10 Things Freemasonry Can Learn from Lodge 49

I recently took the opportunity to binge watch Lodge 49 (currently available on Hulu). I was a fan of the show when it premiered up until it’s untimely cancellation after two seasons, with only half the story told, but this is the first chance I’ve had to watch it straight through, from beginning to end, and the experience was a mixed bag of emotion. Happiness because the show was so good, and a certain sadness because my lodge is not quite as cool as Lodge 49.

If you’re not familiar, the show follows the exploits of a character named Dud who, after a series of family misfortunes, finds himself penniless, homeless, and scrounging the beech with an old metal detector when he suddenly finds a strange ring in the sand, which his loan shark identifies as belonging to the Ancient and Benevolent Order of the Lynx. Believing that the local chapter, Lynx Lodge 49, can give him some direction in life, he and a cavalcade of unusual side characters embark on a surreal adventure into the world of esoterica, alchemy, intrigue, and pancake breakfasts.

Get a few episodes into this masterpiece of a show and you’ll see how eerily accurate it is at portraying an adult fraternal order, from the weirdos, to the drinking, to the guy who wants to put TVs everywhere in the lounge. What Lodge 49 probably gets most accurate is portraying a lodge trying to maintain a building that is unsustainable to save a fraternity that is dying in order to preserve principles that they’ve all more or less forgotten about.

But as familiar as that is, Lodge 49 portrays a fraternal order that actually works exactly like it’s supposed to, and there are a lot of lessons Freemasonry can draw from the show. Here are ten things Freemasonry can learn from Lodge 49.

Actionable Alchemy

Earlier this week I clicked the publish button on my most important, and long-awaited book, Practical Freemasonry. This book is the embodiment of my entire being regarding the Craft, wherein I put my superpowers of philosophical conspiracy theorizing and panoramic thinking to paper and create what I think is possibly the most useful book on Freemasonry that exists today, and one that I think, if used, can improve both the lives of its readers, but the life of the fraternity itself.

Honestly. I really do think it’s that good.

And now that it’s available for purchase I kind of thought I was done. I do’t mean I’m done with Freemasonry. I’ll still go to lodge and participate enthusiastically. And I’m not done with writing. I’ve still got a lot of books left in me. What I mean is I kind of thought I was done finding my niche in the Craft, and that what I’m doing now is what I’ll be doing for the rest of my Masonic career; teaching Masons practical freemasonry. Because I remember when I joined Freemasonry and learned all about it’s philosophy and I thought “…this is cool.” And it was! And I was so surprised whenever I found a brother who didn’t think it was cool that I wanted to teach them why it was so cool.

This weekend I attended a Masonic retreat. Half-symposium, half scotch and cigars, all fun. I brought a print proof copy of my book to get my brothers from around the state to sign, but I was not a featured speaker or anything like that. In fact, the theme of this year’s retreat was alchemy.

I won’t go as far as to say alchemy, or other esoteric education, is my bane, but it’s definitely the opposite of what I do. Whereas I look for ways to understand and parse out our philosophies to give relevant direction to modern men, esoteric education is, in my view, more about giving a man a deeper sense of meaning, if he can consume it in a way he understands. Still though, I had read about half of Alchemy for Complete Idiots and found some psychological value in it, so I wasn’t uninitiated in the concepts.

The main speaker for this retreat was Tim Hogan, a well-known authority on Freemasonry and it’s relationship to alchemy, and as I sat there, half-listening, and half-looking up info on my own pet theory regarding the relationship between Freemasonry and Dante’s Divine Comedy, I heard something out of the corner of my ear Tim was saying about a stage of the alchemical process involving what is referred to as feces, in a flask referred to as the bowels, and suddenly I looked up. Things started flashing in my brain like that in that show Chuck. I raised my hand and asked “So, are you saying the ancient penalties describe an alchemical process?”


See, I describe myself as a philosophical conspiracy theorist. It’s a tongue-in-cheek label I use to describe my particular penchant for connecting seemingly unrelated dots, ignoring information that doesn’t support my conclusion, and assigning meaning to what’s left. It’s what makes my work appealing and even useful, but it’s hardly fact-based. And I’m not sure how fact-based Tim is, but in that moment alchemy and it’s relationship to Freemasonry suddenly made sense. And I thought “…this is cool.”

And then another speaker said something that I could tell triggered something in my brain. I forget the name of the speaker and I forget who he was quoting, but he said:

“Alchemy is the science of causes. Chemistry is the science of effects.”

~ Can’t remember. I suck.

I thought it was very serendipitous that as I literally closed the cover on my magnum opus, that suddenly something else piqued my interest and I have an exciting new world to explore and moreso, one that I think I can contribute to as I learn more about it.

And that’s why I love Freemasonry, and why I don’t rush things and barrel through the various appendant bodies. Because for everything there is a season and when it’s time, it’s time.