is a term of respect hearkening back to the middle ages, and has nothing to do with worshiping.) I was invited to the lodge for a dinner to meet some of the members. I was told to wear a suit and arrive at 6:30. Our exchange via email was brief, but cordial. The dinner would be held in two weeks.

I was extremely nervous. Wearing a suit isn't something I do often. Neither is meeting with random strangers in some sort of "temple". I had no idea what to expect. My wife thought it was a little odd as well. Although she was, and is incredibly supportive.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

In Search of What is Lost

My interest in Freemasonry began in southern California. I found that I was lacking friends of good character who were like minded in their morals and work ethic. That's a challenge anywhere, but it can be especially difficult in a big city, especially one as laid back as Los Angeles.

My Great Grandfather; Everett Hiram Langile was a Freemason in New York City. I grew up hearing bits and pieces of his story; dressing in his best to go to Grand Lodge, that he was a "high level Mason", and the most curious; that he was buried in his white Masonic apron.

I started to look into service organizations in and around LA to help in my goals of meeting some more interesting and upright people; Rotary Club, Lions etc. I hadn't even thought of the Masons, or my Great Grandfather, until I saw an article about how my favorite musician, Jack White. He donated $250,000 to save "The Detroit Masonic Temple". This piqued my interest and I started to do more research on the Masons.  Who they are, what they stand for and if this could help me find what I was lacking in my life.

I took to the internet and started to research this ancient fraternal organization. I found a surprisingly large amount of information available and even found the addresses of many lodges within a quick drive from my home and office. I thought these guys were supposed to be under the cover of secrecy!

The further my research took me, the more I realized that Masonry could possibly provide that social support structure I was seeking. However it was their philosophy and spiritual ideals that made me realize I was missing a lot more than just a better group of friends, but that I had lost sight of something deeper in myself as well.

The title of this blog; "In Search of What is Lost" is as much a Masonic reference as it is to the journey I began over a year ago, searching for that lost part of myself.


I've decided that I wanted to have an actual "log" of my travels as an American Freemason. I'm not expecting anyone to read this, but if you do stumble upon these words, please leave a note and your thoughts!

The intention is to create a journal documenting my experiences with Freemasonry and it's associated bodies. The catch is that I have been a Freemason for almost a year. For now these journal entries will document the past until I catch up to the present! Hopefully I can recount my thoughts with some degree of accuracy.

So it begins!