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New Grand Lodge Building in Holden

Grand Lodge of Maine

Ancient Free and Accepted Masons

Guidelines for Table Lodge

Civilized people the world over cherish the family feasts: Christmas and New Year, Harvest Home and, in this country, Thanksgiving Day. Such gatherings are more than mere opportunities to eat: they are spiritual solidification's of family ties, opportunities for mutual rejoicing, a means by which the family becomes more closely knit.

Most American lodges know "the fourth degree" in which lodge members mingle in an anteroom or dining room for the after-meeting coffee and sandwich or more pretentious meal.

The Masonic banquet, in which an elaborate menu is served, followed by the introduction of one or more speakers by a toast­master, the whole in commemoration of some anniversary, such as St. John's Day observance, or as a commencement of a new year, is common.

The feast as a function, a ceremonial, an occasion, is very, very old. How old it is not necessary here to attempt to determine, but older by far than any Masonry we know, so that the lodge feast but carries out a custom in Masonry which was old when the pyramids were built.

The Masonic desirability of a social dinner is as old as the Freemasonry we know. In 1717, when the Mother Grand Lodge was formed to revitalize the Lodges in and around London, one of the reasons given was "To revive the Quarterly Communication and hold the Annual Feast". Many historians claim this Annual banquet was the most important move made by the new Body. And a short time later, the Grand Master directed there be installed "the old, regular and peculiar Toasts and Health's of Freemasons". From the idea of a feast in which brethren broke bread together and drank in common, came the Table Lodge of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Famous Masonic authority H. L. Haywood, in "More About Masonry" says: "In the Eighteenth Century Lodges the Feast bulked so large in the lodge that in many of them the members were seated at the table when the lodges were opened and remained at it throughout the Communi­cation, even when the degrees were conferred. The result was that Masonic fellowship was good fellowship in it, as in a warm and fruitful soil, acquaintanceship, friendship, and affection could flourish - there was no grim and silent sitting on a bench, staring across at a wall. Out of this festal spirit flowered the love which Masons had for their lodge. They brought gifts to it, and only by reading of old inventories can any present day Mason measure the extent of that love; there were gifts of chairs, tables, altars, pedestals, tapestries, draperies, silver, candle-sticks, oil paintings, libraries, Bibles, mementos, curios, regalia's and portraits. The lodge was a home, warm, com­fortable, luxurious, full of memories, and tokens, and affection, and even if a member died his ,presence was never wholly absent; to such a lodge no member went grudgingly, nor had to be coaxed, nor was moved by that ghastly, cold thing called a sense of duty, but went as if drawn by a magnet, and counted the days until he could go. "What business has any lodge to be nothing but a machine for grinding out the work: It was not called into existence in order to have the minutes read: Even a mystic tie will snap under the strain of cheerlessness, repetition, monotony, dullness. A lodge needs a fire lighted in it, and the only way to have that warmth is to restore the lodge Feast, because when it is restored, good fellowship and brotherly love will follow, and where good fellowship is, members will fill up an empty room not only with themselves but also with their gifts." In a few Grand Lodges in the United States, the ancient custom of the Table Lodge is still. preserved; some Masonic authorities believe that it might be revived in all Grand Lodges to the enlightenment and pleasure of the brethren.

Although alcoholic beverages did contribute to the festivities of the Table Lodge in days long gone, they were not a necessary adjunct. Wine was the libation, but that was changed when the 18th Amendment was adopted, so Masons would conform to the law. Although prohibition was repealed, Freemasonry did not completely follow suit. It retained a substitution, mainly out of respect for the Brethren who practiced abstinence. Today, wine, fruit juices and punches are used for the Toasts. Actually, it is not what the glass contains, but the concept it offers.

