hile the Order of the Eastern Star is not part of Freemasonry, many Freemasons and their partners enjoy membership of the Order, and some Lodges are fortunate in benefiting from an association with an OES Chapter. The following talk was presented in May 2009 to the Research Lodge of Wellington.
The Order of the Eastern Star was first introduced into America in 1778 but it made very little progress until 1850 when a prominent Freemason, Dr Robert Morris, brought it into prominence and founded it upon a new basis.
When he initially entered Freemasonry Dr Morris was concerned that his female relatives could not share in Masonic activities. With the assistance of his wife, Dr Morris compiled a ritual for a new order. The new order was based upon Biblical incidents and was intended to demonstrate high ideals and principles. It consisted of five degrees which at first were presented as lectures to a gathering of friends.
In 1855 the ritual was revised, and with very few changes since then, that ritual is still used today. Governing Bodies
The Order is a world-wide organisation with three governing bodies:
- General Grand Chapter of America
- United Grand Chapter of Australia
- Supreme Grand Chapter of Scotland
New Zealand Chapters come under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Grand Chapter of Scotland. New Zealand Chapters
In New Zealand there are currently eight chapters.
Two in Auckland, and one each in Hamilton, Otaki, Porirua, Wellington, Christchurch, and Invercargill. Chapter members travel all around NZ to visit other chapters and support special events in each chapter’s calendar, such as annual installation ceremonies and other special celebrations. In this way the bonds of friendship are created and strengthened. In 2002, we in Caledonia Chapter celebrated our 75th Anniversary. We had visitors not only from all corners of NZ but from Australia as well.
We also have visits from The Supreme Grand Chapter of Scotland, who will be visiting us during July this year and will be travelling around New Zealand to visit all the other chapters. Many of our members will be travelling to those chapters at that time also.
The aims and objectives of the Order are:
- To associate in one common bond those admitted to membership and give them a means whereby they can make themselves known to each other.
- To become co-workers in the services of humanity.
- To give comfort in affliction, sympathy in sorrow, and aid in misfortune.
- To “cultivate the social virtues”
Chapter members work to raise funds to support the chapter and to benefit its members as well as contributing to such charitable causes and organisations that the chapter elects to support.
In recent times Caledonia Chapter has supported such worthwhile organisations as, Ronald McDonald House, Can Teen, Youth Suicide, The School for Teenage Parents, Women’s Refuge, The House of Grace and the Freemason’s Defibrillator Project coordinated by Westminster Lodge.
The order is primarily a female order, but we do have and indeed we do need, many brothers amongst our membership. The highest office in any chapter is that of Worthy Matron and she is assisted by the Worthy Patron which is the highest office a brother can attain. The remaining 16 offices are: Assoc. Matron, Assoc. Patron, Secretary, Treasurer, Conductress, Assoc. Conductress, Chaplain, Marshal, Organist, Adah, Ruth, Esther, Martha, Electa, Warder and Sentinel. Of the 18 office bearers, 10 must be sisters, two are brothers and the remaining six can be filled by either sisters or brothers.
Each office is distinguished by a badge of office consisting of a jewel of gold or gilded metal, bearing an appropriate emblem relative to that office, suspended from a ribbon of the five colours of the Order.
On completion of a year’s service our Worthy Matrons and Patrons are presented with their special jewels like I am wearing now as I have been Worthy Matron previously. Each year a new Worthy Matron and Worthy Patron and office bearers are elected and installed. This is a beautiful ceremony, frequently followed by a banquet and social evening.
There are five degrees of the Order which are all conferred on the candidate at the initiation ceremony.
These five degrees represent the five points of the star used as the emblem of our Order. Each point is represented by a colour, and a heroine is chosen to exemplify one of the extreme virtues. The lessons taught by the heroines are Fidelity, Constancy, Purity, Hope and Charity.
ADAH, Jepthah’s daughter, teaches us Fidelity through proper respect of the binding force of a vow. Her colour is blue.
RUTH illustrates Constancy through devotion and loyalty to a loved one, religious convictions and principles. Her colour is yellow.
ESTER represents Purity by demonstrating the nobility of fidelity to loved ones and the tactfulness and wisdom of a truly virtuous wife. Her colour is white.
MARTHA portrays Hope through the value of undeviating faith in the hour of trial and sorrow. Her colour is green.
ELECTA represents charity and illustrates the principles of patience and submission under persecution, ill-treatment and even death for a noble cause. Her colour is red.
My recollections of my own initiation some nine years ago is of a very moving welcome into a family and any nervousness was soon dispelled during the ceremony.
At times other than when we have new brothers and sisters to welcome into our chapter we have all sorts of moving and inspirational services, and much benefit can be derived from their messages and
Our membership of sisters and brothers can only be drawn from the ranks of affiliated Master Masons, their wives, daughters, legally adopted daughters, mothers, widows, sisters, half-sisters, grand-daughters, stepmothers and step-sisters. The only other requirements for gaining admittance to our order are:
What has OES to offer?
- To express a belief in a Supreme Being
- To be over 18 years of age
- To have resided within the jurisdiction of the chapter being petitioned for membership for at least 12 months
- To have members to propose and second your petition
- To gain a unanimous vote of chapter members to admit you to membership
- Freemasonry is not identical with the Order of the Eastern Star, neither is the Eastern Star Freemasonry, and nor does it profess or wish to be.
Naturally, what each individual gets from their membership to the order depends a good deal on what they are prepared to put into it! Some of the things that can come under this heading are: Friendship, support, being a “part” of a large organisation, being able to make contact and “join in” with another group of people in many locations all around the world when travelling if you choose to do so, working with others to achieve a common goal – sometimes large sometimes smaller, mixing with a diverse group of people, seeing others develop and grow, leadership and public speaking skills.Presented to Research Lodge of Wellington
14th May 2009
By Sister Leonie Eastergaard, WM
Caledonia Chapter No. 293
Order of the Eastern Star
Enquiries to be directed to:
Villa13/83 Langdale Avenue
Ph: 04 904-7837