"UPROXX" Style Masonry

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB. Robert H. Johnson


In the tradition of social media articles that appear in our news feeds, those sensational pieces with tag lines like “10 things you didn't know George Lucas said about Harrison Ford”, send our fingers racing to tap the story and read something mind blowing. I thought it was time to give the Midnight Freemasons one of these articles. Below you'll find three things that will blow your mind about Freemasonry and the legends attached to the craft. And for you scholars out there, I’ll even give you references ;) Get ready…



1. According to the Talmud and the sources listed below, upon the completion of the temple, King Solomon ordered all the craftsman killed so they would not be able to build another temple to any false God or build anything else in their lives with more splendor than what they had just completed. Hiram was not in fact killed, but called to Heaven, like Enoch. 
Reference : Jewish Encyclopedia - Art  - Freemasonry; New Age Magazine Vol 22-23 : Supreme Council, 33; Ancient and Accepted Scottish rite of Freemasonry, Southern jurisdiction, U.S. A., 1915



2. The North in the lodge is a place of darkness, but not because of the light being unable to reach it. During the early inspection of the temple, Hiram is inspecting the North Gate construction, he is in a state of carelessness due to some personal matters. In his folly, he dislodges a stone and the stone falls. The stone strikes a worker named Cavelum who is kin to King Solomon. Cavelum is killed. Hiram, fraught with grief orders the North Gate sealed up and to be a place of mourning and grief. Now ask yourself these two questions; 1. Is a place of grief and sadness also a place of "darkness"? And 2, If Hiram had not walled up the North Gate, would he have survived his encounter? Does this mean that in a round about way, Hiram was his own assassin due to his carelessness?

References : Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Albert G. Mackey,
 Rev. Hawkins and Hughan



3. The Queen of Sheba and Hiram Abiff's forbidden love. According to some lore, Hiram Abiff is killed not by ruffians, but by hired assassins hired by none other than King Solomon. In this story and there a few different versions. When The Queen of Sheba comes to visit Solomon for whatever reason, take your pick, she demands to meet the architect of the temple. When she finally meets Hiram Abiff, they fall in love at sight and King Solomon can see this is very apparent. In order to “fix the situation", King Solomon hires three Fellowcrafts to "take care" of Hiram Abiff. One night while Hiram and the Queen are trying to steal away, he is attacked. He throws his jewel into a pit and tries to escape but not before meeting his untimely end.


References : Solomon and Sheba. Faye Levine. Richard Marek Publishers, New York, 1980; Colliers Encyclopedia; Encyclopedia Americana; Great People of the Bible and How They Lived. Reader’s Digest Assoc., Inc. Pleasantville, NY, 1979; Deceptions and Myths of the Bible; International standard Bible Encyclopedia; The Geography of the Bible. Denis Ably. Harper and Rowe, New York 1974; King Solomon. Fredric Thinne. East and West Library, New York, 1947; The Secret Societies of All Ages and Countries. Charles William Heckthorn; The First Book of Kings. J. Robinson. Cambridge at the University Press 1972 ; Holy Bible, Authorized (King James) Version; The story of the Queen of Sheba is recorded in the Old Testament in I Kings 10:1-13; a similar version also appears in II Chronicles 9:1-12. Other references to the Queen of Sheba are: Psalms lxxii, 15, and in the New Testament, Matthew 12:42 and Luke 11:31; The Queen of Sheba and Her Only Son Menyelek: the Kebra Nagast. Budge, Sir Ernest A. Wallis, translator. Oxford University Press, London, 1932; Solomon and Solomonic Literature. Conway, Moncure Daniel. Haskell House, NY, 1973, pp.59-65 ; All of the Women of the Bible. Dean, Edith. Harper and Row, San Francisco, 1955; The Lore of the Old Testament. Gaer, Joseph. Little-Brown, Boston, 1951, pp. 242-44; Legends of the Bible. Ginzberg, Louis. Simon and Schuster, NY, 1956, pp. 560-64

All info is pulled from the source Old Legends of Hiram Abiff - A short Talk Bulletin and is compiled here for the reader. 

~RHJ

Bro. Robert Johnson, 32° is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the First North-East District of Illinois. He is the Master of Waukegan Lodge No. 78 and Education officer for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He is also a member of the York Rite bodies Royal Arch, Cryptic Council, Knights Templar, AMD, The Illinois Lodge of Research and a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago as well as a charter member of the Society of King Solomon, a charity organization run by the Grand Lodge of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. In addition, he produces video shorts focusing on driving interest in the Fraternity and writes original Masonic papers from time to time. He is also a cohost of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of three. He works full time in the safety industry and is also a photographer on the side as well as an avid home brewer. He is currently working on a book of Masonic essays.

Daylight Lodges

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Ken JP Stuczynski


In my jurisdiction (Grand Lodge of the State of New York), there are only two Lodges that meet during the day. One of them is in New York City, the home to Brothers who are actors and musicians that are by the nature of their profession unavailable most evenings. The other meets on a Saturday, apparently an accommodation for Brothers who came from a closed Lodge that also met mornings due to its members working second or third shifts.

