It’s Not Masonry, He’s Just an Asshole

…And we’re back! Now that school is done and my job has started, life is starting to stabilize a bit. I’m hoping to keep us on a monthly schedule for new posts, so be on the lookout!

So, I get emails concerning Freemasonry fairly often, actually more often than I thought I would during my hiatus. About once or twice a month, I get an email with a question that is now fairly familiar to me. Everyone has their own story, of course, but the main idea is the same. Generalizing it a bit, it tends to be something along the lines of, “My husband goes to Lodge, even though he knows I don’t like it. He won’t help at home. I feel like Masonry is more important to him than his family.” While I would not usually say this so directly in an email, I will take the risk of making a blanket statement here. Freemasonry is not to blame, your husband is just an asshole.

Educate Yourself

I know I tout this a lot, but really, I think it is one of the most important bits of advice that anyone can give the SO of a Mason. It’s important for you to know and understand, what Freemasonry teaches, even in just a very general sense. You see, when a man takes his obligation, that is, when he kneels down and puts his hand on the volume of Sacred Law (usually the Bible), he swears that Masonry will not come first. Yes, you read that correctly. He swears that his obligations to his family, his job, and his deity of choice come before his obligation to Masonry. Think of Freemasonry a bit like a high school extracurricular. You’ve got to keep your grades up in your classes, that is, the important stuff, if you want to be involved. If Masonry is coming first, you’ve got problems; you’ll want to read the rest of this article.

I know that a lot of people have hang-ups about the secretive aspect of Masonry. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again here: Freemasonry is not a secret society, it is a society with secrets. And lets be real, their secrets aren’t even anything awesome. They consist of a few handshakes, ways to recognize each other, and some exact wording of some ritual. If you, for whatever reason, want to know these things, Google is your friend. That being said, I do not recommend looking these things up if you are a current candidate. It can ruin the immersion aspect.

Sometimes, especially “back in the day” (aka, 1950’s) Masons were ill or misinformed about what was and what was not a secret. It is not always spelled out in black and white. Because of this, many Masons simply chose to share nothing instead, which fed into all of the ideas about Freemasons that the conspiracy theorists love. Sometimes it can depend on the jurisdiction, but chances are, if it’s written out in plain, longhand English, it isn’t a secret. This can, of course, get more confusing with oral history jurisdictions, but that’s another article entirely.

Again, I do strongly recommend anyone dating a Mason to educate themselves as much as possible. Explore this blog, don’t be afraid to send me an email with specific questions. There is a lot of misinformation out there about Freemasonry. I’ve found that the best resources tend to be either in print, or in person. Brother Hodapp’s Freemasonry for Dummies is an excellent resource. I’ve read the whole thing cover to cover, and honestly can’t recommend it enough. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Freemasonry is also excellent.

Going and meeting people in your Mason’s Lodge is also a very valuable resource. Not only will getting to know these folks possibly make you feel more comfortable, but it will also allow you to gauge how much time other Masons are spending at Lodge. Ask to meet the current Worshipful Master (essentially the President of the Lodge), ask to see the Lodge room. These things are okay for you to ask for, and again, doing so may make you feel more at ease.

Talk to your Spouse

I know I’ve given this advice probably about as often as I should take it myself. Sometimes, this is easier said than done. Life gets in the way sometimes. If you are feeling that your Mason is too involved in Lodge, and/or spending too much time there, make time to sit down and talk about it. Schedule it if you have to, but get it done. Find out what they like about Freemasonry, what they don’t like. What motivates them to attend so much? Is it because they enjoy the Masonic work so much? Their Lodge is just so super awesome? Or are they avoiding the obligations of work, home, kids, etc?

If it’s that they are so overjoyed by Masonry, awesome. What are you, as the SO, going to do with this information? Are you comfortable with this, or do you need them to tone it down a bit? Are you happy to help, get involved, or would you rather not? This is totally your choice. Do not feel pressure to get involved if you aren’t interested. It’s perfectly normal for spouses to have interests that their partners don’t.

