Observant Masonry

{Available as a downloadable PDF HERE.}

As Freemasonry approaches the three hundredth anniversary of its formal constitution in London in 1717, there are a growing number of Masons, particularly among our newer members, who are interested in recreating the atmosphere of an early Lodge, with its emphasis on elegance, education and striving for excellence in all things. This requires a commitment of its members both in time and money, since such an atmosphere costs more to maintain. This type of Masonry is not for everyone; but it in no way conflicts or is contrary to our Constitutions and Landmarks. In the Grand Lodge of New York, we call it “Observant Masonry.”

Our Grand Master supports this concept among brethren who have such an interest, and encourages our Lodges to investigate further. He supervises the Lodge work for adherence to both old traditions and to our Constitutions. There are no changes or modifications permitted to our Rituals and Landmarks.

Lodges that meet the criteria established for recognition may add ” (OM) ” after their Lodge number during the tenure of our Grand Master, e.g., Friendship Lodge #18 (OM). This is only an indication that the members wish to create a particular kind of atmosphere in their Lodge, and does not indicate any sense of superiority or being set apart from any other Lodges.

An Observant Masonry Lodge may be adopted from an existing Lodge, or may be formed as a new Lodge.  New Lodges must follow our Constitutional requirements for establishing a new Lodge. An existing Lodge may adopt Observant Masonry principles as its regular work. In all situations, OM Lodges complement existing Lodges in a District by growing the Craft through attracting new members, and providing a particular type of Masonry which existing Lodge members can enjoy a few times a year, in addition to their existing memberships.

So what constitutes an Observant Masonry Lodge? The following partial list gives an indication of some key principles, which are all indicators that this type of Lodge wishes to provide a special experience Brothers may not find elsewhere. While all Lodges will already follow some of these, an OM Lodge strives to offer the complete experience:

  • Sartorial Elegance: Just as you dress up to go to a wedding or religious service, so wearing white tie, black tie or at least a dark suit demonstrates your respect for our Institution, and a desire to set your time in Masonry apart from your daily life
  • The Lodge as a Place Apart: The Lodge is seen as a space set apart from daily life. Members are encouraged to leave the profane world at the door, through the judicious use of music, silence, incense and candlelight (if permitted), as well as the dress code which reflect a reverence for this sacred space. A Chain of Union reminds members of their link with all Masons during the closing prayer, or after the Lodge is closed. Candidates meditate within a Chamber of Reflection prior to the start of our Standard Degree work.
  • Ritual & Educational Excellence: Ritual is done from memory. Regular rehearsals ensure a high standard. Candidates follow an established and comprehensive program of education which studies the history, symbolism, and esotericism of Masonry; they deliver presentations on what they learn
  • Festive Boards & Agapes: The social time Masons spend together is as important as their labors together in Lodge. As such, these events should be elegant and refined, providing a memorable experience in good company, with fine food, educational presentations and formal toasts.

To find out more about Observant Masonry, and to learn how your Lodge might go about adopting some of the principles, or even becoming an OM Lodge, please contact the Grand Master’s Liaison:

R\W\ Piers A. Vaughan
Tel: (201) 637-3278
Email: piers.2014om@gmail.com