If I Can't Find You On Google, You Must Not Exist

How you can effectively communicate with every Brother in ONE click

by midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Michael Arce

As a digital marketer, it is painful to explain to brands the importance of an updated, relevant website. It hurts even more, when the discussion on how social media platforms provide more reach and opportunities to connect with people interested in your brand. My internal voice screams, "IT'S ALMOST 2020!" Facebook is almost old enough to drive. The Internet and cell phones have been around since the mid-1990s! Why are we acting like a website or a digital plan is something new? Most Americans living today have always have used some form of personal technology. Yet, one of the biggest challenges facing the oldest fraternity of men in the world occurs when you try to Google "Freemason lodge near me." The results often lead to a "private group" on Facebook, a website that was launched in 1999 and left to float into the deep recesses of the interwebs, or worse yet, nothing.

"Communication creates clarity," is a line I regularly use in my staff meetings. One of my big pet peeves is hearing "nobody told me" from colleagues and team members. The routine for my team meetings is to breakdown "three big things and end with a big clap." I understand in business; we are expected to deliver results yesterday while hitting moving targets. This is why I find lack of communication ironic in Masonic lodges - especially with the members. Think about the opening and closing of the Lodge... if only the Master and Warders were in step outside of meetings as much as they are IN giving direction to the Brothers during stated communications.

I reached out to WM Curt Robinson III of Denver Lodge #5 A.F. & A.M. of the Grand Lodge of Colorado. Denver #5 is an example of a Lodge that is using technology to communicate with members and guests effectively. "Masons are not on the ball when it comes to doing this," WM Robinson stated when we outlined the "Google search" problem. Instead of focusing on what Lodges are doing incorrectly, I wanted to showcase Denver #5's progress as a repeatable success opportunity for others to follow.

You can skip to the bottom of this article for a complete list of recommendations and low-budget/no-cost options to create your Lodge playbook. For now, we're going to break down the three big components to Denver's digital strategy.


When Facebook passed 1 billion members, and Twitter hit over 225 million users, many of us believed that the days of email marketing were over. The average person now has two email accounts; personally, I have five. Two are for work, one is my primary account, and the other two are for school/personal projects that need their own Gmail account and Google Drive space. Email is still the primary method that many businesses, organizations, and individuals choose to communicate. Every time you log into a streaming service or app on your phone - that account is linked to an email address. Email isn't going anywhere even if you have over 7,000 unread messages in your inbox.

Each email from Denver #5 has focus. Instead of a summons to the next event or call for a dinner reservation, Denver #5 regularly sends messages from the Master of the Lodge. "A lot of Worshipful Masters write their own trestleboard, and they should," said WM Robinson. As an email subscriber, I have received messages on the recent passing of Brothers, details on the next meeting, and 'The Master's Message.' These messages are quick emails that the WM sends out to recap previous meeting highlights, thank presenters or participants, and give the reader a preview of upcoming items of interest on the trestle board. Imagine that? An monthly email from the Master of the Lodge! "Quite a few Brothers read them and as WM, I set the craft to work and give them proper instruction. It does help to have a personal message to send every month that invites Brothers to come to Lodge, ready to participate."

In his recent December message, WM Robinson highlighted the Lodge's 160th-anniversary celebration that included a visit from the Grand Master of Colorado. He also pointed out another successful visit from Germania No. 46 F. & A. M. of New Orleans, one of a handful of Red Lodges, who performed an EA degree earlier this year. As they state on their website, Germania's original German-language ritual is a hybrid of Scottish Rite Craft Masonry and early New York State Masonry. Much of the ritual follows (often verbatim) the text exposed by William Morgan in his Illustrations of Masonry. Germania's current ritual is an amalgam of Jacques Foulhouze's 1861 Scottish Rite Craft Lodge ritual and Louisiana's York Rite work. "It was wonderful! We had close to 400 people come from the degree. We did the 1st degree so that all Brothers could witness it," WM Robinson exclaimed. He also pointed out that the inclusion of that event in his emails assisted in creating buzz and excitement for the visit.


Our conversation turned to the starting point for most searches: the Lodge website. Denver #5 has a very modern layout that is compatible with desktop and mobile devices. It's up to date - containing more than just officer pictures, events calendar, and history page. They have an archive that dates back to 2016 with photos and posts of events and happenings. Not every Lodge has a Brother who can serve as Webmaster, but there are tools and resources a Master can use to connect with someone who can help produce a quality site. Denver #5 found the Brother with a talent in their Lodge, who now helps other groups in the jurisdiction. The toughest part about launching a website is the pre-planning, content development, and design layout. The easiest part is adding new information, keeping the content fresh, and the page up to date. This is where the Lodge leadership shares the responsibility of passing along the knowledge of keeping their page relevant.

It's shocking that in 2019, there is a discussion on the need for a Lodge to have a digital presence. While everyone from your dentist to your kid's school is EXPECTED to have a functioning website, Freemasonry takes a pass. This is unfortunate because so many Lodges without a website are missing the opportunity for men who are searching for Light online. A Facebook page is a great start, but if you make it closed or private - people will find you but won't be able to connect. Now you are asking the seeker to take an additional step and find an alternate way to communicate with you. That's a BIG ask! Especially when it's easier to click on a working link.

A website does more than allow you to share your message and start a conversation; it is the first impression. Let me put it this way, if you were looking for a dentist for your kid, would you really want to visit the office with a site that looks like it was launched in 1996 and left alone... or a dentist with an interactive page? The same is true with your Lodge page.

WM Robinson recognized the added value of having a web presence early during his time in the East. "I had a clandestine Mason contact me. In Colorado, he can visit for dinner, but that's it. This led to a discussion with our Grand Lodge for direction on what to do next." Imagine that! Due and timely notice, instead of a surprise dropped in your lap, or in this case, walking into your Lodge. "Our website does bring visitors for dinner. We have 5-8 visitors for every meeting night. This is one way for us to get to know people when they find us." This does bring up an important rule to follow online as in real life: follow up.

