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 four 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.

All Jokes Aside

by Midnight Freemason Emeritus Contributor
Bro. Aaron R. Gardner, 32ยบ


Why do we use a goat in our jokes about Freemasonry? Our Fraternity is scrutinized due to having secrets. This [Fraternity] is against God according to many religious organizations. But, so much of our ritual and requirements involve the belief and fear of a higher power, or of God. We pray to the Grand Architect or designer of the Universe. Many of our brethren follow a Christian theology and have taken oaths on the Holy Bible.

So, why is it so many God fearing men, in the Biblical sense, make jokes about our beloved fraternity, that incorporates a symbol of impurity, like the goat?

It is true that our fraternity embraces symbols that have previously been revered and celebrated, but in today’s society may be demonized. It is in our nature to understand symbols for all they mean, and to have an uncommon knowledge of them and their esoteric knowledge.

Case in point would be the Pillars at the Temple. We know their names, we know the meaning of their names, we know how tall they are, and what was or is inside them. But, we also know the symbol attributed to the Holy Saints John and how they may represent the longest and shortest day in the year. We also know that what happens between those days and those pillars, there renewing and decaying of life. We as Freemasons have that “esoteric” knowledge. That is why you will see a point within a circle between these very pillars. You will also see a point between John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. We have knowledge of the connections between all these symbols. We have the knowledge that the point within the circle, which we have already attributed to life, has another meaning outside of life.

It is the astrological symbol for the Sun. The “heavenly body” that gives life to this world we call Earth. It is the alchemical symbol for gold. It is a symbol of life’s beginning and the resurrection of life. The symbolism has some beautiful understanding to it. Without our knowledge and implications on these symbols, they would mean nothing to the ritual. We bring the knowledge of the past and our current to apply a meaning to the pillars and the point within a circle. Lovely, revered meanings, and we apply them to the knowledge of Freemasonry, so the craft can be upheld and appreciated.

Then we attribute the symbol of nefarious meanings to our beloved craft, the goat. Perhaps it is how similar the abbreviation of the Grand Architect of the Universe is to the word goat. The lettering of the animal is just a transposed lettering of the abbreviation with one less letter. I can assume the attribution of a goat to our fraternity is by a mistake of the profane. However, even this assumption is hard pressed for truth. GATOU is an abbreviation standing for the designer of the Macrocosm, or the Architect as we would call the deity. Is is an abbreviated form of a highly respected, well appreciated attribution to God.

Where as a goat has notoriously been a symbol of lust. A deadly sin according to Christian understanding, and a vice according to Greek philosophy. Origins likely attributed to an Egyptian practice of forcing slaves to commit beasitality in worship of the Goat of Mendez, otherwise known as Baphomet.

Throughout history goats have had nefarious meanings. Even if there is something beautiful about its symbolism for fertility, with as many men in our fraternity who subscribe to Christian values, the Bible has attributed negative to actual goats in the Old Testament. Named after the demon Azazel, a goat would take on all the sins of the people performing a sacrificial ritual to the Abrahamic God. While one goat is slaughtered, another takes the sins and walks away. This is where the term scapegoat comes from. Possibly even, why we still see good people being punished while bad people seem unharmed.

Yet again, as my long time friend and brother, the late Jim Tresner would remind me, the symbols mean nothing without the people who apply the meaning to these symbols. Maybe if it means nothing to me, then it can lose its symbolism.

Alas, the knowledge of what and where the ideas of goats comes from, still makes me cringe when hearing “Ride the Goat”. I try to forget about it. I can't help but think that it's as if our very own brethren are demonizing the craft, although unwittingly. We have enough ignorant enemies from without the craft; we don’t need them from within.

~ARG

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:
Hardly a man is now alive 
Who remembers that famous day and year.

One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



Suddenly the words came back to me more than 35 years after I first heard and read them. They have been familiar to generations of Americans since 1860 when they were penned by American Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Longfellow (1807-1882) was a prominent educator, serving on the faculty of Harvard University and living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

It was Longfellow’s home that I came across, as I walking through a neighborhood in Cambridge that brought his famous words to my memory. Now a National Historic Site, operated by the National Park Service, the home stands as a timeless reminder not only to Longfellow, but also George Washington.