Frankly, I find it hard to understand why we do not have more daytime Lodge meetings. The days when nine-to-five jobs were the ubiquitous standard are long gone. There are many night jobs and other shifts, stay-at-home dads, and on the other end, retirees who don't like (or can't) drive at night. This means ample opportunity for new Charters, and to get more use out of our Temples. I would even suggest that anywhere you can find more than two or three Lodges in an area, you could add another one to accommodate candidates and existing members who just can't be involved in an evening. For what it's worth, here are my suggestions to take advantage of, or at least acknowledge the situation.

If you have an active Lodge but find that many members cannot make meetings due to business and family commitments, add a few daytime meetings to your Trestle Board. Make sure they are well communicated and advertised. Heck, you may even find Brothers from other nearby Lodges start to attend.

Another option is to sponsor the creation of a new Lodge. This can increase the tenancy and use of existing Masonic buildings. You can work together as closely or separately as you like. The only issue with this approach is pushback from those concerned about existing Lodges losing members. But who are they going to lose except those who cannot participate anyway? And do we care about our brothers and the Craft, or just our individual Lodge? We would need to overcome our scarcity mindset. Besides, some members would want to retain their membership in the mother Lodge.

By the way, I'm not talking about weekend Lodges. Even people working evenings or overnight may want their family time on a Saturday or Sunday. I would even go so far as to make a point of never meeting or rarely holding events on Friday through Sunday to avoid conflict with the holy days of various faiths. In the GLNY, we just passed a change in the Constitutions allowing Masonic work on a Sunday, so as to alleviate the need to have it on the Jewish Sabbath. I myself experienced a pleading to have a communications conference on a Sunday instead of a Saturday for exactly this reason.

It must be discerned as to what choices and details ought to be implemented in any particular locale and circumstance. But the days of smaller Lodges with better participation and serving specific niches are upon us. I can easily imagine, for example, a monthly meeting on a weekday morning followed by going out to lunch. (There are already several Masonic lunchtime gatherings in my area, which should be an indicator of the potential I'm talking about here.)

Look around you. Is there a place for Masons to go during the week, earlier in the day? If not, there may be a real need for our Brothers -- and a line of candidates that have been turned away. But you won't know until you seek, ask, and knock on the door of this possible future of our Fraternity.

~JP

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”.

From The Midnight Freemasons Archives: The Masonic Conspiracy Behind Rolling Rock Beer

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

 
"Beer is proof that God loves us, and wants us to be happy."

~Benjamin Franklin

There has always been speculation that there is some connection between Latrobe's Rolling Rock Beer and the Freemasons--I mean, it's obvious, there's a '33' right on the bottle!  And the 33rd degree is the highest degree that can be attained by Freemasons.  Is it possible the Latrobe's were Freemasons?

It's one of those great beer controversies--where did the '33' come from?  Everyone seems to have a theory, and nobody has the definitive answer. 

And there are many theories:

-One common theory is that it was to celebrate the repeal of prohibition in 1933.  That was an important year for brewers and beer drinkers alike!

-Another legend is that the Rolling Rock brewery was started with money won at the horse track. The winning bet was placed on #33, "Old Latrobe," and that is why there is a horse and the '33' on the bottle.

-Another has it that brewers in those early days belonged to the local union #33.

-Another claims the reservoir the brewery got its water from was fed by 33 streams.

And the theories go on and on and on . . .

Sadly, the most likely version is the least exciting.  It may have simply been a printers mistake in the beginning.  This version of the story comes from a very reliable source--the former CEO of the company.  He was also very interested in where that '33' had come from--his name was James Tito.  What he discovered is actually very simple.

The slogan on the back of the bottle read originally:
"Rolling Rock – From the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe, we tender this premium beer for your enjoyment as a tribute to your good taste. It comes from the mountain springs to you."
That's 33 words.  There were a number of different versions of the slogan in the beginning, but the Latrobe family finally settled on the shortest one--the one that ran only 33 words.  Somebody noted that in the margin, and when it went to the printers, the printers didn't realize that the 33 wasn't part of the text and included it. The mistake wasn't discovered until a large batch of bottles had been produced, and back in those days, the labels were painted right onto the bottles, and those bottles were reused, which explains why the mistake wasn't immediately corrected

And just maybe it wasn't corrected later because of the stir it had created when those bottles reached the public.  Everyone talking about and debating what that '33' meant and speculating about where it had come from.  Perhaps Latrobe saw that controversy as a good thing.  Here it is more than seventy years later, and people are still talking about it.  I guess you'd call that 'beer buzz'.

So that's the big Masonic conspiracy behind Rolling Rock Beer.  It doesn't have anything to do with the Freemasons at all.

Not to propagate a myth, but I can tell you, I do have it on good authority that at least one 33rd Degree Freemason enthusiastically approves of the product--he finds it crisp and refreshing with a easy-to-drink flavor. 

In fact, I think I'll go have one now . . . 

