My St. John’s Lodge

Z&F: tradition and innovation

lsupnedAs mentioned earlier I had decided to join a new St. John’s (Craft) Lodge. Well, I have now officially affiliated to St. John’s Lodge Zorobabel and Frederick to the Crowned Hope (Z&F for short). It is the oldest Nordic lodge, hailing from 1745. But it doesn’t rest on its laurels: In recent years a lot of work has been but into a “welfare project” aiming to activate members, and particularly the newcomers (Z&F have approximately 10 new members every year). To mention a few: The lodge publication (which is highly prioritized and very professional looking) has a staff of editors made up of younger brethren; the newly made Masters of the lodge manage the education of the Apprentices and Companions (and are themselves educated in a “Master Class” by moe experienced teachers); in the fall Z&F will present a reenactment of the Rectified Rite as it was performed in 1807, in full costume – this is a huge project that involves fund raising, costumes, video documentation, historical and ritual  research, etc. It is also policy to give those interested a chance to try out an office (as an “assisting officer”) – this is important in a system (such as Swedish Rite) that doesn’t have progression through chairs. In fact, the evening of my affiliation also happened to be election night for offices, and I was confirmed as assisting Junior Warden (more on this later, but I have already touched on this office earlier (see Taking a chair – unfortunately, it didn’t happen at the time).

All this is very nice, but I also feel that I should emphasize that the main reason for moving (which is not something that I or anyone would do lightly) is a matter of following my heart: When I joined, I didn’t know anyone in the Order, and it has simply transpired that I have come to make the majority of my friends in Z&F. So there are no hard feeling towards my old lodge, and in fact I am still active in tying the chain of friendship between the two (see Odin).

Picture: The crest of Z&F with the motto: Ex Uno Omnia.

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Re-evaluating the itinerary

218899_1804At the end of 2008 I was looking forward to returning to Copenhagen, following my travels abroad, and setting to work in my motherlodge, as well as possibly joining a lodge of St. Andrew, beginning the higher degrees of the Swedish system. Things didn’t quite pan out as planned; which is what can happen when you set out on any journey: I made it to where I wanted to be, but “I” had changed, to a point where arriving to this threshold of what should have been the next step felt … slightly awkward, not quite right … disappointing, perhaps.

At the same time, I was confronted with the simple fact that not everyone wants, what I want, from freemasonry. And I can rail however much I want, that “They don’t get it!” but at the end of the day, I can’t decide what anyone else takes from it. I have to stay focused on my own goals, and the first step is defining what they are, and then how to work on achieving them. For me it boils down to freemasonry as a journey of self-discovery and self-improvement through spiritual and symbolic Work, within and without. It then becomes clear that I cannot simply sit on the sidelines and wait for the world to turn in my favour, that I need to get involved, and not just in an administrative capacity, but also through holding an office, participating in education and offering my thoughts through lectures.

But I did feel lost for a few days, wondering if freemasonry was the right path for me, and how to rectify the situation without hurting anyone needlessly, and at the same time staying true to myself.

866188_50028248I have now taken steps to remedy the situation and realign my personal goals with reality, so to speak. First of all, I have withdrawn my letter of passage from CFS, opting instead for a much smaller and younger lodge of St. Andrew, CCV (Cubus Causa Vera). This gives me the opportunity to join the active ranks much sooner than in the larger and older (more settled) lodge, and I will be involved in editing the quarterly publication, for which we have high ambitions . More on this in a future post. Secondly, I have demitted from my motherlodge to join St. John’s Lodge Z&F (Zorobabel and Frederick to the Crowned Hope). This decision is based on pull, rather than push: I have lost none of my love for the lodge that initiated me, but the fact remains that I have bonded closer with a number of brethren of Z&F, and I can only apply myself to (and serve as an officer in) one lodge, so it had to be done.

I have also passed on the responsibility of the weekly Odin newsletter, which I am very happy about: it frees up time, but more importantly the whole idea behind Odin is activating new brothers, and I no longer qualify for that moniker; although I will remain active in Odin, where ever I can help. I also stepped down as Admin of a Facebook-group, and signed out of a number of online forums. A bit of spring cleaning – I’ll get involved in new projects soon enough.

So, following a very brief “crisis”, I have emerged re-envigorated and positive about my freemasonry once more. And I a week or two, when all the details are in place, I’ll return to Work.

Photo: from stock.xchng; by LotusHead and andrewatla.

Odin

The idea of Odin was concieved by myself and a couple of other younger brothers.

Odin is a partnership between two lodges, both meeting in Freemasons Hall in Copenhagen on Wednesdays: Hafnia and Zorobabel and Frederick to the Crowned Hope (Z&F). It was created to strengthen the bonds of friendship between the lodges, offer social activities outside of lodge, and encourage intervisitiation. It is primarily aimed at the newest members.

It should be explained that when one lodge has a first degree on, the other will have a third. This means that Apprentices and Companions (Fellowcrafts) of the latter lodge will be “out of work”, but they are welcome at the first lodge’s first degree meeting. Since we don’t have business meetings, there will always be something interesting going on, degrees and lectures. Once this system of mutual benefit was set up, the newly initiated brother of Hafnia knew that he could always visit Z&F, and vice-versa, and a member of Odin would be there to welcome him.

The long-term benefit is that the new brother is immediately in the habit of going to lodge once every week (once he makes Master, he may choose to stick with his motherlodge, as he is able to attend every meeting – this is partly why it is mainly aimed at newcomers). And more importantly: He now has a group that he can share his questions with. The first time can be confusing, and you have no rights in lodge (can’t speak or vote). Odin serves to ease the transition. This, I hope, will support retention, and hopefully more brothers will feel at ease with the rituals.

This is a success story, and we are proud to have made it happen. But, as always with things such as these, they are based on individual initiative, and the next important challenge is passing the torch.

I intend to put some time into our Odin newsletter, and when I return to Copenhagen, I will have some recruiting to do.