The Camp - Part Three - The Heptagon and the Pentagon

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Robert Johnson 32°

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 4

Well, it has been a week and a half since I last wrote about The Camp; the AASR's (Ancient part one of this series I introduced you to the symbol, and in part two, we explored the outer shape, the nonagon. In part three we will explore the next level in, the heptagon and the pentagon.
Accepted Scottish Rite's) most intricate and recognizable symbol. In

Lets dive in shall we? So first of all what is a heptagon? Well, in geometry it is in fact a shape which has seven sides. According to many research books, including "A Bridge to Light", the heptagon has no "camps" or degrees associated with it. In my opinion, it is simply there to complete the symbol and remind us perhaps of the seven liberal arts and sciences. If you are unfamiliar with these arts and sciences, whether because you are not yet a Freemason, perhaps you can't remember or you just plain old never got that part of the lecture, lets just lay it out. 

The seven liberal arts and sciences are split into two groups; the Trivium and the Quadrivium. The Trivium consists of the arts: Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic. Mastering these is an art in itself and enables one to present, teach as well as debate. The Quadrivium consists of the sciences: Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy. As a side note I think it is important to understand that the sciences are all connected. Consider the following; Arithmetic is numbers, Geometry is numbers in space, Music is numbers in time and Astronomy is numbers in space and time. This is kind of a neat way to think of it right? Therefor the heptagon, represents these sciences and gives the number seven its place in this great symbol known as The Camp.

The next shape in our journey to the center of The Camp is the pentagon. Already, you may be thinking about this symbol, perhaps in a negative way, especially if you are not yet a Freemason. Contrary to popular culture and the misguided conspiracy kooks the pentagon is not a satanic symbol. Within The Camp, the pentagon as a shape, has five sides. Each side of the pentagon also has something "camped" on it. Here is a quick reference list of these camps, symbols, degrees and letters associated therein;

  • Side one - represents the 19th and 20th degrees which are known as the Grand Pontiffs and Masters of the Symbolic lodge. Its letter is "U" and i's banner depicts the Ark of the Covenant.
  • Side two - represents the 21st an 22nd degrees known as Prussian Knights and Knights Royal Axe. Its letter is "G" and its banner displays an Ox or a Bull.
  • Side three - represents the 23rd, 24th and 25th degrees. These degrees are called Chiefs of the Tabernacle, Princes of the Tabernacle and Knights of the Brazen Serpent. Its letter is "N" and its banner depicts an Eagle with a Sword and a Bloody Heart.
  • Side four - represents the 26th, 27th and 28th degrees. These are known by the names; Princes of Mercy, Knights of the Sun and Commanders of the Temple. Its letter is "E" and its banner depicts a Flaming and Winged Heart.
  • Side five - represents the 29th and 30th degrees which are know as Knights of St. Andrew and Knights Kadosh. It's letter is "T" and it's banner is depicted with the symbol of a Lion with a Key in his mouth.
So as you can see, the degrees represented in the pentagon range from the 19th through the 30th, all of which fall under the group within the AASR known as the Knights of Kadosh (in the USA and in most cases). I hope you have enjoyed this look into these areas of the AASR symbol. Join us next time as we look at the final areas; the Triangle, the Circle and the St. Andrews Cross!


Bro. Robert Johnson, 32° is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the First North-East District of Illinois. He belongs to Waukegan Lodge No. 78. He is also a member of the York Rite bodies Royal Arch, Cryptic Council, Knights Templar, AMD, The Illinois Lodge of Research and a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago as well as a charter member of the Society of King Solomon, a charity organization run by the Grand Lodge of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts a weekly Podcast (internet radio program) Whence Came You? which focuses on topics relating to Freemasonry. In addition, he produces video shorts focusing on driving interest in the Fraternity and writes original Masonic papers from time to time. He is a husband and father of three. He works full time in the safety industry and is also a photographer on the side as well as an avid home brewer. He is currently working on a book of Masonic essays.

The Skyscraper

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

Twenty-two stories tall, it towered 302
feet over the Chicago skyline. From the observation tower at the top, people claimed they could see Council Bluffs, on the western border of Iowa.  Not only was the Chicago Masonic Temple officially the world's tallest building when built in 1892, but it was also one of the worlds most elegant.  

