The Little White House

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

In November 1946, President Harry Truman, who had been in office just over a year and a half, was exhausted. He had seen the end of World War II, made the excruciating decision to use atomic weapons, and soon would have to prepare an election campaign where the odds were stacked against him. Brother Harry, a member of Grandview Lodge 618 and former Grand Master of Missouri, told his doctor, Wallace Graham, he was fatigued. Dr. Graham ordered Truman to take a vacation in a warm weather climate. The president elected to go to Key West Florida, which had a nearby naval station. The area also had an ideally suited house. Originally serving as an officers' quarters, it later became the home of the base commandant. Truman stayed in the house and fell in love with the place. He designated it as his southern White House and made several more visits there during his presidency.

The location, just a three-hour flight from Washington proved to be ideal not only as a vacation hideaway, but was also a popular meeting place where staff and dignitaries were eager to visit during cold weather. Truman regularly made visits every November-December and returned each February-March. The "Little White House," as it became known, was the home of many important presidential decisions including the initial crafting of the Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine, a temporary cease-fire in Korea and the recognition of the State of Israel. It was also here Truman wrote his fourth Civil Rights Executive Order requiring federal contractors to hire minorities.

On a recent trip south, I visited the place and discovered a few more interesting facts and surprises:

The first surprise was visitors are not allowed to photograph anything inside. The guide explained this is a security measure owing to the fact that any Internet search for "White House" also brings up information about the Key West location. I thought the sanction to be a bit overdone, but reluctantly complied – no secret phone shots.

Harry Truman was good at a lot of things. Relaxing and taking his mind off of work was not one of them. It was supposed to be his staff's job to see to it that Truman used the time in Key West to relax. On the other hand, Truman was concerned about his staff members and wanted them to relax and enjoy their stay. On many occasions, the president sat in his living room looking calm while he was busy at work with his presidential duties, writing memos, letters and speeches. Across the room, his staff members tried to look at ease while they were busy managing Truman's schedule and running the show. No one got much relaxing done.

The master bedroom contains two twin beds. It was designated as Mrs. Truman's bedroom. On occasion their daughter Margaret slept in the second bed. The president had separate sleeping quarters. It was, at the time, the policy that, even in the White House in Washington, DC, the president and first lady had separate bedrooms. In other words, you might be the president of the United States, but you can't sleep with your wife. This policy remained in effect until Brother Gerald Ford became president. It wasn't Ford who ended the policy, but his wife Betty, who described the arrangement as… to use a euphemism... bovine excrement.

Truman loved to play poker. One of the changes he made in the furnishings of the Little White House was the addition of a poker table. There, he would sit for hours and play poker with his staff and even national and world leaders who visited. The existence of the poker table was kept secret, the thinking being that the general public would consider poker playing to be scandalous.

On one occasion, the bevy of reporters accompanying the president cooked up a prank to play on Truman. Deciding the president, being a Democrat, must be fond of donkeys, they somehow got past security and smuggled a burro onto the grounds. They hid the animal in the president's detached bath house. The next morning when Truman went to take his shower he was greeted not only by the animal, but also by a large pile of donkey poop. The Secret Service was not at all amused and launched an investigation into the matter. Truman laughed off the incident and stopped the investigation.

The tour made no mention of Truman's Masonic activities. I asked the guide if he knew anything about that and he told me the president did, in fact, visit Masonic lodges in the area and on occasion participated in Masonic events. Knowing about Truman's love for the Craft, that didn't surprise me at all.

Since Truman's presidency, other presidents and leaders have continued to use the Little White House for various purposes. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Carter all stayed there. The last presidential visit was a 2005 weekend retreat for Bill and Hillary Clinton. In 1987, the house became the property of the State of Florida, which restored it and opened it as a state historic site and museum. Today it is open to the public and offers several daily tours – no photographs, please.


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.

Why Freemasonry?

by Midnight Freemason Guest ContributorBro. Mark St. John

Freemasonry is an excellent fraternity that provides its members an opportunity to meet and become friends with many other like-minded men. It is a chance for men to meet once or twice a month, have a nice meal together, and get to know one another. It is also a means to provide charity to those in need of it. It can be a vehicle for men to learn to exert themselves, achieve goals, become leaders, and grow more comfortable talking to a group. It can be all of these things, but the truth is, there are other organizations out there that provide men with these opportunities. These groups exist without the need for rituals and lectures that have to be memorized in order to be performed, which is even more difficult considering the time period most of this work is from. With this in mind, why do we keep participating in Masonry? Why do we learn these things from Freemasonry if there are other clubs that also make similar offers?

