An Appendant Body We're Not...

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Robert Johnson 32°

It was late at night, my phone was still sending me notifications on new emails. I rolled over in a groggy way which was clumsy yet poetic in its tired fluidity and grabbed the phone to see what it was all about. A private message--"From who?" I wondered. Well, one eye opened to allow some five in the morning clarity, I read the words, "How do I join The Midnight Freemasons? What kind of degrees do you confer?".

It was something I never thought about. In fact the question was so off my radar that I didn't even put it together for a couple minutes that he thought that The Midnight Freemasons was an appendant body within regular Freemasonry. Not wanting to make any mistakes, I set the phone down and went back to bed for a few hours.

The next morning I had all but forgot about that email. There it was in my inbox, I proceeded to let
the gentleman and Brother know that we were just a group of writers who happen to write at night since we all have day jobs, well that, and it sounds cool. I never did get a response from that brother.

Not a month ago, Brother Bill Hosler received a similar email. Apparently some Brothers are under the impression we are a regular Masonic group that confers a set of additional degrees. However Bill had to inform him, much in the same way I did, that we were not an appendant body of regular masons, but a group of writers, who happen to be Freemasons.

This got me thinking however, if the Midnight Freemasons did confer degrees, what would they be called? I'm certain they would be hilarious. Perhaps a degree based on Star Wars where you reject the Dark Side, it would feature three Sith who want me to teach them about the Force? I asked my fellow writers for some ideas,

Perhaps a set of degrees based on The Wizard of Oz? Todd E. Creason suggested the first half of the degree be in black and white!

Brian Schimian suggested The Hobbit, where the candidate represents Bilbo Baggins.

      "At first he is uncertain of the journey before him... He passes many tests to not only prove, but ready himself. He is in the company of others that he may not have been, without his journey. He eventually becomes enlightened and believes in his abilities. He is also "finds" something and keeps the secret around it. In the end, he risks his own well being for others and returns home feeling as a part of something bigger...."

Bro. Schimian went on, 

      "That or the Hangover trilogy... Nothing says Brother like the Wolf Pack..."

Bro. Bill Hosler mentioned my favorite show of all time. The Original Star Trek. 
      "How about a Star Trek degree? Captain Kirk could be accosted by three red shirts on the way to the bridge who are tired of their brethren being killed when they go to a planets surface."

I laughed pretty hard at that one. Michael Shirley came in as well suggesting a degree based on good old Inspector Holmes. 

      "How about a Sherlock Holmes degree? Holmes does everything in disguise except WM, who wears a deerstalker hat. If it's a third, Moriarty makes an appearance".

So, there you have it, if The Midnight Freemasons did confer a set of degrees, you can plainly see they would be hilarious, theatrical and in some cases downright outrageous. We tend to be a funny group of folk. We can be serious and write about heartfelt things, but generally, we are "The Lighter Side of...Freemasonry."


RWB Johnson is a Co-Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 2nd N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He is the current V:. Sovereign Grand Inspector for the AMD in IL. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focuses 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", "The Master's Word: A Short Treatise on the Word, the Light, and the Self - Annotated Edition" and author of "How to Charter a Lodge: A No-Nonsense, Unsanctioned Guide. More books are on the way.

Where Did the Magick Go?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

Like many of you, when I joined Freemasonry, I was told that Freemasonry was a “System of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated with symbols.” I expected to learn life-altering secrets but discovered none. Nobody gave me any information other than what I was told in degrees. So I started to read everything I could about Freemasonry. I read about its history, symbols, ideas, and esoteric components. However, when I wanted to discuss these ideas, I found only a few brothers willing to discuss them, and never in an open lodge. Later, when I became a District Education Officer, I saw first-hand the negative reactions of some older lodge members when a lodge education officer brought up discussing the Kabbala. Let me just say that the Hindenburg and Titanic were lesser disasters than his attempt. At that moment, it dawned on me. The fact of the matter is that instead of embracing the esoteric side of Freemasonry, the majority of Freemasons eschew it. 

Before I get any further, I want to make it completely clear that I’m not wanting to perform Crowley’s magick. I have no desire to perform the Babalon Working. If I wanted such things, I’d go and join the Golden Dawn or OTO. What I want is to make the average exoteric Freemason understand that whether they like it or not, we perform ritual magick in every degree. I want them to talk about it. Most importantly, I want them to be able to acknowledge that it’s okay to be talked about.

