The Feast of St. Andrew

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson

There are many celebratory days in Freemasonry, two notable events are the Feasts of the Saint's John. These are so prevalent that in many Grand Jurisdictions these feasts are outlined as a suggested activity. In English Masonry, it is even more common. These two days remarkably also happen to align with the Solstices.

But today, November 30th, is a different feast, the Feast of St. Andrew. The Feast of St. Andrew is the national day of Scotland. Andrew was the brother of St. Peter and is known in some orthodoxy as Andrew the Apostle. St. Andrew is also the Patriarch of Constantinople.

St. Andrew has a prevalent place in Masonry, from actual degrees named after him to Service organizations like the Knights of St. Andrew which operate within the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (AASR). The organization operates in both the Northern Masonic and Southern Jurisdictions. You can read about them at THIS LINK. In addition, English Masonry is said to be have been born from Scottish Masonry, and so--perhaps this feast is even more important...

The feast itself is not unlike others in that there is food, fellowship and toasts. Your jurisdiction may have a prescribed ritual for this while others may not. Check with your Grand Lodge to find out. St. Andrew's virtues are many and rather than expound on them here and reiterate work that has been done, follow THIS LINK.

Tonight, my lodge will be honoring our Brothers and St. Andrew at our annual Feast of St. Andrew--No haggis though, this isn't about the permiscuous...err..infamous Bobby Burns ;) We'll have fellowship, toasts and of course Masonic Education.

Have a great Feast of St. Andrew everyone!


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 Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183 UD. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master 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. 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.

November, A Month of Thanks

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM 

"No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease, 

No comfortable feel in any member - 

No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, 

No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds - 


- Thomas Hood 

As the cold northern winds blow through the darkened gray skies, we see the leaves on the trees begin to turn color and fall to the ground, and we know winter is just around the corner. While some look forward to the colder weather and the snow that will soon arrive, most of us shudder with what impending doom (Okay, that’s a little dramatic but you get my point.) in these days without the sunshine and warmth of the summer. It's hard not to feel a little depression as you make your way through these days without sunlight, and harder still. trying to be thankful.

Despite November’s depressing gray clothing, I believe this month is the perfect time of year to give thanks to our Creator for all the blessings it bestows upon us, not only every day but throughout our lives.

Now, I am not just talking about a turkey dinner and a football game with relatives you see three times a year. Or the lame game of round robin , “What are you thankful for”, as you pass the mashed potatoes and you say something just to appease Aunt Mildred. I mean real thanks. If you think about it, November is almost like the Grand Architect’s “reset button”.

As the things that began to come to life in the beginning of the year and gain maturity through the summer months will now begin to whither and eventually die in the darkness of the winter time. It could be argued that the seasons are emblematic to the degrees of Freemasonry.

As we advance through the degrees we are told (in some jurisdictions) that the Entered Apprentice degree is like a man’s youth, the Fellowcraft degree is like adulthood and the Master Mason degree is compared to a man’s old age or maturity. As the seasons process through their cycle so does a man until he is called by his Creator. I feel in a way that the darkened days filled with coldness have been given to us in order to give us time to stop and reflect on all the good things we have in our lives and as a reminder to thank our creator for the bountiful life he has provided for us.

Most of us have many reasons to give thanks to the Grand Master of the Universe. Family, friends, your health. A happy, contented life are all good reasons to give thanks to the man upstairs for the blessings it has bestowed upon us.

Sadly, not all of us have been as fortunate as others. Some of you who are standing upon the darkened square may not believe you have anything to give thanks for. I truly understand that. I have been there. My sarcastic nature in the bad times seemed to dwell on all the things I didn’t have, instead of what I possessed. It’s natural to be like that.

The death of a family member, the loss of a job, a divorcee. So many things can lead you down this dark, gray path and it is easier and natural to think abut what you don’t have instead of the blessings you were given, but I like to think that the “reset button” of the coming winter can also be looked at as the start of a new year and the possibility of a better year to come.

So many new things seem to begin this time of year. In many jurisdictions, they begin a new Masonic year and the change of the leadership within many Masonic bodies symbolizes a new beginning and a new leadership, and possibly a better direction for some groups.

While we as a Fraternity continue to struggle, I give thanks that Freemasonry is still alive, long after many of those who tried to write its obituary have passed on. It may not be perfect, and we still have a lot of work left to do in order to sure up its foundation and place the Craft on a strong level footing, but I am thankful it is still here and it continues to inspire new generations of men who walk down that level of time trying to make themselves better men.

I am also thankful for all the Brethren who read and share our work with their friends and Brothers. I especially am thankful to those who write and call me, expressing their gratitude for the essays myself and other members of the Midnight Freemasons have put out. I want you to know all the kind words and support we receive, inspires us to continue what we are doing, especially since the positive feedback is much greater than the negative.

Brethren, I hope you will pause during this busy month and stop and reflect on what life has given to you and give thanks to the Creator for the blessings you have received, and maybe even show your gratitude to him by taking a Brother or his widow who may be less fortunate than you by the hand and help them make their life a little brighter. Who knows, you might be their reason to give thanks. 


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.

Anchor Lodge No.980 History Speech at Lodge Dedication July 25, 2015

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Brian L. Pettice, 33˚

*Editors Note* The following speech was originally given by Illustrious Bro. Brian L. Pettice at the lodge dedication for Anchor Lodge No. 980 which occurred on July 25th, 2015. As the reader makes his way through this history, it would serve us to ask ourselves how much of this is familiar to our own lodges? What can we learn? What can we celebrate? Enjoy this wonderful speech!

R.H. Johnson, 

One Hundred years ago the city of Danville was in the midst of a long term population explosion as it experienced its greatest quarter century growth in its history. Spurred by coal mining, the clay products industry, and the railroads Danville had become a major industrial city. People flocked to the city for the jobs its industries provided. The city, founded in 1827, recorded an official population of 503 in 1840. The city would more than double its turn of the century population of 16,354 souls in 1900 to 33,776 by 1920. The city added over 11,000 people between 1900 and 1910 alone.

