Joseph Brandt

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners


Joseph Brant was a Native American war chief of the Tribe of Mohawk who sided with the British during the American Revolutionary War. Born in 1742, while his parents were on a hunting trip, he was born on the banks of the Ohio River. He was named Thayendanega, which means “he places two bets”. While a young man, he became of favorite Sir William Johnson, who was the British superintendent of the northern Indians of America. Sir William Johnson was also a Freemason and a former Provincial Grand Master of the New York Colony. After his wife died in 1759, he married his former mistress, Molly who was Joseph Brant’s sister.

Brant was selected to attend Moors Charity School for Indians which was located in Lebanon, Connecticut. (As an aside, this school would later become Dartmouth College). He learned to speak English and studied Western history and literature. He left school to serve under Sir William during French and Indian war from 1755-1759. After this, he assisted Sir William with running the Indian Department, administered by the British out of Quebec. He also acted as an interpreter for an Anglican Missionary, and helped translate a prayer book and the Gospel of Mark into the Mohawk language. He married in 1768 to Christine, a daughter of an Oneida chief. He then settled with his wife on a farm near Canajoharie.

He continued his translations of Anglican and Biblical text into Mohawk. His wife passed away in 1771, leaving him with a son and a daughter. In 1773, he married his late wife’s sister, Susannah. She passed away a few months later. Both of his wives died due to Tuberculosis. In 1774, Sir William died. He was succeeded by his son, Sir John Johnson, and his son in law, Col. Guy Johnson. Both John and Guy were Freemasons. In August 1775, the confederacy of Six Nations staged a council fire near Albany, after the news of Bunker Hill. After much debate, the decision was made that the war between the British and American Colonists was their own affair, and that the Six Nations should stay out of it. However Brant and the Johnsons were able to influence four tribes to the British Side, namely the Mohawks, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. The other two tribes, the Oneidas and Tuscaroras, sided with the Americans.

In 1776, Brant became the principal war chief of the confederacy of Six Nations. He also received a Captain’s commission into the British Army in charge of the Native troops who were loyal to the Crown. Upon receiving his commission, he made his first trip to England. He was made a Freemason "and admitted to the Third Degree" at London, England, on April 26, 1776. This was in a Lodge of the Moderns, the Falcon, in Princess Street, Leicester Fields. He had the distinction of having his Masonic apron given to him from the hand of King George III.

Brant returned from England and saw action in the Battle of Long Island in August 1776. He then snuck back to his homeland. Upon returning to his tribe, he attempted to stir up support for the British cause in the villages in his region. He is linked to participating in several battles in the war, The siege of Ft. Stanwix; Oriskany; the Wyoming Valley of the Upper Susquehanna; Mohawk Valley and German Flats; Cherry Valley; Minesink-Port Jervis; Chemung River-Elmira area; Johnstown; Fort Plain; Fort Clyde; Fort Plank; Mohawk Valley and the Western Frontier, all of which occurred during the six year period from 1775-1781.

However, the incident that Brant is Masonically famous for occurred following the surrender of American Forces at the Battle of the Cedars on the St. Lawrence River in 1776. Colonel John McKinstry, who lived near Hudson, New York, at the time was a captain of a company in the unfortunate invasion of Canada, by American troops in 1776. At the battle of the Cedars, forty miles above Montreal, in May of that year, in a severe engagement, Captain McKinstry was wounded and taken prisoner by the Native forces. They intended to torture him and/or burn him alive, and had made preparations to do so by tying Captain McKinstry to a tree. McKinstry knew Brant to be a Freemason. He gave the Grand Hailing sign of distress to Brant. Upon seeing this, Brant, with other British officers (one can also assume they were Freemasons), bought an ox which they presented to the Native forces in place of Captain McKinstry. There was then a feast. McKinstry was then given to some English Freemasons, who returned him to the American lines.

After the war, Brant was a warm and devoted friend of McKinstry, making an annual visit at his house near Hudson. Brant strongly urged McKinstry to move and settle near him in Canada, offering to give him five hundred or one thousand acres of land from the grant made to him by the British Government after the close of the war. Brant also would attend the meetings of the Masonic Lodge in Hudson with McKinstry. Brant became affiliated with Lodge No.11 at the Mohawk village at Grand River, of which he was the first Master. He later affiliated with Barton Lodge No. 10 at Hamilton, Ontario. The town of Brantford, Ontario, is named in his honor. Brant died on November 24, 1807, at the age of nearly sixty-five years at his home on Grand River, Ontario. In 1850, the Freemasons restored his tomb, and placed and inscription on it. 

~DAL

WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. You can reach him by email at darin.lahners@gmail.com.

Freemasonry and the Chinese Bamboo Tree

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM



Not long ago I saw a video of a motivational talk given by a man named Les Brown. In this talk, Mr. Brown began to explain how a person’s life and their success is like growing a Chinese bamboo tree.

The Chinese bamboo tree isn’t easy to grow. In order for the tree to grow, the ground in which the seed is planted must be watered and fertilized every day without fail for five years, but thetree doesn’t sprout until the fifth year. After that five years, the grower’s patience and hard work are rewarded when the tree grows over ninety feet tall in that fifth year.

Brown explains in the video how many people will allow the tree to die because they get discouraged doing all that work, spending all the time fertilizing the soil and watering the seed without seeing any progress from all their labors. After all that time, they have spent so much doing the necessary work in order for the tree to sprout without seeing any progress. They begin to lose faith in the process or their own abilities, or even worse, they begin to listen to naysayers and the tree dies when they give up the hard work needed to make the tree come alive.

In today’s Microwave society where we want to start out at the top of the heap and success is assured, many of us will become frustrated when the goal we want to reach or the objective we have in mind doesn’t happen right away or fails to fall into place on the first attempt. Many times we get frustrated or dejected and we begin to listen to that little voice in the back of our head, or worse yet,  those who don’t want you to succeed because of their own agendas and prejudices. We give up and move on and the Chinese bamboo tree seed we planted will wither and die because we quit watering and fertilizing the ground in which it was planted.

Brethren, in my opinion, Masonic renewal is much like that Chinese bamboo tree. In the decade and a half since I was raised to the sublime degree, I've began to get interested in the Masonic renewal movement. I have worked with many dedicated Masons who put their lives and treasure into the Craft with the hope of making Freemasonry grow strong again, and to help it take it’s legitimate place in society. But I also watch them grow weary in their labors and slowly give in to the naysayers who place obstructions in their path. They either don’t see the progress being made or the tree of their labors isn’t sprouting quickly enough, or even worse, their skin gets too thin when dealing with those who wish the Fraternity to stay as it has for the last half-century. Sadly they just throw their hands up in the air and leave our speculative quarries and give up on Masonry.

It’s really sad for so many reasons. First of all, in just a few years I have been a Mason there has been tremendous progress, such as the mutual recognition of Prince Hall Grand Lodges (including in many formerly Confederate states), many jurisdictions have begun allowing business meetings on the first degree, more Masonic education is being introduced into lodge settings. In just the last decade and a half, our progress has been beyond what any of us thought could happen, just a decade ago.

Every year the Masonic renewal movement continues to make progress, it may not be as fast as many of us wish it would happen, but progress is being made nonetheless. But if we want it to continue to progress we need to continue to work the soil in which we planted that seed so many years ago.

Brethren, the Craft needs you. Each one of you to continue to advance and work toward making Freemasonry strong again. For each Mason who leaves our Fraternity is one less man to work in his local lodge, mentor younger Brethren and vote in Grand lodge communications. Like it says in the York Rite’s Virtual Past Master’s degree: “From a grip to a span; from a span to a grip; a two-fold cord is strong, but a three-fold cord is not easily broken.” We are all stronger as a group than we are as individuals.

Each one of us has our own strengths and talents given to us by our Creator, whether you are a writer orator, ritualist, builder, cook…each one of us has a place in this Masonic renaissance. No matter who you are, we need you. Each of you is important and hard to replace.