A key part of your Lodge digital plan must include an engagement point man. Here's why: no one wants to fill out a form, or share their personal information (like their name, phone number, and email) with an unknown group --- NEVER to be contacted. "That is a major problem," WM Robinson noted. I have created the "Three Touch Rule" in my digital marketing plans to cover engagement. Every prospect is immediately followed by an automated reply, "Thanks for your interest; we'll be in touch soon!" This message lets your prospect know that you are going to work. The second step is a personal email follow up. It can be a few sentences or paragraphs but should include the person's first name, an original acknowledgment of their inquiry, and a request to contact by phone or in person. Finally, a phone call to the prospect. This call can be right after the email - after all, most of us have more than one email account and may not check them frequently. The follow-up call can follow the same script as the second email, in a friendly tone, and personal touch in a quick voice mail.

Create promoters

While we have focused on the digital side of Denver's strategy, there is a real human element. Nothing can top our personal contacts. Endorsements are still the strongest form of communication. WM Robinson realized this while he was on the road to the East. "Not every Brother does this, but once I became a Master Mason, I joined some concordant branches. I'm very involved with the Scottish Rite and in the Templars. I have met so many wonderful Brothers because of this. I use those meetings to spread the news of my Lodge. I also LOVE my phone! I may send a text message to all 150 Brothers in my contacts to let them know what's going on at Denver #5. I did this for my table lodge with great success. I had 70 men respond to my personal message," said WM Robinson. Does building these connections take time? "Absolutely! But if you are organized and good at the "copy and paste" method, it can be done!"

Digital resources

Ready to start building your digital presence? Here are a few resources that can get you started.

Mailchimp. Hands down, Mailchimp is the only email marketing platform I recommend - personally and professionally. Why? It's easy to use; you can create sharp-looking emails without having to know HTML coding. It works, and depending on how many subscribers you have - it's free.

WordPress. Like Mailchimp, it's the only website builder that I tell my friends to use. While you will need to purchase your site domain name (website address) and hosting service, WordPress sites are easy to use. The days of having to type lines of HTML code are gone! You can drag and drop your way to building a new site. Within hours, your site is live and ready for people to find!

Google Drive. About ten years ago, Google opened up its storage space and software to everyone for free. You can create a Lodge Gmail account, use Google Drive to create or store documents, spreadsheets, presentations, photos, and video --- for free. They give you 15GB, use it! I like using Google Forms to create sign up sheets that can be sent directly to my email account, to start the "Three Touches" quickly.

Me. Yes, you can reach out to me to set up a time to talk about your Lodge needs or to have a deeper conversation on the points in this article. I'm always happy to help a Brother out!


Brother Michael Arce is a member of Mt. Zion #311, Troy, New York. When not in Lodge, Bro. Arce is the Marketing Manager for Capital Cardiology Associates in Albany, New York. He enjoys meeting new Brothers and hearing how the Craft has enriched their lives. He can be reached at michael.arce@me.com

Endings As Beginnings

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Erik Marks
This time of year, I feel the collective pull to conform to the creation of new resolutions for the coming year. As humans we are drawn to mark time in a variety of ways. Some put off making a change to an auspicious occasion, a birthday, new year. That could be a long wait, for change.

In our entrance, passage, and raising, we're offered opportunities to be remade, to improve. We are encouraged to inspect and govern ourselves in new ways. Each time we witness this process, the symbolic and esoteric are impressed upon us. Arrival into Freemasonry is not a scheduled rite of passage through which all men will pass. We come to this path for many reasons and all times in our adult lives. Therefore, when we witness the making of a new Mason, we are reminded that, at any moment, we have these process available inside. They are waiting to be reactivated within the initiated.

We could wait for the new year to start. We’ve done this. It puts a lot of pressure on a single moment, making it, momentous. Break it down and normalize the process--it can become more accessible. The next witnessed third degree could be the moment to take up the reformation of self. Not soon enough. The first of the month...start over then, this could also work. But this strategy still puts off what could be done NOW, today. End the day, end of a cycle, the end of the light, and reawake from the night. And start off with morning’s arrival, remaking yourself anew. Yet, this present moment is still available: at the end of this breath, a pause. Ever so slight is the pause. And thereafter, start life again and implement change. In sixth grade, Mr. Swapp proclaimed: “...this is the first day of the rest of your life!” He was right.

The tools are here, you have them (or, you're on your way to acquiring them). The hour is now and change towards light is always available. The longest night behind us, we are bathed in more light every day. Speak the prayer. Commit. Remain aware of things that attempt to pull you off the path, internal and external. Even brief change is worthwhile and worth building upon. At the end of this year, resolve not to wait until next year, next month, next week, tomorrow, to be and act your best. 


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

It's a Wonderful (Masonic) Life

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Michael Arce

Merry Christmas you, wonderful old Building and Loan. And Merry Christmas to you, Brother!

I'd like to think that before I was a Mason that I looked at life from multiple angles. Clearly, I was trying. I saw the Holidays as a time, a season, a single episode in the yet to be determined series that would become my life. It wasn't until I reached my 30s that I really got the meaning of Christmastime. I was thumbing through the TV guide one Christmas Eve, looking for something to watch during the downtime of putting the kids to bed before we prepared for Santa's arrival. My eye caught the title It's a Wonderful Life. Somehow I had made it this far in life without seeing the Holiday classic. I remember my father making a big deal when NBC started airing it in 1994. To me, it was an old black-and-white movie, I preferred 24-hours of The Christmas Story, anyway. Sorry Dad, I'll leave the nostalgia to you. But something was different that night. I decided to make the two hours and fifteen-minute commitment with a full bottle of wine. I had to be sure that the kids were really asleep, after all.

It's a Wonderful Life is part of my holiday routine. And every year when I sit down to watch it, something new in the film gets my attention. How Bedford Falls represents "Everytown, USA." The bridge scene, where even with the gritty black and white film, in your mind, you can see how deep that water is and imagine how cold it must be. Knowing the hidden pain in George Bailey's eyes every time something in his life goes wrong. The joy that causes his voice to crack when everyone in town comes to his aid. I find a quiet night, start the movie, and enjoy the experience. I get joy in discovering a point that makes the experience new.

This year, Clarence's line to George, "Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?" caught my ear. It connected a few thoughts. The first is the section of the Fellowcraft degree charge that literally discusses our personal contact with others, the influence we have on those who share our circle. How as Masons, we strive to be charitable, honest, and humble. Whether that is bell ringing for the Salvation Army on a cold, winter night for a few hours, collecting coats for the homeless, buying Christmas presents for those less fortunate, serving warm meals in soup kitchens, or making time to connect with those who are alone this time of year - it's rewarding to know that we have Brothers who give time to make the Holidays merry for those in need. We realize that our work is to bring light to dark places. And even if I don't get a chance to meet them or learn the details of their work, these men share the same title of Brother as I do, and that makes us one and the same.

The second part of Clarence's line almost brought a tear to my eye when I thought of Brothers who have laid down their working tools this year. Those men who were pillars in our Lodges as role models and mentors, whose encouraging words or kind smiles made us feel welcome and valued. And while I had visions of my Brothers who have gone to join the Grand Architect of the Universe, I also thought of a Brother who I haven't seen at a Lodge meeting in a few years. Work, his family, and caring for his aging mother are all reasons why he hasn't been able to attend a meeting night. But he also lost the passion for knowledge that could fill a small library because of a disagreement with members of his Lodge. I still hope that someday, he chooses to put on his dark suit and tie and surprise me at a meeting. A few days after watching the movie, I sent this Brother a text just to see how everything is in his world.

Lying in bed after the move, I stared up at the dark ceiling above to reflect on this year. I realized that there's a reason why we love It's a Wonderful Life: watching George Bailey's story causes us to examine our own. We choose to gather with our closest family and friends this time of year for a reason. We want to remember this feeling, knowing that years from now, those hugs from grandparents or the sound of giggling kids will be our precious memories. Reflecting on the Masonic year has the same effect. Dinners, ritual practices, community service, the raising of new Brothers. Those moments serve as the highlights of our year. While we may know the men we share that time with, we may never truly understand the significance of these shared experiences in their life. The "ripple effect" as one Brother put it, is a theme I understood throughout the movie. Somehow this year, the mix of new relationships and old memories made a deeper connection to the difference we make as Masons in the lives of those we interact with. "Remember, no man is a failure who has friends."

Wherever you are this year, my Brother, I send you the warmest Holiday Greetings. May you continue to bring Light in every life you touch.


Brother Michael Arce is a member of Mt. Zion #311, Troy, New York. When not in Lodge, Bro. Arce is the Marketing Manager for Capital Cardiology Associates in Albany, New York. He enjoys meeting new Brothers and hearing how the Craft has enriched their lives. He can be reached at michael.arce@me.com

Why the Golden Dawn?

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. J. Clint Lewey

In the midst of the Victorian Age, a group of English Freemasons founded an esoteric Masonic society called the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia or SRIA. The objective of the society was to bring Freemasons of a similar philosophical outlook together, so they may afford aid and encouragement to each other in pursuit of their own studies in the field of philosophy and scholarship in the widest sense. From SRIA bloomed the most influential Western Tradition of practical magic called the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

As deeply esoteric as Freemasonry is, and even more so with the various Rosicrucian orders such as SRIA, why did a group of Masons feel the need to create or resurrect a practical Hermetic/Qabalistic society such as the Golden Dawn, and is it still relevant today?

During the mid-1800s, English Freemasonry was booming. It was also during this time that an increased interest in theoretical occult practices began to develop. Many Europeans were beginning to grow tired of the typical status quo of orthodox religions such as Christianity or Judaism, and were turning to Spiritualism and other alternative beliefs. While not dropping many of their Christian beliefs, countless Freemasons and Rosicrucians were beginning to show interest in the Hermetic, alchemical and Qabalistic sciences at this time. This enlightenment opened up for more thought, and more thought lead to more questions and theories.

Whilst the Golden Dawn’s roots are firmly sewn in Rosicrucianism, the order evolved out of a group of Spiritualists, Qabalists, Freemasons and Rosicrucians called the Theosophical Society. The Theosophical Society was actually founded in New York City by the legendary Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Henry Olcott. The society was popular among well-educated Americans and Brits, many of which were Freemasons, because it offered an interesting alternative to other major religious beliefs of the time. Theosophy is defined as ‘Divine Wisdom’ and combined scientific and religious beliefs that were both spiritually and intellectually satisfying.

About a decade later, the Theosophical Society had made its way to London, but its members had suffered a falling out, and eventually the society dissolved. It was quickly replaced with an order called the Hermetic Society. Amongst members of this order was a trio of Freemasons that would go on to create the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn.

In 1888, a few decades after SRIA was established, three Master Masons who were also members of SRIA, created a more practical, magic-based Rosicrucian order called the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn, later renamed the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. It was created by Dr. William Westcott, S.L. MacGregor Mathers, and William Woodman, and was based on the Cipher Manuscripts. 

The Cipher Manuscripts are shrouded in mystery. They were ‘discovered’ by Dr. William Westcott and obtained in Germany from a likely fictional lady called Fraulein Sprengel. According to Golden Dawn history, the likely origins of the Cipher Manuscripts were SRIA, and they are believed to be written specifically by Kenneth MacKenzie. When MacKenzie passed away in 1886, the papers were obtained from MacKenzie’s wife by Dr. Westcott. The original papers were written for a different esoteric group called the ‘Society of Eight’ which never fully materialized, and thus Westcott capitalized on this to form his own esoteric, Qabalistic society. 

The Manuscripts primarily contained the ritual outlines and teachings of the Order. The manuscripts outlined a system of magically based teachings that took most of the elements and teachings of SRIA and put them into practice, versus only studying the Ancient Sciences as mainly happened in the SRIA. The Golden Dawn included daily practices of rituals such as the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, Middle Pillar exercises, and meditation to name a few. Due to the times, the Order was very secretive, and their members to this day are obligated to maintain silence of their fellow fratres’ and sorores’ identities. The original and first warranted Temple was the Isis-Urania #3 of the Order of the Golden Dawn in London.

Despite good beginnings but questionable origins, the Order eventually broke apart in 1903 due to disagreements, primarily involving Mathers and the eccentric occultist Aleister Crowley. The Golden Dawn was survived by groups that share direct initiatory lineage, such as The Stella Matutina, A∴A∴ and the Alpha et Omega. These groups operated through the 1930s and sporadically until the early 1970s.

In 1934, Dr. Israel Regardie, was initiated into one of the direct off-shoots of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn called the Stella Matutina. As noted before, all Golden Dawn temples were closed by the 1970s. However, in 1977, one of the last remaining initiates into the Stella Matutina was Regardie. He came into contact with Charles “Chic” Cicero and resurrected the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Cicero is a Master Mason from Florida and a member of the American branch of SRIA, called Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis (SRICF), York Rite and other Masonic Rites and Orders. He is in the Grand Line for multiple Masonic organizations as well. His wife, Sandra Tabatha Cicero, is also heavily involved in the Golden Dawn. They have written and co-written several books as well as added new material to some of Regardie’s earlier works. Their invitational version of the Golden Dawn appears to have the most direct lineage to the original Order.

The Golden Dawn’s structure is very similar to that of the Masonic Rosicrucians. It is made up of three orders, three degrees and 12 grades. It utilizes the position, or sephiroth, on the Tree of Life to indicate a member’s grade in the Order. A couple of differences are that there is a probationary period at the beginning, when you are initiated. The initiate’s title is Neophyte or 0=0, which indicates no steps have been taken on the Tree of Life. The Neophyte is required to learn a set curriculum in order to test and progress into the Outer Order, or Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. It is here the member has the Zelator Grade bestowed upon them, and is then considered a full member of the Golden Dawn. The Outer Order consists of the 0=0 through 4=7 Grades. There is also another probationary period between the Outer Order and the Inner Order called the Portal Grade. The Portal Grade is a part of the Second Degree of the Order. It is the only grade in this degree and is neither in the Outer(or first) Order or the Inner(or second) Order. Similar to the First, Second and Third Orders, there are three degrees as well shown below. Obtaining the Portal Grade does not ensure entry into the Rosae Rubeae et Aurae Crucis (Inner Order).

The first number after the grade title indicates the number of steps taken on the Tree of Life and the second number indicates the number represented on the Tree. An example is the Zelator grade is 1=10 meaning the first step onto the Tree of Life and the tenth sephiroth on the Tree, Malkuth, as the sephiroths’ are numbered seemingly backwards from top to bottom.

First Order / First Degree / Outer Order - Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
  • Neophyte 0=0
  • Zelator 1=10
  • Theoricus 2=9
  • Practicus 3=8
  • Philosophus 4=7
Second Degree
  • Portal Grade
Second Order / Third Degree / Inner Order - Rosae Rubeae et Aurae Crucis
  • Adeptus Minor 5=6
  • Adeptus Major 6=5
  • Adeptus Exemptus 7=4
Third Order
  • Magister Templi 8=3
  • Magus 9=2
  • Ipsissimus 10=1

Freemasonry was founded by builders, whose symbols are applied in architecture and is usually described as a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols. Being more philosophical and theoretical, Freemasonry does lack the practical side that the Golden Dawn offers.

Many of the themes, symbols and verbiages of the Golden Dawn were clearly taken from Freemasonry. The similarities in how they operate are quite clear to most Freemasons. From two pillars and checkered floors, to officer locations, middle path/pillar, Gnosis or knowledge and light, references of celestical bodies, numbers, and even alchemy, the Golden Dawn and Freemasonry share many commonalities.

While there is no documented reason as to why this group of Masons started a magical order such as the Golden Dawn, it is likely due to their progress in Blue Lodge Masonry, and then later the teachings of SRIA. This mastery likely sparked a need to seek more knowledge of the Ancient Sciences, and to have a more active application of the teachings. With zodiacal references, alchemical transformation and self-mastery in the SRIA, these gentlemen utilized the Cipher Manuscripts and knowledge gained from Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism to create a system of magic that was available to men and women who seek it. They felt these magical exercises and other practices, gave them growth in their lives, and more earthly and spiritual abundance. According to Golden Dawn Senior Adept, Bro. Chic Cicero, magic is explained as “the science and art of causing change (in consciousness) to occur in conformity with will, using means not currently understood by traditional Western science.” 


By studying these teachings, the Golden Dawn adds some perspective to Freemasonry through the many similarities. For example, the Enochian Tablet seen above is placed in the North of the temple during the Zelator grade ritual, or First Grade, of the Golden Dawn. The North in Masonry is represented by darkness, and we are entered into a Masonic lodge as a candidate for the EA degree, or first degree, from the North as a statement of perpetual blindness or blackness. You can see the similarities within the tablet.

