Affiliate Locally

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Erik Marks

Disambiguation: there are many lodges named Beacon, I’m not writing about a specific lodge with that name. I write about the way some lodges come to be bright centers of light, referred to herein as “beacons.”

It is an odd statement to make, I admit. Traveling in pouring rain on Sunday, I had been thinking about some brothers’ I’ve recently met who either belong to Ezekiel Bates Lodge in Attleboro, MA, (EBL) or present there for Masonic Con. One brother urged me to make it a point to be present for the 2020 events. We could meet in person for the first time, and I would see brothers with whom I labor alongside. It will be wonderful: April 18, 2020. I’ll go. If you are nearby, or able to travel, I hear its worth our while.

On my rainy-day reflective drive, it seemed exciting to affiliate with EBL in the coming year. I would be part of the lodge. And, both by association and being able attend regularly, I would expand my masonic education and experience. What a boon I live so close to such a beacon of light, I thought. Listening to podcasts, reading post on line, talking brothers who I admire and now call friends, I’ve learned about a handful of lodges I think of as beacons of masonic light. They do their part to keep us, Freemasonry, off that deadly area of shore we learned about, that part with the tide… Further, they guide us toward greater knowledge and inspiration to work on ourselves more effectively. They shine as examples of what lodge can, and I suggest, needs to be—for me anyway. Though not bright in the same way as EBL, I know Alpha (my home) is a place where education is honored, valued, and implemented. Brothers care deeply for one another and offer educational experience I want and need. But I digress.

The moment I decided I would join EBL, the brake lights in front of me flared and burst my reverie. I did my best not to sail into the person before me and not slam my breaks too fast so the person behind me had time to stop as well. We were all fine, no bumps. In that moment, however, my mind went inexplicably and directly to the local lodge that is struggling; guys there had apologized to me on the open house day and lamented there wasn’t much education happening. Who needs me more? EBL or local lodge?

The answer was so clear. I can’t afford to apply to affiliate with two additional lodges. Therefore, if and when I am to affiliate with a place in addition to Alpha, my energy, extra time, and money, would be best spent at local. EBL doesn’t need me. I would affiliate not to be known as a member of a beacon lodge, but a local laborer. Maybe local would never become a beacon, but we could be brighter, with more members. EBL wouldn’t miss me and its not personal. I can still travel there and learn. But local would miss me, or any of us who head toward the brighter light out of ego, fomo, or just genuine excitement.

I’m not saying its problematic to join EBL or any beacon. Rather, sometimes the choice to move toward the dimmer parts have so much to offer, for everyone involved. So it is with our psyches. We avoid the darker aspects of self, leave them unexplored because its naturally harder work, more painful. But we also grow significantly when we do and in doing so become initiated to be able to handle more. We shine the light of presence and consciousness into the dark, and things change.

Because they are so brightly, nationally, internationally, Brethren will of course be drawn to our beacons, for excellent reasons. Beacon Lodges also do a great service to the profane world, showing off the best performances of what Masonry can look like. Their greater numbers and resources allow for ample In-depth education, an inspired and growing membership. The cycle continues as they expand, so do the resources, and they can offer more to more people, masons and greater community. Bravo! We need them.

Local needs me not because I have the answers. I don’t. I am just at the beginning. I’m trying to find my own way and answers. They can help. Local would have more problems than beacon, fewer men, less money, maybe aging property. I know membership is low, possibly dropping. Local needs me for the obvious reasons, but they also need me because I haven’t been raised by them. Exactly because we are unknown to one another, we have to do the intrapsychic and interpersonal work of harmoniously joining together to build. Using our universal tools and ritual makes this possible. We will all be improved by our efforts, through the common goal.

Maybe those of us who can only affiliate with one additional lodge, if any additional at all, would do the fraternity and local the greatest service by joining the least known with the fewest resources. I think it’s the right tactic in a larger strategy of education and offering to men everywhere the gift I’m so lucky and grateful to have received. And, quite selfishly, I would learn so much. If I could entice a few others to come with me to affiliate with local we would have a greater effect. It might be painful, it might be fun, it would be work. And its what we choose.

As I write, the somewhat frightening possibility that maybe I would choose to step in line with my affiliate lodge before doing so at home. I don’t think it would be taken as a betrayal if local was lacking a line to be able to operate. If a few of us could join simultaneously, we might be able to help relieve officers who have held the lodge up a long time and need some rest. I could even ask past officers from Alpha who have the time to fill in occasionally, more light.

This, brother, is my challenge to us both: When its time and if you can choose only one: don’t affiliate with the beacon lodges near you, or far from you. Avoid them not out of malice or disdain but with love and as an homage to their labors and light. Carry the inspiration they developed in you by their example. Not to compete with them, rather to build something sustainable for other locals to join—to strengthen the network. It could have possibilities of being new and different from whence you came. Or, maybe building a solid, sustaining, masonic education would be enough.


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:

An Encounter With The Fringe Element

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

I suppose we've all had varying degrees of experiences with someone who thinks the Freemasons are responsible for everything from running the Deep State to Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance. On a personal level, I haven't had many, but the following account is about one encounter I had years ago with what one might call the fringe element.

Back in about 2003, I was an IT consultant to a company where word had gotten around that I was one of those weird Freemasons. One day, I'm sitting in a conference room with a couple other guys working out the details of a database design. Across the room another guy, let's call him John, was sketching things on a white-board in preparation for a meeting later in the day. All was quiet and businesslike when in walks the corporate nutball – let's call him Tom.

Tom was a piece of work. The views he openly and freely expressed made the flat-earthers look like top scientists. He bought into every conspiracy theory around and some I think he made up on his own. On top of that, Tom had a temper. One day when his desk phone wasn't working he decided to express his displeasure by flinging it across the room, which left the wires behind the jack broken and dangling out of the wall while the phone just missed a plate glass window and shattered when it hit the wall. Some of his outbursts were more mild. Apparently he didn't get fired because he was a good programmer – it was almost like he was an idiot-savant… with less emphasis on the savant part. I always found it a good practice to stay away from Tom.

John, on the other hand, was a quiet guy with a good sense of humor. We worked together on a few things and I thought I got to know him pretty well. On occasion we went to lunch together. He was charming, friendly and popular. He had, as far as I could see, only one drawback. He hung around a lot with Tom.

So while I was working with my team, Tom walked up to John on the other side of the room and they started talking at a level that was inaudible to me. Suddenly, as loud as he could manage, Tom yelled a single word – something that would be familiar to us all – the password of a Master Mason, "Xxxxxxxxx!"

On the other side of the room, the three of us turned to look at the aftermath of Tom's Tourette-like outburst. The two guys with me merely saw it as another one of Tom's Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moments; but I knew it was directed at the weird one… the goat-riding devil-worshipper… the Illuminati… me. Oh, Tom, you clever boy, you know the password. You've broken the centuries-old Masonic code. Did you find it on one of the 10,000 websites that list it, or did God himself reveal it to you? The password's echo faded, the conference room fell silent, and we all went back to work as if nothing had happened.

