A Masonic scholar studying a relic covered in symbols.

What Does the G Stand For in Freemasonry

Decoding Freemasonry: Unveiling the Meaning of the “G”

Freemasonry, an ancient and enigmatic fraternity, has intrigued and captivated individuals for centuries. One of the most puzzling and widely debated aspects of Freemasonry is the letter “G” which often appears in Masonic symbolism. While the exact interpretation might vary among Masonic traditions, the “G” carries deep symbolic significance, reflecting the core principles and values of Freemasonry. In this post, we’ll explore the possible meanings behind the letter “G” in Freemasonry and shed light on its historical, philosophical, and allegorical implications.

Read: The Letter G

The Historical Context of the Masonic G

The use of the letter “G” in Masonic symbolism can be traced back to the 18th century. During this period, Freemasonry was undergoing a transformation from operative stonemasonry to speculative Freemasonry, focusing more on moral and ethical teachings rather than practical construction. This shift led to the incorporation of various symbols and allegories, including the enigmatic “G.”

An illustration of a bearded man looking at papers sitting in front of a pyramid with astrological symbols radiating from behind.

The Great Architect of the Universe

One of the most widely accepted interpretations of the “G” in Freemasonry is that it stands for the Grand Architect of the Universe. This concept reflects the fraternity’s belief in a higher power or divine creator that governs the universe. Freemasonry is inclusive, allowing individuals from various religious backgrounds to come together under the shared belief in a supreme being. The “G” is a representation of the divine presence that guides and influences Masonic values and teachings.

Read: God and Freemasonry | Symbols and Symbolism

Geometry and Science

Another interpretation of the “G” relates to the significance of geometry and science within Freemasonry. Geometry has deep historical connections to architecture and construction, which were crucial elements in the early Masonic guilds. The letter “G” can symbolize geometry’s importance in both the physical and metaphorical construction of a Mason’s life. It represents precision, balance, and the meticulous craftsmanship required in both architecture and moral character development.

Read: Faith in Freemasonry

Generativity and Growth

The “G” has also been associated with generativity and growth. Freemasonry places a strong emphasis on personal development, enlightenment, and self-improvement. The letter “G” can be is a reminder to continuously strive for intellectual, spiritual, and moral growth. It symbolizes that Masons are working to cultivate their inner selves and contribute positively to the world around them.

What does the G in the masonic symbol stand for?

The letter “G” in Freemasonry encapsulates a range of interpretations, each carrying profound allegorical and philosophical meanings. Whether representing the Grand Architect of the Universe, the importance of geometry and science, or the pursuit of personal growth, the “G” remains a central and thought-provoking symbol within the Masonic tradition. It serves as a reminder of the fraternity’s commitment to moral principles, intellectual exploration, and a higher understanding of life’s mysteries. As we delve into the mysteries of Freemasonry, the enigmatic “G” continues to spark curiosity and contemplation, inviting us to explore its multifaceted significance.

11 Types of Freemasons – Part 3, Former Members

This continuation of the personas of Freemasonry (read part 1-new member personas and part 2-member personas) will look at the core of Freemasonry by identifying the underlying aspects of who members of the fraternity were. In this post, the intent is to illustrate who, what, and who someone was a member and, more importantly, why they left and how they may appear in a digital marketing funnel.

Read the series:
Part 1: New Member Personas | Part 2: Existing Members | Part 3: Former members

Why do people quit the Freemasons?

Ultimately, I don’t think it’s an easy answer to identify the “why” they left. What’s more important is understanding who they were to look for and communicate with them in the future and better manage the overall experience. Obviously, not everyone is going to be happy all of the time. But to hide behind the idea of “Guarding the west gate” or being better off without are false analogies to perfection. Were they true from the start, there would have been better management of the selection, vetting, or voting on membership?

How they quit is, perhaps, more important than why as leaving with a bad taste can do more harm than just leaving.

Rather than the “…west gate” argument, I propose as a club, if the organization isn’t offering or producing engaging content, people will leave. And, if year after year, the organization fails to engage its members, more and more of those individuals will continue to leave.

Certainly, the argument of being better off without them can be made, but without them also means a loss of revenue, a loss of new member pipelines, a loss of robust lodge rooms, and the feeding of that decline that gets more pronounced year on year. Doing more of the same than planning to do it for fewer people with less resources.

Former members

As its own category, former members lump together non-attenders, voluntary demits, and former suspended. It does not include those who have been ejected or expelled.

Member, non-attender

Volume: medium-high / risk: medium
A member of a masonic lodge that does not attend often.

This, I believe, is a high-volume segment of the fraternity. Member in name and with a (mostly) paid-up dues card but an infrequent, if ever, attender. There are a variety of reasons for their lack of attendance or inability to come to monthly stated meetings or special events ranging from family or professional obligations to a more benign lack of interest in the meetings themselves. What makes this group unique (and one of the most approachable) is that they’re still connected. They get emails, newsletters, and communications. They might go to the occasional appendant body dinner or meeting. They’re members, they’re just not present. Maybe they joined the blue lodge to go into the Shrine, or the Rite, as they could have their own personas, too. But this persona segment is still interested and could come back on with the right message, the right communication, or the right outreach. I don’t think a broad general message would work here. This is a more nuanced communication. A personal message or outreach. The biggest risk is that the member, non-attender becomes a former member, suspended for non-payment of dues.

I think this is a segment that most Grand Lodges rely on in the same way gyms and fitness clubs rely on people to sign up but not show up.


  • Age: 25-75
  • Interests: Varies. Family/Work are prominent.
  • Income: Varies. Likely very high or very low.
  • Location: Urban or suburban.
  • Job: Professional or blue-collar.


Affinity/Interest: This segment is hard to measure given their absence. It’s a missing piece of the membership that exists but doesn’t participate. They just are not around.

Hobbies: Family is important. Work and off time. There is an interest in membership/volunteer opportunities, but it’s a tacit interest because of availability.

Wants/Desires: More time. The core of this persona is a desire for more time and the ability to engage when they have the time to (which is usually at odd hours or times).

Goals: This persona is looking for fulfillment but is willing to jump around to find it. Activity isn’t enough, they want to believe what they’re doing has meaning and will help the world around them.

Psychographics: Deep in the psyche of this persona is the desire for results with low engagement. They like to shop online for quick delivery, and without realizing it wants the same results in other categories of their life. The idea of being an influencer is appealing for the high-volume results for the perceived low inputs of effort. All said, there is a deeper misunderstanding that great results come from hard work.

Former member, voluntary

Volume: high / risk: low
A former Freemason that has left the lodge.

I ranked this group as a high-volume low risk as the member that leaves, just walks away, is perhaps bigger than we imagine. The reason it poses so little risk is that they’ve made the choice to demit from membership and just not be a Freemason anymore. Over the last century, I imagine there are a number of these former members. You don’t see them because they simply disappeared. Why did they quit? The answer to this is just as broad as the non-attender. Could be family, religious choice, work schedule, disinterest, or lack of connection to the organization. Freemasonry just didn’t resonate with them, and they didn’t want to remain a member. 


  • Age: 30s-60s
  • Interests: Family/Work/Anything other than Freemasonry
  • Income: Varies
  • Location: Varies
  • Job: Varies


Affinity/Interest: This group is one of those black holes in the roles of the membership. They were engaged, became a member, and then just left. They got bored, irritated or just no longer found affinity in what the fraternity offered. The flip side of this is that they found interest in something else.

