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

 

Masonic Potluck

The holidays are just around the corner, and what does that mean for the Masonic world? Potlucks as far as the eye can see. I know T’s Lodge is kicking off the holiday season with a Veteran’s Day potluck, followed by a few more later in the month. Potlucks can often be tricky for those of us that are younger in the Masonic community. On the one hand, we don’t have the time to spend that all of the retired folks do (I know one lovely lady that hand makes 3D decorations for Christmas cookies every year!), but just buying a bag of chips from the store on your way to the Lodge might make you feel like you barely did anything at all. Have no fear! These recipes will have everyone thinking you called into work the day before, just so you could make something awesome for the potluck; in reality, anyone can  find time to make these simple but delicious dishes.

Honey BBQ Wings

Call me crazy, but I think cold weather is the best time to grill. Doesn’t take much effort, gets you in front of a fire, and your meat is cooked nice and fast. You can’t fake that nice grill char anywhere else. Also, wings are super simple. If you haven’t made buffalo wings at home before, I highly recommend it. Grill ‘em, then toss in sauce. Done and yum.

Wings

Prepare grill for medium heat. Grill wings, turning occasionally until golden brown and crisp, about 15-20 minutes.

Sauce

Ingredients

  • ½ Cup honey
  • 1¼ Cup Ketchup
  • ½ Cup white vinegar
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Cup light brown sugar
  • cracked pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Add ingredients to pot on stove top and whisk to combine. Bring to boil reduce to simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Take off heat and let come to room temperature. Use as a dipping sauce or to baste on meat.
  2. Store in airtight container in fridge, or toss wings immediately.

Caprese Bites

Who doesn’t love cheese? These craprese kabobs are super simple, and always a welcome addition to any potluck. I do have two recommendations however, first, get mozerella pearls or balls if you can

help it, you will save yourself a ton of time. Second, not everyone is as big of a fan of balsamic vinegar as I am, so you may want to have it on the side instead of drizzling on top of the kabobs, especially if you are expecting children to attend. Also a nice, light dish, since many items at Masonic potlucks tend to be heavy.

Ingredients

 You will want one of each of these for how many kabobs you want to make:

Grape tomaotes

Mozzarella Balls or pearls

Fresh basil leaves

1/6 cup of olive oil

1/6 cup of balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper

Toothpicks

Instructions

  1. Take a toothpick, place tomato, basil leaf, and mozzarella on toothpick
  2. Do this until you are satisfied with the number of kabobs you have
  3. Sprinkle salt and pepper over bites
  4. In a small bowl, combine oil and vinegar, drizzle over bites.

Salsa chicken

 Okay, so, you signed up to bring a meat dish to the potluck, but now you realize you have no time. Like, literally just enough to come home from work, change your clothes, and barely make it to Lodge on time.  Take it from the Hitchhiker’s Guide, Don’t Panic. Salsa chicken is here to save your day. All you need is a crockpot, and if you don’t have one, now is the time. They are a $20 lifesaver, and you can literally unplug it at home, and take the whole thing with you to Lodge.

Ingredients

 4+ boneless chicken breasts- add more if your crockpot allows.

2 cups of salsa – the chunkier the better

Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Place chicken breasts in a slow cooker and cover with salsa. Toss until the chicken is covered.
  2. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours (or low for 6-8 hours), or until the chicken shreds easily with a fork.
  3. Shred the chicken in the slow cooker and toss with the remaining salsa and juices until well-mixed.
  4. Serve immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days. (This chicken also freezes well.)

Popcorn Cake

 

So, I’m known in my household for taking desserts a bit too far. I will happily spend hours making dozens of cookies, only to eat one and no more. This is a super simple twist on rice krispie treats that I made last night for our DeMolay potluck this evening. I might have had a small slice for breakfast, and let it be known, this recipe packs a ton of sugary goodness.

Ingredients

12 cups (about 2 bags) of popped popcorn, unpopped kernels removed –I used movie butter, kettle corn might be too much, unless you are really into sweets

1 stick of butter

16 ounces  of marshmellows – the orginal recipie called for 8, which is almost two bags, I thought mine was a little too marshmellowy, feel free to add more if you want

2 cups of m&ms, any flavor

1 ½-2 cups of 2-3 other mix ins – broken pretzels, peanuts, candy corn, goldfish, gummy bears, anything you love with popcorn or just have around

Instructions

  1. Grease your Bundt pan. If you don’t have one, any loaf pan or even a 9×13 pan will be just fine.
  2. Mix your popcorn and mix-ins together
  3. Melt your butter and marshmallows together in the microwave until smooth. Let cool for about 2 minutes
  4. Mix the marshmallow mixture into the popcorn mixture. It will be quite sticky.
  5. Move everything into your pan of choice. Place a piece of parchment paper on top to help you smooth the top out.
  6. Let cool for at least one hour

I hope that these recipes can help you bring an awesome dish to your next potluck, Masonic or otherwise. If you have any recipes you would like to share, please feel free. And as always, have a wonderful week!