~TEC

I couldn't even guess when I wrote the original version of this piece.  Probably in 2007.  I rewrote it and expanded it after 2011 and again after 2015.  I added the Ben Franklin quote to this version.  Let's just say it's made the rounds over the years.  I like it because it's one of those weird conspiracy theories attributed to the Masons that people like to talk about--like the imagery on the the back of the Grand Seal of the United States that everyone claims is Masonic.  I thought I'd post it again--I saw a discussion on the topic in one of the Masonic social media groups.  They were both wrong as it turns out . . .  Enjoy!

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog, and an award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. Todd started the Midnight Freemason blog in 2006, and in 2012 he opened it up as a contributor blog The Midnight Freemasons (plural). Todd has written more than 1,000 pieces for the blog since it began. He is a Past Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) where he currently serves as Secretary. He is a Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research (FMLR). He is a charter member of the a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 and currently serves as EHP. You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

What happens during initiation? The Head, Heart and Hara

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners


One of my nightly rituals of late has been purposeful meditation upon trying to "listen" to the universe.  I try to do this before falling asleep. I relax and attempt to let the distractions of the world, whether they be the noise of the interstate that sits a few hundred feet from my home or my girlfriend surfing Tik Tok, fade away into obscurity.  I focus on my mind on just being still and "listening" to what the Universe decides to tell me. While doing this the other evening, I had a most profound realization. This is where this gets a little deep. The realization was that we (as a reality) exist within the all-seeing eye of God.  Imagine that the all-seeing eye of God is God learning, experiencing, viewing, and being through each and every one of us, and we are by proxy then connected not only to God but to each other because of this.    

Consider that matter is made of atoms, each of which vibrates at a specific frequency,  and each of us is made up of atoms that vibrate and resonate at certain frequencies.  Our individual consciousness is then made up of these vibrations which are resonating at certain frequencies together, which are then being received by God and translated by God.  Imagine then that God is connecting to each of us, and we to him. God is constantly emanating reality, and we are experiencing it both through him and with him.  Sacred Geometry, or the patterns of creation, are visual representations of this emanation.  In the Royal Arch, we hear repeated John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  Remember that words are not merely spoken, they are intoned or vibrated, and in doing so form harmonic resonance with everything around us.  In fact, the verse above says nothing about the word being spoken.  Instead, maybe we need to replace Word with the term vibration instead.  Doesn't the verse make more sense if you say: "In the beginning was the vibration, and the vibration was with God, and the vibration was God"?    

Have I lost you?  Maybe the below article will help:

It says: "Resonance is a type of motion, characterized by oscillation between two states. And ultimately all matter is just vibrations of various underlying fields.  An interesting phenomenon occurs when different vibrating things/processes come into proximity: they will often start, after a little time, to vibrate together at the same frequency."  It goes on to mention this phenomenon is called syncing... or "spontaneous self-organization".  Many examples of which can be observed in nature, although the article gives these examples:
  • Fireflies of certain species start flashing their little fires in sync in large gatherings of fireflies, in ways that can be difficult to explain under traditional approaches.

  • Large-scale neuron firing can occur in human brains at specific frequencies, with mammalian consciousness thought to be commonly associated with various kinds of neuronal synchrony.

  • Lasers are produced when photons of the same power and frequency are emitted together.

  • The moon’s rotation is exactly synced with its orbit around the Earth such that we always see the same face.
The article continues to describe that a German Neurophysiologist, Pascal Fries, has been working "over last two decades the ways in which various electrical patterns, specifically, gamma, theta and beta waves, work together in the brain to produce the various types of human consciousness."   Furthermore: "These names refer to the speed of electrical oscillations in the various brain regions, as measured by electrodes placed on the outside of the skull. Gamma waves are typically defined as about 30 to 90 cycles per second (hertz), theta as a 4- to 7-hz rhythm, and beta as 12.5 to 30 hz."  Fries has concluded that "the three work together to produce, or at least facilitate (the exact relationship between electrical brain patterns and consciousness is still very much up for debate), various types of human consciousness."

The article then goes on to debate whether all matter, such as a pile of sand which they use as an example is conscious.  The article ends with the below:   

"Boulders and piles of sand are “mere aggregates” or just collections of more rudimentary conscious entities (probably at the atomic or molecular level only), rather than combinations of micro-conscious entities that combine into a higher level macro-conscious entity, which is the hallmark of biological life.

Accordingly, the type of communication between resonating structures is key for consciousness to expand beyond the rudimentary type of consciousness that we expect to occur in more basic physical structures.

The central thesis of our approach is this: the particular linkages that allow for macro-consciousness to occur result from a shared resonance among many micro-conscious constituents. The speed of the resonant waves that are present is the limiting factor that determines the size of each conscious entity.  

As a shared resonance expands to more and more constituents, the particular conscious entity grows larger and more complex. So, the shared resonance in a human brain that achieves gamma synchrony, for example, includes a far larger number of neurons and neuronal connections than is the case for beta or theta rhythms alone.

It’s resonating structures all the way down—and up.

Our resonance theory of consciousness attempts to provide a unified framework that includes neuroscience and the study of human consciousness, but also more fundamental questions of neurobiology and biophysics. It gets to the heart of the differences that matter when it comes to consciousness and the evolution of physical systems.

