Dispatches from Maine

Just another person of little note writing about ordinary things. That I reside in Maine is icing on the cake.

24 November 2006

Scott and Amundsen

Nearly eigteen months ago, when the first discussions about XMap 5.0 were occuring, I was reading the pro-Amundsen book, "The Last Place on Earth" by Roland Huntford and Paul Theroux. I could not help but identify with Scott in so many ways. The book left me depressed.

23 November 2006

Responses to History of the Grand Lecturer in Maine

I had no idea that my post on the History of the Grand Lecturer in Maine would generate so many responses so quickly.

Bro. Hutchins from Unity Lodge No. 58 in Thorndike sent me the following

6 November 1856
"Brother Benj. F. Cunningham presented a letter from Brother Dockham giving time when he would be a visitor to our Lodge. On Motion, Voted B. F. Cunningham be a committee to escort Bro. Dockham from Belfast at the expense of the Lodge. On Motion, Voted to receive Brother S. B. Dockham Grand Lecturer three days viz: 17th, 18th, 19th of Nov. at the expense of the Lodge."

R.W. Bro. Roger Hanneman, Past Master of Orient Lodge No. 15, sent me the following thrilling excerpts from the History of Orient Lodge:

16 October 1805
Bro. Benj. Gleason, Grand Lecturer [of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts], was sent by the G. Lodge to instruct the new Lodge and, Oct 16th they "Ballotted to allow Bro. G. $15, together with his expenses while here, also $2.75 for Stage hire to Wiscassett."

2 January 1825
After opening a Lodge of E.A. the officers for the ensuing year were elected, Bro. Healy as W. Master. The Lodge at this time appeared desirous of becoming proficient in the art, as it was voted "to hire Bro. John Miller Eight Evenings more in addition to the former Eight, to instruct the lodge in Masonry."

7 December 1825
Received a communication from a committee of the G. Lodge recommending it to the Lodges under their jurisdiction, to avail themselves of the instruction of Bro. Samuel Kidder as Lecturer on the first three degrees in Masonry."
A committee was accordingly appointed and Bro. K. employed in this and other Lodges in the vicinity for some time. But his labors appear not to have been productive of much good, as we have frequently heard "Father" Miller and other old Masons complain that the innovations introduced by him were extremely hard to eradicate.

The minutes from 2 January 1825 and editors note of 7 December 1825 are particularly engaging. The January minutes make clear that the committee charged to select a Grand Lecturer really did send letters of recommendation prior to their reporting back to the Grand Lodge. It is also clear in the December 1825 editors note why Bro. Samuel Kidder's tenure was so short. I wonder what innovations Kidder introduced, and how I might discover what they were? The "Father" Miller referred to in the editors note is the long time Grand Lecturer Bro. John Miller who is first appointed in 1828 and was the District Deputy Grand Master of the 4th District in 1827.

These and other inquiries have also lead to more good news for me. R.W. Bro. Brad Blake, Secretary of the Scottish Rite Valley of Portland, has agreed to loan me his copies of the Proceedings of Grand Lodge as I need them. This will save me a ton of time, as I will no longer have to take the day off to do my research at the Grand Lodge Library. R.W. Bro. Andy DiBiasio, Secretary of United Lodge No. 8 in Brunswick, has kindly agreed to help me research some material from 1842-1843 in the records of the Lodge. This is going to be extremely helpful in my research into the Maine State Convention of 1843. More on that even to come!

If there is anyone interested in assisting with this research project, please let me know. There are four areas where I could use more information for this project:
  1. A record of every elected and appointed officer of the Grand Lodge of Maine from 1820 through the present. This would be most useful if it was in two formats. The first arranged by year with all officers for that year. The second arranged by name of each person to show the course of their career in Grand Lodge.
  2. A record of each of the Maine Districts through the years and which Lodges are a part of that District.
  3. Information from any of the Lodges during the period 1842-1844 regarding a Masonic State Convention to be held in Portland. Any references to Lodge histories would author, title, publisher and page number references. Any references to minutes should bear the date of the minute and the book and page number, if there is one.
  4. Information from any of the Lodges regarding requesting or using the services of a Grand Lecturer. If you find one of these a direct quote is best.
I appreciate any help you can offer. The information from Bro. Hannemann, for example, was vital as it revealed what happened to Bro. Samuel Kidder and perhaps set the stage for the brief tenures of Grand Lecturers during the next several years.

