Freemasonry is a centuries-old fraternal organization known for its rich symbolism, intricate rituals, and cryptic phrases. Among the many enigmatic expressions used by Freemasons, “So Mote It Be” stands out as one of the most intriguing. This phrase is often uttered during Masonic ceremonies and meetings, shrouded in mystery and symbolism. In this blog post, we will explore the origins and significance of “So Mote It Be” within Freemasonry.
The Origins of So Mote It Be
The phrase “So Mote It Be” has a long and complex history, with roots that extend beyond Freemasonry. Its origins can be traced back to medieval English and Scottish language, where “mote” means “may” or “might.” In the context of Freemasonry, the phrase essentially means, “So may it be.”
“So Mote It Be” is used in various Masonic rituals, including the initiation of new members and the closing of lodge meetings. Its presence in these ceremonies serves multiple purposes:
Freemasonry is rich in symbolism, and this phrase is no exception. It represents the idea of finality, a seal upon the work completed during the ritual. It’s akin to saying, “Let it be done” or “Let it be accomplished.”
Freemasons use “So Mote It Be” to reinforce the sense of unity and brotherhood among members. It signifies that all present agree on the actions taken or the words spoken during the ritual.
By using this phrase, Freemasons connect themselves to the traditions and rituals of their forebears, adding a sense of continuity and historical significance to their practices.
Beyond its surface-level interpretation, “So Mote It Be” holds a deeper, esoteric meaning within Freemasonry. Some Masonic scholars and practitioners believe it carries spiritual connotations, emphasizing the power of the spoken word and the manifestation of intentions.
Freemasonry teaches that words and thoughts have a profound effect on reality. Uttering “So Mote It Be” is a way of affirming one’s intention and invoking the universe’s assistance in making it a reality.
In some Masonic traditions, “So Mote It Be” is seen as a recognition of the divine will or providence. It acknowledges that the ultimate outcome of any endeavor is in the hands of a higher power.
“So Mote It Be” may sound like a quaint and archaic phrase, but within Freemasonry, it carries deep symbolism and significance. This mysterious utterance encapsulates the principles of unity, historical continuity, and the power of intention that are central to Masonic philosophy.
While its origins may be rooted in medieval language, its relevance in contemporary Freemasonry remains undiminished. To Freemasons, “So Mote It Be” serves as a reminder of the timeless wisdom and traditions that have guided their fraternity for centuries, and a testament to the enduring power of their shared rituals and values.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Throughout history, certain phrases and idioms have taken on a life of their own, sparking curiosity and intrigue. One such enigmatic expression is “riding the goat.” Often alluded to in various cultural contexts, this phrase has piqued the interest of many, prompting questions about its origin, meaning, and significance. In this blog post, we delve into the origins and interpretations of “riding the goat” to shed light on its multifaceted connotations.
The Masonic Connection of Riding the Goat.
One of the most well-known references to “riding the goat” is found within the secretive world of Freemasonry. Freemasonry is a fraternal organization with a rich history, encompassing symbols, rituals, and customs. In Masonic initiation ceremonies, neophytes are often subjected to various trials and challenges as they progress through different degrees of membership. One such challenge involves the idea of “riding the goat.”
The concept of “riding the goat” in Masonic lore refers to a symbolic ordeal that initiates might face during their initiation rituals. This ordeal is not meant to be taken literally; instead, it’s a metaphorical representation of facing one’s fears, overcoming obstacles, and demonstrating one’s commitment to the values and principles of Freemasonry. The specific nature of this challenge can vary from one Masonic lodge to another, but its purpose remains consistent: to test the initiate’s resolve and dedication.
Historical Context and Variations of Riding the Goat
The phrase “riding the goat” has been used outside of Masonic circles as well. In some older contexts, it has been associated with hazing rituals or pranks in various social settings, often involving embarrassing or uncomfortable situations. These practices were not limited to Freemasonry but were rather reflective of broader cultural norms in certain periods.
Facing Challenges: The act of “riding the goat” symbolizes facing challenges head-on, even when the path seems difficult or intimidating. It encourages individuals to confront their fears and uncertainties with courage and determination.
Transformation: Within the Masonic context, “riding the goat” can be seen as a metaphor for personal transformation. Just as the initiate undergoes a symbolic journey, facing trials and emerging as a changed individual, so too does the act of “riding the goat” represent a transformative experience.
