FreeMasonry in Cartoons

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

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

flintstones_mother_in_law

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

How to Explain Masonry to Someone Else

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

 

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

“Unfortunately, we have something going on.”

“Something fun I hope?”

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

“Masonic?”

“Yeah, you know like a Freemason?”

“Um, no?”

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

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

Give them a frame of reference

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

Keep it concise

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

Share additional information, but only if asked

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

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

 

 

The SO Masonic Blues

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

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

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

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

 

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

Freemasonry and Sex

Alright, let’s start with this disclaimer.

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

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

What does Masonry say about sex?

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

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

What about LGBT Masons?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ummm…

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Masonic Bible…Qu’ran…Tanakh?

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Obligation

The obligation is that which binds you to the secrets and ideals of the order you are joining. They are different for every organization, as well as every degree, but for the most part, they are the same.  I will not go over the exact wording here, but if you feel so inclined, they are not hard to look up online. However if you are joining or thinking of joining a Masonic body, do not look up the obligation beforehand. While I have never done this, I have spoken with many people who have, and they often feel that some of the “magic” of the moment is gone.

Often, many significant others of Masons who are not in Masonic bodies are concerned about what is in the obligation.  I would like to take this time to go over what each obligation contains, just to give you peace of mind. Please remember that this is just a general overview, and that obligations can vary fairly wildly from state to state.

Obligation of an Entered Apprentice

This obligation is super long, however, it really only contains three things. That the candidate swears to:

 Never reveal the secrets except to a confirmed brother.

  • Never reveal the secrets except in a regular Lodge (where they will presumably be revealed to someone else)
  • Never to write the secrets down so that they may be known to non-members.

Pretty simple right?

In the Fellowcraft degree, the candidate swears to:

  • To never reveal the secrets, except those entitled to them (I.e. New members)
  • To answer the signs – signs are a way that members can recognize each other
  • To obey summons – to Lodge, etc
  • To maintain the lessons taught in the first degree

The Master Mason degree is really just more of the same. The candidate swears to:

  • To never reveal the secrets, except to a known Brother or in Lodge
  • To adhere to the principals of the square and compasses
  • To answer signs
  • To obey summons, with the exception of illness and pressing emergencies
  • To maintain and uphold the five points of fellowship as applied to another Brother:
    Hand – friendship and support to him
    Feet – unite in mutual defense and support with him
    Posture of daily supplication – see to his needs, weaknesses and necessities
    Breast – safeguard his secrets
    Except for offences contrary to civil and religious law
    Honour – preserve his honour and repel slanders on his name

There are some mini obligations within the degrees, these are usually referred to as charges. The topics of the charges are:

1. Secrets

2.      Signs
3.      Summons
4.      Principles (including secrecy, behaviour, fidelity and integrity and fellowship)
5.      Charity and benevolence
6.      Harmony and peace
7.      Care and diligence
8.      Work ethic
9.      Education (including the VSL, Masonic knowledge and the Liberal Arts and Sciences)
10.  Civil duties
11.  The Virtues
12.  Equality and Justice
13.  Religion
14.  Sin
15.  Behaviour
16.  Usages and Customs
17.  Laws and Regulations
18.  Offences of Brethren
19.  Honour
20.  Danger
21.  Instruction and assistance for inferiors
22.  Improvement of morals

Really, in all of the Masonic organizations, the obligation contains about the same thing. Usually it’s less intense than the ones listed here.  

So, what about these secrets they are swearing to not reveal? It’s gotta be something super duper secret right? Well, it’s not really. While the rituals themselves are secretive, it’s not anything you can’t find online. The only thing you may have a hard time finding is referred to as the secret work, these are signs (gestures), phrases, and handshakes used for one member to be able to recognize another outside of Lodge. Even these you can find to some extent, I know for sure the secret work of OES is embarrassingly available. (But it is handy for when I forget something). Usually though, recognition goes something like, “hey are you a Mason?” Truth be told, if you don’t know someone outside of your Lodge, chances are you wont have much reason to discuss Masonic secrets with them; people who are non-Masons trying to learn secrets from a Mason are often painfully obvious.