So You’ve Decided to Join a Masonic Body, Part II

This week’s article is a continuation of last’s, what steps you need to take, and the Lodge/Chapter takes, when you join a Masonic organization. This week, I will be discussing the initiation itself. Please know that no secrets will be given away. I will not be going over any of the finer details. The majority of what is secret, is words, phrases, and handshakes so that members can recognize each other outside of the organization. While I do know a couple of secret handshakes, this mode of member recognition has kind of gone to the wayside since the internet. Also, while I will not be going over them here, you can find the entirety of initations online (as well as opening/closing ritual, iniatations, basically everything but the secrets); I do not recommend reading ritual work, especially initations, before receiving the degree, even if you do not plan on joining right away. There’s something magical about the first degree that you receive, and if you know what’s coming, part of that magic is lost.

Alright, so, your petition has been turned in, read, and approved for membership. Now you get to play the waiting game. When you receive the degree will have to be worked into the Lodge/Chapter’s schedule, or they may have to call a special meeting to get it done. Usually, once you receive word that you are approved to receive the degrees, your initation is usually within a month. Please remember that some Lodges/Chapters are “dark” (no meetings) for the summer, so if you apply in late spring, you may not have your initation until early fall. The night of, you will want to dress conservatively, it’s always better to be overdressed when getting initated, since you will be the focal point of the meeting. If you are joining an OES Chapter, I do not recommend wearing heels, as there is a lot of walking; you will want to be in comfortable shoes. This is also true for other Masonic bodies that meet in very large Lodge rooms.

You will of course, want to arrive a few minutes early. This is for a few reasons. In many organizations, you may have to wear a cloth or other clothing over what you are wearing. This clothing has symbolic meaning for the degree, or story, you are about to hear. The Lodge/Chapter will open, while you wait outside. This does not take too terribly long (about ten minutes), but does add to the anticipation. When joining a Lodge, they may ask you to stay in a room of reflection, which is usually a plain room, with a chair, and you are alone with your thoughts. They may or may not give you a thinking prompt while you wait. Usually, a member of the organization is tasked with waiting with you, and may explain a bit about what is to happen.

Someone will come and get you when it is time. Depending on the organization, you may be blindfolded, or “hoodwinked” before you enter the Lodge room.  When joining other organizations, the lights may simply be dimmed. As I said before, I will not (and cannot) go into details, but each Masonic organization follows the same general sequence of events. After being brought into the Lodge room, the Worshipful Master/Worthy Matron/Queen/etc., will ask if you come of your own free will, and sometimes if you believe in a higher power. You may get asked more questions, but your buddy will coach you through this beforehand. Once you are granted access to the Lodge room, you will be lead around to (most) all of the officers, and important points in the room. Eventually, you will end up in front of the altar.

This is one of the most important parts of the initation- the obligation. You will be asked to kneel if you are able, and place your hand upon the Bible, or other faith book of your choosing. You will then take a binding oath, that contains a couple of things, both that you swear to do, and not do. It is mostly things like, swearing to not divulge any secrets that you learn during your initation or any other meeting to a non member, that you will help a member in need, etc. The obligation does not include anything that is difficult to do, and really, anything that you probably wouldn’t do anyway. There is an important part, that many people against Masonry choose to ignore; you swear that will not Masonry to insult, jepordize, or have any other negative effect on your religion and family; or break any laws of your state or nation. Some Masons forget this part of the obligation as well, and choose to let Masonry run and eventually ruin their lives, marriages, and familes.

Something that definitely does not happen during degree work

The next section is where the degree is actually given, also known as conferred. Each group has their own specifics, but the general concept is the same. The person that led you around the room earlier will lead you again. This time you will be pausing to hear different stories, or different parts of the same story from some officers in the room. These stories are the foundation of Masonry. Do your best to listen to them as closely as you can, but it is unlikely that you will get everything during your degrees. This is a good reason to participate in doing degrees for others; you will remember things that didn’t quite get processed the first time around. OES, Daughters of the Nile, and a few others, tell many stories with a central theme. Groups like Blue Lodge and Scottish Rite, on the other hand, tell one story, that continues on throughout all of the degrees. If you are able, do read the degree work after you have received it, doing so will help you learn more about the building blocks of Masonry.

The final step, is to show you the secrets. As I’ve said above, the large majority of these are methods of recognition of members outside of regular group activities. If you are joining Blue Lodge, the majority of these will be given during the Master Mason degree. After that, you will be escorted to a seat on the side of the room, and any business that still needs to be conducted is. The night that I was initated, I actually got to vote right afterwards. After the Lodge/Chapters close, prepare for everyone to come and congradulate you. That evening, or soon after, you will be presented with your copy of the ritual book, and, at least in Blue Lodge and OES, the book of faith you swore your obligation on.

