The Pillars of Charity: Honoring Donors to the House of the Temple

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Travis Simpkins


The House of the Temple in Washington, DC, is the headquarters of the Supreme Council, 33°, Southern Jurisdiction. Inside the building are the Scottish Rite SJ's Museum, Library, Archives, Temple Room, offices, banquet hall and other spaces. The edifice is also a mausoleum, with two crypts holding the earthly remains of Past Sovereign Grand Commanders John Henry Cowles, 33° (1863 – 1954) and Albert Pike, 33° (1809 – 1891). Between the tombs of these Illustrious Brethren is an alcove lit by a radiant stained glass window, with the words Pillars of Charity chiseled above. On either side of the alcove's walls are small pillars with the names of those who have made the generous contribution of $1,000,000 or more to either the House of the Temple Historic Preservation Foundation, Inc. or the Scottish Rite Foundation, SJ, USA, Inc. In further recognition of their generosity, donors are also immortalized with an oil painting to be displayed in the nearby portrait gallery.

Earlier this year, I was commissioned by the Supreme Council, 33°, SJ to paint the latest addition to the Pillars of Charity Portrait Gallery. I am honored that the Scottish Rite, SJ thinks highly enough of my talents to ask me to create this important recognition of generosity. The subjects of the double-portrait, Ill. Thomas A. Rossman, 33° and his wife, Patricia, are dedicated supporters of the House of the Temple and this was their 2nd donation of $1 Million to the Historic Preservation Foundation. A native of Detroit, Illustrious Brother Rossman was raised in Center Line Lodge No. 550 and joined the Scottish Rite Valley of Detroit (NMJ) in 1963. The Rossmans moved to Hawaii in 1989, where he is now a life member of the Valley of Honolulu (SJ) and Mrs. Rossman is a member of Lei Aloha Chapter No. 3, Order of the Eastern Star.

As Masons, we must keep in mind the importance of contributing to the long term maintenance of our magnificent buildings for future generations. The House of the Temple is a cause that is certainly worthy of any support you can offer. Not all of us have a million dollars to spare, but most all of us are capable of making some financial contribution. Please visit the Scottish Rite, SJ's website and click on the “Giving” tab to see the many ways in which you can help. Or on a smaller scale, when you make a purchase from their online store, please click “yes” on the checkout tab when asked if you'll round up the total to support the House of the Temple. Their website is www.scottishrite.org

-TS

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 and the Supreme Council, 33°, SJ in Washington, DC. 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 and the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia.

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 Cowan Within

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB:. Robert E. Jackson

I've recently joined a new company. Well, recently is a relative term, so we'll say about 3 months ago at the time of this writing. Getting the new job was quite an accomplishment to me. The company seemed amazing, and every person I spoke with was so incredibly kind, and smart. 

Soon after starting the job, like probably the first day, I started wondering if I deserved to be in such a good company. I would worry about not being good enough, or smart enough, where at times I wouldn't be able to focus on my work! Colleagues would tell me that they all felt that way, and everybody goes through it, but it was so hard to believe that they felt the same amount of anxiety. Then, during a team dinner, I learned that it wasn't just me. Hell, it wasn't just this company. It was Impostor Syndrome.

So, like any good Mason, I started searching, and reading, about Impostor Syndrome. Sometimes called the Impostor Phenomenon, the condition was introduced in 1978 by Dr. Pauline Clance and Dr. Suzanne Imes. It was initially seen in high performing women, being introduced to a male dominated work force. These women, although worthy and well qualified, didn't feel like they belonged, always feeling like they weren't good enough.

For some time, it was believed that this issue was only evident within females, but it was later discovered that the feeling had no gender bias, but recognition did. Kevin Cokley, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin, stated that “people who are experiencing or struggling with impostor feelings struggle alone. They think that they’re the only ones feeling that way.” Men typically tend to either compartmentalize, or not admit this feeling of inferiority, especially among their peers. Some feel that the best way to battle the phenomenon is to recognize and encourage the positive outcomes. Be sure to give the accolades when they are due. However, asking for such recognition and encouragement, can be deemed a sign of weakness in many circles, further exacerbating the problem. 

There have been several papers and articles written on the Impostor Phenomenon, and some studies have attempted to correlate the Phenomenon to family upbringing, or correlation with other disorders such as anxiety and depression, as well as perfectionism. What appears to be at the core, however, is the belief in a false-self, whose value depends solely on what others think and how you’re perceived. The apparent Impostor (I say apparent because they are an impostor only in their own perception) obsessively analyzes and reflects upon their mistakes, big and small, and always wonders what they could have/should have done. What some may see as a common error, the apparent impostor sees as a personal deficiency, another imperfect aspect of their own ashlar. The fear of exposing another deficiency, revealing another weakness to the community, can cause procrastination and be debilitating at times. Any success (such as a new job) is viewed as luck, or an oversight of somebody else. 

As Masons, I see several opportunities for the Impostor to sneak in. Think of when you might have delivered a presentation, or a section of ritual. Often times your Brothers will congratulate you on your success. If you've ever focused more on your mistakes, or had a fear that the bar was now higher for your next delivery, you've heard from your Impostor. If you aren't sure, go ahead and take this online test (yes, there is a test for everything now). 

Thank you for reading this far. A big portion of this article for me was researching and trying to understand, and cope with, the feelings I had in this new job. Seeking to understand the false self, and the lack of a true static self, has helped, but my search is far from over. If you're curious, the best paper I've found online about the phenomenon is from the Journal of Behavioral Science. In which Dr. Clance identifies six potential characteristics of the 'Impostor:' (1) The Impostor Cycle, (2) The need to be special or to be the very best, (3) Superman/Superwoman aspects; (4) Fear of failure, (5) Denial of competence and Discounting praise, and (6) Fear and guilt about success. One of my favorite quotes during the research, however, was from Business Insider; "And yes, the biggest deceiver in all of this really is us: Not in how we believe we lie to others, but in how we lie to ourselves. You see, impostors tend to mistake feelings for facts. But, feelings, unlike facts, lie — and they lie often."

Of course I'm no expert, but if you recognize a similar struggle, or patterns within yourself, please don't hesitate to discuss it with others. The phenomenon isn't a weakness, or a handicap, but to truly understand your own process, seeking a professional is always the best option.

~REJ

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

Freemasonry: Finding Our Future In Our Past

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

I attended a really memorable meeting last week--I enjoyed it, I learned something from it, and I'm still thinking about some of the things that were said a week later.

The meeting was small in numbers, but big in content.  It was a regularly stated meeting of Admiration Chapter No. 282 (IL) Royal Arch.  We focus our meetings less on business and more on education, and during this meeting, I lead a discussion, the topic of which was suggested by fellow Midnight Freemasons contributor Brian Pettice, 33°.  The topic of the meeting was what Freemasonry means to us.

I started the discussion by having everyone follow me out of the Lodge and through the Tyler's room and we crowded into the Preparation Room.  Nobody knew why.  I had the last two members out of the Lodge grab the Steward's rods and once we were all crowded into that small room and had closed the door, I picked one of the members to step forward, the Stewards closed in on either side--flanking him.  I repeated those questions we all answer before we enter a Lodge for the first time.  We reenacted that very first bit of Masonic ritual we experience at the foot of the path we take in Freemasonry--it most likely varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but here in Illinois we call that the "Secretary Interrogatories".  That familiar bit of ritual took everyone back to those moments before we entered the Lodge for the first time.

What did we expect this experience to be like?  What brought us there?  What did we expect to gain?  What was our opinion of the Fraternity then?  What was our impression of the Masons that brought us to this place?  How did we think we were going to be changed?  All those questions we asked ourselves in that moment.

When the Masons in that little room realized what I was doing, it got very quiet as those words came back to them, and those memories they associated with that part of our ritual returned.  

