Freemasonry is a centuries-old fraternal organization known for its rich symbolism, intricate rituals, and cryptic phrases. Among the many enigmatic expressions used by Freemasons, “So Mote It Be” stands out as one of the most intriguing. This phrase is often uttered during Masonic ceremonies and meetings, shrouded in mystery and symbolism. In this blog post, we will explore the origins and significance of “So Mote It Be” within Freemasonry.
The Origins of So Mote It Be
The phrase “So Mote It Be” has a long and complex history, with roots that extend beyond Freemasonry. Its origins can be traced back to medieval English and Scottish language, where “mote” means “may” or “might.” In the context of Freemasonry, the phrase essentially means, “So may it be.”
“So Mote It Be” is used in various Masonic rituals, including the initiation of new members and the closing of lodge meetings. Its presence in these ceremonies serves multiple purposes:
Freemasonry is rich in symbolism, and this phrase is no exception. It represents the idea of finality, a seal upon the work completed during the ritual. It’s akin to saying, “Let it be done” or “Let it be accomplished.”
Freemasons use “So Mote It Be” to reinforce the sense of unity and brotherhood among members. It signifies that all present agree on the actions taken or the words spoken during the ritual.
By using this phrase, Freemasons connect themselves to the traditions and rituals of their forebears, adding a sense of continuity and historical significance to their practices.
Beyond its surface-level interpretation, “So Mote It Be” holds a deeper, esoteric meaning within Freemasonry. Some Masonic scholars and practitioners believe it carries spiritual connotations, emphasizing the power of the spoken word and the manifestation of intentions.
Freemasonry teaches that words and thoughts have a profound effect on reality. Uttering “So Mote It Be” is a way of affirming one’s intention and invoking the universe’s assistance in making it a reality.
In some Masonic traditions, “So Mote It Be” is seen as a recognition of the divine will or providence. It acknowledges that the ultimate outcome of any endeavor is in the hands of a higher power.
“So Mote It Be” may sound like a quaint and archaic phrase, but within Freemasonry, it carries deep symbolism and significance. This mysterious utterance encapsulates the principles of unity, historical continuity, and the power of intention that are central to Masonic philosophy.
While its origins may be rooted in medieval language, its relevance in contemporary Freemasonry remains undiminished. To Freemasons, “So Mote It Be” serves as a reminder of the timeless wisdom and traditions that have guided their fraternity for centuries, and a testament to the enduring power of their shared rituals and values.
Throughout history, certain phrases and idioms have taken on a life of their own, sparking curiosity and intrigue. One such enigmatic expression is “riding the goat.” Often alluded to in various cultural contexts, this phrase has piqued the interest of many, prompting questions about its origin, meaning, and significance. In this blog post, we delve into the origins and interpretations of “riding the goat” to shed light on its multifaceted connotations.
The Masonic Connection of Riding the Goat.
One of the most well-known references to “riding the goat” is found within the secretive world of Freemasonry. Freemasonry is a fraternal organization with a rich history, encompassing symbols, rituals, and customs. In Masonic initiation ceremonies, neophytes are often subjected to various trials and challenges as they progress through different degrees of membership. One such challenge involves the idea of “riding the goat.”
The concept of “riding the goat” in Masonic lore refers to a symbolic ordeal that initiates might face during their initiation rituals. This ordeal is not meant to be taken literally; instead, it’s a metaphorical representation of facing one’s fears, overcoming obstacles, and demonstrating one’s commitment to the values and principles of Freemasonry. The specific nature of this challenge can vary from one Masonic lodge to another, but its purpose remains consistent: to test the initiate’s resolve and dedication.
Historical Context and Variations of Riding the Goat
The phrase “riding the goat” has been used outside of Masonic circles as well. In some older contexts, it has been associated with hazing rituals or pranks in various social settings, often involving embarrassing or uncomfortable situations. These practices were not limited to Freemasonry but were rather reflective of broader cultural norms in certain periods.
Facing Challenges: The act of “riding the goat” symbolizes facing challenges head-on, even when the path seems difficult or intimidating. It encourages individuals to confront their fears and uncertainties with courage and determination.