Hobbies: This group is interesting as their hobbies could be anything. From sports to family life to gardening or movies—It may be that there just wasn’t a hook to make them want to give their time to Freemasonry.

Wants/Desires: Figuring out the wants and desires of this group may be more about understanding what it is they don’t want. Part of this might be not wanting rigid membership or membership with rules, especially when the rules deviate from other personal norms.

Goals: As a cohort, this group just chooses to not belong to the fraternity anymore. Their goal is to give their time, attention, and money to something else. Maybe a membership organization. Maybe an online gaming subscription. Their goal is to no longer associate with the Freemasons as an organization and do something else. 

Psychographics: It’s hard to say exactly which psychographic element is key here. This individual obviously found some fault or disfavor in the organization and is choosing to disassociate from it. It could be personal; it could be professional. Something rubbed them the wrong way and they wanted out. It’s interesting to look at this cohort as it relates to other subscription-based models. Perhaps it’s the one-time-a-year dues charge that makes this option more enticing, rather than just letting a membership continue unchanged? In total, this persona left, completely, for a reason. It was willful. They were not happy or did not feel like they belonged.

Read: When Membership Declines

Former Member, suspended/abandoned (NPD)

Volume: low-medium / risk: medium-high
A Masonic lodge member suspended for nonpayment of dues.

Like the former-voluntary departing member, the former suspended is a ghost on the ledgers of the fraternity.

To have volume, Grand Lodges have kept them on the books but, the gap of members is an anomaly on the books that is unavoidable. This group, for a host of reasons, stopped being interested and stopped paying for membership. They just stopped.

It’s easy enough to do—the cost of dues, forgetful check writing, other obligations, or an intentional decision to not pay for something they weren’t connecting with. The psychology behind opting to not pay for a membership is diverse: not interested, too expensive, lack of connection to the content, disagreement with the content, personal disagreements with the local branch, religious differences, and so on… People leave, but like any business whose future relies on subscribers, if the content doesn’t appeal to people, they move on. It’s not telling anyone they’re moving on that sends the signal that something isn’t working. Some of the issues might be the threshold to overcome for readmission being too high. It becomes easier to just not pay, sit on the books as an unpaid member and watch the re-engagement fee skyrocket. Eventually, that member won’t be able to come back because the readmission fee will be astronomical.

Read: There is a Hole in Our Bucket


  • Age: 20-80
  • Interests: Varies.
  • Income: On the lower end, or transitory (which may have some bearing on the NPD issue).
  • Location: Urban and suburban
  • Job: Likely blue-collar, entry-level professional/entry-point management. An industry that doesn’t pay well or is transitory.


Affinity/Interest: This cohort is interested in what the fraternity offers and its networking, but life obligations take precedence. The interest is there but the needs of the family overshadow all else. Member fee services are prevalent in the household, but liquid income isn’t.

Hobbies: Family and work dominate, but entertainment, politics, and family activities dominate most of their free time.

Wants/Desires: This persona is looking for a leg up. They want to be in a better position in their life to be able to provide for their family and have the means for the other things they want. They can save but tend to spend or seek out the things that bring them the most enjoyment.

Goals: Family and work life monopolize this persona. Keeping that in harmony and fluid is most important as are activities that engage areas, they find the greatest affinity. Because free time is limited affinity activities that provide the biggest bang for the buck get the most attention.

Psychographics: This persona has their heart in the right place and wants to be a member but has other competing factors that just make paying the dues a challenge. It may not be a money issue as much as it’s money a one-time issue, and the struggle over which to pay weighs heavy on them. So, rather than try and prioritize their membership, they give up, so suspended, and do not think twice about it. What makes it worse for them is the barrier to re-entry. Cost is a huge issue and having to reconcile the expense, getting back into paid status, and regaining a “good standing” is a hill too high. So, they just stop pursuing and move on to other things.

Read: Three Types of Masons

Former Member, detractor

Volume: low / risk: high
A former Freemason who is now a detractor and spreads conspiracy theories.

This group, while not high in volume, can pose a huge issue in their communities and their attitudes about the fraternity. This includes in-person communities and online.

In marketing, a person who has had a negative experience with a brand or product will share that bad experience with at least 10 people. That same idea is very much true here. An individual with an axe to grind or a desire to inflict damage will do so readily.

I think the fact that you haven’t heard many of these bad news stories has fortunate as many are out there. It takes a lot of energy for someone to write a bad review, share a bad experience, or even worse, come out and make a sweeping allegation of impropriety about a membership organization. Just look at the Scouts or the Catholic Church as examples of this.

The former member and detractor persona, when coupled with other more extreme conspiracy actors (like Q-Anon or “the Big Lie”). Most of what this persona projects and says is unmanageable. What is manageable are the communication channels that can disrupt and diminish the detractor’s messaging to retain the fraternity’s reputational standing. As the saying goes, a good offense is the best defense, and being ready with messaging, having some reputation management campaign running, or just being present to counter disinformation goes a long way to keep this persona in check.


  • Age: 30-60, though trended younger
  • Interests: Freemasonry is still a paramount interest but online engagement, anti-influencer presence, and being a keyboard warrior is big. This persona spends a lot of time online.
  • Income: Broadly, low. Could be on disability or from a low-paying part-time job giving them the time to put energy into constant online posting.
  • Location: Suburban, mostly. Somewhere without the pressures of needing a high income.
  • Job: Disability or state income likely. Could live at home still or work in a field that pays enough to live and spend a lot of time online.


Affinity/Interest: Antihero figures loom large for this persona. They like the projection of negative memes but hate admitting to it in public. They do take great pleasure in communities of like-minded online personas.

Hobbies: Social media and the web figure largely. They have an affinity for surfing the dark web and get much of their content intake from unconventional sources online.

Wants/Desires: This persona wants to watch the fraternity burn. They dislike several things, but in this scenario, the detractor/former member is looking to do damage to the fraternity because they enjoy it and believe they have an axe to grind.

Goals: The main goal of this persona is to reshape the perception of Freemasonry and influence the opinion of others about it. They have other personal goals but all, broadly, revolve around disrupting and creating a negative public opinion of the Freemasons. 

Psychographics: Deep down, somewhere along the lines, this persona suffered a deep wound from their membership. Maybe it was some (warranted) exclusion from activities, a negation of some exuberant opinion, or just a period of being overlooked for leadership roles. Whatever the circumstance, warranted or not, this persona is wounded and likely unreachable to change their opinion. They are, literally, the bad apple in the public sphere that seeks to spoil the bunch. Logical reasoning or good taste escapes them as they seek to do nothing more than destroy public sentiment about the organization. They are a hazard to be aware of and prepared for. No level of good counsel or appeal will help to change their mind.

11 Persona Types of Freemasonry – Part 2, Members

Continuing with the personas of Freemasonry, we will look at the core of Freemasons by identifying the underlying aspects of who members are. The intent is to illustrate who, what, and why someone is a member to better enable communicating with them along an imagined marketing funnel.

Read the series:
Part 1: New Member Personas | Part 2: Existing Members | Part 3: Former members


As its own category and understanding of who a member is could likely be broken out into further sub-groups or personas for the different types of members (the joiner, the seeker, the soldier, the fraternity, the hobbyist, the bureaucrat, and the businessman).

For now we will stick with the overarching personas of who the broader membership represents. It may be fun to flesh out the categories above into some broad generalities for those who operate within the lodge halls.

Occasional Attendee

 Volume: low / risk: low
A young professional male who is an irregular attendee of a masonic lodge.

