The Mason’s Lady was recently featured on episode 25 of the Masonic Lite Podcast! You can check it out by clicking play below.
In other news, school is almost finished! Expect some new content in about 6 weeks.
The Mason’s Lady was recently featured on episode 25 of the Masonic Lite Podcast! You can check it out by clicking play below.
In other news, school is almost finished! Expect some new content in about 6 weeks.
Every so often, I get a concerning email. It’s usually from a wife or girlfriend, who has some concerns about Masonry. However, often these worries are something a bit above my pay grade. I wanted to take some time to talk about these concerns in general, and talk about what Freemasonry isn’t.
Freemasonry isn’t a secret society. If it was, they wouldn’t be in parades, handing out candy and driving little cars. They wouldn’t be giving speech therapy to kids, or have pediatric hospitals with their name on it in bright red letters. You wouldn’t be able to find out basically whatever you want to know about Freemasonry with a quick Google search. Instead, it is correct to say that Freemasonry is a society with secrets. As I’ve said before, these secrets are ways of recognizing each other through handshakes, words and phrases.
Freemasonry doesn’t want to take your SO from you. It is taught in Masonry that your obligations to your family, your work, your God, come first. Freemasonry is not out to steal your SO from you, even though it may feel like there is something going on in the Masonic family every night of the week. If you feel that your SO is spending too much time on Masonic stuff, say so to them. They might not recognize it. If you feel that you continue to have issues, I would recommend going and speaking with each other and a moderator, so that everyone can ensure they are being heard and understood. I would not recommend bringing the rest of the Lodge into it.
Freemasonry isn’t a religion, or anti-religion. In fact, it’s the opposite. In order to become a mainstream masculine Mason, you must profess a belief in a higher power. (Depending on your jurisdiction, the wording may be different, some say higher power, some say God, etc.) A lot of ritual and stories told within Masonry are based on Judaeo-Christian teachings; that is, a lot of things used within Masonry ritual is taken right from the Bible/Torah. That’s not to say a Pagan or Muslim cannot become a Freemason, anyone who meets the requirements can become one. There’s a lot of talk about there being a “Masonic Bible”, you can read more about that here. There did used to be issues between Catholics and Masons, and although Catholicism may still deter people from becoming Masons, there is nothing that is stopping a Catholic man from becoming one. All of this being said, there are some Masonic auxillary groups that require the members to specifically be Christian.
Freemasonry isn’t/doesn’t __(insert conspiracy theory here). There’s a million conspiracy theories out there about Masonry. That they control the government. That they are secretly lizard people. That they control politicians. That they control celebrities. That there’s such a thing as a 99th degree Mason. That they have some secret power or ability that only those that achieve the highest level degree are privy to. There’s a million out there. Allow me to assure you, most all of these have no foundation of truth. (The only one I can think of would be the politician one, in the 1800’s a lot of politicians were Masons. That’s how/why the Anti-Masonic party was founded, which later became the Whig party.) I’ve watched these guys struggle to organize a pancake breakfast; the idea that they run the government is laughable.
The best thing you can do is educate yourself. There’s a lot of information and misinformation out there about Freemasonry. Arm yourself with knowledge. My first recommendation (beyond here!) is Brother Hodapp’s Freemasonry for Dummies. I’ve read this cover to cover, and it is always the first book I use for reference. (Sadly our signed copy got lent out and never returned.) It’s probably the most dog-eared, highlighted, annotated, bookmarked book in our collection. The great thing about this book is that it has an extensive resource section in the back with recommendations for more places to look on specific topics. Funnily enough, another great resource is Wikipedia, there’s quite an extensive section on Freemasonry. If you need help for information on any specific topic, don’t hesitate to contact me.
This post is something that I’ve been thinking on for a while now. I know it’s not the easiest topic to discuss, nor is it everyone’s cup of tea, but if anyone out there is going to talk about it, it should be me.
We had our Conclave recently (basically DeMolay Grand Lodge). One of the events that happens after the banquet, during the dance, is the crowning of the new state sweetheart, as well as singing to the outgoing one. The traditions my state has developed over the years I would not exactly call kind. You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’ is sung to the outgoing sweetheart, surrounded by the majority of the guys, usually while she cries. Before the new sweetheart is actually crowned, all of the candidates stand together while the Jeopardy! theme is played, the crown bouncing from person to person. A friend who recently got engaged to a Master Mason and senior DeMolay witnessed this for the first time, she was so flabbergasted she almost walked out the door. And yet, I have no doubt that this tradition will continue for years to come.
As a feminist, as, most any woman really, I think that the first emotional reaction when learning about Freemasonry is anger, with thoughts of, “Why can’t I do that? Am I really that different? What gives them the right?” Unfortunately, I feel that learning that women cannot become Masons is only the beginning. I’ve been asked many times how I deal with it. I would consider myself a feminist, and I will be the first to admit that there have been many rage educing moments within Masonry for me. However, I do not feel that Masonry and feminism have to be mutually exclusive.
Recognize it for what it is
Freemasonry, as we know it today, was unified in 1717, (and constituted about 100 years later). At that time, women not only couldn’t vote, but also couldn’t own property, and weren’t even really citizens in the United States. Everything was tied to your husband. You’ve seen Pride and Prejudice? Basically that. The revivals in Masonry in the 1920’s and 1960’s did not see many great changes for women. Yes, we could vote and own property, but any woman wearing pants in public was surely up to no good.
Lodge was a way for the man of the house to “get away from it all”. This tends to be the reason less often these days. I would attribute a lot of that to social and technological changes. That being said, it needs to be recognized that Freemasonry has always been the guys’ “safe space”. I personally, have no problem with this, and support it, as long as there an equal “safe space” for women. Unfortunately, I would not really say that this is the case. Many of the organizations people cite would not exist without masculine Masonry (OES, Daughters, etc), or are not as widespread as many of us wish (Order of Women Freemasons, Order of the Weavers).
In many ways, I feel that Masonry has never really left these bygone eras. Bits and pieces of ritual have changed over time, but overall, it’s the same. This, unfortunately, the social culture of many Lodges and OES Chapters is like walking into a time machine. In my state, women in OES were not allowed to wear pants to meetings up until 2014. Yes, I’m quite serious. Even at T’s Lodge, full of young men in their 20’s and 30’s, the women set up the meals, and clean up after the men begin their meeting, with naught a thank you in site. I of course, can only speak from my experiences, but this often is the aura of the Lodges and Chapters in my area.
Find the good bits
One of the best things you can do, not only with Freemasonry, but anything really, is to educate yourself. Find out why something is the way it is, if someone has ever tried to do anything about it, what the results were.
My research for the blog has found me sifting through numerous websites and books. I’ve learned so much I never would have otherwise. I find the women that have become masculine Masons particularly interesting, espcially because their exisitance tends to be covered up or denied. Freemasonry is not a secret society, but is a society with secrets; they have many secrets. Many of these can be found simply by looking.
Getting involved is another great way to find the postitives of Masonry. Many Daughters of the Nile Chapters have dancing or singing groups, start an OES Stitch’n’Bitch. Many Shrine clubs can be joined by the Shriner’s lady, and some of them are even ladies only. It often seems on the surface there is nothing there for us as women, but really, it just takes a little digging.
Be the change you want to see
I think that a lot of the trick is to make it all work for you. While I’m all for tradition, I rarely wear anything but pants to a Chapter meeting or Lodge dinner, unless its a special occasion. A small group of us have made a gaming club at our local Shrine, open to anyone who wants to join. T and I are DeMolay advisors, and feel that one of the best ways to make changes is to not only make them happen yourself, but help the future Masonic leaders grow and learn about all they can.
If there’s something about your Lodge, Chapter, or even Freemasonry as a whole that you don’t like, change it. There are, of course, more subtle ways to go about it, but sometimes the direct approach is best. If you’re gonna go out there and try to make big changes, know that every thing in the Masonic family happens at a snail’s pace. It took almost 5 years to raise the dues in our state by $1.50 to give 50 cents to each youth group. Don’t get frustrated. Don’t give up.
Sometimes you’ve just gotta suck it up
Or bite your tongue. Or coincide an argument. I’m not going to lie to you: if you are a woman involved in Freemasonry, and consider yourself a feminist, there will be times when you are blinded with rage due to the fraternity. Sometimes you just have to smile through your gritted teeth as you clear the dishes of men too lazy to do it themselves. It sucks, but, like many things in life, that’s just the way that it is. As many times as Masonry has pissed me off, I could not imagine giving up everything I’m involved in because of that.
