The Lost Word and the Bear

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Patrick Dey

Editor's Note: This article contains profanity. I felt that editing the profanity out would defeat the purpose of the article. 

This is a bit of a strange time to compare a bear to something else. If you’ve missed it, recently women online started to ask the question: which would rather encounter, if you were stuck in the woods, a man or a bear? I don’t want to get into this, because it’s beyond the point of this essay, but a lot… and I mean a lot of women would rather deal with a bear. The reason I bring it up is because many of these women will respond by saying: “I would rather deal with the bear, because [insert reason]… whereas if I had to deal with a m*n, I can expect [insert experience]…” They will deliberate redact a letter from the word “man” or “men.” This stems from a problem in algorithms, where it will censor or remove a post or comment as “derogatory” or “hate speech” because they said something negative in relation to the word “man.” So to circumnavigate the Al Gore Rhythm, they spell it “m*n.”

This phenomenon is actually starting to affect our language, even spoken language. Alligator Rhythms censor a lot of material based on what is written or said, even in benign commentary. For instance, saying “dead” or “died,” which may upset the All Gather In Them, people write or say “unalive(d).” Now young people are starting to say this in everyday speech, and even students write this in school essays. In fact, because we fear calling out these algorithms, we have started to come up with alternative epithets for “algorithm,” because we can be censored for call it out, and so people are now starting to say “Al Gore Rhythm” et al.

Wouldn’t it just be weird if we lost the words “dead” or “died” because of this? Or if we lose the word “algorithm,” or future people look back and wonder if this “Al Gore” guy was some sort of tyrant with an ability to dance, or perhaps “algorithm” was some sort of demon we feared and had to watch what we say around it. This isn’t the first time such has happened. Let’s go back to the bear.

Did you know that we lost the original word for “bear” in English? Seriously. It is assessed that the Proto-Indo European (PIE) root word for the animal was something like “*h2ŕ̥tḱos” (pronounced sort of like ar-tu-kos). From a part of the PIE root, we get the Greek ἄρκτος arktos, where we get words like “arctic,” because that was a place associated with bears. From another part, we also get the Latin ursus, like the constellation Ursa Major or the “Big Dipper.” But we don’t have anything like this in English. Celtic has the word “*arto,” and Welsh has “arth,” which are the root words for “Arthur.” But we do not have this in Anglo-Saxon, nor do we know the exact word that would have been derived from the PIE root for bear. It is totally lost.

It is believed that Anglo-Saxons were so superstitious of this word, believing that by saying it would summon the creature. So, they used the Old English word beran, meaning “the brown one.” It is not uncommon that people would believe that saying a name would summon that thing, nor that we would use nicknames to avoid using that name, nor that we would lose that word as a result.

The Tetragrammaton is a great example. The Hebrew name of God is יהוה YHVH. But this is consonants, and we don’t know the vowels that would have been used with it. Modern Hebrew approximates the name as Yahweh. Jehovah is the Latin approximation of what YHVH probably sounded like. The Greek name is Ιαω Iao, and has been interpreted as the vowels that should be inserted into YHVH. But such is conjectural. We cannot know with any certainty. We lost the exact pronunciation of this name of God because it was so sacred that to speak it became taboo. In fact, the name was so sacred, that if a book, scroll, or any text is found that has this name in it, but it has not been determined whether or not the it is worth preserving or may be heresy, and therefore should be destroyed, then it is kept in a genizah, a storehouse of texts, until it can be assessed. Later, using these letters יהוה was deemed too sacred to write, and so a substitute was created instead: Tetragrammaton, Greek for “the four letters.” This is how we lost the pronunciation of the name of God.

This is actually more common than one might expect. We actually do this all the tiem. Do you have a friend who went through a bad breakup or divorce, and they refused to say the name of their ex? So they start to say “she who must not be named” or “he we do not speak of.” We all know who they are talking about, but we roll with it, because we agree in our little circle of friends that it is now taboo to say “Michelle” or “Jared” and now we use a long epithet to refer to them. Or another example: we don’t say, “we are having prolific unprotected sex,” and instead we say, “we are working on having a child.” We come up with euphemisms all the time for things we don’t want to say the actual word for.

In a way, we may regard the root of the phenomenon of why a word will not and should not be used has something to do with what Edmund Burke calls “the sublime.” This is not “sublime” in the way we use it today, as something that is beautiful or delightful, but rather something that is compelling us to destruction. It has a great power, a sacredness that is beyond utility or adoration, and is an existential threat to our being. It has an allure of wonder and fascination, while simultaneously being something that is feared and dreaded. Hence the phrase “to fear of God,” where it is a virtue to fear the divinity of the majestic throne of God. And this is how many women feel about m*n, or Anglo-Saxons felt about bears, or Israelites felt about the true name of God, or how your buddy feels about their ex. They are admired, loved, feared, and hated all in the same conscious moment.

We have something like this in Freemasonry: the Lost Word of a Master Mason.

In the Master Mason Degree, the Master’s Word is lost, because it could not be communicated after the death of Grand Master Hiram Abiff. So a substitute word is created to be used instead. Now, the Word is “recovered” (so to speak) in the Royal Arch. I was intrigued when I was told that I should join the York Rite because there the Lost Word is recovered, and it was a serious let-down when I went through the degree. I would have preferred that the Word was never recovered. It would have maintained the same sublime mystery that the true name of God holds, or how the original name for bear instills fear.

And that is what is ironic: that the recovered word, in its etymological history, is in fact a lost word. If you have been through the Royal Arch, good for you. If you have not, do not let anyone try to lure you into another Masonic body just to get “further light,” especially about the recovery of the Word. I will admit, the Royal Arch is a phenomenal degree, and worth being inducted into, but the recovery of the Word should not be why you do it.

Certainly, many have speculated upon why the Substitute Word was chosen. If you know the word, you know how to look it up in Albert Mackey’s Encyclopædia. And if you’ve been through the Royal Arch, you know the explanation given for how the Grand Omnific Word is formed and communicated, which is its own interesting exercise. One curious speculation was given by Henry P. H. Bromwell in his rite of Free and Accepted Architects, wherein he claims that the Grand Omnific Word is a combination of the names given in the Royal Arch, the names of the ruffians, and the syllables of the Substitute Word. These are all speculation, worthy of as much attention as any other conjecture, but they are all interesting because they circle around the same principle: the sublime, that which is alluring in its glory and deadly in its destruction — like Freud’s principle of the Death Drive.

Three divine names. Three murders’ names. Three syllables of God’s name. Three syllables of exclamation in the face of death and rot. Yes, the Substitute Word is a sublime word, meant only to be whispered in fear of its power. And the Grand Omnific Word, meant to only be communicated by three people, and then not all at the same time. And even if there never was a Royal Arch Degree, if there never was a Grand Omnific Word, and there was only ever the Master Mason Degree and the Word was forever lost, then that Lost Word would hold the same terrifying power. We can’t say it, because we were so terrified of saying it that we lost it.

