Summertime Blues

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Jim Stapleton

In some jurisdictions, Masonic Lodges do not hold their Regular Meetings during the hot summer months. This time period is often referred to as Lodges going dark. The break from business meetings is a welcomed respite for a number of Brothers. The recess gives them the ability to spend precious time with family and friends. They might choose to go on vacation, go for a hike, or maybe even enjoy a drink with an umbrella on a sunny beach. 

However, what about those Brothers that rely on a packed schedule of Lodge meetings to keep busy? There could be Brothers amongst us that have limited social networks outside of Lodge. They might be divorced or widowed. Perhaps they don’t have many family members nearby. Their lifeline is the fellowship that they share when spending time with their Brothers. Without the Fraternity, they might experience loneliness and isolation. 

People that are lonely might have a hard time expressing how they feel. They might be embarrassed to admit that they feel isolated. So, it might not be readily apparent that they are distressed. There are Brothers out there that need help but won’t ask for help. 

We can assist the Brothers that are struggling to get through the summer slowdown of Masonic activity. A simple check-in phone call to see how the Brothers are doing could be helpful. Even a brief visit might be a welcomed gesture. If you have some people over for a barbecue, perhaps you can extend an invitation. 

The summer break from Masonic Lodge meetings is a well-deserved respite for many Brothers. However, it is important to remember those who rely on the fellowship and structure of the gatherings to counter loneliness and isolation. As Masons, it is our duty to be mindful of our Brothers in need. Together, we can strengthen the bond of Brotherhood and make a positive impact on each other's lives.


Jim Stapleton is the Senior Warden of USS New Jersey Lodge No. 62. He is also a member of the New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education No. 1786. Jim received the Distinguished White Apron Award from the Grand Lodge of New Jersey. He was awarded the Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award. Jim is also a member of the Society of King Solomon.

Seeds of Dissent The Origins of Anti-Masonry - Part 1: Hanoverians, Jacobites, Protestants, and Catholics

by Midnight Freemason Emeritus Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, 33°, FMLR

The Morgan Affair proved to be the great catalyst for the anti-Masonic movement in the United States. It was a tipping point which sparked years of animosity that could have brought the fraternity down, but it was not, as some think, the first shot across Masonry's bow. Even before the inception of the first Grand Lodge, anti-Masonic seeds began to sprout in Europe. These had their origins mainly within organized religious bodies which saw Freemasonry as a negative influence, if not a threat. The church was intensely opposed to Freemasonry's support of secular ideals, raising concerns of potential subversion. It was also suspicious of the fraternity's secretive practices and oaths which it viewed as heresy. Finally, the church saw the growing presence of Freemasonry within influential circles as a challenge to its power.

The first known criticism was launched at Freemasonry as – for lack of a better term – a labor union. In 1383, John Wycliffe, known for translating the Bible into English, said of the Masons, 

"that they conspire together that no man of their craft shall take less on a day than they fix, that none of them shall do steady work which might interfere with the earning of other men of the craft, that none of them shall do anything but cut stone, though he might profit his master twenty pounds by one day's work laying a wall without harm to himself." 1

That is to say, Freemasons would not work for less than their stated wage rate, nor would they do work that infringed on the skills and ability of other craftsmen to earn their wages.

As the Freemasons transitioned from operative to speculative, things became more heated. The craft shook the foundations of religion which, at the time, is to say it shook the Catholic church. Freemasonry, through its Charges, espoused tenets that were foreign to the teachings of the church. Chief among these was its acceptance of all religions. The very first section of Reverend James Anderson's Constitutions of 1723 makes it clear:

"...if [a Mason] rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist nor an irreligious Libertine. But though in ancient Times Masons were charg'd in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet 'tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguish'd; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remain'd at a perpetual Distance."

It did not help that the Masons were known to discuss radical Enlightenment-based concepts in their meetings such as the blasphemous ideas of Copernicus and Galileo that the earth orbited the sun – a notion that was a complete anathema to all that was good and holy.

In 1685, prior to the formation of the Grand Lodge of England, King James II2, a Catholic, assumed the throne. At the time, considerable friction was brewing between Catholics and protestants in the country. Adding to the tension, James was a cousin of Louis XIV, King of France, and many in England were becoming increasingly wary of that relationship.  

On top of the animosities building up over religion and his ties to France, James picked a fight with Parliament, eventually dissolving it in an attempt to form a new body that would support him unconditionally.3 James' 26-year-old daughter Mary was a protestant, which was a mitigating factor until 1688 when he had a son, James Francis Edward Stuart (James III), whom he announced would be raised as a Catholic. The birth of this son changed the line of succession, with many now outraged over the prospect of a Catholic dynasty in England. Just as many were certain the queen's pregnancy had been a hoax (a mystery that was never settled).4

Talk of revolution was in the air. In 1688, a group of James'  former supporters led by John Churchill (1650 –1722, 1st Duke of Marlborough) wrote to the Dutch Prince William of Orange, pledging their support if he would invade England. William, who also happened to be the husband of James II's daughter Mary, did just that. After a few skirmishes, James ran off to his cousin in France with baby James III in his arms.5 With that, William and Mary became rulers of England. A political movement, the Jacobites6, arose supporting the restoration of James to the throne.