Some of the Mason in that little room had been a Mason for decades, and others a very short time.  By going back in time like that, and putting ourselves back to that moment when we were looking at that door for the first time from the outside prompted a lively discussion after that exercise in which every member in attendance participated.

We talked about the purpose of Masonry.  We talked about mentoring.  We wondered if those coming into our Fraternity were having the same quality of experience that we had when we entered.  We talked about what we were doing right, and we talked about where we were falling short.  We talked about whether Freemasonry was still relevant, and determining unanimously that it was, we talked about how it's more important than ever in today's world.  And yes, we talked a little about recruitment and marketing who we are and what we are to a world that sometimes doesn't exactly understand who we are and what we are.

There are so many topics you can discuss.  There are so many creative ways you can get these discussions started.  So many formats from speakers, to presentations, to discussions, to book clubs.  The possibilities are endless when it comes to Lodge education and member development. Or do as we're doing--try a little bit of everything and let your members decide what they enjoy the most.

The members in attendance last week are already looking forward to our next meeting, and our next presentation.  They aren't looking forward to hearing minutes, or the treasurer's report--they're looking forward to talking about, and learning about Freemasonry and how to apply it to their lives.  How the application of the principles of Freemasonry is what Masonry is all about.

If your Lodge focuses on these basics you'll be amazed at what happens.  If you rebuild your Lodge on the foundations of Freemasonry, you'll find these Masonic principles are still relevant, still applicable, and still something men today are interested in talking about, applying, and living.

Tear into that ritual and teach your new members not just how to do it, but what it actually means.  Open those dusty books in your Lodge library and teach others the wisdom they contain.  Have conversations about what it is to be a Mason.  Mentor each other.  Advise each other.  Learn from each other.  Improve each other.  Then take that out into the world and serve as examples.

My Brothers, that's Freemasonry!

~TEC

Next week I'm going to tell you about another terrific meeting I attended last night . . . this meeting was lead by Midnight Freemasons Senior Contributor Greg Knott at Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) A.F. & A.M. where he currently serves as Worshipful Master.

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog, and an award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. Todd started the Midnight Freemason blog in 2006, and in 2012 he opened it up as a contributor blog The Midnight Freemasons (plural). Todd has written more than 1,000 pieces for the blog since it began. 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 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. You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Hauts Grades Academy

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Erik Marks 


Joining the Scottish Rite, I sought to deepen my understandings of blue lodge work, and masonry overall. I knew this was an adjunctive choice, not in place of my blue lodge work. I wasn’t disappointed. Following my first reunion, I was encouraged to apply to Hauts Grades Academy to expand and reflect upon what I had experienced. Early on, the Scottish Rite was known as Hauts Grades. I eagerly went to the web pageand signed up on the wait list. Hurry up and wait, the useful lesson to temper impulsivity and mobilize contemplation. When my admission email arrived, I paused, then logged in and got started. The program is the Northern Jurisdictions answer to further light self-study.

A video introduction gives a brief and clever overview of the Rite, packed with historical high and low points. Hauts Grades labor consists of three sections: Level I explores the rituals of the twenty-nine degrees by reading through each degree and taking an on-line quiz about the contents. In level II one is asked to choose nine of the twenty-nine degrees, review them in even greater depth, and write a personal reflective piece about those selected. There are specific requirements that frame the task including how lessons and core values might be implemented in lodge and life. Level III is a research paper of the candidate’s choosing which has been approved by the HGA committee; the areas of research represent the history, ritual, or philosophy of the Scottish Rite. Being a lengthy endeavor, a year is granted to complete the task. Here the master mason can make a Scottish Rite journey and study very personal, seeking to explore and bring into the light an aspect of our world of particular interest to him, potentially expanding the body of literature as well.

I have just completed level II and both sad and excited its over; though I realized a few papers back, I can do the same with any and every degree I choose as much as I want. Now knowing the format, I can continue the reflection without the oversight for my own edification. It has been fulfilling and curious to note the difference in writing about degrees I’d never witnessed, ones I have experienced once, and the ones I’ve witnessed two or three times. It mattered and changed things in the visceral response and personal nature of the reflection papers. I also chose to write about the degrees that move me the most, first.
In the middle of the experience it is a meaningful, moving, self-paced study and practice. I’m asked to consider and reflect on how I will implement the lessons of the degrees in my day to day life in and out of lodge. Regardless of education level, HGA participants have a chance to delve into their masonic and Scottish Rite experience and practice reflection and research with the goals of expanding education and understanding, and promoting service. I was talking with my Brother the other day lamenting the fact that I hadn’t gone through the line in lodge beforedoing the work in HGA; he admonished me stating he hoped more of us would take longer and do more internal and expository writing prior to stepping into line thereby improving the depth and breadth of knowledge each new officer brings to the line. HGA provides an additional route through masonry for those who find this modality inviting and inspiring; hone your living tradition as well as your writing and communication tools. I’m grateful to my NMJ leadership of the Hauts Grades as we pay no fee for the privilege of doing this directed work. All nine papers are reviewed sequentially before the next may begin. Important to note, this venture means a lot of work for a few already active in the craft. Thank you. In the interested of more labor and light, I thought I would share it with you here. Though HGA is part of the NMJ, it is available to SMJ master masons who choose plural membership with a valley in the NMJ. New to masonry or a well-traveled leader, I strongly encourage further study through the Hauts Grades Academy. ~EAM

Brother Erik Marks is a clinical social worker whose usual vocation has been in the field of human services in a wide range of settings since 1990. He was raised in 2017 by his biologically younger Brother and then Worshipful Master in Alpha Lodge in Framingham, MA. You may contact brother Marks by email: erik@StrongGrip.org

Aztlan Lodge No. 1 in Prescott, Arizona

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Travis Simpkins


On a recent trip to the Southwest, I accepted an invitation from Wor. Ken Davis to visit Aztlan Lodge No. 1 in Prescott, the oldest Masonic Lodge in Arizona. Located in a commercial area on Willow Creek Road, the plain exterior of the modern building veils the fascinating history contained therein. Wor. Ken and the Lodge's current Worshipful Master, Wor. Ted Gambogi, graciously provided a tour of the building and relayed much of the Lodge's long history.

Aztlan Lodge No. 1, chartered in 1866, actually pre-dates the Grand Lodge of Arizona by 16 years. The Lodge applied for dispensation from the Grand Lodge of California in 1865. The petition required a recommendation from the nearest Lodge to Prescott, which happened to be about 400 miles away in Santa Fe. The weathered document (which is on display in the current Lodge) was relayed on a rugged journey by horseback and returned a year later. Once formed, the first official meetings of Aztlan Lodge No. 1 were held in the log cabin of the Territorial Governor.

The early Brethren had to contend with all the dangers and hardships of the frontier and their first Masonic burial was for a Brother killed during an attack by Indians. Aztlan Lodge's Master in 1872, Morris Goldwater (uncle to future U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater), who went on to become Grand Master of Masons in Arizona, later let the Lodge meet on the upper floor of his business in downtown Prescott until funds were raised to construct a dedicated Masonic building. The first Masonic Temple in Prescott, a grand edifice which stills stands today on Cortez Street, was constructed in 1907.

The four-story building was utilized for over 70 years, but with no elevator an aging membership eventually found the steep flights of stairs to be too arduous. The Lodge sold the Cortez Street building in 1979 and purchased a then-undeveloped large tract of land where the current Temple now stands. Surrounding lots were sold to various businesses to further finance the construction and provide for future upkeep. As a centerpiece within the new building, and a very noble historical tribute, an exact recreation of the 1907 Lodge room was constructed on the second floor.

The Masons in Prescott are doing great work. In addition to Aztlan Lodge No.1, the building is also home to Golden Rule Chapter No. 1 (the oldest Eastern Star Chapter in Arizona), three York Rite bodies, a Scottish Rite study group and a newly formed DeMolay Chapter.