Freemasonry does not replace one’s religion, but it certainly supplements its teachings for a man. Our principle supports are faith, hope, and charity. The first two deal exclusively with God. We learn to honor God through all things. Everything we do begins and ends with prayer. The Volume of Sacred Law is so essential that we cannot meet without one opened on our altar. The belief in God is a requirement to be considered for membership within regular Freemasonry, and it is also an immutable landmark of the fraternity for its members to continue to believe in. Without that belief, everything we do, all the lessons taught in our degrees, becomes frivolous.

We also believe that there is more to us than flesh, bone, or primal survival instincts. There is a Divine Spark within us that is eternal, and bound for another existence. We are unique creatures in Nature. We have the ability to dream, to contemplate, and to work out complex problems. These traits separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom, but that does not mean that we do not have animalistic instincts. Animals act on these instincts without thinking, or considering the consequences of their actions (for the most part). Man can also act on these instincts, or more precisely, his passions. To overcome this, we tune in to our spiritual side, where we learn to think before we act, to do things for good rather than our own pleasure, and most importantly, to act in a way that attempts to perfect our soul to become worthy of the Kingdom of God. This awareness and improvement of this soul within us, is man operating on his highest form--one that is aware of his spiritual, Divine Spark and that work is needed to return it to its Divine Source.

We also learn how we should interact with one another, and the world at large. We learn that charity extends beyond financial relief or lending a helping hand to those in need. We learn that charity is unconditional brotherly love and affection for all mankind, no matter of one’s race, creed, religion, or social and financial standing. We learn that everyone should be treated the same. We can disagree with a person on any number of things, but we should still love them as one of God’s children. This is perhaps the single hardest thing for us as Masons, and especially mankind itself, to apply to our daily lives. The symbols, lectures, and teachings are there for us as a constant reminder.

We learn of virtues in addition to those mentioned above to help us in our daily lives. We learn to have fortitude, or the courage to do the right thing, even though there may be overwhelming pressure to do the opposite, or go with the crowd. Prudence teaches us that we should never act rashly or emotionally, but should react or speak only after careful thought and introspection. Temperance tells us to not overindulge in anything that could lead us down a path of bad behavior. This not only applies to things like alcohol, overeating, or swearing, but perhaps any action that can be overdone. Finally, justice teaches us to reward or punish those based only on their actions or words, not any preconceived notion or prejudice, and that all should be treated equally with these virtues.

We learn the values of patience and perseverance. Just as going through the degrees takes time, so too does improving ourselves. The Staircase Lecture symbolizes our lifelong pursuit of knowledge. We cannot see where we are going, and must be patient as we ascend. The work never truly ends for us until the day we die. We must also persevere. During the course of our travels, we will constantly meeting obstacles blocking our path-if the path were easy, we would never truly earn improvement through our labor. We must always remain worthy of further light. Perseverance is also taught in the story of the Master Builder, who kept his integrity and moved forward despite the obstacles he faced. Lastly, we learn that despite our best efforts, we will not receive the Divine Word, the Truth, until the light of this life is extinguished, and the light of our next life is lit-if found worthy.

Freemasonry stands out from other organizations because of the shared initiatic experience of our ritual. It supplements Biblical teachings for a man, and serves as a reminder to ever be working towards perfection. Perfection in this life is not attainable, but it is still a worthwhile endeavor because man improves as he works toward perfection. Practicing our teachings and living by their example makes us more worthy to receive God’s Light. The Ephramite Lecture teaches us that God’s Light can be given to us, but we must be worthy to receive or understand it. It is a Spiritual Nourishment of plenty, but we must make ourselves capable of internalizing it. Freemasonry teaches us to ever pursue these labors for our own self-improvement. Freemasonry can mean different things to different brothers. For some, it can mean all of these things. While it is great to have an outlet for social gathering, the performance of charity, and duty through the administration of the fraternity, we should never disregard the teachings our ritual opens to us. This is the Light of Masonry, and for those that can internalize these lessons and make them a part of their daily life and practice, self-improvement is an inevitable consequence. The more we as Masons can do this, the more our Lodges and Grand Lodges can improve, the more we can attract men to the fraternity looking for the same thing, and lastly, the more we can improve our communities and society as a whole. Fiat Lux, Brethren.