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22 November 2006

Grand Lodge Government

Tim Bryce, a fabulous Freemason from Florida, has posted a number of articles about problems in the Grand Lodge system. Each of those highlighted a different area of concern: Prince Hall recognition, free speech, unelected Grand Lines, and Grand Dictatorships. Each of these blog postings made me glad to be a Maine Mason since we are largely unaffected by those issues, though we struggle with our own problem ( One-Day Classes ).

The Grand Lodge of Maine has recognized Prince Hall Masonry for years. I was fortunate to be present at a number of important moments, largely because the Master of my lodge at the time, Wor. Bro. James Dufresne, was a prime mover in the recognition process. I was present at the first opened Lodge between Maine Masons and Prince Hall Masons of Massachusetts (an RCMP Degree team event). I was present at the first meeting of a Maine Lodge where Prince Hall Brethren were present (my Mother Lodge, Deering No. 183 in Portland). I was also fortunate to attend, and participate in, the first shared ritual between Prince Hall and Maine Masons: a re-dedication, re-obligation ceremony where I was permitted to recite the "Letter 'G' Lecture". These events were wonderful fun and the Prince Hall Brethren I met were smart, dedicated Masons. Yes, we do share concurrent jurisdiction with a Prince Hall Lodge in Bangor, sponsored by the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.

I have never found my own freedom of speech restricted in the Grand Lodge of Maine, and I have been more than willing to speak out. Heck at the Grand Lodge two years ago I got in the middle of the One-Day Classes debated and pointed out that both sides were being irrational and playing on unfounded fears (Fear and Loathing in the Craft). Even our most forceful, authoritarian Grand Master, in my experience, always managed to stay on the "Good Guy" side of the line. While he clearly communicated that he believed his power exceeded that which can be granted by election, which he was, he really never used it. It was a strange mix since it sent the message "I can make you do what I want, but I won't." In the end, he convinced me on a number of issues which I disagreed with, particularly the idea of Fellowship Nights. I think this is one of the beautiful things about the people of my adopted State. There is such a strong vein of rugged individualism, that anyone attempting to use unbridled power would break on the rocks. Go Maine!

We have an elected, non-progressive Grand Line. Each year you can change the officers around and we most certainly do. The Grand Wardens regularly shift under the feet of the Grand Master, who presides for two years, which gives a fair degree of control of who rises to the positions of Deputy Grand Master and Grand Master. This vests control in the hands of the Brethren rather than in a particular Grand Master who ended his term years ago. The Grand Lodge also rejected a proposal to give Past District Deputy Grand Master's a vote in Grand Lodge. This is a good thing since the Grand Lodge system already has enough power, better to reduce the vote count and keep in firmly tipped on the side of the lodges.

Enough with the greatness list. What would I change about the Grand Lodge of Maine if I could?

  1. Arrange the Committees according to controversality
    There is no changing the facts, many Brethren leave the Grand Lodge session at the lunch break. We should recognize that fact and adjust to it. The issues with the greatest potential for controversy and debate should be placed first on the docket. The Committee reports with no issues to vote on should be placed last. Then the Brethren would be present to vote on the issues of importance.

  2. Ban negative motions
    The Committee on Constitutions has frequently been using the parliamentary tactic of negative motions (a.k.a. dirty pool) to block legislation they dislike. The way this tactic works is that they read the legislation and then submit a motion where a "Yes" vote defeats and a "No" vote passes. Few are sure how to vote to get the outcome they want and many of these issues go down in defeat when they ought to have passed. All motions should be forced to be a "Yes" to pass and a "No" to defeat.

  3. Appoint a Parliamentarian
    Since Grand Masters cannot be expected to commit Section 44, Rules 1-20 to memory before running their first Grand Lodge Annual Communication, someone should be appointed to help the Grand Master navigate the parliamentary waters. A parliamentarian would keep track of what is on the floor and what actions are permissible. I have been at too many Grand Lodges where there where motions made atop of other motions and amendments to amendments and so forth. The Grand Master has enough to fully occupy his attention, but being responsible for the state of all of the motions and amendments on the floor might be too much to ask.
Clearly none of these issues have the importance of those suggested by Wor. Bro. Bryce. They are fine-tuning of the Grand Lodge of Maine, and organization which runs pretty darn well. Its successful organization is due in large part to the very nature of the people who inhabit this State. I am glad to know them, I am glad to live here, I am glad to be a Maine Mason.

