Games Esotericists Play

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
By C. R. Dunning, Jr.

At the core of esotericism is the inner work of (1) penetrating deeply into the mysteries of our existence, (2) making changes in consciousness to directly engage the energies and principles of those mysteries within ourselves, and thereby (3) facilitating the transformation of our being. Around that core are many things that beckon for our attention, time, and energy. All of those things – whether objects, ideas, or activities – have some potential to facilitate experiences at the core of esotericism, but they can also become distractions and diversions from it. One way to understand such distractions and diversions is in the language of kids’ games. If you’re like me, you’ll at least see some glimpses of yourself in this list. You may also see ways these games intersect and reinforce each other.

Dress-Up: The regalia, rituals, roles, and titles of esoteric systems and traditions can all be profoundly meaningful and useful. However, they can also become the focus of a game in which the pretense of performing great and important things becomes a substitute for actually doing them in real life. During such games, a group or individual might even go through the motions of practical inner work, such as an invocation or guided meditation, but there is little to no real shift in consciousness, or there is a lack of follow-through with inner work outside the event itself.

Tea Party: Many of us find great joy in social gatherings with esoteric atmospheres and themes. We can gather with kindred spirits, tell stories, sing, poke fun, laugh, share our latest quandaries and discoveries, and enjoy the good feelings and other benefits of relaxation, belonging, and togetherness. Even so, like Dress-Up, this kind of activity becomes more a game than a real benefit when it serves as a substitute for, or even a barrier to, our inner work rather than a source of motivation, encouragement, and support for actually doing it.

Connect the Dots: Every esotericist knows it can be helpful to study different systems, schools, traditions, authorities, and other sources of information. Our comparisons and contrasts often reveal possibilities of understanding we might have otherwise missed, give us a greater appreciation of the bigger picture of things, and can produce temporary feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction. Yet this practice turns into a game as we addictively pursue those feelings, sacrificing more and more time that might have been spent in more productive inner work. It can also become a game of trivia when we begin relishing the acquisition of names, dates, events, and other details that we can recall and toss out at a moment’s notice.

Treasure Hunt: The process of initiation and transformation is very much a process of discovery, and frequently of things that are not easy to come by. A poor reflection of that process is the game of eagerly searching for that next obscure, rare, or highly guarded bit of information, ceremonial experience, meditation, or breathing technique. This is often done with hopes that the next find will somehow magically facilitate a significant realization, awakening, or illumination. But the game of Treasure Hunt becomes most apparent when one realizes that chasing after such things takes precedence over consistently making use of readily available time for inner work.

House of Cards
: Keeping and displaying physical tokens and instruments of esotericism can provide inspiring reminders of one’s commitments and aids to actual practice. On the other hand, the accumulation of ceremonial paraphernalia, jewelry, relics, mementos, documents, books, artwork, and so forth, is the House of Cards game when these things are primarily used to support one’s self-image as an esotericist, or when the actual practice of inner work cannot be done in their absence.

Hide and Seek
: Many esoteric traditions and teachers speak of the importance of practicing silence, discretion, and humility with regard to one’s inner work and other esoteric activities. The game of Hide and Seek manifests when we adopt attitudes and behaviors of circumspection, reserve, and aloofness in order to give the appearance of knowing and participating in esoteric things.

Why do we play such games?

One possibility is simply failing to recognize that the core of esotericism is the inner work of initiation and transformation. The portrayal of esotericism in popular media can easily give the impression that these games are esotericism. Even self-proclaimed esotericists may unknowingly assume this field is just a more exotic and intriguing form of social and intellectual engagement, and that terms like “inner work,” “initiation,” and “transformation” are just intriguing ways of talking about acquiring a peculiar category of concepts and social status.

There are deeper and more complex reasons for these games, and they are rooted in the fact that the prospect of transformation is inherently threatening to the ego, our personal self, how we know ourselves as unique human beings in this world. Hand in hand with the bright elevating symbolism of awakening, rebirth, peace, and joy, the dark specters of great tests, trials, and death are universally present in esoteric lore. And beneath our superficial thoughts of esotericism lurk powerful questions about who or what we really are, who or what we might become, and how transformation might shake up our lives and relationships. So, while our egos may be very attracted to grandiose visions and the pomp and circumstance of esotericism, there are also deep fears, often hidden from our conscious awareness, of the unknown challenges, demands, and losses we may face in true initiation and transformation.

Understandably, we may not feel up to the task, but our moth-like souls are still drawn to the esoteric light. We might, therefore, use these games to acquire what seem the next best things, which are the trappings, language, and imagery of esotericism, or the facades of initiation and transformation. Even when we recognize the essentialness of inner work, we may use these pastimes to distract and divert ourselves from it, semi-consciously creating the excuse of being too busy with all the other activities of esotericism. Furthermore, we can find opportunities to actually build up our egos through the games of esotericism, taking pride in the exercise of our intellects and comfort in the development of belonging and prestige within esoteric social groups. These positive strokes may reinforce our avoidance of the inner work, and to some degree, we may even convince ourselves that we really are undergoing transformation, when in fact there is more make-believe happening than anything else.

Finally, I’d like to say that catching oneself in these games is no justification for shame, guilt, or self-flagellation; those things can also become games. We’re all human, and we’re programmed, even hardwired, to protect and preserve our egos. Additionally, all of us carry insecurities, existential anxiety, and emotional vulnerability, even when we’re from the most loving and stable backgrounds. And, whatever our reasons might be, including simply being content with the fellowship, fun, and fascination of esotericism, there is no condemnation for choosing not to engage the inner work of initiation and transformation. It can be challenging enough to be honest with ourselves about what we really believe, what we really want, and what we really are or are not willing to do to get it. If the bright light at the core of esotericism is what really draws you, then perhaps you’re ready to stop some of the games and fly closer to the flame of transformation.


Brother Chuck Dunning
is an advocate, facilitator, trainer, and consultant in contemplative practice, with more than 30 years in the professional fields of higher education and mental health, as well as in Masonry and other currents in the Western esoteric traditions. He has authored Contemplative Masonry: Basic Applications of Mindfulness, Meditation, and Imagery for the Craft (2016), and The Contemplative Lodge: A Manual for Masons Doing Inner Work Together (coming in 2020), and was a contributing author in The Art and Science of Initiation (2019). Chuck has articles published in several Masonic journals and websites, is a nationally recognized speaker and trainer on the Masonic Educational circuit, and has been interviewed for numerous periodicals and podcasts. In 2019, the College of Freemasonry in Rochester, New York presented him with the Thomas W. Jackson Masonic Education Award for Fraternal Leadership in Masonic Research and Esoteric Study. In 2018, the Southern California Research Lodge recognized him as being among the Top Ten Esoteric Masonic Authors. Chuck is the founding Superintendent of the Academy of Reflection, which is a chartered organization for Scottish Rite Masons wanting to integrate contemplative practice with their Masonic experience. He is also a Full Member of the Texas Lodge of Research. You can contact Chuck via his webpage:

Masonic Rosicrucianism and its Descendants

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. J. Clint Lewey


Last year I moved to the Rochester, NY area for a new career at the VA. I was excited about jumping headfirst into a lodge here and hopefully finding a ‘home lodge’ that was nearby. One night I was visiting a local lodge, and it happened to be a night when one of the local district deputies was visiting. It turns out, he was an outstanding man that I had a great conversation with, and I always speak to him when I see him around now. However, I was looking around the lodge and noticed a common appendant body that holds its meetings at this particular lodge. That made me wonder if the state’s Rosicrucian Order (SRICF) met at this lodge by any chance. So, I asked one of the Past Masters I had spoken with earlier that evening, “Does the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis or SRICF Rosicrucians meet at this lodge?” He wasn’t sure if they did or not because frankly, he wasn’t sure what the SRICF was. He then called over the local district deputy officer who was making his rounds, and I asked him the same thing “Do the SRICF Rosicrucians meet at this lodge?” His reply was, “You mean the thing where you mail in the lessons and get correspondence back? AMARK or AMORC, something like that?” I replied politely, “No, I don’t think that’s it.” This is not a knock on any of these fine brothers but does demonstrate the secretiveness of the Masonic Rosicrucians and how even well-versed Masons are not familiar with them. This leads to my intention here of introducing the Rosicrucians and some of its off-shoots. 

