The Black Panther Ritual

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

It’s difficult for a self – proclaimed geek like me to admit that I knew very little about the character Black Panther before seeing the movie. He was in my mind always somewhat of an enigma. I knew about his suit, that he was from a place called Wakanda somewhere in Africa, and that Wakanda was the source for the strongest metal on the face of the Earth in the Marvel comics, Vibranium. I know that Captain America’s shield is made from Vibranium. I had seen him appear alongside Captain America, The Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man in the comics, as well as make an appearance in Captain America:Civil War, but I knew very little otherwise. The movie is fantastic, and there was a particular sequence that was repeated which stood out for me. Caution: Spoilers Ahead.

Following his Father T’Chaka’s death, his son T’Challa returns to Wakanda to assume the throne. Part of the coronation ceremony requires that if challenged, the heir apparent must fight in ritual combat for the crown. One chieftain, M’Baku, challenges T’Challa. T’Challa ends up defeating him and gets him to yield rather than die. After this, T’Challa undergoes the King Making Ceremony in which he ingests what’s called the Heart Shaped Herb, and he is buried. T’Challa visits The Djalia, which is the mystical realm where his ancestors go after death. T’Challa meets his Father here, and they converse briefly before T’Challa resurrects from his burial, changed into the Black Panther.

Later, after Killmonger reveals himself to be T’Challa’s cousin, and heir to the throne, he defeats T’Challa and hurls him over a waterfall. Killmonger then ingests the heart shaped herb, and orders the rest to be destroyed. Luckily, one is saved which plays an important part in the film. Killmonger undergoes the same ceremony, being ritually buried and then visiting Djalia. After having a vision of his Father, he resurrects as King of Wakanda, and dons his own Black Panther suit.

We find out later that M’Baku has saved T’Challa as a repayment of saving his life. T’Challa is given the very last Heart Shaped Herb, and is buried. He again visits Djalia, where he confronts his father regarding why he did not bring his cousin, back to Wakanda after killing his own brother, N’Jobu. He also tells his ancestors that the days of Wakanda hiding from the world is over. T’Challa then resurrects and goes on to fight and defeat Killmonger.

What stood out to me, and hopefully to you as well, is how the “King-Making” ritual in Black Panther parallels what happens to Hiram Abiff in the 3rd degree. Like T’Challa or Killmonger, Hiram undergoes a form of ritualistic combat. In Hiram’s case, it’s not by choice. He is challenged by three ruffians who attempt to get from him the Master’s word, which will allow them Master’s wages and the ability to travel freely. Hiram has promised this only when King Solomon’s temple is completed, however they cannot wait that long. In a parallel, all too familiar to our time now, they want instant gratification. Hiram, being steadfast in his convictions, that the reward will come only after the Temple is completed, pays with his own life.

The ruffians dispose of Hiram in the Temple rubbish, and meet later that evening to secret his body away. They end up burying him east of the Temple, at the foot of Mount Moriah, marking his grave with a Sprig of Acacia. Early the next morning, King Solomon finds the workmen in disarray, as there are no instructions on the trestle board. Fearing something has happened to Hiram, King Solomon dispatches twelve fellow-craft to find him. Three of the fellow-craft find Hiram’s grave and report back to King Solomon. Solomon and his fellow –craft exhume the body, raising it by using the strong grip of a Master Mason and with a phrase.

Taken literally, King Solomon essentially performs Necromancy in raising Hiram from the dead. While this is quite possible, given the legends surrounding the Seal (Ring) of Solomon and his ability to command demons with it, the story is not meant to be taken literally. Instead, it and the sequences in Black Panther share the same motif. That the resurrection which takes place is a spiritual one. In both cases, they undergo a baptism.

Now in a traditional sense, baptism is: a rite or sacrament of dipping a person into water or sprinkling water on him, as a sign of the washing away of sin and of admission into the Christian church. But it also can mean: "any experience that cleanses a person, or introduces him into a new kind of life." In the case of the Black Panther, the ritual grants him super-human power. He is faster, stronger, tougher and more intelligent than the average individual. In the case of the newly – raised Master Mason, the ritual removes the vestiges of his former life. He is also made anew, as part of the fraternity of Masons, he now must conduct himself as one in all aspects of his life. Much like the Black Panther must defend his kingdom of Wakanda from evil influences and forces, so must we defend not only ourselves but also Freemasonry from these forces.