That being said, sometimes just knowing what is going on at a Lodge meeting, or meeting the other members of his Lodge may help put your mind at ease. If he isn’t sure what he can tell you about what happens, I recommend reading over this post together, and talking about it. If you do want to get involved, don’t be afraid to jump in feet first. There’s always fundraisers, car washes, raffle tickets, fun nights, etc., etc. Don’t forget, it’s okay to say no sometimes when you need a break.

Alright, so, lets say that your spouse isn’t overjoyed and overexcited by the teachings of Masonry, and is instead using it as a way to avoid other responsibilities. He’s being a bit of an asshole by going to Lodge and getting more involved, despite your requests for him to not, for help with the kids, whatever the case may be. It happens. In this instance, I recommend two things: communicate, and get help.

Communicating and Getting Help

Obviously, direct, face to face communication is best. Speak directly with your SO about Freemasonry, how you feel about it, and the issues you are having. Its it just them spending too much time at Lodge? Too much money? Avoiding responsibilities? You just don’t like it? Let them know. Adulting is hard sometimes, but it is often unavoidable. Compromise is the key. You might not get exactly what you are looking for, but be sure that your partner is willing to listen and find a solution with you. If they are unwilling to budge, it’s time to sit down with a professional who can act as a moderator.

There’s a ton of tips online for communicating with your SO. It’s also something that everyone can be better about, no one is perfect. Some of these include using “I” statements, and finding both of your preferred love languages and communication styles. If you find that its not going well, or that you need help communicating, that’s just fine. The help is available, you just need to ask for it. Many local colleges offer free marital counseling. Sometimes its nice to just talk to a third party. If you are in a situation where your spouse refuses to go, just go by yourself until they join you.

In addition to this, do not be afraid to contact your Lodge if you are having issues with your Mason being too involved. It may seem weird to think about, but in a way, it is your Lodge too. Usually there is a phone number or email address available online under a Lodge’s contact information or on their website. If you aren’t sure which Lodge to contact, do a Google search for “[Your State] Grand Lodge”. This should have a site with all of your area’s Lodges and their contact information.

When you send an email or make a phone call, this will usually go to the Lodge’s secretary. When you contact them, you do not need to say anything more than, “I am ______’s partner. I need to talk to the Worshipful Master about a personal matter.” (I would not worry about confidentiality, Masons are good at keeping secrets, remember?) I would recommend meeting with him in person, if you are able. Hopefully they will be able to whisper some good council, and get your Mason back onto the right path.

As always, if you have any questions about anything mentioned in this article or otherwise related to Freemasonry, do not hesitate to contact me at themasonslady@gmail.com

 

 

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.

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!

 

 

Masonic Hate and You

Masonic hate groups have been around for as long as Freemasonry has exisited, and, with the help of the internet, they are more vocal than ever. I have no doubt that if you are open about your affiliation with Masonry, at some point, you will come into contact with  someone filled with nothing but hatred for the organization. Almost weekly it seems that I receive emails asking me how I can stand to be involved with such a sinister group. I try to do what I can, but not everyone wants to listen to the truth. So what should be done when you encounter a person like this?

Brief history of Anti-Masons

 

Soon after the organization of UGLE, I will admit, some things got out of hand. It was not uncommon for the majority of government officials in a city to all be Masons, often blindly voting someone into office just because they were a brother. I’m not saying it was everywhere, but there were definitely people out there abusing the system and using their position of being a brother to help secure them, or their friends, into a position of power.

As you can imagine, the general public was not so gung ho about this idea. In 1828, after the Morgan affair occurred,  a group of people got together and formed the Anti-Masonic party. This was kind of a big deal, because this was the first third party in America. They were a single platform party, and that platform was, you guessed it, being against Freemasonry.

Although they never really accomplished much as a party, aside from having a presidential candidate, they did leave a legacy behind. They were the first to use a lot of innovative techniques that are still being used today in the political world, such as nominating conventions and party newspapers. It also assisted with, and merged into the Whig party, which elected four U.S. presidents, which in turn, merged into the Republican party. So basically, a bunch of people hating Freemasonry is why we now have the Republican party today.

Around that same time, a number of states passed legislation restricting and regulating Freemasonry itself. In 1833, Vermont passed a law stating that the giving and willingly taking a unnecessary oath was a crime. The state of New York also created the Benevolent Orders law in order to regulate Freemasonry and similar organizations. These laws are still in effect, and if you would like to, you can do so here. http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/BVO/1

Please don’t take anything in this video seriously. This guy obviously has no idea what he’s talking about.

Masonic hate today

 

And, it continues. Not as openly as it once was, but to be fair, Masonry is not as out in the public eye as it once was either. Both sides of the argument tend to have a fairly strong online presence, which can be both a blessing, and a curse. While searching online simply for “Freemasonry” will not usually show you those opposed to Masonry, many other searches will, most notably “freemason secrets”.

Many people out there believe that Freemasonry is a secret society. This is  not true at all. If Freemasonry was a secret society, you would barely know of their existence. They wouldn’t have pancake dinners, or own hospitals, they would do their best not to be known at all. A better example of a secret society  would be something more along the lines of Skull and Bones (moreso before the movie). Instead, Freemasonry is a society with secrets. Freemasonry has a few secrets, and I will tell you them right now. Their secrets are their handshakes, ways to recognize each other, and some parts of the ritual work. They are not very well kept secrets however, and if you really really wanted to, you could find all of these secrets online.

Most of the anti-Masonry groups don’t like the idea that Freemasonry has secrets. There are many people who feel they are being lied to, or that there are more secrets than actually exist. Sadly, these groups often include the wives of Freemasons, who feel that they are being lied to by their spouses. If you ever find  yourself on either side of this issue, I highly recommend that you look into counseling. Communication is a major component of a relationship, and it can be difficult when one is involved in a group like Masonry. The non-Masonic partner may also find that becoming involved with the Lodge, and other affiliated organizations helps ease the issue.

A lot of people say a lot of crazy things about Freemasonry. That we worship the devil. That we’re a corrupt society that wants to control the government. That we are the Illuminati. The most important thing you can do when you come across things like this is educate yourself. Don’t just know that that’s incorrect, but know why its incorrect. Learn what you can. Check out last week’s post on Masonic education for some resources. And of course, if you aren’t sure, ask. Also, if you want to hear some crazy theories about Freemasonry, check out YouTube, especially our good friend Creflo Dollar.

What to do when faced with Masonic hate

 

So, you’re hanging out with your friends, and you casually mention you’re going to the Lodge for dinner tonight. At some point in your life, someone will say, “Oh, is that for the Freemason stuff? Don’t they like, slaughter goats or something?” At this point, you have a few options, but only a few are positive ones. You could tell them no, laugh it off, and that’s the end of that. A better option, if possible, is to take this time to educate them on the subject. You don’t need to go into great depth unless they are genuinely interested, simply saying something like, “Not quite, most of our evenings are spent paying bills and donating money.” If they appear to want to know more, discuss what you can with them. Loan them your copy of “Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry?”. Help educate them. This will benefit themselves, yourself, and Freemasonry as a whole as well. Remember- that save for the cipher (if your jurisdiction uses it) and other ritual books, pretty much any Masonic book is available for anyone to read, regardless of whether or not they are a Mason.

However, what if you’re hanging out on Facebook, and you see a post shared by a friend of a friend. It says something along the lines of, “It was proven from Masonic books that Masons worship both Lucifer and Satan. They serve both the “good” Lucifer and the “evil” Satan.” (Yes, this is taken from a real website; not sure which books they were looking at.) What do you do if you come across that, or someone says something like that to you? Nothing. No, you heard me correctly. Don’t do anything. This is actually a lesson directly from Masonic ritual, and unfortunately often fuels the haters, because the Masons never speak up and deny anything. Your best bet is to just walk away.

Hopefully you will never have to use any of these tactics, but odds are, it will happen to you eventually. Just do your best to remain calm; it can become a heated topic very quickly. Work on being able to recognize when someone wants to actually learn or have a discussion about Freemasonry, and when it is just better for both of you to just walk away from the situation. And please, please, if you find yourself in a situation where you are having troubles about Freemasonry between yourself and your spouse, seek help. Sometimes even just having a third party that can act as a mediator can make all  the difference in the world.

So You’ve Decided to Join a Masonic Body

So, you’ve decided you want to do it. You wanna bite the bullet and join the Masons, OES, the Shrine, DeMolay or otherwise. What do you actually need to do to accomplish this goal? These next few weeks I will be touching on how to join a Masonic organization, and a brief overview of what happens when you first join.

The first step is to find what’s out there. If you live in a large city, you may have many different Lodges or Chapters in the area. (There’s around 12 here in Omaha.) If you are in a less populated area, you may only have one to choose from. If you are lucky enough to have options, use that to your advantage. Every Lodge feels differently, they attract different kinds of members, and have different kinds of focuses, such as ritual work, or fellowship. If you are able to shop around, do it, and join the Lodge or Chapter that “feels” right to you.Just because you meet with members from a Lodge does not mean you are tied to them. You have no obligation to a Lodge or Chapter until your initiation, and even then, if you move, or change your mind, its just a few forms to put in to transfer. If you find that there is only one group in your area, rock it. Work with what you’ve got. If you just feel like you just can’t make it work, look into surrounding areas. Many people choose to drive an hour or more for the right Lodge or Chapter. If you are having issues finding a Lodge or Chapter in your area, you will want to contact your jurisdiction’s Grand Lodge.

The best way to decide if a Lodge or Chapter is right for you, is to go as a visitor to some of their events. This means dinners, fundraisers, outings, and any other activity that they may put on that does not take place in the Lodge room. Get to know some of the members, connect with people. You may find that the majority of members are far older than you are. This is pretty much the norm across the board as far as Masonry and its affiliate groups are concerned. Don’t let this discourage you. Yes, it may mean you can’t bond over technology or video games, but the older generation are wonderful for life advice. For instance, T and I are getting married in October, and my chapter has given me some priceless advice not only for getting married, but also married life. I guess what I’m trying to say here is don’t write people off just because they are much older than you are. You probably have more in common than you think.

Alright, so you’ve found the Lodge or Chapter for you, and you’ve talked with some of the members, and you think it should be a good fit. The next step is to ask for a petition. This is basically just a form that has all of your contact information on it, as well as a few questions about yourself. You can see a example Masonic petition here. A lot of it is pretty standard stuff, think of it kind of like a job application. Mostly they are looking for the fact that you are who you say you are. Always answer as truthfully as possible. If you look at the petition, question 30 is one of constant debate. This will be worded differently in every jurisdiction (and really the way this one is worded is a little harsh, but hey, it’s Texas). Basically they are looking for the answer that you believe in some kind of higher power. As you can imagine, this tends to be a hot topic, but that is for another day. At this point we will leave it at that every potential Mason (as well as many affiliate groups) require a belief in a higher power. Please note: Some jurisdictions will ask if you were born male. If you identify as male, and you have a M marker on your drivers license, this is good enough for most states, but don’t be surprised if they outright ask you. This is also a topic for another day. Don’t worry too much about finding Mason’s that you know to sign it, this is why you go and have dinner with them a few times. What’s more, many members will jump at the chance to be what we call “first line signer”s.

With your petition filled out and turned in, you play the waiting game. Your petition will be read at the next business meeting, whenever that should be. Hopefully your contact (the person who gave you the petition) will let you know. Technically the entire petition is to be read during the meeting, but this is not usually the case due to time constraints. After reading the petition, a committee is formed, with the purpose of interviewing you. Regardless of what a petition says, a committee is always formed.

