The Steps to Excellence 

Observant Masonry comes to Northport, Long Island

Masonic Observance is by no means a new concept, but one which is gaining in recognition and popularity as a means of addressing core issues of membership participation and retention in the Craft.  It requires a steadfast commitment of time and effort from Brothers who look to create a more profound Masonic experience within their Lodge.  Observance begins with a uniformly shared ethos among the membership, which then manifests itself in the form of certain practices which have come to be associated with the Observant Masonry movement.

There are no alterations or innovations to the ritual itself, but rather a few noteworthy enhancements to the ambiance which create a deeper, more impactful experience for members, visitors, and candidates.  A partial list of these practices would include a more structured and formal dress code at meetings,  the judicious inclusion of periods of sound (music) and silence (meditation), the use of incense, and subdued lighting including real candles where permitted.  The aim is to create a sacred, meditative space where Masons can work their mystic art beyond the distractions and trappings of the profane world. The ritual itself is performed with precision from memory without the aid of the Masonic Standard. Candidates preparing for each degree meditate within a specially designed Chamber of Reflection to further prepare them for what follows. Periodic Festive Boards are encouraged as elegant affairs with formal toasts.  All Masonic intercourse includes educational presentations with a focus on esoteric subjects.  Lodges which apply for examination and are found to be regularly operating as such are granted permission to use the suffix “OM” for “Observant Masonry” after their Lodge name.

On Tuesday, February 7, 2023 an unprecedented event occurred where two bodies – a Masonic Lodge and a Royal Arch Chapter – were both officially certified as Observant Masonic organizations for the first  time in history.


Freemasonry is no stranger to the sleepy village of Northport on the north coast of Long Island. Alcyone Lodge No. 695 has been meeting in the same building since the late 1870’s, making it the longest continuously used Masonic building on Long Island. In the past year, Suwassett Chapter No. 195 of Royal Arch Masons moved into the Northport Temple, looking to join forces with the historic Lodge and create what was once thought an impossible dream. Together, these two organizations pulled all their resources and met the overwhelming challenges of fiscal restructuring, building management, and creating a new foundation for a Masonic Temple dedicated to the Observant model.

On this day, Right Worshipful Piers Vaughan visited Northport for his personal examination and certification of the Lodge as an Observant Masonic organization.  The Special Communication of Alcyone was followed by a joint Lodge and Chapter Agape, which was followed by a Convocation of Suwassett Chapter No. 195 R.A.M., where the Most Excellent Jason Sheridan, Grand High Priest of Royal Arch Masons in New York, assessed the Chapter for certification of Capitular Masonic Observance. 

“It was a truly phenomenal evening with a complex array of events which would have normally occurred over the course of three evenings,” says W:. Bradley Hubbard, Master of Alcyone No. 695 and High Priest of Suwassett 195. “Our dedicated team of Brothers and Companions accomplished this with no loss of fidelity.”

Royal Arch Companions

The honored guests determined that both Lodge and Chapter are indeed operating as Observant Masonic organizations, marking it a milestone event in the history of American Freemasonry.  Suwassett, having pioneered the concept of Masonic Observance in the Capitular setting over the past several years, is now the first officially recognized Observant Chapter in New York.  As New York is the pioneer jurisdiction for the Capitular Observance movement, one could say that by extension they have become the first in the world.

“Although many other Observant Lodges are currently in operation and there will surely be more Observant Chapters to follow,” continues W:. Hubbard, “in no other setting have the two come together to offer the possibility of a “complete” experience from the first to seventh degrees.  Alcyone Lodge and Suwassett Chapter have modeled a seamless integration of Lodge and Chapter, closely mirroring the English model within the boundaries of our jurisdictional requirements.  This has all happened under one roof for the first time in known record.”

What does this mean for the Northport Lodge?  “Well, in once sense nothing and another sense everything,” W:. Hubbard replies. “Nothing insofar as we were adjudicated based on a core ethos which has manifested itself in all that we have done over the past year.  We did not “put on a one night show for them” but “put who we are on show for one night”.  In that regard, nothing has changed from last week to this week.  At the same time this changes everything, as we are charged to not only sustain that progress but improve upon it at every opportunity and, by extension, improve upon ourselves.  There is no room for resting on our laurels as the laurels themselves are illusory.  We have offered ourselves to the Craft not only as an example of Masonic Observance but as a practical resource to all who may endeavor to follow this path.”

“Earning this distinction has labeled us, both literally and metaphorically.  While we now officially bear the designation “Observant Masonry”, the title is little more than an indicator. The beacon has been lit, and the true Seekers will continue to gravitate towards its brilliant glow in search of a more profound Masonic experience.  It is incumbent upon us to keep it burning with intensity and remain steadfast on the course we’ve laid out.”

Craftsmenonline congratulates Alcyone Lodge No. 695 (OM) F. & A.M. and Suwassett Chapter No. 195 (OCM) R.A.M.

I would like to express my special thanks to W:. Bradley Hubbard for his time and efforts in completing this article.

Written by:
Written by Wor. Bro. Ronald J. Seifried, DSA
Trustee Chairman and Historian, Jephtha Lodge No. 494 F. & A.M.
Area 1 Historian, Nassau and Suffolk Masonic Districts
Editor, Craftsmen Online NY Masonic History column
32° Scottish Rite,  Valley of Rockville Centre
Companion of Asharokan Chapter No. 288, Royal Arch Masons
Member of Suffolk Council No. 76, Cryptic Masons
Author, “Long Island Freemasons,” Arcadia Publishing, 2020