The Warden’s Axe – our 100th post!

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By Ainslie Heilich, PG
Tuscola #316
ArtofVintageKarma.com

This marks our 100th post on Heart and Hand!  Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read, share, or write something.  We are just trying our best to do something “for the good of the Order” and to get more people thinking and talking about Odd Fellowship.

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There is an old Odd Fellows tradition that has been lost, but we recently decided to bring it back in my lodge.  It is the tradition of the Warden’s Axe.

In many lodges it is customary to collect donations for the needy and distressed on the Warden’s axe, which has painted on the side presented for the donation the expressive Heart in Hand –Grosh’s Manual p.104

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Tuscola #316’s Warden’s Axe

I had brought it up as something we should bring back after we hosted the District #70 meeting and they end their meetings by passing around a basket like in church (but with less pressure!) to put money in. When they reach $100 they pick a charity to donate it to. We already had a perfect axe on hand (see above) for the job.

Our axe unfortunately doesn’t have a Heart in Hand painted on it, but it still serves its purpose.  At the close of the meeting a member (we have been taking turns, so it doesn’t fall solely on the Warden) walks around the room holding the axe flat and those that wish to offer up some pocket change or a couple bucks then place the money on the blade. It makes the most sense to start at the NG station and to work counter clockwise around the room and end at the Treasurer’s desk for counting.  It ends up looking like a solo egg and spoon race and everyone has a good laugh.

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Clearly some of those making these folk art wooden axes wanted to save the poor Warden from inevitable embarrassment so they included a carved out depression or added a small frame in the design to keep the contents put as they made their way around the room.  It is not mentioned if the Warden was expected to carry the ever increasing load of coin on the blade the entire trip around the room or if the Conductor follows behind carrying a container for each member’s donation to be dumped into from off the axe.

It is a fun way to wrap up meetings and it is neat to revive a small tradition that had fallen out of use after the 1800s.  Maybe some of you have one of these wooden axes in storage that you can make use of, or a crafty member can make one. You can also usually find one or two on eBay at any given time, but they tend to be in the $200+ price range.

Let me know if your Lodge still collects donations this way or if you start doing it again.

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6 thoughts on “The Warden’s Axe – our 100th post!

  1. We at Jacksonville number 10 Jacksonville Oregon still Have our Original Axe… I will try to get you a photo next time I’m upstairs.

    Kc Carr
    G.P. of Oregon

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    1. This be the good brother Secretary Seward from the Bremerton Friendship 145. The beauty of the timing of myself reading this is that my son axed me to learn him how to forge an axe. And I love to teach. I live to enligjten… So, after gathering equipment that’s been hiding some where smart with an inch or so of dust. Or, just simply remake the tools, and other workings to make the need tools. My good sir son is about to learn here probably in a month or so. That forging in the darkest hours of the year. With all bits in hand with all its pounding, its rending, and the quenching. During the darkest hour an of the year when the winter is at its thickest. It can does and will offer an honest yet slightly different and proactive outllook to wards the base morals in life. morals that can take a heart in hand when the time calls. Morals that simply causes one to know the why, the why one bundles the bundled sticks. I know from my expeirance the enlightenment. It brings. The moment one can see the gift. The gify that is whats makes us be. The moment when the cacophony of rend ok ng elements come to still. The moment that ok nortice not just tha th gift. ( I dunno,…? It makes sense to be)
      SO!… if after we finish this axe, and firstly about with the forging about, proves to me that the skills a close enough to decent good to good for par or maybe I’ll kick out after a good 15 some odd years, still up to par. Then if im good to go I would ask ye all.who wants an axe. Although must be warned I will give good deal but average cost is about 2 to 6 Bill’s. That’s retail. What’s your favorite style axe. My favorite axe head is an axe called the bearded war witch. It is good viking axe.*Winkie viking smiley face emoji*

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  2. In the early ritual of the IOOF Manchester Unity in the UK it was the practice for the Warden to collect contributions for the distressed of our Order, calling out the name of each brother and the amount given (to encourage generosity or shame the miser?); this would be recorded by the Secretary, and the money would be placed in the Box on the Noble Grand’s table, thus ensuring security.

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  3. A lodge in my jurisdiction Ballard-Alki #170 still practices this. However, they have a velvet bag that hangs from the axe, frequently you get a handful of change though some brothers and sisters remember to seed their pocket with green. The warden collects every meeting. Another lodge has a coin drill (though it is now a dollar), and you get a raffle ticket. They draw for the pot at the end of the meeting. Whomever “wins” the pot is responsible to clean the coffee pot. Usually the money is then donated to either the Grand Master project or the Assembly President’s project.

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