Looking For Answers In All The Wrong Places

Part 3 in a series

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Mark St. Cyr

First, before we begin, let me make the following abundantly clear... 

None of the following is to be interpreted as some offhanded cheap shot or ad hominem attack directed at any Grand Lodge, officers, members, appendant, concordant or anything or anyone else in-between. There are many dedicated Brothers from white aprons to gold bullion’d working diligently to try and turn around what many believe is an inevitable outcome from coming to pass. And this entire series is to help enable those trying to figure out the best methods possible for doing just that. I stand in solidarity with every single one of them and offer my endearing support to that cause. Period, full stop. 

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program... 

In the prior brief, I ended with the following statement in regards to the fraternity and its current circumstances. To wit: 

“...there is one - and only one thing - that allows for none of this to come to pass. And, as a matter of fact, can arrest it and reverse it. Yes: Just one.” 

So, now with that said, let’s discuss that “one thing.” And it is: 

Freemasonry, as founded in the U.S., is inherently entrepreneurial - not managerial. In other words...It does not wait to be told: “how.” It goes out and creates the conditions to apply that “how” based on the rules that allow for it. 

Now some of you reading the above may think that sounds a bit convoluted. I can assure you, it is not. Let me demonstrate by asking the following... 

Does a Grand Lodge charter a Lodge first by preordaining: Its location, its officers, members, and everything else required? 


Does a Grand Lodge provide said charter only after the applicant has met all its rules for governance? 

This is a very big distinction containing a very important difference. So much so, I’ll wager the following... 

If the first were true: not only would there be no 300-year history, it would’ve been lucky to ever reach 30. 

And for those looking to use the Moon and its Special Deputation carried out by Bro. Aldrin as an obscure example of “gotcha!.” That solitary act alone should tell you all one needs to know about the fraternity’s viewpoint, dedication, and stance for being relevant in the future. So, “gotcha back!” but I digress. 

Yet, as the fraternity sits today, there seems to be an overwhelming contingency of Masons demanding either the Grand Lodge of their jurisdiction, or a consortium of GL’s, come to their rescue with plans to either halt their diminishing membership roles, or at the least, enact measures and programs to subside them. 

Here’s the thing... 

(Note: Before anyone calls for my immediate dismissal. All I ask is that you re-read the opening paragraph above as I further elaborate on my point. Then, do as you will.) 


Grand Lodges are where ideas go to die - not born. And you should be grateful that’s the case. 

Now, before I explain my reasoning, let me make the following abundantly clear: What follows are sweeping generalities for discussion purposes as to frame my argument. I am not, nor do I claim to be, an expert or scholar on the U.S. Grand Lodge system. However, if one wants to better understand the founding of this system in that light, I highly recommend “Exploring Early Grand Lodge Freemasonry” by C. Murphy and S. Eyer - 2017, Plumbstone, as a resource. 

The Grand Lodge (GL) system in the U.S. is compiled via a set of complete autonomous entities. In other words: what is good for one jurisdiction may not be seen as such in another and vice versa, allowing for each to “do their own thing.” 

However, to rectify the issue of one GL going too far, or another not far enough. Any GL has the autonomy to not recognize another in toto. Meaning - all Masons chartered via any particular GL could find themselves, suddenly, without warning, labeled “clandestine” by no fault or impetus of their own doing. GL’s are sovereign unto themselves. 

Give that paragraph some serious contemplation for a few moments, because inherent within proves just how entrepreneurial our system truly is. And far too many don’t fully appreciate that significance. 

In other words - the authority and ability to take action and set its course appropriately, as it (GL) sees fit, is enshrined within its foundations from the highest officeholder to its lowly Mason. Of course, with the caveat: within its rules. 

This is not by chance. This type of autonomy is rarely if ever, found in the business world. The closest would be the franchise model and in comparison that, too, is worlds apart.
Its closest, true working example, is in the original founding of the U.S. political structure using States rights and Federal forbearance, unique to the world at large. 

Funny how that is, yes? Pure coincidence, right? Right? 

So, what does this all have to do with my “GL’s are where ideas...” statement? Great question, and it is this: 

GL’s are where the foundational tenets reside and are enforced. Its sole duty is to make sure the practice, as well as the institutional form of Freemasonry, are being followed in accordance with its constitution and by-laws. It is the sole arbiter for approval or denial to any changes affecting its jurisdiction. Its primary and sole concern is for the fraternity and Brothers under its care. All other considerations are secondary.

Here’s why the above is important... 

Just imagine if every “Great idea!” was not only put into practice, but rather, codified into the equivalent of masonic law by any given GL, at any given time. 

Can you imagine the chaos that would erupt yearly from just one district to another if one suddenly, without warning, had to follow another’s “great idea!” if, for example: wasn’t on board with it; didn’t have the necessary manpower or facilities to facilitate it; or just wasn’t sure about any of it? 

Here, let’s have some fun with math, shall we? 

Multiply the above by each district under just one GL, then, multiply that using the differing jurisdictions across the U.S. i.e., GL vs GL vs GL, etc., etc., etc. How many different combinations for possible clandestine arguments can you come up with? And, I didn’t even mention the “Irregular.” Now, what’s the total? 

Hint: Pythagoras would be hard-pressed, for the number is simply off-the-charts. 

GLs are there to quell most if not all initiatives unless they are proved out over considerable time in real-world application as to garner serious consideration. In other words - change is to happen slowly, if at all, by design. 

(Note: For those looking to prove me wrong in that statement, all I ask from you is to read just the introduction portion (pages one thru six) of Henry Wison Coil’s “A Comprehensive View Of Freemasonry” 1973, Macoy Publishing. Then, make your judgment.) 

Yes, GLs do come up with initiatives of their own. But, what they are there for, primarily, is to enforce the fundamental adherence and coherence to Freemasonry’s tenants. 

If a GL were to adopt every “Great idea!” that came up year after year and codified it into its by-laws at every annual conclave? It would set heads-to-spinning throughout the fraternity trying to decipher if compliance was necessary; voluntary; or should even be acknowledged in the first place. So, most, if not all, meet the scythe of “under committee review,” where it’s all about as good as dead. (“dead” meaning: in the immediate, not the future.) 

This is not a bad thing, as a matter of fact, and principle, it’s ingenious. 

Many Freemasons like to stand tall (and should) while bragging how the founding of the U.S. (Did you know G.W. was a Mason?) was primarily a masonic endeavor. They point to its Constitution, Declaration for Independence, its checks and balances via its three separate branches, State’s rights vs Federal, a Representative Republic, et cetera, et cetera. 

