If you have been reading about my Masonic journey, then you know that I am a rather new Master Mason fresh from the quarry. If you have been reading about my Masonic education, then you know I have been bing-listening to TMR and have been busy on the freemasonry subreddit. So, it would likely come as no surprise to you that I had no idea about the importance of St. John’s Day.
Thanks to the TMR episode on St. John’s Day, I got a nice overview of the history and some of the observance involved. As I’m not well educated on the subject, I will not present my own coverage on St. John’s Day here, but I welcome readers to check out this paper on the Holy Sts. John and this paper on St. John’s Day. The one thing I did know about the day was this happened on St. John’s Day (June 24, 1717):
After listening to the TMR episode, I went to my lodge to see if we were observing the St. John’s Day Feast, and I discovered that we had no plans to do so. I’m not one to ruffle any feathers by asking brothers why we were not, instead I reached out to reddit to see if other lodges were doing anything. Some lodges did and some didn’t. I expressed an interest in attending such an event and I got an invite from the Tiler at the Culver City-Foshay lodge to attend their St. John’s Day Feast and Play.
I immediately sent out some emails to brothers that I thought might have an interest and availability to attend. Two of my lodge brothers were able, so I drove us the hour or so to get to Culver City from Claremont. My first impression of the lodge was, “Wow, it is right here on the main strip in the heart of Culver City.” It’s an inconspicuous two story building, sharing some downstairs space with a handcrafted gift shop and a same-day cleaners (both non-Masonic as far as I can tell).
My brothers and I entered the front doors to discover a hallway leading to our left and a stairway leading up to our right to a landing. Hanging above the landing was a beautiful (lambskin?) painting of the winding stairs. We first went to the left and found the dining room, a large capacity room with a stage in the south and stained-glass depictions of several Masonic-related orders beautifully rendered, adorning the windows throughout the room.
Because we were early, we were told to wait upstairs where several other brothers were mingling. We found a museum/library/conference room filled with wonderful books and artifacts.
Beyond this room to the north was the lodge room. I wish I was able to describe in better detail, as any description I provide would not do this lodge room justice. Let’s just say, I was awestruck by the high ceilings, spacious seating, beautifully ornate moldings and fixtures, and the checkered floor (my lodge room does not have one).
When dinner was ready, we found ourselves in the hall and served with a feast fit for the day; rotisserie chicken, potatoes, salad, and mushrooms were among the fare. Although little ceremony accompanied the dinner with nothing more than a prayer and introduction, I found myself feeling solemnity for the event. My brothers and I were lucky to be sitting with several members of the lodge, including the treasurer who seemed to have endless access to the goodies from the kitchen.
After dinner, we went back to the lodge room where the play was ready to be performed. The author of the play informed us that it was based on the founding of the Premier Lodge in London, although he had taken several liberties with history to make it more enjoyable. He explained what his additions were while summarizing the historical event on St. John’s Day, 1717. The events of the play took place prior to that day, following Bro. James Anderson putting together the first constitution (who wasn’t actually at the founding).
Although certain freedoms were taken with the story, it didn’t make the story any less educational. We know historically such events took place, but this was an allegorical interpretation of the event. Although some of the characters were real (Bro. Anderson and Bro. Christopher Wren) others were creations to represent a particular perspective. There was the old curmudgeon, the antient mason, the young zealous fellow craft awaiting his raising to master mason (another anachronism, as there were only two degrees at that time in freemasonry), and two characters solely present for exposition purposes, assisting Bro. Anderson.
Overall, the performance was top notch for a lodge of masons. I enjoyed the fact that two of the brothers performing were also in several exemplified degrees I had seen at my Scottish Rite Reunion last month (see the video made by their lodge below). The worshipful master of the lodge seemed pleased to have us attend their event and gave us lapel pins. He didn’t have enough for the three of us, so he gave our fellow craft brother the pin from his own lapel. We told him that we would definitely be returning, and hopefully we would be bringing more brothers.