Don’t believe me? Magick (in the western esoteric tradition) is the use of ritual and symbolism to change your perception of reality. What happened to you in your degrees? Think about it. Ultimately, there is a “spell” being cast on the candidate. The members of the lodge performing the degree are performing ritual magic. They follow a specific pattern of floorwork and they say specific words. If you don’t think that your perception of reality wasn’t changed after your three degrees, then I think you’ve missed the point. You enter the lodge room for the first time as a Mister, and you leave the same lodge room as a Brother. If that’s not magick or alchemy for that matter, then I don’t what is. All of our rituals and symbols are based upon more ancient rituals and symbols. Our rituals and symbols do have an esoteric meaning.

Unfortunately, we have placed a stigma on this idea. Some of it has been placed upon us by public perception. I’m sure that someone will read this article, see the word Magick, and immediately claim devil worship. Magick is a tricky word. However, it is present in our rituals and especially during our degree work. There are a growing number of Freemasons like myself that are tired of having the stigma placed upon ideas like this. We want to explore these ideas.

Ultimately, we’re going to lose a lot of Freemasons, and potential members because of our inability to hold a dialogue about Esoteric education. The Exoteric-centered members of Freemasonry will continue to perform Magick in every degree, without even knowing they’re performing it. Then they’ll go across the street from the lodge to have a beer after the degree, and not understand what really just took place during the degree--that makes me incredibly sad.

I’m not asking for esoteric education at every meeting, (unless you have a lodge full of guys who want to discuss esoteric ideas at every meeting, which is a dream I hope someday to achieve), but I am asking for it to have seat at the table. For every educational lecture we have on character development, we want to be able to present one about Kabbala, the Astrological Aspects of our ritual, or the Hermetic Arts & Sciences. Getting them to understand that there’s magick happening in every degree, opening, and closing of a lodge, due to our ritual is key to getting this dialogue started.

Those of us who want more esoteric education want to be able to discuss esoteric ideas and concepts with our brethren without ridicule or judgment before the discussion occurs. We want our brethren to have open minds. We want them to be able to discuss the ideas and if they disagree with them, be able to have a civil discourse about why. We want to be able to reintroduce the idea of a chamber of reflection without it being looked down upon like it is  Satanism by my fellow brethren. We want to talk about Freemasonry in terms of it being a mystery school, not a social service organization.

Maybe one day, I’ll be able to be a part of a lodge that is like Vitruvian in Indianapolis, or Spes Novum in Chicago, where I feel esoteric (and non-esoteric) ideas are able to flow freely and without judgment. I’m looking for 20 like-minded guys in my area that are willing to take on forming a lodge with me. It might take years, but it’s a goal. I’m always telling other brethren in my articles to find a lodge or make one if what they’re experiencing isn’t what they want. Time to put my money where my mouth is.


WB Darin A. Lahners is our Co-Managing Editor. He is a host and producer of the "Meet, Act and Part" podcast. He is currently serving the Grand Lodge of Illinois Ancient Free and Accepted Masons as the Area Education Officer for the Eastern Masonic Area. He is a Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph. He is also a plural member of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL), where he is also a Past Master. He’s also a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, Salt Fork Shrine Club under the Ansar Shrine, and a grade one (Zelator) in the S.C.R.I.F. Prairieland College in Illinois. He is also a Fellow of the Illinois Lodge of Research. He was presented with the Torok Award from the Illinois Lodge of Research in 2021. You can reach him by email at

Rainbows and Unicorns, Approaching Masonic Symbolism Gently

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Randy Sanders

I recently experienced a sad exchange where a Brother told me he liked Masonic education, but he didn’t want to hear about any rainbows and unicorns ie: esoteric stuff.  His Freemasonry had no room for such nonsense, even though he heard it in several appendant bodies.  He went on to tell me I was part of only a fraction of Freemasons, maybe twenty percent at most, that even cared about the deeper esoteric meanings of symbolism and ancient mysteries because “Freemasonry is a Fraternity”, a Brotherhood. 

He had a valid point.  Freemasonry was seriously diluted about a hundred years ago with the influx of membership into a social fraternity.  This is true.  The old lodge records of long discourse of philosophy during lodge show we used to encourage deep thought and reflection on Masonic symbolism.  That changed.  Mackey, Wilmshurst, et. al. wrote extensively about what they termed “Parrot Masons” who are perfect ritualists and can recite the basics of what each symbol means, but what about these same Masons who are so admired for their memory work and delivery?  They never seem to take it to the next level of contemplation and understanding.  Yet we give these Masons rewards.  We give them cards where they might proudly show others that they have tested and passed with only a handful of mistakes.  Many Masons simply stop there. 

