by: Unknown

     The most dramatic legend in history concerns Ahasuerus, a doorkeeper  
 in the Palace of Pontius Pilate, who offered insult to Jesus as He  
 Struggled under the burden of His Cross on the way to Calvary.  Jesus  
 turned to him and said:  
 "Tarry thou Till I come!"  Ever since, the Wandering Jew has tarried  
 in the world, unable to die.  All knowledge is his; all ambitions are  
 fulfilled; all pleasures are satisfied.  He has done all that may be  
 done; seen all that may be seen; experienced all that the world has  
 to offer, save one thing only - he cannot die!  Accident, injury,  
 disease touch him not; a frightful fate, to long for death and rest,  
 and be compelled to live and wander! 
     Unaffiliates are the Wandering Jews of Masonry, that pitiful group of  
 Master Masons who are neither the quick nor the dead.  They are, yet  
 they belong not.  They know; yet they cannot use their knowledge.   
 They are of, but not in, the Order. 
 Their penalty is self-inflicted; theirs is the sin of indifference;  
 worst of all, they know not all their punishment or they would end  
     As a universal factor in Freemasonry, lodge membership dates only to  
 1717, when the Mother Grand Lodge was formed.  There were some  
 continuing lodges before the Grand Lodge in which brethren held  
 membership but most were like the occasional, emergent sporadic,  
 temporary lodges convened for any building operation.  For the time  
 being all Master Masons attended these.  When the labor was over, the  
 Master Masons went their several ways, and the lodge in which they  
 had met, was no more. 
     As a consequence of the stabilization of lodges as continuing  
 organizations, resulting from the formation of Grand Lodges, lodge  
 membership became an important matter.  It is distinct from the state  
 of being a Master Mason.  No man may belong to a lodge unless he is a  
 Master Mason, but he may be a Master Mason without holding membership  
 in any lodge.  Indeed, it is possible that man be made a Master Mason  
 without ever being a member of a lodge.  Thus, a Grand Master may  
 convene an Emergent Lodge to make a Master Mason "at sight."  This  
 brother may be unable to pass the ballot for affiliation in any  
 lodge.  Such a one would be a Master Mason even though he never  
 belonged to any regular lodge, the Emergent Lodge in which he was  
 made going out of existence. as it came into it, at the pleasure and  
 will of the Grand Master. 
     With membership as an inalienable right of the newly made Master  
 Mason - a "right" since he becomes a member of the lodge in which he  
 was elected to receive the degrees, and as soon as he is Raised a  
 Master Mason - came also a duty, inevitable accompaniment of all  
 right; that of continuing a member of a lodge. 
 This was recognized in the formation of the Grand Lodge in 1717, if  
 it can be believed that the Constitutions of 1723 truly represent the  
 state of the law and the beliefs of the brethren of the Mother Grand  
 Lodge six years before their first publication in print.  In the  
 description of a lodge, the Constitutions say:  "Every brother ought  
 to belong to one,"  and later:  "in ancient times no Mason or Fellow  
 could be absent from it, especially when warned to appear at it,  
 without incurring a severe censure, until it appeared to the Master  
 and Wardens that pure necessity hin-dered him." 
     The modern Constitution of England provides that "a brother who is  
 not a subscribing member of some lodge (i.e., affiliated with it)  
 shall not be permitted to visit any one lodge in the town, or where  
 he resides more than once during his secession from the Craft." 
 A similar rule is found in many American Grand Jurisdictions - which  
 have been a solid unit frowning upon the state of being unaffiliated,  
 because if a non-affiliated could visit as often as he pleased, he  
 might argue "why pay dues to any lodge, when I can attend when I wish  
 without it?" 
     The one visit to each lodge in "the town or place where he resides"  
 is permitted that the non-affiliate may be able to judge for himself  
 whether any of the lodges he visits are such as he may wish to apply  
 to for affiliation. 
     The unaffiliated Masons, when remaining so for any length of time  
 (except is a very unusual case, of which more in a moment) works a  
 real injury to the ancient Craft.  Any man who receives and gives not  
 is a liability, not an asset, to that institution from which he  
     An unaffiliated Mason in possession of a demit or certificate of  
 transfer, or even a mere certificate that his dues have been paid  
 (sometimes given a brother who has been dropped N.P.D. and been  
 refused re-affiliation, after a year, with the lodge that dropped  
 him) is, technically "in good standing."  He owes no money to any  
 lodge.  He is not under charges.  He has not been censured,  
 suspended, or expelled.  He is a member of the Fraternity, although  
 he belongs to no Masonic family. 
     The old saying, "Once a Mason, always a Mason" is true in the sense  
 that no act of any man or any body of men, no Grand Master or  Grand  
 Lodge can release a brother from his Masonic obligations.  Once  
 given, there can be no going back.  We may expel him for un-Masonic  
 conduct, visit him with the greatest punishment we know - Masonic  
 death - but we cannot release him from his pledged word.  How much  
 less, then, can it be considered that the unaffiliate (who has  
 committed no crime, although his state is considered a Masonic  
 offense) is not bound by his obligations. 
     But, if he is bound to us by so much, then are we bound to him.  The  
 unaffiliated Mason has still all the rights and privileges  which  
 inure Masons to Masons, as distinct from lodge members.  Of the  
 rights which go with lodge membership he has none.  Conversely, he is  
 bound by all his obligations to the Craft as a whole, but not by  
 those which relate only to the lodge in particular, since he has no  
 "lodge in particular." 
     No Mason would refuse a non-affiliate the right of assistance in  
 peril.  We do not ask of a drowning man, "Are you an affiliated  
 Mason?  Show me your good standing card!" But the unaffiliated Masons  
 have no right to ask for, and no Mason is foresworn who refuses to  
 give "help, aid or assistance" to the Mason who has voluntarily  
 severed himself from his Fraternal relations to avoid payment of dues  
 to his lodge.  No unaffiliated Mason has the right to ask any lodge  
 for assistance. 
     He has no right of visitation, except as permitted by the Grand Lodge  
 in the Jurisdiction in which he may be.  Commonly, as noted above,  
 this is limited to one visit to the lodges in his locality, that he  
 may determine their desirability as a permanent Masonic Home. 
 Like the entered Apprentice and the Fellowcraft, the unaffiliated  
 Mason has no right to a Masonic burial nor may he walk in a Masonic  
     The unaffiliated Mason is as subject to government by the Order as  
 his affiliated brother.  If he commits a Masonic offense, he may be  
 tried by any lodge in the Jurisdiction in which he may be at the  
     Mackey asserts that it follows that a persistently non-affiliated  
 Mason may be tried for the offense of non-affiliation.  Doubtless it  
 is true, but it is improbable that a Grand Lodge would push the  
 theory that far.  Masonic trials are also Masonic tribulations; non- 
 affiliation. while an offense against Masonic law, is usually held to  
 be a matter of the head and not the heart; in other words, an offense  
 against a regulation, not against Masonic nature. 
     In some situations a willful non-affiliation might be applauded  
 rather than condemned.  A brother commits a crime against civil law;  
 he regrets, makes restitution and leaves his home to rehabilitate  
 himself.  If permitted to take a demit, on the promise not to attempt  
 affiliation until his brethren are convinced his reformation is  
 complete, he helps his brethren avoid the self-protective measure of  
 a trial and suspension or expulsion.  In his status as unaffiliated,  
 he cannot ask for relief from another lodge; he cannot willfully  
 break his promise and affiliate, even with his demit, because the  
 lodge to which he applies will, of course, request particulars as to  
 his character from the lodge from which he demitted! 
 But such instances are extraordinary and exceptional.   
 It is the generality of non-affiliates who are the Wandering Jews of  
 the Order.  The vast majority are merely indifferent.  Some don’t  
 care, because they have not the background, the imagination or the  
 education to take unto themselves the reality of the principles of  
 Masonry.  Such cases are usually failures of the investigating  
 committee.  Some become indifferent because of too many other  
 interests.  They take a demit - or become suspended N.P.D. -"to save  
 paying dues." 