A quarter century later, George I became King.7 He was a member of the House of Hanover which had ruled in Germany beginning in the early part of the 17th century. So Hanoverians were now in charge in England and strongly opposed to the Jacobites. The Jacobites saw Freemasonry as an important means to achieving their singular goal… restoring James or his Catholic Stuart successors to the throne.8 Their lodges were primarily Catholic. Hanoverian Lodges in England were mainly protestant but also admitted Catholics and atheists, as long as they adhered to the Hanoverian point of view. Thinking the Hanoverians were infringing on Jacobite Freemasonry, the now grown-up James Francis Edward Stuart, a good Catholic still living in France, approached Pope Clement, asking him to ban Hanoverian Freemasonry. James III thought since the Jacobian lodges were mainly Catholic, the Pope would go along with his request without also condemning the Jacobian brand of Freemasonry. The Pope didn't see it that way.


The Chief Minister of Louis XV of France, Cardinal André-Hercule de Fleury, who had been investigating Freemasonry as a part of the Inquisition, wanted all of Freemasonry banned.9 Clement, suspecting the King felt the same way and not wanting to cross the monarch, listened to de Fleury and in 1738, issued the first Papal Bull condemning the fraternity, In eminenti apostolatus specula:

"Now it has come to Our ears, and common gossip has made clear, that certain Societies… called in the popular tongue Liberi Muratori or Francs Massons… are spreading far and wide and daily growing in strength; and men of any Religion or sect, satisfied with the appearance of natural probity, are joined together, according to their laws and the statutes laid down for them, by a strict and unbreakable bond which obliges them, both by an oath upon the Holy Bible and by a host of grievous punishment, to an inviolable silence about all that they do in secret together… Thus these aforesaid Societies or Conventicles have caused in the minds of the faithful the greatest suspicion, and all prudent and upright men have passed the same judgment on them as being depraved and perverted. For if they were not doing evil they would not have so great a hatred of the light… We therefore… do hereby determine and have decreed that these same Societies… of Liberi Muratori or Francs Massons… are to be condemned and prohibited, and by Our present Constitution, valid forever, We do condemn and prohibit them.

Moreover, We desire and command that both Bishops and prelates, and other local ordinaries, as well as inquisitors for heresy, shall investigate and proceed against transgressors… and they are to pursue and punish them with condign penalties as being most suspect of heresy."

The Pope also notes in his encyclical, the first of many having since been issued against Freemasons, that "several countries" had already outlawed and eliminated Freemasonry.

In a way, one could argue it was not the Catholic church that struck this seminal blow to Freemasonry, rather it was differences between two factions of the Craft that got them condemned. At any rate, officially formed as a Grand Lodge in 1717, just two decades later the Catholic church, along with several countries, had banned the fraternity, leaving anti-Masonry as a stowaway on board as the Craft sailed for the new world.

1The Canadian Forum, a Monthly Journal of Literature and Public Affairs, Volume IV, No. 37, October, 1923, p. 284
2 James II (October 14, 1633 – September 16, 1701) ruled England and Ireland as James II and Scotland as James VII from February 6, 1685 to December 23, 1688, with historians sometimes referring to him as King James II & VII.
3 This never happened. Once James II dissolved Parliament, it never met again during his tenure as king.
4 Churchill, Winston, A History of the English Speaking Peoples, The New World, Dodd, Mead & Company, 1966, pp.404-405.
5 Ibid, pp. 396-410. The English have called this relatively bloodless coup the "Glorious Revolution." Its alternate names have been "The Bloodless Revolution,"  and "The Revolution of 1688."
6 The name derives from the Latinized version of James, or Jacobus.
7 William and Mary jointly ruled until her untimely death from smallpox in 1694. At William's death in 1702, Anne, the younger daughter of James II, took over. Anne died in 1714, when George I assumed the throne.
8 Irish Jacobitism and Freemasonry, Sean J Murphy, Eighteenth-Century Ireland, vol 9, 1994, pp 75-82,
9 Bernheim, Alain (2011). Ramsay et ses deux discours (in French). Paris: videographer, broadcaster, television producer. pp. 17–19. ISBN 9782906031746.


Bro. Steve Harrison, 33° is Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is also a Fellow and Past Master of the Missouri Lodge of Research. Among his other Masonic memberships is the St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite bodies, and Moila Shrine. He is also a member and Past Dean of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. Brother Harrison is a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasons blog as well as several other Masonic publications. Brother Steve was Editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine for a decade and is a regular contributor to the Whence Came You podcast. Born in Indiana, he has a Master's Degree from Indiana University and is retired from a 35-year career in information technology. Steve and his wife Carolyn reside in northwest Missouri. He is the author of dozens of magazine articles and three books: Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, Freemasons — Tales From the Craft and Freemasons at Oak Island.