With perspective comes understanding. Many Freemasons join the fraternity as a social or civic outlet, and that is completely fine. However, many others join for that esoteric knowledge that is right within reach, yet out of sight, and often never comes out truly in Freemasonry. The Golden Dawn allows for further understanding of much of the symbolism within our fraternity, and a more hands on approach to working with it. Many symbols that are right before us in the Blue Lodge are often misunderstood or worse yet, completely ignored and glossed over. A part of our Masonic journey is the explanation of the three principle supports of Masonry. These supports or pillars represented are Wisdom, Strength and Beauty. In the Golden Dawn there are three pillars as well. If approaching from the West, the pillar to the left (north) is represented by Severity, or Strength, the pillar to the right (south) is represented by Mercy, or Wisdom and the middle pillar is represented by Mildness, or Beauty. Both cases a clear link to Kabbalah, but whereas Freemasonry talks about it, the Golden Dawn takes the step further of working with it.

Many Freemasons are members of both orders. From mine and others’ experiences, the two orders complement one another well, and provide further insight into each orders’ purpose. The Golden Dawn certainly provides more and further light cast upon our great fraternity. Some Masons that know of the Golden Dawn, may believe it to be more of a hogwash than anything, but as a study it is similar to Rosicrucian Colleges such as the SRICF or SRIA, and it goes further and adds daily ritual and practice.

Many new Masons are joining the fraternity as an outlet from the daily grind. Many new Masons are seeking a place of solace, where they can feel a spiritual and philosophical growth. They yearn to find knowledge and mentorship, they can’t get from non-Masons. A lot of new Masons have a glamorized image of gentlemen sitting in suits, talking philosophy, sipping a fine scotch inside of a beautiful, mahogany chamber and then going through very elaborate well executed rituals that nobody else understands but themselves. Unfortunately, many new Masons are let down, and turn to other orders such as the SRICF/SRIA, or even further with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn to explore this vague knowledge they gained.

Regular, speculative Masonry’s official inaugural year is 1717, but it is well known that our version of the Craft goes back potentially hundreds, even thousands of years before that. It is even believed that it goes back as far as ancient Greek, Babylonian, or perhaps even Egyptian times. This is when the two Orders unofficially crossed paths. While it wasn’t until 1888 the Golden Dawn was created by three Master Masons, the essence of the Great Work sprouted many millennia before this. With elements of Egyptian symbolism and beliefs, it shares much more with Freemasonry than most would realize. It is an outlet and a practical application of the lessons we learn in Freemasonry, and an opportunity to delve even further into the esoteric and spiritual sciences, and for many acts as path for connecting them to Further Light. And in this it is as relevant today, 130 years after its inception, as when it was initially created.

Most people familiar with our Labor are aware of Aleister Crowley and the stories that have been passed down about him. One question about him that is answered most ambivalently is whether or not Aleister Crowley was a Freemason. As a matter of fact he was, indeed, a Freemason. He was so, at least by the standards of the then ‘irregular’ Grande Loge de France in which his Anglo-Saxon Lodge No. 343 belonged to. The Grande Loge de France became unrecognized by the United Grand Lodge of England on the 29th of June, 1904. Crowley was entered into his lodge on the 8th of October, 1904.

While Crowley was never regularly initiated into a Masonic Lodge; in 1898 he was initiated into the Outer Order of the original Golden Dawn. There is debate as to whether or not he was ever entered into the Inner Order, or Ruby Rose and Golden Cross (RR et AC). This dispute was primarily due to the ever present controversy that always seemed to follow Mr. Crowley. His further contributions to the Golden Dawn are his creation of the highly secretive off-shoot, A∴A∴.

SRIA Home. (n.d.) 1st para. Retrieved from https://www.sria.info/about-the-society/sria-aims/, 2013
Chic and S. Tabatha Cicero “The History of the Golden Dawn” 8th para Retrieved from http://www.meta-religion.com/Esoterism/The_golden_dawn/the_golden_dawn.htm (1997)
Chic and S. Tabatha Cicero “The History of the Golden Dawn” 13th para Retrieved from http://www.meta-religion.com/Esoterism/The_golden_dawn/the_golden_dawn.htm (1997)
Soror SJ. “Dr. William Wynn Westcott”. Retrieved from http://hogd.co.uk/westcott.htm (2000)
Unknown Author. “About H.O.G.D.” Retrieved from http://www.hermeticgoldendawn.org/hogdframeset.html
Chic Cicero and Sandra Cicero “The Essential Golden Dawn” pg. 70, 2nd para (2003)
Martin P. Starr. “Aleister Crowley: freemason!” Retrieved from http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/aqc/crowley.html  18 Oct 2017:

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.

Input Input Input

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson

Last week, our founder, Todd E. Creason wrote a piece concerning "burnout" in our Craft. In it he boiled a lot of what was happening to him and loosing steam to a lack of personal input. We give and give but we forget to recharge our brains and consciousness with new information. This keeps us engaged, interested etc. You can read it HERE.

After I read that piece, I went back to my bookshelf and pulled the two last things I was reading, a highlighter and a Staedler. I din't open the texts to where I left off. Instead, I went back to page 1. Why? Because I now have new insights that may play out differently while going through the texts.

My current reading list is too long to put out, but the two texts that I'm using as input are my BOTA texts, starting back at lesson number 1, and the Bhagavad Gita. Each chapter of each of these books is allowing me to re-access the information I gleaned before but now with this one difference...an additional point raised above...Well, you get the picture. As time progresses, we get new experiences and perspectives. A refresher in literature that you read so long ago may yield whole new concepts!

And boy has it ever. A current article I am working on for the Illinois Lodge of Research, will be the Lessons of the Bhagavad Gita and their correlations with Freemasonry.

What are you reading? Re-reading? What have you learned through further examination?

Cheers to you Brothers! Happy Friday!


RWB, Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 2nd N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry" and is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.

Washington Didn't Write the Rules, He Lived Them

by Midnight Freemaosn Contributor
Bro. Michael Arce

The handwritten rules from the "Father of his country" are not lost to the past.