The occasional attendee is a member who may show up a few times a year, or just initiations, key votes, or even lodge installations. They darken the door less for monthly business meetings but like to come out for a special event on occasion. This is not a bad thing or a way to call out something to be corrected. Like all groups, this one belongs and engages on its own terms but is supportive overall.


  • Age: 30s-70s
  • Interests: Varied and range from family (kids, grandkids, extended), career, external associations of professional orgs, social engagements, sports, history, and academics. Because this is such a broadly encompassing persona, the interest demographics can vary widely.
  • Income: Varies
  • Location: Varies
  • Job: white collar and blue color within the mix. May be in academics, management, gig economy, or consultant fields.


Affinity/Interest: This persona group is a mixed bag of interests. Because it accounts for most of this segment (assessed here at 73% of the mix) their affinity/interest range mirrors the community they come from.

Hobbies: As with interests, hobbies here also take on the complexity of the community they come from. Broadly, one could surmise by association that interests in history, civil society, fraternities, religion, and tradition span the cohort.

Wants/Desires: This is hard to assess. Because of the volume, the range of wants/desires is mixed. Pleasure by the association on their own terms seems to be the observable desire fulfillment, but just associating with others may be sufficient. This cohort has an independent streak that they march to.

Goals: Association at a distance, likely exemplified in other groups, too (church, work, friends, etc). This persona cohort is elusive in its goal desires. Ultimately, they like being recognized but not coerced into greater participation.

Psychographics: Underlying this persona is a strong independence streak. Girding that independence is the feeling they get by associating the way they want. Seen but not coerced into being noticed. They like the idea that something is accessible when and how they want it. They belong but at a distance. Not on the fence, but not on one side or the other. 

Read: Three Types of Mason


 Volume: medium-low / risk: low
An older professional male who is often a regular sideline member of a masonic lodge.

This persona is a meat and potatoes member. By that, I mean they show up, engage, are present, and pitch in when asked. Most engage because they enjoy the activity and company of the lodge once a month or several times a month meeting. They have friends in the lodge and this is their time to reconnect in real life. We use the term sideliner, but this cohort is usually anything but. They are past masters, visitors, friends who have joined, new members getting a feel for the organization, ritualists, appendant body boosters, district inspectors, grand lodge dignitary, and a host of dignitaries and/or notables who appear and fill out the lodge rooms across the country. In most cases, the actual percentage of member attendance is low given most halls can only accommodate a percentage of the total membership anyway. The steady churn and cadence of new regular members keep the interest going.

This group makes the experience of the lodge what it is. It provides the color and context of the room and offers many hands of congratulations for the work done. All the many names that are misremembered, heard but not caught, are quick to be smoothed over with the warm handshake. I see this group as one of the greatest assets of the lodge, and one worth being celebrated (and cultivated).


  • Age: 30s-60s
  • Interests: Business association, leadership, management, family, and social life are entwined.
  • Income: $40k-$100k
  • Location: Suburbs and urban centers of small to large sites.
  • Job: professional, middle to upper management


Affinity/Interest: work and professional life are a huge aspect of this persona as do family and social affairs. Unlike work life, social aspects are nurtured through associations outside work but still with family (dinners, outings, etc.).

Hobbies: Travel, social entertainment, dinners out, some sports, family activities, but likely empty nesters looking for things to do with others.

Wants/Desires: Community. The broad desire of this persona is an association of community with others. This can take a variety of forms but orbits social activities with others.

Goals: Building a community base of friends and associates to share in communal activities. A church “could” function in this capacity, but this persona group isn’t interested in religious activity but likes the idea of the “club” having a moral foundation. 

Psychographics: In many respects, this persona wears their intentions on their sleeves. They are doing what their underlying psychology demands: participating with others in a hobby group that they find affinity with. The fact that they (and their family) have made friends within the club is a strong reason for not wanting to leave it or do something else. They feel at home like they have a stake in future growth.

Read: There’s a Hole in Our Bucket


 Volume: low / risk: medium
An older white male that represents a member of several masonic organizations.

This cohort is an interesting subset of super-member. I say super as they have spread out and paid dues into several (many) appendant bodies and “funny hat clubs” loving each and soaking in as much as they can out of each one. Was it any other organization than Freemasonry, I’d say they were true believers but, given all the additional clubs stem from the blue lodge, this is more than a true believer? These are super participators with many connections between all the groups and a keen ear to the ground for the goings-on in the institution.

Networked might be a good way to think of them.

Generally speaking, I don’t think there are many in this subset anymore. Many years ago, I have distinct recollections of who the York and Scottish Rite guys were. Or who was promoting Grotto, OES, or DeMolay. These days, I think just from attrition, their numbers have become reduced. And yes, any mason can belong to enough clubs to have dinner out nearly every night of the week which is a luxury few without families or professional lives can enjoy.

True believers, indeed. Multi-Members are a unique subset of influencers who can build, or bottleneck, a mason’s internal career and growth path, and for this reason, I’ve assessed them as a medium risk to the overall body.


  • Age: 50s-70s+
  • Interests: Management, association clubs, Board memberships, Financial management, governance, Secretaries, Treasurers, networking (both in and out of the fraternity).
  • Income: Likely higher than $70k. They could be on post-retirement income or pension.
  • Location: Likely suburbs from a 20+ mile radius. They are not commuters, per-se but travel within the local district footprint (and beyond).  
  • Job: Likely retired, could be in senior leadership or c-suite advisory position that gives them the time and space for extracurricular activities.


Affinity/Interest: From a professional standpoint, this group is corporate achievers. Sales, management, c-suite, and senior management activities which carry over to the organizations they belong to (religious, professional, leadership, etc.)

Hobbies: The multi-member is unique in that their hobby interest is their membership. Because of their age, they have a diverse assortment of hobbies and interests from over the years and span a gamut of interest areas.   

Wants/Desires: These are as complex as interests and hobbies. Given this persona, their wants/desires are clearly the success and growth of the fraternity and its various bodies. These desires, however, can make opinions and decisions myopic in scope.

Goals: Growing memberships, building connections, and facilitating points of connection and entry for other members. It is a noble endeavor to want to belong and participate in many of the available organizations and this persona strives for that.  

Psychographics: Intention is key here, and how that intention is expressed is evident, but the reasons behind it may be clouded or shaped by misconceptions, misunderstandings, or disliked opinions. This persona believes that they’re doing the right thing, and no one is going to convince them (easily) otherwise. They’re true believers, how could they be wrong? Wrong might not be in their vocabulary and changing their mind from a given opinion will be hard, even when their opinions or actions can have unintended consequences or outcomes.

Mainline Officers/Grand Lodge Officers

 Volume: low / risk: low
An older Asian male that represents the leadership of the lodge or grand lodge.

This is a special subset. Committed. Dedicated. This cohort has moved through the literal and virtual ranks and in most cases served their time on the sidelines, at the special events, in the appendant bodies, and for some up the line to serve at the state level. And yet, this isn’t a broad cohort. With so many years in the service of the craft, this group is known to the degree that you could say they’re the glue of the institution. Many go on to fill lodge and regional roles or filter into the appendant bodies to take leadership roles and guide other bodies.

In some ways, the passage to these roles may seem like inheritances, but the time, work, or energy spent to even be considered for these roles is tremendous. Further, these are leadership positions, or at least they should be treated as such giving or requiring this persona the necessity to lead.


  • Age: late 40s-70s
  • Interests: Leading, managing, promotion, sense of purpose, and obligation 
  • Income: $40k-$150k+ depending on geography
  • Location: Within a district, state, or region.
  • Job: C-suite, semi-retired, high-level professional/business owner. Could be retired. In a position that allows the flexibility to travel and move around in a busy schedule.


