Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Badge of a Mason

After ruminating last week about the plain white cloth aprons we wear in the US, I found myself poking around Ebay to see what was available in the way of regalia that's just a little more inspiring. There are plenty of sellers offering new Master Mason aprons in what I guess you could call "U.S. Style" - dark blue trim with an all-seeing eye on the lap and the square and compasses underneath... screen-printed or embroidered, depending on how much money you want to spend.

The one listing that really caught my eye was for a gently used apron in the UK, in the English Constitution style: lighter, royal blue trim, silver chains at the end of the tassels, and three rosettes: one on the lap and one in each lower corner. Amazingly, the bidding never even reached £4.00 and the lambskin apron, which belonged to the seller's grandfather, should be on its way over the Atlantic to me soon.

I have not read or heard of any regulations in Massachusetts regarding the style or decoration of aprons, and there is another Brother in my district who I have seen wearing a British-style apron, so I plan on wearing this one whenever I'm not sitting as an officer at my mother lodge. To me wearing this apron feels like a rational homage to the roots of our fraternity (and my ancestry) in the UK.

I decided that I wanted a nice apron not as any kind of status symbol, but as a point of pride in being a Mason and a token of the seriousness of the business in which we are engaged. I have a feeling that it never occurs to a lot of Brothers that they could get themselves something nicer. Partly because there aren't many physical storefronts selling Masonic regalia these days, but mostly because (at least in my lodge/jurisdiction) the subject of aprons is really never discussed with new Brethren beyond "Take your lambskin home with you, you won't wear it again until you get buried with it. Wear these cloth ones from now on."


Masonic Traveler said...

I've taken a fancy to wearing my own Apron, the one I was raised in. I didn't see the sense to keeping it in a tube to wait for my passing to see it again, and the energy of being a mason is so much better in it...

I highly recommend it

Michael A. Williams, Sr said...

I have been contemplating the same thign since reading masonic travelers post a while back. I am glad to hear that there are others who have similar thoughts. I am curious as to the rules her in Ohio. I am being raised next month and am eager to try both ideas. I am intrigued by the idea of paying homage to our collective roots.

A.C. said...

While I wait for the apron to arrive I've been starting to wonder whether I'm going to encounter any of those unspoken rules that Bro. Tom Accuosti wrote about.

"What's wrong with the white cloth aprons, everyone else has been wearing them for years!" or perhaps, "You don't belong to a UGLE lodge, you're not entitled to wear that!"

A.C. said...

Congrats on your third degree, by the way!

Tom Accuosti said...

"Yer not a Past Master, yew cain't wear that apron!"

"If it wasn't handed down from an uncle or grandfather or something, then you ain't got no bizness wearing somebody else's apron."

"We don't do it that way here."

Tottenham Boy said...

I have no idea of the rules regarding the wearing of an English Constitution Master Mason Apron like the one above, which I wear... But I fully understand the comments about going back to your roots etc. The concept of a cloth apron is totally alien to me, but like everything, there are differences throughout the world. Btw... I am going to a meeting at Freemasons Hall in Great Queen Street where an American lodge is doing a demonstration... Looking forward to that. Fraternal greetings from England.

A.C. said...

Tottenham Boy, I'm curious myself as to the evolution of the "bin of cloth aprons" custom in U.S. Lodges, it would make for an interesting research paper. (::Sigh:: I've got a couple of good paper ideas, but lack the time to properly research them.)

I've worn this apron to one meeting so far, and the one person who noticed it said, "I didn't know you were a Past Master!"

Chris said...

Hi there from a UK Mason. The apron that you picture is a Master Masons (Third Degree) Apron. It is certainly not a Past Masters Apron as suggested by Tom Accuosti. The apron of a Past Master has three silver metal Masonic Levels in place of the rosettes. However, I am surprised that you are able to wear an English apron in an American Lodge. We have a reasonably strict dress code here in the UK. There are some very minor variations in attire, but our aprons follow a similar pattern. I have heard of lodges outside of the UK where brethren turn up for meetings in whatever they have been wearing that day. I like the idea of dressing for the occasion. Dark suit, white shirt, black tie. As for not wearing someone elses regailia... There is a huge market in this country for second-hand aprons and such. I have an elderly friend whose father had Provincial honours. If I am awarded these honours in a few years time, then my friend has asked if I will do him the honour of wearing his fathers Provincial apron. How could I not?

Pax said...

Fraternal Greetings from Scotland.
In Scotland every Lodge has their very own distinctive apron designs and indeed their own little variations on the rituals themselves.
It's something we take pride in and it always make visiting and deputation that bit more interesting to see what's different in their working of the degrees.
In this respect this make Freemasonry is Scotland differ from that of our brethren south of the border.
It's always a pleasure tos ee the pleasant surprise on the face of brethren from England's faces at the differences they see here.
The oldest lodges in the world are in Scotland and i have been lucky enough to have visited The lodge of Edinburgh St Mary's Chapel Number 1 on the day after my first degree to see someone go through their first.
Tomorrow i shall be down visiting Cannongate Kilwinning number 2 to see a second and that's a supremely interesting building indeed. It also Houses The Royal Order of Scotland.
Be Well Brethren and Walk with a Light Heart!