A few years ago, I was handed a copy of Washington's "Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation" at a Lodge meeting. The Worshipful Master of the Lodge had secured a stack to share with the Brothers during his visit to the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia. What impressed me the most about the Master's visit was that he was able to talk his wife into making a Masonic education "pit stop" during their family vacation. That alone was a bold move! I put my paper copy of the Rules in my coat pocket that night, listened to the Master's presentation on the Mt. Vernon estate, and found the Rules later that evening when I took off my suit at home.

The Rules sat, untouched on my dresser for a good three months.

One summer day, I was looking for something quick to read by the pool and dusted off my copy of the Rules. If you haven't read them for yourself, there is an interactive, digital version here, provided by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association. Like many who read the rules on the first pass, I found many of them to be stuffy and outdated. The rules that address "manners" cover coughing in public, how to cut your bread, posture, and presentation are a bit, how do I say this? Obvious and extremely old fashioned. The rules that address how to properly cut your bread remind me of the recent lesson I had with my 13-year-old son on how to hold a knife at the dinner table.

These rules will seem familiar to any man who was brought up in a house where manners were expected, not prompted from the sidelines. Honestly, these rules seem absolutely lost after you spend time with young people today, who have been allowed to stare into their phones, avoid eye contact, and cannot answer a question with more than a one-word response. An adult would instantly correct this behavior had theses kids been born just a generation earlier.

The Rules on "behaviour" are stacked among the rules of civility, a point that frustrated me. I wondered why Washington would present his Rules in this manner? If I weren't a Mason and a fan of history, my time with the book would have ended when I finished reading the 110 Rules that summer afternoon. But, I had questions. Thankfully, we do live in the age of Google; after a few searches, I had a better understanding of the origins of this book. First, these are "Washington's" rules. Insert your *gasp* here.

Young George copied these when he was about 14-years old in the 18th century as a lesson to improve his penmanship (another manner slowly dying in this century) with the bonus of educating a young man on how to present himself in public. I'm waiting like a Tiger in tall grass for the "teachable moment" when I can order my 13-year-old son to write these rules down. We can also discuss his lack of manners at that time... Back to George. If Washington didn't write the rules, who did? French Jesuits in 1595.

 A little digging into the history of that time shows that the idea of "all men being created equal" was seeded in the principle of courtesy: treating others as equals or near-equals to the same creator. Insert *mind blown* here. Of the six Jesuit values, teaching behaviors that reflect critical thought and responsible action are reflected in the 110 rules that guide the reader on how to regard the human race as one family. And lucky for us, they just happened to fall into the hands of the most famous American of all time. Washington may not have written his book, the Rules weren't his ideas, but they were principles upon which he built the foundation of trust and respect that cemented his character in everything he touched.

I live in Upstate New York, where historical markers point to every battlefield, inn, tavern, and building that Washington laid his hand on. If you are up to the challenge, find a copy of the Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation. Every day when you have a free moment, read ONE rule, and try to live by it. Sure, not spitting in the fire, picking ticks from your socks, or cutting your bread with a greasy knife might be easy assignments for the day. But let me know how day 88 goes when you wake up to read, "Be not tedious in Discourse, make not many Digressions, nor repeat often the Same manner of Discourse."

 On the level, my Brothers.


Brother Michael Arce is a member of Mt. Zion #311, Troy, New York. When not in Lodge, Bro. Arce is the Marketing Manager for Capital Cardiology Associates in Albany, New York. He enjoys meeting new Brothers and hearing how the Craft has enriched their lives. He can be reached at michael.arce@me.com

No Iron at the Building of Your Temple

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Erik Marks

The lesson in lecture that there was no sound of iron tools at the building of the temple has many implications in the application of masonry to everyday life. We are taught in our ritual from Deuteronomy 27:5 “and there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones: thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them (stones).” Taken literally, we understand there were no iron or metal tools used at the site where the temple was constructed. Though an amazing feat, as masons we seek and learn more from the symbolic interpretations.

Freemasonry is simultaneously a psychologically strengthening and disarming process. In truth, the two are always correlated; the stronger the psyche the greater the cognitive flexibility and less need for constant vigilance or a defensive/offensive stance. No, personal disarmament doesn’t have to do with amending the United States Constitution, nor the constitutions of Freemasonry. Perhaps a d├ętente of sorts, this process is not militaristic, though fully about easing interpersonal and intra-psychic tensions.

As we are prepared, we recognize one another to be of equal value thereby being leveled with all others; we are disarmed, psychologically, and choose to make ourselves vulnerable—intentionally. Introduced to a new sense of safety, we find ourselves amongst other men, many of whom we have never before met. At first, this is a symbolic expression of an ideal: when light is revealed, the hoodwink removed, it is confirmed we are fully protected by others who care deeply about our wellbeing and development. We are given the concept through ritual, not so much didactically, as a lecture. As we return to lodge regularly, over time, we come to know one another and the ideal vision is made manifest through a trust we co-construct. Therefore, I understand in the description that no sounds of metal heard at the worksite has to do with the manner in which we address the brethren and ourselves. These, in turn, a training ground for how to be in the larger world.

In the symbolic edict, we could consider both tools and weapons made of iron specifically, but any weapon, generally. With this interpretation, we are told there were no weapons brought to the building of the temple. It would be in keeping with the idea that the building of a spiritual edifice would be wholly a reverent activity, not combative. At very least an expectation that the temple would be built in relative safety, far from the reach of enemies, combat, or the need for arms. This concept is extended in that one leaves weapons at the door of the temple, to be disarmed before the Divine, and others in its presence, to commune. We leave the protection of the lodge to the Tyler.

