MASONIC ETIQUETTE AND SCOTTISH USAGE
word etiquette has been defined as the "established rule of procedure
and ceremony in a court or in any official or other body". Perhaps
for Masonic purposes it can be defined as "that set of convention,
rules, customs and traditions by which Masons are expected to govern
themselves when engaged in the rites and ceremonies of the Craft".
Etymologically the word 'etiquette' means 'a la carte', that is 'according
to the card'. It harks back to France when it was the custom to give each
guest at court or formal reception a card bearing his name, rank and
precedence. While this suggestion of a more or less arbitrary convention
and formal ceremoniousness continues, even in our own use of the word,
etiquette is by no means wholly a matter of formality. It is born out of
the necessity of social contacts and has its roots in social realities.
- Every society or group of human beings
has its own code of etiquette. There is an etiquette of the streets as
well as of the drawing-room. There is an etiquette of The Courts of Law,
of clubs, of theatres, indeed of all manner of social and formal
gatherings. In every form and degree of human intercourse there is this
tacit reference to a code of manners without which human conduct would
become unbearable. In having its own code of manners, its etiquette,
Freemasonry is but following the example of other social groups.
- By etiquette Freemasons acknowledge and
express their respect for the Craft. It makes pleasant their contacts with
their fellows, smooths the path of duty, establish an equality of
treatment for all Brethren, protects the good name of the Craft and
greatly assists in establishing that harmony and unity which should exist
between all Freemasons.
- When Masons act as a unit, as in a
Lodge meeting, or at a Communication of Grand Lodge or District Grand
Lodge, etiquette takes the form of proper decorum.
- All Masons present at Regular Meetings
must act in a manner appropriate to the occasion.
- Loud talk, restless moving about,
coughing, laughter or private conversations during ceremonial work, giving
no attention to the work in hand is indecorous behavior and it disturbs
the harmony of the Lodge.
- It is in such an atmosphere, that
ill-will and hard feelings, not to mention the more serious menace of
schism and feud are most likely to take root.
- The Master of a Lodge Who permits such
things is recusant, unwise and not as faith( I as he should be in
discharging the duties of his office.
- Among the Old Charges, to which every
candidate was required to swear obedience a prominent place was.given to
the portions dealing with "Behaviour".
- The oldest of known records – the
Regius Manuscript, written about 1390 –emphasises the necessity of paying
due respect to the Craft.
- Anderson, in his Book of Constitutions,
published by the Grand Lodge of England in 1723, says "You are not to hold private
Committees, or separate conversation, without leave from the Master, nor
to talk at anything impertinent or unseemly. nor interrupt the Master or
Wardens, or any Brother speaking to the Master, nor behave yourself
ludicrously or jestingly while the Lodge is engaged in what is serious or
solemn. but to pay due respect to your Master, Wardens, Fellows”.
- Bearing this in mind the Master of a
Lodge must be particular to see that nothing boisterous creeps into the
ceremonial work of his Loge.
- The Degrees must be conferred not only
in as perfect a ritualistic form as is possible, but also with
- The impression made upon a candidate in
his First Degree will remain with him throughout his life.
- In the conferring of the Master Mason
Degree all crudity and ruffianism must be cut out.
- A hum of conversation, restless moving
about, have no place in the ceremonial work of any Lodge.
- The regalia to be worn by members of
the Scottish Constitution shall be that described in the Eighth Schedule
to C & L.
- When mourning has been ordered,
tassels, rosettes and levels on aprons and jewels shall be covered with
- No regalia or jewels other than those
appertaining to Craft Masonry shall be worn at meetings of Grand Lodge or
District Grand Lodges or Daughter Lodges.
- A Brother may only wear levels on the
apron of a Lodge of which he is or has been the Master. (Law 285)
- Scottish Freemasons in common with The
Irish, normally wear the Apron under the coat. Not so long ago this was
actually the Law on the matter, but with the advent of double-breasted
suits the Law now reads "Aprons shall be fastened preferably under the
coat and worn so that the flap is visible".
- In many Scottish Lodges the
Office-bearers wear sashes over the right shoulder and under the left.arm.
This is a relic of the days when all gentlemen wore swords suspended by a
leather or cloth sash. On entering the Lodge the sword itself was removed
but the sash was left in position. The sash is worn over the jacket, not,
like the apron, under it.
- In some Constitutions it is common for
a Brother to wear at all times, the apron and regalia appropriate to the
highest Masonic rank he holds. This is not so in the Scottish
Constitution. However, all Office-bearers of District Grand Lodge and
Daughter Lodges shall be entitled to wear the regalia of their rank at any
regularly constituted Masonic meeting. On no account should two collars be
worn at the same time.