Brothers if you know a man who is thinking about leaving the Fraternity, try to convince them to stay and continue their labors. Explain to them how they make a difference to you, the lodge and to the Craft as a whole. If they have already left, try to convince them to come back and rejoin us in our efforts.

If we want this fraternity to grow strong again we need each of you, your efforts and support.

~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.

















September 11th - Revisit

*Editors Note* A day after, keeping with our typical schedule of release days, I chose to run RWB Michael H. Shirley's piece which he wrote for us originally back on September 11th of 2015. I think it's a beautiful piece and I hope you enjoy reading it. ~R.H. Johnson

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RWB Michael H. Shirley




“[T]o love is better than to hate, and Forgiveness is wiser than Revenge or Punishment.” –Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, 859.

Like everyone else I know, I remember exactly where I was when I heard about the World Trade Center attack. I was teaching an early class that morning, and was in mid lecture when the planes hit. When class ended, I started to walk down the hall and was waylaid by students who wanted to know if I’d heard. In bits and pieces, we found out that it was a deliberate act, then that one tower had fallen, and then another. Then came the news that the Pentagon had been hit. I was standing there, trying to comprehend it all, when one of my students said, “Dr. Shirley, what does it mean?” “It means we’re at war,” I said, with no real thought beyond that simple statement. As more information came out over the next several days, it became clear that things had changed beyond recovery. I did what so many others did: stayed glued to the television, tried to buy an American flag from stores that couldn’t keep them in stock, thought about what I could do to serve my country. But I kept coming back to the realization that these terrorists had killed innocents, including children, because they believed their cause was more important than people made in the image of God. And I had a choice: to hate them or not. 

I wasn’t a Mason then; I didn’t petition my Lodge until 2006. But my time in Masonry has taught me that hate is never the answer to any question worth asking. If I am committed to Masonry, love has to be my only response to everything, both large and small, because if I hate, I become what I hate. I have to see the fundamental humanity, the image of God, in everyone I encounter. Otherwise, I’m not practicing Masonry to the best of my ability.

My sister, an Episcopal priest and Air Force Chaplain, has said that she has to recognize that everyone is equally deserving of God’s love, which is to say, not at all, so acting high and mighty has no place in the world. My mother says regularly that the hardest word to accept in the Lord’s Prayer is “Our.” We all want to be special, but we can only do that if we reject what makes us human. We all need to meet on the level and acknowledge one another as fully human, undeserving of the gifts we’ve received, and just love one another.

So now I pray that I will be enabled to act as if all people are my Brothers and Sisters. For the simple truth is, they are. I don’t have to like them, and if they mean harm to others, I certainly have to stop them, but I can’t hate them without losing the best part of myself. Love, I would argue, is the answer to every question, both in Masonry and in the profane world. Every day, I am presented with the choice of whether to act with love or not. Every day, I can choose to hate, to be indifferent, or to love. I don’t always choose well, but I find that if I pay attention to Masonry’s teachings, I make the right choice more often than not. 

Fourteen years ago I chose, briefly, to hate. It was nearly impossible not to do so. But hate kills the hater, and I could not continue. Since 2006 I have cast my lot with Freemasonry, and have been grateful for its work in my life every day since. Lord knows, I don’t always choose well, but I’ve found that if I remember that Love drives away darkness, I don’t make that darkness my home. I’ve found that I prefer a well-lit room. And so I pray for light for everyone, especially for those who have shut it out of their lives and have chosen to live in darkness. I pray—today of all days—to let the Light of Love illumine our world.

~MHS

Masonic Artifacts Can Tell A Story - Revisit

by Midnight Freemasons contributor
Gregory J. Knott

One of the things I enjoy most is walking through antique stores looking for Masonic artifacts.  On a recent trip through Decatur, Illinois, we stopped at a very nice shop and I set upon my hunt.  They had a few items, but none of them really caught my interest until I ran across a small framed case with 3 medals in it.  Upon closer review I knew that these were Knight Templar Medals.

SK Orlando Powers
The three medals were from Beaumanoir Commandery No. 9, which was and still is at home in Decatur, Illinois.  The medal on the left is the Order of the Temple member medal, the middle is a Past Eminent Commander’s jewel and the one of the right is a drill attendance medal with a number 32 on the bar in the middle.

As I was checking out, I asked the clerk if she knew of any history of these medals.  I was in luck because she did!   It turns out they belonged to Orlando Powers, who was an early prominent settler of Decatur.  He was born in 1812 and came to Decatur in 1849 and died in July 1902.
Powers Opera House
Bro. Powers built a tremendous Opera House in 1889 at Decatur where many of the most prominent settlers of the day performed.  It burned to the ground in 1895 and was later rebuilt, but burned again in 1914.  His son built a hotel on the same site that is still run as a residential hotel today.

But it is the Powers Mansion that seems to be his real legacy today.  According to a couple of websites that I visited, the mansion seems to be haunted.  Perhaps the ghost of Orlando Powers is still looking over his house.

I couldn’t find a Masonic record for Bro. Powers.  I can only assume he belonged to a local lodge and perhaps other York Rite bodies.   

But it was purchasing these medals and learning about a man who died over 110 years ago and seeing his impact upon the Prairie of Illinois that gave me the greatest pleasure.

The Powers Mansion--haunted some say . . .
~GK



 WB Gregory J. Knott is a founding member and Senior Contributor of the Midnight Freemasons. He is a 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 gknott63@gmail.com

The Truth About Esoteric Masonry and Traditional Observance

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson


Traveling around to different lodges in the summer of 2018 has been amazing. I’ve presented at lodges all around the country, on a multitude of topics which are obviously things I am passionate about. American history, old ritual practices and even how to effectively market our lodges. But one topic comes up time and time again. Esoterica.

Whether it’s referred to as “Esoteric”, “Esoterica”, “Esoterism”, or maybe you go with Albert Pike and spell it with a “K”--“Esoterika”, the subject matter is hotly debated. Before we dive into this, lets just define the concept quickly. Esoteric literally means, “intended for or only understood by a few.”

Freemasonry is an Esoteric society by definition. If not, than the general public would have the ability to gain our insights and teachings, apply them and go off on their merry way. There are of course Masons who hold that the historical is truly the only part of Masonry worth studying, citing our history and where we came from as the focal points. Others will speak to the application of Masonic values as they relate to the here and now as the place we should set our sites. And still others, although more rare, will talk about the esoteric. Each category births a variety of mixtures. Chuck Dunning, author of “Contemplative Masonry”, recently wrote a nice article on the types of “Esoteric Masons” that exist. It’s definitely worth a read. Check it out HERE. The fact remains that Freemasonry has a set of concepts which it delivers through our plays on morality. On the surface, they convey some stark realities and hopeful futures, but the sub-context, the marrow if you will, can be said to go much deeper.

Yes, sometimes a sign is just a sign, but this in majority is contested by many of Masonry’s most famous authors and scholars. Masonry has this unique ability to attract those interested in various pursuits which we tend to accumulate under our umbrella. Charity, fellowship and yes, philosophy. Masonry makes good men better, or at least this is the aim. Many arguments regarding this statement have been written. A complete list would take up many pages. It will be suffice to say, that Masonry makes good men better through education. That education in the philosophical is what leads a good man to become those other qualities we value, like being charitable.

The Craft today is seen by its own members as a service society, a charity and a place where men learn together. When we ask how they learn, the responses articulate that by working together or through lodge projects, by speaking, by delivering lectures, and even learning discipline through ritual and floor work, will make a good man better. But when we take a step back, these qualities are really nothing we can’t learn anywhere else. Boy Scouts, Toastmasters, Lions, Elk, Moose, Rotary, the military. The list goes on.

When I initially penned one of my first presentations called Esoterics 101, it was designed specifically for a lodge whose members had no clue about what the word [Esoteric] was or what it meant. It’s still hard for me to believe that we have members who are daft to the concept, members who don’t understand the spiritual underpinnings of what we do in ritual.