The Table Lodge is a heritage of our past, which should be revived. It has been stated that "the Table Lodge is the summary of Masonic doctrine". It prescribed reverence for Divinity and moral law. It strengthened the devotion that Masons held for Lodge and Country. It increased the unity and fellowship of the Craft

TABLE LODGE REGULATIONS

  1. At least one (1) present officer of the Grand Lodge of Maine, or a Brother approved by the Grand Master if no present Grand Lodge officer be available, shall be present at every Table Lodge

  2. Only Masons (Entered Apprentices, Fellow Crafts or Master Masons) shall be permitted to attend the ritualistic portion of the Table Lodge. A Table Lodge shall be opened on the Entered Apprentice Degree, shall be properly tyled and shall be recorded by the Secretary of the Lodge as a special communication of the Lodge or as part of a stated communication as the case may be. 

  3. Unless dispensation shall be granted by the Grand Master, all Table Lodges shall be held in the LODGE BANQUET HALL or SOCIAL ROOM where such special Lodge functions are normally held by the Lodge. (This regulation expressly forbids the holding of Table Lodges away from the Lodge Premises either in private or public facilities unless the Grand Master shall give his approval.) 

  4. The Table Lodge Ritual is that adopted by the Grand Lodge in 1975 and shall in no way be altered, amended or added to, without the approval of the Grand Lodge. 

  5. WINE shall be the ONLY alcoholic beverage served at a Table Lodge. A non-alcoholic beverage such as grape juice or gingerale shall always be available for those not wishing to have wine. The size of the glasses used for the toasts shall be no larger than two (2) ounces. 

  6. The wine shall be served ONLY when the ceremonial toasts are drunk. 

  7. There shall be no more than SEVEN (7) toasts as prescribed by the Table Lodge ritual. (Additional toasts are expressly forbidden.) 

  8. The bottles containing the wine shall not be left on the tables at any time, but are to be in the custody of the waiters in a separate area. They shall be brought to the table each time the glasses are filled and then returned to the storage area by the waiters.

  9. The banquet must be provided, prepared and served by members of the Craft in a Tyled Lodge.

  10. Finally, every Brother who attends a Table Lodge is reminded that his conduct, both at the Table Lodge and afterwards, can reflect upon the image of Masonry. If this ancient custom is to continue, no Brother shall convert these hours of refreshment into intemperance and excess.

  11. It shall be the express duty of the Master and Wardens to maintain the dignity and decorum that the spirit of the Table Lodge intends, and, if deemed necessary, to expel any offending Brother or take any other prudent disciplinary action considered necessary.

THE TABLE LODGE - ITS MECHANICS

The Table Lodge is no mere banquet or dinner - it is a special ceremony. It is complete with a Ritual which incorporates terminology of centuries ago. It includes toasts, Masonic songs, and a good Masonic speaker. We emphasize "good Masonic Speaker"' because no other kind will do. There is no room for off-color jokes, political or religious propaganda, magicians, or vaudeville artists. The Table Lodge should be a completely separate meeting of the Lodge and not combined with anything, such as Installation of Officers or Degree Work.

The entire ceremony for a Table Lodge, from the opening of the Degree to its closing, must take place in the dining room. It must be kept simple, personal, and unsophisticated. It should not be an "extravaganza". Masonic fellowship It its best should be the only goal. As only Masons can be in attendance, the meal must be prepared and served by Masons.

The tables should be arranged in the shape of a horseshoe, preferably with all seated on the outside. The alter and lights should be placed in the center, unless it is necessary to add more tables, in which case the altar must be placed closer to the Master. The Master should sit at the center of the head table with the guest of honor to his right. The Senior Warden should sit at the end of the right side tables the Junior Warden at the end of the table to the left. The Senior Deacon should sit at the end of the Master's table and to his right; the Junior Deacon at the end of the Senior Warden's table and to his right. The Chaplain, Treasurer, and Secretary may sit at the Master's table, if there is room after the Masonic dignitaries have been seated.

It is imperative that, the Banquet Hall be properly tyled and that none be admitted unless properly avouched for. All those in attendance must be clothed as Masons and none should wear the uniforms or regalia of any, other organization.