Then, what seems in the very same breath, many of this same cohort appear to dismiss all of it with some wanting or call for a central or unified GL with overarching authority to “fix” things. 

“Are you kidding me?!” is my gut reaction. I mean, is that not anathema to everything you just recited as a reason for pride? 

Yet, that is precisely what we are seeing today. Why? 

Here’s my rationale: It’s a management-centric philosophy trying to solve an inherent entrepreneurial solution. 

Freemasonry, as its constructed via its GL system in the U.S., much like the U.S. in its founding - is entirely based on an entrepreneurial model that not only allows for entrepreneurial solutions but, rather, demands them. (e.g., Think: States Rights vs Federalized) 

Most solutions to problems don’t come rolling down from on high. Where the best do originate, is where the action is the closest to those affected. i.e., grassroots level. And our current system, if one truly analyses it, both GL as well as governmental, is constructed to be: grass-root centric. Or, in the fraternity’s case - Lodge and members centric. 

Our GL system is still much intact as to the founding of the U.S. It is an amazing achievement that is given very little thought today, let alone, its due accolades. 

And with it, has enshrined the most powerful tool available to the fraternity to fix whatever it believes is broken, which is... 

The singular Lodge and its Masons. 

These two (or singular Lodge, if you wish) have extraordinary liberty to define, then chart, their own destiny as it sees fit. 

It is in many ways, a sovereign unto itself, operating within another sovereign. It is unique when compared to any other entity, much like the U.S. is unique in comparison to any other. 

The consternation that befalls so many is trying to apply one overlay for “fixing” issues from another which appear similar, but in its actual working processes, are worlds apart. 

A relative example would be comparing a session of Parliament in the U.K. with a session of Congress in the U.S. solely from the perspective of watching it on television. They look very similar in many ways, but in reality, the two are worlds apart. 

In other words, most are looking for answers in all the wrong places, using all the wrong examples, because they “look” similar. 

Hint: Usually, not only are many dissimilar, but trying to interchange certain “parts” without fully comprehending the aspects and intricacies is more akin to using a metric screw in a U.S. standard hole. Side by side to the mechanically challenged - they look identical. But use one mistakenly--need I say more? 

Maybe what I should do is say it a bit differently, for effect. Ready? 

How many more times is someone going to propose what the fraternity (i.e., their GL in particular) needs to do is to allow for Lodges to “Be more like ___________.” (fill in your social club of choice here)? 

In reality, what they're truly asking for, is: Why do we have to adhere to all this masonic stuff? Can’t we just pay homage to it as our legacy? Then, we can eat and get to the bar next door, or the card game quicker! If we do that, well then, we’ll surely get more members and retain those we have! 

Do you see the issues here, for they are multi-fold? 

Here’s just two. The first: Why not just ask a GL to dissolve itself “for the sake of retaining and gaining membership.” 

And, the second: We need to do this so we can follow another currently failing model, so we can fail more like them! 

I wish the above was just me trying to be snarky. The issue here is, I’m not. 

That’s really more or less what far too many are calling for. And they are bewildered (some downright incensed!) that many at a GL level don’t see their point! 

The issue is, I believe, a good may of them do. And thank God for it. However, in the meantime, they (GLs) are themselves trying to come up with ideas that can work, but their entire structure demands: extreme caution; well thought through forbearance for civil liability catch-22s, and a host of others that are lost upon most Lodges and/or members. 

However, here is where the genius of our system shows itself, which is... 

The fraternity allows extreme latitude for the implementation of different ideas to both run, retain, and attract new members at the Lodge level. 

Most GL’s (along with many a MWM past or present) are more than willing to help or provide aid and/or support to any Lodge trying to do good in these areas. With the caveat, of course - that you are doing all in accordance with current rules, along with, you are not doing anything that can be interpreted as sullying the fraternity or opening it up to any civil litigation. (Think: raffles, sweepstakes, alcohol sales, and such.) 

Here’s why the above is so important to understand... 

This puts all the complaints for “change” right where they belong, which is - back into the complaining hands to do something about it themselves, from where they stand. 

Or, said differently: Whatcha gonna do with that complaint you’re holding? Stare at it some more, or do something about it? Because - it’s all up to you! 

As much as there are Lodges losing membership, with the double whammy, of non-returning members that have to be pondered year to year as: Will they or won’t they send in their dues this year? There are a plethora of newly created, reconstituted, and more Lodges that are not only surviving - but thriving. Why? 

They looked in the mirror, then looked around themselves for others of like minds, and within the current GL structure, created a place and atmosphere that was conducive to not only their wishes, but Freemasonry at its core. 

What they did not do, nor are they trying to do - is be more like other social clubs. 

As a matter of fact, currently, some of the most inspiring Lodges are working from the premise of doing exactly the opposite of what most of those complaining (as well as failing) Lodges are calling for. e.g., They’re getting back to a Lodge being a Temple, where Brothers meet and discuss Freemasonry-centric ideas, concepts, and practices. 

All this is being done via their own volition, not some “grand plan” handed down from on high. 

Here are just four examples in four different GL jurisdictions, in no special order... 

Arts & Sciences Lodge No. 792, Hilliard, Ohio Lodge Vitruvian No. 767, Indianapolis, Indiana Lexington Lodge No. 1, Lexington, Kentucky Spes Novum No. 1183, Libertyville, Illinois

There are many, many more, and I’m not even mentioning the resurgence of Research Lodges, available speakers and lectures on wide-raging topics, podcasts, vid-blogs, vid-education seminars, masonic confabs, and the list keeps growing. All this when supposedly Covid is said to be “the end” for the fraternity. 

Using just the above: It would appear my thesis for “most are looking for answers in all the wrong places” is far more apt than some may give credit for. Because, if you’re watching these Lodges alone - Covid has been nothing more than a workable inconvenience. Possibly, making them even stronger, rather than some foretelling death sentence. 

This is where your attention should be, but more importantly, how they possibly accomplished such. 

When people discuss or relate business premises from the aspect of the entrepreneur the go-to example they always use is: the startup. 

What that implies is: disruption. But disruption from what, exactly? 

Well, usually, it’s just something against the accepted norms. But in many cases, that’s not relevant. 

The relevant, as in important part of the matter, is that someone or a group of someones decided to start where they were. Let the challenges come as they may, or be damned! 

Many times this is done from the outside, yet, sometimes, it’s done inside the very system they’re trying to change. 