The impressive Lodge room sat on the top floor, along with meeting rooms which also served as theaters for public performances.  With its first 9 floors dedicated to shopping the impressive structure had something for everyone and attracted people from Chicago as well as tourists from around the world.  The building was so tall people could see it from almost any location in Chicago and, in fact, it was so dominant a feature on the Chicago skyline, it brought the word "skyscraper" into popular use.

The building's designers, Burnham and Root, intended for the structure located at the intersection of Randolph and State streets to last a century.  At its opening it quickly became the social center of the windy city, with people rushing to see the shops, view the world from the observation tower and attend dances and shows in the rooms at the top.

Unfortunately it was the grand building's popularity that led to its demise.  The logistics of tall buildings were not understood in the late 19th century.  The building's elevators were inadequate for the throngs of crowds moving to and from the top floors, and soon the building fell out of favor as a social venue due to the long and frustrating wait to get to the top for events and to get back down afterward.

Then, in 1939, Chicago began building the State Street subway, which ran underneath the building.  The construction would have required an expensive retrofitting of the building’s foundation.  Given that, and the fact that the social set had long since gone elsewhere, the great Chicago Masonic Temple, built to last a century, came down after only 47 years.

Masonic Temple Post Card.jpg — The front of a post card from Cord Harrison, the author's grandfather, sent January 8, 1909, describing the building as being cold.  Perhaps lack of adequate heating in the structure was also one of its problems.


Steve Harrison, 33° KCCH, is a Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is the editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine, 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.  You can contact him at: 

Leo Tolstoy: Freemason Or Not?

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Todd E. Creason
1826 - 1910
Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, also known as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories--his most famous novel War and Peace, takes place with the backdrop of the French invasion of Russia. Tolstoy is widely considered one of the world's greatest novelists.

Without question, Leo Tolstoy was very knowledgeable on the subject of Freemasonry.  His descriptions of Masonic rituals in War and Peace were extremely accurate and detailed.  In fact, so familiar with the subject of Freemasonry, Tolstoy was able to categorize Freemasons into four groups.  Upon reading this description, you'll see that Tolstoy was very accurate in that description, and for the most part, his description of these four types of Masons remains true today:

From War and Peace

"He divided the Brothers he knew into four categories. In the first he put those who did not take an active part in the affairs of the lodges or in human affairs, but were exclusively occupied with the mystical science of the order: with questions of the threefold designation of God, the three primordial elements- sulphur, mercury, and salt- or the meaning of the square and all the various figures of the temple of Solomon. Pierre respected this class of Brothers to which the elder ones chiefly belonged, including, Pierre thought, Joseph Alexeevich himself, but he did not share their interests. His heart was not in the mystical aspect of Freemasonry.
In the second category Pierre reckoned himself and others like him, seeking and vacillating, who had not yet found in Freemasonry a straight and comprehensible path, but hoped to do so.

In the third category he included those Brothers (the majority) who saw nothing in Freemasonry but the external forms and ceremonies, and prized the strict performance of these forms without troubling about their purport or significance. Such were Willarski and even the Grand Master of the principal lodge.

Finally, to the fourth category also a great many Brothers belonged, particularly those who had lately joined. These according to Pierre's observations were men who had no belief in anything, nor desire for anything, but joined the Freemasons merely to associate with the wealthy young Brothers who were influential through their connections or rank, and of whom there were very many in the lodge."
But the question remains.  Was Leo Tolstoy a Freemason? 

No, he was not.  

Although he is incorrectly cited as a Freemason frequently, there is no evidence that Leo Tolstoy was ever a Freemason.  However, the fact that so many Freemasons for so long have believed he was, based on his fictional writings, is a true testament to his tremendous skill as a writer.


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).  You can contact him at:

The Camp: Part Two - The Nonagon and Tents

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Robert H. Johnson 32°

Part 1 - Part 3 - Part 4

So in our introduction to The Camp, we gave a brief overview. This time we are going to dive right
into it. So the first thing you see in this symbol is this weird shape and all around it are these tents which look like they are straight out of some medieval landscape. I guess that's part right. The shape on this outside of the symbol is called a nonagon. It is called this because it has nine sides. So why nine?

