“Writing a Lodge History”

There is an article of interest to anyone given the task of writing a Lodge history. It is available for download here:

“Writing a Lodge History” (opens in a new tab)

The Masonic Library and Museum Association is a membership-based association of those who work in, use, and support Libraries and Museums. Of course there is a Masonic focus!

There are many members across North America and some members from Europe.

The article describing how to write a Lodge history is a collaboration. Three experienced Masons who have shared experiences, even while living and working a great distance from each other, have commented and compiled their thoughts. We hope and trust that the article is useful to you!

A Presentation . . .

What a delight it is to learn that someone respected my research enough to use it as the basis of a presentation of Masonic Education!

Bro. Trevor McKeown is an esteemed and well-regarded Mason, active in the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon. He was present for an online meeting of a lodge in his jurisdiction when I presented my talk on ‘The Master’s Emblem Explained for Masons’.

Recently he addressed an online meeting hosted by the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia. Bro. McKeown shared some anecdotes and wonderful photos of the Past Master’s Jewels that are part of the archives of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon. Then he shared some of the research on the Master’s Emblem.

Bro. McKeown is very familiar with Masonic history and research. He has earned the respect of internationally-renowned Masonic scholars and holds membership in the premier Masonic research Lodge: Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 (UGLE).

In his presentation Bro. McKeown cited my research, and added several points from his own consideration of the writings of others.

What connected the first part of his presentation on the Past Master’s Jewel, and the Master’s Emblem, is (of course) Euclidean geometry. The Past Master’s Jewel is well-known to represent the 47th Problem of the First Book of Euclid. And the Master’s Emblem can also be traced to the First Book of Euclid. I detail that connection in the book.

There are two prepared talks in the book ‘The Master’s Emblem Explained for Masons’. So additional research is not needed. The talks may be delivered — as is — in a Masonic Lodge.

As the author of ‘The Master’s Emblem Explained for Masons’, I am available to provide an online presentation during this time of pandemic. I have already delivered the talk to several Lodges in several jurisdictions. Please feel free to contact me at info@mastersemblem.com to discuss a presentation to you or your Lodge.

“Hoodwink” means what?

To the uninitiated man, a hoodwink is an object.  It is that cloth device used to cover the eyes.  Perhaps he recalls a scarf tied around his head for the children’s game of ‘blind man’s buff’.

 A well-read man may recall stories of a person being deceived, or hoodwinked, into believing a falsehood. 

The educated man, and an initiated Mason, will appreciate an older meaning of the word ‘hoodwink’.  In the years before speculative Freemasonry as we understand it came to be, a hoodwink was understood as the act of concealing knowledge from a man; and it was aligned with the word ‘hele’. 

In our ritual then, the hoodwink is an object applied to the Candidate to conceal from his view the knowledge that is revealed when he sees Masonic light.

Land of Saints and Scholars

Ireland is known as ‘The Land of Saints and Scholars’. What a grand opportunity it must have been for young James Agar to enter Trinity College in Dublin on this day (May 6) in 1775! Now Trinity College is home to the most popular tourist attraction in Ireland — The Long Room Library. But in 1775 the focus was on a complete education in literature, scripture, Latin, and geometry.

(This is a photo of me with a textbook from the 1790s at the Trinity College Rare Book Room)

I’ve not heard that word before…

Hele

When spoken this word sounds the same as ‘heal’ or ‘heel’.  In the ritual it rhymes with words around it such as ‘conceal’, and ‘reveal’.  Indeed, the initiate hearing the word hele for the first time will begin to understand that it probably has a meaning connected to secrecy.  The educated man has learnt that ‘hele’ is a proper word of the Scots language, and that this word means to keep a secret.

Thus the initiated Mason learns that he is being instructed three times over to respect secrecy.

And the sources of our Masonic ritual are better appreciated. 

I do note that in some places the word hele is pronounced as ‘hale’ or ‘hail’. There are explanations for this pronunciation that are — in my opinion — separated from the elegant simplicity, rhythm, rhyme, and context, of the lecture.

Go big…

The word ‘dilate’ is usually heard in a health-care setting. When you visit an optometrist you may receive some drops in your eyes to dilate the pupils. The common man understands this is a verb, an action.  It is to physically make something wider or larger. 

A Candidate receiving his first instructions within the tyled recesses of a Masonic Lodge may simply accept that there is a further meaning.  And indeed, when he explores this word with his sponsors and mentors he will learn that there is a further meaning. 

As Masonry comes to us from an earlier age, an older meaning is intended of the word ‘dilate’ in our lectures.  That meaning is to describe something, or to speak about something in detail and for a long time.  Within the context of the lecture that deals with a virtue that is close to every Mason’s heart, it is hoped that the virtue is so well understood by the Candidate that we do not have to pause and give examples.  Rather, we can immediately continue and see that virtue demonstrated by the Candidate.

“Do it with Enthusiasm” means something else to a Mason

Enthusiast.

Today we want things done with enthusiasm, and we see an enthusiast as someone who is happy to do something.  The educated man understands that this was not always the meaning, and our Ritual draws from this earlier time to offer a warning.  Early in the 1700s there was a religious movement recognized as heretical, or contrary to then-current religious dogma.  Adherents were called enthousiastes and met with opposition by ecclesial authorities.  Knowing this earlier meaning and the circumstances that gave rise to it allow the initiate and Mason to properly appreciate the full meaning of the lecture describing the plumb rule.

Parallelepipedon: The Presentation

Not long ago I had the pleasure of speaking at an online meeting of Templum Lucis Lodge No. 747 (GRC). Templum Lucis Lodge No. 747 is an Observant Lodge, based in Stratford Ontario. Their practices of an opening ode, closing ode, and strict dress code, are enforced even with online meetings.

The evening was a delight! I wasn’t the only speaker. RW Bro. Neil Dolson delivered a presentation on his experience in helping to bring Templum Lucis Lodge into being, and serving as the charter WM. By my count, there were 40 attendees online, hailing from many homes across the Province of Ontario and beyond.

I explained that my presentation was limited to a study of one word: parallelepipedon. The presentation was based on research I’d completed for an article that is now published in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum Volume 133 for 2020. And the presentation includes some additional material that I offered — just for fun.

A PDF version of the presentation is now posted on the website of Templum Lucis Lodge No. 747. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed researching and delivering the presentation.

Here is the link to the PDF: https://templumlucis.ca/parallelepipedon/

Wiped out? Forgotten?

Here is another word that is heard by Masons in our Ritual. But I’m pretty sure it isn’t used when a few guys get together for a coffee or other beverage.

Effaced.

Effaced rhymes with ‘defaced’ and doesn’t quite mean that.  The Mason on his journey is reminded of an earlier lecture, with the hope that he hasn’t forgotten that lesson because Masonry is a progressive science.  Something that is effaced has been removed, or obliterated, or erased, or worst of all: forgotten.  Our lessons are portrayed with drama to make an impression not only on the mind of the initiate, but on the mind of every Mason, so each of us can learn to apply the lessons throughout our lives.

Robbie Burns, and James Agar

Each January 25th there are many celebrations of the birth of Robbie Burns. He is recognized and honoured as the famous poet of Scotland. Also on this day we can bring to mind James Agar, on the anniversary of his death. He is underappreciated as an Irishman who did well in England.

Both Robbie Burns and James Agar were Freemasons. Both contributed significantly to the Fraternity by their words and with their actions.

As we toast the birth of Burns, let us also recall the death of Agar. And for both let us be grateful for lives well lived.

Epitaph on a Friend by Robbie Burns

An honest man lies here at rest,

The friend of man, the friend of truth,

The friend of age, and guide of truth,

Few hearts like his, with virtue warm’d,

Few heads with knowledge so inform’d,

If there’s another world, he lives in bliss;

If there is none, he made the best of this.