The Lodge should be opened in the Lodge room either on the Entered Apprentice Degree or on the Master Mason Degree and should be held as a Special Communication of the Lodge. _No other program should be planned on the night of a Table Lodge of Instruction. Notice of such Special Communication should state the purpose of the Communication.

After opening in the Lodge room the Brethren repair to the Banquet Hall. The Table Lodge is then opened in accordance with the approved Table Lodge Ritual. The Banquet Hall is tyled and all must be properly avouched for. At the close of the Table Lodge, the appropriate officers return to the Lodge room and properly close the Lodge.

The Table Lodge is opened on the Entered Apprentice Degree, hence the terminology - "Lodge of Entered Apprentices and one of Table Instruction". There are seven traditional Toasts. as follows:

1. To the President of the United States.
2. To the Most Worshipful Grand Master and the M. W. Grand Lodge.
3. To the Worshipful Master.
4. To the Senior and Junior Wardens.
5. To the Brethren in the Armed Forces.
6. To the Other Officers and Visiting Brethren.
7. To all Masons wheresoever dispersed over the face of the Globe.

The orders for toasting are:

Right Hand to Arms (Right hand touches glass)
Ready (Glass raised with outstretched arm)
Aim (Glass is brought to lips)
Fire, Good Fire, Fire All (Drink) 3 motions
Present Arms (Glass is brought to ready position)
The glass is then carried to the left shoulder, right shoulder, and outstretched position thrice, then horizontally to the left, then the right, then to the table with force. The battery of three times three followed by VIVAT given thrice.

 The Sword manual follows:

(This is optional with the Master and may be omitted.)

Advance Swords (The knife is raised with the arm extended)
Poise Swords (The knife is elevated slightly)
Salute with Swords (Handle of knife touches chin)
Swords at rest (Strike table with knife)

Battery of three times three, and VIVAT given thrice. At the conclusion of the meal and the seven toasts, all join hands and sings 

Auld Lang Syne" 
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
An' never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
An' days of old lang syne?
Chorus
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

Table Lodge Terminology 

Glasses Cannons Food
MaterialsBottles Casks Plates
Tiles Red Wine Red Powder
Salt Sand White Wine Strong Powder
Lights StarsBread Rough Ashlar
Knives Sword  

 

RITUAL OF THE TABLE LODGE

(Worshipful master raps up Lodge)

W.M. Brethren, let us pray.

Chaplain: Supreme Ruler of the Universe, we would reverently invoke Thy blessing at this time. Wilt Thou be pleased to grant that this meeting, thus begun in order, may be conducted in peace and closed in harmony. Amen.

 All-So Mote It Be. 

(W.M. seats Lodge, then raps twice. Wardens rise.)

W.M.: Brothers Senior and Junior Warden, invite our Brethren in the columns of the West and South to assist us in opening a Lodge of Entered Apprentices and one of Table Instruction. 

S.W.: Brethren in the West, assist us in opening a Table Lodge.

J.W.: Brethren in the South, assist us in opening a Table Lodge. 

W.M.: Brethren, assist us in opening a Table Lodge. (Pauses) Brother Senior Warden, are you a Mason?

S.W.: All my Brethren know me as such.

W.M.: What is the first care of a Mason?

S.W.: To see that the Lodge is Tyled. 

W.M.: Satisfy yourself that such is the case.

S.W.: Bro. J.D., you will ascertain if this Lodge is Tyled. (J.D. goes to Tyled door, reports to Tyler, Tyles the door, returns to place, reports to S.W. "It is.")

S.W.: It is, Worshipful.

W.M.: What is the second care of a Mason?

S.W.: To see if the Brethren are in order. (Assures that all are properly avouched for in the usual manner) They are, Worshipful.

W.M.: Why are we met together?

S.W.: To erect Temples to virtue and dig dungeons for vices.

W.M.: How long must we work?

