Masonic Rings: Points In Or Points Out?

by Midnight Freemasons Contributors
Noble Brian Schimian
&
 Todd E. Creason, 33°

Todd Creason: Some time ago I wrote a piece about whether President Obama was a Freemason or not. There was a photo circulating at the time of what was purportedly the President's hands, and the right hand was clearly wearing a Masonic ring. All the photo showed was two hands holding the Presidential Seal. There was a lot of buzz at the time that this was evidence that President Obama was a Freemason.  However, the President is not a Freemason--the photo wasn't of the President's hands. It was posed by a photographer for a magazine piece. Some years ago, the President was speaking for an audience, and suddenly, the Presidential seal fell off the podium and crashed to the floor. The President took it in stride, walked around the podium, picked it up off the floor and rehung it on the podium to the amusement of the people in the audience. The piece was written about that funny incident, and the photo was taken later for the piece--the hands belonged to a stand-in.

But I made a mistake in the piece--I questioned whether the stand-in was a Mason, because (at least according to me) he was wearing his ring upside-down. I got over a hundred emails on the subject. As I quickly learned, the custom for wearing a Masonic rings varies a great deal by locale. I was dead wrong on that point. As it was quickly pointed out to me, many Masons wear their rings with the points out.  Live and learn.

A couple weeks ago, the subject came up again--on Facebook. I posted a picture of a friend of mine, the Illustrious Brother William J. Hussey, Jr. 33°, and one of the Midnight Freemasons, Brother Brian Schimian, asked why he was wearing his ring upside-down. Bill Hussey was wearing his ring the same way I wear mine. I thought to myself "oh boy, here we go again!"  There were a number of comments on that post--over 90 in an hour--including comments from Midnight Freemason Bill Hosler and our newest member Aaron Gardner. Brian Schimian and I later talked on the phone and decided this would be an excellent topic for a piece on the Midnight Freemasons. Since he was taught to wear his ring points out, and I was instructed to wear mine points in, we decided to write the piece together and compare the reasons why we wear our rings the way we do.

Points In?
In my part of the world, Masons wear their rings with the points down--towards your wrist. When I was a new Mason I didn't know it mattered. Ever since the day I was raised a Master Mason, I wear my ring each and every day, and in the beginning, I wore it which ever way I happened to put it on that morning. I was at a degree one evening, and afterwards, we're sitting around a table in the dining hall, and a Brother noticed how I had my ring on and told me I was wearing it upside-down. That particular day, I'd put it on points up. I looked around the table and noticed everyone at that table was wearing it points down. We had a discussion about it. The explanation is that the points of the compass should point towards your heart, to remind you of your obligation. That ring, according to our local custom, is a reminder to the wearer of those tenants we honor, and the Fraternity we represent. I've worn it that way since. I thought it was Universal at the time--as I learned later, it certainly is not. There are those that wear it points down. Like Brother Brian Schimian.

Points Out?
Brian Schimian: For as long as I can remember while I was growing up, I wanted to wear my father’s Masonic ring. It represented everything that he was and what I strove to be. As I moved my way through Masonic education, that ring and the symbolism therein came to mean more. The typical Masonic ring is a combination of Masonic symbols. The Square, or earthly perfection, and Compasses, or heavenly perfection. Frequently, the letter G is incorporated into the center. Along my journey of enlightenment, I came to understand that the ends of the Square point up to show ones aspirations toward God and the points of the Compasses point down to represent heavenly qualities coming down to earth from God. The ring, as all Masonic symbols are displayed in the same manner, to show others that I know what my obligations are and to show the rest of the world I am a Mason.  The ring exemplifies how I live my life: upright & on the level. If someone asks what that ring represents, it is easier for them to see the design as you show it to them and describe the different points if it is worn points down.

I remember one Brother explaining it like this as he showed me his ring: "Sharing the light of Masonry or advertising, if you will, being a mason is being “Upright” and “On The Level” as so should be the emblem of a Mason. By displaying the ring points out, a Mason makes the statement that as others see his actions, so will they gain a upright perception of the Craft. This Brother wore an old Masonic Signet ring that was older than both of our ages combined. He continued, "The original Masonic signet rings had to face this direction to ensure that when the wearer pressed the ring into warm wax to validate and seal an authentic Masonic document, the legs of the compass pointed down on the resulting wax seal."

Todd Creason: Well there you have it--two different ring customs, and two different philosophies on how Masonic rings should be worn. And I'm sure if our readers would chip in, you'd find there is a lot more diversity than just these two we've presented here, and I hope our readers will share those with us.

Brian Schimian: Should it look right side up to Him, you or them? In the end it may not matter how one chooses to wear the Points, as long as you act upon them and remember what it means to be able to wear them. Probably the most encompassing explanation I have found is this: “You are supposed to wear the ring with the Compasses pointed into yourself. Until such a time that you become a Past Master of your Lodge. At which time, you can turn the points out to the rest of the world, as spiritually speaking, you have reached the point of Master, and have mastered the art of the Quadrant, and you may now share your wisdom with others.”

Another answer to this question can be found in a new style of Masonic ring that is beginning to make itself around the market. The laser etched Square & Compasses are placed in both directions around the ring. So there you go, the free market has solved the dilemma for us.