A few weeks ago, I witnessed another sad exchange between Brothers again looking to remove a Brother from a group conversation because he had a different opinion that grated against the first individual.  This is hardly the first exchange I’ve witnessed of a Brother looking to ostracize another Brother for not doing Freemasonry the way another Brother thought it should be done.  I am saddened that societal influences crossed over into the fraternity to the point I see Brothers looking to kick out or censor other Brothers’ opinions, no matter whether good or bad.  The point is an open debate, dare I say, open rhetoric?  A difference of opinion is healthy, and all the way back to the early great works of the thinkers, open debate is the mark of civilization.  I may not like your opinion, nor your particular view on some moral issues, but to censure or expel based on opinion and views? 

The same Brothers who were wanting to ostracize another Brother may be shocked to see they belong to the (very vocal) minority.  Eighty percent of the Fraternity is not as esoteric as these Brothers would like us all to be, and attempting to ostracize those who don’t practice Freemasonry, in the same way, would backfire.  Those pushing would then be the ones pushed out.  Maybe that’s not a bad thing.  There, I said it.  Maybe the esoteric Masons who are pushing their opinions and beliefs on others SHOULD be kicked out of the Fraternity.  After all, are not these esoteric hot heads the ones being closed-minded as to giving the freedom to other Masons to do as they wish? 

That’s a lot to take in for the moment.  My position is to highlight the folly of both positions or opinions.  Expulsion from this Fraternity should be the VERY LAST RESORT and never spoken of in normal conversation.  Censure and other means of Masonic discipline exist for a reason, and they also should never enter a normal Masonic conversation.  What I witnessed in both extremes of not wanting any esoteric education, as opposed to kicking people out or shunning them for not being esoteric enough is just silly.  Both extremes are just childish.  We are Freemasons.  We are those set apart from society who are charged with approaching concepts and philosophies on the level, and that means being level-headed too.  I don’t see any explanation except neither side spent enough time working on Entered Apprentice lessons, and they speak from pop culture lessons and social values, not from Freemasonry’s philosophical teachings. 

We must take a step back from both extremes of philosophical approaches, and that requires a gentle touch.  Ritual is important, and how you approach your own personal ritual is even more so.  Esoteric symbolism is important, and how you approach your own understanding of your relationship with Deity?  How is that not the most important part of your life and work as a Freemason?  

The gentle touch might be too subtle for some.  We must go back to silence being the first lesson and simply listen.  What would happen if we held on to our opinion for just 24 hours of contemplation before stating it to others?  How much more powerful would it be to analyze our own opinions of Rainbows and Unicorns before telling others we are closed-minded to symbolism and philosophy?  Conversely, how much more powerful would it be to analyze our own opinions of those less esoteric before pushing the narrative the less esoteric should be expelled for not thinking the same way?  We do not live in the shoes, or lives, of our Brothers, and we must not push our beliefs onto others.  We are taught to use a very quiet whisper in the ear, almost never censure, and where would that leave expulsion?  Whether the other Brother wants to change?  Not ours to make happen, but we can and should always remember each other in our prayers.


Randy and his wife Elyana live near St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Randy earned a bachelor's Degree in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry, and he works in Telecom IT management. He volunteers as a professional and personal mentor, NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer, and enjoys competitive tactical pistol, rifle, and shotgun. He has 30-plus years of teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and healing arts. Randy served as a Logistics Section Chief on two different United States federal Disaster Medical Assistance Teams over a 12-year span. Randy is a 32nd-degree KCCH and Knight Templar. His Masonic bio includes past Lodge Education Officer for two symbolic lodges, Founder of the Wentzville Lodge Book Club, member of the Grand Lodge of Missouri Education Committee, Sovereign Master of the E. F. Coonrod AMD Council No. 493, Co-Librarian of the Scottish Rite Valley of St. Louis, Clerk for the Academy of Reflection through the Valley of Guthrie, and a Facilitator for the Masonic Legacy Society. Randy is a founding administrator for Refracted Light, a full contributor to Midnight Freemasons, and an international presenter on esoteric topics. Randy hosts an open ongoing weekly Masonic virtual Happy Hour on Friday evenings. Randy is an accomplished home chef, a certified barbecue judge, raises Great Pyrenees dogs, and enjoys travel and philosophy.

Brother Tim Horton - A life of success and tragedy…

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

If a Canadian Brother ever takes you out for a cup of coffee and a doughnut, odds are he won't take you to a Starbucks, a Dunkin', a Krispy Kreme, or anywhere other than a Tim Hortons. 

