|Lodge l’Age d’Or no. 235 - Leiden|
It is not feasible to give here an expose about the developments of masonic ritual in the Netherlands. Suffice it to say that in the Netherlands there is no fixed ritual. Some wording and actions are prescribed by the Grand Lodge, but in most lodges working in the Netherlands large parts of the texts of the rituals are at the sole discretion of the ruling Worshipful Master, who usually holds office for three (or more) years. There is an Amsterdam Lodge where the WM held that office for 25 years at a row.
Furthermore, most Dutch lodges meet weekly, in meetings which are called ‘comparities’ (gatherings). There lectures on various subjects (not necessarily masonic) are given by one of the members (or visitors) after which there is a sometimes lively discussion. Meetings in open Lodge are only those necessary for initiation, passing & raising and some other special occasions.
This is the place where we must introduce the late Dirk Cornelis Jacob van Peype (1928-2000), who, together with the late Pieter Hendrik Pott (1918-1989), was one of the great masonic scholars of the Netherlands of the second half of the twentieth century. ‘DCJ’, as he was affectionately known by his friends, was a very prolific masonic author, who had a tremendous influence on the restoration of a style of freemasonry which we now call the ‘authentic Dutch style’.
Historic research done by him and by Pieter Pott, which was originally induced by the bicentenary celebrations of Lodge La Vertu in 1957, culminated in 1963 in the founding of a lodge which would work totally according to the principles of that style.
As this initiative came from a group of freemasons, mostly out of Lodge La Vertu, the name of that new lodge, of which DCJ became the first Worshipful Master, was of course l’Age d’Or. The founders received a new warrant (much to their regret, they would rather have preferred the eighteenth-century one!) and were enrolled under number 235. The colour of the lodge is, as you will perhaps have perceived by the borders around it’s pages, ponceau-red, just like its 18th century predecessor.
The distinguishing traits of Lodge l’Age d’Or are amongst others:
• that the lodge meets twice (or three times) per month, on the first, third (and fifth) wednesday, from September to June;
• that the Worshipful Master and the officers hold office for one year only, and that there is a gradus honorum starting with the Junior Warden, so that every brother in due time will have the opportunity to become Worshipful Master;
• that there is a fixed ritual with fixed texts for the rituals of all Open Lodge Meetings, comprising of Initiation, Passing, Raising, the Festival of St. John the Baptist (in June), that of St. John the Evangelist (in December), the Official Opening of the Masonic Year (in September), and a Lodge of Sorrow after the demise of a member.
• that the lodge (almost) always meets in Open Lodge;
• that after every meeting there is a Table Lodge (a festive board with ritual elements);
• that there are no ‘comparities’ and no ‘bouwstukken’ (literally: building blocks, i.e. lectures);
• that the Worshipful Master holds lodge under the rules of the Old Charges, which he carries visibly into every meeting;
Normally, the Lodge meets at the Masonic Hall in Leiden, but once a year the members of the lodge go back to their ‘ancient roots’, and hold a meeting in an upper room of a historic local tavern. With simple means, a lodge room is set up, the tracing board is drawn on the floor in crayon, and subsequently explained by the Lodge Orator. This ‘excursion’, which usually draws quite a lot of visitors, reminds the brethren of the way in which the founding brethren in the mid-18th century must have held their meetings.
With this set of rules the Lodge l’Age d’Or developed into a characteristic lodge, where style and ‘orthopraxis’ (the correct way of doing things) hold sway. The lodge is well-known in the Netherlands for its style, but also for the special warm atmosphere of brotherhood that pervades every meeting, the humor and the knack of knowing when to smile and when to keep a straight face.