If I do the word associating thing you say 'new order' and I think of Joy Division, Ian Curtis (vale) and The Happy Mondays and Blue Monday and Echo and the Bunnymen and I look at this sentence and I think that you have to be of a certain age to understand what I am talking about.
No, as a Freemason, I am taking the next step in the journey and joining another lodge. A lodge with a completely different ritual and a lodge with a new set of rules and ideas to learn and follow.
So far, I've saved up my subs for the year, had a gown made that makes me look like a member and Eastern Block Women's Olympic Weight Lifting Team, and purchased some second hand regalia which I have had to make a few amendments to (removing some burgundy trim for the original white - I have no idea what I am doing this for) and cleared my Wednesday night schedule. There is a part of me that would rather be in Wednesday Night pump class, but thems the breaks.
I find it interesting that this has fallen on this day. My father would have turned 78 today if he was alive. He died over twenty years ago. Strange things often happen on this day. Joining a new order is about as strange as you can get on the Panda scale of things.
Anyway, tonight, after work, and feeding myself, I have to turn up to the temple in my normal masons gear (Black skirt, black shoes, white shirt, black cardigan/jacket, white glove and my mason's pinny).
What happens after that, I do not know. There are a few givens. This is an initiation. I will be asked to do some things, say some words and take in what they are doing. It will all be very symbolical. There will probably be candles. (Modern freemasonry issue #23 - new lodge buildings and insurance policies mean that they have to get electronic candles as naked flames are forbidden - and there is a bit of candle light involved in all of this. Insurance companies take all of the fun out of things).
Other givens. I won't be asked to strip naked (a good thing as the temple has no heating at the moment - besides, not a pretty sight), ride a goat, have sex on an altar (eww and no!), drink blood or do anything that would compromise me in any way. Although there are some truths in the myths that these rituals are held in darkness with people standing around in a circle. Just for this ritual, I do not know. It is all unknown and this is a part of the joy of initiation.
Once I get through the initiation I will get changed into the new gown and regalia which is currently sitting in the boot of my car. The gown, a surplus, was made by a friend of mine from lodge. She took the measurements just as I was starting the food wanker plan. The robe is now loose, but this is a good thing as I can wear clothes underneath - good for this weather. Being a fairly heavy cotton, it breathes - but I don't know how warm it will be in Winter.
Then there will be a cup of tea afteward. I will be very bummed if my friend Raeleen, aged 82, stalwart of the order, has made her inimitable asparagus rolls - as being gluten free, she will have used fresh white bread with the crusts cut off. One of the best things about modern Freemasonry for Men and Women - the CWA supper at the end of the night. I will have to remember to take my caffeine free teabags so I can have a cup of tea afterwards.
So what do I get out of all of this? I like working ritual. I find ritual fascinating. I love the energy I get from it. I really enjoy thinking about the lessons that come from the ritual - just as I love pondering a good Catholic catechism, a Buddhist prayer cycle or a Jewish Seder. I love the universal truths which Freemasonry provides guidance and instruction.
It's funny, I found myself yelling at a friend the other night, "But how can you go back on your word. My word is my bond. I'm a Freemason, you know!" I couldn't understand how somebody could say one thing and do another. It just made no sense to me at all. A Freemason's word is their bond. Walking the walk and talking the talk is what we do.
The strange thing about joining this new order. I know I will get a lot out of this - just as I do my normal lodge work - and just as I get a lot out of my other spiritual workings. I just have no idea what this will be. My friends in this order have said that this is just up my alley. What, there are gin and cats involved? I don't know.
This is just another step in the journey. Just because I have no idea what is going to happen to me is not a bad thing. If there is one thing Freemasonry has taught me, it is to trust the well worn path. I will be in safe hands.
For more information about this brand of Freemasonry, go to www.freemasonryformenandwomen.org.au .