Founded in 1964, the Tim Hortons chain, has become a popular and iconic Canadian establishment which has expanded worldwide with nearly 5,000 restaurants in Canada, the US, the UK, Mexico, and other countries. It even has over 20 restaurants in Communist China.

In our neighbor to the north, Tim Horton is a household name, but who was he? There are at least two things many people, especially youth who only know "Timmies," as a hip place to gather, do not know about Tim Horton. First, he was one of the greatest hockey players ever. Second, he was a Freemason, raised in Kroy Lodge 676 in Toronto.

Born in Cochrane, Ontario on January 12, 1930, Brother Miles Gilbert "Tim" Horton played in various levels of youth hockey as he steadily grew into a mountain of a man.  A young standout, he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1949, where he played for most of his 22 years. At the time there were only six teams in the National Hockey League. It was more popular in Canada, and there were no big million dollar salaries. His first contract paid $9,000 per season – not enough to make him rich, yet enough to provide for a comfortable living. Tim married Delores "Lori" Michalek, an Ice-Capades performer, in 1952.

Scouting reports on Horton claimed with his size and strength, he had the potential to become hockey's greatest defenseman. The reports were not wrong, as he skated his way into becoming a member of four Stanley Cup teams, an NHL all-star, and eventually a member of its Hall of Fame. In 2016, the Toronto Maple Leafs retired his #7 jersey and the following year he was named as one of the 100 greatest NHL players ever.

Horton's ability and strength became legendary in the NHL. Hockey great Bobby Orr has said Tim Horton may have been the league's strongest player ever. Tim's trademark during a fight was to wrap his arms around an opposing player in a crushing hug. Hockey writer Bob McKenzie remarked, "You didn't get out of that vice grip until Horton let you out." 

A player Horton once punched was asked in an interview what it was like to take such a hit from the hockey superman. "I'd rather he hit me," he said, "than get me in one of his bear hugs."

Horton's fairy-tale career and even his life nearly came to an end in 1955. In a game near the end of the season, Chicago defenseman Bill Gadsby slammed into him with a blow so hard it sent Tim to the ice where he sustained a concussion, broken jaw, and broken leg. Gadsby later said it was the hardest hit he ever gave anyone. Back then, a disabled hockey player did not get paid. Horton missed the remainder of the '55 season and half of the next year as well. In the interim, Constantine "Conn" Smythe, Maple Leafs owner, gave him a job as a truck driver. The job helped, but did not meet his family's financial needs. This gave Tim incentive to work hard to get back into the game.

In 1964, in order to supplement his hockey income, Tim opened the first of his coffee and doughnut shops in Hamilton Ontario. In 1967, he brought in Ron Joyce, an acquaintance who owned a local Dairy Queen, as a partner.  The chain, known simply as "Tim Hortons," was an immediate success and, together, Tim and Ron continued to expand the business.

For the next few years the restaurant chain and Tim's hockey career went well. Lori, alone at home, weary of Tim's absences and bored, developed problems with alcohol. At the end of the 1973 season, she asked Tim to retire. Tim had fallen into the trap of drinking to celebrate his victories and also to drown the sorrows of his losses. He had been traded to the Buffalo Sabres by then, and he agreed to end his career. However, George "Punch" Imlach, the Buffalo coach offered him $150,000 and a new Ford Pantera if he would play just one more year.

Brother Horton agreed. Near the end of the season, he was injured and taking prescribed painkillers so he could continue to play. After a late season game in Toronto, Tim had a few drinks with his teammates, then called Lori and said he was driving home. She could tell the combination of painkillers and alcohol had affected him and begged him to wait until the next day to drive. Tim insisted he was okay, and in the early morning hours of February 21, 1974, headed out in his new Pantera. In that car, his pride and joy, he only had two speeds: zero and greased lightning. Lori called the Ontario Provencal Police, and they set up roadblocks to stop him. He made it as far as St. Catherines, near the US border when he lost control of his car. It flipped several times and Tim was thrown from the vehicle and killed. He was 44.

After Tim's death, Lori said, "I went into a daze for about 15 years." She sold her shares in the restaurant and all rights to use Tim's name to Ron Joyce for one million dollars. Years later, after she stopped drinking, she realized the sale was a mistake and, in 1993, sued Joyce. She lost the lawsuit, which cost her most of her remaining savings. 

Tim's life was a cocktail of stellar success and tragedy. Today, his remaining children and grandchildren have no rights to the empire he built or his name; and to them it may be of little consolation that name is so well known in his country that it has become a part of the Canadian culture.


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 is 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.