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Monday, July 31, 2006

The Knife and Fork Degree

The Knife and Fork Degree is of ancient origin and honorable history. Records of this degree are found in the most Ancient Manuscripts. It already was ancient when the first Grand Lodge was constituted in 1717.
The three principal tenets of this degree are Faith, Hope and Charity. We have FAITH in the Stewards, we HOPE that faith is well founded. And sometimes have to exercise CHARITY towards what is set before us.
Some of the secrets of this degree, found in the written portion of our unwritten work are communicated from hand to mouth, but the more important secrets are not to be found in the refreshments. You can't make me believe that any Brother will sit through three or four hours of a Lodge meeting merely for what is served at the Refreshment board.
The REAL SECRETS of the DEGREE are to be found in the companionship around the festal board; the banter between Brethren, the opportunity for the development of friendships; the word from one Brother to make the gathering think; the word from another Brother to
make the gathering smile, the good fellowship, the wholesome, enjoyable, profitable rubbing of shoulders with those with whom we wish to associate, with whom we wish to become better acquainted. - Masonic Mercury".
Published in Masonic Bulletin-BCY-September 1952

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Easterlings

Published in Masonic Bulletin-BCY-April 1956
Westminster Abbey, the sublime church in which monarchs of Eng­land have
been crowned, and also in which so many of England's mightiest men have been entombed, is very old, for the main body of it was erected by Henry III
during the 25 years from 1245 to 1270, and the structure was designed by
some of the greatest Masters of Masons England ever knew, and the work was
done by Freemasons silently and cautiously chosen from over England, France,
and Scotland. William Morris wrote of it that It is a building second to
none amongst all the marvels of archi­tectural beauty produced by the Middle
Ages. Like all such build­ings, its beauty is convincing and sets criticism
During the centuries a Master Mason has had custody of the build­ing and has preserved a day-by-day account of goods and money re­ceived or used. A portion of these accounts, selected from the earliest, was printed in facsimile. A copy is in the Iowa Masonic Library. Here and there in it are notes made of the expenditure of certain sums spent for "easterling" boards. What were these boards? What meant "easterling"? To find the answer a Masonic student must make a long detour through the oldest and most historic tract of geography in the whole world.
On the East of England lies the North Sea, a Stormy barrier between island people and a nearby contin­ent. That sea extends an arm northward along the west coast of Denmark, bends around the head of that peninsula, and then breaks it­self into channels along the east side of Denmark, where it enters the Baltic Sea, which extends vast­ly northwards into the heart of Scandinavia, and sends an arm into the midst of Russia. At the en­trance to the Baltic stands a tri­angle of the three ancient cities that formed the basis of the Han­seatic League: Copenhagen in Den­mark; Stockholm in Sweden; Oslo in Norway.
In the period when Henry III began Westminster Abbey certain forest men from the eastern regions of the Baltic brought to England in small ships costly fine lumber, ob­tainable nowhere else. They had for their use a walled enclosure outside the London gates called The Steelyard. The men them­selves were called Easterlings, and that name, by one of the romantic accidents of history, is still in uni­versal use in England as the world "sterling," which is a contraction made by long use of "easterling"; it came to denote genuine, pure silver and thus was the standard for the English pound sterling, and for sterling silverware.
The Freemasons working in the Abbey made sketches or plans with a crayon or pencil, and required a wood that was smooth and yet was soft enough for marks on it to be easily erased. It was the Easter­lings who furnished the wood, and did so for centuries, for which reason the boards were called "easterling boards." They were an early form of our own Trestleboard or Tracing Board. -
Courtesy, Iowa Bulletin

Credit given to:
Ron Bushby
Mt.St.Paul 109
Kamloops, B.C.