Email from Malcolm Bronson

Hi Guys:

Several brethren, myself included, have received an inflammatory email entitled “Masonic request” from a “MWB Malcolm Bronson”. I asked WB Danny Done to check it out, and he was able to do a reverse search on the IP and obtain a lot of info as to the sender. Please be aware that there is no “MWB Malcolm Bronson” and that the email is to be deleted.

 

Thanks, 

Jim Mendoza  

Grand Master

Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons of Washington

Masonic Civility and Personal Opinion in the Age of Social Media

All of us know the importance of civility in our interactions and conversations with our brothers. We have been famously counseled in regard to the discussion of politics and religion among brothers at masonic activities in order to prevent ill will or hurt feelings. We need no reminders that we are to respect one another, and keep our tongue when our words would do more harm than good. These are all just common sense and we all have those unfortunate memories in our minds when that line of courtesy and politeness gets crossed and damage to the craft and individuals results sometimes with unintended consequences.

Certainly our parents, teachers, and society in general spend time teaching us throughout our lives why we need to be kind, courteous and attentive in regard to our communications with one another and provide us a framework of family values and rules. Our workplace has a Human Resource department for these matters, our churches have theological tenets, our schools teach social behaviors to follow such as sportsmanship and our community leaders create civil laws to make certain that we treat one another respectably, regardless of age, creed, color, gender, special needs, etc. So why is this of particular concern to the mason if it’s already being handled? Why it is that “civility” takes a unique role in our masonic world when it seems to be a part of everyone else’s concerns?

As initiates and as brothers, each of us has been set apart and additional expectations have been placed on us both between one another and our sphere of influence to every human being through our masonic obligation that we agreed to when we stood before our great common alter. Our masonic life lived should stand out as man’s ability to love one another regardless of the differences we may have and it is in the ability to find civil agreement between those differences around our alter that causes our unique example to shine through and above the rest. The world needs an example of what it is to work together without tyranny or oppression. To show by our example, how we can disagree and yet remain not only tolerant but affectionate towards one another.

Anyone with a television, radio or newspaper knows that civility in our nation is being challenged. The rules established in many of the categories mentioned have broken down. The divorce rate is up, violence plagues our schools, dogma attacks one another’s sacred beliefs openly, even violently and we all know what has happened to a government divided by opposing values who appears as though it has lost its ability to work with civility at all causing gridlock and then fanned by the news media who thrive on conflict, we are bathed in examples of discord, anger, hostility, and fear. As never before, masonry’s example of civil discipline is needed and its great message of working together civilly is the answer that society needs now above all other examples.

Having said all of this, it is an important reminder that we have been set apart for this great work of creating a perfect society, a temple built without hands and that through our example, we will lead the world to its golden potential. We must examine ourselves in this day of Twitter, Facebook, email and text and be conscious of the fact that not only the words we share mouth to ear need to be filtered through our grand obligation but that every hashtag, Facebook post, email forward, or text associated with us requires our attention and scrutiny. When we wear the square and compass as a part of our identity we take on a larger persona than just that of our own personal opinion. We represent a philosophic empire that spreads across the globe. Each of us are obliged to one another and to the craft that we represent to communicate with respect, the highest degree of integrity, and the deepest concern for the feelings and welfare of others.

Certainly each brother is welcome to his own personal opinions and sharing those publically and clearly is the right of every free man but the manner in which the opinion is expressed is where civility needs to be checked. We must ask, are we being reasonable, kind, intelligent and beneficial? Are we allowing comedy, sensationalism, or cleverness to supplant our concerns not to be divisive, cruel, or mean spirited? Are we more concerned about respect for our personal views than we are about the views of others?

Masonry is an ancient a beautiful craft whose higher standards have the opportunity through each of our mindful efforts to be the guiding example in our social media world that is in great need of our philosophic teachings and inclusiveness, especially today when even our leaders have not been the examples of civility we would like. It makes it ever more important to be the higher example to others that masonry calls us to be and is something we can do every day to create the world we all know we all want and need and as masons, have been charged to create. Let’s all pause and examine how we express our opinions in the maelstrom of social media and ensure our rhetoric is something we are all proud of for our craft and others to imitate.

May the Great Architect give us wisdom and strength to be the light and example for others to follow.