Well, this is a good question, the nine sides have nine tents and each tent represents one or more degrees. Some elements I would still consider to be "secret" so I will not be explaining the lessons taught or the explanation of why certain letters are used in each of these, nonetheless,  here is a break down of what I can tell you;

Blue Lodge 1-3
  • The blue bannered tent represents the blue degrees or the Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason degrees. The color is quite appropriate. The banner letters which represent this tent are "I" and "S".
  • The next tent has a green banner and is representative of the 4th and 5th degrees also known as the Secret Master and Perfect Master. The banner letter which represents this tent is "N".
  • The tent represented with a red and green banner represents the 6th and 7th degrees which are known as the Intimate Secretary and Provost and Judge. It's banner letter is "O".
  • The next tent is represented with a red and black banner and is representative of the 8th degree only, which is called Intendant of the Building. It is also
    represented with the banner letter "N".
  • The Next tent is representative of three degrees, which are the 9th, 10th and 11th degrees. The
    Lodge of Perfection 4-14
    names of these degrees are; Elu of Nine, Elu of Fifteen and Elu of Twelve. The banner of this tent is black and is represented by the banner letter "X".
  • The tent with the banner in black and red (not to be confused with the red and black of the 6th and 7th degrees) represents the 12th and 13th degrees, also called Master Architect and Masons of the Royal Arch (no relation to the York Rite). It banner letter is "I".
  • The tent with the plain red banner is representative of the degree of the Perfect Elu and it's banner letter is "L".
  • The light green bannered tent represents the 15th and 16th degrees which are named Knights of the East and Princes of Jerusalem. The banner letter is "A".
    Chapter Rose Croix 15°-18°
  • The last tent on represented on this nonagon is that which is represented by the banner color white and crimson. It's degrees represented are the 17th and 18th degrees also known as the Knights of the East and West and Knight Rose Croix. The banner letter is "S".
So inside, or rather I should say on and around this nonagon, you have the first eighteen degrees of the AASR (Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite) represented. It's kind of like a decoder ring no? Within these first eighteen degrees you have a few groups represented in the Scottish Rite. The 1st through the 3rd degrees are of course the symbolic or blue lodge degrees. The 4th through the 14th degrees are under the Lodge of Perfection and the 15th through the 18th are conferred by the Chapter of Rose Croix.

I hope this helped explain a bit more of this intricate symbol and I hope you come back to dive into the next level in. Next time we will cover the Heptagon and the Pentagon!

*Editors Note*~ The Camp is mainly used in the 35 states which are under the AASR Southern Jurisdiction. The degrees explained and to which body they are associated is also Southern Jurisdiction. The NMJ is a bit different.


Bro. Robert Johnson, 32° is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the First North-East District of Illinois. He belongs to Waukegan Lodge No. 78. He is also a member of the York Rite bodies Royal Arch, Cryptic Council, Knights Templar, AMD, The Illinois Lodge of Research and a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago as well as a charter member of the Society of King Solomon, a charity organization run by the Grand Lodge of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts a weekly Podcast (internet radio program) Whence Came You? which focuses on topics relating to Freemasonry. In addition, he produces video shorts focusing on driving interest in the Fraternity and writes original Masonic papers from time to time. He is a husband and father of three. He works full time in the safety industry and is also a photographer on the side as well as an avid home brewer. He is currently working on a book of Masonic essays.

The Community Builder Award

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J Knott
Homer Lodge WM Dave Harry

Many Grand Lodges across the United States encourage their local lodges to participate in a program called the Community Builder Award.   This program is designed to recognize outstanding non-masons who through their efforts make the communities they live in stronger.

The individual who receives this award doesn’t necessarily have to be someone of high profile or elected to office.   Very often, the persons chosen are those who work quietly behind the scenes to help make things happen.

WB Harry presents Molly Shoaf 
with the 2014 Community 
Builder Award
Homer Lodge No. 199 in Illinois recently held our Community Builders Award ceremony and honored Molly Spencer Shoaf.  Molly is a lifetime resident of Homer who as a member of the Homer Historical Society, has contributed countless hours in helping preserve the town’s history.  Molly is co-author of two books Volume 1, From the Timber to the Prairie and From the Calamity to the Calm (A History of Homer, Illinois Volume 2) and was a 2006 winner of the Studs Terkel Award presented by the Illinois Humanities Council.

Molly Shoaf with WB Charles Fritz

Molly and Homer Mayor Raymond Cunningham are now helping the lodge go through over 150 years worth of materials and Molly is painstakingly typing the lodge minutes from the first 30 years or so of the lodge to help tell our story.