The sacredness of words is immense, and, in fact, can have the opposite effect. I am thinking of the fact that French has way more profanities than English. This is because many words that pertain to the sacred or religion are turned into swear words in French, and it is even worse in Quebec French. There is a fun song in Quebecois called Osti de crisse de tabarnak avec paroles which on a superficial level of translating into English seems like a song about religion and sacred things. Words like saint, crisse (Christ), tabarnak (tabernacle), viarge (Virgin [Mary]), et al, because of their sacred etymology, are easily rendered into profanities. We have specimens like this in English, e.g. “Jesus Christ!” or “goddamn!” Because of how these words are turned into profanities, a whole song is composed of varying forms of the word “fuck” in French profanity. But this has the same effect: these words are so abhorrent that they are taboo to say, like “bear.” It is no different than a word that is so sacred and holy that it is taboo to say it, like the true name of God, than a word that is so sacred and holy that it is disgusting to say it, like “fuck.”

I don’t know how Freemasonry got the whole concept of a Lost Word or how the Grand Omnific Word came to be. Where in the transition from operative to speculative Masonry did these emerge? It really does not matter. What matters is that these words are not unlike a bear: they instill fear in us, and so we forgot what the original name was and had to create a substitute, or we refuse to say it above a whisper, or we cannot say it in the same breath.

A few years ago, a fellow occultist questioned my faith as a Christian and my occult practices. They asked me: “Why should I fear God?” And I responded: “Because you should show some goddamn respect.” Words hold power, and I don’t think we fear the Lost Word, or its substitute, or the Grand Omnific Word enough.


Patrick M. Dey is a Past Master of Nevada Lodge No. 4 in the ghost town of Nevadaville, Colorado, and currently serves as their Secretary, and is also a Past Master of Research Lodge of Colorado. He is a Past High Priest of Keystone Chapter No. 8, Past Illustrious Master of Hiram Council No. 7, Past Commander of Flatirons Commandery No. 7. He currently serves as the Exponent (Suffragan) of Colorado College, SRICF of which he is VIII Grade (Magister). He is the Editor of the Rocky Mountain Mason magazine, serves on the Board of Directors of the Grand Lodge of Colorado’s Library and Museum Association, and is the Deputy Grand Bartender of the Grand Lodge of Colorado (an ad hoc, joke position he is very proud to hold). He holds a Masters of Architecture degree from the University of Colorado, Denver, and works in the field of architecture in Denver, where he resides with wife and son.

Masonic Soylent Green - Part two of a series

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

Disclaimer: Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales, is entirely coincidental.

In my last article, I gave a brief summary of the movie, Soylent Green, and how in not requiring background checks for incoming members as well as current membership, we are potentially unsuspectingly eating ourselves, i.e.: in our quest for membership numbers, many Grand Lodges are not requiring lodges to do due diligence in vetting our current or potential membership.  You can find that article here:

I received some criticism for my hardline stance; so I’d like to reply to it here before I get into my next topic. I fully understand that there are some men currently in the fraternity who have committed felonies and turned their life around. However, if you’ve ever sat through Grand Lodge proceedings, you know that the legislation that passes has to be simple in language and easily enforceable. So while I agree with the sentiment regarding the fact that many men who are felons join and give back to their communities through charitable works, I also must balance that with the idea that ranking past criminal offenses in terms of severity automatically makes any amendment dead on arrival in terms of a vote at Grand Lodge communications. So I would err on the side of caution in regards to any felony. It is easier to write legislation which makes a man ineligible for membership if they have a past felony conviction; and/or expelling former felons in one's jurisdiction.  

Now continuing on with the theme of Masonic Soylent Green, I want to discuss another scenario where Freemasonry feeds upon itself.

A “Masonic” podcast propagates false information relating to Freemasonry, spreading conspiratorial garbage connecting Masonic “knowledge” with an upcoming apocalyptic event, while another “Masonic” podcast spreads an idea that one must be a certain race or religion to become a member.  Podcast one host starts a public feud with podcast host two. Host number one enlists black magic to aid him by placing hexes on host number two because host number one believes that host number two conspired to get host number one suspended for unmasonic behavior. Both hosts are popular and have a strong following. Soon battle lines are drawn and a follower of host two threatens host one’s life and/or the life a host one’s family. Host one retaliates against host two by urging his fans to harm host two; and a deranged fan of host one shoots host two when they are speaking at the fan's mother lodge. Host two dies from his wounds.

Again, while fantastical, I do think that all or some of the above is possible.

In the above case, I think that both hosts are equally wrong in spreading false information in their podcasts.  I have a difficult time with "For Profit" Freemasonry in Social Media.  Don't get me wrong, there's a huge difference between having followers sponsor podcasters or other social media outlets via patreon and those outlets which use their followers as a revenue stream; especially when they are getting followers (and advertisement income) by spreading falsehoods when one of our core tenets is Truth.  

In the above example, both podcast hosts are guilty of spreading blatantly false information.  While I believe in Freedom of Speech; I think in the above scenario, both hosts failed to realize that they are essentially selling Freemasonry as a brand, and as such, they should be held accountable by their Grand Lodges when they are selling a false bill of goods.  Unfortunately, the perpetuation of the myth that the quantity of members matters more than the quality of our membership usually prevails, and if the podcasters in my example are bringing in lots of members; they might be protected by their jurisdictions.   

Let's face it, we live in a society currently where truth is in the eye of the beholder. I can pick any story currently making the rounds in the news media and go to different media outlets and get different versions of the same story which support my bias. Add into the mix conspiracy theories which blur the lines of truth further. Compile this with the large amount of our population who are dealing with undiagnosed mental illness; and it's a recipe for disaster as reflected in how the above scenario plays out.  Gone are the days where Magickal Battles would take place between opposing members in secret societies; and today, violence or threats of violence is unfortunately the answer to disagreements. (        

Masons aren't going to always agree with each other; which is why we have forums which allow every member a voice and vote in a lodge setting. We also have a tenet of brotherly love; which should allow all Freemasons to respectively disagree with each other when it comes to those topics we forbid discussion of in lodge.  In most dire situations, we have a system of a judiciary resolution in the form of Masonic Trials when the misunderstanding cannot be resolved through the liberal application of the trowel of Brotherly Love.  There should never be any disagreement between brothers which should dissolve into violence between those brothers, which violates one of the clauses of the Master Masons obligation in my jurisdiction.    

It seems that society is siloed to the point where one believes that their beliefs are superior and others beliefs are inferior.  We also must continue to be vigilant to keep these incendiary topics outside of our Fraternity, and we also must be courageous enough to whisper wise counsel when appropriate, especially in cases where the harmony of one's lodge is threatened.  Furthermore, ideas of racial and/or religious superiority have no place in Freemasonry, and if that is something that you truly believe, you should not be a Freemason.  This is also why we must continue to press for Masonic Education in our lodges, so that we can teach the foundation of critical thought, the seven liberal arts and sciences, to all of our membership.


