Masonic Lodge meeting

Last Tuesday I attended Philanthropic Lodge in Marblehead, along with my brother. I found it quite interesting, if rather exhausting. I signed the bye-laws, and thus became a member, with my very own nametag, no less! My brother muttered to me when I got back to my seat: “It took me two years to get one of those!”

They were doing a third-degree ceremony for 5 candidates. They have a short form of this, and a long form. Without going into details, we began at 5:30 pm, broke for dinner around 6:30, resumed at 7:30 or so and ended at 11:15 pm! We were all exhausted by that time; my brother and his friend (who drove us to the Lodge) are what they refer to, rather indelicately, as “Chew and screw” Masons: they stay through the dinner and then leave. However, the second part of the ceremony was performed once for each candidate, rather than for all candidates (as we do at Goliath Lodge here in London). There were 4 “short-form” raisings, and one “long-form”, which all the candidates who were raised had to watch. Thus, it was last–and that was the ceremony I most wanted to see. Harold and his buddy (whose name I forget) were concerned at the lateness of the hour, but they kindly stayed so that I could see the whole thing. It was very worthwhile; very different from that which we do here in the UK but with many similarities in the essentials. The ritual was very well performed and quite elaborate.

So thanks to Harold and his chum for staying to the bitter end on my behalf, and thanks to Philanthropic Lodge for welcoming me so well and bringing me into their fold. I plan to try to make a trip twice a year to visit the family and the Lodge. Next time may be in April 2007.

4 Responses to “Masonic Lodge meeting”

  1. quillon says:

    Okay, I know I can go to Wikipedia or some other site to do a search, but I want to know from someone who’s a member: What/who exactly are the Masons?

  2. chrishansenhome says:

    The ritual contains a definition of Freemasonry: “A peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.” I find it an interesting collection of rituals revolving around the progression of life from birth through death, performed by the members themselves. There is usually a dinner involved either during or after the meeting, with a progression of toasts (here in the UK) to various people from the Queen down to the visitors for the evening. The three principles of Masonry are: “Brotherly love, relief, and truth”, and in keeping with that, most Masonic bodies contribute large sums (collected from the members as alms) to hospitals, schools, and other philanthropic organisations. There is a progression of offices in the Lodge, from doorkeeper to Master, which involve memorising complex ritual actions and words.

    It is not a secret society, but a society with secrets. Modes of recognition are secret, but the rituals themselves are not secret: you can buy books of ritual in any large city and “Freemasonry for Dummies” is also widely available.

    I’ve found that the rituals illustrate in a very real way life experiences that are common to everyone. There is nothing secretive about Masonry; Masons are normally straightforward about their membership and there are no “Da Vinci Code” type mysteries involved.

    If you’d like some more information, you can go to my Lodge’s website and follow the links to various other Masonic sites, which might answer more of your questions.

    Oh, and what it is not is a place to do business, talk politics or religion (although a Mason must profess a belief in God), or expect to get advancement in commerce or networking. It is not a religion. Roman Catholics are welcome to join, even though the Roman Catholic Church still formally excommunicates those RCs who become Masons.

    In short, I enjoy it and get a lot out of it.

  3. bigmacbear says:

    After one of our D-I services in Rochester I found it interesting to watch a visiting Mason and a transgender woman who happened to also be a Mason exchange what must have been the secret handshake. I think it caught the visiting Mason quite by surprise.

  4. chrishansenhome says:

    That might be for two reasons: (1) The Masonic handshake is not normally used outside of a Lodge meeting, or (2) He wasn’t expecting to receive such a handshake from a woman. I’ve never had occasion to use it except during my own initiation, passing, and raising ceremonies. Regular Masonry does not admit women, although there are some quasi-Masonic groups that are co-ed or exclusively for women.