The Rough Ashlar

Thoughts from a Traveling Man

The Rough Ashlar - Thoughts from a Traveling Man

From the Department of Redundancy Department

wpid-IMAG0700.jpgI was looking at the charter for the A. Douglas Smith Jr. Lodge of Research recently and noticed that the name is apparently – according to the charter provided by the Grand Lodge – A. Douglas Smith Jr. Lodge of Research Lodge. Funny. As you can see, it is just an accident of a good name not fitting the prescribed format of the charter, and nobody has ever tacked on the final word Lodge onto the name, as far as I have ever seen. There are all sorts of things waiting to be discovered in Masonry, from the esoteric to the downright amusing.

Welsh Masonic Lapel Pin

wpid-IMAG0725-1.jpgI was given this pin by a brother who is in town from Wales for a few months. Something nice about being a Mason in the Washington, D.C. area is that I often get to host or at least meet brothers from all over the world who come here for various purposes. It is always nice when they give small tokens such as this pin – something unique by which I can remember their visit and the time we shared in our fraternal sanctuary. Likewise, I try to have a pocket full of pins from my lodge or perhaps odd pins I came across online that people will find meaningful or interesting. It is like the old days when shop keepers might have candy for children. You don’t see that much anymore. All the same, it is important to give a visitor a small token of thanks for taking the time to be with your lodge.

This pin is definitely one to wear a good bit. I love the Welsh dragon on it. Maybe I will write about some of the other special pins I have received over the years.

Santa Fe Scottish Rite Building Selling for $6.9 Million

Santa Fe Scottish RiteEver wanted to own a Scottish Rite building? Now is your chance. Sotheby’s is selling off this grand structure starting at $6.9 million.

I had the opportunity to tour and photograph this building a number of years ago, not long after I became a Mason. It is beautiful inside and out and its design is based on the Alahambra in Spain.
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Grand College of Rites Dues Card

wpid-IMAG0670.jpgThe Grand College of Rites is back in the game. it had been a few years since I had gotten anything from them but now that there is a new grand registrar, things seem to be shaping up well. Again, I expect it will be a while before everything is back up and running like it was a few years ago but hopefully they will get things in order. Keeping the records for a group this size has got to be a difficult task and I can imagine that the new brother who took over that job has some serious work cut out for him.

However, I am happy because I have a dues card again. I am up to date with everything and even have the latest volume of Collectanea they published.

If you were a fellow of the College and have gotten discouraged by the lack of communication, get back in touch through the grand registrar. He may tell you to do something different, but my instruction was to send a new petition with this year’s dues check to bring me back to current status. That was mostly so they could update their records, I understand.

Whatever you do, know that the GCR is back in business and steaming ahead.

Brick Mason’s Cipher at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

This is another photo I found at The Library of Congress. It shows some familiar figures etched into a brick in a church in St. Stephens, SC. The story, according to some history posted at RootsWeb, is that a builder, William Axson, a member of Wambaw Lodge, left his mark on the interior east wall of the church, above the chancel window. Imagine that – a brother who knows something about setting bricks!

Brick Mason's Cipher

Managing a Resurgance in Masonic Ritual

sheep-350A resurgence in brothers wanting to learn the Masonic ritual, whether to sit in a chair, return a catechism, deliver a lecture, or simply just for their personal edification, is a good thing. That is where we, as an organization, want to head. However, it is not always easy to manage. It can be a bit like herding sheep, trying to keep them going in the same direction and making sure they do not stray too far off course but also making sure none of them gets left behind. Overall, though, this is a great problem to have.

I can only speak from my own observations and experiences on this topic. When I joined my lodge, we seemed to be at a low point in terms of ritual proficiency among the line officers. What I observed was that the officer positions changed frequently and that those who sat in for the officers seemed to struggle quite a bit with what to say and do. Our senior wardens for two years in a row did not advance to the East and did not receive their certificate of competency that would allow them to preside as masters of the lodge.
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Group portrait of Freemasons of Anglo-Saxon Lodge

I found this photo at The Library of Congress. I can’t quite figure out what ceremony all these costumes would be used for together. Any ideas? The Master Mason degree is the obvious answer but I see too many people for that. The other obvious choice would be the Royal Arch degree but that does not work either. Maybe they pulled out all the costumes they had and showed them all off. What do you think?

Anglo-Saxon Lodge

Life Membership Plans – Are They Worth it?

LifeMembershipDifferent jurisdictions have different plans in place for life membership in lodges and the appendant bodies. In Virginia, where I am, the plan makes a lot of sense to take advantage of and I opted to do that a while back. Here we have not just a life membership plan but it is actually life membership in perpetuity, meaning that my lodge will get money on my behalf from the plan even after my demise.

The way dues work in any of our organizations is pretty simple. We pay our yearly lodge dues and the lodge is assessed a certain amount for our membership by the grand lodge. What this means is that the lodge only keeps a percentage of what we give it each year. Under my grand lodge’s Life Membership in Perpetuity Plan, the lodge will get that portion of my dues that it would normally retain from the grand lodge, in return for my having given the grand lodge a large lump sum that is invested in an endowment.
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