The Do's and Don'ts Of Masonic Etiquette

reposted by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°
I didn't write this, and I'm not exactly sure where it came from originally.  I reposted this on From Labor To Refreshment recently, and it was very well received.  I saw this originally on the Masonic Lodge of Education website and after reading it thought every Mason should read it.  I've found various versions of this same piece a number of different places.  So I'm not sure who actually wrote this or where it came from--my apologies if I haven't attributed it correctly.

It's a long read, but it's worth your time.  Obviously customs and traditions vary (so some of them might apply, and some might not depending on where you are).  I particularly enjoyed the explanations of why some things are to be done the way they are.  I find that once I understand why something is done a certain way and it makes sense to me, it's easier to remember to always do it correctly.  So enjoy.  Hopefully you'll learn a few things as I did, and this piece will help you conduct your meetings with a greater understanding, reverence and respect for the traditions of Freemasonry.  ~Todd E. Creason 

Unfortunately, Masonic Etiquette ...or Blue Lodge Etiquette, (as it is called in the United States) is largely unpublished as well as unspoken, therefore, up until now, it has been more difficult to learn its rules and nuances.

You may study ritual work, degree work, floor work and know all Masonry’s glorious history, Masonic symbols, jewels, etc. but there is very little written about how to comport yourself so you do not look foolish or be regarded as disrespectful.

Some are small things, and some are not, but your Lodge conduct is continually on display.
Few Masonic mentors include a list of proper Lodge behavior, as they have learned it, themselves, incident-by-incident, and usually learned by them after their having made an error and being kindly informed by another member as to the correct Masonic etiquette of the situation.


Over time, and by watching others, members conform themselves to exhibit proper Masonic etiquette behavior to learn lodge customs.

As a newly Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft or Master Mason, it is expected that you will exhibit the proper decorum and propriety in observance of the formal requirements which govern behavior in polite societies... BEFORE someone takes you aside to explain your errors...or you wouldn’t be reading this.



During his term in office, the brother who has been elected as Master is the most powerful member of the Lodge. He also shoulders all of its many responsibilities.  The Worshipful Master has the authority to:

1. Rule any brother out of order on any subject at any time.

2. Decide what can and cannot be discussed. Should a brother believe that the Master is arbitrary, unjust or unfair or is acting in an illegal manner, he can appeal to the District Deputy Grand Master.

If that officer agrees that the appeal is a valid one, he will forward the complaint to the Grand Master.
If, however, that brother insists on speaking after the Master has ruled that he is out of order, he may be committing a Masonic offense.

Courteous brethren accept the requests made by the Master to serve on various committees such as the examination committee, the investigation committee and other duties, as determined by the Lodge’s needs.

The following items are not Masonic offenses, They are simply a lack of Masonic Etiquette…or in other words, considered to be “bad form” or bad manners.

So… Let’s begin:


Brethren do not pass between the Altar and the East when the lodge is open.

As a courtesy to the Master, it is necessary that the three Great Lights which shine their eternal light and wisdom upon the Master to help him govern the lodge should never be in shadow, not even for a millisecond, during the processes of an initiation or degree work.


Brethren do not take a seat in the East without an invitation... even if all other seats are full.

Why? While all Brethren within a tiled room are equal to one another, and the officers are servants of the brethren, all lodge officers have worked and studied long and hard for their lodge.

It is, therefore, the Master’s prerogative to recognize this devotion and their loyalty by inviting distinguished visitors or a special member whom the Master wishes to honor to sit with him in the East.
In other words, if you were in church, synagogue or mosque and the pews were full, would you go up and sit beside the Pastor, Rabbi or Imam (Muslim Priest)?


Brethren do not enter their Lodge room either without their apron nor while putting on that apron…not even the tying of its strings.

Why? In respect to the formalities of their Lodge, officers expect that the Brethren will have the courtesy to enter it fully dressed and ready for the labor.

They should not have to wait for a member to be fully "dressed", even just tying or adjusting their apron, to salute that member. It is expected that you will be properly and entirely dressed when you pass by the Tiler and enter your lodge room.

No man sits while speaking in the lodge room, no matter if he addresses an officer or another brother.

Why? All lodge activity is based on each man in the lodge as being a servant of the Brethren. This includes the Worshipful Master and his officers.

While the man, himself, who has been elected Worshipful Master does not gain any special honor, personally, as the Worshipful Master, it is to the Worshipful Master as the Master of the Lodge that a member stands to address.

It is simply a form of respect ...and no different than attending a shareholder’s meeting or a City Council meeting.

It is expected that if you wish to address the audience, you will stand so all may see who is speaking.