Understanding The Mysticism in Freemasonry

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Joseph Covell

Many great historians of Masonry, and those concentrated on The Mystery Schools in general have hypothesized that the G in Masonry represents Gnosis, or simply The Soul. Naysayers from the profane and non-profane worlds may say Gnosis means knowledge. The meaning behind the “G” is not meant to serve as debate, only to set the wheels in motion for understanding the Mysticism in Freemasonry

The source material to serve as the foundation for the points presented, come from R. Swinburne Clymer, MD’s, “The Mysticism of Masonry,” and J.D. Buck, MD’s, “Mystic Masonry,” with the latter serving as a huge influence for the former. Both men were heavily involved in Freemasonry, in their respective eras achieving prestigious accolades, recognition, and held offices within various fields of study.  The two works will be cited in a way to serve as a high-level esoteric (and exoteric) overview of various symbolism, initiation, and degree work, and will then encompass the overall Philosophy of Freemasonry. “All Masonry of the past dealt largely with the ethics and symbolism of the Ancient Mysteries. If the Masons of the present age will but seek for the spirit of the symbolism upon which the degrees are based, the grandest achievements in knowledge and reconstruction will be possible and the mysteries concealed in the Greater Mysteries of Antiquity will be recovered to them,” The Mysticism of Masonry, Page 36. 

In ancient days what was the relationship of Masonry (or the equivalent predecessor of its time) to other Schools of both the Lower and Greater Mysteries (Mystery Schools)? Masonry might arguably be considered as, the Outer Guard to The Inner Temple. “Among all the ancient there was both a public and a secret worship. The secret worship did not originate in Egypt but in Atlantis and from thence was carried into Egypt. This secret worship always was known as the ‘Mysteries’ and all of these Mysteries were the same in substance or spirit, and in the religious philosophy their legends and fundaments were identical with only a variation of characters. These mysteries could be obtained in no other manner than by Initiation, and the members of these Priesthoods were not known by outward signs and tokens but by the color of the spiritual fire with which they were enveloped and which easily was recognized by all true Initiates. The secrecy of the Initiation was not because the Priests did not want the people to know the inner Mysteries but due to the fact that they would not receive them in the spirit in which they would be given. The mass could not comprehend the application of material and even gross substances, toward divine ends and would degrade the most sacred functions of God’s divine creation, to gross purposes. The masses never were ready to receive the Mysteries nor are they today, much as the Initiates wish to confer them upon all of God’s children.” The Mysticism of Masonry, Page 131. 

When the term initiation is nonchalantly tossed about, the profane might become entrenched with the act of pledging a college fraternity or sorority during rush week. As time has gone by and Freemasonry’s numbers have continued to dwindle from that great peak in the 1960s, many Grand Lodges operating in the United States (and elsewhere) have had to compromise long-standing traditions and adapt new recruiting methods such as the one-day class. The one-day class is a trend for an incoming candidate to receive all three degrees of “Blue Lodge” masonry within the same day. The format has also been adopted by many other appendage bodies, there has existed the Man to Mason to Noble Program to bring men into the Shriners organization. Although this may be convenient to not only receive all three degrees within the same day, and helpful to those brothers conferring the degrees, especially those coming from lodges that struggle to have enough qualified brothers to execute properly, it has been contested whether this method has been a success regarding retention. Whether or not this is the right way to confer degrees is inconsequential for purposes here, but no sincere ritual purist brother can make the argument that this does not hinder the intent of the rituals, for the degree in general terms is an invocation meant to be experienced in its original format. Dr. J.D. Buck had this to say regarding initiation, “All real Initiation is an internal, not an external process. The outer ceremony is dead and useless only so far as it symbolizes and illustrates, and thereby makes clear the inward change. The ceremony instructs, but it can not transform.” Mystic Masonry pg. 86 

To expand on the concept of Initiation even further, Dr. R.S. Clymer has the following to add to the subject at hand, which all good Masons can of course relate to the self-Freemasonry of fortifying that inner temple, “Initiation is not what it is generally supposed to be. All Masons are familiar with the ceremonial form of Initiation but in reality, this is no more than an outward symbolization of an inner, esoteric work, which should take place within each man seeking the Mysteries. A man may have received the degrees of the Blue Lodge and may be an honor to that lodge and yet be wholly unfamiliar with the method of procedure which would bring into manifestation the results of the personification of the life as symbolized in these three degrees. It is this outcome of which, not only Masons but the entire human race are now so very in need.” The Mysticism of Masonry, Page 6

The Topic of Initiation has held the focal point long enough for this piece, let’s now bring up the tall cedar in the room and address the whole secret society element that non-masons reading this may have previously developed preconceived notions. As to why certain information can only be received in ways and much must remain secretive (although you can google anything), Dr. Clymer offered the following support, ““It never was the intention of the Priest-Initiates that the Mysteries should be profoundly secret as they ultimately became. The initiates were only too willing to accept the Aspirants who applied in sincerity. Moreover, they were willing to teach the people all of the profound truths they would accept. Then, as now, the people were more ready to place their own interpretations on the symbols and what they believed – erroneously – to be the inner teachings of these Masters, than they were to accept the actual truths from the Priests. The people, then as now, were wholly unwilling to obey the Law in the right spirit and condemned the initiates for having other than the letter, in other words, for reaping the fruits of their) the Initiates’) obedience.” The Mysticism of Masonry, Page 35