Bro. Mark St. John was raised April 12, 2018 in Urim Lodge #111 in Calhoun, Louisiana, and is currently serving as Senior Warden. He is also a member of Graham Surghnor Lodge #383 and serves as its Junior Deacon. He serves the Fourth District of Master Masons of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana as it’s Senior Deacon. Mark is a 32° Master of the Royal Secret of the Valley of Monroe, where he serves as the Knight Warden (Sr Warden) of the Valley’s Chapter of Knights of St. Andrew. He is also a Noble of the Barak Shrine Temple of Monroe, Louisiana.

The Rough and Perfect Ashlar

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

At our last meeting of Homer Lodge No. 199, fellow Midnight Freemason Darin Lahners led a fantastic discussion on the topic of the rough and perfect ashlar. That night the attendees ranged in age from 20 to 80. As I listened to my fellow lodge brothers talk about this topic, I was very impressed with the insight that each of them brought to the discussion.

As Freemasons we venture onward toward a goal of perfection that is not achievable. Yet as one of the reflection questions from the discussion asked, if we cannot obtain perfection, then why would we strive for it?

The discussion regarding this question focused around the need for continued individual growth, working towards constant self-improvement or one risks becoming stagnant in life. Several brothers spoke about the spiritual growth that is important along life’s journey. Self-improvement as a goal provides the motivation for continued learning, challenging oneself to try new experiences and looking inward to a deeper understanding of one’s self.

Metaphorically the rough ashlar represents the imperfect individual, it represents you the Freemason. But as a Freemason you have been given the tools towards chipping away at the rough ashlar in pursuit of the perfect ashlar. In order to do your work as the Freemason you must use these tools, or you risk not improving your ashlar.

So, I challenge you to pick up your working tools and begin chipping away towards your perfect ashlar. Your journey in life will be so much more rewarding!


Greg Knott is the Worshipful Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), a Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC.

Is This The Year You Begin Working On You?

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

I got a nice card from the Grand Lodge of Illinois last week.  I get one every year acknowledging another anniversary.  I’ve been a Mason for 14 years this month!  All I can really say about that is that I’m a better man than I was, but not nearly the man I’d like to be.  I have more work to do.

What a lot of people don’t understand about Freemasonry is that it’s a journey, not a destination.  It’s not a magic wand.  You don’t walk out of the Lodge after receiving the Master Mason degree a better man.  You have to become a better man.  You have to work at it.  You have to read and apply Freemasonry to your life.  You have to learn from the good examples set by those mentors you’ll undoubtedly meet along the way.  It’s a lifelong commitment.  The way I view it, being a Freemason is a goal that we never quite reach in the same way we never perfect that ashlar during our lifetimes because there’s always a little here or there that needs to be chipped away or ground down.  If you’re not a Mason that’s willing to do the work, then you’re just a dude with a nice ring and a dues card in his wallet. 

There are Masons that “get it” and there are Masons that don’t (too many).  For those that are willing to do the work, the rewards are tremendous.  I started by learning what the degrees meant and studying and trying to apply the concepts presented within.  When you begin to do that, you begin to realize just how imperfect you are.  I was under the misguided impression that I was a pretty good guy when I joined, but after beginning my journey I realized there were a lot of areas for improvement—a lot more than I thought.  I don’t think there’s anything more difficult than improving your personality and your character.  I took the Benjamin Franklin approach and listed out all the areas that I needed serious work on, and each week, I focused on one area, and I’ve repeated this exercise over and over again for 14 years—if you look in my bullet journal today you’ll see what I’m working on this week.  There’s a few bad character flaws I feel I’ve mastered over the years—my exercises over the years have made those positive traits second nature.  There’s other areas . . . well, I’m working on them still.  It’s not the attainment of perfection that’s important, it’s the continued pursuit.  And every Mason should go about it in the way that works best for him. 

Once a Mason begins that process of getting his house in order and improving himself, it becomes his duty to help other Masons do the same thing.  That’s what many Masons find to be the most rewarding aspect of Freemasonry—mentoring others.  Showing other Masons that this isn’t a club.  It’s not about attaining titles and wearing aprons.  Freemasonry is a way of life.  It’s shared values and shared experience.  It’s tradition.  It’s about reaching and maintaining a higher standard for yourself than those in the profane world do.  And when given the choice, it’s about always striving to do the right thing rather than the easy thing.

