Read Part I:
I recently decided to use the emblems of the Order in one of the ways they were intended to be used: as guides for daily life. I chose the first seven emblems, and applied one each day, starting on a Tuesday.
Tuesday: All Seeing Eye:
The universe knows and sees everything I do. It somehow is able to sense every step I take, each word I say, each thought I have. And based upon these, the universe acts and reacts to my existence. This relationship I have with the universe is a type of cooperation. It needs me. Viewed in this light I can see how it needs me to do and think good things so it too can advance its existence. As it advances, and I help it, it in turn showers me with the things I need to have a more peaceful and gentle life.
Wednesday, The Three Links:
I started the day reading about the links in the ritual book. I decided to focus on the word “sincere” where it references Friendship, Love, and Truth. I gave a tour to a group of high school students at the museum where I work. In the best way I could I worked to be sincerely friendly with them and extend my help when they didn’t understand an issue (high school students can smell a fraud a mile away). I also attempted to project my love of history in a way that would keep them engaged. I felt this was successful because several students stayed behind to pick my brain about other historical issues. Using “sincere truth,” I focused my tour on ways someone’s truth can be questioned when it comes to historical issues.
Thursday, the Skull and Bones:
I felt like a pirate all day. But, on the way to work I was stuck in traffic and remembered what I was focusing on: certain decay. “Decay means the end of something” I thought. It took only a second before I realized “the traffic jam WILL end,” and I immediately relaxed.
While at work, I began to
think about the ending of things. The conversation ends, a particular project has been finished, someone leaves, or a thought process declines. It wasn’t until I returned home and started a warm fire in my stove that I realized something else: when the warmth goes away, coldness rushes in. Decay or the end of something allows the universe to create something else.
Friday, The Scythe:
With funereal gloom, death comes to us all. We, all of us, have a terminal diagnosis in our future. Dealing with the finality of that diagnosis is perhaps one of the most difficult things we will ever have to deal with.
On a lighter note, at some point we could all become one of the ghosts of Halloween.
The scythe, as it is defined for us, also made me realize that it is also an Odd Fellow symbol of equality. Because no matter how rich we are, no matter what good works we
may have done. No matter the evils some have committed, no matter how big we think we are, when it comes to death we are all equal. Even more deeply, perhaps the universe built death into its framework to encourage us to see each other as equals in existence here.
Saturday: Bow, arrows, and quiver.
I had trouble with this one today. It’s pretty simple in that I would be there for a brother or sister in need. And, I daily do battle for justice in that I always try and treat others
justly in my life. But I’m also aware that legal justice does not exist for some and some receive more justice than others and that’s often predicated on wealth, power, and connection. That the poor, minorities, and the disenfranchised do not have abundant opportunities for the same justice as the well connected.
Sunday: Bundle of Sticks:
As I began the morning,I realized that the bundle of sticks represents humanity and our various groups. We’re all bundled together in our city, state, country, and world. Some bundles are larger than others. Small bundles grouped together make even bigger bundles which can create great change in society. Societies working together can make amazing contributions to medicine, music, architecture, astronomy, helping the poor, and relieving the distressed.
In our neighborhood this morning, one of our college age neighbors had his car window shot with a BB gun (probably by kids). The young man is terrific, but was extremely agitated over his car window. A group of neighbors walked down to his house and we all volunteered to give him rides to school or whatever assistance we could render. One person remarked “It takes a village.” The bundle of sticks teaches us this.
Monday, The Ax:
So, I’m thinking about progress today. Around the house I did a ton of chores that needed doing from bringing in firewood to putting up Christmas decor. I even swept the floors! All this was progress of a sort. I also hung out with my kid and we’re making great progress with our father/daughter relationship. In some of the older descriptions of the ax, it is described as representing the forced removal of things that hold us back from being great human beings. So I refocused on something to better my health: I’m allowed four sodas a week and that’s it. I’m making progress.
So, that’s part of my experiment using the emblems of the Order as a way to reflect upon life. Anyone can do this whether you’re an Odd Fellow or not. But the symbols have great hidden meaning that can only be gotten from spending time in a lodge and observing ritual. None of that information has been revealed. You’ll have to join to find out…
In the future, I plan on writing about an “Odd Fellow’s Philosophical/Emblematic Tree” and how one might be used.
Scott Moye is an award-winning history educator and collector of Arkansas folklore. He grew up on a cotton farm and is currently a museum worker. Hobbies include: old house restoration, writing, amateur radio, Irish traditional music, archery, craft beer, old spooky movies, and street performance. He is a member of Marshall Lodge #1, in Marshall, Arkansas, and a founder of Heart In Hand Blog.