If it’s inside?
Well, there’s going to be more rules to follow, or maybe bend. If it’s outside?

Well, there are maybe not as many rules, but then, there are the laws, as in real bonafide laws punishable by fines, incarceration, or both type laws. Catch my drift? 

But, to an entrepreneur: Both can be seen as winning tactical advantages, rather, than losing obstacles. 

Here’s an analogy I’ve coined that I use when discussing disruption aspects... 

Rules are made to be broken. Laws are made to be exploited.

(Just a note: That little phrase, when understood properly, can be worth $Millions if not $Billions when utilized by the right hands and/or circumstances. Think about it. And there it is for you, free.) 

Let’s continue... 

Our system allows for you to need only worry about the internal rules. GLs ensure (as in - won’t allow) you don’t go off in a direction that could impart harm to the fraternity. e.g., break any laws. 

But within our rules, you have nearly unchallenged ability to chart your own course to either prosper - or fail. 

Note: The most pervasive “rule” that is defended as if it's chiseled in stone is the one that sounds like “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it.” That may be a general rule, but I’ll wager it's not a rule in the codebook, nor masonic law. And if it’s not? Implying it can’t be changed is called: folklore, which is even less. 

Yet, here’s probably the most important aspect to all of this that you will not find anywhere else in the profane: The ability to enact change, real change, is all, basically, free of charge and at your disposal. 

There is no other place in business where you can be part of a global franchise, try to get your startup up and off the ground with the resources that are available to you, basically, free of charge till you finally apply for Charter. 

Repeat: Nowhere.
And if you fail; what’s your sunk cost? Time? 

Please, spare me. 

Anyone that’s ever started anything from scratch hoping to build upon it dares not to ever think about the sunk costs in money alone they put down several (if not a myriad!) rat-holes. It’s just par for the course. Time? Again, par for the course. 

Basically, all you (e.g., Brothers) have to do is decide that whatever it is your complaining about - ain’t working - and you’re now going to seriously do something about it. Then, start doing it. 

That’s it. No money or permission required. So, what’s stopping you? 

Here’s something else you should consider... 

If you do it with sincerity and earnest application for the work and time involved, I’ll wager dollars-to-donuts you’ll both attract others, as well as retain them. 

I’ll also garner, you’ll begin getting the attention of those in the higher chairs to pay attention to what you’re doing. For they themselves are feeling the same circumstances and are looking for bonafide help in this area for ideas and more they, too, can utilize and/or take to other parts of the Craft. 

And yet - all one hears are complaints about how come this, or how come that. It’s all laughable when looked through via an entrepreneurial lens. And if any would like to prove me wrong, or think I’m overstating the “it’s all in your hands” argument or any other premise. Again, all I ask of you is the following... 

Buy, borrow, or whatever else you need to do as to get, Robert Johnson’s latest book “How To Charter A Lodge.” Then follow or implement the guidelines or suggestions laid out within it that fit your specific objective. And - GO!

For its a concise, thoughtfully laid out, treatise of “How To’s” for starting, reforming, and more. All within our current GL system. 

The only thing required to make it all work? Is you. 

And here’s the best part: you can begin right where you stand, today, right now, even as you’re reading this. 

All you need to do to begin the process is decide. For are you... 

Wishing and hoping for change? 
Or, choosing to become an instrument for that change? 

I know what an entrepreneur would pick. How about you? Hope to see you in the next installment. 

-Mark St. Cyr Freemason 


The Square and the Circle

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Steven O'Donnell

Having re-read the recent additions to this superior platform of Masonic insightfulness, and failing to resist the urge to inject a more than casual comment on what very much appears to be the Dichotomy of the Craft, nervously I throw my hat into the ring.

In the blue corner, we have ‘Green Bean Masonry’ with all its trimmings, traditions, dinner clubs, and its connection to the material plane, and in the other blue corner, we have ‘Symbolic Masonry’ with all its teachings, philosophy, observance and its connection to the spiritual plane.

Without the need to quote words from the great teachers of Light nor require to don the cap of the likes of Euclid, but rather to look at this dichotomy from a place of Harmony and the Natural Laws that surround us on every plane. We are taught "no thing" is singular outside of the All. From the mind of the All, a duality is formed and the coming together of that duality in perfect harmony creates that which is to manifest into being. That creation is the result of consciousness. Perfect creation requires a balance of male and female energies.

Consider this duality to be that of what appears to be a ‘Happening’ in the blue corner of the Craft. Two schools of thought trying to occupy the same space at the same time whilst understanding that one without the other is indeed a "no thing." 

With that being said, let us consider one of these dualistic circles of thought and boundless energy being bound to the title of ‘Green Bean Masonry’ and the other circle of thought and boundless energy being bound to the title of ‘Symbolic Masonry’. You see where I’m going with this?

Without faith in the true beauty of creation, and that the coming together of a duality in harmony, proportion, and ratio, which naturally births all intent into creation, all is lost. These two spheres of boundless energy will forever bounce about the blue corner, coming together in a way that is not harmonious and destined to endlessly repel from one another.

The mighty yet mysterious Vesica Pisces is a worthy vehicle to work on such a dichotomy, the ‘Vessel of the Fish’ is constructed as we know, by two circles of exact proportion (we’ll call them ‘aspects’ for this consideration) coming together in perfect harmony and proportion to create a third ‘aspect’.

This ‘third aspect’ or rather, the space known as the Vesica Pisces, the Fish Bladder, the Mandorla, call it what you will if you’ll excuse the simplicity, in Sanskrit means “Yoni”. Translate Yoni back and you get “Holy passage”. A Holy passage proportioned to the ratio of 265:153, or 153 for short. A sacred number in Pythagorism, which some attest to be the secret behind the parable of the 153 fish in Scripture. A passage for the soul to the material world, a ‘Holy’ soul that manifests itself into the material world.

Knowing that this ‘third aspect’ of 265:153 or the root of 3 (√3) defines three-dimensional space, it also defines the space within a cube by the measurement of the length of the diagonal of a cube, or dare I say a perfect ashlar.

In Scripture, Jesus after his resurrection helped his followers with their nights ‘fishing’. His followers hadn’t caught anything all night, but with the help of Jesus, just before dawn, they caught exactly 153 fish. A Scriptural riddle incorporating 153 subtly wants to tell us that a dualistic property of Jesus, namely a property labeled Mary or ‘The Sea’ alludes to the feminine aspect of duality and that it played a very important role in the resurrection of the Christ.

