A GUIDE TO MASONIC ETIQUETTE
This guide has been produced by the District 123 Association to provide information to the District Lodges on standards of Etiquette that will enable Lodges to maintain a high standard and ensure that our Masonic gatherings continue to provide a rewarding experience for new Candidates and existing Members alike.
The content has been well researched, using as a reference official United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory publications and the experience of the Preceptor of the Lodge of Instruction. The United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory publication “Preceptor’s Manual – Points and Protocols” dated July 2006 provides additional information relating to our ceremonies.
The views expressed in “A Guide To Masonic Etiquette” may not necessarily reflect the opinions of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory or its members. Information sourced for this program is additional to Masonic Education issued under the authority of the Board of Management of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory to all candidates in Region 12 through the District 124 Masonic Education Program.
1 IN THE LODGE ROOM
1.1 WHAT PARTS OF THE LODGE ROOM ARE RESTRICTED?
Apart from the Worshipful Master or an Installed Master acting as such, no other Brother may pass between the Altar and Master’s pedestal.
The Dais may only be ascended by Installed Masters, apart from a Deacon with his Wand as part of the ceremony.
Installed Past Masters of the Lodge may sit in the seats on the Dais to the South of the Worshipful Master. Past Masters of other Lodges may sit in the seats to the North of the Worshipful Master. Whilst this is “accepted” practice it is not obligatory.
Entered Apprentices must sit in the North East of the Lodge as near to the front as possible and must always be accompanied by a Master Mason or higher rank.
Fellowcrafts must always sit in the South East and be accompanied by a Master Mason or higher rank.
Entered Apprentices should remain in the N.E. unless escorted by the Director of Ceremonies or a Deacon acting in their official capacity. Movement by all in attendance should be restricted to ceremonial work requirements or as directed by the Worshipful Master. Thus an E.A. should not cross the Lodge to extend his hand in welcome to a new initiate unless escorted.
When Junior Officers or Brethren are addressed by a Senior Officer (e.g. W.M. to all Officers regardless of rank. J.W to I.G. etc.), the Junior Officer comes to Order with the Sign of the particular Degree. At the conclusion, the Senior Officer must acknowledge the Junior Officer’s salute.
On rising to deliver a charge or an Address, all Brethren (with the exception of the G.M., D.G.M, and A.G.M. when in attendance) shall salute the W.M. They shall salute again on completion. Unless escorted by the G.D. of C. or the D.C., they shall salute when crossing the Lodge, except when Brethren gather in the S.E. to welcome a new initiate. N.B. Welcoming Brethren should not stand to the North in giving welcome.
The Senior Officer acknowledges the salute after the junior has completed the Sign at the conclusion of his address.
Note that when the Grand Master, a Past Grand Master, the Deputy Grand Master, the Assistant Grand Master, any Grand Master’s Representative of or above the rank of PAGM or the Grand SW or Grand JW, enters the Lodge in an official capacity, there is no salute when entering or retiring.
The Sign of Fidelity is to be given as per the Ritual, e.g., when prayer is offered or any portion of Holy Writ is being read and during the administration of an O.B. by a Candidate. The S.O.F., is not used as any other Sign. The Sign, when used in the above context, falls away at the completion. Bowing does not come into any of the Signs. The only other time the S.O.F. is used is at the time of entry of Grand Officers.
It is also used during Grace at the Festive Board.
1.3 HOW DO I RESPOND TO THE WORSHIPFUL MASTER OR ANOTHER BROTHER
All remarks within the Lodge Room should be made through the Worshipful Master.
If you wish to address the Master or respond to another Brother’s remarks, you should stand, salute the Worshipful Master in a regular manner and then drop the salute before commencing talking.
After completion, you should sit without again saluting.
1.4 WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE WHEN GIVING A CHARGE OR A REPORT?
A Brother who has been delegated the responsibility of delivering a Charge – or a Brother who is requested to deliver a Report such as a Caring Officer Report – will stand, salute the Worshipful Master, proceed to the appropriate position in the Lodge, saluting again if crossing the Lodge, deliver the Charge or Report, salute again on completion and then return to his seat in the Lodge.
