Order of the Easter Star
The Order of the Eastern Star is an appendant body open to both men and women. It was established in 1850 and adopted and approved as an appendant body of the Masonic Fraternity in 1873. The order is based on some teachings from the Bible, and is open to people of all religious beliefs. It has approximately 10,000 chapters in twenty countries and approximately 500,000 members under its General Grand Chapter.
Members of the Order of the Eastern Star are aged 18 and older; men must be Master Masons and women must have specific relationships with Masons. Originally, a woman would have to be the daughter, widow, wife, sister, or mother of a Master Mason. The Order now allows other relatives as well as allowing Job's Daughters, Rainbow Girls, Members of the Organization of Triangles and members of the Constellation of Junior Stars to become members when of age.
The Order was created by Rob Morris in 1850 when he was teaching at the Eureka Masonic College in Richland, Mississippi. While confined by illness, he set down the principles of the order in his Rosary of the Eastern Star. By 1855, he had organized a "Supreme Constellation" in New York, which chartered chapters throughout the United States.
In 1866, Dr. Morris started working with Robert Macoy, and handed the Order over to him while Morris was traveling in the Holy Land. Macoy organized the current system of Chapters, and modified Dr. Morris' Rosary into a Ritual.
On December 1, 1874, Queen Esther Chapter No. 1 became the first Prince Hall Affiliate chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star when it was established in Washington, D.C. by Thornton Andrew Jackson.
The "General Grand Chapter" was formed in Indianapolis, Indiana on November 6, 1876. Committees formed at that time created the Ritual of the Order of the Eastern Star in more or less its current form.
The emblem of the Order is a five-pointed star with the white ray of the star pointing downwards towards the manger. The meaning of the letters FATAL surrounding the center pentagon in the emblem is only revealed to members of the Order. In the Chapter room, the downward-pointing white ray points to the West. The character-building lessons taught in the Order are stories inspired by Biblical figures:
Adah (Jephthah's daughter, from the Book of Judges). In Eastern Star, Adah is represented by the color blue and a sword and veil. Adah represents the virtue of obedience to duty.
Ruth, the widow from the Book of Ruth. In Eastern Star, Ruth is represented by the color yellow and a sheaf of barley. Ruth represents the virtue of religious principles.
Esther, the wife from the Book of Esther. In Eastern Star, Esther is represented by the color white and a crown and scepter. Esther represents the virtue of loyalty.
Martha, sister of Mary and Lazarus, from the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John. In Eastern Star, Martha is represented by the color green and a broken column. Martha represents the virtue of endurance in trial.
Electa (the "elect lady" from II John), the mother. In Eastern Star, Electa is represented by the color red and a chalice. Electa represents the virtue of endurance of persecution.
There are 18 main officers in a full chapter:
Worthy Matron – presiding officer
Worthy Patron – a Master Mason who provides general supervision
Associate Matron – assumes the duties of the Worthy Matron in the absence of that officer
Associate Patron – assumes the duties of the Worthy Patron in the absence of that officer
Secretary – takes care of all correspondence and minutes
Treasurer – takes care of monies of the Chapter
Conductress – Leads visitors and initiations.
Associate Conductress – Prepares candidates for initiation, assists the conductress with introductions and handles the ballot box.
Chaplain – leads the Chapter in prayer
Marshal – presents the Flag and leads in all ceremonies
Organist – provides music for the meetings
Adah – Shares the lesson of Duty of Obedience to the will of God
Ruth – Shares the lesson of Honor and Justice
Esther – Shares the lesson of Loyalty to Family and Friends
Martha – Shares the lesson of Faith and Trust in God and Everlasting Life
Electa – Shares the lesson of Charity and Hospitality
Warder – Sits next to the door inside the meeting room, to make sure those that enter the chapter room are members of the Order.
Sentinel – Sits next to the door outside the chapter room, to ensure people who wish to enter are members of the Order.
Traditionally, a woman who is elected Associate Conductress will be elected to Conductress the following year, then the next year Associate Matron, and the next year Worthy Matron. A man elected Associate Patron will usually be elected Worthy Patron the following year. Usually the woman who is elected to become Associate Matron will let it be known who she wishes to be her Associate Patron, so the next year they will both go to the East together as Worthy Matron and Worthy Patron. There is no male counterpart to the Conductress and Associate Conductress. Only women are allowed to be Matrons, Conductresses, and the Star Points (Adah, Ruth, etc.) and only men can be Patrons.
Once a member has served a term as Worthy Matron or Worthy Patron, they may use the post-nominal letters, PM or PP respectively.