Commitment and Dedication: Whether in Freemasonry or other contexts, “riding the goat” underscores the importance of commitment. It signifies one’s dedication to a cause, organization, or personal growth journey.
Humility: The phrase can also be interpreted as a lesson in humility. By subjecting oneself to challenges, an individual acknowledges their vulnerability and acknowledges the need for growth.
Decoding the Mystery: What Does “Riding the Goat” Mean?
The phrase “riding the goat” carries a rich tapestry of meanings and interpretations, rooted in historical rituals, fraternal organizations, and broader societal practices. While its origins might lie in Masonic initiation ceremonies, its symbolism has transcended its original context to become a metaphor for facing challenges, embracing transformation, and demonstrating unwavering commitment. So, the next time you come across this enigmatic phrase, you’ll have a deeper understanding of its significance and the various ways it reflects aspects of the human experience.
Becoming a Rainbow Girl is a wonderful journey that offers young women the opportunity to develop leadership skills, build lifelong friendships, and contribute positively to their communities. International Order of the Rainbow for Girls is a youth organization affiliated with the Masonic Lodge, focusing on personal growth, community service, and character development.
Here is a comprehensive guide.
Understand What Rainbow Girls Is
Research and learn about the organization. Understand its values, history, and purpose. Rainbow Girls is open to girls aged 11 to 20, and it focuses on promoting leadership, personal growth, and community involvement.
Find a Local Chapter
Use the official Rainbow Girls website or contact your local Masonic Lodge to locate a nearby chapter. Each chapter has its own schedule of meetings and events, so finding a convenient location is important.
Attend an Informational Meeting
Most chapters hold informational meetings for prospective members and their parents or guardians. Attend one of these meetings to get a better understanding of what being a Rainbow Girl involves. This is also a great opportunity to ask questions and express your interest.
Meet Membership Requirements
To become a Rainbow Girl, you typically need to meet certain eligibility criteria, which may include being of good moral character, having a belief in a higher power (not specific to any religion), and being recommended by a current member or a Mason.
Complete the Application Process
If you decide to join, you’ll need to fill out an application form. This form might require basic personal information, as well as information about your interests, hobbies, and reasons for wanting to join Rainbow Girls.
Participate in Interviews
Some chapters may require an interview as part of the application process. This is an opportunity for the current members and advisors to get to know you better and understand your motivations for joining.
Once your application is accepted, you’ll go through an initiation ceremony. This is a significant event that welcomes you into the organization and teaches you about its values and principles.
Engage in Activities
As a Rainbow Girl, you’ll participate in a variety of activities, including meetings, community service projects, leadership development programs, and social events. These activities are designed to help you grow personally and socially.
Embrace Leadership Opportunities
Rainbow Girls offers various leadership roles within the organization, such as serving as an officer or committee member. Taking on these roles allows you to develop important leadership skills that will benefit you throughout your life.
One of the most rewarding aspects of being a Rainbow Girl is the friendships you’ll form with other members. These friendships often last a lifetime and provide a strong support network.
Give Back to the Community
Participate actively in the community service projects organized by the chapter. Giving back to the community is a core value of Rainbow Girls and helps you develop a sense of responsibility and empathy.
Remember that the journey of becoming a Rainbow Girl is not only about the destination but also about the experiences, skills, and relationships you build along the way. By following these steps, you can embark on a fulfilling and transformative journey as a Rainbow Girl.
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.
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.
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.
Volume: medium-high / risk: medium
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.
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
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.
Interests: Family/Work/Anything other than Freemasonry
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Volume: low / risk: low
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.
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.
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.
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).
Interests: Business association, leadership, management, family, and social life are entwined.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Interests: history, business, community, charity, religion (but not church), maybe some kind of interest in occult, mysticism, or spirituality.
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
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 Channelepisode 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.
Interests: Work, career, friendships, family. Not in that order, but to varying degrees at different times.
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.
Volume: low / risk: low
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.
The symbol of the Pillars in Freemasonry, three in total, have a special place in the rituals and symbolism of Freemasonry. Many an author, including myself, have attempted to capture their meaning and give resonance to their understanding. Writing in a preamble to the second degree, I defined the pillars in their three representations or mercy, severity and mildness, writing:
Wisdom, the left-hand pillar of mercy, is an active pillar and representative of alchemical fire, which is the principal of spirituality, often called the pillar of Jachin. It is a masculine pillar, and relates to our mental energy, our loving kindness, and our creative inspiration as we traverse it up the Kabbalaistic tree through the Sephirot.
