For Members
Home  >   Resources - For Members


Masonic Fire

Masonic Fire At one time the festive boards were called “Table Lodges”. The tables were arranged in a “horseshoe” shape with a warden at each end.

When “Table Lodges” were opened everything changed its name

The tables became “tracing boards”

The plates became “tiles”

The spoons became “trowels”

The glasses became “cannon” and

the wine became “powder”

To fill the glass was “to charge it” and to drink the contents was to “fire it”.

After the toast the “cannon” (glass) which had been charged, was “fired” (emptied) and certain simultaneous movements of the hand (“clapping”) were made concluding with three times three.

The last portion of the ritual is all that was generally adopted in England for which firing glasses with heavy bases were necessary. After “firing” (draining of the glass) the brethren were called upon to copy the Worshipful Master – who made the following movements to show that the “cannon” had been well and truly “fired” and was empty.

Holding the “cannon” in the right hand he jerked his hand forward to the full length of the arm, then swung it to the left and then to the right. This he did three times and counted off “one”- “two” – “three” and at the word “three” banged the “cannon” on the “tracing board” (table). The toast was then further honoured by three times three claps on the hands.

The symbolic meaning of the Masonic fire is explained as:

The downward stroke - The laying of a brick

The movement to the left - So shall we spread the cement of human kindness

The movement to the right - So shall we build up the lodge with brotherly love


The White Leather Apron

….more ancient….more honourable….”

By Michael Lawrence

Throughout the world today, the apron has become one of the universal symbols of the Freemason, probably only second by association to that of the square and compasses. However, this humble working mans garment has a unique place in the heart of every Freemason.

Despite this association with Freemasonry, the Entered Apprentices’ plain white apron has been worn by many early cultures and civilisations. For example, initiates of the Mithras and Essenes cultures wore white leather aprons, as did the ancient initiates of the early Chinese societies.

Both Jewish and Druidical High Priests were adorned by the white apron as were the early Anglican clergy and early Christians at their baptism. Mayans, Incas, Aztecs, Hopi, Vikings, and Zulu’s wore white aprons as emblems of high office, while white aprons decorated statues of Greek and Egyptian Gods. The Persians also used the apron as a national emblem.

In fact, its origins can be traced back to the days of Father Adam and Mother Eve, for when their eyes were opened and they realised their own nakedness they sewed together fig leaves and made themselves aprons. As a result of his fall, Adam’s penalty, so Genesis 3 tells us, was expulsion from the garden and to till the ground.

Of course, had he not ate the fruit, then in the garden he would have remained never to learn of work or to receive the rewards bought by work. Therefore the principle of work is associated with the apron and this concept as old as time itself.

The apron, like our gloves and gauntlets, are a further link in the evolutionary chain, demonstrating our intimate association with the ancient operatives of the Craft. The aprons of the operatives consisted of skins of considerable size, tied around the waist by a leather strip or thong from each side, the apron end of which was split into strips and reached down to the ankles.

All had a turnover, flap or bib at the top, the position of which disclosed the status of the worker. For example, the Apprentice wore his flap turned up, possibly tied around his neck by the Fellow of the Craft wore his turned down inside, while the Master wore his turned down outside.

The earliest representation of a Masonic apron we can definitely claim as in the speculative sense occurs on a portrait of Anthony Sayer, the first Grand Master, 1717.

With regard to the white leather used, a very practical point soon made itself felt, which led to the refinement and adornment of the simple leather apron. Undyed white leather was very apt to leave white marks on the clothing of the brethren and this led to the provision of a lining.

In the Minutes of 17 March 1731, Grand Lodge agreed the following:- “…that all those who have served in the Grand Offices shall wear their white leather aprons lined with blue silk. That those brethren who have served as Stewards shall wear their aprons lined with red silk, and the Master and Wardens of Lodges shall wear their aprons lined with white silk”

This is the earliest mention of the colour blue in connection with Masonic clothing, but we do not get any indication of the shade of blue until 1734, when on the authority of the Deputy Grand Master an order was given for Masonic clothing.

This was described as, “Two Grand Master’s aprons lined with Garter blue silk and turned over two inches, with white strings; two deputy Grand Master aprons turned over one inch and a half, ditto,” Here we arrive at a definite shade of blue, the Garter blue, and there is no possibility of doubt about the appearance on the fronts of the aprons, which from the modest turnover binding the edges has developed into the borders on the aprons which we now have.