It is all about vibrations, but it’s also about the type of vibrations and, most importantly, about shared vibrations."

What does this have to do with Freemasonry?  Think about what happens during the initiatory process.  Is not initiation a series of rituals that has as its goal an alchemical transformation of the initiate from a base state to a higher state?  What I believe most Freemasons fail to examine when we look at a candidate for Freemasonry, is if they are capable of receiving the transmission of the esoteric knowledge given in the degrees and applying it to their own lives.  For the answer to the question above, the goal of initiation is to get the initiate to ask himself: "How do I develop a process by which I can become more self-aware, and accelerate the process of my own development?"

When the initiate is receptive, then the initiation will activate three primary consciousness or soul centers, which are called many names in many spiritual systems.  The Gnostics called them: Hyle, Psyche, and Gnosis, The sufis: Head, Heart and Hand, The Qabalists: Assiah, Yetzirah and Briah, Buddhists call them: thought, speech and action, Those that study the system of Reiki call them: The Head, Heart and Hara.  Regardless of what you call these, the purpose of the initiation is to activate all three of these centers.  

Initiation activates the Head by making the thinking process illuminated.  This illumination is the knowledge of spiritual realities and understanding of the spiritual depths of oneself.  Through this illumination, you begin to ask questions like: who I am, why I am here, where do I come from, what is my purpose?  You also become aware of your connection with the divine, and then perhaps reach an understanding that everything is a thoughtform or vibration from the mind of God. Is it an accident that the Master asks the Senior Warden: "Whence Came You?","What came you here to do?", and various other interrogatories during the opening in the First Degree?  I don't think so.  

Initation activates the Heart by cultivating a feeling of unconditional love.  We are first made a Mason in our hearts.  Why? Because it is by unconditional love or "Brotherly Love" as we call it, that we honor not only our interconnectedness but also our interconnectedness with God.  When we fail to treat each other with Charity: which is not just our relief of those who are less fortunate than we, but which is the action of Brotherly Love of each other, we see the evil of man personify itself.  However, when we Love and Respect one another as equal parts of the whole which is God, we see the ignition of a spiritual spark within our hearts.  From this spark, an etheric light rises from us, into what is called our Third Eye, or that place above our heads which in esoteric Christianity is represented by the flame above the heads or the halo surrounding the heads of those who receive the Holy Spirit. 

Initiation activates the Hara which is a Japanese word that means "Sea of Energy".  It is the cultivation of action or will.  It is normally represented as being near the navel, but it is essentially that will which we use to travel Jacob's Ladder or the will that is behind our ascent of the Winding Staircase to the Middle Chamber. It is the will to take action esoterically in order to use spiritual realities to change things on the physical plane. It is the willpower that is created by changing our consciousness to a higher level. It is the will which allows the transformation of the physical body into the idea of the spiritual body.  It is the development and cultivation of our self-awareness and our interconnectedness to the divine which is allegorically represented by our movement from a dead level to a living perpendicular. 

It is the goal of Freemasonry through it's initiation to awaken these areas within the initiate.  Does it succeed?  Maybe it does for a few out of the many.  There are many brothers that I know who I feel are understanding of this purpose.  That they are taking this journey, although it is one that might take a lifetime. They understand that it is a marathon and not a sprint, which is allegorically explained by the concepts of the rough and perfect ashlars.  We must work to become perfect, to reach that frequency where we might resonate with God.  I use meditation as one of many concepts or tools to attempt to work on my rough ashlar or to continue the process started by my initiation, even if it took me some years after to finally understand and recognize the process. It is never too late to change or to grow, to love one another and make a positive impact on the world. The change begins within, and once you have mastered that change within, then you will be able to change the world without. 

~DAL

WB Darin A. Lahners is our Co-Managing Editor. He is a host and producer of the "Meet, Act and Part" podcast. He is currently serving the Grand Lodge of Illinois Ancient Free and Accepted Masons as the Area Education Officer for the Eastern Masonic Area. He is a Past 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 also a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, Salt Fork Shrine Club under the Ansar Shrine, and a grade one (Zelator) in the S.C.R.I.F. Prairieland College in Illinois. You can reach him by email at darin.lahners@gmail.com.

How Will They Know If You Don’t Tell Them?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Randy Sanders



I always run late and miss the interfaith service on the morning of the Grand Master’s Breakfast.  I don’t know why, but it seems to be a tradition now.  I may just keep that tradition and skip the Sunday service although I hear it’s nice.  The breakfast and fellowship never disappoint, and I seem to find my way to the St. Louis Moolah Shrine Temple about the time the service ends each year just in time to shake some hands and be seated at my lodge’s table. 

This year being no exception, it was a nice cool, rainy break from a run of near or over 100-degree days as I pulled into the mostly full large parking lot.  I knew I would see some of my favorite Brethren from all over the state, and sure enough, they drove sometimes hours and hours to gather for the event.  This year all three youth organizations banded together for the first time to assist in serving the breakfast, and it was nice to see all three orgs working together seamlessly.  The Shriners were fantastic as always and very welcoming in opening up the large hall for the breakfast.  I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the Shriners even though it doesn’t seem to be my path in Masonry.  I encourage all Masons to do a deeper investigation into the Shrine to see if it fits with their path.  The programming was good and moved quickly through many introductions to the speaker and then closing remarks, and a few of us retired to a local cigar lounge for additional fellowship and lofty conversation over beverages of choice. 