It was against this backdrop of economic and population growth that Freemasonry in Danville was also expanding. Olive Branch Lodge No. 38, chartered in 1846, had served the city for nearly 70 years. The city had also enjoyed the addition of the appendant bodies of both the York and Scottish Rites.

According to correspondence retrieved at the lodge, several Brethren would begin meeting late in 1913 for the purpose of petitioning for a new lodge in Danville. You might find this surprising Grand Master, but the process seemed to be plagued by miscommunication and a lack of knowledge of or adherence to procedure. The problems mostly involved the qualifications and dues status of the brethren signing the original petition and the propriety of the recommendation votes and forms submitted by the three area lodges that recommended the petition Olive Branch Lodge No. 38, Catlin Lodge No. 285 and Free Will Lodge No. 872.

The issues were eventually resolved and Anchor Lodge was issued a dispensation on August 10, 1914 by Bro. Henry T. Burnap, Grand Master. The lodge was instituted on August 14, 1914 by Bro. Clinton L. Sandusky, D.D.G.M. for the Twenty-seventh District. The lodge received its warrant at the annual communication of the Grand Lodge on October 13, 1915 and was constituted Anchor Lodge No. 980 Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Illinois on November 10, 1915, again, by Bro. Sandusky. There were 42 charter members of the lodge. 28 Master Masons named in the petition on demit and 14 Master Masons raised by the lodge while under dispensation.

The Lodge met in the “quarters of Olive Branch Lodge” at the Temple Building on the Northwest corner of Vermilion and North Streets until 1916 when it moved to the “New” Masonic Temple at 109 W. North Street. The lodge voted in July of 2014 to move to this site and held its first stated meeting here on October 28, 2014 and its first work, a first degree, on November 25, 2014.

The first Master of Anchor Lodge was Bro. Henry Peter Blose. Brother Blose was obviously an active mason, as presiding over a lodge under dispensation at that time was no small task. He was commissioned a Grand Lecturer by the Grand Lodge. He was a member of all of the Danville York Rite Bodies and presided over all of the Danville Scottish Rite Bodies. He was coroneted a 33° Mason. Brother Blose was married to the former Minnie Elizabeth Fisher. They had a daughter Josephine.

All of the information given here about Brother Blose was found in the records of the organizations to which he belonged and a cursory internet search of his personal history. What was not found about the Brother, whose picture used to hang directly above the Senior Warden’s chair in the West for all Masters of Anchor Lodge to look at as they presided in the East, were any personal anecdotes- anything about him that might have been passed down through the years, brother to brother, mouth to ear that might have given a brief glimpse into what kind of a man he was.

So, given the opportunity to speak on the history of the lodge, I thought it would be nice to relate some of the personal things that I remember or have been told about a few of the Brethren of this lodge. Most of what will be shared will not be long stories, but brief snippets that might be remembered and passed down. Hopefully, these snippets will give a small glimpse into the lives of some of these men who have impacted this lodge, its members, and in many cases this community.

There is another brother whose picture hangs on the wall here as it has hung on the wall of Anchor‘s lodge room for over 40 years. Brother John Ross Elliott. Brother Elliott was secretary of Anchor lodge for 42 years from 1930 until his death in 1972. That is a remarkable feat- Secretary for nearly half of the lodge’s existence. Brother Gene Quick once said that, in addition to handling the administration of the lodge, Brother Elliott was very good at ritual because he took a lengthy walk every evening and would recite lodge ritual to himself during the entire walk. What dedication to Freemasonry and this lodge that brother had.

Brother Quick is another Brother that has served and impacted this lodge. He is twice a Past Master of the lodge and for many years served as Tyler. Brother Quick is, as many men of his generation are, a no non-sense kind of guy. But what many may not know is the dedication he had to visiting sick and shut-in brethren. He reported at every meeting on his visits to our distressed brethren.

Brother Bob Jones, Past Master in 1977, businessman, mayor of Danville for 16 years, the City Hall in town is named for him. He was the leader of the group that made the Children’s Dyslexia Center here in town a reality. Involved in community events for what seems like forever. For one brother though Bob will be remembered for the meals the lodge enjoyed when Bob was Junior Warden of the lodge and chef and owner of his own restaurant. The brother said the lodge never ate so well, as when Bob was making the meals.

Brother Sam Page, Marine Corps veteran, Past Master, for many years lodge secretary, another no non-sense guy. Brother S. Brent Morris, noted Masonic historian and author, once joked on a history channel presentation that all of the conspiracy theories regarding Freemasons taking over the world were false because Masons could not even agree on what pie to serve after their meetings. Brother Morris was mistaken, at least in this assertion, because when Brother Sam Page was Secretary, Anchor lodge agreed that Banana Cream pie would be served after the meetings.

Brother Bob Pickett, Past Master of Anchor Lodge, still serves as Junior Deacon, sometimes referred to by lodge members as Grandpa. Now that he has his hearing aids, he rarely needs prompting anymore. You may not know that if you travel to Star Lodge in Hoopeston, you will find his picture hanging on their wall as one of the last Masters of Rossville Lodge No. 527.

Brother William”Bunkey” Wright- Past Master of Anchor Lodge. Bunkey got active in Olive Branch Lodge in the 1990’s and served that lodge as Master. He was active in degree work throughout the district at that time. He made it a personal goal to be the first Brother to preside over all three Danville lodges as Master. He served Anchor as Master in 2002-2003, but passed before being able to pursue his goal with Further Light Lodge.