Transformation: Within the Masonic context, “riding the goat” can be seen as a metaphor for personal transformation. Just as the initiate undergoes a symbolic journey, facing trials and emerging as a changed individual, so too does the act of “riding the goat” represent a transformative experience.
Commitment and Dedication: Whether in Freemasonry or other contexts, “riding the goat” underscores the importance of commitment. It signifies one’s dedication to a cause, organization, or personal growth journey.
Humility: The phrase can also be interpreted as a lesson in humility. By subjecting oneself to challenges, an individual acknowledges their vulnerability and acknowledges the need for growth.
Decoding the Mystery: What Does “Riding the Goat” Mean?
The phrase “riding the goat” carries a rich tapestry of meanings and interpretations, rooted in historical rituals, fraternal organizations, and broader societal practices. While its origins might lie in Masonic initiation ceremonies, its symbolism has transcended its original context to become a metaphor for facing challenges, embracing transformation, and demonstrating unwavering commitment. So, the next time you come across this enigmatic phrase, you’ll have a deeper understanding of its significance and the various ways it reflects aspects of the human experience.
Becoming a Rainbow Girl is a wonderful journey that offers young women the opportunity to develop leadership skills, build lifelong friendships, and contribute positively to their communities. International Order of the Rainbow for Girls is a youth organization affiliated with the Masonic Lodge, focusing on personal growth, community service, and character development.
Here is a comprehensive guide.
Understand What Rainbow Girls Is
Research and learn about the organization. Understand its values, history, and purpose. Rainbow Girls is open to girls aged 11 to 20, and it focuses on promoting leadership, personal growth, and community involvement.
Find a Local Chapter
Use the official Rainbow Girls website or contact your local Masonic Lodge to locate a nearby chapter. Each chapter has its own schedule of meetings and events, so finding a convenient location is important.
Attend an Informational Meeting
Most chapters hold informational meetings for prospective members and their parents or guardians. Attend one of these meetings to get a better understanding of what being a Rainbow Girl involves. This is also a great opportunity to ask questions and express your interest.
Meet Membership Requirements
To become a Rainbow Girl, you typically need to meet certain eligibility criteria, which may include being of good moral character, having a belief in a higher power (not specific to any religion), and being recommended by a current member or a Mason.
Complete the Application Process
If you decide to join, you’ll need to fill out an application form. This form might require basic personal information, as well as information about your interests, hobbies, and reasons for wanting to join Rainbow Girls.
Participate in Interviews
Some chapters may require an interview as part of the application process. This is an opportunity for the current members and advisors to get to know you better and understand your motivations for joining.
Once your application is accepted, you’ll go through an initiation ceremony. This is a significant event that welcomes you into the organization and teaches you about its values and principles.
Engage in Activities
As a Rainbow Girl, you’ll participate in a variety of activities, including meetings, community service projects, leadership development programs, and social events. These activities are designed to help you grow personally and socially.
Embrace Leadership Opportunities
Rainbow Girls offers various leadership roles within the organization, such as serving as an officer or committee member. Taking on these roles allows you to develop important leadership skills that will benefit you throughout your life.
One of the most rewarding aspects of being a Rainbow Girl is the friendships you’ll form with other members. These friendships often last a lifetime and provide a strong support network.
Give Back to the Community
Participate actively in the community service projects organized by the chapter. Giving back to the community is a core value of Rainbow Girls and helps you develop a sense of responsibility and empathy.
Remember that the journey of becoming a Rainbow Girl is not only about the destination but also about the experiences, skills, and relationships you build along the way. By following these steps, you can embark on a fulfilling and transformative journey as a Rainbow Girl.
The symbol of the Pillars in Freemasonry, three in total, have a special place in the rituals and symbolism of Freemasonry. Many an author, including myself, have attempted to capture their meaning and give resonance to their understanding. Writing in a preamble to the second degree, I defined the pillars in their three representations or mercy, severity and mildness, writing:
Wisdom, the left-hand pillar of mercy, is an active pillar and representative of alchemical fire, which is the principal of spirituality, often called the pillar of Jachin. It is a masculine pillar, and relates to our mental energy, our loving kindness, and our creative inspiration as we traverse it up the Kabbalaistic tree through the Sephirot.
