Night of the Living Freemasons

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

I’ve been studying our rituals and history for quite some time now, and I’ve discovered the secret meaning of our Freemasonry. Freemasonry is teaching us about Zombies. In fact, all of the degrees you take are training you for the inevitability of you rising from the grave. Yes, my brothers. I know it’s not something you were prepared to hear, but it’s true. Freemasonry teaches us all how to act as a zombie. It’s only through carefully studying our ritual and practices, that this will become apparent. Before I get into details, let’s discuss the characteristics of a zombie.

In film and television, zombies have the below characteristics:

· They were dead, but have somehow arisen from the grave

· They are able to move, however they can be depicted as moving really fast or very slow.

· They are in a decaying state

· Unending Hunger

· Clumsy

· Vulnerable to the destruction of the brain

· Unaffected by injuries, except ones that hurt the brain

· Zombies can only multiple by making other zombies.

· They do not attack other zombies

· They are industrious

Let’s break this down:

Zombies were dead, but have somehow arisen from the grave. One only needs to look at our penultimate degree. The secret lesson that we’re being taught is that we all are going to become zombies at some point. We’d better get used it.

Zombies are able to move, however they can depicted as moving really fast or very slow. The next time you’re in lodge either for a business meeting or a degree observe the floor work of the participants. You will see slow, methodical movements. Then observe the difference of the speed at which we leave the lodge at the end of a long business meeting, or to get food before or after a degree. You will observe the average Freemason moving at speeds that Usain Bolt could only dream of.

Zombies are in a decaying state. Think about ritual in the degree mentioned above. The body of Hiram Abiff was in a state of high putrefaction when discovered. Imagine how he must have looked when raised (FROM THE DEAD…INSERT OMINIOUS MUSIC HERE). We’re taught in Freemasonry to care about the internal qualifications of a man, and not the external. This is obviously because when we come back to life, there’s a good chance that we’re not going to look or smell so good.

Zombies have unending hunger. Do I really have to say it? Zombies like to eat. Freemasons like to eat. All of our meals, table lodges and festive boards are training us as Freemasons to have an unending hunger for human flesh when we become zombies.

Zombies are usually portrayed as being clumsy. When’s that last time you went to a degree where everything went perfectly? There’s usually at least some awkwardness caused by misspoken or forgotten ritual, or a misstep in the floor work. Freemasons are able to make a mistake here or there as and to brush it off and continue the ritual. This is preparing us for the inevitability that most of us are going to be shambling mounds of flesh. Sure, we’ll have a few of us that more akin to Bub from George A. Romero’s “Day of the Dead”, but that will be the exception rather than the rule.

Zombies are vulnerable to the destruction of the brain, but are unaffected by other injuries. One of the most important lessons we are taught in the second section of the Third Degree is what wounds we can sustain, and which will kill us when we are zombies. How is Hiram assaulted? He’s able to survive the first few attacks. It’s the one that final strike and where it's placed that does him in.

Zombies are individually pretty easy to kill. However, in a group they are powerful. Because of this, zombies are focused on trying to keep up their zombie membership numbers by making other zombies. Not only that, there are certain other smaller zombie groups which branch out from the main herd. The parallel to Freemasonry is uncanny.

Zombies never attack other zombies. It’s almost like the zombies have taken some sort of obligation to not harm other zombies. Why does that ring a bell?

Zombies are industrious. They work together towards a common goal of the destruction of humanity. Are we not as Freemasons taught about this? That we should also be industrious, or else be a useless drone of nature?

Still not convinced my Brethren? Let me draw your attention to this article which tells the tale of how the most famous American Freemason, George Washington almost became a zombie. From the io9 website: (

George Washington may have been America's first president, but was he nearly America's first zombie-in-chief? If William Thornton, physician and designer of the US Capitol, had had his way, Washington's body would have been subjected a scientific experiment designed to bring the deceased former president back to life.

In December 1799, 67-year-old George Washington took a ride through the wet winter rain and, shortly afterward, developed a fever and a sore throat. When his condition became so bad that Washington could no longer swallow the concoctions of vinegar, molasses, and butter with which he was trying to treat himself, Washington called in his livestock and slave overseer, who drained three-quarters of a pint of blood from the ailing man. When bleeding failed to have the desired effect, three physicians were called in, all of whom recommended emetics and — you guessed it — more blood to be drawn. Over the brief course of his treatment, Washington's stomach and bowels were repeatedly evacuated and the puncture-happy docs took nearly two and a half liters of blood. Just two days after that fateful morning ride, Washington closed his eyes for the final time, after telling his doctors, "I die hard, but I am not afraid to go."

But Washington's body was not buried immediately after his death. The president may not have feared death, but he did fear being buried alive. Before he died, he commanded his secretary, Tobias Lear, to make sure that he would not be entombed less than three days after he died. In accordance with Washington's wishes, his body was put on ice until it could be moved to the family vault.