1.5 WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I AM UNABLE TO ATTEND AND HAVE BEEN ALLOCATED A TASK?
It is your responsibility to:
[a] Advise the Worshipful Master and/or Secretary as soon as possible, prior to the meeting, so that the work can be delegated to a suitably qualified Brother. It is your responsibility to nominate a Brother who will be able and willing to take your place;
[b] Request that your apology for the meeting be recorded.
1.6 HOW SHOULD I SIT AND STAND IN THE LODGE?
All Brethren either at their own Lodge or visiting another Lodge meeting should maintain proper dignity and decorum. Be aware and watchful of proceedings.
When standing, it is recommended that all Brethren should stand erect and with hands held loosely at the side. Hands should not be clasped in front or behind the body or arms folded.
When sitting, it is recommended, though not essential, that hands should be lightly rested on the uncrossed thighs with the feet slightly apart. Arms should not be crossed or stretched along the back of the seat.
1.7 HOW DO I SIGNIFY TO THE J.W. THAT I HAVE VOUCHED FOR A VISITOR?
When the Inner Guard announces the name of a Visitor and the Brother who has vouched for him, the vouching Brother should stand so that the Junior Warden can readily see him and signify his agreement in the usual Masonic manner, which is extending the right arm, palm facing downward. After the J.W. has acknowledged the vouching Brother, he shall then resume his seat.
1.8 MAY I PROMPT IF I KNOW THE RITUAL?
Only if the Director of Ceremonies has asked you to do so. There is no place for a ‘Whispering Gallery’ in the Lodge Room.
1.9 AM I ALLOWED TO FOLLOW THE CEREMONY IN MY RITUAL BOOK?
No. Only the Director of Ceremonies or a delegated Prompter is permitted to have an open Ritual Book during the conduct of the Ceremony.
1.10 MAY I TALK TO OTHER BRETHREN DURING A MEETING?
No, unless absolutely necessary and so long as you talking is not audible except to the Brother whom you are addressing and talking does not interfere with the presentation or the hearing of any part of the Ceremony by others.
1.11 ARE CAMERAS ALLOWED IN THE LODGE ROOM?
Yes, cameras are allowed within certain limitations.
Decision 35.16 of the Codification provides “The taking of photographs on nights of Installation should be done in a dignified manner and be restricted to three photographs in the Lodge room”.
For Installations, following is recommended:
• Permission should be obtained from the WM (and with the Representative’s consent) before any photo is taken;
• Only one photographer is authorised;
• Care should be taken not to show any other part of the Masonic ceremony;
At an Installation, if more than three photos are required, permission should be obtained from the Grand Director of Ceremonies;
Photos should be limited to being taken in the East;
Worshipful Master receiving his Certificate;
Grand Representative, WM, IM and RGC/DGIW;
Grand Representative with EA’s / FC’s
Special presentations such as Service Certificates or Grand Master’s Awards.
For a regular Lodge Meeting, the Worshipful Master may authorise photographs within the same limitations.
1.12 MAY I ATTEND OTHER LODGES?
Brethren are encouraged to visit other Lodges. However, if not specifically invited by a Member of that Lodge, you must be prepared to prove yourself. You can expect to prove yourself up to the level of the apron you are wearing.
It is also courteous to advise the Lodge that you will be attending so that your presence can be included in any catering arrangements.
If you plan to visit a Lodge in another Jurisdiction (including Overseas) it is advisable to obtain a Travelling Certificate from Grand Lodge and to have a current Notice Paper indicating that you are in good standing.
When visiting another Lodge, there are four matters that you should address after you have introduced yourself to a member of the lodge as a visitor:
[a] Make sure you sign the Attendance Book before entering the Lodge – include your Lodge Number and Rank (EA, FC, MM,PM etc);
[b] Complete a Visitor’s Card and hand it to the Tyler;
[c] Indicate as to whether or not you will be attending the Festive Board;
[d] Turn off your Mobile Phone and any PDA or other electronic device before entering the Lodge.
1.13 DO I ALWAYS HAVE TO WALK IN A CLOCKWISE DIRECTION?
No, though it is generally accepted that, to maintain decorum and uniformity, brethren square the lodge in a clockwise direction. This, amongst other things, alleviates any uncertainty or misunderstanding. However, it is only necessary to perambulate clockwise when conducting a Candidate.
Brethren should always Square the Lodge – that is, move in straight lines parallel with the walls or mosaic pavement and make right angle turns when necessary. This includes Grand Officers when making a ceremonial exit from the Lodge.