Affinity/Interest: This category of member is unique in composition. They usually have a keen interest in civic life or leadership and have the means (connections, income, time) to make a big impact. You are likely to find this cohort sitting on small to mid-sized boards of non-profits, moonlighting as corporate consultants, and volunteering in other membership organizations (like Rotary, Kiwanis, or Scouting). They have a deep passion for doing good and are likely the result of positive outcomes earlier in their professional life.

Read: BSA100 – Boy Scouts of America, 100 Years of Being Prepared

Hobbies: Volunteering takes up most of their time, but affinity hobbies might include golfing, boating, church groups, and other ‘traditional values’ activities. Engagement in politics may play some role in their “free” time.

Wants/Desires: Specifically, community betterment. They see a need and are working to fill the gap using the thing they do best, motivating people.

Goals: Fraternity-wise, their goals are much the as members but at a more meta-level. Not wanting to be mired in petty politics, this cohort is looking out for the organization as a whole. 

Psychographics: It is a rare individual that rises to this position (grand lodge officer), much the same as a CEO or national political figure. It takes drive and effort, both of which this persona has in abundance. The same is true for a lodge office but in a more local sense. Unfortunately, this drive gives them blind spots to the broader needs of the members, cultural changes, and societal shifts. These aren’t bad in and of themselves, but they make progress and change painful and slow. One of their strong suits is keeping the boat steady which, on the flip side, keeps novel adaptation out of arms reach.

Interested in Freemasonry? Read the Free ebook: What is Freemasonry?

11 Persona Types of Freemasonry – Part 1, New Members

I have wanted to do this as a thought experiment for a while. Its complexity wasn’t something I had taken the time to explore or understand properly. Given the present conditions of Freemasonry after the pandemic, I decided what better time than now to try and understand or assess the 10 (+1) persona types that join Freemasonry.

Read the series:
Part 1: New Member Personas | Part 2: Existing Members | Part 3: Former members

I use the word persona as a marketing term (in particular digital marketing) to understand the audience that content (digital or programmatic) is created for. These personas can be sorted into various levels of a communication or marketing funnel to amplify message reach: the right message, to the right person, at the right time.

This funnel also exists for several channels in the conversion life cycle. But this is a short explanation of how to understand these personas and where they might fit into how these types of masons fit into the membership schema of a lodge, district, or state hierarchy.

Another attribute I’d like to assign to these personas is a volume in the current funnel system and assigning them an opportunity or benefit/risk level. The idea behind these extra attributes is to assess their potential volume and opportunity when taken as a whole. So, let’s dive into the first three of the 11 types of Freemasons and their personas.

Many of these personas can, will, and do float in-between one another to one degree or another.

Because there is so much information to capture here, I thought it best to split the personas into three groups: Prospective, Members, and Former Members.

In this first segment, let’s look at the entry-level of Freemasonry by identifying the some personas.

Read: Three Types of Mason

Prospective Members

The Interested/New Searcher (2b1Ask1)

Volume: high/risk: low
A young man interested in joining Freemasonry.

This, to me, is the widest of all possible membership pools. The Interested/New Searcher includes the entire pool of people who search online, read books about and generally are interested in Freemasonry because a father or grandfather were masons, they had a teacher, or boss, or some other male figure in their life made a favorable impression on about the fraternity. This, in my opinion, is what the emphasis of the 2b1ask1 campaign was focused on.

This is less who the organization is designed for in that as interested seekers reach out, the reception is often cold or disconnected given there is no previous pipeline in. This isn’t to say it’s an unwelcome connection. To the contrary, it’s very welcome and desired but very hard to interact with in a meaningful way given the awkwardness of the relationship (neither side knowing the other). It takes a special handling of this type of prospective member to become a candidate.


  • Age: 16-50
  • Interests: history, business, community, charity, religion (but not church), maybe some kind of interest in occult, mysticism, or spirituality.
  • Income: $15-$50k
  • Location: suburbs of small to mid-sized cities
  • Job: varies. Entry level, early to mid-career, white or blue collar


Affinity/Interest: range of club/social/association groups. Scouting, college fraternity, military, or other social club background. Interest has some root in former associations.

Hobbies: Range from leisure sports (golf, bowling, cards, or other small group activity) to reading about business, history, or passive association topics (Dale Carnage to the Secret). Most “hobbies” are small group/association inspired.

Wants/Desires: This is a broad range. Distilled down, wants and desires include some form of group association that involve a form of community through association. A mentorship type of affinity association to learn how to go from a good man to a better man.

Goals: Inclusion in the club. To belong and meet new people and find affinity interest with others.

Psychographics: The underlying motivation of this group is of an outsider looking for an in. Clubs are hard and scary to join because if you don’t know anyone, then rejection can be hard so going out on a limb to seek out membership makes the seeker vulnerable. This also makes the searcher/seeker vulnerable to the impressions that get made upon them early on. Their underlying motivation is to belong to something, and they chose Freemasonry.

The Friend of a Friend (asked and answered)

Volume: high-medium / risk: low
A friend of a Freemason who was asked to join Freemasonry.

Like the interested seeker, the friend of a friend is like a referral source. Less of a built-in history with knowing someone in public who was an open member, the friend of a friend is that prospect or candidate that gets nurtured along who eventually decides to “give it a go.”

This persona may spend time doing some internet research, watch a History Channel episode on the Freemasons or read a book or two. They might like that they have the inside scoop on those “secret societies” when they see a magazine special in the supermarket checkout rack. None of these are bad things. But this persona was warmed into the idea of becoming a Freemason after a few nudges in that direction from someone in their circles.


  • Age: 30s-60s
  • Interests: Work, career, friendships, family. Not in that order, but to varying degrees at different times.
  • Income: $40k-$65K+
  • Location: urban centers and suburbs of mid-sized to larger cities.
  • Job: junior to mid-career, professional, likely white collar


Affinity/Interest: Family or early committed relationships are big for this segment and family centered activities still dominate much of their free time. In many instances, they may have young kids, new careers, new wives, new homes, so time is a valuable commodity.

Hobbies: Family, vacations, television, sports, politics—activities that can be done passively while traveling to and from somewhere (like work, or between kids’ events)

Wants/Desires: More time to do more leisure activities. This is a complex age that is dominated by obligations of work and family.

Goals: Raising a healthy family and making money to sustain and grow a lifestyle. There may be other goals in the minutia (an MBA, a promotion, more income) but the core goal of this persona is their family and their well-being.

Psychographics: This persona is complex and juggling a lot of competing priorities. The relationship of the friend may hold a strong sway on their interest to join, especially if the person asking is an elder or someone looked up to, but in joining, they run the risk of intruding on family commitments which are always at the back of their mind—detracting from other considerations.

Friend of/New

Volume: low / risk: low
A close friend interested in becoming a Freemason.

Like the friend of a friend, the friend of a member is a direct relationship connection to a member: a childhood friend, a co-worker or colleague, a family relation or some other direct connection to another member who is either an easy conversation about Freemasonry or who has always been interested and had meant to ask the member about becoming one. These are natural connections; direct, easy to talk to, curious and interested. This particular persona isn’t as common as they may seem, but they have a retention value for their interest in the organization and in the people they know who are in it.

If I had to guess, this is in some ways who the organization was designed for. The introductions come easy, the inclusion into the group is normal, organic and natural. There is much less of a barrier to embracing a known or vouched for element into the existing membership community.