There’s nothing easy about Freemasonry.  And improving your character is only the first step.  You’re going to discover fears that are holding you back that you’ll have to confront on this journey—I’ve been outside my comfort zone so many times over the last 14 year that I wouldn’t even be able to count them.  The next challenge is when you become aware that the values you’ve begun to develop don’t match the lifestyle you’re living.  There may be adjustments needed in your personal habits, your recreational pursuits, your job, and perhaps even some of the people you spend time with.  When you begin making changes to who you are as a person, every aspect of your life will be impacted.  Most of those changes will be extremely positive, but know that if you’re serious about the journey and the destination you seek, some things may just have to go.

I got a message over the holidays from a Mason in Tennessee.  He’s forty-four years old and has been a Mason for eight years.  He put it perfectly when he said, “I know Masonry is working in my life when I see the long list of things I’ve accomplished in the last eight years since I’ve been a Mason both personally and professionally compared to the short list of accomplishments I achieved in the 36 years I wasn’t a Mason.” 

Freemasonry starts with personal improvement and change.  It’s hard work, but through the process, you’ll find the person you were meant to be.  And it’s never too late to begin.  

Is this the year you begin working on 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:

When the Meme Hits Home

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson

Ouch! That meme above....

*Note - There are Freemasons who enjoy both the spiritual side and the fraternal side of the craft. In this piece I address the hard liners. The "Esotericists" who don't attend lodge for a lack of proper education, and the "Standard Brothers" who get up and walk out of an educational lecture. I am pointing out a division that exists within two factions but advocate for the esotericist to follow their path, even if that means coming to grips with the statement, "Freemasonry will not support my expectations of a mystery school." Still interested? read on.

In response to a meme that I found on The Winding Stairs [Freemasonry group on Facebook] just 24 hours ago, admittedly I came to the conversation late. When I found it it was already 45 comments deep and I decided to comment. I Said,
"This is a great meme. Felt this way for a looong time. So I became a hermit. Started a new lodge and rededicated myself to outside esoteric schools. It’s what you gotta do sometimes. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ "
I should admit, you will find me at many lodge meetings. I'm not really a hermit. I digress. After continuing to read the comments I came to a sudden revelation. Maybe not so shocking, maybe not so deep... but true to me at least. That truth is that many people come to "Regular" Freemasonry, in the hopes of finding a modern-day mystery school. However unless this is a Lodge that is enjoying a deep esoteric, spiritual experience as an established part of their identity, he won’t find it.

On the other side of the coin, there are those members (the majority) who are deeply satisfied for having joined something where they find not,spirituality, but rather fellowship camaraderie and something to do that is a little more social. I hesitate to say a social club. It's true for socialite and esoteric seekers alike. A socialite mason isn't going to find a great business networking opportunity within a lodge of Kabbalists, and a practitioner of say, Enochian magick isn't going to find value in running a fish fry.

Arguably Freemasonry is a spiritual and intellectual course of discipline. However the craft has evolved into something wholly different through time. Whether this is wrong or right, who can say? I cannot say that the "social club" Masonry is "doing it wrong", because it is exactly the way it is supposed to be, according to how it is being promulgated by our institutions at large. How different is it from the context of the ritual? It's as if the word "Speculative" has taken the full reigns.

Some would say Freemasonry isn’t very Masonic [anymore]. I would tend to agree with this, if only for the fact that we've redefined what Freemasonry means. Which is why we have the relatively new Traditional Observant Lodges, and others. A sort of push back, if you will. Freemasonry is healthy. I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere. But also it is “changing with the times." Regardless of the foundation or tradition, it is changing to be more accepting, and to embrace wholeheartedly the more tangible things that the Craft seems to represent.

When we say the, "...greatest of all these is Charity.", our organizations are latching on with everything, and going all in like Maverick at a poker game. There are those “esoteric Freemasons" who are fighting what we consider, a war to get Freemasonry back to what it was, or rather what it’s intended purpose was. I’m afraid, outside of the Traditional Observant movement, Educational focused Lodges, the more spiritual experience based Lodges, will always be the minority. They are doomed to suffer under the administration of an organization that promotes something completely different than what they are and represent.

This makes it difficult to even operate within the confines of the system. So we’re left wondering about the definition of Freemasonry and how that definition has changed with time. We all come to this conclusion that it is okay that it’s not embodying what its original purpose purports to have been (Education).

The key is balance? Maybe. It doesn't work with hard liners. Consider the facts. This works for middle ground Masons who find themselves intrigued with the esoteric. But the practitioner of the Royal Arts rarely has any interest in anything of pomp and circumstance, honorifics, charity events, lunch and learns, retirement options etc. And I will say that the opposite is true for our brothers on the other side. I would hardly expect such a Freemason to sit through a 90 minute discourse on the Golden Versus of Pythagoras. Or to sit through a 45 minute Yale Lecture on biblical foundations with an extensive Q&A afterwards. These are two separate organizations. Dare I say, the esoteric version just doesn't fit Freemasonry any longer. Maybe it hasn't for a really long time...