That's where the story gets a little strange. The morning after Washington died, his step-granddaughter Elizabeth Law arrived with a family friend, William Thornton. History best remembers Thornton as the architect who created the original design for the Capitol building, but he was also a trained physician, having studied at the University of Edinburgh. Although he did not practice medicine for much of his life, Thornton always had a keen interest in the workings of the human body, and he suggested a novel method for resurrecting the fallen warrior. Thornton told Washington's wife Martha that he wanted to thaw Washington's body by the fire and have it rubbed vigorously with blankets. Then he planned to perform a tracheotomy so he could insert a bellows into Washington's throat and pump his lungs full of air, and finally to give Washington an infusion of lamb's blood. Friends and family declined Thornton's mad scientist offer, not because they thought his solution impossible, but because they felt the nation's first president should rest in peace.

So what gave Thornton the idea to play Dr. Frankenstein? Susan E. Lederer, author of the book Flesh and Blood: Organ Transplantation and Blood Transfusion in Twentieth-Century America, notes that many physicians in the late 18th Century believed that lamb's blood had special properties, and believes Thornton meant to give Washington's circulatory system "a spark of vitality" that might jolt him back to life. But Paul Schmidt, in his article "Forgotten transfusion history: John Leacock of Barbados" published in the British Medical Journal, suggests that the University of Edinburgh may have been on the forefront of transfusion research (unless you count all those transfusion experiments in 17th-Century France). 

Thornton wasn't the only Edinburgh alum thinking about blood transfusions during that time period. Philip Syng Physick, an earlier Edinburgh grad (who incidentally practiced in Philadelphia, where Thornton himself briefly practiced medicine), is reported to have performed a human blood transfusion as early as 1795. John Leacock, a later graduate, performed successful transfusion experiments, believing an infusion of blood would "excite" the recipient heart. Leacock's experiments in turn influenced James Blundell, who is credited with introducing the process to the mainstream medical community. Schmidt wonders if the Edinburgh community took particular interest in those early French transfusion experiments, planting the idea in Thornton's mind.

Oddly, reanimation wasn't Thornton's only thwarted plan for Washington's body. Thornton secretly included a burial vault in his designs for the Capitol, hoping that it would be Washington's final resting place. After Washington's coffin was placed in the family vault, Martha did agree that he could be later removed to the Capitol, on the grounds that her body could join his when she died. Alas, the transfer of burial chambers, like zombie Washington himself, was not meant to be.

Story discovered via Holly Tucker's book Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution, which details a series of blood transfusion experiments undertaken more than a century before Washington's death.

It’s my belief that George Washington instructed his secretary to not entomb is his body until 3 days had passed because he knew full well that he was going to return as a zombie. Unfortunately, he didn’t pay attention to our degrees. Hiram Abiff was raised after being dead 15 days. For whatever reason, that’s the amount of time we as Freemasons will remain dead before re-animating. Thornton’s attempts to re-animate our beloved first president was just a clever cover up to explain why Washington would have returned from the dead. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. I suspect that what Thorton did was actually prevent George from re-animating.

I hope that my satire was well received. What is clear however, is that with a little imagination, how one can take some of our rituals, and apply them for nefarious purposes. One just needs to go to YouTube and type in "Freemason conspiracies" to get a full dose of this. You’ll quickly find out that the Freemasons are responsible for not only plotting to take over the world and institute a one world government, but for also faking the moon landing (Freemasons control NASA), waging a war on Christianity, Islam and/or Judaism, controlling Hollywood, worshiping Satan, being in league with the Illuminati (some of whom are Reptilian Shape Shifting Aliens), and suppressing the “truth” that the earth is Flat. I’m sure I’m missing some. I can only wish the Freemasons were so cool. Seriously. If we were responsible for all of these things, it would mean we had an active and engaged membership. I think that what many of the YouTube conspiracy theorists fail to realize is just how dire our situation is. In the past 6 months, I have been to two meetings that couldn’t make quorum. If we can’t get Freemasons to come out to meetings, then how in the heck would we be able to do any of the things they accuse us of doing?

Quite frankly, when I wrote above that zombies are in a decaying state, the tie to Freemasonry is obvious. Freemasonry as a whole is in a decaying state. We’re fighting a declining membership due to the attrition of members dying, and not being able to bring new members in. When we are able to bring in new members, we’re having a hard time in retaining or engaging them. Existing active members see apathy all around, and slowly start to succumb to it as well. We’re unable to adapt to the times, instead clutching our ancient landmarks for dear life. 

When a decision of allowing Trans men to join and Trans women to retain their membership in UGLE was made, the hope that I had that a sea change was coming was quickly dashed by the troglodytic comments made by my Brothers on Social Media. As other organizations like the BSA allow women, we hold steadfast. After 300 Years, we need to start to realize that as the ancient landmarks were written in a time where women did not have equal rights, and men, women and children were held as property, we might need to start to change them. Yes, we can still guard the West Gate, but we need to at least allow more people to approach it. My brothers, we can do better and we must do better. If we don’t do something radical and soon, the trend of the continuing decline of membership will continue until Freemasonry is dead. I fear that once that happens, unlike the zombie, we won’t be able to raise it from its grave.


