June Message from the West

Brothers, as we are now through the first half of our Masonic year, the time has come upon us to “Go Dark” and forgo stated meetings for July & August.  I hope everyone has a wonderful, festive, and safe summer full of family, fraternity, and fun.

I have to tell you, though, I have never liked that term, “Go Dark”.

We, as Masons seek light.  True Masonic light.  I feel that the notion of “Going Dark” has a negative connotation, and perhaps even sends the wrong message.  After performing some research on it, why it is done, or was done historically, my opinion hasn’t changed but I have learned some new facts, allow me to share:

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The Masonic term “go dark” means that a lodge ceases to operate as a lodge.

When a lodge “goes dark” or is said to have “gone dark”; it either:
1. Ceases to exist as a lodge (permanently closes its doors),…or
2. “Went dark” and ceased to have Stated Meetings for an agreed upon period of time:
A. This occurs in farming communities wherein when a large number of the lodge’s members are farmers and must tend to their crops during the Summer; it is agreed that the lodge should “go dark” (no meetings) until Fall when their crops have been harvested.
This also applies to other trades and livelihoods such as if a large number of the lodge’s members are fishermen and are at sea for periods of time or military lodges whose members are deployed.
B. Some lodges “go dark” for a period of time each year. Some lodges choose not to “go dark” during any period of time during the year. And, some lodges “go dark” (do not have Stated Meetings, especially during the Summer) and members are delegated to tend to other Masonic duties such as:

  • Large job Lodge maintenance (cleaning, polishing or stripping of the lodge’s floors, painting, etc.)
  • Clean up and or mowing or trimming at Masonic cemeteries and widow’s homes; visiting the elderly or those in nursing homes and hospitals.
  • Highway cleanup, community partnerships, charitable acts,  etc.
  • If the lodge offers a Masonic scholarship, the lodge’s delegated scholarship team contacts local area high school(s) and begins the application process for the next school year. Masonic scholarships are typically education scholarships offered by the lodge to qualifying high school students in their local community who wish to attend university.  Qualifications vary between lodges, but most are based on a student’s academic grades and their financial need.  There are no requirements placed upon the student to become a member of the lodge in the future.

Here is what Albert Mackey, Freemason author and historian, said in his Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry (1929) page 262 about “Darkness”:

Darkness

“Darkness has, in all the systems of initiation, been deemed a symbol of ignorance, and so opposed to light, which is the symbol of knowledge.  Hence the rule, that the eye should not see until the heart has conceived the true nature of those beauties which constitute the mysteries of the Order.

In the Ancient Mysteries, the aspirant (candidate) was always shrouded in darkness as a preparatory step to the reception of the full light of knowledge.  Among the Druids of Britain, the period was 9 days and nights; in the Grecian Mysteries, it was 3 times 9 days; while among the Persians, according to Porphyry, it was extended to the almost incredible period of 50 days of darkness, solitude and fasting. 

Because, according to all the cosmogonies, (the study of the origin of the universe) accounts of the universe, darkness existed before light was created, darkness was originally worshipped as the firstborn, as the progenitor of day and the state of existence before creation.

The apostrophe of Young to Night embodies the feelings which gave origin to this debasing worship of darkness:

O majestic night!
Nature’s great ancestor!  Day’s elder born!
And fated to survive the transient sun!
By mortals and immortals seen with awe!

Freemasonry has restored darkness to its proper place as a state of preparation; the symbol of that antemundane (being or occurring before the creation of the world) chaos from whence light issued at the Divine command; of the state of nonentity before birth, and of ignorance before the reception of knowledge.

Hence, in the Ancient Mysteries, the release of the aspirant (candidate) from solitude and darkness was called the act of regeneration, and he was said to be born again, or to be raised from the dead. 

And in Freemasonry, the darkness which envelops the mind of the uninitiated being removed by the bright effulgence of Masonic light, Freemasons are appropriately called the “sons of light.”

In Doctor Oliver’s Signs and Symbols, there is a lecture “On the Mysterious Darkness of the Third Degree.”  This refers to the ceremony of enveloping the room in darkness when that Degree is conferred – a ceremony once always observed, but now, in this country at least, (e.g.  United States), frequently but improperly omitted.

The darkness here is a symbol of death, the lesson taught in the Degree, while the subsequent renewal of light refers to that other and subsequent lesson of eternal life.

Information herein was collected and quoted from multiple sources which are not cited here.
Both Dr. Oliver (1782-1867) and Dr. Albert Mackey (1807-1881) were renowned Masonic historians and authors.  Dr. George Oliver lived in Lincolnshire, England.  Dr. Albert Mackey lived in Charleston, South Carolina.  

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All of this is great information, and appreciated by those, such as us, that consume it.

What it doesn’t address is the fact that Masonry doesn’t “Go Dark”.  It talks around it a little, or describes the changing of the work during these periods, but it doesn’t refer to the Brothers.

During this time, I encourage everyone to recall their obligations, and bring the charges into your mind.  We, as Masons, are not “Going Dark”.  We simply are not having stated meetings at the Lodge.  We must persevere without the monthly or weekly reminders of how to act, to be kind to others, be generous, be patriotic, to look after our Brothers widow.

Remember your Brothers during these months.  There are going to be a few events to keep the membership active and involved for those of you that wish to partake.

The Upper Uwchlan Day is June 18th
Tuesdays in July there will be Summer School of Instruction at Thompson Lodge in Paoli
We will have the roadside cleanup of Fellowship Road
There is a Masonic Book Club at the lodge
We will be having a Pig Roast in August

That said, people may already have plans to travel, entertain family, or are otherwise committed.  It’s fine if you can’t make any of these events.  Keep your Brothers in your heart.  Be the Mason away from the Lodge you are withing it.  Spread our message though actions and let others see the LIGHT we bring to the world, for we are Masons wherever we survey.

So no, we’re not “Going Dark”, we are the Light.

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