Darin Lahners is a husband, father, and Freemason.

Masonic Soylent Green - Part one of a series

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

The 1973 film Soylent Green was at the time of its release a shocking dystopian and grim depiction of the future. Set in the year 2022, it shows a society of haves and have-nots in which ecological disaster has caused a greenhouse effect that has rendered most vegetation and livestock extinct. People are forced to live in cities like New York where the population has swelled to 40 million people. Poverty is rampant and people are starving. The majority of the population relies on water rationing and a mysterious food known as Soylent to survive. While the upper class live in gated guarded luxury apartments, they also are dependent upon Soylent for nourishment. There are three brands of Soylent, Red, Yellow and Green; with Green being the most nutritious variety.

As the film unfolds, a police detective and a police researcher (Thorn played by Charlton Heston and Solomon ‘Sol’ Roth played by Edward G. Robinson) are tasked with investigating the death of a board member of the Soylent corporation. The Soylent corporation advertises that Soylent Green is made from plankton, but Roth uncovers research that the Oceans are no longer capable of producing plankton, and the truth is uncovered that Soylent Green is made from human bodies. Roth is so distraught that he goes to a government clinic to seek assisted suicide. Thorn rushes to try to convince Roth to stop but he arrives only with enough time for Roth to reveal the truth to Thorn, that Soylent Green is made from people. Thorn secretly boards a truck transporting bodies to a waste processing plant where he witnesses corpses being turned into Soylent Green. Of course, the Soylent Corporation does not want the truth to be revealed and a gunfight with Soylent thugs occurs. Thorn is able to defeat his attackers but is seriously wounded in the fight. As he is taken away by paramedics he urges his Police Chief to spread the truth, that Soylent Green is people!

By this point you’re probably asking yourself: “WTF does this have to do with Freemasonry other than one of the characters being named Solomon?” 

Actually, it has a lot to do with Freemasonry.  You see, Freemasonry is like Soylent Green.  It is also made up of people, and it comes in different flavors (in the form of appendant bodies).  But that answer isn't adequate, is it?  While accurate, the fact of the matter is that Freemasonry is like soylent green because Freemasonry has a habit of unsuspectingly eating itself.  

Allow me to explain. Picture a man who has petitioned a Masonic lodge.  We don't have to determine the lodge's pretend location because what I'm going to describe is symptomatic of many lodges across the United States (and maybe internationally).  It also doesn't matter how he contacted the lodge to petition (maybe he's an internet inquiry, or he has just shown up, or he's an invitation to petition.  All that matters is that we have a man who has petitioned a Masonic lodge.  His petition is read, and then the Worshipful Master assigns an investigation committee to investigate the candidate. 

A cursory investigation is done, asking basically if there is a belief in a supreme being, and if they have any felonies.  The man is voted upon and he's eventually initiated, passed, and raised.  Let's imagine the below scenario.

The man committed a crime(s) in the past.  Because the lodge did no due diligence, the sex offender gets in close contact with the lodge member's wives and children, the girls of Rainbow Girls or Job's Daughters, the boys of Demolay, the women of OES, or the Order of Amaranth.  The unimaginable happens. A child is molested, or a woman is raped. The Lodge and Grand Lodge are sued in civil court. I
f the sex offender had joined the Shrine or other appendant bodies, they are sued as well.  There is a massive settlement awarded to the plaintiff. The amount is much larger than any insurance policy Grand Lodge has to cover such things. As such the Grand Lodge is forced into bankruptcy, as well as its lodges who are incorporated under the Grand Lodge, and possibly the appendant body as well.  

Conspiracy theories that believe Freemasons are evil in the most hideous ways are confirmed.  Social Media backlash towards Freemasonry begins when a conspiracy TikTok gets millions of views.  Soon a massive global anti-Masonic backlash occurs.  A trend from TikTok to cancel Freemasonry gains steam.  Freemasonry experiences a sharp decline in membership, mostly from men demitting to disassociate themselves from the Fraternity, and due to the backlash, online inquiries are only coming in so that rabid anti-masons can harass the remaining fraternity members when they follow up on the inquiry.  Unlike the Morgan Affair, Freemasonry does not recover from the anti-Masonic backlash.

While fantastical, I do think that all or some of the above is possible. 

We have left the west gate open for far too many years, and we must protect Freemasonry not only from without but also from within.  It is just a matter of time before we have a member do something that massively harms the Fraternity. If a Mason in most jurisdictions is automatically expelled upon committing a felony, shouldn't we also make sure that we exclude from membership all Felons?  While I once wrote an article on this subject for this blog only to think I was wrong about the first article in a subsequent article, I have come to realize that Freemasonry needs to be protected at all costs, We should not allow men with a prior Felony conviction to join our fraternity, and we should also not allow members with prior felony convictions to remain in the fraternity, nor ones with any misdemeanor sexual offense. 

To accomplish this, we should require background checks for all candidates for Freemasonry, but also a one-time criminal background check for all current members to enforce the above. In doing such, we are separating the wheat from the chaff.  Those who have something to hide will be the ones who protest, those who are innocent will not. Not every man deserves to be a Mason, and we must decide that what matters more is the quality of our membership over the quantity of our membership. 

We can ill afford to continue to tempt fate. Do you think we can afford to be wrong?


Darin Lahners is a husband, father, Freemason, and fan of the actor Matt Berry.

Cognitive Dissonance and Conspiracy: An insight into anti-Masonic rhetoric

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Andrew Rizzitello

Image by Bennet

A person is smart; people are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know
~Agent K, Men in Black (1997)

Satanism. New World Order. Lizard people. Blood sacrifice. These are just some of the
unscrupulous ideas that have surrounded our Fraternity; many of which started before
the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England. But where did they come from
and why did they start? Some point to the Roman Catholic Church and its Papacy,
others to the various “exposés” created by both non and anti-Masonic writers, and still
some point to various political leaders, whose cult of personality kindled sparks of
violence against any group that met “in secret”. In an endeavor to combat these
thoughts, one does not have to look too far, but one does have to let go of any form of
confirmation bias. The purpose of this essay is to assist those that wish to gain the
knowledge to disprove and debunk these inane theories, to aide those who may
question the legitimacy of the claims, and shed light on the enemies and naysayers of
not just our great Fraternity, but any group that hopes to better the world through
friendship and brotherhood. Before we begin, however, we will need to understand
some psychological terms.


No, it is not the newest Hard Rock band coming out of Australia. This abbreviation
stands for Confirmation Bias/Cognitive Dissonance, terms which go hand in hand when
a person encounters new, possibly contradictory, information to something they are
familiar with. Take this phrase, for example:

“Cleopatra lived closer in time to the launch of the iPhone than she did to
the building of the pyramids.”

