Island City Visit 2

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
R.W.B. Michael H. Shirley

Worshipful Master David Imlah.


Last year I wrote about my visit to Island City Lodge No. 330, F. & A.M., in Minocqua, Wisconsin. (Click here for the first piece.) My family’s annual vacation to Lac du Flambeau in the first two weeks of June allowed me to attend their stated meeting on the first Wednesday, and the lodge breakfast the following week. I had a wonderful time, had been keeping up with lodge news through their emailed newsletter, and was quite looking forward to my return. So on June 5, after a thoroughly unhealthy breakfast at Paul Bunyan’s, my wife and kids dropped me off at the lodge at 9:30 a.m., well in time for the stated meeting at 10. 

In the time since my last visit, some things had changed. New officers occupied their stations and places, with one sadly no longer among them: Bro. Jim Sandus, who had been Junior Warden, had died in August from injuries sustained during a motorcycle accident (Crash Report).  I had learned of his accident through e-mail, and had hoped and prayed with my Brethren that he would recover, but he passed to the Grand Lodge above after nearly a month in the hospital. I hadn’t been able to go to the funeral, but I had been there in spirit. He was my Brother.

The new Worshipful Master, Dave Imlah, recognized me and greeted me warmly, and after greeting several other Brothers, I found an apron, signed the register, and sat myself in the North. 

The meeting lasted two hours, with minutes, a discussion of pending legislation for the upcoming Grand Communication, a report on the scrap metal drive (it’s a nice combination of excellent fundraiser and much-appreciated community service), the Fourth of July parade float, staffing Trig’s Brat Shack, and many other things, including the most impressive Master Mason’s catechism I’ve ever seen. There was a Bible and working tools presentation to the two newest Master Masons following the catechism. After the meeting, there was lunch, prepared by the Stewards.

 On the following Wednesday, I went to breakfast at the lodge, where Worshipful Master Imlah gave a report on the proceedings the Grand Communication he had attended over the intervening weekend. I said a few words, which were apparently well received, and several Brothers asked me afterwards to petition the lodge for plural membership. I agreed to do so, and very reluctantly took my leave. It had been a pleasant and instructive visit, and I had been reminded again, as I had the previous year, that ours is truly a universal Brotherhood, where what unites us is stronger than what divides us.

 It’s easy to get lost in the trappings Masonry, and forget what it’s really about. Wisconsin ritual is very different from Illinois ritual, which I mentioned to Worshipful Brother (and past Grand Commander of Knights Templar in Wisconsin) Bob Latzel, who was sitting next to me during the stated meeting. “Yes,” he nodded, “but it means exactly the same thing.” Indeed it does, and sometimes it takes a visit to another jurisdiction to remember that. I’m looking forward to my next visit to Island City Lodge No. 330, on Wednesday, June 4, 2014. If I’m found worthy in the meantime, I’ll be a member there in good standing. 

~MHS

R.W.B. Michael H. Shirley is the Assistant Area Deputy Grand Master for the Eastern Area for the Grand Lodge of Illinois A.F. & A.M. He is the Past Master of Tuscola Lodge No. 332 and Leadership Development Chairman for the Grand Lodge of Illinois. He's also a member of the Illinois Lodge of Research, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. He's also a member of the newly-chartered, Illini High Twelve No. 768 in Urbana-Champaign. The author of several articles on British history, he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.

Famous American Freemason: Norman Rockwell

by Midnight Freemasons contributor
Todd E. Creason

Norman Rockwell (1894 - 1978)
"Without thinking too much about it in specific terms, I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed."
—Norman Rockwell
Red Mountain Lodge No. 63, Vermont
 

It's an often used expression in America to say that a scene "looks like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting" or to say something like "as American as a Norman Rockwell painting."  The prolific painter created more than 4,000 original works in his lifetime.  While he was still in his teens he received his first commission painting four Christmas cards.  Not long after, while still in his teens, he was hired as the art director of Boys' Life Magazine, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America.

When he was twenty-two, he was commissioned to paint his first cover for the Saturday Evening Post.  It was an opportunity of a lifetime--Rockwell considered the magazine the "best show window in America."  And he was more than happy to paint 321 covers for the magazine over a nearly fifty year period.  Some of his best-known works graced the covers of the Saturday Evening Post.

In 1943, inspired by a speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rockwell painted the Four Freedoms which were reproduced on the covers of four consecturive issues of the Post along with essays in the magazine from contemporary writers of the day.  The paintings were so popular, they toured the United States, and raised more than 130 million dollars towards the war effort through the sale of war bonds. 

In 1977, Norman Rockwell received the highest civilian honor in the United States--the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  He passed away in 1978, but he will long be remembered for his remarkable contribution to art, and for that unique view he shared so generously with America through his work.

Bro. Norman Rockwell was a member of Red Mountain Lodge No. 63 F.& A.M., Arlington, Vermont.

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and continues to be a regular contributor. He is the author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is member of Homer Lodge No. 199, and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL). He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), the Ansar Shrine (IL), Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, and Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL).