     We are to blame for a certain proportion of such non-affiliates if we  
 do not sufficiently educate our members as to what really happens  
 when they allow themselves to be suspended for non-payment of dues.   
 Many a man submits to that penalty who would be shocked if he  
 realized that a permanent, ineradicable record becomes a part of the  
 lodge and Grand Lodge archives.  Many men look upon being "posted" in  
 a club for "arrears in dues" as a joke.  They pay up and forget it,  
 as does the club.  These may think that being dropped N.P.D. in a  
 lodge is a similar light matter. 
     It is not.  Down in black and white to remain as long as the records  
 exist are the few words which say "John Smith wouldn’t pay his debt  
 to his lodge, so his lodge dropped him."  No lodge drops any  
 unfortunate brother.  He needs only to ask to be carried, and the  
 brethren do it cheerfully.  None may rightfully plead poverty as an  
 excuse for non-affiliation "Via" the disgraceful road of failure to  
 pay dues. 
     Some brethren plead they could not sacrifice their pride by going to  
 the Master or Secretary, confessing their inability to pay, and  
 asking to be carried.  But that is false modesty.  The permanent  
 record is an indelible mark against their names; confession of  
 inability to pay and a request to have dues remitted is usually, as  
 it always should be, a secret between the unfortunate and his  
 brethren.  As the unaffiliated Mason, no matter what the case,  
 injures the Fraternity, it is far better for the lodge to remit the  
 dues of the unfortunate than to have him become a Masonic Ahaseurus. 
 A splendid opportunity for constructive Masonic work is to be found  
 among the unaffiliated Masons in any locality.  Masons may not ask  
 the profane to join the Fraternity.  But there is no reason why we  
 should not seek to recreate interest in the Order in hearts which  
 once possessed it.  Brethren who know of a Mason unaffiliated of his  
 own will and not by compulsion may do "good work, true work, square  
 work" by persuading him of the advantages of affiliation, securing  
 his application and, eventually, making him a member of the lodge. 
     The Chapter, Commandry, Council and Scottish Rite, not to mention  
 such quasi-Masonic orders such as Shrine, Tall Cedars, Grotto and  
 Eastern Star automatically drop from membership the brother not  
 affiliated with a lodge.  As many demits are taken when moving from  
 one city to another with the intention of re-affiliating, these  
 bodies usually wait six months before dropping the unaffiliated.   
 After whatever time is statutory, the bodies, membership in which  
 depends upon on membership in a Blue Lodge, strike from their rolls  
 the unaffiliated Mason. 
     This fact too, may be called to the attention of the non-affiliate,  
 who may remain in that state merely because he has never had brought  
 home to him the fact that it is a Masonic offense, frowned upon by  
 Grand Lodges, a loss to his brethren, and a failure of that  
 brotherhood he has voluntarily assumed.  The brother who is anxious  
 to do something for his lodge and the great Order which may do so  
 much for him can find no better place to begin than an interview with  
 a non-affiliated Mason and attempt to persuade him back into the  
 Mystic Circle. 
     Romances and poems have detailed most movingly the sufferings of  
 Ahaseurus, driven continually from place to place to escape from  
 himself, shut out from the fellowship of mankind, joined not only by  
 their common life, but their expectancy of a common death, a united  
     Salathiel the Immortal must tarry, earthbound, a wanderer till Christ  
 shall come again.  But the wandering non-affiliated Mason - unless he  
 is, indeed, of those infortunates who have so lived that no Mason  
 wants again to take him by the hand as a brother - may apply to a  
 lodge, again pass the ballot, and once again become of that circle  
 the bonds of which are the stronger that they cannot be seen. 
 Pity the Wandering Jew - and be not his Masonic prototype, not only  
 for your own but for the sake of all who have joined hands across the  
 Altar to tie the knot that may not be untied! 
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