Scottsdale Lodge #43, Arizona
During the summer and fall of 2004 when I studied the Knights Templar and the IOGT, I also did a lot of research on Freemasonry at the local bookstores and the downtown library. After the divine signs I had in Washington and Phoenix, I thought there was something mystical and mysterious to it. I knew it was the largest fraternity in the world and that fourteen Presidents were Freemasons. Once I read the list of other prominent Masons in history, my jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe it; astronauts, corporate leaders,
inventors, politicians, revolutionary figures and so on. I asked myself “What was it that propelled these leaders to achieve such greatness? Was it all through Masonic secrets, or merely through fraternal connections? I thought, “There must be something more to it.”
I decided it was time to take a further peek inside at Freemasonry for myself. Several of the members of Templar cult in Sedona were Freemasons, but the Grand Prior was not. I went on the website of the Arizona Freemasonry and found the directory of lodges. The closest one to me was in Scottsdale about fifteen minutes from home.
On Thursday nights, I drove to the lodge several weeks in a row and sat down for dinner with the Masonic brothers. They all seemed like very nice men chatting casually about day to day goings on. I thought I’d be listening to discussions about religion and politics and how they conspired to rule the world. To the contrary, the rule was that politics and religion were out of bounds within the lodge. The thought is that they tend to divide people rather than join them together. Then I thought they must be saving all of that talk for their rituals. I was later proven wrong.
The Man Who Would Be King
After the dinners on Thursday nights, the brothers would go into the lodge room to conduct their ritual for several hours. The men that were prospective members that were there to learn more about the fraternity would stay behind in the dining room with one or two brothers that would answer questions and show films on Masonry. One of those films was “The Man Who Would Be King” written by Rudyard Kipling, a prominent Freemason from the turn of the 20th century. It was total game changer for me that would send my mind down the proverbial rabbit hole. I was never the same after seeing the film.
In summary, the film was based on a novel written in 1888 where two British soldiers in India decided to resign from the Army and set themselves up as divine kings in Kafiristan, a country where no white man had set foot since Alexander the Great. They planned to find a king of a remote country, help him defeat his enemies, then take over the country for themselves. Although their whole mission was conceived to gain wealth and power by portraying themselves as false gods, Sean Connery’s character starts to believe that he really is an immortal god when he is struck in the chest by an arrow but doesn’t get injured.
Everyone in the village believed it was a miracle and that he must be immortal. After reflecting on the movie that night, I started to think I was immortal as well and became rather manic. I concluded from the film that I, too, could become a god-king of a nation like the men in the movie.
The night I watched that movie, something else was going through my mind that night that I observed back in 2002. I was in Washington D.C. for the first time visiting Conrad for his 30th birthday. We took a tour of Arlington Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial and finally the Capitol building. I remembered that the tour guide directed our attention to the painting on the ceiling of the Capital dome. The depicted scene in the painting was called the Apotheosis. In theology, the term apotheosis refers to the idea that an individual has been raised to godlike stature. It portrayed the deification of George Washington, or otherwise put, the process of converting him into a god from a mortal, in his case, after his death.
That night I asked myself, “Would I someday be portrayed as a god of the new era at some point after my presidency? But would I have to die first?” I was so whacked out of my gourd that I thought I was immortal at some point and would never have to die in this lifetime as we know it. I thought my heart would never stop beating and my mind would always be sharp. I sensed a grave danger that I could end up a tragic hero fighting to make this destiny come true and dying prematurely like President Kennedy.
Incidentally, the whole thing about Washington becoming a God was later brought to the public’s attention in Dan Brown’s “Lost Symbol” that was released a few years later.
Back at the lodge dining room, I learned the three tenets of Masonry were: 1.) Fraternity – treat everybody as equals and treat them like you’d want them to treat you. 2.) Charity – always give back to mankind and be sure to help a fellow brother in need. And 3) Truth – always seeking the truth in life and make the right decisions according to your understanding of it. The purpose of masonry is to make good men, better. I thought, “That was it? No covert plan to bring in the New World Order? Damn those conspiracy theorists!”
One day I approached my father to ask him if he’d ever heard of masonry. My dad was born Episcopalian and never participated in raising the kids Catholic with my mother. He never discussed his relationship with God, so I thought there was a chance he knew nothing about it. I was right. He had friends and mentors that were masons but had no clue what the fraternity was about. He never knocked on the door, as they say. Freemasons are not supposed to proselytize or recruit non-masons. It is an unwritten rule, although you’ll see it done from time to time.
To get into the fraternity, you need two letters of recommendation from masons you’ve known for a year to three years, depending on the lodge. My father told me that his good friend and coworker, George, was a Mason, and not just your average one, but the past Imperial Potentate of the Tripoli Shrine of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Shriners, as they are called, build the hospitals and burn centers for children that are completely free of charge. George was working in the same office with my father and me doing real estate for a midwestern bank. He and I sat down for a good three hours talking about what I was getting myself into. Not only him, but it seemed that every single mason I talked to said it was an indescribable life changing experience. The only way to know how is to join. He agreed to sign my petition. My other petition was signed by the Worshipful Master of the lodge who got to know me for less than a few months, but he made an exception to the rule.
All it takes is one brother that might not like your personality or something you’ve done in your past to be black balled, which means you’re out for good. While they were voting on me during the meeting, I was outside of the lodge door waiting to hear the news. The Worshipful Master came out and said to me,
“You’re in kiddo!” I was ecstatic. I felt that I had accomplished the first major step in creating this wild fantasy come true.
I went through the first three degrees and become a Master Mason in April of 2005, manic free. During the degrees, which are three separate rituals on three different nights, I had to swear over the Bible that I would never divulge the secrets of Freemasonry to a non-Mason. I had one personal hang up in my mind and heart, but I didn’t want to rock the boat. During my solemn oath that I took, I said that I would not aid, nor be present at, the initiation of an atheist or a madman. I knew I was bipolar with crazy dark secrets, but was I really a madman? Would they kick me out with harsh penalties? I decided to let it go and swept it under the rug.
Scottish Rite and Shriner's International
I subsequently joined Scottish Rite Masonry, which is a separate appendant body of Masonry, and climbed to the 32nd degree within one year by studying and attending rituals, which are like small plays put together using costumes and accompanied by hours of memorized ritual.
In 2019, I joined Shriner's International, formerly known as the
Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, is a society established in 1870 and is headquartered in Tampa, Florida.
Shriners International describes itself as a fraternity based on fun, fellowship, and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief, and truth. There are approximately 350,000 members from 196 temples in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Bolivia, Mexico, the Republic of Panama, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Europe, and Australia. The organization is best known for the Shriners Hospitals for Children that it administers, and the red fezzes that members wear.
I encourage you to watch the following two videos to gain a better understanding of these two Masonic organizations: Scottish Rite and Shriners International.o
The House of the Temple
The House of the Temple is a Masonic temple in Washington, D.C. I visited in 2004 that serves as the headquarters of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A. (officially, "Home of The Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, Washington D.C., U.S.A.")
Designed by John Russell Pope, it stands at 1733 16th Street, N.W., in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, about one mile directly north of the White House. The full name of the Supreme Council is "The Supreme Council (Mother Council of the World) of the Inspectors General Knights Commander of the House of the Temple of Solomon of the Thirty-third degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States of America." It was modeled after the tomb of Mausolus at Halicarnassus.
It contains a museum open to the public devoted to Albert Pike, who rewrote a number of the Scottish Rite rituals and headed its Supreme Council from 1859 until his death in 1891, and whose remains are buried in the House of the Temple.