Brother Charlie Luton- Past Master of Anchor Lodge, WWII era Navy veteran. Charlie was more soft spoken and circumspect than some of the other lodge brethren of his generation. Charlie enjoyed wood working and created the three lesser lights used by the Lodge today. He also authored a poem dedicated to Past Master Dale Potter entitled, “There stood Dale” that hung in the anteroom of the lodge for many years. The things I remember about Charlie are his kindness and his recognition that all Brothers are worthy of consideration and respect.

There are many brethren of this lodge of whom I have fond memories and I could go on a lot longer than the time allotted me here, but I truly must mention another brother before I close.

Brother Carl L. Pettice Past Master of this Lodge and Potomac Lodge No. 782, Secretary of Anchor in 2002-2003. Without this Brother, I would not be standing before you today. A little over 19 years ago, I thought I was doing this brother a favor when I petitioned to join Masonry. He was still of the generation that did not talk much about what went on at the lodge and I had no idea what I was joining, but I thought that it would make him happy and that would be my gift to him. I had no idea the gift he had given to me- the gift that Freemasonry would and continues to give to me. It was because of the lodge that I began to work on improving myself, working on my own rough ashlar. It was because of the lodge that I got to know my father as a brother. It was because of the lodge that we spent time as equals. It was because of the lodge that we got to remake our relationship into one of two friends who enjoyed each other’s company.

So I thank Freemasonry and Anchor Lodge for these gifts and for the lives and actions of these and all our brethren and I thank Brother Jack Land, Past Master of Anchor Lodge, for giving me the opportunity to share with all of you today.


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

Masonic Holiday Shopping Guide

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

The holiday season is upon us and now comes the dreaded decisions of what to get for everyone. If you have a Freemason you are shopping for, I have done some homework for you of where to get the very best in Masonic regalia, books and more.

Masonic Revival by brother Edgar Alejandro and has an excellent collection of ties, aprons, watches, cufflinks and more. Brother Alejandro’s designs are contemporary in nature with elegance and class. My favorite masonic tie is one I purchased from brother Alejandro. He also has designed numerous custom masonic pins, including the one this year for brother Bo Cook, the Most Excellent Grand High Priest of Royal Arch Masons in Illinois.

Ascended Masters Clothing by brother Carl Hern features some of the most unique masonic items coming out today. I have personally purchased two of his masonic pendants, which are unlike anything else on the market. He has items branded as “Bearded Builders” which are grooming items for that special person’s beard.

Cornerstone Publishers by brother Michael Poll has one of the best collections of masonic books currently in print. These feature a nice mix of new titles and some of the classics that have been reprinted. One of his books, “A Masonic Evolution: The New World of Freemasonry”, has been chosen by the Grand Lodge of Illinois. I have most of the current titles in my library and have enjoyed every one of them. Brother Poll is the current Editor of the Journal of The Masonic Society.

Moon and Son Publishers by Midnight Freemason Founder Todd E. Creason. Brother Creason has written five books including his award winning “Famous American Freemasons” series. Brother Creason and I are currently working on a new book that we hope will be in print in the first part of 2019. Stay tuned.

The Winding Stairs: Brother Juan Sepulveda is an artist who creates masonic art pieces, aprons with his fantastic art work and several original works. I am very impressed with his work that I find to be clear and crisp in its message. Brother Sepulveda’s “Light of Time” is proudly displayed in my office.

Travis Simpkins: Brother Simpkins has emerged as one of the premier masonic artists of his generation. His sketches of numerous masonic brethren both from the past and present have become exceedingly popular amongst the craft. The Valley of Danville hosted Brother Simkins and his wife Janet at their fall reunion. Janet is a talented artist in her own right. I have five pieces (four from Travis and one from Janet) in my personal collection. Brother Simkins is one of the contributors here at The Midnight Freemasons.

Whence Came You: This is our very own Brother Robert Johnson’s fantastic masonic education site. Earlier this year brother Johnson and brother Jon Ruark authored “It’s Business Time Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry”. I was honored to write the review for this book. Brother Johnson offers a weekly podcast that is free for the downloading. He also offers some very fine pieces that help support the show including his new limited-edition pin designed by brother Alejandro of Masonic Revival.

I wish you all the best this holiday season.


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.

Musings On Masonic Retirement...Kind Of

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson

A Fond Memory

I did it. I retired as a Secretary...kind of. As a man who found Freemasonry early in life and joined at the age of 27, I was somewhat unsure of the path that this new thing I was a part of, and where exactly it would take me. The lodge had a full line of officers. In fact I remember putting my name on a yellow legal pad which was a waiting list. At my mother lodge, you started at Jr. Steward and made your way through a seven year journey to the East.

I was at the bottom of the list. Then one Monday evening I received some news. It seems as though our Jr. Deacon had to step out of line due to a family situation. I was crushed to see my Brother have to be in this situation. I had formed a bond with this guy. He was the closest to me in age. He and I had joked and become close, at least in my mind. Every meeting we hung out. But now, he wouldn’t be an officer.

At the time I thought it wouldn’t be so bad, I’d still see him, I thought. It’s now been eight years and I haven’t seen him. Looking back, I remember being asked, “Bro. Jr. Deacon had to drop out. We’re moving you up to Jr. Steward, okay?” And that’s when my life of Masonic Service started. I gave it my all. My lodge didn’t go dark. We met every Monday except for five or six times during the year for various things. In seven years I missed three scheduled meetings.

I recall missing my first stated meeting. I got a phone call saying I was put on the Ladies Appreciation Luncheon committee. I was sure I didn’t miss another without informing someone first. My year in the South was marked particularly because I was also made the Lodge Education Officer. A role I would expand upon later. My year in the East was to be glorious. We streamed the installation over the web. I had tons of people watching. We had standing room only. This was my year to push Education. Real education. Not charity initiatives of Grand Lodge, not Short Talk Bulletins. Real Masonic history and discussing philosophy.

It took two months worth of meetings to make me realize it wasn’t going to happen. It wasn't that I had low attendance or that people complained, although I did receive one complaint which I will always remember. As I was walking into the lodge meeting, somewhere within my second month as Master, someone said, “Hey let’s get through tonight quickly. There’s a game on.” That was when I said it, without thinking, and in front of the lodge. (Looking back, it probably made me look like a tyrant). My response was, “If you’re here for the minutes, I can email those to you. The door is that way. We have work to do.”

I never got another complaint--to my face anyway. Ultimately, my attendance averaged 15 members per meeting and I was inundated with degree work. I was able to initiate sixteen men, pass and raise fifteen of them, and they were all singular degrees. That year I was also made the District Education Officer. I oversaw the education of seven lodges within my district. After I was done in the East, I moved in as Secretary. I took over for a Brother who’d been in the role for more than twenty years--the Masonic norm. I knew I wouldn’t do twenty years. I had two reasons; first, I wholeheartedly believe that this is bad for a lodge. It breeds stagnation in the way we move forward. Secondly, I didn’t want to be locked into one area geographically for a long period. At this same time I was a first year Secretary, I was starting my second and final year as District Education Officer. I then went on to be a District Deputy Grand Master, a role I went into for two years.

A Reprieve

All Good Things”, was the title of the Star Trek The Next Generation episode I only watched once. I watched it live when it aired. I never watched it again. It was kind of painful to watch. I really loved TNG. Just like in real life, everything comes to an end. This last month I handed the Secretarial reigns of Waukegan Lodge 78 to the Immediate Past Master, a man I have much confidence in. And not completely unlike my stance on the last episode of TNG, I won’t go back to my mother lodge for a while. She needs to find the new course, without me getting in the way.

“A New Hope”

Two years ago, on a rainy drive to Grand Lodge Sessions…” as my best friend and Brother puts it, we began to muse on what our ideal lodge would be. What started as a hypothetical conversation has turned to reality. We did it. Currently under Dispensation, this new lodge feels invigorating. There’s a lot of energy. Education is our main focus and there’s no getting around it--we built it into our bylaws. What’s really amazing is that we’ve managed to come together, a team of twenty men all who’ve longed for something like this--we found each other and are now in the midst of practicing something wonderful, great...magnanimous even.
And where did I land in this new lodge venture, you might ask? Secretary, of course. Being a lodge Secretary is both rewarding and stressful. You get to know the members of your lodge so intimately, even deeper than most other members will ever glean. The stress comes from implementing and communicating the Worshipful Master’s plans. The getting to know you stuff? Well, that just sort of happens. If as Secretaries we’re doing our jobs, we do a lot of listening. We reassure, we make arrangements, we boost and we console.

I get jokes from my closest friends that I must be a glutton for punishment. But the truth is, I love Freemasonry and I love being there to assist the lodge by holding the ropes. This piece has been a personal reflection and while not my usual kind of post, I’ve been asked questions about what I’ll do now that I’m retired as Secretary. Well, now you know. I am still a Secretary, a really busy one. I largely pulled back on my Masonic involvement due to several issues; spreading myself too thin, missing out on family time, a shift in the way I feel about Freemasonry and its role in today’s world, and of course the most trying of issues--dealing with rumors and gossip regarding my personal religious beliefs, or rather lack thereof.

A Look Back While Moving Forward

Having shed the skin of my previous Masonic life, leaving behind a job as Secretary, jobs in my Chapter and Council, having nothing to do with AASR outside of occasional attendance, I am focused on my own personal development, family and the new lodge. It’s really about making the most out of a truly wonderful experience that is a successful integration of these pieces.

As I stated, this piece has been a reflection and admittedly might have no real value to the reader outside of gaining some experiential personal feelings about what one man has been through. It’s neither extreme nor tame, in fact I would assume my story is pretty centered on the litmus test of this fraternity. But because I want to drive value in what I write, I would want to leave you all with something. So I leave you with a concept of building what you want. Work for it and trim the fat. If the time is right, than move your efforts to the thing which will impact you in the most positive of ways. The way in which you will grow the most--typically the most uncomfortable but also perhaps the most exciting.
Ask yourself, “Am I excited to go to the meeting?” Finally, I leave you with a quote that I and my Brother Scott Dueball have used time and time again, which has served us well in life when reflecting upon its meaning. The quote I am about to lay out is attributed to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, although it is not confirmed.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men and women to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

When we research this quote, what we find is that Antoine never really said this. In fact he said something from which this simple version was born. In Citadel The Wisdom of the Sands (1948), Antoine wrote the following, more poetic and lengthy version which I will leave you to ponder.

Celui-là tissera des toiles, l’autre dans la forêt par l’éclair de sa hache couchera l’arbre. L’autre, encore, forgera des clous, et il en sera quelque part qui observeront les étoiles afin d’apprendre à gouverner. Et tous cependant ne seront qu’un. Créer le navire ce n’est point tisser les toiles, forger les clous, lire les astres, mais bien donner le goût de la mer qui est un, et à la lumière duquel il n’est plus rien qui soit contradictoire mais communauté dans l’amour.

One will weave the canvas; another will fell a tree by the light of his ax. Yet another will forge nails, and there will be others who observe the stars to learn how to navigate. And yet all will be as one. Building a boat isn’t about weaving canvas, forging nails, or reading the sky. It’s about giving a shared taste for the sea, by the light of which you will see nothing contradictory but rather a community of love.

Go forth and inspire, my Brothers


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 Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183 UD. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master 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. 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.

Is Your Lodge A Carrot, Egg or Coffee?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM

A few weeks ago, I attended a class and the class leader read a piece entitled “Are You a Carrot, Egg, or Coffee Bean?”. The piece was meant for personal reflection, but I began to wonder if this same premise could be used to gauge the condition of a lodge?

The essay is about a young girl who feels her life is hopeless and confides in her mother on how she feels, that she can’t go on with life. Her mother takes her to the kitchen and boils three pots of water. In each pot, the mother places carrots, eggs, and ground coffee beans. Once each one has finished boiling the mother places each into a bowl.

She told her daughter to touch the carrots. The daughter noticed that the once hard vegetable was now soft. The mother then told her to reach into the other bowl and begin to peel the egg. The daughter noticed how the once liquid center of the egg which had been protected by its hard shell was now hardened. Her mother told her to pick up the third bowl and smell the coffee. The girl smiled when she picked up the bowl and smelled the aroma of the now freshly brewed coffee. 

After looking at each bowl, the daughter confused asked her mother what the point of this display was.

Her mother told her daughter, " one knows how they will react until tested by adversity and difficult situations." She continued, "Some people, like the once hard carrot, will turn soft when troubles come. Others who seem to be fragile will toughen when things get difficult. Some people are like the coffee, when the tough times come, they change the boiling water into something pleasant."

Much like a fingerprint or a snowflake each Masonic lodge is different. They each have their own personality, history, and traditions. In good times most all lodges will thrive and prosper, but when tough times begin to arrive on a lodges doorstep, you will begin to see how a lodge will react.

A lodge with weak leadership and with no direction will see its membership begin to decline; their building will become derelict and sadly, in some cases, the lodge may survive for a while, but without a change in direction the lodge will become soft like the carrot and cease to exist.

Another lodge may be just as strong in good times but if something happens to disrupt the harmony of the lodge or if they experience a crisis, they may react in a totally different way. Unlike the lodge we compared to as a carrot in the example above, the members of a lodge may, in a stressful situation throw a lodge’s harmony to the sideline and instead of working together, the members may begin to argue and start blaming each other for the hard times the lodge has to endure. 

Many times the membership, if they don’t drop out due to the arguing and finger pointing, will begin to form factions and instead of working together. They will work on their own solution or do their best to destroy the opposing faction's attempts to run the lodge or curb the adversity. After a while the angry words and finger pointing lead to hurt feelings and much like the boiled egg, the membership will begin to harden and not attend meetings which leads to suspensions of non-payment of dues because his view of the Fraternity has hardened. After a while the egg lodge, much like that of the soft carrot will cease to exist and will soon become just another footnote in a Grand Lodge proceedings book sitting on a shelf, while their once proud building becomes another empty building the inhabiting city has to decide the fate of.

The third lodge is just like the other two. In good times the Brethren meet in peace and harmony, they have a steady stream of new candidates who become engaged and really are an integral part of the workings of the lodge.

Some men love ritual, so they endeavor to become ritualists and help the lodge with degree work. Others love to cook, so they spend their time preparing nutritious and delicious meals for members and guests who visit their lodge. Other men are good with their hands and gravitate to the building committee to help keep the roof over their Brethren’s heads.

While each man leads with his strength, they all gather together for such things as Masonic charity, helping their elderly membership or their lodge’s widows or helping to provide a joyous Christmas morning to the children of a Brother, who just lost his job and needed a little help during hard times. Since each man is happy serving in his own way, there is less arguing about how things are done in the lodge and really, they work together for the common good.

Since they all work together, the membership of this lodge, like the coffee beans, will be able to convert what one sees as adversity into a challenge, and when the bubbling waters calm, what is left a stronger and more pleasant liquid that everyone can enjoy.

Brethren, I am sure each of us who have circled the Masonic altar a few times have seen examples of each of these types of lodges. All of these lodges have the same chance of surviving hard times it’s how they decide to react to the boiling water which determines their fate.

It’s just my opinion but a lodge that embraces Masonic doctrine partially or completely, disregards the doctrine in its entirety. They tend to do this in order to recruit new members which makes these lodges equitable to a house of cards. When will it fail? But if a lodge builds a sound foundation on Masonic teachings, values every member and their talents, then uses those member's talents to their fullest potential (Not just sticking him in an officer line and move him up until he is Master or worse yet just quits attending), a lodge can not only weather any storm but much like the coffee beans in boiling water will become savory


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.

Compelled To Suffer The Punishment…

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

Born on St. John the Evangelist's Day, December 27, 1884, Samuel R. Freet seemed to be destined for Freemasonry from the very start. A teacher and lawyer, he was raised in Ivanhoe Lodge #446 in Kansas City in 1910 and served as its Master ten years later. That same year, 1920, he was appointed to the advancing line of the Grand Lodge of Missouri.

His lengthy progression through the offices in the Grand Line culminated in 1929, when he became Grand Master. Each Grand Master looks forward to presiding over a successful Grand Communication at the end of his term and Most Worshipful Brother Freet was no exception. After years of work moving through the Grand Line offices, and a year of preparation for his Grand Lodge communication, Most Worshipful Brother Freet was stricken with kidney disease near the end of his term.  His affliction required surgery that left a 10-inch scar in his back and severely limited his mobility. His condition weakened him and Brothers reported him being confined to a bed when they visited him prior to Grand Lodge. At that time his wife Gertrude informed the Brothers that her husband's doctors said he only had months to live. (Freet, in fact, struggled with his health issues for two more years, passing away October 4, 1931, at the young age of 46).

The Deputy Grand Master, William Gentry, made plans to fill in at the meeting should MWB Freet be unable to attend. Freet, however, had other plans. He mustered his strength and came to the meeting looking frail and thin.

Freet opened the Grand Lodge meeting and presided over it until it was time for his Grand Master's address. He read two paragraphs and nearly collapsed.  Although unable to continue, his Brothers ordered a bed from the hotel staff and placed it just off stage so he could be present for the proceedings. Deputy Grand Master Gentry then proceeded to read the Grand Master's message.

Somewhat recovered, Freet was reported to be in good spirits. Hearing that, Past Grand Master Ray Denslow went over to his bed and reported, "Most Worshipful, I have gone over the proceedings of the Grand Lodge carefully, and discovered you are the only Grand Master in our history ever to have been compelled to suffer the punishment of listening to his own address."


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.

Freemasonry's Missing Rings: Thaddeus Kosciuszko

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Michael Arce

Hero of the Revolutionary War. Military Leader of Poland. A Close Friend of Freemasons. How was Thaddeus Kosciuszko never made a Mason?

When you travel north to Saratoga Springs, Lake George, Fort Ticonderoga, or the Adirondack Mountains in Update New York, you will cross over the "Twin Bridges," as the locals call them. "The Twins" are much easier to say during drive time traffic reports than the Thaddeus Kosciusko Bridge. What makes the bridge unique, aside from the Polish name, is its design: two identical steel arched bridges, with decks that span across the Mohawk River. Technically, crossing the Twin Bridges to and from work would have been my introduction to Kosciuszko.

The first time I heard the name Thaddeus Kosciuszko was when I was talking about Revolutionary War history with a co-worker. She was raving about the documentary "Kosciuszko: A Man Before His Time." As she shared it, his story was one worth learning about; born into a Polish noble family, Kosciuszko would eventually leave Poland to join the American patriots in the Revolutionary War, return to Poland and lead his own people in their fight for Independence. I was compelled to learn more about this man who George Washington trusted to build and fortify West Point. In his book, "The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution," Alex Storozynski brilliantly details the life and time of Kosciuszko. You learn of a young man who, after being schooled in architecture, drawing (fine art), and military strategy, leaves Poland to join the fight on the side of the Americans during the Revolutionary War. Let me take a second to note some of Kosciuszko's military accomplishments. He protected the banks of the Delaware River, preventing the British from invading Philadelphia.

When his idea of building an attack position above Fort Ticonderoga was ignored, Kosciuszko saved the Continental army engineered a solution to slow the British Army, allowing the Americans to escape across the Hudson River. During the second Battle of Saratoga, he planned a robust array of natural defenses, using ledges, rock formations, and the terrain as cover - frustrating the British while positioning his men to victory. Kosciuszko's travels put him in direct contact with known Freemasons: Benjamin Franklin, Nathanael Greene, Marquis de Lafayette, and George Washington. Kosciuszko lived and served with these essential men in a time when the ideas of democracy, freedom, and independence were the favorite topics of discussion. George Washington hung Kosciuszko's portrait in his home, and his friend Thomas Jefferson wrote that "He is as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known."

The Case For A Missing Freemason

Thaddeus Kosciuszko possessed the two masonic principles that we are charged to embrace: Fidelity and Integrity. There are several examples in the book of opportunities during the beginning of his Revolutionary military service where General Kosciuszko could have risen in rank faster or received more pay IF he stepped on others to advance himself. Instead, he took promotions as he earned them and served for seven years without collecting a salary. His concerns were always for the care and comforts of his soldiers, who he regularly wrote to Congress and General Washington for new boots, clothing, or weapons. When I finished the book, I reached out to the author Alex Storozynski to investigate if Kosciuszko was a Mason. I couldn’t see how a man of his age who was in the company of Washington, Franklin, and many other historical Masons of that era would not have attended a Lodge or somehow escaped being a member of one.

I also contacted Kosciuszko Lodge No. 1085, the first Lodge composed of men of Polish and Slavic descent in the United States of America, which meets in the Grand Lodge of New York, to see if they had any supporting documents. I wasn't the first to ask the question. "I wish he were a Mason," stated Storozynski when we spoke. "If I had found anything, I would have surely included it in my book!" Alex and I spent the time discussing how, after the connections with Franklin, Lafayette, and Washington - considering how life was much different than now, their time huddled closely during winter or the lavish parties they would attend in each other's honor, how was it possible that the subject of Freemasonry never came up?

Both Kosciuszko and Washington were members of the Society of Cincinnati. We also couldn't fathom how, after being released from prison for leading an uprising against Catherine the Great, Kosciuszko didn't petition a Masonic lodge in Europe when he was close friends with Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was known to have attended meetings at the prestigious Lodge of Nine Muses in Paris, France. (For a more detailed look into whether Jefferson was a Mason, click here) If Kosciuszko wasn't an American Freemason, was it possible that he could have petitioned a Lodge in Europe? Again, the answer is no. Although if you search online, the Grand Orient of Poland lists Tadeusz Kościuszko on their list of our "Predecessors in the Craft." But as far as official documentation that states he was made a Mason at a certain time and place, for now, that search for Kosciuszko comes up empty.


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:

A Call to Service

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Travis Simpkins

Earlier this year, the Grand Lodge of New Jersey hired me to create some artwork for their dedication ceremony of the U.S. Coast Guard Enlisted Memorial. Along with the commission came an invitation to join the Grand Master and other Grand Lodge officers on a special tour of the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center base in Cape May, New Jersey. I have never served in the military, so the opportunity to learn and experience something new enticed me to make the trip down from Massachusetts and show up at the base on that cold April morning. We boarded and explored some of the boats, saw recruits training and visited the barracks before being directed towards a parcel of land that would eventually be developed for the Memorial.

After the tour, the Grand Lodge officers and officials from the Coast Guard base convened to the nearby Cape Island Lodge No. 30 where a small crowd had gathered for the cornerstone ceremony. Before the event began, the Grand Master pulled me aside to ask if he could call me to get up and speak to everyone. I had half-expected to be called upon going in, but I still didn't have any remarks prepared when the time arrived. In searching of what to say, I found myself looking towards the men in military uniforms seated around the room. I thanked them for their service. I then explained that not only had I not served, but that prior to becoming a Mason, I had known very few people in my immediate circles that were members of the armed forces. After joining the Craft, it seems that 3 out of every 5 Masons I meet have some kind of military background. I now count some of those men among my closest friends and kindred spirits. I wondered out loud about the common thread that draws us all to join Freemasonry. On the military end, there is certainly an ordered structure, patriotism and an instilled sense of “Brotherhood” that carries over within the Craft. But beyond that, a more universal element seems to be that Freemasonry attracts those who desire self-improvement by being part of something bigger than themselves. We, as Masons, all answer a call to service. Afterwards, I was relieved when several Brothers approached me to say that they appreciated the sentiments.

I don't have a graceful end to this anecdote. I just thought of it on the occasion of Veteran's Day, when I saw that many friends were sharing photos of themselves and loved ones in uniform. If you're in the vicinity of Cape May on the southern coast of New Jersey, construction of the U.S. Coast Guard Enlisted Memorial has been ongoing and should be nearing completion. If you're a veteran who also happens to be a member of the Scottish Rite NMJ, I'd encourage you to contact your Valley and let them know. Recently, the Sovereign Grand Commander established the “Sammy Lee Davis Peace & Freedom Award” which is to be presented to all Scottish Rite veterans with an honorable discharge.


Travis Simpkins is a freelance artist with clients throughout the United States and Europe. He currently works on projects for the Supreme Council, 33°, NMJ in Lexington, Massachusetts. He also serves as a portrait artist for the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Grand Lodge of New Jersey and other jurisdictions across North America. His artwork is in many esteemed collections, including the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum in Independence, Missouri.

Bro. Simpkins is a member of Morning Star Lodge A.F. & A.M. in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is a 32° Mason in the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite- Valleys of Worcester and Boston. He is also a member of Eureka Royal Arch Chapter, Hiram Council of Royal & Select Master Masons and Worcester County Commandery No. 5, Knights Templar.

The Impact of War Part IV

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor 
WB Gregory J. Knott 

In the first three installments of this series I examined the impact the Great War (WW I) was having on Illinois Freemasonry 100 years ago in 1918.

In part one the Grand Master of Illinois Austin M. Scrogin wrote in his annual report that Illinois Freemasonry was working hard to support the troops overseas and reminded the Illinois membership that though it was important to support the French people, the Grand Lodge of Illinois did not recognize the Grand Orient of France because they did not follow landmark of belief in a supreme being as a requirement for membership.

The challenges continued in part 2 of the series as MWB Scrogin was fielding many requests for Army lodges to be formed, but he did not honor these requests. Scrogin said “…Many men who enter into the service of their country make good soldiers would not make good Masons. The uncertainties of determining the fitness of men are so apparent that there is on security against the admission of the unworthy.” Scrogin was concerned that candidate wouldn’t be properly investigated and that the west gate would admit those who were truly not worthy.

Scrogin also argued that the old standard “the perfect youth” theory was a relic that should be abandonded because so many of the soldiers serving were suffering serious wounds that in and of themselves should not disqualify a man from becoming a Freemason. Changes to the Illinois code were later changed dropping these limitations.

And in the third installment Scrogin issued an edict that all lodges must work the ritual only in English. There were a handful of lodges in the Chicago area that were using the German language as these lodges membership was those of German ancestry. There was concern that by not using the English language that lodges would develop into a class system that would not be healthy for the craft.

Today 100 years later these changes are still impacting Illinois Freemasonry. All work must be done in the English language, Illinois does not sponsor military lodges, the Grand Orient of France is still not recognized, there still concerns about guarding the West gate and the physical limitations that once limited entry into our fraternity were formally dropped in 1919.

Though we generally like to think that Freemasonry is timeless and there can be no changes, the reality is that the events of today have an impact on the fraternity just like they did 100 years ago. Freemasonry does change with the ages, even when you don’t think it can or will. The decisions we make as a fraternity today will impact the craft a 100 years from now.


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.

A Break from Politics?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson

I know at this point we're all precariously balanced, pulled in three or four emotional directions. We're tired of the robo-calls, the endless stream of cards and flyers stuffed into our mailboxes, slipped under our car wiper blades and jammed into our door handles -- despite the no solicitor stickers. We're done with the Hulu ads from candidates. We're tired of slinging the dirt. We're tired of the divisiveness. And yet, we're still fired up. We want more, we want to see what will happen in the coming weeks. The policy changes, the major upsets, the candidates who will right the wrongs.

The thing is, if you feel like this, it's normal. We're invested. This is America,"the great experiment." Countries may have surpassed us in some progressive or conservative ideas, but never forget that this country was the example. We stand today with a fresh outlook. The election results let us see where we stand, what the benchmark is. We can see the lay of the land and how to approach things.

But first, Coffee. It's Wednesday morning after "Super-Tuesday" *sips coffee*. Whether our candidates won or lost, whether we're feeling angry or elated, it's time to take a moment to yourself and just breath. Do that now. Take a breath.

I hope you enjoyed the quick break, that's all you'll get. We're industrious, remember? There are always times in history where the hopes of a future are dashed or forged. When we think about this, it's easy to get lost in a "winner - loser" mentality. What's important is seeing the system from afar. To take a step back and look at the chess board. We should ask ourselves how we want to proceed. What are the issues affecting us today? How can we as Freemasons work for the better good? How can we see to it that we exemplify not only in our lives, but in public, the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Fortitude, Temperance and most importantly, Justice. That virtue alone is what we're built on. Justice is the level.

My opinion? Work for the change you want. Not from a Facebook post, an Instagram or casually talking to friends. Sure those things have some merit, and if that's your speed, go nuts. But if you really want to get involved, if you really want to see an impact in your lifetime, you need to take a next step. Volunteer in the community, follow the road less traveled that leads to becoming a leader.

On Saturday, November 3rd, the Mayor of North Ogden Utah, was shot and killed while on his second deployment in Afghanistan. He served his town and his state but also was a patriot. The interim mayor said of his friend of six years on NPR, "...Brent Taylor was not partisan, he wasn't a politician. He was a statesman."

That's what I think we should be. "Statesman." Upstanding dignified individuals who work for the common good, not focusing on party affiliations, red, blue, gold or anything else. If we care about the people first, everything else will fall into place.

In Mayor Taylor's final post to his Facebook account, while on deployment he said, ""As the USA gets ready to vote in our own election (Tuesday), I hope everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote, and that whether the Republicans or the Democrats win, that we all remember that we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides us. 'United we stand, divided we fall.' God Bless America."

Remember those words, and lets get back to work -- changing the world.


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 Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183 UD. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master 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. 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.

November, Scottish Rite Month!

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson

November has been declared Scottish Rite Month, by SGC, David Glattly and what that means, is that this month in particular we should be proud to be 32nd degree Scottish Rite Masons. Back in August, I was thumbing through The Northern Light, the AASR NMJ's publication and I came to a page that was striking.

The full text of the proclamation, in case the picture is too hard to read is as follows:



Sovereign Grand Commander, David A. Glattly, 33 ̊Proclaims November as Scottish Rite Month

To all Brothers:
Let it be known and spread throughout the jurisdiction

Whereas, The Scottish Rite, NMJ believes in the values of Reverence for God, Devotion to Country, Integrity, Justice, Service, and Toleration, and

Whereas, The Supreme Council promotes the aforementioned values through the written and performance exemplification of its degrees, and

Whereas, The Valleys of the Scottish Rite, NMJ seek to further inculcate the mission of the organization through its ritual and social program- ming, and

Whereas, The members of the Scottish Rite, NMJ are committed to up- holding these values in their daily lives, and

Now, Therefore, be it resolved that I, David A. Glattly, 33 ̊, Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite, NMJ, do hereby proclaim the month of November 2018 as Scottish Rite Month in all of our Valleys throughout the jurisdiction.

I encourage all Valleys and Brothers to plan, and participate, in events that demonstrate the strength and resolve we have for our organization, and the values for which it stands, and further cement the relevance of Freemasonry as part of history, as well as the future.

In Witness Whereof, I hereunto set my hand and cause the Seal of the Scottish Rite, NMJ to be herein affixed.


Freemasonry itself is something that we perpetually celebrate, but all too often perhaps, it is part of the norm and we may take it for granted. November is a month in which we can make an extra effort to get out to our valleys, go to events, celebrate the charities, see the degrees at the fall time reunions and come together as not just Masons, but perhaps those who are of the Royal Secret. 

What can you do? What can you expect this month? Recently The Northern Light has begun a web series designed to be quick, and to the point. It's called TNL On Air. Here is the latest from them, featuring SGC Glattly speaking about Scottish Rite Month. Enjoy and remember, "Spes mea in Deo est!"


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 Spes Novum 1183 UD. He is a Past Master of Waukegan 78, and Past District Deputy Grand Master 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. 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.

The Owl, The Dollar Bill, And The Freemasons?

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°
See the little owl?  Ain't it a hoot!  Some will argue that's not an owl at all.
While I was over at our annual Grand Lodge Convocation in Springfield, Illinois last month, I found an enormous book on symbology on the clearance rack at Barnes & Noble.  Of course I bought it--you can't have too many books on symbolism, right?  Last night, I ran across a very detailed description of how the owl has been historically used as a symbol.  It reminded me of a conversation I had with a Freemason a few years ago after I'd done a presentation.

This Mason claimed there were two evidences of Masonic influence on the dollar bill--one was the back of the Great Seal of the United States, the well-known unfinished pyramid and all-seeing eye.  That's perhaps one of the most roundly misunderstood and misinterpreted symbols of all time, and about as Masonic in origin as a ham sandwich.  The other evidence was the little owl hidden in the upper right hand corner.  I knew that was there, but that was the first time it had been suggested to me that it was "masonic" in origin.

I can remember the first time that little owl was pointed out to me.  I was still in grade school, and our teacher pointed it out to the class one day.  She told us it was a symbol of wisdom, and that's why it was included in the design.  She also said that little details like that made it all the harder for anybody to try and copy a dollar bill.

But the owl isn't a Masonic symbol--it is associated more with the Illuminati.  Robert Johnson wrote a very good piece about that some years ago The Owl and Freemasonry on the Midnight Freemasons.  It wasn't easy to sell my new friend on the idea that neither the back of the Grand Seal of the United States or the owl had any strong Masonic ties--he was a true believer that they did.  I do not believe I was successful in convincing him.  And he's not alone in believing the Great Seal of the United States is Masonic--I hear Masons who should know better make that claim all the time, and I stopped trying to correct them on it a decade ago.

However, I never saw the owl on the dollar bill.  It never looked like an owl to me.  From the first time our teacher pointed it out to us in class up to this day, when I see that little engraving in the upper right hand corner of the dollar bill I see the exact same thing.  I've shown a few people over the years what I see, and they say once they saw it they never see the owl again.

Turn that dollar bill over and have a close look at it.  Do you see it yet?  Is your mind blown?

Aye, Matey . . . that be the Jolly Roger?
I never saw an owl--I saw a skull and crossbones.  I was holding the dollar under the projector for the teacher so the class could see it on the wall--so I saw it upside-down the first time.  Once you see the skull, you can't unsee it.  To me, it looks more like a skull upside-down than an owl right-side up.

And the skull and crossbones . . . well, that does have some Masonic symbolic meaning as we all well know.  For those Masonic conspiracy theorist out there, you can consider this an early Christmas gift.  You're welcome!  Run with it! 

Now as anybody who studies symbols knows (and I'm strictly an amateur), symbols always have dual meanings.  It would not surprise me in the least to find out that this duality (owl one way, and skull the other) was intentional by the engraver--the owl, a symbol of wisdom and intellect, and the skull and symbol of death and/or new life.  It's interesting to think about anyway.

So now that you've see it, what do you think?  Owl or skull?  Or nothing at all?


Todd E. Creason, 33° is an award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series.  He is the author of the 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 a a 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 the a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 and currently serves as EHP.  He serves 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: