Regular: A chartered lodge that can trace its lineage back to the Grand Lodge of England Grand Lodge of Scotland, or the Grand Lodge of Ireland, through regular Grand Lodges. it is a constitutional mechanism whereby Grand Lodges or Grand Orients give one another mutual recognition. This recognition allows formal interaction at the Grand Lodge level, and gives individual Freemasons the opportunity to attend meetings at Lodges in other recognized jurisdictions. Conversely, regularity proscribes interaction with Lodges that are irregular. A Mason who visits an irregular Lodge may have his membership suspended for a time, or he may be expelled. For this reason, all Grand Lodges maintain lists of other jurisdictions and lodges they consider regular.
Clandestine: A lodge operating either without a charter/dispensation or operating with one from a Grand Lodge that is not considered Regular. The (Anderson) Constitutions declare, Section 8, that where a number of Freemasons shall take upon themselves to form a Lodge without a Grand Master’s Warrant, the regular Lodges are not to countenance them nor own them are fair brethren, and duly formed. In other words, Lodge formed without a Warrant from the Grand Master (we now say Grand Lodge) is “clandestine,” and so a “clandestine Masons” is one made in a Lodge without a Warrant.
Irregular: Often confused with Clandestine. Irregular denotes something not regularly done in masonry. For instance, a woman, made a mason, is by definition of regular masonry, irregularly made, even if all else is done “regularly”. So, for instance, if a regular lodge makes a woman a mason, the doing would be considered irregular.Now that we have our terms straight, we can discuss this. In yesterday’s blog, Are There Women Masons, I noted that there are women masons. I did not say that there were regular women masons, but I did note an indisputable fact. Since then, there has been a long and somewhat serious discussion on the forum I help administer, The Lodgeroom US.
Recognition: the action of recognizing : the state of being recognized : as a : ACKNOWLEDGMENT; especially : formal acknowledgment of the political existence of a government or nation b : knowledge or feeling that someone or something present has been encountered before
It is one thing to accept a group of masons as regular, and another to simply recognize a fact of life. No one is seriously suggesting that the regular Grand Lodges extend consideration of regularity to women’s lodges, least of all me. Regularity has been clearly defined by the Mainstream Grand Lodge system.
In all of this, there is one thing that should be remembered, my brothers: Will ye, nill ye, there are women who swear the same obligations, who form as lodges, with the same officers, the same symbols, the same rituals, the same teachings, who live the same tenets, and who fulfill their obligations.
As Br. Gregg Hall of The Lodgeroom US says: if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, chances are, it’s a duck.
Our grand lodges teach us that a man is first PREPARED to be made a mason in his heart. Then, it is our obligation that makes us a mason. In the catechism of the first degree in the Grand Lodge of California, the candidate is asked:
What came you here to do?
Ans: To improve myself in masonry
Then you are a mason, I presume?
Ans: I am, so taken and accepted among men and masons
How may I know you to be a mason?
Ans: By my obligation
So, to be known (another word for recognized) as a mason, we have our obligation. To recognize a brother, any brother, we look at how they live, what they do, how they act. Most of us who meet a man in public who claims to be a mason is accepted at face value, without any proofs. After all, in public, we aren’t likely to jump into an exchange of Masonic “secrets”.
The issue here is not conferral of regularity. Neither women’s lodges, nor men’s lodges, are interested in changing the definition of regularity, or of creating intervisitation. Nor is it one of merging the two systems into some kind of mismash of the two… the old, separate but equal concept. The issue here is, rather, one of recognition, not regularity.
Since we have set aside the issue of regularity, we should approach the true issue here, the one that, as masons, we are really commanded to uphold. In my jurisdiction, in the Entered Apprentice lecture, we are taught that:
By the exercise of brotherly love, we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family, the high and the low, the rich and the poor, who, as created by one almighty parent, and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support and protect each other. On this principle, masonry unites men of every country, sect and opinion, and causes true friendship to exist among those who might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance.
So, while we cannot, and to be faithful to our obligations, should not, extend consideration of regularity to women’s or co-ed obediences, there is nothing that says we cannot recognize them as MASONS. In this case, recognition would mean the acknowledgment of a self evident fact:
The women are acting as Masons, living as Masons, and keeping the very same obligations that we keep. So, while they are not regular masons, that term has no value to them anyway, we can, and should recognize them as Masons. It does no harm to our Masonry, and in fact, a salient argument could be made that to recognize them as Masons is an imperative in our obligations.
As always, I look forward to your comments.