What If We Actually Did Masonry?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RW Robert H. Johnson


We’ve all been there, a meeting where everyone has to put in their two cents regarding a charity event or a lodge repair. A discussion that lasts twenty minutes too long. Men informing the lodge that they “know a guy.”, who can do it cheaper, or perhaps raising the dues $5 a year is too expensive, or still yet, perhaps it's about how much money is going to be earmarked for the upcoming scholarships.

I commend these brothers who dig into the nitty-gritty of lodge minutia. It’s something I’ve just never cared much about or felt I needed to contribute to. These guys are into it though, they do it without being prompted, they take ownership and are made sure their voices are heard.

The title of this article alludes to the core mission of Freemasonry, to make good men better. Yes we’re charitable, yes we serve our communities, but what are we teaching our members about actually improving men? I addressed this concern in a previous piece which you can read HERE.

What if though?

What if, that same gusto for discussing these things--building maintenance and pancake breakfasts, was had when we introduced Masonic Education? What if Masonic Education wasn’t met with eye rolls from around the lodge? What if people cared as much for Masonic Education as they do about the minutia? What if Worshipful Masters didn’t buckle under the stress of the membership, requiring Masonic Education to be a mere five minutes or less? What if we did what we’re supposed to do, and fulfill the membership in the Masonic way, through improvement and education? What if instead of being told that we should start a study club on off nights for Masonic Education, we embraced the present opportunity to affect all present?

What would happen if we ALL changed the order of business, so that Masonic Education came right after the opening? What would happen if we spent twenty, thirty, dare I say an hour on a topical presentation complete with questions and answers with discussion from the brothers? Maybe we just change it so that it’s all education and only a couple bills? What would happen if these brothers were as engaged in the educational topic as they are about replacing the toilet seat, or procuring the free pancake mix from the local restaurant? Would the previous discussed minutia be then seen as the five minute bastard of the meeting? Relegated to the end, much like education is in too many lodges?

The chances are we would lose a lot of members by doing this. In fact, because Freemasonry is many different things to many different people, the least of which is an educational system. To do these things would require some sort of drastic change within the organization. Perhaps the way to experience this for those interested is to start a new lodge based on these principles.

Recently there’s been some great conversation about members who are unsatisfied, starting their own lodges. In some cases, a Grand Lodge has asked the members, “Rather than walk away, why not start a new lodge?” Members took that advice. Members across the USA are taking that advice.

Perhaps something that needs to be considered here is that Freemasonry should serve to fulfill its membership. Instead, what occurs is that the membership is largely guilted into not giving up on the current lodge, not walking away and actually to double and triple down and urged to join all the other appendant bodies. These extra organizations which are looking for anyone at all to convey the degrees upon, many times in an abbreviated form, just to get a warm body in a position. Bro. Scott S. Dueball made a case for this in his piece, “Blue Lodge First”, read it HERE.

Above I asked a whole lot of questions, and in my imagination, I thought about the response I would likely get online and the things which would be talked about, if at all. I just couldn’t help but think to myself, that the response would be something like, “I wouldn’t go to lodge anymore.” or perhaps, “By doing education first or by pushing hard for Masonic Education like this, you’re being unbrotherly.” I don’t know how that would be true, but that's basically what I think I’d hear.

I think those imaginary but prophetic responses I mentioned earlier are why the idea would never work. It’s why the membership that’s out there should just go ahead and start a new lodge if they want the educational kind of experience. Focus on what you want and leave the rest behind until they learn to attract you through additional fulfillment, not by begging you to show up. Have doubts about how this works? Check out Admiration Chapter of Royal Arch Masons in Eastern IL. Or ask Homer Lodge, also in Eastern IL about having education right after opening and letting it go for "...as long as it goes." according to Todd E. Creason, founder of the Midnight Freemasons. In fact recently, Todd had let me know that one of their chief detractors in the beginning of this effort, recently came to him and Greg Knott to tell them how much he now looks forward to the meetings.

While some reading this might belong to an education focused lodge and have no issues, I assure you, you are the minority.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. If Freemasonry is indeed a system which teaches good men to be better, then we better start having more education meetings than degrees and business combined. If we’re not doing this, we’re just lip service.