Seems fairly pedestrian, right?  Most of us experience some form of Masonic event across regional or even state boundaries, right?  Well, no, and I hope to make this point:  Many don’t know all Masons are welcome and encouraged to attend these functions.  I know many Masons that have never visited even a neighboring Lodge, and that makes me a little sad.  We must communicate and encourage others to attend these events and especially attend events like our Grand Lodge communications.  I often hear those events are for “apron chasers” who belong to all the organizations, or that these events are for officers and those “chasing gold” by wanting to be appointed to higher offices.  Believe me when I say that’s not the case.  Yeah, I suppose we do have a fair number of Brothers who do chase the gold, but that’s no different than any organization, right?  It took me a few years to get past my preconceptions to understand attendance to Grand Lodge functions helps demonstrate your voice, and your voice is important.  Your voice is certainly as important as mine, and probably more so!  

I also had to come to my own realization about those chasing the gold as I used to think the same thing.  I admit I had a jaded view of organizational management when I joined the Craft, and that initial bias carried over to sarcasm and even some dismissive views toward Grand Lodge at the regional and state levels.  After all, what and who were these people to me?  I found out differently as I met and spoke with these fine gentlemen who give up so much time with family and friends in order to serve the Fraternity.  Yeah, we may occasionally get a Grand Master here and there in some jurisdictions that may not be the best, but I found that to be a rarity.  We in Missouri are very fortunate to have a very strong Grand Line both past and present, and I am excited for the future of the Craft.  If you will take the time to talk to your Grand Line officers, your Masonic experience will be enriched.  Taking the time to engage and work with your Grand line officers, or simply showing up at functions to show support makes a difference.  

My Grand Line officers know I’m not chasing aprons nor interested in ever becoming a Grand Line appointee.  How do they know that?  I told them.  I just don’t see Masonic administrative leadership as being my path in Freemasonry when my focus remains on helping others through education, communication, and mentoring.  I also told these same Grand Line officers they could count on me if needed or as needed to get things done.  These private conversations with the Grand Line officers pay off in ways we may never see.  By making our interests known, by making our voices heard, by showing up and simply having a good time in fellowship with our Brethren, we set many wheels in motion behind the scenes.  If you want to serve on committees or serve in other ways, how will they know if you don’t tell them?  If you want to support your Grand Lodge but not serve on committees or by appointment, how will they know if you don’t tell them?  If you are able to provide Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth in some way to your District, Region, or Grand Lodge, how will they know if you don’t tell them?

~RS


Randy and his wife Elyana live near St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Randy earned a Bachelors Degree in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry, and he works in Telecom IT management. He volunteers as a professional and personal mentor, NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer and enjoys competitive tactical pistol, rifle, and shotgun. He has 30 plus years teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and healing arts. Randy served as a Logistics Section Chief on two different United States federal Disaster Medical Assistance Teams over a 12 year span. Randy is a 32nd degree KCCH and Knight Templar. His Masonic bio includes past Lodge Education Officer for two symbolic lodges, Founder of the Wentzville Lodge Book Club, member of the Grand Lodge of Missouri Education Committee, Sovereign Master of the E. F. Coonrod AMD Council No. 493, Co-Librarian of the Scottish Rite Valley of St. Louis, Clerk for the Academy of Reflection through the Valley of Guthrie, and a Facilitator for the Masonic Legacy Society. Randy is a founding administrator for Refracted Light, full contributor to Midnight Freemasons, and an international presenter on esoteric topics. Randy hosts an open ongoing weekly Masonic virtual Happy Hour on Friday evenings. Randy is an accomplished home chef, a certified barbecue judge, raises Great Pyrenees dogs, and enjoys travel and philosophy.

The Masonic Philosophy of George Washington: Part II Founding Principals

by Midnight Freemasons contributor
James E. Frey, 32ยบ
(This is the second part of Bro. Frey's series--you'll find his first installment here)

The Watson-Cassoul apron given to George Washington (1782)
In August 10, 1782 Washington wrote the earliest surviving exchange of his Masonic correspondents. These early letters were with his Brother and friend Elkanah Watson presenting him with a specialized Masonic Apron symbolizing the union of France and the newly formed republic under the All Seeing Eye of Providence. This apron is now in possession of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22 in Alexandria, Virginia.  In his memoirs Bro. Watson states:

“Wishing to pay respect to our beloved Washington, I employed, in conjunction with my friend M. Cassoul, nuns in one the convents at Nantes to prepare some elegant Masonic ornaments, and gave them a plan for combining the American and French Flags on the apron designed for this use. They were executed in a superior and expensive style. We transmitted them to America accompanied by an appropriate address.” (Men and Times of the Revolution, Elkanah Watson,1856, pp. 135, 136)
 
The Layfayette Apron
This Apron is not to be confused with the apron hand made by Bro. Layfayette Washington received at Mount Vernon in 1784. Along with this apron received from Watson and Cassoul, they included a letter celebrating the Masonic character of Washington and the Masonic destiny of the American Revolution. This Masonic destiny is the product of the enlightenment, which sought to take Europe out of the Dark Ages and into the light of liberty and democracy.

