The Mid-Atlantic Esotericon

Should I have gone, and what did I miss?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson 

A year ago, some brothers decided to plan a masonic conference, not unlike the MasonicCon that has happened at Ezekiel Bates in Massachusetts, but with a strict observance on Esoterica. No history—no debate on origins of ritual. Just an exploration of the spiritual aspects of the craft, of philosophy and of the teachings that have been written about for thousands of years.

First thing’s first, lets just set this out there. This event sold 147 tickets, (which was the limit for the occupancy of where the event was held.)  and pulled in attendees from as far as Canada and Washington state. The Mid-Atlantic Esotericon also partnered with the largest Rainbow Girls Assembly in the state, 20+ girls served food, drinks and cleaned. They [the Rainbow] took in a staggering amount of donations. Conversely, The Mid-West Conference of Grand Lodge Education had a whole 20 dudes present. Let that sink in--a moment of thought. Alright, ready for more? I thought so.

Brother Joe Martinez and Kevin Homan were the architects of the event and had wanted to do something like this for a long time. It just took the balls to do it. And you know what? They did it.


Should you have gone? That depends. Do you feel like their is more to Freemasonry than ritual? More to Freemasonry than fellowship? More than almoners funds and paying bills? Do you enjoy reading and researching the mystical? How about questioning the literal translations of our religious texts? What about the teachings of a medieval genius? The psychotropic substances and references to the plants mentioned within our ritual? The axial procession of planets and their relation to Freemasonry? If you answered yes to any of those, than you definitely should have come. If you didn’ should have come anyway.

The night before, my wife Cori and I took an Uber with Joe Martinez and his wife Barb to a brewery where we were meeting everyone who was coming to Esotericon. We packed the place. I have to say that I was so overwhelmed with those Brothers who went out of their way to say hello to my wife. She had a wonderful time!

A quick run down of presentations:

  • Pierce Vaughan talked about John Dee and his philosophy. 
  • Jon Ruark talked about the many pieces of symbolism contained within Freemasonry that have an archetypal value to other systems. 
  • P.D. Newman gave us information on the Acacia and opened our eyes to the ancient references to the plant in the early rituals which clearly alluded to its use as a psychoactive compound used to open the mind for ritual. 
  • Jamie Lamb talked about the Anno Lucious dating system and how the procession of stars gave us clues to ritual origins and even magick. 
  • Don McAndrews spoke to us about a great book which told of Jewish Patriarchs moving into Europe, who were actually Pharos from Egypt. 
  • Greg Kaminsky gave an amazing talk on the medieval thinker, philosopher and genius, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. He also offered insights into ritual prayer. 
  • Frater O, spoke about the hidden symbolism within the temple of Solomon and how it aligned with chakras and other systems. 
  • And Yes, I presented as well. I spoke on the topic of immortality and manifesting your destiny. 
The documentary crew from Roadmap to Freemasonry was also present, getting interviews and filming some amazing things.

I was impressed with the questions that were asked after the presentations. We were truly surrounded by men and women who understood the deep concepts to which we were all speaking . I took copious notes on topics that I was unfamiliar with. I looked around the room, no sleepers, no one snoring, all awake, all mentally present.

I looked around and I thought about how everyone who was present and how together, we’re making a difference in how we teach Freemasonry, how we can get our members to think more deeply about what we espouse in the ritual.

I can’t say much more, other than THANK YOU! Thanks to the attendees, the speakers, the organizers. It went from the Mid-Atlantic Esotericon, to the First Inaugural Mid-Atlantic Esotericon. That’s right, it’s coming back next year. I'll end on a quote from a newer Masonic Blog that recently posted about the event - From Darkness to Light

"This is what Freemasonry should be, and this is what Freemasonry needs to become again."

RWB, Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183 UD. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatrewhich focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry" and is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.

The Unfinished Mark

After receiving the Honorary Degree of Mark Master Mason, it is expected that a Mason will create his mark and submit before he continues on to receive the Royal Arch Degree. This mark is unalterable as it is meant to identify all of your work. What about those of us who don’t finish our mark before laying down our working tools?  What about that unfinished mark?

My father, John Hambrecht, was raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason on March 25, 2017.  This was only 11 months after I was raised. He the received the honorary degree of Mark Master Mason, in August 2017.  He began working on his Mark. 

He was to receive the rest of his Royal Arch Degrees in, I believe, late October as part of a Royal Arch Class. By then he was feeling well enough to go to the class. You see, my father had heart problems and numerous levels of nerve damage, in his legs and hands, from diabetes as well as the years of work he had done in manufacturing. He was in pain every day.  

By Thanksgiving he was in the hospital, again, from heart related issues.  After Christmas, he had decided he’d had enough and went into hospice at the end of January.  On February 16, 2018, he laid down his working tools and never finished his mark. Or had he?