Honoring people such as Molly Spencer Shoaf, help bring Freemasonry into the public view and provides the lodge an opportunity to invite people into your lodge.  I encourage your lodge to participate in this program.


WB Gregory J. Knott is the Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign-Urbana. He is also a member of ANSAR Shrine (IL) and the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. Greg serves on the Board of Directors of The Masonic Society and is a member of the Scottish Rite Research Society and The Philathes Society. Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts—an Eagle Scout himself, he is a member of the National Association of Masonic Scouters. You can contact him at

Father's Day

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RWB Michael H. Shirley

When you go to a place where you spent a lot of time as a kid, and now take your own kids there, time has a way of pulling memories from you. We just spent two weeks at YMCA Family Camp Nawakwa, where we’d first gone in 1967, and arrived back home on the day before Father’s Day. My kids love the place now as much as I did then, and it’s wonderful to be there as a family, but I kept thinking about how much my dad would have loved to be there with us, to see his grandchildren having fun, to overeat at Paul Bunyan’s, to fish, to read, and generally just to be.

My father, Robert Lloyd Shirley, died in 2008 after a ten-month fight with kidney cancer, and, while the pain has dulled a lot, it hasn’t gone away, nor do I expect it to. He was the smartest, kindest, and most decent man I’ve ever known. He loved his family, was addicted to golf, couldn’t wait for tomatoes fresh from the garden, and was never too busy to stop and listen to people. He was humble down to his socks, and was interested in everybody he met.

I’ve been thinking a lot about him over the past couple of weeks. We stopped going to Nawakwa in the early 90s, but started again in 2006 as a way to celebrate my parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary. We all had a great time, and decided to pick up the family tradition again, but dad was never able to return. And so my family, all of us, go back year after year, in part because we enjoy it, and in part because it would feel a bit like losing him again if we didn't.

And here I am on Father’s Day, with the best, most loving kids any man could ever want, wondering what my own father would think of the job I’m doing as their dad. I’m pretty sure he’d approve of a lot, disagree with some of my decisions, and above all be there. Just about everything I know about being a father I learned from him, and the most important thing I learned was to love my kids constantly, just as he did me.

Not long after he died, I wrote a poem, which was published here two years ago. It says a lot about the way fathers and time blend together in the way we feel across the generations. Here it is one more time:

First Day

On the day we arrived at camp,
a snapping turtle, looking for a place to lay her eggs,
rested on the dirtpack by the wash house,
lying down like something from the deep past,
her ridged back unaltered from dreams of my childhood,
when first I saw her.

My son, on eager feet, halts panting at my side,
eyes wide at this new wonder,
as I hear my own father calling me, his voice eager.
"Look here," he says, pointing down,
and I, hand firmly held,
standing where memory and childhood meet,
inhale an air of water, trees, and sky,
as the turtle, ignoring us, moves scabrously toward the lake.

We finish unpacking the car,
ready for summer,
my daughter splashing in the shallows by the dock ,
calling for her brother to join her
as I untangle the fishing gear.

This is where I learned to fish,
sitting on one side of the boat,
my father on the other,
our lines still, waiting for perch or walleye to show themselves
in nibbles from the deepest part,
then bites, the rod tips pulling quickly down.
We set our hooks by feel
Robert Lloyd Shirley, 1933-2008
and reel in, one of us passing the net to the other
looking over the side to see what rises from the dark.

My son is not yet ready for deep water.
He casts his line from the bridge,
Where he can see the bottom
hoping a bluegill will strike the worm I've put on his hook.
I fish with him, memories of my father green around us,
in this first year without him.

Happy Father’s Day, dad. I love you.


R.W.B. Michael H. Shirley serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F. & A.M, as Leadership Development Chairman and Assistant Area Deputy Grand Master of the Eastern Area. A Certified Lodge Instructor, he is a Past Master and Life Member of Tuscola Lodge No. 332 and a plural member of Island City Lodge No. 330, F & AM, in Minocqua, Wisconsin. He currently serves the Valley of Danville, AASR, as Most Wise Master of the George E. Burow Chapter of Rose Croix; he is also a member of the Illinois Lodge of Research, the York Rite, Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, Eastern Star, Illini High Twelve, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. The author of several articles on British history, he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.You can contact him at: