Freemasonry Didn’t Give Me The Answers

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Adam Thayer



I, like many of you, came to Freemasonry in the hopes of finding answers to some of life’s biggest questions: why am I here, how can I be a better man, who am I really? In retrospect, that was rather unfair of me, to hang the most difficult questions around the neck of any organization, however from the outside it appeared that Freemasonry had all of the answers I was looking for.

In case you didn’t read the title (and you really should, we spend a LOT of work on those titles), Freemasonry didn’t give me the answers I was looking for.
Now, put away your pitchforks and torches; I can already hear the grumpy Past Master chorus of “You get out of it what you put into it.” and believe me, I know every verse to that song. Hear me out to the end of the article, and then you can lynch me if you still feel so inclined (authors are notoriously easy to catch).

Freemasonry gave me more questions than it has ever answered, but more importantly it has given me better questions to ask.

Freemasonry didn’t tell me why I was put on this earth, but it did make me ask what I can do with the time that I was given to make the largest impact on the world. What a fantastic question to ask! Instead of focusing on a selfish question, it redirected me to see how I could make the world a better place.

Freemasonry still hasn’t told me how to be a better man, and I highly doubt it ever will. Instead, it has put me in the close vicinity of better men, and made me ask what they are doing differently, what aspects of that can I copy, and what does it really mean to be a better man. It has shown me examples to strive to emulate, and more importantly it has helped me refined my question to the point that I could answer it for myself.

Freemasonry definitely hasn’t told me who I am; in fact, one of the very first questions it asked me is “Who are you that comes to my door?” Instead of answering that question, it has made me ask a much more important question: Who do I want to be?

What I’ve learned is that I, like many of you, came to Freemasonry with a false assumption: that any institution can answer the questions that we have. If you’re really lucky, maybe Freemasonry can help you to learn to ask the right questions too.

~AT

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 adam@wcypodcast.com. He will not help you get your whites whiter or your brights brighter, but he does enjoy conversing with brothers from around the world!


Why You Should Never Ask A Freemason The Date . . .

By Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason
I've been the Secretary of my Lodge for six years, and every month I add 4,000 years to the date I put on our Lodge's minutes.  I never knew why.  I kept meaning to research that question, but I didn't get to it until somebody sent me an email and asked me the question.  Learning the reason wasn't very difficult, but what was interesting to learn was that many Masonic bodies have their own method for calculating the date they affix to their important documents.  

Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons add 4,000 to the common calendar year because they begin their calendar when the Grand Architect created the world and illuminated it.  They don't believe Freemasonry began when the world did, but they do so because of the symbolic reference to the light of Masonry.  So the common year 2016, would be 6016 Anno Lucis or "In the Year of Light."

The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite also date their calendar beginning with the creation of the world, but they use the Jewish calendar, or Anno Mundi (In the Year of the World).  The Scottish Rite adds 3,760 years to the common date, so the common calendar year 2016 would be A.M. 5776. They also use the Hebrew month and new year, so they begin to add another year after September 17th.

Royal Arch Masons use the date Zerubbabel began building the second Temple, which was 530 years before Christ.  This is called Anno Inventionis (In the Year of the Discovery) or A.I.  So the common calendar year 2016 for Royal Arch Masons would be A.I. 2546

Similarly, the Crytic Masons date their calendars beginning with the completion of the first Temple, King Solomon's Temple, which was 1,000 years before Christ.  This is called Anno Depositionis (In the Year of Deposit) or A.Dep.  So the common calendar year 2016 for Cryptic Masons would be A. Dep 3016.  

The Knights Templar Order was founded in A.D. 1118, so modern Knights Templars use that as the start date of their calendars.  This is called Anno Ordinis or A.O.  So the common calendar date 2016 would be A.O. 898

Now that should have either straightened things out for you, or confused you further.  Hopefully, you found that as interesting as I did.  It's just another example of some of the unique and interesting customs of our great Fraternity.  

I was unable to determine if the Shriners have a unique way of calculating their dates.  However, after talking to a long-time Shriner he did point out to me they have a very different way of telling time.  He said according to Shrine custom, when it comes to determining the time, it's always five o'clock somewhere.  

~TEC

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 the Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754, where is currently serves as Secretary.  He is the Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research. (FMLR) and a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D.  He  currently serves as Excellent Grand Orator of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the State of Illinois.  You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Suitable Proficiency

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

I've seen it often — a candidate enters the Lodge room to receive his Fellowcraft or Master Mason degree. In each, the Senior Deacon leads the candidate around the room, stopping at stations for an interrogation. The officers at those stations ask if the candidate has made suitable proficiency in the preceding degree.

"He has," replies the Senior Deacon… as he shakes his head "no." Muffled snickering from around the room usually follows.

You see, about 15 years ago my jurisdiction — Missouri — dropped the requirement for proficiencies. Many of our Brothers considered that decision to be the worst thing that had happened in our state since the Pony Express went belly up; and it's not exactly breaking news that the debate continues — those Senior Deacons aren't shaking their heads for nothing.

I recall receiving the pamphlet with the proficiencies when I became an Entered Apprentice. (Yes, in Missouri they're written down, in code, but still a practice some consider heretical.) Discovering I had to memorize the material gave the word "daunting" new meaning. Somehow, though, I "manned-up" and learned them for all three degrees.