Out in the bullpen, John's workstation and mine were next to each other, so we interacted, bantered, and joked back and forth a lot. I never asked him what he thought of Tom's outburst and he never mentioned it. He proved to be bright and level-headed. Then one day he shocked me when he asked for a petition. I was thrilled. This young, articulate guy was exactly the kind of man we would want in the Fraternity.

I brought him one the next day. He lived too far away to petition my Lodge, but I told him I would put him in touch with Lodges in his area. I said I could not be his first-line signer since he would not be petitioning my Lodge (a rule in Missouri that has since been rescinded), but would put him in touch with someone who could do that. I also explained the petitioning process and told him he would be meeting with an investigating committee. He took the petition and thanked me.

Later that day I walked into another area of the office. There I saw Tom and John going over the petition together. That's when I realized John never wanted to join the Freemasons. What he and Tom really wanted was to see the dastardly things a Masonic candidate had to reveal about himself and agree to, in order to join the evil empire. I'm pretty sure Tom and John didn't notice I saw them dissecting the petition. Needless to say, John never brought it back to me and I never mentioned it again.

Hey, I'm a Master Mason. It wasn't the first time I'd been hoodwinked.


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 Birth of a New Lodge, Not a Merger

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Adam Samuel Roth

Our lodge in the District of Columbia (DC) is what one could call a commuter lodge. Most of our members join while their job is in the city. They attend lodge as they wait for the horrific traffic to subside before they commute back home to the suburbs. Many become inactive or leave the lodge after they find jobs outside of the city or retire to a more tax- and climate-friendly location in the South.

We have an enthusiastic core group of gentlemen who keep our lodge vibrant. With the exception of two or three brothers, all of these active members live outside of the city. So keeping the lodge active in the community and engaging in educational activities is tough for our lodge. More than once have members of our lodge, including a sitting Grand Master, suggested that we merge with another lodge. Since we were financial sound and had a core group of brothers who were committed to continuing the work of the lodge, we decided not to seek a merger.

We are not the only lodge in DC who struggle with these issues. So it was no surprise when five years after we decided not to seeking a merger, another lodge approached us and requested to merge. I am pleased that they see what we have been doing as a lodge and want to join us. I am also excited at the prospect of creating a new lodge.

Yes. You read that correctly. It is time to stop viewing the merging of lodges as a failure or an event to be avoided; instead, it is time to think of merging lodges as an exciting event that creates a new lodge. A new lodge that will make Freemasonry stronger.

Mergers can be tricky. We need to respect the history and traditions of both lodges, but recognize that neither lodge will continue to exist as it was. If we think of mergers as creating a new lodge, we can avoid a lot of pitfalls that comes with a merger. This new mindset would go a long way to do away with the tribalism that can result from a merger.

One way we can reinforce this new mindset is to retire both names. No more hyphenated names like George Washington-Acacia-Hiram Abif-Harmony-Solomon Lodge No.69. No fights as to which lodge’s name comes first in the line of hyphens. Create a new name that speaks to the aspirations we have as a new lodge.

Now this is the point in the discussion when the past masters of our lodge stand up like a Greek chorus and shout out their best rendition of “Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof. The traditions of our two 125-plus year old lodges must and will be respected. However, we need to recognize that we are no longer two lodges. We must instead recognize that we will now become one lodge and celebrate our new beginning with a brand new name.

Merging lodges, if done correctly, can be a reinvigorating event for the brethren of the new lodge. Renew with great vigor the traditions that are lifting us up. Jettison the traditions that are dragging us down. Create new traditions that hearken to a bright future. Let us take the ashes of our merged lodges and let them rise up as a fiery phoenix, blazing with Masonic light. Long live the new lodge!

Bro. Adam Samuel Roth is the Chaplin of Anacostia Lodge No. 21, soon to be Anacostia-Pentalpha Lodge No. 21, in Washington, DC and a member of Acacia Lodge No. 16 in Clifton, Virginia. He is the curator of the Masonic Archive, which can be found at He is also a devoted husband and father who works in the IT industry.

The Sad Truth of the Masonic Sword

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Guide Sobecki

In a world increasingly touch-screen, virtual, and cloud-based, Freemasonry is a rare chance to go back in time. Dark candlelit rooms, anciently spoken ceremonies, honored traditions...And you get to have a freaking sword. There's no hiding it, everyone gets a bit excited when they first see that there are swords sitting around the lodge for use during meetings and degree work. We all grabbed one and swung it around when no one was looking, don't deny it. Everyone loves taking pictures with their Masonic blades in regalia, they're presented as awards and milestones, and they're typically the first accessory many York Rite Masons buy before any other regalia. Swords are just that cool.

Outside of Masonry, I'm a historical martial artist with a track record in European swordsmanship and its history. Working my way through sport fencing and Filipino martial arts into full-immersion, full-contact longsword fighting has been the most surreal and enjoyable journeys of my life outside the Craft. I get asked pretty regularly by Brothers to answer questions about swords, and rather often I get asked how they tie into Masonic history. It's not the easiest story to tell or hear, but the sad truth of Masonic swords needs to be told.

Within the era of Solomon's temple and its various episodes of existence, the modern person might be quite confused if not disappointed in the role of swords. While Masonic degrees attempt with notable success to replicate the apparel and of course the stonework tools of this era, these sagas predate the invention of iron by a few centuries. Bronze age weapons were limited by metal scarcity, with the average soldier using a wooden shield and spear with a bronze spearhead. Swords were so expensive and difficult to forge that they were more commonly a status symbol. They were barely longer than a forearm, with wider leaf-shaped blades. Specifically in the Middle East, they were sometimes curved like a sickle in order to increase the cutting surface and excelled at horseback use. But by today's standards, museum visitors would appraise these Solomon-era swords as 'a big copper knife.'

Flash forward a quick two millennia to another Masonic-focused era, with chain-mail draped knights fighting the Crusades while the Knights Templar rise as a powerful, enigmatic brotherhood. Iron was now common enough, that warriors while still fought primarily with spear and archers as their ideal battle plan, swords were standard issue as backup weapons. Almost every culture on Earth preferred to fight with spears and projectiles in every instance, with the sword riding along as a back-up weapon much like a modern soldier carries a pistol along with his service rifle. These twisted-iron swords with familiar cross-guard hilts quickly became symbolic of knighthood itself. While these are now 'swords' at first glance, they are quite smaller than the flea market ones your brother-in-law has hanging on his bedroom wall. The ones with the Templar crosses on the pommel. You know the ones.

Within the next few centuries of medieval innovations, this is when things start looking less National Geographic and start looking more Renn Faire. The invention of steel drastically changed the world and allowed for stronger weapons, and more elaborate forging techniques to adapt to combat. Chainmail stayed as a base-layer for battlefield wear, but noble knights were now outfitted with custom-made steel armor which protected their vital organs and limbs against most attacks. As the armor advanced and covered more and more of the body, the one-handed sword of the Templar era was now essentially worthless against an armored knight. This spurred the creation of the four-foot 'longsword' which could be used with two hands and could pierce armor joints. It could be used by knights who did not need a shield for an advantage against common soldiers, for unarmored opponents to try and take down a knight, or for Game of Thrones watch parties.