One of the most oft – overlooked privileges or right of a Master Mason, is that he gains the right to vote in the affairs of his lodge. Most importantly, you might find yourself in a position where you need to decide whether or not a candidate is worthy for admission. I’ve been pretty forthright in my opinions that we all must face with this decision and the difficulties that we all face with this awesome responsibility. We all must guard Freemasonry from evil influences and forces, and by using the ballot you can do so. You also must remember to guard yourself. Remember that your every action, word and manner reflects on our Fraternity. Be ever vigilant. Just like the Black Panther. 


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 U.D. 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. When he’s not busy enjoying Masonic fellowship, Darin spends his time as a DM for his children’s D&D campaign, reading, golfing, watching movies and listening to music. You can reach him by email at

Oriental Lodge - A Not-So-Enduring Tradition

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, 33°, FMLR

Fun fact: The Indianapolis 500 Mile Race has never been run in Indianapolis.

Stick with me. I'll get back to the Masonic significance of that later.

Back in my DeMolay days I was a member of Oriental Chapter in Indianapolis. We met in a magnificent building near the city's center. Its entire first floor was an expansive lounge with plush leather chairs, couches, coffee tables and smoking stands scattered around. Matching pool and billiards tables, massive and ornate, sat in the back of the room. I loved the place – especially the pool table.

Oriental Lodge 500, F&AM, owned the building and met there. That Lodge, chartered in 1875, was a Masonic powerhouse. With a peak membership over 1,000 many of its members were the "movers and shakers" of Indianapolis society. Among the more famous Brothers who called it home were US Vice-President Charles W. Fairbanks, US Senator Albert J. Beveridge, conductor Fabien Sevitzky, world table-tennis champion Jimmy McClure and railway president Bowman Elder.

Over the years the surrounding neighborhood changed and membership fell. Oriental merged with Evergreen Lodge, became Evergreen-Oriental Lodge 500, and moved to a newer, albeit less distinctive building in the western suburbs. I visited the building once and was disappointed to discover the DeMolay chapter was long gone.

Meanwhile the great old building that had been Oriental's home had become the new home of Central Lodge No. 1 of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Indiana. As a bonus, the building itself is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

So on my last trip to dear old Indy, I had dinner with a lifelong friend who had been a member of that DeMolay Chapter with me, and had subsequently joined Oriental Lodge. We talked about DeMolay and that Lodge and I discovered he was angry. Really angry… so angry he had quit the Shrine and Scottish Rite in protest. "In protest of what?" I asked. (Inquiring minds want to know).

He explained there had been another merger. As a result, he was now a member of Northwest Lodge, located in the same building as the former Evergreen-Oriental. Sadly, the Oriental name, probably along with much of its rich history was lost. But what seemed to anger him more was the fact that he was now a member of Northwest Lodge 770.

770? What happened to 500? Why not take the lower number?

Back to the little fun fact. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is actually located in an incorporated town known as Speedway. As you can tell by its name, the town wouldn't even exist but for the presence of the famed brickyard. It is also the home of Speedway Lodge 729.

Or, I should say, "was the home…" It seems in its infinite wisdom, the Grand Lodge of Indiana yanked (I think that was the term he used) the number 500 and gave it to the Lodge in Speedway making it Speedway 500. Cute, Grand Lodge of Indiana, very cute. And cheesy, very cheesy. History and tradition be damned for a cheap trick that, frankly, not many outside the Masonic fraternity will ever care about.

I completely understand my friend's anger. I also wonder if it might have ticked off some of the members of Speedway Lodge. I know, it's only a number; yeah, along with history and tradition and other things the fraternity is supposed to embrace. It's the world we live in. Publicity and marketing seem to be ubiquitous. The likes of Google, Amazon and Facebook are constantly hounding us to go here, go there and ultimately spend money. While I think the Masons need to do a better job of promotion, I'd rather see a more classy way of going about it. We're swimming in advertising, promotion and gimmicks – poor substitutes for brotherly love, relief and truth.