~RHJ

Sacred Feminine?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Darin A. Lahners

Upon a recent viewing of the movie, The Da Vinci Code, I discovered something that had alluded me up until now. Dr. Langdon (played by Tom Hanks) was discussing the symbol of the sacred feminine with Sir Leigh Teabing (played by Ian McKellen). The feminine V which was presented reminded me very much of the Square displayed proudly daily on my Masonic Ring, which is intersected by a compass, with the Letter G in the middle. Is this accidental? Or like other symbols in Freemasonry – is there a hidden meaning to be found?


In Illinois, The blazing star is described as one of the ornaments of a lodge, as being a hieroglyphic representation of Divine Providence. In more ancient traditions, it is represented as consisting of two equilateral triangles interlocked. The triangle with the apex pointed down was emblematic of the Creator, with the apex pointing down toward the created universe, whereas the triangle pointing up was representative of man, pointing toward God, the Creator. When intertwined as a six pointed star, they would form a single figure, the symbol of unity between God and his creation. However, even more ancient was the hexagram being representative of sexual union between man and woman. The triangle pointed downward representing the feminine and the other triangle representing the male.


I know what you’re thinking. Don’t take my word for it. 


So what does this have to do with the Square and Compass? The Square and Compass is a representation of the Blazing Star. You have the Feminine Square intersecting with the Masculine Compass. Within the Square and Compass, a diamond shape surrounds the Letter ‘G’. This diamond shape also is similar to the double pointed oval used to represent the Yoni, or female sexual organs. This is more easily seen in the symbol of the Knife and Fork degree. G-D being the seat of creation of all things, he is positioned within the overtly feminine symbol of the Yoni, which is also representative of creation. 


In Albert Mackey’s “The Symbolism of Freemasonry: Illustrating and Explaining its Science and Philosophy, Its Legends, Myths and Symbols.”, he explains: “All the deities of pagan antiquity, however numerous they may be, can always be reduced to the two different forms of the generative principle—the active, or male, and the passive, or female. Hence the gods were always arranged in pairs, as Jupiter and Juno, Bacchus and Venus, Osiris and Isis.
But the ancients went farther. Believing that the procreative and productive powers of nature might be conceived to exist in the same individual, they made the older of their deities hermaphrodite, (having both male and female genitalia) and used the term man-virgin, to denote the union of the two sexes in the same divine person.”

Even in ancient Babylonian myth and early Hebrew myth, El , “God” – the supreme god of the Sumerians) and Yahweh shared the same consort, Asherah. According to Ronald L. Ecker, in his book “And Adam Knew Eve”:

“In the Bible her name often appears as ha asherah, meaning "the" asherah. In such instances the reference is not to the goddess but to a symbol of her, an object (in the plural asherim) that was apparently a sacred pole, tree, or group of trees (hence the translation "groves") at Israelite sanctuaries or "high places" as well as by altars of Baal. The erecting of asherim was among the "evil" deeds of kings like Ahab and Manasseh, and cutting the things down was a regular chore of "right" kings like Hezekiah and Josiah.

The presence of Asherah or her symbol at places where Yahweh, the biblical God of the Hebrews, was worshipped raises the question of whether the Canaanite goddess was considered also to be the consort of Yahweh.

We know from references to,
"the sons of God" (Gen. 6:1-4; Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7)
"the host of heaven" (1 Kings 22:19)
"angels" (Gen. 19:1; Ps. 103:20)
God’s statement "Let us make man in our image" (Gen. 1:26),

...that Yahweh was not alone in his heaven.


We know also that Yahweh supplanted the Canaanite El to the extent that God’s other names in the Hebrew Bible include El, El Elyon ("God Most High"), El Shaddai ("God Almighty"), and the (originally) plural form Elohim (as in Gen. 1:1).”

But the Square and Compass isn’t the only symbol within Freemasonry that refers to this idea. If we go back to Mackey’s "The Symbolism of Freemasonry: Illustrating and Explaining Its Science and Philosophy, Its Legends, Myths and Symbols..”:

Now, this hermaphrodism of the Supreme Divinity was again supposed to be represented by the sun, which was the male generative energy, and by nature, or the universe, which was the female prolific principle. And this union was symbolized in different ways, but principally by the point within a circle, the point indicating the sun, and the circle the universe, invigorated and fertilized by his generative rays. And in some of the Indian cave-temples, this allusion was made more manifest by the inscription of the signs of the zodiac on the circle.”