Washington used the house as his Headquarters as he took command of the Continental Army in July 1775. His wife Martha, her son, daughter-in law and several enslaved servants joined him at the house as they converted into a functional residence/HQ. Here Washington would meet with many prominent men of his day such as Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and others, as they consulted with him on the war for independence.

The house was passed through several owners until Longfellow became the owner in 1843, buying it from Elizabeth Craigie. Longfellow had rented a room from Craigie from 1837-1843. He lived in the house until his death in 1882. Longfellow left his position at Harvard University to dedicate his full time efforts to writing and scholarship. It was during this time, in 1860 that he wrote his now infamous poem about Paul Revere.

As I walked about the beautiful grounds of the house, I thought about the courage and conviction of those founding fathers as they fought against tyranny. An army that was ill-equipped, untrained, in-experienced was going against the strongest military force of the time. Paul Revere, a silversmith and Freemason from Boston, whom Longfellow memorialized in this famous poem, was one of these patriots who had taken up the call to action and joined the Continental Army.

I realized I was standing on hallowed ground.

Longfellow closed out his poem about Paul Revere writing:

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm, —
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

~GJK

WB Gregory J. Knott is the Worshipful Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 in Ogden (IL) and a plural member of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC.

Living A Life That's Too Small

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

One thing you learn when you petition a Lodge of Freemasons, is that there are a lot of steps involved. The petition is submitted. It sits for a predetermined period of time. It’s voted on. 1st degree. Things to learn. 2nd degree. Things to learn. You get the idea. It’s methodical steps, and each step is intentional. It’s part of the process. Some steps give the lodge time to be intentional with a decision about whether to admit a candidate or not. Some steps are so the candidate learns everything he needs to know to advance to the next level with the knowledge he needs to do so.

When I was in school, video games were huge. It was the 80s, and I spend a great deal of time, and all of my resources (allowance, mowing money, etc.) one quarter at a time. Of course video games are all set up the same way. Hard in the beginning, but it gets easier as you become proficient in the skills required, and once you’ve got the skills mastered for that level, you go on to the next level—and that level is harder and usually requires additional skills. Hour after hour, and quarter after quarter, I’d get to higher and higher levels in the game. And in that era, that meant starting at the beginning very often and going through all the levels you’d already mastered. Those lower levels that challenged me in the beginning, were nothing to get through now. Inevitably however, something would always happen. I’d either reach the final level of the game, or I’d get to the point that the game was no longer challenging me anymore and I’d go looking for a new game to play.

Life is the same way. We always need new challenges to keep it interesting. We need to develop new skills to get to the next level.

That’s what brought me to Freemasonry in the beginning. I was looking for something I didn’t have. I was looking for new experiences. I was looking for new skills. I was looking for ways in which I could improve myself and contribute more to the community than I had been. I was looking for a different way to live my life because I’d been on the same level for too long. And I found everything I was looking for. I got over my fear of public speaking that had held me back for years. I found a voice in writing and have written six books (soon to be seven). I’ve learned leadership skills. I’ve made innumerable friends. And I’ve learned what one person with a good idea is capable of accomplishing—moreover, what one person with an idea and a group of friends willing to help is capable of accomplishing.  As we quickly approach 3 millions readers, The Midnight Freemasons blog is a good example of what my original idea, and a lot of help and hard work (and excellent writing) from my friends can accomplish. Freemasonry has taught me over and over again that like many others, I underestimate the impact and the potential of the individual. We make good men better, and we do that by helping to bring out the hidden talents and abilities of the one.