"Side" talk while a degree is being conferred is considered bad manners.Why? The lodge room is a Temple of the Great Architect of the Universe. The brethren within are working to make the best ashlars (stones) for His spiritual temple.

Just as it is impolite to talk in a church, synagogue or mosque service, so it is improper to distract the officers, the workers in the degree or the candidate.

Talking without asking to do so shows irreverence for the proceedings. God’s house is not for social conversation within the lodge room. It is for worship and learning the lesson of the day which is being taught.

Unless you have requested of the Master to speak, silence is the rule. This also means no whispering.

HOW? If you have something of interest to say, raise your hand. When the Master recognizes you, you must stand up, and be recognized by the Master to speak. To address the brethren, you should say:  “Worshipful Master, Right Worshipfuls, Worshipfuls, Wardens and Brethren”.

If the Most Worshipful Master is in attendance, you should say: “Worshipful Master, Most Worshipful, Right Worshipfuls, Worshipfuls, Wardens and Brethren.


If you wish to offer a predetermined motion or matter for discussion, advise the Master beforehand.

Why? Advising the Master before the meeting that you intend to bring up a specific motion or a matter for discussion is an important courtesy.

You may, indeed, do it without advising him in advance, but the Master may have plans of his own for that meeting, for which your proposed motion or discussion may not easily fit into the allotted time frame.

As a courtesy to him, his work, and his dedication to the members, it is best to ask him privately, beforehand, if he will be able to recognize you to speak your purpose. This saves "face" for both of you.

You will not publicly be refused and he will not have to seem disagreeable or arrogant in his refusal of your motion. If you wish to speak, (see number 6.), above.

You must immediately obey the gavel.

Why? Failure to immediately obey the gavel is a GRAVE DISCOURTESY and VERY poor Masonic Etiquette. 

The Master is all powerful in the lodge and his word is final.

He can put or refuse to put any motion.

He can rule any brother out of order on any subject at any time.

He can say what he will, and what he will not, permit to be discussed.

Brethren who think him unfair, arbitrary, unjust, or acting illegally have redress.

The Grand Lodge can be appealed to on any such matter. However, in the lodge, the Master’s gavel, which is his emblem of authority, is supreme.

When a brother is rapped down, he should obey at once, without any further discussion. It is VERY bad manners to do otherwise. In fact, it is perilously close to the line between bad manners and a Masonic offense.

Masonic etiquette decries anyone who does not obey the gavel.

Never turn one’s back on the Master to address the lodge without first receiving permission from the Master to speak.

Why? Any debates that are in motion must be conducted using proper Masonic etiquette. One always stands to order when addressing the chair.

Customs differ in various jurisdictions as to the method of salute, however some salute should always be given when addressing the Master.

Two brethren, both on their feet, simultaneously arguing a motion, who are facing each other and ignoring the Master is unacceptable.

Some lodges (not all) offer salutes to the Master. Each of the brethren will salute the Master when they enter and when they leave their Masonic Mother lodge room or any other Masonic lodge room.
Some lodges offer salutes to the Senior Warden.

Why? The Masonic etiquette of saluting the Master is your renewed pledge of fealty and service. It is your public display of decorum before all other brothers of your obligation.

It shows your courteous respect for all that the Master stands for and shows that you acknowledge his authority.

Salutes should reflect your heart-felt respect for all that for which he stands.

The salute to the Master is your pledge of honor and service, your publicly shown obligation. A lazy, sloppy or improper salute is to be Masonically impolite and, thus, to exhibit poor Masonic etiquette.


Do not enter or leave the lodge room during a ballot.

Why? It is discourteous to leave the lodge room during a speech, during a degree, etc. There are several natural periods, such as at the end of one section and before the next begins, or when the Master puts the lodge at ease until the sound of the gavel. Then, and only then, you may leave the lodge without being considered rude.

It is Masonic Etiquette that all brethren are expected to vote when requested to do so.
Failure to cast your ballot not only results in your failure to share in your duties, but is in direct disobedience of the Master’s request.

When an issue is put to a vote, all brethren should vote.

Why? A brother who does not vote is discourteous because he skews the ballot. He becomes the weak link in a strong chain.

No matter what the reason of his non-vote, he injures the lodge’s ballot, its value and its secrecy. Failure to vote can injure a lodge’s feeling of brotherhood, and by that injury, can injure the Masonic fraternity.

No matter what reason you may privately hold about voting, it is poor Masonic Etiquette to fail to vote when requested to do so by the Master.


No smoking in the lodge room.

Why? While there are lodges who allow smoking during the business meeting (and you must be guided by the customs of your Mother Lodge), the ceremonies you take part in and watch are solemn occasions.