I began my Masonic journey about three years ago that led me to research, explore and study things I would never have heard of had I not been regularly entered, passed, and raised into our great fraternity. I was also made aware of many Masonic secrets and teachings that piqued my interest. Once I dove headfirst down the rabbit’s hole, I began to realize that what we receive in the Blue Lodge is only the beginning of our Craft’s wisdom.

Most Masons, rightfully so, expand their Masonic light by exploring the York Rite and/or Scottish Rite. These Orders, in some cases, pick up where the Blue Lodge left off. As valuable as these Orders are, I was more intrigued by the mystical side of Masonry. As I studied books and articles and spoke with well-versed Masons, I began to see and hear words or names I had never heard of such as Rosicrucian, Christian Rosenkreutz, antiquity, Hermeticism, Kabballah (can be spelled differently), Paul Foster Case, Tree of Life, Golden Dawn, Aleister Crowley (ahem…), Ordo Templi Orientis, alchemy, Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis, Samuel Mathers, Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, Robert W. Little, Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, Rosy Cross, William Wynn Westcott, Builders of the Adytum, Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, etc.

To define the Rosicrucians is like defining speculative Freemasonry. It can be defined dozens of different ways and can mean one thing to one person and something totally different to another. However, it is defined by Britannica as a member of a worldwide brotherhood claiming to possess esoteric wisdom handed down from ancient times. The name derives from the order’s symbol, a rose on a cross or Rosy Cross. Rosicrucian teachings are a combination of occultism and other religious beliefs and practices, including Hermeticism, Jewish mysticism, and Christian Gnosticism. The central feature of Rosicrucianism is the belief that its members possess secret wisdom that was handed down to them from ancient times.[i] The Rose and Cross have no true religious connotation but represent the human body and its unfolding consciousness. [ii]

Rosicrucianism has its origins in Germany in the early 17th century as a religious, yet scientific philosophy that sought to explain the essence of God and nature. The movement was a component of the early Enlightenment and its challenge to the dogma of the Church, forcing its adherents to compile and profess their work in secret. Between the years 1607 and 1616, three treatises were published anonymously–the Fama fraternitatis or Fama, Confession of the Rosicrucian Fraternity, or Confessio and the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz. In the early 18th century, the scientific ideals of Rosicrucianism began to make their way into the progressive social contracts that formed the basis of modern Freemasonry. From that point forward, Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry worked hand in hand to promote freethinking, social progressivism, and scientific discovery.[iii]


Christian Rosenkreutz (Christian Rose Cross or C.R.C.) is the central, allegorical ‘founder’ of all Rosicrucian Orders. He was the main character in the three aforementioned treatises–Fama, Confessio, and the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz–which were released in the early 17th century about 100 years after his alleged death. Legend states that his body was discovered years after his death in perfect preservation in the heptagonal chamber that is a common symbol of Rosicrucianism. According to legend, C.R.C. learned and discovered esoteric wisdom on a trip to the Middle East among Turkish, Arab, and Persian Sages, as well as Sufi or Zoroastrian experts in the 1400s.[i] 


The connection between Freemasonry and the Rosicrucians is a bit hazy at best. While they both promote similar tenets and philosophies, neither have an exact common denominator. As a matter of fact, Freemasonry today, for the most part, has evolved into a very exoteric order. Many of its members have no interest in any of the esoteric meanings of the symbols, numbers, directions, actions or items of the Blue Lodge. This, of course, is not true across the board. There is a great resurgence over the last 20 years in esoteric Masonry with the advent of the internet and, of course, anything Dan Brown has put out. On the other hand, the Rosicrucians have steadfastly remained very mysterious and secretive in their practices, especially the Masonic Rosicrucians. So much so that even many veteran Blue Lodge Master Masons have never heard of it or aren’t aware that some of the Master Masons in their lodge belong to a Rosicrucian Order.

As noted, there is no direct connection between the two. However, some claim that Freemasonry came from Rosicrucianism. It is highly unlikely that this is the case. Mainly due to the fact that, yes, we recognize 1717 as the official birth year of Masonry as we know it today; operative and speculative Masonry has been around for several hundred years before this. Some even pinpoint its origins back to the ancient times of Egypt, Babylon, and Greece. It is possible that some ideas were inadvertently exchanged between the two in the early years of the Orders (1600 -1750) but this is likely due to the individuals that were developing the two Orders were members of both.