At first, someone who reads that phrase may exclaim “No way!”, since Egypt, the
pyramids, and Cleopatra all seem to blend together in our mind. That exclamation, or
one like it, is a small bit of our cognitive dissonance showing. We were presented with
new information and, at first, went on the defensive, since our previous knowledge of the
subject suggested otherwise. What happens next determines if we can overcome this
dissonance or fall into the mire of confirmation bias.

If the individual decides to explore the statement further, they will find that the
approximate date for the creation of the Great Pyramid is around 2478 BCE
(Dominguez), and this predates the life of Cleopatra by about 2500 years (Elhassan). It
is amazing to think that the famed Queen of the Nile wasn’t even a blip in the universe
when the construction of one of the 7 Wonders of the Natural World occurred.

However, if the individual continues to deny the plausibility of the claim, this is when the
mental quicksand of confirmation bias starts to take hold. An example of this could be
seen when, after being presented with the information, the person states that
“technology just couldn’t advance that quickly…” and simply walks away from the
conversation, choosing to remain ignorant. Confirmation bias can be seen most
prominently in today’s socio-political climate when a person, presented with new medical
or scientific research, refuses to believe the change and, even if their data was at one
time correct, continues to rely on outdated or blatantly wrong treatments or theories. An
infuriating example of this, which itself has devolved into its own conspiracy, would be
the argument that vaccines somehow cause autism. Too many sites exist (about
19,900,000 results via Google) that absolutely debunk this mindset and yet it remains
prevalent in today’s society (Hoffman).

While both cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias happen to someone when presented
with new or conflicting ideas, the former can be overcome with logic and reasoning, while the
latter is nothing more than choosing to remain ignorant and in the dark. As Masons, we are
taught to be the bearers of truth and light, meaning we must learn to deal with our own
CB/CD before relaying new information to others. Due diligence and proper research are a

Freemasonry and the Catholic Church: An Age Old, One Sided

Any Mason who has done the slightest bit of digging will know that the Roman Catholic
Church has not had the most favorable view of the Fraternity. Even today, the Church holds true to its stance that the "faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin…” (Ratzinger) and, at first, are unable to receive Holy Communion, and then, if still resilient in their Masonic affiliation, will be excommunicated. The origin of this stems from a papal bull written in 1738 by Pope Clement XII named In eminenti apostolatus specula. The reason for the production of this bull came about because of a conflict between the Jacobites (supporters of King James II and a primarily Catholic group) and the Hanoverians (supporters of William III and Mary II, and primarily Protestant). Both of these groups formed and had Masonic Lodges throughout the countries of Europe, but the problem arose when the preferred religious stance of the Lodges came into question.

You see, the Jacobite lodges, while being primarily Catholic, allowed Protestants to join, and
the Hanoverian lodges, primarily Protestant in nature, allowed Catholics admittance. This did
not sit well with leaders of the two factions, notably James Fances Edward Stuart and Cardinal André-Hercule de Fleury. James saw that Hanoverian Freemasons in France had recruited so many Catholics to their cause that it tipped power in the Grande Loge de France. This alarmed James so much that he asked Pope Clement to issue a bull that banned Hanoverian Freemasonry from any Catholic country in Europe (Corp).

Meanwhile, the Cardinal, as chief minister to Louis XV of France, was trying to keep peace with Britain. After Jacobite Freemasons, who had formed secret lodges in France, tried to influence him, he had their premises raided. These actions on their part led to the Cardinal urging the Pope to ban all Roman Catholics (Hanoverian, Jacobite, and everything in between) from becoming a Freemason, under the penalty of excommunication. For a Roman Catholic during this time, separation from the church was devastating and could induce a very real fear or dread.

Pope Clement, upon receiving both of these communications, sought to write the bull in such a way that it did not distinguish between these two forms of Masonry. Opting for a religious
approach rather than a political one, he criticized Freemasonry because of its openness to any
man, regardless of religion. He added that many governments saw the Masonic lodges
"spreading far and wide and daily growing in strength" as a threat that should be "prudently
eliminated", so far as to call for bishops and Inquisitors to search for signs of suspected heresy (Clement).

As stated previously, the ideals in this centuries old, misguided writing are still upheld, even if
the current Pontiff seems to be more lax than his predecessors. 

The Bavarian Illuminati: How Not to Make a Secret Society

Second only to the Taxil Hoax, claims that Freemasonry and its members have infiltrated all aspects of a conspiracy theorist's life through the power of The Illuminati are probably the most abundant. While the majority of these inane theories are laughable at best, such as knowing rappers like Jay Z and Eminen are Illuminati members because they use triangular hand gestures, there is a more nefarious and dangerous side. Individuals who claim that there is a secret cabal planning a new world order, one run by Illuminati Freemason elites, are often citing ideas found in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, among other anti-semitic ideologies.

These ideas helped many a despot come to power, most notably Adolf Hitler.
But where did these Illuminati claims originate? 

It all started in 1776, with a man named Adam Weishaupt. Mr. Weishaupt was a professor of
law and, later, canon law at the University of Ingolstadt. While there, he was the only
non-clerical member of its staff, the rest being former members of the Jesuit order. The Jesuits, even though their order had been dissolved by Pope Clement XIV, were constantly harassing and discrediting any non clerical worker who brought forth any idea they deemed “liberal” or “Protestant”. This pushed Adam to become increasingly anti-Clerical and solidify his beliefs in rationalism and the Enlightenment (Stauffer).

Originally, Weishaupt rejected Freemasonry, as he found it too expensive and not open to his
ideas. His order was "to put an end to the machinations of the purveyors of injustice, to control them without dominating them." So, on May 1, 1776, he, along with 4 students, formed the Covenant of Perfectibility, only to change the name to The Order of the Illuminati in 1778. The founding members all chose aliases for themselves, taking inspiration from Greek mythology. From ‘76-’78, the membership grew to some 27 individuals, all of which learned secret grips and words, in a similar manner as our own, and some were even allowed to actively recruit new members. Weishaupt kept tabs on his members by a system of espionage within the Order; both to keep control and see who he wanted to become a member of the ruling council, or Areopagus.

Although Weishaupt initially wanted nothing to do with Freemasonry, he eventually did join. This action was two fold: on one hand, Adam had a hard time keeping his own members from joining our Fraternity and, on the other, he wanted more material to help expand his own degree system. He received his degrees under the Rite of Strict Observance, in a lodge called
Prudence. His mercenary motives did not yield any of the mysteries he wanted, as he thought
there were “higher degrees” than what the Blue Lodge had to offer. This, however, did not
dissuade him from forming his own lodge under a warrant issued from the Grand Lodge of
Prussia, called the Royal York of Friendship [ yes, that’s the entire name of the Grand Lodge
(United Grand Lodges of Germany)] named Theodore of Good Council. Shortly after filling
this lodge with his own members, Weishaupt separated from the aforementioned Grand Lodge by way of recognition with the Premier Grand Lodge of England, allowing Theodore of Good Council to begin creating subordinate lodges of their own (Le Forestier, 193-201).