~BJS/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). You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Bro. Brian Schimian is a life member of 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. Brian is a father of two Children. He is also the lead contributor to the Brothers In Arms blog, a pro 2nd Amendment blog page. "Start Square, Finish Level" You can contact him at: nobleschimian@gmail.com

From Broadway To Brisbane - And Back...

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Stig R. Hokanson

Bro. Edward Ralph de Tisne was born on March 20, 1890 in New York City, the son of French immigrants Pierre and Henriette de Tisne. He grew up in modest circumstances with countless immigrants from all over Europe clambering for a better life in the New World. Throughout his childhood and youth he was drawn to live theatre which was plentiful in New York at the time. Strikingly good looking, Bro. de Tisne scored modest parts off Broadway, mainly in vaudeville. He honed his craft well and decided to try his luck in England in 1912. Some years later de Tisne sought more adventure, arriving in Australia in 1919.

Meanwhile, famous Australian actress Yvonne "Fifi" Banvard, who had been touring in the United States with her mother as the Flying Banvards, landed in Melbourne. The experienced Yvonne made her stage début as Fifi in The Belle of New York in San Francisco when only seven years old. Fifi was a true thespian and later emerged as one of Mack Sennett's bathing girls and performed in moving pictures for three years. With exaggeration, she later claimed to have studied ballet with Anna Pavlova before deciding that 'it was easier to sing a comic song'.

Having returned to Victoria, on 19 November 1920 Yvonne married American actor-producer Edward Ralph de Tisne. The marriage started off well. Bro. de Tisne was by now not only a consummate actor, but a well established producer. They joined the Fullers' vaudeville circuit where they performed a popular song-and-dance act, 'Fifi and her Excess Baggage' (1921). In Melbourne in 1921-22 Mrs. de Tisne appeared in the successful pantomime, Bluebeard, as an exotically costumed Fatima with more than a resemblance to Theda Bara.

After a season on the Sydney theatre circuit, the couple's fame continued to grow. It was in Sydney that Edward Ralph de Tisne was initiated into Freemasonry in Thespian Lodge No. 256, UGL of NSW on November 22, 1921. Several of de Tisne's fellow actors - such as Roy Rene - were already members of Freemasonry. The transient nature of theatre meant that few actors took office, fewer still went through the chair in their respective lodges.


de Tisne's stay in Sydney and his lodge attendance was at best sporadic. When the New Theatre Royal in Elizabeth Street, Brisbane was looking for actors the de Tisne's simply packed up and moved north where they were well received.

Teaming up with fellow producer Harrington Reynolds, Bro. de Tisne quickly established himself as a much sought after actor. His wife Fifi reverted to her maiden name of Yvonne Banvard and starred in most of her husband's over forty major productions.

Important events occurred in 1922. Bro. de Tisne decided to affiliate with Thespian Lodge No. 268 in Brisbane, which then met at the Alice Street Masonic Temple, easy walking distance to Brisbane's many theatres at the time. de Tisne's lodge involvement was limited to 'attending when he could' on account of his commitment to theatre across Queensland.

As 'Yvonne Banvard', from September 1922 at the New Theatre Royal, Brisbane, Mrs. de Tisne was the leading lady in all Reynolds-de Tisne Players' productions. The Brisbane Courier is peppered with reviews and advertisements about Bro. de Tisne and his successful spouse.

At the height of their success Bro. de Tisne and his wife enjoyed Vice Regal patronage. In the Rockhampton Bulletin [June 14, 1924], a writer heralds de Tisne's season at Rockhampton's Tivoli Theatre by mentioning that one of the company's greatest fans in Brisbane is none other than his Excellency Governor Sir Matthew Nathan who "was so impressed by their talents as to grant Vice-Regal Patronnée, which we understand has not previously been bestowed upon any permanent theatrical company in Queensland."

Success, however, came at a price. The marriage between two strong-willed persons showed signs of cracking. The cracks widened, ending not only the marriage but also the theatre company which Bro. de Tisne had so successfully run. Without Fifi as the obvious drawcard, the company ran out of steam, it seems. At the time Bro. de Tisne was starring in Manly (NSW). No sooner had he completed his run when Fifi divorced him. He did not work for close to a year. Starring with Harry Greene in Nothing but Lies and Give and Take. Greene liked de Tisne and took him to London in 1926. Sadly, Give and Take failed on the London stage.

If you think her separation from Bro. Edward Ralph de Tisne slowed Fifi down, think again! Mrs. de Tisne was next engaged by J. C. Williamson Ltd. for a long run of musical comedies and won admirers for her portrayal of the 'vivacious and peppy' Lady Jane in Rose Marie (1926-27). New romance was soon emerging, albeit with a non-Thespian this time.

On September 17, 1928 at St John's Anglican Church, Toorak, she married a Perth merchant Ernest Cephas Hunter Broadhurst; they divorced eight years later. Fifi relocated to America where she found the competition hard and where her name was largely forgotten.

In February 1931 Fifi returned to Australia from the U.S.A. to tour with Clem Dawe in 'gay and sparkling' variety shows. As the platinum vamp June East, she appeared with Roy Rene in the Cinesound film Strike Me Lucky (1934); by 1939 she was playing in Brisbane. Based in Sydney in the 1940s, she blossomed as a wireless personality, taking part in the 'Bob Dyer Variety Show', radio comedies and such serials as 'Mrs. 'Obbs'.

