A Call for Help

I came across a very interesting video on CNN last night. The mother and uncle of Philando Castile, the young man who’s death recently sparked the protests in Dallas, that have, sadly, lead to more deaths.

I know that like many social topics, this is one that people feel very strongly about one way or the other. As this is not a blog about social and legal issues, I will not be sharing my opinion about what is going on, in hopes of staying as nonpartisan as possible.

However, in the midst of this tragedy, an unexpected Masonic topic came up, the one of brotherly relief. Many people are well aware that there are varying signs and phrases that Masons use, with varying degrees of secrecy. What I was not prepared for, however, was seeing one on CNN. You can see it at the end of the video below.

Please note, I would not normally share or talk about this, but because it was shown on a major news network, about a major news story, I felt that it was appropriate to mention. I will not talk further about what is said, other than that it is a call for help.

http://www.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/us/2016/07/07/philando-castile-mother-uncle-interview-full-newday.cnn

The concept is, basically, that if someone calls in help this way, that as long as they are a brother in good standing, you should not judge the situation, and do whatever you can to help.

That raises a ton of questions.

What is a brother in good standing?

Theoretically, it means only a brother who is current on his dues, and a member of a Grand Lodge that is recognized by yours. But what if they’re behind on dues? What if their GL is unrecognized? About eight Prince Hall Grand Lodges are still unrecognized by their mainstream counterpart in the United States. What if they are unable to be vetted for, for whatever reason? What’s more, what if the Brother has done something illegal, and is now asking for help? Does it matter what he’s done?

How can we not judge the situation?

The short answer: you can’t. As soon as you learn about the situation, any situation, you’ve already formed some sort of opinion on it. The question is if you can put aside your personal judgement to help someone who really needs it.

What falls under “whatever I can do to help”?

Just money? Just time? Both? Do you not have to assist if you are far away? Or are you obligated no matter where you are?These questions are never answered, this is something you must answer for yourself. Much like you must not pass judgement on the situation, you should make a judgement call about what is reasonable about how much assistance is warranted, both for the situation, and yourself.

If you would like to help RW Brother Clarence Castile, who asked for assistance in the video, a GoFundMe page has been created. However, I can’t help but feel he was asking for help on a much grander scale.

Masonic Funerals

Sadly, I had to put my dog down this week. It may be morbid, but it got me thinking about death, and talking with my husband about what he wants to happen when he is gone. I think this is a very important conversation to have with your loved ones. We talked about whether or not we would want a Masonic or OES funeral. But what exactly does that entail?

When a man is initiated into Masonry, he receives a special lambskin apron that is pure white. The color represents many things, including the “washing away of sins”, the blank slate of his mind, and the lamb of G-d. Usually, the only time he will wear the apron is when he receives it. The apron is then tucked away in a safe place. When the Mason passes, he is buried with the apron on, or it is burned, in the case of cremation.

As for the funerals, there are three major types you will see:

-Masonic

 

-OES

 

-Templar

Please note: this is a video of the Knight’s Templar Wreath Laying Ceremony. There is an actual funeral service, but it is fairly similar to this.

Many of the auxiliary groups have their own service rituals, but these are the most common that you will see. Often, a special prayer may be said when a member of a Lodge or Chapter passes, whether or not they have chosen to have a Masonic funeral. In addition, many groups have a special ritual evening that remembers all those who have passed in the last year.

Have you ever been to a Masonic funeral service? What did you think? Is it something you would choose for yourself?

 

Reader Questions

So, something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while is sharing questions that I get via e-mail and PM, as well as the answers that I give. This is the first one that I have chosen to share. The sender did not respond when asked if I could share her email, so instead I’ve summarized her questions, and posted my reply. If you have any questions you would like to ask, please feel free!


How can I value something [Masonry] that doesn’t value me for what I am, a woman? How do you feel about that?

In your blog you speak as if you and your partner hold in the highest regard the brotherhood, and without questioning? Why not question? Why not doubt?

