Masonic Etiquette Summary
Masonic etiquette is simply the rules of good manners which make lodge meetings pleasant for everyone.
The position of Worshipful Master in the East occupies the most exalted position within the lodge. A lodge which does not honor it's Master, no matter how they personally feel about the man himself, lacks Masonic courtesy. The honor conveyed by the brethren in electing him, in other words, the historical traditions and the men who have gone before you must be given the utmost respect, if the traditions of the Fraternity are to be observed and proper Masonic etiquette is to be maintained.
Masonic etiquette comprises lodge courtesies and properties. Good manners imply observance of the formal rquirements governing man's behavior in polite society and a sense of what is appropriate for a person of good breeding with high morals and good taste.
The spirit of brotherly love and affection, by which we are bound together, will be exemplified in our conduct, our carriage and our behavior at all times.
It is the hope that you will use your trowel to cement the stones of brotherly love for the "More Noble and Glorious Purpose" of exhibiting these rules of Masonic Etiquette toward one and all within the brethren.
1 - Walking Between The Altar And The Worshipful Master
Brethren do not pass between the Altar and the East when the lodge is open.
Why? As a courtesy to the Master, it is necessary that the three Great Lights which shine their eternal light and wisdom upon the Master to help him govern the lodge should never be in shadow, not even for a millisecond.
2 - Sitting In The East
Brethren do not take a seat in the East without an invitation...even if all other seats are full.
Why? While all Brethren within a tiled room are equal to one another, and the officers are servants of the brethren, all lodge officers have worked and studied long and hard for their lodge. It is, therefore, the Master's perogative to recognize this devotion and their loyalty by inviting distinguished visitors or a special member whom the Master wishes to honor to sit with him in the East. In other words, if you were in church, synagogue or mosque and the pews were full, would you go up and sit beside the Pastor, Rabbi or Imam (Muslim Priest)?
3 - Always Fully Dressed
Brethren do not enter their Lodge room either without their apron nor while putting on that apron...not even the tying of it's strings.
Why? In respect to the formalities of their lodge, officers expect that the Brethren will have the courtesy to enter it fully dressed and ready for the labor. They should not have to wait for a member to be fully "dressed", even just tying or adjusting their apron to salute that member. It is expected that you will be properly and entirely dressed when you pass by the Tyler and enter your lodge room.
4 - Stand When You Speak
No man sits while speaking in the lodge room, no matter if he addresses an officer or another brethren.
Why? All lodge activity is based on each man in the lodge as being a servant of the Brethren. This includes the Worshipful Master and his officers. While the man, himself, whom has been elected Worshipful Master does not gain any special honor personally, it is to the Worshipful Master as the Master of the Lodge that a member stands to address. It is simply a form of respect, no different than attending a shareholder's meeting or a City Council meeting. It is expected that if you wish to address the audience, you will stand so all may see who is speaking.
5 - Talking
"Side" talk while a degree is being conferred is considered bad manners.
Why? The lodge room is a Temple of the Great Architect of the Universe. The Brethren within are working to make the best ashlars (stones) for His spiritual temple.
Just as it is impolite to talk in a church, synagogue or mosque service, so it is improper to distract the officers, the workes in the degree or the candidate. Talking without asking to do so shows irreverence for the proceedings. Unless you have rquested of the Master to speak, silence is the rule. This also means no whispering.
How? If you have something of interest to say, raise your hand. When the Master recognizes you, you must stand up, and be recognized by the Master to speak. To address the brethren, you should say: "Worshipful Master, Right Worshipfuls, Worshipfuls, Wardens and Brethren".
6 - Obey The Gavel
You must immediately obey the gavel.
Why? Failure to immediately obey the gavel is a GRAVE DISCOURTESY and VERY poor Masonic Etiquette.
The Master is all powerful in the lodge and his word is final.
- He can put or refuse to put forward any motion.
- He can rule any brother out of order on any subject at any time.
- He can say what he will, and what he will not, permit to be discussed.
Brethren who think him unfair, arbitrary, unjust, or acting illegally have redress. The Grand Lodge can be appealed to on any such matter. However in the lodge, the Master's gavel, which is his emblem of authority, is supreme.
When a brother is rapped down he should obey at once, without any further discussion. It is VERY bad manners to do otherwise. In fact it is perilously close to the line between bad and manners and a Masonic offense.
Masonic etiquette decries anyone who does not obey the gavel.
7 - Turning Your Back
Never turn one's back on the Master to address the lodge without first receiving permission from the Master to speak.
Why? Any debates that are in motion must be conducted using proper Masonic etiquette. One always stands to order when addressing the chair.
Customs differ in various jurisdictions as to the method of salute, however some salutes should always be given when addressing the Master.
Two brethren, both on their feet, simultaneously arguing a motion, who are facing each other and ignoring the Master is unacceptable.