I am frequently contacted by younger members, usually those who have been Master Masons for a year or less and who’ve been elected or appointed to be a Lodge Education Officer. They’re very interested in the esoteric side of Masonry and want me to come out to present the Esoterics 101 keynote. The reason? So that the other members of their lodge will understand the concept or that my presentation will validate the new members interests on the topic.

At these presentations, typically what I see are members who’ve been in the lodge for years and who feel like all this education is just a fad for the new kids, there are exceptions of course. I’ll present and get no questions except for the few who wanted to have me out. Some even retire for coffee midway through the presentation. It doesn’t hurt my feelings, but I’ll tell you what it does do. It makes the guys who organized the education night feel like no one cares, like their fulfillment doesn't matter. Education is the reason Masonry exists. Full stop.

Reality check: Come down from the clouds, put the Eliphas Levi and Manly P. Hall books back on the shelf for just a moment and admit it, that there is no esoteric side to Masonry.

Masonry is completely esoteric, all sides. It was designed to be esoteric at its inception thanks to those renaissance and enlightenment thinkers. The vision unfortunately, was not protected and it did not last. It is no longer the reality.

If our forefathers from the renaissance, and later the enlightenment era hadn’t injected the money, power and influence into the guild system, we’d have no Freemasonry today. Not like it’s practiced anyway. You’d have a union. That’s it.

The more we critically analyze the state of the Craft today, the more we truly see it for what it is. We’ve made a significant departure from the secondary intent which begat the current organization. The lion’s share of lodges promise something that we don’t ever fully deliver. We gather, we take an oath, we eat together, we agree to take care of our widows and orphans. In this, we are by definition, more Traditional Observant of original Masonry than any lodge that bares the moniker today.

To be truly observant, to look, to practice and abide by standards of Traditional Masonry, would require us to practice as they did in antiquity. --as in the guild system. Traditional is defined as, “long established”. That original system is in fact much more long established than anything we propose to be in todays standards. And when we look at how we operate right now, it’s a modern equivalent.

In truth, the TO, or Traditional Observant Lodges that speckle the landscape of Masonry are affinity lodges. These are lodges that practice the idealized version of Masonry many are or were looking for. Lodges that ask it’s members to have standards of practice, dress, mandatory attendance, higher dues in order to be solvent in today’s economy and above all, provide a meaningful Masonic experience. For by in large part, these are lodges that have been designed to be fulfilling for a specific kind of member, many of whom are what we would label esoteric.

Again, looking at Masonry today and from afar, we see a single color. A swatch of beige. It’s a social organization with charities and fellowship, unified by a belief (in most cases) in deity and who’ve all experienced (for all intents and purposes) the same thing. In practice, the overwhelming majority of lodges operate without true education--without esoteric understanding. When we read articles that state, as I have above, that Masonry is esoteric, we might do some real thinking. Looking at the landscape of Masonry today, we reflect on the reality of the situation and that I would consider a hard-to-swallow fact. Saying that Masonry is esoteric is false quip, because it doesn’t reflect reality.

As it exists Masonry is not Esoteric. It is a wonderful club which brings together members who, because of common interests, sometimes form additional groups or even lodges which focus on a topic of interest. Thus we have appendant bodies or Craft affinity lodges: Traditional Observant, Past Master, Military, pick a flavor.

The varied styles of Masonry which exist are actually a danger to it’s very survival. Not only does it prove to make the Masonic fraternity bland, it puts the Craft in a rather precarious place, one of comfort, safety and complacency. I once wrote about the old greasy spoon restaurants that we tend to find in our towns. Places that have everything on the menu, but nothing great. It’s the place you go when you’re looking for something good, cheap and to be honest, what you’d expect--a safety blanket of sorts. No surprises. No variety. No growth.

What Masonry needs is the challenge, to get rid of the old axiom, “Masonry is many things to many people”. Masonry is one thing, it is education. We need to embrace this at all costs. By picking one thing to focus on, our skill in it becomes greater and by proxy, so does the caliber of it’s men.

Many of us are in the quarries today, building, cutting measuring--trying to make the craft better, to raise it to the lofty heights we were told it sat. Is it so bad that we want it to be what we expected it to be? To be a place where there is equal emphasis on the education, fellowship and charity? The sad truth is of course, that while we all work for the change, we likely won’t see the true impact of what we’ve done. Our children’s children might, but we won’t.

One of my best friends and Brothers, is a luthier. That’s a violin maker, restorer, repairman. He makes wonderful pieces of art, pieces that sing like nothing you could imagine. I asked him once, “What you do is so amazing. It takes both skill, craftsmanship and yet, is somehow still artistic. How do you get on top and be the best? How do you become the luthier that people talk about?”
Spencer, took a breath and said, “Well, that’s the thing. You don’t. Every piece I work on has a mark. Long after I’m dead, maybe people will see my works and rave about them the way people rave about the 300 year old violins today. I can only leave a mark in the industry. Small influences. People might not know or care about the work today, but in 100 years or more, they’ll know my name.”

And so it will be for us, brothers. As we work in the Craft today, we make the small marks. Every time we make something a little more meaningful. Everytime we operate within our rules but add value to some part of the degree experience, we raise the bar. Everytime we set a standard, we raise the expectation. Everytime we do something that’s impressive in the presence of a new Entered Apprentice, it will impress upon them that what they just witnessed is the standard. The above and beyond efforts of today become the standards of tomorrow. Just think about the Masonry in 200 years. If we decide to go in a singular direction, we’ll make that difference. If the status quo is maintained, you’ll find yourself on a horse galloping down the beach, and George, you might not like what you find.




~RHJ

RWB, Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Waukegan Lodge No. 78 where he is a Past Master. He is also a Past District Deputy for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry and is also an avid home brewer. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry" and is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Darin A. Lahners


I watched “Won’t you be my neighbor?” this evening. For those of you that live under a rock, it’s a documentary about Fred McFeely Rogers, known to many of us as Mr. Rogers. Contrary to the erroneous balderdash that you can find on the internet that he was a Freemason, he was not. He was an ordained Presbyterian Minister. But for many of us growing up in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, he was a trusted friend. 

We’d watch Mr. Rogers come into his house singing his theme song, put on his sweater, change into his sneakers, and he’d take us to the Land of Make Believe, where he’d teach us a lesson about life. He’d then come back to the real world and explain the lesson to us in terms that we’d understand as young children. In watching the documentary, I realized how many of the lessons that Mr. Rogers taught us are lessons that we hear again as we progress through the Masonic Degrees. They’re taught in the Odd Fellow degrees as well. Of course these lessons aren’t new. They are present in every major religious dogma or secular code of ethics. However, they are lessons that we need to remember and practice daily, not only as Freemasons or Oddfellows, but also as human beings.

The first lesson – We are all neighbors. With his theme song, Mr. Rogers extended an invitation, but I think it was also a challenge. He wanted us all to be neighbors. He wanted us to love to each other. As Freemasons, we are admonished to remember our four fold duty to God, our Family, our Neighbor and ourselves. We are also taught that one of the tenets of Freemasonry is Brotherly Love. Brotherly Love teaches us that we are all members of the same planet, and that we need to aid, support and protect each other. It is by the practice of brotherly love that Masons can be united regardless of nationality, religion, or station in life. The Odd Fellows also teach us to respect and love each other. The first link of Friendship, teaches us to respect each other and to extend to everyone a hand of friendship regardless of their station in life. As the middle link in their chain of Friendship, Love and Truth, they share the idea that each of us are neighbors, and to love each other as such.

The second lesson – It’s our responsibility to take care of the less fortunate and that we can make a difference in our neighborhood. Yes, Mr. Rogers in his own unique way taught us to extend charity and to have compassion, and that you could do this in your neighborhood. Another tenet of Freemasonry is Relief. Masonic relief is defined by practicing charity and by caring, not only for their fellow Masons, but also for the community as a whole. We do this by charitable giving, by voluntary efforts and by our works as individuals. The first link of the Odd Fellows chain, Friendship, teaches us that by the kind feelings of Friendship, we are moved to help each other. The second link, Love, is the outpouring of this affection to one another in the form of charity. As the duties of the Odd Fellow are “to visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphan”, it is their love that enables to do this with compassion. The valediction also says that your community deserves your best work.