It must be noted that the Garter blue used was not the colour which we recognise by that name today. In Stuart times the Garter ribbons were light sky-blue, similar to that on Craft aprons today. This was the original Grand Officers colour.

It was not until about 1745 that George II altered the shade of Garter blue to the darker colour we are now accustomed. This was in order to distinguish his Garter Knights from those supporters of James II and his heirs who had been created Knights of the Garter by the exiled family, and were not recognised by the Hanoverians.

When this alteration to the darker shade of blue of the Garter took place the aprons of the Grand Officers followed suit and so still remain garter blue. The light blue was left available for the Craft in general and in time was adopted at the Union in 1813.

The first mention of gold fringes were in 1787 and are found on the bill received for the apron of the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York. Both aprons cost £1-1s-0d. £1.05p in today’s money. Prior to any kind of uniformity, aprons came to be of all sorts of sizes, colours and materials.

Those of the ‘Antients’ were larger and longer than those of the ‘Moderns’. Brethren began to adorn them with beautiful Masonic designs, either embroided, embossed or painted the more elaborate the better. This practice finally reached a situation where aprons became too costly for ordinary men in ordinary Lodges.

The strings of the aprons which had received the embellishment of decorated ends, were passed around the waist and tied under the fall of the flap so the tasselled ends would hang down on the front of the apron.

The metal tassels on our Craft aprons today were adopted as a permanent decoration in 1813 and although somewhat doubtful symbolism has been attached to them, they represent the tasselled ends of the apron strings.

The addition to this, rosettes and levels or taus, which indicate the rank of the wearer, were added as a regulation pattern again in 1813 along with the size which is generally 14-16 inches wide and 12-14 inches deep.

The Rosettes are set in the form of a triangle with the apex upwards, symbolical of the Divine Life attainable by complete knowledge after the resurrection.

In older times the apron was made from lamb skin and before it is made the life of an animal must be taken. That animal, the lamb, has ever been regarded as the symbol of innocence and therefore the apron is regarded as symbolic of peace and innocence.

By far the most amusing reference to aprons can be found in Laurence Dermott’s Ahiman Rezon where he says of the “Moderns”:- “There was another old custom that gave umbrage to the young architects, i.e., the wearing of aprons, which made the gentleman look like mechanics, therefore it was proposed that no brother should wear an apron.

This proposal was rejected by the oldest Members, who declared that the aprons were all the signs of Masonry then remaining amongst them, and for that reason they would keep and wear them. It was then proposed , that as they were resolved to wear aprons they should be turned upside down, in order to avoid appearing mechanical.

This proposal took place, and answered the design, for that which was formerly the lower part, was now fastened round the abdomen, and the bib and strings hung downwards, dangling in such manner as might convince spectators that there was not a working mason amongst them.

Agreeable as this alteration might seem to the gentlemen, nevertheless it was attended with an ugly circumstance: for, in traversing the lodge, the brethren were subject to tread upon the strings, which often caused them to fall with great violence, so it was thought necessary to invent several methods of walking, in order to avoid treading upon the strings.

After many years’ observation on these ingenious methods of walking, I conceive that the first was invented by a man grievously afflicted with the sciatica. The second by a sailor, much accustomed to the rolling of a ship. And the third by a man who, for recreation or through excess of strong liquor, was wont to dance the drunken peasant.”

In bringing this short thesis to a close, every Freemason will recall those words spoken to him by the Senior Warden on the night of his initiation, “……more ancient than the Golden Fleece or the Roman Eagle and more honourable than the Garter….” These names were highly respected contemporary civil Orders.

Philip, Duke of Normandy founded the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1429. As wool was the predominate product of the lower European countries the fleece was chosen as the emblem. It is considered as the highest of all civil Orders in Europe.

In 1701, Frederick I of Prussia founded the Order of the Black Eagle. The number of knights was limited to thirty, exclusive of the Princes of royal blood. The revisers of our rituals probably selected the reference to the Roman Eagle as it was the highest emblem of dignity, honour and power that famous empire could bestow.

According to tradition 1343, Edward III was dancing with the Countess of Salisbury when he picked up a garter that had slipped from her leg and placed it about his own. As at this time the King had been successful in his campaigns, he instituted an Order for rewarding his army favourites. After a series of changes by ensuing monarchs the Order became known as The Most Noble Order of the Garter.