The interview is often a nerve racking event for many people, although it really shouldn’t be. Someone from the Lodge or Chapter will arrange to meet with you, either in your home, or at another location (mine was at the Shrine, I know that others have had theirs at coffee shops). Again, they are just looking to make sure that you are who you say you are. It’s really all very informal. They will ask you about your job, your relationships, your hobbies..you get the idea. It kind of feels a bit like you are filling out a very odd dating profile. You will want to dress at least business casual for this meeting, your contact will tell you if you need to wear more than that.

Once the interview is over, the committee goes back to the members, and give a brief description of what you are like, and if they would recommend you to become a member. Remember: very rarely is someone turned down for membership. Usually if they are, it is for a major reason, such as identity theft, background issues that you lied about (felonies, etc), or simply not meeting the requirements of membership. The vote for membership for must be unanimous. Masonic groups use a small box that contain white balls (or cubes) and black balls. A white cube is a yes vote, a black ball is a no. And yes, this is where the term “blackballed’ comes from. If for any reason, a member recieves a black ball, they are barred from petitioning to any Lodge or Chapter for six months. When that six months are up, they may attempt again, but it must be at the same Lodge or Chapter.

How I was notified of my acceptance. Yes, it was typed on a typewriter.

Once you are voted on and accepted, you will be notified, usually by mail. Your initiation date is set, and you wait some more. Please know that this system of petitioning can take a very long time, especially if a Lodge or Chapter only meets once a month. When I petitioned to join OES, it was about 4 months from when I got my petition until I was initiated. It’s not a fast moving process, so don’t get too frustrated.

Next week, we will take a look at what happens during an initiation. Until then, have  a great week!

What to Expect at a Masonic Installation of Officers

I’m using the “better late than never” strategy for the blog currently. I apologize in advance if there is continued delay or lack of posts on my part, I am still struggling with health issues, hopefully we will get it figured out soon, and we can get back to the regularly scheduled programming.

As I said in my previous post, January is a very common month for installations. Many Lodges and Chapters choose to do their installations just before the Grand Lodge communication. In Nebraska, ours is in February, so we have installations in January. I know of other jurisdictions who’s Grand Lodge is in July or August, and they typically have their installations in June.

I was lucky enough to witness one installation, of T’s Lodge, which means his year as Master is finally over (yay!), and, I was also installed as Esther, a star point, in my Eastern Star Chapter.

What should I expect from an installation?

Every installation will vary a bit from Lodge to Lodge, or Chapter to Chapter, as well as from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. However, they all tend to follow the same general format:

  • Everyone assembles in the Lodge room
  • Introductions and opening remarks are made
  • A non-denominational prayer
  • Installation of officers
  • Presentations and closing remarks
  • Cake!

If you are interested in watching one, Sharptop Lodge #680 has their entire officer installation available on YouTube! (It is just over an hour.)

The number one thing to try to keep in mind is to be on time. In some Masonic organizations, there may be a lot of floorwork that goes on during an installation, and if you are late, you may detract from that, or worse, cause someone to lose their place.

As I said, everyone does their installation a bit different. At both Mizpah’s (T’s Lodge) and my installation, introductions of visiting Worshipful Masters, Matrons, Patrons, and Grand Lodge officers were all made after installation.

For the actual installation part, the format is almost universally the same in every Masonic organization. The Marshal will go and retrieve the person to be installed from their seat (usually somewhere on the Lodge room floor, and not on the sidelines), the Marshall will lead them to the altar, where they will be presented to the Worshipful Master (Worthy Matron. etc), they will take their oath of office, and then the Marshall will lead them to their new seat- usually the chair of their office during a normal meeting. In some Lodges, some parts will be done at the same time. For instance, at T’s Lodge, the Junior and Senior Deacons took their oaths at the same time, as did the Junior and Senior Stewards. At my installation, all of the star points were presented to the Worthy Matron at the same time. This helps cut down on the overall time of the installation.