Certainly my father never completed the mark for the Mark Book but had he finished his mark?  Since before I was born, my father worked for the company from which he would retire. They actually had a policy of putting your stamp, mark, on everything you produced.  My father was a very hard working quality oriented man and he did this well for them.  He did it so well that, after getting his Bachelor’s Degree and then later a Master’s Degree, he ended up working in the HR Department as a Training Manager.

I was born in 1968.  Over the next 49 years my father did much.  Working as many as 6 days a week and, when times were hard, as little as 3 days a week on a 3 shift rotation.  Still he found time to teach me to play baseball, to change the oil in the car, how to work with tools to build things, how to shoot, how to hunt, and all through that time he taught me things that I didn’t even know I was learning.  As is the case with fathers and sons, we would be close then grow apart only to return to the closeness again. It’s kind of a never ending roller coaster ride but it’s just how men are with each other.  In the end I believe that I was his mark.  He left me unfinished, as all fathers must leave their sons, because we are there to finish the work ourselves and begin a new mark to leave behind.



Bro. Mike Hambrecht was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason on April 20, 2016 in Village Lodge #274 F & AM in Burton, Ohio. Currently he is a member of Triandria Lodge #780, where he is Junior Deacon and Lodge Education Officer, and a member Lake Shore Lodge #307. He is also a member  Willoughby Royal Arch Chapter #231, where he is Scribe, Ohio Royal Arch Chapter of Research, where he is Secretary, Windermere Council of Royal & Select Masters #113, Eagle Commandery #29, where he is Standard Bearer, Scottish Rite Valley of Cleveland, and more recently a Noble of the Al Koran Shrine. He also serves on the Grand Lodge of Ohio’s Education Committee. He works in the IT field and has a wife, daughter, two dogs, and two cats.

Benjamin Franklin: America's First Self-Improvement Guru?

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

Benjamin Franklin had a particular practice that he established in his 20s and continued to practice throughout the course of his lifetime. He made a list of 13 virtues, printed them on little cards that he kept in his pocket, and each week he focused his efforts on improving himself in one virtue. Each day he kept track of how he did on that week’s virtue on his scorecards, and after he’d cycled through his list he started all over again. Franklin’s 13 “virtues” were temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility.

These are frequently hailed as “Franklin’s 13 Virtues” . . . but that’s not exactly what they represent. It’s true that all thirteen of these traits are virtues, however, if you read about Benjamin Franklin, you’ll quickly come to realize that these aren’t Franklin’s virtues—this list represents his vices! After a long look in the mirror, Franklin realized at some point in his youth that his character was in bad need of improvement. He didn’t make a list of virtues he possessed, he made a list of virtues that he needed to work on. And that’s what he did. What’s most remarkable is that he continued working on these for the rest of his life.

Change is hard, and personal improvement and character development is even harder. As we learn from Franklin’s example, it’s a lifelong pursuit with a goal we never reach. It’s hard because it requires us to look in that mirror and be honest with ourselves. We have to be able to see ourselves as we really are, and recognize where we need work. And there are no shortcuts to building character. It’s very hard work. It requires dedication. It requires sustained determination. It requires self-discipline and self-control.

But as Masons, that’s what we signed on for—to learn subdue our passions and improve ourselves in Masonry. In other words, to learn self-control and self-discipline and begin down the path of becoming a true and upright Mason. To begin seriously working on that ashlar, knocking off all those rough and superfluous parts of our character.

I challenge you to do as Franklin did . . . reflect honestly on yourself, make a list of areas that need improvement, and start down that path to a better you.

A version of this article was originally published by the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville (IL) Valley Echoes Newsletter.


Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog, and an award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. Todd started the Midnight Freemason blog in 2006, and in 2012 he opened it up as a contributor blog The Midnight Freemasons (plural). Todd has written more than 1,000 pieces for the blog since it began. He is a Past Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) where he currently serves as Secretary. He is a Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research (FMLR). He is a charter member of the a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 and currently serves as EHP. You can contact him at:

Masonic Haikus

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A Lahners

Recently, Midnight Freemasons founder Todd E. Creason challenged many of us who write for the Midnight Freemasons to provide broader content for the blog. As a lifelong fan of the Haiku, I was surprised to find that there were few examples of them with Masonic themes. Here's my attempt to start to rectify that. If they are well received, I may do more. 

Blindfolded barefoot 
Point of a sharp instrument
Against Naked Breast

Guards the inner door
Cowans and eavesdroppers near
Tyle accordingly

Faced the east kneeling
Brought to light within the Lodge
Transformed forever

Level Plumb Square tools
Pillars on the temples porch
Three Five Seven Stairs

Grumpy Past Masters
Argues about the meal bills
Never Coming Back

West Gate Unguarded
Quantity beats Quality
The Craft is ruined

Educating Men
Hidden meanings are revealed
Teach the mysteries

Bearer of Burden
Entered Apprentice Mason
Bib turned up

Earn Masters wages
Aid worthy distressed brothers
Travel foreign lands


WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. You can reach him by email at