Consider the following quote:

Every stone which was touched by iron, even though it was not damaged, is disqualified [for use] in building the altar…, as it is stated (Shemot 20:25): "By lifting your sword against it, you will have profaned it." (Hilkhot Bet Ha-Bechira 1:14-15).[i]

When we consider the personal temple being constructed and each man a living stone of the larger societal temple, we could say this interpretation implies we must not take up a weapon against any stone in the construction of the spiritual temple. In this reading, stone could refer to the individual brother or brethren as a collective; and as the purpose of masonry is to shine light into the world, it refers, by extension, to our actions in every-day life. The literal meaning is to not be violent towards your brothers. In the course of coming to lodge with increasing regularity as we progress, we get to know one another more deeply and quite naturally drop our defenses. We speak our minds and bond over food and ritual. At times, we may disagree on matters and agitate one another. Here the call to harmony is literal and interpersonal/psychological: don’t act out, physically, relationally, internally. The craft trains us to be fully ourselves, open, and to work to remain non-reactive to each other when conflict happens.

A slightly more interpersonal reading might suggest we watch our words (tyler and inside sentinel are corollaries to psychic and interpersonal guards). We watch for our weaponized words. We guard against passive-aggressive forays into being “right,” thereby causing disharmony in the lodge building and the building of each inner temple. We could take this construction further still to be careful with our intentions towards our brothers: Do I harbor resentments? Am I secretly angry at a brother? What weapons do I prepare in the silence of my sanctum against him? Can I set my weapons down? Will I have sufficient strength to relent?

I’ve heard said, and have said it myself in the past, until I knew better: “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Though one interpretation of the seemingly clever “intentions” quip is that remaining in a planning phase leads to lack of action. However, the quip has the profound negative effect of causing men to devalue their intentionality and not take into account motives and urges we disavow or keep from our conscious selves. By repeating this phrase to self and others, we relinquish our willingness to accept responsibility for the root causes of our actions and all their outcomes, internally and in the world.

The antidote: catechism, our ritual. It is a systematic dialogue with oneself, initially introduced to each man in lodge through ritual. We are taught the procedure in each degree by our officers, who symbolically represent aspects of our psyches in a command relationship with the Divine[ii]. We observe the process with each entry, passage, and raising of a stone. Through personal experience, observation, rehearsal, and performance of the exchanges, the desired outcome is that each man has the opportunity to operationalize this internal procedure to question himself and his intentions, urges, motives in real-time through the tests and trials of daily life.

Not every mason shares this understanding of our work and may choose to not use the education in the intended manner. Some, who are not ready for this level of self-examination, may not engage self in this way because it is mildly to wildly uncomfortable to remain in this level of self-examination for any length of time. Practicing masonry at this depth can evoke a great deal of uncertainty and vulnerability, which is natural and expectable. It can feel aversive until we walk the winded stair repeatedly over years. Then, a broader familiarity with self allows for greater foundational stability and decreased reactivity.

Taking this interpretation to the lone builder, working day and night on this personal temple we would inquire as to what weapons does he point at himself to his own detriment? Is he rough (The intra-psychic ruffian) with his own mind and demand too much progress or secrets before he is fully prepared[iii]? Is he caught in a conflict between the psychological officers of his inner lodge? Is he at odds with himself? The iron as symbolic weapon takes the form of verbal and linguistic cruelty, meanness, harsh thoughts directed at his Self. Rather than building, the inner assaults tear down progress made. Instead of strengthening, morale and spirit diminish and the foundation deteriorates.

Do we believe that being harsh, mean, or cruel, towards ourselves, in our own minds makes us stronger? The idea is a lie. Our symbols and ritual have always held the antidotes to the lie in the alchemical blend of beauty (emotion, aesthetics, junior warden, plumb) and strength (rationality, containment, senior warden, level) to produce Wisdom (compassion, mediation, empathic intentionality, master of the lodge, gavel).

The idea that cruelty at self or other is strengthening is a lie on the universal level, because if everything manifest in the world is the divine’s attempt to understand or express itself, when one raises a sword against the stone as self through being cruel, harsh, or mean, one raises that sword at a reflection of the divine and is therefore committing a heinous act against that which one professes to revere most.

Many of us have had this lie installed from before we could talk. It was the air we breathed; handed down over generations or implied by criticism levied against us, often by one or both parents. It is in our collective conscious and unconscious. Like a virus, the lie is adapted to infect humans, and is pernicious in the psyche. It is self-reinforcing and challenging to extract: “If I’m not hard on myself, who will be?” The implication that only through punishment, cruelty, harshness, and aggression are we able to progress. Just because this virus is relatively ubiquitous does not mean it is right. I see it far too often in my practice, far more in men than women. It both communicates and hides a deep level of shame we keep from light. If we bring the light, we will see. If we see, we will feel the shame and its pain. However, in the process of coming to light, we heal the shame and pain.

As Mason’s, we have an opportunity to use the content and methods of the fraternity to increase the probability we might remove and keep the iron from the process of perfection; that on the deepest levels, perfection can only happen without using metal tools in the construction. In our craft, we are encouraged to offer relief and charity to brothers, their families, our communities. The high regard for self is inherent in the architect’s blueprints. We are of no use to others if we hollow out our own structure, psychologically. In the fields of psychotherapy and counseling, Self-compassion training has gained prominence in the past fifteen years for both people being treated and those treating them. Recent research shows that self-compassion training has wide ranging benefits for everyone[iv] [v], men[vi] and veterans[vii].

The lie damages the psyche and Self because harshness and cruelty never evoke enduring strength, resilience, or determination; it pulls for and builds fear, doubt, resentment, and self-hatred. These ineffectual tactics tear down the work of the temple and defile the inner altars constructed to the divine, like foes engaging us using PsyOps[viii] (Psychological Operations, employed by military to influence motivations or break the morale of an opponent). Further still, adept leaders know positively focused constructive criticism and inspiration—bringing spirit to others or self—are the most effective motivational tools.

As one experiences, then witnesses, and eventually performs the ritual, it works upon the psyche to elevate the idea of harmony, charity, and effective construction rather than using violent language in a vain attempt to move toward self-improvement. Moreover, as men progress through the line, becoming increasingly proficient in each officer’s tasks and their psychological corollaries, one has greater capacity to build with efficacy. The education inherent in our ritual and practices allows men to continue their development and move toward the possibility of a more mature masculinity[ix].

