As Master Mason's entered, we were asked to bring a piece of Thuja Occidentalis, Northern white cedar, representing the Sprig of Acacia, from a wooden box in which they were provided. The current secretary and past master of Montgomery Lodge, our own R. E. Jackson, handpicked cedar for the occasion. The Sprig of Acacia is one of my favorite Masonic symbols. I agree it was fitting to have Cedar as the representative evergreen. It is referred to repeatedly in the Torah or the Bible as the wood of choice for the construction of King Solomon's Temple. Practically, it is an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, insect repellent, and strong. In ancient Egyptian culture it was resin was used for embalming and burned in Tibetan Monasteries as incense. Many of us find its scent pleasing. Spiritually or energetically it and its resin are burned or used for cleansing and purification, protection and consecration; it is calming, grounding, and amplifies spiritual and ritualistic intent.
This is the third year Worshipful Brother Jackson has organized and officiated the Empty or Vacant as it is sometimes called, degree at Montgomery Lodge on Memorial Day. Though I've not attended a Masonic funeral service, I'm told the two are similar. The degree was open to the public, which I appreciated. For me the openness served the dual purposes of education about some of what we do and how we conduct ourselves, and for people to have an experience with us that is positive and dignified. I won't recount the specifics of the degree here as I feel I would not adequately convey what I experienced. It's worth making the trek to be present for it in person when you are able, at Montgomery or Lodge nearer you.
Brother Erik Marks is a clinical social worker whose usual vocation has been in the field of human services in a wide range of settings since 1990. He was raised in 2017 by his biologically younger Brother and then Worshipful Master in Alpha Lodge in Framingham, MA. You may contact brother Marks by email: erik@StrongGrip.org