This week is a little crazy- my birthday is tomorrow, and I have two exams, as well as working during the week, so I apologize if you have seen this before (you will if you followed me here from Reddit), but my free time is a little short this week. We will be returning to your regularly scheduled programming next week, with an article on the first known woman to become a regular mason. (Yes, you read that right!) One last bit before I get started, in case you don’t read this- I started a twitter account for this blog, check it out at @themasonslady , and say hi!
What is the Order of the Eastern Star?
The Order of the Eastern Star (or Eastern Star, or OES), is the world’s largest fraternal organization that can be joined by both men and women. It is a member of the Masonic family, but joining does not make a member a mason. It’s more of an axillary group, that supports masonic lodges, masonic youth organizations, as well as their own agenda. Like all Masonic organizations, they support membership when in need, both financially and emotionally. They also provide a framework for introspective thought and philosophical discussion on ethical and spiritual topics.
Who can join OES?
In order to be eligible to receive the degrees of Eastern Star, a woman must be a: wife, daughter, adopted daughter, mother, widow, sister, half sister, granddaughter, stepmother, stepdaughter, stepsister, daughter-in-law,grandmother, great granddaughter, niece, great niece, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, or aunt of a Master Mason in good standing. (Basically, if you can prove you are in some way or another related to a Mason who is paid up, you’re in.) Former members of Job’s Daughters and Rainbow Girls are also eligible to join. Men wishing to join the order must be Master Masons. All members must be at least eighteen.
How do I join OES?
Step 1) Find a chapter in your area.
Step 2) Ask for a petition, fill it out, return it.
Step 3) Interview with members of your prospective chapter.
Step 4) ????
Step 5) Profit.
But, what do they *do*?
I can’t answer for other chapters, only for what goes on in Nebraska. In Nebraska, OES is the majority supporter for the Masonic youth organizations- Job’s Daughters, Rainbow Girls, and Demolay. They also operate the Masonic-Eastern Star Home for Children – a place for kids who are either wards of the state or are having other troubles. They also provide scholarships to college students and support other minor charitable efforts in their respective local areas.
What about the degrees? Is there memory work?
There are five degrees, received in one night. There is no memory work required for initiation. There is, however, memory work involved if you would like to be an officer.
Why did you chose to join?
Eastern Star was very important to my great-grandparents; I never got to meet any of them, so this is a way for me to connect with my family’s past. I can now say I have walked the same path my great-grandmother did, almost 100 years ago. I also think that it is a great way to connect with T, as a lot of the rituals are similar to what they do in lodge. I cannot, of course, share any of the secret work with him, just has he cannot share his with me; I think its kind of nice to have my own masonic secrets.
Does there have to be a guy involved?
It’s not the way that I would have it set up, but yes. MMs are involved in a number of different ways. There’s two male only officer positions that they can hold- Worthy Patron and Associate Worthy Patron. My chapter current has a MM also sitting the position of Chaplin, Sentinel (Tyler), and I was lucky enough to have a MM who is a good friend of mine as Host (I’m not sure if blue lodge does this- he sat with me before I was called in, and after my initiation, to help me with the rest of the meeting, introduced me to people, etc). I’m not sure about the rest of the positions, I know that the points and matron positions must be held by women (obviously), but I don’t see why a MM couldn’t be say, treasurer, or secretary. Otherwise, MMs are full, voting members, but it does tend to be a bit of a role reversal, the MMs are there to support the sisters, the girls run the show here.
I was orginally upset about this fact, that a man must be there in order for a chapter of OES to be open. Now that I am a member of Eastern Star, I realize, I was looking at it all wrong from the beginning. In the Blue Lodge, the MM does his work, with support from his wife. In Eastern Star, the opposite is true, the Sister does her work with the support of her husband. MMs are present in the Star, but it is a support role, the women are truly the ones in charge here. Much of my offense was simply ignorance, but I believe it to be one of those things you cannot really get over until you are already in.
If you still disagree with this, there are women’s only orders within the masonic family.
Everyone asks me “Why would anyone want to join OES?”
There is kind of a huge stigma involving OES within the masonic family. When I told our masonic friends I was joining, everyone had something to complain about it, mostly about how boring it was, and how much marching there was. I ignored them, I wanted to find out for myself. Yes, it is true that watching grass grow would be more exciting than listening to a chapter open. However, I think that there is a lot of wiggle room for change, and that your chapter is what you make of it. I would love to change people’s thoughts about OES, and make it something more attractive, something at people will want to join. If you are reading this right now, chances are you are in the “next generation” of masonry. We are the ones that will bring about the positive change to this organization. I also believe that if we do not, it will be gone in the next 20 years.
I’m going to cut it a bit short and leave it there for now. I am planning on returning to the general topic of Eastern Star at a later point, but if you have any questions let me know, and don’t forget to check us out on twitter @themasonslady!