Serving Those Who Served

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

The Masonic Service Association of North America has for many years, been involved with programs that assist our service men and women, including Veterans. One of these programs is the Hospital Visitation Program in partnership with the United States Department of Veteran Affairs.

In my area of east-central Illinois, area Masonic lodges have teamed up to ensure that veterans who are residents of the Illiana Medical VA in Danville, Illinois, have the opportunity to attend weekly church services on the VA campus.

These visits are both extremely humbling and very rewarding. I very much enjoy getting to meet the Veterans and learn about their service and lives. Something as simple as a handshake and hello bring a smile to the face of so many of them.

I didn’t serve in the armed forces, but this is one small way I can give back to those who did. If you don’t currently participate in such a program, I encourage you to look into how your lodge can get involved. I can assure you that our Veterans would be most appreciative.

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

Individuation of the Craft Pt. 5

by Midnight Freemason Emeritus
WB James E. Frey

Recognizing our shadow allows us identify what aspects of our self and which superfluities, we need to remove from our rough ashlar order to perfect our mind. This shows a desire to change and grow and also allows us to circumscribe our actions and keep them in due bounds. The progression of the Masonic system will often cause the initiate to re-evaluate themselves at a very introspective and personal manner. This stage of individuation, to accept ones doubts, fears, weaknesses, and primal capabilities is painful and may cause a conflict in beliefs in how we interact with the world. This embracing our inner shadow and accepting these aspects about ourselves makes us a whole individual and is the inevitably the starting point for the healing process, where we begin to accept ourselves.

It is revealed that the lack of confidence that we experienced growing up is now understood as illusion. The second stage of Individuation is a transition period where the archetype of the wise old teacher is given as a way for our consciousness to accept this darkness and embrace wholeness. This Wise Old Teacher in Entered Apprentice degree is the Senior Deacon. The guide upon the journey that finds the hero in his state of darkness and guides them toward the light to self-actualization. Jung states that the Wise Old Teacher is “...the principle that stands in opposition to matter… The archetype compensates this state of spiritual deficiency by the contents designed to fill this gap. ” (CW 7, pars 390)

The Wise Old Teacher Archetype is seen throughout mythology, he is the Wizard Gandalf, Merlin, Yoda, and any character that guides the hero of a tale toward greater spiritual revelation in rejection of material gain. This guide conducts you from darkness towards the light of the East, which is allegorical from a transition from material sense of self toward a sense of spirituality. This realization teaches us to balance our physical appetites with our higher intellect we gain a sense of inner balance.

This journey of traveling east can also be personified as a guide on the hero’s journey leading us to the path of realization. In the entered apprentice ritual this is the circumambulation that leads us toward the altar of obligation to solidify our dedication to self-improvement. This Guide or Teacher allows us to use the realization of our shadow to incorporate our desire into a sense of greater metaphysical unity. With taking the obligation we choose to embark on this process to individualize our consciousness and begin to transition it toward universal perception through balancing the conscious and unconscious self. “Conscious and unconscious do not make a whole when one of them is suppressed and injured by the other… Both are aspects of life. Consciousness should defend its reason and protect itself, and the chaotic life of the unconscious…” (CW 9 I, pars. 523)

Next week we talk about the absolute goal of individuation, Equilibrium. 


The Perfect Margarita

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Adam Thayer

As I write this, it is currently 105 degrees in beautiful Lincoln, Nebraska, and I am sitting in the dark, hot library of my lodge. It is important to note that there is absolutely no air conditioning in this part of the building, and it doesn’t help that there is a group of brothers in here, all writing their own papers. Right now, the only thing I can think about is having a margarita at the Mexican restaurant across the street from our lodge.

I’ve searched for a very long time to find the “perfect” margarita recipe, and while I’ve had many delicious drinks, I’ve yet to find one that hit all of the notes I was looking for. I have found one that was just nearly perfect, which I’ll share with you below, but even it is missing… something.

You may wonder what this has to do with Freemasonry.

The perfect margarita has a few key ingredients: lime, tequila, and some salt for flavor. The perfect lodge has a few key ingredients as well: ritual, brotherhood, and some education for flavor. And just like a margarita, there are many different opinions as to what goes into the “perfect” lodge experience. Some people will say that the lodge needs charity work, while others will say to focus solely on ritual work. Some crazy people even say that reading the minutes brings something special to the lodge, and should never be skipped. (Coincidentally, these are the same sort of people who put mint in a margarita… odd, to say the least.)

Some people prefer the “original” margarita, while many enjoy the newer fruit flavors, such as strawberry or mango, and some have even created exotic flavors such as red chili or hibiscus. This same attitude is mirrored in our lodges; many are perfectly content with sticking to blue lodge Freemasonry, while others will pursue the Scottish and York Rites, the Shrine, and a few adventurous individuals will seek out Rites such as Memphis and Misraim.

Who is to say which is right, and which is wrong? While I personally think it’s insane to put red chili into a drink, I’ve met people who will swear by it. At the same time, however, I’m willing to sample all of the different flavors that Freemasonry presents, even when I find one that doesn’t agree with me, because it is better to have been exposed to it than to spend my Masonic years sheltered in the safe harbors of blue lodge.

Whatever flavor of Freemasonry you find that you enjoy, I hope you will throw yourself into it with gusto to get the most out of it. And remember: don’t eat the lime.

The “Good Eats” Margarita: (by Alton Brown, food nerd)

2 ounces 100 percent agave silver/blanco tequila, divided
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 limes, divided
1/2 small Hamlin or Valencia orange
2 tablespoons light agave nectar
3/4 cup ice cubes, about 3 to 4

Pour 1/2-ounce of the tequila into a small saucer. Spread the kosher salt in a separate small saucer. Dip the rim of a martini or other wide rimmed glass into the tequila. Lift out of the tequila and hold upside down for 10 seconds to allow for slight evaporation. Next, dip the glass into the salt to coat the rim. Set aside.

Halve 2 of the limes, cut a thin slice for garnish from 1, and set aside. Juice the halved limes into the bottom of a Boston-style cocktail shaker. Cut the remaining 2 limes and the orange into quarters and add them to the juice in the shaker. Add the agave nectar to and muddle for 2 minutes until the juices are release. Strain the juice mixture through a cocktail strainer into the top of the shaker and discard the solids.

Return the juice to the bottom of the shaker, add the remaining 1 1/2 ounces of tequila and any remaining on the saucer. Add the ice to the shaker, cover and shake for 30 seconds. Strain the mixture through a cocktail strainer into the prepared glass, garnish with reserved lime slice, and serve immediately


WB. Bro. Adam Thayer is the Senior Warden of Lancaster Lodge No. 54 in Lincoln (NE) and a past master of Oliver Lodge No. 38 in Seward (NE). He’s an active member in the Knights of Saint Andrew, and on occasion remembers to visit the Scottish and York Rites as well. He continues to be reappointed to the Grand Lodge of Nebraska Education Committee, and serves with fervency and zeal. He is a sub-host on The Whence Came You podcast, and may be reached at He will not help you get your whites whiter or your brights brighter, but he does enjoy conversing with brothers from around the world!


by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Adam Thayer

I, like many of you, am a nerd. Now, let’s not fight it, we’re on a website devoted entirely to education on a relatively obscure topic. You probably have at least half a dozen other tabs open in your browser right now, unless you’re reading this on your phone or tablet, in which case you’re using precious battery power to further your education. There is nothing wrong with being nerdy! The 1980’s, where we were skewered by pop culture, are far behind us.

Being a nerd, one of the most satisfying feelings in the world is seeing my cellphone and tablet batteries at 100% charge. Now, I know from a technical standpoint, this isn’t the best way to prolong my battery’s life, but I also know it makes me unexplainably happy to hit the power button on my phone and see that it’s fully charged and ready to go.

I forgot to charge my tablet last night. It was an incredibly long day, after an incredibly long week, and I just simply forgot to plug it in. When I woke up this morning and realized what I had done, there was definitely a moment of disappointment in myself; even though I will be spending the day with my wife and daughter, and will probably barely touch my tablet, it’s still nice to know it’s fully charged and ready to go. Right now, at roughly 7 am on a Saturday morning, my battery sits at 79%. (As a side note, yes I do get up stupidly early on the weekend, it’s the only time I have to write, due to the aforementioned beautiful wife and daughter.)

79%. That is plenty of battery left to get me through the whole weekend, and yet it feels like I need to conserve every bit of power it has. I have no idea why my mind works that way, but I’m willing to stake my writing career that at least one or two of you feel the same way. It’s especially silly, considering I could put it on the charger right now and solve the problem, but it is the wrong time of day to recharge; devices should be charged at night, not in the middle of the day. (This may be a whole other issue I have, that you don’t necessarily share.)

So here I am, on my third cup of coffee, staring at this tablet with 78% battery power, cursing myself for forgetting to charge it, and even more so for being crazy enough that I can’t charge it during the day, watching a terrible 80’s horror movie (one of my other guilty pleasures, and another reason I get up so early on the weekends), wondering if I’ve got enough power to get through the day if maybe I only read books on the tablet instead of watching videos and surfing the net, and I find myself asking this important question: how is my Masonic battery?

You see, we all have a limited amount of energy to put into our efforts; work, family, friends, civic efforts, Freemasonry… all of these things eat away at our batteries, leaving us worn down, sapped of strength, not even wanting to go outside and see other people. We all have to determine where our energy is best spent; how much time do I dedicate to work, how much time to my friends and family, et cetera, et cetera.

In a perfect world, we would be able to keep up with everything, without needing to worry about running out of strength, but in reality we all realize that we need to maintain our strength, and put our efforts into where they will be most valuable. We have to metaphorically (and, in some cases, literally) stop watching the tenth cat video, so we can spend some time studying our ritual work instead.

In the past, I have said that going to lodge helps recharge my batteries, and while that was true in the past, and surely will be true again once I’m through being an officer, right now it’s a significant drain on my energy and patience. I’m not complaining, I am beyond honored at being asked to serve my lodge in this way, but the reality of the situation is that being an officer in an especially active lodge will age you very quickly. Brother Robert Johnson has said in the past that being an officer is a full time job, and that is definitely true in my lodge; we meet nearly every week, and always have something going on to keep us occupied. It can get exhausting!

In the recent past, we have featured a few articles about Masonic burnout, and you don’t need to see another one to know it’s an issue we all face. Instead, let’s just use the reminder about how important it is to keep your battery fully charged, so you don’t get too worn down to continue perfecting your ashlar.
I’m now on five cups of coffee, midway through a second movie, my daughter is awake and ready to take on the world, and my battery is at 75%. Having spent this past hour or so writing to you, knowing that these words will help someone out there who is struggling, my Masonic battery is fully charged, so I have to ask you: how is YOUR Masonic battery?


WB. Bro. Adam Thayer is the Senior Warden of Lancaster Lodge No. 54 in Lincoln (NE) and a past master of Oliver Lodge No. 38 in Seward (NE). He’s an active member in the Knights of Saint Andrew, and on occasion remembers to visit the Scottish and York Rites as well. He continues to be reappointed to the Grand Lodge of Nebraska Education Committee, and serves with fervency and zeal. He is a sub-host on The Whence Came You podcast, and may be reached at He will not help you get your whites whiter or your brights brighter, but he does enjoy conversing with brothers from around the world!

Individuation of the Craft Pt. 4

by Midnight Freemason Emeritus
WB James E. Frey

The first step in the process of individuation is realizing our own potential for darkness, to do this the Initiate must strip away his false sense of self and his idealized nature. In the past an Initiate would be placed in a chamber of reflection for this purpose. The reflection upon the grim reminders of death not only strips the ego of its self-assuring illusion but mentally prepares the candidate to begin to notice the existential dilemma within. The Chamber of reflection formulates the candidate to perceive their own doubts and fears in a constructive manner, to reject the illusion of the ego and accept one’s limitations.

Similar to this is metaphorical duty of the Entered Apprentice who is declared a barer of burden and must descend into the darkness of the quarries, down into the primordial earth of the unconscious mind. Here in this primal darkness he would break off pieces of rough stone and carry it painfully up to the light to be exposed for its imperfections as a rough ashlar. The Mason is given the privilege of labor toward a greater cause than himself. This labor is the lesson taught in every degree on the progression of the Initiate through the darkness toward the light of greater growth.

This is why the initiate must choose of his own free will and accord to knock three times and enter the lodge hoodwinked to strip himself of his ego’s mask and engage directly with his own personification of darkness. Facing this doubt of our own ignorance and inability to bring light into our own lives through the ambitions of the ego is the first stage of Individuation This is allowing society to form your mask so that you may break free from it. To become a whole individual we need to recognize our own doubts and weakness within ourselves and embrace them as a vital aspect of who we are as an individual.

Next week we'll talk about recognizing these "shadows". Until then, my Brothers...


Past Master

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

Last week the Master of my lodge, Worshipful Brother Dave McCrory, texted me to ask when he could come by. He wanted to make sure he had a chance to say goodbye before I left town for good. We settled on the following Thursday. This evening the doorbell rang, as expected, but it wasn’t just Dave who was at the door. Several other Brothers were there with him to present me with a Past Master’s apron. It was both unexpected and humbling. We chatted a bit about my plans, and then they took their leave. And so I was left to contemplate the past ten years, represented in that wonderful gesture and welcome gift.

Being Master of a lodge is a great responsibility. During my tenure, I learned to run meetings, to deal with our Grand Lodge, to confer degrees, and generally how to set an example to my newer Brethren. I had a wonderful time, and then, too soon, it was over. I was a Past Master, with the title “Worshipful Brother” in perpetuity, but with no power at all. And that’s as it should be. Masonry requires humility, and being a Past Master requires it even more. Humility—right-sizedness—for a Past Master requires not saying, “I didn’t do it that way,” or, “that’s the wrong way to handle things.” It requires silence when not asked for advice and prudence when given the chance to contribute. Wearing a Past Master’s apron is not an exercise in ego: it is a reminder that all things pass, that Masonry is eternal, and that every award given is an honor, not one’s just due. I’m truly grateful to my Brethren for their gift, and not just because I won’t have to search out the aprons with the long strings when I go to a lodge meeting. They’ve given me something that will remind me, whenever I put it on, that the chance to serve my lodge and my Craft are blessings. It is the internal and not the external qualifications of a man that recommend him to be a Mason, and that doesn’t change with fancy aprons or titles. My new apron is a continued admonishment to me to act as a Past Master should: with humility, reverence, and fraternity.


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

J. Edgar Hoover: Freemason Or Not?

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason

J. Edgar Hoover (1895 - 1972)
"The cure for crime is not the electric chair, 
but the high chair."

~J. Edgar Hoover
Director of the FBI 1935 - 1972

Possibly one of the most powerful men in American history, J. Edgar Hoover began his career in the Justice Department in 1917 working in the War Emergency Department, which was charged with identifying and arresting disloyal foreigners during wartime.  Having proven himself in that role he was made head of the General Intelligence Division of the Bureau of Investigation (B.O.I).  By 1924 he was made director of the Bureau of Investigation, and later in 1935 when it became the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he was named the first director.  He would remain the Director of the F.B.I. until his death 37 years later.

His long career began during Franklin D. Roosvelt's Presidency with the FBI going up against prohibition-era mobsters like Al Capone, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Machine Gun Kelly.  It ended during Richard Nixon's Presidency and with the Watergate scandal.  During his tenure, he built one of the most modern and effective crime fighting organizations in the world.

He became a very controversial figure during his years in office.  He was accused of abusing his power, collecting evidence illegally, and amassing secret files on political leaders.  President Harry S. Truman was one of his harshest critics accusing Hoover of turning the FBI into his own secret police force.  Truman once said, "we want no Gestapo or secret police.  The FBI is tending in that direction.  They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail."

Hoover's grave in Congressional Cemetery (Photo by Todd E. Creason)
Hoover remained the Director of the FBI until his death from a heart attack on May 2, 1972.  He was eulogized by both Chief Justice Warren Burger, and President Richard Nixon.  He is buried in Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

So was J. Edgar Hoover a Freemason?

He most certainly was, and all of his Masonic affiliations were in Washington, D.C.  Brother J. Edgar Hoover was a member of Federal Lodge No. 1, Washington D.C.  He was a charter member of Justice Lodge No. 46 in Washington, D.C.  He was both a York Rite Mason, and a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason.  He was also a Shriner--a member of Almas Shrine.


Author's Note:  I got the idea for this post on a trip to Washington D.C. a few weeks ago with two other Masons, Greg Knott (also a contributor to the Midnight Freemasons) and Denver Phelps (the Worshipful Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754, Illinois).  I'd either forgotten, or never knew Hoover was resting there, but shortly after visiting many of the other famous Freemasons buried there, like John Philips Sousa, we found Brother Hoover quite by mistake.  It was an amazing trip, and over the next few weeks, I plan on sharing with the readers of the Midnight Freemasons a few of our remarkable adventures together on that road trip.  I'm sure it won't be our last adventure either. 

Todd E. Creason, 33°, FMLR is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and is a regular contributor.  He is the award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog.  He is a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and currently serves as the Secretary.  He is also the Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and serves as Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), Ansar Shrine (IL), and Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL).  In 2015 he was honored by the Missouri Lodge of Research and named a Fellow (FMLR).  He is a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D.  Todd is the father of two daughters, and recently became a grandfather.  You can contact him at:

Individuation and the Craft Pt. 3

by Midnight Freemason Emeritus
James E. Frey

*Editors Note* In the last piece, WB Frey talked a bit about a "Darkness". Specifically referenced James made mention of "Masonry realizes that Man is born in the darkness of ignorance, but has the capability for greater understanding of the light." In this continuation, WB Frey talks a bit about this. 

But what is this darkness? Archetypally the darkness we dwell in is referred to as the shadow. Within every one of us is the capacity for both compassion and severity, and the ability to perceive hope or fear. This potential for both good and evil is the primal root of free will and how we define ourselves. But this potential for evil, this force of doubt and anger within each of us is the very root of our animal instinct. What if this power could be utilized and economized for the greater good? It is this dark inner strength we always call on in times of intense struggle, this fight or flight reflex that dwells beneath our idealized sense of self.

The Shadow archetype is how fear manifests within our collected unconscious. C.G. Jung wrote that “The Shadow is one example of an “unconscious personalitywhich possesses a certain measure of autonomy. The shadow might be said to be responsible for… mistakes which reveal feelings and motives which the conscious self-disowns… The shadow is the first archetype encountered during analysis… making conscious these repressed tendencies and confessing the less desirable aspects of personality which the shadow portrays does not rid us of them.” (CW 7, par, 103n)

Throughout our lives fear is a central to how we develop our sense of identity, during youth we utilize what we fear to build paternal connections with adults to establish a sense of security with the world. As we experience fear through parental relations we gain our ability to trust ourselves as we learn to experiment with the environment around us. Fear of social rejection fuels us to determine what is socially acceptable and what isn’t. As we grow and begin to define ourselves; we jump from social group to social group to experiment with different aspects of who we are. This yearning to define our sense of self is not only motivated by a desire for acceptance but out of fear of rejection.

We begin to define our self not by what we think about ourselves but by what we perceive others to think about us. From this fear we disregard these dark aspects of our self and begin to construct an in complete identity based on a distorted subjective reality. We ignore our shadow and pretend it doesn’t exist and this idealized self is the mask we wear to keep us safe from the aspects of ourselves we do not want to realize. The mask is our safety net that keeps us fragmented from our whole self because we do not want to realize the emotional crisis that dwells within us. This mask we wear takes all of those negative qualities such as fear, doubt, and guilt personified as the shadow archetype. Jung writes “The persona is a complicated system of relations between individual consciousness and society, fitting enough a kind of mask, designed on one hand to make a definite impression on others, and on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual.” (CW 7, pars, 305)

Next week, we'll dive in a bit more to see how this relates further into the Masonic mold.


Burnouts and Buffets

by Midnight Freemason Contributor, 
WB Bill Hosler

I just finished reading a piece written by fellow Midnight Freemason contributor, my friend and Brother Robert Johnson, called “Is The Honeymoon Over?” As I sat here reading his work I began to notice myself nodding my head in agreement with every word RJ had written.

I have a rather unique position in the Craft; I am not an old Mason, but I am not a new guy either. At the time of writing this piece, I became an Entered Apprentice fourteen years ago. From the time I signed my petition, I couldn't wait until I was a Master Mason. Before the ink was dry on my signature, I was looking at Masonic books and looking at Masonic rings. I couldn't believe how slow the petition process was. And the thought of waiting between degrees was agony!
The night I was finally raised, I couldn't believe I had finally made it. I was a full fledged, bonafide Freemason. I began to feel like a dog who caught the car. “I caught it, now what do I do with it?” Luckily my question was answered before I exited the lodge room.
In nearly each hand I shook in congratulations another hand contained a petition for another Masonic body. From the Shriners to the Scottish Rite and York Rite, I had an application for all of them. I placed them in my pocket and went home. My mind was on overload with all I had seen and had done that night.

Within the next three months I had became a member of everything: the Shriners, the Scottish Rite
and the York Rite, along with such groups as the Philalethes Society. My wallet began to explode with dues cards!

Once the dues cards were in place, the offices came. My first lodge meeting as a Master Mason I became Junior Steward, and since I had shown the Brethren I had an ability to memorize, I also received multiple pieces of ritual to learn. I was asked if I wouldn't mind filling a chair in one of the York Rite bodies. In my zeal I agreed and I received an office in body of the local York Rite. And with the jewels of the office, came even more ritual to memorize.

I can honestly say I gave Masonry my all. I had a meeting nearly every night for almost seven years. I became a Past Master and a Past High Priest in my Royal Arch Chapter. Along the path I picked up other responsibilities. I was a member of a Grand Lodge committee and I became a webmaster for a Grand York Rite, while still,  I gathered even more jobs within my local Shrine temple. I can honestly say I loved most every minute of it.

But with problems within my family and my job, the burnout sat in. Real life began to invade my Masonic fantasy. The 24 inch gauge I had thrown away came back with a vengeance. The politics I once shrugged off began to anger me. The pieces of ritual I had been juggling for four different Masonic bodies no longer came easy to me. The representation of King Solomon’s Temple I built within myself fell apart. I went into a Masonic funk. I guess it could be called a period of Masonic darkness.

Just as Brother RJ wrote, "Masonic burnout" set in. For the longest time I was like everyone else: I thought burnout was a bad thing. But much like an old forest fire removes much rubbish and allows new life to set in, maybe Masonic burnout can be useful as well.

If you go to a drag race, people talk about burn outs as a positive thing. A burnout is when you make your rear wheels spin as fast as you can while sitting in place with your foot on the brake. When a drag racer brings his car to the race track in his preparation to race he will intentionally burn out his tires, which gets his tires warm and helps create traction which, if properly, done can be the difference between winning the race or losing.

As I'm sure you have been told many times “Masonry is a marathon, not a sprint.” That is all well and true, but if you don't get warmed up and gain traction you will fail at that race. Why not try a little of everything and find out what parts of Masonry you like and discover the ones that aren't for you?

Much like an all you can eat buffet, the first trip most people mound their plates full with as many types of dishes as they can heap on. When they return to the buffet a second time, they have a better idea of what foods they want to eat and only fill their plate with the foods they have found they liked.

After a period of Masonic inactivity and self reflection I got my life back on track and began to think about the parts of Freemasonry I liked and missed and the parts I could live without. I realized that being approached with the possibilities of Grand offices and the honors I received gave me a swelled head. I lost my perspective. I began to look at the Fraternity in a different way. I also discovered, thanks to Brother Robert Johnson, I enjoyed writing about Masonic topics. My burnout period also provided experiences for writing. It allowed me to use the experiences as “teachable moments”.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not advocating you take your zeal for Freemasonry and fill every night with a different meeting. I advocate moderation, not excess. Use your experience to find your place within your fraternity. If you find your place you are more likely to get the traction you will need to make that sprint into a marathon.