I don’t think I know a single person that is completely happy with where they’re at—that includes all the Freemasons I know. I think it’s almost universal for us to feel as if we want more out of the few years we live on this earth. But too often, especially when you get to be my age, we get to a level we’re comfortable with, and we stay there. We get the job we wanted. We get the house we wanted. We have the spouse and the kids and the dog and the yard, and we say to ourselves “well, that’s everything I set out to get in life.” And we stay there. And as happy as we may be in that place, part of us misses the challenge of getting there. There’s a part of us that knows there’s still more to be done and still more to be experienced in life.

It really is up to you how far you get . . .
It seems counter-intuitive, but mankind was built to be challenged, to be tested, and to keep growing. Just like in those video games, we have a built in desire to see what’s at the next level. Living a life that’s too small for us inevitable leads to future regret. It’s not the things we’ve done in life that we wind up regretting in the end. It’s the things we didn’t do.

~TEC


Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and is a regular contributor. He is the award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog. He is a Past Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) where he currently serves as Secretary. He is the Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research. (FMLR). He is a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 where he currently serves as EHP. He represents the Grand Lodge of Illinois A.F. & A.M. as the Eastern Area Education Officer. He is also a member of Tuscola Odd Fellows Lodge No. 316. You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Camp Masonry 2018 Recap

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson


"What in the world is Camp Masonry?", you may be asking. Well, I suppose before I tell you how it went, I'll tell you what it is. About three years ago, Bro. Jason Shamy and a group of close Brothers decided to do a camping trip together. Long story short, it's evolved into a huge thing. Two days at one of the largest campgrounds in America, cabins, tents, presenters, home cooked camp meals, fellowship and a few choice vendors. This year I had the opportunity to go and the honor to be a presenter. What I experienced was nothing short of what I can only describe as "a truly unique and definitive Masonic experience."

I arrived on Friday morning before the event took off. We pulled into the large parking lot of Camp Miakonda, the 6th largest camp in America and oldest in Ohio. It's a Boy Scout camp. The history at this camp was inspiring. I loaded my bags onto a cart and climbed aboard. We took a short cruise through a forest, over a bridge to a hollow where there stood a picnic ground, a large hall called "Council Lodge", the Ford Center and several small bunk house cabins.


The Council Lodge building was really nice. It's a round building which we were told used to have a fire pit in the middle and the roof would allow for ventilation. I'm unsure if it can still accommodate this feature, but it was amazing nonetheless. Walking around the camp grounds and familiarizing myself with the surroundings was a small adventure in itself. I soon met up with and made quick friends with Dan Hrinko, author of "The Craft Driven Lodge".  I'll spare you the details of our conversation and instead direct you to his awesome book linked above.

Later on I was able to set up my bunk. An old metal frame bunk with a vinyl pad, a sheet courtesy of Bro. Shamy and my sleeping bag...the one I borrowed from my 8 year-old son. I set out to explore more of the camp sight and meet new brothers. I met Nate, a thirty year-old Army Veteran who's looking to become a pilot. I met Bro. Ken, an educator by trade who had a knack for keeping us focused on the days first real task, a free form exploration of Mackey's Masonic Encyclopedia.

We sat around the park benches, we all had a copy of Mackey's and we arbitraraly flipped through pages until we found something of interest. We took turns reading the excerpts and discussing what we knew. Bro. Ken kept us on track. Before long it was time for the next agenda item, The Demolay Initiation.

I had never seen an initiation quite like it. They had a full slate of officers and lecturers perform the ceremony for six new members. I watched Masonic dads from around the room become very proud. Their sons were either performing the ritual or becoming initiated. It was a sight to see. Dinner followed and it was just a great time to eat and fellowship.

There were some brief remarks made by some Ohio VIPs and then I was up. I gave a presentation on Esoterics 101, what I refer to as part one of the Quantum series lectures. After this, it was 9:30 at night and it was time for the Mark Master degree. We began the walk down the trail through the dark forest, buzzing with nightlife noises. Frogs and bugs of all sorts provided the backdrop for a walk lit only by torches. The degree was put on in the "Fort", an enclosure with an open roof. The trees were all lit up red. Bro. Dave Bacon was one of three Brothers to become Companions. Full costumes and they had the A-Squad for the degree work.