On July 22, 1944 at St John's Anglican Church, Darlinghurst, Sydney, stretching credulity somewhat, she affirmed that she was a 30-year-old spinster and married 29-year-old Charles Kilburn, a clerk in the Royal Australian Air Force; they divorced in 1950.

In 1948-49 Fifi produced a number of plays, including Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness!, for the Whitehall management at the Minerva Theatre, Kings Cross. She moved to Hobart in 1950 with Gwenyth Friend, a set-designer and sister of the artist Donald Friend.

Leasing the Theatre Royal, Fifi formed a repertory company, Fifi Banvard Productions; despite favourable reviews, the venture was a financial disaster. Back in Sydney in 1952, she resumed work in radio and produced several plays at the Independent Theatre for (Dame) Doris Fitton; in 1958 she supported (Sir) Robert Helpmann in Noel Coward's Nude with Violin at the local Theatre Royal.

A woman of energy and passion, Fifi said that she preferred serious dramatic roles, but it was her flair for comedy and sense of the burlesque that made her popular both in Australia and America. Bro. de Tisne's career, meanwhile, held its own. He was often torn between the stage and business side of theatre. The stage usually triumphed.

Fifi no longer in his life, Bro. de Tisne returned for a time to England from where he had set out for Australia some years earlier. There he was snapped up by American legendary producer Jed Harris who took "Broadway to Britain." Fluent in French, on account of his French parents, de Tisne also starred in several Paris theatres. Teaming up with famous screen and stage legend, Russian-born Sacha Guitry, de Tisne made a good living as a character actor. However a yearning to return to America prevailed in the end. On March 13, 1927 de Tisne boarded S.S. Berlin for his last Atlantic crossing, arriving in New York City on March 22.

He took up residence at 310 West 88th Street in New York's Upper West Side, a fashionable four-storey apartment building built in 1900, He was 37 years of age. Immediate publicity ensued with New York's Daily News noting "Edward de Tisne has finally returned home after fifteen years abroad during which he has starred in plays in England, France and Australia. His return has been long-awaited. He is in rehearsal for the role of Steve Crandall in the Detroit Company's production on Broadway."

Shortly after his arrival he joined the Lambs' Club, the famous New York establishment for actors, producers, musicians and others with connection to theatre.

It was not long before his popularity was revived starring in several plays. The Liberty Theatre
engaged him in the comedy play Mr. Moneypenny playing no less than four parts during a two month season of sixty-five performances. [The Liberty Theatre was operating from 1904 to 1933, located at 236 West 42nd Street in New York City.]

His connection with Freemasonry became increasingly sporadic. There is no evidence that he affiliated with lodges in New York City. Thespian Lodge No. 268, back in Queensland, was most likely only a fading memory of happy times in the antipodes. The Lodge, in turn, felt compelled on June 30, 1927 to add "Struck off for Non-Payment of Dues" next to his name.

Bro. de Tisne's health began to fail with the onset of the Great Depression. Years of treading the boards, grease paint and lime light had taken their toll. Live theatre was beginning to lose audiences flocking to 'Talking Pictures;' a new era in entertainment was dawning both in America and Australia, an era in which Bro. de Tisne would not take part, dying, after a short illness, in the winter of 1931, aged 42.


~SRH

Brother Stig R Hokanson is a retired teacher and lecturer who lives in Shailer Park, some 18 miles south of Brisbane, the State capital of the State of Queensland and the home of The Allied Command during WWII (where Bro. General Douglas Macarthur) directed the Pacific War. he is a member of Thespian Lodge No. 268, The United Grand Lodge of Queensland (since 1971) where he is currently serving as Jr. Warden. He is also a member of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland. Brother Stig is also a member of the Royal Arch, Red Cross of Constantine, Rose Croix and is also the United Grand Lodge representative to the Grand Lodge of Norway (since 1981).In addition to this he is also Vice Patron UGLQ Board of Benevolence's Aged Masons, Widows' and Orphans' Fund.

The Better Angels Of Our Nature - Freemasonry In The American Civil War

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

Over a year ago, I reviewed an older book which I found to be just amazing, it was called "A House Undivided" and you can find the review here. Recently I had the pleasure of reading another book which was similar, in that the subject matter was the same. However this particular book "The Better Angels Of Our Nature - Freemasonry In The American Civil War", is not so much a collection of colorful and interesting anecdotes as the previous book had been, but instead a real investigation into these stories and it attempts to verify, using real scholarly work, the claims that many of the stories have perpetuated in the last one-hundred years and that are usually claimed as sacrosanct.

In the first chapter it opens up with a door buster, in which using all the resources available, documentation, evidence and even written accounts, dismisses and proves once and for all time that the highly regarded story of Hancock and Armistead, which has been forever memorialized in the "Friend To A Friend" Masonic Memorial at Gettysburg, and is also the basis of the 26th Degree in the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, is false and not only didn't happen, but that it could not have happened at all. It's a great story, but it just isn't true. 

After that huge disappointing blow, the book goes on and I was fully prepared for more disappointments. But my disappointment was staved off by confirmation after confirmation of amazing stories regarding the gentle crafts influence in war time. In fact, many of the stories which were confirmed were more amazing than any other stories I had heard before. Stories that pulled at your heart strings and made you really think about the time and situations these Brothers had been in filled the book from cover to cover.

The books overwhelming and underlying question or theme seems to be -- "What was it about the Masonic Obligation that superseded the rules of war?". This was a question that the book guides you into asking yourself as you hear story after story of verified fraternalism on the battleground. Stories of soldiers "accidentally" escaping and lodges being fashioned in prison camps and even enemy officers of those prison camps attending the prisoner based lodges are verified through journal entries and cross-referenced in other journal entries by the actual brothers who were there! 

And where there seems to be journal entries by brothers verifying these events, there are also journal entries by the profane of the period in which they complain that Masons got better treatment and even were let go on occasion, this to them was unfair. Often times these profane wrote in their journals of how when the time would present itself, they too would join the fraternity out of witnessing the bonds which had been on display to them during the war.

The book does a fantastic job of verifying, separating truth from colorful anecdotes and disproving Masonic "whoppers". There are so many great stories and parts of this book, I say it's a must read. Where "A House Undivided" brings you the fairytales, perhaps this book brings you the straight dope on what really happened and in the end, this book proves we are indeed the greatest fraternity in the world.

~RHJ

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.



Masonic Family Tree

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Jason S. West

Freemasonry has been a wonderful journey for me. It has led me down a great many paths that have helped me to find out more about myself and I find it  amazing to think what this adventure in Freemasonry may have for me in the future.

A couple of years ago, I came across the Whence Came You? Masonic Podcast. I began listening to Brother Robert Johnson and  I enjoyed every moment of his podcast. I decided to look him up on Facebook to get to know my brother a little better. I began reading the Midnight Freemasons. Brother Robert and I carried on several conversations as time went by. Later, I found out that we have more in common. We are both safety professionals, Junior Wardens in our Lodges (at the time), and a few other things.

In July of 2013, I was on a trip to Monterrey, Mexico. I checked my Facebook to see what was going
on. Brother Robert had posted a link to an article about his 13th Great Grandfather, Captain William Powell of Jamestown, Virginia. I was amazed at what I saw. I, too, am a descendent of Captain Powell. I contacted Brother Robert, immediately. I told him that not only are we brothers, but we are distant cousins!

A piece which hangs in Bro. West's office,
which depicts the James Town Settlement and
very place Captain Powell dropped anchor.
This great Fraternity of ours has not only brought brothers with many things in common together, it has brought together two brothers that share a common ancestry that dates back over 400 years. I live in Texas and Brother Robert lives in Illinois. The distance means nothing when it comes to our Craft in this day and age. Masonry brings together many brothers in different ways.

Masonry means many things to me. It has taken me many places. I have met many wonderful brothers. I am happy to say that because of Freemasonry, I now have a wonderful brother and cousin that I may have never met out there in the profane world. This has given me a new meaning to “Masonic Family.”

~JSW




Bro. Jason S. West, 32° is the Junior Warden and an Endowed Member of Kelly Lodge No. 1131 AF&AM in San Antonio, Texas. He is a member of the York Rite Bodies of San Antonio, Royal Arch Chapter, Cryptic Council, and Knights Templar Commandery; the Scottish Rite Valley of San Antonio; the Alzafar Shrine, Sons of Hiram Master Mason Degree Team; the Omala Grotto of the M.O.V.P.E.R.; the Irish Lodge of Research, Lodge No. 200; and the Masonic Society. Bro. West is a husband and father. He is an Army combat veteran. His profession is that of Occupational Safety & Health Engineer. He is currently working on Masonic related articles and a Masonic related book.

Pride Honor Tradition: Part Three

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Brian J. Schimian


Continued from : Part One & Part Two


The “Old Guard” exemplifies these traits in their unwavering dedication to respecting and protecting our fallen hero’s. If we look farther back into our past, we can find the same nobility in the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ of the Temple of Solomon. Or the Knights Templar as they became known.

Shortly after the First Crusade, some time around 1119, a French nobleman along with eight Knight relatives started an Order with the mission of protecting the Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land.  With the permission of King Baldwin of Jerusalem, they set up their headquarters at the Temple Mount.  They raised funds by asking for donations of money, land and noble-born men to join the Order.  The Templars became the most elite force of Knights of the time.  They were forbidden to retreat in battle, unless outnumbered three to one, and even then, only by the order of their Commander.  To the Templars, martyrdom in battle was the most glorious way to die and the mortality rate regularly reached 90%, not including the wounded.

Bernard of Clairvaux (The leading churchman at the time) wrote: “A Templar Knight is truly a fearless knight, and secure on every side, for his soul is protected by the armor of faith, just as his body is protected by the armor of steel. He is thus doubly-armed, and need fear neither demons nor men.”  These “Warrior Monks” were required to swear vows of obedience, chastity, piety and poverty.  They handed over all of their goods to the brotherhood including land, horses and all other items of material wealth including any interest in businesses.  In 1139, Pope Innocent II issued the papal bull, “Omne Datum Optimum”. It decreed that the Knights Templar could, “pass freely through any border, owed no taxes, and were subject to no one's authority except that of the Pope”. It was a remarkable confirmation of the Templars and their mission across the land.

By 1150 the mission of the Order was adapted to include the protection of valuables.  They accomplished this by establishing a system of creditory notes and what is today considered the precursor of modern banking.  Pilgrims would visit a Templar house and deposit their valuables. The Templars would then issue a letter which would describe their holdings. Many believe that the letters were encrypted with a cipher based on a Maltese Cross.  While traveling, the pilgrims could "withdraw" funds from their accounts keeping them safe since they didn’t have to carry valuables on their journey.

Having inherited a decrepit kingdom in 1306 and deeply in debt to the Templars, King Phillip contrived a plan to rid himself of his debts to the Order.  In 1307, with the help of his puppet Pope Clement, the Templars were arrested and tortured to the point of forced confession for heresy.  No evidence or witnesses were ever brought forth, other than the forced confession, obtained under extreme duress.  The Order was disbanded by in 1312 by Pope Clement V under pressure by King Phillip IV.  As extensive as the arrests of the Templars were, an entire fleet of Templar Ships vanished along with the extensive records of holdings and financial statements.  Only three accused of heresy directly by the papal commission including the Grand Master: Jacques DeMolay.  DeMolay regained his courage and proclaimed the order's and his innocence.  For their heresy, they were burned at the stake in 1314, as the flames rose above their heads, DeMolay shouted a curse that within the year, both the King and Pope would meet him at the throne of God for final judgment.  It does just so happen that the King and Pope both were dead by the year’s end.

Pride. Honor. Tradition.

A Brother recently told me: “Fire is the test of gold... adversity is the test of good men... Fortitude…”  I can’t think of a better way to describe Jaques DeMolay and the test of time and trials that he, the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and Freemasonry itself, has stood.

Regardless of how you serve in your Labors, the highest honor, the greatest good that one can do, is to remember those that have come before you and passed their traditions on for generations to come.  Refining our ashlar and building upon the cornerstones that have been laid by the great men that blazed the paths before our time.

So Brethren, until such time as we may meet in the Inner Chamber, and receive the reward due of all Good Men, let me offer you this toast:


To Him, who all things understood,
To Him, who furnished the stone and wood,
To Him, who nobly shed his blood - in doing of his duty;
We hail the day! We hail the morn!
On which those great men were born!
Who did the Temple thus adorn
With Wisdom, Strength and Beauty.


In 2001, a copy of a “Chinon Parchment” dated August of 1308 was discovered in the Vatican’s Archives, it indicated that Pope Clement V absolved the leaders of the Order in 1308. Another “Chinon Parchment” dated August 1308 addressed to Philip IV of France, stated that absolution had been granted to all those Templars that had confessed to heresy "and restored them to the Sacraments and to the unity of the Church".
~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. Brian is a father of two children. He is also the lead contributor to the Brothers In Arms blog, a pro 2nd Amendment blog page. "Start Square, Finish Level"

One Year and Eleven Days

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

An average day in February, a long time ago a child was born who would become one of the Presidents of the Continental Congress and ultimately the President of the United States of America. Of course I am talking about Illustrious Brother George Washington. The time in which Brother Washington was born the Colonies used a Julian Calendar and not the Gregorian we use today. So historically speaking Brother Washington was born on February 11th, 1731.

In 1752 Britain and the Colonies of the new world adopted the previously mentioned Gregorian calendar and it moved Washington's birthday. Not just by a few days either, it moved it a year and eleven days to the now observed February 22nd, 1732. Now that I have you mildly entertained with this fun fact, let me take moment to reflect.

As we in the Craft celebrate Brother Washington's birthday, the rest of the Nation somewhat generically celebrates "Presidents Day", which is interesting since no one has ever actually sanctioned Washington's Birthday as Presidents Day. In their celebrations, which seldom escape the confines of academia, we see the profane revering Brother Washington's morals and virtues through story books, myths and craft projects. At some point something is usually inferred like "They don't make men like that anymore" or "No one has values like that anymore." Well, we know this is false, those values are alive and well within the confines of our graces.

To most people Washington's Birthday means one thing, that they get a paid day off of work or an extra day to play in the snow. On the other hand, to the Freemason, to the true craftsmen of our fraternity, it means a whole lot more. To us and our families, it is a day to remember Brother Washington's utmost values as both a man and a Mason. We can do well to Brother Washington's memory by continuously perpetuating these values and actions in all our transactions with mankind.

Look well to your character Brothers.

~RHJ



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.

Brotherly Love

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Judy A. Gordon



“Above all things let us never forget that mankind constitutes one great brotherhood; all born to encounter suffering and sorrow, and therefore bound to sympathize with each other.”
~Bro. Albert Pike




The air is still; the sky is dark green in color. It’s a very warm, humid Sunday morning. Large hail starts to fall, and in the distance there is seen a low-lying rotating cloud. Its path turns dangerous as the sirens go off, indicating to take cover. A roar, similar to a freight train signals a warning to all, an EF5 tornado has arrived. The funnel moves along, destroying almost everything in its path.

On 11/17/13, this powerful tornado traveled quickly through Tazewell County. Pekin, East Peoria, and Washington, Illinois, received the most damage. Over a thousand homes were totally swept away in seconds. True Masons, are taught at the beginning of their values to look after their Masonic Brothers and Widows.

As soon as it was the calm after the storm, the Master of Empire Lodge called his members to see if everyone was safe. We were safe, but a few members of Empire Lodge were not so lucky. The Master of the lodge immediately went to my parent’s home and boarded up a window that was broken, and helped another member just a few houses away. A couple of brothers lost their homes as well.

Within days, the Masonic brothers of the great state of Illinois banded together and gathered clothes, water, non perishable food, and supplies, then headed south to Tazewell County. The first stop was Taylor Lodge #98 in Washington, Illinois, the most damaged area. The lodge opened up their doors for the drop off center.

The Most Worshipful Grand Master of Illinois, Barry Weer came to Taylor Lodge and presented checks to six Masonic families who lost their homes. The semi truck dropped off supplies, which were then distributed. The next day, another semi came and dropped off supplies at Empire Lodge #126 in Pekin, Illinois. Brothers, Sisters, Job’s Daughters, DeMolay, and Rainbow all banded together to help one another.

It will take years before these cities are back to normal, but men of character from every walk of life are all working together to rebuild a better world for those whose lives were shattered on that warm tragic day in November 2013; a day that Tazewell County citizens will never forget.




~JAG

Judy Gordon is very active in Job's Daughters. She's the Past Honored Queen, and Past Bethel Guardian of Bethel No. 55, Pekin (IL). She received the Cryptic Masons Masonic Youth Leadership Award along with her husband, Ray Gordon in July 2007. She's also Past Matron of the Morton Chapter No. 974 (IL) of the Order of the Eastern Star and Historian of the Emblem Club No. 424 of Pekin (IL). Judy is the recipient of the Degree of Royal Purple (2012) and elected to the Grand Line Illinois Job's Daughters (2015-16). Boaz joined the family in September 2013 and grandmother of 3 wonderful grandsons.

Pride Honor Tradition: Part Two

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Brian J. Schimian

Continued From Part One...

As rewarding as my regular duties were, I have never been so humbled as when standing shoulder to shoulder with thousands of my Brothers and Sisters as a fire engine slowly passes, carrying the body of a fallen.  We traveled to countless services for Line of Duty Deaths as well as those for retired members all over the State.  These days, after being out of the game for a number of years after suffering my own career ending injury in the line of duty, I doubt I would have the constitution to make it through the tolling of the bell and maintain a salute, let alone my composure.

I carried these qualities like a charge from God Himself every day.  There is something about the selfless dedication shown to those who have fallen.  And no other group does a better job at that than the Old Guard, the Sentinels of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The 3rd. Infantry Division, the oldest active duty regiment in the Army (being first organized as the Fist American Regiment in 1784), assumed this post in 1948 and have stood guard since then.  21 steps South, turn and face East towards the Tomb for 21 seconds, turn North and pause for 21 seconds, 21 steps back North down the 63 foot long rubber covered walkway, turn and face East towards the Tomb for 21 seconds, turn South and pause for 21 seconds and repeat.  24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  These guards have not missed a step regardless of the weather.  They have preformed their duty in the sweltering sun, hurricanes and subzero blizzards without faltering.  They remained on Post even through the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  Becoming a Sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknown is long considered to be one of the highest honors.  Less than 20% of all who volunteer make it to the training and a small fraction of those pass to become a Sentinel.

While preforming their duties, or “walking the mat,” the Sentinels wear no insignia that delineate rank.  This keeps the Sentinel from outranking the Unknown, no matter what their rank may have been.  They carry their weapon away from the Tomb as a gesture against intrusion.  The Sentinel that is on duty will break his routine and silence should one cross the barriers around the Tomb or become loud or disrespectful.  21 steps was chosen to coincide with the highest Military Honors that can be bestowed upon a fallen soldier, the 21 Gun Salute.

The Changing of the Guard is a symbolic and regimented process that has remained unchanged.  In the summer moths (April thru September) the Guard is changed every half hour.  During winter (October thru March) the change happens every hour.  During the hours that the National Cemetery is closed, the Guard is changed every two hours.  The Guards work in teams, 24 hours on & 24 hours, off for 5 days and then have 4 days off.  It takes the Sentinels an average of six hours to prepare their heavy wool uniforms for the next days work.  Those that are bestowed the honor of becoming a Sentinel are required to memorize a sixteen pages of information on Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown, as well as the names and locations of nearly 300 graves.

Soldiers wishing to serve in this capacity must sign a two year commitment, be in excellent physical condition, be between 5’ 10” & 6’ 4” and have a completely spotless record.  Even once leaving active duty from the military, the honor of wearing the Tomb Guard Identification Badge my be revoked should their actions be deemed unbecoming of a Sentinel or disrespectful of the Tomb.
To be continued...
~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. Brian is a father of two children. He is also the lead contributor to the Brothers In Arms blog, a pro 2nd Amendment blog page. "Start Square, Finish Level"

A Life Changing Obligation

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro Robert Johnson 32°

"Cold Turkey", that's what we call it when we have to stop doing something immediately, whether for the benefit of health or any other reason. Seldom do we think about it in terms of behaviors. But that's just what happens to some of us.

As a man in today's society, and let's face it, it is a huge society, almost eight-billion people world wide, you would think that there isn't much examination on any one particular person. After all, we just blend in right? Wrong. People see us and we influence more people than you would think.

When we think about all the things we do on a daily basis, the things we say--the words "You kiss you mother with that mouth?" may ring a bell. What about social media? All to often there are people posting about things less than gentlemanly and in an all to frequent occurrence. But then, we hear the call, Freemasonry beckons us, calls us and pulls us in.

Upon being brought to light and being made a Master Mason, we must flip a switch, like a snap of the fingers to start acting better, to start being mindful and to show the virtues that we as a fraternity exemplify and that the public has seen since time immemorial. We must in a certain respect, change our behavior "Cold Turkey".

We are a fraternity of men who in fact do, "make good men better", and of course this is a constant work in progress, no one is perfect. But the obligations we take as Master Masons are certainly life changing. I know, as a social media user, the all to powerful call to post something which I find hilarious but perhaps may be offensive or rude to some and the real power is to conform to that obligation we took upon ourselves and to be the better man you promised you would be.



    “Self-control is the chief element in self-respect, and self-respect is the chief element in courage.”
-Thucydides

~RHJ



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.

Organizational Marriage

by Midnight Freemason Contributor 
Bro. Aaron Gardner


Just recently I had an interesting conversation with Brother Bill Hosler, an active contributor here at The Midnight Freemasons. We started out by talking about the idea of women Freemasons and how we disagree with the notion of women being present in a lodge of Master Masons; more on this later. The conversation soon turned into affiliates of Freemasonry and one of the most well known organizations for women within Freemasonry. Of course that includes the Order of the Eastern Star. The Order of the Eastern Star has three official eras of existence; the first being during it's founding under Bro. Doctor and PGM Robert Morris in 1850, the second starting in 1866 and finally, today's era, which started in 1876. The thought of having women involved within Freemasonry has been long and thought out. And rightly so, as it is in our existence as an order to spread brotherly love throughout the world, who better than a woman to give us an example, such as the natural instincts of motherly nurture?

The Order of Eastern Star has requirements similar to Freemasonry. To be a member of their organization, you must be the directly related to a Master Mason, i.e.; wife, daughter (including legally adopted), mother, widow, sister, half-sister, grandmother, granddaughter, great granddaughter, aunt, niece and great nieces. stepfamily, i.e.: stepmother, daughters and sisters, In-laws; daughter-in-law, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, great granddaughters, nieces, and great nieces. Men can also join the organization provided they themselves are Master Masons in good standing. Which brings us to the sole purpose of this topic, Why are Master Masons involved in O.E.S?

I was told that O.E.S exemplifies chauvinistic qualities, that it somehow provides the notion that women cannot make decisions without some kind of approval from a male figure in their life. I thoroughly believe this to be not just false but furthest from the truth. It is true that in order for the Order of Eastern Star to convene, there must be a Master Mason present in the East. However, that does not signify that he makes all the determination for the Sister’s work. Now, before I go any further let me clarify, I am in no way, shape or form involved in O.E.S. I am solely a Master Mason who believes in the cause of our craft in it’s entirety.

So, if a Master Mason must be in a chair of power how is it that it isn’t chauvinistic? Let’s put it into perspective. In the appendant bodies of Freemasonry there must be some kind of representative in all of them. For example, If you are a Shriner, you must be a Master Mason, this was almost not the case in the state of Michigan (There was a tension amongst the Shrine and the Grand Lodge, you can read here)..  To be in the Scottish or York Rites, you must also be a Master Mason. Being O.E.S is an appendant body of Freemasonry, and is no different in that respect. We as Master Masons have a responsibility to offer guidance to the organization to ensure Masonic qualities are being exemplified through out. The O.E.S is representing us after all.

This poses an issue that originally stimulated my conversation with Brother Hosler, if we must be present and guide O.E.S why not just initiate them into our fraternal organization? The simple answer is, it has everything to do with representation. Freemasonry and Order of Eastern Star are married, as such O.E.S represents Freemasonry. The Order was put into place to include our families but not go against our laws and regulations regarding Freemasonry. As such, whatever anyone does as a sister of the Order is doing so in the name of the Craft. However, whatever work we decide to do within our lodges does not represent O.E.S in anyway. If it is controversial to the Grand Lodge, the Grand Lodge will hold the members of the lodge responsible and not the members of O.E.S. However, if something is controversial amongst our sisters in O.E.S then it will be a direct reflection of the Master Mason’s. As such our marriage would be in tatters and a cause for divorce would be evident. After all, our organizations are married and the existence of O.E.S would cease due to the requirements of joining.

That being said, the Order of Eastern Star is a great organization that helps exemplify what we stand for in Freemasonry. O.E.S represents us in extremely amazing ways by supporting youth programs such as the De Molay, Job’s Daughters and Rainbow for Girls. They support different charities including Eastern Star Homes, a way to support seniors and assisted living homes, among other programs in the local communities. Where our lodges may support one aspect of different charities and community work, Order of Eastern Star acts as a secondary arm to send out more support where we may lack. I highly encourage you to look into the Order and decide if it is something you may be interested in. It will be just as rewarding as Blue Lodge, York and Scottish Rite. Together the Freemasonry family can change the world, all of us included from the 33rd Degree to the Blue Lodge, O.E.S, all the way down to our youth organizations.


~AG

Bro. Aaron Gardner was raised as a Master Mason in his hometown lodge of Flushing, Michigan. He has served in active duty with the United States Army for the last seven years in which he has become well traveled around the world. He is currently stationed in Lawton, Oklahoma where he is a member of Triangle Lodge #548. When Bro. Gardner is not defending the nation, he takes great pride in writing articles for his blog Celestial Brotherhood, writing his fiction novel and researching all he can involving the Craft.