Mackey goes onto then give the following explanation: “So far, then, we arrive at the true interpretation of the Masonic symbolism of the point within a circle. It is the same thing, but under a different form, as the Master and Wardens of a lodge. The Master and Wardens are symbols of the sun, the lodge of the universe, or world, just as the point is the symbol of the same sun, and the surrounding circle of the universe.

But the two perpendicular parallel lines remain to be explained. Everyone is familiar with the very recent interpretation, that they represent the two Saints John, the Baptist and the Evangelist. But this modern exposition must be abandoned, if we desire to obtain the true ancient signification.

In the first place, we must call to mind the fact that, at two particular points of his course, the sun is found in the zodiacal signs of Cancer (June) and Capricorn (December).

These points are astronomically distinguished as the summer and winter solstice. When the sun is in these points, he has reached his greatest northern and southern declination, (a gradual falling off from a higher state) and produces the most evident effects on the temperature of the seasons, and on the length of the days and nights.


These points, if we suppose the circle to represent the sun's apparent course, will be indicated by the points where the parallel lines touch the circle, or, in other words, the parallels will indicate the limits of the sun's extreme northern and southern declination, when he arrives at the solstitial points of Cancer and Capricorn.


But the days when the sun reaches these points are, respectively, the 21st of June and the 22d of December, and this will account for their subsequent application to the two Saints John, whose anniversaries have been placed by the church near those days.”

Is it so far-fetched then to imagine that our mysteries then refer to the Great Architect of the Universe as being similar? Isn’t it possible that the ‘G’ within the Square and Compass refers to this more ancient understanding of the creator as encompassing both the Masculine and Feminine?

Before your blood begins boiling, I want to point out that this wouldn’t be the only place in Freemasonry where we have symbols that refer to genitalia. As this isn’t a tiled page, I would just point out that all Master Masons should know what this refers to within our rituals. However, it also has a further allusion which should be clear to everyone in the context of this article. Yes my brothers, it is sublimely referring to the act of creation.


Of course, there are many explanations for our symbols. I’m just pointing out some coincidences between them and how the feminine has been represented. Many of these coincidences that Albert Mackey also understood. There are obviously many explanations for the symbols I’ve presented here. It is my goal to educate my brethren and for them to ultimately decide for themselves what they think.

~DAL

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 darin.lahners@gmail.com.

Freemasonry and Fatherhood

by Midnight Freemason Contributor 
WB Adam Thayer



I have a two year old daughter… I should probably start by telling you that, or the rest of this article will seem entirely like conjecture. If you have a child too, I hope yours came with better instructions than mine, because so far the only real advice I’ve received is “Try not to kill her, and you’ll figure the rest out as you go.” The fact that this was given to me by a total stranger (a nurse at the hospital), told me that I was in for a real challenge.

Freemasonry has a lot that it can teach us when it comes to raising our children. For instance, sitting through the reading of the minutes can teach us about patience, which is an invaluable skill when it comes to your two year old arguing with you about watching Finding Nemo for the twentieth time this week. And haven’t we all seen a grumpy Past Master throwing a temper tantrum that could rival a child?

Now, I’ve never really been what you would call an overly emotional person. Sure, I cried tears of joy when the Cubs won the World Series (didn’t we all?), but never at weddings or a funeral, or even at the beginning of Up (which, I’m told, is incredibly sad for most people). I’ve noticed, however, that since Quinn has been born, there are many emotions that I hadn’t considered before. Seeing her try things for the first time, or solve a problem for herself, or even just the times that she wants to cuddle on the couch and watch cartoons (currently, her favorite is the 80’s run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), has put a near perpetual lump in my throat.

Freemasonry teaches us that our emotions are a normal part of our existence, and that (when handled properly) can make us more well rounded people. In addition to teaching us to keep our passions circumscribed, it teaches us that while traversing that circle we can and should experience the whole range of emotions, instead of staying safely at the center point.

I’ve also found myself contemplating my own mortality more than ever before. Being a bit morbid, I’ve always had a fascination with my own demise, however death has generally existed more as something that happens to other, weaker people, people who weren’t strong enough to keep fighting for their existence. Of course, on an intellectual level, I knew that I, myself, would also die one day, however I never truly accepted the reality of the situation until having a child.

