On Neckties and Freemasonry or: How Forgetting The Windsor Made Me Love Ritual

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Adam Thayer

For many years, I worked in a sales position which required me to wear a necktie. Before that point, I had never worn a tie outside of weddings, funerals and interviews--so learning new and interesting knots kept me amused for many weeks on end, before I finally settled on the classic and simple Windsor.

I tied that Windsor with fat ties and with skinny ties; with solid colors, patterns, and prints; I even tried tying it in a bowtie (just a note, don’t do that). I tied it so often, I could tie it in my sleep and that is not an exaggeration; my wife once woke me up to ask me what I kept doing to my neck while I was sleeping. That knot saw me through the advancing line in two lodges, multiple annual communications of our Grand Lodge, and more degrees than I can remember.

About a year ago, I changed jobs, and the dress code in my current position could be generously described as business casual. It was a large change in mindset as well as in wardrobe, and it has taken a lot of time to get used to not needing to wear a full suit every day. Of course, on lodge nights, I still wear a suit to work, because my office is only a block from my lodge, and it’s just easier to not drive home to change.

All of that is background information for the rest of this story.

Last Friday, I was preparing for work as usual, and since it was a lodge night I was going through the usual motions of getting the full suit and tie on, and all of a sudden, I couldn’t remember how to move my hands to make the tie work! Now, I could blame this on the early hour, or a lack of sleep (I have a one year old daughter who doesn’t believe in sleep), but the truth is, I forgot because I was out of practice. Something that used to be as natural as breathing to me had, through neglect, turned into something foreign and strange.

While I was searching the internet, trying to find the motions to make my favorite knot, I couldn’t help but compare my memory lapses to what I’ve seen happen so many times in lodge: forgetting ritual.

When we’re new to lodge, we’re often so excited to take part that we work extra hard to learn the ritual work. I remember hopping from one role to the next, learning lectures, even picking up parts that (in Nebraska) aren’t required to be memorized. For many of those lectures, I performed them so often that I was concerned that I would start reciting them in my sleep as well, which would lead to interesting conversations with my wife for sure!

But, as time has gone by, I’ve stepped back from a lot of the ritual work to let newer members have their chance to shine. I still end up doing something in most of the degrees that my lodge holds, but as I have taken a less active role, I’ve noticed something: I’m forgetting ritual! The ritual that I hold so dear and close, and I find myself slipping on words that used to flow smoothly.

You see, only half of the work for any skill really goes into learning it. The hard part is the other half of the work; once you’ve learned it, you have to stay fresh with it, or it will start to slip away.

So now, I’m starting to practice my ritual again, while I’m getting dressed for lodge. It starts crossing the tie over, and the two most powerful words I’ve ever learned: My Brother...


Bro. Adam Thayer is the Junior Warden of Lancaster Lodge No 54 in Lincoln (NE) and the Worshipful Master of Oliver Lodge No. 38 in Seward (NE). He’s an active member of the Scottish Rite, and Knight Master of the Lincoln Valley Knights of Saint Andrew. Adam serves on the Education Committee of the Grand Lodge of Nebraska. You can contact him at adam.thayer@gmail.com

1 comment:

  1. "If you don't use it, you'll lose it."

    How many times have we all heard that phrase and never really learned to appreciate it until we're standing there trying to remember that lecture that we used to know so well.

    Thank you for sharing Brother, and for reminding us that our working tools need to be used so they don't grow dull from sitting in the box.


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