When I was raised, about five years ago, one of the first events I ran into was Masonic Bling Night. Our WM, Anthony Van Wagner, invited all the brothers to show up in their various accessories and finery that they’ve collected throughout their Masonic lives, through the blue lodge, York Rite, Shriners, Scottish Rite, and any other little knickknacks they’ve collected along the way.
This was at a time when I didn’t even know what the significance of those chain-collar thingies I’d seen so much of (understandable, since my lodge doesn’t currently use them). It was interesting to see my new brothers, some young, some older, all with layer upon layer of rainbow aprons, and lapels covered in Templar crosses, double eagles, and so many pins it looked like they were caught in an explosion at a Hot Topic. No fezzes…we were in lodge. Only one guy gets to wear the hat.
There’s a part of me that, even now, wonders if it isn’t some kind of call for help. Rings for the 14th degree? What the hell is the 14th degree? Why does that one get a ring? Mark Master? You have your own trademark? That must be handy never. Templar cross? Oh, because you’re a knight… Right… Yeah, why not?
Now, of course, these things are event appropriate. They don’t go wearing all of them everywhere. But is this pretentious?
Well…maybe a bit, but never more or less than the brother wearing it. But they’re not badges or rank, or class. This is one thing some people, even some masons, don’t fully understand. That mason over there with all the bling isn’t more important than that brother over there with the plain white apron. He’s not a better mason, or even necessarily more learned, though it’s undeniable that he’s exposed himself to more light and new ideas than the other.
Freemasonry is a journey from point A to point B. For some men, this road is fairly straight. They stick a thumbtack on one bit of the map, a thumbtack on another bit, wind a sting between the two, and that’s their journey, and that’s great, because the goal is so important.
Other masons, however, have tacks all over the map. Either because they’re a traveling man, even of the heart, or because they keep getting lost, or because there are just so many checkpoints they need to stop at, before their trip makes any kind of sense along the way.
That’s what that bling is. Those are thumbtacks on the lapels, and around the waists, of those brothers. It’s a map to every place they’ve been, and every collectible spoon they’be bought along the way. It’s their journey. And there’s no bad journey. Maybe some are unsatisfying (for now), but it’s not a bad road. All roads lead to the undiscovered country.
For your bling-fix, check out The Masonic Society, a masonic organization dedicated to education and philosophy. For $39/year you can receive their quarterly journal, and access to their members-only boards and events, but for the month of April only, any
new member gets a pretty thumbtack for their map.
About the Author: Matt Gallagher is a Master Mason at Braden Lodge, and father of four. He has been a member of the Craft since 2010, blogs at Braden 160 each Thursday, and regularly at his own blog at Stones ‘n’ Bones. His opinions are his own, and do not necessarily represent the thoughts or opinions of Braden Lodge No. 168.