A fellow brother once said that most of our Blue Lodge Rituals can be found in printed form, without needing to look very hard for it. Dr. Buck may have agreed with these sentiments in the following, “It is in the ancient symbols of Freemasonry that its real secrets lie concealed, and these are as densely veiled to the Mason as to any other unless he has studied the science of symbolism in general, and masonic symbols in particular. In place of the term Mystic Masonry, the term Symbolic Masonry might have been used alone, but just here lies the whole secret, a profound mystery, and few Masons up to the present time have had the interest or the patience necessary to such investigation.” – Mystic Masonry pg. xxv. To expand further on that thought, “The most profound secrets of Masonry are not revealed in the Lodge at all… these secrets must be sought by the individual himself.” – Mystic Masonry pg. xxvi

At this point, one may be ever more fueled to question further the secretness of the craft. After all who gets to determine what information should be withheld and who should even administer such information?  Occultists believed and practiced that within man lay many unrealized abilities to utilize thoughts and harness certain partials out of the very air breathed. Dr. Buck summarizes, “There are latent powers and almost infinite capabilities in man, the meaning of which he has hardly yet dreamed of possessing. Nor will leisure and intellectual cultivation alone reveal these powers.” – Mystic Masonry pg. 2. If he was around today to ask to explain the reason why a greater number of people in the current era aren’t pursuing the quest for more knowledge, or as we Masons relate to as Light, Dr. Buck might state, “We have neither the time, the energy, nor the disposition to discover the real meaning and aim of life because all our energies are absorbed in the bare maintenance of existence.” Mystic Masonry pg. 5. 

Freemasonry is often labeled as a secret society and henceforth has drawn various degrees of critics, with those of the most extreme spawning offspring of some very imaginative and far-fetched conspiracy theories and concepts. In the age of 5G Internet connectivity where one can quickly learn all the secrets of a “secret society” with no sweat broken as only the fingertips are doing the heavy lifting, and through the medium of various perspectives of “whistleblowers” or “infiltrators,” it can be asked what truly secrets are left? Dr. Buck’s writings might support the ideas picked up from one’s favorite podcast here, “The real secrets of Masonry lie concealed in its Symbols, and these, constituting as they do a Picture Language or Art Speech, are made to carry a complete philosophy of the existence and relations of Deity, Nature, and Man.” Mystic Masonry pg. 140. In response to those students of the Esoteric variety out there searching for the hidden or occult meaning to the symbolism of Masonry, Dr. Buck has the subject covered, “Freemasonry, though not a lineal descendant of the ancient mysteries, may justly be regarded as a connecting link between the ancient wisdom and modern times”… “The grips, signs, and passwords, by which a Mason recognizes a Brother, pertain to the Lesser Mysteries. The real Master knows his fellows by other signs. It has been elsewhere shown that the true Adept is both clairvoyant

and clairaudient.” Mystic Masonry pg. 123.

If Dr. Clymer was here to address a gathering of historians in the field of Ancient symbolism he might have ascertained the idea in this, ““The one thing in which historians make their great and inexplicable mistake is to accept the symbol for the spirit. Few races, even among the heathen, have worshipped idols. They worshipped that which these idols represented. In future centuries the Christmas of the present will be accused with equal justice, of worshipping pictures and images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.” The Mysticism of Masonry

Freemasons experience all sorts of interrogation from the profane, and many can get entertaining, especially when asked about the various “levels” (an intrigue one who has known a Mason having held such degree or level may offer as a platform to relate in conversation). In the days of the Mystery Schools degrees were not experienced as a formality, they were the achievement to be attained after a long epic of trials and tribulations were endured. Dr. Buck had this to say, “It must not be supposed that in the Ancient Mysteries, every Initiate became a Master in the sense outlined in the preceding chapters. There were the Lesser and the Greater Mysteries. To the Lesser all were eligible; to the Greater, very few’ and of those few, fewer still were ever exalted to the sublime and last degree. Some remained for a lifetime in the lower degrees, unable to progress further on account of constitutional defect or mental and spiritual incapacity.” Mystic Masonry pg. 107. 

Taking a break from how Freemasonry and its symbolism can intellectually and spiritually stimulate the student or candidate, the examination zooms in on the granular and broader meanings of various Masonic symbols. Dr. might have opened up the floor with, “The triangle in the square symbolizes potential Being before evolution: Man in the Garden of Eden. The square in the triangle symbolizes regeneration; the purification of the lower earthly nature so that it may “ascend to the Father;” return to Paradise. This is symbolized by the careful position of the compass and square in relation to the Holy Bible, while the three Greater lights and three Lesser lights again make a double triangle; one greater – because, above, one lesser -because below, which every Mason will understand.” Mystic Masonry pg. 74. 