Strength is the right-hand pillar and takes the form of severity, shaped into the alchemical symbol of water. It can represent darkness, but it is a passive symbol that is feminine in nature and called the pillar of Boaz. Upon it we find the points of our thoughts and ideas, our feelings and emotions, and the physicality of our physical experience, our sensations, each an aspect of its Cabalistic progression.
Beauty, then, takes on the role of synthesis of the two, the pillar of mildness; it is upon this pillar that the novitiate is transformed through his progressive states as he progresses. The central pillar of Beauty is representative of Jehovah, the Tetragrammaton which represents deity itself upon which our crown of being resides balanced through feeling and emotion from our foundation of justice and mercy, which springs from our link to the everyday world.
H. A. Kingsbury, writing in The Three Supporting Pillars Of A Lodge, from The Builder Magazine in October 1917, writes of the pillars saying, The Mason is informed that the Three Supporting Pillars of the Lodge are Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty “because it is necessary that there should be wisdom to contrive, strength to support, and beauty to adorn all great and important undertakings”: he cannot but gather from the lectures and the work, particularly of the First Degree, that the Lodge is the symbol of the World: therefore, when he combines these two conceptions and draws the necessarily resulting conclusion, he arrives at the same understanding of the ultimate symbolic significance of the Three Pillars as did the ancient Hindus–the Three Supporting Pillars of the Lodge are, considered as a group, the symbol of Him Whose Wisdom contrived the World, Whose Strength supports the World, Whose Beauty adorns the World-Deity.
Wisdom, Strength and Beauty
From the first degree lecture, it reads,“The Worshipful Master represents the pillar of Wisdom, because he should have wisdom to open his Lodge, set the craft at work, and give them proper instructions. The Senior Warden represents the pillar of Strength, it being his duty to assist the Worshipful Master in opening and closing his Lodge, to pay the craft their wages, if any be due, and see that none go away dissatisfied, harmony being the strength of all institutions, more especially of ours. The Junior Warden represents the pillar of Beauty, it being his duty at all times to observe the sun at high meridian, which is the glory and beauty of the day.”
The masonic pillars as an ancient symbol
Albert G. Mackey, in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, writes of the pillars, saying:
In the earliest times it was customary to perpetuate remarkable events, or exhibit gratitude for providential favors, by the erection of pillars, which by the idolatrous races were dedicated to their spurious gods. Thus Sanchoniathon the Berytian tells us that Hypsourianos (Hypsuranius) and Ousous (Memrumus?), who lived before the Flood, dedicated two pillars to the elements, fire and air. Among the Egyptians the pillars were, in general, in the form of obelisks from fifty to one hundred feet high, and exceedingly slender in proportion. Upon their four sides hieroglyphics were often engraved. According to Herodotus, they were first raised in honor of the sun, and their pointed form was intended to represent his rays. Many of these monuments still remain.
In the antediluvian or before the Flood, ages, the posterity of Seth erected pillars; “for,” says the Jewish historian, “that their inventions might not be lost before they were sufficiently known, upon Adam’s prediction, that the world was to be destroyed at one time by the force of fire, and at another time by the violence of water, they made two pillars, the one of brick, the other of stone; they inscribed their discoveries on them both, that in case the pillar of brick should be destroyed by the flood, the pillar of stone might remain, and exhibit those discoveries to mankind, and would also inform them that there was another pillar of brick erected by them.” Jacob erected such a pillar at Bethel, to commemorate his remarkable vision of the ladder, and afterward another one at Galeed as a memorial of his alliance with Laban. Joshua erected one at Gilgal to perpetuate the remembrance of his miraculous crossing of the Jordan. Samuel set up a pillar between Mizpeh and Shen, on account of a defeat of the Philistines, and Absalom erected another in honor of himself. The reader will readily see the comparison between these memorials mentioned in the Bible and the modern erection of tablets, gravestones, etc., to the honor of the dead as well as to a notable deed or event. Compare also the use of an altar.