- It has been customary in Scotland for
an Honorary Grand Lodge Office-bearer to wear his jewel of his Honorary
Office on a thistle-green ribbon, one and a half inches broad, with his
- It is the custom in many Lodges to
present to the retiring Master a Past Master's Jewel as a mark of
appreciation for the work done by him while in the chair of the Lodge.
- It is but fitting that Past Masters
should wear these jewels when attending meetings of the Lodge which has
- It is not, however, the Scottish custom
to wear jewels when wearing District Grand Lodge regalia.
- However, if a District Grand Lodge
Office-bearer is attending a Lodge in his official capacity he should wear
the Past Master's jewel or the Lodge jewel if he is entitled to either of
them as a mark of respect to the Lodge.
- There is nothing to prevent a Brother
who is a Past Master of more than one Lodge wearing two or three Past
master's jewels at the same time.
- A Brother may also be a Past Master of
a Lodge under another Constitution and shall be entitled to wear a Past
Master's jewel of a Lodge under that Constitution in a Scottish Lodge. It
is entirely a matter for the Brother concerned, remembering that in the
Lodge all Brethren are of equal standing and that as little distinction in
regalia and jewels as is possible shouldbe the case..
- A Lodge may require its members to wear
formal dress at its meetings although Grand Lodge lays down no ruling on
- Before the Second World War many Lodges
had the custom of wearing evening dress at all meetings. The advent of
clothing coupons and rationing made the continuance of this custom
difficult and, finally, impossible. Since the war some Lodges have
returned to the old usage and there is something to be said for it – it is
a mark of respect to the Craft.
- A good criterion, if evening dress is
not the custom of the Lodge, is to wear a dark suit and a dark tie.
- There is nothing sombre about this, for
the colourful Scottish regalia –which is unique in the world of masonry -
looks much better against a dark background.
- Attend your Lodge dressed soberly, for
it is a sober meeting you are attending.
- There is a philosophy in dress, as in so
many other things, and the dress proper to Masonic meetings is no
exception. Its principle is good taste, its practice is to wear such dress
as shows respect to the Brotherhood and expresses the dignity of the
is a Title
- In the usage of the Scottish Craft
“Brother” is neither a sentimental nor familiar form of address.
- It is a title - as much as Right
Worshipful Or Worshipful.
- A man does not attend his Lodge in his
capacity as a private individual; he is not John Frazer or Robert Anderson.
He is there in his capacity as a Master Mason - A Brother. For this reason
he should always be addressed in open lodge as “Brother Frazer” or
- It cannot be too strongly stressed that
all Scottish Freemasons are Brethren - irrespective of their rank in the
- The Scottish Craft knows no such form
of address as “Right Worshipful Brother” or “Worshipful Brother”, etc.
- In the Scottish Craft the appellations
"Right Worshipful” and “Worshipful” are appropriate only to the
office, not to the person.
- When addressing the Master of a Lodge
it is correct to address him as “Right Worshipful Master” and to refer to
him as “Right Worshipful Master, Brother Anderson”.
- It is incorrect and not in accordance
with Scottish Custom to address him as “Right Worshipful Brother
- In the same way a Past Master is never,
repeat never, addressed as Worshipful Brother John Brown. He is Brother
John Brown, Past Master and on a "billet" - again a Scottish
term – his name would be written as Brother John Brown, P.M.
- A Past Master of a Lodge does not rank
as such in any other Lodge of which he is a member but not a Past Master.
He may be received in the last mentioned Lodge as a visiting Past Master
only if he comes clothed as such.
- Visiting Brethren from another
Constitution will be addressed in accordance with the usage in that
and Leaving the Lodge
- A Brother entering the Lodge after it
has been opened should advance to a point about midway between the altar
and the Senior Warden: salute the Master and quietly take his seat.
- If the Lodge is working in a degree
other than the first, only the sign of the degree in which the Lodge is
working should be given. 'Working-up' is a custom under the English
Constitution but is not Scottish usage.
- If you are entering your own Lodge, and
that the business of the Lodge has begun and you are late, go quietly to a
seat after salutation.
- Do not stop to exchange greetings on
- When visiting a Lodge and that the
business of the Lodge has begun and you are late, after salutation you are
to wait for the Director of Ceremonies to introduce you to the Master or
conduct you to a seat.
- If you are a visiting Master or Past
Master you will probably be invited to take a seat in the East.
- Accept this graciously if there is
- If the East seems a little crowded ask
the Master's permission to take a seat on the floor of The Lodge.
- If you must leave the Lodge before it
is closed you should wait until you have an opportunity of rising in your
place and asking the Master's permission to retire.
- This given, you should go to mid-way
point above referred to, salute the Master and retire quietly. In some
Lodges it is customary on entering or retiring to salute the Wardens in
addition to the Master. In this case salute the Master first, then the
Senior Warden and last the Junior Warden.
