Culver City-Foshay Lodge and York Rite Freemasonry!

Culver City-Foshay Lodge salutes it recent mark upon York Rite Freemasonry!

January is month of the year most traditionally set aside by lodges for the annual recurrence of the installation of their officers.  Culver City-Lodge installed its latest Master, Benjamin Villanueva, along with a glimmering corps of officers who will be serving the lodge for the whole of the year.  The same tradition is held by the York and Scottish systems of extended degree work.  This year, Culver City-Foshay Lodge is distinguished by leadership in the three bodies of the York Rite, serving the westside communities of Greater Los Angeles.  Leadership is under the auspices of three of our Past Masters:  Sam House; Michael Miller, and Adam Wolf.

Monday, January 8th:  Adam Wolf, was installed as Commander of Santa Monica Bay Commandery, No. 61, Knights Templar.  The photo will show several members of Culver City-Foshay Lodge serving with him for the year.  Adam served as Master of our lodge in 2015.

Monday, January 15th:  Sam House, was installed as High Priest of Santa Monica Bay Chapter, No. 97, Royal Arch Masons.  The photo will show several members of Culver City-Foshay Lodge serving with him for the year.  Sam served as Master of our lodge in 2016.

Thursday, January 18th:  Michael Miller, was installed as Illustrious Master of Alpha Council, No. 39, Cryptic Masons.  The photo will show several members of Culver City-Foshay Lodge serving with him for the year.  Michael served as Master of our lodge in 2017.


Although there are no presiding officers with roots in Culver City-Foshay Lodge to report this year, our lodge is very much involved with local Scottish Rite bodies as well.  The growth of our lodge as surely been felt by the craft in general, and appreciation for the lodges contribution to the larger Masonic world has been widely acknowledged.

The Art of Memory


The Art of Memory

The following article has been reprinted by permission of the Southern California Research Lodge, which first published it.  It is cited as follows:  Fraternal Review, “The Art of Memory,” (Vol. 58, No. 4, May 2017), C. Douglas Russell, Ed.

“Q & A: Merrick Rees Hamer, P.M.”

Bro. Merrick Hamer, P.M. is a native Californian, 33o Masonic Renaissance Man, member of several esoteric orders, actor, classically trained musician, author, poet, and speaker.  In 1971 he became a Freemason in Culver City-Foshay Lodge, No. 467, F.&A.M., where he served as Lodge Master several times over.  Subsequently his work, In Praise of the Mystical Light, was published by Newman University in a journal entitled Archaeopterx.

Interview by Jeriel Smith

Q (Jeriel Smith): What led you to join Freemasonry? 

A: The desire to become a Freemason was a matter that occurred naturally.  As a youth, at age sixteen, I was persuaded by a friend to join the Order of DeMolay.  Steady involvement in a youth fraternity that receives its inspiration from American Freemasonry, had prepared to make the profound decision to petition a lodge of Free and Accepted Masons.  I selected Culver City-Foshay Lodge, No. 467, which held sponsorship over my DeMolay chapter.  My father was a DeMolay in his youth and my grandfather, with whom I held a strong affinity, was a Freemason.  Collectively, these factors, with an unusual metaphysical bent, contributed to my decision to become a Freemason.

Q (Merrick Hamer): How long have you been a Master Mason? 

A: Since I was raised to the sublime degree of the craft 27 February, 1973, I have been a Master Mason for forty-four years.

Q: What has been your involvement in various Masonic bodies? 

A: After my raising in the symbolic lodge, I was initiated, at various times, into several affiliated bodies, including: The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (Southern Jurisdiction); all bodies of the York Rite; Legion of Honour of the Order of DeMolay; Royal Order of Scotland; Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis (SRICF); Allied Masonic Degrees.

Q: What is your current focus in Masonry? 

A: Having sat five years in its Oriental Chair, my foci have always included active support for my symbolic lodge.  Culver City-Foshay Lodge is a vibrant, diverse and amicable association of unique brothers, generously sharing their ideas.  Indeed, it is a lodge that I have helped to shape and that has helped to shape me.  It has pursued the deeper, esoteric nature of the craft; and it began this pursuit at a time when it was daring to do so.  It is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.  My present foci also include staged conferrals of the Degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, serving both the Los Angeles and Pasadena Valleys in California.  It is perhaps my involvement with the Scottish Rite that has earned my reputation for a capacity in memorization and refined delivery of ritual, which I believe is the essential topic of this interview.  Presently, I am serving as the Junior Warden of San Juan de Los Angeles Council No. 180, Allied Masonic Degrees.  My primary focus in Freemasonry embraces purposes that animates us all, the high call of charity and the fraternalism whereby we many help each other and offer encouragement to those who are yet leaning.