 

Addressing your first question, about the exclusion of women. This is something that I have struggled with greatly the entire time that I have been with my husband. On the one hand, I want to be included, and my sex and gender shouldn’t matter. On the other, I respect their right to exclude me, and understand why its done; I see it as creating a “safe space” something that men need just as much as women. I’ve asked my husband before if he would be okay with me joining a co-ed Masonic Lodge. There are none in our area, but he said it would not be an issue. He did, however, say that he feels that his obligation would bar him from communicating with me at least Masonically, if not also put a damper on our communication about Masonry. That would make my life very difficult, as he is often the first person I turn to when writing this blog.

Many people have asked me, “Why not just join Eastern Star?” I have, and it is not the same. As it is not a mirror image of Blue Lodge, and is not exclusive of males, that safe space feeling tends to fall short. I would say that the closest thing that currently exists within the Masonic community would be Daughters of the Nile. It’s not quite right though. I feel that the answer lies in a different organization, called the Order of the Weavers. It mirrors Blue Lodge very similarly, but is quite different in its own right. Unfortunately, there are currently no chapters in the United States, and the organization only operates in the Netherlands. It would be quite the project to get a group of people together to go there, receive the degrees, get the blessing to start a new chapter, and then head back to the States and start the first US chapter. This would take a decent sized group of very dedicated women to pull off.

As for the values, there are two things to remember: Freemasonry is hundreds of years old, and came about well before women were independent in any sense; just because a group excludes you from membership, does not mean that it does not value you. For the former, Freemasonry has been largely unchanged the entire time that is has existed. With this goes the gender and societal roles of women. I often feel that the organization is outdated and behind the times. However, just because you cannot be a member, does not mean that you cannot be involved. I’ve heard from lots of women who have started their own “wives club” of sorts within the Lodge, who get together for all sorts of activities, both related to Masonry, and not. Masonry can uphold traditional gender roles, this is true, but in this day and age I feel that there is much more flex within them, and many more lines to be blurred and boundaries to be pushed.

The latter is very interesting as well. While there are no oaths sword to uphold womanhood within ritual (that I am aware of). It is expressed in different ways. There is a special dinner that some Lodges put on every year (others less often) called Ladies at the Table. It’s basically an evening to celebrate and honor all of the women who support the Lodge throughout the year. T decided to put one on the year that he was Master of the Lodge. It was a great time to have all the men come together and really show their appreciation for what the women do (and put up with) for Masonry. Within DeMolay, the young men’s organization, which is based on Blue Lodge, honoring womanhood is mentioned within their obligation. They also have a special ritual called the flower talk, specifically given for the sake of moms and other women that support Masonic youth. You can watch that here. So, I guess my point is, don’t ever think that you are not valued as a women within Masonry. I think that often the opposite becomes true. Masonry teaches men about many topics, and I have seen many a man come out on the other side as a kinder, more respecting, and chivalrous individual.

Moving onto your second question. When I first started dating T, I was much like you were before you were with your Mason. Most of my ideas about Masonry were largely based on conspiracy theories and Internet rumors. I had no idea just how involved he and his family are. Luckily, our relationship was built on open communication, and because of that, I trust him fully.

I think the two biggest factors in me trusting the brotherhood are experience and Google. I joined OES early on in my relationship with T. After you join a Masonic body, you realize just how mundane it really is. And when you see that the organization that uses the inverted pentagram mostly just pays bills and sends condolences, it gives you perspective. I have also since become a DeMolay advisor, and am privy (as are all the parents) to the ritual, that is based on Blue Lodge’s. In addition to this, I have seen first hand what Masonry does. It does make good men better, but it is so much more than that. To know that I have a huge community that has my back whether they agree with me or not is truly amazing. I can’t think of anyone within my Masonic family that would turn me down in a time of need. I’ve been lucky enough to see the life of a child changed by Masonry, not only through its youth programs, but also the hospitals that they run.

When all else fails, Google is your friend. All of the rituals are available online with some careful searching. None of those secrets are really so secret. Have I read the entire ritual cover to cover? No, I’ve not. But I feel that just knowing that it is available to me is comforting on many levels.