If you only take one thing away from this piece is DON’T QUIT! You joined this fraternity for a reason. Don't stop searching until you find it. Don't let the bickering or the politics or even some of the rules you find silly discourage you and make you demit. All of these silly things will eventually go away. Masonry is just like life. There will be things you love and things you hate. Just take it all in stride and make the fraternity yours.


WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.

In My Day We Did It This Way...

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

In a recent Midnight Freemasons article I mentioned the fact that the reading of the minutes may be one of the less exciting parts of a Masonic meeting. Personally, I live for it... to be over with.

One of the bodies I belong to, in my opinion, does it right. At that meeting we always have a dinner beforehand and the Secretary sets out copies of the minutes and any other pertinent material such as financial statements on each table. During the time before the meeting each member has a chance to read through the handouts. Then, during the meeting, without a reading, we vote on approval.

It doesn't always go this way. In my own Blue Lodge — God bless 'em — we still have the ever-present dronin... uh, I mean reading of the minutes at each meeting. To add to the frenzy of excitement this creates we also read every single word of every petition. I remember one night in particular when we had multiple petitions. By the end of the evening I almost had the entire document commited to memory, and would have... had I not fallen asleep.

When I became Senior Warden I sat in the West close enough to the Junior Deacon that we could converse during the meeting. Together we felt we could solve the problems of the world, so solving the problems of the Lodge was a piece of cake.

Every single meeting when the reading of the minutes came up Allen (not his real name, of course) would turn around to me and say, "When I get up there in the East, we're not going to do this." He encouraged me to do it before he got there but I told him I just wanted to get through my year unscathed and would leave it up to him to make the radical change.

Years passed. I went through the East — only scathed a little bit but I survived. Then I moved to that most coveted of all Masonic positions, Past Master, and waited for Allen to take the helm; and take it he did — full of the vigor of his still youthful age and the expectation of the exciting year he had planned.

I was nearly giddy as I went to his first meeting knowing he was about to shake the Masonic world. I sat in great anticipation as Allen opened the meeting. Then, in an instant, my hopes for a better world came crashing down as he turned and said, "Brother Secretary, you will read the minutes..."

I nearly had an out-of-body experience as we droned through the meeting and Allen embraced the usual pomp and circumstance — more pomp than circumstance — of all the meetings and Masters that had come before him.

After the meeting I rushed up to him and asked why he had fallen into the routine he seemed to abhor back in his Junior Deacon days.

His answer sounded a little familiar, "I just want to get through my year unscathed."

Change is difficult, my Brothers, and the penalty for attempting it may be a good sound scathing, which many times starts with the words, "In my day, we did it this way..."


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 & Freemasons at Oak Island. Both are available on

Individuation and the Craft Pt. 2

by Midnight Freemason Emeritus
James E. Frey

Carl Jung was born in 1875 and became a notable psychiatrist after studying under the eminent Sigmund Freud. But where Freud believed that unconscious motivations were prompted by sexual repression and primal aggression; Jung would eventually reject this, believing that unconscious motivation was symbolically inspired through the collected unconscious. Jung traveled the world studying mythology, world religion, and from these experiences he began to notice the similarities expressed through all myth to support a universal symbolic meaning. Jung became convinced that there existed a collected unconscious that unified all man’s consciousness together.

Jung began to identify universal symbols that he believed represented aspects of one’s own consciousness and personality. As we experience these symbols and reflect on their meaning, we reflect on aspects of ourselves and grow our perception of reality. Through symbols we slowly merge the collected unconscious with our individual consciousness to become self-actualized and psychologically whole individuals, this process was called individuation. It is this process of individuation, that is at the root of all existential meaning and the hero’s journey in mythology.

Jung called these universal symbols archetypes and he expressed that every great religion incorporates these symbols to inspire psychological and spiritual change. Masonry is not a religion, and accepts men of all faiths into its ranks as equally deserving of its mysteries. So masonry adapts archetypal symbols into its own system of progressive morality. Jung writes that individuation “In general, it is the process by which individual beings are formed and differentiated; in particular is it the development of the psychological individual as a being distinct from the general, collective psychology.” (Jung, Psychological Types. Collected Works, vol. 6, par 757)

This process of individuation can be symbolically represented in the Entered Apprentice degree as the process of coming from darkness to light. Masonry realizes that Man is born in the darkness of ignorance, but has the capability for greater understanding of the light. Of his own free will and accord an initiate must seek the door of knowledge and knock to receive its virtues. The initiate must have a mind capable of wisdom, a heart capable of feeling, and a hand eager to pick up the working tools of life toward the greater work of an evolving society.

Next time we will talk the about the "darkness". Until then, stay in the light, Brothers...


Independence Day & Freemasonry

*A note from the editor*

We had something for today, it was awesome. Todd E. Creason had written a nice piece with all kinds of pictures. So where is it? It's in the computer...which crashed last night. Trust me, it was awesome. What are you doing on the internet today anyway?! Go out and enjoy the day, our Independence day! Happy 4th everyone!

Masonic Oddities Part 1: Museo di Symbologia Masonica

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Jason Richards

*Editors Note* Masonic Oddities is a new series by Bro. Jason Richards that highlights Masonic memorials, monuments, museums, or other "craft curiosities" that lie off the beaten path of the casual Masonic traveler to remind brethren wheresoever dispersed that one can find light in the most unusual of places.

Part 1: The Museum of Masonic Symbols in Florence, Italy 

About a year and a half back, my wife and I embarked on a whirlwind tour of Italy which ultimately led us to the beautiful city of Florence. Whilst sitting up in our hotel room one night looking up attractions to visit the next day, I came across the website for the Museo di Symbologia Masonica, or Museum of Masonic Symbols. I excitedly explained my findings to my wife who, to her credit, obliged my curiosity and we set out the next evening to find what I can only describe as a mad scientist's treasure trove of Masonic artifacts.

Nestled in an unassuming building on via dell'Orto, the museum is situated less than a quarter mile from the site of Italy's first Masonic lodge, founded in a tavern on via Maggio in 1731 by a group of English expatriates. The museum is run by Cristiano Franceschini, a fourth-generation Freemason, whose family's collection of Masonic artifacts set the groundwork for the museum, which opened in 2012. Bro. Franceschini welcomed us to his museum and graciously gave us a tour of his incredible collection.

Masonic artifacts of all shapes, sizes, ages, and origins lined every inch of the museum's two floors. The exhibition houses more than 10,000 artifacts from the late 18th century to the present day, which include regalia, photos, posters, aprons, lapel pins (of course), a 4-binder Masonic stamp collection, and historical documents, among other oddities of all sorts. The museum's second floor houses a Chamber of Reflection and a small, Scottish-style replica lodge room which was, like the rest of the museum, packed to the gills with Masonic paraphernalia. After the initial tour, Bro. Franceschini pulled out his growing document library which contained everything from old charters to Masonic pamphlets to a Masonic stamp collection that filled four binders.

After a couple of hours of browsing through the collection, my wife succeeded in convincing me to say my goodbyes to Bro. Franceschini, and we wandered up the street in search of an Italian trattoria for dinner.

If you ever find yourself in the beautiful city of Florence with a bit of time to spare, Bro. Franceschini's collection is well worth the 7 euro price of admission. In a country with a Masonic culture that lives largely out of public view, the Museum of Masonic Symbols stands as a beacon to demystify the fraternity and encourage the public to explore its philosophy, symbols, and history.


Bro. Jason Richards is the Senior Warden of Acacia Lodge No. 16 in Clifton, Virginia, and a member of both The Patriot Lodge No. 1957 and Fauquier Royal Arch Chapter No. 25 in Fairfax, Virginia. He is also Chaplain of Perfect Ashlar Council No. 349, Allied Masonic Degrees. He is the sole author of the Masonic weblog The 2-Foot Ruler: Masonry in Plain Language, and is a co-host on the weekly YouTube show and podcast The Masonic Roundtable. He lives in Virginia with his wife, cats, and ever-expanding collection of bow ties.