The night wasn't over. We made our way back up the trail to camp where Bro. Albert H. McLelland provided us with an exclusive screening of Terra Masonica. If Albert sounds familiar, he is the creator and founder of MATSOL. After the movie, I headed off to bed, it was well after 1:00am.

Waking up at 7:30am and headed to the Council Lodge for a nice breakfast and to start out the days events. We once more made our way down to the Fort for the exemplification of the first section of the Master Mason degree. It was hot out. I had my black Camp Masonry shirt on and I had forgot my sunglasses in my bunk. A remarkable experience in any case. Next up, Lunch followed by a wonderful presentation by Bro. Jason Bryce.

Jason spoke about the varied symbolism within the letter G in our Craft lodges. He went into some deeper aspects of our spiritual work as Masons. I highly enjoyed his talk and found it edifying. Dan Hrinko, whom I had met the day before was the next presenter. We gathered outside and sat around picnik tables while he talked about Masonic experience and how to make it better. He outlined much of what his lodge, "Arts and Sciences" does and detailed it's success.

Next up was Dave Bacon who had quite the crowd. He spoke on how our individual experiences shape how we see symbols. He dove into the science of our brains, how we interpret things and as any good presenter will do, he made us all a little uncomfortable, a necessary part if we're to grow.

Bill Carter from the Grand Lodge of Ohio was the next to speak. He spoke at length about cellular technology, the ramifications for using it constantly, and how to counteract those consequences through fraternal means. It was my turn to present again, this time I spoke on the Tetragrammaton, or the ineffable name of God.

The Festive Board was the next thing on the agenda. Bro. Hrinko lead the evening with songs and toasts. The last speaker for the Festive Board was the Grand Master of Masons of Ohio, Eric R. Schau. WB Schau talked about his experience at the 300 event in UGLE. It was a great conversation.

After the Festive Board wrapped up it was time to take the "road to Eleusis", that trail lit only by torches once more, to the second section of the Master Mason degree. Arriving at the Fort again, this time in procession, and the trees were now lit by blue lights. It was a sight to behold. What followed, you can guess. Top-notch degree exemplification and a changed man.

On the road back to camp many of us said our goodbyes and went to bed. I awoke the next morning, packed up and flew home. Writing this, I cannot help but reminise on the new friendships, experiences and feeling I had over the weekend. I certainly hope anyone reading this will consider coming next year. There are few national Masonic events that are noteworthy. Most are filled with expensive dinners, endless introductions and programming aimed at raising charity funds. Those events are fine, but are not truly Masonic.

This was a Masonic event in every impart of the word. Education and Fellowship. No administrative tasks, no whining, no pomp just conversations which offered solutions. It was refreshing. Thanks to all who put on the event and to all my new friends. Until next year, Brothers!

~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.

Impact of War – Part 3

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott



Part 3 of a series of the Impact of War on the Grand Lodge of Illinois and Freemasonry. Part one is here and part 2 is here.

Illinois had long been a destination for those immigrating from Germany. Many of my own ancestors had come to Illinois looking for opportunities in farming, commerce and industry. They brought with them their German languages and culture. By 1850 35.9%of foreign born Illinois residents were from Germany.

So, it was only natural that as freemasonry grew, lodges were forming with the work done in the native language of the membership. By 1918 according to the Proceedings of the MW Grand Lodge of Illinois, nine lodges were working the ritual in German, all in the Chicago area. But the Great War was about to have a direct impact on these nine lodges.

MWGM Austin H. Scrogin ordered that these lodges cease working in German and conduct work only in English. Scrogin said, “Fully realizing the great danger to America institutions by the German propaganda, I took up with the nine German-language lodges in Illinois the advisability of a change to the medium of speech in America. I had a consultation with the masters of the German lodges in Chicago. A second meeting was then held. At this all the masters, wardens, secretaries and most of the past masters of the lodges in the state, working in the German language, were present...”