I would not say that I am without doubts on Masonry. However, these tend to be on specific issues rather than the organization as a whole. For instance, the exclusion of homosexuals in Mississippi and Tennessee, as well as the exclusion of trans-men in other states I definitely do not agree with, but it never causes me to doubt the entire organization.

I am also, not without question. Questioning Masonry is actually what lead me to create this blog in the first place. Questioning Masonry is often the drive to continue on with it. We cannot learn without knowing what questions to ask. I enjoy sharing the answers to my questions here, which is what makes up a large portion of the posts on The Mason’s Lady. I think that when we stop questioning, we become compliant, and that leads to many issues.

FreeMasonry in Cartoons

Finals week is upon me, so of course, all of my downtime is spend vegging out and watching cartoons, so join me! Please remember that these are all simply based on Freemasonry or other “secret societies”, and are not intended to be accurate. Sometimes writers and/or artists are Masons themselves, other times it is simply what they imagine it to be. Enjoy!

I have no idea what this is or where it comes from, but it certainly is silly, as well as mildly NSFW. If you happen to know the source, please let me know!

flintstones_mother_in_law

The Flintstones start us off with the Loyal Order of the Water Buffalo. If you’re interested in watching specific episodes with the order, check out this link for a list.

While not directly Masonic, in this Disney short, Donald Duck learns about geometry. It’s a bit like Disney does the middle chamber lecture. I remember watching this in high school math class!

 

500px-good_neighbors_12

From the “Good Neighbors” episode of Spongebob Squarepants. I believe there is also an oath and song in it, but I cannot share that here.

An interesting cartoon from 1931 called Bimbo’s Initiation. Remember that clubs and lodges of all types were very popular at this time.

watch-out-stan-mayor-dies-and-gideon-returns-in-gravity-falls-s02e14-if-i-run-for-mayor-559622

If you’re looking for a smart cartoon with lots of Masonic symbols, Gravity Falls is for you. There is some question if the creator is a Mason, but it has only been reported that his uncle is.

 

The Simpsons has a lot of Masonic and “Illuminati” references. This is from the Episode Homer the Great.

Have you seen any Masonic images or symbols or even more in another cartoon? Please share!

How to Explain Masonry to Someone Else

So, just a personal aside before we begin. I know I’ve been gone a bit, I had surgery on my foot, and thinking straight enough to write while on painkillers is exceedingly hard. But! I am shooting for a 2nd and 4th week posting schedule, so hopefully we will get back on track. In addition to this, I’ve been mulling around the idea of putting together a book! It’s very much in the beginning stages at this point, I don’t even have a rough outline beyond what’s in my head at this point. If you have any topics or suggestions you’d like to see in a book on the topic of being an SO of a Mason, feel free to shoot me an email at themasonslady@gmail.com

 

So, I know that this has happened to you. Someone asks you to hang out on the night of a Masonic event. The exchange usually goes something like this:

“Unfortunately, we have something going on.”

“Something fun I hope?”

“Well, it’s a Masonic dinner, they can be kind of fun.”

“Masonic?”

“Yeah, you know like a Freemason?”

“Um, no?”

Queue you trying to explain what Masonry is in a sentence or two, to someone that probably will still have no idea what it is that you’re talking about, or, to be honest, might not even care. So, what should you say?

To be honest, often I still have no idea. When I find myself in this situation, I tend to stumble over myself, and often leave the other person thinking about men chanting in robes, or share way too much about the organization.

Give them a frame of reference

Most people have no idea what a Freemason is, and that’s understandable. Oddly enough, however, almost everyone knows what a Shriner is. I would imagine this is due to their marketing and advertising that Blue Lodge tends to avoid. Even if I say “Shriner”, and I still get a blank look, I usually follow that up with “the guys in the little cars in the parade”, “Shriner circus”, or “Shiner Hospital for Children”, and then they know who I mean. I usually follow it up by saying that every Shriner has to be a Mason (as long as you’re not in Arkansas), but not every Mason has to be a Shriner. This is usually a satisfactory answer to what a Mason is.

Keep it concise

Truth be told, most people are just asking to be polite. The answer that you give them probably does not greatly affect them in any way. The hard part is summing up Masonry in a short, simple yet complete answer. There are so many aspects, and it can mean so very many things to so many different people. Usually, I will go with the standard of, “It’s a philanthropic adult fraternity.” This answer satisfies most people, and yet, every time I say it, I feel like its not quite right. It doesn’t quite encompass Masonry as well as it could. To be honest, I’m not sure what the correct, complete answer is. If you have a better one, please do share!

Share additional information, but only if asked

This is probably one of the things I have the hardest time with. When someone shows interest in Masonry, or in a related organization, I can get a little over excited, and talk to them a bit more about it than they really wanted to know. That being said, there are people out there that do want to learn more about the organization(s), so you should be prepared for that. Brush up on your general knowledge (Freemasons for Dummies!), or at least know where you can send someone to learn more – the Wikipedia article is decent, and your local Grand Lodge’s website is always a great resource. It’s fine to not have the answer to someone’s question regarding Freemasonry, but be sure to find out, or direct them to someone who can answer their question. Since Masons don’t actively recruit, word of mouth is the only way to get new members!

Hopefully this will help next time someone asks, “What is Masonry, anyway?” If you have any answers to this question that you use, please share them!

 

 

The SO Masonic Blues

Sometimes, I’m really good at feeling sorry for myself and being absolutely pathetic. Take last night for instance. I’ve got a bum foot, so I’ve been on crutches for about a week, this coupled with the fact that I can’t do much of work or school on crutches, has left me with a lot of free time. Unfortunately, in the case of last night, this free time does not include my husband; it sounds kind of lame when I put it this way, but the man is  my best friend. While I did get some homework done, lets be real, all I wanted to do was consume an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s while watching Fuller House.

Sometimes being in a relationship with a Mason can be hard. Sometimes you can’t, or don’t want to come to Lodge dinners, or other meetings just to hang outside the Lodge room. If your Mason is anything like mine, Lodge night often involves hours at the Shrine bar afterwards, which often means that he’s not home until long after I’m asleep. While I didn’t approach last night in the most healthy way, it certainly could have been worse. And I did start making this list, a list I want to share with you, and hope that you will take and add to, and make your own. Please note that I am definitely an introvert, so those who are not will find themselves with completely different lists. Even if you don’t take any of these ideas, at least take the concept, so that you have something to pull out of your back pocket for when you’re feeling down and sorry for yourself on Lodge night (or any other night for that matter).

Things to Do on Lodge Night: (Especially when I’m feeling sorry for myself, in no particular order)

  • Watch movies in genres he hates or only watches for you
  • Make a super awesome dinner for one
  • Bake!
  • Play video games
  • Take yourself out to dinner
  • Order Chinese delivery, eat all of the evidence
  • Do that thing you’ve been saying you’re gonna do for months
  • Read a book
  • Start a new hobby, or revisit one you haven’t had time for
  • Work on the Master Craftsman Program
  • Go for a nice walk (it’s getting to be that time of year)
  • Binge watch an entire season of a show on Netflix
  • Play a solo board game, or call up a friend and play games
  • Call up some friends and go out for coffee or dinner
  • Learn or start a new craft project
  • Clean (boring)
  • Organize (less boring)
  • Go shopping, spend way too much time at the store
  • Work out
  • Work on a puzzle, crossword, sudoku, etc
  • Check out your local library
  • Work on learning a new language (check out Duolingo!)
  • Drive out to the country and stargaze
  • Actually write something by hand: a letter, a journal, a book
  • Organize a girls night out on Lodge night with other SO’s from the Lodge

 

What would you add? What’s on your list?

Freemasonry and Sex

Alright, let’s start with this disclaimer.

This is an article for those 18 and up only. If you are under 18, and have questions about sex, please visit Scarleteen.

Now that that’s out of the way. There’s a couple of things that are never discussed in Lodge, religion and politics. However, there is another topic here, that is not even mentioned, sex. What does sex have to do with Freemasonry? More than you might think.

What does Masonry say about sex?

Sex itself is really only mentioned once, during the obligation itself. A Master Mason candidate swears that he will respect and uphold the integrity of another Master Mason’s wife, mother, daughter, or sister. Included in this bit, that he will not have “carnal intercourse” with them. So, not specifically sex, but can you think of any other kind of “carnal intercourse”? The idea here isn’t that a Mason can’t date another Mason’s sister, but more that he won’t do it behind his brother’s back, and more pointedly, won’t sleep with his brother’s wife.

The Demolay obligation includes that the candidate will respect womanhood, and a promise to not defame the character of any woman. Not exactly what is included in the Master Mason degree, but the general idea is the same. Interestingly, there is no such promise made in the OES, or Daughters of the Nile obligation, nor is there anything of the like in Job’s Daughters, or Rainbow Girls.

What about LGBT Masons?

Something that has come up in the last few years is whether or not the obligation should be changed, to include those in same sex relationships. Not every (L)GBT Mason’s SO is also a Mason of course, just like not every heterosexual Mason’s SO is in Eastern Star. Many people feel that this should be changed to include husband, son, father, and brother, while others feel that it is implied. If it is to be changed, as we know with Masonry, it will not be any time soon, especially not if you live in Georgia.

Yes, you read that right. If you are a gay or bisexual man, who lives in Georgia, you cannot become a Mason. The Grand Master barred any gay man from joining Freemasonry last year. Yes, you read that right. Of course, they also tried to eject someone for being a “non-white”, and also don’t allow fornicators to become Masons…. Good luck with that Georgia.

What about the T in LGBT? This is kind of a tricky subject, and from what I can tell, is mostly decided on a case by case basis. There are a couple of jurisdictions who ask if you were “born male” on their petition paperwork. If you’re interested in reading more about this topic, check out Being Transgender in the Masonic Community.

What about those of us who like to spice it up a bit?

I’m not going to lie to you, Freemasonry and the Masonic community is sometimes a bit like stepping back in time. It 100% supports the idea of the 1950’s household, complete with slippers and dinner on the table when the husband gets home from work. It’s starting to get away from that, but very slowly, as with all things in Masonry. This can be both a burden and a boon. Sometimes it’s kind of fun to play subservient housewife, who is only interested in cooking and magazines…right up until the time that an older Mason thinks I’m dumb because of whats in between my legs. My point is, it can be fun sometimes, but can get old very, very fast. I will be coming back to this topic when I discuss Masonry and Feminism later this year.

And then there’s the people who take things just a bit too far. Sometimes my research for this blog takes me to the depths of the internet; through some other family’s vacation photos to Washington D.C., to websites from the Geocities era, and somehow, I found myself at a website all about the Red Star.

Before you go Googling it, please know, it is absolutely NSFW. I just want to go on record, that this is absolutely, one-hundred-and-ten-percent, not Masonic ritual. It is someone’s (or a few people’s) fantasy. It is absolutely not real. The entire “ritual” is posted, and reads like a bad BSDM fanfiction. The basic idea, is that after a man becomes a Master Mason, his wife must undergo a ritual, turning herself completely over to him, becoming completely submissive. She then becomes his “red star”. It even comes complete with Bible quotes about being a good and subservient wife, so you know it’s legit; NOT! Again, seriously, this is not a real thing, a quick search will show you that it falls apart pretty quickly. But just in case you needed an idea for Valentine’s Day…

Ummm…

I guess the bottom line here is, Masonry and sex do not really mix, as it shouldn’t. Don’t sleep with other Mason’s SOs (unless you have their permission), don’t be a gay Mason in Georgia, and don’t believe everything you read on the internet, especially when it comes to Masonry.

 

Grand Lodge is this weekend, marking the third year of The Mason’s Lady! Hope to see some of you there!

How to Keep Freemasonry from Ruining Your Marriage, and Why It’s Not Supposed to Be That Way

Every week it seems, I receive an email or PM saying more or less the same thing. My husband joined Freemasonry behind my back. I don’t like how much time Masonry takes up. Freemasonry is ruining my marriage.

 There are dozens, if not more, forums stating the same thing. That Freemasonry wants nothing more than to take men away from their wives, their children, and their families.  Let me first assure you, that this is not the case. In fact, Freemasonry teaches that it should not be a priority in your life. Your family should always come first, as should work, school, and anything else that may be important in your life. Freemasonry should supplement and complement  your life, not take over it. Unfortunately, many new members jump into the deep end, and either become overexcited with all of the new opportunities, or feel guilted, or that they “should” do this or that event, and quickly find themselves overwhelmed. If you find yourself in this situation, either as a Mason, or an SO of a Mason, this is what I recommend doing.

  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate. This is the biggest factor, and honestly, the easiest to do. However, it is also the most overlooked. If you feel that your SO is spending too much time at Masonic events, tell them. They may not realize that you are struggling with it at all, and think that everything is fine. Your partner is not a mind reader, no matter how much we may want them to be. I know that I can fall into the trap of being passive aggressive in hopes that my partner will somehow magically be able to guess what is wrong. If you have a problem, or even just a question, about Freemasonry, or anything else for that matter, speak with them about it. In addition to this, those who are members of Masonic organizations need to communicate clearly with their leaders. I know I have been goaded more than once into doing some event that I didn’t really want to because I felt I had to. Don’t be afraid to communicate your wants and needs to them. If you can’t make it to something, they will understand.
  1. Do your research. A lot of the time, the reason we don’t like, or are afraid of something, is because we don’t know about it. A lot of women tell me that they are concerned about the secrets that the Freemasons tell the men to keep from their wives. As I’ve said before, and I will say again: Freemason secrets are nothing more than handshakes, and ways to recognize each other. If you want to know for yourself, Google it. No, seriously. Anything that goes on in Lodge you can find on the Internet. I’ll even give you a leg up; the most commonly used book is called Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor. It’s even in handy dandy PDF form! A fair warning though- it is mind numbingly boring to read. However, if you are a Mason who has not yet received all of their degrees, or are someone who wants to someday become a Mason, I recommend you do not read it. Not knowing what is coming is half the fun of initiation. In addition to this, know that if you do read it, and ask your SO questions, they may not be able to answer them all. Although all Masonic secrets can be found with a quick search, the men who join still swear an oath to never reveal them.
  1. Get involved. This kind of goes hand in hand with number two. When T first told me about the Shrine, I imagined this super-secret bar that entrance could only be gained with the correct knock and password, that it would be far off the beaten path, maybe even underground. When I first went to the local Shrine, I realized I passed it a million times every week. It was plain, out in the open, open to the public, with large signs and statues advertising what organization lay inside. I think sometimes we let our imaginations carry us away. Lodge night quickly becomes men in dark robes, chanting in an underground chamber of a long forgotten castle. If you’ve never been to your SO’s Lodge, go! There is nothing stopping you from entering the building, meeting the other members, or even entering the Lodge room. Ask the Worshipful Master for a tour, I am certain he will be happy to. If you’ve been frustrated with your SO’s lack of answers, ask someone who may know there. Don’t just go when there are family events, go on Lodge night, go and have dinner with them before their meetings, ask if you can sit in on education lectures. You won’t be able to go to everything, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Even just going to a Lodge meeting and sitting out with the Tyler, reading a book, can do wonders to put your mind at ease.
  1. Consider therapy. Don’t think of therapy as a bad thing. Just like Masonry, you want to make a good thing better. It may help you learn things about your SO you never knew before. This is why many religions require couples to go through some kind of counseling before they are married.  Often times, just having a third, neutral party can help more than you can imagine. Going to therapy can help you learn how to communicate better, which we all know leads to better relationships. Sometimes we realize issues are bigger than we thought, and sometimes they are in reality such a minute detail we don’t even remember why they seemed so big in the first place. Counseling and therapy can help give you perspective, and can help you grow as a person, and as a couple. I highly recommend it for anyone, not just those who feel they are having issues, Masonic or otherwise.
  1. If all else fails, back away. This, I feel like is also very difficult to do. If Freemasonry is causing enough discourse that your SO feels that it is ruining your relationship, it’s time to step away for a bit. Not from your relationship of course, but from Masonry. I feel like so often we feel obligated to do everything, especially as new members, that we get overwhelmed quickly, sometimes without even realizing it. Masonry will be there when you get back. Being a Mason is kind of like being a Jew, once a Mason, always a Mason (you do have to keep current on dues of course). It’s okay to take a break, Masonry will still be there when you are ready to return. Please, please do step away, especially if you feel that your relationship with your SO, or any other aspect of your life is suffering because of it.

Hopefully this helps at least one person out there. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me here, or email at themasonslady@gmail.com

 

The Masonic Bible…Qu’ran…Tanakh?

Every so often, I hear the same remark about Masonry, “Isn’t that some kind of weird religion?” No, of course it’s not. “But don’t they have their own Bible?” Well, yes, kinda.

I’m not exactly sure where people get the idea that Freemasonry is a religion. I think that it tends to be one of the rumors that spread around by people who have no idea what they are talking about, and may, or may not fear what is actually going on in those Lodge rooms.

So, let’s start with that. Freemasonry is not, nor will it ever be, a religion. In fact, it is very uncommon to have every member of a Lodge be of the same religion. The only requirement, for the majority of Lodges out there, is that the candidate believes in a higher power. Usually, that’s it. There’s no question as to who or what they think that higher power is, or how they choose to worship it, or not. Occasionally some Lodges will delve a bit deeper into these kinds of questions, but they tend to be vague and be wide open for interpretation. So, this means that a Christian, a Muslim, and a Buddhist could all be Freemasons, and even all be members of the same Lodge. Do you think you’re going to get people with that large of a variance of a belief to agree on religion? Good luck. In fact, religion, along with politics, is a topic of conversation in Lodge that is widely discouraged.

Right, so, Freemasonry is not a religion. But what about this Masonic Bible I keep hearing so much about? The Masonic Bible does exist, but not like you think. The Masonic Bible tends to be one of those things that conspiracy theorists say that you don’t get to actually know about until you’re a super secret 99th degree level Master Mason. Well, I hope one of those conspiracy theorists is reading this right now, because I am going to share with you never before seen pictures of a Masonic Bible.

 

Gasp! The horror, the horror, the…wait a second, isn’t that just a King James Version of the Bible? Yes, yes it is. Think of a Masonic Bible to be akin to a family Bible, or a study Bible. It has a different cover, some different stuff in the beginning, but after that, its just the same Bible you know and (may) love.

You see, when a Masonic candidate takes his oath, he swears on the Bible (usually, see below for more). In some Lodges, he may swear on the small, personal Bible for all three of his degrees, or in others, he may swear on the Lodge Bible for the first two, and then the small one for the Master Mason degree.

Alright, let’s talk about all that extra stuff. This is T’s Bible, and as you can see, it is a bit worse for wear. On the cover and spine, we see the square and compass, makes sense. In the first couple of pages, there’s usually some blank space and a lot of lines, as well as some sort of presentation page. This area is for inscription from friends and family, as well as noting when the Mason went through each of the degrees. Traditionally, after the third degree is finished, everyone else present signs the Bible, which is then presented to the candidate. The rest of it, as you can see, is the kind of stuff you could find on Wikipedia, though if anyone is interested in reading all of this part, I’d be happy to upload it. After that, it’s the Bible, same beginning, same middle, same end.

OES, as you can see, does more or less the same thing, only to a bit of a less degree. Only the cover is the major change you see, otherwise it’s a Bible that one may receive after confirmation. The different ribbons stuck in it is the way it was presented to me, and marks the passages from which the five heroines that make up the five OES degrees come from.