Therefore, as you cast your mind back to the night of you own initiation remember this! Your plain white leather apron is more ancient than the Order of the Golden Fleece, founded in 1429, and the Roman Eagle, referring to the Order of the Black Eagle, founded in 1701 and can be traced back to the antediluvian period where mans longevity was greatly prolonged. or rather, time immemorial.

More honourable than the Most Noble Order of the Garter, because it has been earned by your own industry alone. It is the badge of innocence because it is the skin of the lamb, the age old symbol of innocence and it is the bond of friendship, referring the fraternal bond of Freemasonry and the first of the three grand principles on which the Order was founded – Brotherly Love..


Tips

  • Wear your cummerbund with the pleats facing upward.
  • A dimple on your neck tie is esoteric, make sure the dimple is not in the centre.
  • Always wear a black belt with a black shoe and make sure you have black socks.
  • You can wear a bow tie with any type of collar except a tab collar.
  • A button serves the same purpose as a cufflink, keeping the cuff closed. If you have a shirt with buttons on the cuffs, that’s all you need. Conversely, if you’d like to wear cufflinks, you’ll need a shirt with “French cuffs” or “double cuffs.” While there are cufflink-friendly shirts with only a “single” cuff, they’ve never really taken off.

Neck Ties

Some people prefer the ends to be exactly the same length after you’ve finished. Unfortunately, ties usually come in one size only, so it’s hard to say where the ends will meet up. A tie that only hangs to the belly-button looks cheap; one that hangs over your pants fly is also tacky. Even worse, when the broad end of the tie is outdistanced by the narrow end. Instead, the tip of the broad end should extend just to the top of your belt buckle.

Sounds tricky? Fortunately, there’s a good general rule to follow. To begin, drape the necktie around your collar so that the seam of the tie is lying along the collar. The broad end should be on the side of your dominant hand, if you are left-handed, the broad end should be on your left side. Now for the measuring trick: place the tip of the narrow end just above the fourth button down your shirt (the one above your navel), and eliminate the slack by pulling down on the broad end. Again, the tie seam should remain hidden in the back.

Another measuring trick is to let the broad end hang down twice as long as the narrow end. To check if you’ve done this right, fold the broad end in half up towards your neck. The folded portion should be equal in length to the narrow end.

The Dimple

  • After you’ve tied your knot but before you tighten it up to your throat, neatly pinch the fabric directly underneath the knot.
  • Keep pinching as you tighten the knot; make sure the dimple’s locked in

Dress Protocol

There are several classifications of traditional formal attire.

White tie, white tie and tails, black tie and morning coat or daytime.

The term “White tie” refers to the most formal way of dressing.

When an invitation calls for white tie, it requires that the gentlemen wear black tails and matching black pants, white pique front wing collar shirt, white pique vest and bow tie, and studs with white stones. (Pique refers to a pattern of small bumps running across the front vest or tie.) Today’s standards allow some variation from this theme and you may use a shirt, vest and tie that is not pique.

“White tie and tails” is traditional for evening weddings and receptions.

However, contemporary standards accept this attire for grooms at any time of the day and allow it to be used along with black tie formal wear for groomsmen in order to distinguish the groom from the rest of the party.

“Black tie” can best be described as ”party wear” or “evening wear.”

Tuxedos fall in this category. Tailcoats are not officially tuxedos. A tuxedo is a suit which consists of a standard-length coat with some dressy trim and a pair of matching pants. Dinner jackets, light-colored standard-length coats with dark-colored trousers, also fall into this category. The term “black tie” can be confusing because it was adopted when black was the only color in which formal ties were available. Today, the term merely means that a gentleman may wear his tuxedo or dinner jacket with any color tie and cummerbund set. Tuxedos and dinner jackets come in many colors and styles, making it easy to coordinate with the colors chosen by your bride.

Daytime formal attire is referred to as a “Morning coat.”

It was originally designed for daytime wear; however, it now is acceptable protocol for evening events as well. The morning coat attire gives the men in a turn-of-the-century appearance and is a popular choice. It is comprised of either a black or gray coat with matching gray and black striped pants, a pearl gray or light gray vest, gray and black striped four-in-hand tie (standard necktie) or ascot tie, and either a collared or wing collar shirt. The coat is designed as either a “Cutaway” with tails or a “Stroller” without tails.


Dressing For Masons

There appear to be some gray areas in the form of dressing considered suitable for Masonic occasions, and we thought some pointers may help dispel them.

Most Lodges specify as they should, a  Dark Suit, and some other Dinner Jackets / Dress Suits for Lodge Meetings while  one or two suggest Black Coats and White Trousers.  These can also do with some clarifications.

Dark Suits mean just that, but does not include Black Blazers / Sports Jacket with Dark Trousers.  These are combinations which should be avoided.  A Dinner Suit is specific, with a Black, Bow Tie – and please, no other accompanying coloured neck wear!  When wearing a Dark Suit, a plain Black Tie, without any embellishments is recommended, or can be substituted by the new Masonic Tie.  For Morning meetings the Dark Suit is the appropriate Dress, and not the Dinner Jacket / Suit / Black Bow Tie.

In U.K.,  for the Morning meetings,  the prescribed Dress Code is the Morning Suit, which is a Dark Jacket and striped trousers, as we see some of our Senior Advocates wear.

Why the Dress Code?  Most people will admit that wearing the appropriate clothing whether it be for sport, leisure or formal occasions pre-disposes one to that avocation.  Dressing for formal occasions such as Lodge Meetings and Festive Boards gives them a special ambience, which is well captured in our formal Group photographs.  It also leads, we think, to more reserved and formal behaviour!


Antient Charges

INTRODUCTION:

In the Post Boy of February 26th-28th, 1722-3, there appeared the following advertisement :-

‘This Day is Publish’d `THE CONSTITUTIONS OF THE FREEMASONS. Containing the History, Charges, Regulations, etc., of that most Ancient and Right Worshipful Fraternity, for the Use of the Lodges. Dedicated to his Grace the Duke of Montagu the last Grand Master, by Order of his Grace the Duke of Wharton the present Grand Master, authorized by the Grand Lodge of Masters and Wardens at the Quarterly Communication. Order’d to be publish’d and recommended to the Brethren by the Grand Master and his Deputy. Printed in the Year of Masonry 5723 ; of our Lord 1723. Sold by J. Senex and J. Hooke, both over against S. Dunstan’s Church in Fleetstreet.’ THE ANCIENT CHARGES OF A FREE MASON Extracted From The Ancient Records of Lodges beyond the Sea, and of those in England, Scotland, and Ireland, for the use of the Lodges in London. To be read at the making of New Brethren, or when the Master shall order it.


List of Toasts - Craft

  • The President of the Indian Republic.
  • The Queen and the Craft
  • The Most Worshipful Grand Master, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent, KG, GCMG, GCVO, ADC. *
  • The Most Worshipful the Pro Grand Master, M W Bro Peter Geoffrey Lowndes.
    The Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master R W Bro Jonathan Spence.
    The Right Worshipful Assistant Grand Master, R W Bro. Sir David Hugh Wootton and the rest of the Grand officers, Present and Past The Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master R W Bro Jonathan Spence.
  • The Right Worshipful District Grand Master, R.W. Bro. Theophilus Arputharaj Devagnanam.
  • Worshipful Deputy District Grand Master, V.W.Bro.Abdul Jifri, Worshipful Asst District Grand Master W.Bro.D.Rajasekaran and the rest of the District Grand officers Present and past.
  • Toast to the Lodge
  • The Visiting Brethren - Proposer: Junior Warden and Response by one or two of the Visitors
    * The Honorifics (KG, etc) should be omitted when proposing this toast.
    + There need not always be a reply to this toast.

List of Toasts - Chapter

  • The President of the Indian Republic.
  • The Order
  • The Most Excellent First Grand Principal, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent, KG, GCMG, GCVO, ADC. *
  • The Most Excellent the Pro First Grand Principal M E Comp Peter Geoffrey Lowndes.
  • The Most Excellent Second Grand Principal, M E Comp Russell John Race, DL.
    The Most Excellent Third Grand Principal, M E Comp Gareth Jones, OBE and the rest of the Grand officers, Present and Past.+
  • The Most Excellent the Grand Superintendent for the District of Madras, E.Comp. Theophilus Arputharaj Devagnanam
  • Excellent Companion, Abdul Jifri, Deputy Grand Superintendent.
    Excellent Companion, K.Muralidharan, District Second Grand Principal
    Excellent Companion, Sukesh Menon, District Third Grand Principal
    and the rest of the District Grand officers Present and Past of the District Grand Chapter of Madras. +
    * The Honorifics (KG, etc) should be omitted when proposing this toast.
    + There need not always be a reply to this toast.