Routine or Ritual?

But – a stirring fills the air
Like to sounds of joyance there
That the rages
Of the ages
Shall be cancelled, and deliverance offered from the darts that were,
Consciousness the Will informing,
till It fashion all things fair!



Thomas Hardy

This morning I go down as I usually do to make the early morning cup of tea. I’m into my routine. Put on the kettle – put the tea in the pot – open the fridge – check the milk – put out the cereal bowls for breakfast later – put two eggs in a saucepan of water for boiling later – cut the bread – by now the kettle has boiled – fill the teapot – wait for the tea to ‘draw ‘ – set out the tea mugs – fill them – add the milk – take the tea upstairs.

I say I ‘could do it in my sleep’ – well, that might end in disaster – but you get the point.

Often in my mind I refer to this, light-heartedly, as my ‘ritual’. I suppose that must come from being for most of my life immersed in masonic ritual.

Of course it’s nothing of the sort – it’s not real ritual, it’s my routine, one among many, like my car – unlock, get in and start, fasten the seat belt.

Most of our lives are engaged in routines of one sort or another. It’s a custom, a formula for leading our lives, Sometimes of course it’s boring or a burden – sometimes it’s energising, productive, purposeful.

In a strange way it has a relationship to the rituals we engage in in our masonic pursuit. They too should be energising, productive, purposeful.

But some say, what is the point of repeating, time after time, the words. for instance, of the opening of the lodge?

The practice in your lodge may be different, but it will probably proceed something like this:


Bro. …, what is the first care of every Freemason

To see the Lodge close tyled Bro. ….

Direct that duty to be done.

Bro. … you will see that the Lodge is close tyled.

Bro. … the Lodge is close tyled

Bro. … what is our next care?

To see that none but Freemasons are present Bro. …

Brethren, to order as EA Freemasons.


and so on.

Some ask themselves ‘Why are we doing this repeatedly, over and over again? We all know the words. What is the point?’

But mark this – the difference between me pouring tea every morning and the repetition of the above words every lodge meeting is that in the lodge meeting we are, or should be, changing dynamically.

We are raising the level of consciousness – creating an energy – moving from the profane world to a different plane.

It needs to be done with care – we need to concentrate, collectively – we need to home in on the words Wisdom, Strength, Beauty – while saying or hearing the words, we need to think about the function of the three working tools – we need to remember that our chisel is paring away the pieces of rough stone to make of it a perfect ashlar, not simply hacking away mindlessly at the stone, but carving it with care to make something beautiful and graceful for the edifice, something that will fit in without displacing the other stones – the allegory is a near-perfect one.

I don’t say that routine is mindless, but ritual is different – it has to be mindful and heartfelt.

If not, it isn’t working.

Article by:  Julian Rees

Julian Rees was initiated into Freemasonry in 1968 in Kirby Lodge No. 2818, London and was Master in 1976/77 and again at the centenary of the Lodge in 1999/2000. He joined many other UGLE Lodges. 

He has been a regular contributor to Freemasonry Today since its founding in 1997 and from 2003 to 2007 he was Deputy and News Editor. 

He was appointed active Junior Grand Deacon in the United Grand Lodge of England in 2007. In 2011 he left UGLE and joined the International Order of Freemasonry for Men and Women Le Droit Humain. He remains a well-published and respected Masonic author.

web site:

Freemasonry for the Heart and Mind: Sketches from an Esoteric Notebook


by Julian Rees


Julian Rees has been writing about Freemasonry for many years, promoting the deeper, esoteric aspects of the Freemason’s craft. He has written articles for several publications worldwide and has lectured and given presentations in several countries.

His speculative writing on the symbolism, allegory and ritual aspects has become for many the touchstone of masonic education and information.

In this compendium, he writes about the different aspects of brotherhood, the power of allegory, the spirituality inherent in the Craft, the reality of Freemasonry stripped of extraneous matters, the importance of Truth in all areas of Freemasonry, about the way we can make sense of chaos and invest in harmony, order and peace, and the importance of the tools the Freemason uses in his work and on his path.

Here he gives us some insights, some old some new, arranged in themes to illustrate the rich tapestry of Freemasonry. 




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