A long and busy day - the Meeting of Magonsaetan Provincial Grand Lodge in the Order of Athelstan held at Shrewsbury - and that is almost 4 hours drive each way!! I had considered taking the Bothy and sleeping over, but I am away next weekend over the Easter period with the Unicorns Live Role Play event for Lorien Trust, and decided not to spend more time away today...
But still a clear route each way and appointed as the Provincial Deputy Grand Marshal - which allows me to tell people what to do a bit ..... Seems to be in my line !!
Photographs were taken but are not available yet. I shall post when they are sent to me....
In the meantime a little about the Order:
The Masonic Order of Athelstan formed in 2005, growing out of the shared interests that a number of like-minded individuals had in the origins of Masonry. Their research culminated in a few members of that group focusing specifically on the Saxon Chronicles. In essence, their informal meetings became more and more regular and the rich and invigorating debates offered each member considerable encouragement and support to continue with their personal endeavours. They had become a dedicated Masonic and historical discussion group.
As the group progressed its subsequent interface with other like-minded Masons encouraged them to progress the idea of a new Order even to the writing of a ritual to support it. This ritual was based on the research of many old historic documents and the discovery of old Craft and other Masonic ritual. Eventually a draft of the ritual was produced based upon the life and symbolism of King Athelstan, the grandson of King Alfred, and the first King of England to be referred to as “The King of All the English”. The Grand Court of the Masonic Order of Athelstan was conceived if not yet born.
As the group explored the idea of setting up the Order it caught the imagination of more and more Freemasons both senior and junior. Eventually there was a following which quickly grew as “word of mouth” spread and has now become a vehicle for many well-read and like-minded Masons to come together and discuss their individual learning.
The Order has become many different things to many different people. For many it is historic and educational, for others it is rich in symbolism and a vehicle to keep a great deal of old ritual alive, for others it is where good friends meet to share knowledge, thinking, friendship and good company.
On the practical side it is what we like to call a ‘functional’ degree, in other words it is aimed at accommodating people's modern lifestyles with low costs. Midweek meetings generally commence at around 6:30 pm and conclude after a 3 course (maximum) meal at around 9:30pm, in order to give brethren time to be together at the bar and to encourage discussion, or to proceed home if preferred. There are no ‘wine takings’ and the few formal toasts do not have any fire attached to them. Some Courts meet on a Saturday morning and meetings, followed by a lunch, are concluded by 2:30-3pm.
It is Masonic, and therefore candidates must be subscribing Craft Freemasons as well as subscribing Companions of a Royal Arch Chapter in full amity with the United Grand Lodge of England (these are the requisite qualifications). If a potential candidate holds these requisite qualifications they can be invited to our Festive Board and will be warmly welcomed by all. The intention is to enable brethren to attend the dinner, after the meeting, as a way of introducing them to the Order without disclosing the ritual and workings of the Order.
Normally a maximum of three meetings a year are encouraged, two working and a third the Installation. At this meeting the ceremonial is about 40 minutes in total and allows for a 20 minute talk or lecture. This is encouraged by way of an annual Provincial Certificate and a Grand Court Presentation to the best of the best. A number of other incentives have and will be introduced, by way of keeping brethren interested.
Like other Masonic ceremonies that use legend and allegory to tell a story and portray good ethical conduct and behaviour. In the Order we use the legend of Athelstan's York Assembly of 926 as the framework and conduit for ours. We aim to bring to life the 926 Court that was held in York to educate and raise the quality of masonry in 10th Century England and in so doing to explore the development of the Craft over the centuries in order to prompt further study and research. As such our meetings are held in a Court and our candidates are ‘Instructed’ into the Order.
The Masonic Order of Athelstan portrays the story of a Master Mason called to York in 926 to receive the Ancient Charges. It goes on through a series of delightful rituals to explain a lot of the Symbolism we still see in some Lodges today and culminates with an Historical oration taking us through the development of the various Grand Lodges and ends at 1813 with the formation of the UGLE.
The Inner Workings of an Eminent Prior deal with the earliest passing of the veils ceremony and the Kabbalistic explanation of the four banners of the Royal Arch. The Inner Working of a Worshipful Master or Grand Master of Speculative Masons is based on the betrayal of Athelstan by Prince Edwin and the 20° A & AR .
The Order of the Scarlet Mantle is appendant to the Masonic Order of Athelstan and has its own Statutes. It was created from the outset as the separate reward-based Order for meritorious service by members within the Order of Athelstan.
Knights are installed or promoted in a ceremony commemorative of the Knighting of Athelstan by King Alfred the Great in and around the year 898 (the first recorded making of a Knight in England). It is stated that Athelstan, upon being knighted was given a 'Scarlet Mantle and a Sword with a golden hilt and a scarlet mantle bedecked with jewels'. Members bear the initials of Knight of the Scarlet Mantle (KSM), Knight Commander of the Scarlet Mantle (KCSM) or Grand Cross of the Scarlet Mantle (GCSM) after their name and naturally can only use this in the context of the Masonic Order of Athelstan.
The Order is administered by a Grand High Chancellor following his appointment by the Most Worshipful Grand Master. A small number of Grand Chancellors are also appointed to assist the Grand High Chancellor. Knighting normally take place on the day of, and preceding, the Annual Assembly of the Masonic Order of Athelstan in October/November.
The Order, in England and Wales, is structured so that its Provinces, wherever possible, reflect and represent the original Kingdoms and Gilds (original spelling of Guilds) as they were set up by King Athelstan during his reign as "The First King of all the English".
Our Provinces do not therefore correlate directly with the County divisions; our Provinces amalgamate and include areas from existing counties to provide Provinces large enough to support and sustain the required Ten Courts.
The Province that Operates the Order in Wales and the Border Counties (Cheshire, Shropshire and Herefordshire) is known as The Province of Magonsætan. This was the kingdom which held the areas in the Saxon Period. It included all the towns and villages West of the River Severn and bordered the Provinces of Mercia and Hwicce to the East the Province of Wessex in the South and Northumbria in the North. The Provinces cover many Craft Provinces and members meet new friends by visiting Masonic Temples, that they would not usually attend and strong bonds are held together between Courts who visit each other regularly. Many brethren even make a weekend and take their wives to a Court some distance away from their home, simply because they want to!
The Provinces have a maximum of 10 Courts based throughout the Province and have a structure of Officers similar to a Lodge.
Worshipful Master - Athelstan
Senior Warden - Royal Duke
Junior Warden - Duke
Senior Deacon - Earl
Junior Deacon - Viscount
Captain of the Guards - Baron
So that is a little about the Order...
So, a long day and I shall now relax with a nice glass of Chateau 41....
Oh - maybe need a bottle opener!