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Austin R. Shifrin


Austin R. Shifrin has been a member of craft Freemasonry under the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania since 2006; he is a Past Master of Tyrian Lodge No. 644 (Lower Burrell PA), and former Secretary of Lodge Ad Lucem No. 812 (Pittsburgh PA). He is a member and Past Sovereign Prince of the Scottish Rite Valley of Pittsburgh, and received his 33rd in the Scottish Rite in Milwaukee in August of 2019. In York Rite, he is a member of East Hills Royal Arch No. 268 and Liberty Valley Council No. 50, as well as Odyssey Council No. 550 Allied Masonic Degrees, and Bloody Run Court of Athelstan No. 127. He is a member of Syria Shriners in Cheswick PA, and a member and Past Grand Tall Cedar of Pittsburgh Forest No. 160, Tall Cedars of Lebanon.

His first book, “More Light: Collected Masonic Writings 2017-2021”, is a collection of his articles that were published in the magazine of the Scottish Rite Valley of Pittsburgh during that period, along with the text of a presentation he delivered to the Squirrel Hill Historical Society in 2018. It was published in 2022 and has sold over 700 copies. His second book, “Black Ink, Farther Stars” is due out in Summer of 2024.

Outside of Masonry, Austin has worked in banking and finance for 20 years, most recently for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh. He received both his undergraduate degree in Psychology and Masters Degree in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University. Austin lives in the North Hills of Pittsburgh with his girlfriend Kristine, and their cats Pablo and Apollo.

Prepared Topics:

Tales of Solomon from the Kebra Negast – 15 Minutes
An off-hand comment in a work conversation leads to surprising discoveries in the scripture of the Ethiopian Church.

The Symbolism of the Camp – 20 Minutes
The meaning of the rich visual symbolism of the 32nd degree of Scottish Rite Freemasonry… The Camp

Jacob Ernst’s Philosophy of Freemasonry – 20 Minutes
The philosophy that Ernst published in 1870 has important bearing for Freemasons today, if we can understand what he was getting at

A History of Blue Lodge Freemasonry – 20 Minutes
How craft Freemasonry came to be what it is today (with some additional material specific to Pennsylvania)

Physical Properties of the Old Testament – 20 Minutes
We can better understand the stories of the Old Testament and Freemasonry, when we have a better grasp of the physical settings and artifacts being referenced

Ritual Across Time and Space – 30 Minutes
How different cultures throughout history and around the world have used theater and performance as part of their moral instruction

A History of Oath Taking – 30 Minutes
What does it really mean when we swear oaths – either in Freemasonry or outside of it? How do they “work”, and how have they evolved throughout history?

Fundamentals of Blue Lodge Freemasonry – 30 Minutes
Four articles from “More Light” on the subjects of being gentlemen, taking care of each other, religious toleration, and a civil discussion of differing politics

The Chamber of Reflection: Mortality, Morphology & Meaning – 30 Minutes
Drawing on both ancient and modern sources, we will explore how contemplation of death can enrich and inspire our lives

The Tarot of Virtue – 60 Minutes
How the cards of the Tarot can be used as a visual aid to study the 18 virtues laid out in a system by the philosopher Andre Comte-Sponville

How AMD and Grand College of Rites Complement Each Other – 60 Minutes
The interplay of two lesser-known Masonic institutions, and how they work together to preserve our history

Blue Lodge, Scottish Rite, and Shrine History – 60 Minutes
Combines a survey of the history of blue lodge with that of two of our beloved appendant bodies (with some additional material specific to Pennsylvania)

Travel Information: For distances within approximately 2 hours drive from Pittsburgh, only looking for compensation for gas; for greater distances, open to discuss coverage for travel and accommodation.


My book, “More Light”: paperbacks, $10; hardcovers, $20

To book Austin, contact him direct with the form below.