In no circumstances should Brethren traverse the Lodge diagonally.
2 IN GENERAL
2.1 WHAT IS THE ETIQUETTE RELATING TO THE WEARING OF GLOVES
White gloves may be worn with a dinner suit at the discretion of the Worshipful Master. They form part of accepted “formal” or “evening” wear.
Gloves worn in the Lodge are an emblem of equality and purity. They need not be removed when shaking a Brother’s hand as hands can often divide, a labourer having calloused hands and a sedentary worker soft ones.
Gloves must be removed in the following situations:
• When obligating a candidate;
• When placing hands on the VSL;
• On any occasion when a Candidate’s hands are clasped.
2.2 MAY I CONTACT THE GRAND MASTER DIRECTLY?
The Grand Master should be contacted through the Grand Secretary.
This does not mean that you may not approach the Grand Master socially and talk with him, but that any matter relating to the conduct of the Craft should be directed through the Grand Secretary.
2.3 DO I HAVE TO NOTIFY ANYONE IF I CAN’T ATTEND A MEETING?
In your Obligation you have committed to acknowledge all signs and summonses. It is therefore your obligation to your Lodge to submit an apology in advance of the meeting if you are unable to attend.
This is particularly important if you have a part in the Ceremony as it allows time for a substitute to prepare to take over your role.
2.4 MAY I TAKE A NON – MASON INTO A LODGE ROOM?
Yes – as long as the Lodge Room is not set up as a working Lodge. This means prior to the Lodge being opened or when the Lodge has moved from Labour to Refreshment.
In these circumstances, the VSL will not be open, the Square and Compasses and Working tools hidden and the Tracing Board closed.
2.5 MAY I WEAR MY NAME TAG IN LODGE?
Yes – all Brethren, apart from Grand Lodge Officers wearing Grand Lodge Regalia, may wear Name tags in Lodge and in the South.
2.6 MAY I WEAR MY MASONIC MEDALS AND JEWELS IN THE SOUTH?
Approved Military Decorations may be worn at all times, as may Civil Decorations (OAM, AM, etc).
Other than within a Lodge Meeting, the only medals or badges that should be worn (apart from those above) are those relating to Masonic Charities (one collarette only) and a maximum of two lapel pins such as a small square and compasses badge or a Grand Master’s, Regional or District Award badge.
A Grand Master’s Award Jewel takes precedence at all times over other ‘masonic’ jewels.
2.7 WHAT IS PROPER SOLICITATION?
Improper solicitation results from a Brother directly asking a person to become a Freemason.
However, all Brethren are encouraged to communicate the aims and principles of Freemasonry openly by word, action and personal conduct.
If, as a result of such action, a Brother is approached by a person seeking information on membership, he should inform him of the administrative process and provide him with the necessary information to enable his application to be submitted/processed in the correct manner.
2.8 WHAT IS MEANT BY RANK?
The various ranks in Freemasonry and their precedence may be found in the Book of Constitutions and Administrative Regulations –Regulation R2.3.
The Grand Master and Past Grand Masters are addressed as Most Worshipful Brethren with the rank of Deputy Grand Master, Assistant Grand Master, Senior Grand Warden and Junior Grand Warden, Regional Grand Counsellor or Grand Director of Ceremonies (serving), (and those with actual or conferred Past equivalent) are addressed as Right Worshipful.
Brethren with Grand Rank or Past Grand Rank below Past Regional Grand Counsellor and above Senior Grand Deacon are addressed as Very Worshipful.
All other Grand Officers (if PM’s) and installed brethren are addressed as Worshipful Brother.
Should a Worshipful Brother be undertaking the duties of Grand Director of Ceremonies at an Installation or similar Masonic event, then he is given the courtesy of being addressed as Very Worshipful Brother for that event only.
Master Masons, Entered Apprentices and Fellowcrafts are addressed as Brother.
When addressing a Brother in Lodge who is not a progressive officer, he should be addressed by Rank (Very Worshipful or Right Worshipful etc).
3 AT THE FESTIVE BOARD
3.1 DO I STAND OR SIT FOR GRACE ?
Grace should be said as soon as the Worshipful Master has taken his place at the table.
It is the Worshipful Master’s decision as to whether or not Brethren stand or sit whilst Grace is being said. In making that decision, the Worshipful Master will consider any special feelings that Brethren may have.