S.W.: From midnight to midnight

W.M.: How long a time is required to make an Entered Apprentice?

S.W.: Three years

W.M.: How long were you an Entered Apprentice?

S.W.: Three years. 

W.M.: What is the hour?

S. W.: Midday.

W.M.: In consideration of the hour and age, inform our Brethren that a Lodge of Entered Apprentices and one of Table Lodge of Instruction is now open, and that we are about to begin our work in the usual manner. 

S.W.:  (Raps up Lodge) Brethren in the West, in consideration of your age and the hour, the Worshipful Master has ordered a (Lodge of Entered Apprentice and one of Table Lodge of Instruction) to be opened, and we are about to begin our work in the usual manner. 

J.W.: Brethren in the South, you have heard the Senior Warden. Let it be so done.

W.M.: Brethren, join with me in giving the Du-Gu (E.A.) (All give the Battery three times three and cry VIVAT.) (Master seats Lodge.)

 
THE CEREMONY OF THE SEVEN TOASTS 

FIRST TOAST

W.M. One rap 
S.W. One rap 
J.W. One rap

W.M.: Brothers Senior and Junior Wardens, cause the arms to be charged and aligned for the first toast.

S.W.: Brethren on my column, in all your grades and stations, charge and align your arms for the first toast of obligation which the Worshipful Master is about to propose.

J.W.: Brethren on my column, in all your grades and stations, charge and align your arms for the first toast of obligation which the Worshipful Master is about to propose.

W.M.: Brothers Senior and Junior Wardens, are the cannons charged and aligned?

S.W.: Yes, Worshipful.

J. W. : Yes, Worshipful.

W.M. (Three raps - all rise) Brothers Senior and Junior Wardens, announce to our Brethren that the toast which I have the pleasure to propose is that to the President of the United States.

S.W. Brethren on my column, in all our grades and stations, the toast which the Worshipful Master has the pleasure to propose is that to the President of the United States.

J.W. Brethren on my column, in all our grades and stations, the toast which the Worshipful Master has the pleasure to propose is that to the President of the United States.

W.M. (Three raps - all rise) Brothers Senior and Junior Wardens, announce to our Brethren that the toast which I have the pleasure to propose is that to the President of the United States.

S.W. Brethren on my column, in all your grades and stations, the toast which the Worshipful Master has the pleasure to propose is that to the President of the United States.

J.W. Brethren on my column, in all your grades and stations, the toast which the Worshipful Master has the pleasure to propose is that to the President of the United States.

ALL: To the President of the United Stakes.

W.M. Aim: (The glass is brought to the lips.)

Fire - Good Fire - Fire all: (All drink. Three motions)

Present arms: (The glass is brought to the second position. all imitating the W.M. then the glass is carried to the left  breast, then to the right breast and then again to the second position, so that the motion makes a triangle. When this has been done thrice, the glass is brought to the table in three movements, that is to say, a the first it is carried horizontally a little to the left, then to the right and then forcibly to the table. The battery, three time three, is then given and acclamation "VIVAT" is given thrice. The foregoing should be done with exactness and evenness so that the hole company may execute the same movements at the same time and 'at the glasses shall strike the table with one blow.)

Advance sword: (The knife is raised, the arm extended to the height of the breast.)

Poise swords: (The knife is elevated slightly.)

Salute with swords: (Done.)

Swords at rest: (The handles strike the table at the same time. Battery, "VIVAT". (3)

SECOND TOAST

W.M. One rap
S.W. One rap
J.W. One rap

W.M. Brothers Senior and Junior Wardens, cause the arms to be charged and aligned for the second toast.

S.W. Brethren on my column in all your grades and stations, charge and align your arms for the second toast of obligation which the Worshipful Master is about to propose.

J.W. Brethren on my column in all your grades and stations, charge and align your arms for the second toast of obligation which the Worshipful Master is about to propose.