Watson and Cassoul wrote “ In the moment when all Europe admire and feel the effects of your glorious efforts in support of American liberty, we hasten to offer for you acceptance a small pledge of our homage. Zealous lovers of liberty and its institutions, we have experienced the most refined joy in seeing out chief and brother stand forth in its defense of a newborn nation of Republicans. Your glorious career will not be confined to the protection of American liberty, but its ultimate effect will extend to the whole of human family, since Providence has evidently selected you as an instrument in his hands, to fulfill his eternal decrees.” January 23rd, 1782. 

Masonry was the product of the age of enlightenment, an era of political and social upheaval focusing on the things we take for granted today such as inalienable rights, democratic government. This focus on reason rather then religious tradition is based on Alchemical and Rosicrucian teachings which spawned in the dark ages propagating an evolution in science, influencing philosophers such as Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, and those in German Existentialism.

John Locke
This focus on reason and understand is what transformed a union of laborers and craftsmen into a society that would reshape the face of western culture. The Masonic philosophy was different depending on which part of Europe your lodge was in. This difference in philosophical emphasis is what accounts for the difference in the Masonic character across Europe, this is also what accounts for the main differences between the Grand Lodge of England, and the Grand Orient of France. American Masonry with its emphasis on liberty and individual rights grew out of the Grand lodge of England, which was primarily influenced by the works of John Locke.

Locke is known as the Father of Classical Liberalism and British Empiricism. Locke was one of the most influential of the Enlightenment thinkers. Locke’s theories and contributions to classical republicanism greatly influenced the Declaration of Independence and the structure of the American government. Locke’s focus on western and religious tradition as a detrimental part of who we are as a person and where we are going, is what greatly separated him from the more radical thinkers of the time. This is reflected in the implementation of Greek and Roman mythology in the early artwork and architecture of America.

Locke also introduced the idea of a separation of church and state and its relation to a social contract, which greatly influenced the Founding Fathers. Locke believed that people in a state of nature would defend and care for each other without government protection. But they would have no guaranteed protection of their rights and would live in constant fear, so people would willingly come together to form a state. This state would act to protect the lives, liberties, and properties of those who lived within it. Unlike social contract theories before which claimed the right of the government came from the authority, Locke claimed that the right of government to rule came from the consent of those who were ruled.

Bro. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
These moderate views by today’s standards were revolutionary at the time, and were the main political foundation of American Masonry. This influenced the founding Fathers to create a national character, which respected liberty as well as religious beliefs of others. This Masonic respect of all religion as light was what set American and British Masonry apart from French Masonry. This is primarily because of the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and its influence on the French Revolution and the Grand Orient.

Bro. Rousseau saw the enlightenment period as an overthrowing of the religious establishment. Rousseau had little respect and admiration for traditions and western religious values. He saw the enlightenment as a dramatic change in social consciousness. Rousseau believed liberty was possible only if it were the direct rule of the people as a whole in law making. But Rousseau did not believe people understood their “real will” so they could not rule themselves within the confines of their social consciousness. Rousseau believed that a just society could not come about until a great leader, or “legislator” arose to change the values and conception of the people. He believed a true will of the people cannot exist when focus is placed on the individual. So the people must subjugate themselves to the laws of the “legislator”. By this Rousseau understands that laws and subjecting to laws are an expression of freedom.

“Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will; and in a body we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole.” (Oeuvres completes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau)
 
General George Washington
It is not a stretch to understand how the American Revolution as influenced by individual sovereignty was a just war, which led to a true republic, as opposed to the French Revolution, which was a bloody and violent revolution, which eventually led to the dictatorship and tyrannical rule under Bro. Napoleon Bonaparte.

I believe this is why the Founders would not militarily aid France in the Napoleonic Wars. They saw how Masonry was corrupted from within by radicals which eventually led to the destruction of over half of Europe. Washington addresses tyranny and evil in his response to Watson thanking him for the apron:

“If my endevours to avert evil, with which this country was threatened, by a deliberate plan of Tyranny, should be crowned with the success that is wished. The praise is due to the Grand Architect of the Universe; who see fit to suffer his superstructures & justice, to be subjected to the ambition of Princes of this world or to the rod of oppression, in the Hands of any power upon Earth.” Aug 10, 1782
 
This trend in the differences of philosophy and political consciousness is relevant to understand the development of the Masonic philosophy. The Original Grand Orient of France claimed responsibility for the French Revolution and enforced an atheistic and secular view of Masonry which led to them being derecognized by the Grand Lodge of England. This is the difference of Rousseau’s influence on Masonry which denounced religion and Locke’s influence which respected all religions. Under the reign of Napoleon not even the Grand Orient was safe as it was institutionalized into the regime only to merge with the Ecossais Rite in 1804.

