The beauty of Freemasonry is that you never know what is hiding around the next corner. Darren Helm had a pleasant surprise after being raised to the third degree in May 2023 in Pendle Lodge 4073, in the town of Colne, in the province of East Lancashire.
The news of his raising reached the ears of his wife’s uncle, Tom Hagen, who is a high ranking officer in the Grand Lodge in Oslo. Mr Hagen promptly invited Darren and brethren to attend an initiation at his lodge.
Darren Helm and Ian Salthouse accepted the kind invitation and arrived in Oslo Thursday 14th September 2023. After checking in at our hotel we swiftly went on a reconnaissance mission to check out the Grand Lodge we would be visiting the next day.
We stood in awe outside the Grand Lodge of Norway, which is a huge, impressive building standing side by side next to the Parliament Building of Norway, in the centre of Oslo.
The following day we were welcomed through the doors which we had stood outside the previous day. Once inside, the regal grandeur of the building never failed to amaze us. We were greeted by the tour guide and museum curator Atle Sorensen who warmly welcomed us. Mr Sorensen took us on a very informative tour of the lodge, taking us through splendid hallways and grand dining rooms, with chandeliers weighing up to 2 tonnes.
We were also shown portraits of past and present masters adorning the walls. In the Knight’s room, the coats of arms of every lodge in Norway were impressive. Two suits of armour guarded the grand master’s private quarters. We were privileged to be given access to this part of the building.
We were then taken to the masonic museum where we learned of the shocking occupation of the lodge by the German Nazis, who destroyed all traces of masonic existence either by machine gun or vandalism. Fortunately, the dining rooms were kept intact.
We had the privilege to be photographed in the opulent dining room on the top floor with the grand master of Norway, Mr Ragnar Tollefsen.
In the evening, whilst waiting to be escorted into the Lodge, by the DC, to greet the WM, we met the Grand Chancellor and keeper of the seal, Mr Klaus Tollefsen. After being introduced to the WM, we were escorted to our seats. The language was different, the ceremony was different, but at the same time impressive and enjoyable.
The lighting in the ceiling followed the commands of the WM. The ceiling lit up to open and enliven the day, then changed to the night sky showing all the star constellations to close the day accompanied by a concert violinist.
An exquisite meal of roast lamb was followed by Norwegian speeches.
The next order of business was the visitors’ toast. WB Salthouse gave a superb speech to reflect credit to ourselves and honour to the lodge which resulted in rapturous applause from 120 Norwegian brethren. A truly masonic experience of brotherhood far from home.