I started up an unintended debate…

DISCLAIMER:   THIS POST HAS TO DO WITH WHAT SOME PEOPLE WOULD CALL RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND THEREFORE COULD BE A VERY TOUCHY SUBJECT.  THIS POST ISN’T INTENDED TO SPARK ANY TYPE OF DEBATE.  IT HAS ALREADY DONE SO ELSEWHERE AND THAT’S WHY I AM ULTIMATELY BLOGGING ABOUT IT.  IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED, PLEASE DON’T STRESS YOURSELF OUT AND READ FURTHER.  THIS ISN’T INTENDED TO OFFEND.

Yikes…. there’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a debate involving religion or politics.  It’s even worse when you cause that debate all because of an innocent post.

I inherited a ring from my grandmother after she passed away around 1996-1997.     I was living in Northern California sort off dropped off the map at that time and her lawyer still managed to track me down.  He told me that my grandma wanted to give me a ring and $500 and two weeks later a package arrived in the mail with a money order and the ring.    The ring, it turned out was from her daughters of the eastern star organization.  Her own personal ring.   I looked at it back then and shrugged it off,  not understanding the patterns or colors or even wanting to know the history behind it.   I just saw it as a ring,  something cool that my grandma left me but  that’s it.    Of course though I kept it safe and never let anything happen to it despite moving around multiple times.    Well, just recently my stepmother reconnected with me out of nowhere. I hadn’t spoken to her for years… like, 1996’ish!    My father passed away in 2000 from Alzheimer’s  and I found that out from one of my half brothers over the phone.   So there had been NO contact from her in years.   During that time I kind of drew my own conclusions on the multiple unanswered questions I had concerning my dad in order to get some form of closure.   He and I ended on a weird note,   he left my mom to be with her and I hated them both for it.   To a 13 year old kid I was furious that this woman had come into our happy household and stolen my dad away from my mom.   Needless to say I was as difficult as I could be to her out of retaliation.  So,  having her contact me after all these years really REALLY was a shock both in good and bad ways.    The good is that I can ask questions that I’ve always wanted to know and get real answers that is replacing the made up ones I’ve managed to convince myself of over the years,   and the bad is that it’s been drumming up some really sad memories.  I went to a court ordered psychologist during my parent’s divorce and I was deemed as ‘mentally unstable with severe emotional issues’.    I NEVER felt that bad, and it may be just the courts or lawyers trying to over exaggerate in order to sway the judge in their favor.  But, here I go off track again… !   Squirrel!

Back to the ring,    my father’s side of the family were all into Masons and the Order of the Eastern Star/Job’s daughters/Rebekahs.  It was something they were very passionate about judging by all of the photos and historical newspapers I’ve been able to find online.      So I now have this ring and I decided to look into it further to find out exactly what it meant.  I posted this photo on a facebook group that I belong to that contains members of the city where I grew up in.

grandma's masonic ringSadly the first response I received was from someone sharing a link titled “Why no Christian woman should ever join the order of the Eastern Star”.

!!!!!

That opened up an ugly debate that wasn’t intended.    Prior masons and rebekahs replied angrily bashing this lady for posting an inappropriate response to an innocent request for information.   Ugh!    The good thing out of it was I did get my questions answered.    The information I DID receive from the helpful members of the group are as follows (copied and pasted from the discussion  so that’s why they all look random):

“This is a “Rebekah” ring and the female Lodge of the “Independent Order of Odd Fellows”. My Dad was a District Deputy Grand Master in the mid 1930s. This was in District 36 in Northern California. His Drill team did the installation of officers in his District. The three links represent F – friendship, L – love T – truth. The dove is a symbol of peace. My parents gave me a ring when I joined the Rebekah’s on my 18th birthday. That was 83 years ago today. Hope this helps you.”

Just to add a positive note. The Odd Fellows and Rebekah’s did a lot of good deeds and work. One thing our Lodge did was to care for widows and orphans. There was a Children’s home in Gilroy for the kids that were orphaned or half orphaned. The home sent them to Public school, and if the child showed promise sent them on to college. The Funds came from the lodges. I really liked the Home and thought the kids lucky to have such a nice place that took such good care of them. Our lodge also was the caretakers of our local cemetery and assisted in funeral services.”

“My home town is Pleasanton and several of my 1949 classmates moved to the Bakersfield and Fresno areas. Grand Lodge in the 1930-1940 years held the big meetings in Fresno. I also am a Rainbow Girl and belong to Eastern Star, I joined Star with 3 other Rainbow girls in 1950. I learned a lot from Rainbow that I have used in my marriage and raising our 3 children. Don’t know where that fellow got his info, our Chapter was not like that.”

“The ring has no relationship to the order. There are colors that represent the points of the (5) star. I guess I was disputing the conspiracy end. My bad. I never joined the orders. My Dad, Mom and Sis were all very active. I’m suspecting she may have held 3 posts of the Star, hence the colors. More than likely custom.”

 “The five stones are based on five women in the bible: Adah,(Blue), Jephthah’s daughter, (from the Book of Judges)
Symbol: A sword and shield, symbolizing how she sacrificed her life to save her father’s honor.

Ruth,(Yellow),the widow Symbol: A sheaf of barley (grain), representative of Ruth, the poor widow in the Bible, who gathered left over barley stalks as her means of survival.

Esther, (White), the wife
Symbol: A crown and scepter. Queen Esther was a great and noble spirited biblical queen, known for her willingness to sacrifice her life for her people.

Martha, (Green), Lazarus’s sister, (from the Gospel of John)
Symbol: The broken column, symbolic of the uncertainties in life.

Electa,(Red), the mother, (not really a name-the “elect lady”, friend of St. John, from II John)
Symbol: The cup, symbolic of charity and hospitality. Her color, red, is symbolic of love. She accepted God’s will in spite of persecution.

Not the normal Eastern Star ring five color star though. This one has a crescent moon, dove (symbol of peace) on it and only red (love), blue (sacrifice to save father;s honor) and white (Sacrifice for her people) stones. There is said to be a pagan sect of Eastern Star which used 3 Godesses instead of the five biblical women but this one might be one from the daughters of Rebekah, but I can’t tell if it has everything on it that it would have if that was the case (Three Link Chain, dove, lily, moon and seven stars).

The Beehive, a representation of cooperative industry teaching the advantages of united efforts in all the noble ministries of the Order.
The Moon and Seven Stars represents the never failing order which pervades the universe of God and all of nature, and suggest to the members the value of system, regularity and precision in all worthy undertakings
The Dove, a universally recognized emblem of peace, has this significance in the Rebekah Degree. Through the mission of love and charity, of tolerance and forbearance, Rebekahs are to strive to bring happiness to others and to promote “Peace on earth and good will to men.”
The Lily, regarded for untold ages as the emblem of purity, is a fitting symbol of the purity of character, of thought, of word, and of action which should always be found and manifested in the heart and life of members of the Rebekah Lodge.[7]”

So those are my answers.    This little ring has a lot of history behind it.   It’s pretty cool that my grandma chose me to give it to.

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