Strength is the right-hand pillar and takes the form of severity, shaped into the alchemical symbol of water. It can represent darkness, but it is a passive symbol that is feminine in nature and called the pillar of Boaz. Upon it we find the points of our thoughts and ideas, our feelings and emotions, and the physicality of our physical experience, our sensations, each an aspect of its Cabalistic progression.
Beauty, then, takes on the role of synthesis of the two, the pillar of mildness; it is upon this pillar that the novitiate is transformed through his progressive states as he progresses. The central pillar of Beauty is representative of Jehovah, the Tetragrammaton which represents deity itself upon which our crown of being resides balanced through feeling and emotion from our foundation of justice and mercy, which springs from our link to the everyday world.
H. A. Kingsbury, writing in The Three Supporting Pillars Of A Lodge, from The Builder Magazine in October 1917, writes of the pillars saying, The Mason is informed that the Three Supporting Pillars of the Lodge are Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty “because it is necessary that there should be wisdom to contrive, strength to support, and beauty to adorn all great and important undertakings”: he cannot but gather from the lectures and the work, particularly of the First Degree, that the Lodge is the symbol of the World: therefore, when he combines these two conceptions and draws the necessarily resulting conclusion, he arrives at the same understanding of the ultimate symbolic significance of the Three Pillars as did the ancient Hindus–the Three Supporting Pillars of the Lodge are, considered as a group, the symbol of Him Whose Wisdom contrived the World, Whose Strength supports the World, Whose Beauty adorns the World-Deity.
Wisdom, Strength and Beauty
From the first degree lecture, it reads,“The Worshipful Master represents the pillar of Wisdom, because he should have wisdom to open his Lodge, set the craft at work, and give them proper instructions. The Senior Warden represents the pillar of Strength, it being his duty to assist the Worshipful Master in opening and closing his Lodge, to pay the craft their wages, if any be due, and see that none go away dissatisfied, harmony being the strength of all institutions, more especially of ours. The Junior Warden represents the pillar of Beauty, it being his duty at all times to observe the sun at high meridian, which is the glory and beauty of the day.”
The masonic pillars as an ancient symbol
Albert G. Mackey, in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, writes of the pillars, saying:
In the earliest times it was customary to perpetuate remarkable events, or exhibit gratitude for providential favors, by the erection of pillars, which by the idolatrous races were dedicated to their spurious gods. Thus Sanchoniathon the Berytian tells us that Hypsourianos (Hypsuranius) and Ousous (Memrumus?), who lived before the Flood, dedicated two pillars to the elements, fire and air. Among the Egyptians the pillars were, in general, in the form of obelisks from fifty to one hundred feet high, and exceedingly slender in proportion. Upon their four sides hieroglyphics were often engraved. According to Herodotus, they were first raised in honor of the sun, and their pointed form was intended to represent his rays. Many of these monuments still remain.
In the antediluvian or before the Flood, ages, the posterity of Seth erected pillars; “for,” says the Jewish historian, “that their inventions might not be lost before they were sufficiently known, upon Adam’s prediction, that the world was to be destroyed at one time by the force of fire, and at another time by the violence of water, they made two pillars, the one of brick, the other of stone; they inscribed their discoveries on them both, that in case the pillar of brick should be destroyed by the flood, the pillar of stone might remain, and exhibit those discoveries to mankind, and would also inform them that there was another pillar of brick erected by them.” Jacob erected such a pillar at Bethel, to commemorate his remarkable vision of the ladder, and afterward another one at Galeed as a memorial of his alliance with Laban. Joshua erected one at Gilgal to perpetuate the remembrance of his miraculous crossing of the Jordan. Samuel set up a pillar between Mizpeh and Shen, on account of a defeat of the Philistines, and Absalom erected another in honor of himself. The reader will readily see the comparison between these memorials mentioned in the Bible and the modern erection of tablets, gravestones, etc., to the honor of the dead as well as to a notable deed or event. Compare also the use of an altar.