Pride Honor Tradition: Part One

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Brian J. Schimian

I have never served in the U.S. Armed Services. I have though, had the honor of serving in the Fire Service for almost two decades, most of that time was spent as a full-time Firefighter/Paramedic. When I walked out of high school, possibly more due to the administration not wanting me to come back than any effort of my own, I had my enlistment paperwork filled out and in my hand. As I drove home, my plan was to stop by the USMC recruiters office and hand it in. I never made it. Before I reached the parking lot, my cell phone rang and I was offered a job at my local fire department. My path led to a little bit of college and possibly the most rewarding career in civilian life. During my career, I had the honor of honing my skills and serving with some of the most admirable men and women, both on the fire line and with the SRT’s or Specialized Response Teams.

I became proficient in skills that I never dreamed possible in the Fire Service. I loved being a firefighter and a paramedic. I eventually became the acting Lt. for my shift. The feeling of self-
worth one can get from being in the position of helping others is a high that no drug can come close too. If any of my math teachers saw me in my engineer duties, they would think the world was ending. Controlling a piece of fire apparatus when pumping a fire; the hydraulics, math and fast thinking when problems arise was a rush. Not to mention, if I screwed up, my guys on the other end of the hose would be in a bad situation. I became certified as a Wildland Firefighter, something I never thought I would be in the physical condition to do. I was selected as a member of the Department to attend all the Water Rescue classes and became skilled in Ice, Swift Water and Dive Rescue. I ran the Department’s NHTSA program that ensured the correct installation and transportation of child safety seats. I also worked as one of the Communication Specialists ensuring that the radios, pagers and mobile computers were maintained to ensure the ability to communicate in an emergency.

All of that paled in comparison to the duties I filled as a member of the Department and eventually, County Honor Guard. A few years after I secured a full-time position with my Department, we lost one of our Brothers. He passed away from cancer that was deemed to have been contracted “In The Line of Duty.” He was a character to say the least and I will never forget that last day, the entire shift went to his house while on duty. I can still see him laying in his bed and can hear those words we whispered to each other. Before I left his side, I leaned in and told him, “Rest, we’ve got it from here.” A few hours later, the “Silver Fox” passed away. That is when the realization of exactly how unprepared we were to do our Duty and fulfill the need to lay our Brother to rest, appropriately anyways. We didn’t even have Class-A Dress Uniforms. A ton of money was dropped by the administration and most of the members were outfitted with what could pass as dress blues. We had a plethora of Brothers and Sisters that stood in for us as the Honor Guard and even standby crews to take our calls. This was the hardest day of my career, hands down. The day was bad because we had lost a Brother, but it was made worse by how unprepared we were to take care of one of own. It would never happen again. For some reason I had a recurring image in my head, I remembered back to a paper that my father and I had written while I was in High School on “The Old Guard.” There was no reason for us to be unprepared, and it would never happen again.

A few of us got together and decided that what was missing from our line of work was an Honor Guard. It was an uphill fight, as it was not going to be done on the cheap. But if the county can funnel manpower and endless streams of cash up to SRTs, then they can just as well do the same to make sure that we take care of ourselves when the worst happens. We began by using our Dept. Class-A’s and started to grow into our own from there. We found the funding literally in the couch cushions to secure our own set of ceremonial flags and polished hand tools. We wrote our own policies and procedures for every possible situation. We became the go to group for any of the paperwork that needed to be filled out by the members and maintained them to make sure they were up to date to ensure prompt disbursement of Line of Duty Death Benefits. We had a team that was responsible for accompanying the Chief and clergy to make notifications and ensure that the wishes of the fallen were followed. We practiced marching and Flag procedures on our own time. We started to requests to post the Colors at local events like the National Prayer Day breakfast. As the standard bearer carrying the American Flag, I led the 4th of July parade in town one year. We changed our footwear the next day.

Eventually, the other Departments in the area started forming up their own Honor Guards and doing the same things that we had with their own flair tossed in. This led to the creation of the County Honor Guard. As a whole we adopted the USMC Dress Blues as our uniform so that we would stand out from our home departments. Again, we created our own policies and procedures, acting as the support group for all the local agencies. They could lean on us for advice and support in the background or have us take the lead and let them to grieve. Whatever was needed, we were there.

To be continued... 

~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. Brian is a father of two children. He is also the lead contributor to the Brothers In Arms blog, a pro 2nd Amendment blog page. "Start Square, Finish Level"

Wisdom of Mind, Strength of Body and Beauty of Soul

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
 Bro. Tribuwan Persaud



Within the Body and the Nature of it all,
Beauty holds Creation’s card.
Wisdom in choice, words and actions sustain,
while with time’s Strength; all things are discard.

For the Mind and the Self that’s within,
it is Wisdom that leads the Creation.
Strength, ability and action sustain,
while Beauty decays with contemplation.

But for the Spirit, and for the Soul;
Strength creates conscience manifestation.
Beautiful, is the force that Sustains the Soul,
while Wisdom shows our eventual devastation.

~TP



Bro. Tribuwan Persaud was made a Master Mason in 2012 in The Hugh Murray Lodge #602 of Hamilton, Ontario Canada where he is still a member, current line officer and past Lodge Chaplain. Brother Persaud spent much of his young and adult life studying and researching the brotherhood of man as depicted in the Bible, and believes he has found that very same brotherhood in Freemasonry. Tribuwan is a husband, father, businessman and is dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and the crafting philosophical and religious poetry. He also spends much time in the translation and dissemination of many ancient Vedic prayers, stories and songs into English. You can contact him at tribuwan@gmail.com