“I am a great admirer of mystery and magic. Look at this life – all mystery and magic.” – Harry Houdini
With centuries of tradition and millions of members across the globe, Freemasonry is unique for its ability to bring together men from different walks of life in pursuit of living shared values. Given the volume of members with varying interests, it’s unsurprising then that Masonic organizations, many right here in Ohio, have formed to explore the teachings and bonds of Freemasonry more deeply.
One such unique group is The Invisible Lodge, an international body of men who are both Master Masons and Master Illusionists. Founded by the well-known illusionist Sir Felix Korim in 1953, the Invisible Lodge describes itself as “the honorary association of Masonic Magicians at work under the jurisdiction of the known and unknown world.” In the nearly 70 years since its formation, this brotherhood has boasted many famous members, some of whom created notorious tricks such as the Floating Lady, the Flying Carpet, and sawing a woman in half.
Freemasonry and Magic
Although he created the Invisible Lodge, Sir Felix Korim was not the first famous Masonic Magician. Indeed, 30 years before the Invisible Lodge was formed, the great Harry Houdini joined the fraternity. Before he became a Freemason in 1923, Houdini was the president of the Society of American Magicians (a.k.a. S.A.M.) from 1917 until his death nine years later. He plays a pivotal role driving significant growth during his term, leading the field of magic forward and establishing a national network of magicians. Houdini was initiated into St. Cecile Lodge in New York in 1923 and was raised on July 31 and August 21 in 1924. He used his fame to support the Masonic community in New York, performing for the Scottish Rite Valley of New York to over 4,000 people at the Scottish Rite Cathedral. He notably used the money he raised to support fellow Freemasons in need. After becoming a Master Mason, Houdini joined the Mecca Shrine Temple in New York City.
During the peak of his career, Houdini toured the United States relentlessly, inspiring new generations of illusionists to follow in his footsteps, in Masonry and magic. Today, Masonic magicians follow in the footsteps of such famous Brothers as Alexander Hermann, Harry Kellar, Howard Thurston, and Dante. Other notable Masonic magicians that are confirmed members of the Invisible Lodge include Lee Grabel, John Calvert, Harry Blackstone Sr., Peter Reveen, Sid Radner, Carl Balentine, Herb Zarrow and Fielding West.
Joining the Invisible Lodge
The Invisible Lodge International is a one-of-a-kind organization, and therefore has unique membership requirements a man must meet to apply for membership. First, you must be a Master Mason in good standing with current Blue Lodge status. Then, you must prove to The Invisible Lodge Directorate Board that you are a Magician or a pursuer of an allied art form. It is satisfactory to be a proven professional, semi-professional or amateur in the magic or related arts, with evidence of performance, authorship, collector, or membership in an international, national, or regional organization.
Invisible Lodge Membership
The Invisible Lodge began as a small cohort of Freemason magicians that, over time, grew into an organization spanning half a dozen countries. Today, this Masonic body welcomes magicians as well as practitioners of the allied arts which include ventriloquists, fire eaters, clowns, and hypnotists. At its core, membership in The Invisible Lodge requires a reverence for the mystery, symbolism, and secrecy of the craft.
There is no central lodge of this Masonic organization, which means members meet at Magic Conventions around the world. There is an initiation ceremony that applicants can participate in at any time and at any Invisible Lodge meeting around the world.
During Invisible Lodge Internationals gatherings, members exchange tips, try out new materials, and deliver performances to entertain each other. More recently, members created an initiation ritual for new members. While the initiation can be performed in a tiled meeting, it’s important to note that the Invisible Lodge is an affinity group, meaning most grand lodges don’t formally recognize it.
Despite its status as an affinity body, the Invisible Lodge offers its members standard Masonic accessories and practices, including signs and symbols, officer positions, tuxedos, and top hats. Like most Masonic bodies, the lodge offers members a lifetime achievement award called the Harvey Award. This award is named after the famous Jimmy Stewart movie about a man whose best friend is a six-foot-tall invisible rabbit.
Brethren, are you a member of the Invisible Lodge? Email us at OhioLodgeLife@freemason.com to share your experience with us!