Information Corner - "Blue"

Blue Lodge Cigar LabelI have often been asked “Just what does the word BLUE mean?”

The Blue Lodge is said to refer to the traditional color of regalia in Lodges derived from English or Irish Freemasonry. Although the term was originally frowned upon, it has gained widespread and mainstream usage in America in recent times.2
...the premier Grand Lodge was established on 24 June 1717, St John’s Day, when a feast was held at the Goose and Gridiron Ale House in St Paul’s Churchyard.

The four Lodges involved met at the Goose and Gridiron, the Crown Ale House in Parkers Lane (near the present building in Great Queen Street), The Apple Tree Tavern in Charles Street, Covent Garden and the Runner and Grapes Tavern in Channel Row, Westminster. Three still survive and are now known as Lodge of Antiquity No 2, Fortitude and Old Cumberland Lodge No 12 (originally No 3) and Royal Somerset House and Inverness Lodge No IV. These are known as “time immemorial lodges” the only lodges within the English constitution, with this distinction. They, together with Grand Stewards’ Lodge, have the ability to operate without a warrant.

Why are the subordinate lodges called "Blue" Lodge? What does the color signify? This is really a good question!
Masonic lodge regalia is traditionally trimmed with blue. For instance, the white cloth aprons members wear during meetings are trimmed in blue, and the officers insignia collars are usually blue.

In some grand lodges, a particular shade of blue is specified: from as light as light sky blue, through deep royal blue, sometimes as dark as navy. Others let their individual lodges choose any blue they like.

No one really knows why blue was chosen. Probably it's supposed to signify sky and thereby "heaven" and "celestial" things. I have read a number of fanciful (mostly b.s.) essays on the subject but nothing with any real evidence.

As late as the middle of this century, I think blue lodge was considered an improper slang usage among learned Masons. The writer Carl Claudy certainly didn't like it.

"Blue lodge" refers to the fact that other appendant orders or side-bodies use other colors. For example: in the Royal Arch, the regalia are trimmed with red; in the Cryptic Degrees they use purple, etc. So maybe the term was a "back-formation," and wasn't invented to describe regular craft lodges until after all those other bodies came along.

In order to say "not any of those other bodies, but the regular three-degree Master Mason's craft lodge" people apparently began using the term "blue lodge" -- indicating "not purple, not red, not white, not purple nor black nor gold" or whatever. The more correct terms were Craft lodge or Master Mason's Lodge. Nowadays blue lodge has caught on as is in wide use, and is no longer considered incorrect by most, or maybe all.

The four Lodges involved met at the Goose and Gridiron, the Crown Ale House in Parkers Lane (near the present building in Great Queen Street), The Apple Tree Tavern in Charles Street, Covent Garden and the Runner and Grapes Tavern in Channel Row, Westminster. Three still survive and are now known as Lodge of Antiquity No 2, Fortitude and Old Cumberland Lodge No 12 (originally No 3) and Royal Somerset House and Inverness Lodge No IV. These are known as “time immemorial lodges” the only lodges within the English constitution, with this distinction. They, together with Grand Stewards’ Lodge, have the ability to operate without a warrant.

Why are the subordinate lodges called "Blue" Lodge? What does the color signify? This is really a good question!

Masonic lodge regalia is traditionally trimmed with blue. For instance, the white cloth aprons members wear during meetings are trimmed in blue, and the officers insignia collars are usually blue.

In some grand lodges, a particular shade of blue is specified: from as light as light sky blue, through deep royal blue, sometimes as dark as navy. Others let their individual lodges choose any blue they like.

No one really knows why blue was chosen. Probably it's supposed to signify sky and thereby "heaven" and "celestial" things. I have read a number of fanciful (mostly b.s.) essays on the subject but nothing with any real evidence.

As late as the middle of this century, I think blue lodge was considered an improper slang usage among learned Masons. The writer Carl Claudy certainly didn't like it.

"Blue lodge" refers to the fact that other appendant orders or side-bodies use other colors. For example: in the Royal Arch, the regalia are trimmed with red; in the Cryptic Degrees they use purple, etc. So maybe the term was a "back-formation," and wasn't invented to describe regular craft lodges until after all those other bodies came along.
In order to say "not any of those other bodies, but the regular three-degree Master Mason's craft lodge" people apparently began using the term "blue lodge" -- indicating "not purple, not red, not white, not purple nor black nor gold" or whatever. The more correct terms were Craft lodge or Master Mason's Lodge. Nowadays blue lodge has caught on as is in wide use, and is no longer considered incorrect by most, or maybe all.

Hele (pronounced hail or heel?)
Much has been written on that small word that is used in combination with the words "conceal" and "reveal." Disputes still arise from time to time among some brethren about the word, especially its pronunciation. Some say it should be pronounced "heel" to rhyme with "meal," while others say it should be pronounced "hail" to rhyme with "mail." Then there is an opinion that whatever we say, it is still a matter of speculation. After all, none of us lived in the days when it was used in its original sense.
The word in question is often spelled "hele."1 It originates from an old English root "helan." Somner’s Saxon-Latin-English Dictionary (1659) has "helan=celare, tegere-to hide, to cover, to heale, and hence in many places a coverlet is called 'a hylling.'" Lye’s Saxon Dictionary (1772) defines "helan" as "to hele, hyll, celare, unde nostra hylling."2 Given as the principal meaning of "helan" in Lye’s dictionary, "hele" must have been in use in the latter half of the 18th century.
The combined use of the words, "hele," "conceal" and "reveal," first appeared in Samuel Prichard’s Masonry Dissected (1730): "I will Hail and Conceal, and never Reveal...." Its variations are found in other early masonic documents.
The Stability Lodge of Instruction is not specific as to the pronunciation of "hele," leaving the matter to the brethren.21 So it can be pronounced either "heel" or "hail" in that working. The Emulation Lodge of Improvement maintains what it believes to be the original pronunciation. The word is shown as "h (pronounced hail)" in its ritual book. And there is so much more on the subject as to be much too large to list here.