During this time, Weishaupt came across a young man named Adolph Knigge, who would prove to be incredibly important in recruitment and ritual formation of the Illuminati. Knigge was of a similar mindset to Weishaupt; both men wanted more out of Freemasonry. Achieving all that there was in the Craft at the time, Knigge was intrigued by the “higher learning” that was supposedly available in Weishaupt’s group. Knigge even went so far as to recruit for Weishaupt, but was constantly embarrassed when he could not produce evidence of the existence of these “higher degrees” or “Most Serene Superiors”. Weishaupt eventually admitted to Knigge that no such group existed and that the higher degrees still needed to be written (Le Forestier, 202-226). With that revelation, Weishaupt encouraged Knigge to write material for the higher degrees and promised aid in the endeavor. By January of 1782, Knigge had completely revamped the entire Illuminati structure, separating the individual grades into 3 classes: The Nursery, The Masonic Grades, and The Mysteries.

This, however, would ultimately prove to be the fall of the order. After expanding to many cities
outside of Bavaria such as Austria, Bratislava, Switzerland, and Milan, the Council of
Areopagites was replaced with the Council of Provincials.This new council achieved very little in terms of control and resulted in nothing more than a headache for Weishaupt. This was because many on the council favored Knigge’s more mystically oriented degrees and direction he was taking the order, rather than Weishaupt’s philosophical and (primarily) anti-clerical stance; a stance that also pushed back against Weishaupt’s continued insistence of recruiting
Freemasons, who were more mystically minded at the time. The infighting got to such a heated point that Weishaupt threatened to tell everyone that Knigge made up the “flawed” Priest ritual, to which Knigge responded by saying he would tell the world that the entirety of the Illuminati rituals were made up. In 1784, Knigge agreed to leave the order, and by virtue of an agreement, return all papers that were relevant. This agreement also saw Weishaupt retract all slanderous and derogatory statements against Kingge (Le Forestier). This departure was a deathblow to the Illuminati, as Knigge was their greatest asset, not only for his reorganizing and creation of the degrees, but also for his recruiting.

With that history lesson out of the way, we finally come to the reason why the conspiracy of
Illuminati still lingers. You see, as the order was bleeding out with the loss of Knigge, members in Munich were also causing problems because of their boastfulness and criticism of the monarchy. It soon became apparent that members of the Illuminati held office in state and governing bodies. While that number was small, it was still enough to attract the ire of the
populace, and examples of preferential legal treatment, anti-religious publications, and the
replacement of Jesuit positions in Ingolstadt only fueled that fire. This eventually led to Charles Theodore, Elector of Bavaria, in 1785 to ban all secret societies. Weishaupt, in the meantime, had fled, although documents were seized in 1786 and ‘87, and published by the government that detailed the order’s internal correspondences and dealings (Roberts 128-29).

About 10 years later, Augustin Barruel and John Robinson each published books (Memoirs
Illustrating the History of Jacobinism and Proofs of a Conspiracy, respectively) dealing with a
conspiracy that states the Illuminati had survived, are part of a broader, international conspiracy, and even spurred on the French Revolution. These claims were reprinted, cited, and used in other works in the following years, from books to sermons. This led to these claims making their way into newspaper articles, particularly in America, and, of course, political discourse, leading to the election of 1800 (Stauffer).

The Great Provocateur: Mr. Jogand-Pagès

We have finally arrived at what is probably the most often used and cited source of
anti-Masonic rhetoric that still persists to this day. Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pagès, better known by his pen name Leo Taxil, created one of the greatest lies about our Fraternity, all to get a rise out of members of the Catholic Church. The ideas and imagery expressed in Taxil’s work were so extravagant that he is even quoted as saying (Brayley, pg 228-229):

“I thought I would kill myself laughing at some of the things proposed, but everything went; there is no limit to human stupidity".

So, without further ado, let us head straight into the quackery that is the Taxil Hoax.

Mr. Jogand-Pages was a French journalist who was already known for his anti-Catholic and
anti-clerical views. Having been disillusioned with Catholic teachings after spending years in a Jesuit seminary school, he began writing about how religious ideology was harmful in society, sometimes under the pseudonym Prosper Manin. He first gained notoriety with his books La Bible amusante and La Vie de Jesus, which were satirical, yet critical, looks at Biblical hypocrisy and inconsistent storytelling. His next works were attacks on the clergy and the Pope, claiming them to be hedonists akin to the Marquis de Sade. However, it wasn’t until 1879 that the law actually got involved, and Mr. Jogand-Pages had to be acquitted of insulting a state recognized religion.

About five years later, Pope Leo XIII publish his encyclical Humanum Genus, which further attacked Freemasonry and split the human race into two groups:

separated into two diverse and opposite parts, of which the one steadfastly contends for truth and virtue, the other of those things which are contrary to virtue and to truth. The one is the kingdom of God on earth, namely, the true Church of Jesus Christ... The other is the kingdom of Satan... At this period, however, the partisans of evil seems to be combining together, and to be struggling with united vehemence, led on or assisted by that strongly organized and widespread association called the Freemasons. (Roman Catholic Church)”

After seeing this, Jogand-Pages rebranded himself, coming out as Leo Taxil, and faked a conversion to the ways of the Catholic church. He also expressed that he would right the wrongs that were supposedly in his previous books. This is where Taxil started his anti-Masonic career.

The first work published by Taxil was a 4 volume “history” of Freemasonry, in which he wrote about the involvement of Satanic practices in Masonic rituals; all according to unverified “eyewitness” accounts. Taxil then partnered with a “Dr. Karl Hacks”, which was really an unnamed collaborator, to publish Le Diable au XIXe siècle (The Devil in the 19th Century), and introduced his protagonist, Diana Vaughn, to the anti-Masonic world. Diana was somehow supposedly related to Thomas Vaughn, a well known philosopher and alchemist. This book described Diana’s adventures in Freemasonry, in which she met with demons, one of which wrote prophecies on her back (Hause). After professing a love for Joan of Arc, the demons accosting Diana were driven away, and she was able to escape her involvement with Satanic Freemasonry. Taxil would go on to use this character to publish two books under her name, Eucharistic Novena, which was a collection of prayers, and Confessions of an Ex-Palladist, in which she described more of her supposed involvement within the Freemasons.

Also described in Le Diable au XIXe siècle, were a group known as the Palladists. This group,
hidden away in the highest echelons of Freemasonry (according to Taxil), were a cult that practiced Theistic Satanism, and were based out of Charleston, South Carolina (Waite). This finding was all too convenient for Taxil and his contributor, Abel Clarin de la Rive, as they were able to pin Ill. Bro.Albert Pike to their conspiracy. It was written in this book that Pike was the head of the Palladists, and the original creator was the Italian lawyer and activist Guiseppe Mazzini. The Palladists were then supposedly broken up when French authorities found out of its existence only a few years after its formation.