St. John the Baptist Day

                  by Midnight Fremason
                       James E. Frey 32
              
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” –St. John the Baptist, Luke 1:79


     My Brethren, one of the most commonly celebrated holidays of the Masonic calendar is St. John the Baptist day. Celebrated on June 24th St. John the Baptist day fallson the Midsummer’s day which is known as summer solstice, which is often marked by festivals, fertility rituals, and celebrations. The Summer Solstice occurs when the tilt of a planet's semi-axis inclining the southern hemisphere23° 26' toward the sun it orbits. This happens twice each year, at which times the sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the north or the South Pole. This is the day that has the longest period of daylightTo understand the importance of this holiday it’s important to trace its origins in primitive man.

     About 40,000 years ago Homosapien first arose out of the primate family and had a very distinct difference from Homoerectus and Neanderthal, the ability to think abstractly. In ancient times man’s survival was dependent upon primal urges, so if the wind blew their thoughts were to find shelter. These nomadic peoples engaged in daily hunting and gathering for self-preservation and were dependent on nature. In this primitive state, man held nature to be the greatest of the mysteries. These new abstract thoughts began to arise to understand why the wind blew, or what the sun and thestars might be, instead of just the instincts related to the elements.

     Primitive people tried to explain mysteries in terms of their day-to-day lives, which allowed them to perceive the rising and setting of the sun as the greatest manifestation of nature. Its presence during the day warmed and comforted them at night, provided their crops with energy to grow, and kept away the wild beasts. The sun made their dailylives possible by acting as a guardian over themSo Sun worship was natural for men just struggling to understandand recognize basic understandings of the world. As different cultures arose elaborate mythologies were created to give meaning to the stars and planets as well as natural phenomenon.

     The central question to understanding the sun was not is daily journey east to west but it’s slow travel from north to south and back again through the seasons. Sthe summer solstice became a festival of harvest and a celebration of new life. In as the same respect the winter solstice was significant of the end of the slow decline of the sun, the symbolic death that gave new life. The Greeks celebrated the story of Ceres and her search for her daughter Proserpine as a metaphor for fertility and grown in the Eleusinian. The Egyptians held the allegory of Isis, Osiris and Horus in this same regard to celebrate the birth, death, and resurrection of the sunIn the Roman Empireespecially among the soldiers the Rites of Mithras explained the solar mystery.  

     When Rome became predominantly Christian, the oldRoman feasts and festival days were turned from pagan festivals to Christian holidays dedicated to Christ or theSaints. So even today western culture retains its solarcustoms, but the origin of which is lost to most of us. The solstice dates once devoted to Apollo and Dionysus were now dedicated to the Saints John.

     It was a common custom in the Middle Ages for the workmen guilds to place themselves under the protection of some saint of the church who represented their trades. Sothe fishermen would adopt St. Peter, the builders would adopt St. Thomas, and the mason guilds adopted the two Saints John. The Masonic guilds adopted the Saints John as early as 1450 in Scotland which dedicated with lodges to the Saints, creating Saints John Masonry.  

      "There is no historical evidence that either of the two Saints of the church were ever members of the Craft. But they were adopted as its patron Saints, after the manner of former times a good manner it is, too- and they have remained so in Christian lands. Lodges are dedicated to them, instead of to King Solomon, as formerly.” -Bro. Joseph Fort Newton
      St. John the Baptist is held as a major religious figure in the Canonical gospels, the Qur’an, the Bahai faith, and Mandaeism. It is believed that John was strongly influenced by the Essenes who were an apocalyptic sect who often preformed Baptisms. He is prophesied about in the Old Testament in Malachi 3:1 "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts."

     John is known as the one who first recognizes Jesus as the Messiah and then baptizes him in the river Jordan. John humbly requests to be baptized by Christ who in turn convinced John to bestow this favor upon him. Jesus refers to John as "a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light" (John 5:35)

     John dies a martyr by denouncing publicly King Herod’s marriage to his niece Herodias, which is incest and in violation to Old Testament Law.  Herodias convinces her daughter Herod’s grand niece to dance before Herod and seduce him if he brings her the Baptist’s head on a golden plate. Herod places John in a dungeon and gives him a chance to denounce his former teachings embrace the Roman Empire and claim Herod’s rule as legitimate. John refuses three times and is beheaded and his head served on a golden Plate to Herodias.

     Josephus writes of a different reasoning in the 18thbook of his Jewish Antiquities chapter 5 about John “who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away of some sins but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now when others came in crowds about him, for they were very greatly moved by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion” This gives us a view of John as a revolutionary speaking out against Herod’s right too rule as well as the Roman government which was quite common at the time Josephus also states that the Jews believed that the destruction of Herod’s army was caused by God for this murder. 