Six of the lodge readily agreed to change their work to the English language. Three did not agree and MWGM Scrogin issued an edict that was mandated to be read in all lodges in Illinois that forbid the use of the German language in the work. Only English was to be allowed. His edict said in part, “A World Crisis is impending; the right of the Nations of the World to choose the form of government under which they shall live is attacked by a predatory militaristic power with a savagery and inhumanity which shock the moral sense of the world; the success of this attack would destroy democracy and free government and the achievements of the moral and religious progress and development of the human race for the past two hundred years; the liberties of all free nations, the perpetuity of the fundamental principles and precepts of Freemasonry now hang in the balance. At such a time, in such a crisis, every loyal and patriotic Mason must be conscious of the personal duty resting upon him to aid in all ways possible, in this supreme moment, to defeat this menace to humanity….”

One lodge refused to submit, Leasing Lodge No. 557. The proceedings reported that by a nearly unanimous vote, the members refused to adhere to the edict. MWGM promptly pulled Leasing Lodge’s charter. Scrogin made a visit to the lodge and concluded that the lodge membership did not understand the power of the office of Grand Master. Leasing lodge later complied with the edict and their charter was reinstated.

The 1918 proceedings also include a section titled “The Point of View” written by Delmar D. Darrah, Past Most Worshipful Grand Master of Illinois. Darrah was a Professor at Illinois Wesleyan University and one of most prolific masonic authors of his day. On the German speaking lodges, he wrote: “…This action was inspired, not so much because of prejudice against the German people in this country and their language, as it was to prevent the segregation of peoples of one nationality under the guise of Freemasonry. The fathers of Freemasonry who formulated the principles under which the fraternity is today working never contemplated the organization of class lodges wherein men of different nations, creeds, and professions might segregate and use the lodge as a means of propagating their own peculiar ideas and practices. The purpose of Freemasonry as originally conceived was that of a fraternal democracy, wherein men of every country, sect, and opinion, religious belief and political party, might come together around a common altar, upon a common equality and meet their fellows as children of one father. Lodges made up exclusively of Germans, Frenchmen, Italians, Swedes, and using the particular language of constituents is not a Masonic lodge; but a lodge composed of men representing these different nationalities and using the language of a country wherein the lodge is located is Masonic. If the war has done nothing else, it has awakened us to the danger of class lodges and has served to bring to us a better understanding of the object and purposes of genuine Freemasonry.”

In part 4 of this series, I will look to the future of Freemasonry in Illinois (after 1918) and provide a reflection 100 years later how these changes initiated in 1918 are still having an impact on the fraternity.

~GJK

WB Gregory J. Knott is the Worshipful Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 in Ogden (IL) and a plural member of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC.

Off to Camp Masonry

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson


Well, I was out at lodge late last night and I hurried home to quickly pack. Why? Well, I was invited to attend this years "Camp Masonry". Up at 5:15, hot shave and out the door. Friday morning airport commuting in Chicago isn't fun. Thanks to my wife Cori for taking me. Ask her to give you a ride to the airport and she'll likely give you a slap-- especially at 5:30 am.

Camp Masonry is something new for me. It promises to be a fun filled weekend full of speakers, fellowship and edification. You can read all about it on their website, www.campmasonry.com . There, you will find a wonderful array of speakers, events and even degrees which will be performed. I've always enjoyed camping and the outdoors and with that the chance to disconnect.

Disconnecting is hard for me and I am sure it's hard for you too. We manage facebook pages, moderate groups, write articles and keep in touch with our close friends on social media and text our closest loved ones. Take away a phone and it's bound to cause some anxieties-- anxieties that fade after 48 hours, but the point is they do fade.

I'm looking forward to disconnection from the glowing handheld block in my pocket and connecting face to face, through a handshake and good conversations. It's a rare chance in the fast paced world of today. I've written about things like process improvement, time savings, maximizing results and all of it is done through maximum technology engagement. What are we supposed to do when it's time to go against this? I imagine we're supposed to just sit back and relax and enjoy the ride. And that's just what I am going to do over the next couple of days. Sit back, relax and enjoy the company of friends and brothers. To be sure, I'll still be connected, but perhaps a bit less distracted.