The doctrine of gravitation was unknown to the people of the primitive ages, and they were unable to refer the support of the earth in its place to this principle. Hence, they looked to some other cause, and none appeared to their simple and unphilosophic minds more plausible than that it was sustained by pillars. The Old Testament abounds with reference to this idea. Hannah, in her song of thanksgiving, exclaims: “The pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them” (First Samuel 2, 8). The Psalmist signifies the same doctrine in the following text: “The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved; I bear up the pillars of it” (Psalm 75:3). Job 26:7 says: “He shaketh the earth out of her places, and the pillars thereof tremble.” All the old religions taught the same doctrine; and hence pillars being regarded as the supporters of the earth, they were adopted as the symbol of strength and firmness. To this, John Dudley (Naology: Or, a Treatise On the Origin, Progress, and Symbolical Import of the Sacred Structures of the Most Eminent Nations and Ages of the World, page 123) attributes the origin of pillar worship, which prevailed so extensively among the idolatrous nations of antiquity. “The reverence,” says he, “shown to columns, as symbols of the power of the Deity, was readily converted into worship paid to them as idols of the real presence.” But here he seems to have fallen into a mistake. The double pillars or columns, acting as an architectural support, were, it is true, symbols derived from a natural cause of strength and permanent firmness. But there was another more prevailing symbology. The monolith, or circular pillar, standing alone, was, to the ancient mind, a representation of the Phallus, the symbol of the creative and generative energy of Deity, and it is in these Phallic Pillars that we are to find the true origin of pillar worship, which was only one form of Phallic Worship, the most predominant of all the cults to which the ancients were addicted.
In this installment of the Symbols and Symbolism of Freemasonry, we consider a vital emblem of Freemasonry, the compass or compasses. Albert G. Mackey, in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, gives context to this meaning of this mysterious symbols meaning and history. Mackey, writes:
As in Operative Freemasonry, the compasses are used for the measurement of the architect’s plans, and to enable him to give those just proportions which will ensure beauty as well as stability to his work; so, in Speculative Freemasonry, is this important implement symbolic of that even tenor of deportment, that true standard of rectitude which alone can bestow happiness here and felicity hereafter.
Hence are the compasses the most prominent emblem of virtue, the true and only, measure of a Freemason’s life and conduct. As the Bible gives us light on our duties to God, and the square illustrates our duties to our neighborhood and Brother, so the compasses give that additional light which is to instruct us in the duty we owe to ourselves-the great, imperative duty of circumscribing our passions, and keeping our desires within due bounds. “It is ordained,” says the philosophic Edmund Burke, “in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate passions cannot be free; their passions forge their fetters.”
Those Brethren who delight to trace our emblems to an astronomical origin, find in the compasses a symbol of the sun, the circular pivot representing the body of the luminary, and the diverging legs his rays.
In the earliest rituals of the eighteenth century, the compasses are described as a part of the furniture of the Lodge and are said to belong to the Master.
Some change will be found in this respect in the ritual of the present day.
The word is sometimes spelled and pronounced compass, which is more usually applied to the magnetic needle and circular dial or card of the mariner from which he directs his course over the seas, or the similar guide of the airman when seeking his destination across unknown territory.
Of the spheres and heavens
Pike, in Morals and Dogma, defines the compass as an emblem that describes circles, and deals with spherical trigonometry, the science of the spheres and heavens. The former, therefore, is an emblem of what concerns the earth and the body; the latter of what concerns the heavens and the soul. Yet the Compass is also used in plane trigonometry, as in erecting perpendiculars; and, therefore, you are reminded that, although in this degree both points of the Compass are under the Square, and you are now dealing only with the moral and political meaning of the symbols, and not with their philosophical and spiritual meanings, still the divine ever mingles with the human; with the earthly the spiritual intermixes; and there is something spiritual in the commonest duties of life.