  • Age: mid 30s-mid 60s
  • Interests: Similar to the friend who introduced them to the fraternity. Mature hobbies (golf, sports, work) but evolved with time.
  • Income: $40k-$70k +/-
  • Location: mid to large city, likely suburbs, could be urban centers
  • Job: similar to referral source. Likely mid to late career based on age. Could be on second or third career.


Affinity/Interest: This persona may be an empty nester, or a relocation from another town or city looking for a club to join to meet people. New social circles, new friends, new activities fuel much of this persona’s interest.

Hobbies: Sports (team or small group), home renovation/income wealth building, renewing old interests and picking up old activities before family took priority.

Wants/Desires: authentic and mature friendships with like minded people. What this means or what it looks like can vary by association (or person who brought them into the orbit of the fraternity).

Goals: Renewal of old interests, local travel, friendships and activities. The underlying goals of this persona is to meet and make friends of friends to increase the social circle in real life as opposed to just on social media.

Psychographics: There is a loneliness aspect to this persona. There may be issues of estrangement from family or kids, a past divorce or loss of spouse. The interest in the organization is genuine, but the underlying motivations for wanting to BE a member are predicated in finding people to meet, associate with and maybe do passive business with or just make friends with to increase a social/professional network.

These three types of Masons make up the three broad entry points of Freemasonry. Others could include progression from youth appendant bodies, or some combination of the three personas above. In the next post, we’ll look at the primary personas of members to understand who occupies that space.

Are these personas missing something? Let me know in the comments below.

Coming Soon: Part 2 & Part 3

Whence came the Moral Law in Freemasonry?

moral law, Thomas Hobbes

The Moral Law is a foundational aspect of the Fraternity if Freemasonry.

Anderson uses the phrase in his Constitution of 1723 without any explanation of what exactly he means in his phrasing of it.  And, increasingly, it is being used as a de facto totem of decision making in violation of litigation and jurisdictional disputes. But in the modern civic age were criminal, civil, federal, and state (and lets not even get into international) laws abound we have in many ways lost sight (if ever we had a clear one) of what exactly the ideas were behind the linking of the “Moral Laws” to the fraternity.  The source is ancient without a doubt, and most likely a challenge to come to any consensus over.  Is the Moral Law from a religious perspective, as in given to man by the Great Architect, or a man-made law constructed with religious ideas but applied in a humanistic manner to apply to our interaction with one another.  And then, how does it apply to Masonry?  Is it a religious injunction or an instruction for how to behave?

At the root are the question then is what the Moral Law is and what is its purpose to be invoked in any decision making.

The first step to see it at the time when it was adopted by Freemasonry is to trace the idea though the ages, and it’s clear that the idea of a moral law has been around for some time. Before we get to these first steps, however, perhaps we should explore what exactly the moral law is.

From Wikipedia, Natural Law is defined as:

Natural law or the law of nature (Latin: lex naturalis) has been described as a law whose content is set by nature and that therefore has validity everywhere. As classically used, natural law refers to the use of reason to analyze human nature and deduce binding rules of moral behavior. The phrase natural law is opposed to the positive law (meaning “man-made law”, not “good law”; cf. posit) of a given political community, society, or nation-state, and thus can function as a standard by which to criticize that law. In natural law jurisprudence, on the other hand, the content of positive law cannot be known without some reference to the natural law (or something like it). Used in this way, natural law can be invoked to criticize decisions about the statutes, but less so to criticize the law itself. Some use natural law synonymously with natural justice or natural right (Latin: ius naturale), although most contemporary political and legal theorists separate the two.

It likens the essence of the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence to the ideas of the Natural Law, something any American reading should be intimately familiar with.

Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes

To better encapsulate the idea of the Moral or Natural Law, we need to borrow from the ideas of Thomas Hobbes (a late philosopher who codified it into modern times) who says of the Natural Law that it is “a precept or general rule, found out by reason, by which a man is forbidden to do that which is destructive of his life, or takes away the means of preserving the same; and to omit that by which he thinks it may best be preserved.”

Hobbes breaks the Natural Law down to 19 points which he illustrated in his work Leviathan.

  • The First Law of nature is that every man ought to endeavor peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek and use all help and advantages of war.
  • The Second Law of nature is that a man be willing, when others are so too, as far forth, as for peace, and defense of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himself.
  • The Third Law is that men perform their covenants made. In this law of nature consisteth the fountain and original of justice… when a covenant is made, then to break it is unjust and the definition of injustice is no other than the not performance of covenant. And whatsoever is not unjust is just.
  • The Fourth Law is that a man which receives benefit from another of mere grace, endeavor that he which giveth it, has no reasonable cause to repent him of his goodwill. Breach of this law is called ingratitude.
  • The Fifth Law is complaisance: that every man strives to accommodate himself to the rest. The observers of this law may be called sociable; the contrary, stubborn, insociable, forward, intractable.
  • The Sixth Law is that upon caution of the future time, a man ought to pardon the offenses past of them that repenting, desire it.
  • The Seventh Law is that in revenge, men look not at the greatness of the evil past, but the greatness of the good to follow.
  • The Eighth Law is that no man by deed, word, countenance, or gesture, declare hatred or contempt of another. The breach of which law is commonly called contumely.
  • The Ninth Law is that every man acknowledges another for his equal by nature. The breach of this precept is pride.
  • The Tenth Law is that at the entrance into the conditions of peace, no man require to reserve to himself any right, which he is not content should be reserved to every one of the rest. The breach of this precept is arrogance, and observers of the precept are called modest.
  • The Eleventh Law is that if a man is trusted to judge between man and man, that he deal equally between them.
  • The Twelfth Law is that such things as cannot be divided, be enjoyed in common if it can be; and if the quantity of the thing permits, without stint; otherwise proportionably to the number of them that have right.
  • The Thirteenth Law is the entire right, or else…the first possession (in the case of alternating use), of a thing that can neither be divided nor enjoyed in common should be determined by lottery.
  • The Fourteenth Law is that those things which cannot be enjoyed in common, nor divided, ought to be adjudged to the first possessor; and in some cases to the firstborn, as acquired by lot.
  • The Fifteenth Law is that all men that mediate peace be allowed safe conduct.
  • The Sixteenth Law is that they that are at controversies submit their Right to the judgment of an Arbitrator.
  • The seventeenth law is that no man is a fit Arbitrator in his own cause.
  • The Eighteenth Law is that no man should serve as a judge in a case if greater profit or honor, or pleasure apparently ariseth [for him] out of the victory of one party, than of the other.
  • The Nineteenth Law is that in a disagreement of fact, the judge should not give more weight to the testimony of one party than another, and absent other evidence should give credit to the testimony of other witnesses.

Interestingly, we can turn to a religious perspective, coming specifically from a Catholic perspective; where the Natural/Moral Law is applied when the exterior actions of the actor reflect their interior motives as their source. It links the theological virtues to the Law citing Thomas Aquinas in saying that lacking the Cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Fortitude and the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, that a moral choice is impossible. (See Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas. A Translation of the Principal Portions of the second part of the Summa Theologica)

From Wikipedia:

According to Aquinas, to lack any of these virtues is to lack the ability to make a moral choice. For example, consider a man who possesses the virtues of justice, prudence, and fortitude, yet lacks temperance. Due to his lack of self-control and desire for pleasure, despite his good intentions, he will find himself swaying from the moral path.

