Grand Lodge was formed as a marketing ploy to make ordinary men feel important

Devotion News No 38. July - Aug 2009.

Dear Brother Damien

When I contemplate the wonderful works of Speculative Masons in your Constitution and behold their achievements I think of our beginnings.

We never imagined the concept of speculative masonry as we worked hard all day, wearing our un-tanned aprons, for the Glory of God and the iron rod of the wise King Solomon. Our rest was in the shade of the Temple sharing a few loaves of bread and sucking wine from a goat skin bag, hoping on Friday nights that our wives did not want us home too soon. Our corporate meetings were held informally as is still often the practice on the Sabbath after our devotions with no cowans around. There was nothing Grand about it all: no fancy clothing, board rooms, ceremonials except as arranged by the Levis and certainly no Grand Rank. Where did you all get all this “Grand” business from?

I expect it began after the Grand Lodge was formed in England and it was done as a marketing ploy to make ordinary men feel important. Perhaps it was to attract minor Royalty and make them feel in a Court that their birthright would never allow them to enjoy.

The whole Grand business seems to have been reinforced by a couple of artists who must have been a bit delusional or too imaginative (too much hashish that some like so much? – I will stick with the Syrah). The most notable is the works The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon by Sir Edward Poynter in 1890 – really so “Grand” it would make many of you feel at home. Another work that is “Grand” but gets the message right is The Ironworker and King Solomon by Professor C. Schussele, later an engraving by John Sartain. In this a simple sandal shod and unadorned worker – not “Grand” at all – sits in an honoured place on the right of the King. That’s what you Grand speculative lot should be doing or you will never make it up here! I will talk to St Peter about it.

Yours fraternally

Hiram Abiff