Washington the Freemason
It is interesting because as was addressed in part one of this article, Washington believed that the American character should be a selfless individual, dedicated to serving humanity and God. This spirit centered approach is what I believe to the foundation of Masonry and America. This foundation is what led to success for the colonies while France fell to tyranny rejecting the spiritual nature on humanity.

To understand the evolution of the Masonic character we must look at the origins of the philosophical foundations of modern masonry. Masonry is referred to as a progressive science, but I beg the question, are we still true to our original intent and mission? George Washington and the other Founding Fathers valued the deep philosophical nature upon which the craft was founded. We have forgotten our roots to Rosicrucianism, Alchemy, and the enlightenment philosophy. In fact most members that we have raised in my lodge in the past few years have been mostly self-serving interested in wearing a ring or making corporate connections. Lodge meetings have become nothing more then a reading of minutes and small-minded bickering.

This new “Corporate Masonry” has watered down the average Mason’s understanding of philosophy, ritual, and the seven liberal arts and sciences. How have we allowed what was once the great influence of the western world be reduced to a marketing tool which raise dozens of Masons who get a ring and never set foot in a officer’s chair.

In my personal opinion, I believe the Founding Fathers would be disappointed by the state of Masonry. There is no focus in finding quality members and to further enlighten them. We have lost sight of our true purpose to make those business connections or pushing an agenda to mainstream a washed down version of the craft? But why, why change years of tradition for this Corporate Masonry. You cannot market Masonry to my generation by what is popular in the media or in movies. Masonry is a calling, in which like-minded men are drawn to a path of light and hope. Men are born Masons we choose to walk the checkered tile when we are ready to emerge from the darkness.

I feel Masonry has lost its mystery and allure and as a younger member I feel my generation is willing to work for our degrees, to learn Latin phrases and memorize their meanings, to discuss the philosophy and origins of the craft, to learn full form catechisms. We wish for a return to tradition of our past brothers. I know a lot of Masons are afraid. There is a lack of membership, lodges are closing, it seems as if Masonry is no longer important to the American Character. But trust me if you focus on the right members, the quality members who are willing to work for their Masonic experience, they will appreciate it more and get active. So let us return to our traditions, let us remember the Masonic character of our Founding Fathers. Let every Mason know that Freemasonry is the foundation for the American character, and the philosophical tool for bringing humanity out of the dark ages and into the enlightenment.

“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the affairs of men, more then the people of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation… Thus supported by a firm trust in the great Arbiter of the universe, aided by the collected wisdom of the Union, and imploring the divine benediction on our joint exertions in the service of our country,” (Washington, Inaugural Speech, 04, 30, 1789)
 
~JEF

James E Frey, 32° is a Past Sovereign Prince and current librarian of Valley of Danville AASR. Founder of the R.E.B.I.S Research Society he sits on two Blue Lodge Education committees as well as a guest lecturer on Occultism and Esoteric studies in masonry. He is also a Member of the Oak Lawn York Rite, Medinah Shriners, and Golden Dawn Collegium Spiritu Sancti. He also works as a counselor with emotionally and behaviorally challenged children. 

From Light to Darkness

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners


This week I ran across a rather sad and confusing incident which has happened in Massachusetts.  Instead of trying to relay what happened, I will copy it from the St. Johns Lodge Facebook page: (https://www.facebook.com/St.JohnsLodgeNewburyport).  Here it is below:

Dated July 9, 2022, @ 6:35 P.M. - Author Unknown
Friday, July 1st was a dark day for St. John’s Lodge and Freemasonry as a whole. It is important that the membership and those who care for us are informed:
On Friday, July 1st, via email communication, The Grand Master M.W. Richard Maggio Expelled one of our Brothers and suspended three others. These four men together had contributed a combined 82 years in the craft, two were Past Masters, and all were loved and respected by our Lodge. Along with them, many other brothers both of St John’s and St Marks received reprimands, all for their involvement in reversing his decision to cancel the May 14th LGBTQ+ Youth Dance sponsored by NYS.
For those unaware of the circumstances, here is just one of many articles:
The fallout from the Grand Master’s action to cancel the Dance, purportedly at the request of a Barnstable County political activist and their Facebook group aimed at disrupting similar events, was swift and unrelenting. This action was taken, without the knowledge of the local Lodges and without any attempt to hear from anyone involved in the event or in our Community. Grand Lodge additionally made no public statement and this created a vacuum for speculation and worse.
Community members labeled our Lodge as bigots and homophobes, Building tenants asked to have their signs removed and questioned their continued business, family, friends and neighbors questioned our character, and Riverwalk Brewing pulled their partnership in our Charity Oktoberfest event. Many Members even questioned their own future involvement in Lodge.
The Brethren asked the Grand Lodge for help and a public statement, but none came, only a directive to not speak to anyone in the media and that none can speak on behalf of Freemasonry or even for our own Lodges. After repeated failed attempts to get the Grand Master to take accountability for his actions and address the public, a large group of Brothers worked hard to assess the situation, find a solution to repair our image and to do the right thing for the youth of Newburyport. They knew they were putting themselves at risk of disciplinary action, but acted accordingly to what was in their hearts and the tenets of our Craft.
On May 4th, The MTA voted to reinstate the Dance and a statement was released to the City to inform the public. To the Grand Master’s credit he did come to speak after the close of the May 5th Communication to attempt to explain his actions, we will keep the details private, but those in attendance know the outcome.
The event went off without incident and the appreciation of our Community and the youth who attended lifted the spirits of everyone involved. The brethren of both St Johns and St Marks who were involved, felt a sense of unity and solidarity that hadn’t been felt before.
Now nearly two months later, we have shockingly been dealt a serious wound as retribution for that effort. You can surely imagine the pain those Brothers, cast out of a Fraternity they love, are feeling and the uncertainty this severe reaction has caused. Currently the future of St. John’s Lodge is in jeopardy as the Men who hold the line are questioning how they can continue without a reversal of these unjust actions.
If you know these Brothers, please reach out to them and show them support.
If you would like to have your voice heard and please keep all communication respectful and productive, you can reach the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts , M.W. Richard Maggio at: GrandMaster@MassFreemasonry.net.
Thank you for your continued support through this challenging time.

I will state for the record that I do not know any of the brothers at St. John's Lodge or St. Mark's Lodge, nor do I know WB Maggio. I will also state that the below opinions are mine and do not reflect any official position of the Grand Lodge of Illinois nor any Masonic Body that I am affiliated with. I will also state for the record that I believe that these brethren did the right thing, even though they knew in doing so they were putting themselves at risk for disciplinary action in doing so. While the actions of the Grandmaster are seen as unjust, they had to expect a reaction for disobeying his edict even if I and others disagree with his actions.

While I can only surmise that the author of the Facebook post knows more than I do, reading between the lines it seems that the reason for the cancellation was political pressure from those that opposed it due to it being an LGBTQ+ event. It is unfortunate that we live in an age where everything is politicized, and I'm sure that some will accuse me of taking a side here. But let's talk about the elephant in the room, and while once again I do not know the real reason why the dance was canceled, the idea of a Grandmaster basing decisions about what lodges can or can't do due to his political beliefs and/or political influence should be unfathomable to any Freemason.

As an allegorical tale let me ask you to ponder this:
Let's assume that there is an imaginary state of Z, and Z's Grand Lodge has a Grand Master. This Grandmaster learns that one of his lodges is having a gun raffle. He is pressured politically by outside forces and he issues an edict banning Gun Raffles from being used as a fundraiser in his Grand Lodge's jurisdiction. However, many of the lodges in the state of Z use Gun Raffles as their primary fundraising campaign. Members of Saints John of Jerusalem lodge #123 decide to hold a gun raffle anyway. The Grandmaster of The Grand Lodge of Z then suspends and/or expels members of the Lodge. The Lodge then ends up having to fold due to the membership that was suspended/expelled and those that demit in protest. So what essentially has happened in this tale? The Grandmaster of the Grand Lodge of Z has killed Freemasonry in a town in his Grand Lodge jurisdiction due to a decision influenced by his own politics and/or political pressure.

If you were okay with the Grandmaster of MA's decision, but not with the Grandmaster of Z's decision; then I can only tell you that you're not upset with the one and not both because of your own internal biases or beliefs. Neither example is okay. Freemasonry is local, and the Grandmaster interfering in the decision of a local lodges activity based purely on political pressure is not okay. It's not okay either way regardless of where you fall personally on the political spectrum. There is a danger when we allow politics and religion to infiltrate our lodge buildings and more so when they infiltrate into a Grand Lodge. It can lead to disharmony in the Craft and in this case the possible downfall of a historic lodge.

My fear is that we will begin to see similar actions become commonplace. We must push back against this. We must keep our political and religious ideology in the world of the profane because when it infiltrates into our Lodges and/or Grand Lodges, it does nothing positive. It ends up causing harm to the membership and potentially to the community in which the lodge resides. How can we serve as an example to our communities as an organization that promotes Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth when we allow Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth to be defined by one individual instead of by the Ancient Landmarks of our Fraternity? How can we convince younger men to join our organization when we do not live by the tenets we profess?

We are an organization that is needed now more than ever before because Freemasonry allows men of all political and religious ideologies to come together and improve themselves and each other. When we keep the profane world outside of our buildings we can learn that we have more in common than that which divides us. When it infiltrates then you can see the potential results, the light of Freemasonry which is burning bright in a Lodge with a deep history is quickly extinguished due to the actions of a Grandmaster. That's the real tragedy here, one which will have future repercussions for that lodge, its members, and its community.

~DAL

WB Darin A. Lahners is our Co-Managing Editor. He is a host and producer of the "Meet, Act and Part" podcast. He is currently serving the Grand Lodge of Illinois Ancient Free and Accepted Masons as the Area Education Officer for the Eastern Masonic Area. He is a Past 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 also a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, Salt Fork Shrine Club under the Ansar Shrine, and a grade one (Zelator) in the S.C.R.I.F. Prairieland College in Illinois. You can reach him by email at darin.lahners@gmail.com.