[Square & Compasses]

Letter of the month: January 2001

From: Mary Jo Brown <MaryB@AmicalolaEMC.com>
To: "'masonry-ask@mit.edu'" <masonry-ask@MIT.EDU>
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2000 17:44:24 -0500

Why are the subordinate lodges called "Blue" Lodge? What does the color signify?

Mary B.

To: Mary Jo Brown <MaryB@AmicalolaEMC.com>
Subject: Re: BLUE LODGE 
In-Reply-To: Your message of "Mon, 10 Jan 2000 17:44:24 EST."

dear Mary,

This is really a good question!

Masonic lodge regalia is traditionally trimmed with blue. For instance, the white cloth aprons members wear during meetings are trimmed in blue, and the officers insignia collars are usually blue.

In some grand lodges, a particular shade of blue is specified: from as light as light sky blue, through deep royal blue, sometimes as dark as navy. Others let their individual lodges choose any blue they like.

No one really knows why blue was chosen. Probably it's supposed to signify sky and thereby "heaven" and "celestial" things. I have read a number of fanciful (mostly b.s.) essays on the subject but nothing with any real evidence.

As late as the middle of this century, I think blue lodge was considered an improper slang usage among learned Masons. The writer Carl Claudy certainly didn't like it.

"Blue lodge" refers to the fact that other appendant orders or side-bodies use other colors. For example: in the Royal Arch, the regalia are trimmed with red; in the Cryptic Degrees they use purple, etc. So maybe the term was a "back-formation," and wasn't invented to describe regular craft lodges until after all those other bodies came along.

In order to say "not any of those other bodies, but the regular three-degree Master Mason's craft lodge" people apparently began using the term "blue lodge" -- indicating "not purple, not red, not white, not purple nor black nor gold" or whatever. The more correct terms were Craft lodge or Master Mason's Lodge. Nowadays blue lodge has caught on as is in wide use, and is no longer considered incorrect by most, or maybe all.

Interestingly enough, I have recently even heard the term blue lodge mis-used. When you're raised initiated (receive the 1st or 'Entered Apprentice' Degree) in a particular lodge, and made a member there that lodge is termed your mother lodge. You might join (affiliate with) other lodges, and even leave (demit from) this original lodge, but the lodge where you were raised will always be your mother lodge. It's a very precise term with a very exact meaning.

Recently, in a lodge where we are both members, a brother asked me "what is your blue lodge?" Of course, I suppose that every Craft lodge where I am affiliated could also count as "my blue lodge", so the question made no sense at all. He was trying to ask "what is your mother lodge?"

So maybe the term blue lodge will evolve some more until sometimes it will mean mother lodge and sometimes it won't. Then I don't know what we'll use for blue lodges that aren't one's mother lodge.

I sure hope not!

| Gary L. Dryfoos <dryfoo@mit.edu>| PM: Ocean Lodge AF&AM, Saugus, MA
| P.O.Box 425400, Camb, MA 02142  | PM: Mt. Scopus Lodge AF&AM, Malden, MA
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|                                 | 32~; MPS; B'hood o/t Blue Forget-Me-Not
|                                 | R.W. Grand Rep. GL Russia near GL Mass.
| "...one sacred band, or society of Friends and Brothers, among
|  whom no contention should ever exist, save that noble contention,
|  or rather emulation, of who best can work and best agree."

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