When we look at the records we see the Masonic scholars throughout time have complained about Education in practical means. In fact the SRIA and SRICF were born out of Masonic needs to get deeper into the mystical, and yet it was not practical enough. So out of this was born the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which later became the Alpha et Omega in the USA. And even this organization further split. Theosophy was no different, one organization with a firm foundation, later split into others due to differing approaches in teaching the work.

Truly there is a home for the esoteric Freemason like myself, but our Lodges number in the tens. It is difficult to find a lodge where we fit. "Traditional Masonry" is not an esoteric experience. It is the experience of the social and charitable Lodges where the majority of Brothers find themselves once or twice a month. The Meme in question (above) - I don’t blame the man making it. In fact the meme spoke to me. We hear the words ad nauseum - "Be the change." Really, I think we need to get real. Freemasonry is not where I would recommend anyone go for an Esoteric Experience, not until it's the norm. Modernity has changed what Freemasonry is, the majority has latched on and it's not really right for any esotericist to try and change that. While I'm on the topic of dank memes...As much as I love this golden meme below, well...I just keep quiet...mostly.

When I sent this article to a Brother, he alluded to Freemasonry being a beginners guide, an introduction or a menu of different divergent paths which lead to some esoteric places. Maybe he's right. I think there may be something to that.

I say let Freemasonry flourish in the way it is being lead. Celebrate our Brothers and their accomplishments. If we can't do this, then maybe we shouldn't be there anymore.


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.

Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Man

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

Everything I needed to know about being a man, I learned in Freemasonry

In 1986, a minister named Robert Fulghum published a book of short essays which was entitled, “Everything I needed to know I learned in Kindergarden”. He broke down sixteen items that he learned which you can find listed here:

It’s a simple little list, packed with a lot of wisdom. I had forgotten all about the book, as it sat on a bookshelf until I happened upon it recently. It started to make me think about how some of those things he listed are taught and expounded upon by Freemasonry. It made me think that I wish I had that list in mind (along with some others) when I did wicked things in the past, which were selfish, and I ended up hurting people I love(d). I started thinking what force in my life helped turned it around, and the answer was evident--Freemasonry. Those things were lost to me while doing things that were selfish. I was not a man at that point, I was still acting like a boy, even though I was old enough to be a man. Freemasonry taught me to how to be and act like a man.

How did Freemasonry teach me to be a man? It taught me the below:

  • Never undertake any great undertaking without the blessing of your deity. Always be reverent towards your deity. 
  • Never be coerced into doing anything. Everything you do must be of your own freewill and accord, and always be prepared in your undertakings. 
  • An obligation is a tie stronger than human hands can impose. If you violate an obligation, there will be a penalty. Karma exists.
  • Make good use of the 24 hours in a day. Make sure you are resting, working, playing and praying daily. Make sure the work and play isn’t excessive. Pray for others before praying for yourself. Get plenty of rest. 
  • Personal change requires work and patience. Work requires tools. Make sure you’re always using the right tools. Remember that results take time.
  • Love your family, neighbors, and brothers. Aid those that need it. Always speak the truth.
  • Be fair in your dealings with others and treat them as you would want to be treated. 
  • Be a good citizen.
  • Square your actions according to the virtues we are taught and you will walk upright.
  • Listen always, speak only when you need to, and never betray another’s trust. 
  • Never stop learning new things. Study and practice those things you think you already know.
  • Reach out to your brother if you see them falling. Especially if they indicate such. Vindicate your brother’s behavior behind his back, as well as in front of his face. Whisper good council to them when they err.
  • Life is short, make good use of your time, and always remember we are born to die. 
  • Nothing is hidden from deity. 
  • Live a good life and have hope in the afterlife.

Am I over simplifying the lessons that Freemasonry teaches? Most definitely. Will you agree with my all of my points? Probably not. One of the beauties of Freemasonry is that every member will have a different definition of what Freemasonry teaches or has taught them. This is only what it has taught me. What has it taught you? 


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

The Sacred Number Nine

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Christopher Tilley, 33°

*Editors Note* Chris Tilley was an amazing man and Freemason. He was active, he was passionate and he was a researcher. Chris graduated last year and when he left us it was surreal. The outpouring for him was astounding. All who knew him, miss him. I was scrolling through some old emails and I cam upon an email from Chris. In it, he said, "Hey Robert, let me know what you think. You don't need to publish this, in fact it's probably silly. But let me know." I read it. I really liked it. But I never published it. I don't think he wanted the attention. Before deciding to publish this posthumous article, I reached out to some of my Brothers at the Valley of St. Louis for a blessing. They felt it would be a fitting tribute to Chris. So below is Chris' piece. This is dedicated to Chris and his family, friends and Brothers.
Most Freemasons are familiar with the numbers 3, 5, and 7, but those are just a few that have symbolic meaning. As an active Cryptic Mason, I have heard the number nine used in the Select Master degree. I would like to share what I have found about the number nine with you. In Freemasonry, Rosicrusianism, and in the Holy Bible, there are many important numbers that are repeated. I believe the number nine to be one of the most symbolic numbers. As we study Geometry, Pythagoras, and the Ancient Mysteries, numbers will become more relevant. This paper will be very repetitive with -you guessed it- the number nine.

Jesus was about 33 years old when he died 3x3=9. Jesus expired at the ninth hour. Jesus appeared nine times to his disciples and apostles after his resurrection. King David ruled for 33 years 3x3=9. The number nine is used 50 times in the Bible. St. Paul enumerates nine fruits of the spirit; love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Galatian’s 5:22) and 5+2+2=9. The Nine spiritual gifts of God enumerated by St. Paul are: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, distinguishing spirits, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12, 4-11) and 12+4+11=27, 2+7=9.
” Now Peter and John went up together into the Temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour” (Acts 3:1).
 “And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour, and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, behold a Man stood before me in bright clothing” (Acts 10:30). 

According to Revelation 144,000 are to be saved. This number 1+4+4 added up also equals nine. These are just some examples of the importance of the number nine in the Holy Bible.

There are also a few subtle Blue Lodge hints of the number nine. At the close of Lodge of Master Masons, the Master, Senior and Junior Wardens gavel 3 times each to equal nine. In the second section of the Master Mason degree the main characters include 3 Kings, 3 Craftsman, and the 3 Ruffians, which adding up to nine. The size of the Masonic apron should be 144 square inches and exclusive of the flap. The numbers added means 1+4+4 makes our beloved lambskin nine. Our Jurisdictions (MO) Grand Honors are made by a 3 step movement repeated 3 times to equal nine.

In a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons (MO), the opening consists of the Companions forming a chain and balancing three time three and 3x3=9. Next, three Companions form a three triangles together which three triangles is nine. The number nine plays a huge part in the way the Companions deliver the password. When the password is given, it is split into three parts and delivered three time to equal nine.

The Royal Master and Select Master degrees of the Cryptic Council also have many appearances by the number nine. In the Royal Master degree a certain character with the initials “H.A.” conducts a Companion around three times and knocking three times each time and this also equals nine. Later in the degree, nine Cherubim are needed. The number of the Select Master degree is actually nine. The original name of the Select Master degree was “Select Masons of Twenty Seven” and 2+7=9. The Secret vault that contained the Ninth Arch kept the Sacred Treasure. The hours of labor started at nine at night. Select Masons cannot open a Council without having nine Select Masters present. The top three officers gavel nine times each to open Council. Nine claps are given in the York Rite Grand Honors.

In the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, the highest degree is the 33rd degree which is 3x3=9. The symbol for the 32nd degree is three triangles that form a nine pointed star. The 18th degree that is full of symbolic and religious symbolism has 1+8=9. The Royal Order of Scotland’s symbol is a nine pointed star. The Rosy Cross degree is about the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 which is 1+3+1+4=9. In this battle 63 Knights Templar assist King Robert the Bruce in battle 6+3=9. Allied Masonic Degrees is limited to 27 members 2+7=9.

The SRICF is limited to 72 members and 7+2=9. Up till 1908 each college was limited to 36 members and 3+6=9. There are 9 grades in the SRICF college system. An early document numbers the grades in reverse order with the Grade 9 Magus actually being grade 1 this would mean 1=9 or 9=1. This is very interesting considering the number one is divisible in any number and can be added to any odd number to make it even and can make any odd number even.

I will now give more examples of the number nines symbolic meanings. The number nine was the symbol of Man and nine is an imperfect number. The number ten is a perfect number and is the symbol for God. The number nine was the first square of an odd number (3x3). It meant failure and was imperfect because it was short of the perfect number ten. On the Great Seal, the pyramid has 72 stones 7+2=9 with the top stone missing. 