Raised to a Master Mason in 1908, at Harmony Lodge No. 17 in Washington, DC, Carl H. Claudy served as the Master and eventually as Grand Master of Masons in 1943. He served as the executive secretary of the Masonic Service Association in 1929 holding the position until his death in 1957 claiming authorship of nearly 350 Short Talk Bulletins.
The MSANA says of the plays:
[They] are not merely a means by which a lodge may entertain, but attempt to satisfy a desire to understand the inner content of Freemasonry. They accomplish this purpose by drawing aside the veils of ritual, allegory and symbol that the truth behind may shine through.
I like to think I’m an optimist. Most of the time at least.
If you haven’t been paying attention, COVID-19 has been wreaking havoc around the world. In the U.S., the pandemic is and growing exponentially in the United States with a flurry of mixed messaging about gathering, wearing masks, and even arguing if the virus is real.
Wherever you land on the issue, the dilemma is the same–the pandemic is shaping the way gather. And in the absence of gathering it’s shaping the way prospective members see the (or don’t see) the fraternity.
As COVID spreads and impacts more of us, shuttering or putting limits on what we can do in groups, we need to figure out new ways to communicate what it means to be a Freemason and how someone joins Freemasonry.
If they can’t see Freemasonry in action, they can’t take action to become a mason.
Closed Lodge Rooms During COVID-19
How do you show someone what you do if you can’t SHOW them what you do? You have to talk about it.
How you talk about it might and might not matter in the ways you think it would. What’s important is the message and engagement that comes from leadership to the members. Public where possible. Inspiring when able. But frequent in a way that’s not obsessive but relevant to the evolution of what’s taking place in the news.
I think we take leaders for granted. They’re in that leadership position to “lead.” So, they should. This could be lodge line officers, lodge masters, well-spoken district leaders and grandmasters.
The messaging should be inspiring, encouraging, not preachy or assumptive of one bend or another. I say this as the messaging should be worthy of sharing OUTSIDE of social media. How exciting or engaging would a message about the great things Freemasonry is doing to help beat the pandemic be?
The goal would be to capture the attention of the secondary audience, the friends of friends on Facebook or Twitter who see the Liked or Reshared communication. A great early adopter of this idea is taking shape out of the Grand Lodge of Ohio who has been producing content at an amazing rate and posting to social channels.
This is just one example of what I’ve seen on Twitter:
I mention this as one example of what one Grand Lodge is doing to connect and communicate with the broader public. What an amazing sight that would be.
Members at a Distance During COVID-19
While engaging the secondary audience of non-masons with interesting content, the need to keep existing members connected is paramount. How you go about this seems to come down to a few avenues.
Host regular (tiled and/or untiled) meetings via Zoom or other online platforms.
Break the quarantine protocols and meet in person.
This may not be the normal everyone likes or even wants to operate in. But it’s the normal we presently exist within. Here, members under the United Grand Lodge of England has organized some amazing events with Masonic notables like Dr. Robert Lomas and the 2012 Prestonian lecturer W Bro. Tony Harvey. These are but a few of the activities coming out of the U.K.
This isn’t to say that activities aren’t taking place around the U.S.
With the proliferation of online meetings, it would be foolish to assume that they aren’t taking place as tiled business meetings. The point here is the lack of wider publicizing of the activities or hosting activities that may be of interest to a wider of both member and non can only help to bolster any interest that may exist in the area. It’s not perfect. It’s not the best possible world. But it’s something. It’s work in the direction of re-emerging into a newly vaccinated world eager to do something social.
Doing this work or seeing the need to do it is challenging.
But there’s still time. It just takes the energy and leadership to see the value and do the work. This pandemic will end. We’ll beat COVID-19 with a vaccine. Freemasonry needs to make sure it’s ready to get back into the world when the vaccine is in circulation and the world opens back up.