Elected officers of Austin Lodge #12 waiting to be installed.

After the installation is complete, there is a chance for presentations, to the new Worshipful Master. This is usually from heads of other Masonic organizations (Scottish Rite, the Shrine), or may be personal (T got a watch and a pie server). If you have a gift for the new WM, this is your time to give it, whether you are a Mason or not. Note- it is not common to give gifts to the new WM, unless you are a close friend, or otherwise.

Directly after the installation, there is sometimes a receiving line to congratulate the new officers. There may also be photo opportunities.

What would a Masonic event be without cake? After the installation, refreshments are typically served. At T’s it was just cake and punch, and many met up for dinner at a restaurant later. Mine had a full, albeit small meal of sandwiches and chips. Regardless, there is sure to be time for fellowship. Be sure to congratulate the new officers, especially the new WM.

You can expect for a typical Masonic installation to last about an hour, not including refreshments and fellowships. Other organizations, those with more officers, such as Eastern Star or the Shrine, may take considerable more time. I know that my OES installation was about 2 hours, not including refreshment and fellowship afterward.

A final note about installations – check your local Masonic calendar to find out when they are. If they are open, and they will say something like, Mizpah Open Installation of Officers, or Mizpah Installation – Open, that means that anyone can attend. If someone walked in off the street and wanted to go, they could. If it is closed, and again, they will say something like Mizpzah Installation -Closed, that means that only the people who are members of that organization can attend. That being said, if you are at all interested about what goes on during Lodge, or any other organization, an installation is an excellent way to get some insight on how they do everything.

Aw yeah, Masonic cake!

Next week I will go over how to prepare for Grand Lodge, so be sure and check that out.

As always, I hope you have a great week!

Green-Eyed Lady

I don’t know about you guys, but last week was kind of a crazy one. It went something like this:

Tuesday:DeMolay

Wednesday: Lodge

Thursday: OES

Friday-Sunday: DeMolay Conclave

Monday: T meets with a candidate.

Then the whole cycle repeats again with DeMolay on Tuesday! Since I had to work Wednesday, as well as the weekend, I did not get to see T much, not to mention that relaxing time alone with him was non-existent.  While I do appreciate knowing that he is men of high moral values, sometimes it can feel like Masonry can eat at your social, as well as personal life. This can tend to lead to feelings of jealousy, resentment, and all kinds of other icky stuff.

Why do I feel this way?

Let me start off by saying that any feelings you may have toward Masonry, either overall or just your Mason’s involvement, are perfectly valid. However, you’ve got to own those feelings, and if you don’t like the way that you feel, then you need to figure out what you can do to change the situation. A common reaction for women to have when they first learn about Masonry, is not true jealousy, but envy. Envy simply says, “I want what you have. Gimmie.” This is usually from the feeling of exclusion that many women experience when they realize that they cannot join regular Masonry, I know that I certainly did. Envy does not have to lead to jealousy however, and can in fact lead to very motivating thinking, such as being involved with auxiliary groups as much as possible.

Jealousy, on the other hand, says “I want what you have, and until I get it, you shouldn’t have it either.” This step beyond envy not only attempts to push you forward, but also aims to hold the other person back. Most often, when it comes to jealousy and Masonry, the feeling stems from two sources- fear and insecurity.  Many types of fear can cause us to feel jealous when our Mason is away at Lodge. Usually, however, this jealousy comes from fear of loss, and fear of the unknown. Staring with the latter, fear of the unknown si obvious when it comes to Masonry and it’s auxiliary groups. If you and your Mason just started dating, or if he is a new member, this is incredibly common. Often, new members are not sure what it is that they can tell their spouses, and therefore tend to not say anything at all. If you do not do your research (please do!), your imagination can dream up all sorts of awful things going on at the meetings. It is always important to educate yourself. Ask your Mason what you would like to know about what goes on. If he is unsure, I recommend you talk to senior members of his lodge, or pick up this book.