This duality of Jesus meaning ‘The Sea’, translated into Greek, becomes η αγδαληνή and also holds a numerical value of 153. What we have is a telling of a duality coming together in perfect harmony, proportion, and ratio to resurrect I AM that which has been born into being from perfection.

Your point being? I hear you say.

Well, let us scale the proportion down if I may and consider the Craft to be a singularity bound to the title of ‘Wisdom.'

Also, consider if you will, a duality being that of ‘Green Bean Masonry’ bound to the titles of ‘Male and Strength’, and ‘Symbolic Masonry’ bound to the titles of ‘Female and Beauty’. One without the other is a "no thing" creating disharmony within the singularity. Scripture teaches us the backlash of the singularity appearing to favor one brother over the other, how those very first brothers in Eden travailed, and the dichotomy fated on all mankind. Creation may travail in pain but it cannot escape its destiny. One can only imagine how good and how pleasant it would be today if those two brothers dwelt together in perfect harmony. In perfect Brotherly Love.

Understanding that a Bricklayer and a Poet have different skills but together they can create a thing of magnificent perfection, and that coming together with a desire to build that thing of magnificence for the betterment of all mankind, is by its very nature profound.

We are taught that inner work is to better ourselves and we are given the tools to do so, Bricklayers build square things, Poets build in circles. When will we realize that we are one and the same pouring forth from a singularity and treat each other with equal passion? Are we not taught that bettering ourselves, in turn, betters our Lodges and therefore betters the Craft as a whole?

Know thyself and respect your Mother.


Bro Steven O’Donnell is a Master Mason of Lodge St Duthus No 82 Tain, in the Highlands of Scotland.
He brings Fraternal Greetings and Eternal Blessings to all who kneel at the Altar. Peace be upon those who haven’t, may you live forever. Above all, he brings Love.

The Lodge as a Memory Palace

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Ken JP Stuczynski

Earlier this year, I attended a virtual presentation by hermeticicst and memory scholar, Brother Martin Faulkes, on the "Tomb of Christian Rosenkreuz as a Memory Palace." A memory palace is a visualization of a place that one uses to associate with information they wish to remember. It could be any sort of places you can imagine, such as a grove, or a castle, or somewhere you used to live. The point is that you can place objects or ideas in the rooms or parts of the "palace" in such a way they are easy to visualize, and therefore remember. The theory of his presentation is that whether or not the tomb was a real place, it may be an encoding of truths and concepts within the descriptions of its design and ornamentation.

As best we know, Lodges did not originally have dedicated spaces. They could be held in taverns (such as the Goose and Gridiron or the Green Dragon), in someone's residence, or even outdoors. The "Lodge" was drawn on the floor or ground, perhaps with chalk, charcoal, or markings upon clay, later to be mopped or wiped away by the newest initiate. We can expect it to have been what eventually became Tracing Boards — collective images of symbolism for each of the degrees. The arrangements are not mere collages, but memorable scenes with each of the symbols in a specific place relative to the others.

For example, the First Degree is depicted with a chequered floor surrounded by three pillars and the sky open to see the sun, the moon, and the all-seeing eye. There are other objects and symbols as well, but the point is that it means nothing to the uninitiated but has vivid meaning to those who pay attention to the lectures.

The Second Degree is depicted of a porch between two pillars, beyond which is a winding staircase of a particular configuration. I think it no coincidence that we use the details of such imagery in what is perhaps the most daunting lecture given in Craft Masonry. Weaving myriad subjects, arts, and sciences into a story, navigating in a symbolic space of imagined form, is arguably the best way to teach and remember such a thing. The journey through the Middle Chamber alone can be said to be in the form of a memory palace, but each of our degrees – and many beyond – use the physical space of our work as a particular imaginary space. Within each place, we find an orientation of objects and lessons.

It was a custom at one time in some places to whip a servant or slave in each of the boundary corners of a property, so that they would have such an indelible recollection of them so as to be expected to bear clear witness regarding any disputes over their location. We do very particular work in very particular places within our Lodge rooms. Is there anyone among us who does not recall the exact part of the room in which we were given a new name, or were lifted by the hand in the Sublime Degree? Does not standing in that place evoke something a profane would not feel?

It seems we have erected and dedicated each Lodge Room as a model of the Memory Palaces of the degree work. The words of ritual of opening and closing, repeated twice at every communication, are clearly intended to orally preserve (memorize) the duties of each station and place. The proclamation of the location of these offices "draw the Lodge" in its orientation and boundaries (as they should be, even if the particular physical room may not allow it). The catechism is the oral preservation (memorization) of the experience of the degree work by use of narratives and ambulations within a structured symbolic space.

Those of us who are aware of the esoteric dimension of Masonry appreciate that symbols give physical form to things that cannot be readily seen, or spoken of, or even known. But what if the entire Lodge Room is a memory-inducing storehouse for it all and not just the creation of Sacred Space? If we had to, using only our memory of our physical Temples, could we recall all the lessons and tools of our Craft sitting in a dark room or under the covers of our bed? I think even those of us who have not put effort into it would recall better than we expect. And perhaps that is all by design.


Bro. Ken JP Stuczynski is a member of West Seneca Lodge No.1111 and recently served as Master of Ken-Ton Lodge No.1186. As webmaster for NYMasons.Org he is on the Communications and Technology Committees for the Grand Lodge of the State of New York. He is also a Royal Arch Mason and 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, serving his second term as Sovereign Prince of Palmoni Council in the Valley of Buffalo, NMJ. He also coordinates a Downtown Square Club monthly lunch in Buffalo, NY. He and his wife served as Patron and Matron of Pond Chapter No.853 Order of the Eastern Star and considered himself a “Masonic Feminist”.

Working Tools in the Hands of the Ego

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Matthew N. Parker

Freemasonry provides metaphorical working tools that we are encouraged to use to better ourselves and the world around us to create beauty and perfection. We speak about the working tools in glowing terms and view them as implements for shaping the perfect stone or ashlar, for forming perfect right angles, and for smoothing the rough surface. Working tools vary from Grand Lodge to Grand Lodge, whether it be the common gavel, twenty-four-inch gauge, square, compasses, level, plumb, skirret, pencil, or even the wagon wheel. Each is given a flowery and almost infallible description in our rituals and lectures, but has anyone pointed out the dark side of the working tools, the destructive nature inherent within each one of them, and within us?