Even as swords and armor gave way to gunpowder, the longing of nobles and commoners alike to cosplay as a warrior and carry a sword on their belt led to the development of lighter, more portable weapons which were geared for personal defense as well as formal dueling. Modern martial artists call this type of weapon a 'sidesword,' and it was often trained and used in tandem with a buckler (small shield, as in 'swashbuckler'), dagger, cloak, or even a lantern if you were fighting at night. Duelists began noticing that many fights were ended because the hand holding the sword was extremely vulnerable, and began adding steel guards to protect their hand. Gradually, these guards became more elaborate and stylized as fashion accessories. As getting the first blood became more important than portability, these swords became full-sized rapiers which were designed for pure efficiency in formal duels.

Things slowly settled down with bloodlust weeding itself out of everyday society, and rapiers gave way to much shorter, nimble 'small swords'. For those who simply enjoyed the art of dueling without the hassle of life or death, dull versions were used to train safely, and this became modern sport of fencing as you'd see in the Olympics to this day. Their use in real fights was increasingly rare, with only a few publicity stunt cases. To actually know how to use a sword was a social taboo, and only diehard fans kept the arts alive as the world move on. The sword had gone from the sidearm of the medieval knight, to a gilded fashion accessory for a lower-upper class noble wanting to impress his friends at a courtly ball. By the 1700s, the only swordsmen left were the fun-seeking sport fencers, and a few aging nobles who couldn't let go of rapier duels as an underground tradition.

And then...after all that...Came Freemasonry. Going by the academic assumptions that Freemasonry in its current form originated in the late 1600s leading up to the first Grand Lodge forming in 1717, the entire history of Western swordsmanship had already become irrelevant history by the time the first lodges formed. But, per our ancient declarations...Our meetings are guarded by a Brother with a sword. This is one of the few traditions universal to all forms of Masonry, and the sword is almost always specified. This is widely reported as an indicator of how dangerous this task was, as the Tyler faced impostors and attackers with sword in hand...Even though flintlock pistols were now as common as Apple Watches and waving an antique weapon no one knew how to hold correctly may not be the best use of time and resources.

In reality, Masonry has forgotten the use of the sword...Symbolically. It is just a symbol, it has always been a symbol, and at no point in our history has it ever referred to a functional, flesh-cutting sword to be wielded by the Brother in a polo shirt texting his wife in the chair outside your lodge room. The earliest traces of Tyler's swords in England all feature decorative, flame-shaped blades that make them stand out as display pieces. No, these are not the famous flame-bladed German swords you saw in a meme on Facebook. These are decorative, pot-metal props designed to look like a flaming sword which appears in many faiths and sagas as a symbol of holy protection and faithful duty. In fact, early accounts report that Tylers were sometimes adorned in full costume which built upon the theme of the sword with bold red fabric and sun-styled embroidering.

As Masonry grew and traveled, it simply appears that this old tradition gave way to pragmatic resources. While flame-shaped swords are still found in England, many American lodges possess historic cavalry sabers tied to Brothers who served in various colonial wars. When you're a European colonist living out of a trunk you sailed an ocean with, improvisations had to happen and Masonic regalia became more regionally sourced. Most of these sabers that I've handled and traced are specifically built for horseback use, and are too long and heavy for functional fencing without notable difficulty. Your lodge may have an amazing history and a priceless treasure of a sword, but about those Past Master stories where it was used to fight off an angry mob...

Now, this is where you start to hate me. It's time to talk about your grandfather's Knights Templar sword. The one that your aunt gave you when you first joined your lodge.

Whether it's an antique, a newly purchased one from a supplier, or one of the rusted ones in the umbrella bucket in your lodge store room, they all share a unique design that Masons across the world recognize instantly as their own. They feature a carved knight's head pommel, the engraving and file-work of the handle with an ebony grip, iconic cross-guards, and the hand-etching of the blade with gorgeous designs and symbols from the Templar degree. One of my most prized possessions is one of these swords, dated to 1910 and belonging to a notable business owner in my lodge's community. These beautiful swords are still valuable as a piece of our culture and imagery...But historically and factually, these swords may have been designed and invented by some one who specialized in dining table cutlery.

The American Civil War in the 1860s is known for many technology and tactical innovations in warfare, but economically its greatest impact was the first use of mass-produced military uniforms. Unfortunately for the textile industry, they miscalculated how long the war would last and were left an insanely large overstock of military uniform components. In the greatest act of fast-talking salesmanship since a con man sold a small town band instruments and uniforms in 'The Music Man', these manufacturers approached the various fraternal societies of America and offered them a discount on these fine uniforms to start their own official drill teams for parades and regional events. As military drill was still enjoyed as a hobby for recent veterans of the era, many fraternal orders including Masonic appendent bodies, Oddfellows, and Knights of Pythias all bought in. Someone must have also gotten a shipload of ostrich feathers by mistake at some point, because they also marketed the feather chapeau as the ideal headgear for marching in a parade in the middle of summer in a black wool uniform.

And while you're buying our jacket, shirt, boots, pants, belt, and ostrich hat bundle...Why not throw in a sword? To cater to the medieval themes of these various fraternities, these 'fraternal swords' as they're called in the antiques business were made in bulk to sell as uniform accessories and as an excuse for these drill teams to implement modified cavalry saber drills into their routines. Fraternal swords were never designed to be sharpened, and were even smaller than even the decorative smallsword nobles carried. Instead of a protective hand basket, they feature a cross-hilt as you would find on a full-sized knightly longsword. Realistically, whoever designed these had never seen or held a European sword in their life and worked off paintings and drawings for inspiration. Eventually, you start seeing handmade, much better crafted versions for individuals who took particular pride in their organization and began using them to signify rank or achievement. Is it a sword? No. Is it a beautiful heirloom you should be proud of? Absolutely.

So, here we are in late 2019 in the digital age with swords, armor, and Blu-ray discs long abandoned to archaeologists. But Masonry maintains a link to ancient history that no other organization offers, including the mythos of a man with a sword guarding the door so the brotherhood can be left undisturbed and protected. We proudly wear them in various degrees, drill with them for ritual, they're featured in our symbolic lectures and imagery, and it gives us a break from modern life to feel like an ancient warrior for just a quick second. We need to keep including swords and their history within our practices, even if the actual history is more well-meaning than well-researched.

What sword is truly the best for you, your lodge, or your organization as a whole? That's up to you or your members. Take pride and consideration in the decision, it's yours to make and should be enjoyed. If you're seeking a period-accurate Solomon-era piece, consider finding a gladius prop for a general lookalike, or having a replica crafted or 3D-printed. Are you a proud member of a Knightly order? Consider an 'arming sword' replica and a scabbard if want to try upgrading your next Commandery meeting. Tastefully plain-steel longsword replicas are impressive for officer processionals, installations, and special occasions. Particularly historical lodges with interests in early United States history may find a cavalry saber replica from a reenactment supplier to be a fine addition to their foyer.


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

The Secret Teachings in the Temple of Solomon

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

The degree system of craft Freemasonry is centered on the building of the Temple of Solomon and the story of its chief architect, Hiram Abiff. According to the non-cyphered Book of Standard Work of my Grand Lodge(IL), 
“The Temple at Jerusalem was supported by fourteen hundred fifty-three columns and two thousand nine hundred six pilasters, all hewn from the finest Parian marble. There were employed in its erection one hundred fifty three thousand three hundred three workmen; namely three Grand Masters, three thousand three hundred masters or overseers of the work, eighty thousand fellow crafts or hewers in the mountains, and seventy thousand entered apprentices or bearers of burdens.” 
 However, there is very little archaeological evidence to support this statement.