The Quabbalistic tree of the Jews consist of the nine branches or worlds. The alchemists symbol is 3x3=9. The nine is the esoteric number of Man. Mystery groups all included the nine. An example would be “The Nine Worlds of the Odinic Mysteries. There are thirty three segments in the human spinal column, which is 3x3=9. This could have symbolism if we consider our spine as the Ninth arch and the Word being in our heart.

I came to my own conclusion after finding so many examples of the number nine throughout Masonry and the Bible. The number nine represents Man in his imperfect state who holds the sacred treasure within him. The outside of Man is the Temple. Inside Man, under the last Arch is his heart and the True word of God, which is safely deposited therein. This word that we have searched for is inside us if we believe and ask forgiveness for our Sins. The Atheist or irreligious libertine who does not repent the “Word” will always be Secret or hidden away. As H.A. says in the Royal Master degree “but if I die the Word will be buried there.”, which I believe means the word is in him and will die with him. Since the word is within us and we are the number nine then the Sacred number 9=The Word.


Stop Wasting Your Time with Freemasonry and Do Something Worthwhile with Your Free Time!

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

If you recall when the working tools of an Entered Apprentice Mason were being explained, you were told that we are to make use of the twenty four inch gauge for the noble and glorious purpose of dividing our time. As it is divided into twenty four equal parts, it is emblematical of the twenty four hours of the day. You were taught to divide the twenty four hours into three equal parts. You were told to devote eight hours for the service of God and a worthy distressed brother, eight for our usual vocation and eight for refreshment and sleep. Nowhere did you hear anything about time being used for the purposes of pursuing the activities of Freemasonry.

Do you consider Freemasonry service to God? According to the Masonic Service Association of North America ( : 
“Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. It requires of its members a belief in God as part of the obligation of every responsible adult, but advocates no sectarian faith or practice. Masonic ceremonies include prayers, both traditional and extempore, to reaffirm each individual's dependence on God and to seek divine guidance. Freemasonry is open to men of any faith, but religion may not be discussed at Masonic meetings.”
 However, under this section, it reiterates that each member place his duty to God above all other duties: 
Freemasonry Supports Religion. Freemasonry is far from indifferent toward religion. Without interfering in religious practice, it expects each member to follow his own faith and to place his Duty to God above all other duties. Its moral teachings are acceptable to all religions.” 
So, it seems that service to God would fall under one’s religious activities, and not within the scope of Freemasonry.

Do you consider service to a worthy distressed brother part of Freemasonry? Yes, of course it’s a large part of Freemasonry. However, in the Entered Apprentice Charge, you were taught about the duties that we owe to God, our neighbors and ourselves. The charge reminds you to act upon the square with your neighbor, rendering him every kind office that justice or mercy may require, relieving his distresses and soothing his afflictions, and by following the Golden Rule, doing to him as you would want him to do to you in a similar case. Therefore, your duty is not only to a worthy distressed brother, but rather to all of humanity. It’s obvious that serving all of humanity will take up a large part of the eight hours given for service to God and worthy distressed brothers. It’s pretty obvious that all of your Brothers that aren’t showing up for Masonic activities are busy performing that task.

Unless your vocation is Freemasonry, then you’re not going to be able to pursue Freemasonry during those eight hours you are at work. That then leaves the eight hours for refreshment and sleep. Are you able to attend lodge while you’re asleep? I mean I know a few grumpy Past Masters that I’ve seen doze off during meetings, but I don’t think that is what the explanation had in mind. What about during refreshment? If a lodge is at refreshment, then they are not performing Masonic labor, so one can only think that if you are refreshing yourself, that you are not performing it either.

You might remember that you were told in your Entered Apprentice degree that it was hoped and expected that you would apply yourself to the study of Masonry. You will recall from your Fellowcraft Charge, that the impressive ceremonies of that degree were calculated to inculcate in the mind of the novitiate the importance of the study of the liberal arts and sciences, especially of the noble science of Geometry, which forms the basis of Freemasonry. It is clear that while you’re wasting your time in lodge; your missing Brethren are hard at work learning this useful knowledge.

Stop wasting your time with Freemasonry and do something worthwhile with your free time! I’m serious. Yes, you read that correctly. You didn’t pay attention during your degrees! All of the brothers that aren’t showing up for stated meetings, degree work, and Lodge social events; they obviously are not showing up for the reasons given above. They’re managing their time according to the 24 inch gauge! They’re pursuing the study of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, especially Geometry! Why aren’t you? Why are you continuing to attend paralyzing business meetings? Why do you subject yourself to the same mundane experience meeting after meeting? 

There is a line within the Fellowcraft obligation regarding answering and obeying all due signs and summons if within the length of your cable tow. What is the length of your cable tow? Is it long enough to allow you to continue to prop up lodges and appendant bodies that aren’t giving you any meaningful experience?

I hope by this point in the article, my attempt at satire isn’t lost on you. Maybe it is, and you’ve only read the title and not the article and you’re flaming me on social media. Let’s do some basic math. In most cases, out of the dues paying membership of your lodge, you have 90% - 95% that are not participating actively. Out of that percentage, there is maybe 5%-10% that might participate. Maybe they’ve not attended in a long time, and they’re embarrassed about forgetting the passwords. Maybe they’ve been ill, and no one from the lodge has checked in on them. Or maybe they just got tired of attending a two hour long business meeting without getting anything that improves them as men out of it?

If you’re not getting new members, or you’re failing to get members to show up, then our lodges leadership needs to take a good look in the mirror. There’s obviously something wrong with what some of us are currently doing. We're not going to figure it out by talking to the guys that still show up for lodge meetings, degree work, social events and the like. We need to engage those that are not showing up. We need to reach out to those members. Ask them what’s keeping them from attending, and work to correct that. Ask them to help turn things around. Engage them! Give them a role, and support them in it. Or stop wasting your time with Freemasonry and do something worthwhile with your free time. The choice is yours.


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

No 13th Floor? It Must Be A Masonic Conspiracy! - It's not a Re-Post if it's New to You

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Todd E. Creason, 33°

*Editors Note* It's been about five years since this piece was originally posted by the founder, Todd E. Creason. Does your building have a thirteenth floor? 

I'm sure everyone has noticed that in many hotels and skyscrapers, builders have left off the 13th floor.  It's due to a condition known as triskaidekaphobia--yes, that's right, fear of the number 13!  Otis Elevators estimates that about 85% of tall buildings do not have a 13th floor.  Some buildings skip it altogether.  Some might refer to the 13th floor as 12B, or use it as a mechanical floor.

Thirteen is just considered an unlucky number.  According to superstitious folks, it's unlucky for a number of reasons.  There were 13 people at the last Supper.  Also a year with 13 moons was unlucky for church monks in charge of keeping track of the calendar.  It caused confusion, rescheduling of religious festivals, etc.  There are traditionally 13 in a witches coven.  Of course then there's also Apollo 13--the only unsuccessful moon mission.  It's a common fear and it has nothing to do with Freemasonry what-so-ever. 

Brother Scott Wolter

But Why Is Friday The Thirteenth Considered Particularly Unlucky?
Well that's not exactly a Masonic conspiracy either--unless you believe there is a link between the ancient Knights Templar and modern Freemasonry (which a few researchers believe does exist).  On Friday, October 13, 1307, King Philip had Knights Templar from all over France rounded up by his agents, tortured and once confessions of heresy were extracted from them, finally executed.  This brought an end to the order of warrior monks that had protected the Holy Land for more than 200 years.  Pope Clement later issued a papal bull ordering all the Templars arrested and their assets seized everywhere.  Every indication is that the Knights Templars were not actually destroyed for heresy, but because of the tremendous wealth, property and power they had attained--all things that King Philip wanted.  Others believe that the Knights Templar may have been in possession of certain truths that the Roman Catholic Church didn't want known.  Speculation about what that might be runs wild and provides fodder for conspiracy theorists and fiction authors like Dan Brown alike--was it the Holy Grail?  The Ark of the Covenant?  Evidence Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married?  A bloodline of Jesus Christ? That's a very short version of a very long story.  WB Adam Thayer wrote a much better piece about the Knights Templar here if you want to read a more detailed account.

What ever the reason for the the destruction of the Knights Templar, it is one of the possible reasons why Friday the 13th is considered unlucky (although there will be a few that disagree with that assertion), and why that date on our calendar give some a sense of dread.

And by the way--Happy Friday the 13th!


Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and continues to be a regular contributor. He is also the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog, where he posts on a regular schedule on topics relating to Freemasonry.  He is the author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and currently serves as Secretary, and is also a member of Homer Lodge No. 199.  He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), the Ansar Shrine (IL), Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL), and a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research.  He was recently awarded the 2014 Illinois Secretary of the Year Award by the Illinois Masonic Secretaries Association.  You can contact him at: