Myths about Masonry, Part I

Somehow, I managed to get myself off track as far as my posting day, it keeps slipping further and further into the week! In an effort to get myself back on track, I will be splitting this topic in two, so if you like this one, be sure to look out for more on the same subject next week.

I wanted to take this time to talk about myths and misconceptions. There are many of these surrounding Masonry, and while some are based in truth, more often than not they are way off base. Unfortunetly, it tends to be that popular culture, including movies (i.e. National Treasure), help perpetuate these myths, and people get the wrong idea about Freemasonry as a whole and what its all about. Depending on how much research they do before joining, this can also lead to some iniaties, and even Master Masons having incorrect notions about what goes on within Masonry. There are literally thousands of myths concerning Masonry, but over the next two weeks, I wanted to go over the most popular six.

Myth #1 Freemasons = The Illuminati

This is a big one, in fact, often the words Freemason and Illuminati are used interchangeably, along with shock terms such as “New World Order” and “lizard people”.  Freemasons are not, and never have been, any part of the illuminati (or lizard people for that matter). In fact, the Illuminati refers to several groups, many of which no longer exisit. Origionally, the Illuminati referred to the Bavarian Illuminati, a group formed in 1776, well after the beginnings of Freemasonry. Ironically, the group did their best to oust and prevent things like superstition, abuses of power, and the government purposely preventing all details of an event being known, more commonly known as obscurantism. The group did amass some power, and may have had a large hand in the French Revolution. They were forced underground in beginning in 1784, along with Freemasons and other “secret societies” .(Recall that Freemasonry was much more secretive during this time). They disbanded just before the 19th century, after many of their key leaders left, and most of their secret documents were seized and published. So, how does a group that hasn’t exisited for over 200 years get connected with Freemasonry? It seems that most of this happened around the time of the Morgan Affair, which in turn, caused the Anti-Masonic movement in the 1820’s and 30’s. This may have been in part due to a paper published by a member of the Illuminati titled “On the Influence Attributed to Philosophers, Free-Masons, and to the Illuminati on the Revolution of France.” They did take some cues from Freemasonry, hence the title.

Myth #2 Freemasonry is a religion

Many people think that Masonry is a religion, or that it takes over your current religion. This is simply untrue. I think that this idea comes from the fact that aspects of Freemasonry can mimick that of religion. Within any given religion, there are many rituals, such as kneeling, sitting, or bowing at certain times, as well as certain rituals used for different holidays. Much like religion, Masonry has many rituals within it, many of which are taken from various religions around the world, but most notably Judaism. Many people find comfort within the fellowship found after and before church services, and the same holds true for Freemasonry. Often you will see websites and people saying that Freemasons worship the devil (more on that next week), or that they worship a certain God. The truth is that any man who believes in a higher power can become a Mason, they do not have to be of one religion. In fact, God is often referred to as “The Grand Aritect of the Universe”, in order to make it more approachable to those that do not belong to a mainstream religion. A requirement to become a Mason that many people do not realize, is that one must believe in a higher power. An atheist cannot join regular, masculine Masonry. Many different jurisdictions word it differently, but the concept is the same. Beyond believing in a higher power, however, there is no further requirement. No one religion is required of a member (save for some of the higher orders of York Rite which require a member to be a Christian), and in fact, at the House of the Temple, the big headquarters of the Scottish Rite in Washington D.C., there is the holy book from every major religion in the world. Most Lodges simply use the Bible as their holy book, but an initiate may request that they take their oath on any holy book (this holds true for all appendant bodies), however in many cases they may need to supply their own. Many people also believe that the lessons taught in Masonry go against religions (usually cited as going against Christianity), however, the more you look into what Masonry teaches, you realize that the lessons actually go hand in hand with religion, specifically Christianity, and that many of the lessons and rituals are borrowed from Judaism.

Myth #3 Freemasons control the government, and even some Masons don’t know it

 

This myth is based on two incorrect notions. The first is that there is a centralized, global body that controls all of Masonry. I would hope that simply by reading this blog you know that this is not the case. Jurisdictions of Masonry vary by state to state, and country to country. In fact, simply because if there was, there would be no debate about whether women should be allowed to be Masons, or how to handle Prince Hall Masons. There is a centralized body for Scottish Rite, as well as for some of the other appendant bodies, but not all Masons choose to join them. It always makes me giggle when I think of the amount of coordination government control would take, which is something the Masonic bodies can struggle with. I’ve heard 20 minute arguments about when to hold a pancake breakfast. Heck, it took T and others three years for Masons in our state to agree to raise the dues $1.50 to benefit their own youth groups. The point is, this organization simply does not exist. Without its existence, the rest of the myth tends to crumble.  The other idea that this myth is based on, is the 33rd degree of the Scottish Rite. Something you will hear a lot of conspiracy theorists say is that nothing is fully revealed until you receive the 33rd degree.  I think that a lot of this comes from the fact that the 33rd degree is not given out that often. It is an honorary degree given to a member who has gone above and beyond for the organization. It is also the “highest” numbered degree that a member can obtain. (The quotes are because it is often said that nothing should be held higher than the third, or Master Mason degree.) Masons who attempt to refute the myth may be told that they don’t know what’s really going on because they have not yet been chosen to receive the degree. It’s silly really, the 33rd degree is not too different from the 32nd, and the 32nd from the 31st and so on and so forth. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You also may hear people say that they are a 97th level Mason, these people claim that there are “hidden” degree beyond the 33rd. Often, these people either have no idea what they are talking about, or are members of a clandestine Lodge.

If you enjoyed this article, please be sure and check out next week’s, where we will be going over three more Masonic myths. Have a great week!

The Masonic Post

I’m feeling a little under the weather today (boo!), so this article will be short and sweet. I came across these Masonic post cards not too long ago, and was really surprised, not only by how much they pertain to the topic of this blog, but also how prevalent they seem to be. There are many different styles out there, I will try to give you a taste of each.  The two themes that are common, are the phrase “on the square”, usually refers to someone being honest, and may also refer to the keeping of secrets; the other is the funky trapezoid thing with the letters “HTWSSTKS”, this is the emblem of Mark Master Masons, now a part of York Rite. Most of these are from around the early 1900’s. While the true meaning may be lost as far as many are concerned, they tend to paint a very different picture of Masonry than what most people think of when they hear the word today. Perhaps not so much has changed in the last 114 years…

“I always liked a Mason, For a Mason will not tell–The secrets you confide to him, No price can make him sell. No matter what or where or how, He’s always on “the square”. I certainly do like a Mason, for he’s fine as he is fair.”

I kind of can’t help myself but love these.

A more traditional romantic one. Would make for an awesome valentine’s day card!

Plays to the inside joke of “riding the goat”.

Another traditional romantic one.

I like this one in particular, because I think it speaks volumes, without really saying much at all.

Apparently women in the 1900’s were really worried about their beau giving away all their secrets.

Not often seen, a Shriner postcard.

Seriously, what are these women hiding?

This one is a bit rare, because the art style is so different and complex, especially for that time. (This one is from 1911)

I’m kind of starting to wonder what the big secrets were for women in the 20th century. Either it was completely mundane, or absolutely off the wall.

Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without us poking fun at ourselves.

I know that wasn’t what you usually see here, but thanks for checking it out all the same!

If anyone reading is a Co-Mason, and is willing to be interviewed, please contact me here, or shoot me an email at themasonslady@gmail.com

On that note- Have a great week!

Naviagting Masonic Emblems Part II

Since our Master’s Ball is this weekend (more on that next week!), I am in a bit of a time crunch, so, I decided to go ahead with the second part of the Masonic emblem series this week. You can read part one here.

The crescent and scimitar

Probably the second most well-known Masonic emblem, after the square and compass, is that of the Shriners. Luckily for us, the Shriners are much more forthcoming as to the meaning of their emblem than anyone else seems to be.  The crescent and scimitar are most often seen displayed on the fez, the hat that a Shriner wears.  The scimitar (the sword) stands for the backbone of the fraternity, which are its members. The two claws that make up the crescent represent the Shriners fraternity and its philanthropy. The sphinx’s head stands for the governing body of the Shriners, the head of the organization. The five-pointed star inside of the crescent represents the thousands of children that the Shriners help through their philanthropy (most notably their hospitals) each year. Occasionally you will also see the phrase “Robur et Furor” on the emblem, which means “Strength and Fury”.

The Eastern Star

Perhaps the most misunderstood Masonic emblem is that of the Order of the Eastern Star. Each point of the star represents a different star point. The blue point with the sword and veil represent Adah, whose lesson is obedience to duty. The yellow point with the sheaf of wheat is for Ruth, whose lesson is adherence to religious principles. The white, with the crown and scepter represents Esther, whose lesson is the virtue of loyalty. The green point with the broken column is for Martha, who teaches us the virtue of endurance in a trial. Finally the red point with the cup is for Electa, who teaches ous the lesson of endurance of persecution. The altar with the book in the middle is exactly what you think it is, it represents the volume of sacred law that sits in the East. The word FATAL is the secret phrase used in OES. Please note: OES was created in the 1850’s, long before the inverted pentagram was associated with satanic ritual around the 1960’s.

The crest of the Order of DeMolay

DeMolay, the organization for young men, is also straightforward with their emblem. The crown  is symbolic of the Crown of Youth, and reminds a member of his obligations and the seven principles of his order. Each of the ten rubies along the sides of the emblem represent the Founder of the organization, and the nine original members. There used to be a mixture of pearls and rubies, with pearls representing living members, and rubies, deceased ones. The helmet on top represents the concept of chivalry, a reoccurring theme within DeMolay. The crescent in the center serves as a reminder to never reveal the secrets of the Order, nor the secrets of a friend. The five-armed white cross symbolizes the purities of ones intentions, and to always remember the motto, “No DeMolay shall fail as a citizen, as a leader, and as a man.” The crossed swords in the background are symbols of justice, fortitude, and mercy, and also symbolize the warfare DeMolays face against arrogance, despotism, and intolerance. The stars around the crescent serve as a symbol of hope, and  remind members of their obligations and duties that one brother owes to another.

The rainbow

Surprisingly, the International Order of Rainbow for Girl’s emblem is the hardest one to find out any information on, much more than any of the Masonic “secrets”. However, from what I can gather, the red, white, and blue stripe represents the flag of the United States; although Rainbow is an international organization, it was created here in the States. The hands below represent friendship. Each of the colors represent a different lesson taught in the organization. Red, love; orange, religion; yellow, nature; green, immortality; blue, fidelity; indigo, patriotism; violent, service.  BFCL stands for bible, flag, constitution, and lambskin, the four symbols of the order. The R in the middle simply stands for rainbow.

Job’s Daughter’s emblem

The emblem for Job’s Daughters is very quite simple. The three women in the triangle represent the daughter’s of Job, and each one holds a symbol important to the organization. The dove stands for peace and purity, the urn of incense represents prayer, and the horn of plenty represents the hope of reward for a job well done. The words “Iyob Filiae” literally means Job’s Daughters in Greek.

These are only the emblems for the most common Masonic organizations. There are many others out there, so occasionally you may come across an emblem that is unknown to you. A little research goes a long way in this case.

As always, have a wonderful week!

A Look at the Lodge Room and its Officers

I had wanted to give a bit of a history lesson as to why women can’t become Freemasons this week, but due to a hiccup in research, I was forced to go another route. Hopefully I can get that done for you guys soon.

In the meantime, I realized yesterday that I had never actually gone over not only all of the officer positions that a Mason may hold while in Blue Lodge, but hadn’t even discussed how a lodge room is set up! I can assure you that while this information may feel like I am giving away deep, dark Masonic secrets, I can assure you that this is not the case. Please also be sure to note that this information is only accurate for blue lodges within the United States. In the later degrees and organizations, there are different officer positions, and the lodge room is set up slightly differently. I do not think that there is much if any difference for Masonry in the UK, but I do not know that for sure.

The Lodge Room

A.k.a, the place where all the super secret rituals take place. You can go in there. No, really. If you ever visit a Masonic lodge, and would like to see the lodge room, chances are that if you ask, and they are not currently holding a meeting, you are welcome to go in. To be honest, it’s not anything too special to see, but every piece of furniture in the room has a special purpose. Every lodge room is different, some are very elaborate, some are very simple, but they all contain a few key elements.

  • All lodge rooms are orientated east to west. Or this at least the attempt. The front of the lodge room, where the Worshipful Master (more on him later) sits is east. Even if it is not actually in the east, it is still referred to as such.
  • It is a rectangular room with seats around the perimeter. The idea here is pretty simple, you want everyone to have a good view of what is going on. There’s usually no more than two or three rows of seats, so you (hopefully) don’t get stuck sitting behind someone with giant hair like you might at the movies.
  • An altar in the middle of the room with a sacred text on it. In many parts of the country, this may be the Bible. In others, the Koran or the Torah. Some lodges have all three. It is referred to, not as the Bible, but as the Volume of Sacred Law.
  • Three candles in a triangle position around the altar. Threes are important to Masons (three degrees, three lead officers, etc), and the triangle acts as a reminder of the compass. These are usually electric candles, though not always. These are used when the Volume of Sacred Text is read aloud.
  •  Special chairs in the room for officers. More on this later.
  • Two pillars with globes on top. One of these is a globe of the Earth, and the other of the heavens. The pillars are fashioned after the two bronze columns from Solomon’s Temple, which is the location that all of the degrees revolve around. These are usually near the Senior Warden, or near the main entrance.
  • An illuminated letter G. This may hang over the Worshipful Master’s chair, or over the altar. The G stands for both G-d and for geometry, because it was the secret knowledge of the operant (building) masons.
  • Other structures vary by lodge. The floor around the altar may be a black and white checkerboard, because Solomon’s Temple was described as having a similar floor. It may have giant stones, one rough, and one nice and polished, these are referred to as the rough and perfect ashlar, respectively, and are used in an analogy during degree work. You may also find the lodge’s original charter in the room, as well as other masonic and masonic affiliated pieces in the room. Often the blue lodge is not the only group that meets in this room, and so you may find artifacts of York Rite, Order of the Eastern Star, or others as well.