It is argued that Mazzini was a Mason, possibly a Grand Master, in the book 10,000 Famous
Freemasons by William R. Denslow, however, the Grand Orient of Italy questions his legitimacy and does not acknowledge him as a Past Grand Master. As for Bro Pike, his alleged involvement with this mysterious group would later be spun off into another book, La Femme et l’enfant dans la franc-maçonnerie universelle (Women and Children in Universal Freemasonry), where the infamous Luciferian quote is first shown. This quote, which states:
“That which we must say to the world is that we worship a god, but it is the god that one adores without superstition. To you, Sovereign Grand Inspectors General, we say this, that you may repeat it to the brethren of the 32nd, 31st and 30th degrees: The masonic Religion should be, by all of us initiates of the higher degrees, maintained in the Purity of the Luciferian doctrine. If Lucifer were not God, would Adonay and his priests calumniate him?

Yes, Lucifer is God, and unfortunately Adonay is also god. For the eternal law is that there is no light without shade, no beauty without ugliness, no white without black, for the absolute can only exist as two gods; darkness being necessary for light to serve as its foil as the pedestal is necessary to the statue, and the brake to the locomotive....

Thus, the doctrine of Satanism is a heresy, and the true and pure philosophical religion is the belief in Lucifer, the equal of Adonay; but Lucifer, God of Light and God of Good, is struggling for humanity against Adonay, the God of Darkness and Evil.”

Is sourced to Diana Vaughn in a footnote of the book. The quote and book’s real author, Abel Clarin de la Rive (real name Pierre Abel Clarin Vivant), was one of the people who fell for Taxil’s writings without question, and wished to expand on it. He took Taxil’s ridiculous claims and added his own speculation to it, such as sex magic and rituals (Kreis). Vivant would go on to write Le Juif et la franc-maçonnerie (Jews and Freemasonry), in which he states that both Freemasonry and Palladists were controlled by Jews, and that the rituals were actually based on Jewish Kabbalah.

However, not everyone fell for Taxil’s writings, including other anti-Masonic individuals. Many
pressured Taxil into revealing Diana Vaughn, in person, so that it could make his stories more
plausible. Taxil eventually conceded, and on April 19, 1897, he held a press conference at Société de Géographie, which he stated would be the introduction of Diana to the world and the final proof of his wild accusations. This, of course, never came to fruition; as Leo Taxil, in the midst of clergymen and other opponents of Freemasonry, admitted to making all of it up. His entire confession was printed in a Paris newspaper, Le Frondeur, on the 25th of the same month under the story titled Twelve Years Under the Banner of the Church, The Prank Of Palladism. Miss Diana Vaughan–The Devil At The Freemasons. A Conference held by M. Léo Taxil, at the Hall of the Geographic Society in Paris.

Mr. Jogand-Pages died 10 years later in March of 1907, but we can say, without a doubt, that he is rolling in his grave seeing his joke still being used to influence and misinform people to this day.

Judaism and Freemasonry: A Conspiracy Theorist's
Favorite Tag Team

In today’s constantly connected world, if one finds themselves involved in any sort of social
media, they will no doubt come across antisemitism. It is the dead horse that has been kicked
throughout the centuries, with no shortage of slang terms, dog whistles, and vile rhetoric that
still perpetuates to this day. And, without fail, it has undoubtedly been connected to our
Fraternity. With so much as a click on a hashtag, one can find comments proclaiming that
Freemasonry is “judaism for the goys”, that Freemasonry is the playground for the “global elite” (an antisemetic dog whistle), and that any Mason who speaks against this just “isn’t a high enough level.”

An individual does not have to stray too far from one of the previous writers mentioned to see
this type of hateful rhetoric displayed. Abel Clarin de la Rive continued on with the anti-Masonic and antisemitic writings even after Taxil’s confession. After losing readership in his publication, La France chrétienne, De la Rive went so far as to say that the confession was forced and that Diana Vaughn and the Palladists really still existed (Kreis). It wasn’t until the Dreyfus Affair, a French political scandal that split the Third French Republic, that de la Rive started to gain traction again, mainly fueled by increased antisemitism in the country.

Possibly the biggest source for the tie in between Freemasonry and Judaism is the nefarious
Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion, a publication from 1903 first appearing in Imperial Russia. It is what scholars call “black propaganda”; a type of propaganda intended to look like it was created by those it is supposed to discredit. This document took heavy inspiration from previous books written by Jacob Brafman, namely The Local and Universal Jewish Brotherhoods and The Book of the Kahal. In these books, Brafman claimed that the Alliance Israélite Universelle, and organization in France that was formed for the safeguarding of human rights for Jews around the world, was actually the head of an international conspiratorial network, and its leader was Adolphe Crémieux, a known Freemason. Two other books that seem to have influenced The Protocols are The Conquest of the World by the Jews by Osmen Bey and The Talmud and the Jews by Hippolytus Lutostansky.

All of these writings came together in a disgusting stew to create The Protocols. Twenty four different “protocols” were said to be discussed in the writing, with number 15 being directly tied to how the “Elders” plan to use Masonic lodges to spread their influence across the globe. After being translated from Russian into other languages, notably German and English, the slime that was The Protocols began to infest the rest of the world. Even with the inclusion of Masonry in The Protocols, some of our own Brothers were influenced by its lies, the most famous of which being Henry Ford (Singerman).

These accusations of “evil Jewish influence” can even be seen up until very recently. Only a few weeks ago,, a Mason from Arizona who goes by the screen name “KyleIsBased” on social media, released a recording of the Master Mason degree to his X (formally Twitter) followers. During the videos, “Kyle” has messages appear on screen that tie what is going on during the degree to “secret jewish kabbalah ritual” or “jewish burial rites”, neither of which are part of the degree. Henry Guy Carr, Edith Star Miller, Reverend John Ankerberg, and Alex Jones, are all proponents of The Protocols.

What Can We Do?

After doing even a modicum of research, it seems that the odds are against us Brothers to try
and keep the conspiracies at bay. The reality is, the falsehoods held against the Fraternity have always been there and always will be. As Masons, we can only seek to educate ourselves
properly to the nature of these accusations, so that we may better educate the public in regards to what actually happens in Lodge.

Will there be radicals that attempt to harm our Brothers? Unfortunately, with the current political, social, and economic conditions in the US and abroad, the answer is yes, as we sadly saw what happened in Texas with Bro Robert Wise. This should not deter us with our mission to not only improve ourselves, but improve the communities around us.

Brothers can start small, maybe with a friend group or community night. More experienced and well versed Brothers could branch out to farther reaching means, such as podcasts, Youtube, and other social media ventures. Finally, we do have Brothers who are the public eye, and are considered a positive influence, such as Bro Shaquille O’Neal or Bro Brad Paisley. We can always approach them to see if they would be willing to speak on their positive path with the Fraternity, not in a recruitment sense, but in a more down to Earth, “this helped me grow”, style interview.

A Freemason should never stop growing. Not only in the way of personal growth, but also in the way they approach new technology and the opponents it reveals. Never stop growing. Never stop learning. Never stop educating.