On an even broader scale of the symbolism Dr. Buck explains regarding the first degree, “The first lesson we are taught in Masonry is to be good men and true.’ And the first declaration made by the neophyte in Masonry is that he comes to the Lodge to ‘learn to subdue his passions, and improve himself in Masonry.’ i.e.  to engage in the building of a fit temple for an indwelling soul.” Mystic Masonry pg. 112. 

The ante can be increased even further in respect to those transformations which are occurring in our subconscious selves i.e. that inner temple we are constructing within as the master builders that we’ve been taught to be. Dr. Clymer offered the following, “. “The “bringing to Light” in the third degree is synonymous with the “finding of the Light” in the process of development taught and practiced in the true Fraternities but with this difference: in the Masonic initiation, it is symbolic or ritualistic, in the true Initiation, it is an actual growth or development within the Aspirant, and when this Light is found, he is not told of it but himself informs the Master-Teacher. To become a Master Mason, one must pass through the ritualistic initiation of the Third Degree. This is again symbolic of the initiatory work of the Secret Fraternity when one finally has reached the Third Degree – which is the finding of the Light of the First Degree and is known as Soul Illumination – the unraveling of the Mystery of the Serpent in the next degree, and finally the attainment of Mastership which is synonymous with becoming a Master Mason in the exoteric organization. There is this difference: when the candidate finally has become a Master Mason, he is given a substitute word for the Word but having attained the Third Degree in the Secret Fraternity, he also has found the Word.” The Mysticism of Masonry pg. 50 – 51.

As many concepts in Masonry and for that matter life in general often come full circle, it cannot be stressed enough that not only is there a transformation from within while taking an oath and obligation during receiving a degree as a candidate, but there is also an inward transformation on the part of those participating in such work as an officer, guide, or other position on the floor and including those on the sidelines. Dr. Clymer too felt passionately on the matter and offered, “When we assume an obligation, we call certain forces into being. These forces are held in suspension – or under control – so long as we act in harmony with them. If we betray the spirit, then all control ceases and the created vibrations held in suspension become malicious toward the creator of them and return to rend and destroy. One who is false to an obligation has loosened a destructive force that can return only to the creator of it. God does not punish man. So-called punishment is the return to himself – ‘chickens come home to roost’- of the forces created by himself, which, on betrayal, return to destroy. In other words, man is not punished for his deeds but by his deeds. It is for this reason that almost forty percent of those who enter the Secret Fraternity ultimately bring about their own destruction, entering as they do, for utterly selfish, though hidden, reasons. Then because of their inimical spirit, betray the spirit and purpose of their obligation and so bring upon themselves swift and undefiable punishment.” The Mysticism of Masonry pg. 52

Elaborating on the subject even further, brings yet another example from the Ancient Mystery Schools of past ages, with the central theory of what might have been racing through the candidate for initiation’s mind. Dr. Buck perhaps often struck a nerve amongst Freemasons with the following, “In the Ancient Mysteries, Life presented itself to the candidate as a problem to be solved, and not as certain propositions to be memorized and as easily forgotten. The solution of this problem constituted all genuine initiation, and at every step or degree, the problem expanded. As the vision of the candidate enlarged in relation to the problems and meaning of life, his powers of apprehension and assimilation also increased proportionately. This was also an evolution.” – Mystic Masonry pg. 14 

Having been heavily influenced by Dr. Buck’s Mystic Masonry, Dr. Clymer’s following quote could serve as the perfect complement to the prior quotation from Dr. Buck from the following excerpt, “All basic religious systems and all true secret societies teach, in some way and to some degree, concerning the attainment of the Immorality but most of them fail clearly to indicate that Immortality must be won – that is a personal achievement and can be attained only through the Spiritual evolution (Soul Development) of each person.” The Mysticism of Masonry pg. 178. 

When studying mysticism and the ancient mystery schools, time and time again the conversation ends up with a discussion on the role of the Pineal Gland. The Egyptian Eye of Horus is widely hypothesized to have been a symbolization of this little gland, and its usage and origin are to this day hotly contested and debated. Dr. Buck goes on to support, “The action of this little gland” may be likened to the bridge of a violin. It renders the nerve chords more tense, and thus raises the vibrations of the brain tissues. It is atrophied, and therefore dormant in the average individual because the relaxed chords (using a symbol) correspond to the vibrations on the physical plane; and it is one of the well-known laws of physiology that every organ will become atrophied from disuse. Mystic Masonry pg. 90.

Having made a brief layover in Pineal Gland-ville, the path further leads to the invisible forces which all are capable of cultivating for higher purposes, the highest being sole consciousness. Dr. Buck would make the following point with conviction, “This force is the universal Life agent, as Bro. Pike says, ‘Wherein are two natures' and a double current of love and wrath. This ‘ambient fluid penetrates everything. Hence it is the “First Matter” of the Alchemists. It is concentrated in man as the magnetic living force directed by the Will. He who knows its ‘chord of mass, or the “keynote” of its vibrations can, by his Will, waken it. from Space and send it in mighty waves to do his bidding. The real Word of the Master, therefore, in a scientific sense, is this tone-key by which the ‘Principalities and Powers of the Air; can be made to do his bidding.” Mystic Masonry pg. 93.

It is the intent to stimulate the reader to dive even further into the subjects presented in this piece, the following will serve as Dr. Clymer’s parting gift, “Due to the unwillingness of many of these seekers to forget the self and to obey those who know, progress is necessarily slow and uncertain and most of these attempts have given rise, more or less, to fantastic flights of the imagination resulting in confusion rather than enlightenment and, in many cases, ending in downright, soul-destroying frauds of the worst and most criminal type. The gross result has been to bring the whole subject under contempt and to make the term “mysticism” mean something vague and uncertain, frequently foolish and questionable, to those ignorant of what the term embraces in its true meaning.” The mysticism of Masonry pg. 37. 

Drawing it all to a whimsical finale, the focal point of the Mysticism within Masonry or simply Mystic Masonry will conclude with this final Dr. Buck quote, “There is a Grand Science known as Magic, and every real Master is a Magician. Feared by the ignorant, and ridiculed by the “learned” the Divine Science and its Masters have, nevertheless, existed in all ages, and exist today. Masonry in its deeper meaning and recondite mysteries constitutes and possesses this science, and all genuine Initiation consists in an orderly unfolding of the natural powers of the neophyte so that he shall become the very thing he desires to possess.” - Mystic Masonry pg. 34


Joe Covell is new to Masonry, having been raised in March of 2022 at Quakertown Lodge No. 512 in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. He is a student of Esoteric Philosophy since 2016 and loves to discuss it with like-minded brethren. He is involved in The Valley of Allentown AASR where he helps administer the Valley’s social media accounts. He is a member of Lansdale Royal Arch Chapter No. 301, Doylestown Cryptic Council No. 51, Damascus Commandery No. 95, and a Noble of LuLu Shrine. He has plans to highlight Masonic Education by facilitating study groups on various topics at his Blue Lodge. He is currently going through the chairs at Quakertown Lodge No. 512, as well as the other bodies of which he is a member.  

The Lodge Education Series: A History of Blue

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
R.H. Johnson

Prepared for Waukegan Masonic Lodge July 17th, 2023

*Note* This is the second time I've posted about this unique phenomenon. You can read the first one HERE. For this version, I prepared it for my Mother Lodge and I also quoted, almost in full, an article that ran on the Business Insider website. This piece received good feedback. It was practical, interesting, not all the way Masonic, but was unique enough to cause interest in historical, masonic, and scientific thinking Brothers.

The color blue holds great symbolic and practical significance in Freemasonry. Symbolically, blue represents fidelity, wisdom, loyalty, and truth, which are all key virtues cherished by Freemasons. The use of blue in Freemasonry can be traced back to ancient times, where it was associated with divine truths and spiritual enlightenment.

In the Western world Blue is associated psychologically with safety. Interesting when we consider how our candidates come into the lodge for their degrees.

Practically, blue serves as the primary color of the Masonic Lodge. The walls of the lodge are usually painted in various shades of blue, and the Master of the Lodge, as well as other officers, typically wear blue Masonic aprons. This use of blue creates a distinct atmosphere within the lodge, fostering a sense of unity and harmony among the brethren. It also serves as a visual reminder of the values and principles that Freemasons strive to uphold.

Furthermore, the color blue is integral to several Masonic rituals and ceremonies. For instance, when a candidate is initiated into Freemasonry, he is blindfolded and led around the lodge, ultimately approaching the "Blazing Star" in the East, which is often depicted as a blue star. This symbolizes the candidate's journey from darkness to light, from ignorance to knowledge. The blue star also represents Divine guidance and signifies the pursuit of truth and wisdom.

In addition to its symbolic and practical significance within Freemasonry, the color blue also holds historical and cultural significance. In ancient times, blue pigments were precious and rare, as they were obtained from naturally occurring minerals. This made blue a color associated with nobility and spirituality. The use of blue in European heraldry further emphasized its association with honor and virtue.

In the history of Mankind, Blue is almost brand new. And I mean this scientifically—Humans did not recognize the color blue until what we might consider semi-modern times. But the sky? The Ocean?

The following article is a wonderful journey into the human discovery of blue. It is lifted in bulk and placed within this piece to give full understanding. The article was originally published by Business Insider and was written by Kevin Loria.

No one could describe the color 'blue' until modern times

“In "The Odyssey," Homer famously describes the "wine-dark sea." But why "wine-dark" and not deep blue or green?

In 1858 a scholar named William Gladstone, who later became the prime minister of Great Britain, noticed that this wasn't the only strange color description. Though the poet spends page after page describing the intricate details of clothing, armor, weaponry, facial features, animals, and more, his references to color are strange. Iron and sheep are violet; honey is green.

So Gladstone decided to count the color references in the book. And while black is mentioned almost 200 times and white about 100, other colors are rare. Red is mentioned fewer than 15 times, and yellow and green fewer than 10. Gladstone started looking at other ancient Greek texts and noticed the same thing — there was never anything described as "blue." The word didn't even exist.

It seemed the Greeks lived in a murky and muddy world, devoid of color, mostly black and white and metallic, with occasional flashes of red or yellow.

