of Eastern Star Plate
The Order of the Eastern Star is
the largest fraternal organization in the world to which both men and women
may belong. Worldwide, there are currently more than 1 million members under
the General Grand Chapter.
Eastern Star is a social order
comprised of persons with spiritual values but it is not a religion. Its
appeal rests in the true beauty of the refreshing and character-building
lessons that are so sincerely portrayed in its ritualistic work. A deep
fraternal bond exists between its members. It is the wholesome relationship of
sisterly and brotherly love brought about through high principles exemplified
in our lives which makes us near and dear to each other.
While this is an Order composed
of people of deep spiritual convictions, it is open to all faiths, except no
faith. The personal welfare of our members is vital to all of those in the
Eastern Star and it is considered a privilege to help another member whenever
The stated purposes of the
organization are: Charitable, Educational, Fraternal and Scientific; but there
is much more to it than that. Dr. Rob Morris, the Poet Laureate of Masonry,
founded the Order using beautiful and inspiring biblical examples of heroic
conduct and moral values. These portray the noble principles which should
adorn the personal lives of Eastern Star members. Eastern Star strives to take
good people and through uplifting and elevating associations of love and
service, and through precept and example, build an Order which is truly
dedicated to charity, truth and loving kindness.
Concrete evidence of the
charitable nature of the organization as it affects others is the millions of
dollars which have been raised within the membership to support national,
jurisdictional, and local charities. Many Grand Jurisdictions have homes for
their senior members.
The history of the
Eastern Star is divided into three Eras:
The First Era
extended from 1850 to 1866, under the leadership of Dr. Rob Morris, Poet
Laureate of Masonry.
The Second Era
extended from 1860 to 1876, under the leadership of Robert Macoy of New
The Third Era
extends from 1876, when the General
Grand Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, was established to the
Of these eras, the
first is perhaps the most important as it prepared the way for the other two.
The real origin of
the Eastern Star, like Masonry, will always be shrouded in mystery. Many
researchers believe it had a French origin as early as 1703. By some, this is
claimed to be the first inception of "Female Masonry" or
"Androgynous Degrees" -- (degrees for both men and women).
There appeared at
this time, to be a demand for "Side Degrees" or Degrees conferred on
ladies, and quite a list sprang up -- "Heroines of Jericho",
"Danger in the Dark", "Tall Cedars of Lebanon", etc. These
were extensively used but soon fell into decay, for lack of lasting worth.
As to the real origin
of Eastern Star Degrees in its Initiatory form, there is not the least shadow
of doubt that the honor belongs to Dr. Rob Morris and its real origin comes
under the First Era.
Dr. Morris had
traveled many years. He had written many books on Masonry which are now valued
references in many Masonic Libraries.
Never quite satisfied
that all the good in Masonry should be confined to men, Dr. Morris felt that
Masonry should be for the whole family. But by the laws of that Ancient Order,
women are not eligible for its degrees. Knowing he could not change the
Ancient Landmarks of Masonry, Dr. Morris sought some method by which women
could share with the Masonic Brother the same inspiration that "prompts
man to noble deeds."
Although he harbored
these feelings for years, it wasn't until 1850, while confined to his home
after an accident, that Dr. Morris fully developed the Eastern Star Degrees in
their present initiatory form.
During this time, he
carefully thought out the symbolism and significance of the floor plan and the
corps of officers. He conferred the degrees upon his wife and daughters, and
some neighbors, presumably having an idea to clothe the ladies with certain
words or signs whereby they might make themselves known to Master Masons.
These signs and
so-called mysteries of the Order were communicated freely to all Master Masons
and their relatives. Dr. Morris and other prominent Master Masons gave many
lectures and conferred the degrees on many ladies throughout the nation.