Two Master Masons share their experiences of using Solomon, the new online learning resource from the UGLE Learning and Development Programme
Launched in December 2018, Solomon has a straightforward goal: to help members, lodges and chapters learn more about Freemasonry. And with over 10,000 members visiting solomon.ugle.org.uk in the first month after its launch – and over 4,000 transactions being made each day – it appears that Freemasons all over the world are sharing Solomon’s wisdom. But how does it work? We spoke to two Master Masons who have been using it, Mike Milner and Ben Mowatt, to find out.
What are your early impressions of Solomon?
Mike Milner: I’m impressed with the range of content on the website – and pleased to hear that there will be more resources in the future. I’ve browsed the material myself and our lodge has already started using some of the ‘nuggets’ [five to ten-minute ‘items of interest’ that can easily fit into lodge evenings]. The website is easy to navigate and has a professional quality in its presentation.
Ben Mowatt: I’m still new to Freemasonry, so having a place to go and discover content relevant to my own interests has been a great help. It’s something I can refer to when needed: a single reference point for authentic facts and knowledge – kind of like an encyclopaedia for Freemasonry.
How’s the website?
MM: At first, it seems a little different, but it’s actually straightforward. There are different ways to navigate the website if you’re looking for something specific. However, it’s been easy to find articles of interest by simply browsing the complete list in each section. The titles of the resources are clear and helpful, too.
BM: It’s easy to use and understand. The layout and navigation made searching really simple and I could find related topics based on my initial search. It’s what you’d expect: well-structured pages, easy-to-read text and fast loading times. The site’s very accessible, and the content is displayed in a PDF format, which makes it easy to read.
'Solomon provides a quick and easy way to access information to help you make advancements'
Does it work on all of your devices?
MM: Yes, I usually use my iPad as it allows the content to be read easily without needing to print. However, I can also view the site on my computer screen and – at a push – on my smartphone!
BM: I’ve used both my laptop and my smartphone. I found the website responsive and it adapts to each screen seamlessly, which is really great.
How has Solomon helped you so far?
BM: Being a candidate can be overwhelming, making it difficult to take everything in on the night, but with Solomon, I was able to revisit my previous ceremonies and gain a better understanding of what I’d experienced. I remember not fully understanding what a ‘cowan’ was, so I decided to see what Solomon had to say about it.
MM: I have a fairly busy life, which means that finding time to read long books can be difficult, so I like that the information is presented in short chunks, which I can dip into when I have a spare moment. Some of our lodge members have found interesting items for discussion on Lodge of Instruction nights, which has enriched the evening, while I’ve found some of the longer papers on Freemasonry’s history particularly stimulating.
So your Lodge uses the resource too?
MM: That’s right. The ‘nuggets’ are great for the Lodge of Instruction, as well as regular meetings, and there are items of interest for most meetings. Our next step will be starting to use the longer papers to help newer members develop an interest and a better understanding of what we do. The nuggets are also useful in adding additional explanation to the published ritual, or in helping the candidates to understand a little more about what they have experienced.
BM: Our Worshipful Master has asked brethren to present information about Freemasonry on selected practice nights, so we’ll be using Solomon to research topics of interest to help form these presentations. We also use the nuggets on lodge nights to enhance the ceremony.
What specifically have you learned thanks to Solomon’s help?
MM: The Royal Arch material has been helpful, as I’m fairly new to that. The history is a bit more complicated than Craft Freemasonry, but Solomon has given me the ability to learn more about it without spending money on books!
BM: It’s introduced me to topics that I might not have otherwise come across or thought to ask about. One example is the ‘forget-me-not’ pin. I hadn’t realised that it had a significance in Freemasonry, but I saw a nugget about it and decided it was time to learn more about its history.
Would you recommend it to other Freemasons?
MM: Absolutely. We’re often reminded to try and make advancements – Solomon provides a quick and easy way to access information to help this. For lodges that have new initiates joining, it will help support them and provide answers to their questions. But there’s so much material, more experienced Freemasons will be able to find items of interest too.
BM: I’d recommend it. If you’re new to Freemasonry and want to get to know new words and concepts or understand lodge matters, it’s a fantastic place to start. Plus it’s all in one place so you can learn about the degree relevant to you without being overwhelmed. For Freemasons looking to refresh their understanding and continue their daily advancement, it’s a convenient place to discover more, and you can even track your reading progress, so I’d recommend it to anyone.
Visit solomon.ugle.org.uk to access Solomon.