Gladstone thought this was perhaps something unique to the Greeks, but a philologist named Lazarus Geiger followed up on his work and noticed this was true across cultures.

He studied Icelandic sagas, the Koran, ancient Chinese stories, and an ancient Hebrew version of the Bible. Of Hindu Vedic hymns, he wrote: "These hymns, of more than ten thousand lines, are brimming with descriptions of the heavens. Scarcely any subject is evoked more frequently. The sun and reddening dawn's play of color, day and night, cloud and lightning, the air and ether, all these are unfolded before us, again and again ... but there is one thing no one would ever learn from these ancient songs ... and that is that the sky is blue."

There was no blue, not in the way that we know the color — it wasn't distinguished from green or darker shades.

Geiger looked to see when "blue" started to appear in languages and found an odd pattern all over the world.

Every language first had a word for black and for white, or dark and light. The next word for a color to come into existence — in every language studied around the world — was red, the color of blood and wine.

After red, historically, yellow appears, and later, green (though in a couple of languages, yellow and green switch places). The last of these colors to appear in every language is blue.

The only ancient culture to develop a word for blue was the Egyptians — and as it happens, they were also the only culture that had a way to produce a blue dye.

If you think about it, blue doesn't appear much in nature — there are almost no blue animals, blue eyes are rare, and blue flowers are mostly human creations. There is, of course, the sky, but is that really blue? As we've seen from Geiger's work, even scriptures that contemplate the heavens continuously still do not necessarily see it as "blue."

In fact, one researcher that Radiolab spoke with — Guy Deutscher, author of "Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages," tried a casual experiment with that. In theory, one of children's first questions is, "Why is the sky blue?" So he raised his daughter while being careful to never describe the color of the sky to her, and then one day asked her what color she saw when she looked up.

Alma, Deutscher's daughter, had no idea. The sky was colorless. Eventually, she decided it was white, and later on, eventually blue. So blue was not the first thing she saw or gravitated toward, though it is where she settled in the end.

So before we had a word for it, did people not naturally see blue?

This part gets a little complicated because we do not know exactly what was going through Homer's brain when he described the wine-dark sea and the violet sheep — but we do know that ancient Greeks and others in the ancient world had the same biology and therefore same capability to see color that we do.

But do you really see something if you don't have a word for it?

A researcher named Jules Davidoff traveled to Namibia to investigate this, where he conducted an experiment with the Himba tribe, which speaks a language that has no word for blue or distinction between blue and green.

When shown a circle with 11 green squares and one blue, they could not pick out which one was different from the others — or those who could see a difference took much longer and made more mistakes than would make sense to us, who can clearly spot the blue square.

But the Himba have more words for types of green than we do in English.

When looking at a circle of green squares with only one slightly different shade, they could immediately spot the different one.

Davidoff says that without a word for a color, without a way of identifying it as different, it is much harder for us to notice what is unique about it — even though our eyes are physically seeing the blocks it in the same way.

So before blue became a common concept, maybe humans saw it. But it seems they did not know they were seeing it. If you see something yet can't see it, does it exist? Did colors come into existence over time? Not technically, but our ability to notice them may have ...”

Our earliest art using the color is 1,500 BCE. Throughout the medieval period, blue was worn by poor commoners. But in the 13th Century, the nobility took a real interest in blue, and “red V. blue” was a real thing.

The earliest known blue dyes were made from plants – woad in Europe, indigo in Asia and Africa, while blue pigments were made from minerals, usually either lapis lazuli or azurite.

Overall, the color blue is deeply ingrained in Freemasonry's symbolism and culture. It represents the virtues and principles that Freemasons strive to embody and serves as a visual reminder of their commitment to truth, wisdom, loyalty, and fidelity.


RWB Johnson is an Emeritus Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 2nd N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He is the current V:. Sovereign Grand Inspector for AMD in IL. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focuses on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four and works full-time in the executive medical industry. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry", “The Master’s Word: A Short Treatise on the Word, the Light, and the Self – Annotated Edition” and author of "How to Charter a Lodge: A No-Nonsense, Unsanctioned Guide. More books are on the way.

Kung Fu Principles to Masonic Esoteric Philosophy – Part 3

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Randy Sanders

This continues a 5-part series applying Masonic principles and esoteric concepts to Eastern martial arts, specifically Wing Chun Kung Fu.  We will only touch on the fighting theory but then focus on applied philosophy.

Wing Chun Kung Fu simplifies as a fighting system derived from Snake and White Crane systems as its base.  It was originally based on Buddhist Shaolin systems and was refined in the Taoist Wu Tang temple.  This well-documented lineage history makes my brief description an injustice to the beautiful history of the Shaolin temple, the Wu-Tang temple, Snake, White Crane, and Wing Chun systems.  This series of papers narrows the focus to the core Wing Chun principles of Centerline, Facing, Immoveable Elbow, Economy of Motion, and Simultaneous Attack and Defense, and we will match this Eastern theory to Western Philosophy.

With this third installment, let’s look at the Immoveable Elbow principle.  As with Freemasonry, the meaning of Immoveable Elbow changes with application and with nuance.  At the surface, the principle is exactly it’s definition.  Wing Chun practitioners work on specific angles of 30, 45, 60, 90, and 135 degrees in the arm’s angles which provide significant strength over most other positions.  Hung Gar, Southern Preying Mantis, and Kali/Arnis/Silat for comparison use some of the same angles, and Chen Tai Chi expands upon the Wing Chun angles to find angular strength in sweeping movements.  Immoveable Elbow, therefore, is not just putting the elbow on the central line and forcing opponents to take a longer distance around the elbow.  Immoveable Elbow embraces the idea of finding the best musculoskeletal positions of strength and stability as a means of resetting structure during a physical confrontation.  

This same Immoveable Elbow concept conveys the concept of stronger structures or positions as opposed to weaker structures or positions.  We find this directly applicable to mental structures when applied to Freemasonry, philosophy, and Western tradition.  When we memorize ritual, no matter the means whether repetition, memory palace, whatever, we find the patterns we memorize become a mental structure.  We find comfort in this structure, and it becomes a place of strength from which we may reset our minds or from where we might find symbols or phrases for discursive meditation.  I’ll discuss different types of meditation in other writings, but for a more complete overview see the works of Bro. C.R. Dunning, Jr.

Similar to the theory of Facing, the theory of the Immoveable Elbow gives us guideposts and solid anchors mentally through ritual, through memorization, and through contemplation, and reflection.  Western traditions make use of a balanced Facing (Theory of Facing, covered in part 2) both inwardly and outwardly as critical to our moral and mental structures.  I mentioned that how we perceive the world and how others perceive us will be reflected by how quickly we return to a balanced interaction after we choose to respond in an out-of-balance manner.  The theory of Immoveable Elbow structure becomes that anchor upon which we rely for our own thoughts, feelings, and expression so that we may always return to that place of strength and harmony.

Ethics cannot be overstated.  Your own inward code of ethics and your own morality must be solid, and your own personal limits must be established.  This mental foundation is critical and explained many times in the initiatic experience.  Repetition of those concepts becomes an initiatic lesson in the importance to ever work diligently on morality, ethical thoughts, and behavior.  That anchor becomes your foundation in creating the Immoveable Elbow concept in any practice, whether it be Masonic, Eastern, Western, Gnostic, Theurgic, Mystic, Rosicrucian, Martinist, etc.  This lesson also applies to the clergy or priesthood.

Again, repeated: holding true to a moral structure of thoughts and actions relates to the alignment of our core being.  As we begin to see in this 5-part series, these Eastern theories overlap and interrelate.  Just as the theory of Facing gives us the means to measure and balance, the theory of Immoveable Elbow also relates to any Masonic moral structure based upon the Virtues, Pillars, and Principles of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.  The mental anchor created by contemplation, reflection, and refocusing gives Masons and Western traditions practitioners the advantage of getting more directly in touch with that foundational sense of being and our true self. 

The practice of Immoveable Elbow creates our own cornerstone as a base from which we may work on our own inner temple.  The obstacle created to force opponents to go around may be looked at as a barrier to our internal ruffians, our own internal problems or issues, that interrupt or inhibit us from progressing on our path of building our temple.  

Describing this from an overly simplistic Cabbalistic framework, we must solidify what we feel, think, and do so as to apply balance and explore our individual path.  From an alchemical perspective, the Immoveable Elbow mental anchor corresponds to the foundational workbench, tools, and formulas needed to light the fires for purification.  Lighting fires without a solid foundation or without clearing the workbench might lead to some serious impurities or other hazards in our laboratory.

Immoveable Elbow in practice refocuses Masonic or other Western tradition lessons in ethics and morality.  There is no substitute whether studying Eastern or Western traditions, and only meditation, contemplation, reflection, and inward inspection provides answers to the deeper meaning of our own personal cornerstone and foundational discoveries of our inner selves.  Our code of ethics toward ourselves and others changes our perspective on morality, and vice versa.  We must face our vices and internal issues (theory of Facing), directly focusing our intention upon the core of those vices and issues (theory of Centerline), and give ourselves an anchor of mental focus and solid mental structure of Faith in a Supreme Being (as described above as Immoveable Elbow).  Only by putting into practice contemplative work do we begin to understand ourselves.

In closing, our mystic tie that binds us to each other isn’t imaginary.  We strengthen ourselves in finding our symbolic anchor in faith, and that carries on to strengthen others.  We make others better when we do our own inner work, and we are strengthened by others in the same manner.  Our Brothers make progress, we encourage them as they encourage us by example.  We also see the beginnings of interrelating the previous Eastern theories into a connected cycle, and next we will explore the ways of using the principles, or theories, in a more cohesive manner through cognition, logic, and reason.  Finally in part 5 we will see how to apply these theories together to achieve even greater results.  The concept of the Immoveable Elbow as simultaneously being a solid structure, a mental structure, and faith in one Supreme Being gives us a means to make great progress in our inner work.


Randy and his wife Elyana live near St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Randy earned a bachelor's 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 of 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, a 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.