To fully appreciate this, we must first look to Romans 2:14 when Paul of Tarsis, speaking of the Gentiles says: Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. Interesting to note, this  is something Pike picks up on in his exploration of the 10th degree of Scottish Rite Masonry as he points to the tenants of the “old primitive faiths.”

One has to wonder how this foundational statement from the church became the basis of the Moral Law in Masonry.  It does seem a natural fit – the Cardinal and Theological virtues in conjunction to the other ideas beginning to take shape, but it seems that they were naturally woven in as reasons for being, rather than the basis of the Natural Law.

Anderson in his Constitutions of 1723, says in item I:

A Mason is oblig’d by his Tenure, to obey the moral law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist nor an irreligious Libertine.  is speaking to something else, which I suggest is towards John Locke’s idea of the Moral Law.

Cicero, Roman, Philosopher
Roman Philosopher Cicero

A statement, you’ll note, devoid of linkage to the Cardinal and Theological Virtues.  Anderson’s idea of a Moral Law came from somewhere, but where?


Perhaps it can be traced back to the time of the Roman Philosopher Cicero whose contribution to the idea was to suggest that:

“…natural law obliges us to contribute to the general good of the larger society.  The purpose of positive laws is to provide for “the safety of citizens, the preservation of states, and the tranquility and happiness of human life.” In this view, “wicked and unjust statutes” are “anything but ‘laws,” because “in the very definition of the term ‘law’ there inheres the idea and principle of choosing what is just and true.” Further that “the virtues which we ought to cultivate, always tend to our own happiness, and that the best means of promoting them consists of living with men in that perfect union and charity which are cemented by mutual benefits.”

John Locke

John Locke, moral lay, philosophy
John Locke

But, to see the Moral Law in a contemporary context, we must look to John Locke, for several reasons, and not just his ideas philosophy.

Locke’s point of the Moral Law was to say,

“the nature of the world is governed by laws and so too is man’s conduct, and that without moral laws, men would not have society; without moral law, trust between men would collapse.” 

Locke’s concept of the Moral Law was a re-working of Hobbes ideas, saying instead that people could justifiably overthrow the existing state and create a new one if the ruler went against natural law.

“Though in a constituted commonwealth, standing upon its own basis, and acting according to its own nature, that is, acting for the preservation of the community, there can be but one supreme power, which is the legislative, to which all the rest are and must be subordinate; yet the legislative being only a fiduciary power to act for certain ends, there remains still “in the people a supreme power to remove or alter the legislative,” when they find the legislative act contrary to the trust reposed in them: for all power given with trust for the attaining an end, being limited by that end: whenever that end is manifestly neglected or opposed, the trust must necessarily be forfeited, and the Power devolve into the hands of those that gave it, who may place it anew where they shall think best for their safety and security.”

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy says of Locke’s idea:

“…sense experience proclaims the existence of a supreme lawmaker, a wise creator of the world, which has made man for a purpose. Man, thus has purposes – to contemplate and to procure and preserve his life. Yet the moral law cannot be garnered from consent – from mass or democratic agreement, for the voice of the people is as likely to lead to fallacies and evil. Men’s actual morality may be highly relative, but differences do not undermine the existence of commonalities in the law, hence we should not obey (or follow) others blindly. Nonetheless, the conservative Locke continues to argue that we ought to obey our lawmakers as possessing rightful power over creation, but our obedience should not just be out of fear for the lawmaker’s power, but conscientiously too: we ought to obey it because the magistrate should request morally right action.”

Locke, formerly a firm believer in the Platonic ideal of a good captain steering the ship, came to the idea of leadership having a limit to the extent that he perceived as authority’s reach which we can see when he says “…it cannot be supposed the people should give any one or more of their fellow men authority over them for any other purpose than their own preservation, or extend the limits of their jurisdiction beyond the limits of this life.”

This is important in that It’s been posited that Locke was a Freemason and that perhaps it was his ideas of the Moral Law, especially as they pertained to governance and leadership, pertained to Freemasonry too.

In a paper presented by W.Bro. Ronald Paul Ng titled The Age of Enlightenment and Freemasonry, Br. Ng asks and then answers:

“Was Locke a mason? The answer is probably yes. There is an entry on the “Leland Manuscript” in Albert Mackey’s “Encyclopedia of Freemasonry” in which he quoted a passage by the famous Dr. Oliver in the Freemasons’ Quart. Review, 1840, p 10, where Dr. Oliver said, “… this great philosopher [Locke] was actually residing at Oates, the country-seat of Sir Francis Masham, at the time when the paper [Leland Manuscript] is dated; and shortly afterward he went up to town, where he was initiated into Masonry. These facts are fully proved by Locke’s Letters to Mr. Molyneux, dated March 30 and July2, 1696.”

In his essay, Br. Ng talks on several levels about how Locke’s ideas may have permeated into the Freemasons, including religious toleration and the process of learning by experience.  But, in this context, did Locke’s ides of a Moral Law follow him also into the Lodge, if not in the letter then in spirit?

The Moral Law

It seems that in combination of both the religious and humanist application, one which at the time they were adopted they were likely blurred lines of between, the two were combined into the ideals and principals of Freemasonry.  The Cardinal Virtues and the Theological Virtues tempered into the ideals of a Moral Law to give fairness in action and faith. Both the application of How to be Good Men, and in the principals of getting along in society, come into play now in issues of recognition, jurisprudence, and internal governance and the source of the Moral Law has to be of consideration in some way when acting in a way that invokes a Moral Law as the basis of the decision. Is it as Hobbes set down, remodeled by Locke, or is it in the manner of Paul of Tarsis in speaking of the faith of the Gentiles? Or, is it in a more oblique Catholic manner in applying the Cardinal and Theological virtues, something unmistakable to every Mason in his perception?

Further still, is it something older and less tangible like the ideas of Cicero in that the Natural Laws are laws that cannot in fact be laws, because to be so, they invalidate there very natural state if looked at as such?

What stands out in greatest resonance with Masonry is Cicero’s remark,

“the virtues which we ought to cultivate, always tend to our own happiness, and that the best means of promoting them consists in living with men in that perfect union and charity which are cemented by mutual benefits.”

This seem to best build the foundation of Hobbes and Locke to identify the Moral Law in Freemasonry and giving us a place to then make decisions from – perfect union and charity…cemented by mutual benefits.

Thanksgiving Vespers

quotes to inspire on the thanksgiving holiday
The first Thanksgiving

All of us at Freemason Information would like to offer you a happy and hearty Thanksgiving. Here is one of my favorite Thanksgiving Blessings from  Arthur R. Herrmann at the Masonic Poets Society.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Oh, Lord, now this we’re thankful for:
The good things life has held in store;
The love of those within our home,
And friends to greet wherever we roam;
The health and strength wherewith to toil,
The bounteous food from freedom’s soil;
We thank Thee for the right to pray
And worship Thee in our own way;
To live within a land that’s free;
For this, dear Lord, our thanks to Thee;
And through these blessings, one by one,
May Thy will, Lord, on earth be done!

This collection of seemingly unrelated passages all seem to speak to the promise of a new world, a “new Jerusalem“, a crowning jewel of the world. It is to that vision that we are thankful for and celebrate this day. I am thankful for my country, its warts, blemishes and all. We daily strive to build our collective city upon a hill.

Happy Thanksgiving.

…for we must Consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us…
John Winthrop

“God bless thee, my son; I will give thee the greatest jewel I have. For I will impart unto thee, for the love of God and men, a relation of the true state of Solomon’s House. Son, to make you know the true state of Solomon’s House, I will keep this order. First, I will set forth unto you the end of our foundation. Secondly, the preparations and instruments we have for our works. Thirdly, the several employments and functions whereto our fellows are assigned. And fourthly, the ordinances and rites which we observe.