W.M. Brothers Senior and Junior Wardens, are the cannons charged
and aligned?

 S.W. Yes, Worshipful.
J.W. Yes, Worshipful.
W.M. Three raps. (all rise.)

Brothers Senior and Junior Wardens, announce to our Brethren that the toast which I have the pleasure to propose is that to the Most Worshipful Grand Master and the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Maine.

S.W. Brethren on my column all your grades and stations, the toast which the Worshipful Master has the pleasure to propose is that to the Most Worshipful Grand Master and the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Maine.

J.W. Brethren on my column in all your grades and stations, the toast which the Worshipful Master has the pleasure to propose is that to the Most Worshipful Grand Master and the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Maine.
W.M. Brethren, to the Most Worshipful Grand Master and the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Maine.

(Follow same form and routine as the first Toast.)


THIRD TOAST

S.W. One rap
J.W. One rap
W.M. One rap

 W.M. Brothers Senior and Junior Wardens, what do you desire?

 S.W. Worshipful Master, the for Warden and I beg to allow the arms to be charged and aligned for a toast that we wish to propose.

 W.M. Brethren in all your grades d stations, charge and align your arms for a toast that our brothers the wardens wish to propose. 

Brothers Senior and Junior Warden , are all the cannons charged and aligned?

S.W. Yes, Worshipful. 

J.W.    Yes, Worshipful.

W. M. Three raps (all rise The East yields to your desire. What is the toast that a wish to propose?

S.W. It is to you, Worshipful. ret en on my column in all your grades and stations, the to a which the Junior Warden and I have the pleasure to propose that to our Worshipful Master.

J.W. Brethren on my column in 1 your grades and stations, the toast which the Senior Warden and have the pleasure to propose is that to the Worshipful Master.

S.W. Brethren, to our Worshipful Master:

(Follow same form and procedure as in first Toast.)

FOURTH TOAST

W.M.   One rap

S.W.   One rap 
J.W.   One rap

W.M. Brothers Senior and Junior Wardens, cause the arms to be charged and aligned for the fourth toast.

S.W. Brethren on my column in all your grades and stations, charge and align your arms for the fourth toast of obligation which the worshipful Master is about to propose. 
J.W. Brethren on my column in all your grades and stations, charge and align your arms for the fourth toast of obligation which the Worshipful Master is about to propose.

W.M.  Brothers Senior a Junior Wardens all the cannons charged and aligned?

S.W. Yes, Worshipful.

J.W. Yes, Worshipful.


W.M. Three raps (All rise) Brothers Senior and Junior Wardens, announce to our Brethren that the toast which I have the pleasure to propose is that to the Wardens.

S.W. Brethren on my column all your grades and stations, the toast which the Worshipful Master has the pleasure to propose is that to the Wardens.

J.W. Brethren on my column all your grades and stations, the toast which the Worshipful Master has the pleasure to propose is that to the Wardens.

S.W. Brethren, to the Wardens:

(Follow same form and procedure as in first Toast.)


Fifth TOAST


W.M.   One rap
S.W.   One rap 
J.W.   One rap

W.M. Brothers Senior and Junior Wardens, cause the arms to be charged and aligned for the fifth toast.

S.W. Brethren on my column in all your grades and stations, charge and align your arms for the fifth toast of obligation which the worshipful Master is about to propose. 

J.W. Brethren on my column in all your grades and stations, charge and align your arms for the fifth toast of obligation which the Worshipful Master is about to propose.

W.M.  Brothers Senior a Junior Wardens all the cannons charged and aligned?

S.W. Yes, Worshipful.

J.W. Yes, Worshipful.

W.M. Three raps (All rise) Brothers Senior and Junior Wardens, announce to our Brethren that the toast which I have the pleasure to propose is that to the Brethren in the Armed Forces..

S.W. Brethren on my column all your grades and stations, the toast which the Worshipful Master has the pleasure to propose is that to the Brethren in the Armed Forces.

J.W. Brethren on my column all your grades and stations, the toast which the Worshipful Master has the pleasure to propose is that to the Brethren in the Armed Forces

S.W. Brethren, to the Brethren in the Armed Forces:

(Follow same form and procedure as in first Toast.)


Sixth TOAST

W.M.   One rap
S.W.   One rap 
J.W.   One rap

W.M. Brothers Senior and Junior Wardens, cause the arms to be charged and aligned for the sixth toast.

S.W. Brethren on my column in all your grades and stations, charge and align your arms for the sixth toast of obligation which the worshipful Master is about to propose. 
J.W. Brethren on my column in all your grades and stations, charge and align your arms for the sixth toast of obligation which the Worshipful Master is about to propose.

W.M.  Brothers Senior a Junior Wardens all the cannons charged and aligned?

S.W. Yes, Worshipful.

J.W. Yes, Worshipful.

W.M. Three raps (All rise) Brothers Senior and Junior Wardens, announce to our Brethren that the toast which I have the pleasure to propose is that to the other officers and visiting Brethren.

S.W. Brethren on my column all your grades and stations, the toast which the Worshipful Master has the pleasure to propose is that to the other officers and visiting Brethren.

J.W. Brethren on my column all your grades and stations, the toast which the Worshipful Master has the pleasure to propose is that to the other officers and visiting Brethren.
S.W. Brethren, to the other officers and visiting Brethren: 

(Follow same form and procedure as in first Toast.)

Prior to the Seventh Toast, the Guest of Honor or Speaker should be introduced. Following his talk, the Seventh and Final Toast is made.

Seventh TOAST

W.M.   One rap
S.W.   One rap 
J.W.   One rap

W.M. Brothers Senior and Junior Wardens, cause the arms to be charged and aligned for the seventh toast.

S.W. Brethren on my column in all your grades and stations, charge and align your arms for the seventh toast of obligation which the worshipful Master is about to propose. 
J.W. Brethren on my column in all your grades and stations, charge and align your arms for the seventh toast of obligation which the Worshipful Master is about to propose.

W.M.  Brothers Senior a Junior Wardens all the cannons charged and    aligned?

S.W. Yes, Worshipful.

J.W. Yes, Worshipful.

W.M. Three raps (all rise) Brothers Senior and Junior Wardens, announce to our Brethren that the toast which I have the pleasure to propose is that to all Masons wheresoever dispersed over the face of the globe.

S.W. Brethren on my column all your grades and stations, the toast which the Worshipful Master has the pleasure to propose is that to all Masons wheresoever dispersed over the face of the globe.

J.W. Brethren on my column all your grades and stations, the toast which the Worshipful Master has the pleasure to propose is that to all Masons wheresoever dispersed over the face of the globe.

W.M. Brethren, to all Masons wheresoever dispersed over the face of the globe.:

(Follow same form and procedure as in first Toast.)

CLOSE 

W.M. Brothers Senior and Junior Wardens, are all the Brethren in order?

S.W. They are, Worshipful.
J.W. They are, Worshipful. 

W.M. What is the hour?
S.W. Midnight.

W.M. What is your age? 
S.W. Three years.

 W.M. In consideration of the hour and age, inform all our Brethren both on the west and south that we are about to close this Lodge ending our work in the usual manner.

S.W. Brethren on my column, I inform you on behalf of the Worshipful Master that we are about to close this Lodge ending our work in the usual manner.

J.W. Brethren on my column, I inform you on behalf of the Worshipful Master that we are about to close this Lodge, ending our work in the usual manner.

All:Battery three times three
Du-Gu of EA
VIVAT three times 

W.M. My Brothers, the Lodge is closed (one rap). 
S.W. Brethren, the Lodge 'is closed (one rap). 
J.W. Brethren, the Lodge is closed (one rap).
(The proper officers will then return to the Lodge room to properly close the Lodge.)

Sample Layout for Table Lodge

 

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