Special thanks to Wor. Ken Davis and Wor. Ted Gambogi for their kindness and hospitality.

More info about Aztlan Lodge No. 1 is available on their website www.aztlanlodge.org
~TS

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 and the Supreme Council, 33°, SJ in Washington, DC. 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 and the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia.

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.

What Does YOUR Behavior Say About Freemasonry?

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

I posted this on my personal blog some time back and it got a big reaction.  I don't know that we think about this a lot.  We should.  I've talked about it before. 

When I became a Mason back in 2005, I was joining a group of men.  Not only was a joining a group of men, but I became a representative of that group.  I joined that group with a desire to improve myself.  I embraced those principles, ideals, and morals that the group believed was important to develop in ourselves in order to become men of good character.  There was nothing in any of those basic building blocks of character that conflicted with my religious or personal beliefs.  And over the last fourteen years I've met some of the finest men I've ever known, and learned a great deal about Freemasonry, about life, and about the characteristic of being a man of principle.  We aspire to live by a higher standard than those in the profane world outside.

I used to say that Freemasonry's best advertising was its members.  In the social media age, I'm not sure that's true.  I'm frequently embarrassed by the way I see Masons behave on social media. I see Masons posting memes they know will start a huge debate, and then take part in online fights that are disrespectful and crude.  There's one social media page that seems to pride itself on the lack of respect that they show each other.  It's also a public forum.  That behavior certainly doesn't represent my values nor most of the Masons I know, and it certainly doesn't demonstrate the standards of our fraternity either. 

I wonder what non-Masons think about our Fraternity when they see our members behaving this way?  I wonder what perspective Masons looking for information think when they stumble on these forums?  I'll tell you honestly, if I'd seen some of that back in 2004 when I became interested in Freemasonry, I'm not sure I would have joined.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have. That conduct of our members (our representatives) is not what I thought Freemasonry was about back then, and it's definitely not what I know Freemasonry is supposed to be about today. 

I'm a true believer in what this Fraternity can do for men, what it can do for communities, and the positive influence these values we instill in our members can have on the world.  I've studied it.  I've applied it.  I've written about it.  I've spoken about it.  I've lived it for the last 14 years.  I must admit, however, I sometimes question the direction we're headed.  This public foolishness is beneath us.  We can't even talk about something as mundane as how we should dress for official functions without getting into ugly public fights with one another.

We've become so inwardly focused on ourselves as individuals and our own needs in this era that we forget we're part of a group--each representing each other and all of us representing a higher standard that we aspire towards.  We've forgotten that we're not Freemasons to change Freemasonry into an image of ourselves, we became Freemasonry to be changed by the traditional teachings and values of our Fraternity.  To become part of a long and proud tradition.  To become better men--to rise above the crude and profane world around us and serve as examples to others.   

Let's remember who we are when we interact with the world . . . and try to remember that when we represent ourselves as Freemasons to the world, each of us represents ALL of us.

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog, and an award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. Todd started the Midnight Freemason blog in 2006, and in 2012 he opened it up as a contributor blog The Midnight Freemasons (plural). Todd has written more than 1,000 pieces for the blog since it began. 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 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. You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

The Non-Masonic Road Trip

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Erik Marks


We set out early on a Saturday morning for a two-week road trip to show our sons a large swath of the northern half of the United States. Corinna had taken them a southerly route in 2014 and I had met them in Phoenix, AZ for the second 10 days of the trip. So for this family trip, I took a nod from Brother Creason’s post, I recently purchased a baseball cap emblazoned with “the symbol” on the front and secretly hoped to attract the attention of many a traveling Mason on my journey, to hear tales of American Masonry across the states: no luck.

16 states (one of those was actually a province (Niagara Falls, ON, Canada), 15 days, 14 campgrounds, 5 lodges (from the outside at town-appropriate drivingd speed), 4 National Parks including Theodore Roosevelt NP (with no mention of his Masonic status—I’m writing to complain), 3 state parks, several thousand tourists, and I met 0 Masons. I spoke with many people between long drives and at the parks, and received scores of double-takes at my cap…no questions about the cap, though.

On a side note about branding and caps: As much as I was hoping to have my hat noticed by a brother, I was in turn searching every sea of tourists and their vehicles for Masonic swag and saw none. I did get glimpses of hundreds of caps and realized that my little gold symbol, powerful as it is to me, was often lost in a flood of somewhat esoteric looking product endorsements and well known sports, college, or product emblems. True, it is also my product endorsement, though not one used to garner financial profits. I suppose our symbol does generate a profit for the company who embroidered the gold thread on the black hat I liked so much. As we know, symbols are powerful, though in those seas, how would anyone distinguish it from any other product if they had not known of its existence or meaning previously?

We want our sons to experience parts of our country and world they have never seen as well as be in the presence of others with whom they might otherwise never come into contact. Corinna and I made a similar drive our first summer together, though this time in addition to Badlands and Yellowstone, we included Glacier and TRNP. At intervals, listened to the first section of The omnivores dilemma driving through corn and cattle country, laboring to understand a particular view of agriculture, business, and disenfranchisement felt by many whose farms and family legacies were shaped by grain and government policy—the undoing of a Masonic president’s efforts to balance and stabilize the economy for the good of all. I’m grateful to have visited TRNP and hear several lectures about his life, albeit devoid of the spiritual and philosophic roots in his heart that lead him to the gentle craft and the reciprocal influence the fraternity had on his public actions.

Despite the lack of overt Masonic brethren, the trip was wholly spiritual for me. I've always felt connected with nature, which I think is easy to accomplish when visiting such impressive natural wonders. But there was more. In meeting and speaking with people, mostly men, I was surprised their willingness to engage easily and without guardedness, the same I feel from brethren wherever I have had the good fortune I’ve had to meet them. Attribute this ease to road culture, vacation vibe, being away from New England? I'm not sure. However, three conversations stood out:

Charlie, a retired history teacher, now volunteers to greet visitors at a highway rest area in a central state. He vibrantly expressed the way he understands the lack of emphasis on history in education and the lessons imparted as the root of many social ills as well as its study as grist for solutions. As I continue my way through Whence Came You, by M. Deutsch (Recommended by Grand Librarian and author Right Worshipful Hunt), I look for encouragement, light, and lessons about what to, and not to, repeat in my Masonic career.

Bud, a stocky white haired native of Tennessee we spoke with in Glacier NP, was deeply pleased holding a can of bear repellent, wishing he had it with him a few years back while visiting Nashville for a family emergency: "I've been packing heat for 40 years, thank God I never had to use it." He recounted a food court confrontation between two other men in which he, “had to stand up. Put my hand on my piece and shake my head at the guy who was reaching for a weapon inside his jacket...he just pulled his hand out and sat down...I'd rather have had this." holds up the bear spray. We returned from the day of exploring to discover our tent had been vandalized, possibly by the same Grizzly youngster who had been interrupted the day before by our camp host (see next paragraph) when it was engaged in the same curiosity behavior with another person's tent. No bear spray needed!

Abraham, a recent graduate of a tribal college, discharged several rounds heard through the campground on our first evening in camp in an attempt to scare the young Grizzly bear away from tents and people. Generally avoiding humans, the bear only got itself involved with tents while their occupants were away. Abraham said in a conversation he had never needed to use that strategy before and believed his actions useful for two and four legged creatures to remain harmonious neighbors—at a distance. I found him earnest, forthright, and tactfully generous in our conversation. We leaned the following day parts of Glacier NP were closed off to visitors due to unusual grizzly activity in those areas.