“The end of our foundation is the knowledge of causes, and secret motions of things; and the enlarging of the bounds of human empire, to the effecting of all things possible….

… I give thee leave to publish it, for the good of other nations; for we here are in God’s bosom, a land unknown.”
Francis Bacon – The New Atlantis.


And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Revelation 21:1-3

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
– George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Though our mouths were full of song as the sea,
and our tongues of exultation as the multitude of its waves,
and our lips of praise as the wide-extended firmament;
though our eyes shone with light like the sun and the moon,
and our hands were spread forth like the eagles of heaven,
and our feet were swift as hinds,
we should still be unable to thank thee and bless thy name,
O Lord our God and God of our fathers,
for one thousandth or one ten thousandth part of the bounties
which thou has bestowed upon our fathers and upon us.
– from the Hebrew Prayer Book

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.
– H.U. Westermayer

Enjoy the blessings of this day, if God sends them, and the evils of it bear patiently and calmly; for this day only is ours: we are dead to yesterday, and we are not yet born to the morrow. When our fortunes are violently changed, our spirits are unchanged, if they always stood in the suburbs and expectation of sorrows and reverses. The blessings of immunity, safeguard, liberty, and integrity deserve the thanksgiving of a whole life.
– Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, Intendant of the Building

The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.
– Eric Hoffer, Reflections On The Human Condition

Thanks are justly due for boons unbought.
– Ovid

Find the good and praise it.
– Alex Haley

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.
– Charles Dickens

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union. It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.
– Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1863
from the collection of Lincoln’s papers in the Library of America series

Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism

Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism

Perspectives on American Freemasonry and FraternalismRegistration is now open for the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library symposium

Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism

April 11, 2014

From the Library:

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library announces its symposium, Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism, to be held Friday, April 11, 2014.

This day-long symposium seeks to present the newest research on American fraternal groups from the past through the present. By 1900, over 250 American fraternal groups existed, numbering six million members. The study of their activities and influence in the United States, past and present, offers the potential for new interpretations of American society and culture.

The symposium program is as follows:

  • “’The Farmer Feeds Us All’: The Origins and Evolution of a Grange Anthem,” Stephen Canner, Independent Scholar
  • “Painted Ambition: Notes on Some Early Masonic Wall Painting,” Margaret Goehring, Assistant Professor of Art History, New Mexico State University
  • “The Colored Knights of Pythias,” Stephen Hill, Sr., Phylaxis Society
  • “Mid-Nineteenth Century Masonic Lodges: Middle-Class Families in the Absence of Women,” Kristen M. Jeschke, Adjunct Professor, DeVry University
  • “Pilgrimage and Procession: The Knights Templar Triennial Conclaves and the Dream of the American West,” Adam Geoffrey Kendall, Henry Wilson Coil Library & Museum of Freemasonry, Grand Lodge of F. & A.M. of California
  • “Bragging Brethren and Solid Sisters? Contrasting Mobilization Patterns Among Male and Female Orders During the Spanish-American War,“ Jeffrey Tyssens, Professor of Contemporary History, Vrije Universiteit Brussels
  • Participants’ choice of a staff-led tour of “A Sublime Brotherhood: Two Hundred Years of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction,” a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum collections or a tour of highlights from the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives.

Registration, open now through March 21, 2014, is $65 ($60 for Museum members) and includes morning refreshments, lunch, and a closing reception. The registration form with full instructions and details can be found on the Museum’s website at www.monh.org.

For more information, contact Hilary Anderson Stelling, Director of Exhibitions and Audience Development, at hstelling@monh.org or 781-457-4121.

The symposium is funded in part by the Supreme Council, 33°, N. M. J., U. S. A.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is dedicated to presenting exhibitions and programs on a wide variety of topics in American history and popular culture. The Museum is supported by the Scottish Rite Freemasons in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States. The Museum is located at 33 Marrett Road in Lexington at the corner of Route 2A and Massachusetts Avenue. The Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Admission to the Museum is free. For further information contact the Museum at 781-861-6559.

More info at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Inc. – National Heritage Museum 

Devil Gets His Due

Remember back at the beginning of 2013 when Mercedes-Benz ran an ad featuring Willem Dafoe as the devil seductively attempting to buy the soul of a young man for the price of a car?  In the ad, you may recall, the devilish antagonist (Dafoe) attempts to seduce a young man to trade his soul for a life of glitz, celebrity and excess that comes from owning a spiffy new Benz.

If you haven’t seen the new commercial yet, have a look for yourself of what change looks like.

(The video has since been taken offline)

Just in case you missed it in the spot, you can clearly see the devil’s new ring at the bottom of this post.

The devil, however, was no red pajama wearing horned jape with a pitchfork and pointy tail.  Rather, Mercedes portrayed him as a suave, well coiffed debonair gentleman (albeit with pointy fingernails) who also happens to be wearing an easily recognizable Masonic ring.

Right as the commercial starts, the Square and Compass was almost immediately noticeable (albeit in a quick flash on the screen).  Seeing it used this way took more than a few by surprise.  The original video published on YouTube has been taken down but you can still find it with a quick search.

Recently, the ad, featuring Kate Upton, Usher and of course Willem Dafoe, from February’s big football game, made its way back on the air waves this time, noticeably, without the use of the Freemason symbolism.  It appears that Mercedes-Benz has removed the square and compass from the original commercial.

How, or why the square and compass came off is a bit of a mystery.  After a brief search, I couldn’t turn up any press release or announcement saying it was being revised.  Maybe this kind of change isn’t the sort of thing you state publicly?

Perhaps the change came from a deluge of comments and messages to Mercedes-Benz on Facebook the day the ad appeared.

Or, perhaps it was the post that went up about it on Mark Koltko-Rivera’s blog Freemasonry: Reality, Myth, and Legend, reposted here alerting those watching the day the commercial aired.

Maybe it was the petition that was started on Change.org (Mercedes-benz: Remove the Masonic Ring shot in your Super Bowl commercial titled, “Soul”. ) asking the iconic world wide brand Mercedes-Benz to, respectfully, remove the sacred symbol and stop a vicious cycle of linking Freemasonry with Satanism.  With more than 2,800 signatures on the petition to date, whose to say if the auto manufacturer and  felt the pressure to remove the tell tale symbol of Freemasonry.

But, change it they have.

Now the commercial, in both its long and short form, no longer bears the distinctive emblem of the fraternity prompting us to say:

Thanks Mercedes-Benz for breaking the cycle of linking Freemasonry and Satanism.

Now who can say that the Freemasons still dosen’t  hold some sway…

Old Ad, New Ring, at 00:12
masonic ring new commercial

And, from later on in the extended cut commercial at 01:19

masonic ring new commercial 2

And, the before and afters:

mercedes changes ring side by side 1

mercedes changes ring side by side 2

Labor Day and the Masonic Nexus

Equality, Fraternity, Justice and Labor.

Can America celebrate Labor Day without celebrating the Laborer?

Could there be a connection between Labor Day and Freemasonry through which they share an intersection in the forgotten halls of history and why we celebrate this national American holiday?

The U.S. Department of Labor defines the Labor Day holiday as a day

…dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

As a day to recognize the common laborer in America, Labor Day can be traced to 1882 when it was first proposed as a holiday by machinist Matthew Maguire who proposed the idea while serving as the secretary of the Central Labor Union of New York.  In just a short time the momentum to make the day a National Holiday grew to a crescendo on the heels of the violent conflict between rail workers and the US military in 1894.