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21 November 2006

Comic Books

So this is sort of a weird confession. Not a Confession with a capital 'C' which I should be doing more often, but have slacked off since the Crisis with a capital 'C', but rather a tiny one. In the crawlspace in the basement I have two huge boxes of comic books from the 80s and 90s. In fact, back in the day, when I was in high school, I actually owned a large assortment of excellent comics from the 70s and 80s. I had things like the original run of the Dark Knight and the X-Men from shortly before the Phoenix saga and so forth. Unfortunately, I liked eating more than comics, so I had to sell them all off. Then I went off to college and started reading small press comics. I had the chance to read some serious stuff like the Taboo run of "From Hell" by Alan Moore and "Give Me Liberty" by Frank Miller. This was the good stuff. I kept reading quality books until about ten years ago, probably the same time I stopped shooting pool regularly. Children will do that.

Looking back on it, in the intervening ten years I had lots of chances to start reading comics again, but always passed on the opportunity. Part of me felt they were too expensive, heck when I started buying my own I got five or six issues for $3.00. But there was also this nagging feeling that I had left that part of my life behind, that it was somehow part of growing up. Perhaps it was the Trekkies I knew, through Tandy, who were just...obsessed at an unhealthy level. I hated the thought of being that way.

Then came my youngest. She has a heck of a time learning to read and though she loves books they occasionally frustrate her. Tandy and I had been doing whatever we could to help her, but an important part of loving books is...loving books. Heck, just ask someone who never reads, trust me there are plenty of people in that position. I remembered being a kid and thrilling to comics. They are visceral and exciting, visual and spellbinding. I was already reading books when I first starting reading comics, but they did introduce me to story arcs and plot twists. Okay, I started reading comics in the late 70s or early 80s, the plot twists weren't great, but I was ten!

One afternoon my youngest and I went for a walk, not a meandering walk, but a walk to the comic book store in town. It took a few trips for her to get it, but eventually she got hooked on Wonder Woman and Spider-Girl. She has a big stack of comic books and works hard and reading them. But the beauty of comic books is that you can understand them at a basic level just by looking at the imagery. She studies the pictures and then we work together reading the words and the stories expand for her. I hear her making up a storyline based on the pictures, so sweet.

Tonight we read "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane" issue #10. It is all about MJ getting ready to tell Peter that she loves him. The story ends with something to the effect of "Peter I just want to tell you...". She flipped that last page about ten times, "What does she say?" I could hardly get her to go to sleep, what a cliff-hanger. She will wait, however impatiently, for issue #11 so she can find out what happens. In the meantime she will make up her own endings to that discussion and have to hold the next step in her head all month. She will also do what most of us did as kids, read that comic over and over for the next four weeks or so until the next issue. Wonderful!

So, where is the confession here? Well, having been so immersed in the world of comics again, for what has to be about two years now, I could not help myself. I let go of the stupid mental block I had erected and started reading again. I wish Matt Wagner was at work, Grendel being my favorite comic of all time, but instead I went full-bore. I am reading a comic series which could have been right out of my youth. A little lame, a little good, a lot super-hero-ie: Marvel Civil War. Reading the entire series is costing mad cash, but it has been a lot of fun. Tandy just brought back a stack of...yikes...that is a lot of comic books! Better not say.

It has been fun. I hope I can figure out how to tap into a better stream of material once this series is over. Does anyone write at the level of Wagner, Miller and Moore today?


History of the Grand Lecturer in Maine

Having just completed reading the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Maine, Volume 1" I have learned a lot about the early history of the Grand Lecturer. It is an odd story with more convolutions than I would have imagined. My sense of the story, previous to this research, was that after the anti-Masonic period, some time in the late 1840s, the Grand Lodge realized most lodges had been idled for so long that they no longer knew the ritual. To rectify this the Grand Lodge created the post and sent the Grand Lecturer to renew knowledge of Masonic ritual. My goodness, how wrong can one person be! The story is so much more interesting than that.