Some of the clear differences would be that the Rosicrucians were Theosophists (not Theosophy), religious men whose doctrines were of spirits, of the elements, of numbers and heavenly bodies, and their influence on men.[i] The Freemasons were 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. 


As with all things historic and Masonic, there is a dispute as to who is or was the first Masonic Rosicrucian Order. While many say it is the Societas Rosicruciana in Scotia (SRIS), the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA) claims to be the longest, continuously going Masonic Rosicrucian Order. According to, The Societas Rosicrucian in Anglia is the oldest independent society of Rosicrucian Freemasons in the world, its members being Master Masons of Lodges recognized by the United Grand Lodge of England, founded between 1865-1867 in Aldermanbury, London by Bro. Robert W. Little, the Order has Colleges (similar to Valleys or Lodges in other appendant bodies) in the U.K., Australia, Canada, France, The Netherlands, and New Zealand. Membership requirements for the SRIA are to be a Master Mason in good standing under a Grand Lodge recognized by the United Grand Lodge of England and of the Christian faith. 

Members of the SRIA are referred to as ‘frater,’ which is simply ‘brother’ in Latin. The members progress through three different Orders broken down into nine different grades (similar to degrees in the Blue Lodge). The First Order is broken down into four grades in this order: Zelator, Theoricus, Practicus, and Philosophus. The beautiful grades are impressively presented. [i] The Second Order consists of the grades Adeptus Minor, Adeptus Major, and Adeptus Exemptus. The Third Order consists of the grades Magister and Magus. 

In the United States, the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis (SRICF) is the primary Masonic Rosicrucian group. The SRICF is very similar to the SRIA and SRIS, in which it was chartered into existence in 1880, except for two main differences. The SRICF is by invitation only and has limited positions per ‘College.’ Most states have one college and allow only 72 members per College. The exception to this rule is California and New York having two Colleges each due to their populations. Illinois and Texas also have two colleges. There is also speculation, rightfully so, that if a Master Mason solicits the SRICF for membership, they most likely will not even be considered for membership. As far as Masonic based Rosicrucian Orders, Scotland, Canada, France, Portugal, and Romania each have their own Masonic Rosicrucian Orders similar to SRIA, SRIS, and SRICF.


In 1888, a few decades after the creation of the SRIA, three Master Masons who were also SRIA members created a more practical magic(k) based Rosicrucian Order. It was created by Dr. William Westcott, S.L. MacGregor Mathers and William Woodman based on the enigmatic Cipher Manuscripts. Westcott and Woodman were both Supreme Magi in the SRIA in the early years. The Cipher Manuscripts are shrouded in mystery. They were ‘discovered’ by Dr. William Westcott and obtained in Germany from a likely fictional person called Fraulein Sprengel. According to the HOGD’s U.K. website, the likely origins of the Cipher Manuscripts were the SRIA and 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 original and first warranted Temple was the Isis-Urania #3 of the Order of the Golden Dawn. [i]

As if the start of the Golden Dawn wasn’t sketchy enough at first, the Order eventually broke apart in 1903 due to disagreements, primarily involving Mathers and occultist Aleister Crowley but was survived by specific groups that share direct initiatory lineage. The Stella Matutina, A∴A∴ , and the Alpha et Omega operated through the 1930s and sporadically until the early 1970s. However, in 1977, one of the last remaining initiates into the Stella Matutina named Dr. Israel Regardie came into contact with Bro. Charles “Chic” Cicero and resurrected the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. [i] Bro. Cicero is a Master Mason in Florida and a member of the 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 Dr. Regardie’s earlier works.

There are several other ‘Golden Dawn’ groups throughout the world with similar names, but none tie in as closely to Freemasonry and the original Order as the Cicero’s version. Both women and men are permitted to join, but similarly to the SRICF, Cicero’s Order is invitation only.


The Builders of the Adytum, or BOTA, has some personal interest for me in its historic context because the founder, Bro. Paul Foster Case, was born and raised, literally and Masonically, in the town I currently live in; Fairport, NY. As a matter of fact, the current Fairport lodge is literally about 50-75 yards away from my home. Bro. Case was initiated into the original Golden Dawn’s off-shoot called the Alpha et Omega in 1918 at the Thoth-Hermes Temple in New York City. Due to a falling out with the then Imperatrix of the Alpha et Omega, Moina Mathers, he was removed from the Order. [i]

BOTA was created by Case in 1922 and had some of the same elements of the Golden Dawn, Freemasonry, and Rosicrucianism, but the difference was that it lacked the Enochian Magic aspect of the original Golden Dawn and Alpha et Omega.  Case felt the Enochian Magic used in the Golden Dawn was not only dangerous to the practitioner, but it's lectures and the like were plagiarized from works readily available at any library, taking away elements of its authenticity. Case’s BOTA group was considered ‘Golden Dawn-Lite’ and was less practical magic than mysticism. It's primary focus being on the practical side of occultism, dedicating much of the study to Tarot and it's relation to psychology. Bro. Case was also an author of several books to include The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order and The Masonic Letter G. Another contribution to esoteric, western magic, and Rosicrucianism was his development of the BOTA tarot deck. [ii]

The Builders of the Adytum is not an invitational Order as the HOGD or SRICF. It exists in two avenues, a 14-year correspondence course as well as in-gatherings and lodges that exist sporadically around the world. The courses are open to women or men of all backgrounds. The non-profit group is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, and is still active to this day. 


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. [i]

While Crowley was never regularly initiated into a Masonic Lodge or a Masonic Rosicrucian Order, 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 (R.R. et A.C.). This dispute was primarily due to the ever-present controversy that always seemed to follow Mr. Crowley. 

Crowley’s greatest contribution to the study of the Ancient Mysteries and Rosicrucianism is his influence he had on the Ordo Templi Orientis or O.T.O. The O.T.O. draws from the traditions of the Freemasonic, Rosicrucian, and Illuminist movements of the 18th and 19th centuries, the crusading Knights Templars of the middle ages and early Christian Gnosticism and the Pagan Mystery Schools.[i] Founded in 1895 by Carl Kellner, the O.T.O. was later influenced by Crowley with his Thelemic inspired additions such as the ‘Book of Law’ and Gnostic Mass; the Order was forever changed after “the wickedest man alive” was granted entry into the O.T.O.’s ranks in 1910.

Today Aleister Crowley’s influence can still be found in the over 50 O.T.O. camps, oasis, and lodges throughout the U.S. Gnostic Masses are held publicly at the O.T.O. lodges and allow for anyone to view them. The statement “Do what thou wilt” is often mistaken by both members and non-members to basically mean indulge in whatever you please without regard to others and their well-being. This has been one of the many black-eyes on the organization and has, at times, drawn in less than desirable petitioners. The statement is actually meant ‘to will’ something into happening. This is similar to the current mindfulness that many people practice today; finding their true purpose. In other words, if you want something to happen, you can invoke your ‘will’ upon that need, and it can be accomplished.


As you can see, the Rosicrucians cover a huge area in our esoteric studies. With that, many seasoned Freemasons may never hear any more about it than it is some sort of mail-in correspondence, self-improvement course. To some degree, that is true, but the rabbit hole goes much deeper than most realize. Taking on Masonry alone can be daunting to any scholar, but to add in the Rosicrucian elements makes the task even more daunting. I have only barely skimmed the surface of the topic in hopes to inspire others to read into and discover the many Orders spoken about here. If to know everything on the matter is ten miles, I have barely taken the first few steps. It is an exciting journey that has allowed me to ponder and think of things I never would normally have even considered.

There are other Rosicrucian groups not really mentioned, such as perhaps the most famous, the AMORC. Others include Traditional Martinist Order, Order of the Golden Dawn, Servants of the Light, etc. Choosing the best Rosicrucian group for any one individual is subjective and should not be taken lightly. Being a member of one of these Orders, at the very least, will usually open up your Masonic knowledge and allow for light in extension to your Blue Lodge studies. In theory, some of them can even change your life for the better and allow for true, personal growth.

[i]Melton, John Gordon, et al. “Rosicrucian.”Encyclopedia Britannica Online.Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. 12 Oct 2017.
[ii] Unknown Author. The Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis. Retrieved from 18 Aug 2017
[iii] Unknown. Article title. Society of the Rose Cross Retrieved from

[i] Wikipedia contributors, 'Christian Rosenkreuz', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 20 August 2017, 19:36 UTC, <

[i] Jantz, Percy. “Rosicrucianism.” Http://, 4 Feb. 2002,

[i] Structure of the Society. (n.d.) 1st para. Retrieved from

[i] Soror SJ. “Dr. William Wynn Westcott”. Retrieved from (2000)

[i] Unknown Author. “About H.O.G.D.” Retrieved from

[i] Wikipedia contributors. "Alpha et Omega." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 3 Jun. 2017. Web. 18 Oct. 2017
[ii] Unknown Author. “Paul Foster Case” Retrieved from 18 Oct 2017

[i] Martin P. Starr. “Aleister Crowley: freemason!” Retrieved from  18 Oct 2017

[i] Sabazius X° and AMT IX°. “History” Retrieved from 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.

Going Back to Lodge

By Midnight Freemasons Senior Contributor

W.B. Gregory J. Knott

It’s been over four months since I last attended an in person meeting at our local lodge. So when fellow Midnight Freemason Darin Lahners and my son Hayden recently went to St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 to perform a deep cleaning, it was like seeing an old friend again. Everything was there just as we had left it after the last stated meeting.

As we did the sweeping, dusting and deep cleaning, I couldn’t help but think about all the great times I have had in that lodge over the last decade. I had met numerous new brothers, we had brought the lodge back from the brink of closure and been very active in the community.

As Worshipful Brother Lahners outlined in his last piece our lodge has lost some momentum and some of those brothers we had raised over the last decade had faded away, moved away or simply left Freemasonry. As WB Lahners once again goes to the East, we will have some work to do in once again energizing the lodge.

I have to be honest and say that over the last few weeks I have thought maybe it would just be easier to turn the lights out and merge with another nearby lodge. But I keep coming back to the impact St. Joseph Lodge has had in our local community since 1914. In this day and age, once the lights go dark, more than likely they will never be turned back on again.

It’s not that you should work to keep the lights on just for the sake of keeping the lodge tradition going, rather I believe that local lodges can be a source of personal growth for those men seeking to make themselves better. In turn these men go into the local community and are active in their churches, schools, scouting units, local government etc. In other words we offer a value proposition that can serve as a vital link in bettering individuals who in turn better their communities.

So as we return from a post COVID-19 break, take a moment and think about what role your lodge can play in helping to support the community. Look around for those men that could benefit from what Freemasonry can offer. How can your lodge offer programs that help men grow? What support can you give your brethren, some of whom may have had personal difficulties over the last few weeks.

We finished our cleaning of the lodge room and it’s ready for the membership to return. I am ready to return and see my friends and brothers. I wish you and your lodge great success as we resume our labors.


WB Gregory J. Knott is a founding member and Senior Contributor of the Midnight Freemasons blog.  He is a Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign-Urbana. He is also a member of ANSAR Shrine (IL) and the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. Greg serves on the Board of Directors of The Masonic Society and is a member of the Scottish Rite Research Society and The Philathes Society. He is a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. and serves as its Secretary. Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts—an Eagle Scout himself, he is a member of the National Association of Masonic Scouters. You can contact him at

Sharing the special bond of Freemasonry

By Bro. Michael Arce

(left to right) Bro. David McIntosh, Bro. Matt McIntosh, and Bro. Christopher McIntosh at Matt’s raising in 2013

We spend our early years looking up to our father. Dad is our symbol of strength and wisdom. He could throw us in the air for hours; it took him seconds to fix our broken toys. We'd struggle to walk in his shoes with our tiny feet! In those early years, we would try to be like the most important man in our life. For most young men, there are also those teenage years where we swear, "I will never be like him." But we realize after reaching adulthood that as much as we tried to be different, we couldn't escape certain physical qualities. And when you reach that point in life where you start a relationship with your inner-self, you realize there are inherent traits you share with your father that could only have been passed along from birth.

As we prepare to make phone calls to the most important men in our lives this weekend or cherish breakfast and Father's Day gifts from our family, I can't help and think, my Brothers, of that special bond that so few of us share. Fathers and their sons who are held to a deeper tie through Freemasonry. We know that our obligations extend beyond a similar passion for the same sports team or attending the same college/university. How extraordinary a Masonic connection must be; to share a bond deep in history, knowledge, and tradition.

"You know, my dad and grandfather were from the old school of Freemasonry, if you weren't a Mason, they wouldn't talk with you about it," shared Bro. Matthew McIntosh, Morgantown Union Lodge #4 of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia. "I remember when I was younger, asking about his Masonic ring at one point. 'What's that ring mean?' My father told me, 'well, if you're a good man, maybe one day you will find out.' I grew up in Grafton (West Virginia). My brother and I were pretty naive growing up; we saw the letter 'G' and thought you had to be from Grafton to wear that ring!"

I enjoyed a special conversation with Bro. McIntosh on the unique link between family men who are also Brother Masons. I believe that every father hopes that someday, he will share our path to Freemasonry. As the father of a thirteen-year-old son, I think about this the more time I spent with my son. My son, Mikey, asks me the same questions I posed to my dad. As adolescents, we investigate to learn what our father's life was like when he was our age. I wanted to know about The Beatles, where my dad was when Kennedy was shot and how he felt during the Vietnam War. My son wants to know if Michael Jordan was really the greatest basketball player of all time (he was), how did I watch movies before Netflix (it was called a VCR), and giggles when I talk about having a full head of hair.

Not once has he asked about Freemasonry, my Lodge, or anything about being a Mason. Sure, he's spent time with Brothers from my Lodge, he's even attended an officer installation. That is when he asked why I wore a "skirt" (his words, not mine) and was fascinated with "the guy who gets to hold the sword." But there were no questions on what I do as a Mason or any interest in the subject. I find it difficult to talk with my adult friends about Masonry. It is close to impossible to bring up the topic with my son. As the first of my family to become a Master Mason, I can only hope that my son would pursue my course in searching for Masonic light. I found encouragement from Bro. McIntosh.

"I came into Masonry later in life, I thought you had to be invited to be a Masonry, I didn't know you had to ask," said Bro. McIntosh. Matt shared with me the history of his grandfather (Arnold) and his grandfather's brother going through the degree work together in 1951, receiving their 50-year pins in 2001. "That was a big deal, my uncle came to visit for that," he added. His grandfather was also a Scottish Rite Mason. Matt's father (David) would eventually follow in his father's footsteps. Matt's brother also joined the Craft before Matt sought a petition. Unfortunately, Matt's grandfather laid down his Working Tools before Matt was raised. "I wish Pap-pa could be here for this," he recalls telling his father before his 3rd degree. "Oh, he'll be there," his father replied. Matt thought that meant in spirit. "It gets me emotional just thinking about this. After I was raised, my dad presented me with my grandfather's ring. There wasn't a dry eye in the Lodge."

That ring is a family heirloom that Bro. McIntosh hopes to pass along to his seven-year-old grandson. "He's already interested; the spark is there," Matt confirmed. His grandson has asked about Matt dressing up for lodge meetings, has tried on his Shriner cap, and loves his Knights Templar regalia. "Especially the sword, but I won't let him hold it yet."

Our conversation drifted back into the role that Masons play in the lives of those around us. It's not uncommon to hear from candidates interested in petitioning a lodge that a Mason made a profound impression in their life at a young age. Bro. McIntosh summed up this connection beautifully. "I was always surrounded by Masons, and I didn't know it. They helped influence who I am. I think being raised by Masons, you're instilled with those values that you pass along. You want your son to be a better man. You are bringing him up to be a Mason, whether he knows it or not."

To those Brothers who are celebrating today, Happy Father's Day.


Brother Michael Arce is the Junior Warden of St. George’s #6, Schenectady and a member of Mt. Zion #311, Troy New York. When not in Lodge, Bro. Arce is the Marketing Manager for Capital Cardiology Associates in Albany, New York. He enjoys meeting new Brothers and hearing how the Craft has enriched their lives. He can be reached at: