I had planned to write a post about visiting other Lodges some weeks ago. It’s going to be difficult to visit right now as there is no Masonic activity at the moment, but life has to go on, at least to some degree.
I hope that you are all staying safe and well.
Variety, the Spice of Life
Every Lodge is different, something you learn quickly as a Mason
There is plenty of scope for making a Lodge unique even though we are bound by the same rules and procedures. That’s one of the reasons that visiting is such fun.
The Same – But Different
The first way for a Lodge to stand out is deciding which ‘Workings’ to follow for their meetings.
There are many versions of Masonic ritual written and followed by different Lodges. The Founders decide what version is to be followed when a Lodge is consecrated.
By far the most popular version is Emulation but other approved versions include; Taylor’s, Revised, Universal, Oxford, and more.
For a longer list, you can visit; https://freemasonrymatters.co.uk/freemasonry/workings-the-many-versions-of-masonic-ritual/).
We use Emulation Ritual at Oak Tree, for three of our four meetings per year. For the Installation meeting, we change and use the Revised Ritual. This is unique in Surrey, you can read more about this on our Lodge History page.
The instructions within a particular choice of Workings are usual fairly prescriptive, but there is some scope for interpretation. This means that each Lodge does things a little differently and the possibilities are endless.
The only way to appreciate this variety is by visiting other Lodges and witnessing their ceremonies. Visiting is a great way to meet new people and to enjoy an evening of Freemasonry without having the responsibility of taking part.
Differences between Lodges can also extend into the Festive Board, the meal that is enjoyed after the meeting. Again there are formalities in terms of toasts that are given but each lodge will have other traditions.
For example; I went to a Lodge recently that provided port for the toasts. The port was served in two large crystal decanters that were designed such that they couldn’t be put down except on their original base. This meant that they were quickly passed around so that everyone had a glass ready for toasts.
As well as toasting HM Queen and high ranking officials of Freemasonry, it is customary for the hosts to toast visitors that have taken the time to come along and enjoy the evening. In return, one of the visitors is asked to give a short reply – to thank their host and say something about Freemasonry.
I had the pleasure of replying on behalf of the visitors at a recent visit and as well as talking a little about the camaraderie of Freemasonry I read a verse from a Robert Morris poem called Happy Hour;
I will talk a bit more about Masonic poetry in future posts – especially as there is very little to report on normal Masonic business.
S&F – Paul C.