Besides, what did Indiana Masons get from this… more members? I doubt it.

For a follow-up stunt I wonder if they plan to rename it Verizon Wireless Lodge 500 brought to you by Pepsi.


Bro. Steve Harrison, 33°, is Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is also a Fellow and Past Master of the Missouri Lodge of Research. Among his other Masonic memberships are the St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite bodies, and Moila Shrine. He is also a member and Past Dean of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. Brother Harrison is a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasons blog as well as several other Masonic publications. Brother Steve was Editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine for a decade and is a regular contributor to the Whence Came You podcast. Born in Indiana, he has a Master's Degree from Indiana University and is retired from a 35 year career in information technology. Steve and his wife Carolyn reside in northwest Missouri. He is the author of dozens of magazine articles and three books: Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, Freemasons — Tales From the Craft and Freemasons at Oak Island.

Freemasonry: It’s What’s for Dinner

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM

I’m sure you're thinking by the title of this piece I am going to give you a great recipe for Salisbury Steak or a way to spice up green beans for your next lodge meeting. Nope! But it would make a great article (For Pinterest maybe, but not for this website.)

Recently I have begun to realize some dishes we eat every day will look and taste different, even though the dishes all have the same name. Take chili for instance.

If you order a bowl of chili in Texas, you will get a spicy red bowl of soup filled with chunks of beef like brisket, onions, beer without beans. Garnishes include sour cream, cheese or Fritos corn chips.

In the Midwest the soup will have lots of beans, sometimes several different types, ground beef and under normal circumstances, the midwestern dish will be less spicy than its Texas Cousin. It is usually served with saltine crackers.

Cincinnati chili is a totally different animal. Chili lovers in the Queen City cook their chili with a small amount of chocolate.The dish is also served in different “ways”. Two-way: spaghetti topped with chili, Three-way: spaghetti, chili, and cheese, Four-way: spaghetti, chili, cheese, and onions., Four-way bean: spaghetti, chili, cheese, and beans (beans substituted for the onions), Five-way: spaghetti, chili, cheese, onions, and beans.

There are other types dishes some people would call chili including a vegetarian dish and a white soup with white navy beans and contains chicken as it’s protein. In my opinion, these aren’t chili and in my opinion are clandestine and won’t be discussed here.

I also believe what you consider chili and your preferences for this dish comes from the part of the country (or world) from which you hail from. The spices which your pallet craves, can be a fun and educational event to attend, like a chili cook off where you can taste all of these versions of chili or even more varieties. Many times these competitions will display a cooks culinary capabilities (Or lack of capabilities in some cases). In my opinion, Freemasonry is much the same way.

As we all know here in the United States there is no general grand lodge. This leaves each state, or jurisdiction, to set up Freemasonry the way they feel it should be. Much like a chili recipe, each of these grand lodges started out their organization with a few similar ingredients and over the years while the dish was cooking they began to add or subtract ingredients which fit their tastes better until they had a dish which suited their pallet.

These recipes can endure for many generations, with the occasional addition or subtraction of an ingredient to satisfy a particular persons flavor profile.

Sadly some timeless recipes can be changed to the point in which the people who would be served the dish might find it inedible. Many times in the pursuit of profit, a business (Or even worse some lodges I’ve seen) will replace quality ingredients with less expensive items, maybe add “fillers” to stretch the recipe which brings the cost of servings lower, thereby expanding their profits. Or maybe, even leaving some ingredients out altogether to cheapen the costs and Maximize their profits. Most of the time the chili will begin to taste terrible and the customers will quit coming in, and the only way the business will survive is having to continually bring in new customers who haven’t tried their terrible food before. Eventually, the business will run out of new customers or word of mouth will keep others from trying the restaurants’ food. Sadly the the owner’s shortsighted practices will resort in the doors of the restaurant to close forever.

In the last few decades, In my opinion many Grand Lodges (Or local lodges) have began to change their original recipes, replacing Freemasonry’s quality ingredients like a quality Masonic experience, Masonic education, and Brotherly love with the cheaper ingredients like long boring meetings, arguing over bills and baloney sandwiches served with room temperature Kool-Aide.