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

Cemetery Gates

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

The afternoon after the morning session of Grand Lodge Sessions in Illinois last past, fellow Midnight Freemason Greg Knott and I found ourselves exploring Springfield. Our journey began at Oakridge Cemetery, which is best known for being the location of Lincoln’s tomb. After paying our respects to President Lincoln, we traveled through the cemetery, until we came upon the most curious gravestone. The grave on the front, had a solitary square and compass. Upon the back, it read:



BORN NOV. 11, 1851

DIED MAY 3, 1921









JOHN 8:32

On top of the grave, is what appears to be a very faded astrological or astronomical chart.

Needless to say, the grave was unique enough for me to want to find out more about this individual. Upon getting back to the hotel room, I found a biography of him published originally in a book entitled: “Past and Present of the City of Springfield and Sangamon County Illinois” by Joseph Wallace, M.A. of the Springfield Bar by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL. 1904 and found on the following website. ( In keeping with our policy of providing free information on the Internet, data and images may be used by non-commercial entities, as long as this message remains on all copied material. These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format for profit or for other presentation without express permission by the contributor(s).)I present it below in its entirety.

Webner E. Loomis, a lawyer of Springfield, traces his ancestry back to Joseph Loomis, of Braintree, England, who sailed from London on the ship Susan Ellen and arrived at Boston, Massachusetts, July 17, 1638. He settled in Windsor, Connecticut, in 1639, and among his descendants are those who have been prominent in public affairs and successful in private business interest. Horace Loomis, the grandfather of our subject, lived in Herkimer county, New York, and married Julia Tuttle, a native of that county. He removed from there in 1838 with his wife and children, Thadeus L., William B. and Horace J. Loomis, who located at a point at the extreme end of the prairie about a mile and a half east of Chesterfield, Illinois, and which extended to the site of Chicago without the intervention of a single tree or anything else other than the tall prairie grasses in its season. Horace Loomis pursued farming and stock-raising until his death, December 20, 1850. His widow passed away in 1864 and both lie buried in the Loomis cemetery near Chesterfield. 

William B. Loomis, father of W. E. Loomis, was born in Herkimer county, New York, April 28, 1829. He married Mary A. Eldred, who died October 5, 1854. She was a daughter of William and Ruth (Brace) Eldred. Her father had come from Herkimer county, New York, in 1822, and located on a farm two miles and three-quarters west of Carrollton, this state. The Eldreds and Braces were of English lineage, descended from ancestors who came to America about 1640. The mother of Mrs. Ruth Eldred, was a member of the Bushnell family and a near relative of Horace Bushnell, the eminent theologian who was born at Litchfield, Connecticut, April 14, 1802, and died in 1876. It was in honor of this family that the city of Bushnell, Illinois, is named. Many of the Braces have been noted educators and public spirited citizens.

To the marriage of William B. Loomis and Mary A. Eldred there was born a daughter that died in infancy. The other children were Webner E., born November 11, 1851; and Leverett W., who was born February 8, 1853, and died April 8, 1896, at Carrollton, Illinois. He had there founded and built up the largest jewelry store and business of that city. He made and gave to Blackburn College at Carlinville, Illinois, a six inch achromatic clock movement and astronomical equatorial telescope in 1885, valued at several thousand dollars. In 1887 he made an absolutely universal focus lens instrument of nine lenses that was never before equaled and cannot be excelled. The seven and a half inch astronomical visual and photographic telescope that he made and which is now in possession of his brother, is in every respect superior to any other make of its size and class. He was equally renowned in connection with his labors in electricity and chemistry, astronomy and other branches of the learned and skilled sciences. A fair estimate of the evidence of his accomplishments would place him as the most skilled and learned person in the sciences of mechanics of his day. It was well said that his death was a loss to the whole world.

Webner E. Loomis, the subject of this sketch was born on his father's farm a mile and a half east of the village of Chesterfield, Illinois and near there he attended the country schools, while in the periods of vacation he worked in his father's grist and saw mill and also on the farm, being thus employed until 1865, when he went with his father's family to Minneapolis, Minnesota, but upon the death of his father in 1867 he returned to and became a member of the family of his uncle, Horace J. Loomis, who was living about a mile southeast of Chesterfield. There Webner E. Loomis attended school in the village in fall and winter, and worked on his uncle's farm throughout the remainder of the year until he became a student in Blackburn University, now college, in 1870. He was graduated from that institution in June, 1873, with the degree of Bachelor of Science; earning his way by working on the farm and teaching school. During the fall of that year he began the study of law in the office of the late United States Senator John M. Palmer, at Springfield. He was admitted and licensed by the supreme court of this state on the 8th of January, 1876, to practice as an attorney and counselor at law.

Mr. Loomis has since been a most indefatigable worker in searching after the truest and best knowledge connected with every side and phase of whatever question he undertakes. While on the farm he thoroughly studied that great department of labor, putting his scientific knowledge to the practical test. He learned much of the best pedigrees and valuable points of the horse and other domestic or farm animals. As a school teacher and citizen he early realized that the aristocracy controlled the system of education of our public schools, so that if its pupils ready anything it must be mostly fiction and satisfied only by the charms of poetry, music, art, display and athletic sports and that this would create a distaste for good reading or the hard study necessary to grow in knowledge. This in time would develop a people unfit for self-government and, therefore Mr. Loomis has with word and pen fought against such conditions in our schools. Senator Palmer said that Mr. Loomis was the most industrious law student that he had ever had and after his being admitted to the bar certified amongst other good qualifications, that Mr. Loomis was of the strictest honor and integrity.