According to Israel Finkelstein and Neil Siiberman, authors of “The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts”, argue that at the time of King David and his son Solomon, Jerusalem was populated only by a few hundred residents or less. They claim that the kingdom of Israel at the time of Solomon was little more than a small city state. They claim that the authors of the stories of Solomon took the achievements of the Omrides (who ruled more than a century after Solomon) and assigned them to Solomon. They also claim that the size of the temple as described above implausible.

This isn’t to say that all scholars agree with Finkelstein and Siiberman. Kenneth Kitchen in his work: “On the Reliability of the Old Testament” argues that Solomon ruled over a mini-empire, and considers the temple of Solomon to be a reasonable size for the time. William Dever in his work: “What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It? What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel?” states that there exists direct Bronze and Iron Age parallels for every feature of Solomon’s temple as described in the Tanakh (Old Testament). Further adding evidence for the construction of the temple is the first century scholar Josephus. In his work, “Against Apion”, he cites Tyrian court records which gives the specific year during which King Hiram I of Tyre sent materials to Solomon for the construction of the Temple. Considering the temple mount is holy for the Islamic religion as well, any attempt to excavate the site has been met with protests from the Muslim authorities. Furthermore, due to the destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians and the rebuilding and destruction of the temple several times after, it’s possible that the physical evidence that may have once existed no longer exists.

If we take the side of the scholars that argue for the Temple never existing, does it lessen the teachings of our degrees? Does it lessen our experiences during them? Freemasonry describes itself as a “...beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." An allegory is a story, poem or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one. Allegories play an important part in our culture. Both the old and new testament feature allegories. In the New Testament, Jesus uses many allegories such as his parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:3-9, as well as the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. Does Christ’s use of allegory lessen any of his teachings? In the same way, Freemasonry’s teachings are not lessened if the Temple didn’t physically exist.

More importantly, the allegory of building the temple is applied to every Freemason from a physical and spiritual sense. In the physical sense, the degrees of Freemasonry parallel the different stages of life; Youth, Middle Age, and Old Age/Death. The idea of Freemasonry is to build a temple within ourselves. In the same way that we are taught of working towards the perfect ashlar, we strive to create a temple inside of ourselves worthy of having the spirit of the Great Architect inhabit us.

It should come as no surprise that the Temple of Solomon is a blueprint for the Temple that we are building within ourselves. If this is the case, how would the temple look if superimposed over the human body? Using the below images taken from and using them under fair use for the educational purpose of this article, you can clearly see how this applies:


But this idea is just borrowing from one of the world’s oldest religions. The Hindus had a similar concept long before the Temple of Solomon became the blueprint for the Temple Man.

Used under fair use from Agama-Kosha (Volume 6:Alaya and Aradhana), S.K. Ramachandra Rao, Kalpataru Research Academy, P.O.Box 1857, Bangalore, India (1992).

We are taught that our lodges are situated like King Solomon’s temple. Yet, I find it interesting that Hindu Temples share the below with King Solomon’s Temple and Masonic Lodges:

The Hindu’s perform circumambulation within the temple. We perform circumambulation within our lodges.

The Hindu Temple is not thought of as the meeting place of the congregation, rather the temple is the focal point of the community of the congregation. A Masonic Lodge is not the building where the members meet, rather it is the community of members.

The heart of the temple is where the most important icon is placed (garbha grha). The heart of our Lodge room is the altar where the 3 greater and 3 lesser lights reside.

Pillared halls and Porticos were added to the Garbha Grha. King Solomons’ Temple had both Pillars and Porticos. We keep a representation of the pillars in each Lodge Room.

Hindu Temples are very ornate. This is due to their belief that things that were not ornamented were imperfect. King Solomon’s Temple was heavily ornamented, and we represent this with the ornaments on each pillars.

Something else that both have in common is displayed in the diagrams of each Temple Man. In the examples above, King Solomon’s Temple Man and the Hindu Temple Man both have man’s connection with the divine in his head. In the Hindu Temple Man, the Sahasrara (or Crown) Chakra represents this. In the King Solomon’s Temple Man, the idea that the Holy of Holies resides there, represents this. But don’t take my word for it, as 1 Corinthians 6:19 states
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own”.
But what is man’s connection with the divine? The ancient Greeks had two forms of Knowledge. Gnosis and Logos. Gnosis was knowledge of how to do something. For example, how to build a house, ride a horse, plant and harvest crops. In contrast, Logos was academic knowledge, such as knowledge of mathematics or logic. Logos was primarily taught through words, whereas Gnosis was taught through practice and repetition.

In spiritual terms, Gnosis is knowledge of one’s connection with the divine. Socrates said, “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” Philo of Alexandria understood gnosis to be knowledge of God and his Sophia (Wisdom), but also of oneself, nature and the great work (Magnus Opus). The Egyptian proverbs found inscribed in their temples and tombs show they understood this as well. Some of these proverbs are as follows: "The kingdom of heaven is within you; and whosoever shall know himself shall find it.", ”The body is the house of god. That is why it is said, "Man know yourself.”, “Your body is the temple of knowledge.”, and “True teaching is not an accumulation of knowledge; it is an awaking of consciousness which goes through successive stages.”

Logos meaning “Word”, “Reason”, or “Plan”, was thought of in Greek Philosophy to be the divine reason which gives the cosmos form and meaning. This idea can be traced back to Heracleitus, who observed in the cosmos a reasoning power like that of man. The stoics defined Logos as an active spiritual and rational process that permeates all reality. Philo of Alexandria thought of Logos as the mediator between God and the Cosmos. Logos was that created the universe but that also that which allows man to comprehend God. Both Philo and Platonists believed that Logos was both intrinsic to the world, but also the transcendent mind of God. John 1 1:5 identifies Logos, stating: 
 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” 
And John 1 14:16, he equates Jesus Christ as this Logos, saying: 
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.  John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ”16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” 
Later, in John 8:12, he makes the final connection between Jesus and Logos when Christ says: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Freemasonry exists to convey to the initiate that Logos is important, as we are taught as Fellowcrafts to apply ourselves to the 
“ of the liberal arts and sciences, especially of the noble science of geometry, which forms the basis of Freemasonry, and which, being of a divine and moral nature, is enriched with the most useful knowledge; for while it proves the wonderful properties of nature, it demonstrates the more important truths of morality. To the study of geometry, therefore, your attention is specially directed.” 
Most importantly, Logos is important because without it, we cannot achieve gnosis. When you pray, how does that prayer exist? When you silently read the holy text of your choice, how do you understand the words you are reading? Without being taught how to read or the meaning of words, ie: without Logos, one isn’t able to achieve gnosis; as getting to know God is only possible through understanding his word.

Gnosis then can be linked with Logos, as knowing oneself can be attributed to knowing God, and thereby knowing Logos. As the mind is the seat of knowledge, it is where Logos and Gnosis resides, and therefore where your connection with God resides. This ties back to the above, where I mention the head as being the place where the divine resides in the temple man. There’s a reason that halos are depicted around the head in iconography. It is the place from which the Logos or the divine light emanates from, and is the place where the connection with the divine resides, where our own holy of holies exists, the mind. At the end of the day, whether the Temple of King Solomon physically existed is irrelevant, because it does exist in our teachings, and within ourselves. 


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

Words To Ponder

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

In addition to a lot of the research I do for the things I write, I'm also responsible for contributing to my Lodge of Research Twitter and Facebook accounts. All that has left me with a rather extensive collection of quotes, quips and words of wisdom from a variety of Freemasons. Every day I discover more amazing facts about our Craft and the Brothers who have made it what it is. The more Masonic research I do, the more I realize what a stunning and positive impact Freemasonry has had on our country and the world. With that in mind, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite quotes from our Brothers:
"I don't suppose any organization has done so much for so many with so little selfishness as the Masonic Fraternity." ~Thomas E. Dewey
"The more I come in contact with the Masonic fraternity, the more impressed I am with our great charitable work." ~Franklin Roosevelt
"A pessimist makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist makes opportunities of his difficulties." ~Harry S. Truman
"I always advise people never to give advice." ~P.G. Wodehouse
"A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education." ~Theodore Roosevelt
"My Lodge had at least 4 creeds. I was entered by a Hindu, passed by a Mohammedan and raised by an Englishman." ~Rudyard Kipling
"Don't let yesterday use up too much of today." ~Will Rogers
"If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter." ~George Washington
 "Let us not paralyze our capacity for good by brooding of man's capacity for evil." ~David Sarnoff
"Anti-Semitism is a noxious weed that should be cut out. It has no place in America." William Howard Taft
"Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared." ~Eddie Rickenbacker
"Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one." ~Sam Rayburn
"I'm proud to pay taxes in the United States; the only thing is, I could be just as proud for half the money." ~Arthur Godfrey
"Knowledge is ecstatic in enjoyment, perennial in frame, unlimited in space and indefinite in duration." ~DeWitt Clinton
"The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." ~Mark Twain
"If I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes." ~Charles Lindbergh
"I am a Mason because care for those who cannot care for themselves." ~Danny Thomas
"We were put here for a purpose—to build not to destroy. If I can make people smile, I've served my purpose for God." ~Red Skelton
"A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle." ~Benjamin Franklin
"The liberties of none are safe unless the liberties of all are protected." ~William O. Douglas
"Our world has nuclear giants & ethical infants. We know more about war than peace, more about killing than living." ~Omar Bradley
"The measure of life is not its duration, but its donation." ~Peter Marshall
"Fear... is something you learn how to deal with and set aside. You want to be alert as you possibly can." ~Buzz Aldrin
"There's no education in the second kick of a mule." ~Fritz Hollings
"Be sincere; be brief; be seated. " ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
"Life is tough. It's tougher when you're stupid." ~John Wayne
Perhaps fitting for the final quote, and one of my favorites, are the last words, as reported from his wife, of the founder of the Order of DeMolay:
"It is the beginning." ~Frank S. Land

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.

In Praise of Conductors

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Erik Marks

The first things I used to think of with the mention of the word,"conductor" were: music, electricity, and trains. These are still fine examples of the word. The direction and coordination of a large group of musicians, when done well, the conductor is the heart of the music, co-creating it with the people holding and operating instruments. In wiring, electricity travels on the outside of the conductor, something known as the skin effect. It is also what protects you from lightning inside a car or faraday cage. The better the conductor, the easier the flow of electrons to their destination. A superconductor is a material or a material treated in a particular manner. They are cooled to close to absolute zero (less than 1K or around -260 C) wherein all resistance vanishes. Facilitating travel, the train conductor collects tickets, aids in operations, and has the unfortunate task of ejecting the unruly.

Socrates was said to be the midwife of the soul. A conductor of sorts whose philosophic technique still moves me to other places and frames of mind that I find pleasingly challenging. I sometimes feel my soul moving. My mother, using her body, conducted me from concept to creation, my first home in this world. I am grateful to her for using her-self to bring me to life. Parents, relatives, teachers, friends, conducted me through early years to adaptations, ideas and knowledge I appreciate, and some I’m still working to renovate. Literature is filled with all sorts of guides, gurus, and other forms of conductors.

At the start of my Masonic journey, several men brought me to, or to me, conversations about my intentions, qualifications, and expectations. Some of them met with my family to discuss these same questions and offered counsel if there were concerns about my voluntary choice to join. Most of these men were present during my degrees. Three (LaJoie, Gianoukos, and Crooks) endured over breakfast, a lengthy interrogation by me, Corinna, and our sons, as to why women were excluded from what we do (which is when I learned first about GES, Amaranth, & Rainbow Girls).

Now, my experience of the word, "conductor", has significantly changed; my personal experience with the idea, broadened. I was led to the door, the West Gate, to the threshold of my conscious mind and instructed in our way to ask for greater understanding of myself, through our unique process. I was caringly and thoughtfully guided and prompted through the steps, stages, and lessons in darkness and light. Brothers Grenier, Snyder, LaJoie, and Goetz and will always remain presences and voices in my mind of those who tended to my preparation and conducted me through ritual with dignity and grace. Between degrees, Brothers Crooks, Bodley, and Ehrlich helped me perfect the words I needed to perform to progress. Worshipful Marks will always be the face I visualize in the east when I recite the ritual to myself or practice with a new, “younger,” brother.

More recently, as mentors and friends, a host of new and previous Brothers guide and conduct my progress. Worshipful Snyder recently performed from memory a lengthy introduction of me at my first presentation to a Lodge of Instruction (though following the amazing conversation brought by the Brethren who attended at Mt. Hollis Lodge in Holliston, MA, I now think of it as “Lodge of Inspiration”). As I’ve had good fortune to travel, Brothers Jackson, Jarzabek, and Johnson help me through what I write; they help me edit, and encourage me to persist when I feel like giving up.

So, I write in praise of those who have conducted me this far and to those who continue. As a group, you are my superconductors! (Though “cool” people, these superconductors operate at room temperature and also, decidedly, not in a vacuum. Room temperature superconductors are mostly theoretical, where the above-mentioned human conductors are verifiably, real). With gratitude I hold dear those mentioned by name and the many more not named here. We repeat it because it is true: I would never have met these amazing people if it had not been for Freemasonry. The diversity in their thoughts, backgrounds, and ways of living challenge me to rethink what I know, and how I came to know. They present me with their full selves so that I may be present fully as I am, and we figure it out. Through repeated contact, we grow in trust and capacity to be and act harmoniously in the face of criticism, challenge, disagreement (also in fun and faux pas): we help and instruct one another to do this work, together. As in a super-conductive state, our resistance to ourselves and others diminishes, maybe vanishes, in the presence of others who wish only to aid in our growth and learning; to help with the transmission of knowledge, experience, and self-understanding.

I encourage you to consider those still standing among us who have conducted you through life to reading this post. Let them know the ways they have shaped your experience in, and more importantly, outside, lodge. For those whom have been your conductor though no longer with us, consider sharing a story about them with another brother, in writing, maybe…here.


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:

The Five Elements and Five Senses

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. J. Clint Lewey 


In Freemasonry, there always seems to be a rhythm or correlation with any number of things. It seems to nearly never fail for the Craft to line up with all things Hermetic, Kabalistic, mystical or beyond. Whether or not ‘modern’ Ancient Craft Masonry came from the ancient knowledge found prior to antiquity is a subject of debate. However, it does typically fall right into place with it and is unquestionably related.

As we were passed through the degrees of Masonry, we were introduced to esoteric, numerical studies and were explained some of their meanings. As we travel through the (B) and (J) pillars, we begin to ascend the flight of winding stairs. We first come upon three steps of which have an infinite amount of explanation based on the number three. However, we are taught they primarily represent the three main officers of the lodge: JW, SW and WM.

As we continue along, we come upon a set of five steps. Along with the five orders of architecture, each one represents one of our five primary senses. They are labeled hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling and tasting. We are taught in one particular degree to primarily focus on the first three senses but as searchers of further light, there is usually a way to correlate similarities with numbers in Masonry and beyond. These five senses are what we utilize to study the seven liberal arts we are later introduced to in the lesson.

In some of the more esoteric Masonic and non-Masonic groups, we are introduced to the four primary elements of the Hermetic and Kabalistic sciences. They are earth, water, air and fire. While many other teachings, such as eastern religions, utilize the same and different elements, I will stick with what our Masonic related groups teach.

Based upon my initiatory experiences and with some research, I found that there is a less known fifth element or Quintessence. According to Dr. Israel Regardie, the fifth element of spirit crowns and connects the other four. [i] This is a culmination of all the elements. One primary difference with this element is that it cannot stand alone as the others do. It is essential that the other four elements are ‘present’ and in alignment have an understanding of the fifth element.

As receivers of light often found in the blue lodge (but more often overlooked) and beyond, we are encouraged to learn and become familiar with numerology. In some of the first lessons taught, we are informed of the many meanings of different numbers but specifically here the number five. In one of our degrees as mentioned above, the number five is alluded to in regards to the five senses (and five pillars) and we are taught that when we are fully in sync with ourselves and surroundings, we can get by without any of our senses, spiritually speaking. In Masonry, the five senses are much needed. Touch whereby one mason may know another in the dark as well as in the light. Sight utilized whereby we see certain signs of recognition given to us or symbols as well. Hearing to hear the word of a brother mason, to also hear music as a part of some lodges ritual. Taste to rejoice among brethren in fellowship with fine food and drink. Smell when we have our ceremonial incense burning in lodge to help center our minds and bodies.


In some Masonic traditions, the element of air is represented as intelligence and/or spiritual growth as well. During the creation days, it was God that breathed into a man’s nostrils and made us in his likeness. With air travels sound. From our time in the womb to our last moments on earth, we primarily hear sound through the air. Also through the air is played one liberal art that is perhaps the most recognizable and it is that of music.

Hearing in Masonry and other ritualistic orders is perhaps the primary means of communication. Whether whispering good counsel or carefully scripted, deeply esoteric lines of a ritual, the sound traveling in the air to our ears to be heard is everywhere. Air being represented by the east, it is from the east we receive most of our Masonic lessons. We are given our obligation from the east and admonished as well as other communications. The sense of hearing and air go hand in hand with gaining knowledge and spiritual growth.

It is not so much to simply say certain words, but to forcefully vibrate them out as to really push the sound waves through the air. As with our sense of smell, we often never see any of the day to day things we hear. From car horns and ambulances to other people’s conversations, the air is filled with constant sounds.

Perhaps no phenomenon in nature is as common and powerful as air. It is a driving force and a symbol of determination. In nature, wind storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes have no rivals accept themselves in destructive power. These forces of air carry with them thunder, howling winds and crashing noises of destruction. Air can also be gentle, cooling and bring in clouds of life supporting rain. It can tenderly blow a wind chime or be pushed through a musical horn or wood wind to produce beautiful sound. If harnessed correctly and brought under control, it can carefully steer a sailboat, generate energy or lift a 700,000 pound 747 jet airliner. Air can blow out fires, dry up water, and shift the earth. As Masons or students of the Hermetic sciences, when we hear the winds coming, it is necessary to be able harness and control these opportunities of learning something new or growing spiritually. 


In the Masonic tradition, the element of fire is a symbol of life and destruction. In the Winter Solstice Ceremony for Masonry, it is symbolic of creation and energy; a new beginning and life. In tarot and other studies, fire is represented as passion and change, whether good or bad. In alchemy, fire is often associated with sulfur, one of the most potent and distinct smelling chemicals on planet Earth. Fire is represented in the south; the opposite of the cold, dark north.

In Masonry, as mentioned previously, one of the senses less talked about is that of smell. Smell is often one of our first senses to be activated during certain situations. It is also one that could be considered quite subconscious yet if something triggers your sense of smell enough, it can be one of the most difficult to ignore.

When fire is created, we usually smell it far before we see, hear or feel it. Whether literally or figuratively, we often sense the smell of smoke, that all too recognizable smell of sulfur or worse yet, the ‘smell of death.’ On the other hand, fire and smell can have positive meanings as well. The culinary arts, we often smell what we are going to be eating before we ever see or taste it. As with fire, our sense of smell senses a sign of new beginnings, love and passion, physical attraction towards (pheromones) another, or the very familiar smell of a newborn baby. 

Our sense of smell often allows us to sense what is beyond our other senses, even hearing. It can also be right in front of us as we ‘stop and smell the flowers’ as to live in the moment. As mentioned above, you can smell fire miles away and know that there is likely danger and destruction. But you can be rest assured, it is also a new beginning in the making as well.


In the Masonic tradition, the element of water is represented as emotion and intuition and according to Cicero [ii], it has creative, subconscious or mysterious qualities. As for taste, having ‘good taste’ is perhaps all of these things. It is that natural ability to make good choices, react accordingly, without thinking. It is also the ability to see beauty and everyone else in the room would likely agree. It is a subconscious ability to have a positive awareness of what everyone else likely should see or does see in something. Having those water qualities means you are fluidic in that not only do you have good decision making abilities, but that you also can adapt and see the hidden beauty in most everything.

As Masons, we should have the ability to be fluid in most scenarios. If we are demanding to be free and accepted ourselves, we must also be accepting of others as well. As Masons, we are curious about the ancient mysteries, both esoteric and exoteric. From the west is water and fittingly so as it slows the fires our minds for rest. The west is where the sun sets every day. The search for more light from the east is then allowed to be pondered and meditated over. As water is passive and feminine, it is utilized best as a time to contemplate those fiery desires for knowledge.

One tradition that has been long forgotten in our day to day lives of traffic, work and fast food is the slow consumption of our foods. As a whole, we eat more than ever in the history of mankind yet we enjoy our food less than we ever have. We often miss the taste of every nuance in a fine dish we are eating and therefore that likely reflects on our lives for the most part. We tend to not let our minds wander into its subconscious due to busy schedules. If we are missing those moments, it’s likely due to bad taste.


In the Masonic tradition, the element of earth is represented as grounding, stabilization or material. This is the element often looked at as the element that really houses all of the aforementioned elements. The earth element is the basis of knowledge, things learned, which allow for further spontaneous/passionate (fire), logical (air), or emotional (water) abilities in our mind and spirit. It is our day to day life. It is what we can see, smell, hear, taste and most importantly touch. Being earthbound in a philosophical way is a less than desirable way to grow spiritually. However, it is the earth element and our physical beings that essentially make us up. While water can be touched and even held, it is more fluid and will change immediately. As for earth qualities, it is malleable, but not as much as air and water and is nowhere near as inspired as fire. The earth is under our feet and is all we can touch.

Earth is represented from the cold north. It is also represented with the color black and therefore represents our lack of ‘light’. We are too concerned about gadgets, money, and other items we must have in our possessions to be anywhere other than in complete darkness. While it is the earth element that houses the others, and is the basis for our growth, it is a virtue to have the stability underneath us. It is the basis for all Masons to be physically born in darkness and to have to put away our possessions we hold closely to us. We are even asked at one point to deposit a physical, metal item for archival reasons into our lodges. This helps us be able to give something up of a physical nature.

Being grounded to the earth to a fault can be a problem. As we can feel earthquakes underneath our feet if our Earth below us is toiling, so should we feel the earthquakes within ourselves if we are toiling inside. This toiling is often what pushes us towards any number of belief systems or to even begin our journey into Masonry. It is important to understand the positive and negatives of the earth element as it can keep us from ever growing but always allows our acacia to grow. 


In the Masonic tradition, the element of spirit is a symbol of purity and is, more or less, a culmination of all of the other four elements. It is typically less spoken about or even recognized by many students of the ancient mysteries. It is so invisible; it is less visible than air itself yet as Masons we are constantly looking for it. It is nowhere yet everywhere. It is made up of all four elements yet none of them are specifically it. Spirit can also be called Quintessence or aether as well. 

It’s similarity to air is relevant since air is represented in the east, the place we are constantly traveling. As seekers of light, it is sight that we use most literally but figuratively as well. From the dawn of man until now, we have peered into the skies pondering questions of our existence. From worshiping the sun and moon or looking into the heavens for God’s answers, we are constantly looking for the light or spirit.

As humans with sight, we often have to ‘see it to believe it’. As seekers, we know we won’t see it with our physical eyes but with our wisdom and studies. Some believe the ‘third eye’ concept which allows for deeper meditation and understanding of things around us. As we bow our heads and pray, we usually close our eyes. This is most likely due to closing off our ability to actually see but utilize more of our inner sight. In Masonic lodges, we are ceremoniously given light, more light and further light by having our hoodwinked removed. Having a requirement to believe in a higher power, a GAOTU, this ritual alludes to the great light. To our ancestors it may have simply been the sun. To us it could be a multitude of belief systems.

If all things are of the aether element, then on an earthly level we see and detect signs from the universe such as numerology and things we often call coincidental. We use our sight to gain more knowledge that can be transferred into logic and wisdom.

My studies have led me to believe that in lodge, the spirit is represented in the middle of the room. The other elements are represented directionally, but not spirit. As indicated in specific grades of at least one appendant body of Masonry, our ‘spirits’ are positioned in a place of no direction but all directions, facing the east looking for light. Spirit is inside all of these elements and makes up the space each one of them lacks in.

It is often represented with a circle and this symbolizes the infinity of the spirit and how it is all things. It is also represented in the pentagram as the apex point of the star. In Masonry, we are caused to kneel at an altar and give a prayer. The VSL is also in the middle of the lodge as a rule and guide for us as Masons. This is fittingly so as it represents the place our spirit is. Our sight is taken away from us until a certain point and then as mentioned before, the hoodwink is removed for us to see the light.

The element of Quintessence has all of the features of the other elements. It is very logical and intelligent as with air yet as simple and grounded as the earth element. It is very emotional and soft as water yet powerful and scorching as fire. It is highly represented in Masonry but rarely, if ever, talked about. It is the ‘light’ we are constantly looking for.


The study of the aforementioned and our craft is not exclusive to blue lodge and can be explored via many avenues. Much literature has been written about the subjects and can be interpreted in an endless amount of ways. Also, much of what we learn is obtained from within through meditation and self-study. There are many Masonic appendant or concordant bodies that subscribe to these schools of thought as well as non-Masonic bodies that are considered more “fringe Masonry” but have just as much value as actual Masonic institutes. Incorporating the elements, senses and sciences into our daily lives can further shape our ashlars into that perfect stone we are striving to have.

[i] Regardie, Israel (1938). The Middle Pillar: The Balance Between Mind and Body Ch. 9, pg. 185
[ii] Cicero, Chic (2003) The Essential Golden Dawn Ch. 4, pg 117


Brother J. Clint Lewey lives in the greater Rochester, NY area and is a fourth generation Freemason. On the 17th of March, 2015 he was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason at Edmond Lodge #37 in Edmond, OK. Brother Clint is currently a member of Fairport-Flower City Lodge #476, Hiram Royal Arch Chapter #62 and SRICF New York College-Buffalo. He is allowed to divide his working hours serving Veterans in crisis at the Canandaigua, NY VAMC as well as serving his country in the military as a reservist. Bro. Lewey is happily married with two younger children.

Be A Warm Body

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

Attendance… just like the Old Gray Mare, it ain't what it used to be.

As much as ever, maybe more, family and job pressures continue to demand the part of our time we might otherwise be able to devote to outside activities like going to Lodge. Even more than that, we have become a society of non-participators. It's easier to stay at home and watch the latest on Netflix than to go out; and drooling into cell phones on anti-social media has replaced real group interaction. This phenomenon isn't limited just to the Freemasons. Nearly all fraternal organizations, churches, clubs, even once-popular sporting events are seeing an attendance decline. Organizations like these now lack something they used to have plenty of… warm bodies.

There's not much I can do to change society's juggernaut of non-participation. But I've decided to do what little I can. I've declared myself to be a warm body. I'm making every effort to show up where I can, when I can. That's my warm body motto: "… where I can, when I can."

Of course, being a warm body carries with it certain responsibilities. You show up at a meeting these days, you're probably going to be asked to do more. That's OK. I have no intention of going through the officer's line again, but you need a Marshal… I'll be your Marshal. And that's exactly what I am in my Lodge this year. In my Commandery, I've been Junior Warden seven years in a row. I've taken on other similar roles in other groups for one simple reason: so the head of that group has one less officer's chair to worry about filling. Still, the word "no" hasn't left my vocabulary. It doesn't have to for me to be a responsible warm body. You know… "where I can, when I can."

I'm pretty comfortable in my role as a warm body. It gets me out the door and to some meetings where I have a great time, learn something and would be sorry to have missed.

Just showing up is a prerequisite to active participation. Looking at it in that light, we really do need more warm bodies. Try it. Next time you just don't feel like going to a Lodge meeting, put down the TV remote, silence your cell phone and head out. The guys you see there will be glad you did and I'm betting so will you. Be a warm body. It sounds trivial, but it's one of the most important things you can do for the fraternity.


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.