Most fraternally,

W. B. John Lawson

Grand Chaplain,

Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Washington

Featured photo source: Flickr.com

Levi’s Uncles – Freemasons supporting the search for a cure to Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide). A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections; and obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food. An additional 10 million people — about one in every 31 Americans — are symptomless carriers of the defective CF gene.

When the Brothers of Washington Lodge No. 4 became aware that my son, Levi, has CF, and of the annual Cystic Fibrosis Foundation GREAT STRIDES fundraiser, one Brother suggested gathering Masonic support of the worthy cause within District 19 for their Masonic “nephew”. Quickly thereafter, it was suggested that Freemasons participating in the event be identified as “Levi’s Uncles”.

Since 2011, Freemasons under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Washington, Grand Lodge of Oregon, and Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and Jurisdiction have participated in the event.

This year’s event will take place at Esther Short Park in Vancouver, WA on Saturday, May 13th. The event is on the Grand Master’s calendar, and we hope to see Masons from around the state in Vancouver this year.

The 5K walk follows a pleasant route beginning at the park and running along the waterfront of the Columbia River. Participants can walk all or part of the route, or simply enjoy the pleasant park environment.

If you are able to attend this family friendly event, you are encouraged to register as part of Levi’s Team at http://fightcf.cff.org/goto/Levis_Team_2017.

NOTE: There is no registration fee, nor is one required to fundraise to participate in the event.

You can learn more about CF and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at https://www.cff.org/

Our Best Un-Tapped Asset

It was some time in November of 2009 when I got an email while at work in reply to a message I’d frankly forgotten I’d sent a few months before. The email was from Eric Vogt, who was the secretary at Queen Anne Lodge.

A few months before, I decided to reach out Grand Lodge to see if there were any lodges in my area. At the time, I had no idea that there was a lodge building just 3 blocks away from my house.

For a lot of younger members, showing up to a stated meeting is very intimidating… So, getting an invite to meet a few members for just a casual dinner felt far more comfortable for my 22-year-old self.

When I first showed up, I met three brothers who were all cooking and having a glass of wine. They were just there for dinner with each other, as if it were all of their home. Eric often stayed late in the city for work, Zane and “Mighty” both had recently gone through divorces… It was as if this was their second home.

At that time in my masonic journey, the Lodge building itself wasn’t used much for rentals, but when it was, they were much smaller private events brokered by the brothers who were within driving distance of the lodge in order to keep the lights on.

We talked for years about making the place nicer. At the time I didn’t have all that much work in the summer, and being who I am, wanted to see how I could contribute. So, I spent a few weeks building a proposal for the Temple Board to redesign our entry way in a more planned out classical style.

If your Temple Board is anything like ours was, all of the focus is generally on SAVING money, so the idea of spending any money at all, let alone taking on a risky project at the hands of the newest, youngest member was a bit of a risk. Let’s just say there were parts of that meeting that were not peaceful or harmonious. That being said, those virtues did prevail and we approved a few thousand dollars for the project.

Granted, I did a lot of the work myself… But from beginning to end of the renovation, which was extended to makeover the whole main dining room, we had over 500 volunteer hours of work on the building together. Members of every age, about a dozen young brothers interested in joining, and even their friends and family all helped out. Neighbors would stop in to see the progress and explore “that old creepy building across from the library”.

All throughout this work in progress, the community around the lodge begin to grow as more brothers began treating the building like it was their communal home. We even went so far as to try to build a wine cellar and humidor, which we could NEVER keep stocked.

I know every lodge doesn’t have a lodge building… And for the most part, the focus of the Temple Board is to protect the lodge brothers from liability. However, I think we should return to a foundation of our fraternity by understanding that temple boards are actually entrusted with one of our most useful tools for building community, our buildings.

Whether we like it or not, the most ignored asset that we have have as Freemasons are the buildings we own. However there is a common downfall I’ve observed in many lodge buildings that they get focused on sanctioned events, insurance and liabilities, and forget the fact that our lodge buildings are venues for community to happen organically. In order for this organic community to happen and thrive, we need to give the members of the lodge a sense of ownership. We need to allow for easy, regulated use, make the space available and known in the community for rentals, and build up resources needed by brothers who otherwise lack resources. The result is that people end up actually coming together to work and bond. This is something that happens far too rarely in this digital age.

So, the following are my tips to the temple boards and lodges in order to encourage the growth of the lodge’s non-stated activity, based on what happened in our lodge.

 

  • Give your members a sense of ownership by letting them earn sweat equity in the building.