Have a great weekend brothers, cheers!

~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.

A Point Within A Circle

Masonic Symbolism Hidden In Plain Sight On The Coast of California


by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Michael Arce

I'll admit it, I was a fan of the TV show "LOST." Yes, I loyally tuned in every week as the show veered off course from the code, the bunker, and what those mysteries all meant, in favor of time traveling and character side stories that spun the storyline out of control. Sometimes during my journey for Masonic knowledge, I feel like I am chasing the same answers the characters on the show pursued during their time on the island. One of my favorite quotes from the show comes during an exchange between John Locke, played by Terry O'Quinn (who won an Emmy for that role), and Eko, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.

The scene that came to mind follows Locke and Eko when they discovered missing film footage that explained the mysterious scientific research, performed on the island. "Think about it," Locke says to Eko, "somebody made this film. Someone else cut this piece out. We crash, two parts of the same plane fall on different parts of the island. You're over there, I'm over here. Now, there's the missing piece, right back where it belongs." While Locke is splicing the film back together, Eko sternly says to him, "don't mistake coincidence for fate."

That exchange echoed through my head when I received a text of Lodge building from my younger brother, David, who lives in Modesto, California. During my "wine and sunshine" visit with my girlfriend this past February, he remembered my disappointment when the local Lodge was meeting did not fall during the week of my trip. Since then, whenever he spots something to do with Freemasonry, he'll snap a pic of it and send it to me.

One Friday afternoon, fate arrived via a text message as I was coincidentally collecting my thoughts for an upcoming discussion on a Point within a Circle. I am working on a presentation with our Senior Warden for the upcoming Masonic year. Our goal is to cover the esoteric meanings explained in ritual along with the practical application of the teachings in everyday life. My phone buzzed on the table near my computer, I looked down at the screen and saw this.

Pacific Grove Lodge #311, Monterey County, California

Symbolism In Plain Sight

Freemasonry teaches that a certain Point within a Circle is represented in every Lodge. For the Brothers living in the coastal community of Pacific Grove, California, that symbol is present in and around their building. That is what I had to find out. Why? How many Masonic buildings have you seen where the traditional square and compass is moved to the side in favor of the Point within a Circle? Why would a Lodge place this symbol, this way? I reached out to Tom Thiel, Worshipful Master of Pacific Grove Masonic Lodge #311, to learn more.

"After talking with our Lodge Secretary, PM Herschel R. Amos, we're not exactly sure why they did that," shared Brother Thiel. I have to admit, I was hoping to hear a story that comes with so many artifacts and treasures in the Lodges and Temples I've visited. Bro. Thiel continued, "the members built the Lodge back in the fifties, all with volunteer labor. They definitely had thing for that symbol because it’s also on several paintings in the building." That caught my attention. Bro. Thiel then shared more photos of the Lodge and a video walkabout. 

The Master's Station

Above the Master's Chair

His last photo was a detailed painting that portrays the lesson symbolized in the Point within a Circle.  

A Point Within A Circle

The story behind this portrait exemplifies the meaning of where are first made a Mason. The painting was done in 1956 by Bro. Ernest U. Hardenstein Jr., who laid down his Working Tools on August 7, 2007. Bro. Hardenstein was born in Mississippi and made his way to Monterey, California during his service in the US Army. After the war, he settled in the community, raising a family. By the 1950's, Bro. Hardenstein completed several large paintings for his church and the newly constructed temple. His story reminds me of every Brother I have met, and those who I never will, who have physically contributed in someway to the care, decoration, and upkeep of their lodge or temple. Bro. Hardenstein’s paintings remain above the several stations in Pacific Grove Lodge Temple today, serving as an educational tool and inspiration for members and visitors.