Q: What inspires you most about the ritual? 

A: Most Freemasons will acknowledge that their craft is not a religion, nor is it intended to supplant any religious tradition under which they might have been brought up and which they continue to practice.  Yet, what each perceives as the divine essence in his faith, will invariably emerge within the Freemasonic craft, in manifest ways that are understood universally.  The rituals reflect what I am saying here.  They are the instruments that resound the inner notions of the heart and recall from the dusty archives of the institution the Great Book of Nature and Revelation.  They are the instruments that resound the concordal strains and cosmic chords of life.  Yet, the rituals are for naught, when they are placed in the hands of those who do not understand their transformative potential.  They await the “Touch of the Master’s Hand.”*

Q: Can you please share a set of tips or techniques for memorizing ritual? 

A: Masonic ritual, to many participants, means the application rote memory and too often, unfortunately, it stops with that application, as though it were the whole of the ritual process.  The consequence of this limited view is delivery that is mechanical and prosaic.  Most learners who resort to the rote technique will group a few words together, regardless of how they fit into a syntactical structure, and when performed, their deliveries will be fraught with expressions that sound clean and precise, but lack the intended conveyance.  In some cases, they suffer incoherence, because of the metered manner in which they are uttered.  Excellence in Masonic Ritual will not necessarily involve the rote application, unless it is used in the early stage of memorization and is abandoned, once the application has served its purpose.  Alternatives, or supplements to leaning ritual would be meaningful and associative learning.

I would recommend that the first step be to read or hear the ritual several times to determine the basic meanings and the small nuances that support the them.  Metaphors and allusions often have profound traditions behind them; and these should be recognized, since meaning influences presentation.  The Masonic rituals are at least two hundred years old and contain words that are unusual in modern speech; and these should be carefully studied, to assure that they will be delivered with an understanding of their usage at the time the rituals were conceived.  The next step would be group the words of the rituals by phrases or complete sentences, depending on length for the memorization process to begin.  It is important that the words of each group have syntactical relationship.  This way, the rote process will work with distinctive speech phrasing, rather than with a merely a pulsated repetition of words that will be difficult overcome, once memorization has been accomplished.  Some learners will memorize by association and identify words or phrases with objects or concepts.  This can be very effective during this early phase, yet the associations should be abandoned after they have served their purpose, so as not to become hindrances inconsistent with later efforts to carryout interpretation.  Once the groups are committee to the memory, the next step should be delivery in a fashion that is natural to speech.  This requires that the learner suspend his rote efforts and analyze each phrase for its logic, and to deliver it as though he were addressing a person in a real-life setting.  One should observe carefully the roles of nouns, pronouns, verbs and punctuations to ensure that they are logically applied.  This will resolve problems with monotony and superficiality. 

Q: How do you move from learning the words to internalizing the meaning? 

A: Internalizing may be accomplished in different ways and it likely will vary in accordance with the interpretation of the text.  It will be dependent, however, upon a mind free from the burden of having to recall words.  Now, many grade schoolers have learned through the rote process and its routine occurrence, the Pledge of Allegiance before the American flag.  In this example, the need to recall is eventually transcended, since by constant repetition, the words of the pledge become permanently fused to the juvenile memory.  Even with adults, this is the point at which one can evoke a sense of patriotism and deliver the pledge with conviction and charismatic spirit.  The same principle applies to the learning of Masonic texts.  The transcendence of recall dependence allows the emotive faculties to bloom and take charge; and there is no doubt that, while the rituals of Freemasonry are in part didactic, they are full of allegory and opportunity for emotive presentation.

Q: What about delivery? How do you make it come alive? 

A: Everyone has the capacity for emotion, though some of us hide our emotions.  Moral and social compunctions are in part responsible for the reluctance to display unrestricted emotions; and it is only fitting that emotional expressions should be appropriate to the circumstances.  Yet, it is unwise to suppress the aspiration to emote in exchange for what is phlegmatic.  One must overcome the fear of ridicule, if his reluctance will stifle a dynamic performance.  I am not necessarily referring to “stage fright.”  The craft must allow for unfettered expression and take care not to stigmatize it.

