The “Blue Lodge”- The Importance of That Term…

W.B. Jon Patrick Sage

In North America (and in some other jurisdictions), the generic name or description for any Masonic Lodge- save for the appendant bodies, is to call it the “Blue Lodge”. As is the case, this descriptive is used by Masons and non-Masons alike. When I was a very young boy, the term Blue Lodge was known to me, through common talk as well as by having a neighbor who was a Mason, though he is now departed from this world. I also remember distinctly how my Mother seemed to be terrified by the eerily glowing “blue” Square & Compass on the forefront of the building that is Jackson Lodge #146, F & AM. She most likely thought, and probably still thinks, that some sort of wrong-doing occurred within those walls. Indeed, I had always known it as the Blue Lodge, but why?Even as a boy I knew that there must be something to it. However, as all things Masonic were secretive, even more so back then than they are now, it wasn’t something that was spoken of, and especially in the days before the internet search, one couldn’t do a 5 minute query to find out any and all that might pertain to the question. And so, the term remained etched in my mind, and remained there- resurfacing just before I Petitioned for membership several years ago.

At the time leading up to, and even for possibly a year or more after my Initiation into the Lodge, the term Blue Lodge was bounced around by the Brethren nearly constantly, almost as a term of endearment, and again, my interest couldn’t help but pique at the suggestion of some mystery that must lay within. As far as I could tell, the main colors of the Lodge room were blue, and that seemed to answer a good many parts of my inquisition. Indeed, even the ceiling of the Lodge was colored blue.masonic-blue-lodge-room After much introspection, and probably about halfway through the studying for my Master Mason degree, I reverted back to one of the lectures of the Entered Apprentice, describing the covering of the Lodge as a “clouded canopy, or star-decked heaven, where all good Masons hope at last to arrive”[1]. It then followed with time, through learning the lecture of the Middle Chamber, and the lectures of the third degree, compared a good deal of that symbolism and language to the Lodge room. I found that without mistake, the Lodge room represents not only the Earth that we toil in, but also the heavens that await us in the next life. Accordingly, we are citizens of both planes, simultaneously, and must strive in such a way as to pave the way for the next by our actions in the present. To make a very long story short- it is imperative that we utilize our morality, taught in our lectures and Ritual, to promote and structure our spirituality. Certainly, our spirituality, while in the Lodge room and without, rests upon an edifice based in morality.

I quickly found that a good exercise, which left an indelible impression of this notion, was to imagine that there wasn’t a ceiling at all in the Lodge room. Instead, I began to imagine a silent and brilliant sky above- the true covering of a Lodge. Indeed, the covering of the world, and of life in general. This also relates to another part of the same lecture, describing our duty to “regard the whole human species as one family, the high and low, the rich and poor; who, as created by one Almighty Parent and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support, and protect each other”[2]. This admonition is in complete agreement with the covering of the Lodge, as that covering is all encompassing and without division. It is an eternal covering.

Such then must be the nature of Lodge in all of its capacities; namely, the Lodge must be, and is cited, as being universal. This universality though, at times, can be miss-construed. I do not think that any intent was ever meant for the universality to include a guaranteed membership, or even an easy membership and/or progression through degrees. It is said in the third degree that we would be beset by many dangers- and through the duration of that degree, might not necessarily be successful in our endeavor. Indeed, such is the case in Lodge and in life- both are weighty matters, with many considerations. Universality is but a guide to ensure that all are viewed equally as human beings, and are deserving of our care and assistance. In fact, I think it best, when discussing universality, to at first endeavor to take Masonry completely out of the picture.

Consider this scenario, Masonry not—withstanding. EA Tracing BoardThe one-ness of the human race, a universal attitude towards our existence and towards our unending role as creations of the Almighty- IF there is but one Almighty- whatever you choose to call him or her, must be universal inasmuch that all of our species are included in that scheme. If we can agree on that, that all are equal in the sight of the Grand Architect, then- and ONLY then, can Masonry progress past that simple premise, engaging those in her ranks to actively act on that principle. However, the first premise- trust and belief in one Supreme Being- must, as was the case in our first admittance into the Lodge room, supersede and preclude any mention or notion of Masonry.

Now, if this can be accomplished, then the Mason who notices that the covering of his Lodge is a universal blanket of acceptance, of compassion and of love from the Almighty, has an easy task to carry that belief outside of the Lodge room into his everyday world and Masonic walk. Thus, the Blue Lodge, is essentially- when taken to this level of understanding, the Lodge of the one true Supreme Being (again, denomination/definition in the theological sense is UN-important and wholly irrelevant to the discussion of “who” or “what” is that Supreme Being), and is termed in many climes as a Masonic Temple. Webster’s New Collegiate defines Temple as coming from the Latin of Templum, meaning a “sanctuary”, one that is dedicated to the “worship of a deity”[3]. In the last half of the 19th century, the practice of referring to a Masonic Temple as simply a “Lodge”, has- for a multitude of reasons, become popular. It has been my experience that if I were to say that I will be at “the Masonic Temple” draws a good many stares, even among the Brethren.