You see, children force us to think about the future, and in the future lies a time beyond our existence. For all of us, that day creeps closer and closer, so we start to make plans, and backup plans, contingency plans, worst case scenario plans, and even “if everything goes just perfectly, this could work” plans, to prepare our children to be able to live without us.

While having a child has made me focus on the future, it has also helped me to gain a greater respect for the past. I’ve been lucky in my Masonic career to meet men from so many different generations, and each has taught me something valuable when it comes to raising a child. Watching everything going on in the world, I definitely appreciate a simpler time with less things to worry about; I know my parents never had to worry about what I was watching on a tablet...

Children are, Masonically speaking, rather expensive. Money that was once going to our Masonic habit is suddenly being redirected to things like clothing, diapers, food, and whatever the heck an aspirator is. So far, my experience has been that as they age they become more expensive, and I see no reason to expect this trend to change until the time comes that I’m entirely destitute.
Of course, money is only part of the expense, while the larger and more important expense is time. Time is the currency that Masons use to best improve the world around us, and children require a LOT of time. The paradox, from what I’m seeing, is that the more time I invest into my daughter, the more she will go on to improve the world, thereby accomplishing our goals.

Finally, I’ve found that having a child makes it very difficult to ever get around to finishing anything that I start. This article, for instance, was started nearly five months ago, and no amount of editing has made it read any better than it did when I first started writing it. The ending, which tied it all together both intelligently and eloquently, was unfortunately overwritten by the Troll Holiday special (no, I have no idea how that’s possible, let’s just go with it, or this will sit on my computer for another five months before being revisited).

~AT

WB. Bro. Adam Thayer is the Senior Warden of Lancaster Lodge No. 54 in Lincoln (NE) and a past master of Oliver Lodge No. 38 in Seward (NE). He’s an active member in the Knights of Saint Andrew, and on occasion remembers to visit the Scottish and York Rites as well. He continues to be reappointed to the Grand Lodge of Nebraska Education Committee, and serves with fervency and zeal. He is a sub-host on The Whence Came You podcast, and may be reached at adam@wcypodcast.com. He will not help you get your whites whiter or your brights brighter, but he does enjoy conversing with brothers from around the world!

The 24 Inch Gauge – Size Does Matter

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
WB Robert E. Jackson


I was on a business trip, first one I've taken in a long time. Taking advantage of the 'free' time I had, I decided to catch up on some reading. There was a specific article that needed to be shared with my wife….an article entitled "It's not Masonry, he's just an (expletive)-hole." Her immediate response was "Is this for you or me?" I thought that was a good question, and I was thankful to this article for helping initiate a very difficult conversation…was I risking too much? How out of whack was my 24" gauge? As happens from time to time, my wife helped me view my situation from a different angle.

Throughout the discussion, I was trying to explain that I was trying to balance my responsibilities, but I felt that as Master, I needed to support each event on our calendar. Most frustrating was the fact that only a very few Brothers really stepped forward to help with the various endeavors. When they don't show up, my internal demons start theorizing…do they care? Is the latest episode of 'Dance Moms' really more important to them than our Lodge? What I didn't see, without her help, is that it is entirely possible that those men are active in their own way…being coaches, colleagues, fathers, husbands. Could it simply be possible that these men have a better handle of their 24 inch gauge?

I still joke, on occasion, about that working tool in our repertoire. Yes, we know of the even 24 divisions, but any further divisions aren't claimed to be divided evenly! As a self diagnosed workaholic, this lesson really resonated with me, and resurfaces every time I work late or find myself wasting time. Much like our political persuasions, or spiritual beliefs, a major strength of our Fraternity is our diversity. This includes the diversification of our priorities. For many of our Brothers, their family does come first. For others, their jobs come first. It isn't our position to judge, but it is our position to learn. The management of our time is a life skill, one that we must continue to hone each and every day. Unless, of course, your name is Brother Alessandro Cagliostro.

~REJ
Robert Edward Jackson is a Past and presiding Master of Montgomery Lodge located in Milford, MA. His Masonic lineage includes his Father (Robert Maitland), Grandfather (Maitland Garrecht), and Great Grandfather (Edward Henry Jackson), a founding member of Scarsdale Lodge #1094 in Scarsdale, NY. When not studying ritual, he's busy being a father to his three kids, a husband, Boy Scout Leader, and a network engineer to pay for it all. He can be reached at info@montgomerylodge.org