The third lesson – It’s important for you to love and to take care of yourself. In his own way, Mr. Rogers taught us to love ourselves. He taught us that it’s okay to have feelings, because everyone has them. He also taught us that we need to be able to stop bad actions before they begin. Mr. Rogers stressed the need for outlets to help control your emotions, he used swimming to express his emotion; but he also was a vegetarian, who didn’t smoke and rarely drank. He played piano, studied the bible, and he never rushed himself. Masonically, we are taught to subdue our passions and to improve ourselves in Masonry. Improving ourselves, is part of taking care of ourselves. By improving ourselves in Masonry, we strive for the tenet of Truth, which requires high moral standards and aims for us to achieve them in our own lives. Freemasons believe that the principles of Freemasonry represent a way of achieving higher standards in life. The last link in the Odd Fellows chain, Truth, teaches the same concept. Odd Fellows possesses truth in the "inward parts," they aim to continually possess and practice it.

Something that might surprise you about Mr. Rogers is that he practiced a little numerology. Now before you think I’m accusing Mr. Rogers of being an occultist, I want to be clear that his belief was benign. In Fred’s case, he believed in the power of 143. He claimed to have remained this weight for the last 30 years his life. But more importantly, it was an expression of his philosophy. He said: “It takes one letter to say I and four letters to say love and three letters to say you. One hundred and forty-three.”

Ultimately, the last and most important lesson that Mr. Rogers taught was to always act according to your principles. Although he often brought us to a land of make believe, Mr. Rogers was authentic in life. He was the exemplar for practicing what he preached. In today’s day and age, it’s something that we all (Freemason, Odd Fellow, or just human) need to try to strive for. All too often, I go on social media to see Masons (myself included) not subduing their passions. So I’ve decided personally that if I come upon some of my brethren acting against the tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth or Friendship, Love and Truth, to ask them “What would Mr. Rogers do?” If we all followed the lessons of Mr. Rogers, and our Freemason and/or Odd Fellow degrees; I think that it would be a beautiful neighborhood. 

DAL

WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. You can reach him by email at darin.lahners@gmail.com.










One Day + Three Degrees = Some Great Masons

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Robert E. Jackson

*Editors Note*
The following article comes out of the Trowel, the publication of the Grand Lodge of the State of Massachusetts and was written by WB. Robert E. Jackson. It was published in the Summer 2018 Issue and a link to the entire issue is HERE.

Every man has their own journey, not just in Masonry, but in life. Our individuality is what makes us unique, by definition. We see that in the music we enjoy, the foods we find appetizing, what we find attractive or funny, and how we learn. Just last night, I had a conversation with some Brothers, and we were talking about how we learn ritual. Each of us had our own solution, but none of us were 'wrong.' Thinking back to when I took my degrees, I'm amazed at how much I didn't learn during those months. A spark was ignited for sure, but the fire was far from burning. It wasn't until years later that the spark was fanned by a dear Brother, and the passion grew into a bonfire.

Where were you first prepared to be made for Mason? What does the answer to that question really mean? Think about your spouse, or your family. There is an inherent Love in your heart. I don't have to think about if I Love my kids…I just do. Even if they do something I’m not happy with, I still, and will always, Love them. It's the same for my spouse. Regardless of our disagreements, we would rather work and find a way to preserve our relationship, because a life together, regardless of how difficult, is better than a life apart. How much time it takes to kindle that Love, is another point of individuality within ourselves. For some, it takes years to foster that Love, but for others, that Love is instantaneous.

WB Robert E. Jackson (right) presents "pin #1" to the Grand Master  of MA.
In your own journey, how long did it really take you to grow that Love for Masonry? Today, I'm amazed at how easy it is for some men to walk away from the Craft. They allow their status to go into suspension, or they demit. When I think back, however, I was almost one of them. If it wasn't for my family connections, and a very dear Brother, I probably would have found myself an inactive Mason. It took years for that fire to build for me, how long did it take for you? It doesn't matter whether you received the degrees in a single day, or over the course of years, what matters is how that Love and passion for the Craft sparked and grew into a shining beacon across a sea of darkness.

Today's modern man is vastly different from that of my father's younger life. Today's man is working at least one full time job, helping cook dinner and cleanup, volunteering with their kid's activities, and assisting with general household tasks. A good man's life, is a busy one. Yes there are some that work the bare minimum, and spend more time in front of a screen than they do in front of their family. However, is that the man that will step forward and volunteer to help? Is that the man that will constantly work towards a better version of themselves? The one-day class enables today's busy man to ignite that flame of Freemasonry. You could argue that if they are that busy, how will they find time for the Craft? However, that argument stands regardless of the method in which they were raised.

My Brothers, look for that spark within your fellow Man. Does he truly wish to improve himself through hard work and study? Does he truly want to be of service to his fellow man? Does he truly wish to continue searching for more Light? Don't let that spark die. There are many ways that spark can be initiated…from flint and steel to a butane torch. Our job is to fan those flames, and never let that flame die out.

~REJ

Robert Edward Jackson is a Past and presiding Master of Montgomery Lodge located in Milford, MA. His Masonic lineage includes his Father (Robert Maitland), Grandfather (Maitland Garrecht), and Great Grandfather (Edward Henry Jackson), a founding member of Scarsdale Lodge #1094 in Scarsdale, NY. When not studying ritual, he's busy being a father to his three kids, a husband, Boy Scout Leader, and a network engineer to pay for it all. He can be reached at info@montgomerylodge.org

Plenty Health and Peace

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM



I guess as one gets older they begin to reflect on life: Your future and the place from whence you came. It’s almost as if The Grand Architect has removed the hoodwink from your eyes and you begin to see everything that has been laid out for you. You begin to see how the decisions you made in the past has affected where you are, for the good or the bad, or maybe even both.

Not long ago I was in the middle of something and the wages of a Fellowcraft Corn, wine and oil which denotes “Plenty, Health and Peace” flashed into my mind. I have heard about these wages and the explanation for them hundreds of times while sitting in a lodge watching the degree being performed but I never really thought about them until that moment.

In my older mind these wages all or a sudden made total sense to me. Much like many things in Masonry the physical wages mentioned were nothing more than symbolism for the “secret” of to a happy life.

PLENTY: All my life I thought to have a great life a person had to be rich. I never truly believed the old phrase “Money doesn’t buy happiness” because I knew from experience poverty sure didn’t make me happy. So, I spent much of my youth and adult life trying to pursued wealth. Always dreaming of that one day I would have it all and I would finally be happy. A nice car, a big house and lots of cash so I could do anything I wanted. I really thought a person couldn’t be happy unless he was extremely wealthy.

Today I am far from rich. And I realize I never will be. And honestly, I am OK with that. It took me years to realize it wasn’t wealth beyond my wildest dreams I was in pursuit of it was plenty!

I have never been a person who was impressed by name brands in clothing or a flashy car with a status filled logo a large mansion with a sauna or room for a pony, so my fixation on wealth never really made sense but, in my zeal, to build a large bank account I just wanted enough to make sure I had all the things I truly needed. A nice, comfortable home that was warm in the winter, cool in the summer and in good repair. I wanted to ensure I could purchase what food my family needed so they could be healthy and well fed and a nice car which would get to my destination without constantly breaking down or needing costly repairs. What I truly wanted was plenty!

HEALTH: As I keep accumulating more birthdays and what hair I have left begins to gray I realize how important my health is to me. Much like the old joke that said “If I knew I would live to be this old I would have taken better care of myself!” I have begun to understand what being healthy means to a person.

In my younger years I never knew the definition of “Temperance” or “Moderation”. I ate anything I wanted and drank anything I wanted with no limits. People tried to whisper good council in my ear but I pushed them away. To this day I truly don’t know why I abused my body in such a terrible way. Maybe I was trying to fill a void of something I was missing in my life. Someday day I may know but today all I see is the devastation my actions have left.