Fear of loss is also an extremely common root of jealousy for those involved with Masons. You see it all the time on the anti-Masonic wives “forums” (none of which seem to have been updated since 2003). Usually it sounds something like this:

I’ve two boys 21 and 17. Everyone who has responded has hit it right on the money. I thought I was the only one who was feeling this way. My husband sits on the couch and reads this little blue book after work til its time to go to bed. Not to mention he is gone every Saturday all day long for ceremonies out in the woods. Yes he calls all of them brothers now and yes I agree this is a CULT!! All he does now is spends several hours a week with them. Hours that he could be spending with his own family, working on the lawn, keeping up the pool. Nope that is on the back burner as well as me and our youngest son. Everything is so private that I don’t know where he goes or what he is doing. They have secret handshakes and secret codes. I am found home alone most of the time now. I can see that they are more important than me. Divorce is on my mind more than ever. Its a CULT and they have brainwashed him. (Gizzy) 

Ignoring for a moment all of the cult and brainwashed business, it is very clear that this woman is not only jealous of the time her husband spends involved in Masonry, but also feels that she is losing him, and therefore her marriage and everything that goes along with it, to Masonry. Very closely related to the fear of loss, another cause of jealousy is simple insecurity. The insecurity may come from anything, although most often when talking about Masonry and jealousy, the insecurity is insecurity of the relationship, or yourself. This is where the feelings of “Well, what if he meets a younger, more involved woman at Grand Lodge?” “How can I compete with a bunch of guys he is so involved with and have so much in common with?” come from.

Taming that beast

So, how can you get rid of all these nasty feelings? There are lots of suggestions out there, but I will just go over the main ones.

Recognize your jealousy, and keep it in check. Often, just recognizing that the jealousy is there can help alleviate some of the hold it has on you. In addition to this, it is important to be mindful of your own emotions, and a big part of this is knowing yourself. Try taking several deep breaths, and attempt to detach yourself from the intensity of the emotion you are feeling. This can help give you a better idea as to where its coming from, and why. Be sure and spend time alone, dancing, listening to music, going for a walk, or even just meditating, to help process your emotions.

Educate yourself. As I said above, jealousy can often come from fear of the unknown. There can be a lot of unknowns when it comes to Masonry, so it can help a great deal to turn as many of those unknowns into knowns as possible. As I linked above, I strongly recommend FreeMasonry for Dummies, as a very nice introduction, that provides resources for more in-depth information if you feel you are still lacking. Ask your Mason questions. If he doesn’t know, ask the senior members of his Lodge. If his Lodge has a library, ask if you can borrow books (they won’t be hiding any secrets there though!) You may be surprised as to how much of Masonry isn’t a secret.

Communicate with your Mason. Perhaps one of the most important, and simplest answers. If you do not tell your Mason that you are jealous that he is spending three nights a week at Lodge, he may think that everything is fine and dandy. You’re not a mind reader, and neither is he. If you feel that he is spending too much time at Lodge, and not enough at home, let him know, and try to work out a compromise. You two may decide that two nights a week is a maximum, or, perhaps that Masonry is just not good for your relationship at this time in your lives. If you don’t speak up, nothing will change, and you will find yourself just getting more and more frustrated.

Get involved. While I know that this is not the answer for everyone, many women find attending Lodge dinners and other Masonic functions quite enjoyable. You may find solace with the Sisters in the Order of the Eastern Star, or just with the ladies who play cards during the business meetings. Attending Masonic events will not only help you expand your social circle, but you may find that once you realize just how boring waiting for a three-hour Master Mason degree to be done can be, that you are more okay with your Mason attending more Masonic functions. Getting involved goes hand in hand with educating yourself, and helps eradicate the fear of the unknown.

Perhaps the most important thing to say about it all is simply: Own your feelings. Don’t let them own you.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful week, and as always, feel free to contact me with any questions!