Much like the chili, the cheapening of the recipe for a successful Masonic lodge, the removing of the quality will cause the lodge members to stop coming and the lodge will have to rely and a constant flow of new members joining to keep the lodge going until eventually, the flow of new members will dry up, and like the restaurant the doors of the lodge will close.

Brethren as much as people want to eat quality food they also want a quality lodge experience. Much like a restaurant wants return customers, Masonic lodges want their members to return to the lodge and be active. Over the last half century, we have established that long boring meetings, substandard ritual and constantly being shanghaied to work in fundraising activities isn’t working. If we want to be successful we must return to our original recipe.

Now if I can come up with a way to compare store bought canned chili to one day classes….


WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.

The West Gate Dilemma

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

I have recently encountered a situation within Freemasonry that I had hoped that I would never encounter. I have always been steadfast with my belief that we need to Guard the West Gate. That there are certain men that lack the character to become Freemasons. While my view might be thought of as elitist, I still think that I need to protect the fraternity. This being said, let me discuss my situation.

One of the lodges I belong to read the petition of a man who had committed a felony when he was a young adult. The petition was read and I was the only vote in dissent of accepting it. The man who is the top signer is someone in Freemasonry that I admire. I trust his judgement, but yet I still feel obligated to guard the west gate.

Another brother that I respect and admire also told a story. It was about a brother who as a young man had too much to drink. He passed out in the backseat of a car. His two mates decided that it would be a good idea to take said car, with said brother in the back seat, to steal tools. They were caught and all three of them were booked. Luckily, the brother having no knowledge of the crime and not participating in it did not get in trouble. He went on to be a Past Master and a 33rd Degree Freemason in the Scottish Rite. It could have been a different story. His point was that youthful indiscretions should be forgiven.

We’ve all made mistakes right? Let those among you without sin cast the first stone! Where do I draw the line? I just can’t shake the feeling that I need to do what is right for the Fraternity. I don’t want to judge a book by its cover, however I also don’t want to make a decision that I’ll regret. You see my brethren, if we are so desperate for men to join our ranks that we will consider accepting felons, then I feel like we need to close the doors.

We have a real problem in Freemasonry currently. It’s a crisis of identity. An identity crisis is a period of uncertainty and confusion during which a person’s sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society. Applied to Freemasonry, we can’t decide what we want to be. Do we want to accept every petition that comes to our lodges just because we have an issue with membership? We need to make a choice. We need to decide what we want to be. Do we want to be an average fraternal organization or do we want something better for ourselves?

I want to have men that want to be Freemasons, but I also want to have men that I can look at proudly as being a member of the Fraternity. We as an organization are who we let into our fraternity. Not every man should be able to be a Freemason just because they pay their degree fees and fill out an application. I have, in my time, voted for members that later became habitually derelict on paying their dues. Those that never show up for lodge, and that we chase year after year for dues, don’t really belong in our organization do they?

We need to do better. If we allow the election of members that have committed a felony, then why do we kick those out that have committed felonies during the course of their membership? In my mind, they are one in the same. I’d go one step further, I’d ask for automatic suspension of any member that has a pending felony charge, along with a communication from Grand Lodge regarding said Felony. What would happen if we had someone that committed a Felony as a member of our Fraternity, but they took a plea deal that lessened their charge to a Misdemeanor? Don’t you feel like you would benefit from having this transparency? I would have a hard time being a member of an organization that put forth an aura of wanting only good men, to find out that we might have skeletons hiding in our closet.

So, I’m still left with my crisis of conscience. On the one hand, if I were in a similar situation, wouldn’t I want a second chance? On the other, I need to guard the west gate. The candidate in question is joining us for our pre-lodge dinner before we vote next meeting. So I’ve decided that I’m going to ask him a question. It’s really simple really. Why does he want to join our Fraternity? It’s a question that I have asked every candidate that I have been able to interview. Based upon what the answer is, then I’ll make my decision. So far a candidate has never convinced me not to vote for them. This is the first time that the answer will determine if I vote for them. I hope it’s the right answer.


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 U.D. 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. When he’s not busy enjoying Masonic fellowship, Darin spends his time as a DM for his children’s D&D campaign, reading, golfing, watching movies and listening to music. You can reach him by email at