Today thanks to the “Ghosts of my past” I have several medical issues that result from this period. Don’t get me wrong I could be in worse shape but these problems have taught me what a blessing good health is and how one should strive to maintain it.

PEACE: From the time I was a small boy I lived in a home which there was little peace and harmony. I grew up a shack in the middle of town with a yard full of broken down cars and piles of junk scattered around various places. The house might have been structurally sound but gave the appearance it was always in disrepair. Many of the towns residents looked down on my family.

My father who was an alcoholic would drink all evening until he would pass out. Until he fell asleep he would usually yell and have the house in turmoil, spouting out verbal abuse to myself and my siblings and on occasion he would be physically abusive. We would constantly hear my mother and him argue, usually about his drinking, the condition of the house or other things. The scars of childhood still effect myself and my siblings in many ways. I don’t say these things to make excuses but because of the way we were raised I believe we didn’t know how to live a normal life or lay a good foundation for adulthood.

Not really having a sound foundation to build a life on I made a lot of mistakes in my personal relationships. I got in situations that were as toxic and the childhood home I grew up in. Mot of my life I searched for the place that would truly make me happy. It wasn’t until I found my lady whom I am in a relationship with now I truly discovered happiness and peace.

I can honestly say I am now happier than I have dreamed I ever would be. Discovering Plenty, health and peace has lead me to a place of calm and positivity, a place I would never have imagined I could ever find.

Upon this discovery part of me regretted not finding these things earlier in my life. I started to think about the middle chamber lecture in the Fellowcraft degree which teaches a newly obligated Brother he climbs those winding stairs learning about all the liberal arts and sciences until he reaches the top of the stairs and receives his wages. Maybe instead of looking at the physical wages and begin to look at what these wages denote we would find the true “secrets” of this degree which is the secret to life and happiness.

~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.

The “Real” Legend of the Temple

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners


I recently discovered that our sacred temple legend is vastly different from the one that is claimed to be the original. According to Rudolf Steiner, in his lecture: “The Temple Legend – The Mystery known to the Rosicrucians”, which he gave in Berlin on the 4th of November 1904, The Legend of the Temple came from Christian Rosenkreutz in the 14th or 15th centuries.


We know that the Freemasons accepted it in the 18th century, as it appeared in Masonic Literature at this time. We can suspect that the legend was known before the time it appeared in the Masonic Literature. Albert Mackey seems to back this up, stating: “But I do not believe that this lost legend of the stone-masons was ever intended to be historical. It was simply a symbol to illustrate the idea that the temple at Jerusalem was the type of all Christian cathedrals. This symbolic Legend, which I suppose to have existed among the stone-masons of the Middle Ages, was probably lost before the revival of Masonry in the year 1717. Anderson therefore framed a new legend out of the Legend of the Craft, the Scriptural account, and his own invention. Upon this Andersonian legend, simple in the first edition of the Constitutions, but considerably expanded in the second, the modern ritualists have framed another legend, which in many important details differs from Anderson's, from the Legend of the Craft, and from the account in the Bible.” 

(http://www.themasonictrowel.com/new_files_to_file/the_temple_legend.htm)

Getting back to the original legend, it’s doubtful that a character by the name Christian Rosenkreutz ever existed. Steiner believed him to be a real historical figure, but he only turns up in 1616 in a work titled:

Chymische Hochzeit: Christian Rosenkreutz, Anno 1459. Roughly translated into English: Chymical Wedding: Christian Rosenkreutz, or better known as The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, authored by Johann Valentin Andreae. Regardless of the historical authenticity of Christian Rosenkreutz, Rosicrucianism has heavily influenced Freemasonry. Many figures associated with early Freemasonry are also associated with Rosicrucianism.

The legend that Steiner references is taken from the work, The Secret Societies of All Ages and Countries, Vol. I, Book VIII, Ch.1, sec. 191 & 192 by Charles William Heckelthorn published in 1875. (The book is now in the public domain. I have summarized the chapters below, but I would suggest that you read them by following the link before continuing: https://books.google.com/books?id=wqCxE4CN3GsC&pg=PA239&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q&f=false).

The temple legend as outlined by Heckelthorn and attributed to Rosenkreutz presents an entirely different story. The story begins telling the story of Adam and Eve. The most striking difference between the story told in Genesis and the one told in the legend is that Cain, instead of being the Son of Adam, is actually the son of an Elohim. Elohim, according to this legend, are primitive genies. However, in looking into the etymology of the word, it is actually the plural of El, meaning gods or the children of El. El was in the pantheon of Canaanite gods, the highest God. So the legend is stating is that Cain is not only a son of a God, but that he is from a God other than Adonai or Jehovah. There is evidence for multiple gods in Genesis (1:26), “And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of heaven and over the cattle and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

Adam and Eve begat Abel. Cain was a demi-God, and Abel was human. Cain was not favored by Adonai, and he rejected his offerings. He subjugated Cain and his line to the family of Abel as punishment for Eve’s transgression. The legend relays that Adonai stirred up strife between the sons of the Elohim, generated out of Fire (Cain) and generated out of the Earth only (Abel). However, other than saying that it was an Elohim, the identity of Cain’s father is unknown at this point. As we know from Genesis, Cain killed Abel. It is mentioned that Cain’s sons were the ones that invented the arts and diffused science. It is also said that again the sons of Cain were subjugated to the sons of Abel, this time as punishment for Cain murdering Abel. However the bible does not mention whether Abel had sons or not. Also missing from the legend is Seth, who is also the son of Adam and Eve. It might be possible then to substitute Seth’s line as the one to which the sons of Cain were subjugated. This would make more sense, since Noah and Solomon are both of Seth’s line. The legend then shows the descendants of Cain, and their contributions to society in teaching the line of Seth certain tradecrafts.

In the descendants of Cain, we see two references to Freemasonry. “Methusael, another of his descendants, invented the sacred characters, the books of Tau and the symbolic T, by which the workers descended from the genii of fire recognised each other.” Those who have been through the Royal Arch will know that the Triple - Tau is a symbol of that Order. We are also told: “T-C, who first constructed a furnace, worked in metals, and dug subterranean caves in the mountains to save his race during the deluge; but it perished nevertheless, and only T-C and his son, the sole survivors of the glorious and gigantic family, came out alive. The wife of Ham, second son of Noah, thought the son of T-C handsomer than the sons of men, and he became progenitor of Nimrod, who taught his brethren the art of hunting, and founded Babylon. Adoniram, the descendant of T-C, seemed called by God to lead the militia of the free men, connecting the sons of fire with the sons of thought, progress, and truth.” The legend states that the son of T-C is handsomer than the sons of men. Because of Cain’s parentage, his offspring then would possess characteristics that were greater than a pure human. The passage is also important because it shows that the line of Cain survived the deluge, and eventually produced Hiram Abiff (Adoniram according to Mackey means the Lord Hiram.


We then learn about Hiram Abiff and how he was responsible for erecting the temple, casting the golden throne of Solomon, and building other glorious edifices. However, Hiram lived a solitary and sad existence. He was hated by many, including Solomon who was jealous of his talents. During this time, the Wisdom of Solomon was well known in many nations of the earth. This apparently attracted Balkis, the Queen of Sheba, who came to visit Solomon and became betrothed to him. Solomon knowing Hiram to more talented and handsome than he, tried to keep the Queen from meeting Hiram. He however failed, and eventually they met. Of course, it was love at first sight for Hiram. The Queen was so impressed with the temple, she demanded to see all of the men who worked on it. Solomon thinking this impossible denied the request. However, Hiram quickly made the Tau symbol in the air from a high point, and the workmen assembled for Balkis to see. This action along with the gaze of Hiram apparently captivated her.

Like our legend, we see Hiram in charge of building the temple. However, our legend has no mention of Hiram being solitary or sad. We also do not see the jealousy between Solomon and Hiram in our legend, in fact they shown to be quite fond of each other. There is also no mention of the Queen of Sheba. We do see however, a tie to Royal Arch Masonry by Hiram tracing the Tau symbol and how that symbol calls the workmen to assemble. In the Royal Arch, the Triple Tau is used as identification of Royal Arch Masons. The tau also has ties to Rosicrucianism, as it represents God and the attributes of wisdom, strength and harmony to them.

This action by Hiram and Balkis’ reaction to it made Solomon extremely jealous. Solomon was dependent upon Hiram to finish his temple, however there was one thing left to be completed, The Molten (Brazen) Sea. Solomon hired three fellow-craft, who were also envious of Hiram, since Hiram refused to raise them to the degree of Master. The three, named Fanor, a Syrian and a mason; Amru, a Phoenician and a carpenter; and Metusael, a Hebrew and a miner. They were tasked by Solomon to sabotage the casting of the Molten Sea. One of Hiram’s friends, Benoni, discovered the plot, and reported it to King Solomon. King Solomon did nothing to prevent the plot. When the Sea was cast, the molten metal poured over the mould. The crowd that had gathered to witness this soon fled in panic. Hiram stood his ground, using water to try to fight the flames, but this only caused steam to rise and then to cool and come back down to the earth spreading more terror and death.

Hiram looked to find his friend, Benoni, among those who had not fled. Little did he know that his friend had been executed by Solomon in order to keep his murderous plot a secret. At this point, Hiram accepted his fate, and turned his thoughts to the beautiful Queen Balkis. Just as he was about to perish, he heard a voice calling out his name. Hiram saw a giant figure, who told him that he had made Hiram fire-proof and told him to cast himself into the flames. Hiram did this. He was then taken to center of the Earth, to the realm of Cain. Hiram found out that he was spared by T-C, who was his Grandfather/Ancestor (Father of thy Fathers). Hiram then learned about the jealous nature of Adonai, when he met Cain. The legend then states: ”The angel of light that begat Cain was reflected in the beauty of this son of love, whose noble and generous mind roused the envy of Adonai.” The beauty of Cain made Adonai jealous, and that prompted his actions to curse Cain. (For the record, there’s no mention of Cain committing murder). Hiram then heard a prophecy about how the line of Cain would triumph over the line of Adam, and he was returned to Earth. T-C gifted Hiram a magical hammer, which he then used to fix and complete the Molten Sea in one night, leading to the adoration of Balkis and countless others.

Like the legend that we know, there are three fellow-craft who are jealous of Hiram and mad at him for not giving them the Master’s Word. However, they are named differently. We have no trace of the Molten Sea disaster in our legend. There is no mention of Hiram being taken to the center of the earth. He does not meet his ancestors. There is also no prophecy. Nor is there a magic hammer that is gifted to Hiram.

While travelling outside Jerusalem, Balkis came upon Hiram, and they confessed their love for each other. They married, and then plotted how to get Balkis out of her promise to marry Solomon. They decided to flee to Arabia. Balkis plied Solomon with wine, and then removed the ring from his finger to which she had betrothed herself. Meanwhile, Solomon had hinted that the removal of his rival Hiram would not bring punishment to the three fellow-craft. They assaulted Hiram when he came into the Temple, but Hiram was able to dispose of the Master’s Word, which was inscribed on a golden delta that he wore around his neck, into a deep well. They took Hiram’s body and buried it on a solitary hill, placing a sprig of acacia to mark the site. Hiram was not seen for seven days, and the people started to clamor for him. Solomon then called for a search for Hiram. Three master masons discovered his body and immediately suspected that the three fellowcraft who had not been given the Masters degree were responsible. The three masters, having the master’s word, decided that in order to keep it secure, they should change it. They decided that the first word uttered upon raising the body would become the new Master’s word. While trying to raise the body from the grave, one of the master’s exclaimed: “Macbenach!” (the flesh is off the bones!). This then became the substitute for the Master’s word. The three fellow-craft were hunted down, and rather than be captured, they committed suicide. Their heads were then brought to King Solomon. A search was then made for the Master’s word, which was found at the bottom of the well where Hiram had thrown it. Solomon then had it placed on a triangular altar erected in a secret vault which was built under the temple. The triangle, was further hidden by a cubical stone, upon which the sacred law had been written. The vault was known only to the 27 elect, and was walled up.

Once again, we have no mention of the Queen nor of a romance between her and Hiram Abiff in our legend. Hiram being assaulted in the temple by the three fellow-craft, his body taken, buried and marked by a sprig of acacia matches up. However, Solomon ordering the assassination is missing in our version of the legend. The time between when they discover Hiram missing is also drastically different. In our version, King Solomon orders the search, but he does so because there is confusion between the workmen as to their instructions missing, not because of the people clamoring for him. The circumstances and particulars around the pursuit of the fellow-craft, who are captured in our version, the discovery of Hiram’s body, and the raising of it differ greatly between our version and the “original”. The word given as the substitute for the Master’s word is different in our version. The Golden Delta holding the Master’s word which is recovered by Solomon evokes the delta used in the opening of a Lodge of Royal Arch Masons. King Solomon building the secret vault to hold the Master’s word is completely absent in our version. However, the vault does come into play in the Royal Arch Degree, as well as the 13th Degree in the Scottish Rite for both jurisdictions. However, it is said that it was built by Enoch in those degrees.

Of course, we know that Hiram Abiff is a figure who goes by the name of Hiram – Abi (Huram – Abi) in the bible. He appears two times in the Old Testament. In 2 Chronicles 2:11-14, Hiram King of Tyre replies to a request by Solomon stating: “And now I have sent a skillful man, endowed with understanding, Huram my master craftsman 14 (the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre), skilled to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, stone and wood, purple and blue, fine linen and crimson, and to make any engraving and to accomplish any plan which may be given to him, with your skillful men and with the skillful men of my lord David your father.” Also, in 1 Kings 7: 13-14, “Now King Solomon sent and brought Huram from Tyre. 14 He was the son of a widow from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a bronze worker; he was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill in working with all kinds of bronze work. So he came to King Solomon and did all his work.”

The accounts of Hiram’s parentage differ in the accounts. In the account in 2 Chronicles 2:11-14, his mother is alluded to be from the Tribe of Dan, and his Father was a man of Tyre, making him from the tribe of Asher. In the account in Kings, his mother is from the Tribe of Naphtali, and his father was from Tyre (meaning that he was from the Tribe of Asher). However, the city of Dan was a city within the boundaries of the Tribe of Naphtali. Is it possible that the author of Kings took him being the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan to mean not the tribe of Dan, but rather the city of Dan? This would then make his mother from the tribe of Naphtali. There is a discrepancy regarding Hiram’s father also. In the account in Chronicles, it uses the past tense when referring to his father (his father was a man of Tyre). While in the account in Kings, it states that he was the son of a widow and his father was a man of Tyre, a bronze worker. So is it possible that the account given in Kings is wrong again? By making the assumption that due to the past tense description of his father, maybe there was an assumption made that he was deceased. Is it possible that Hiram’s father isn’t deceased? For example, his Father was a man of Tyre could easily mean his father was born in Tyre.

If we then take the account in Chronicles as being accurate, and the account in Kings as being inaccurate, then Hiram might not be a widow’s son. In the original temple legend, it states that the father of Cain was married to Eve, and had a son called Cain. The next line says that Jehovah then created Adam and united him with Eve to bring forth the family of Abel. In ancient Hebrew law, divorce wasn’t an option for a woman, and having a child with someone infers that they were married. Men in that time were able to have more than one wife, but a wife could not have more than one husband. So the only possible way that Eve could have been re-married to Adam would have been if her husband was dead. This would make Cain the son of a widow, IE: A widow’s son.

In the legend, the sons of Cain are said to have invented the arts and diffused science. We are taught in Freemasonry to study the seven Liberal Arts and Sciences. We refer to members of Cain’s line within our ritual. We refer to Hiram Abiff in our ritual as being a Widow’s son, yet there is evidence as presented above that he might not be. It might be a leap of faith, but I think that the reference to Hiram being a Widow’s son in our ritual might refer to Hiram Abiff being a descendant of Cain. If Hiram is as skilled in architecture, masonry and metallurgy as the original legend portrays him to be, (as well as the account in Chronicles), then this would lead further credence to this possibility, since Cain’s line was skilled in these arts as well. Another clue indicating Hiram’s ancestry would be the use of the Triple Tau in Royal Arch Masonry as a way to identify other Royal Arch Masons. As the legend says, the Tau is how the workers descended from the genii of Fire recognized each other. This would seem to then match up Hiram’s ancestry in our legend with the ancestry as given in the “original” legend.

Of course, all of this is as we refer to it, a legend. We know that our Masonic temple legend is an allegory created to tell man’s ultimate triumph over death. It is likely that the Rosicrucian “Real” Temple Legend is also an allegory. It is also possible that the author Hecklethorn made it up entirely, contrary to Steiner stating that it was presented by Christian Rosenkreutz to the a select few members of the Rosicrucian brotherhood in the 15th century. Steiner gives his own interpretation of the “Real” Legend himself explaining that it portrayed the destiny of the 3rd, 4th and 5th Post-Atlantean cultural epochs. Regardless of its authenticity, there is just enough of that version of the legend which corresponds with ours to make me believe that a version of it was present in some circles prior to Anderson’s re-telling of it. As to who the real author is, or what the “real” Legend is, we may never know. What I do know is that had our ritual stuck to the legend as described by Hecklethorn (and attributed to Rosenkreutz), it would tell a similar, but very different story.

~DAL

WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. You can reach him by email at darin.lahners@gmail.com

Practicing "Safe" Masonic Intercourse

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Michael Arce


The Moral Debate On Clandestine Masonry

Morality. You will hear that word many times as a Freemason. Merriam-Webster has four definitions for morality. I believe the one that best fits the discussion of clandestine masonry is: "a literary or other imaginative work teaching a moral lesson." Ironically, Merriam-Webster lists "Aesop's Fables" as a "famous example of morality". While the subject of clandestine masonry is a vast, unknown entity to many Freemasons, what is clear is: clandestine groups claim to seek for the same "morality" that we, as Freemasons, overtly pursue. The problem is, their members are all to often unknowing participants in their covert, fictitious work.

Often when we think of clandestine masons, the idea of someone wearing a masonic ring purchased at an estate sale, possessing an apron that is not their own, or claiming to know "our secrets" come to mind. The image of a copycat, wannabe, or pretender who presents fake credentials to access a conversation or find relevance. Someone who would see being a Freemason as a status symbol, not as a privilege. In reality, clandestine masonic groups not only mimic our dress, degree systems, ritual, and education -- they also try to claim legitimacy in our communities. These groups are not quiet "pretenders," rather the opposite; they are well organized, well funded, and target gentlemen who have a sincere desire to become a Freemason.

Three common themes surfaced during my research on clandestine groups: intent, race, and realization.

The Clandestine Experience

"I was Junior Warden of my Lodge, Junior Deacon of the District," began Bro. Alvin Gyles, member of Mt. Vernon Lodge #3, F&AM - Albany, NY, Ancient Temple Chapter #5 RAM - Albany, Bloss-DeWitt Clinton Council #14 - Albany. "And, I was in Queen of the South and Royal Arch. The only thing I was missing was the Shriners which they consider the highest degree." The "they" here is a local group of International Free and Accepted Modern Masons, a corporation based out of Detroit, Michigan. International Masons and Easter Stars Worldwide is an unaffiliated clandestine group, not recognized by The Grand Lodge of the State of New York -- in turn, not recognized by ANY Masonic jurisdiction in the United States. This clandestine group looks, feels, and acts legitimate but is far from having the title of Freemasons.

Bro. Gyles' intent was pure, he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, a Past Grand Master in Prince Hall. "He had a big impression in my life with the square and compasses," reminisced Gyles. "When I was growing up, since my name started with an "A", I would draw the square and compasses with my letter 'A'." Yet, Bro. Gyles's first masonic experience was clandestine. He unknowing invested almost ten years of his life with the International Masons after meeting a member through his church.

Five years into the experience, at 23 years old, Bro. Gyles noticed how his dues kept increasing. The cost didn't rise because of changes in the economy, the sources that called for contributions grew over time. He did the math, he was paying almost $200 a month! "When I first started it was $25 a month, by the time I stopped it was $35. Once you are a member you paid district fees. That was another $12 every Saturday plus the raffles." Wait, raffles? These weren't charitable or legitimate non-profit efforts. No, this fundraising was for the clandestine treasury, paid for by the members. "Every month you would get a book of tickets you have to sell. They were $25 a book. You don't wanna hassle everyone you know, every month, so you basically buy those too. You get one from your Lodge, District, and Grand Lodge." He began wondering where all of this money was going since Bro. Gyles would often pay for dinner, tools, and items needed for degrees.

At this point, I had to know, just as you are probably thinking, how did this group perform ritual? What was their education and history? What exactly were they telling (and selling) to their members? The International "Modern Masons" consider the Shrine the highest degree. Bro. Gyles explained their degree system. "Basically we had three degrees in Blue Lodge," he started. "Then you have to get your Eastern Star Degree. After the Easter Star, you become a member of the Queen of the South. Then comes Royal Arch, Scottish Rite, and you end up as a 32nd degree Shriner." The group used the Duncan Ritual, which you can purchase on Amazon for under $20. "When I do ritual work now, I have to stop at certain moments, to pull back the clandestine words because they are memorized. It's like a lyric from your favorite song that has another version that is played on the album versus the radio."

If you are keeping score:
• This group approaches men who show an interest in Freemasonry
• To apply, men fill out a petition, in this case online
• Initiated men are put through a degree system
• Their ritual is not secret • Dues are paid weekly
• They claim to be founded upon Christian values

So far some of what clandestine groups offer is similar to Freemasonry but we are starting to see a few differences. Oh, and there is a major distinction that Bro. Gyles revealed.

"The only physical building this group had is in Detroit."

 Bingo! That fact surfaced when Bro. Gyles' researched this group's legitimacy after a fellow member tried to petition another recognized Masonic body and was denied. It was at that point, Bro. Gyles was told the Modern Masons group was not a recognized Lodge. They were also told to produce a copy of their charter. To regular Freemasons, there is formal communication process between recognizes Lodges that facilities these requests, but to clandestine members this is an awakening moment. For Bro. Gyles, he continued to find the truth.

Creating Racial Division

After his friend called, they reached out their Grand Master for answers. "He was the most honest one we spoke to," noted Bro. Gyles. "He came back to us and said, 'This is what it is: they consider us clandestine... but who are they to call us that? We did the same process that they did to start their Lodges. Who tells these white guys they can do it and we can't?'" It's not uncommon for some clandestine groups to play to the same racial tensions that have divided good men in country since the birth of our democracy.

When I looked at the homepage of the International Masons, as the pictures cycled on the screen, I noticed they all shared one thing in common: the members pictured were all African American. The general thought is, historically, as black men sought admittance to Freemasonry, they were excluded or prevented from joining. At that point, their only recourse was to join other groups, like Prince Hall Lodges. Since Prince Hall Lodges have only recently (late 1990's to early 2000's) been recognized as regular Masonic bodies by the independent Grand Lodges in jurisdictions across the United States -- this divide created an opening for other groups to promote the values of Freemasonry while positioning their organization as a body that offered acceptance to members of the black community.

This might explain the development of "progressive fraternal orders" and their use of the Square and Compasses with letter "G" in their logo -- but upon further, careful examination, you'll notice an addition (like the symbol for a key) or other slight variation, that to the initiated, are clear indicators of clandestine masonry. But you'd have to know that. Like the viceroy butterfly that mimics the monarch, clandestine groups appear legitimate to the untrained eye. This stealthy deception allows these groups to exist in the same mind space as Masonic Lodges and Temples that have legitimately been in the community for generations.