It all began back in January of 1826, when Bros. Fox, Fessenden and Greenleaf (GM, DGM, and PGM) suggested the appointment of a Grand Lecturer to ensure a uniformity of the work. After several months of searching they selected Bro. Samuel Kidder, who was appointed by M.W. Bro. Charles Fox as the first Grand Lecturer.

He lasts barely one year in this new position. In January 1827, R.W. Bro. James L. Child (office unknown) submits a resolution asking the then-powerful District Deputy Grand Masters to look into a plan for ensuring uniformity of the work. The motion includes the statement "That the subordinate Lodges under this jurisdiction be directed to receive no further instructions from any Grand Lecturer..." It makes me wonder what on earth happened to trigger that reaction.

The District Deputy Grand Masters do meet at the lodge in Hallowell to discuss the matter, and in January 1828 they suggest the appointment of not one, but three Grand Lecturers. There is no record of the appointment of these three Brothers, but the Grand Lodge does record their traveling expenses in the financial report of 1829:
  • Amount paid Bro. Darling's bill for lecturing $166.47
  • Amount paid Bro. Wadsworth's bill for lecturing $171.11
  • Amount paid Bro. Miller's bill for lecturing $87.36
There are no further bills and no other mentions regarding the position of Grand Lecturer for many years.

The "History of Portland Lodge No. 1" reports that a Brother Benjamin Gleason was present in August of 1842 to demonstrate the proper mode of working based on Webb's Monitor. He is apparently so well regarded that they history of the lodge calls him "our well-beloved Brother Gleason".

The Grand Lodge of Maine struggles terribly during the anti-Masonic period with Lodges closing around the State and little meaningful activity at a Grand Lodge level. Finally, the Brethren of United Lodge awaken from the long slumber and form a Committee with Portland Lodge and Ancient Land-Mark to host a Masonic State Convention in Portland during October of 1843. Among the results of this Convention are a collection of motions for the next Grand Lodge meeting. One of which is, you guessed it, a motion to appoint one or more Grand Lecturers! This Committee is staffed by Bros. Joseph M. Gerrish (Past Grand Treasurer), Eleazer Wyer (DDGM of the 1st District), and A.H. Putney (Senior Grand Warden).

At the adjourned Annual Communication in June of 1844, the Comittee reports back that a Grand Lecturer should be appointed with the lodges paying for his time and the Grand Lodge paying for his travel. A selection Committee is created consisting of Bros. Joseph M. Gerrish, A.H. Putney, John C. Humphrey[s] (Grand Marshal), George L. Darling (unknown office) and Thomas S. Bowles (Master of Solar Lodge and President of the 1843 Masonic State Convention).

The committee meets and evetually selects Bro. John Miller of Warren. This reported at the January 1845 Grand Lodge session, where Bro. Miller is accordingly appointed by the Grand Master. Bro. Miller accepted the post and requested the power to appoint assistants to visit lodges when he could not. The Grand Lodge agreed and created the post of "Sub Grand Lecturer," you heard it right. Bro. Miller submits his first set of expenses in July of 1845, which are sent to a Committee to be assessed and paid. In less than a year, in June of 1846, he is not reappointed to his post and the positions of Grand Lecturer and Sub Grand Lecturer are allowed to lapse. It is worth noting that Bro. Miller is not fully repayed until well after his position has already been allowed to lapse.

In a period of twenty years there have been five Grand Lecturers with none holding the job for more than a eighteen months. Actually, the position itself did not manage to survive for more than that amount of time: 1826 Samuel Kidder, 1828 Bros. Darling, Wadsworth and Miller, 1845-1846 Bro. John Miller of Warren.

What happens next? You'll have to wait to find out. Heck I have to wait until I finish processing Proceedings Volume 2.

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19 November 2006

Feast of Tishri

The Scottish Rite Council of Princes of Jerusalem in Portland hosted a dinner called the "Feast of Tishri" to honor the late Illustrious Walter E. Webber. The dinner was well attended by many Scottish Rite members and their ladies, who enjoyed a fine dinner with seven toasts an entertainment. My part was to deliver the invocation and a short presentation of the history of the feast itself. The Sovereign Prince, Jeffry Simonton, published a standard history in the program itself, so I skipped over that and came up with something lighter on history and heavier on injuctions. It went well with the memory of Bro. Webber who could be best described as a Brother of Citron (see the speech for the meaning). Both seemed to go well and a few foolish people asked for copies, so I suppose I should just publish them here.


Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheynu, Melech ha Olam

Blessed are you, Lord God of all Creation. We thank you for the bountiful harvests which provide sustenance for us this day. We are grateful for the bonds of love and brotherhood which brought us here. And, Lord, as the year ends help us to remember the gifts you have given us, in the service and gifts which we render to others. With praise and thanksgiving we pray. Amen.

History of the Feast of Tishri

The Scottish Rite Feast of Tishri is a celebration of the festival called Sukkot which was ordained by God to occur in the seventh month of the Jewish liturgical calendar, the month called Tishri. It is chiefly a harvest festival which celebrates the bountiful gifts the Lord has given to Israel. Families gather in huts or lean-tos erected along side their homes or the local Temple. These huts are called sukkah in Hebrew and the many translations of that term have lead to the various of names for the festival including the Feast of Booths or the Feast of Tabernacles or here in the Scottish Rite: the Feast of Tishri. The festival recalls the wandering of the Hebrews in Sinai, during which they often erected temporary housing the in the form of small huts of wood covered over with branches. In Leviticus God commanded the Hebrews for all generations to observe an seven day harvest festival during which they should eat all of their meals outside in their sukkah. The festival was a happy celebration of harvest, but also a serious reminder of when God brought their ancestor’s out of bondage and to the promised land.

The feast has more to teach us than just a mere remembrance of times gone past. In Deuteronomy God also commanded that in observing Sukkot “You shall make merry at your feast, together with your son and daughter, your male and female slave, and also the Levite, the alien, the orphan and the widow who belong to your community…[giving] each of you with as much as he can give, in proportion to the blessings which the Lord, your God, has bestowed upon you.” Those words are enough to give all of us pause. Who here among us is not profoundly blessed? I cannot speak for all those assembled, but I have the blessings of God in a bounty impossible to earn. I have the love of family, friends and brothers. I find all of my material needs provided for so that I can always care for my family, friends and brothers and never fear for my next meal.

To remind us of this very question, the Lord further commanded the Israelites saying, “On the first day, you will take for yourselves the fruit of the citron tree, the branches of the palm, and boughs of myrtle trees, and the willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before your Lord your God for seven days ”. In observing this command, they gathered citron, myrtle, palm and willow, binding them together and rejoicing to the Lord waving them in all directions with earnest prayer of thanksgiving. The meaning of these four species of plants has long been discussed by the wise and is well summarized by a Scottish Rite Mason, Rabbi Julius Nodel 32°, who wrote:

Among the symbols of Succoth are four species of plants—the citron, the branch of the palm tree, the myrtle leaves, and the willow leaves. The citron plant produces both fruit and fragrance. The palm produces fruit but no fragrance. The myrtle produces fragrance but no fruit, and the willow produces neither fruit nor fragrance. This teaches us that there are also four kinds of people. There are those that have knowledge and good deeds—they correspond to the citron. There are those who live a life of good deeds, but have no knowledge—they are like the palm. There are those who have knowledge, but perform no good deeds—they are like the myrtle, and there are those who have neither knowledge nor good deeds—they are like the willow. Yet, on Succoth, all of these different species of plants are placed together and bound as one, thus teaching us that though there are different kinds of people on Earth, with their own interests and desires, accomplishments and failures, they must still be bound together in one universal brotherhood.

For my own self, I liken this to Freemasonry itself. We too are made up by men typified by each of those four species. I consider myself a man of myrtle, rich in knowledge but with too few good deeds to be in proportion to the blessings bestowed upon me. Yet, Freemasonry takes what I have to offer and gives me much in return. Like the Sukkot celebrant the Scottish Rite gathers up and binds the four species of its members, and it works tirelessly to make us all into citron. Wanting each of us to have knowledge and producing the fruit of good deeds. It teaches the myrtle among us, who produce fragrance but no fruit, to do service for others and to feel the cries of the afflicted. It teaches the palm among us, who produce fruit but no fragrance, to learn and memorize its ritual, enticing us to seek the meaning of these words. It submerges the willow among us, who produce neither fruit nor fragrance, into the presence of good men and true and the ritual written by them. It reminds us again and again of our obligations to do good connecting us with Brethren of palm who will lead us to good deeds and Brethren of myrtle who will teach us the truth.

This brings to mind another story often related at the Feast of Tishri. Though it describes the experiences of a young man and his Rabbi it could just as well apply to anyone here:

A wise and learned Rabbi, noting that his most promising student seemed saddened and preoccupied, asked the young man, “What’s troubling you, my son?”

The student replied, “Rabbi, as I observe the injustice in the world and man’s inhumanity to man everywhere, I have come to the conclusion that when God created the world, He didn’t do a very good job.”

In response, the Rabbi asked, “Do you think you could have done better?”

The student quietly answered, “Rabbi, I honestly think I could have.”

To which the wise man responded, “THEN BEGIN!”

Let us then celebrate the bounty the Lord has given us and never neglect an opportunity to render service and aid in proportion to those blessings.

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10 November 2006

Old Before My Time

Some people, like my father-in-law, stay young no matter how old they get. He will probably remain oddly hip for his entire life. Then, on the other side of the map, there are people like me who get old young and just stay old. Tandy, Tom and I went to the Dylan concert last night in Portland. Following the advice of Tom's Dylan-fanatic-friend we went down to the floor and found a spot on the right side facing the stage. It was crowded during the great warmup by The Raconteurs, which I enjoyed tremendously. I am less of a White Stripes fan than I am a fan of Brendan Benson. I first heard his music on the excellent podcast The Sounds in My Head.

Anyhow, during the thirty or fourty-five minutes it took for crew to break down The Raconteur's set and setup Dylan's set people really jammed into the floor area. We were being sandwhiched between the people in front of the stage and the people trying to wedge by us to get there. The crowd was generally well behaved, but the beer was flowing strong during that long delay. Dylan came on with some good tunes and the crowd started to push in even more. I was already getting a little fed up with being smashed in, having beer spilled on my and, honestly, my prematurely old man ears were starting to hurt a little bit. It is hard getting old...

Just before Dylan's third song two idiot weight-room jocks litterally slammed me out of the way. This got them not to the stage, but litterally right in front of me. My spot was really not all that great! Thankfully, there were so many people to my left that I did not actually fall down. Then the stupid jock's drunk, stoned, idiot girlfriend starting grabbing people nearby rubbing herself all over them and saying, over and over again "Hey! It's Bob!" Apparently, she cannot read the ticket stub, which would have revealed to her this startling piece of information. I pretty much don't like people manhandling me, but as a Geek(tm) I also don't particularly like random women groping me.

It wasn't long before drunk jock-girlfriend zeroed in on the person she was making most unhappy, me, and came over to reveal to me the secret name of the headliner act. Crushed right up against me, attempting to dance, so fricking close I could smell the beer on her breath she kept saying, "Hey man, it's Bob." I tried to give her a look that said, "Unhand me you drunk idiot." but the message was lost in translation. When her pursuation gave turned to repetitions of "You have to feel the music it." and "This isn't TV." I lost it. "Look lady, you are my problem here. How about you move along?" Needless to say, she was dumbfounded, stood there and then moved along to other people. Tandy later found out her name was "Judy," which must be Mainer for "I'm a total dumbass".

It was too late for me to have any fun at all. At this point, everything that happened just amplified my pissed-off-ness. My ears hurt the two jock-jerks and their dumb girlfriends where knocking into people in their attempt to dance. I mean, who on earth dances elbows-out in the crowd on the floor of a concert? I was so irritated I could not feel the music at all. I figured if I stayed, my "I'm unhappy vibe" would just ruin things for Tandy and Tom, so I bailed. I walked down to Deweys for an Otter Creak Copper Ale, and then walked home over the bridge .

01 November 2006

History of Masonic Ritual in Maine

With XMap 5.0 ready for ship, the time has come for much needed time off. I chose to spend my first day of rest at the fine library at the Grand Lodge of Maine. During my class on the history of ritual for the Maine Masonic College, I realized I knew next to nothing about Masonic ritual in this great State. At least nothing outside of my own nine years of Masonry. For someone who claims to love ritual so much, I realized there is so little I really know.

The project I have undertaken, therefore, is to gather all of the information I can on the development of Masonic ritual in the State of Maine. I am starting by reading the proceedings of the Grand Lodge from 1820 - 2006 to build a list of all of the information they offer about the development of our ritual. There are so many changes during the first decade transcribing all of the changes for the first seven years took two hours. The events were tremendously interesting, but among these early tidbits there are two particularly interesting items.

First, the position of Grand Lecturer was filled in for the first time on 13 January 1826 by Brother Samuel Kidder. He was examined for his excellence in the work by R.W. Bros. Samuel Fessenden, Charles Fox and Simon Greenleaf (yep, the Simon Greenleaf). At the time the lodges themselves had to pay for Bro. Kidder to attend on their meetings and teach them the correct ritual. The Grand Lodge was quick to act, however, and requested that these same Brethren explore the possibility of the Grand Lodge employing the Grand Lecturer, bearing the cost for the several Lodges.

The Committee of the subject of instruction in lectures and work, respectfully report, That they have examined Brother Samuel Kidder, and being satisfied that he was worthy, well qualified, and skilled to teach, they gave him a certificate of which a copy is herewith annexed.

Samuel Fessenden,
Charles Fox, Committee
Simon Greenleaf,

We the undersigned, a committee of the Grand Lodge of Maine, appointed for this purpose, do hereby certify, that we have examined the lectures and work of Bro. Samuel Kidder, in the first degrees of Masonry, and are satisfied with the same as correct; and we recommend to the several Lodges under this jurisdiction to avail themselves of his instruction so far as they may need the same, until the next annual communication of the Grand Lodge in January ensuing, at which time it is understood that the subject may receive further attention.

Simon Greenleaf and Charles Fox.

(Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Maine, Vol. 1, pg. 132)

Second, the ritual for the reception of the District Deputy Grand Master and other Grand Officers was set on 10 January 1823. The ceremony is almost entirely the same as we observe today with the difference that there is no Acting Grand Marshal in the old ritual. The Lodge Marshal performed all of the functions which we now associated with the Acting Grand Marshal. The old ceremony makes no mention of support from a suite of Past Masters and Grand Officers, but that may well be implied, further research being required on my part. The District Deputy Grand Master was also to be escorted out of the Lodge by a procession when he was ready to leave.

The committee appointed to report on the ceremonies to be observed in subordinate Lodges, on receiving official visits from District Deputy Grand Masters and other Grand Officers, made the following Report, viz:

The committee to whom was referred the subject of considering the proper ceremony to be observed and paid by the Lodges to the District Deputy Grand Masters when the visit them report –

The District Deputy Grand Masters shall give previous reasonable notice of their intended visit, to the master of the Lodge, who shall summon the same, and provide on of the ante-rooms, or some other convenient place within the Lodge building, to which the D.D.G. Master will repair and inform the Lodge by their Marshal that he is in waiting. The Lodge being opened, the Master shall then direct the Marshal, accompanied by the Deacons and Stewards with their rods, to wait on the D.D.G. Master and inform him that the Lodge is ready to receive him, and conduct him to the door of the Lodge in the following order:

1s. Marshal
2nd Stewards
3rd Deacons
4th District Deputy Grand Master

On arriving at the door of the Lodge the Marshal makes demand, and the door being opened, he announces “the District Deputy Grand Master,” and they enter the Lodge; the Brethren arise, the Stewards and Deacons halt within and open to the right and left, crossing their rods, the District Deputy Grand Master enters between them, preceded by the Marshal; being entered the Brethren salute him in ancient form, the Marshal conducts him to the East and the Master offers him a chair. The visit being ended, and the D.D.G. Master signifying his intention to retire, he is conducted to his chamber in the same manner, the Stewards and Deacons halting as above at the door of his apartment only. And the substance of the above order will be observed when the D.D.G. Master visits by deputation of a Past master or Master of a Lodge, except that such Deputy will not take the chair, but sit uncovered at the right of the Master.

Charles Fox,
George Thatcher, Jr.

Voted, That the foregoing Report be accepted.

(Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Maine, Vol. 1, pg. 81-82)

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