February Communication: St. Valentine Presentation

For those who made our February Communication with their ladies, we presented the ladies with one of two lapel pins – a forget-me-not flower or a little blue slipper. While each  pin has it’s own meaning, both uniquely shrouded by a mixture of legend and truth, these pins are both are rooted in Freemasonry and recognized throughout the world as you will see below.

Below are the texts from which WB Bill Carver presented last Thursday night. Enjoy!

 

The Story Behind the Masonic “Little Blue Slipper”

littleblueslipper

To understand the origin and meaning of this Masonic symbol, one must go to the Bible  — the Old Testament Book of Ruth.

It is written that Elemilech (pronounced e-LIM-i-lek) – whose name means “my God is king” — his wife Naomi and two sons Mahlon and Chilon fled from Bethlehem to Moab to escape the famine.

After a period of time in Moab, things took a bad turn as Elemilech died. While in Moab, Elemilech’s two sons married Moabite girls by the names of Orpha and Ruth.  Soon thereafter, both sons also died.

The deaths of Mahlon and Chilon left Naomi as an older widow in a foreign land, with two widowed Mobian daughters-in-law.

Under the accepted rules of the day, it was understood that Naomi was too old to bear sons for her daughters-in-law to marry.  And, even if she could, the daughters-in-law could not wait for the sons to grow up.

In time, Naomi learned that the famine in Bethlehem had subsided and she told her daughters-in-law that that she would leave Moab and go back to Bethlehem to be among her kinsmen.  Naomi said that her daughters-in-law should stay among their own people and that she would return to Bethlehem alone.

Upon hearing this, the girls protested.

After a while, Orpha was convinced to stay. But Ruth would not relent and traveled with Naomi back to Bethlehem. The Bible passage that refers to Ruth’s intent is one unsurpassed as a declaration of the love and devotion of one person for another.

Ruth said to Naomi, “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.”

With that, Naomi and Ruth traveled to Bethlehem together.

As Naomi was getting re-established in her homeland, she had another law of the day to keep in mind.  That was, when Elimilech died, his next of kin was duty-bound to redeem his possessions and take care of his widow and her family.

In Bethlehem, as Ruth tried to make a living for she and Naomi by gleaning the fields, she was spotted by Boaz.  Boaz was an unmarried, distant relative of Elimilech.  Upon learning that Ruth was Naomi’s daughter-in-law, Boaz arranged special treatment for Ruth.

But realizing that there was another of closer kin to Elimilech than he, and whose duty it was to aid Naomi and her family, Boaz sat down at the gate of the city and waited for the kinsman to pass.

Boaz stopped the kinsman and called together ten elders to sit with them as they discussed Naomi and Ruth’s care.

As they talked, the kinsman agreed to redeem Elimilech’s property.  But when he learned that he must also take care of Naomi and Ruth, he reneged, saying he would neither redeem the property nor take care of the widows.

At that point, Boaz accepted the responsibility to look after the women.

Under the customs of the day, when an agreement was made between men, the man removed one of his shoes and gave it to the other. It was the physical confirmation of a spoken contract.

So the kinsman drew off his shoe and gave it to Boaz.

Boaz held it up for all in the gate to see. He asked them to be witnesses that he became Naomi’s protector, Ruth’s husband, and the redeemer of Elimelech’s property.

With the story of Naomi and Ruth as a basis, Masons adopted a small symbol, in the shape of a slipper as an emblem of their commitment to protect their wives, widows, and daughters.

Over the years, many female relatives of Masons have worn this symbol on a coat or dress when traveling alone.

It serves to let other Masons know that the wearer is special in some Mason’s life and that other Masons have a duty to help as their situations permit.

# # #

The Story of the Forget-Me-Not Pin

forgetmenotpin

Masonry has long used symbols to teach its valuable and important lessons. Every Mason is familiar with their usage. One of the most recent symbols that are associated with Masonry is the blue Forget-Me-Not flower.

During the early 1930s, this delicate, little, five-petaled flower, which is similar to the common violet, became a symbol of Freemasonry in Nazi Germany and exemplified the spirit, dedication, and courage of men who literally held to their Masonic principles and beliefs in the face of gravest danger.

Shortly after Adolph Hitler came to power in 1933, he issued two decrees. One provided for Nazi control over the educational process. The second made membership in a Masonic Fraternity a crime.

Hitler viewed Freemasonry as part of “the Jewish conspiracy” and wanted it eradicated. At that time there were 85,000 Masons in good standing in Germany.

Adolf Eichman, who would later play an important role in Hitler’s “final solution,” raided the Grand Lodge of Germany and confiscated all of their records including the names and addresses of 80,000 German Masons.

Lodge property was confiscated and Eichman secretly issued orders that Masons should be put to death. His orders were followed.

The remaining 5,000 German Masons whose records were not found, immediately went underground hiding their records, lodge paraphernalia, and identifying jewelry. Active Freemasonry in Germany ceased to exist.

In 1934, members of the German Grand Lodge of the Sun (one of Germany’s pre-war Grand Lodges) began wearing the blue Forget-Me-Not instead of the traditional square and compass on their lapels as a mark of identity for Masons. This was a Masonic secret that was never broken.

Throughout the whole era of Nazi domination, little blue Forget-Me-Nots appeared on lapels in cities and even in concentration camps, worn by brothers whose love of freedom, learning, and Freemasonry remained strong even under repressive Nazi rule.

In 1947, when the Grand Lodge of the Sun was reopened in Bayreuth by Past Grand Master Beyer, a pin in the shape of a Forget-Me-Not was adopted as an emblem of that first annual convention by those who had survived the bitter darkness of the Nazi era and were now able to openly rekindle the light of Freemasonry.

In 1948, the first Convent of the United Grand Lodges of Germany also adopted the pin as an official Masonic emblem honoring those brothers who had been forced to shelter the light of Freemasonry within, but dared to wear the little flower openly.

The tradition of using the blue Forget-Me-Not as a tribute to those whose fidelity to the Fraternity sets them apart was also used by the Masonic brotherhood of the blue Forget-Me-Not that recognizes the contributions of Masonic educators.

Although Adolph Hitler was able to destroy the outward vestiges of Freemasonry by desecrating temples and imprisoning or murdering Masons, he was never able to completely eradicate Freemasonry in Germany. He was never able to understand that respect for individual rights and the love of liberty and learning will continue to burn in the hearts of some men, and that is the place where Masonry can endure even under the most repressive environment.

Like the phoenix, Masonry rose out of the ashes of Nazi Germany (as it is also doing in several former communist-block countries) as a tribute to the courage of man and the durability of those values and lessons that Masonry holds dear.

 

Callaway, Walter M., “Forget-Me-Not, A Masonic Symbol in Germany.” California Freemason. P 168-69. “Das Vergissmeinnicht, The Forget-Me-Not” Square & Compass. P 19-20. Roberts, Allen. Explanation of the Masonic Brotherhood of the Blue Forget-Me-Not.
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