Even kitties want to join Masonic bodies!

And really, that’s it. While the core of an initiation is really quite simple, all of the details make it complex. All (most?) Lodges and Chapters require memorization of parts, as an open ritual book is not allowed in an open Lodge/Chapter. These parts can range to a paragraph or two, up to more than ten pages. A lot of work goes into initiating a candidate, although most of it is not done by the candidate. Relish the day that you are initated, as you only get to be on the receiving end once. They are often deep and thought provoking, more so than most people expect.

Hopefully these last two weeks have help ease minds, and perhaps even push a few people to join this week. Usually the scariest part is not knowing. If you have any questions about this, or any other Masonic topic, feel free to contact me here, or at themasonslady@gmail.com If not, have a great week!

The Masonic Membership Problem

Last week, my Chapter had a Past Matron and Patron dinner, after which we took time to honor those who had held that office, as well as give out a 50 year pin. When the Worthy Matron asked all those who had served as Worthy Matron or Patron to stand, I looked around the room. I was the only one not standing. I am the youngest in my Chapter by about 20 years. There are a few members my age, but I tend to be the only one who is there on a regular basis. My first thought was that I wished that there were more people at least in my generation that were members of my Chapter. My realization was that, at least partially, this is my fault. My 60+ year old Associate Conductress doesn’t know any 20 somethings, nor do any of the other members. Grandchildren are an option, but many member’s families do not live in the area. So, I have decided to take it upon myself to help breathe some new life into my chapter. Right now I am just doing some research, so this post is as much for myself as it is for you.

Problem

 The main issue is that Freemasonry, and most of its affiliated groups, are aging organizations. Many members are 60 years or older, and they do not have a great influx of younger members. I think that this happens for a few reasons. Many youth in youth groups like DeMolay or Rainbow for Girls, are not educated on the groups that help run and support them. Since they are often not, or undereducated, they do not become members of adult groups. This issue tends to extend far beyond the youth groups, and into society overall. Many people, especially young people, do not know that Masonry or OES even exist, or think they are long gone, or a secret society that no one can really join. This is, unfortunetly, something that we did to ourselves. Masonic groups attempted to be so secreative in the 50’s and 60’s, that people forgot any other way ever existed. This results in things like, adult children not knowing that their parent was a Mason or a member until their death. Masonry, at least Blue Lodge Masonry, is forbidden to advertise. This causes numerous problems, espeicially in today’s society of constant information. Many affiliated groups follow suit, except for the Shrine. The Shriners are the best known group of Masonry, because they are the ones that not only advertise, but members openly affiliate themselves in public. Even someone who claims to know nothing about Masonry has heard of a Shiner, or at least know them as “the guys with fezzes and tiny cars”. Unfortunetly, this can often lead to members who want to get through Blue Lodge degrees as quickly as possible so they can join the Shrine. Many Chapters, and a few Grand Lodges have changed their official policies on advertisement in order to attract new members. This seems to be doing well for those who go that route.

 

The other issue is not only attracting new members, but keeping the ones that we have. Member retention has been an issue for many years. Many people will join, go through all of the degrees, and rarely, if ever, show up again. I myself am guilty of this; I recently joined Daughters of the Nile and have not been back; the reason here is another issue, choosing the best time for optimal availability for most members. While my OES Chapter meets at 7:30 pm on aWednesday, Daughters of the Nile in my area meets at noon on a Thursday, yes, noon. People don’t come back for many reasons, often though, it’s because the group turned out to be different than what they expected. Many people join Masonic groups thinking it will be all hooded robes and secret handshakes, and are disappointed when it turns out to be more about paying rent and arguing about where money for building maintenance should be spent next. Education of the older generation can lead to issues as well. Many of our older members think than pancake dinners are the best way to bring in new members, which is often not the case.

 Solution(s)

 So, what can we do about these issues? Perhaps one of the biggest problems is that there are so many options out there to help recruit new members, that Chapters and Lodges often get overwhelmed, and much, if anything gets done. It is usually best to start with one or two options, and go from there. Most of the solutions are really quite simple. There’s a ton out there, just do a Google search for “getting new members” or the like. I will share with you a few of my favorites, that I am planning on addressing with my Chapter’s membership committee.

  • Have a membership committee- It sounds like such a simple solution, because it really is. Many smaller chapters do not have a dedicated committee just for membership. It’s really best to have a group of people that come together once a month or so, and come up with ideas for getting new members, as well as implementing them. Come up with fun new meetings to have, interview friends and family, and find out what is stopping them from joining; a lot can be done with this committee.
  • Promote it– As I said above, many Grand Lodges or Chapters may have a “ban” on openly recruiting through advertisement. That doesn’t mean that you can’t let people know you’re out there. I am currently working on my Chapter’s Facebook page to help spread the word. Even something as simple as a flyer left on a college campus or busy business can help. Many local Shrines buy billboard ad placement, but you don’t even need to know that far; your local, non-Masonic community just needs to know that you exisit. Don’t be afraid to stick your neck out, but be sure you won’t have any issues from your Grand Lodge.
  • Make your events with younger members in mind- The majority of Chapter and Lodge new members are those who are younger. That being said, being young often means that your schedule can be hectic. Make your meetings at an attainable time and day, so that as many people as possible can come. (I’m looking at you Sat’ra Temple). Have more events on weekends, or later in the evening. You could also plan alternative meetings, where just minutes are read, and no business is discussed; another option would be to have a more casual meeting in addition to a normal meeting, much like the difference between the 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. church services. Many people in their 20’s and 30’s have children, so be sure to have an option every so often where the whole family can come.
  • Offer a “one time deal” on your dues, and maybe even raise them- This is much more for the Lodges then anything else. My dues for OES are $20 a year, where I know that T’s Lodge is more like $150. When T joined the Shrine, it was because we were at a friendship dinner with a friend, and they were offering half off the first year of dues to anyone who signed up right there. It may also be worth it to look into rasing dues. While no one likes to pay more money, it allows the Masonic body to spend more money on new events.
  • Streamline the sign up process- This one, I am not so sure we can do a ton about, but I always feel like more can be done than what we currently do. From the day I signed my petition, until my initiation, almost 4 months had gone by. I will talk more about this next week, but while there are a number of steps to go through when signing a petition, sometimes I feel like they get pushed around a bit more than need be. I also feel like more education could be done  during the initiation process that could help deter people that are in it for the goat sacrifices.

So, what does the perfect Lodge look like as far as membership? I would say that T’s Lodge is actually pretty close to what I imagine a perfection would look like. His Lodge is actually so popular to join, that not only do they end up giving one degree or another each week, but they also have a waiting list to get in! What do they do that’s so different from my elderly Chapter? Not much. They have a number of young members, most of whom have been brought in by T. They are also very active, they have family dinners before every business meeting each month, they have a good time and go to the Shrine bar after every meeting, and they are active both in and out of the Masonic community. They just are a bunch of people who want to have a good time, and have no shortage of people that want  to join in. I hope that someday, my Chapter can say the same. If I don’t take the initiative to help my Chapter out, our future looks bleak.

What have you tried in your Chapter or Lodge that worked? What didn’t work at all? What do you think Masonry can do to help bring in new members? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this often heated topic. Next week I will be discussing what you should expect when you first sign your petition. Until then, have a great week!

Master Craftsman

This week I am going to keep it short and sweet. On Wednesday, I received my book, packet, and first quiz for the Master Craftsman program. The Master Craftsman program is a mail correspondence course put on by  the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about what goes on in all of the degrees of the Scottish Rite, and get a lapel pin and nifty title after learning a ton, this is your chance. What’s different about this program? Anyone can take it. You don’t have to be a Mason, or even involved in Masonry in any way in order to take the course. That’s obviously my favorite part about the entire thing.

It costs about $50 (with shipping), for that you get the massive Scottish Rite Ritual, Monitor & Guide, the first quiz, and a folder to keep all of your papers in. The idea is that all of the quizzes are open book and open note – I plan on doing it kind of as I go. There are six quizzes for the Master Craftsman I, which covers parts of the Scottish Rite Ritual, Montior & Guide, as well as the book A Bridge to Light, which is unfortunately not included in the initial cost (its an additional $25, though I believe there are also ebook versions). When you finish Part I, you can get Master Craftsman II, which goes back over everything touched on in Part I, and explores the rituals on a deeper level. There are nine quizzes for Part II. If you would like to just learn about the Blue Lodge (the first three, Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason) degrees, Master Craftsman III does not require the completion of Parts I and II (although you must complete Part I to get Part II). Part III consists of seven quizzes. After completion of Parts II and III, you will receive a nifty lapel pin, a certificate, and can demand everyone refers to you as Master Craftsman.

Of course, as with any mail correspondence course, the completion rate is very low. I hope to have my Part I done in a year, I believe that the average is around three to five years. The Scottish Rite Ritual, Monitor & Guide is a bit intimidating, as it is over two inches thick (and looks more like five). If you think that doing this program would interest you, or someone you know, or if you want to help your local conspiracy theorist get their facts straight, I would highly recommend this program to anyone. As I said before, anyone can participate in this program, there are no restrictions on age, gender, or religious status. That being said, I would not recommend it to a new Mason who has not yet taken the Scottish Rite or Blue Lodge degrees. It is however, perfect for the Mason’s Lady.