Stemming from, essentially, an unfair control of labor and housing, the Pullman Strike began as the result of a refusal to include reductions in housing costs for the laid-off workers forced to live in the company town of Pullman, today a suburb of Chicago in Illinois.

The town, George Pullman envisioned, would be

a model community, a total environment, superior to that available to the working class elsewhere…[from which] he hoped to avoid strikes, attract the most skilled workers and attain greater productivity as a result of the better health, environment and spirit of his employees.

When laid off workers, who had been forced to live in company housing, were let go the company who owned the town (and the housing therein) refused to lower their rents on company owned properties. The result of the layoff and unaltered rents created undue hardships for the laid off workers and their families who had few options because of the sudden loss of income. Company owner George Pullman refused to address the issue, or go into arbitration over it, prompting a wildcat strike with the local Pullman Palace Car Company.

Drawing from Machinists’ monthly journal, Volume 27, By International Association of Machinists, page 413, 1915, from Wikipedia.

Gradually the work stoppage grew into a national strike organized by the American Railway Union reaching its height when it became a national boycott that included train stoppages through the efforts of close to 250,000 workers in 27 states disrupting national transportation lines, and consequently mail delivery.

With a growing strike, the Federal Government under President Grover Cleveland, procured a court injunction and moved in with the Army to end the boycott and alleviate the obstruction of trains which (carrying mail) ultimately cost $80,000,000 in damage due to riots and sabotage. In the end 13 strikers lay dead and another 57 wounded.

At its conclusion the U.S. Army, with its court injunction, broke the blockade of trains in Lockwood, Montana, precipitating the end of the strike.

In the end the union was dissolved, the trains were moving, mail began to flow, the American Railway Union leader was imprisoned and American workers were given Labor Day as a national holiday six days following the collapse of the strike. 

Interesting to note, President Grover Cleveland, with the full support of Congress, unanimously voted to create the Labor Day holiday we celebrate today in a conciliatory gesture towards American Labor.

In its foundation, the national celebration of the holiday was to exhibit “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations, with the Sunday before the Holiday a Labor Sunday, dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.”

So how does Freemasonry factor into the complex composition of the creation of this national Holiday?

The Masonic Connection

George Mortimer Pullman

As it turns out, the city of Pullman,and its parent company, the Pullman Palace Car Company, were founded by Freemason George Pullman, a member of Renovation Lodge No. 97, in Albion, New York.

Pullman established Pullman Palace Car Company in 1862 with the goal of building luxury train cars with all the amenities of the day. 

In support of his early factory, the Pullman Company constructed a company town, uniquely named Pullman, within which some 4,000 acres housed 6,000 company employees and their dependents, many of whom were at the center of the Pullman Strike and the creation of Labor Day. 

In one entry about the town, it is suggested that employees were required to live in the town even when cheaper housing was nearby.  Reading the Wikipedia entry on the Pullman Company, its easy to see today how the conflict of corporate and worker interest would conflict. It reads:

The company built a company town, Pullman, Illinois on 4,000 acres (16 km²), 14 mi (23 km) south of Chicago in 1880. The town, entirely company-owned, provided housing, markets, a library, churches and entertainment for the 6,000 company employees and an equal number of dependents. Employees were required to live in Pullman, despite the fact that cheaper rentals could be found in nearby communities. One employee is quoted as saying “We are born in a Pullman house, fed from the Pullman shops, taught in the Pullman school, catechized in the Pullman Church, and when we die we shall go to the Pullman Hell”. Alcohol was prohibited in the town, as George Pullman found it a distasteful habit for his workers; though it was available in the company’s Hotel Florence, primarily for the benefit of the hotel guests as it was generally too expensive for laborers.

Pullman, a member of Renovation Lodge No. 97, Albion, New York, in his construction of the city of Pullman converted the swampy southern Chicago landscape into a planned industrial town complete with facilities for a Masonic Temple. The temple housed Palace Lodge No. 765, A.F. & A.M., Pullman R.A.M. Chapter, and Woodlawn-Imperial R. & S.M. Council.

Such was Pullman’s association with Freemasonry that in 1894 he was given a Masonic Cornerstone laying ceremony in honor of his father, Lewis Pullman (also a Freemason), which hosted two hundred Masons from Albion, Medina, Holley, and Lockport who processed along the Main Street for the cornerstone ceremony at Pullman Memorial Universalist Church of Albion, New York, today part of the Unitarian Universalist tradition.

The Labor Connection

Eugene V. Debs

On the other side of the labor dispute was labor leader Eugene V. Debs.  Also a man of great passion, Debs was a man possessed with the welfare and well being of the worker who was greatly involved in the developing American labor movements making five runs for the White House under the Socialist Party, his 1912 run receiving 5.99% of the popular vote on a working man political ticket.  While not a Freemason, Debs was an interesting luminary becoming, the most well known socialist living in America.  As the organizer behind the Pullman Strike and boycott, Debs served a six month jail sentence for violating the federal injunction.

While Debs has no Masonic connection, what is interesting to note are his many associations that were grounded in the foundation of fraternal brotherhood namely in the trade unions which you can see carry the earmarks of that mystical chain of union in his  own motto of “Equality, fraternity and justice.” 

Personal ideals aside, Debs held memberships in several national unions including the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, Brotherhood of Railway Firemen, the Industrial Workers of the World, and, of course, the American Railway Union.  Through those affiliations, you can get a sense of his passion for epitomizing what it means to be in fellowship with those you are in union with.

Ultimately, Debs passion was the betterment of the working class based on fairness, the basis for which he found in his saying “Those who produce should have, but we know that those who produce the most – that is, those who work hardest, and at the most difficult and most menial tasks, have the least.”  This could, perhaps, summarize his involvement with the labor movements.  Today, Debs work is remembered through a Terre Haute Indiana foundation founded in his name, The Eugene V. Debs Foundation, whose mission is to “keep alive the spirit of progressivism, humanitarianism and social criticism epitomized by Debs.

From these two, Pullman and Debs, we can see parallels in passion for brotherhood and, while at odds with the promulgation of those passions, both at the nexus of recognizing the importance of Labor in America.  Pullman, a Freemason, saw at some level the importance of the spiritual need to belong to a fraternal chain of union and Debs the physical political manifestation of that ideal in the real life condition of workers in brotherhood raising the common lot of those whose blood and sweat continue to serve the growth of American prosperity.

From their intersection of history, the Pullman and Debs conflict gave us the Labor Day holiday so that while we take a much appreciated rest at the end of summer we can celebrate the esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations whose efforts have given us this day to be celebrated.

Happy Labor Day.

A Modern History of the OTO

OTO lamen

Originally published on Jan 10, 2013, in the video author and publisher James Wasserman shares his experience in the development of the modern Thelemic movement, some observations on the contemporary scene, and his continued enthusiasm for the spiritual teachings of Aleister Crowley.

Wasserman, you may recall, was a guest on Masonic Central in 2009 discussing his work The Mystery Traditions and other more esoteric topics.

This video was recorded at Swirling Star Lodge of Ordo Templi Orientis in Pompano Beach, Florida.

It includes numerous photos of influential figures in the development of Thelema as well as the early years of TAHUTI Lodge in New York City.

The video offers some interesting insights into the one time Masonic organization Ordo Templi Orientis, better known as the OTO.

More Masonic History.

More on the Orient Templi Orientis