Two Brothers, One Craft

What makes Masonry special is the history that is proudly displayed in our lodges and temples. I can't recall a Masonic building that I’ve visited that doesn’t have a local artifact, legend, story, or claim to have a famous member in their past. In the case of Pacific Grove, the Brothers raised their lodge, building it together. I asked Bro. Thiel, during a follow up phone call, how he explains the meaning of the Point within a Circle theme to visiting Brothers or guests who seek admission. It was at that point that we discovered that two Brothers, belonging to different jurisdictions on opposite sides of the same country, share a common bond. 

I opened up my Standard Work and Lectures of Ancient Craft Masonry, the ritual book that is given to every Master Mason when they are raised in the State of New York. From my book, I read an excerpt that explains the history of lodges. After my reading, Bro. Thiel opened his Monitor and Officers' Manual from the Grand Lodge of California, to read a passage that sounded very similar to what we profess in New York. A few seconds of silence passed before we agreed: the Brothers of Pacific Grove Lodge were simply following the instructions given to us as Masons. That symbol in and around their Lodge serves as a constant reminder, impressing the meaning of its lesson in everyday life. How could you pass by that building with that knowledge and not, for a few seconds, instantly connect what you learned to what you had just seen?

From The West

It’s fitting that you would find this symbol on the outside of a lodge building, in a city with the nickname "America’s Last Hometown." The historic city of Pacific Grove is nestled in Northern California’s Monterey County, one of the most beautiful coastal communities you will ever see. If you've never visited, I highly recommend walking through their Cannery Row, have dinner or drinks at Restaurant 1833 (it’s haunted and loaded with history), and if you’re a golf fan, take the iconic 17-Mile Drive to Pebble Beach. Don’t forget your camera! 

The last time I visited Monterey was almost five years ago for my brother's wedding, which just so happened to fall at the time I sought a petition from my mother lodge in Schenectady, New York. Ironic that fate would give me another reason to return… a trip that you bet will include a stop at Pacific Grove Masonic Lodge. They meet on the first and third Thursday of the month, September through May. Pacific Grove Lodge has been a part of their community for more than 100 years and I've heard they have some amazing portraits of a Point within a Circle that I need to see for myself.

~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

Installing Our Tyler

by Midnight Freemason Senior Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

Members of Homer Lodge No 199 for installation of Carl D. Lewis as Tyler

Our Tyler for Homer Lodge No. 199, Carl D. Lewis (Carl D.) was recently unable to attend our installation of officers because he was ill. At our recent lodge meeting, WB Darin Lahners who is WM of Homer Lodge this year suggested that we go to Carl and install him in his office. We all quickly agreed that this was an excellent idea and made a date and time to make it happen.

Carl D. Lewis has been a Mason for more than 65 years. His home lodge is Ogden No. 754 and he is a plural member of Homer Lodge No. 199 (as several of us are). He is a veteran of WW 2, having served as a ball turret gunner on a B-24 and still is an active member of the Ogden American Legion Post. Carl D. faithfully attends both Ogden and Homer lodge meetings.

Carl D.’s son, Carl W. Lewis made arrangements for us to visit his father and reserved a place for us to meet. Carl D. didn’t know we all were coming and the look on his face when he saw us all in the room was priceless. He was totally surprised.

We explained what our visit was about and told him the honor of installing him would be given to his son Carl W. Carl W. proceeded to install his farther as Tyler of Homer Lodge No. 199 and presented him with the sword, apron and jewel of his office.

As with any proper installation we had some cake and cookies for afterword. Carl D. was really gotten by our presence and told us thank you and that he was truly honored by our act of brotherhood and friendship. I believe every one of us whom were there, felt it was our honor to be able to participate in this awesome experience.

Carl D. celebrated his 93rdbirthday on Monday and is recovering nicely and we anticipate him returning to lodge meetings very shortly.

As Midnight Freemason Founder Todd E. Creason commented on social media, “Excellent! Just Excellent! People ask me why I joined the Fraternity. This is one reason.”

I couldn’t agree more.

~GJK

WB Gregory J. Knott is the Worshipful Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 in Ogden (IL) and a plural member of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC.