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People of Cessnock is a blog by local resident, Rebecca Murray. The project seeks to value the people of her home town by sharing their stories value and raising the profile of people living outside metropolitan areas.



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“I was going through a change in career and said, ‘I’m going back to Uni. I’ll give up this career path I’m on. I don’t like it.’

So, I went, ‘OK. Let me sit down and make a list of things I like.’ And teaching was on the list and martial arts was on the list - it was a huge list - and I thought, ‘What is this as a career?’ And one day I was watching this TV show and I said, ‘That! What is that?’ And it turned out to be a psychologist. So, I said, ‘I’ll do that!’

So, I did that. I enrolled for that degree.

I went on to start my PhD this year looking at stress pathways in response to addictive drugs. The end goal is to reduce the likelihood of relapse. It will take many, many years and the technology is very, very new.

We’re using fiber photometry and optogenetics, which is basically using light to measure calcium changes in these cells. So, fascinating science. Very stressful for the researcher.

And, well, at the same time I was changing career and re-evaluating everything else in my life, I remembered that Freemasonry had always interested me.

I had always been interested in history. Roman history in particular. I had come across Masonry and had learnt a lot previously but I’d never made that jump.

So, I came to an open night, met a few people and I put my papers in. I knew a couple of brethren here, so it was easy enough for me to join. It was a lot of fun. And then I got initiated … and that was an interesting night. But you learn a lot on that night and you know exactly where you sit within the organization after that.

It’s probably one of the best, if not the best decision, I’ve made in recent years.”

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“The Simpsons got it wrong.

We do get together and have a drink. Though, apart from that, that song is 100% wrong.

It’s a place of belonging; a family, you could say. A lot of people who don’t have that sense of family love Freemasonry because it is a family in many regards.

It’s just an organization that is there to try and help those who are members and try and help out the community. That’s basically it. We just sit in the background and quietly try and help where we can.

There’s a Masonic Park being named after us. We’ve put the name forward to honor the Freemasons of this area because the coal fields have a rich history of Freemasonry. Thousands and thousands of people have been Freemasons in the coal region.

We focus on instilling morals in people. ‘Do no harm’ is a big thing for us. And brotherly love. Relief. Helping other people who are in distress. Truth. Being honest with the world, with yourself, with each other. For example, if one brother has an issue with another brother they can’t come into the lodge. They need to go outside and work out their issue and, if they can’t work it out, they go home.

Imagine a toolkit and you whip out the tool-box and you go, ‘Here’re all the tools. You can choose what you want.’ We explain what these things are but it’s up to the man to actually grab the tool and go, ‘This is what I’m going to do.’

There would be biblical and historical roots to a lot of those teachings. With that said, Masonry isn’t a religion. You bring your own religion with you. So, for example, we may have a Christian Bible here but if you were Jewish or Hindu you could bring any scared text to replace it.

So, charity - yes. Family - yes. But last, and for me most importantly, as Worshipful Master of Lodge Cessnock, is that tradition.

To be part of a living tradition. To be part of something bigger than yourself. To be part of a ritual where kings and presidents have been in the same position and said the same things. That, to me, is special. Regardless of how far back the history and traditions go, the fact that we’re perpetuating this tradition onwards for the future is amazing for me.”