Our current worshipful master started his involvement in the lodge mowing the lawn and doing general maintenance.

One petitioner gave us the bar that’s the central piece of our dining room.

One of our older brothers found a beautiful piano to add ambiance, and fixtures for our bathrooms.

Time and time again, when people get the chance to work on a building, they get more involved, they’re at lodge more often, and they bring with them their families and communities.

Not every lodge needs to do a total renovation in order to build this. University spent years working on their library, while others build museums. However, my recommendation is that everyone contribute to social spaces or events. Doric doesn’t have much work to do on their building, but every year the brothers like Hotte rally other brothers to put on their beer garden for the Fremont Solstice Parade.

So, while doing general work on the space itself is important, if your lodge doesn’t already feel like a clubhouse in addition to a formal meeting space, I dare you to recruit a skunkworks of brothers willing to swing a hammer and launch into a project similar to our next two endeavors: A ‘man cave’ in our basement and an extending our porch for better BBQing.

I get it, some of you are visual… So here is some inspiration we’ve been using as we daydream these next adventures.

33 awesome man cave ideas.

 

  • Make it easy for regulated, casual use by your membership.

I suppose this is where we got tripped up a little bit… And honestly, I haven’t had the chance to work on our building in a few years since I’ve been busy growing my business. In the process, however, I’ve discovered a few things to solve this very resounding question that every Temple Board is going to care a lot about.

First of all, before you start opening the floodgates of building use by members there have to be rules set and agreed on as to who has both limited and unlimited access, as well a clear way for everyone to reserve the building for use, or see if it has been reserved. I’ve got a few tips for that.

As far as the rules are concerned, we were small enough that we could simply designate all past masters and principal officers with a key to the building. However, some lodges can limit that even further if there are just too many living past masters active in the lodge. In that case, I would recommend delegating use of the building to the temple board, treasurer, secretary and/or principal officers. So long as the rules are written and public so there is a sense of fairness, as well as a clear pecking order and person/people the average member can go to for access.

For security, we use a lockbox with a keycode on the outside of our building in order to also allow renters in. It’s a somewhat outdated solution. Instead, I’d recommend anyone installing a lock system for their members to jump straight into the 21st century and opt for a smart lock system like Kevo, which integrates with the home security camera system Nest. Something like this allows for access not only to lock/unlock directly from any verified smart phone, but also allows direct two-way communication with people on site, control of the door locks, and motion-activated push notifications in case there is anything suspicious.

 

  • Rentals aren’t just for revenue, they’re for community exposure.

Alright, even if you don’t have the sexiest building on earth, most lodges are useable to one degree or another by outside groups. While I do recommend tackling the project of making your lodge as beautiful as possible, buildings of all kinds have their uses.

At first my vision with our renovation was to focus on community organizations using the building, like the chamber of commerce, historical society, and other logical overlaps in order to get the exposure. However, those efforts took a lot of time to cultivate. Let’s face it, even in this town, if you say “free rent”, it still doesn’t mean if you build it they will come.

We never experienced true success in our rentals until we began working with a local event planner, who we let use the space and manage the rentals on a profit share basis. The result was their events would be so well attended that the lodge got much more exposure, simply due to the number of people and diverse purposes people were seeing it used for.

In fact, we ended up building a new brand around the use of the building itself. We had reason to believe the use of the word “Lodge” was confusing because it implied it might be an Inn, bed-and-breakfast or hotel. On the other hand “Temple” seems far too formal and rigid and singular in use. Instead, after talking with the event planning company I hired to manage the rentals, we settled on the name “The Clubhouse”. We felt it would be far more fitting and exciting to potential renters… and it worked.

 

  • Turn your lodge into a valuable resource to make your members’ lives easier and better.

Alright, this one might be the most controversial, and I might get in a little bit of trouble for telling the world about this, but your lodge SHOULD be USEFUL, especially to its younger members.

Here’s the truth, Millennials earn a relative 30% less than their gen x and boomer counterparts did at the same age. Rent is also far more expensive, which means the vast majority of us don’t own our own home. We rent, and that’s especially true in Seattle. Do we want to attract younger members? Just like any institution, we have to provide real, tangible value in addition to the social value to our members. And our lodge buildings are the gift that can keep on giving.