As to whether or not, one is standing or sitting, the Sign of Fidelity will always be adopted whilst Grace is being recited.
In all circumstances, the Director of Ceremonies will inform the Brethren while calling on the Chaplain to recite the Grace.
3.2 WHEN MAY I START EATING AT THE FESTIVE BOARD?
Many Lodge have drinks and ‘nibbles’ available whilst awaiting all Brethren to assemble for the Festive Board. Once the Director of Ceremonies has called the Brethren to table, all consumption of food must cease until after the Chaplain has recited Grace.
3.3 HOW SHOULD THE FESTIVE BOARD SEATING BE ARRANGED?
The Festive Board should be considered as an extension of the meeting and all Brethren should attend unless pressing personal reasons prevent it, in which case, they should advise the Worshipful Master.
Seating should be arranged to suit the room and, where it is possible, the seating for the Festive Board should be arranged with tables placed in a narrow ‘U’ and, if room permits, seats placed on the outside of the ‘U’, except for those of the Senior Warden and Junior Warden. If it is necessary to place seats on the inside of the ‘U’, then those seats should only be on the arms of the ‘U’ and never opposite the WM or those sitting within three places of him on either side.
However, this arrangement may vary from Lodge to Lodge but the important consideration is to ensure that an atmosphere of fraternal brotherhood is maintained.
The symbolism of the ‘U’ shape is that it reminds us of the universality of the Craft.
The Worshipful Master should be seated at an appropriate position for the formalities to be conducted and for official guests to accompany him. If the seating is arranged in a “U” The W.M. will be seated in the centre of the ‘U’ (and if the location allows, facing the entry door), the Senior Warden at the end of the right hand arm and the Junior Warden at the end of the left hand arm.
The Immediate Past Master should be seated immediately to the left of the Worshipful Master, whilst the most important Visitor is seated on the immediate right of the Worshipful Master, with other ranking Brethren occupying further seats to the right.
3.4 WHAT ARE THE SEATING ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE SOUTH?
Ensure that Visitors are seated according to their wishes and are not left to sit at the last vacant place.
Do not reserve positions by tilting chairs. This can inhibit free movement around the room. Consider placing a napkin over the back of a chair if a reservation is essential.
3.5 HOW DO I PAY FOR DINNER?
Lodges have different methods of paying and collecting and should make it known when inviting Brethren to the Festive Board. However it is the responsibility of all Brethren attending to see if a contribution is required and then to take the necessary steps to make the payment.
3.6 WHAT ARE THE CONVENTIONS RELATING TO TOASTS
Brethren should leave their glasses on the table until such time as the toast is proposed, repeat the words of the Toast e.g. The Queen, The Most Worshipful Grand Master, Our Newly Initiated Brother etc ., then raise their glasses, drink the toast without further comment and immediately replace their glasses on the table.
Toasts should not be drunk from bottles.
Brethren stand for the proposition of a toast.
3.6.2 THE LOYAL TOAST
The format of the Loyal Toast is as follows:
The Director of Ceremonies calls Brethren to attention with the words “Brethren, please pay attention to your Worshipful Master.”
W.M.: “Brethren, please rise and join me in a toast to the Queen”. (Pause to allow time for the Brethren, leaving their glass on the table, to stand with their hands by their sides).
Optionally, the W.M. may then ask “Bro SW, all charged in the west” to which the SW will reply after checking “Worshipful Master, all charged in the west”. The same question and response are directed to the JW in the south.
W.M.: “The Queen”. (The Brethren repeat “The Queen”, then raise their glasses and drink the Toast).
W.M. “Be seated Brethren”
There is no requirement to face a photo or other representation of the Queen when the toast is given.
3.6.3 TOAST TO THE GRAND MASTER
This toast is always given when the Grand Master or any Grand Officer is visiting the Lodge in an official capacity.
The format is:
• The Director of Ceremonies calls Brethren to attention with the words “Brethren, please pay attention to the Worshipful Master”
• W.M.: “Brethren, please rise and join me in a toast to the Most Worshipful Grand Master” and add any brief comment that he deems appropriate.
• The Brethren rise, leaving their glasses on the table
• The Worshipful Master says “The Most Worshipful Grand Master”, the Brethren then repeat “The Most Worshipful Grand Master”, pick up their glasses, drink the Toast and replace the glasses on the table.
Following the toast, Grand Master’s Honours will be delivered. [Feint one, twenty one, last time hand and foot. Do not forget the feint.]
After the Honours, the D.C. says “Be seated, Brethren”
3.6.4 TOAST TO THE VISITORS
The proposer should welcome the visitors and may, if there are not too many, ask them to stand and be recognised. His remarks should be kept short and if possible, contain some interesting anecdote.
3.6.5 HOW DO I RESPOND TO A TOAST?
126.96.36.199 ADDRESSING THE LODGE
In responding to a Toast, the form of address should be:
• Worshipful Master, who is always addressed first;
• Most Worshipful Grand Master, If he is present, (or his Representative or the Regional Grand Counsellor, or DGIW if present in their official capacity) – note that the form of addressing is always Rank first, followed by name.
• Ladies and Gentlemen (if either are present)
It is not necessary to specifically address any other rank of Mason such as Right Worshipful or Very Worshipful Brethren.
188.8.131.52 CONTENT OF RESPONSE
Always thank the proposer and the Brethren for their response. The standardized response “Thank you for your proposition of the toast and you, Brethren, for its reception” is acceptable. However, try to vary your response with words such as “I (or we, if responding for all visitors) really appreciate your welcome and the way in which the Lodge has responded to your words…” so that it reflects your pleasure at being there and does not appear as ‘just the right thing’ to say.
• Keep responses short to suit the evening’s proceedings;
• Welcome any new Masons and invite them to visit your Lodge;
• Do not refer to specifics of the Lodge ceremony, such as work by a particular member of the Lodge;
• Try not to come out with the old chestnuts such as “Visiting is what Masonry is all about”;
• Any humour should be within the bounds of decency.
184.108.40.206 WHAT DO I DO IF ANOTHER BROTHER RESPONDS TO THE VISITORS TOAST FOR ALL VISITORS?
Stand when the responder stands and sit after he has thanked the proposer and Lodge members.
Honours are given after Toasts and are usually directed by the Director of Ceremonies.
Many Lodges have developed their own form of honours, particularly in response to a Visitors’ Toast.
However, there are two forms of Honours that are standard across the Jurisdiction:
[a] Grand Master’s Honours – Feint one, twenty one, last time hand and foot;
[b] Apron, heart and hand – three times, last time hand and foot.
3.6.7 WHAT IS THE JUNIOR WARDEN’S TOAST
The standard Junior Warden’s Toast is:
“Happy have we met
Happy have we been
Happy do we part
Happy to meet again
To our next Happy meeting”
Repeated by Brethren “To our next Happy meeting”
An alternative is the Bro David Richardson Toast [often attributed to Robbie Burns and Rudyard Kipling]:
“Are your glasses charged in the West and South?”
The Worshipful Master cries. “All charged in the West, all charged in the South” Are the Wardens prompt replies. Then to our parting toast tonight, your glasses firmly drain
Happy to meet, sorry to part, happy to meet again.
The Mason feels the noble truth, the Scottish peasant told The rank is but the guinea stamp, the man himself the gold. With us the rich and poor unite and equal rights maintain.
Happy to meet, sorry to part, happy to meet again.
Dear Brethren of the mystic tie, the night is waning fast. Our duty done, our feasting o’er, this toast must be our last. Good night, good night, again once more:
Happy to meet, sorry to part, happy to meet again.
TO OUR NEXT HAPPY MEETING
3.7 WHEN MAY I LEAVE?
The convention is that no one should leave until after the Grand Master or his Representative has departed. If the Grand Master or his Representative is not present, Brethren may excuse themselves at any time.
It is usual to remain until after the Visitors toast. However, they should advise the Director of Ceremonies if earlier departure is required.
3.8 THE NATIONAL ANTHEM
The Australian National Anthem is “Advance Australia Fair” with the following words:
Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free,
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil;
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare,
In history’s page, let every stage
Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.
Beneath our radiant Southern Cross
We’ll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.
The Royal Anthem is “God Save the Queen” and is generally restricted to use when the Queen or a member of the Royal Family is present. However it may be sung, when appropriate, as long as it is not used as a substitute for the National Anthem. Accordingly, if the Royal Anthem is sung, so must the National Anthem.