Though none of these men were Masons, they could be. Each saw my cap, none asked about what it meant or about Masonry. In each case, I wondered about appropriate ways to entice them to find us. All of them reside in states far from my own, so asking them to join me for dinner would be absurd. I'm staying in touch with one, where our conversation went on longer and there seemed a natural reason for us to exchange contact information. Though Massachusetts allows Masons to ask men if they want to join, I don't like the idea of asking directly. I will never get someone to join. I firmly believe in the process of a man needing to make the first inquiry of his own free will and accord; and continue to proceed with assistance and mentoring though expressly without pressure. If through getting to know me and/or seeing the ways Masons contribute to societal improvement a man feels the stir in his heart to be and give more, he will make it happen. I hope our brief meetings sparked some curiosity that might cause them to seek and be more in our particular way, even if our roads never intersect again.

~EAM

Brother Erik Marks is a clinical social worker whose usual vocation has been in the field of human services in a wide range of settings since 1990. He was raised in 2017 by his biologically younger Brother and then Worshipful Master in Alpha Lodge in Framingham, MA. You may contact brother Marks by email: erik@StrongGrip.org

Star Trek and Freemasonry

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners



August 19, was what would have been the 98th birthday of Star Trek’s creator, Gene Roddenberry. As luck would have it, I injured my back somehow last Wednesday which put me in bed for the better part of that evening and most of Thursday. There was a Star Trek Marathon on BBC America which I can only guess was being done due to his upcoming birthday. It consisted of TOS (The Original Series), The Next Generation, as well as some Voyager thrown in. I know that these are available on Netflix, but for some reason I was compelled to watch some of the broadcast marathon. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has watched any of the Star Trek shows or movies and not seen any similarities to Freemasonry present. For the purposes of this article, I am only going to use Star Trek (The Original Series) as my example.

There’s a popular conspiracy theory that Roddenberry was a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Freemason, although there is absolutely no evidence to support this. Roddenberry considered himself a humanist. Wikipedia defines Humanism as such: Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism and empiricism) over acceptance of dogma or superstition. This isn’t to say that he was an atheist, his friend Charles Muses is quoted as saying that before his death, Roddenberry stated: 
It’s not true that I don’t believe in God. I believe in a kind of God. It’s just not other people’s God. I reject religion. I accept the notion of God.” 
Roddenberry is quoted as saying: 
“Understand that Star Trek is more than just my political philosophy, my racial philosophy, my overview on life and the human condition.”
This being said, it’s easy to see why there’s a belief that Roddenberry might have been a Freemason. The Star Trek universe parallels many of our teachings in different ways. First and foremost, the United Federation of Planets espouses liberty, equality, justice, peace and universal cooperation. It is described in the TOS episode “Whom Gods Destroy” as being an enlightened group of humanitarians and statesmen that had a dream, which became a reality and spread throughout the stars. I think we can look at the history of our own fraternity and say something very similar. While not spread throughout the stars, Freemasonry has spread to all seven continents and the moon. (Antarctica’s first lodge Antarctic Lodge No. 777 was established on Feb. 5, 1935 by members of Admiral Byrd’s Antarctic expedition of 1933-1935. The lodge on the moon (Tranquility Lodge 2000) was created by Buzz Aldrin with special dispensation given to him by the Grandmaster of Texas. If you want to know more: http://tl2k.org/history/)

Freemasonry and Star Trek reflect the cardinal virtues. The virtues of Justice, Prudence, Temperance and Fortitude are represented by the three principal officers on TOS, Kirk, Spock and Dr. McCoy, but also by the three principal officers of the lodge. Kirk being Captain of the USS Enterprise would represent two of the virtues, namely Justice and Fortitude. Spock, being Vulcan and relying on Logic more than emotion, would represent Prudence. McCoy, whose emotion balances Spock’s logic, would represent Temperance. Parallel to this in the Lodge, The Worshipful Master would represent Justice and Fortitude, The Senior Warden Prudence, and the Junior Warden, Temperance.

Even the Starship USS Enterprise evokes some Masonic symbols. The twin Nacelles could be representing Jachin and Boaz. While the Saucer section when viewed from above could mimic the Circumpunct (point within the circle) with the bridge serving as the point within the circle. If the Nacelles were extended, they would most definitely serve as the two parallel lines often depicted with the Circumpunct. Another interesting side note relating the USS Enterprise to Freemasonry is that it is a Constitution Class starship. Roddenberry originally wanted to name The USS Enterprise the Constitution. The only Masonic lodge to be instituted on an active ship of war was Major General Henry Knox Lodge. The lodge was instituted on March 17,1926 on the gundeck of the USS Constitution.

The idea of a brotherhood is also prevalent throughout Star Trek. The most striking example from the Original Series is portrayed in the episode, “The Menagerie”. In this episode, Spock hijacks the Enterprise to transport his severely disabled former Captain, Captain Pike, to the planet of Talos IV where he would be able to live out the illusion of a normal life. Is this not something that we as Freemasons might do? We promise to aid all poor, worthy distressed Brothers.

Spock being a Vulcan (half human – half Vulcan), has some interesting connections to Freemasonry as well. Vulcan as we know is the Roman God of fire and metal working. Albert Mackey wrote in A Lexicon of Freemasonry in 1860 about T C, stating: 
“He was the inventor of edge-tools, and introduced many arts into society which tended towards its improvement and civilization. T C is the Vulcan. In after times TC figured as workers in metals and inventors of the mysteries… For these reasons TC has been consecrated among Masons of the present day as an ancient brother.”
Furthermore, to quote an article written by Bro. Robert Johnson regarding the passing of Leonard Nimoy on this very blog, there is a parallel between the Vulcan culture and Freemasonry. (http://www.midnightfreemasons.org/2015/03/freemason-is-to-earth-as-vulcan-is-to.html): 
“There is a direct parallel to Masonry here, at least to me anyway. It would seem like the Vulcan culture manifested in the universe of Star Trek mirrors the logical thought processes we as Masons are taught to use in our everyday lives. To suppress vice, to break away from the superfluities and obey the dictates of logic. And to self-sacrifice for the good of humanity.”
I’m sure there are other similarities between Freemasonry and Star Trek that I am missing given the expansive Trek universe. However, I hope I have proved that the themes of the show parallel ideas and concepts that we have in Freemasonry. The ideas of liberty, equality, justice, peace and universal cooperation between mankind which are taught throughout our degrees are the same principles which guide the United Federation of Planets. Perhaps one day these principles will guide us if we contact an extraterrestrial civilization. Perhaps one day we will see Freemasonry spread amongst the stars. As long as there are men that are willing to carry forth these ideas, I think that’s a real possibility.

~DAL

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

Fruit of the Spirit

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Brian L. Pettice, 33°


"...so far interwoven with religion...”

Lately I’ve been contemplating the symbolism of the nine pointed star. In Masonry it is usually created by three perfect triangles interposed over each other. It is a part of the jewel of the Thirty-Third degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite as well as the jewel of the Royal Order of Scotland and is portrayed in many other places in Freemasonry. It is a major emblem of the Bahá’í faith. It symbolizes many things, completeness, unity, balance, perfection, the Trinity of Trinities, Deity, and companionship with Deity.

One of the things the nine pointed star is symbolic of for Christians, is the Fruit of the Spirit as written by Paul in his letter to the Galatians when he said,
 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Previously in his letter he had chastised the Galatians for wanting to return to being subjects of the law rather than accepting that Christ’s Grace had freed them from that law. He also said that,
 “God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[c] Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”
Now I know some will say that this pretty overtly religious for a Masonic subject. I agree. It is religious, but it is not dogmatic nor proselytic. I believe Paul’s letters and thus the nine pointed star alludes to a couple of universal truths hinted at in the ritual of our fraternity. One, that there is a “Supreme Intelligence that pervades an animates all nature and that can never, no never, die.” And two, that there ought to be a goal to the work we do in learning to subdue our passions and improve ourselves in Masonry-- the work we do on our own rough ashlars. For me the Supreme Intelligence pervading each of us certainly sounds like the Holy Spirit that I believe resides in me. And the Fruit of the Spirit are certainly gifts we all hope our Masonic work bears. If we as Freemasons can exhibit love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in our interactions with others; imagine how much better the world would be.

I recognize that, as the Galatians in Paul’s letter, I’ll never be justified through the law. The immortality of my soul is a gift of the Grace of God. For me obtaining the Fruit of the Spirit will be a constant struggle as I battle to surrender my will to the Spirit in residing in me. But it is a worthy goal--the worthy goal.

As I have contemplated the meaning of Masonry over the years, I began to make this part of my daily prayer to God and the Spirit, “More of you and less of me.” If I can surrender and allow the Spirit to lead me, then might I might I bear those fruit. This is religious. But might it also be the goal of Masonry, the object of our esoteric search? Might manifesting the gold of these spiritual gifts, no matter our religion, be the only alchemy that matters?

~BLP

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 aasrmason@gmail.com

Sovereign Grand Commander Portraits of the Scottish Rite, NMJ

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Travis Simpkins


The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library building in Lexington, Massachusetts also serves as headquarters of the Supreme Council, 33°, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. Beyond the Museum's gallery spaces, which exhibit treasured artifacts of American History, the long hallway of the Supreme Council's administrative wing also contains a very interesting display of art. All along the length of the hall are a chronological series of gold-framed portraits depicting every Sovereign Grand Commander to have served the NMJ throughout it's more than 200 year history, beginning with Daniel D. Tompkins in 1813 and ending with the SGC at the present time. Each portrait is shifted back one spot when the painted likeness of a new leader is made.

After the current Sovereign Grand Commander, David A. Glattly, 33° was installed in the office in 2017, I was given the great honor of adding to this historical tradition when he asked me to paint his official oil portrait. The process of creating the portrait was all the more meaningful for me, as Commander Glattly has been a kind and helpful friend on my Masonic journey from the beginning.

As a portraitist, the most fulfilling aspect is in knowing that the work is appreciated by the recipient. When the painting was unveiled for Supreme Council staff, the look of warmth and happiness on Commander Glattly's face was an indication that I had done the task well. Of all the hundreds of portraits I've created over the years, I count this one among those of which I am most proud.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. However, it is best to plan ahead and arrange a guided tour.

For more information, visit the website www.srmml.org

-TS

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 and the Supreme Council, 33°, SJ in Washington, DC. 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 and the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia.

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.

When It All Goes Symbolic

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson


As we move through the degrees in Freemasonry, there's a lot to unpack. The language is old, antiquated and generally hard to understand.

We tend to take everything we hear and read, and apply a passive attitude toward what's mentioned within. Did you study the seven liberal arts and sciences? Do you reflect on your behaviors and apply the working tools?

Passively sure. But being conscious of the lessons, is not enough. Knowing something exists does not mean you've done the work. One needs to actually apply the teachings in order to truly be "Masonic".

Much like the Penalties of the craft, I cannot write, suffice to say that these have been relegated to symbolic status only. I'm not making a case to make them real, just using the common example. In more than one jurisdiction additional verbiage has been added to make sure the initiate knows he doesn't actually have to worry about anything at all.

But what of the rest? To divest yourselves of the vices? Have you done this? Did you quit biting your nails? Quit smoking? Or, did you just keep on doing it, and say, "Man, that was cool."?

Did you apply yourself to the study of the craft with freedom fervency and zeal? Or are the teachings of Freemasonry and everything contained in regards to actionable items, just a symbolic ask?

Candidate: "So do where do I go to study the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences?"

Lodge Officer: "Oh, you misunderstand. You don't really have to do those things."

Is the point to make you aware only? Or to actually do the things the Craft asks us to do? We cannot be workmen if we're about nothing more than a handshake and honor. How are you flawed? How can masonry help? Using the working tools of Freemasonry, we can identify these things within ourselves and with the lessons contained within ritual, we can conquer them.

Let's get down to business and do some Freemasonry--make some good men...better.

"It is absurd to thing that a vast organization like Masonry was ordained merely to teach to grown-up men the world the symbolical meaning of a few simple builders' tools." ~W.L. Wilmshurst

~RHJ

RWB, Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of 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 Theatrewhich 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 Challenge Of Building The Next Generation Of Masons

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

I’ve written a lot about famous Freemasons over the years. Our Fraternity has boasted a tremendous number of truly remarkable individuals over its long history. I’ve studied many of our Fraternity’s most notable men. Freemasonry can’t take full credit for the attributes of many of these remarkable men. Many of them were remarkable long before they knocked at the door of a Masonic Lodge, but the Masonic Lodge certainly focused many of these men, and gave them the skills they lacked to achieve the goals they set for themselves. Many men both famous and not-so-famous have learned valuable skills in leadership, character development, and morals and ethics. Freemasonry has served as a springboard for many to find our purpose and our true calling in life. That’s certainly been true for me.

Freemasonry has been a college of learning for me. Throughout my adult life, the Bible has always been my “text book” but Freemasonry has served me well as the “learning lab.” I’ve learned how to run a meeting. I’ve learned how to apply minimal resources for maximum impact. I’ve learned to network. I’ve gained leadership skills. I’ve gained speaking skills. Most importantly I’ve been able to take the sharp edges off aspects of my character and personality through the teachings of Freemasonry and by my association with men that possessed those skills I lacked. I’m not the same person that I was at all, and I don’t think I’m finished learning either. Masonry took me down a path I never thought I’d be on, and changed me in ways I never thought possible. Over the last year or two, that path has lead me to another fork in the road—another of life’s adventures I’m about to embark on and that I never would have found if not for the benefits I’ve gained through my Fraternity. Masonry has taught me what is possible. What is possible as individuals. What’s possible as a small group. What’s possible as a community.

And I feel like I’m just getting started. Like Masons learn, we are a project that’s never finished—an ashlar that is never truly perfected on Earth but we none-the-less continue to chip away at until our final day comes. I get it! I was taught well, I took well to the lessons offered, and I’ve applied them to my life. That’s what it’s all about.

And I know many of my Brothers have had this same experience because we’ve talked about it at length. And we all seem to have the same concern about the future as well. That the men we’re raising in our Lodge’s today aren’t getting that same quality of mentorship that we had when we joined. We’ve gotten away from teaching Freemasonry and applying Freemasonry. We’ve gotten away from building our new members into tomorrow’s leaders. And over the last decade, those men we’ve raised and failed to teach have risen in the ranks without the benefit of really understanding what the Fraternity is truly about.

I was talking to a Mason a few months ago, and he made an interesting remark. He said that Freemasonry is built on a set of moral and ethical principles, much like a church is built upon the Bible. Then he asked what would happen if you took the Bible out of the church. And we had a long and illuminating talk about what the results of that would be.

Well, you’d get together every week for a service. You’d probably run the service the same way you always have even though you’ve forgotten why you’re doing it that way. If you’re in a hurry you might skip parts of the service. You’d sing a little. You’d listen to announcements. Talk about people who are sick or are in need and take up a collection. You’d have lunch afterwards. Your membership would begin to drop because the congregation would realize they’re not getting much out of the service other than listening to announcements, and putting money in the plate every week. Some of the older members would find other places to go, because they remember what church used to be about. Next thing you know money is an issue and the pews are growing more sparse by the week. The church board would get very concerned. Some might suggest getting back to teaching that Bible again since that was what the church was original built upon, but the majority would say that the new members who have joined since they got away from teaching from the Bible don’t have any interest in learning those old scriptures—they joined for fellowship, and fund raising. So what would they do to attract new members? Maybe they’d plan a golf outing, or a movie night. And money? We’ve got that nice fellowship hall and kitchen. Maybe we ought to have a pancake breakfast . . . or a fish fry.

Sound familiar? That’s just an example—Freemasonry isn’t a church, but it would be the same story with any organization built with a core purpose. What if the Cancer Foundation was no longer funded cancer research. Or the Humane Society got away from running animal shelters.

Freemasonry is an organization built upon a purpose . . . a mission. But in too many places, we’ve gotten away from that purpose, which is to build strong men. Men of character. Men with strong moral and ethical values. When you take the core purpose out of an organization, all you’re left with is an empty meeting room full of empty chairs.

We must get back to what we’re truly about.

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog, and an award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. Todd started the Midnight Freemason blog in 2006, and in 2012 he opened it up as a contributor blog The Midnight Freemasons (plural). Todd has written more than 1,000 pieces for the blog since it began. 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 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. You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Freemasonry in Living Color

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



Back in 2009, as social media was bursting its way onto the scene I met with the Missouri Lodge of Research to map out a plan and establish an official blessing for maintaining a Twitter and Facebook presence for the LOR.

With that, we started co-posting Masonic tidbits on each site. Most were historical in nature, something like, "Charles A. Lindbergh, pioneer aviator, first to fly the Atlantic, Keystone Lodge 243, St. Louis, was born this date in 1902." Others simply addressed the tenets and symbolism of the Craft such as, "The anchor and the ark are emblems of a well-grounded hope and a well-spent life." At the time Twitter had a 140 character limit which precluded much in the way of depth on any given post.

We never really promoted the site but followers trickled in. I have posted daily since the project started.

Late last year, I began adding a picture to every post. It's a well-known fact that posts with pictures garner more interest than those which are exclusively text. It increased my workload and the time I have to spend with the project, but I figured it would be worth it if the Lodge of Research got more exposure. And it worked. Almost immediately the Facebook site got many more likes and engagements. The new follower graph got much denser as we've been adding several new followers daily instead of the previous one or two a week. Twitter activity and likes increased as well.

Not long after I started posting the pictures I began doing something else – I've been doing everything I can to find or create a colorpicture to go with the post. While I really can't quantify its effect, there has definitely been an up-tick in interactions. Color brings things to life. It can make things fresh, new and exciting.

A lot of the things I post, especially about people, had been black and white, drab, old, lifeless. I don't think it's a stretch to think that such pictures could imply Freemasonry itself is drab, old, lifeless, a thing of the past. That's not a message I want to send.

Freemasonry has a rich history, but if we want to attract a new generation of members and energize current members we need to show them we are alive and well and relevant for today. My colorized posts aren't going to do that by themselves; they are merely symbolic for what we need to do.

I saw an incredible statistic this week. Twenty-two percent of millennials say they have no friends (https://tinyurl.com/FriendSurvey99). I know where they can get them. What we have to do, without changing our principles, is show them how the tenets of Freemasonry are relevant to them. Easier said than done, but we're not going to do that by staying on the path we've been on for years. And we're not going to do it by continuing to hide our light under a bushel. We simply have got to do more, much more, to promote the Craft. Let me repeat that: we have to do much more to promote Freemasonry in an exciting, relevant way – in living color, so to speak.

Unfortunately I'm not really optimistic we'll do that because… say it with me… we've never done things that way before.

~SLH

Bro. Steve Harrison, 33° , is Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is also a Fellow and Past Master of the Missouri Lodge of Research. Among his other Masonic memberships are the St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite bodies, and Moila Shrine. He is also a member and Past Dean of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. Brother Harrison is a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasons blog 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.

The Curious Case of Bro. Edgar Mitchell

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson


In my travels, I meet some amazing Brothers. Men with insane, almost unbelievable stories...except they are real. Recently this was the case when I spent the weekend with a Brother who was great friends with Brother Edgar Mitchel. For those who do not know, Bro. Mitchell was an Apollo Astronaut. His Wiki summary is worth posting below:
Edgar Dean "Ed" Mitchell (September 17, 1930 – February 4, 2016) was a United States Navy officer and aviator, test pilot, aeronautical engineer, ufologist and NASA astronaut. As the Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 14, he spent nine hours working on the lunar surface in the Fra Mauro Highlands region, making him the sixth person to walk on the Moon. The legacy of his post-NASA scientific work is carried on through the Institute of Noetic Sciences.
It's always a curious thing for me when I see someone of such stature, someone who is an authority, take an active interest in things most people think are a little "out there". What defines, "out there"? Well, for most it's things like, ghosts, UFOs, Metaphysics, and more. A curious position for sure when we consider what is "normal" in religious beliefs the world over...I digress.

I suppose, I am an "out there" kind of person. When I was conversing with my friend over the weekend he regaled me of the tales and stories that Edgar Mitchell had confided in him--that Mitchell had had an out of body experience while riding back to Earth and his visions of the Sacred Samahdi.

It sent my mind reeling with questions, questions I did have answered, but will remain with me due to the sensitive nature of them. What I wanted to drive home with this post was the curious nature of those men who are on top of the world, both literally and figuratively and who believe in things in a different way.

James Irwin was another Apollo Astronaut who had a curious fascination. He was aboard Apollo 15, and his life's work after returning home was to prove and find the literal Noah's Ark. He climbed Mount Ararat several times, and almost died. You can read an article on this HERE.

There are many cases of Astronauts believing in and taking positions which make many do a double take. 

Edgar Mitchell was a bit more scientific in his endeavors. You may have noticed at the end of the Wiki summary, Brother Edgar formed the Institute of Noetic Sciences. If that sounds familiar, you've likely read the book, The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. 

The word "Noetic" refers to the, "...theory in philosophy, as branch of metaphysical philosophy concerned with the study of mind as well as intellect. There is also a reference to the science of noetics, which covers the field of thinking and knowing, thought and knowledge, as well as mental operations, processes, states, and products through the data of the written word."

I don't know about you, but this sounds an awful lot like the Masonic practices...divesting our hearts and minds...Doing actual internal work on our characters and egos etc. Pretty curious indeed...

The actual Institutes description, which deals with a little more than just the basic description of what "Noetics" is, is as follows:

The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) is an American non-profit parapsychological[1] research institute. It was co-founded in 1973 by former astronaut Edgar Mitchell, along with investor Paul N. Temple, and others interested in purported paranormal phenomena,[1] in order to encourage and conduct research on noetic theory and human potentials. 
The Institute conducts research on topics such as spontaneous remission, meditation, consciousness, alternative healing practices, consciousness-based healthcare, spirituality, human potential, psychic abilities, psychokinesis and survival of consciousness after bodily death. The Institute maintains a free database, available on the Internet, with citations to more than 6,500 articles about whether physical and mental health benefits might be connected to meditation and yoga. 
Headquartered outside Petaluma, California, the IONS is situated on a 200-acre (81 ha) campus that includes offices, a research laboratory and a retreat center (originally the campus of World College West). Its current director is Cassandra Vieten. Other researchers associated with it include Dean Radin and Rupert Sheldrake.
I find these things fascinating because I believe in the inseparable union of Science and Religion or Spirituality. I find them to be interdependent on each other. It's the main area of my personal studies. To know that men like Bro. Mitchel had invested the time and money into studying these things sure is a bit reassuring, not that I need it, but it's a small comfort.

Bro, Mitchell died in 2016 and you can read a bit more about him in THIS LINK which is a piece Illustrious Bro. Hodapp penned when that occurred.

~RHJ

RWB, Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of 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 Theatrewhich 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 Complete Transmission

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Erik A. Marks


In studying as an apprentice in any field, the teacher, or master, knows to give the student only the tasks for which they are ready. Further, to only give the hard-learned lessons to someone who has worked diligently, consistently, over time, showing both dedication and integrity. Over time, the apprentice will prove worthiness and will gain a complete transmission of all the teacher/masters secrets of the trade. If all goes well, the new adept will carry on the tradition and train subsequent apprentices in like fashion; perhaps adding lessons and updated knowledge for changing codes, new building techniques, etc.; keeping it a living tradition.

What areas of Freemasonry would be needed to be transmitted to a budding apprentice, like me, to give a complete transmission of the craft? We might disagree on the titles or groupings, though my guess would be we would end up covering much of the same territory, over time. To some extent, Brethren may get overly focused on one of these, seeing it as the only aspect of Freemasonry that matters. Though they may be content in this rarefied approach, they will not be getting a full transmission, nor will they propagate one to initiated or the general public.

I intentionally tried to narrow the complete transmission categories to seven:

History and thorough historical perspective: understanding the origins, innovations, adaptations, splitting and merging, and enacting a historically relevant presentation of the craft.

Fraternal engagement: meals, Scottish Rite family events, Royal Arch and Shrine functions, impromptu dinner conversations with brethren, etc. 

Charitable conduct or acts.

Freemasonic operation: The exoteric administrative. Ritual, protocol, jurisprudence; moving through line chairs/roles, running a lodge, grand lodge, investigation committees, delegation.

Universality and tolerance: Learning to live harmoniously in and out of lodge.

Symbolic meanings: Esoteric depth and spiritual breadth:

And what I will call Transformative experience: Through being in close contact with other men, becoming co-laborers and friends, we necessarily have experiences that meddle with our preconceived notions about life and being together in the world. By first in Lodge and then a masonic career, we agree to work together to keep things harmonious. This social contract aids in our development by helping everyone work to stay calm when things get heated. Sure, we don’t achieve this all the time, but our goal is to remain harmonious and charitable, even when vehemently disagreeing. I see this as one of masonry’s greatest gifts to its participants, and by extension, the world. When brethren engage fully in the tasks and take in the esoteric and exoteric lessons, we are transformed and made better as we work to implement seemingly opposite strategies: for instance, encouraging a sitting master and officers to implement more education (when that was never their plan) in the lodge without a coup d'état. How? Turn to the trivium and make the most solid and effective argument you can. Coalition build with brethren and bring it into lodge yourself, during meal or petition the master for you to speak during a lodge meeting.

What constitutes a complete transmission of Freemasonry to you? What do you think is the most important aspect of Masonry? A handful of brothers have written with questions or opinions and its been wonderful getting to know them. Please consider dropping me a note with your thoughts.

~EAM

Brother Erik Marks is a clinical social worker whose usual vocation has been in the field of human services in a wide range of settings since 1990. He was raised in 2017 by his biologically younger Brother and then Worshipful Master in Alpha Lodge in Framingham, MA. You may contact brother Marks by email: erik@StrongGrip.org

Regular Masonic Meetings Can't Compete

A Camp Masonry 2019 Recap 
by Midnight Freemason Contributor 
Robert H. Johnson

The Fort at night before the ritual.

What can I say about this years camp Masonry event? I can't believe it's been a year since I was last here at Camp Miakonda, one of the largest Boy Scout's camp in the United States.

This year was noticeably different from last year. How? Well, the Grand Lodge of Ohio was in greater number. Last year there was a conferral of a Mark Master degree and a Master Mason degree at the unique retreat. This year, there was a Grand Master's Class. There were approximately 42 new Master Masons made.

A- brief overview of the trip:

Arrival was wonderful, flying in to Toledo, OH. A very small airport that's probably a best kept secret. Initially I was going to fly in with Bro. Joe Martinez (Esotericon) but, he was caught up with a last minute meeting for work. Brothers Mike Helmbrecht and Jason Richards (TMR) picked me up from the airport. It was a brief 20 minute drive to camp. Once there, we were greeted by several Brothers from last year. After shaking hands with everyone, we made our way to the cabin, "Tindeuchen", our home for the next two days.
Me staring at the spider on the ceiling. Jason Richards
saved my life. 
I wont lie, I needed a nap. And apparently Jason Richards did too. After killing a few resident spiders, Jason and I passed out. I think we slept for about an hour, just enough for a quick recharge--Jason and I both had presentations that evening.

Upon waking up, Jason, Mike and I, along with about 20 other Masons met with Bro. Ken Alexander. Bro Ken led us through a unique exercise in conducting Masonic Edu.--An Exploration of Mackey's Masonic Encyclopedia.

Each of the men had to grab one book of either Mackey's Encyclopedia or the Illustrated History. I grabbed the History, since all copies of the Encyclopedia had been scooped up. Each of us would open to a random page, read, digest and report to the group on what they found, or read the entry and comment on it. I found something really interesting, something I will inevitably write about in the future #Religion #Christiansonly. After this, Mike Hambrecht gave an insightful presentation on how to be a killer LEO:. It was live streamed on the TMR FB page- Watch it HERE -- After this we enjoyed a great dinner together. 

I was up after dinner. This was the first time I had ever presented a speech--no slides. It was for an intimate crowd, while many went to an alternate activity-- the Shrine Ceremonial.

My speech was an attempt to realize the state of the Craft and to get men going again, to keep them going. I hope it had that effect. It too was live streamed on FB Live. Although I believe the audio was lacking, it came out okay. After this, Jason Richards gave the crowd a way to do research. He outlined all the best techniques to get started and solidify and state your points. After the Shrine Ceremonial was over, and the Edu. for the night was complete, there was an excellent time to get completely get caught up with each other on a personal level. Midway through the 11 o'clock hour, we got the text that Joe Martinez had landed--He made it!

One of the biggest and best surprises upon arriving at Camp Masonry was seeing Bro. Bill Short. Bill travels everywhere. So when it was time to go pick up Joe, he suggested we all go get him in his van. So Bill at the Helm, Jason, Mike, Chris Matty (OH), Brad "Northern-Kentucky Yoke" Drew and myself took off to get him.

After getting Joe, we went to "second dinner" at Steak and Shake. We eventually made our way back to camp and passed out. 

The next morning, we were up by 7:30 at the latest. Showers were on, toothbrushes were busy. Most importantly though, the coffee was on. After breakfast, the presentations began. We went all day. While the 42 candidates were getting their first 2 degrees, we were all busy presenting or taking notes on someone else's presentation.

By night fall the torches were all lit up as we processed down to the fort for the second section of the 3rd degree. Later, we ordered a pizza and had it delivered to the camp ground. Our cabin hosted about 8 or 9 Brothers. These were all guys I knew from travelling around for Masonic Edu. We sat around until almost 2 in the morning talking about the degree experiences. It was fantastic. 

The title of this piece is called, "Regular Masonic Meetings Can't Compete", because in comparison to things like Camp Masonry, there's just no contest. Make your lodge meetings this special and lets see what happens. That's my quick write up.

Just know it was amazing and that it's probably coming back next year, as long as Bro. Jason Shamy put's it together. Hey, Jason Shamy, "If you build it, we will come."

Thanks for reading, everyone!

~RHJ

RWB, Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of 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 Theatrewhich 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 33 Degrees of Freemasonry

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. James A. Simpson
Edited and transcribed for the Midnight Freemasons by Bro. Michael Arce


There are 33 degrees in the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite. Is 33 a mystical number with some inherent numerical meaning?




Author's note: This is the research work of Bro. James A. Simpson and Ven. John F. McLaughlin. It was the first in a series of Masonic research papers submitted by Bro. Simpson. I have his expressed permission to share this work. "I know you will enjoy the history." Signed, Bro. Jim Simpson. The great Shakespearean actor and Mason, Edwin Booth (1833093) reportedly once said of the Masonic Ritual: "In all my research and study, in all my close analysis of the masterpieces of Shakespeare; in my earnest determination to make those plays a appear real on the mimic stage, I have never, and nowhere met the tragedy so real, so sublime, so magnificent as the Legend of Hiram. It is substance without shadow --- the manifest destiny of life which requires no picture and scarcely a word to make a lasting impression upon all who can understand.

Degree Origination


Our degrees began in France in the year 1725. The new class of scholarly men (Speculative Masons) had discovered written legends from the old Operative Masons. They were also aware of the early history of the Jews given in the Bible. It is from these histories the Hiramic Legend evolved. The early high degrees were a continuation of the Hiramic Legend. This occurred during the Age of Enlightenment when there was a growing interest in the in all mystical and occult doctrines. The mystical parts of many of the high degrees were influenced by the knowledge of Rosicrucianism and even the mystical parts of the Book of Revelation.

Important practical lessons are being taught through the observance of rituals. Participation in rituals in unifying and gives a greater sense of belonging. A mutual belief in a Supreme Power should bind all initiates together in Brotherhood. We must learn to work for work's sake without desire of praise or reward. There are philosophical ideas shown allegorically through the master architect's tools. They teach us to be faithful to our family and country. They teach universal Brotherhood; honesty in business relations; the forgiveness of past injustices; and perseverance in overcoming the difficulties encountered in our progress toward perfection. These degrees are rich in benefits

Scottish Rite Degrees and Chakras


Several years before I was raised, I purchased a book entitled "Hands of Light" by Barbara Brennan. She is a practicing healer, psychotherapist, and scientist. She was a research scientist in atmospheric physics from NASA. She was trained in bioenergetic therapy and is currently teaching courses concerning the human energy field.

There are seven endocrine glands. Each gland has a chakra, which is a cone-shaped energy field that absorbs energy from the universal energy field. As a practitioner, Ms. Brennan will locate unhealthy chakra. The result of her healing will be physical, emotional, and spiritual. Although this healing is not a religion, the charkas are a western interpretation of Hinduism. Western practices have associated chakras with various concepts.

I.E., metaphysical counterparts to the endocrine glands; chakras reside in the psyche; chakras have a physical manifestation. These various beliefs have been speculative. The book "Dark Light Consciousness" has taken the speculative out of the chakras and brought them into the operative world of science.

The following points are from Ms. Brennan's book.

•Chakra #1: The coccygeal center is related to the quantity of physical energy and will live in the physical reality.

•Chakra #2: The gonads is related to the quality of love for your mate.

•Chakra #3: The solar plexus relates to spiritual wisdom and consciousness of universality of life.

•Chakra #4: The thymus is the center through which we love ourselves, our families, pets, friends, neighbors, and our countrymen.

•Chakra #5: The thyroid is associated with taking responsibility for one's personal needs.

•Chakra #6: The pituitary is associated with the capacity to visualize and understand mental concepts.

•Chakra #7: The pineal, the "Crown Chakra." The pineal gland is related to the person's connection to his spirituality and integration of his whole being, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Spritual energy and Freemasonry


The Knights Templar were in the Holy Land beginning in the year 1118. Hughes de Payens, the Master of the Order, although a Christian, was a descendant of Muhammed. It was through this connection that the Templars allied themselves with Islam. The Templars' principal teachers of alchemy were the enlightened Sufis. The Sufis had gathered the rarest and most valuable alchemical texts of the Egyptians, Persians, and Indians. The Sufi's also acquired texts from India regarding the mystical form of spiritual enlightenment.

The human spine contains 33 vertebrae. Spirit regeneration would take place by degrees trough the 33 vertebrae of the spinal column until reaching the pituitary gland which invokes the pineal body. The science of this regeneration is one of the lost keys of Freemasonry, and it is this reason why ancient Freemasonry was founded upon thirty-three degrees. Manley P. Hall, a 33 Degree Mason and Masonry's greatest philosopher, states, "The 33rd Degree represents the human head atop the 33 vertebrae of the back."

From the base of the spine there is the serpent which will wind its way up the spine to the crown chakra. The Sufis knew this as the Baraka; the Jews called it the Shekinah; the Chinese Taoist called it Jing; in India, it was the Kundalini. To awaken the power of the Kundalini, it would take spiritual discipline, including alchemy and yoga. As the Kundalini rises through the physical, emotional, and mental bodies, it performs the task of destroying all the impurities that prevent him from knowing his innate divinity.

With the conquest of Spain by Islam (711-1492), Spain became the seat of Sufi learning in Europe. Beginning with Compostela, Span, there are five cathedrals, one church, and one chapel. The sequence of the sites corresponds to that of the planets in our solar system. Each site also corresponds to a chakra. Just as subliminal energies stream up and down through the chakras within the human body, so similar forces surge northwards and southwards along the great alignment of the cathedrals.

When the novice had progressed thus far along his chosen spiritual path, he was open to receive the messenger of the mystery cults. The novice would make a pilgrimage to St. James of Compostela. The first-degree initiation was the result that flowed spiritually from the awakening of the base chakra that connects us with the earth and physical reality. Its ruling planet --- the Moon.

The initiate would then make a pilgrimage to the church in Toulouse. He would be introduced to the mysteries of the second degree with the opening of the abdominal chakra. Her he would discover his inner space and could retire into the isolation of his spirit. Its ruling planet --- Mercury.

The novice was the symbol of the third or solar plexus chakra. The fulfillment of this degree led to the awakening of the universal life force. This degree was achieved by the entry into the mysteries of the Venus oracle at the Cathedral of Orleans.

The novice is now ready to awaken the heart chakra which is linked to the region of the thymus gland above the heart. This is the spiritual center controlling the sublime gifts of love. This initiation was held in the Crypt of Chargers Cathedral, the ancient site of the sun oracle.

Induction into the fifth degree was performed in the chamber under Notre-Dame de Paris, the site of the druidic oracle of Mars. The fifth center is the throat chakra and is the first of the higher ones. It is the center of both speech and inner hearing and is connected with the power of sound.

The brow chakra, known to many as the third eye, is connected with the pituitary gland. Clairvoyance is connected with this centre, which relates to the spiritual faculties of insight and intuition. This took place in the cathedral of Amiens, and the aspirant would be instructed in the mysteries of the Jupiter oracle.

The seventh degree was attained with the culmination of the spiritual journey a the opening of the crown chakra, which is mystically united with the pineal gland; also known as the Seat of the Soul. This was awarded at the seventh site, Rosslyn Chapel, the ancient and revered site of the Saturn oracle. The initiation ceremony for this degree took place in the hidden chamber under the chapel, which was deliberately created by Earl William St. Clair. The Sinclairs were experts in sacred geometry and geomancy, sciences that teach how to design physical structures so that they harmonize, capture, and amplify the natural currents of energy that flow under and upon the surface of the earth. William Sinclair based the chapel's dimensions on the Golden Mean, the proportion that determines the geometric spiral, which is synonymous with the path of serpentine life force.

Rosslyn Chapel was situated upon the confluence of important ley lines that united it with sacred landmarks throughout Britain. One of its intersecting leys comes from the direction of the bore stane hill where five powerful ley-lines radiate. In 1994, Niven Sinclair invited Professor Lin Yun, a master of Feng Shui, to measure the flow of the "earth energy" within Rosslyn Chapel. Professor Yun was impressed with this energy and maintained that the chapel was destined to be a center of world peace.
The seven spiritual centers along with their respective planets were in total alignment on July 28, 2019. The authors did not make any predictions for alignment.

~JAS

Bro. Jim Simpson Schenectady Lodge #1174, Schenectady, New York Sigman Bodies Ancient Accept Scottish Rite, Scotia, New York St. George's Chapter #157, Schenectady, New York St. George's Council #74, Schenectady, New York St. George's Commandry #37, Schenectady, New York Charles H. Copestake #69 AMD, Schenectady, New York