In most lodge rooms, it is considered VERY disrespectful to smoke while the ceremonies are taking place. Smoking may take place in other parts of your building or outside and during refreshment.

It is good Masonic Etiquette to accept a request made in the name of the lodge if it is within your abilities.

Why? A lodge is a working "beehive of industry". A request made of you from your lodge acknowledges that the lodge trusts you to competently fulfill such a request based upon your knowledge.


Lodge customs state that no one except for the Worshipful Master or his prearranged designee, may correct any mistake that may occur during the course of a Ceremony, and even he does so only when the error is a serious one.

Why? It is discourteous to point out others mistakes in front of the lodge brethren. If you are in possession of a mind which allows you to be able to perform each and every degree and ceremony, perfectly, please advise the Worshipful Master of such that he may take advantage of your services to mentor others.


Why? Good posture is necessary while within the Lodge room. Lounging, leaning and slovenly attitudes should be avoided.
Poor posture is considered poor Masonic etiquette.

Why? The great lessons of Masonry, which are taught by our ritual, should never be demeaned by levity or pranks.

The lodge room is not a proper location for the telling of practical jokes, pranks, horseplay nor off-color stories.

Why? It is common courtesy to be accurate in speaking a brother’s name, so it is proper Masonic etiquette to address officers, members, and visitors by their correct Masonic titles and addresses.

If a brother should enter the Lodge after the opening ceremony is under way, he should go to the Altar to salute the Master.

If he must leave before the meeting is over, the correct Masonic etiquette of his departure is that he should salute the Presiding Master at the Altar before he departs.

The salute should always be given properly and not in a careless or perfunctory manner.


Freemasonry is worldwide and holds no sectarian views. Non-sectarian means not sectioned into one, specific religion. Freemasonry embraces all religions.

A Mason may choose the religion of his choice in his private life but should be aware and open to the fact that others among the brethren do not necessarily share nor were they brought up with the religious dogmas and beliefs that you, personally, embrace.

Prayers at lodge functions should be scrupulously in keeping with Masonic teachings. The Masonic Etiquette of offered prayers is that they should never be an expression of specific sectarian views or dogmatic creeds.

It is a matter of courtesy that all prayers, speeches and discussions at Masonic affairs avoid sectarian, controversial or political tones.

Prayers are best directed to the Creator, the Master Architect of the Universe and not toward specific religious teachings such as Jesus Christ, Mother Mary, Muhammad, Jehovah, Allah etc.

To do so omits the religions of others within the brethren, which can cause conflict and therefore not be harmonious to the whole.

In the spirit of non-sectarianism, we must remember that since the day that our Creator found that Man created the Tower of Babel to glorify themselves; it is HE who changed man's language into the many diverse languages now spoken on Earth.

In so doing, our Creator has many names across the world.

All cell phones should be turned off before entering the lodge room so as not to disrupt the proceedings.

Masonic Etiquette Summary: Masonic etiquette is simply the rules of good manners which make lodge meetings pleasant for everyone.

The position of Worshipful Master in the East occupies the most exalted position within the lodge.
A lodge which does not honor its Master, no matter how they personally feel about the man, himself, lacks Masonic courtesy.

The honor conveyed by the brethren in electing him, other words, the historical traditions and the men who have gone before you must be given the utmost respect, if the traditions of the Fraternity are to be observed and proper Masonic etiquette is to be maintained.
Masonic etiquette comprises lodge courtesies and proprieties.

Good manners imply observance of the formal requirements governing man's behavior in polite society and a sense of what is appropriate for a person of good breeding with high morals and good taste.

The spirit of brotherly love and affection, by which we are bound together, will be exemplified in our conduct, our carriage and our behavior at all times.
It is my hope that you will use your trowel to cement the stones of brotherly love for the “More Noble and Glorious Purpose” of exhibiting these rules of Masonic Etiquette toward one and all within the brethren. 

~reposted by TEC  from the Masonic Lodge of Education

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 a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and currently serves as Secretary.  He's also a member of Homer Lodge No. 199.  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, Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL), and a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research.  He was recently awarded the 2014 Illinois Secretary of the Year Award by the Illinois Masonic Secretaries Association.  You can contact him at:

Busy, Like A Bee

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Robert H. Johnson

There I was, staring at the ceiling, it was sometime early in the morning, too late to go back to bed since I had to get up with my son to get him ready for the school bus. It was also a little too early to actually sit up and look out the window. I had a lot to do that day, it was the day before I was installed as Worshipful Master of my lodge. My wife, being super awesome was basically handling everything. I remember a feeling of excitement, but also dread. 

On top of all the other Masonic stuff I do, I'd now be the Master of a lodge. Then, I really started to think, "Man, am I busy...maybe too busy." And as I closed my eyes, in the split second before I fell back asleep  and the alarm going off, you know the place, I'm sure. Some call it twilight. My mentor showed up and was flipping through slides on a projector. He was silent, no words he spoke but he was saying something. I couldn't quiet see what he was pointing at.

It was a special dream because Curtis, my mentor, had gone on to that undiscovered country. Here he was, nonetheless showing me something. As I tried to see what it was, his voice started to come through, he was singing "Keep the Car Running" by Arcade Fire, which was just bizarre. Then just before I woke up, I saw it. It was the bee hive. That icon or symbol which teaches all Masons to be busy, be industrious and to be always working for the better good of humanity. 

When I opened my eyes, I reached over and shut of my alarm, which was the cause of Curtis' singing. That was the song my alarm was playing. But that is also the moment, I realized that this amount of busy, is par for the course of an active Freemason. The Brothers who read, who study, who teach, who run programs and set up charity drives are devout officers to their lodges and are at every function that they can possibly be, this was par for the course indeed. Brothers we are just busy, busy bees. 

It's time to just quit thinking about it and get back to work.


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.

A Scout is…A Mason is?

By Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

As a Boy Scout, one of the first things I had to learn was the 12 points of the Scout Law.   I still say them often.  The Boy Scout Handbook¹ provides a brief description of what the 12 points mean to a Scout.  I wondered what they might read like if we applied them to Freemasonry.

A Scout is Trustworthy.
A Scout tells the truth. He is honest, and he keeps his promises. People can depend on him.
A Mason is a true and trusty brother, his bond is his word, and his brothers can count on him.
A Scout is Loyal.
A Scout is true to his family, friends, Scout leaders, school, and nation.
A Mason has a duty to God, his country, family, friends, neighbors and himself.
A Scout is Helpful.
A Scout cares about other people. He willingly volunteers to help others without expecting payment or reward.
A Mason practices faith, hope and charity.
A Scout is Friendly.
A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He offers his friendship to people of all races and nations, and respects them even if their beliefs and customs are different from his own.
A Mason is always ready to extend his hand in friendship to a fellow Mason.
A Scout is Courteous.
A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows that using good manners makes it easier for people to get along.
A Mason exemplifies a demeanor of respect towards his brothers.
A Scout is Kind.
A Scout knows there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. Without good reason, he does not harm or kill any living thing.
A Mason shows brotherly love to his brothers and may gently correct their errant ways. 
A Scout is Obedient.
A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobeying them.
A Mason is loyal to his country, respects the rule of law and squares his actions by the square of virtue.
A Scout is Cheerful.
A Scout looks for the bright side of life. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.
A Mason greets a fellow brother with a smile, a firm handshake and a greeting.
A Scout is Thrifty.
A Scout works to pay his own way and to help others. He saves for the future. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.
A Mason thrives to preserve the ancient usages and customs of the fraternity.
A Scout is Brave.
A Scout can face danger although he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at him or threaten him.
A Mason understands that wisdom, strength and beauty are the pillars of a well governed lodge.
A Scout is Clean.
A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He chooses the company of those who live by high standards. He helps keep his home and community clean.
A Mason is pure in thought, words and deeds.  
A Scout is Reverent.
A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.
A Mason has a belief in God, living his life by that great book and seeks the blessing of deity.  
¹ Excerpted from page 47-54, Boy Scout Handbook, 11th Edition,
(#33105), copyright 1998 by BSA, ISBN 0-8395-3105-2


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. 

Dealing With Freemasonry's Critics

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

Freemasons today spend so much time answering critics.  As a matter of fact, I've spent a couple painful weeks writing an article right in that same vein before deciding against it.  The Fraternity has always had critics, going back centuries.  Do you know how Freemasonry has traditionally answered those who criticize the Fraternity?

They don't.  And that was a very wise strategy.  

We learned a long time ago that a lot of time and energy that should be devoted to better uses can be easily wasted answering those who are critical of the things we do.  Time is one thing you just can't get back.  We also know that those who criticize our Fraternity frequently do so without an abundance of facts, or an interest in fairness.  And we know that no matter how eloquent our defenses are of our Fraternity, those who would criticize us will not be swayed from believing any differently than they already do.  It's just wasted energy.

It is important to know when to speak, and it is important to know when to remain silent.  Churchill was correct.  Let the dogs nip at our heels if they must, but lets focus our energies on the reasons we joined to begin with, and the important work that we do.


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 a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and currently serves as Secretary.  He's also a member of Homer Lodge No. 199.  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, Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL), and a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research.  He was recently awarded the 2014 Illinois Secretary of the Year Award by the Illinois Masonic Secretaries Association.  You can contact him at:

Missouri's Unique Masonic College

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

From its inception Freemasonry has always been synonymous with continuing education and lifelong learning.  A few institutions have organized continuing education for Freemasons; and the Scottish Rite, in fact, is sometimes called "The College of Freemasonry."

In the mid-nineteenth century Freemasons went beyond Craft education and established a series of Masonic Colleges offering a liberal arts education.  These institutions were loosely connected with the common purpose of providing a variety of levels of education.  One of these, Eureka Masonic College, was the birthplace of the Eastern Star.  While there, in 1849, Rob Morris founded the order so that women could also participate in Freemasonry.

Perhaps the most iconic of all of these institutions was the Masonic College, which the Grand Lodge of Missouri established in 1844 in Philadelphia, Missouri.  Citing inadequate facilities, the Grand Lodge moved the college to its permanent home in Lexington in 1847.  Its purpose was to provide an education for the children of Masons, especially orphans, but it also admitted any child named "Mason," whether having a Masonic affiliation or not.

Among its alumni, the college boasted Missouri Congressman Thomas P. Akers, Lexington Judge John E. Burden, US Senator from New Mexico Thomas B. Catron,  US Senator from West Virginia Stephen B. Elkins, Kansas City businessman Robert Keith, Missouri Governor John S. Marmaduke, Lexington industrialist James C. McGrew and Lexington judge John E. Ryland.

At various times after the college closed in 1859, it served as a classroom for other institutions.  The building closed for two years during the Civil War, after which the Grand Lodge of Missouri deeded the property to the State of Missouri, which used it for a military academy.  The state handed the property back to the Masons in 1871.  Almost immediately, the Grand Lodge transferred ownership to the Methodist Episcopal Church, for use as Central Female College and later, Lexington College for Women.

A 40% scale replica of the original Masonic College building, 
which served as Union headquarters during the battle 
of Lexington, sits on the original site in Lexington, Missouri.
During the Civil War, the College served as Union headquarters during the Battle of Lexington.  There, Confederate troops attacked under the leadership of General Sterling Price, a member of Missouri's Warren Lodge #74.  Although his troops overwhelmingly outnumbered the federal army, the Union put up a surprisingly fierce fight.  Hemp was one of the major agricultural products in Lexington.  At the end of the second day of the battle, Price's men found dozens of large hemp bales stored in the area and in the final Confederate push forward, used them as cover as they rolled them in toward the Union forces.  This tactic proved effective as none of the Union artillery could penetrate the hemp.  Completely overwhelmed, the federal army surrendered.  Given the unique way in which the Confederates had advanced, the battle of Lexington is also known as "The Battle of the Hemp Bales." (Somewhat ironically, Lt. Colonel Benjamin W. Grover, former Grand Master of Freemasons in the state of Missouri, was mortally wounded fighting for the North and defending the Masonic College, which he had helped to establish.)

The building burned in 1932.  Two years later the Grand Lodge of Missouri built a 40% scale replica of the original building on the site and gave it to the city of Lexington "for the perpetual enjoyment of the public."  

The replica building still stands, surrounded by a garden walkway and four brick columns marking the corners of the original structure.


Bro. Steve Harrison, 33°, is 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 Worshipful Master. He is a dual member of Kearney Lodge #311, St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite, Moila Shrine and 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. His latest book, Freemasons: Tales From the Craft, will be released later this year.

Editors note: If you enjoyed this article, I would highly suggest picking up a copy of Illustrious Brother Steve Harrison's latest book; Tales From The Craft. It has many interesting short stories just like this one! 

The Ashlar, The Circle, and The Quest for Perfection

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. John Coggeshall

Recently I was presented with a mathematical dilemma that struck a particular cord with me as a Mason, and as I wrapped my mind around its mystery, mathematically I found myself discovering truths in its symbolism that are very relevant to every Mason and worthy of being shared. So what was the mathematical dilemma I was presented with? In short, it was a geometric construction that appeared to indicate that the infinite constant Pi was not 3.14159 as we all know, but rather simply 4. To begin, let’s imagine a circle with a diameter of 1, bounded by a square of width and height of 4 as shown to the right.

In this representation, the perimeter of the square as expected would be 4, and of course mathematics at least as old as our Fraternity tells us that the perimeter is that infinite sequence of numbers we know as Pi. As Masons we are taught to strive to perfect our ashlars, but what happens when the goal of our ashlar is the form of the circle? Attempting this is easy enough to attempt, simply “fold” the corners of our square again and again toward its respective edge of the circle as shown:

As we repeat this process again, and again, we soon can no longer distinguish the difference between our ashlar and the circle, and through this can claim that with enough effort our ashlar can indeed be sculpted into that perfect circle. The quandary however is that in this process, no matter how many times repeated, results in the perimeter of our circle not equaling the infinite Pi , but our original square’s perimeter of 4! 

How can this be so? Without getting into the Calculus behind the flaws of this experiment, what you need to know is that our process only yields Pi when the process is extended to infinity. How does this relate to us as Masons? To begin, let us consider the geometries we have employed in this allegorical example. From time immortal to today, philosophers and mystics have associated the circle with the Devine, infinite in its representation. Indeed the value of the circle can never be truly known, and as shown by Pi, is truly infinite in its perimeter. The square however is of a finite construction; unlike the circle its perimeter can be known and achieved. It is easy to understand in this light why the circle was regarded as Devine while the square was left to the material world -- the square is the work of men’s hands.

With this in mind, we know as Masons we are taught to perfect our ashlar, a task that can take a lifetime itself to achieve. However, like all endeavors, perfection of our ashlar should be planned if we are to achieve it – and herein lies the lesson taught by the allegory of the circle within a square. While our goal as Masons may be to perfect our ashlars, the definition of perfection we strive to achieve must be an imperfection itself to ever succeed. No matter how we try, we will never with our finite means be able to mold our ashlar into the perfection of the Architect’s circle, because it can only be fashioned by the infinite itself . Thus, it is important in our Masonic lives that we define the ashlars of our life within the bounds of what is capable of the fallible hands of man to achieve if we hope to ever to achieve it.

To put it another way, we are taught to exist within the bounds of our compass, but in truth it is equally important to only seek perfection within the means of the square. Seeking any true measure of perfection of our selves as man, just as our attempt to reproduce the perfection of the circle, is impossible. In fact, attempting it is a task with no end, and one that ironically will never produce even close to the correct result. The allegory demonstrates only the infinity of the GAOTU can achieve real perfection. As we as Masons draw our plans on our tressel boards, we must ensure the inherent imperfection of those plans is fully acknowledged and embraced in our own eye if the temple is ever to be completed, or achieve the perfection we do have the working tools to reach. 


Brother Love - Pt. 1 What is Brotherly Love?

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
WB. Sam L. Land

There is a new sheriff in town, well, in state. He is MWB David W. Haywood Grand Master of the State of Missouri. He was duly elected at the Annual meeting of the Grand Lodge of Missouri this past September. He has selected for his motto: Spread the cement of Brotherly Love. That seems to me to be extremely fitting for our current times of distress and disillusionment. I hear people say that, "We just don't know what to do anymore!" It does seem that things have progressed right out of an atmosphere of Brotherly Love and Relief. Truth seems to be out of the question.

We often talk in and out of Lodge of Brotherly Love but do we really know what we mean when we say it? Worse yet, do we know what someone else means when they say it? In English we have only one word, love, to express all the differing relationships that exist between people. It seems to me that the Greek language does a much better job of telling it like it is. In Greek the word Sorge (στοργή storgē) is the love between parents and children. A seemingly natural bonding by genetics. Philia (φιλία philía) is mental love as in affectionate regard or friendship. Eros (ἔρως érōs) is physical, passionate love. Finally agape (ἀγάπη agápē) means love in a spiritual sense or true, unconditional love. A good example of this is found in the Bible (John 21:15+) where the following exchange occurs: (Jesus shows himself for the third time after his resurrection and talks with Peter):

Jesus: Simon. . .do you love (agape) me more than these?

Peter: Lord, you know that I love (phileo) you.

Jesus: Simon. . . do you love me (agape)?

Peter: Yes, Lord, you know that I love (phileo) you.

Jesus: Do you love (phileo) me?

Peter: [Grieved] Lord. . .you know that I love (phileo) you.

With specific words for differing meaning Jesus and Peter still had difficulty telling each other what they really meant. How may we be better?

We must begin by understanding that this problem exists and know what we mean to say. If we look at the reference that we are provided we discover that we are not talking about Brotherly Love in any sense except the spiritual. We are told, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for Brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard; that went down to the skirts of his garments; as the dew of Hermon and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessings, even life for evermore." (Psalms 133)

We are given the explanation that , "By the exercise of Brotherly Love we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family, the high, the low, the rich, the poor, who, as created by one Almighty Parent, and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support, and protect each other. On this principle, Freemasonry unites men of every country, sect and opinion, and conciliates true friendship among those who might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance." This is spiritual love as defined by the Greek language.

So, what must we be talking about when we say Brotherly Love? We must mean that we have put our Brothers upon an equal with our self. We must overrule our ego and provide all the things our Brother needs to live as we do. We must feed the sheep. We must truly care. We must provide the necessary actions that make our minds not ask. What is in this for me" but ask "What does my brother need and how may I provide it." Only then will we truly know Brotherly Love. This is what our Grand Master seeks.


WB Sam L. Land is the Worshipful Master of Linn Lodge No. 326 A.F. & A.M. in Linn, Missouri. He also holds membership in both York and Scottish Rite, including Knight Templar. He is a life member of the Missouri Lodge of Research,  a member of the Scottish Rite Research Society, and the Southern California Research Lodge. His articles appear regularly in The Missouri Freemason Magazine and he has been published by The Working Tools Magazine. He has also presented research work to the AMD.  He is currently enrolled a student of the Guthrie College of the Consistory and has received the been awarded the Past Venerable Master and Past Wise Master Orders. 

We Need the Dues Man...

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Luis Figueroa

If I had five dollars every time I heard this (We need the dues man...) I would be rich. Ever since joining the fraternity, this has been the front runner for an excuse to add warm bodies to some lodges. Hearing petitions being read, the click clack of the ballot balls, then POOF we have degree work. All in hopes of the candidate who will pay dues for the ensuing years to come. Being new, it made me wonder, "Is this how the fraternalism works?"

Why are some lodges successful and others not? So I did some simple research (Google) to find out what makes those lodges buzz with member activity. To my amazement it's the members, not the dues. Everything from barbecues, family bowling nights, movies, guest speakers and educational symposiums filled the calendars of some lodges, while some others were ghostly, save for the monthly meeting. (Boring)

So I started mining from other quarries, carrying those ideas of inspiration and fellowship with me. I sought brothers from within my own lodge and slowly but surely ideas and friendships were being cultivated and growing beyond our obligatory bond. How many brothers thought I would be another titular dues paying absentee member or have a transformative spirit, I will never know.

Now, well on my journey of seeking benevolent enlightenment, I am able to share my experiences with the brothers from whence I came. Casting new light and sharing the spirit of fraternalism which is what keeps brothers coming back to lodge.

I give thanks to all who saw in me, what I could not and who helped bring the better man and Mason that I am now and that I will continue to grow into.

Now every time a man truly prepared crosses the threshold of the lodge doors, ask your self, are you ready for your responsibility to pass the torch of enlightenment and cultivate his mind? Or, do you just need the dues man?


Bro. Luis Figueroa is a member of Rockford Lodge #102 of the Grand Lodge State of Illinois.

It's Pretty Cool To Say...

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Joseph D. Lamberti

Photo courtesy of
One’s journey is naturally composed of several stages. Each and every one of us takes the road we define for ourselves. We, as men, are in charge of our destiny, no matter the outcome. Upon our own freewill, we have all approached a Masonic lodge in the pursuit of something. It may have been to gain the companionship of others and become a member of a distinguished fraternity of brothers, acquire boundless knowledge that has passed through the eyes and lips of glorious men that have transformed our nation’s history, or justifiably to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Simply put, we all had our individual reasons for doing so. Inquiry is the first step. It is the beginning of a journey – one that I have happily undertaken.

Seven years ago, I had no idea what a Freemason was. My journey to Masonry is conceivably similar to those that have come this way before. Even though my scholarly ambitions have focused on the field of History, this art has never been a topic that has breached a lecture or textbook – only through popular film and a certain best-selling novel did I ever see the symbolic Square and Compass. With trepidation and sheer uncertainty, I established contact with the lodge Secretary. Instead of being met with backward glances, I was immediately embraced and fell under the wings of many. Several times I was asked, “What brought you to Masonry?” Upon departing my first night in the company of these Brothers and their families, I asked myself, “What took me so long to get here?”

Every individual approaches curiosity differently – some wait patiently for the ultimate surprise, or need a little reassurance by conducting their own investigation. When I made my first step in Masonry, the experience was new and enlightening, confusing yet eye opening. I had no preconceived notions of what could happen, or should happen. The rituals of Masonry are hundreds of years old, each one designed to impress upon the candidate the tools and mysticism of that degree. Each hand that guided my path, every sound that caught my attention, and every word spoken in the tongues of the ancients, has particular purpose. Once you take that solemn oath, you are granted a right of passage to learn and experience everything that Masonry has to offer. Unknowingly, unsheathed before me lay an abundant amount of knowledge and wisdom, responsibility and brotherly love. To say the least, it was quite bright.

As a newly raised Mason, suffice to say, the process was an experience. Every time I step foot into the lodge, illuminated or otherwise, I remind myself that this Brotherhood has outlived political persecution, Civil and World Wars, and unintelligible criticism. It has cut through ignorance, and broken down racial barriers. As Masons, we are all connected. We have all walked similar paths to get here, and efforts are two-fold if work is put in. Above all, it demands respect. I have learned that each day is a journey, and in order to fulfill my promise, I must live it to the best of my ability. If I ever have a son of my own, and he possesses the same desire to become a Mason, I will tell him how it changed me – how it gave me the tools to become a better man. And yes, it’s pretty cool to just say, “I am a Freemason.”


Brother Joseph D. Lamberti  is a member of Burbank Lodge #406 Grand Lodge of California, Signet Chapter #57 and Pasadena Scottish Rite. He is also, the current Monarch of Cinema Grotto.

Making Good Men Better

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
WB. Ken Baril

Making good men better is to extract the essence of the Masonic experience. The ritual and ceremony serve to convey and teach certain moral lessons and elevate the individuals to a position higher than themselves. The lessons are things you have likely already heard or have learned in a moral society. What makes them unique to Freemasonry is that they are presented in a specific format and context. We have come to realize, during the time we have been members of this grand fraternity that we have met men we would have never met otherwise. We had the opportunity to get to know these men, not by their looks or touch, but by their hearts, minds, and souls. If we would have passed any of these men on the street before we became Masons, the chances are we would not have noticed them.

We have met numerous men who have truly touched our hearts in many ways. We have learned through their example to be more compassionate, more understanding, more forgiving, more sincere, and above all, more loving. Not one of these men has an uncharitable disposition; therefore, they are all true Masons.

Masonry strives to teach its members that it would be great if we could convey this message throughout the whole world in ways we would have never thought possible.

We look to build on the positive example of others and bring those virtues, which are beneficial to them and to ourselves. No man is perfect, and we are taught that the lodge is a moral workshop in which the rough ashlar is to be polished for use and beauty. If our lodges had been too exacting, none of us would have gained admission.

As Masons, we should treat those brothers who have unfavorable and irritable traits, not with bitterness, nor with good-natured easiness, not with worldly indifference, nor with philosophic coldness, but with pity, patience, and loving kindness. At our Altar of Obligation, we learn to look for the best in men, find their strong points, and cast aside the negative and unfavorable traits. We are taught that we should attempt to see the best in our Brethren, to cast the best light on their actions, to see them and to hear their words in the most positive light, in the most CHARITABLE light. We are also taught to have a benevolent goodwill toward, or love, for humanity and be lenient in our judgment of others. This most benevolent Brotherhood has men of good character.

We meet brothers who may be ignorant, weak, or even ugly of spirit, driven by some blind force as all of us are apt to be and if so, our tact, and brotherly love and charity may be tested and tried, but more often than not, we can bring them back to intelligence, strength, and beauty. As the Bible states, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Truly, this is a wise saying, no less true today than when first said. As the old Greek said, “Know thyself,” because if we do not know ourselves, we cannot know others. It behooves us to put ourselves under the spell of all the influences God is using for the making of man, among which the spirit of Masonry is one of the gentlest, wisest and most benign.

If our erring brothers must be censored or expelled, they must also be treated with compassion. The Supreme Architect of the Universe waits to welcome them back with joy. They have done themselves a far deeper injury than they have anyone else. With empathy, prayer, and pain, let our hearts beat in harmony with all the powers the Supreme Architect of the Universe is using for their recovery.

“There remain Faith, Hope, and Charity; but the greatest of these, is Charity.”

As Master Masons, we have learned the Five Points of Fellowship, and these lessons should be foremost in our minds. This is how we, as Masons, “Make Good Men Better!”


WB Ken Baril was born in New Haven, CT. and moved to the Cincinnati area in 1999. He is a three time Master of his lodge, Temple Lodge No. 16. AF & AM, 1982-1983-1995, located in Cheshire, CT. While living in Connecticut and prior to his moving to Cincinnati, Ohio, Ken has been the featured speaker at many public schools and Veterans organizations. Ken is a published author who has written a book focusing on members of the Masonic Fraternity who have been recipients of our nation’s highest award for bravery, the prestigious Medal of Honor called " The Medal of Honor - The Letter G in Valor". Ken has dedicated his time and effort to researching and developing various programs including, “The Medal of Honor Program,” “The Immortal Four Chaplains,” as well as many others. His programs are dedicated to the preservation of an important portion of American history, contributions, and sacrifices, in the defense of the United States, and to the memory of all those who have given their lives in the pursuit of that objective. He also writes articles for various Masonic publications. He served his country during the Korean War in the United States Air Force. He currently resides in Hudson, FL. with his wife, Marion.