     As speculative masons we see a clear similarity between St. John the Baptist and Hiram Abiff. Both man are celebrated in the fraternity as martyrs who died in order to preserve their integrity. The Grand Lodge of England adopted the holidays as landmarks for the craft in 1717. AsFreemasons we should hold these holidays to preserve a connection with the early men of antiquity. This is a direct relation to the earliest of abstract thoughts to understand God and the world around us. As time passed and man’s perception of the world changes so did these sacred days, to adopt the tenants of man’s progress but also to preserve the earliest understanding of light and life.

~JEF

James E Frey, 32° is a Past Sovereign Prince and current librarian of Valley of Danville AASR. Founder of the R.E.B.I.S Research Society he sits on two Blue Lodge Education committees as well as a guest lecturer on Occultism and Esoteric studies in masonry. He is also a Member of the Oak Lawn York Rite, Medinah Shriners, and Golden Dawn Collegium Spiritu Sancti. He also works as a counselor with emotionally and behaviorally challenged children. 

The Golden Verses of Pythagoras

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. James E. Frey 32°



     To understand the teachings of Pythagoras it is necessary to understand his sense of morality. Pythagorean morality contained in what is referred to as the “Golden Verses”. These verses contain the moral expectations of a philosopher or any reasonable person to live by. The verses are of unknown in origin but are said to be as old as the third century BC. During this period Neo-Platonist Iamblichus is said to have gathered thirty-nine of the symbolic sayings of Pythagoras and interpreted them. Over the Years the Golden Verses have gained in number totaling 71 verses. 


Thomas Taylor translated these verses from Greek and it should be understood that these verses were an aphorism. Aphorism was a preferred method of education used in the Pythagorean university of Crotona. Each aphorism contains concealed meanings, which were purposely hidden by the Master to be revealed later at each stage of initiation. 

These Golden Verses were ascribed to Pythagoras himself, but it is doubtful he is the author of all 71 verses as it was most likely verses were added over the years. The Golden Verses contain the hidden wisdom of the entire system of philosophy. These hidden meanings form the foundation of the moral doctrines of the Italic School. These verses instruct the earnest student to love God, respect the great heroes, and respect the spirits and elemental inhabitants. They then urge man to value the virtues of the mind and soul to that of materialism. The verses also assure that man has the ability to rise above his lower material nature and be acceptable in the sight of the gods, be reunited with their immortality.
Pythagoras ‘Hymn to the Rising Sun’


The Golden Verses

1. First worship the Immortal Gods, as they are established and ordained by the Law.
2. Reverence the Oath, and next the Heroes, full of goodness and light.
3. Honour likewise the Terrestrial Dæmons by rendering them the worship lawfully due to them.
4. Honour likewise thy parents, and those most nearly related to thee.
5. Of all the rest of mankind, make him thy friend who distinguishes himself by his virtue.
6. Always give ear to his mild exhortations, and take example from his virtuous and useful actions.
7. Avoid as much as possible hating thy friend for a slight fault.
8. [And understand that] power is a near neighbour to necessity.
9. Know that all these things are as I have told thee; and accustom thyself to overcome and vanquish     these passions:--
10. First gluttony, sloth, sensuality, and anger.
11. Do nothing evil, neither in the presence of others, nor privately;
12. But above all things respect thyself.
13. In the next place, observe justice in thy actions and in thy words.
14. And accustom not thyself to behave thyself in any thing without rule, and without reason.
15. But always make this reflection, that it is ordained by destiny that all men shall die.
16. And that the goods of fortune are uncertain; and that as they may be acquired, so may they likewise be lost.
17. Concerning all the calamities that men suffer by divine fortune,
18. Support with patience thy lot, be it what it may, and never repine at it.
19. But endeavour what thou canst to remedy it.
20. And consider that fate does not send the greatest portion of these misfortunes to good men.
21. There are among men many sorts of reasoning's, good and bad;
22. Admire them not too easily, nor reject them.
23. But if falsehoods be advanced, hear them with mildness, and arm thyself with patience.
24. Observe well, on every occasion, what I am going to tell thee:--
25. Let no man either by his words, or by his deeds, ever seduce thee.
26. Nor entice thee to say or to do what is not profitable for thyself.
27. Consult and deliberate before thou act, that thou mayest not commit foolish actions.
28. For it is the part of a miserable man to speak and to act without reflection.
29. But do that which will not afflict thee afterwards, nor oblige thee to repentance.
30. Never do anything which thou dost not understand.
31. But learn all thou ought'st to know, and by that means thou wilt lead a very pleasant life.
32. in no wise neglect the health of thy body;
33. But give it drink and meat in due measure, and also the exercise of which it has need.
34. Now by measure I mean what will not incommode thee.
35. Accustom thyself to a way of living that is neat and decent without luxury.
36. Avoid all things that will occasion envy.
37. And be not prodigal out of season, like one who knows not what is decent and honourable.
38. Neither be covetous nor niggardly; a due measure is excellent in these things.
39. Do only the things that cannot hurt thee, and deliberate before thou dost them.
40. Never suffer sleep to close thy eyelids, after thy going to bed,
41. Till thou hast examined by thy reason all thy actions of the day.
42. Wherein have I done amiss? What have I done? What have I omitted that I ought to have done?
43. If in this examination thou find that thou hast done amiss, reprimand thyself severely for it;
44. And if thou hast done any good, rejoice.
45. Practise thoroughly all these things; meditate on them well; thou oughtest to love them with all thy heart.
46. 'Tis they that will put thee in the way of divine virtue.
47. I swear it by him who has transmitted into our souls the Sacred Quaternion, the source of nature, whose cause is eternal.
48. But never begin to set thy hand to any work, till thou hast first prayed the gods to accomplish what thou art going to begin.
49. When thou hast made this habit familiar to thee,
50. Thou wilt know the constitution of the Immortal Gods and of men.
51. Even how far the different beings extend, and what contains and binds them together.
52. Thou shalt likewise know that according to Law, the nature of this universe is in all things alike,
53. So that thou shalt not hope what thou ought'st not to hope; and nothing in this world shall be hid from thee.
54. Thou wilt likewise know, that men draw upon themselves their own misfortunes voluntarily, and of their own free choice.
55. Unhappy that they are! They neither see nor understand that their good is near them.
56. Few know how to deliver themselves out of their misfortunes.
57. Such is the fate that blinds mankind, and takes away his senses.
58. Like huge cylinders they roll to and fro, and always oppressed with ills innumerable.
59. For fatal strife, innate, pursues them everywhere, tossing them up and down; nor do they perceive it.
60. Instead of provoking and stirring it up, they ought, by yielding, to avoid it.
61. Oh! Jupiter, our Father! if Thou would'st deliver men from all the evils that oppress them,
62. Show them of what dæmon they make use.
63. But take courage; the race of man is divine.
64. Sacred nature reveals to them the most hidden mysteries.
65. If she impart to thee her secrets, thou wilt easily perform all the things which I have ordained thee.
66. And by the healing of thy soul, thou wilt deliver it from all evils, from all afflictions.
67. But abstain thou from the meats, which we have forbidden in the purifications and in the deliverance of the soul;
68. Make a just distinction of them, and examine all things well.
69. Leaving thyself always to be guided and directed by the understanding that comes from above, and that ought to hold the reins.
70. And when, after having divested thyself of thy mortal body, thou arrivest at the most pure Æther,
71. Thou shalt be a God, immortal, incorruptible, and Death shall have no more dominion over thee.
~JEF

James E Frey, 32° is a Past Sovereign Prince and current librarian of Valley of Danville AASR. Founder of the R.E.B.I.S Research Society he sits on two Blue Lodge Education committees as well as a guest lecturer on Occultism and Esoteric studies in masonry. He is also a Member of the Oak Lawn York Rite, Medinah Shriners, and Golden Dawn Collegium Spiritu Sancti. He also works as a counselor with emotionally and behaviorally challenged children. 

Donald Bauermeister A famous Freemason you've (probably) never heard of

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, PM, FMLR

The members of Beech Grove Lodge #690 surround President Harry Truman after the ceremony raising Donald Bauermeister, far left.  Photo courtesy MWB Dwight L. Smith family.
    

      One evening in 1948, the President of the United States evaded the press, his entourage and some of his secret service agents to sneak off and attend a Master Mason Degree.  The story has all the stuff of an urban legend, but it really happened.  The events of that evening have been related many times, most notably in Allen Robert's book Brother Truman.  You've probably heard about it, but in case you haven't, this, in a nutshell, is what happened:

     A US Navy sailor assigned to Harry Truman's Presidential yacht, Williamsburg, knowing about Brother Truman's interest in Freemasonry, told the President he would soon be receiving his Third Degree.  In the conversation that followed, Truman realized his upcoming "Whistle Stop" campaign tour would take him through Indianapolis, near Beech Grove Lodge #694 where the event would take place.  Since President Truman and his employee shared an interest in history, Truman had come to know the young man well.  So he told him if they could coordinate things, he would attend.  The young man's Lodge made every effort to ensure the event would happen when the President's campaign was in town.  



     On the day of the event, President Truman's train stopped in Noblesville, Indiana.  The young man joined the President there and they rode the 20 remaining miles to Indianapolis together.  That evening Brother Harry slipped out the back of his train car and went to the Lodge.  There, he was given an honorary seat in the East, raised the young man and made some poignant remarks about the Bible and the fraternity.  President Truman undoubtedly met every man in attendance that evening as they all shared an iconic moment of Masonic Brotherhood.

     As many times as this story has been told, little has been said about the man Truman raised that evening.  Who was he?  What became of him? Did he become a "true and faithful Brother among us," as we pray in the first degree?  Did he and Truman remain friends?

     The young man was Donald Earl Bauermeister, born August 24, 1927.  He was 21 years old at the time of his raising, just barely old enough to join the fraternity.  He had recently enlisted in the Navy and served as a Hospitalman Third Class on the Williamsburg.  In fact, he spent his 21st birthday there, with the President aboard.  Three days prior he had assisted in a crew member's emergency appendectomy, an event that no doubt drew Truman's attention.

Brother Donald Bauermeister prepares to dive from a platform on the Presidential yacht, Williamsburg as President Truman (3rd from right on deck) watches.  Photo courtesy Truman Library, Independence, MO.
    

      After his Naval service, Brother Don enrolled at the Indiana University extension in Indianapolis and ultimately entered the dental school there.  In 1950, he met his future wife, Lois and that May, when they decided to marry, he wrote the President to inform him of his wedding plans and also updated Truman on his schoolwork.  Finally he asked the President if he would take time to meet his parents when they were in Washington the following month. Truman wrote back saying he would meet with Don’s parents.  He concluded his letter, “I waited ten years too long before I assumed the responsibility [of matrimony]... It pleases me when one of the young men with whom I have been associated buckles down to work and makes good.”  Truman sent the young couple a silver tray as a wedding gift.

     Over the years, Brother Don made a few requests of the President, who never turned him down. On one occasion, Don and his wife Lois went to Washington and attempted to phone Truman, but he was unavailable.  It is the only documented occasion when Don tried unsuccessfully to make contact with Truman, while he was in the same town.  It’s understandable; the man was merely the leader of the free world.  Some months later, however, the tables were turned.  Truman visited Indianapolis. Once there, he went to his friend’s house only to find he was out of town.

     In 1951, Don traveled to Washington, DC.  While there he went to the White House unannounced and asked to see the President.  Matthew J. Connelly, who was Truman's personal secretary, said Truman was too busy to break away.  Brother Bauermeister urged Connelly to contact the President anyway, which Connelly reluctantly did.  The Korean War was raging, the Middle East was in turmoil and the President had a crammed schedule.  He literally had the weight of the world on his shoulders; yet, he made time to see his young friend.

     The pair exchanged letters, gifts, Christmas and birthday greetings.  Bauermeister sought out Truman’s advice on several occasions.  Truman counseled him on subjects including Masonry, schooling and a career choice.  On the President's 65th birthday, Don sent him a fifth of Old Granddad.  One would assume Brother Harry enjoyed that more than the accompanying card and the not-so-subtle reference to the President's increasing age.

     In 1956, Don and Lois traveled to Independence to visit the retired President in his office at the Truman Library.  It was the last time they saw each other in person.

     Don and Lois settled down on the south side of Indianapolis, not far from the Lodge where Brother Truman had raised him.  After graduating from the Indiana University School of Dentistry, Don established a practice and went on to become a respected Indianapolis dentist.  He never held a Masonic office, but remained a member of Beech Grove Lodge #694 for the remainder of his life.  On August 5, 1994 Brother Don succumbed to the effects of years of smoking at the age of 66.

     


Many men have formed friendships bonded in Masonry.  This one is certainly one of the most unique.  It was a friendship between two very different men.  One was a successful and special man, but of no remarkable status.  The other was a man of destiny, the leader of the free world.  In part, the fact they shared a friendship says something not only about the country, but also the time they lived.  In today’s world of sound bytes and handlers, it might not even be possible.   Truman easily could have declined the invitation to attend Donald's raising; but he didn't and both men's lives were richer for it.

Brother Bauermeister’s memorial, located in Washington Park Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana
~SLH

Steve Harrison, 32° KCCH, is a Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri.  He is the editor of the Missouri Freemasonmagazine, author of the book Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research and also its Senior Warden.  He is a dual member of Kearney Lodge #311, St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite, Moila Shrine and is a member of the DeMolay Legion of Honor.

The Ninth Contributor!


by Midnight Freemason Contributor 
Bro. Robert Johnson 32°       

      Facebook is a crazy thing. About three or four years ago, I noticed this guy who always posted funny responses to whatever my wife had to say on Facebook. I mean hilarious stuff. So I finally asked my wife, “Who is this guy, Brian Schimian?”. She let me know he was actually a friend of her friend. 

My wife is a 911 dispatcher, and so she knows a ton of officers in the police departments and in the fire departments. Turns out this comedian, was in fact a fireman.  Needless to say, I friend requested the guy just to read his rants and funny comments. Thats all I had any interest in to be honest. 

Not a week goes by and I find out this guy was a Brother! “How funny!” I thought to myself. My wife had a good laugh, I believe she said something to the effect that Masons tend to find one another, and in this case it was true. So Bro. Brian and I became typical Facebook buddies, ranting and joking all the time. 

One day he posts that he needed to get rid of his brewing equipment and I laughed again. “One more thing we had in common” I said, but alas he was getting rid of his stuff. So I made a decent offer and he wouldn't take it. He said “That’s too much to charge a Brother.”. The next morning I met him at his home, packed my car with brewing supplies and equipment and went home to make some beer. 

We corresponded often, I even made a few custom antiqued clocks with the Square and Compasses on them leafed in gold, of which he bought two. He gave one to his dad, Worshipful Brother Butch Schimian and he kept one. 

A year later, Bro. Brian’s dad got sick and passed. It was a crazy and rough ride for him, as it would be for any of us who lost someone important. However one of the great things that came out of Brother Brian after his dads passing was that a dormant skill of writing awoke. 

Today, I am announcing that Brother Brian Schimian joins The Midnight Freemasons as it’s ninth regular contributor. Brian, as a friend, and a Brother I say thank you for accepting the invitation to write for us.

~RHJ

Pythagorean Views of Existence

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
James E. Frey 32°



Pythagoras taught lessons of morality through metaphors, he is said to have taught that mortals who during their earthly life had acted immorally had tendencies that were similar to certain animals.

Their punishment in the next life would be to return to earth in the form of the beasts they had grown to resemble. So a dishonest person would return in the form of a rat; an ignorant person in the form of a jackass and so on. 

Though it is believed that Pythagoras gave this as an allegory to show metaphorically how human beings become beast like through desire and selfish tendencies. Pythagoras termed this transmigration but it is more commonly referred to as reincarnation, which is a concept that he learned in India.

“He was an important champion of what used to be called the doctrine of metempsychosis, understood as the soul’s transmigration into successive bodies. He himself had been (a) Aethalides, a son of Mercury; (b) Euphorbus, son of Panthus, who perished at the hands of Menelaus in the Trojan war; (c) Hermotimus, a prophet of Clazomenae, a city of Ionia; (d) a humble fisherman; and finally (e) the philosopher of Samos.” (Eliphas Levi, History of Magic, 1913)

Pythagoras taught an allegory of creation where God made each perfect form spiritual seal which left its impression upon the wax of physical form. Each seal was a stamp of dignity to its divine pattern.  So he thought that man must claim his destiny by achieving a state where the lower nature of the material self would be discarded in a body of spiritualized ether. This subjection of the physical form would be in unity with the spiritual form of the Antichthon, or the eighth sphere. From this man would ascend into the realm of the immortals, or the astral realm refered to as Yesod in Kabbalistic teachings. 


Pythagoras taught that everything in nature was triangular in nature so the wise man should view every problem as being in three parts. Pythagoras said, “Establish the triangle and the problem is two-thirds solved… All things consist of three.” Pythagoras also divided the universe into three parts, which he called the Supreme World, the Superior World, and the Inferior World.

The highest Supreme World exists as a spiritual essence, which contains all existence and manifests its presence into the lower planes of creation. In this world existed the Supreme Deity Monad which is omnipresent, omniactive, omnipotent, and omniscient. This world is based upon the rules of the infinite and transcends space and time.

The Superior World can be best understood in a Neo-Platonic sense as the space where the perfect Platonic forms exist. In a psychological sense the Supreme World can be viewed as Carl Jung’s “collected unconscious” the dwelling place of the archetypes, or in a Pythagorean sense the seals, which exist as casting their shadows upon the Inferior World, or material existence. This is the realm of the mind which the conscious mind interprets the spirit through the unconscious. This world is bound by space and time, but often as we daydream the conscious mind withdraws from the material world and time ceases except for that aspect of ourselves bound in the Inferior World.

The Inferior World is the natural realm based upon the finite existence of material substance. Pythagoras thought that this world is based upon the existence of the mortal gods or the Demiurgi. The Demiurgi are the angels who labor with men but also the demons who work against mankind; and finally mankind, animals, and plants. Pythagoras thought that man existed temporarily of the earth but was capable of rising above that sphere by reason and philosophy. The three worlds were viewed as receptacles to virtues from Monad as they manifested in the lower realms. The first was the receptacle of principles, the second was the receptacle of intelligences, and the third, or lowest, was the receptacle of quantities. It was through mastering these virtues that man could transcend his finite self.

The dot in Pythagorean teachings is related to the Point within the circle to Masons. The dot itself is the point where all possibility can steam. This symbolized the number 1 that related to the infinite power of the One to manifest and emanate the lower worlds. The digits 1 and 2 are not considered numbers by the Pythagoreans, because they typify the two supermundane spheres. The Pythagorean numbers, therefore, begin with 3, the triangle, and 4, the square. These added to the 1 and the 2, produce the 10, the great number of all things, or the archetype of the universe. 10 is held as a sacred number or completion in a variety of systems and teachings. 

“The Decad, number Ten, or Panteleia, which meant "All complete" or fully accomplished," is the grand summit of numbers, which once reached cannot be passed; to increase the sum we must retrograde to the Monad. The Pythagoreans were entranced with its virtues and called it Deity, Heaven, Eternity and the Sun. being the recipient or receptacle of all numbers was called Decad, from dechomai = to receive, and hence Heaven, which was ordained to receive all men. Like the Deity it is a Circle, with visible centre, but its circumference too vast for sight.

It is the sum of the units of the number four as previously mentioned, a holy and Deistic number, thus 4 + 3 + 2 + 1 are 10, and thus ten gains splendour from its parentage. Also spoken of as "Eternity," which is infinite life, because it contains every number in itself, and number is infinite. It is also called Kosmos, that is the "Universe." Proclus says: The decad is mundane also, it is the world which receives the images of all the divine numbers, which are supernaturally imparted to it.” (W. Wynn Westcott, Numbers, Their Occult Power and Mystic Virtues, 1911) 

To the five symmetrical solids of the ancients is added the sphere (1), the most perfect of all created forms. The five Pythagorean solids are: the tetrahedron (2) with four equilateral triangles as faces; the cube (3) with six squares as faces; the octahedron (4) with eight equilateral triangles as faces; the icosahedron (5) with twenty equilateral triangles as faces; and the dodecahedron (6) with twelve regular pentagons as faces.

“The symmetrical solids were regarded by Pythagoras, and by the Greek thinkers after him, as of the greatest importance. To be perfectly symmetrical or regular, a solid must have an equal number of faces meeting at each of its angles, and these faces must be equal regular polygons, i. e., figures whose sides and angles are all equal. Pythagoras, perhaps, may be credited with the great discovery that there are only five such solids.” (H. Stanley Redgrove, in Bygone Beliefs.)

To understand the Pythagorean view of the material world we must understand the Greek’s view of the world as composed of four elements, earth, water, air, fire, and bound together by ether, or spirit. All life and material were composed of these initial elements. The shapes of the particles of the elements were those of the regular solids. Earth particles were cubical in shape, because like earth, the cube possessed of greatest stability and endurance. The fire particles were tetrahedral in nature, because the tetrahedron was the simplest design so it contained less density making it the lightest solid. Water particles were icosahedral in nature because it was a complex design making it denser then fire. Air particles act as intermediate between the water and fire so were deemed were octahedral. The most mysterious of the solids was dodecahedron. The dodecahedron was the most difficult to construct and an accurate drawing of the regular pentagon required a rather elaborate application of the Pythagorean theorem. So it is seen to represent the element spirit, or the manifestation of the Deity in tracing board of the Universe. 

The spirit element was also held to be the correspondent between the elementals and to the symmetrical solids. Pythagoras found a more elaborate understanding of the ether element most likely by the Hindus, which refer to it as Akasa. Ether is the inner substance which infuses all of the other elements and acting as a common solvent common denominator and connector of them all.

It is legend that Pythagoras possessed hypnotic power not only over man but also over animals. It is said his mental powers would cause a bird to change the course of its flight, a bear to cease its ravages upon a community, and a bull to change its diet. He was also gifted with second sight, being able to see things at a distance and accurately describe incidents that had not yet come to pass. There is a legend where with his disciples drinking water from a spring and Pythagoras predicted an earthquake which was fulfilled and devastated the local communities. Pythagoras with his higher students practiced divination to predict future events. This divination was most likely a form of arithmomancy or hydromancy that he learned from the Egyptians. 

Hydromancy is the divination through the observations of ripples in a bowl of water in a trance like state. It is likely that Pythagoras used a brass bowl; he believed that brass had psychic powers because of how rates of vibration were found in the metal. Pythagoras observed that even when everything was perfectly still and calm there was always a sound of vibration in his brass bowl. It is said that during a hydromancy session he addressed a prayer to the spirit of a river and out of the water arose a voice, which granted him the ability to cause demons to enter into the water and disturb its surface, and by means of the interpretations of the ripples certain things were predicted.

~JEF

James E Frey, 32° is a Past Sovereign Prince and current librarian of Valley of Danville AASR. Founder of the R.E.B.I.S Research Society he sits on two Blue Lodge Education committees as well as a guest lecturer on Occultism and Esoteric studies in masonry. He is also a Member of the Oak Lawn York Rite, Medinah Shriners, and Golden Dawn Collegium Spiritu Sancti. He also works as a counselor with emotionally and behaviorally challenged children.

The Shadows Of Great Men


by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Brian Schimian

“I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider
the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” ~ George Washington



     In the journey of becoming a Master Mason, one is Initiated, Passed and Raised along their path of Enlightenment. But what about the time one spends going on during their life before they decide to fill out a petition to join a Masonic Lodge? It would be wrong to say one simply fumbled around in the dark before seeking the light. After all, if you are fumbling around in the dark, and a you see a beacon of light, you would be automatically drawn to it. Thus all men would seek to be better men by petitioning the Craft. But this does not happen.

     Perhaps a better analogy would be that, before seeking enlightenment one is shrouded by the shadows of other men. Those that are blessed by the shadow of Great Men can be considered to be, in a way, protected, watching, following and learning from their words and actions until one day, the student takes the steps to become a Master. But even then, once a seat of equal stature is attained, do we really ever leave the shadows of these great men?

     Undoubtedly, the quest for one to blaze his own trail and leave his own mark on the 
world is felt by most, if not all as we grow. But at what point do we cease to live in the
shadows of other men and begin to venture truly into the light on our own, thereby
casting our own shadow for others to seek refuge in until they are ready to go on about
their own search for enlightenment? Are we truly ever on our own, fully in the light? Or
do we tend to remain shadowed, ever so slightly by those great men that have come
before us, and the men before them?

     Even after great men are called by the Supreme Architect of the Universe, can we not
still learn from their teachings? Are we not still molded and in some ways continue to be
etched by their imparted teachings? And what of the pain when these great men pass
on? Shouldn’t we be happy for them, that they are not suffering worldly pains? Is the pain of
our grief from the sadness of a loss or is it because we subconsciously fear being on
our own in the light without that shroud of protection and guidance or sense of a
foundation?

     Personally, I do weep for those Great Men that I have lost in my life. Not because I
selfishly want them suffering here in life, more so because they will not be here to share
in the evolution of my enlightenment, or the experience of those whom may step out from my
shadow one day. And, I feel I still had so much more to learn from them. I certainly can
and will continue to use their examples as a compass throughout my life, as well as that
of those great men that have come and passed before my time in this world. 

     I do not know of any words that can adequately express the love, respect or thanks I owe to the memory of the Great Men I have lost in my life. But perhaps by carrying on their teachings, by passing down what I have learned, I can honor their memory and in 
some ways, they aren’t really gone. Maybe a bit of their shadow can be passed on to others through me.




“Virtus Junxit - Mors Non Separabit" ~ Whom virtue has united, death shall not
separate.

So Mote It Be.

~BJS

Bro. Brian Schimian is Life of  Member A.O. Fay #676 in Highland Park Illinois and the Medinah Shriners - Lake County Shrine Club. He was also the Past Master Counselor of DeMolay - Lakes Chapter  in 1995. Bro. Brian is also the lead contributor to Brothers In Arms blog,  a pro 2nd Amendment blog page. "A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way."

Dad's Masonic Ring Part 2

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro Brian Schimian

     Years later, I would be Initiated, Passed and Raised in Freemasonry and became a life member of my Blue Lodge.  Shortly afterwards I remember being given my first Masonic Ring by my father.  Not a particularly fancy get up.  Just a simple gold ring with a black center piece and an inlay of the Square & Compasses with a blue background behind the G.  I still have this ring and it too sits on a shelf in my office.  The thing I liked the most about this ring was the fact that it didn’t particularly stand out as “flashy.”  It was nice & simple.  If you knew what you were looking at, you just knew.

     Fast forward a few decades and my father loads up my truck full of “stuff” prior to his departure for Florida prior to the pending inescapable Chicago winter.  One of the items he loaded into my SUV was his briefcase that he used for his Lodge activities.  I remember the one he had prior, but it had worn out long ago, although both had the same plastic vehicle emblem for the Shriners.  He asked that I not bother with the contents until such a time as I “saw fit.”  When I returned home, I unloaded the truck and placed the briefcase in the corner of my basement without a second thought.

     Fast forward again and my father passes away in Florida.  After a whirlwind to and from trip to take care of him in his final hours, I was exhausted after being up for more than 2 days straight.  As I arrived home, something drew me to the basement, the exact opposite direction of my bed!  Whatever the reason, I found myself carrying my father briefcase up the the kitchen and placing it on the island.  It took me some time to get up the nerve to release the latches holding the case closed, but once I did, it exploded open!

     I started combing thru the contents of this pseudo time capsule only to settle on a small wooden box.  I had never seen this box before and I was almost afraid to open it.  Given the context of the rest of the items on the inside, it was either masonic or evidence form a crime scene from his Police Department days in nature.  I finally got up the nerve to slide the top of the wooden case open and was completely shocked by what I saw inside.  There were a few “orbs” of different sizes that, when worn on a chain, can be rolled out to form a cross with Masonic symbols etched into the sides, a few Grand Lodge Challenge Coins and my Dad’s Masonic Ring.

     Suddenly the ring was more beautiful than I had ever remembered.  The ring is made of 10K gold.  On one side there is a Trowel and on the other is a Plumb.  There is a  “Column” of diamonds on either side.  In the center is a silver “G” under a Square & Compasses which holds a solitary diamond in its center, all of which sits on the etched gold outline of a Maltese Cross.

     I may never know my father’s exact reasoning behind his chosen words when I would try to put his ring on my hand when I was just a little tyke, but I just hope I can wear his ring now with the same convictions, morals and principles as he did.  I don’t think I will ever feel as though I deserve to, but I am willing to give it one heck of a try, that is for sure.

     Looking at this ring now, as it sits on my finger, it looks a bit different than I remember from years ago.  What I wouldn’t give to see the reflection glinting off this ring from my father’s hand again.

~BJS

Bro. Brian Schimian is Life Member A.O. Fay #676 in Highland Park Illinois and the Medinah Shriners - Lake County Shrine Club. He was also the Past Master Counselor of DeMolay - Lakes Chapter  in 1995. Bro. Brian is also the lead contributor to Brothers In Arms blog,  a pro 2nd Amendment blog page. "A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way."