Salutations and Risings
- Grand Lodge has no legislation
regarding signs, but there are some signs, or manner of giving signs,
which might be regarded as intrinsically Scottish. For example, a great
number of Lodges made use of the D... G... sign.
- The Brethren stand in this position
while the Lodge is being opened in the First Degree.
- Many regard this as being more
fundamental than standing with the P... sign, which is aim given.
- Within Scotland itself, every Mason
will automatically adopt the sign of F... when he stands in Lodge.
- In other Constitu6ons, the Brethren
only use this sign when a prayer is being offered or a candidate is taking
- If at the business part of a Meeting, a
Brother addresses the Chair, he should rise, give the sign of the Degree,
return to the sign of F make his address and before sitting down give
again the sign of the Degree.
- The Grand or Royal Sign with which is associated
Grand Honours is always given three times.
- The manner of doing this is absolutely
uniform throughout Scotland and is always accompanied by the words
"All Glory to the Most High".
- There are no salutations given to The
Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason, Grand Secretary or District Grand
Master, etc., upon their entering a Lodge.
- The only occasion when the Grand Master
Mason is saluted – and once only as a Grand Master Mason is on the
occasion of his Installation when he is proclaimed by the Grand Director
- This point is stressed because in some
Constitutions there is a specified number of salutes for a Brother with
'Most Worshipful', a lesser number for 'Right Worshipful' rank and so on.
- After the usual business of the Lodge
has been transacted, it is not the custom in Scotland to have 'risings' at
the first of which the Master asks "I rise for the first time to ask
if anyone in this Lodge has aught for the good of Freemasonry in general
or this Lodge in particular."
- The usual custom in Scotland is:
Worshipful Junior Warden, have you any further business in the South ?
W.J.W - No
further business in the South, Right Worshipful Master (or, if he has, he
states this first.
R.W.M. - Worshipful
Senior Warden, have you any further business in the West ?
W.S.W. - No
further business in the West, Right Worshipful Master
I.P.M., any further business in the East?
I.P.M - No further business in the East, Right
Worshipful Master except Distinguished Visitors may wish to give Greetings.
Brethren, any further business on the floor of the Lodge (waits and may receive
R.WM - There
being no further business, be upstanding Brethren and assist me to close the
- The position of the altar varies from
Lodge to Lodge. Symbolically it should be cubical in shape. On it are
placed the three great Lights of Freemasonry.
- Since the V.S.L with the square and
compasses thereon really constitute the "point within a circle' it
follows that the altar should be fairly centrally situated in the Lodge
and ideally with the "G" over it.
- The altar may be suitably painted or
carved provided this is done with good taste.
- It may be covered with a cloth of the
Lodge colour or in the case of a lodge of sorrow draped with black crepe.
- The three Great Lights, of course, are
on top of the cloth.
- It is interesting to observe in most
Lodges in the District several different volumes of the Sacred Law
depending upon the religion of the Brethren concerned are placed side by
side on the altar, the candidate being obligated on the one peculiar to
- The Ballot Box may be placed on a small
table beside the altar or may be placed on a pull-out slide attached to
- Since the three Great Lights constitute
the focal point of any Degree, it is felt in Scotland that it is quite in
order for a candidate and his conductor to perambulate round the Lodge
passing between the altar and the Master. This is mentioned because some
Constitutions, for example the Irish, prohibit any Brother from passing
between the altar and the Master, the reason possibly being that the
Master in the East is in the Place of Light and his vision should not be
obscured from the three Great Lights which are his responsibility.
- The position of the three candles or
lamps varies from Lodge to Lodge. In some Lodges they are placed in tall
candlesticks situated at three of the corners of the square pavement.
- In others on a candelabra of three
lights on the Master's dais whilst a third method is to see them displayed
on the pedestals of the Master, Senior Warden and Junior Warden.
- In some Constitutions quite a feature
is made of the lighting of the candles when the Lodge is being opened and indeed
the act of lighting may be accompanied by the words Wisdom, Strength and
- In the Scottish Constitution all three
candles are lit in the First Degree, one is extinguished in the Second
Degree and two are extinguished, leaving only one alight, in the Third
- A symbolism which has been suggested is
that as the candidate progresses from Degree to Degree he acquires more
spiritual light and there is less necessity for material light.
- In Scottish Lodges the Tracing Board of
the Degree does not lie on the floor. In some Lodges the Tracing Boards
are placed on the wall, one being uncovered in each Degree.
- Other Lodges place then in front of the
pedestals of the Junior Warden, Senior Warden and Master respectively.
- Others place them on an easel in some
convenient part of the Lodge.
- As some of the Tracing Board lectures
are somewhat long, there is no objection to the candidate being seated
during this lecture.