Postscript: I’d written this several days before publishing it. On the evening before setting this up to go live, NPR dropped a national story on the subject titled: Freemasons Say They’re Needed Now More Than Ever. So Why Are Their Ranks Dwindling? In the story, it essentially encapsulates this very problem quoting Chris Hodapp from Freemasons for Dummies. Chris was speaking on the loss of membership, saying “…something that’s scaring the hell out of me is this COVID shutdown thing. God help us all when we stand back and survey the crumbling wreckage that that has caused.”
It’s that wreckage that can be addressed, now, as best possible. The way to do that is to be present.
This question started as one of those silent moment thoughts: What will Freemasonry look like after COVID-19?
The easy answer is that Freemasonry will go on business as usual. Monthly stated meetings, degree evenings, appendant body meetings and the bi-annual festive board. The question is, will members be willing to return given the breadth of the crisis and the disparity in following safety protocols or safe distancing standards?
The question, as I’m thinking it through, isn’t so much about how Freemasonry will respond to the easing of COVID restrictions and the return to a semblance of normal, but how the members will. After a yearlong (maybe two) hiatus from activities around the fraternity, how do things restart?
I don’t think there is an easy answer to this.
Going into the pandemic, Freemasonry was already contending with a decrease in membership. This was illustrated in several stories on this site (The Death of Freemasonry: When Change Changes You, To Die Or Not To Die). Now, nearly a year into the quarantine, the old questions are compounded with having to figure how to re-engage and invigorate past members to come back and drive interest to new members to join–all while under quarantine and socially distanced.
My thinking is that now would be the time to start planning or rolling out campaigns to reinvigorate interest.
I see this happening in the content the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. They’ve been producing a stream of content around new members, virtual reunions and driving the message home that it’s still there, doing what masons do. You can catch a glimpse of the work in this one social post from Twitter.
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
It’s impossible to say what the net impact will be of a campaign piece like this. But smart, and well crafted, and on point. It’s an interesting glimpse of the bigger picture of what they’re doing which is building the Scottish Rite brand and strengthening the reach. They’ve really done a stellar job with their digital footprint.
Imagine this footprint spread across the 50 states. And this is only one example of one organization on one social platform.
The possibilities are nearly limitless to broaden the reach of your flavor of local Freemasonry.
I started this post with the headline Freemasonry after COVID, but I suppose the better lead would have been Freemasonry in the middle of COVID. The issues aren’t insurmountable. How do you reach and keep existing members engaged when social distancing is restricting face to face gatherings? And how do you grow and add new ones?
If you’re a Freemason away from lodge, how interested would you be if your Grand Lodge did more to engage you? Are they doing enough already? Do you think it would help to retain your interest in this period of social distancing while we await a vaccine?
The Order of the Eastern Star is a fascinating and historically rich organization that offers individuals the opportunity to engage in fellowship, personal growth, and community service. With its deep roots in Freemasonry and a commitment to charity, the Eastern Star has attracted individuals seeking a sense of belonging and purpose. If you’re interested in becoming a part of this meaningful tradition, this guide will walk you through the process of joining the Masonic Order of the Eastern Star.
Understanding the Eastern Star
Before embarking on your journey to become a member, it’s important to gain a solid understanding of what the Eastern Star is all about. The Order of the Eastern Star is a fraternal organization open to both men and women, with a strong emphasis on principles such as charity, truth, and loving-kindness. Its roots are intertwined with Freemasonry, and it welcomes individuals who have close relatives that are Freemasons.
To become a member of the Eastern Star, you typically need to meet certain eligibility requirements:
You must be at least 18 years old.
You should have a strong moral and ethical character.
You need to have a familial relationship with a Master Mason, which includes spouses, widows, daughters, sisters, and mothers.
For men seeking membership, they need to be a Master Mason in good standing within a recognized Masonic lodge.
Finding a Sponsor
Having a sponsor within the Eastern Star is often a crucial step. A sponsor is someone who is already a member and can provide you with information about the organization, answer questions, and guide you through the application process.
Consult with your state body for specific requirements.
Research and Outreach
Once you have a sponsor, engage in conversations with them to learn more about the Order. This is an opportunity to discuss your interest, clarify any doubts, and understand the commitment involved.
Submitting an Application
To officially begin the process of joining the Eastern Star, you will need to submit an application. This application will typically require personal information, details about your relationship with a Master Mason, and possibly character references. Make sure to complete this form accurately and thoroughly.
The Initiation Process
If your application is accepted, you will go through an initiation ceremony. The ceremony is a symbolic journey that emphasizes the organization’s core principles. It’s a memorable and significant experience that marks the beginning of your membership journey.
Being a member of the Eastern Star involves engaging in various activities, events, and projects that align with the organization’s values. These activities often include community service, charitable initiatives, educational programs, and social gatherings.
Continued Learning and Growth
As a member, you will have the opportunity to continue learning and growing within the Eastern Star. The organization often provides educational resources, workshops, and discussions that promote personal development and a deeper understanding of its traditions.
Joining the Order of the Eastern Star is a meaningful journey that allows individuals to connect with like-minded people, contribute to their communities, and uphold principles of charity and benevolence. By understanding the organization, meeting the eligibility requirements, finding a sponsor, and embracing the initiation process, you can become an integral part of this rich tradition and make a positive impact on the lives of those around you.
The following is a remembrance sent in by Archibald A. H. Crawford. Arch was raised in New York in 1964 and spent several years around the lodge taking his passion for the fraternity on a deployment to East Asia. His remembrance serves to memorialize his time there and capture the memory of his labor for the craft abroad in 1969.
On the Formation of a Masonic Square Club in Vietnam, 1969
I was under Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) in a Mobile Advisory Team (MAT) in Four Corp (Southernmost) headquartered in/near Cần Thơ on the sacred Mekong river. Our team of four American soldiers were stationed at a mud outpost of Local Force South Vietnamese on a tributary East of the city and our HQ. We scrounged enough material from our HQ base camp to build a small house within the company-controlled patch of land. The local people were of a recent Buddhist subset called Hòa Hảo (pronounced Wa How).
We had become relatively good scroungers and lived well compared to everyone within a few miles (which is not saying much at all). Our pride and joy were having traded with a unit no longer needing their 50-caliber machine gun, which was the strongest piece of weaponry in our district.
As one of our best at finding ‘stuff’ that made our lives better, I ran into a substantial number of
Masonic brethren in our military and also civilian support staff in and around headquarters. Most important for this story was a Naval Lieutenant Silver from Pennsylvania. We discussed Masonic backgrounds and he also knew quite a few members from the area.
We thought about how we could get a few together, simply for fellowship and considered some sort of ‘square club’ might be the way to go. A handful of us got together to plan an introductory meeting at some point, perhaps a couple of weeks. I had heard about the only Masonic Lodge in Vietnam located in Saigon under the auspices of the Philippines, which were in turn under the U.S. Southern Jurisdiction, and had travelled to Saigon and met the Master there. I proposed that he might come down and give at least an atmosphere of respectability and semi-official sanction.
Lt. Silver had mentioned our goings-on to the Sargent-Major, (Highest level non-commissioned officer in the army), and personal assistant to the Four-Corp General in charge. The Sargent-Major offered to take a helicopter up to Saigon and bring down the Lodge Master to our humble get-together!
It all came together, and the meeting was accomplished in the Fall of 1969 with roughly 40-60 brothers in attendance. I was transferred out not long after and (sadly) did not keep in touch. That lapse caused lasting effect, whether if, or how long it lasted, remains deficient.
If you have a memory of this Square Club, or one like it, drop a note in the comments below. Do you have a remembrance of Freemasonry you’d like to share? Send us a note.
Submitted and written June 10, 2019, by Arch Crawford Past Master of Chancellor Walworth Lodge #271, New York City. First Lt. at the time, mustered out in 1969 as a Captain in the Inactive Reserve. Arch took the York Rite degrees in New York before Vietnam and the Scottish Rite degrees on R&R from Vietnam to Manila in 1969. He says that while he was in Los Angeles in late 1970 waiting tables at the huge Scottish Rite Temple he was introduced and shook hands with Bro. John Wayne.