So, what if you’re not Christian? What if you’re a Jew, or Muslim, or anything else? Well, fear not, for Freemasonry has it covered. You may swear your oath on any Holy Book of your choosing. How I wish I’d known that when I joined! Unfortunately, it’s not something readily advertised, and in many cases, you may have to supply your own. In areas/Lodges where a religion other than Christianity is dominant, they may have a different holy book as “default”, or may even present a different holy book to the new member.

If you are ever able to make your way to the House of the Temple in Washington D.C., which is the headquarters of the Southern Jurisdiction of Scottish Rite; and you went into the Lodge room, this is what you would see on their altar.

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That’s the Holy Bible, the Jewish Tanakh, the Muslum Qu’ran, and the Hindu Bhagavad Gita. And people try to say Freemasonry is a Christian organization!

As you can see, Freemasonry highly values the diversity of its members. Sometimes Lodge members may get this idea a bit muddled, but this picture illustrates it best. Do not be fearful of joining a Masonic body if you are not a Christian (although some of the auxiliary groups you may not be eligible), and do not be fearful of claims of a Masonic Bible, as it is simply, the Bible.

Also, if you’d like a virtual tour of the House of the Temple (which I highly recommend, that place is *gorgeous*!) check out this page.

Masonic Christmas

Wow, is it really December already? We’ve got our tree up, but not yet decorated, and the menorah is out (of course, all you have to do is take it out of the box), and that’s about as far as we’ve gotten as far as holidays at our house, gifts aren’t even really on the radar yet.  I have to assume that at least some of you are on the same page as myself, and might be on the lookout for a gift for a Masonic family member. I covered this topic as well last year, but this year I wanted to show off some of the more unique options out there.

 

Something Old

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Everyone loves heirlooms, even more so if they can be passed from Mason to Mason throughout the generations. Sometimes though, you find that you’re better off getting something secondhand in order to get that unique gift. There’s lots of options here: books, aprons, but the biggest is jewelry. A word of caution, however, try and buy from a reputable seller. There’s tons of Masonic costume jewelry out there, and what you thought was 25k gold, might actually be gold plated, or worse, just plain plastic. eBay tends to be a better option than Etsy, due to the lower prices, but both are viable options. Also, don’t be afraid to check out your local pawnshop or even craigslist. What you find might just surprise you.

 

Something Handmade

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 There are so many cool, unique options out there if you decide to buy something that has been handmade. Etsy is the place for this, although there are some other sites out there as well. Don’t limit yourself to just sellers with Masonic items, many people that do glass etching or woodworking will be able to do most any of the logos for any Masonic organization. 3d printing is also becoming very popular, and tends to be fairly inexpensive. Scotch glasses, jewelry boxes, embossed journals, the possibilities are limitless. Don’t forget that for the most part, these are not copyrighted, so you don’t have to worry about that, although your state and country laws may vary.

 

Something Educational

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 Education is the gift that keeps on giving, especially when it comes to Masonic education. Although initiates receive copies of the ritual work when they join, there are countless books out there on Masonry. History, how-to’s, esoteric books, meditations and reflections, even Masonic fiction exists. Besides, doesn’t everyone need a copy of Morals and Dogma? If you’d rather give a gift that goes a step further, why not enroll them in the Master Craftsman program? I’ve talked about this before, but the short story is, it’s an education program put on by the Scottish Rite, that has readings and tests, and even a fancy pin to show everyone you finished. And, as long as they get it done in a year, you can buy them the next level next year!

 

 Something Charitable

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 Charity is really the name of the game when it comes to Freemasonry, so why not donate to a Masonic cause in someone’s name for a gift? There’s tons of options out there, including the Shiner’s Hospital for Children and RiteCare. If you want to take it a step further, find out what organizations and charities their Lodge or Chapter is working with this year. If you’re not sure, contact your local Grand Lodge, or barring that, you can never go wrong with keeping it close to home and donating to an organization in your local community.

 

Something Traditional

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If you’re looking for something more traditional, check out these Masonic retailers.

Macoy

Lauterer

Red Tower Regalia

The MAAC

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