Typical Lodge Officers

Remember when I said earlier that every officer has their own seat? That’s because there are thirteen officers within the lodge, each with their own job. Not sitting in the same spot every time would disrupt a ritual a great deal! There are two ways to get an officer position to get in at the bottom and sit in (almost) every chair, one each year, for a total of 7 years, or simply be appointed or elected to the position. Every officer position has a jewel of their office.

Layout of typical officers seats

  • Worshipful Master – Starting at the top and working our way down, we begin with the Worshipful Master. This is the head honcho, the guy in charge. This office is the highest honor to which a lodge can appoint any of its members. He sits in the big chair in the East, and oversees all business of his lodge. He also presides over all ritual and ceremony.  Think of him as the president of the lodge. Someone who used to be the Worshipful Master but is no longer is referred to as a Past Master. Note: The use of the word “worshipful” here is a honorific meaning “worthy of respect”, not one to be worshipped. His jewel is the square.
  • Senior Warden– Next “in line” is the Senior Warden. He is the second of the three principal officers in the lodge, think of him as the first vice president. The Senior Warden may act as Master of the lodge if he is unavailable,. Usually he will become Worshipful Master next year. His jewel of office is the level.
  • Junior Warden This is where it can start to get confusing. Think of the Junior Warden as the second Vice President of the lodge. He is the third of the three principal officers in the lodge, and may also be able to act as Master of the lodge if he is unavailable. In some lodges, the Junior Warden is in charge of making sure that visitors have the necessary credentials. He is also usually in charge of arranging meals.The jewel of this lodge is the plumb.
  • Senior Deacon The role of the Senior Deacon is to act as the Worshipful Master’s messenger. He will often carry orders between the Worshipful Master and the Senior Warden.  He also assures that the Volume of Sacred Text is opened to the correct page at the beginning and end of the meeting, and also lights and extinguishes the candles around the altar. The jewel of this office is the square and compass with the sun in the middle. He carries a rod with the jewel.
  • Junior Deacon The Junior Deacon acts as the Senior Deacon’s assistant, making sure that correspondence between the Worshipful Master and the other officers are carried out. He is also in charge of making sure that the Tyler is guarding the door at all times, and assuring that visitors have been vouched for. Some jurisdictions split this into two positions the Junior Deacon and the Inner Guard. The jewel of this office is a square and compass with a moon in it, and he carries a rod with the same symbol.
  • Senior and Junior Steward The Stewards are the assistant officers. They are the first to be asked to fill in if an officer could not make it to lodge. They also have the role of escorting the candidates around the lodge room during the degrees. The Junior Steward acts as an assistant to the Senior Steward when necessary. Stewards may sit in a different location than seen above, as their location is never mentioned in the ritual. The jewel of this lodge is the cornucopia. They both carry rods with this jewel. 
  • Treasurer Up until this point, all of these officer positions are in the progressive line. That is, if you start as a Junior Steward, if your lodge uses the progressive line system, in seven years you will be Worshipful Master, if you sit in every seat. The Treasurer is not in this line, and his job is exactly what you would think. He is responsible for all financial transactions within the lodge, including dues. Usually the same person will hold this position for many years. His jewel is the crossed keys.
  • Secretary Again, you can probably guess what this officer does. The secretary is in charge of all correspondence to members, minutes of Lodge meetings, petitions of new candidates, holds a continuous roster of lodge members, as well as other administrative duties. He communicates with the Grand Lodge, types letters, and receives the mail. He must be very well versed in his Grand Lodge’s By-Laws, as well as his Lodge’s By-Laws. For this reason the same person holds this office for many years. His jewel is the crossed quill pens.
  • Marshall The Marshall is the Lodge’s conductor of ceremonies. His job is chiefly the organization of processions, and ensuring that there the correct etiquette is carried out within the Lodge meetings. It is also his job to formally introduce visitors to the Lodge. His jewel is the crossed batons.
  • Chaplain The Chaplain is the spiritual leader of the lodge. Although he may not be a Minister, Rabbi, or Imam, he acts as such within the Lodge. He is responsible for prayers in the opening and closing of the meetings, as well as during degrees and before meals. Everything the Chaplain does is strictly nondenominational. His jewel is the opened book. 
  • Tyler (or Tiler)- Perhaps one of the most important officer positions within the Lodge is the Tyler. It is his duty to ensure that only those who are qualified enter the Lodge room, and that there are no eavesdroppers or unneccessary interruptions. It is also his job to ensure that all who enter the Lodge room are wearing a Masonic apron. His symbol is the sword, and he also carries (a not very sharp) one. 
  • Other officers There are many other officer positions, although these tend to vary from Lodge to Lodge, as well as from Grand Lodge to Grand Lodge. These include: Inner Guard, Chaplain, Director of Ceremonies/Ritualist, Marshal, Senior and Junior Master of Ceremony, Almoner, Organist/Director of Music, Superintendent of Works, Immediate Past Master, Orator, Historian, Charity Steward, Poet Laureate, and Pursuivant.

Whew! I know that is a lot of information, so be sure and re-read it a few times if you feel like you didn’t absorb any of the information. There are also officer positions that only exist at the Grand Lodge level, but I will not be covering those at this time.

I hope everyone has a great week, and if anyone is in eastern Nebraska, and is interested in attending a Ladies at the Table on Saturday, send me a message!

Food for the Masses

Welcome to the new page! What a crazy couple of weeks this has been! Unfortunately, I was not able to resolve the security issue, so I decided it was time to go ahead and buy the domain name. Everything is still here, just in a slightly different package. T is on his way home from DeMolay Round Up, and I am finally starting to feel better after my concussion (the gym bit me), so, I figured, what better way to celebrate than with food?

I would like to share with you guys some of my favorite recipes, all of which are easily made en masse, for a lodge dinner, and all of which are tastier than the Masonic tradition of beef, mashed potatoes, and green beans. Everything should be easy to follow, T will do everything exactly as written, so that’s how my cookbook reads. Invest in a crockpot, even if you don’t cook for the lodge. They are not expensive, and worth every penny If you have any questions, or if you have any recipes you would like to add, please comment here, or email me at themasonslady@gmail.com .

Warning: None of the following recipes are remotely healthy. (Okay, maybe the chili)

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Do not double the recipe. You will eat it all. (As you can see, it is easily doubled)

Ingredients:

2-3 10 oz canned chicken breast (yes. canned chicken exists, its by the tuna)

1 packages cream cheese

1/2-1 cup buffalo sauce- depending on how hot you like it

1/2 cup blue cheese salad dressing, or 1/2  cup ranch

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese, or 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Bag of tortilla chips

Directions:

1. Throw everything into the crockpot.

2. Turn on high, stirring often until warm and melted, about 45 minutes.

3. Serve, directly out of crockpot, on warm, with chips.

Party Potatoes

DSC06351640x365

These are so tasty, I will make a pan at home with full intentions of having left overs…and they never seem to last through the night.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups milk

2 cups water

3 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3 ounces sour cream (this is an awkward amount I know, but anymore would be wrong. It ends up being 1/4+1/8 of a cup)

8 ounces cream cheese (one package)

3 cups instant potato flakes

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease a 9×13 pan

2. Add milk, water, butter, and salt to large pot on the stove, and bring to a boil.

3.  Stir in garlic powder, sour cream, cream cheese, and potato flakes. Stir well, about 3 minutes, until it looks like mashed potatoes.

4. Pour into pan, and bake 45-60 minutes, until the top is browned. Well worth the wait! Could easily be adapted to add bacon. 🙂

Chocolate Chili

I make this in my 5qt crockpot, which barely holds all of this chili! Great to make ahead and take to lodge.

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Medium sweet onions chopped

4 cloves of garlic minced

2 pounds ground beef

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon oregano

2 Tablespoons chili powder

2 Tablespoons cumin

1 1/2 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

1   6oz can tomato paste

1  14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes

1  14.5 oz can beef broth

Directions:

1. Add oil and onions to a pan on the stove, cook until onions are clear, about 7 minutes, add to crockpot

2. Put garlic in pan until fragrant, about 30 seconds, add to crockpot

3. Brown beef in pan, add meat and juices to crockpot

4. Add all spices (including cocoa powder), to pan, heat for about 20 seconds. Add tomato paste, cook for 1 minute, mixing well. Add can of beef broth. Combine well, then add to crockpot.

5. Add can of tomatoes to crockpot. Stir everything really well.

6. Cook on low for 6 hours, or on high for 3. Serve to the masses.

Oreo Balls

Only buy Oreo brand Oreos for this recipe. Nothing else seems to taste as good.

Ingredients:

1 package of Oreos

1  8 oz package of cream cheese, softened

Cocoa powder, powdered sugar, sprinkles

Directions:

If you have a food processor:

1. Dump oreos  into the food processor, pulse into crumbs. Add cream cheese, turn on high, until it forms a doughy ball, remove and put in bowl.

If you do not have a food processor:

1. Put Oreos into a Ziploc bag. Crush well with rolling-pin, hammer, your hands, anything that you think will work. Crush as finely as you can. Think breadcrumbs. Add to bowl, and add cream cheese, mix with hand mixer. I have heard you can also use a blender, but I have not tried this method.

Everyone:

2. Place bowl in refrigerator, for about an hour, or freezer for about 30 minutes.

3. Pull out bowl,scoop out 1-2 tablespoons of the dough at a time, placing them on waxed paper, parchment paper, foil…anything really, on a cookie sheet. Return cookie sheet to freezer or fridge for about 30 minutes.

4. Roll the scoops into pretty balls, they should be about 1 inch a piece. Roll each ball into cocoa powder, powdered sugar, sprinkles, etc. Many recipes call for dipping the balls, I think that this is much easier, and usually ends up much tastier! You can easily experiment with different Oreo flavors. Keep chilled until serving.

I hope you try these out at lodge, let me know what you think! What are some of your favorite recipes to make for lodge dinners?

Masonic Youth

Masonry is truly designed to be a family affair. The men, obviously, have their countless organizations, the women have a few, and, not to leave anyone out, there are those for the youth as well.

There are three youth organizations, with some offshoots of each for the younger kids, all with their own individual structure and opportunities. All three focus on leadership and community service.

Rainbow for Girls

Started in 1922 as a counterpart to DeMolay, Rainbow for Girls, or Rainbow, is open to all girls, aged 11 to 20/21. One of the major differences here is that members do not need to be related to a Master Mason to be able to join. This is very nice, because once a girl ages out of Rainbow, she is eligible for membership in Eastern Star, among other organizations. The age out rule is a little bit different- a girl is a member until she turns 20, unless she marries before the age of 20, and is often given the opportunity to continue membership until the age of 21.

Rainbow groups are reffered to as “assemblies”. There are many officers, as you might expect, the Worthy Advisor (a girl, not an adult), is considered the president of the organization, and plans meetings and activities for the group. There are of course, also state officers, referred to as “Grandofficer title“, usually the Grand Worthy Advisor attends all state conferences, including Grand Lodge. There is also a Supreme, international council. All state/international council officers are chosen by election. The ties to DeMolay can be seen very easily, as the seven core virtues are very similar to DeMolay’s, the difference being that in Rainbow they are taught as colors, and referred to as “bow stations”. The stations are as follows:

  • Love (red) In all its forms
  • Religion (orange) The Importance of religion in all its forms (based on love and forgiveness)
  • Nature (yellow) Its Importance in your daily life
  • Immortality (green) The understanding of death is a part of life
  • Fidelity (blue) Emphasis on being honest and reliable
  • Patriotism (indigo) Encouraging citizenship to your country
  • Service (violet) Service to others which bind all the colors together

As with all Masonic youth organizations, there are adult advisors, a “Mother Advisor”, as well as an advisor board helps guide the girls. For the most part, however, the youth run the organization, the Worthy Advisor doing as she sees fit, with the Mother Advisor helping along the way (as is the case with all Masonic youth organizations). Due to the way that it is set up, there is also opportunity for adults that are interested to be involved.

Rainbow Pledge

Not associated with every chapter of Rainbow, there is often a small group of “Rainbow Pledges”, that are too young to join the organization. Pledges are usually 8-10, and can be involved in every fun activity, outing, and charity work, but usually are not involved in business meetings, or ritual work.

Job’s Daughters

Started in the Big O in 1920, Job’s Daughters is a youth organization for girls 10 to 20. The big difference between Rainbow and Job’s is that in order to become a member of Job’s Daughters (referred to often as Jobies), you must be able to prove a relationship to a Master Mason. Quite often, however, girls that can fulfill this requirement will become members of both organizations. Obviously, due to the relationship requirement, all members are eligible for membership in OES and the like. Job’s has a similar age out rule as Rainbow, the difference being that some jurisdictions may allow girls to continue to be involved up until the age of 25.

Job’s Daughters groups are referred to as “bethels”. Again, there are many officer positions available through elections within the bethel, with the “Bethel Queen” acting as president. State officers work a little bit differently in Job’s (so correct me if I got this terribly wrong). There are two state officers that are youth, the Grand Bethel Honoured Queen, and Miss Jurisdiction Job’s Daughter (i.e. Miss Nebraska Job’s Daughter).  The Grand Bethel Honoured Queen is chosen via a drawing, after fulfilling certain requirements, and Miss Jurisdiction (often referred to as Miss Congeniality), is chosen via a pageant. Both of these officers are considered equal co-leaders, and will attend state conferences together. Again, there are also international officers, the Supreme Bethel Honoured Queen, and Miss International Job’s Daughter, respectively.

Virtues taught to Jobies  include a greater reverence for God and the Holy Scriptures (JD is a more Christian based organization than rainbow, but does not require members to be such), , loyalty to one’s country and that country’s flag; and respect for parents, guardians, and elders.

Again, there is a council of adults advising the girls, referred to as the Bethel Guardian Council.

Job’s Daughter to Be/JD2B

Similar to Rainbow Pledges, Jobies to Be get to do all the fun stuff while not attending the business meetings and ritual work. This program is open to 8 and 9 year olds.

Order of the Triangles/Constellation of Junior Stars

There’s not much to be found about either of these groups. I do know that they are for girls ages 10 to 21, and both are only in New York state.

DeMolay

Yes, I am guilty of saving my favorite for last. Started in 1919 in Kansas City, The International Order of DeMolay is open to all boys aged 12 to 21, who profess a belief in a higher power, and strive to be a good person. It is the world’s largest youth fraternity, and the premier youth organization. It serves as a feeder program for masonry, as many of its members go on to become masons. A relationship to a Master Mason is not required.

Local DeMolay groups are called “chapters”. Again, numerous officer positions are available, the “Master Councilor” is elected, and acts as president for all meetings. Often (this also is true for Rainbow, not sure about Job’s), members will start at the bottom and work their way up, similar to the officer line in Blue lodge or an OES chapter. State officers vary from state to state, but will usually at least include a State (or Jurisdictional) Master Councilor, a State Senior Councilor (Vice President), and a State Junior Councilor (Vice, Vice President).  There may be many more state officers in your state or jurisdiction, this is at the discretion of the executive officer (head of state advisory board).

In addition to this, each chapter may have a “Sweetheart”, who serves as a female ambassador to DeMolay, and is usually there to remind the boys how to act in front of girls politely. She is not an officer of the chapter, but will often go on outings with them. She is usually a member of a local Bethel or Assembly, but this is not a requirement. The only requirement is that she is between the ages of 14 and 21.

DeMolay has seven cardinal virtues, you can see the similarities between theirs and Rainbow’s:

  • Filial love (love between a parent and child)
  • Reverence for sacred things
  • Courtesy
  • Comradeship
  • Fidelity
  • Cleanness
  • Patriotism

Each chapter of DeMolay must be sponsored by a local masonic body (our Shrine sponsors the Big O chapter). Again, there is an adult board of advisors to lead the youth (just turned in my application), members of the advisory board are usually referred to as Dad Last Name.

Squires of the Round Table/Order of Knighthood

DeMolay is a little bit different, in that for those that are too young to join DeMolay, there is actually a full on organization for. The Squiresof the Round Table is for DeMolay pledges, ages 10 to 12, their groups are called “Manors”, and they have elected officers, the “Master Squire” acting as president.

Once a DeMolay is 17, he is also eligible for a separate organization within DeMolay, called the Order of Knighthood, for boys 17 to 21. They too, have separate rituals and officers, but act to serve DeMolay. Their groups are called “priories”, and their president is referred to as “Illustrious Knight Commander”. The full name of the order is the Chivalric Knights of the Holy Order of the Fellow Soldiers of Jacques DeMolay.

I highly encourage you to support your local masonic youth in any way that you can, whether it be donating money, time, or being an advisor. If you enjoy masonry and have children, I would encourage them to join any and all of the organizations available to them. All of these programs feed into masonry and its appendant bodies, and we would never hope to have the membership today that we do without their existence.

The Weekend I Ran Away and Joined The Circus

The Shrine Circus that is. This past weekend (starting Thursday), was the Shrine Circus here in the Big O, and I volunteered to help out with DeMolay. earning myself a first-hand look at the behind the scenes of the Shrine Circus

History of the Shine Circus

It’s terribly hard to find a lot of information on the general history of the Shrine Circus for one major reason- there is no “Shrine Circus. Each Shrine Circus is hosted and staffed by the local Shrine, and takes on its name. So, the Tangier Shrine Circus here, is not the same as the Arab Shrine Circus in Kansas. The local Shrine Temple (or Temples), contracts a circus company to preform (most) all of the acts and additional acts are preformed by the local Shrine, who  also provide the clowns. Not every Shrine has a circus, but those that do will contract a circus individually. Due to this, you will be able to find more history on your local Shrine Circus on your Shrine’s website than you will on the overall Shrine Circus’ website.

There is some general known history, however. The very first Shrine Circus was in Detroit,  Michigan, in 1906. It started quite small, but quickly began to grow in pace with the Shriners International at the time. By 1920, there were circuses across the country, with more being added every year. Traditionally, the circus begins in Flint, Michigan, just outside of Detroit, in January, and goes through until the week of Thanksgiving.

The inflatable clown Razzle.

Fundraising

It is no secret that the Shrine Circus is a major fundraiser for the Shrine, and many believe for the Shriner’s Hospital. This is not necessarily the case however. There are two types of Shrine fundraisers- charitable and fraternal. With charitable fundraisers, 100% of all proceeds- that is, after all expenses for the fundraiser are paid, go to charity. For fraternal fundraisers, the proceeds go back into the Shrine that put on the fundraiser, and said Shrine will allocate the money as they see fit. This is not to say that local Shrines do not contribute to charities like the Shiner’s Hospitals, it is just that the money raised at these types of fundraisers also go to other things. I cannot speak for every Shrine Circus but the local Shrine Circus is a fraternal fundraiser. If someone is interested in making a contribution to a Shriner’s International related charity, like the hospital, I recommend that they do it directly, rather than rely on going to the circus (but seriously, go to the circus!)

A very well behaved elephant.

My first circus experience
We arrived about an hour and a half before the first show on Thursday night. I knew nothing of the Shrine Circus except my previous experience as a circus goer in another state, and that we were to help the DeMolays with “the inflatable clowns”. After some issues getting into the room and finding the suits, I found myself helping a young man into a giant inflatable clown, then leading him into the lobby to greet the children coming into the circus, making sure they didn’t run anyone over, or get run over.

The inflatable Shriner, and T being goofy in Razzle.

Once the circus was underway, and the suits were removed, we were all able to watch the circus from the floor. All of the acts were fairly standard circus fare- motorcycles, clown acts, a dog and pony show. During intermission we took the boys back onto the floor to wave hello to the crowd. Rinse, repeat, 7 times.

A co-worker of mine came to the 1pm show on Sunday. She had asked me how long we had been there, I told her since about 1130, and would be there until at least 830 or so that evening, and we had been doing shows since Thursday. She asked me if we were getting paid for it. My reply was simple,”Of course not, its just what we do.” That is what seemed to really be the vibe between all of the circus workers, and there were a lot- people selling programs, doing security, being clowns, selling concessions, selling tokens for rides, staffing the Oasis- all related to the Shrine, in one way or another. Everyone giving up their weekend, their time, to bring a smile to someone else’s face.

To be terribly honest, just being at the circus for long hours is exhausting. There’s hundreds of people everywhere, lots of kids screaming, bright lights and loud noises, and lots of hard work. The clowns have it the hardest, in my opinion, as they must be “on” most of the time. There is downtime of course, at my circus in between shows (I was so glad I had brought my DS), most could be found at the Oasis- a hidden area downstairs that acts as a (real) food cart, a bar, and a place to sit down for a moment. Everyone there is truly there for the same two reasons, however- to bring laughter to the children, and to raise money and awareness for the Shrine. There is a sense of togetherness there, knowing that everyone is working hard for the same goal. This, I think, is really the heart of the Shrine Circus this is the feeling that the older generation wants to instill in the younger, and one of the reasons why I think it is so important for the youth, like DeMolay and Rainbow to be involved.

The Shrine Circus is a ton of fun, an excellent excuse to be goofy, and an incredibly worthwhile event to be involved in. If you are interested in helping out at your local circus (they always need help!), or would just like to know when and where your Shrine Circus is, contact your local Shrine.