It is my great pleasure at this Christmas time not only to wish each one of you and your families a very happy Christmas but it is also an opportunity to say a heartfelt thanks to everyone and to celebrate all that we have collectively achieved in this past year.

First, my thanks for the tremendous effort we have witnessed throughout the Scottish Craft in aid of Prostate Cancer Scotland. To date we have gifted the magnificent sum of £551,000 to the Charity thanks to your endeavour, enthusiasm and support. In addition, the effort for local charities in each of your Districts, Provinces and Lodges has been incredible. Thank you.

During the past year I have been privileged to travel the length and breadth of Scotland and to visit our own Lodges in Hong Kong, Manila, Yokohama, Kobe, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Kuching and Brussels. Everywhere I have been I have been enthused and encouraged by the passion and zeal displayed by the Brethren and by the support being received from our wives and families in all that we do. Indeed, during the past year that enthusiasm has resulted in over 1600 new entrants into our beloved Craft.

We have witnessed improvements to the administrative systems for Lodge Secretaries, we have enjoyed concerts in Grand Lodge by the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, the Phoenix Choir and an unforgettable presentation by Brother Moises Gomez. We have celebrated all over the world with Lodge Centenaries, Bi-centenaries and greater, we have welcomed new Lodges into the fold, and we have enjoyed welcoming Grand Masters and representatives from Europe and America to Grand Lodge.

2019 has seen much success and I have no doubt whatsoever that in the year ahead by working together, by supporting each other, by assisting each other we can achieve much.

May you all have the spirit of Christmas which is Peace, the gladness of Christmas which is Hope, and the heart of Christmas which is Love and that 2020 will, through the values of Freemasonry, see that Peace, Hope, and Love make the world a happier and healthier place.

With kindest regards to you and your families.

W Ramsay McGhee
Grand Master Mason

Another distinct Scottish Masonic tradition.

We have previously discussed Lodges in Scotland prior to the existence of any Grand Lodge. We showed the earliest Lodge record which belonged to Lodge Aitcheson’s Haven and which was dated 9 January 1599.

These pre-Grand Lodge, Lodges were of all variants:

1) Stonemasons’ Lodges (that is the members were all stonemasons)
2) Mixed type A (that is the membership was partly stonemasons and partly speculative Masons but the majority were stonemasons)
3) Mixed type B (that is the membership was partly stonemasons and partly speculative Masons but the minority were stonemasons) and,
4) Lodges who’s membership was made up of entirely speculative Masons.

The problems this caused when some speculative Masons decided to form the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1736 have been previously discussed but here we wish to consider one of the myriad consequences that demonstrate the connection between the pre-1717 Lodge’s and those of today.

In most Lodges in Scotland the Master and Wardens use a Maul. This was one of the main working tool of a stonemason. We know that stonemasons simply took their working tools from their daytime labour building site to Lodge meetings in the evening. In short, the working tools were used for practical as well as speculative purposes. We know this because Lodges have donated Mauls (and other working tools) as used by working stonemasons. Today such items are decorative rather than practical. No doubt this was because as speculative Masons came to dominate Lodges they did not wish to used large, heavy, mauls (and aprons etc) as used by stonemasons and so adopted the shape of the maul but made it smaller, lighter and more decorative.

The small hammers used by judges in some courts of law (although not in Scotland) are known as gavels and are ceremonially used to keep order. In Scottish Lodges the Maul serves the same purpose.

However, some Lodges have now adopted a small hammer, or gavel, instead of the Maul quite often because they are unaware of the stonemasons’ traditions or because someone has donated gavels to the Lodge and it would be rude not to use them! One wonders if the appearance of ‘travelling gavels’ has reinforced the idea that it is the gavel that is important?

Just to confuse the issue further when the Master passed the Maul to another person (usually at the annual visitation) we have heard them say – ‘I hereby present to you the Lodge gavel…’ but of course it is actually a Maul!

As someone pointed out yesterday, thereby somewhat, pre-empting this post, the entry for Gunner J. E. D. Graham, Lodge Ailsa, No.1172, is incorrectly annotated ‘E.C.’ (English Constitution) whereas it is a Scottish Lodge. That Lodge was granted a Charter by the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1918.

The Lodge’s Founder Member’s Jewel (see image) shows Ailsa Craig superimposed on Singapore which is also an island. Ailsa Craig is a small uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland. It is also know as the ‘Granite Island’ and granite has been quarried there for almost 200 years. The quarried granite is used exclusively for curling stones.

This strongly suggests that the founder members of Lodge Aisla had some sort of connection with Aisla Craig although exactly what that connection was is unclear.

Brother Gomez is a Past Master of the Atlas Pythagoras Lodge in Westfield, New Jersey and amongst other Masonic accolades, is presently the Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey.

Having worked for the port authority of New York and New Jersey for 30 years as a member of the Emergency Service Unit stationed at the George Washington Bridge, he was on duty and responded to both the 1993 and 2001 terrorist attacks which took place.

Via his Remembrance, My 9/11 Experience, Lecture, Brother Gomez will share his personal memories of those tragic events which shook the United States of America and the rest of the world to its core.

Tickets are available for the lecture which is on the 23rd of November 2019 at Freemasons’ Hall, Edinburgh and is hosted by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Edinburgh.

Purchase Tickets Here

Ticket Sales will help support Prostate Scotland Registered Charity No SC037494