Now is the time to test your metaphoric and symbolic metal: leave literal and psychological iron at the door of the temple. Search out the ore of ill intent in heart, mind, and gut. Set down the swords and daggers, the cruelty and mean-spirited reactivity directed at Self and others. As you labor with these ideas, it is my assertion your ability to find and tolerate more exponentially expand. It may bring up a lot of discomfort, even painful memories. This is the sign you are onto something important, you are developing and growing.

As you endure, persist with compassion, and train your psyche not to attack itself, you might find yourself with more energy and ease for the tasks in your life; eventually you may have more patience and tolerance with people with whom you interact towards those you care (though initially, patience may decrease due to the taxing nature of this emotional labor). In what seem like a paradox, your inner officers may also begin to test you more diligently, giving you rougher edges to smooth and, alas, resulting in increased wages. When this task is elusive or challenging to accomplish, talk with your brother builder about it and consult the designs of the Architect.


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
[i] https://www.etzion.org.il/en/lecture-105-prohibition-using-iron-building-altar 

[ii] MacNulty, W. Kirk (2017). The way of the Craftsman.

[iii] Nagy, John S. (2009+). Uncommon Masonic Education series.

[iv] Germer, Chris (2009). The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing yourself from destructive thoughts and emotions.

[v] Neff, Kristin (2015). Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself.

[vi] https://chrisgermer.com/msc-for-men/

[vii] Rabon, J.k., Hirsch, Kaniuka, et al. (2019). Self-compassion and suicide risk in veterans: when the going gets tough, do the tough benefit more from self-kindness? Mindfulness. ISSN 1868-8527 [multiple APA research articles produce similar conclusions, citations available upon request]

[viii] US Army (April 2005). FM3-05.301

[ix] Davis, Robert G. (2005). Understanding Manhood in America.

When The Masonic Light Burns Out

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

We spend so much of our time as Masons doing things.  Going to events.  Putting on fundraisers for this cause and that.  Attending degree work and Masonic Funeral Rites.  We spend a lot of time in the car driving sometimes long distances to attend meetings and events, and while we’re in the car, many of us use that time to practice and rehearse degree parts.  As a Secretary I spend a lot of time making sure dues are paid, meetings are announced, birthday cards go out, and keeping track of Brothers in need or in sickness and distress. 

But the more active we are as Masons, the more at risk we are as well.  How many times have we seen that Mason that was always involved in everything suddenly vanish?  He just flames out.  Done. It’s not uncommon at all, in fact, I hear it all the time.  And I get it a lot more now than I did a couple years ago, because I found myself in that boat.  After a very long term in the East (much too long by anyone’s standards), and after more than a dozen years as a Mason, I found I had very little energy left for the Fraternity when I finally got out of that chair.  I haven’t written a book in several years—I have one nearly done I just can’t seem to get excited about finishing.  I’ve struggled to even write pieces for the blog that I started.  I don’t feel like going to meetings, and I’ve missed a lot of them over the last year or so. 

Then I finally figure it out, and as often is the case the answer came from an unexpected source.  I’m over fifty now, and in a few years I can retire with a pension.  I have no intention of sitting around the house until I croak eventually.  I also have no desire to continue working at what I do now, although I certainly can.  So the question is what am I going to do with the rest of my life? 

I realized that I still have a strong desire to do what I originally wanted to do back when I graduated high school—I want to serve the church.  That’s not the path I wound up taking, but it certainly isn’t too late to pursue it now—it’s what the PC culture would call an “encore career” and Monty Python would refer to as “and now for something totally different!”  And I have plenty of time before I retire to prepare myself with the necessary training and education to do that.  I spent the summer finding out what I’d have to do to make that happen through my church.  I’ve started ministerial training through the church already, and I start attending seminary classes in mid-January.  But I was given a reading list of about fifteen books by the seminary—some suggested reading to help prepare me for the seminary journey ahead. 

I’m sure they didn’t expect me to read all fifteen books, but since I’m through about eight of them, I probably will.  I’ve always loved to read, and I’m chewing through it quickly, reading hours on end, and anxious to glean from the material things I can use.  And I’m writing about what I’m reading—like I used to when I was reading so much about Freemasonry.

And then the light bulb came on! 

For too many Freemasons like me, the focus of Freemasonry becomes about output instead of input.  Doing things--all the time.  Output.  Output.  Output.  And we never refuel ourselves with that knowledge that so fascinated us in the beginning of our journey.  It sneaks up on you, and suddenly, Freemasonry is just another job rather than a lifelong opportunity for personal growth, moral training, and character development.  We put down the books and pick up the spatula in the kitchen, or the minute book at the Secretary’s desk.  And suddenly, we’re a volunteer employee rather than a traveler seeking the knowledge our predecessors passed down to us.  And for me, somebody that has been passionate about Masonic Education since I joined, instead of being anxious to share something I’ve read, I wind up recycling something I already know because “I got to put something together for education next Thursday” and I haven’t actually read anything I could share in some time. 

Hopefully, you’ll learn something from my mistake.  Your focus should be on building yourself—making yourself a better man.  Focus on acquiring and applying that knowledge that is so abundant in our Fraternity (we have dusty libraries all over of unread books).  Read.  Study.  Learn.  Be inspired.  Input.  Input.  Input.  You have to keep working on yourself.  Output is the result of input. 

If you study history, and most especially industrious men like Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin, you’ll find a few things they had in common.  First of all, what they accomplished in their lifetimes seems impossible.  The second thing you’ll quickly learn is what they put out paled in comparison to what they took in-- what they read, studied, and filled themselves with.  Their tremendous contributions were the result of a passion fueled by what they took in. 

When you’re inspired by what you’re taking in, nothing becomes a job—it will become a self-fueling passion within you.


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.or