8 - Salute
Each of the brethren will salute the Master or the Senior Warden when the Master has given him charge of the door, when they enter or leave their lodge room.
Why? The Masonic etiquette of saluting the Master is your renewed pledge of fealty and service. It is your public display of decorum before all other brothers of your obligation.
It shows your courteous respect for all that the Master stands for and shows that you acknowledge his authority. Salutes should reflect your heart-felt respect for all that for which he stands. The salute to the Master is your pledge of honor and service, your publicly shown obligation. A lazy, sloppy or improper salute is to be Masonically impolite and exhibits poor Masonic etiquette.
9 - Balloting
Do not enter or leave the lodge room during a ballot.
Why? It is discourteous to leave the lodge room during a speech, during a degree, etc. There are several natural periods, such as at the end of one section and before the next begins, or when the Master puts the lodge at ease until the sound of the gavel. Then and only then, you may leave the lodge without being considered rude.
It is Masonic etiquette that all brethren are expected to vote when requested to do so. Failure to cast your ballot not only results in your failure to share in your duties, but is in direct disobedience of the Master's request.
10 - Voting Is Mandatory
When an issue is put to a vote all brethren should vote.
Why? A brother who does not vote is discourteous because he skews the ballot. He becomes the weak link in a strong chain.
No matter what the reason of his non-vote he injures the lodge's ballot, it's value and it's secrecy. Failure to vote can injure a lodge's feeling of brotherhood, and by that injury can injure the Masonic fraternity. No matter what reason you may privately hold about voting it is poor Masonic etiquette to fail to vote when requested to do so by the Master.
11 - Shouldering The Work
It is good Masonic etiquette to accept a request made in the name of the lodge if it is within your abilities.
Why? A lodge is a working "beehive of industry". A request made of you from your lodge acknowledges that the lodge trusts you to competently fulfill such a request based upon your knowledge.
12 - Correction of Verbal Errors
Lodge customs state that no one except for the Worshipful Master, or his prearranged designee, may correct any mistake that may occur during the course of a Ceremony. And even he does so only when the error is a serious one.
Why? It is discourteous to point out others mistakes in front of the lodge brethren. If you are in possession of a mind which allows you to be able to perform each and every degree and ceremony perfectly, please advise the Worshipful Master of such that he may take advantage of your services to mentor others.
13 - Exhibit Good Posture
Poor posture is considered poor Masonic etiquette.
Why? Good posture is necessary while within the Lodge room. Lounging, leaning and slovenly attitudes should be avoided.
14 - No Practical Jokes Nor Off-Color Stories
The lodge room is not a proper location for the telling of practical jokes, pranks, horseplay nor off-color stories.
Why? The great lessons of Masonry which are taught by our ritual, should never be demeaned by levity or pranks.
15 - Use Proper Masonic Names
Why? It is common courtesy to be accurate in speaking a brother's name. So it is proper Masonic etiquette to address officers, members, and visitors by their correct Masonic titles and addresses.
16 - Entering Lodge After The Meeting Has Begun
If a brother should enter the Lodge after the opening ceremony is under way, he should go to the Altar to salute the Master or Senior Warden if he has charge of the door. The Tyler will inform you were to salute.
If he must leave before the meeting is over, the correct Masonic etiquette of his departure is that he should salute the Master at the Altar or Senior Warden if he has charge of the door before he dparts.
The salute should always be given properly and not in a careless or perfunctory manner.
17 - All Prayers At Lodge Functions Are Non-Sectarian
Freemasonry is worldwide and holds no sectarian views. Non-sectarian means not sectioned into one specific religion. Freemasonry embraces all religions. A Mason may choose the religion of his choice in his private life but should be aware and open to the fact that others among the brethren do not necessarily share nor were they brought up with the religious dogmas and beliefs that you prsonally embrace.
Why? Prayers at Lodge functions should be scrupulously in keeping with Masonic tachings. The Masonic etiquette of offered prayers is that they should never be an expression of specific sectarian views or dogmatic creeds.
It is a matter of courtesy that all prayers, speeches and discussions at Masonic affairs avoid sectarian, controversial or political tones. Prayers are best directed to the Creator, the Grand Architect of the Universe and not toward specific religious teachings such a Jesus Christ, Mother Mary, Muhammad, Jehovah, etc.
To do so omits the religions of others within the brethren which can cause conflict and therefore not be harmonious to the whole. In the spirit of Non-sectarianism, we must remember that since the day that our Creator found that Man created the Tower of Babel to glorify themselves; it is HE who changed man's language into the many diverse languages now spoken on Earth.
In so doing, our Creator has many names across the world.
18 - Turn Cell Phones OFF
All cell phones should be turned off before entering the lodge room so as not to disrupt the proceedings.