When The Light Goes On

by Midnight Freemasons Founder 
Todd E. Creason, 33° 
Degree Cast at Scottish Rite Valley of Danville (IL) greeting candidates
This last weekend, the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville (NMJ) held their Fall Reunion. We put them on twice a year, spring and fall. That’s when we all get together at the beautiful Danville Masonic Temple, bring in new Scottish Rite candidates, and put on degree work. They arrive on Friday afternoon, and by the time they leave on Saturday morning, they’re 32° Scottish Rite Freemasons. For our candidates it’s about learning the principles of Scottish Rite Freemasonry through the allegorical lessons taught in the degrees—which are presented as stage plays. For our existing membership it’s about fellowship, friendship, and fun. Our Valley covers a huge chunk of Illinois, so this is the only place a lot of us see each other regularly. There’s a lot of laughter and fun backstage at the Scottish Rite—it never ceases to amaze me how this group of fun loving men suddenly change when the curtain goes up and they present these deeply meaningful degrees for our candidates.

But the thing I enjoy the most, is watching the candidates. I remember sitting where they are. I remember watching some of these degrees for the first time, unsure what lesson I was supposed to be learning, and then suddenly realizing what the degree was teaching. A light would suddenly come on as I watched the degree, I’d begin to think of how I needed to apply that lesson to my own life. And as I’ve watched these degrees over and over again over the years, and participated in many of them, I continue to take away lessons I previously missed in these degrees—lessons I can apply to my everyday life.

The light doesn’t come on for everyone. For some Masons, what they experience in their Blue Lodges and in their Valleys, and in their York Rite Chapters, Councils, and Commanderies fills them with the desire to learn more, to improve themselves, and to apply the principles of Masonry to their lives—to actually do the work on themselves. For other Masons, they’re simply experiencing a degree, or watching a stage play.

Midnight Freemasons attending Valley of Danville Spring Reunion left to right: Greg Knott, Todd Creason, Steve Harrison, Brian Pettice, and Darin Lahners

It’s the ones that get it that I’m always trying to pick out of the class. Those are the men that will take what they learn and apply it every part of their life. They will become better husbands. Better fathers. They will become important leaders in their communities, and role models and examples for others. And without a doubt they are the future of the Fraternity.

A friend of mine said that some people see Freemasonry in the same way they see repainting their dining room walls. They go through some degrees, they slap a bumper sticker on their car and a ring on their finger, they buy a suit and tie, and think they’re a Freemason. But nothing changes on the inside. Freemasonry is like buying an old house, and gutting it down to the rafters, and remodeling it from the basement to the attic.

If Freemasonry doesn’t change you on the inside, you aren’t experiencing it in the way in which it was intended.


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:

Museum of Masonic Culture at the Grand Lodge of New Jersey

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Travis Simpkins

History pervades every cobblestone of Barrack Street in Trenton, New Jersey. As the name suggests, standing on one side of the street is the Old Barracks utilized by British and Hessian troops from 1758 up until the Battle Trenton on December 26, 1776, at which point General George Washington and the victorious Continental Army took control of the area. Diagonally across from the Old Barracks stands a small stone building, built in 1793, which served as the original Grand Lodge of New Jersey. And in between those structures (at 100 Barrack St.) is the magnificent Trenton Masonic Temple, constructed in 1926, which is the current home of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey as well as the Museum of Masonic Culture. 

Last month, I was driving back to Massachusetts from a business trip in Philadelphia and passed through Trenton along the way. I had contacted R.W. Glenn Visscher, the Curator of the Museum of Masonic Culture, and he kindly agreed to meet my wife and I there to give us a tour of the historic Trenton Masonic Temple. I had first become aware of the Museum in 2018, when I was commissioned to make a charcoal portrait of the late Charles D. Visscher, the original Curator. He was Glenn's father. Caring for the collection has become a passionate legacy within the Visscher family. Glenn's mother, Barbara, and his sister, Karyn, both help operate the Museum as well.

After passing through the large doors on Barrack Street and seeing the ornate lobby, banquet hall, Library and administrative area, we headed upstairs. The second floor houses three large Lodge rooms. The first is utilized by a few different Blue Lodges, next there is the impressive Ionic Hall of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey. Then, the far end of the level contains a third (former) Lodge room and several adjacent ante-rooms, all of which provide a wonderful backdrop to display the collection of the Museum of Masonic Culture. 

Cases in the hallway contain a stone from the White House presented by President Harry S. Truman to the Grand Lodge of New Jersey, the original 18th Century deed for the Temple's land, a cannon ball from the Battle of Trenton and a Masonic apron worn at the funeral of George Washington. A few connecting rooms with various displays lead to the entry of the main museum room, named in honor of Charles D. Visscher (with my portrait of him and a plaque hung beside the door). The main gallery contains a comprehensive, all-inclusive collection of historic and contemporary regalia from Blue Lodges and the various appendant bodies (including Prince Hall Affiliated bodies). There is everything from DeMolay and Eastern Star items to Scottish Rite (NMJ and SJ), York Rite, Allied Masonic Degrees, Shriners and the leather biker gear of the Widows Sons. 

Of particular note are an entire display case devoted to Astronauts that were Freemasons and a collection of rare artifacts related to the earliest days of Freemasonry in the State, including the first minutes of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey from 1786. There is something to see at every turn and it is extraordinary work on the part of the Visscher family to have assembled and maintained such a vast collection. I spent about an hour or so looking around and I'm sure I'd notice many new things on a return trip. 

Special thanks to R.W. Glenn Visscher for his hospitality and to the entire Visscher family for their noble efforts in preserving Masonic history for posterity.

Contact info is of the Grand Lodge website:


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 Power of Ritual

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Brian L. Pettice, 33°

Recently I had the pleasure of attending an installation of officers ceremony for a Chapter of DeMolay. The Order of DeMolay is a Masonic affiliated organization for young men from twelve to twenty-one years of age. In a Chapter of DeMolay young men learn moral lessons and develop leadership skills. The installation is a beautiful ceremony and, on this afternoon, the installation team was doing a fine job of it. When it came time for the flower talk though, I witnessed something very special.

The flower talk is a presentation of prose and poetry describing a Mother’s love and the gratitude, honor, and respect-- that love should inspire in a son. The talk is given around the Chapter Altar— in our case with the presenter on the East side and the members of the Chapter facing him on the West. I was seated in one of the sideline seats behind the presenter.

The presenter, a Senior DeMolay and Master Mason, delivered a flawless talk. By flawless I don’t mean that the ritual was letter perfect. Judging by his delivery it very well may have been letter perfect, but I and most, if not all of those in the room wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t. What I found flawless was the emotion with which he gave the talk. I teared up as he spoke and I was reminded of my own Mother’s love. I looked around the room and saw that I was not alone in having to wipe the moisture from eyes— other sons and mothers wiped theirs as well. What really struck me though was the reaction of the boys of the Chapter. Those dozen or so young men, ranging in age from twelve to seventeen, seemed mesmerized. They silently listened to this man talk. There was no fidgeting, no looking away, no distraction.

I don’t know if one talk can change a life, but for those few minutes those young men and all of us there were touched. It was great to witness and especially to FEEL the power of that ritual.


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