True Secrets of Freemasonry

Those who become Freemasons only for the sake of finding out the secret of the order, run a very great risk of growing old under the trowel without ever realizing their purpose. Yet there is a secret, but it is so inviolable that it has never been confided or whispered to anyone. Those who stop at the outward crust of things imagine that the secret consists in words, in signs, or that the main point of it is to be found only in reaching the highest degree. This is a mistaken view: the man who guesses the secret of Freemasonry, and to know it you must guess it, reaches that point only through long attendance in the lodges, through deep thinking, comparison, and deduction.

He would not trust that secret to his best friend in Freemasonry, because he is aware that if his friend has not found it out, he could not make any use of it after it had been whispered in his ear. No, he keeps his peace, and the secret remains a secret.

Giovanni Giacomo Casanova, Memoirs, Volume 2a, Paris, p. 33

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Are there Women Masons?

Ok, so this is going to sound a bit like heresy, but here goes:

Brothers, there are women Masons.

Close your mouths, it’s not that bad.

I like male only Freemasonry, and certainly have no personal interest in sitting in lodge with a woman. I enjoy our fraternity as it is, and with minor exceptions, I love everything about Freemasonry, and do not see any need to invite women into my lodge.

We know that men and women think differently, work differently, and are surrounded by different energies. Different is not bad, it just is a fact of life. Different does not in any sense imply superiority or inferiority. We should celebrate our differences instead of trying to force everyone into the same mold!

Reality Check.

Women have been practicing the tenets and teachings of our gentle craft since at least the 1800’s, and there are records of women earlier than that. Even the United Grand Lodge of England admits they exist:

"There exist in England and Wales at least two Grand Lodges solely for women. Except that these bodies admit women, they are, so far as can be ascertained, otherwise regular in their practice (emphasis added!). There is also one, which admits both men and women to membership. They are not recognized by this Grand Lodge and intervisitation may not take place. There are, however, informal discussions from time to time with the women's Grand Lodges on matters of mutual concern. Brethren are therefore free to explain to non-Masons, if asked, that Freemasonry is not confined to men (even though this Grand Lodge does not itself admit women). Further information about these bodies may be obtained by writing
to the Grand Secretary."

"The Board is also aware that there exist other bodies not directly imitative of pure antient Masonry, but which by
implication introduce Freemasonry, such as the Order of the Eastern Star. Membership of such bodies, attendance at their meetings or participation in their ceremonies is incompatible with membership of this Grand Lodge."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but more an acknowledgement of a fact. There really are women who use our rituals, teach our philosophy, employ our working tools and live our Masonic tenets. They were first prepared to be made Masons in their hearts, as were all of us in the regular Grand Lodges.

Now, before you burst into flames of righteous indignation, as far as I know, no one is seriously suggesting the regular Grand Lodges should throw open their door and invite women to join our lodges or to allow intervisitation. What I am suggesting is that since, as the old saying goes, if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s probably a duck, and these women are acting as Masons in all senses except that they are women, that we might, oh, I don’t know, actually treat them as if they were… Masons?

So, you are probably asking me what that means, and that is an excellent question, mostly because its one I have been wrestling with myself for some time now. What is it that makes us a Mason? Our obligation (and keeping it), at least according to the catechism of the Entered Apprentice in my jurisdiction.

Its not the secrets of a Mason that make us Masons, because any profane can acquire the secrets in a library or good sized bookstore. So, minus gender, you can tell a Mason by how s/he talks, how s/he acts, how s/he keeps his word, and how s/he carries themselves in society. So if we ignore gender, we can tell someone is a Mason by how they ARE before g-d and mankind.

Its our obligation then that makes us a Mason. Therefore, lets use that obligation as the measuring stick, a 24 inch gauge, if you will. We are called to act upon the square, keep a tongue of good report, treat people on the level, and act uprightly before g-d and man. We are to act prudently, with justice and temperance, having faith, hope and charity in our hearts and actions.

There are some that argue, and I have been one of them, that since they could not legally receive charters from a regular grand lodge, and because a brother somewhere violated his obligations to make a woman mason, somehow these women cannot be masons. Uh, so the sins of the father are to be visited upon the daughters? THEY did not take that obligation, not to be present at or assist in the making a woman a Mason, so how can they be held to that standard?

I have written many times that if it were in my power (and its probably good that its not), I would recognize all regular practicing Masons and allow intervisitation. I am not willing to go that far with Women's Obediences, but lets be realistic here... as the UGLE noted, OTHER than that they are women, they are regular practicing Masons.

If our sisters (yes, I know they prefer to be called brother, but I am only human here…) live their obligations as we do, then why can't we, why shouldn't we, extend them the same consideration, the same hand of brotherly love and relief? I am not calling for us to extend regularity or recognition to these obediences, but, in the name of Masonic tolerance and brotherly love, since they are Masons in all but gender, can we not at least treat them as cousins, as Masons who just can't belong to our lodges?

In the Master’s Lecture in my lodge, we are told that if we see a certain sign given, or hear the words accompanying it spoken, that:

“…we are to regard the PERSON giving it as a Master Mason, and it would be out indispensable duty to aid and assist them…”

The lecture doesn’t say the MAN giving it, it says the person giving it.

The fact is, the vast majority of women only Masonic Obediences have no interest in participating in Male only or what would then be co-ed Masonry) any more than the vast majority of men are interested in participating in women only or co-ed masonry. Anyone that IS interested can always join a co-ed lodge as they do exist.

There are a few, a strident few, who make a lot of noise about forcing the regular Grand Lodges to open their doors to women, but the reality is, the regular Grand Lodge brethren are happy with the Grand Lodge as it is, a male only fraternity. Truth to tell, if people, men and women were really interested in co-ed masonry, there would be more co-ed lodges in the country.

What seems to be growing in numbers is women only lodges. More power to them, I wish them the best in their work and in achieving the goals we all set for ourselves in Freemasonry. They do no harm to regular freemasonry, in fact, as I have noted elsewhere, the world could use more people living as Masons. Why do we join Masonic lodges in the first place?

To become better people.

After all, Freemasonry is not about me changing them, its about me changing me.

Given the above, I would like to suggest that we treat our sisters as Masons by giving them the same respect and courtesy we would give anyone we meet on the street who notes that they are a Mason. That does not mean inviting them to lodge, of course, nor visiting a tyled session of their lodges, but extending to them the courtesy and respect that we would give to a strange man who lays claim to our fraternal association instead of treating them as if they were horned emmisaries of the devil or infected with Ebola.

Disclaimer: It is not my purpose to try to change your mind, or convince you of any position one way or the other. I am, as always, interested in your point of view.

G-d bless.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Bro Theron, a very fair and honest article.

R W Bro Steve Foley 18th degree

A Co-Mason

Cora said...

Theron, you're a Beacon -- lead the way, Bro:.

With frat. love,
and h.g.w.,

Cora Burke FC
British Federation,
International Co-Freemasonry "Le Droit Humain"

Anonymous said...

Theron, this is refreshing and I will admit..... unexpected, at least from my understanding of your position on this issue. It is also very encouraging when someone like you writes in this manner.

Leo (admin MFOL)

Anonymous said...

Brother TD!

What an unexpected and delightful read. Kudos! With the exception of qualifying (for clarity sake) your use of the word "regularity" as that being associated with UGLE recognized organizations, juxtaposition to the regularity associated with Co-craft and Female-craft Masonry, your blog entry pegs the meter on the 1-10 meter for thought provoking entries to ponder.

Awesomely Bodacious Brother!

Prometheus (NOS Admin)

Anonymous said...

What makes us a Master Mason?

Of course it is our obligation.

Do women who claim to practice Freemasonry keep their obligations the same as we do?

Obviously not by the fact that they are out there.

Women and co-ed masonry came about only one way, a Group of Masons violated their obligations.

Not very Masonic to me.

The UGLE may take the path of least politically correct resistance on this issue, that is their business.

In my jurisdiction we are clear on what makes a candidate eligable to be a Mason. We are clear on what and who we recognise to be a Mason.

Women are deffinately not in the definition.

There may be women pretending just as in California there is a group pretending to be Masons who require you to sign over all your property to the lodge and to share wives. They are just that though, unrecognised pretenders.

Br. Arthur Peterson

Anonymous said...

I am sorry Therro there is not and never will be woman Freemasons they can call themself what they like but they will never be Freemasons.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff Bro Theron.

I know that you have struggled with this subject for some considerable time, so I believe your sentiments to be honest, enlightened and from the heart!

Anonymous said...

Nice article Bro Theron

munkholt said...

Br. Arthur Peterson said: "Women and co-ed masonry came about only one way, a Group of Masons violated their obligations."

Freemasonry spread across Europe in the 18th century thanks to any number of unauthorised rituals, exposés and plain gussing.

In Denmark we have the Schröder St. John's lodges, which are regular and recognised by UGLE. Here's what they write:

"Fundamentally the ritual is based on an old English ritual, published in 1790, probably as a so-called "Traitor’s publication"."

Probably won't affect your opinion much, but I really don't think that how a ritual was passed on a hundred or two hundred years ago has any bearing on the freemasons who work it today.

George the 3rd said...

Brother Theron,

I know you did not come to this conclusion easily or "light"ly (sorry for the pun)! That makes it all the more remarkable and significant, you ol' dog!


Anonymous said...

All issues of gender aside, if someone is not recognized as a Mason by any Grand Lodge they not, in fact, a Mason. No amount of aprons, memorization work or virtuous living changes that fact.

So that's the logical bottle neck as I see it here. If certain female lodges in England are recognized by the UGLE, it seems logical I (as an American Mason) should recognize their membership. That really has no binding on what are essentially clandestine female or co-ed lodges in American.

Anonymous said...

but logically that makes no sense. Isn't part of being a mason being loyal to your country, hence countrymen? Sounds to me like you're more loyal to England than you are USA if you will recognize female english masons but not american ones.


Anonymous said...

If we are of the belief that today's Freemasonry has it's origin with acient stone masons guilds then the fact is Freemasonry is now and always has been C0-ed.

Robert S. Paul said...

Although I enjoy the male fraternity, I wouldn't mind watching watching the initiation ritual. :)

Anonymous said...

I arrived on this site trying to research what I consider to be a xenophobic ruling by my Grand Lodge that states that lodge will only be open in our juridiction with the Christian Bible on the Alter, and never the Koran or Torah. Previously, my lodge had a King James Version, a Jewish Old Testament, and a Koran on the Altar when we were at labor and I strongly suspect that it was our lodge who triggered the Grand Master's edict. But this blog triggered a very old memory about a broken promise of the Master who presided over my initiation that "there is nothing therein contained...." There was in fact, something therein contained that offended me although I took the oath anyway and have never violated it. Something about the making of a woman a Mason. I rationilized that if I got up and walked out, I could never have any effect in getting it changed.

Anonymous said...

Bro Theron
A thoughtful read. As a female Mason and Past Master, your sincere exploration is enlightening and stands in stark contrast to some of the narrow, crystalised opinions expressed further down. The non-recognition of a Grand Lodge does not make me a non-Mason. Men and women working together in Lodge is not everyone's cup of tea, so there is space in the world for many different types of Fraternities.

A fact of life, gentlemen. It is not going to go away, so deal with in in your own way.


Unknown said...

first off beacon.. They might exist in the UK. but in the the Us there consider non existing i remember my oath when i becoming a mason and it says that i would not be present of making a woman a mason .. there for they my call them a mason but it just a clandestine lodge witch is not in the masonic family .. they read it can call them self a mason but I am Proud to be a True Mason and not a clandestine one .. my membership is Reconized by the grand lodge ..

Bro.G a true none co ed mason

Anonymous said...

There's one question that I ask myself. Why are women Freemasons looked at in such a way from some men Freemasons? What's the true reason? Thanks in advance for any answer

Renee said...

I must say that I am verily disappointed after ardent search for membership in the fine society of like-minded individuals to discover that it is closed to me because of my gender. Apparently, if it looks like a duck, walks and talks and even quacks like a duck, if it is a white duck, a black duck or a rainbow colored duck then it is still a duck, but only if it is a male duck. Female ducks are, at least in this instance, unducklike by the very nature that they were born into feminism. It is a sad shame that a noble female cannot join this society in "legitimacy". Looking into freemasonry and all that it implies seems to me contrary of exclusion of a kind based solely on gender and, well, perhaps a real hypocrisy. There is in this case such a rigid standard as to define the letter of the law without jury to spirit of the law with which this society abides.

Unknown said...

I am not familiar with Freemasons, but am learning about Mary Magdalene and Freemasons came about from the idea that they are "related" to the Knights Templar who seemed to believe in gender equality and the idea of the holy bloodline, having also built churches in honor of Mary Magdalene so I am somewhat confused, surprised from the role or lack of role of women in Freemasons seems much similar to Catholicism which tried to eradicate the Templars and their beliefs. Could you possibly be able to explain it more to me? Thank you Kristina

snyty said...

There is a place for women. Eastern Star , Jobs Daughters etc. There are no Women Masons. Sorry. Maybe the guys who broke their obligation in the first place just did it to watch them go through the ritual.

snyty said...

There is a place for women. Eastern Star , Jobs Daughters etc. There are no Women Masons. Sorry. Maybe the guys who broke their obligation in the first place just did it to watch them go through the ritual.

snyty said...

Because there are none

snyty said...

You must not be bashful if you went through a ritual.

snyty said...

There is a place for women. Eastern Star , Jobs Daughters etc. There are no Women Masons. Sorry. Maybe the guys who broke their obligation in the first place just did it to watch them go through the ritual.

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