Mr. Loomis has a genius for discovering defects in the law or procedure that come under his investigation. He showed through a habeas corpus application that the city of Springfield had been for some forty years imprisoning violators of its ordinances with legal right and a new ordinance had to be enacted to cure the defect. He proved that the form of notice as published to get service on defendants in chancery cases, as had been used about thirty-five years in this county, was void; and his corrected form of the same has now been in use for quite a number of years. Mr. Loomis also discovered that the ordinance for fixing and collecting water taxes or rates were illegal and they were amended to cure the defects. He put a stop to prosecutions without trial by jury under the vagabond act. On his suggestion the bar association of this county introduced bills in the recent Illinois Legislature for limiting to one year the right to contest wills and for establishing a jury commission that would apply to this county. 

The former bill became a law. Mr. Loomis, as a trial lawyer, has accomplished some remarkable successes, among which may be mentioned the clearing of the defendant that was immediately found after and within a few feet of the place in possession of a thirty dollar overcoat that had been stolen; and his successful defense of the young girl indicted for the larceny of ninety-two dollars after some six person testified at her trial that she had confessed to them that she had taken the money, and the defendant did not deny it. Another notable case was that in the United States court where Mr. Loomis' masterly argument caused the jury to find the defendant not guilty when charged with passing counterfeit money, after the associate counsel for the defendant had given up the defense, taken his hat and left the courtroom. In the two famous cases, charging Dr. Lawrence with the murdering of two different young women in this county several years ago, Mr. Loomis' genius and learning were found able to overcome the difficulties that puzzled other counsel for the defense so that the defendant was acquitted.

Mr. Loomis is equally as resourceful in the control of civil suits. The late Judge Matheny declared that Mr. Loomis had more influence over a jury than any other member of the bar of this county, still he never takes his client's case into the court if it can by any manner be fairly adjusted without recourse to trial.

Mr. Loomis has probably the largest collection of works on parliamentary law of any one person in this county and in a series of articles published in a periodical a few years ago he gave for the first time definite and accurate definitions of constitution, by-laws, rules and other words and phrased that had not been before defined in any work on that law. Mr. Loomis has traveled quite extensively in this country and abroad, visiting England, Belgium, Luxemberg, Germany, Switzerland and France. His store of knowledge enables him to do much as a critic with word and pen concerning the works of the artist, teacher, law writer and inventor. He was glad to note that his criticism of the United States officials caused them to abandon the use of the twenty-three caliber rifle in the navy. Mr. Loomis steps higher and into the great problems of astronomy and has written instructively on the subject. 

He influenced his brother to give the telescope to Blackburn College in preference to others and has built the Loomis observatory at Springfield and placed therein the foregoing seven and a half inch telescope and hopes that the public will learn much from its use. He has never married, but resides with his nieces, Misses Mabel and Myra Loomis, in the city of Springfield. He is so quiet and unpretentious and is engaged so much with his labors in higher and useful fields that he is not as well and favorably known as he deserves, yet he has many friends who entertain for him the warmest regard because of his personal worth and his splendid mental land professional accomplishments.

I found it curious that the biography had no mention of him being a Freemason, or belonging to the lodge in Springfield. This brought me to MORI, in which I was able to find his Masonic resume. Webner was initiated as an Entered Apprentice on December 9, 1872 into Springfield Lodge #4. He was passed to the degree of Fellowcraft on January 13, 1873. He was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason on February 10, 1873. He affiliated with Chesterfield Lodge #445 on September 5, 1887. He died as aforementioned on May 3, 1921 in Springfield, IL and the cause of death is listed as Pneumonia.

One of the things that most impresses me about our fraternity is that men think proudly enough of their membership in it to put the square and compass on their gravestones for generations forward to see. For many men, this is the only lasting memorial to them. In Webner’s case, I want to find out more about his life as a Mason. I plan on reaching out to Springfield Lodge #4 to see if they have any records regarding Webner. I think it’s important to know if he served as an officer, if he was involved in any concordant bodies, or if he was just an upright Mason as his biography describes. If I receive any updates, I’ll be sure to pass them along.


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

A Lodge Talks Itself To Masonic Education: Part 3 The Conclusion

by Midnight Freemasons Guest Contributor
Brian L. Pettice, 33°

Part 3 Leading The Lodge To My Conclusion, Or Not 

In the first installment of this series I shared Olive Branch Lodge No. 38’s statement on Masonic Education and established that generally Freemasonry had lost its focus. In the second installment I talked about my and other’s experience with establishing mission, vision, and goals statements for a lodge and how I hoped the Lodge would come to the conclusions I already had. In this last installment we will see how what has happened and why I am excited about the course the Lodge has decided to follow.

By the time late July rolled around I realized we would not have adequate time to have these discussions during the “Masonic Education” portion of our meetings, so I moved that all interested brethren meet at the restaurant down the street two hours before our first stated meeting in August to begin our discussions. On Tuesday August 1st a dozen Masons met at that restaurant to start the process. I reiterated to them what I wanted to eventually accomplish—to deliberately and intentionally establish mission, vision, and goal statements that would guide our future Lodge experience. I told them we were beginning an experiment to see if an existing lodge, one with long-standing traditions, could do that—to see if its members can reflect on and exam themselves and their Lodge and define the mission and purposes they want to pursue- to deliberately define their culture and the changes needed to realize that culture.

I told them to begin the experiment we need to answer two questions. What is each of our purposes or missions as individual Masons? And, in light of our purposes as individuals, what is the Lodge’s purpose or mission and what should the Lodge experience be in order to accomplish it? I thought I already knew the answers to these questions and, though I intentionally didn’t share this with the brethren, I thought the lodge would in short order come to the same conclusions I did. I was mistaken. We had great participation that night with many brethren talking about what they liked and didn’t like about being a Freemason. They mentioned family traditions and being part of something bigger. They mentioned charity and fellowship with moral men. They mentioned history. But these comments weren’t my answer—that by studying the meaning of the ritual, symbolism, and philosophy of Freemasonry we can truly subdue our passions and improve ourselves in Masonry, we can lift ourselves up morally and especially spiritually—and I was initially a bit disappointed. I thought this, leading the brethren to my conclusions, will take longer than I thought. Two really significant things did come out of that evening though, an enthusiasm among the brethren to continue the discussions and a suggestion by one of the brethren that we devote time, at least forty five minutes, at the beginning of the next stated meeting to the discussion. This suggestion led to a motion later that evening that we devote time at the beginning of every second stated meeting of the month to continuing these discussions, still with the goal of documenting mission and vision statements.

 In preparation for the next meeting I asked the brethren to think more about what being a Freemason meant to each of them and we would continue our discussions in that vein. Something else happened though as well. I began to think at how I arrived at my conclusions as to what Freemasonry is and ought to be and I realized that it took me twenty-two years to arrive at where I am right now and truthfully I am still evolving. My experiences and studies in that twenty-two years are not the same as that of my Brethren. Their experiences and conclusions are the product of their experiences and studies and are as valid to them as mine are to me. When we arrived at the next stated meeting we started our discussions and the comments were already on a different level than the last meeting. The brethren talked about their feelings; how following in their uncles’ footsteps made them feel; how they felt about meeting and talking with brethren of different generations (I found out I am not in the younger generation anymore); how just being with each other made them feel. I began to re-think my emphasis on everyone agreeing to the same mission and vision. I began to think this was the important part—the brethren of the Lodge devoting themselves to learning and sharing with each other without worrying necessarily where that would lead. I began to think a better idea would be for us to just study and discuss and learn together and see where that led. So, I suggested to the Lodge that we continue to dedicate time at the beginning of each second stated meeting for discussion and study. I said that I would draft a statement for the Lodge to approve at our next stated meeting describing our commitment and suggested we begin our new program with study and discussion of the Grand Lodge of Illinois Intender program which is designed to teach the fundamentals of Freemasonry.

I formulated the statement and then something happened that confirmed to me the correctness of my new perspective on the way our lodge would execute Masonic Education. I was at another Lodge’s degree conferral one night when I noticed their business meeting agenda taped to the Master’s pedestal. It was dated from 1973, forty-five years ago. I had seen the same agenda in nearly every lodge I have been in. Nowhere on that agenda was anything about Masonic Education. Nowhere was there anything about studying Masonic symbolism or philosophy. Nowhere was there any indication of how Freemasonry was to go about making good men better. I realized that an existing lodge will not easily turn a corner quickly, nor should it be expected to. Will we ever document our mission, vision, and goals? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe those are not necessary. Maybe they would be the sort of static ideas that would still be taped to a pedestal forty-five years from now. But dedicating ourselves to devoting time to studying and discussing Masonic ritual, symbolism, and philosophy does change the experience in the Lodge. It does and will continue to change its culture. Dedicating ourselves to this does offer to each of us the opportunity to subdue our passions and improve ourselves in Masonry. It offers the members of the Lodge the opportunity to always reflect on what the Lodge is and what they it should be. That is the important thing and all you have to do is make time for it. The subjects a lodge might study are endless. We chose a readily available program already provided by the Grand Lodge to give everyone a good basic knowledge and understanding of Freemasonry. The important thing is we chose. We approved the statement and we began our studies and discussions September 18th. If you are in Danville, Illinois on the third Tuesday of the month, stop by and see how we are doing.


Brian L. Pettice, 33° is a Past Master of Anchor Lodge No. 980 and plural member of Olive Branch Lodge No. 38 in Danville, IL and an Honorary Member of a couple of others.    He is also an active member of both the York and Scottish Rites.  He cherishes the Brothers that have become Friends over the years and is thankful for the opportunities Freemasonry gives and has given him to examine and improve himself, to meet people he might not otherwise have had chance to meet, and to do things he might not otherwise have had chance to do.  He is employed as an electrician at the University of Illinois and lives near Alvin, IL with his wife Janet and their son Aidan.  He looks forward to sharing the joy the fraternity brings him with others.  His email address is

Be More Than a Mason

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Guide Sobecki

For those are alarmed or offended by this title…Give me a chance to continue, Brother. One of the greatest achievements and honors one can hold is to be a true Freemason. But as we are told during out first degree, moderation and balance should be the first working tool we take to any project. This story is about what happens when a loyal and selfless workman must be touched on the shoulder and told he must retire and refresh himself.

Men are welcome into Masonry with a wide map of direction they can take. Each lodge ideally offers various projects and service opportunities, schools on ritual and floorwork, leadership development, and community outreach events. Moving further, each of the many appendant bodies offers more of all that in specific flavors and genres to suit each tastes, and often have sub-bodies for even more engagement and activities. Once you reach out to the wider community, you join a deep network of thousands of Brothers like yourself who would love for you to visit their lodge or help out at a regional event. Whether you want to present a lecture on the finest esoterism, ride your Harley Davidson, or even do both on the same weekend, Masonry will let you dive deep and immerse yourself among motivated peers.

For a good two years, I was an officer in nine different Masonic organizations ranging from theater usher to elected officer. I served on a few committees, drove hours a day to perform ritual for my own lodges or any nearby that needed a hand, acted in Scottish Rite theater productions, and spent weekends working degree days for York Rite. I was usually out at a meeting or degree three to four nights a week year-round, unless I got a call at work that some one needed a Deacon or a Steward. For just those occasions, I even kept a full suit and tie in my trunk ready for Masonic emergencies. Just in case. Doing casual math one day, I realized I was spending a minimum of one hundred and sixty nights a year serving as a Mason. And as a few reading this will instantly chime in…I could have been doing more than that. Some regulars were out even more than I was, driving farther, and performing bigger roles.

At first, I felt I’d cracked the code. ‘You get out of it what you put into it’, so the old Masters told me. I learned more about the ritual and history, I gained leadership experience and honed my management skills, I met hundreds of people all over my state. I became trusted by many, and they knew I’d always answer the call. This was being a good and upright Mason.

But as the years went by, the drives seemed to get longer. The meetings ran longer and later. Most nights I was getting in at midnight for six hours of sleep, then heading off to work which I jokingly called my eight-hour break from ‘my other job.’ Social events outside the Craft became more and more awkward as I lost touch with mainstream hobbies such as sports, movies, events around town, or even just hanging around with friends who weren’t in an officer line. My life after work was spent being a Mason in all its forms, and the only people I ever saw were Brothers and their families. We never talked about our jobs and other outlets, Masonry had become a monastery for people like me. But the work had to be done, we needed the slates filled, and this was what it meant to be a Mason. It meant being a bit miserable, but we all seemed to take a little solace in that.

I eventually faced a sobering truth. Masons like me were helping the fraternity as a second calling…But from the outside looking in, I was realizing how Brothers like us may be exhausting more than just ourselves. Our families and friends only saw us exhausted, dazed, and worrying about the next degree or official visit. Potential members knocking on our doors to join a benevolent secret society found workaholics stretched too thin, who could list their various past titles and committees…And not much else. As time wore on, I started looking around the room during the talks of dwindling membership and vanishing petitioner. I saw these same jaded faces night after night, and they saw mine just as often…Because this had become all we ever did.

I never had the time to look back and remember what drew me to become a Mason, amidst all this being a Mason. Long gone are the professors, business moguls, and politicians who retreated from their busy lives to center themselves in a lodge of other good men. We are not out in the world shining our light, making people wonder about the lapel pin we wear and knowing that’s where men like us gather. We’re in our lodges under the grey fluorescent lights, mouthing along to rituals we’ve seen hundreds of times and dreading the politics behind every vote and motion. Many active members can only list achievements, passions, and life experiences that are all purely Masonic. Unless, they’re also an Elk or Kiwani on the side…

If you talk about this lifestyle to a person off the street, they would hear a lot of unusually grand adjectives said with an uncannily straight face by a tired man worn out by something he volunteered for. Would I have joined if I only met people this isolated and immersed? Worst of all, was this all really making me a better human being...Or was I just becoming a better member of a fraternal organization?

My exit from full-time Masonry was not easy, and I still cringe looking back at the damaged bridges it left behind. But that first week where I realized I had every night off to myself, there was a faint ember of a warmth I hadn’t felt in two years. Whether I took a walk down the street or flew to another continent, I could really get out there and see the world again wherever it took me. I could slowly meet myself again, remember what I really found fun or interesting, with less time holding a gavel and more time learning and experiencing things I’d never seen before. That same curiosity that drew me into Masonry was now free at last.

Right now, I’m almost just as busy as I was as a professional Mason…But sincerely, I’ve never been happier. I’m studying martial arts and doing fitness classes, finishing a degree part-time, wandering random seminars and weekend courses, and when I’m lucky I get to camp or go backpacking. For a few nights a month, I am a truly born-again Mason who sees every ritual like I when I was initiated. Because now, these are tools and teachings I am carrying with me and rediscovering in the world around me. An accepting mind listens to those I do not initially agree with or understand. Love for the liberal arts and sciences draws me to be a student of experts and mentors of all kinds. Devout justice guides my degree in management. Trained discipline gets me into the gym every day. The ancient magic of geometry guides my footwork as I spar and flow. Care for mankind keeps my eyes on those around me as well as my own goals, never hesitating to offer a hand to those in need.

In the hours I don an apron and jewel, I care more about the Craft not as an obligation, but as an outlet to further better myself and enhance my personal journey. I have more knowledge to apply to our mission, and I have more to offer my Brothers if they take an interest I have experience in. And when I retire from our gatherings to wander these other paths and pursuits, on various occasions someone has asked me about a small piece of jewelry they noticed or about a picture they saw on my Facebook. I’ve talked about the Craft on the sidelines of fighting tournaments and gathered around campfires, with admirable people I never would have encountered if I hadn’t applied the forgotten working tool and added balance to my life.

To the Brothers reading this, I commend you and thank you for your contributions to the Craft in every form. But do not leave behind what makes you an individual, and never stop looking for ways to improve yourself in the greater world as well as in Masonry. It does not make you a worse Mason to branch out and diversify. It will leave you a much more satisfied and talented man with stories to tell and wisdom to pass on, who may just inspire others to join the fraternity because of the qualities you carried with you from your Masonic journey into the world we serve each day. 

Brother Guide Sobecki of Geneva Lodge No.139 is the Junior Warden of Gourgas Chapter of Rose Croix, Valley of Chicago Scottish Rite as well as Preceptor of Illinois York Rite College No. 15. He works as a public relations specialist and ghostwriter for the national association of neurosurgeons. He holds the rank of Companion at Arms in the art of medieval longsword fighting. He can be reached at

Outside the Door

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Paul Nevins

Being Tyler, I have found that I have some free time on my hands during each meeting. The WiFi signal at my station is frustratingly slow. There is no cable TV or mini-fridge for me either. So my time is often spent sitting in my chair by the door, reading whatever book I brought upstairs from the Lodge’s meager library.

One evening, I found myself reading an old book containing excerpts of meeting minutes from our past. With Montgomery Lodge being over two-hundred years old, I have always enjoyed learning more about its history. There were a few intriguing notes like how Brothers Burr and King (King was Tyler at the time) concealed our Charter in various locations during the anti-Masonic era. This includes being sewn in the lining of a jacket! I’m reasonably sure my tenure as Tyler won’t be as James Bond-like as that, fortunately.

I was slightly disappointed in what little detail the book shared overall. Most meetings were glossed over with short summaries like “Jan 12, 1803 – Regular Communication. Raised one. Nine visitors.” Not much information or insight there. I still wanted to know more. I wanted to know what they discussed in those meetings so long ago. Did they have the philosophical discussions I had envisioned when I petitioned the Lodge? Did they take a moment to discuss the esoterica of our Fraternity? Or was symbolism limited to just the degree lectures? Maybe the meetings were just a dull reading of the bills and correspondence. I wish I knew. With so much going on in this country’s history in the last 200 years, I would think that there had to have been some interesting discussions; whether in meeting or later in the collation. Were those discussions in-depth and serious? Or, were they light hearted? To know this, I found that I wanted to find out more about the Brothers themselves.

Throughout our Lodge, we have portraits of many of the Past Masters. There are a few scattered pictures of Brothers who have long since departed to the afterlife. There are stacks of dusty and mildewed albums of black & white photographs of parades and formal dinners. I sat in that hall wondering what those Brethren were like beyond just the pictures. There are those excerpts in the book that give names and numbers but no real insight on who those men were as people. Pictures don’t always portray traits like humor, caring, honesty, and personality.

Even with the Brothers of today, I often find a mystery. There are just under 200 members in our Lodge but I’ve met a fraction of them. Most are men who, for whatever reason, stopped coming to Lodge. Often, I don’t really get to know them until they pass to the Celestial Lodge above. I have been to many Masonic Services over the last few years and as I sat and listened to the eulogies, there were so many stories told that had me wishing I knew that Brother while he was alive.

I urge each Brother to get to know the men in Lodge with you now. Whether they are young or old, they won’t be around forever. None of us will. Things happen. People move. People pass away. People sometimes just drift apart. Learn about those men and be able to pass on their stories because, after they are gone, the meeting minutes and photographs most likely won’t come close to reflecting who they were to us.


A Lodge Talks Itself To Masonic Education: Part 2 Regaining What Was Lost

by Midnight Freemasons Guest Contibutor
Brian L. Pettice, 33°

Part 2 Regaining What Was Lost: The Mission 

In the previous installment of our three part series I shared Olive Branch Lodge No. 38’s commitment to a different kind of Masonic Education and discussed lost focus as a theme that resonated for me and others. This time I will talk about some of the things I thought we should do about it.

I think the tide is turning regarding Freemasonry’s lost focus though both for me and for Freemasonry in general. My own personal opinions of the purposes of Freemasonry have changed over the years and I am more comfortable in asserting them. I think more and more brethren are becoming convinced of the need to ignore activity for activity's sake, to ignore the scorecard of membership numbers, and to focus on activities the members are interested in, specifically education. For a number of lodges that has meant an acknowledgement, if not full embrace, of the need for Masonic education. In a lot of cases, that has meant brethren making presentations in lodge about some aspect of Masonry or the other.

Reading Chapter One a second time, though, I began to think that the presentation method of Masonic education may not be enough. It can be too static and doesn’t always offer brethren the opportunity to actively learn—to engage in the give and take that can be a more enjoyable way of learning. I, personally, always enjoy a good discussion of masonic symbolism, philosophy, history, or even just the issues facing us as Brethren today. I believe we need to find room and time to move beyond the presentation method alone and facilitate discussion of these ideas-- we need to offer everyone the opportunity to be actively involved rather than just passively observing.

Continuing to reflect on how a lodge might make this type of education a part of its experience, I remembered my own experience with Admiration Chapter No. 282, a fairly new Royal Arch Chapter of which I had the pleasure of working with a talented and driven group of Brothers and Companions to Charter. This Chapter began its existence by discussions among its founding members about what they wanted the experience and culture of that Chapter to be. This led to them laying out mission, vision, and goals statements describing what they wanted the Chapter to be and to do. Admiration Chapter is foremost devoted to education. Among its most successful educational endeavors have been lively discussions of Masonic values, discussions that have spurred nearly all in attendance to participate.

So I began to think, could these ideas also be applied to an existing lodge? Would a lodge, especially one that may have lost its focus, be able to have a conversation about the mission and vision for the lodge—to answer some of these questions? What do the members want the lodge to be? What kind of activities do they want to undertake? What kind of experiences do they want to be had there? What kind of values and qualities do they want to nurture in their members and communities? How do they plan to achieve what they agree to? What expectations do they have of their members? If the lodge members could agree to a couple of brief statements defining the lodge's mission and vision statements, wouldn’t that help it regain and retain its focus?

As these ideas were bouncing around in my mind, I attended an Illinois Lodge of Research symposium in Homer on March 24th-- the third occurrence that would shape the idea I would ultimately take to the lodge. At this event two of the speakers, Ben Wallace who had been instrumental in starting North Carolina’s first Traditional Observance Lodge and Ainslie Heilich who was key in starting a new Odd Fellows lodge in Tuscola Illinois, related their experiences in starting new lodges. In both of their cases a small group of people who had a clear idea of what they wanted their lodges to be and to do, the lodge mission and vision, set out to deliberately and intentionally create it. They described in detail how they created the experience and culture in their lodges. This confirmed to me that this is what would need to be done—a lodge would need to engage in a process where its members would decide what its mission and vision would be and what goals would be set to achieve it. It would need to document these and then work towards implementation.

In my mind I knew what I thought that mission and vision should be, but how to lead a long existing lodge to come to my conclusion was the question. Progress would only be made in spurts as the business of the lodge would last until time was too short to discuss my ideas in much detail for most of the subsequent stated meetings. I was able to outline the idea for the lodge members a couple of times. I told them of my thoughts on the first chapter of Poll’s book and the study group, of my experience with Admiration Chapter, and of what I learned at the Lodge of Research symposium. I told them that I wanted us, the members of the lodge, to be deliberate about what we wanted the lodge experience to be, especially what part education would play in that experience. I said that I wanted the lodge to begin holding discussions to try to build a consensus of what we think the mission each of us should have as individual Freemasons- what is each of us trying to accomplish by being a Mason. I said that once we have discovered and documented our consensus as to what we think our mission and purpose for being is as individual Masons, I would like this to lead to further discussions about the mission and purpose for the lodge and eventually to mission, vision, and goal statements for the lodge, so that the members are deliberately choosing what we want that experience to be. In order to help begin our discussions about our mission and purpose as individuals, I shared a few items with them. I encouraged them to read and think about the ritual when looking for their mission. I asked them to ask themselves a few questions. Is what you are doing as a Mason now what you expected to be doing? Has your experience been what you expected? What changes would you make? What wouldn’t you change? What do you think you or others are missing? I hoped that thinking about Lodge mission and vision and these questions would guide our discussions, once we began them, and eventually lead the lodge members, my brethren, to the conclusions I had already made. Next time we find out how that worked out.

Tune in for the final installment where I will discuss what has happened, and why I am excited about the course Olive Branch No. 38 has decided to take.


Brian L. Pettice, 33° is a Past Master of Anchor Lodge No. 980 and plural member of Olive Branch Lodge No. 38 in Danville, IL and an Honorary Member of a couple of others.    He is also an active member of both the York and Scottish Rites.  He cherishes the Brothers that have become Friends over the years and is thankful for the opportunities Freemasonry gives and has given him to examine and improve himself, to meet people he might not otherwise have had chance to meet, and to do things he might not otherwise have had chance to do.  He is employed as an electrician at the University of Illinois and lives near Alvin, IL with his wife Janet and their son Aidan.  He looks forward to sharing the joy the fraternity brings him with others.  His email address is