"Brother C" presented a similar story as Bro. Gyles when he shared his clandestine experience. He approached a friend, who was a clandestine member, inquiring about Freemasonry. He did not know that he was talking to a clandestine mason. "Brother C" then went through the Blue Lodge ritual to earn his Master Mason degree. It wasn't until he was asked about his background, that he discovered he was clandestine. "Brother C" is also an African American. Like Bro. Gyles, he eventually went through the steps to become a legitimate Mason. As "Brother C" tells is, "after I approached by a true Brother who then asked about my background, I came to find out that I was a clandestine Mason. I was extremely disappointed because my original sponsor had passed. I don't believe that he knew we were clandestine either. I wanted to be a legitimate Mason."

The Realization of Freemasonry

If you visit your Grand Lodge website and then scan a clandestine page, you'll find that both are a starting point for good men looking to be better. Both will have photos of gentlemen wearing aprons and regalia, or other things that look Masonic. When I scanned through the pages of true, Masonic Grand Lodges, every site shared the same story of our history. The oldest fraternity in the world... created in 1717... one Grand Lodge in each state and the District of Columbia... with references to historic/famous Masons like Franklin, Washington, Roosevelt, or Truman. We offer the authentic history that interested men want to be a part of.

Think back to the last interaction you had with a gentleman who was interested in Freemasonry. What questions did he ask you? What questions did you ask him? If he came to visit your Lodge, did you give him a tour? Did he stay for dinner? This is something to consider. With information just a Google search away, we need to improve the fact-finding process for men seeking to join Freemasonry. It should be the goal of every "Brother Bring a Friend Night" that those who visit our sacred buildings, whether it's for a social occasion or non-tiled meeting, that individual leaves with a clear picture of who we are and what we do.

In my conversation with "Brother C," he discussed how, as a Freemason, he has traveled to Lodges outside of his jurisdiction. He explained the examination process, "I know this now because you may not know you are a clandestine Mason, when you are one." How painful that reality must be. "You are going to always feel like you were robbed of your time," echoed Bro. Gyles. "I was dedicated and put myself in it. Time is the one thing I will never get back. This also caused relationship problems. My clandestine lodge took me away from my family for hours. In the end, it was all gone."

Understanding Our Obligation

The wording will differ across our jurisdictions but we can all agree that as Master Masons, we are prohibited from discussing anything Masonic in nature with clandestine members. The problem is, most of us don't know what or even IF we can say anything to a clandestine member. I reached out to RW Bro. Oscar Alleyne, Junior Grand Warden, Grand Lodge of the State of New York, F&AM for more insight on this issue. Oscar is widely considered an expert in our Craft on the subject of Clandestine Masons. He delivered an eye-opening presentation on "The Prevalence of Clandestine Freemasonry in the United States," at Masonic Con 2017, held at Ezekiel Bates Lodge in Attleboro, Massachusetts.

"I have often found that when speaking with Worshipful Masters or in Lodge discussions, many of us are unsure of how to interact with clandestine members," said RW Bro. Alleyne. His words prompted me to pick up my ritual book. "People hear the word 'intercourse' and wonder what that means. It's true: you are not supposed to talk about ritual or the secret work of Freemasonry. But, you can have a conversation with any gentleman about what it means to join a Lodge and the process for legitimately joining a Lodge." The challenge to Freemasons is finding the appropriate time or method, to gently explain the massive difference between clandestine and recognized Masonry.

Instead of looking at clandestine members as "the hackers of Freemasonry" or malicious evil-doers, keep in mind these men are preachers, the guy you work with, or someone who also volunteers to serve your community. The subject of being clandestine should be approached with caution. Bro. Gyles, who still sees members from his clandestine group, advises that, "every situation is different. Everyone isn't open to hearing that they are a member of something that is fake. When you get into these clandestine lodges, they program in your mind that they are right and that anyone who says different is a liar and you need to protect your family."

"Brother C" advises to use caution as well. "If I came across a clandestine mason, I would let him speak. If it was just somebody passing by, I would not say anything. If it was a gentleman who had a sincere interest, then if I am in particular jurisdiction (i.e. outside my Mother Lodge), I would seek permission to see if I could speak with that gentleman." It's important to note that as Master Masons, we are also instructed to be good members of the community in which we live. RW Bro. Alleyne summed up that duty the best. "We need to embrace who we are, express greater interaction among our recognized bodies, and also, engage the community so that people get a better understanding of what we are. These steps will build a better pathway to joining our Lodges!"

~MA

Brother Michael Arce is the Junior Warden of St. George’s #6, Schenectady and a member of Mt. Zion #311, Troy New York. When not in Lodge, Bro. Arce is the Marketing Manager for Capital Cardiology Associates in Albany, New York. He enjoys meeting new Brothers and hearing how the Craft has enriched their lives. He can be reached at: michael.arce@me.com

The Centralia Caper

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



In the winter of 1932, the members of Centralia Council 34, located in central (as its name might suggest) Missouri, decided it was time for a little housekeeping. With 191 members on its rolls, several were significantly delinquent in dues payments and it was time to suspend their memberships. In any Masonic body, suspending members is always a significant issue, not taken lightly. Still, retaining members who are no longer paying dues becomes a financial issue as that body remains under obligation to pay the per capita dues for each of them.

During that era in Missouri per capita payments were a hotbed issue. (And when are they not a hotbed issue?) Already a bylaws amendment was in the works to reduce the "tax" to 50¢ from the "outrageous" level of 70¢ (about $9.80 in today's funds). By their actions, there is no doubt the members of Centralia overwhelmingly supported this amendment and probably felt it didn't go far enough.

At the Council's December meeting, the Companions voted to suspend 76 delinquent members, saving a whopping $53.20 ($745). That's when the caper began to brew…

In early 1933, the Grand Council Secretary, Ray Denslow, received the Membership Returns from Centralia. The report showed on December 31, Centralia Council had suspended 191 members showing a total membership of zero. Accordingly, Centralia owed nothing in the form of a per capita payment to the Grand Council, saving it over $80 ($1,127) it should have owed for the remaining 115 legitimate members.

The creative antics of the Centralia Companions turned up the heat at the Grand Council session the following April in St. Louis. Ralph T. Finley, Grand Master of the Grand Council, would have none of it. He said in his ruling on the matter, "It appears that one Council [Centralia] suspended 191 members in December 1932. The 1933 report of said Council shows that 115 of said suspended Companions were reinstated in January 1933, but no per capita tax was paid thereon… I have held that per capita tax on such reinstated members should have been paid. The meaning and intent of the law is that per capita dues shall be collected on all members for each year for which such members pay subordinate dues… When a Companion, after suspension, pays his dues, he does not become a member merely from the time that he pays his dues, but he is reinstated, so that his membership relates back through the period of his suspension. To hold otherwise than that per capita dues are payable on reinstated members would place the Grand Council at the mercy of subordinate Councils… it would be possible for every council in the State to suspend all of its members in December and reinstate them in January, without the payment of any per capita dues whatever. The protection of the Grand Council, and indirectly the protection of every Council in the State, demands that our law and custom be construed to require that per capita dues be paid upon reinstated members."

To add insult to injury for the poor Centralia Companions, the amendment to reduce the per capita assessment failed. Still… nice try, Centralia.

One final thing: Grand Master Finley was a member of Centralia Council, so during his term he was, in fact, suspended from December 31 until early January.

~SLH

Bro. Steve Harrison, 33° , is Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is also a Fellow and Past Master of the Missouri Lodge of Research. Among his other Masonic memberships are the St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite bodies, and Moila Shrine. He is also a member and Past Dean of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. Brother Harrison is a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasonsblog as well as several other Masonic publications. Brother Steve was Editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine for a decade and is a regular contributor to the Whence Came You podcast. Born in Indiana, he has a Master's Degree from Indiana University and is retired from a 35 year career in information technology. Steve and his wife Carolyn reside in northwest Missouri. He is the author of dozens of magazine articles and three books: Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, Freemasons — Tales From the Craft and Freemasons at Oak Island.