My opinion on this matter would be that in some manner, the Craft at large felt that to define their Mother Lodges as Temples was in a way, either real or imagined, an infringement of sorts against their “real Religion”. As a matter of fact, and possibly just on account of a normal course of events and my development and learning, I have refrained from calling Masonry a “Capital R” Religion. Instead, I have always referred to it as having an absolutely “small r” religious touch, but one that was bereft of the properties and claims normally pursued and advanced by the mainstream Religions and Theologies of the world, all complete with their dogma- salvation, heaven and hell- a notion of sin… However, if we consider the Psalmist, in an effort to add a sense of universality and humanity to God, wrote that “as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth…”[4], we must also at that point consider the covering of our Lodge as that of the universal God, of the Almighty, and then- at that point- I pose the question to you. Is Masonry NOT a pathway to God? My answer has become – YES- it most certainly is!

A prominent minister and Masonic author in his time and certainly in posterity, Joseph Fort Newton, quoted Carl Claudy as saying (that is to say that Masonry is) “I am a way of common men to God”[5]. In this sense, Masonry IS a pathway to the Almighty. Once the individual Mason arrives at the feet of his God, it is incumbent upon him to determine how to worship- although if a mortal and honest man meets his God- he must and he will worship. But, this directive is not within any of the confines of our Ritual. Instead, the Ritual only directs a reverence and respect for Deity. Masonry, in this sense, is a Universal Religion. Just as the sky is universal, and just as the color of that sky is blue; so then is the Blue Lodge a universal inclusion of men- seekers of a universal, good and accepting Deity. This Blue Lodge, in the new sense, is much more than a generic term. Instead, it is painfully specific, and obviously difficult to avoid once the traveler comes to this conclusion that his God is the source of light emanating from the East, and is accordingly the object of his travels from the West. In the same vein of thought, a devoutly religious person, who might reject any number of faiths in the belief that in so doing their own faith is strengthened, has good reason to fear Masonry; for the simple fact that Masonry, as a Universal Religion, is more inclusive than nearly any other known and practiced Religion in the present day.

We, as Masons, serve and worship the Almighty, in any number of different methods and ways, all at once, and although different. Within the confines of the Masonic Temple, that worship is in unison, and as such, forms a beautiful harmony of love and affection. Such is not the case in any number of other mainstream Religions, and they are, by their very nature and dogma(s), divisive and UN-inclusive of other belief systems. It is a regrettable fact that many raised and indoctrinated by the several Religions of our planet, exist under a cover of darkness as it were. three great lightsThose souls shield their eyes from our symbols of light- which they cannot understand- these indicate the nature of our God and of our pathway, a universal and well-trod pathway. There is, among the many Religions of the world, a miss-understanding of how Masonry “takes all good men by the hand and leading them to its altars, points to the open Bible thereon and urges upon each that he faithfully direct his steps through life by the light he there shall find and as he there shall find it”[6].

Essentially, each man (we hope) gains light, though he may see it differently than any other man. Indeed, although every Brother may agree that God does exist, and though each may worship differently, each agrees to travel in good faith towards his God, as only he knows that God. The Bible and other Volumes of Sacred Law may provide some guidance, but the soul of man is the ultimate barometer of practice and belief. Thus, Masonry is a pathway on which all common men may find God, and in so doing, find and achieve their purpose- in this lifetime as well as in the next. And so, as it turns out, The “Blue Lodge” is an extremely beautiful, complex, and yet wonderfully simple thing- all at once!

So Mote It Be.

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[1] Indiana Monitor and Freemasons Guide, Most Worshipful Grand Lodge Of Free And Accepted Masons Of The State Of Indiana, 1949.

[2] Indiana Monitor and Freemasons Guide, Most Worshipful Grand Lodge Of Free And Accepted Masons Of The State Of Indiana, 1949.

[3] Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Co., Springfield Mass., 1960.

[4] The Holy Bible, King James Version, New York, American Bible Society, 1980.

[5] Joseph Fort Newton, The Religion Of Masonry, Washington, D.C., The Masonic Service Association of the United States, 57, “this thought process was a natural though seemingly difficult progression for Newton, who skirted the issue of a religious Masonic experience, though perhaps because he was an ordained minister, felt prohibited from proclaiming it as such. However, in The Religion Of Masonry, Newton comes as close to any to indicating that Masonry in and of itself is a worship practice/ritual of the Deity, and indeed a pathway that welcomes all travelers through this world and into the next”.

[6] Indiana Monitor and Freemasons Guide, Most Worshipful Grand Lodge Of Free And Accepted Masons Of The State Of Indiana, 1949.