Granted, we took this to another level by building out an apartment in the lodge for brothers in desperate need to stay in for a few months. This has helped no fewer than five of our brothers get back on their feet after losing a job, or a spouse. Just like lodge access, limited access and rules have to be set in place. For us, the Temple Board granted discretionary authority to the Worshipful Master to allow a brother to use it. Once it’s granted, the needs of the brother are assessed every month during the Temple Board meeting.

I will note that, either because the life stages of our members has shifted in the past few years, or the because the economy has simply improved enough, the use of the lodge for that purpose has diminished over the past three years.

On the far less desperate side of the spectrum, Millennial men still lack several things, including a good place to host their friends and family for celebrations, since most of us even lack a suitable back yard and a great many of us also lack a garage. The Queen Anne Lodge has made its old bones useful to many brothers in exactly that way.

In fact, it’s the usefulness that gave me inspiration to write this post.

My marketing business has taken off in the past few years, now with nearly 30 employees, and I recently had to move offices for the first time in three years. In order to save on expenses, my little brother and I ended up doing a lot of the work ourselves in the build out. The problem being that our parents live an hour away, and have most of their tools tucked away in storage because they recently moved themselves. So when we needed things like a skilsaw, power drills, and other normal tools, we were stuck either renting them from Home Depot, or borrowing them on an app like Nextdoor. Then all of a sudden I remembered, “Wait, there’s a fully stocked workshop in the basement of the Lodge!”

What a concept! A masonic lodge making itself useful for it’s members to BUILD stuff. Yes, there are some logistics, like having a good check in and check out system so things don’t get lost or broken and having some form of accountability. But it’s 2017, there are plenty of tools to help with that. The bigger issue is collecting the tools, building a home for them, and regulating access.

However, once something like that is in place, the most obvious thing to do is build up the shared resources of the Lodge. We live in a day and age where even miniature free libraries are popping up on street corners. It behooves the Freemasons to share with each other. Our culture is shifting in this direction with the emergence of the shared economy over the last few years. Freemason Lodges are primed and ready to epitomize all the value of membership and more than what we could get off the app store. After all, we’re brothers.

 

The bottom line for me is that we’re neglecting one of our greatest assets for building fraternity, our venues. We need to stop thinking of our buildings as sacred temples, and start thinking of them as our clubhouses, a practical resource and retreat to improve the lives of its members. If we simply and objectively think of what the modern man would want out of their dream clubhouse, that’s a starting point for progress.

Once we reorient our way of thinking about our lodge buildings and realize they are not museums, and but should be practical venues of both refreshment and labor that fit easily and practically into our modern lifestyles, is when Freemasonry would will become visible in the day to day lives of our communities.

Washington Idaho Rainbow Kickoff to 2017!

Washington Idaho Rainbow is excited for our 2016-2017 Grand Year and the ties that bind us with our Masonic families. We were so excited to see so many of you at our Dream Camp in August when our Grand Worthy Advisor, May Powell, announced our Serve Project, Alzheimer’s AssociationHilarity for Charity, as well as our local community outreach in making a difference with those needing assistance with memory care.

On September 11th, we had a great kick-off for Hilarity for Charity, with our first Color Run, which was in conjunction with Sultan-Monroe Lodge. Approximately 160 people participated in this explosion of color and raised $20,000. Several Masonic Leaders were in attendance including our Grand Worthy Advisor, May Powell; Washington DeMolay’s State Master Councilor, Luke Walker; Worthy Grand Matron of Washington, Peggy Mills; and Most Worshipful Grand Master of Washington, Jim Mendoza. Approximately $17,000 will go to the Hilarity for Charity (www.hilarityforcharity.org) and $3,000 will go to the local education fund for Sultan-Monroe Lodge. Community effort was received from Evergreen Speedway donating water, ZipFizz energy drink for their support and donations of water bottles, color packets and monetary donation, and Monroe PlazaStarbucks for coffee for our volunteers.

In Rainbow, we like to keep busy, and our girls with their many chaperones, have been traveling across Washington/Idaho to Official Visits as well as instituting our new assembly in Twin Falls, Idaho. It’s been amazing to see many of our masonic family on the sidelines during these events supporting our girls, viewing their ritual work and participating in the fun and fellowship.

Fun is not only about the girls – we have adult fun too. At our annual Fundraising Gala in November, many adults joined to raise $17,480.00 in funds not only to help with our annual jurisdictional budget, but also with our Leadership program. Because of those in attendance, over 121 girls will be able to attend Leadership Camp for free, and we will be able to send one of our adults for training in the nationally renowned “Girl Meets World” leadership program. If you’d like to donate toany of our programs, contact, Kris Arnold, Grand Executive CommitteeTreasurer, at win1kristi@aol.com. Thank you to the many leaders in our masonic family for attending the Gala and supporting our cause. Without each of you, there would be no We. Because of your support, Rainbow is alive and well in Washington and Idaho.

In December, we will continue to travel through our Jurisdiction, attending many meetings and initiations, and celebrate the holiday season through service and fun. In the new year, we will continue our travels toreceptions and visiting many of your events as well.

To find out more about upcoming jurisdictional Rainbow events, visit http://nwrainbow.org/events/.

To find a local assembly and meeting date, visit http://nwrainbow.org/about/where-to-find-rainbow/.

Wishing you all a spectacular holiday season and one amazing new year. We look forward to sharing many events along our journey.

Until we write again,

Dot Gosset

Print Media, WA/ID I.O.R.G.

The Grand Standard of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Washington

The record of the 1877 proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Washington includes a report presented by Bro. T. M. Reed, for the special committee appointed to procure a Grand Lodge Banner, and Jewels and Aprons for the Grand Lecturer and Grand Chaplain:

To M. W. Grand Lodge of Washington:

The special committee appointed near the close of our last Annual Grand Communication, and authorized to procure a Grand Lodge Banner, having suitable design and inscriptions, for the use of this Grand Lodge, and also, to procure suitable Regalia and Jewels for the offices of Grand Lecturer and Grand Chaplain, respectively report that they have discharged the duties assigned them. Before purchasing the Banner your committee corresponded with various Masonic furnishing establishments in the East, and one of our members made it a special point while on a recent visit to San Francisco, and the Atlantic cities, to elicit such information as would aid the committee in the choice of a Banner of such style, quality and price, as would meet the desires and be alike creditable and pleasing to the Grand Lodge. Your committee flatter themselves they have succeeded, and feel assured the result of their labors will be satisfactory to the Grand Lodge. The Banner cost $150, to which add Express charges of $15.30 making a total of $165.30. It was manufactured at the well known establishment of J. D. Caldwell & Co., Cincinnati, Ohio. The description of the Banner is as follows: Size 56×40 inches; double white silk ground; ornamented by blue top skirt, differing in style on either side; on front side, painted Grand Lodge Seal, solid gold device and lettering in back, the corners embellished and ornamented with appropriate scroll designs – blue on top skirting border, the word “ALKI” our Territorial motto. Reverse side – white silk ground blue top skirt, painted on body of Banner a large shield representing the lion, the ox, the man and the eagle, the shield encircled by a wreath of variegated colors. The words “Grand Lodge of Washington” encircling the whole device on reverse side. Two and a half inch gold fringe, with gold tassels around the margin of Banner and skirting; metal top piece, jointed staff, roller, gold cord and tassels, &c.

The Jewels and Regalia cost $34, including Express charges, bill for which, including the Banner, are herewith presented, the whole having been paid by the Grand Secretary, and charged in his incidental expense account.

Fraternally submitted,

J. R. Hayden,

P. A. Preston,

T. M. Reed,

Committee

Today’s Grand Standard retains many of the features described on the 1877 Banner.

The Grand Standard of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, F&AM of Washington measures approximately 25” wide and 42” long, and is rich in both color and Masonic symbolism. The rod upon which it is carried is nearly 94” long, inclusive of the 8” brass spear point at the top.

The art and science of devising, displaying, and granting armorial insignia and of tracing and recording genealogies is referred to as heraldry. The primary mechanism to display the heraldic devices is on an escutcheon or shield.iModern heraldry often adds a motto displayed on a ribbon.

Dexter and sinister are terms, which refer to the specific locations on a shield bearing a coat of arms. Dexter (Latin for “right”) refers to the right from the viewpoint of the bearer of the shield. Sinister (Latin for “left”) refers to the left from the viewpoint of the bearer.ii Similarly, chief and base refer to the top and bottom of the shield, respectively.

The obverse of the Grand Standard is a field of white, bearing the name GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON, a shield, a laurel wreath, and the square & compasses. Across the top of the obverse is a purple bib emblazoned with the word “ALKI”.

The shield of the Grand Standard consists of a lion on a field of red (Dexter Chief), an ox on a field of blue (Sinister Chief) an eagle on a field of white (Sinister Base), and a man on a field of blue (Dexter Base).

Royal Arch Masonry tradition teaches us that the symbols on the shield are representative of the “Four Living Creatures”, or the four principal tribes of Israel; Judah (the Lion, representing strength), Ephraim (the Ox, representing patience), Reuben (the Eagle, representing swiftness), and Dan (the Man, representing intelligence).iii

We read in the Volume of Sacred Law about the four living creatures in Ezekiel 1:5-11 and again in Revelation 4:7.

The colored fields upon which the symbols are placed also have Masonic meaning; red is representative of the regeneration of life, blue represents the vault of heaven and is a symbol of universal friendship and benevolence, and white represents purity and innocence.iv (York Rite tradition would have the Man on a field of purple, which is described as an emblem of union consisting of blue and crimson.)

The laurel is an emblem of achievement; and the laurel crown in Freemasonry is given to him who has made a conquest over his passions.v

The square represents morality, and teaches us to regulate our actions and harmonize our conduct by the principles of morality and virtue.

The Compasses represents virtue, and teach us to circumscribe our desires and keep our passions within due bounds.

The motto, “Alki”, is a Chinook word meaning “by and by”. [“Alki” is also the Washington State Motto. Washington was admitted to the Union as the 42nd state in 1889, some 30 years after the Grand Lodge of Washington was established.]

Purple is in Freemasonry a symbol of fraternal union, because, being compounded of blue, the color of the Ancient Craft, and red, which is that of the Royal Arch, it is intended to signify the close connection and harmony which should ever exist between those two portions of the Masonic system. It may be observed that this allusion to the union and harmony between blue and red Masonry is singularly carried out in the Hebrew word, which signifies purple.This word, which is argamun, is derived from ragam, or rehem, one of whose significations is “a friend.”vi

The perimeter of the Standard is trimmed in gold fringe. The color gold represents light emerging from darkness, and wisdom.vii

The reverse of the Grand Standard is a field of white, bearing the seal of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge F&AM of Washington, crossed swords, and additional decorations presumed as ornamental. Across the top of the reverse is a purple bib emblazoned with the All-Seeing Eye.

Fraternally,

Gordon Johnson, Grand Standard Bearer

The seal of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge F&AM of Washington which consists of:

  • Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons
  • All-Seeing Eye (representative of the Great Architect of the Universe), under which is inscribed “Love”.
  • A Seaman holding an anchor (which is a symbol of hope) and an orchid (which is a symbol of strength), and the phrase “Exitus Acta Probat”, which means the outcome justifies the deed [Dexter].
  • A mosaic pavement (emblematical of human life) with three columns (which represent wisdom, strength, and beauty), three steps (which represent the three degrees of Masonry and the three principal stages of human life), the 47th problem of Euclid (inspiring Masons to be lovers of the arts and sciences), sun, moon, and comet (which perform their revolutions under the watchful care of the All-Seeing Eye) [Sinister].
  • Square and Compasses, under which is inscribed “In God is our Trust” and “Dec. 8, 5858” (Date on which our Grand Lodge was established).
  • Washington Territory

References from Volume of Sacred Law:

Ezekiel 1: 5 and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was human, 6 but each of them had four faces and four wings. 7 Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. 8 Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. All four of them had faces and wings, 9 and the wings of one touched the wings of another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved. 10 Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. 11 Such were their faces.

Revelation 4:7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle.

A Christmas Message from the Grand Master

For me, the Christmas season really begins when I hear Andy Williams singing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year“. There are two key reasons why I feel this way: One, the Andy Williams Christmas specials were an important part of my childhood. Two, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Masonically speaking, it is the height of the installation season. This is our opportunity as brethren to give thanks to the outgoing Master for all of his hard work, to give best wishes to his successor, and to pledge the support of the Brethren to the new ‘team’. I recall my installation as Master of Frank S. Land Lodge No. 313 as a joyous occasion. The energy in the room was electric. I could feel that no one wanted me to fail. No doubt, others who have made the journey to East feel the same way. What’s not wonderful about that?

This is also a time of religious and moral reflection that inspire many people to reach out to those who are in need. Though Freemasonry is not a charity in the truest sense of the word, charity is an inseparable part of Freemasonry. It is my belief that you cannot be a Freemason if you are not charitable. Being charitable is one way that you can Be the Difference and add to the wonder of the season.

Most importantly, it is a time when those of us of faith – whatever that faith may be – celebrate then the traditions of our faith. For me and my family, that celebration is Christmas. The story of the birth of Christ as related in the Book of Luke, Chapter 2, (most eloquently recited by Linus Van Pelt) is what makes this time of year most wonderful.

I also enjoy the secular traditions of the season – shopping, decorating the house, looking at neighborhood light displays, holiday specials, preparing the meal, and the look of joy on a loved one’s face when a present is opened. Lest I forget, I still visit Santa and get my picture taken.

As I wrap up my Christmas message, I share these words from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”:

How can they talk about Santa Claus when there is so much unhappiness in the world? Poor, misguided folks. They missed the whole point. Lot’s of unhappiness? Maybe so. But doesn’t Santa take a little bit of that unhappiness away? Doesn’t a smile on Christmas morning scratch out a tear cried on a sadder day? Not much maybe. But what would happen if we all tried to be like Santa and learned to give as only he can give: of ourselves, our talents, our love and our hearts? Maybe we could all learn Santa’s beautiful lesson and maybe there would finally be peace on Earth and good will toward men.

A Very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and the Best of the Holiday Season to one and all – God Bless Us, Everyone!

An Encouragement for Generosity this Season

Brethren,

As Grand Chaplain for the state of Washington of Freemasons it is my humble honor to focus our attention on the spiritual nature of our craft, reminding each of us during this season of giving that beyond the lofty titles that we bestow upon one another, whether it be Worshipful, Illustrious, Grand, Noble, Sir Knight, Worthy Matron, etc., we must always remember where we have all first been made a Mason, in our hearts. We have not just been given flowery titles but have obligated ourselves to the aid and support of our kind offices to every human being who may have need of our assistance as far as our cable tow can reach.  

We should all take great pride in the amazing good our craft in its many lodges, rites, chapters, assemblies, bethels, courts, shrines, etc, have contributed to those lives that are touched by our efforts and without us, would not have the quality of life they do today. 

As a fraternity, we stand peerless in our generosity in our programs, hospitals, and funding but we must not let the larger fraternity, of which we are a part cause us to become complacent in our individual lives. 

Each of us who have stood at the alter of Freemasonry have promised that we will demonstrate our masonic ideals in all our actions. Please consider taking personal action by contacting your lodge or chapter secretary, master, or worthy matron. Make contact with your Washington Masonic Charities representative and see what needs have come to their attention where you may be able to assist.

I hope each of you will demonstrate personally your generosity this year. Get involved with your communities and share in their efforts such as angel trees, shelters, food banks, coat and clothing gathering, and on and on. Be the difference in your sphere of influence and let this time of giving and this coming new year be for you the great blessing it can be with your help. Be light and love and let your personal lives and actions contribute to the betterment of others. May the Great teachings of our fraternity shine in every decision that you make.

“…There are those who give little of the much which they have–and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome. And there are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.

There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward and there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism. And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space. Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth….” – The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran

 

May the Great Architect favor all your actions this holiday season and may you be blessed through this coming year.

Grand Chaplain, W. John Lawson

Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Freemasonry and Accepted Masons of Washington

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Brethren, Whence came you?

By W:.B:. Mike Priddy

Over the last few months my blogs have been pretty academic and serious in nature. This time I thought I would throw something lighter out for your consideration.

As young Masons we are told we will get an education in the symbols of Masonry, and to be certain we do get some instructions on some of our symbols during the degrees, but it is truly left to us to seek their deeper meaning. As you no doubt know there is something of a cottage industry around the ‘secret’ symbols of Freemasonry, but what most non-masons don’t know is that the symbols we use are so obscure many of us don’t know what they mean!

I have spoken with many of our brothers about our symbols and am always stumped by the lack of interest in personally investigating their meanings. To be clear I don’t mean reading what someone else has written about them but rather a personal quest for esoteric meaning. Each of us has our own story, with our own experiences and perspective. I encourage each of you to take a moment and look at our symbols, and explore the emotions, ideas and memories they elicit. Other men may know more about the traditional meaning of a symbol, but no one knows more about what it says to you than you!

image-1About 10 years ago I was walking through our preparation room, as I had done many times but on this night I was drawn to the circle, point, and two parallel lines which is displayed in all regularly constituted Masonic Lodges. Now I am sure each of you have had the experience of something that has become routine in your life suddenly taking on special significance and meaning. That night this most common of masonic symbols jumped out at me in a completely new way, with meaning and clarity. I saw in that set of symbols a map! I did not know where it pointed, though I should have, but it was clear to me in that instant I was looking at a symbolic representation of the world.

I’ll explain what I saw later, but first I would like to explain something about symbols. We have language that we use every day, which is composed of, letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, syntax and grammar. This method of communication can be very precise and can relay ideas and thoughts between individuals separated by time and space with a clarity and depth that can be startling. Consider the power of the Bible, Koran or Torah. Volumes written centuries ago can still inspire men and women in today’s modern technological and complex world. But before there was the written word our species used another method to communicate, symbols. Much science has been dedicated to the power of symbols, and how in many cases the power of symbols to elicit meaning across not only time and space but also across cultures. Unlike the precise meaning of a word a symbol has layers of meanings and as we study them they can lead us on a journey toward not just the common truth but to universal Truth that only the soul can experience. Because of the depth and power of symbols we can see different meanings in symbols each time we look at them, and yet the sum of the symbol’s meanings over time can become itself a complex tapestry of enlightenment.

Some symbols are natural, ingrained in all people. Carl Jung, a 20th century psychologist called these symbols ‘archetypes’. In our common unconscious for example we all experience symbolic images of Mother, Father, and Shadow and many times they speak to us in dreams as characters representing fundamental human meaning. Other symbols are created, like the US Flag, the square and compass and a red octagon (Stop!).

image-2So, the circle, point and parallel lines are in the rudimentary sense a symbol of moral compass. We all learn this early in our practice as Masons. Let’s say that is a surface meaning, and that there might be another meaning, in this case a map. So how can that be a map? That night when I looked at the parallel lines what jumped out at me was the images of the Holy Saints John standing next to the parallel lines. They were the first clue. You see each Saint in the Catholic tradition has a feast day. Many old churches in Europe face sun rise on the feast day of the Saint they are named after. The early churches like our Lodges are aligned toward the east and since the sun rises in a different place each morning, east was assigned at sunrise on the day of the Saint’s feast. The interesting thing about the two saints John is that their feast days fall very close to the two solstices, approximately June 21st and December 21st, the longest and shortest day of the year. The feast days of the Saints John are June 23rd and December 27th. On Solstices the sun is as far north or south as it travels in the sky, and the lines that represents that southern and northern most point are two parallel, horizontal, lines on maps and globes. These are called the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The fact that the feast days of these two saints fell near the dates of the solstices, from which the tropics were derived, and that they were standing next to two parallel lines seemed to great a coincidence.

The obvious problem with this idea is that the lines, while parallel, are vertically aligned setting them 90 degrees off. In fact, in my research I discovered that someone had approached Albert Pike years ago with the same idea as mine and Pike had dismissed it for exactly that reason. So for a time I let it go, but I was not satisfied. You see there was another part of the symbol that caught my eye. The Bible at the top of the circle was key to decoding the symbol. As in our Lodges the east is considered, symbolically, to be the direction from which enlightenment comes. That Bible on top seemed to say, “look at me dummy, I’m the east!” If that was true the lines would be oriented correctly, but why would someone draw the symbol on its side? There was an answer and eventually I found it.

When you look at a map you usually turn the map until North is at the top. We call this “orienting” the map. BUT the word orient is Latin for EAST. Why would turning the map to a north alignment be called “easting” the map? Because in medieval times maps had east on top! That’s right, and on those maps the tropics would have been aligned vertically!

image-3These maps were called O and T maps because a circle, the O, represented the earth, and the continents formed a rough T. Now it get’s really interesting. O and T maps sometimes have a dot in the center that represents a city. Do you care to guess what city? It seems the Holy Saints John are pointing us to Jerusalem!

So, while I have no proof that this ancient Masonic symbol is in fact intended to be a map to Jerusalem I think I have shown that it could be. Even if it never was intended to be a map to Jerusalem for me this symbol now is a reminder of our Masonic mythology as well as a reminder to live with in a certain moral and ethical compass. Like many symbols this one has depth for me, and I hope perhaps its does for you too.

Now Brethren I challenge you. Go to Lodge, pick a symbol that speaks to you and explore it, stare at it, research it, meditate on it and listen for that quiet voice in the still parts of your heart. Bring our symbols to life again and you will breathe new Light into your Lodge.image-4

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