Inside the Holy of Holies

sanctumheader-10.jpgI follow a number of forums, and each have their distinctions and quirks; so I mention not The Sanctum Sanctorum because it is better than others, but because they now have a subforum for Swedish Rite, and it may be that those interested can find something of interest there as it develops – or ask some questions. Since the nuts and bolts of the ritual are still off-limit I have posted a short description of a typical lodge meeting to give a sense of how we do things.

A night at the lodge …

Here is how I would describe a typical evening in my St. John’s (Craft) lodge; it’s pretty much the same in every lodge in Denmark.

bilde-2.jpegThe lodge meets every week from September till April; that’s typically 22 meetings. Ten of those are in the first degree, ten are third, and two are second. Every meeting is a degree; there are no stated meetings, no business – the structure is very much top-down. The dress code is always tails and white tie with a black vest; white gloves and top hat for all masters. Brothers wear the regalia of their current degree (I-XI). The mood is formal but very friendly. Lodge Hafnia has 265 members, and on average 40-50 attend (but not the same, so the active group is larger – for some meetings there will be as many as 80).

The meeting starts at 7pm, but I arrive early if I can, in time for a beverage at the bar. Ten minutes before the meeting begins people will be outside the door of the Temple, chatting and greeting visitors. The officers enter in procession. The brethren are called in in procession, highest degree first. The Temple is dimly lit and only comes to light as part of the Opening.

The degrees take a little less than two hours, and they are wonderful. The current influx of members means that there is always a candidate. At each meeting there is a lecture on some subject pertaining to the degree, lasting about twelve to fifteen minutes; the lecturers are approved by the Order, and the quality is generally quite high. Should there be no candidate, the lecture is allowed to run a little longer.

bilde-1.jpegThen there is a dinner, which is another hour and a half. In Copenhagen it is merely a traditional Danish open sandwich. There are two formal speeches to the candidate: One, in Hafnia this is given by the presiding Master, is a brief lecture laying out the basics of what has just taken place; the other is more of a friendly welcome. Often there will be music/song. No toasts (at least not in the sense that many Anglo-Saxon lodges have them).

And finally, at around 22:30, coffee. This is the time to mingle, and our lodge also takes questions to the lecturer at this time. At 23:00 we get kicked out from the building, and people go home.

At the end of the night, I feel extremely satisfied and envigorated: From the ritual and the lecture (philosophically and spiritually), and from the time spend with the brothers (companionship and laughs).

(Photos from Freemasons Hall in Copenhagen where we meet, by Kaare Smith, for BT – more pictures.)

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