Duality is a part of all aspects of life and is especially pronounced in Masonry. For every positive, there is a negative. Extremes that seem diametrically opposed but cannot exist without one another. Good and evil, light and dark, hot and cold, up and down, the juxtapositions are endless but necessary for our understanding of existence. So too is it with our working tools; the instruments we so venerate as tools for creating perfection can, in the wrong hands, be instruments of utter destruction and harm to ourselves and those around us.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ego as "the self especially as contrasted with another self or the world." We hear the word Ego bandied about often in a negative way; "Oh, that dude has a massive Ego," denoting an inflated sense of self-importance or arrogance. However, the Ego is not a bad thing at all if it is understood and controlled. We were given the Ego for a reason; it serves to do two things. First, the Ego is a wall that we put up to protect ourselves from things that we perceive as harmful to us or our beliefs, such as differing political or religious views. Secondly, the Ego provides the self-confidence or internal encouragement we need. Neither of these is necessarily bad, but they can certainly lead to unfortunate and sometimes catastrophic results. The fallacy is to ignore the Ego and to let it take control. Look no further than the Entered Apprentice Degree. We are to learn to subdue our passions, control our emotions, and control our baser instincts.

Think of the Ego as your apprentice. You, as the craftsman, wield the gavel, and as a dedicated and skilled artisan, you use it judiciously, using just the right amount of force to accomplish the job and create a masterpiece. Now you hand your gavel to a novice, your apprentice, and walk away expecting that he will use the same care and precision that you would use. It is human nature to allow the Ego to take over at times, but when we surrender all control to the Ego, things go off the rails, and often in a spectacular way. Unsupervised in the Ego's hands, the same gavel used to break off the corners of rough stones and form the perfect ashlar can also be used to destroy the very same stone. The Ego tells us we don't need the level or plumb--the wall looks straight enough; we don't need the twenty-four-inch gage, the length looks about right; we don't need the designs upon the trestle board, we'll just make it up as we go along - what's the worst that can happen?

The same analogy can be applied to any of the working tools in Masonry. If a wall is built without adequately applying the plumb, there is a higher likelihood that it will fall. If a wall is built without adequately applying the level, it will slope. If we built a temple on a faulty foundation or an uneven one, no matter how much effort and precision we put into building the rest of the structure, it cannot be stable. There are extremes, polar opposites, and a dark side to everything that is light. The flame from a single candle will cast shadows; there's no way around it.

The Lodge or the Temple is a metaphor for ourselves. We strive to shape the ashlars and form the Temple perfectly. Suppose we hand our working tools over to the Ego and leave it unsupervised. In that case, the animal instinct and arrogance of our baser selves will only bring about imperfection, which risks the entire structure's integrity. You are the craftsman, and the Ego is your apprentice. It can be beneficial but must never be left unsupervised, no matter how noble the intentions. We are not forming one, but thousands of perfect ashlars throughout our lives. No temple is built from just one stone. Our Masonic Temple is built from countless stones carefully hewn over a lifetime. And when at last we lay down our metaphorical working tools, we hope to look upon our Temple and see an edifice of beauty and perfection. By supervising the Ego, we are mindful of the destructive force within the working tools, and we are better enabled to control the chaos and form the perfect ashlar.


Bro. Matt Parker is a member of Wendell Lodge 565 in Wendell, North Carolina, founder of the North Carolina Masonic Research Society, Chair of the Grand Lodge Committee on Public Relations, member of the Grand Lodge Library Committee, 32° Scottish Right Mason, SJ, and member of the York Rite as well as other invitational bodies and esoteric orders.

The King Arthur Effect

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Ken JP Stuczynski

*Editors Note* This was to be published in 2017, just before The Grand Lodge of New York's annual communication. The local Masonic paper went out of business before its next issue and so was never published.

Last year, it was proposed to amend the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of New York to require that Elected Grand Lodge Officers must be Past Masters. Currently, someone who is "merely" a Brother may become Grand Master, at least in theory. The likelihood of such a nomination and election seems infinitesimal, and the potential chaos that might ensue would be great if such did happen. So maybe we should ask ourselves why it was not written that way, to begin with. Perhaps there is another reason.

One legend of King Arthur begins with "the sword in the stone." Anyone who can pull the sword from the stone proves himself to be the rightful heir to the throne. Anyone may try, and hypothetically anyone could succeed. All myth intends a purpose, be it a moral lesson or a deeper message that resonates such with the human heart that it becomes timeless and endures. Surely no well-regulated kingdom would choose someone with no pedigree or experience as a leader. So what is the message?

Such a thing is not a matter of jurisprudence, but a principle. It is not that this or that particular man is qualified, but that any man, in general, can be noble and worthy of even the highest honor. It is not simply a childish fantasy or hope, but the most potent way to pronounce belief in a true meritocracy. This timeless sentiment, refined over the years into a political virtue, was transmitted through Freemasonry to the very founding of our nation. You need not have held office to be President.

This is a very similar argument to the question of [lowering] lawful age in our Fraternity. Are we so afraid of our own bad judgment that we would accept someone unworthy that we must maintain a law that equally rejects all younger worthy gentlemen amidst our ranks? If we cannot be trusted in our judgment to allow younger adults or allegedly less qualified Masons to join or sit in the Grand East, how can we claim to trust ourselves to discern the merits of older adults or Right Worshipfuls? At what point do years and titles supersede character and merit?

These questions may be answered with cold logic, as a matter of law and order. But perhaps the answer will be different if we see it for something more noble and glorious -- a statement of principle and equal opportunity that will sort itself out by our own good judgment and the providence of the Great Architect. It will be interesting to see which view will have prevailed by the time you read this.

{The decision was made to require anyone aspiring to be Grand Master to have served as Master of a Lodge in New York State. It would have been unanimous except for one vote.}


Bro. Ken JP Stuczynski is a member of West Seneca Lodge No.1111 and recently served as Master of Ken-Ton Lodge No.1186. As webmaster for NYMasons.Org he is on the Communications and Technology Committees for the Grand Lodge of the State of New York. He is also a Royal Arch Mason and 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, serving his second term as Sovereign Prince of Palmoni Council in the Valley of Buffalo, NMJ. He also coordinates a Downtown Square Club monthly lunch in Buffalo, NY. He and his wife served as Patron and Matron of Pond Chapter No.853 Order of the Eastern Star and considered himself a “Masonic Feminist”.

Why Did You Join Freemasonry, and Why Are You Still Here?

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Joe Martinez

This commentary is partially in response to an article I recently read on this very site, written by Brother Randy Sanders, who I have known for a long time and have come to respect and admire as a friend and Brother, in the truest meaning of those words. Now, that being said, and confident that I live in a world where we can have our own opinions and beliefs on certain matters, and still treasure one another, I want to end this introduction by saying that I disagree with certain things in that aforementioned piece.

Let’s start off with the premise of “ego and elitism” that was referenced a few times. I am not going to broach the subject of cancel-culture, because I think we are a more enlightened folk that can move past the buzz words of the day. I find the concept of “ego and elitism” quite interesting, however. So let’s start with the concept of “ego.”

In its barest sense, ego is the identification of “self,” the “I am” that forms the inner aspects of our human psyche. It is the middle ground between the impulses of our animalistic nature, or the “id”, and the moral compass which culminates in our “superego.” When used in a negative context, as in the aforementioned article, it is used to describe an air of superiority over other human beings.

Does wanting to improve oneself engender feelings of superiority? It’s hard to answer that question without sounding morally reprehensible, doesn’t it?

Do I feel like I have a better sense of my own “I am” than I did yesterday? Yes, I believe I do.

Does it make me a terrible human being? No, I do not think it does.

Does expressing to the world that I want to be a better man, husband, father, Brother, or human being make me egotistical? I guess a little, but that really becomes your problem and not mine. This is ego in its purest form; it makes you a living, conscious, and breathing creature that seeks self-improvement, and perhaps one day, self-actualization.

“Elitism” almost always engenders a negative sense of selectivity and exclusion. Let me fill you in on a little secret: Freemasonry is selective… and it is exclusive. We do not admit everyone that enters through our West Gate. We have a process that is secret and sacred to admit or deny potential candidates’ entry into our Fraternity. We require certain criteria for admittance, most of them being the same regardless of jurisdictional differences. When we exclude one person, for whatever reason, that is known as exclusivity.

Dictionary.com has one definition for elitism as: “consciousness of or pride in belonging to a select or favored group.”[1] As “elitist” as this sounds, I do not see anything inherently wrong with this definition as it applies to Freemasonry. We “are” a select group, at least we should be. We turn away prospects that do not meet a certain criterion, whether right or wrong, and we restrict membership based on the results of a secret ballot.

There is a quality to this process that screams “we are different than you,” or more aptly put, “we are different than the rest of the world.” Do we not scream this on billboards and bumper stickers? We will take good men and make them “better”, or so says the advertisement on our pancake breakfast flyers. We do not take depraved men; we do not take men with reprehensible crimes in their past; we take men that “we” consider good, based on a loose set of criteria, and work to make them “better.” Having a threshold for inclusion in any group is the very definition of “exclusive,” no matter how we try to explain it away.

Now there is also a “negative” use of exclusivity that I must address, one that is found in different parts of the country, which never gets enough Light (no pun intended). When people are excluded because of the color of their skin, which Deity they pray to, or what their last name sounds like, that is just plain wrong.

Let me be clear when I write this: people who use our criteria to exclude people from the Fraternity on the basis of creed, sexual orientation, or color of their skin are not true Masons. People who discriminate for any reason “except” moral fitness, are not real Masons. They may know the handshakes and the ritual and show up for a meal once in a while, but they are not in actuality invested members of our Order. Paying dues does not a Mason make. You must, fortunately for those that care, actually “live” and “breathe” this stuff. If you don’t like this comment, you need to take a long hard look at yourself and your own inner beliefs.

Now, how does this impact Freemasonry for the members that are already “in the club, as it were? To touch on one of Brother Randy’s points where he states that some Masons:

“desire to change Freemasonry to the way they believed it should be done”

Let’s touch on that one for a brief second. We cannot look at the Fraternity the way it exists today: a crumbling structure that charges little for little in return in 90% of its Lodges today. We cannot look at the fraternity today with the eyes of those in the 1840s, or those in the 1930s. We cannot view this order with anything but the eyes that formed Lodges, crafted our ritual and its solemnity, and even built this Nation.

So how was “Masonry” done? Let us go back to the beginning of it all, with whichever legend you like to use. We have small groups of men in Europe, creating and revising rituals meant to initiate the profane into something new, something different, and something separate from the world they lived in at the time.

And here’s another secret tidbit, Freemasonry is by nature, esoteric. Esoteric, coming from the Greek εσωτερικός, means “intended for only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest” or “designed for or understood by the initiated alone”.[2] Freemasonry is 100% esoteric, without having to inject anything extra in it at all.

I can guarantee you with 100% certainty that these same men, who were born in the late Renaissance and early Enlightenment, did not go through the trouble of creating, or co-opting Operative Lodges, for the sole purpose of social gathering and beer drinking. They did not inundate us with the surface meanings of so many symbols of mortality, just so they could go on posters, coasters, and coffee mugs. They did not revise and refine the Hiramic legend to simply be a cheap, dramatic play that pushes us through the degree system just so we can get a dues card and a seat at the bar on a Friday evening.

They did not, in any way shape, or form, envision that Freemasonry was anything less than a place to learn about oneself and their purpose in life, through a definitive process of initiation.

What then is the purpose of Initiation? Freemasonry contains a major aspect of its structure, one where Lodges lead a candidate through the three Craft degrees, either shoddily or with reverence, and ultimately take an outsider and make him a Brother. Eliade defines initiation as a body of rites or traditions, most oftentimes oral, whose purpose produces a clear and concise alteration in the religious, spiritual, or social aspect of the initiate.[3] To take that a step further, he notes that the initiation produces a defined change to that person’s existence; they become a different being altogether than they were before they were initiated. The definition of Initiation vehemently argues that we “need” to be doing this, no?

Let us circle back to the meat and potatoes of the argument. “Masonry” was done in a very unique and beautiful way, for a very unique and beautiful purpose. We have since lost that purpose with fiascos like the Morgan Affair, the Golden Age of Fraternalism, and a systemic animosity towards the spiritual in this country. Masonry is not “done” this way anymore, for the most part.

Bro. Randy, in his very passionate article, tells us that we need to let people practice Freemasonry the way they are comfortable. If that were somewhat true and beneficial to our Craft, we would be flourishing, where instead we are dying. Lodges could potentially be filled to the brim with people, sharing meals, singing songs, clanging beer steins, and other evidence of joy and contentment if we really were everything to everyone; instead, we see crumbling buildings and recycled Officer lines. Everyone having their own opinions, no matter how bigoted, or morally wrong, or reprehensible in a way that is relativistic to their own short-sighted view of the world, as opposed to that absolute view of good and right, would be "hunky-dory" and acceptable; but it is not.

Just because people have been doing it “their own way” for so long, it does not give them a pass to continue down this road of malaise, indifference, and lack of care. The idea that people joined for many different reasons, and each experience Freemasonry in their own unique way, is simply our justification for its steady decline. This sounds harsh but let me explain.

For the above to be an effective and actual response, we cannot be splintered in our initial experiences and purpose. We need to have a mission statement to start from, and from there, you can grow and learn and be however you like. Without a solid place to start, which is the same for everyone, the Freemasonic journey becomes muddled and loses all meaning.

With a firm foundation in the mystery of Freemasonry, all the other “side-quests” in this journey become natural and free-flowing and NOT simply the sole purpose of membership. Charity, no matter how small or large, would be meaningful and come from a place of love; fellowship would have a deeper meaning and lasting significance; brotherhood would have greater importance than simply tout it on a bumper sticker. All those other aspects of Masonry would spring forth from that deep wellspring of change inside, that change that comes through initiation.

Let me tell you what that mission statement was: It was to initiate men, take them from their old life, and show them how to learn the meaning of life from a process of life, death, and rebirth. Taking that knowledge and then making it a true part of their inner being, they would then view life through different eyes. Their social interactions would be much more meaningful; their connection to the Divine, in however manner they believe, would be all the more enriched; they would have a better sense of love and care for their families, friends, and loved ones; and they would take all these current aspects of the Craft and exemplify the teachings in their words and deeds.

Can you be just a “social club” Mason? If the teachings in our Ritual taught you anything, you would never want to be one to begin with. Can you be just a “charitable” Mason and donate money whenever asked? While that’s really nice of you, charity without love and relief is a hollow act that serves a purpose in the short term, but it does not fill either soul in the long run. Can you be just a “dinner club” Mason? I guess you could, but without inculcating the parts of your Initiation that deal with fellowship and Brotherhood, it really is only just a meal. A customer loyalty card at a sandwich shop or coffee house would be more economical.

The point is, if you did not care for, or had a terrible/boring/uninspired experience while bring brought into the Craft, that does not excuse one’s continued actions or behavior, or lack thereof.

Remember (or relearn) what the ritual teaches you; remember why you joined in the first place; and understand that this journey is meant to impart lessons for the “rest” of your life, not just when you were kneeling at the altar for the first, second, or even third time. The common thread, as Bro. Randy does point out, is that we all share the common trait of kneeling at the altar; some of us experienced change, and some others just saw it as a steppingstone to those by-products of Freemasonry today. It is to this latter group that I speak to today. And again, if you are offended by what I just wrote, then did you really take those obligations all that seriously to begin with?

Remember that mission statement of Freemasonry and let “that” be your compass for being that kind of Freemason. This institution was created for a purpose, not just to serve pancakes on the weekend, or be a place to escape your family for a night, or even a place to take a nap on the sidelines. Live that purpose, and as corny as it sounds, “be the change” you want to see in the world, and Freemasonry will start to realign itself with its original purpose, and the world will be a better place for it.

Bro. Joe Martinez is a veteran of the United States Army, and currently an executive in the legal consulting and information governance space. He has been a Master Mason since 2005 and is a member in Virginia, Massachusetts, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and the UGLE. He is a member of the premier esoteric Lodge in DC, Benjamin B. French Lodge No. 15, and also holds memberships in the York Rite, Scottish Rite, and many other appendant bodies. He is a facilitator for the Masonic Legacy Society, and one of the founders and admins of the Refracted Light Facebook group, which provides live educational opportunities to Masons and Initiates all over the world. He enjoys focusing on and researching the Initiatic Experience, Rituals of Initiation, and the Mysteries of Ancient Civilizations, as well as the relation between modern science and Gnostic teachings.



[1] “Elitism,” accessed March 11, 2021, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/elitism.

[2] “Esoteric,” Merriam-Webster (Merriam-Webster, n.d.), accessed March 12, 2021, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/esoteric.

[3] Mircea Eliade, Rites and Symbols of Initiation the Mysteries of Birth and Rebirth (New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1965), 20.

Is the Third Degree a teletē?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners   

In Orphic cosmology, the universe was conceived of in a cosmic egg. The idea is that the cosmos was initially a self-contained embryo, which at a certain point hatched, the upper half of the egg formed the Heavens, the lower half formed the Earth. After that ensuing Chaos, the three realms consisting of Heaven, Earth, and Sea, were bound by Aether. This substance which was described as the fifth element by Aristotle, held the three realms together, creating the universe. The Orphics believed in an omnipotent creator, a demiurge, named Phanes. Phanes was the god of all gods until he was devoured by Zeus.  This creation story parallels those of other ancient civilizations. 

Orphism was named after Orpheus, a mythical hero, who tried to retrieve his wife from the Underworld under the condition that he not look at her. He failed and was killed by mænads, who were followers of Dionysus. The religious foundations derive from the myth of Dionysus. Born to Zeus and Persephone, Dionysus was dismembered and eaten by the Titans. An angered Zeus struck the Titans with his thunderbolt, disintegrating them, and reviving from their ashes a reincarnated Dionysus, along with mankind.  

Man had a dual nature, a soul from Dionysus which contained the pure divine spark, and body from the Titans which was impure. For this reason, the Orphics thought the body (soma) was a tomb (sema). To the Orphics, the body reminded man of his corporeal nature, as opposed to his spiritual one. In his dialogue, , Gorgias, Plato states: “I have heard a philosopher [Pythagoras] say that at this moment we are actually dead and that the body is our tomb…” In order to achieve salvation from the tomb of our material existence, one had to be initiated into the Dionysian mysteries and undergo teletē. Teletē is a ritual purification which consisted of reliving the suffering and death of the god. Orphics believed that they would, after death, spend eternity alongside Orpheus. The uninitiated (amúētos), they believed, would be reincarnated indefinitely.  This idea is similar to the Buddhist idea of Samsara, the wheel of rebirth.  If, when we die, we have not balanced our Karma, we are condemned to live another life.  This process would continue ad infinitum until we do so.

By this point, you might be wondering, What does this have to do with Freemasonry?  Pythagoreanism, the philosophical brotherhood started by Pythagoras, took many of the orphic doctrines and incorporated them into his teachings. In the third Degree lecture, we are taught that Pythagoras was the inventor of the forty-seventh problem of Euclid.  We are told that in his travels through Asia, Africa, and Europe he was initiated into several orders of Priesthood, and is said to have been raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason. Historians accredit Pythagoras with being the first to call himself a philosopher; as he considered it a way of life. He believed that philosophy was a life that was lived in discussion and in experimentation. He is said to have “intellectualized” Orphism by applying scientific thinking and reasoning to its beliefs. In doing so, he made it a viable way of life, rather than a mystery. In Gorgias, Plato states: “[T]hey say that the soul of man is immortal, and at one time has an end, which is termed dying, and at another time is born again, but never destroyed. And the moral is, that man ought to live always in perfect holiness.”

Plato describes the ethical system of Orphism, explaining the idea of purification, which is required if one wants to reach the afterlife. This system heavily influences the idea of the immortality of the soul advocated by Pythagoras. It is believed that this is an idea that Socrates taught him and that would play a crucial role in his philosophy. Pythagoras believes that the soul exists eternally and can never be destroyed; if it is impure at the end of its body’s life, it would be reincarnated into the body of a new person, this cycle continuing until at death, the soul was pure, at which point it would go onto be one with divinity. For Pythagoreans, a virtuous life was one that would lead to this purification.  This life consisted of dutiful moral responsibility and severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence. Although our bodies were a tomb, the Pythagorean believed that the soul was holy and needed to be pure if it wanted to return to divinity. The life of the Pythagorean was dedicated to caring for and tending to the soul.  They were cautious not to commit any vices. In the afterlife, the soul would be judged by its scars, not the physical ones, but the spiritual ones. These spiritual scars are symbolic of the vices of which the body was guilty. Because of this belief, the soul was of absolute importance and it took precedence over the well-being of the body.

 As I stated, One of the key beliefs of the Pythagoreans was the transmigration of the soul borrowed from the Orphics and expanded upon. In fact, one story about Pythagoras was recanted by Xenophanes. He recalled: “Once they said that he [Pythagoras] was passing by when a puppy was being whipped, and he took pity and said: Stop, do not beat it; for it is the soul of a friend that I recognized when I heard it giving tongue.” In this story, Pythagoras remembered the voice of a friend of his and reasoned that his soul must have been reincarnated as a dog. Pythagoras was famously a vegetarian and anyone who joined the Pythagoreans would become a vegetarian.  This was not for ethical reasons, it was based upon the basis that animals could be the host of either a friend’s or an ancestor’s soul. Beans were also to be refrained from, for Pythagoras said they were the seeds from which humans were birthed. To the Pythagoreans, to eat a bean was to eat a fellow human. Ironically, according to legend, Pythagoras died because he was chased to a bean field by an angry mob, and in not wanting to trample the beans, decided to surrender himself to the mob instead. 

The eating of meat or beans was called Adikia, and it was one of the greatest vices. Plato stated in his work, Laws, that “[M]en are said to have lived a sort of Orphic life, having the use of all lifeless things, but abstaining from all living things.” Orphism was practically synonymous with vegetarianism as a result. The Pythagoreans believed all life was interconnected like a web which was connected to the Divine, of which all living things were a part. A story in Pythagorean teaching tells of a man named Æthalides. He was bestowed by Hermes the gift of being able to remember his past lives. Upon passing, he was reincarnated as Euphorbus, who was slain by Menelaus in the Trojan War. His soul then went to inhabit Hermotimus, who went to a temple and allegedly pointed out the shield used by Menelaus.  In doing so, proving he was Euphorbus in his previous life. Then, Hermotimus died and became Pyrrhus; and finally, the soul went on to inhabit Pythagoras. Because of this, Pythagoras taught his followers to every night to go through their previous day in their memory. In recalling as much detail as possible, as a way of strengthening their memory, they would be able to eventually remember as far back as their own previous lives.

Prior to the second section of the third degree in Illinois, we read code 365A, which strictly forbids "any levity, horseplay or roughness and insists that there be no such actions and no audible laughter or other noise in the Lodge room which might distract the attention of the candidate. Failure to comply with this Code, and any action by any officer or member in violation of or inconsistent with the language of this order shall constitute grounds for disciplinary action."  But what I find really interesting is what is written right before that statement in the code.  I have bolded the sentence that stands out.  "The second section of the Third Degree constitutes a most solemn and impressive portion of our ritualistic work. In it we are taught the ultimate lessons of Masonic philosophy--victory over death and the immortality of the soul. Nothing must be allowed to impair the deep impression which should be made upon the mind of the candidate."  This makes me wonder if Pythagoras and his teachings still resonate within the second section of the third degree?

In the first degree lecture, we are taught the ornaments of the lodge, one of which is the mosaic pavement.  A mosaic pavement consists of several stones of mixed colors joined together in a pattern to imitate a painting.  In Freemasonry, the pavement is depicted as alternating black and white tiles like that of a chessboard.   We are told that it is emblematical of human life, checkered with good and evil.  Does this dualistic philosophy not remind you of the Orphic/Pythagorean belief?  The belief that man has both the divine spark which is pure (good), and the body which is impure (evil).  

If this is the case we can think of the third degree as a teletē.  If the ultimate lessons of Masonic philosophy are - victory over death and the immortality of the soul, then does it not stand to reason that what happens during the second section of the third degree is a ritual purification which consists of reliving the suffering and death of our Grandmaster Hiram Abiff.  I want to be very clear, while the Orphics did this for a god, Dionysus; Freemasons do not worship or deify Hiram Abiff.  That being said, in undergoing this ritual and in following the teachings of Freemasonry, are we not purifying ourselves?   Is the idea of becoming a perfect ashlar not an idea of becoming pure?   By undergoing this ritual in the second section of the third degree, we are taking a necessary final step in the purification of ourselves.  

I believe that while it is not implied nor can it be proven, that the ancient mysteries have heavily influenced our rituals and practices.  Pythagoras is specifically mentioned as our ancient friend and brother in our third-degree lecture for his invention of the forty-seventh problem of Euclid.  Does it not stand to reason that some of his other teachings would have influenced our ritual?  There are other connections to the Egyptian mysteries and others that I will not go into today, but if you look hard enough you will be able to make the connections yourself.   Just don't think too much about whether or not to eat those green beans at the next dinner you are able to have with your brethren after this pandemic is over. 


WB Darin A. Lahners is our co-managing Editor.  He is a Past Master of and Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph. He is also a plural member of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL), where he is also a Past Master. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of 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). You can reach him by email at darin.lahners@gmail.com