There are, of course, consequences for breaking your obligation. Within the ritual, it still contains the original punishments for breaking the oath. Yes, it is true the punishments outlined are physical in nature, often having something to do with the sign or position for the degree received; for example (and no, this is not in the ritual), cutting off a hand for stealing. While many of these punishments seem harsh, the important thing to remember is that these are an allegory. The Nebraska Monitor states, “ The obligations of Freemasonry contain the reference to certain physical penalties, which are symbolic in nature and are intended only to impart the historical lessens [sic] of fidelity.” It is terribly important to remember that the only punishment that can actually be given to a Freemason for violating his obligation is reprimand, suspension, or expulsion.

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!

Women of Freemasonry: Adah

So, I didn’t realize until today, that only two of the five star points have been discussed! I’ve obviously been slacking a bit. If you’ve missed out on the others, you can find their stories here:

  • Adah- the daughter (this one)
  • Ruth – the widow
  • Esther – the wife
  • Martha – the sister
  • Electa – the mother

The story of Adah is a little bit like that of Electa; there was an unnamed woman in the Bible, whom Rob Morris, the creator of the Order of the Eastern Star, simply gave a name to, and made a star point. Adah has a bit more story behind her than that of Electa however. Adah is the name given to the daughter of a man called Jephthah, who is talked about in the Old Testament book of Judges (more specifically, Judges chapters 11 & 12, you can read the original here). Jephthah had a bit of a shaded past, his mother was a prostitute, and his father could have been any number of men. Because of this, he was driven out of his hometown, and basically became an outlaw, all because of his heritage.

The lady Adah. Or, at the very least, Jephthah’s daughter.

He became known as a bit of a fighter in the area. There were a number of skirmishes and wars going about at this time, and soon enough, Jephthah and his people found themselves being attacked by a people known as the Ammonities. Everyone in the area asked Jephthah to lead them into battle, and he agreed. He also agreed, that if he was victorious in this fight, he was willing to lead the people from there on out. Just before battle our friend Jephthah made a bit of a boo-boo. He made a bargain with G-d, that if he was victorious in the battle, he would sacrifice whatever was the first thing to come out of his house when he returned.

You see where this is going, right?

Jephthah is victorious, and everyone is quite happy with the result. The celebration is short lived however, because the first thing that comes out of his house upon his return, is his daughter, called Adah (in OES). Jephthah really doesn’t want to go through with this sacrifice anymore, but after explaining the situation to his daughter, she agrees that the vow must not be broken. It is said that she asked for it to be delayed by two months, so that she could spend some time with the other women of the village, and “mourn her virginity”. After that time, Jephthah did as he vowed.

Part of me really wonders if anyone read the stories of the women that were picked to be the star points. As you can imagine, this story carries a lot of controversy with it. The story is incredibly similar to that of Isaac, except in Adah’s case, her father actually goes through with her murder. Some versions say that she simply was banished to the mountains, or that she was to remain a virgin forever, but the majority of the versions agree that the sacrifice was made.

So, what does that mean for people in OES? What does this story of sacrifice teach us?

As far as the story given during an initiation, Adah teaches us fidelity, loyalty, and intelligence. The first two I can heartily agree with. I am not so certain that if my father told me he had vowed something similar, that I would have gone through with it. Another big thing Adah focuses on is innocence. Adah was a virgin, yes, but she was also probably a fairly young girl as well, since she was not yet wed. Both Adah and Jephthah were willing to fulfill their obligations, even if doing so meant death for one, and a great loss for the other. I think that this is the biggest lesson in this story.

So often we say we are going to do something, and don’t. Its so easy to sign up to help out at an event, and instead of going, stay home and watch TV. I think that those of us in the Masonic communities are at risk for this kind of behavior, not because we are bad people, but because there tends to be so many things to sign up for, so many events that need help, committees that need chairs, and parts that need to be done. It can be easy to get bogged down. Never forget that its okay to say no. No one will fault you for it, many older Masons are aware that burnout can happen very quickly. Simply do what you can, and when it is time to fill your obligation, don’t drag your feet, go willingly, like Adah and Jephthah, even if it does feel like its going to end in your death.

I will leave you with this short poem I found about Adah. There are a number of them out there about each star point. Perhaps at one point I will collect them all together.

ADAH
“Obedience”
Our Star life’s not always easy,
We do need rare courage now,
Like that of young, heroic Adah,
Keeping her father’s awful vow.

We obey, as she has taught us,
Sometimes cry o’er life’s ills;
But steadfast we turn our faces
Far from Adah’s lonely hills.

This world has obedient daughters,
Carrying out a hard command;
We must seek them — weary, troubled,
Their quiet trust and true obedience
Are examples naught can mar.
Bring a candle of rare courage
To the first point of our Star.

As always, have a wonderful week.

Round Up

This past weekend. T and I helped coordinate and run a statewide DeMolay event called Round Up. I am not certain if other states do this, or anything similar, but this has been an event at least since T was a DeMolay. The entire weekend is a series of sports competitions between chapters. It started as many weekend Masonic events do in Nebraska, with the three hour drive to Kearny with a van full of teenage boys.

After a quick lunch, we headed off to The Big Apple, a family entertainment complex with bowling, go karts, mini golf, and more.

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The first competition was an individual one, billiards. One of T’s brothers actually ended up winning first place!

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The second competition was team volleyball. They ended up doing both Chapter teams, as well as composite teams made up of players from the various Chapters around the state.

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While not a competition, The Big Apple also had go-karts, which the boys were able to race in.

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The final competition was mini golf. The course there was probably one of the coolest I’ve ever played.

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I mean, it was really, really cool.

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Like I would drive out there again just to play there.

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Luckily we are in Kearney fairly often for Masonic events, so we will be back.

All of these competitions ended up taking about 6 hours. So I ended up spending a lot of time in the arcade.

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They had bowling as well, which was supposed to be a competition, but we barely had enough time to do what we did.

We then went back to the hotel, and had a quick bite to eat.

Afterwards, the boys went to the hotel’s volleyball pit, to play a few rounds of Quidditch.

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If you ever get a chance to play, or even watch a match of Quidditch, do it. It is highly entertaining.

The guys then headed over to the local YMCA, for, you guessed it, more sports.

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The games of the evening were soccer and basketball, done the same way that they did the volleyball.

The Y also had a small arcade as well, which some of the nerdier guys preferred.

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They also had a bounce house, which the adult advisers had to test first, to make sure that it was, you know, safe.

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It was about 10pm by this point. I headed back to the hotel for some much deserved sleep.

Some of the guys, on the other hand, headed to a local Lodge for a Priory investiture.

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The Priory is a sub-group of DeMolay for boys 16 and older. Investiture is just a fancier word for initiation. I wish that I had been able to stay awake for it, hopefully next time.

Sunday morning was spent doing a DeMolay long form initiation. See, normally, most DeMolay chapters only do a short form initiation when they welcome new members. There is actually an entire play for the DeMolay degree, similar to the ones done during the Scottish Rite degrees. However, this takes a large degree team that many chapters do not have access to. So, once a year at Round Up, Nebraska Chapters have all of their new members go through the long form initiation so that they are able to experience the entire thing. While any adult adviser (including myself), or parent of a DeMolay can watch the ritual, it is still considered secret work, and so cannot be shared here.

After the ritual, awards were passed out for the sporting competitions. Lets just say that Omaha Chapter is not known for its sporting prowess. We then said our goodbyes, and headed home. All in all, a pretty great, if not a bit exhausting, weekend. The sweethearts had a jail fundraiser for Relay for Life where you could pay to put people in “jail” (no phones, no fun), and ended up raising over $500 over the weekend.

On a completely different note, I have created a Tumblr for the Mason’s Lady. Much of what is here will be reflected there as well, as well as some other extras. You can find it here.