Having gone through the experience I consider it one of the highlights of my Masonic journey. I spent time with my mentor who not only took me through the rote memorization process, but also explained things along the way. At the end, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. I also found all that memory work paved the way for learning other parts in the future. Frankly, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I'm still not sure, however, where I fall in the debate we're still having 15 years after the proficiencies went away. I think there is a feeling that the lack of proficiencies increases membership; or maybe a better way of putting that is having proficiencies might scare some men away. I have to say, in all those years we haven't had them, I've seen men come through who are some of the finest Brothers I know. We wouldn't want to do without them. But would they have joined anyway?

In the end, I probably fall somewhere in the middle of the road. I really think it should take more of a commitment to join the fraternity than it does, say, to become a member of your local Public TV station. We should require new Brothers to demonstrate at least a knowledge of signs, passwords and maybe even learn the obligation.

Going through some old Missouri records recently I noticed one more interesting fact to consider — historically, there were a lot of Brothers who were initiated, passed and raised in a matter of days — sometimes, in fact, on the same day. Meriwether Lewis, for example, was initiated on January 28, 1797, and received his Second and Third Degrees on the following evening. Obviously, he did not learn "suitable proficiencies" in that time span.

Lewis and many others who came into the fraternity that way served the Craft well. Don't we become a little more proficient in Freemasonry every day, with every meeting, every experience? Perhaps we should look at proficiency as something other than memorizing a boatload of material. To me, understanding that material is proficiency, and it doesn't come overnight.

I wonder what would happen the next time I'm asked if the candidate has obtained suitable proficiency if I responded, "Define proficiency."

You're right… maybe not a good idea.

~SLH

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 amazon.com.

Brother Against Brother - The Masonic Civil War

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM


Brethren, there is unrest and dissension brewing among us. Brother against brother, peace and harmony being cast aside like yesterday's newspaper. Battle lines have been drawn and most have picked their side and will fight for their side until the bitter end. The shot heard around the Masonic world has been sounded and civil war is at hand!

OK, maybe I'm being a bit dramatic, but honestly when I read about this in Facebook groups or hear Brethren discuss this topic you would think the lodge room as we know it will cease to exist. (Yes I'm braced and ready for the comments when this piece is published.)

Since I became a Freemason I have heard the constant arguments amongst Brethren on many subjects. Most of these arguments are good natured and have been discussed by members for years: how to wear your ring, the pronunciation of certain words, how to hold your rod in lodge…etc. Most of these make good conversation while eating dinner. But there is one subject that will bring usually good natured brothers close to blows: one day classes. Nothing will throw peace and harmony out the window as the mere thought of participating in a one day class.

Both sides of the argument have plenty of ammunition to use. Each has their point of view, either Pro or Con...

The pro side says one day classes are a great way to bring in new members who under usual circumstances, couldn't or wouldn't become members of the Fraternity. These young men work odd hours or don't have the time to devote three evenings to go through the degrees “the usual way.” A man can walk into an auditorium in the morning, receive the three degrees of Freemasonry, have lunch, become a thirty second degree Scottish Rite Mason and finish off the day by donning the red fez of the Shriners and go home with the knowledge he now possesses within his heart the mysteries of Masonry and has started his journey to become a better man, just like he was promised.

The con side believes that one day classes are just a way for Grand Lodges to rake in new revenue from the dues of these unknowing young men who are blind to the fact that “they’re doing it wrong”, that their Grand lodge is just trying to bolster their membership numbers. “You might as well put in a drive-thru lane at the temple!” has often been heard in the Tyler's room of many lodges throughout the country. Thus, the term “McMasons” has been created. The con side believes a young man who wishes to receive further light must visit the lodge in which he petitioned and progress through the Masonic degrees as many of us have done since time immemorial. The con side also differs from their “pro” counterparts in the opinion that the man should advance through these degrees alone. Multiple candidates taking the same degrees should be discouraged, or outright prohibited. There seems to be no common ground between these two warring factions.

Sadly, there are casualties in this conflict: innocents caught in the crossfire of these warring factions. They are the ones that suffer the wounds. I have personally seen Brethren enter the lodge room for their first meeting after they were raised to the sublime degree at a one day class, expecting brotherhood and eager to take his first upright step in his Masonic career, only to be told at the point of a bony old finger of a Past Master that he “isn't a real Mason”, and to be called names such as “McMason” or “one-day wonder”, making them feel worthless and unworthy, and then to be called names by the men he was told were his “brothers” and would have his back, who would teach him to be a better man seems outrageous. Chances are, he isn't going to return, and his opinion of the Craft will be forever changed. There is an even greater chance that he will tell other potential Masons how he was treated, and they won’t even bother to knock on the door of your lodge at all. All of this, because the man had the audacity to take his degrees in one day instead of over the course of three evenings. In my personal opinion treating a brother like that, for any reason, is unmasonic.

Most of us know that Masonry is a lifelong journey; if this is the case, then why does the way a new Brother is obligated matter? Whether he was on his knees in a small lodge room, or in a large auditorium with the assistance of a mentor, that man repeated the same obligation as you did: that vow to help, aid and assist. I don't remember repeating words such as “unless he was raised in a one day class” in my obligation. Most of us say Masonry needs new members to survive. If we need this influx of new men why are we alienating the ones we are getting?

We need to treat all of these men on the level, and help them take their first upright step on their path in Masonry. These men asked to join our fraternity, and went to the trouble of going through our petitioning process. They deserve our respect, and the title of “Brother”.

Let's put all of these silly differences behind us. In the end we are Brothers, and deserve to be treated as such. Let's get back to that noble emulation of “he who can best work or best agree”. It's time we turn these swords into trowels and restore peace and harmony to our Gentle Craft.

~BH

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.

Picking Up Where School Had Failed

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Wayne D.J. Greeley


Myself surrounded by some of the most awesome blokes I’ve ever met at my third degree



My personal life goal is the motto of the New Zealand poet Katherine Mansfield, ‘I want to be all I am capable of being’. I’m going to tell you how Freemasonry is helping me become the man that I am capable of being. This one might seem weird, but I have my reasons for writing this article.

Please note that I’m not writing this for sympathy points

From the age of four to seventeen I attended 1 primary school and 4 different secondary/high schools, not because of juvenile delinquency but because my family emigrated … twice. When I started primary school I was very shy, polite and friendly. Qualities which were in that’s school year were considered to be unusual. Even more unusual for them when I joined the choir and began playing the violin. Basically I didn’t have any friends (don’t worry this story has a happy ending) so I couldn’t develop the social skills a young child should do.

At my first high school, all those previous qualities I had meant only one thing to the bullies … GAY. Turns out they were right, but at the age of 12 I didn’t even know what that was. From then on I was defined by my sexuality, “You are gay therefore you are this or that, you can’t hang out with us”. I had to change schools because the physical bullying became too much, though sending me to a private school really didn’t help. At this school, I did start making friends. A group of five girls to be exact. It was logical, they weren’t mean, we had a lot it common and they were always polite. This type of friendship making continued on when I moved to high schools in New Zealand and in Australia. My experience at school made me develop a type of intimidation towards heterosexual men, most I’d met were homophobic and weren’t averse to showing it verbally or physically.

  • In 2015, I joined a fraternity that changed my life and continues to do so. 
  • Qualities such as politeness and musical skills aren’t disregarded but embraced. 
  • I’m not defined by my sexuality 
  • If I was attacked in a homophobic manner, the men around me wouldn’t join in, they’d defend me. 

If I’d told myself this 10 years ago I wouldn’t have believed it.

It took time after I first joined, but I started visiting lodges and interacted with good men. I feel as though my social skills are developing more and more. I’m not afraid, I don’t feel anxiety talking to men anymore, I feel like I can be one of the lads and have a good laugh during the festive board. This is also affecting my life outside the lodge with my work and studies.

I know for other gay masons, their stories aren’t as positive as mine and their stories should be told as well. I’ve written this article to show how freemasonry has helped myself as a gay man and to give an example of how Freemasonry can affect a man in ways people might not have thought of.

For me however, Freemasonry has accepted me for the man I am and is helping me to become the better man that I am capable of being.

To the brothers pictured up above, my mother lodge, my affiliate lodge, Queensland Freemasonry and international brethren I have just one thing to say …. Thank you.

~WG

Bro. Wayne Greenley is member of Mount Pleasant Lodge No. 361 and research lodge Barron Barnett Lodge No 146 both holding under the United Grand Lodge of Queensland. Currently he is studying a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and a Bachelor of Business at QUT. In his spare time he likes to read, listen to music and research the Craft. He is looking forward to joining other orders when he’s permitted to in the next year and also to soon begin his journey through the progression of officers starting off with the Inner Guard.

The Real Strength Of Freemasonry

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason


I've said it many times before.  I was telling somebody the other night that I think one of the great strengths of Freemasonry is that a.) it gives us the opportunity to use skills we wouldn't normally have the opportunity to use, b.) develop skills we wouldn't normally use, c.) use skills we already possess to greater effect, and d.) have the opportunity to improve ourselves as we work together towards making the world a better place.

I went into Freemasonry with well honed skills in leadership, management and organization which I use in a variety of ways.   From Masonry I've gained skills in writing, researching, speaking, networking, and fundraising--as well as some refinements in how I conduct myself and present myself (it should be obvious I've got a lot more work to do there).  And I've been given the opportunity to build on a use some of the skills I have in art in music.

But I never really appreciated the self-improvement aspect of the Fraternity until recently.  I'm aware that I've changed over the years, and gained a lot of wisdom from my mentors and teachers along with a good deal of knowledge from my studies.  I've always worked to pass that along to new members, and I think I've done a pretty good job as a mentor and teacher.  But recently I saw an example that really showed me the potential of what Freemasonry is capable of accomplishing in a man's life when properly applied.

I've been mentoring a young man for about a year now.  He contacted me through the Midnight Freemasons with some questions about the Fraternity, thought it sounded like something he could benefit from, and he's now a  new Master Mason.  He's very enthusiastic about Freemasonry, and it occurred to me in talking with him why.  This is the first time in his life that he's been able to see what he has to offer, see the potential of what he can become, and see what the contributions of just one person can do to make one thing better in the world--and then compound that by joining forces with a group of like-minded men all with that same desire.

The Fraternity has opened his eyes, and there's a good chance he'll never be the same again.  His life was off track when he joined--our original conversations were about whether a Lodge would even want him.  Of course they did, and he joined.  Freemasonry helped put him back on the right track.  He's contributing to the work of his Lodge, he's helping out in his community, he's got a new job he loves, replaced a few bad habits with a few good ones, and is in a new relationship that's much better than the one that got him off track.  He's even begun attending church, which he hadn't done since he was a boy.  He's transformed his life, and it's truly been a marvel to see. 

I might get boos for this, but it isn't all about doing Freemasonry--attending events, degrees, meetings, etc.  It's about living Freemasonry, and when given the opportunity teaching Freemasonry.  Those of us who do, who take those ancient teachings and apply them to our life and help others do the same thing find the greatest strength of Freemasonry--the path to a well-balanced, peaceful and happy life.

This piece was original posted on Todd E. Creason's From Labor To Refreshment blog.

~TEC

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 the Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754, where is currently serves as Secretary.  He is the Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research. (FMLR) and a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D.  He  currently serves as Excellent Grand Orator of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the State of Illinois.  You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

My Brother, You Missed The Whole Point


by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Adam Thayer


Recently, I was in the unfortunate position of reading a negative Facebook comment from a formerly active brother of our lodge, and it has been bothering me for nearly two weeks now. The comment, and I’m paraphrasing here, said that he didn’t understand the appeal of Freemasonry; he had joined to find friendship and brotherhood, and instead found dull business meetings and endless ritual practices. In time, he grew more and more disenchanted with what he saw, and so he quit coming.

Now, just a little background: this brother had joined our lodge when I was still basically new, and very excited about everything Masonry had to offer. (As opposed to today, when I am still basically new, and very excited about everything Masonry has to offer.) At the time, my job allowed me quite a bit of freedom to take a few hours during the day to meet with brothers for lunch, or coffee, and to sit and talk and soak in all the wisdom I could. A few times, I met with this specific brother, and I still treasure the things I was able to learn from him.

As I said, his comment has been bothering me since I first read it, and one of the luxuries afforded to me as a Midnight Freemason (aside from the high pay and excellent benefits package) is that I can answer statements like that, and while he may never read it, I’ve at least had the chance to say it, and it’s a weight taken off my chest.

My brother, I’m sorry to say that you missed the whole point. Those thing that you found to be onerous, I find to be a never-ending source of joy and inspiration in my life.

I don’t think that any reader here will be surprised to learn that business meetings are, generally speaking, boring. They are a necessary evil that allows us to continue to function; they are the secular world invading the sacred space, however if we don’t pay our bills, we no longer have an organization.

In a perfect world, our business meetings could be exceptionally short affairs, where we meet simply to pay the bills, perhaps give some money to charity, and then adjourn to the library to discuss loftier ideals and improve our inner selves. In our imperfect reality, certain rules have to be followed so that those with mercenary motives cannot infiltrate our society and tear us apart from the inside. Things such as keeping and reading the minutes, the report of the Treasurer, and committee reports all help protect us. While they are not exciting or fun, they are so vitally important that we should treat them with the proper respect they deserve.

Ritual practice, while not the most enjoyable time for most people, is what allows us to continue to perform our initiation rituals at the peak level that our new candidates deserve. It forces us to focus on the impression we give to our candidates, and find ways to improve that so that they, in turn, can carry us into the future.

I once said that true Masonry doesn’t happen in the lodge room, and I still absolutely believe this to be true, however I also have to acknowledge the fact that Masonry doesn’t happen WITHOUT the lodge room. Without our distinctive rituals, we are no different from any of the animal lodges (the Elks, the Eagles, etc) that are struggling to keep their doors open.

Of course, these “boring” parts of Masonry generally don’t exist in a vacuum. Before our meetings and our practices we eat, and around the dinner tables true friendships are formed, and our bonds of brotherhood are strengthened. Our dining hall rings with laughter, with a free exchange of ideas, with love and caring for each other, and for our families. Those things you believed were lacking were right there, available to you, and all it cost was a little bit of your time.


~AT

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 adam@wcypodcast.com. 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 Force of Habit

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RWB Michael H. Shirley


I’m now a Hoosier. We’ve been in the process of moving to Indiana for over a month now, with no clear end in sight, but the kids are registered for school, the animals have adjusted, our jobs proceed, and, despite frequent trips back to Illinois to deal with the giant house we haven’t sold yet, it all feels like home here.

With one exception: in all the relentless business of the move, I haven’t done anything Masonic in over a month.

Masonry took up a good part of my life in Illinois, and it was no mere habit, but the conscious choice to involve myself in things. But habitual attendance at meetings mattered. . Our stated meeting was the foundation of everything I did, and I ran in smooth tracks between my house and my lodge. And now, with my lodge three hours drive away, I just can’t go. And I find myself busy and scattered, with ever more things demanding my time and attention. I know where the local lodge is and I know when the stated meeting is, but I’ve just been too occupied with other necessary things to get there.

And so I’ve discovered that it’s easy to fall out of the habit of going to lodge. It will take effort to go back, as I’m not on any email lists, I don’t know when degrees occur, and my next real opportunity to got to a stated meeting will come in September. And here’s the problem with that: all it takes is a few missed meetings and inertia takes over. As I got into the habit of going to lodge, I could just as easily get into the habit of not going.

So I’ve got the next stated meeting of Franklin Lodge No. 107 marked on my calendar, with reminders set to text me every day for a good week in advance. Just as it took an act of will to petition for my degrees, it will take an act of will to go to a new lodge amidst the chaos of moving, and to keep going until it once again takes on the force of habit.

~MHS

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: m.h.shirley@gmail.com

Individuation of the Craft Pt. 7 Finale

by Midnight Freemason Emeritus
WB. James E. Frey



Editors Note* When WB James sent this piece to me, I knew it was too long for a single post, I had to break it up. I tried to do it the best I could to maintain the idea or focus of each section. It was difficult because this piece is complex and a very necessary read for any Mason. I hope you take the time to go back and read all these in sequence now that they have been published in their entirety over the past 7 weeks. And now, the conclusion...

Our force of nature must be economized by the realization of our own mortality as represented by the 24 inch gauge. The 24 inch gauge is the passive tool by which we measure and shape who we wish to be through the process of individuation. When we realize our time is limited and we are not as special as we would like to believe, we are no longer blinded by the ego and can dedicate ourselves toward achieving existential meaning through our personal growth. Our sense of purpose must too be regulated toward the goal of individualization which leads to psychological harmony. So together these working tools give us practical concepts to balance out actions through the understanding of the mortality of the flesh. This is my understanding for why the Entered Apprentice degree is associated with the concept of beauty in the south. At the meridian height of the sun we realize the fullest potential within our own sense of being.

As an apprentice you will climb from the pit of darkness of the material self towards the beauty of self-understanding. As the Fellowcraft you ascend the staircase toward intellectual enlightenment by mastering the liberal arts and sciences. As a Master mason finally balancing the square and compass you face true death of the ego, and once raised a True Master of yourself. Freemasonry is creedless, its brothers bow only to truth as supreme light, regardless of the light bearer. No greater truth exists beyond that of universal Brotherhood building the Temple to God on the foundation of faith, hope, and charity.

JEF

The New Master Masons Speech

Introduction by Midnight Freemason Managing Editor
Bro. Robert Johnson 
Speech by Guest Contributor
Bro. Benjamin Short

Note from the editor: When I sat at the secretaries desk at a stated meeting a few months ago, I looked out over the attendees. I looked out to see a few new faces, men who had't been to the lodge in years. It was pretty awesome. We sent out Masonic Anniversary cards from the lodge, celebrating the raising dates of our members in a particular month. Some of these Brothers show up, others send a note back and most don't respond. But this night was different. 

A few "new to me" faces were among the craftsman. At a point we started having discussion. The Master of the lodge talked about the importance of Masonic Manners. Dress, decorum, when to stand and when to sit, how to address the lodge etc. It was at this point one of our newest Master Masons stood up, Bro. Ben Short. Ben decided it was time to speak up. Looking out at the bored faces as the master was trying to explain some things, Ben must have decided that it was time to wake some of these guys up. 

Ben essentially delivered a speech which I wish I had recorded. It was heartfelt, unrehearsed, serious, thought provoking and yes, abrasive. I remember the Master looking over at me as if to say "...should I gavel Ben down?" I pretended not to see the look and instead looked on as Ben made me proud to be a Mason. I didn't mentor Ben, I didn't help him get through the degrees. He owes that to his uncle, a Past Master and all around swell guy. Below is "almost" what Ben said that night. You see, after the lodge closed that night, I said "Ben, go home and write it down. Do it before you forget." He did, and this is pretty close. I hope you enjoy and I hope you find it inspirational. 

Brothers I am a new Mason, not even a year has passed since I was raised which gives me a unique perspective but not an unfounded one. I’m still enjoying my honeymoon period in masonry and for the most part it's actually very romantic as I experience things, like a child on his first day of school. I’m eager to learn and excited for my new friends and teachers that I'll meet and get to know. But not unlike that child, the honeymoon is fading and reality and complexity is setting in. I’m slowly starting to realize that not everything I was told about Masonry is true.

Before I even petitioned I took serious considerations to becoming a Mason. My grandfather was one and my uncle is currently a member and I had always been curious about it. In my life I had a lot of serious ambitions for changing the world. I devoted many hours into community service and outreach, preaching about helping thy fellow man and doing everything I could to organize groups with the same ambitions. With many failures with organizing such groups I was asked to look in to a club or organization which already had an establishment and that maybe my frustrations of trying to keep a foundation firm and growing would be resolved. So I naturally looked at Freemasonry and what it was about and what it meant to be a Mason. From the beginning I was enchanted with the thought of being a part of not just a group or a club but a brotherhood of men who had a long and interesting history and deep roots in charity and making good men better. I thought to myself that this is exactly what I wanted. This is where I was always meant to be, and to think it was always under my nose. What more could you ask for in a fateful sign? As the old saying goes “...be careful what you ask for.” I got the last and most prominent motivation into becoming a mason when I received the news that for the first time, I was going to become a father of a boy. I wanted to start leading a life fit for someone worthy enough to teach and lead a child into becoming a man. I wanted my son to see not just me as an example, but also the men I surrounded myself with.

Every step I take in Freemasonry, I take it seriously and consider them all to be a life changing moments. Every degree passed feels like graduation for me and with every degree I participate in, I’m excited for the candidate. I also see a lot of things done that I was told are not the way of Freemasonry. I see a lot of people not taking it as seriously as I do. So I’m left to ask myself, "Am I the fool or are they?" Are my aspirations childish? Am I dreaming too big? Every time I look at my now 18 month old son the answer is "NO!" I don’t care what others think, I don’t care if I’m the minority in my thinking, I don’t care if I’m laughed at or scoffed at, I set out to change this world and that’s what I’m going to do and starting here at home and in my lodge.

I’m going to make the stories true, I’m going to make that square and compass on my ring mean something even more. I want it to mean something to the rest of the world. You can still have your conspiracy theories and rumors about Freemasonry but I want the majority to look at those symbols and recognize it as it should be. A fraternity of men who dared to be different and driven by the determination of their ideals and beliefs, driven by passion and united as brothers. This is why I became a Mason, this is what I want my son to see and become one as well. I want him to see how proud I am to be a Mason and that it will be so evident for him in what that means. At some point in our children's lives they will look at the life we handed them, I don’t just want to build something good for me, but great for the future of all. And we sure as heck don’t get there by focusing on things that don’t matter, like one word missed in a catechism or there better be food when I come to lodge or how long a stated meeting lasts. I will come dressed for business because I mean business. I will still get goosebumps when I hear the Paul Revere Charge. I will make a serious and conscious effort to not just be present at my lodge but to be a staple and an asset to it. 

Honor is not just something that belongs in a slogan or a meme on Facebook, it belongs in our hearts and minds. From the day I submitted my petition this became a way of life for me and I know in my heart that if I or any Mason treats it differently, it will not be a participation in, or the growth of Freemasonry, but the death of it. Is this not what we said Freemasonry is? Is this not what we sought out to do? Why Freemasonry and not a Moose lodge or Rotary club? I once received some good advice from a brother who hit it right on the money when he said “ It’s not so much what you have done that means anything so much as what you’re going to do”.

~BS

(Left to right Robert Johnson, Benjamin Short, Brian Wilber)
The night Ben received his 3rd˚.


Bro. Ben Short is a Master Mason out of Waukegan Lodge No. 78 in Waukegan Illinois, where he is an active member serving on various committees and occasionally filling in for the secretary. He is the proud father of a son and works full time for the community at large. 


On the Threshold

By Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Mike Hambrecht


I, like many of you, began my journey into Freemasonry by filling out a petition. I started my petition request because I wanted to know all about those conspiracy secrets. It was last August, when I emailed in my request. I heard back from, what would become my lodge, on October 15, 2015. When I heard back, I was shocked. I had actually begun to believe that I was not going to be allowed to join. You see my lodge goes dark for July and August, then they work the county fair for early September. So you see, no one was actually around to read my request until their October meeting.

Well, I called the member of my lodge who had emailed me back about my interest and that phone call changed everything for me. We spoke at some length about what Freemasonry does, what this lodge does and what is required of a man to be a mason. What struck me first, was the requirement to believe in a God, even though discussions of religion and politics are not allowed in a lodge. Knowing that I had to swear to a belief in a God, a higher being, got me thinking. I won’t go into all the details here but I had not really “believed” in anything Godlike for some time. I didn’t really disbelieve either. I just gave up on all that around the time of my divorce and never went back, even though I am now happily married. Well, I began to ask myself "...can I lie to the Masons just to learn their secrets?" I honestly didn’t know what I intended to do at that moment.

This eventually led me to really research Freemasonry. What I found excited me more than any conspiracy theory ever could. I found a brotherhood of good men trying to make themselves, their communities and their world better. I found centuries of history. I found connections to multiple religions and cultures. I found a place of learning.

The areas that my research had led me, had me thirsting for even more, and I found it. First, I found it on the Whence Came You podcast and from there, I got hooked on  The Winding Stairs and then on to The Masonic Roundtable. Eventually I branched out to other podcasts, The Tyler’s Place, After Lodge, In the Chair, X-Oriente and The Craftsman. What I got from all of these podcasts was a glut of different kinds of information. However, it wasn’t just the information I got but the awakening of my mind.

More precisely, it was the opening of my mind. One example they opened my mind to for example; my sister-in-law does Reiki and even when she first showed it to me several years ago, I thought it was hokey. All of that mystical mumbo jumbo, touchy, feely, and life energies, magnetism and synergy healing arts were nothing but some con game magic act. However, after listening to these brothers talk about the esoterics of Freemasonry, my mind was opened and when my employer offered me an opportunity to be in a body energies and heartfelt living / healing experience, I went. I not only went but was ready to believe and not debunk it. I found things happening that I could not explain but I found myself learning about these different ideas and how they worked. I had already begun to change just from these little encounters with Freemasonry.

Through it all I found myself asking do I still believe in a God as I knew I once did. I picked up my bible and read several different passages out of both the old and the new testament, including those read for each of the three degrees and found myself saying yes I still believe. So, I decided to go ahead with filling out a petition.

During my investigation, I did tell them of my original intentions for joining. Then I explained how I had begun researching Freemasonry and found something far more exciting than the National Treasure or pentagrams on the road map of Washington DC or a plan to rule the world from behind the scenes. I told them that I found a way to make a change in who I was, in who I had become and who I wanted to be. The lodge soon voted on my petition and I was accepted. When I found out, I was so excited.

I was initiated on January 13, 2016. What happened, within me, that night is enough for another article but what I have gained so far has given me so much more than I could have imagined while lying in bed one night watching TV show about Freemasonry’s conspiracies.

~MH
Bro. Mike Hambrecht was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason on April 20, 2016 in Village Lodge #274 F & AM in Burton, Ohio. He has since joined the Royal Arch, Willoughby Royal Arch Chapter #231 also in Burton, Ohio and received all four degrees in a one-day session before his lodge and chapter went dark for the summer. He is currently working to get a Beehive Club going in his lodge. He works in the IT field and has a wife, daughter, three dogs, and two cats. For those who are interested his Dalmatian, Lance was on Dave Lettermen for dock diving.

A Mason Who Forgets

by Midnight Freemason Editor
Robert H. Johnson



So once in a while, we forget. We forget lines, we forget names, we forget ritual. In my case, you may have noticed, I forgot to schedule a piece for last Friday. Being a Freemason, an active one, is something that takes a lot of cognitive discipline and sometimes, we falter. I felt horrible about not getting a piece up this last Friday but I know that stuff happens, not my first choice of words when describing the situation.

But we can use this as a slight reminder that whenever we forget something, the best course of action is usually to just pick up where you left off and in some cases, own up to your short comings. As men and as Masons, we do this already...usually.

In ritual, we just keep going and don't miss a beat, the local lodge lecture expert approaching you after to tell you all the words you missed, or perhaps the turns you did wrong. It's okay, Brothers. Take it in stride.

Enjoy your Sunday! We'll be back tomorrow morning.

RHJ

Individuation of the Craft Pt. 6

by Midnight Freemason Emeritus
WB. James E. Frey



Equilibrium is the goal of the individuation process and the Individuation process is best represented by the balancing of the Anima and Animus Archetypes. The Animus is representative as one’s active force within themselves, taking the gender role as masculine energy. On the other hand the anima archetype is representative of one’s passive energies, the feminine aspect within all men. This stage of individuation is to balance these active and passive forces, or this masculine and feminine forces like the ying and yang to find balance and inner peace. This is represented by both the greater and lesser lights as revealed in the Apprentice degree.

The square represents the great inverted triangle or the sacred chalice of the feminine. The anima is a projection of ones experiences with their mother, sister, daughter, lover extending from the primal image of the heavenly goddess. In ancient times the great goddesses were symbolic for the lunar power of the moon. Every mother and lover is bound to be placed as a representation of this timeless image in the deepest realms of man’s unconscious. She is the balance to one’s struggles within themselves and compensates all the bitterness and disappointments we experience in the painful process of self-discovery.

The Anima is the feminine aspect men seek within themselves, but project onto others. They develop concepts of an idealized feminine that inevitably leads to ruined relationships because they never quite find in others what they are seeking within themselves. But those who come to this stage of individuation a psychologically whole person will be able to understand what they are lacking within themselves before they project onto others. This self-understanding allows them to determine what they need from another person to find a sense of balance as opposed to having his rejected deficit within them that they refuse to acknowledge.

The Animus is represented by the triangle, or compass, which has close association with the blade or masculine Sun Gods. So as the perfected Worshipful master of his lodge is balanced between the sun and the moon, the great light of understanding as represented by the volume of sacred law is only achieved by balancing the active and passive aspects of the self. This is why the square and the compasses is shown as representing how much light one receives in the craft.

Once these active and passive aspects of the self are balanced we see the final stage of individuation is spawned from this harmony. This final archetype is known as the Sun Child and represents the individualized person at the end of this process. Like Alchemical gold the psyche has been stripped of all emotional irregularities and preconceived notions of the self. The psyche being complete has found harmony and in its own way elevated itself beyond material bounds to the collected unconscious becoming an archetype itself. This is deemed the Sun child because it is an archetype of complete light and representative of harmonization of the body, mind and soul.

Within the Masonic system this is represented by the Worshipful Master of the lodge who sits in the East as the transformed man placed in the harmony of the inner self. It is interesting to note because the Master of the lodge presents you with the ability to balance the inner forces for a constructive purpose, the working tools. The Apprentice is presented with the 24 inch gauge and the common gavel.

The common gavel is given as a symbol of force or active energy and the 24 inch gauge is given as a representation of form of passive energy. The apprentice is given the common gavel to represent his life force, his will, and his potential to bring to the world. This force is how we utilize our skills to achieve our life’s purpose. If we reject our shadow and embrace the mask archetype this force is mismanaged and leads to achieving superficial goals that leads only to a sense of emptiness within the self. Pike writes “Force unregulated or ill-regulated, is not only wasted in the void… it is destruction and ruin… blind force of the people is a force that must be economized, and also managed… it must be regulated by intellect.” (Pike, Morals and Dogma, pg. 3)

~JEF


Freemasonry Portrayed in Television

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Wayne Greenley


Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a big book worm, in fact I’m typing this article out in a Library. I found out about Freemasonry through reading books. Not everyone’s a bookworm such as myself and for some, television is the first exposure people will have with the world of Freemasonry. This is an article which identifies some television shows and an analysis as to how we are portrayed. I’m just using six television shows I’m familiar with. Whilst researching I found that the website of the Grand Lodge of British Colombia and Yukon has also created their own list of television references. I haven’t tried to plagiarise their list and I believe I have one or two shows which aren’t on their list. They are more than welcome to add from this list to their own.

The Simpsons 



Ok so we’re all familiar with the infamous episode of the Simpsons (season 6 episode 12) which features the secret society the Stonecutters, so I’m not going to say much about. I may critically analyse the episode in another article later down the track. I do want to mention that, however it may have positively or negatively been received by Freemasons back in 1995, in the present day it is generally accepted in the wide scope of the masonic society. It’s laughed at, parodied and comically embraced. 

The picture on the right is of two prominent Freemasons in Queensland. Dressed up for a charitable rally in Australia known as the "Shitbox Rally". A rally in which teams of two, buy a cheap second hand cars and drive them a long distance. These two brothers named their team the Stonecutters and were able to raise money for charity. The car even had a large Square and Compass on the front. This is just one example of how Freemasons have comically embraced the Stonecutters. You can donate to their charity by clicking HERE.

Besides how its effects Freemasonry, the general public appears to strongly associate the Stonecutters with Freemasons, indeed on a few occasions when I’ve told someone I’m a freemason they started singing “We do”. A somewhat partial representation of what our society is, especially when Homer decides to direct the Stonecutters to do good. It’s not a 100% correct though, we’re not always getting drunk and singing at the festive board …… Right? Well maybe the Ye Antient Order of Noble Corks do.

Inspector Morse
My second favourite murder detective, right after Hercule Poirot. Season 4 has a whole episode dedicated to Freemasonry and we not portrayed as the antagonists. Episode 4 “Masonic Mysteries” begins with Morse rehearsing in a production of ‘The Magic Flute’ when his love interest is murdered. Morse is considered a potential suspect and as such isn’t permitted to investigate her murder. He is replaced by Chief Inspector Bottomley (a Freemason) whom Morse dislikes, especially when his Detective Sergeant is given to him.

Morse: Better start rolling up your trouser leg Lewis, you’ll find Chief Inspector Bottomley a Grand Master, much grander than me.

Lewis: Oh, like a game of chess do you sir?
Through a series of events, Morse becomes paranoid and believes the Masons are trying to frame him for her murder. In the end however it turns out an old nemesis of Morse (played by Ian McDiamid) was attempting to frame and humiliate Morse for revenge and used Freemasonry as a cover.

This episode was shown in 1990 and in some ways shows the journey a person goes through when descending into a paranoid fear of the conspiracy revolving around Freemasonry. Although in Morse’s case he had genuine reason to believe the Masons were after him.

The well cultured theme of the show Inspector Morse always includes classical and operatic music and this episode is no exception. The Masonic Opera the Magic Flute is constantly referenced throughout the whole episode:

  • Morse believes he’s being initiated through a ritual of Fire and Water as described in the Opera. 
  • A password to a computer is Pamina, the heroin of the show. 
  • The famous Queen of the Night song “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” is played loudly in Morse’s house without his knowing. 
  • The arson attack on Morse’s house was brought on by a tampered tape of The Magic Flute, conducted by Arturo Toscanini (Adding insult to injury as Morse considered it to be the worst recording of the Magic Flute and wouldn’t even let a copy in his house) 
  • The music at the beginning of the episode is the Overture of Opera. 
  • When Lewis find evidence Morse is innocent of a crime, Tamino song “Wie stark ist nicht dein Zauberton” is played. 

There are probably other references in there as well that a more learned Brother who is familiar with this German Opera will pick up on.

Though this episode does at points put Freemasonry in a negative view with hints of stalking and murder, they are all debunked when its proven that Freemasons are not involved at all. Although Morse does prove one Mason a fool. Morse pretends to be a Brother with a handshake, when the police officer/brother believes him he laughingly responds “If you people seriously think your childish handshake is a secret, I wouldn’t put any of you on security”. In my opinion if a person who was ignorant to Freemasonry watched this episode, they would not be over all, put off with the fraternity and may potentially end with a positive view.

Birds of a Feather
One of the top British sitcoms from the 1990’s. Season 1 Episode 5 introduces the, let’s say rambunctious, neighbour Dorian Green’s husband Marcus. Dorian invites Tracey (one of the main characters) to a lady’s night at a masonic lodge. Though later on it appears to a festive board type dinner before an installation as Marcus says he can’t leave the dinner as he is the incoming master of the lodge and it’s the biggest night of his life.

It’s nice a television show portray the “normality” of what happens outside a lodge. Meaning not a society of secrets or a wacky conspiracy story, but more of a social group which really isn’t seen much in any medium. Brother Marcus Green, however is a poor representation of what a Freemason is. When his wife stated she was unwell, he didn’t care and is more concerned about his speech. He refused to take her home, in real life that type of behaviour would not be tolerated, placing the lodge before family. Also later on, Marcus tries to make the moves on Tracey. Hopefully when viewers watch this type of conduct being solely isolated to the character Marcus and not with the fraternity itself.

Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries 

See that certificate on the wall? This was seen on Season 1 Episode 10 “Death my Miss Adventure” on the wall of Detective Jack Robinson’s office. Whether the certificate is placed there intentionally to prove he’s a Freemason or if the props people didn’t know what they’d placed on a wall is unclear. It is nice however to see a little mini Masonic Easter egg that only we might spot.

Hale and Pace

Two of Britain’s finest comedians. I don’t know which episode of their show it comes from, however I implore you all to watch the video on youtube. This skit is a full parody of a masonic initiation. “Do you want to be a handy man?” Watch it and you’ll know it had to be a Freemason who wrote it, or at least had some input. I’d suggest you watch it in a place you can laugh, unlike me who was in the library.

Hopefully, the outside world understands this is a parody and not a true portrayal of Freemasonry. I hope not anyway ☺

Only Fools and Horses

Finally we come to Brother Boyce from Only Fools and Horses, who in my opinion is one of the worst characters to portray a Freemason. In Season 5 Episode 10 “Dates”, Boyce states "I am not a Buffalo, I am a pucker (meaning proper) Mason, secret handshakes, initiation ceremonies, the works … it is a great honour to be chosen it is not something you turn down likely. It’s changed my life, I’m involved in a lot of charity work these days helping the local needy and under privileged. It’s got its good side as well of course. Us masons vow to help each other in business whenever humanly possible". I hope you will all agree with me that that last sentence is the complete opposite of what being a Freemason is. In this episode, Freemasonry is basically portrayed as a white collar business society, that’s all about doing business favours for other brothers. The main character Del petitions later on to become a Freemason just for personal gain, to be given a favour from one member. Later on, Del was blackballed by practically every member of lodge.

Thought a comical character, Boyce is sometimes portrayed a fraudulent, money scheming and a cheating antagonist at times. You can be sure I would not sit in a lodge next to a guy like Boyce. This episode is nearly 28 years old, so it doesn’t really pose a threat to the integrity of Freemasonry. Back in 1988 however I guess it might. A man watching this would may have believed Freemasonry was all about personal gain, not about brotherly love, relief and truth.

This show, though one of the greatest English classics, does not correctly portray what being a Freemason is.

~WG

Bro. Wayne Greenley is member of Mount Pleasant Lodge No. 361 and research lodge Barron Barnett Lodge No 146 both holding under the United Grand Lodge of Queensland. Currently he is studying a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and a Bachelor of Business at QUT. In his spare time he likes to read, listen to music and research the Craft. He is looking forward to joining other orders when he’s permitted to in the next year and also to soon begin his journey through the progression of officers starting off with the Inner Guard.