Works Cited
Brayley, Arthur W. “National Magazine: An Illustrated American Monthly.” Internet Archive, The
Bostonian, 1903-1933,
.txt. Accessed 18 December 2023.
Clement, Pope. “In eminenti.” Papal Encyclicals, 1738, Accessed 11 April 2023.
Corp, Edward T. The Stuarts in Italy, 1719-1766: A Royal Court in Permanent Exile. Cambridge
University Press, 2011.
Dominguez, Alex. “Stars Reveal Age of the Pyramids - ABC News.” ABC News, 7 January
2006, Accessed 27
December 2021.
Elhassan, Khalid. “Cleopatra Lived Closer to the Computer Age than to the Pyramids, and Other
Atypical History Facts.”, 30 December 2019,
mids-and-other-atypical-history-facts/. Accessed 27 December 2021.
Hause, Steven C. “Anti-Protestant Rhetoric in the Early Third Republic.” JSTOR, Duke
University Press, 1989, Accessed
18 December 2023.
Hoffman, Jan. “How Anti-Vaccine Sentiment Took Hold in the United States (Published 2019).”
The New York Times, 24 September 2019,
Accessed 1 January 2022.
“In Search of the Illuminati: A Light Amidst the Darkness.” In Search of the Illuminati, Journal of
Western Mystery Tradition, 2012, Accessed 27
April 2023.
Kreis, Emmanuel. “Quis ut Deus ?” Les Belles Lettres, 22 November 2017, Accessed 18
December 2023.
Le Forestier, René. Les Illuminés de Bavière et la franc-maçonnerie allemande. Archè, 2001.
Mahan, Logan. “The Internet’s Newest Conspiracy Theory Is That Ancient Rome Never
Existed.” Inside Hook, 30 November 2021,
Accessed 1 1 2020.
Ratzinger, Joseph. “Declaration on Masonic Associations Nov 26, 1983.” Vatican, 26 November
19831126_declaration-masonic_en.html. Accessed 14 June 2022.
Roberts, John Morris. The Mythology of the Secret Societies. Scribner, 1972.
Roman Catholic Church. “Humanum Genus.” The Holy See, 20 April 1884,
_humanum-genus.html. Accessed 18 December 2023.
Singerman, Robert. “The American Career of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion."” JSTOR,
John Hopkins University Press, September 1981,
Accessed 18 December 2023.
Stauffer, Vernon. New England and the Bavarian Illuminati. dissertation. 1918. Google Books,
Columbia University Press,
Stauffer, Vernon L. “Vernon L. Stauffer's "European Illuminati."” Grand Lodge of British
Columbia, 1918, Accessed 11
April 2023.
United Grand Lodges of Germany. “The founding history | VGLvD” Freimaurerei
in Deutschland, 2021, Accessed 27
April 2023.
Waite, Arthur E. “Devil Worship in France, or The Question of Lucifer.” Project Gutenberg,
London, 1896,
Accessed 18 December 2023.


Please don't call me Andy. -PM, Olive Branch Lodge #16, Freehold, NJ -Fellow of the Society of King Solomon -Fellow of the Grand College of Rites -32° Scottish Rite Mason, NMJ, Valley of Trenton (formally Valley of Central Jersey) -autism dad -garbage man

Survey Of Jurisdictional Reports from the Midwestern Conference of Masonic Education

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
WB Chad Kopenski 

Since 1949, The Midwest Conference on Masonic Education (MCME) has been a forum for Masonic Educators from various jurisdictions to confer, collaborate and commiserate. In the past, the conference asked member jurisdictions to give a yearly status report which often consisted of representatives just reading the report from their jurisdiction’s Annual Communications. Since the 2021 conference, MCME has standardized the reports and reduced them down to a one page snapshot. Available on their website, they are a treasure trove of ideas, initiatives, and contacts. They also provide a unique opportunity to easily look at education across jurisdictions and get a more national perspective on Masonic Education. 

I’ve looked at the reports from this year which will be available online at the conclusion of this weekend’s MCME in Minneapolis as well as jurisdictional reports throughout their archives and there are some things that stand out. I want to be clear that these thoughts and opinions are solely my own and do not necessarily represent those of any entity whose membership is predicated on Masonic affiliation or membership. And, as with all educational endeavors, my thoughts and opinions may change in the face of new information, time, experience, or perspective.

Definition of Masonic Education: In many jurisdictions, Masonic Education is defined in relationship to Ritual, either solely concerned with or expressly anything but Ritual and Ritual Instruction. In jurisdictions where Masonic education is everything but Ritual Instruction, the definition of what qualifies can be very grey and can be a struggle. Ohio’s official definition of Masonic Education is ‘any activity, properly framed, that teaches Brethren Masonic values and how to incorporate them into their lives.’ They emphasize that it is the ‘properly framed’ part of the definition that is the most important. A lesson on tying a bowtie is one thing, a lesson on tying a bowtie explicitly linked to our values is something else entirely. This struggle to define Masonic Education continues. 

Role of Education: Jurisdictions have usually recognized the importance of Masonic Education, but they have often seemed unclear on the role. In the past, many jurisdictions viewed Masonic Education more like entertainment, something to give a little something special in Lodge Meetings. It has also been viewed as addressing areas of weakness in a Lodge such as Officer Training, Candidate Counseling, or Membership Training. Recently, more and more jurisdictions seem to view the role of Masonic Education as being important in two main areas; Membership and Standardization of the Masonic Experience. 

Membership: Many jurisdictions are recognizing that Education has a role in Membership Retention and Membership Development. Minnesota, especially, is trying to use Education, Membership, and Service initiatives as a three-pronged approach to membership issues. There has been a rise in task-based, multi-directional initiatives that emphasize education and facilitate engagement. 

Development: Missouri debuted their Thomas Fiveash Riddick Society, sister to Ohio’s Royal Scofield Society, an educational honor society open to Master Masons where membership is earned by completing certain tasks at certain levels in areas like research, mentoring, service, travel, and producing original work. These programs, along with the Scottish Rite NMJ pathfinder program, Indiana’s Illumination Program, and the now sadly-defunct Minnesota Light program seem to be focused on the Brother who is asking himself ‘I’m a Master Mason, now what?’  

Retention: There are similar programs specifically aimed at the newly-minted Mason, looking to facilitate his engagement and connection. Ohio’s Zerubbabel Award and Indiana’s Masonic Rookie Program are two prime examples. Ideally a mentor would facilitate and accompany the new Mason as they complete these programs, but it isn’t necessary. New Brethren can follow this roadmap by themselves, earning accomplishments as they complete their journeys. 

Standardization of Masonic Experience: There seems to be a push to make the Masonic Experience standard within a jurisdiction, not in a micro-management way; but in a way that establishes a baseline of expectations, information, and support. It is easy to assume that Masonry as practiced in your Lodge or your District is the same throughout your jurisdiction; but the reality is often different. There are Lodges that struggle with knowing what is expected, what they need to do and how to do it. Personally, I remember working with a Lodge and the Master telling me ‘Don’t you think if we knew how to do X, we’d do it?’These initiatives seem to be aimed at giving struggling Masons something to work towards and the ‘superhero’ Masons something to spark ideas off of. Examples:

  • Illinois Intender Program: Created resources that mentors can use with candidates and Brothers so that there is consistent messaging and information topics such as Ritual, history, etiquette, symbolism, etc.

  • Most jurisdictions have some form of Officer’s Training or Wardens and Deacon’s Training with Missouri and Virginia being excellent examples of in-person trainings. Likewise, most jurisdictions have Officer’s Manuals in some form. 

  • Most jurisdictions have some sort of monthly e-mailed newsletter with a specific section on education, including programs that can be shared in Lodges. 

  • Ohio has the ‘Lodge Year in A Box.’ Their Education Committee collects a number of programs of varying lengths and formats centered around the Grand Master’s theme. At the front of this collection is a set of ‘recipes’ for a Lodge Education Officer. These recipes guide the officer in using some of the pieces in the collection, some pieces archived in Grandview, or some external sources in creating an appropriate year of educational programs depending on the character of their Lodge. There are recipes for Lodges that loves history, that loves to talk, that is Ritual-focused, that is more service focused, etc. 

  • Wisconsin created Lodge Education Cards. These were education program starter cards to be used by Education Officers. The cards have a 400-500 word pre-built education topics with questions/discussion points. These are still in development.

  • Many jurisdictions have a section on education either public-facing on their websites or member-facing within Grandview, MORI, or other membership system. 

Role of Proficiencies: Proficiencies vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, with few requiring long-form memorized proficiencies as a prerequisite to advancement in the degrees. Jurisdictions report that roughly 25 years ago there was a push to remove memorized proficiencies as a barrier to membership. Many jurisdictions have a short-form proficiency with just modes of recognition or some sort of alternative proficiency separate from the Ritual, few require memorization. Some jurisdictions are rethinking proficiencies as part of membership development. The point of the proficiencies isn’t just memorizing Ritual, it also facilitates a mentor and candidate making meaningful connections, which is why men join and why they stay.

Education From ‘Non-Traditional’ Sources. There is a lot of good Masonic Education begin done in the world, many jurisdictions are embracing the efforts of other Masonic educational entities. Examples:

  • Lodges of Research seem to be coming to the fore with regards to a state’s Masonic Education, especially in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky. 

  • Since the pandemic, there has been a return and increase in Masonic symposia like the different MasonicCons, Minnesota Masonic Camp, Nebraska’s Yearly Education Breakfast among others. 

  • There are a number of excellent or unique educational experiences such as Spes Novum Lodge in Illinois, Pentalpha Lodge in Indiana, Goose and Gridiron in Ohio, Castle Island Virtual Lodge in Manitoba among many others. Brethren seem willing to travel for the kind of experience they value.   

  • Online educational meetings have continued since the pandemic, from entities such as the Rubicon Masonic Society in Kentucky, Virginia’s Lodges of Research, Missouri’s Truman Lecture Series, Castle Island Virtual Lodge in Manitoba. 

  • Many jurisdictions have outstanding online libraries with the Grand Lodge of Iowa, the John E. Fetzger Digital Library in Michigan, the Montana Masonic Library and Research Center among many others.

  • A number of jurisdictions have official podcasts or YouTube Channels. Grand Lodge of Michigan’s Trowel Time on their Michigan Masons YouTube Channel is an excellent example of communicating and connecting from the grand Lodge to the Lodge level.

Lingering Issues. As much phenomenal work is being done, there are still issues that remain and jurisdictions are still searching for appropriate solutions. 

  • Declining Attendance: Multiple jurisdictions report a decline in attendance and engagement since the pandemic. This results in a bigger strain on Lodges, especially in having Brethren to hold Lodge Offices, conduct Lodge business or proficient enough in the Ritual to confer degrees. Education has a piece in this, but it is difficult to get a Lodge engaged in a presentation on Sacred Geometry when they are more worried about being able to remain open.

  • Establishing a Baseline : The quality and consistency of Masonic Education, however defined, can vary throughout a jurisdiction. Ideally, a newly-raised Master Mason in Milwaukee should have a similar baseline of knowledge as a newly-raised Master Mason in Rhinelander. A Senior Warden in Munising should have a similar baseline of expectations and tools as a Senior Warden in Ann Arbor. 

  • Technology Issues: There is no perfect platform for all Brethren. Whether it is videos, e-books, e-mails, virtual libraries, or on-demand printing, it is difficult to get resources to Brethren in a way that is easy and accessible. With many jurisdictions moving to Grandview, the system does allow for wider access to educational materials within that jurisdiction; but removes those resources for anyone outside that jurisdiction. 

  • Facilitating Connections: This gets expressed in many forms, such as: getting Lodges to engage with the wealth of materials and resources around them, getting Brethren to travel or participate; or just getting Brethren outside their bubble. Masonry is about meaningful connections; it is why men join and it is why they stay. More and more, Masonic Education is being freed from the confines of the Lodge Building and Stated Meeting, there are many different opportunities to make those meaningful connections that go unnoticed or underutilized. At last year’s MCME, one Brother described is as if he had just found the most beautiful beach in Hawaii, but he can’t get the guys in his Lodge to leave the hotel sandbox.

  • Combatting Fatigue and Frustration-Jurisdictions aren’t race cars, they are aircraft carriers. Changes in direction are slow and require an incredible expense of resources, the same is true with Lodges. After a year of work, you may have only changed course two inches. But a two-inch change today becomes a three-foot change next year and a four-mile change the year after that. The challenge is keeping that perspective. 

The state of Masonic Education is strong, but evolving. There are common problems, creative solutions, and outstanding resources out there which you discover through looking across jurisdictional lines. The reports tell one part of the story, it is the conversations with Brethren from those jurisdictions that tell a richer and more complete one. As Masonic Education is something that thrives in connection and dies in isolation, I would encourage you to look at these reports, connect with Brethren and form your own conclusions.


Chad Kopenski is something of a professional Masonic Has-Been. He is a Past Master of Paramuthia Lodge #25 in Athens, Ohio, Past District Deputy Grand Master and Past District Education Officer of the 17th District of Ohio, Past Chairman of the Grand Lodge of Ohio Education Committee, Past Regent of the Royal Scofield Society, and is the Immediate Past President of the Midwest Conference on Masonic Education. He holds memberships in Amesville Lodge #278 in Amesville, Ohio, as well as Oregon Lodge #151 in Oregon, Wisconsin. Chad is an educator by trade, a proud autism dad, and resides in Appalachian Ohio with his wife, daughter, and an impressive number of critters. Known for his captivating Masonic presentations that emphasize the personal and intentional aspects of Freemasonry, Chad is currently engaged in the development of a comprehensive history and biography of artist and publisher John Sherer.