The doctrine of gravitation was unknown to the people of the primitive ages, and they were unable to refer the support of the earth in its place to this principle. Hence, they looked to some other cause, and none appeared to their simple and unphilosophic minds more plausible than that it was sustained by pillars. The Old Testament abounds with reference to this idea. Hannah, in her song of thanksgiving, exclaims: “The pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them” (First Samuel 2, 8). The Psalmist signifies the same doctrine in the following text: “The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved; I bear up the pillars of it” (Psalm 75:3). Job 26:7 says: “He shaketh the earth out of her places, and the pillars thereof tremble.” All the old religions taught the same doctrine; and hence pillars being regarded as the supporters of the earth, they were adopted as the symbol of strength and firmness. To this, John Dudley (Naology: Or, a Treatise On the Origin, Progress, and Symbolical Import of the Sacred Structures of the Most Eminent Nations and Ages of the World, page 123) attributes the origin of pillar worship, which prevailed so extensively among the idolatrous nations of antiquity. “The reverence,” says he, “shown to columns, as symbols of the power of the Deity, was readily converted into worship paid to them as idols of the real presence.” But here he seems to have fallen into a mistake. The double pillars or columns, acting as an architectural support, were, it is true, symbols derived from a natural cause of strength and permanent firmness. But there was another more prevailing symbology. The monolith, or circular pillar, standing alone, was, to the ancient mind, a representation of the Phallus, the symbol of the creative and generative energy of Deity, and it is in these Phallic Pillars that we are to find the true origin of pillar worship, which was only one form of Phallic Worship, the most predominant of all the cults to which the ancients were addicted.
In this installment of the Symbols and Symbolism of Freemasonry, we consider a vital emblem of Freemasonry, the compass or compasses. Albert G. Mackey, in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, gives context to this meaning of this mysterious symbols meaning and history. Mackey, writes:
As in Operative Freemasonry, the compasses are used for the measurement of the architect’s plans, and to enable him to give those just proportions which will ensure beauty as well as stability to his work; so, in Speculative Freemasonry, is this important implement symbolic of that even tenor of deportment, that true standard of rectitude which alone can bestow happiness here and felicity hereafter.
Hence are the compasses the most prominent emblem of virtue, the true and only, measure of a Freemason’s life and conduct. As the Bible gives us light on our duties to God, and the square illustrates our duties to our neighborhood and Brother, so the compasses give that additional light which is to instruct us in the duty we owe to ourselves-the great, imperative duty of circumscribing our passions, and keeping our desires within due bounds. “It is ordained,” says the philosophic Edmund Burke, “in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate passions cannot be free; their passions forge their fetters.”
Those Brethren who delight to trace our emblems to an astronomical origin, find in the compasses a symbol of the sun, the circular pivot representing the body of the luminary, and the diverging legs his rays.
In the earliest rituals of the eighteenth century, the compasses are described as a part of the furniture of the Lodge and are said to belong to the Master.
Some change will be found in this respect in the ritual of the present day.
The word is sometimes spelled and pronounced compass, which is more usually applied to the magnetic needle and circular dial or card of the mariner from which he directs his course over the seas, or the similar guide of the airman when seeking his destination across unknown territory.
Of the spheres and heavens
Pike, in Morals and Dogma, defines the compass as an emblem that describes circles, and deals with spherical trigonometry, the science of the spheres and heavens. The former, therefore, is an emblem of what concerns the earth and the body; the latter of what concerns the heavens and the soul. Yet the Compass is also used in plane trigonometry, as in erecting perpendiculars; and, therefore, you are reminded that, although in this degree both points of the Compass are under the Square, and you are now dealing only with the moral and political meaning of the symbols, and not with their philosophical and spiritual meanings, still the divine ever mingles with the human; with the earthly the spiritual intermixes; and there is something spiritual in the commonest duties of life.
Raised to a Master Mason in 1908, at Harmony Lodge No. 17 in Washington, DC, Carl H. Claudy served as the Master and eventually as Grand Master of Masons in 1943. He served as the executive secretary of the Masonic Service Association in 1929 holding the position until his death in 1957 claiming authorship of nearly 350 Short Talk Bulletins.
The MSANA says of the plays:
[They] are not merely a means by which a lodge may entertain, but attempt to satisfy a desire to understand the inner content of Freemasonry. They accomplish this purpose by drawing aside the veils of ritual, allegory and symbol that the truth behind may shine through.