Odd Fellows Invade Steampunk!

If ever there was a great match-up, it’s the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the mash-up of Victorian futurism, science fiction, and whimsy known as Steampunk. This community holds Clockwork Alchemy, an annual convention in California’s Bay Area.

Clockwork Alchemy features authors who write books in the genre, lectures and workshops, creative costuming, and shows the work of members of the Maker community. It also provides various activities ranging from Big Band dancing to teapot dueling to martial arts to fighting with traditional Hawaiian weapons.

This year the Odd Fellows of True Fellowship #52 made their presence known! After all, Odd Fellowship was on the rise in the Victorian era, and the tropes of Steampunk are fascinated with secret societies and club life of the era.

We set up a booth in the central concourse, right across from the Tea Parlor, where we displayed props and relics of the past, including a collection of memorabilia from the Odd Fellows participation in the San Francisco Pan Pacific Exposition of 1915, a Warden’s ax, and various photos and old documents. Our own Mason Wolf dressed in the antique robe of a Past Grand, which fit right into the Convention’s vibe. And of course we were equipped with fliers and applications to show we are still here! We joked that we were truly a secret society because many didn’t  realize we were still around.

Several people signed our contact sheet to find out more about the Order. Two people who talked to us at Clockwork Alchemy came to the Hamburger Fry at True Fellowship the following week. Many of the people

who stopped to talk to us thought highly of past work of the Order, and many also told of family members who had been Odd Fellows. Often, people were fascinated and delighted to find we still exist. Some visitors from out of state said they were going to find out if there were Odd Fellows in their own states. Many also expressed interest in the fact some of our Lodges have gone back to performing full rituals. One person even filled out an application on the spot!

Our members also gave lectures. Andrew Crockett, Vice Grand of True 52, gave a presentation on Secret Societies, Symbolism, and Steampunk, featuring the Odd Fellows as one of the representative organizations. One of the convention organizers said that his talk was the most popular and well attended lecture at the convention. The room was at capacity, with standing room only! It was also recorded for later viewing for those who could not attend. See Youtube:

You can also search for “Citizen Crockett’s talk on secret societies.” Jane Beckman gave a presentation on how to set up a Steampunk-style bar in your home, using primarily finds from thrift shops and estate sales.

Members who turned out to introduce the Steampunk community to Odd Fellowship included Mason and Honor Wolf, Andrew Crockett, Adam Potolsky, Jane Beckman, and Sarah Bruce.

One of the things our table at Clockwork Alchemy brought home is that Odd Fellowship is ripe for a revival. People like to connect, and sometimes what is old can be new again.

by Jane Beckman

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