LADIES AT THE TABLE
William Richards is a Past Master of Webster Lodge #61
Winooski,VT. Bill was instrumental in preparing the
ceremony of "Ladies At The Table." He is a very active Ver-
mont Mason and we thank him for preparing this STB
Biii Richards (the author of this STB) states that "some
Lodges are slowly beginning to provide funcions for their
"Masonic Families." He certainly has made a point borne
out by the large number of requests MSA has been receiving
concerning "Ladies Events".
As noted in the text "Ladies At The Table" may have
begun under the "Adoptive Rite" a form of Freemasonry
which permited both men and women to belong to the order
The present use of "Ladies At The Table" has nothing to
do with Masonic membership. It is, however, one way of
honoring ladies who are not members but rather are widows
of Masons or Ladies who have made an outstanding contribution to their communities state or nation.
It is also important to emphasize Bill Richards note of
caution that Grand Lodge approval must be obtained prior
to hosting a "Ladies At The Table." The Grand Lodge of
Vermont has approved the ceremony to be followed by any
of its constituent lodges.
MSA has recently published excerpts from two letters
from Mason's wives (they are both printed in full in this Short
Talk) and we have had a very large response requesting the
full text of both letters.
MSA thanks Bill Richards for preparing this STB and
Juana Weatherall and Donita Papas for allowing us to reprint
"LADIES AT THE TABLE"
by William Richards, P.M.
The average Mason spends a great deal
of time away from his wife and family for
Masonic functions and dinners. On many
occasions the Mason's wife is left at home
while he attends Masonic meetings. Some
Masonic Lodges have begun to realize that
Masonic Ladies play a very important role
in the Masonic way of life. These Lodges
are slowly beginning to provide functions
for their Masonic families, more especially the Mason's Lady. One such event is the
"Ladies At The Table."
Please understand, this is a public event.
It is not ritual of any type, nor is it intended to be, but it does come under the
jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge. "Ladies
At The Table" is a method for a Lodge to
Honor and give Respect to the Mason's
Widow, Lady, Daughter, Mother, Sister and
to other Women who have also helped build
this great nation of ours!
Ladies At The Table is a special dinner
of five courses and seven toasts. The
primary function of this dinner is to honor
Lodge Widows, and they are the guests of
the Lodge. This provides the Lodge an opportunity to establish a caring relationship
with the Widow and let her know the Lodge
has not forgotten her or their Brother who
is no longer here.
The objective of the Ladies At The Table
dinner is to provide the best possible enter-
tainment and dinner a Mason's Lady could
desire. There is a script to follow, as well
as rules and regulations established by the
Grand Lodge, but the toasts are made to
those ladies selecled by fhe Lodge itself!
The selection of the ladies to be toasted
is taken very seriously. Although there are
only six names to be considered, they do
reflect on the womanhood of our nation.
Therefore we must be careful in whom we
select. Religion and politics should not be
considered as reasons for a toast. Every
community, State, or nation has a large
group of women who have taken part in the
betterment of humanity. Once you have
determined each woman to be toasted, a
short history is written to show the reasons
as to why she has been selected by the
Lodge. It requires a great deal of research,
but it is well worth it in more ways than you
Ladies At The Table is nothing new, just
revised. "The Encyclopedia of Freemasonry," by Albert G. Mackey and
Charles T. McClenachan and revised by
Edward L. Hawkins and William J.
Hughan, published by The Masonic
History Company of Chicago, New York,
and London, copyrighted 1927 provides us
with the following history of a Ladies At
The Table in France.
"In France, about the middle of the 18th
century, a group (in the French Rite,) was
established, functioning parallel to
Masonry, known as "Adoptive Masonry."
The first of these Lodges, of which we have
any notice, was established in Paris, in the
year 1760, by Count de Bernouville.
Another was instituted at Nimeguen, in
Holland, in 1774, over which the Prince of
Waldeck and the Princess of Orange pre-
sided. There were basically four degrees in
Adoptive Masonry, the first being: Appren-
tice (or Female Apprentice); Compagnone
(or Craftswoman); Maitresse (or Mistress);
and Parfaite Maconne (or Perfect Mason.)
The fourth degree, being the summit of
the Rite of Adoption, is furnished with a
"Table Lodge," or ceremony of the ban-
quet, which immediately followed the closing of the Lodge and which of course, adds
much to the social pleasure and nothing to
the character of the Rite.
As in regular Lodges of the French Rite,
the members always use symbolic language
by which they designate the various implements of the table and the different articles of food and drink, calling for instance, the knife "Swords," the forks
"Pickaxes," the dishes "materials," and
bread "Rough Ashlar;" the Lodge room
was called "Eden," the doors "Barriers,"
the minutes a "Ladder," a wine glass was
styled a "Lamp," and its contents "Oil"
. . . water being "White Oil" and wine being "Red Oil." To fill your glass is "To trim
your Lamp," to drink is "To extinguish
your Lamp," and many other eccentric
Much taste, and in some instances,
magnificence, were displayed in the decorations of the Lodge rooms of the Adoptive
Rite. The apartment was separated by curtains into different divisions. Each division
represented a continent, the entrance being
called Europe, the left side America, the
right side Africa, and the Head Table was
known as Asia. As all things come to pass,
this special dinner and evening was set
aside, no longer to be. (The French Revolution played a big part in its ending.) We do
know that Ben Franklin did attend at least
one of these dinners during his time in
There is a strong possibility this special
Rite of Adoption dinner was attended by
many young Englishmen soon to be sent to
Ireland, to be trained, for two years, as
British Officers and hence the birth of the
Masonic Table Lodge. (As with many early
customs, this one too, does not have a clear
In our present day, "Ladies At The
Table," is not Adoptive Masonry in any
form or intent. The dinner is supported by
a Lodge of Masons to show Honor and
Respect to the Ladies. It also provides a setting to invite non-Masonic guests and community leaders to see what Masonry is all
Should your Lodge be under the jurisdiction of a Grand Lodge having very strict
alcoholic rules and regulations, then you
have the option of having all the toasts with
a non-alcoholic beverage. However,
regardless of which jurisdiction your Lodge
falls under, obtain your Grand Lodges permission before hosting a "Ladies At The
As stated in the ceremony "toasts are
given to those Ladies who have given of
themselves to the improvement and need of
MSA has a copy of the ceremony used
in the jurisdiction of Vermont. If you would
like a copy please write requesting ceremony
of "Ladies At The Table."
Reflections of a Mason's Wife
(wife of Bro. James Weatherall, P.G.M.
I AM NOT A MASON. I'm not even a man.
Better than both of these, perhaps, I am the wife
of a Mason. Many times I have wanted to stand
up at a Masonic function and tell those present
just how much the Masonic Fraternity has
positively affected my life, but I never quite
gathered the confidence.
Perhaps I was afraid you would think me silly,
or out of place, or worse yet, insincere. Knowing that I probably will never stand before any
of you and verbally express my feelings, I hope
you will not be offended that I take this means
to communicate my long-silent thoughts.
I married a young man when we were both
nineteen years old. We were sure that we were
mature adults ready to take on the responsibilities of adult life, not realizing at the time
that we were such novices. As soon as he was
old enough, my young husband petitioned the
local Lodge and was accepted.
He worked at the memorization of the
Degrees with a dedication I had not before seen
in him. He attended Lodge regularly and was
soon working his way through the chairs of his
Lodge. With each new step, his confidence in
himself grew, his maturity increased, his moral
values became more firmly entrenched.
Although I was vaguely aware of these
changes, it was several years before I fully realized to what extent Masonry was affecting our
lives. I can't recall where we were, or the words
my Mason spoke, but suddenly the light bulb
came on, and without doubt I understood, and
feel even more strongly today, that everything
my husband is, and everything my children and
I are, is so intricately interwoven with his
Masonic beliefs, values, and responsibilities that
our personal lives and our Masonic lives are one.
At nineteen I would not have thought of having a network of friends and support as exists
in the Masonic Fraternity. Just to mention afew,
there's the Masonic wife (a nurse) who worries
about my husband's dietary habits; the Mason
who offers to take my younger son for a
weekend when he knows I'll be temporarily a
single parent; the Mason who has spent hours
arranging activities for the ladies for Grand
Lodge session, and the one who volunteered his
wife to drive me around town if I needed her.
I know that if ever I am in physical, emotional,
or financial need. help is near, and that a Mason
is only a phone call away.
Simple words written on a cold piece of paper
can't express the warmth I have in my heart. My
life has heen enriched by the experiences I have
had and by the people I have met through my
husband's affiliation with the Masons. I love the
man my husband has become even more than
I loved that naive nineteen-year-old boy I married twenty-three years ago. I love the Masonic
Fraternity and its principles of living, for making him the man he is. And, so, I finally get
around to what I 've wanted to state for so long,
but lacked the nerve to say: thank you, Mason.s
everywhere. I love vou all!
Letter written to all newly raised Master
Masons by Donita Papas, wife of Bro.
Robert Papas P.G.M. of Minnesota.
I have been advised that your husband has
recently becorme a member of the Masonic
Fraternity. As the wife of the current Grand
Master of Masons in Minnesota, please allow me
to speak to you "Woman to Woman."
With the ever-changing roles of women in
today's society, with our newly-found freedoms
and opportunities, the place of Masonry can
often be misunderstood bv many. Male-only
organizations are often viewed with suspicion.
Let me assure you that in the 26 years my husband has been a Mason, I have never had cause
to doubt its good effects upon his character. The
men with whom he has associated in his Lodge
work " have been consistently men of honor and
good reputation. The organization attracts men
of genuine quality. As such, you should feel great
personal pride that your husband is now counted
among such an association.
Masonrv is founded on the Fatherhood of God
and the brotherhood fb man. Masons move
quietly to remove human suffering. This is evident in their many benevolent and charitable
activities. I might also assure you that no
organization has ever stood so strongly in support of the family unit and all that it stands for.
Masons often state that their purpose is to
take good men and make them better. As such,
each individual member's goal is one of self
improvement. As a result, the man who gauges
his life in accordance with Masonic moral law
will be a happier man, a better citizen and a
more loving and understanding husband and
The Masonic organization also offers many
opportunities for you and the family to participate: in events of the Blue Lodge, in their
sponsorship of outstanding youth organizations
and in the many appendant organizations for
both men and women. Indeed, the Masonic
organization is a family in itself.
In the reality of today's world, there are too
many things which can lead an individual astray.
During my marriage, I have observed that
Masonry is one element which has done only
good for my husband, myself and my children.
As such, my advice to you would be to not only
support your husband in his membership, but
also to strongly encourage his active participation so that he may well learn the lessons which
My best wishes and congratulations to you
and your husband. May you both find the joy
and happiness that has been ours.
Sincerely, Donita Papas