You can purchase the Master Craftsman program on the Scottish Rite website here. I will be updating my thoughts about the program every so often as I progress through it. I hope that many of you seek this out, and join me in this journey. As always, have a great week!

Illuminati Grandmaster Reporting for Duty

One of the things we don’t talk a lot about here on the Mason’s Lady is current events. This tends to be that because of the nature of Freemasonry, there is little news to be had, except for Masonic events and activities that are happening in my own immediate Masonic community. However, every once in a while, Masons find there way onto national news websites and TV channels. Unfortunately, Masons tend to not be in the news for all of the wonderful things that they do every day.

Recently in LA County, three members of a group calling themselves the “Masonic Fraternal Police Department” were arrested for impersonating police officers. Brandon Kiel, who is actually a member of the California Attorney General’s staff, was among the group.   Their website is no longer available, however, on it, they claimed that they were created by the Knights Templar in 1100 BC, and that they are the oldest and most respected organization in the world, and that they have jurisdictions in over 33 states and Mexico.

This group shows how real fake Masonic groups can seem. They had writings on their website from “Chief” David Henry, who was also known as the “Illuminati Grandmaster Henry X”. The following is a bit of obligation found on the site:

I Most Solemnly & Sincerely Promise & Swear to Protect & Serve & Uphold The Constitution & By-Laws of That Grandmaster & That Sovereign Jurisdiction So Help Me God Amen, Amen, Amen Fraternally Faithful, Absolute Supreme Sovereign Grandmaster Henry 32° 33° X°

Sounds legit right? Other posts on their website included Masonic jewelry, and pictures of the officers in “Grandmaster” Henry’s police force.

Not only are these guys not cops, they’re also not Masons, an issue glossed over by many of the news sites. It can get very confusing very quickly. Since there is no trademark on the square and compass or the like, anyone can call themselves Masons, and it can be difficult to tell if they are the real deal or not.

Here are some tips on finding out if a Masonic group you find is the real deal or not:

1. Do your research. Quite simply, a legit Masonic community will hold up under scrutiny. Even the most technologically inept Lodges hold up under an internet magnifying glass. Make sure that the group you are looking into is mention in more than one place, and more than just on their own website. Often state jurisdictions will link to, or at the very least mention Lodges within their jurisdiction.

2. If it sounds silly, it just might be. I won’t lie. There’s some pretty extravagant legit Masonic titles out there. Sovereign Grand Inspector General is a thing. Illuminati Grandmaster? Not so much. If you’re unsure of a title, research it. If it mentions the Illuminati, its probably not real.

3. Go with your gut. If you feel like it might not be real, its probably not. Send an email or two, ask for references. If they come up short, its a bad sign. Ask about some of the finer questions that aren’t Masonic secrets, but aren’t common public knowledge. If it falls apart, stay away.

The Masons don’t run a police force, or a fire department for that matter. While we may have our own security for circuses and the like, a Mason will never impersonate a member of the police force (although some cops are Masons!). Always look at any Masonic group you are unsure of with a keen eye. There are a lot of fakers out there. If you are ever unsure, you can always contact your Grand Lodge, and see what they have to say. If they’ve never heard of the group stay away. Often these groups are scams that exist only to take your money and give you a fancy title. They will never give you the brotherhood and satisfaction that you can get from legit Freemasonry.

The Daunting Task of Memorization

I’m not going to lie to you, I am really good at putting things off. Like many of you, I’m sure, if cleaning, homework, or even writing on this blog can wait until later, it will probably happen. This, unfortunately, leaves me in the position I am in currently. The deadline is swiftly approaching, and I have not even started on what needs to get done. In this case, I have been putting off some memorization work.

As some of you may know, I was invited to act as the star point Esther in my OES chapter. The normal opening work is only a paragraph, but for an initiation, its more like nine. We are having a “straw” (or practice) initiation tomorrow night at our meeting. How much of my part do I have memorized? Zlich, nada, nothing. This article is as much for me as it is for you.

Memory work is a large part of Freemasonry and its appendant bodies. When everyone has their parts memorized, it helps make the opening of the chapter, or the degree given to a candidate, seem seemless and smooth. When someone does not know their part, it shows, and it can be painful to watch, and even jarring to the candidate.Ideally, all ritual work should be memorized, most, if not all, Masonic groups do not allow an open ritual book in an open chapter meeting. There are exceptions to this of course, my OES chapter has a prompter who does have an open ritual in order to help those who stumble get through their parts (although I am sure she could do her job without it). Few, if any boys in my DeMolay chapter have their parts memorized, although T is offering cash money to those who do, in hopes of making the meetings run more smoothly.

How do I even begin?

Memorization can be a daunting task. It feels like you will probably never get there, and that everyone who has their parts memorized are some kind of super geniuses with some sort of memory lobe in their brains that you seem to be missing. The biggest thing to remember about memorization, is that it takes time. You can’t just sit down for 15 minutes and be able to repeat something word for word after the first time. Memorization takes a lot of repetition, not only reading the parts at home, but also attending meetings. There is a big difference between sitting on your couch repeating your part to your cat, and saying the same part in front of a room full of people, and remembering all of the coordinating floorwork, signs, and passes.

The first step to memorizing a part of ritual is to read it. Not just once either, but several times. Be sure to look up words that you do not know the meaning of, or do not know how to pronounce. Ritual work is almost written in its own language, and often includes words that are no longer common in today’s vocabularies. Try to understand the meaning of the part; you will remember what to say a lot better if you understand what the message is trying to convey, rather than simply repeating words. The next thing you want to do is look at the punctuation. Pauses occur often in ritual work, and often have a purpose. You may need to wait for the canidate to reach a certain part of the room, or for a sign to be given to you, before you continue on with your part.

How do I actually memorize it?

There are a ton of different methods out there as far as ways to memorize a part. Once you feel familiar with the part, the hard work begins. I know that the way that T memorizes, and the way that he teaches others to memorize, is to look at the first sentence, repeat it a few times, then close the book, and repeat it aloud; also known as rote memorization. He then moves onto the next sentence, and repeats both the first and the second sentence, returning to the beginning when he gets stuck. This is a very common method for memorization. There is only one flaw with it; people tend to start strong and end weak, because they know the ending better. A solution to this is to work backwards once you are able to repeat it forwards. If you decide to do this, you start with the last sentence, and then add the second to last sentence, working in the same manner as the way that you learned the part before. You may also find that breaking it into parts also makes it easier to memorize in this manner. Be sure to say the parts aloud, there is a big difference between reading the parts in your head, and actually speaking the words.

Another idea is to study your part before you go to bed, and then go back through it when you wake up, to see how much you remember from the night before. Using this method gives your brain to process what it is you’re learning. The reason for this is that your brain is more active in the morning right after you wake up, so anything that you study just before bed or as soon as you wake up is more likely to stick. This method also helps encourage long-term memorization, as you will have to recall the part from day-to-day.

You may also find that seeing the parts done helps you remember the parts themselves. If you have a number of other Lodges or Chapters in your area, visit as often as you can. You will find that you will begin to pick up and cues and words without even thinking about it. This is also very useful for new members, who have not been exposed to a lot of the ritual work.

Utilize technology that is available to you. There are a number of websites and apps out there to help you memorize parts. You may be able to find the part that you need available online, so that you do not also have to type up the part, which can often be lengthy. The majority of these websites and apps basically do the same thing. You read the part, and words are slowly covered up, eventually only showing a blank page. Some websites that do this are Memorize Now and Memorizer an app that works in a similar fashion is iMemorize (available for iOS and Android). Another app that you may find useful is called Memorize Anything. Basically a fancier version of the voice recorder, this app allows you to record yourself saying the part, and then play it back to you at any time.

Memory work can seem like a daunting task. However, the biggest part of memory work, is that it takes time. If you have a part to memorize, take a little time every day, just 15-20 minutes, to work on your piece. Within a week you will find it comes much easier to you, and a few weeks later, you should have no issue reciting your part from memorization. The biggest tip I can give is; learn from my mistake, don’t put off memory work until the last-minute!

Masonic Journeys (No, the other kind)

Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts and illness did not allow me to attend Nebraksa’s Annual Communication (aka Grand Lodge). Luckily for me, however, the installation of Grand Lodge officers did not occur at Grand Lodge, and will not be until next weekend. The incoming Grand Master is a dear friend, and someone who helps promote The Mason’s Lady, and I hope to be there to show my support for him. That being said, I am going ahead with the planned programming for this week, traveling as a Mason’s lady.

UGLE guys do Grand Lodge with style

How is it different from any other trip?

In short, it’s not, except for a few differences. If you attend Grand Lodge, or another closed/invite only Masonic event, you may not have a great deal of time to spend with your significant other if they are not also a Mason. Often, the larger events will have programs for the ladies, this can be anything from luncheons and free time, to group shopping and other outings. These programs usually occur during the times that Lodge is held at the event, for any reason (although usually it is for voting or similar purposes). Often, the ladies will have a great deal more free time then the Masons do, so prepare accordingly.

There may also be required panels or meetings that you need to attend, or the freedom to pick from a few, or even have free time. It all depends on how the event is set up.

Is there anything special that I need to bring?

There are a number of items that you may not think to bring with you on a Masonic trip, that can be extremely helpful.

  • Business or Contact Cards- You will be meeting a lot of people. Chances are, you won’t remember all of them, even if you agree to do the middle chamber lecture for them next month. Having business or contact cards on you at all times is not only very convenient, but it gives others the impression that you are prepared and think ahead. Even if you do not work for a business that offers you cards, there are a number of companies online, such as vistaprint, where you can create your own. Add any information that you feel is necessary, just be wary of adding your Lodge or any Masonic emblems if you will be using them for any other purpose.
  • Membership/Dues Cards- At large events where you don’t know everyone, during closed sessions (such as Lodge that is held during Grand Lodge), dues cards will be required at the door for entry. Be sure that you have yours, and they they are up to date, and in good condition. If you need new ones, contact your Lodge or Chapter secretary. You may want to consider getting a special billfold or business card holder (such as these) to keep your cards safe and sound.
  • Garment Bags- This is something you will want before you head out for your trip. Being a Mason or a Mason’s Lady requires an investment in nice clothes, and you want to protect that investment. Packing your clothes in the proper luggage will help keep them looking their best. There are a number of types of garment bags out there, including ones that match your exisiting luggage. You can find Masonic luggage here.
  • Your own iron- Again, with keeping your nice clothes nice. Yes, your hotel probably has an iron and ironing board in your room. However, it will probably be different than the one that you have at home, and you will probably be more comfortable with yours from home. In addition to this, the settings on irons can often vary widely, and if you know that your iron works, it is probably better than taking a chance on a burned shirt.
  • That scotch you’ve been saving for a special occasion- It’s no secret that Masons and booze go together like peanut butter and jelly. Most often, after the day’s work is done, the drinking and fun begins. Many Grand Lodges have a hospitality suite that has snacks, and may or may not have a bar. At other events, private parties in rooms are encouraged. Long Masonic events are a great time to meet new people, and new scotches. Be sure to make sure that alcohol is allowed at your event, however, and as always, be responsible.
  • A good book- There can be a lot of downtime during Masonic events. You might not be interested in any of the panels and decide to catch up on some rest, or there may be a two hour lunch break so that everyone can set up for the closed Lodge meeting. Bringing a book, games, or a laptop is strongly encouraged at longer Masonic events.

Although I was not able to attend Grand Lodge this year, it does mark the official one year anniversary of the Mason’s Lady. I feel that I have grown greatly as a person, and as a member of Masonic organizations, simply through the time and research that The Mason’s Lady requires. It can be a bit overwhelming at times, but I would not trade it for anything. Have a great week!

Let’s Eat!

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, as well as all of the other wonderful celebratory meals that tend to come with this time of year, I thought it best to go over some basic dining etiquette.  Like many things, this does not seem to be related to Masonry on the surface, but the more you think about it, the more you realize you need these skills to survive in Freemasonry. From Lodge dinners to Grand Lodge Banquets, everyone needs to have a general idea of the basics. No one is asking you to be Emily Post, but it is important that you do try.

Let’s be honest. Masonry, in many ways, tends to be stuck in the early to mid 1900’s. As I’ve said before, this does not need to be a bad thing. It does mean, however, that often we find ourselves doing things that most everyday people do not do- wearing tuxes and attending formal dinners, for instance. This can be confusing, and overwhelming at first, especially for those of us who have never experienced something like this before. If you need help with your tux, check this out. If you are not so sure which fork is for your salad, keep reading.

Reading the Table

 Most meals at most Masonic functions will be informal. Don’t let the name fool you though, this doesn’t mean jeans an a t-shirt. Informal is the style of dining, usually for a 3-4 course meal. A meal of this style usually includes soup or hors d’oeuvres, salad, entrée, and dessert. The tablewear setup usually looks something like this:

It isn’t really too different from home except for the extra silverware. You want to go outside in with your silverware, so the most outside fork is used for the first course, the inner for the next, etc. Usually at most Masonic meals, they do not serve alcohol with the meal, but instead at the cocktail hour before. You may bring your drink in with you if you are not quite done. The wine glass is typically used instead for iced tea.

A little bit more complex, this is the formal table setting:

Again, you want to work outside in, and after your entree, you move to the utensils above your plate. You may see a table setting similar to this at say, the formal meal at your Grand Lodge.

You may also see some combination of the two settings. As someone involved with Masonry, there will come a time where you find yourself at a formal meal. It is important to take the time now to familiarize yourself with the settings now, so that panic does not set in when you get there. I’m not saying memorize the entire thing, but it would be a good idea to have a general idea of what is where.

Basic Table Manners

Remember what mom used to tell you at the dinner table as far as manners are concerned? The same applies here. Hate to get a little old school on you, but really, proper manners at dinner can get you far- who knows when you will be sitting with the Grand Master of your state, or the national secretary for Scottish Rite? You want to be able to impress, or at least, not disgust the person across the table from you. Much like the Kindergarten Creed, you already know most of this stuff.

  • Chew with your mouth closed. From Emily Post to Pintrest, this is absolutely top of everyone’s list. Please follow through. No one wants to see that.
  • Bring your food to your face, and not the other way around. Even if you did grow up with seven brothers, a nice dinner is not the time to be leaning over your plate, shoveling food into your face.
  • Silence and put away your cell phone. I’m guilty of it too. Not browsing the internet while eating can be boring, but the idea of a formal dinner is for you to meet and converse with those around you, so remove all distractions.
  • Say ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘excuse me’ often. Even if you don’t think you need to. Mom wasn’t kidding when she said these words were magic.
  • Remember your napkin. Seriously, I am always suprised at the number of grown men that forget this magical bit of fabric exists. It keeps your clothes from getting dirty, as well as your face.

If you are a young or new Mason, these are very simple ideals to follow. You would be amazed at how easily proper table manners can help garner respect and foundation, one of the often untalked about pillars of a sucessful Mason.

Want to learn more?

There’s a ton of dining guidelines, from how to signal that you’re finished, to when to take a drink of water. Even George Washington had a list of general etiquette. Youtube is a wonderful resource for much of this. However, nothing is as good as the queen of etiquette herself:

Being a Masonic Leader

Between two leadership conferences, September was definetly leadership month. Although September has passed us, I want to share with you some of the things that I learned during the month. If you think that this doesn’t pertain to you, or you think the whole concept is kind of lame, and too full of jargon, I want to challenge you to read on before just moving on to a different website. That’s because not only does everyone have the potiental to be a leader, but in one way or another, everyone is one, whether you realize it or not. Being a leader simply involves guiding, directing, or influencing others. That’s it, pretty simple. Leading can not only mean acting as WM of your Lodge, but it can also be encouraging your kids to make good choices. Naturally, this can have a positive or negative connotation, while “leadership” is usually seen positively, “ringleader” is not so much. Usually, this is something that most people do naturally, in one way or another, whether you realize it or not.

 The Nebraska Triennual Masonic Youth Leadership Conference

I spoke at length about what everyone got to do at MYLC this year. If you missed that, you can check it out here. The keynote speaker, Josh Shipp, was beyond awesome. He had a ton of amazing things to say, and I’m afraid the meager notes I took will not allow me to do him justice. He made two points that really stuck with me, that I want to go over briefly.

 Don’t be average. When it comes to things like leadership, this seems fairly self explainatory. However, it can also be the most difficult to actually accomplish. When we deviate from average, either above, or below, people tend to take notice. As I’ve said before, your leadership can be both a positive and a negative thing. If you’re at work and you go above and beyond whats needed, and you encourage others to do so, that’s awesome. The opposite, not so much. Being outside the norm almost always puts you in a position for potential leadership. The more you strive to be above (or below) average, the more likely people around you will notice, and if they like what they see, are likely to follow you. Don’t be afraid to be different or weird, that is an advantage you can use when it comes to influencing others.

Don’t be afraid to be human. Actually, the exact quote from Josh is, “Your imperfections make you human. Your humanity makes you influential.” If you have car trouble and are late to a meeting, or you fumble the powerpoint, you don’t need to draw attention to it. These actions can actually cause people to be more likely to follow your lead, because it makes them realize that you aren’t a person who is in a completely unobtainable position, you are someone who is just like them.

As I said in my MYLC post, if you ever get a chance to hear Josh Shipp talk, do it. The guy is amazing. You can find out more, including free videos at www.joshshipp.com

The Grand Lodge of Nebraska’s First Annual Leadership Conference

During the GL Leadership conference, a man named Hal came and spoke with us about simple things that we can do everyday to become leaders. He told us that he keeps this list in his bedside table, and looks at it every night. All of these pertain to Masonry, but more than that, many of them can also be accomplished at work, or at home.

1. Always prepare for a meeting, whether or not you are leading the meeting.

2. Demonstrate that you listened, and heard what was said. Usually through taking notes and asking questions.

3. Share leadership opportunities with those around you. Let someone else take the stage.

4. Say thank you for those who helped you along the way.

5.Give credit to others for their contribution to your success. If you’re walking along and you see a turtle up on a fencepost, you know that he didn’t get there on his own.

6. Don’t be in a hurry.

7. Two can accomplish more than one.

8. To be appreciated as a helper, set the example.

9. Be a good citizen.

10. Give thanks spiritually.

All seems pretty basic right? That seems to be the trick that the majority of leadership conferences seem to skip over. It really is that simple. If you have ever read, or seen the play All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, by Robert Fulgrum, you may remember the Kindergarten Creed. If not, it’s below. Check out the similarities between the creed and what Hal had to say.

Share everything.

Play fair.

Don’t hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.

Flush.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life –learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.

Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

Be aware of wonder.

Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup- the roots go down and the plant goes up, and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup, they all die. So do we.

And remember the Dick and Jane books, and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all, LOOK.

Being a leader is really about doing all those things that you already do, and some of the things you don’t do, but you know that you should. It doesn’t seem like it really should be that simple, but it really is.