Q: How do you maintain or retain what you’ve memorized for the next time it’s needed? 

A: By limiting oneself to the rote phase is not enough to accomplish retention for an enduring time, since is works initially with the short-term memory function of intellection.  I advocate, therefore, the engagement of the emotive faculty.  Episodic and semantic memories are far more enduring and will respond more effectively to the demand for recall.  By associating the rituals with emotionally based stories or concepts (identified with what early philosophers called the humours), and by an appeal to aesthetics, one will discover ritual to bear importance commensurate with his life’s most endearing events; and recall, therefore, is assured.  The intonation, inflexion, and timing of words, are comparable to our association with colours, which are attached to the semantic memory.  The famous Mannheim School of the eighteenth century applied the Doctrine of Affections, in which musical formulae were devised to induced moods in music.  The same idea can be applied to the formulation of rituals, through the treatment of words, phrases and stories.  As a Freemason and as a musician, this is my testimony, and this is what I advocate.

*[“The Touch of the Master’s Hand” is a poem by Myra Brooks Welch,’s-Hand]

The following question, due to a lack of space, was not included in the printing of the Fraternal Review.  It is included here, as an additional enhancement:

Q: Do you see memorizing as a mental exercise, or is there something more than that in the idea of the repository of a faithful breast? 

A: The process of memorization is naturally mental, and depending upon previous training, the process will vary in difficulty for individuals. The extent to which it becomes an emotional process will bring to relevance the concept of the “Faithful Breast.” The expression is, of course, symbolic of our guard and appreciation for prudence. Additionally, it is a reference to the seat of not only are our passions and prejudices, but knowledge of beauty, charity and Brotherly Love. It is with our trusted brethren that our deeper understandings of life may be shared. Let the brethren, therefore, take their rituals to heart! Let them sing and make a joyful noise unto the Lord!

From the East


Master’s Message

Brethren and Friends,

We welcome you to read Culver City-Foshay’s February trestleboard.!  May it enlighten your senses through modes of diverse knowledge!  I would like to thank those who attended our Installation of Officers on January 7th, and help to give the ensuing Masonic year in our community an impressive start.  As the year progresses, we hope to see you at many exciting and diverse events and ceremonies. Please join me in congratulating Brothers Kenneth Halsband and Tuffy C. N. Williams, who were recently raised to the Degree of Master Mason and Brother Elijah Daniel smith who was passed to the Degree of Fellowcraft. We look forward to your attendance at all our degrees and your ability to witness the impressive work of our officers.

The Pin

This year, Sam House PM and I have collaborated in the production of this year’s lapel pin. As you may see, the pin, not unlike those of Sam House Michael Miller, which, during their years as Master of our lodge, featured a coffin and All-seeing eye, respectively, has significance in freemasonry. My pin, bearing the Hourglass and Scythe has certain meaning to our craft. The hourglass is a reminder of the limits of mortality and that a belief in immortality is no excuse for neglecting our duties here on earth.  Time, symbolized by the scythe, waits for no man, no matter what his station – be it high or low, rich or poor. Both are posted in the Chamber of Reflection, for the candidate to view, to incite his sense of judgement on the use of the time allotted him.  My duty as Master and a mason, is to lead and improve the craft at our lodge until my time as Master has concluded, and my life on earth.  The motto for the year is “Tempvs Fvgit” or time flies. Our time in our bodies on earth is finite, yet the agency we leave behind is imprinted on those whom we inspire. Every Mason, until death do him part, should endeavor to be efficient, and attentive to duty.

The Procedures of a Committee

A committee comprises a portion of the existing membership. It has a life span of three or more months. During the first month, the committee should seek the Master’s plan for that specific committee. Once the concepts of the Master are understood by all committeemen, the committee shall carry out the preliminary arrangements. If it is an event committee, publicity or pre-sale tickets will be promoted to the membership. If it is operational committee, committee members must assure that all information is attained months before the final product is to be presented or achieved. Hence, the second month each committee will report to the lodge on the progress. The last stage will continue with progress previous made, , but more importantly will make finishing adjustments.


Benjamin Villanueva,

Master, Culver City-Foshay Masonic Lodge No. 467