Temet Nosce

Piecing together the puzzle of mythology and the human condition

About the Author

Posted on May 1st, 2012 by Thomas Ryan

Hello. I’m Tom. Nice to meet you.

I don’t enjoy writing about myself, even though I’m pretty good at it once I get going. But I’m self-conscious about appearing self-centered–which is particularly ironic on a site where the whole point is about finding one’s center.


Sometimes the fortune fits.

I’d like to say I’m just a normal, average guy, but the truth is I’m a little weird. Always have been. I was a shy, introspective kid, spent most of my time drawing, imagining myself in far off places, never really talked to anybody if I could help it. I was a frustration for authority figures at home, in school, and in church. I would get picked on a lot on the playground, so I spent my recess in the library reading about Hercules, King Arthur, and Paul Bunyan. I went to see operas with my mom instead of rock concerts with friends. I was the dork who got a lot more excited about Obi-Wan talking about the Force rather than the Death Star trench run. But that’s really where this fascination of mine really started with myth and meaning.

I would caution anyone from getting the impression that I am a man of faith, or that I am superstitious in any way. I was baptized Catholic, raised Lutheran, and still struggled to have the kind of faith that everyone around me seemed to have. It really kind of messes you up if you’re taught that God won’t love you unless you believe in Him, and yet you can’t help from questioning everything. My third grade teacher tried to convince me that humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs, and if I had had the phrase in my lexicon at the time, my response might have been, “You have got to be kidding me.” After all, I watched the Discovery channel with my dad, the same guy who encouraged me to question authority. He himself had received his law degree from Marquette University, where a Jesuit deacon had instructed his entire class to turn their brains on and ask themselves whether what they were told made any sense, even if it meant questioning the Pope. So when in Sunday school when we were taught that the Earth was only 6,000 years old, I had to pipe up and ask how it could be that the Japanese were sculpting pottery 4,000 years before the Earth existed. I always thought it was particularly fitting that I was named after the doubting disciple.

So I have doubts rather than a rock solid faith, and I’ve always valued knowing over believing, but that hasn’t kept me from being amazed at the Earth around me and the Universe without, and wondering about how it all began. It hasn’t stopped me from being a deist, but it does keep me guessing, thinking, researching, about just how exactly a deity can be defined or described. In 2010, I petitioned to become a member of a local Masonic lodge in what I feel was the next step in the search for Truth. Or, if not Truth, then the perspective of others. And I found that everything in Masonry already felt familiar. It was a bit like Paul Atreides putting on his stillsuit for the first time. Being a Freemason has become for me a gateway into other lessons, an enticement to learn more, and to connect the pieces of this jigsaw puzzle called Truth. I also feel a strong urge to share what I’ve found…so here we are.