This post will be short and sweet, but I am so excited I couldn’t wait any longer! As some of you may have deduced, I’ve been working on a bit of a side project for The Mason’s Lady, and the day to reveal is finally here!
There is now a Mason’s Lady Community Facebook group! I’ve spoken with a number of ladies who feel that they are the odd ones out as far as dating a Mason, as well as some Masons who wish that their SO’s had someone to connect with over the topic; this lead to the creation of the group.
I wanted something that could supplement my blog, as well as hopefully become something more. The idea is that this is a safe place to vent, speak out, support others, and ask questions in real time. I’ve posted a few conversation starters, so lets get the ball rolling and get to know one another!
For now, the group will be simple and light. At this time, the group is closed, so that the public can only see the members, not the posts within the group. I do also have it so that any member can approve membership, hopefully I will not have to change it in the future.
Finals week is upon me, so of course, all of my downtime is spend vegging out and watching cartoons, so join me! Please remember that these are all simply based on Freemasonry or other “secret societies”, and are not intended to be accurate. Sometimes writers and/or artists are Masons themselves, other times it is simply what they imagine it to be. Enjoy!
I have no idea what this is or where it comes from, but it certainly is silly, as well as mildly NSFW. If you happen to know the source, please let me know!
The Flintstones start us off with the Loyal Order of the Water Buffalo. If you’re interested in watching specific episodes with the order, check out this link for a list.
While not directly Masonic, in this Disney short, Donald Duck learns about geometry. It’s a bit like Disney does the middle chamber lecture. I remember watching this in high school math class!
From the “Good Neighbors” episode of Spongebob Squarepants. I believe there is also an oath and song in it, but I cannot share that here.
An interesting cartoon from 1931 called Bimbo’s Initiation. Remember that clubs and lodges of all types were very popular at this time.
If you’re looking for a smart cartoon with lots of Masonic symbols, Gravity Falls is for you. There is some question if the creator is a Mason, but it has only been reported that his uncle is.
The Simpsons has a lot of Masonic and “Illuminati” references. This is from the Episode Homer the Great.
Have you seen any Masonic images or symbols or even more in another cartoon? Please share!
I will be the first to admit, school is kicking my butt this semester. Unfortunately, since school is my highest priority at this time, other things tend to get pushed to the wayside. This does not mean that I will be posting here any less, it just may mean that the day of the week a new article gets posted may become a little erratic. Just wanted to give the heads up, since I know many of you check only Tuesday or Wednesday.
I wanted to talk this week about the working tools of a speculative Mason. First, a history lesson. Freemasonry takes many of its ideas and traditions from the occupation it was based on: masonry. The words to differentiate the two are speculative and operative. The people who lay bricks and do stone work for a living are usually referred to as “operative or stone” masons. Those who are in a fraternity and attend Lodge are called “speculative or Free” Masons. So, theoretically, you could be a Masonic mason. Also note that many people capitalize the fraternity member, but don’t capitalize the union member; this makes deciding which group someone is talking about online much simpler. There’s a lot more to the story on how these two are related, but that’s for another day.
Like many jobs out there, masons have their own set of tools, although I’d imagine they’ve changed quite a bit over the years. Freemasonry, also, has its own set of tools for their work; which are based on some of the traditional tools stone masons once used. One of the only straightforward things in Masonry is, the tools used for Masonic work, are called “working tools”. There are three working tools associated with each Blue Lodge degree, for a total of nine (ish). Many of the working tools are associated with an office in Blue Lodge, which you can read more about here.
Entered Apprentice: 2 or 3 tools
24 inch gauge
A gauge is just another word for ruler. The 24 inch ones are the kind that you usually now made out of metal, often used for drafting plans in stone masonry. During the speculative degree, the canidate learns that each number represents an hour in their day, which they are taught to divide into three separate, but equal parts: “eight hours for the service of God and a distressed worthy Brother, eight for our usual vocations and eight for refreshment and sleep.” T and I have had more than one discussion about what part of our lives fit into that, especially family. We decided that a lot can fit under the service of God umbrella.
Anyone who’s seen Law & Order knows what a gavel is. Here however, it refers to a type of hammer rather than an instrument to gain order in a court room. There are lots of different looking gavels out there, but the common gavel has a part of it that comes to a point, used in stone masonry for cutting the edges off of bricks and stones. In speculative Masonry, the candidate is taught that the gavel is used by Freemasons “for the more noble and glorious purpose of divesting our hearts and consciences of the vices and superfluities of life.”
For those joining Lodges in the UK, the chisel is added to the Entered Apprentice degree. For the majority of Lodges in the US, this is left out. The stone mason uses the chisel to remove flaws from, and beautify a stone or gem, showing its inner beauty. During the degree work, the Masonic candidate is taught something similar: the importance of discipline and education in one’s life. “Just as the brilliance of the diamond is revealed by the skillful use of the chisel, so too will the beauties of the human mind be revealed through knowledge”
Fellowcraft: 3 tools
Chances are, you’ve seen a square as well; it’s a ruler with a 90 degree angle. In operative masonry, it is used to make clean corners and work, and to help make sure that everything is well, square. The canidate for the FC degree in Freemasonry , its taught that the tool is to help “square your actions” or to “act upon the square”; that is, to make your virtues and morals shape your actions . This is one of the symbols most widely associated with Freemasonry, and with its simple shape, and simple but powerful lesson, it is easy to see why.
The level is the second working tool of the Fellowcraft degree. Again, you’ve probably come across one before. Operative masons and others use a level to test the horizontals of an object, to make sure that it is smooth, even, or, well, level. In speculative Masonry, the lessons for the level differ a bit depening on where you are. In some jurisdictions, it’s taught that the level is a reminder that “that we come from the same
place, share in the same goal, and will eventually be judged by the same immutable law.” In others, the level is used as a symbol of equality among brethren in the Lodge. Still others teach that the level is a reminder that time has no preference for anyone, “And for each and all, time will lead us to that undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns”. Hard to pick just one of those lessons. I can’t imagine that any Lodge teaches all three. Also, please know that within Freemasonry, the level symbol used appears much different from the level you may use to hang a picture in your living room.
Okay, so, I had to look this one up. The third working tool of the Fellowcraft degree is a plumb, often called a plumb line in both forms of masonry. Apparently operative masonry also calls it a plumb bob. Think of it like a level for vertical things; it tells you how vertical something is (or isn’t); it can also be used to test perpendiculars. The lesson of the plumb line is for the canidate to be reminded to live a life that is upright, honest and just. “As an Insecure building must eventually fall, so he whose life is not supported by an upright course of conduct can no longer sustain a worthy reputation and must soon sink beneath the estimation of every good and virtous man.”
Master Mason: 1 or 3 tools
It’s not, as I once thought, a fancy pie server. An operative mason will use a trowel to spread cement between layers of brick. In some jurisdictions, this is taught as the only working tool for a Master Mason; in others the three below are used instead. Where it is taught, the trowel is used to, “spread the cement of brotherly love and affection; that cement which unites us into one sacred band or society of friends and brothers.”
You know it, you love it, the pencil. Obviously used by operative masons for marking down any number of things. But what can this seemingly innocuous item teach us? That everything we do, good or bad, is being written down by God, and that on the day that you stand before him, all of these deeds will be lain before you, and you will be judged. A less ominous lesson teaches that a Mason “must give an account of his actions and conduct through his mortal life,” to God.
Another one I had to look up, and to be honest, I could not find a reference that wasn’t speculative Masonry anywhere. It kind of looks like a spool of string on a stick. The stick is stuck in the ground, and the string, which is covered in chalk is unwound. The string could then be used to draw a nice straight line on the ground, to mark where a foundation or other part of a building may go. The skirrit reminds the Master Mason candidate of the straight and narrow path ahead of him that he will follow. “Regardless of what colour our volume of the sacred law is, we must ensure that we do not wander from the goal of perfection that we have set”.
The other oft seen symbol of masonry. As I’m sure you know from elementary school, stone masons use compasses to draw circles. It can also be used to draft, measure distance, and even navigate. The lesson of the compass lies within its two moveable legs. As the compass can only open so wide, so are there boundaries of everything. “The Compasses, in defining limits and proportions, teach us the limits of
good and evil as laid down by the Great Architect.” Using proportion and balance in your work and life, can bring about stability and beauty in both.
If you would like to learn more in depth about the working tools, I highly recommend an adaptation of an esoteric lecture given by a brother in Canada, simply called The Working Tools of a Mason. Also, if you would ever like to own or gift a set of working tools, they are sold in various places. I am quite particular to this set, but try and find out which tools the jurisdiction uses!
As always, please contact me here, or at email@example.com with any questions or comments you may have. Have a wonderful weekend!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
So, you’ve been with your Mason for a while now, you know he goes off to Lodge every week or two weeks, and you know he comes back late, you’ve maybe even been to a few of the dinners that they put on before the meeting. But what do they actually do at these meetings? What’s so important that it has to go on behind closed doors? The answer might surprise you.
The Masonic Meal
Arguable one of the most important aspects of the Lodge meeting is the meal beforehand. Not every Lodge has them, but many of them do, some before, and some after the meeting. Usually potluck, although some Lodge’s have been known to cater dinners, the meal before the Lodge meeting tends to be the best opportunity for fellowship, not only between the members of the Lodge, but also between their families. I have never known a Lodge meal to not be open to families and friends, but some Lodges may have private policies. If it is open to the “public” (i.e. non-Masons), I highly recommend that you go. Not only is it a great homemade meal (it’s usually potluck, so ask of you should bring something!), but it also gives you a chance to get to meet all of the men that he spends time with every week. I know that it helped put my mind at ease to actually be able to put names to faces. Going to these dinners will also allow you to be more involved in the Lodge. At T’s Lodge, the women clean up after the meal (although, this is apparently not the norm elsewhere), and then we sit, chat, have coffee or play cards. It really helps facilitate the family feel of Masonry. We have family style dinners like this once a month, and I always look forward to it. Give it a shot at least once.
Opening of the Lodge
There are three main types of Lodge meetings. business meetings, where normal business is conducted; degree work, where a Mason receives a degree, this involves the majority of the secret ritual work; and other meetings, these may include papers or other presentations, or other special topics. How often each meeting occurs depends on the Lodge. Lodges meet anywhere from one to four times a month, plus any special committee meetings. Which of these meetings occurs when depends on the needs of the Lodge, some will only have business meetings with the occasional degree work, others may focus on the “fun” types of meetings. T’s Lodge (which currently has a waiting list!) only has time for degree work each week. However, every Lodge will have at least one business meeting each month.
Every meeting, regardless of what they may be doing, open and closes almost the same way each time (different degrees may be opened different ways, but always more or less the same thing). Please note that exactly what is said and done varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, however, many things stay the same throughout the country; therefore, I will be making this as general as possible. Before the opening of the meeting, all non-officer members sit where they please alongside the “north” and “south” parts of the Lodge room. (Some Lodges are not set up so that the Worshipful Master is sitting actually in the east, however, it is still referred to as the East.) The officers come in, sometimes to music, and each of the officers take their respective positions (You can read more about that here.) The Tyler is then put with the task of securing the meeting from intruders, and an officer is asked to make sure that all present are Masons or candidates. There is then a ritual where each officer is called upon by the WM, and asked to relay the duties. and sometimes signs or other meanings of their office. This helps to remind each member why they are there, and also helps new members recall which station is which. A prayer is then given by the Chaplain, and the Pledge of Allegiance may be done. The Lodge is then open.
Order of Business
Business is then conducted. Even though you may think that it would, Masonic Lodges do not follow Robert’s Rules of Order. Instead, each Grand Lodge jurisdiction will lay out the order of each business meeting. Usually, it ends up something like this:
Closing of the Lodge
When all business has been conducted to the satisfaction of the WM, the Lodge begins its closing ritual. It is usually much shorter than opening. The WM lets the Tyler know they are getting ready to close, the Chapalin gives another prayer, and the WM declares the Lodge closed. That’s it. Remember when I said you may be surprised about what goes on? You may be surprised how mundane, and occasionally boring it can be. However, Masonry is not only what happens in the Lodge room, but also outside it.