Women Freemasons

Discussion in 'The Voting Booth' started by Blake Bowden, Sep 7, 2008.

?

Should women be allowed to become Freemasons?

  1. Yes

    21 vote(s)
    8.7%
  2. No

    205 vote(s)
    85.1%
  3. Doesn't matter either way

    15 vote(s)
    6.2%
  1. AnthonyBolding

    AnthonyBolding Registered User

    49
    0
    0
    No that's what oes is for.
     
  2. Kristopher Wyatt

    Kristopher Wyatt Registered User

    5
    0
    0
  3. MikeMay

    MikeMay Premium Member

    595
    9
    0
    As I said earlier, why would a woman want to join a fraternity and be made into a better man?...we do after all take men and make them better men...just sayin!
     
  4. JohnnyFlotsam

    JohnnyFlotsam Premium Member

    485
    62
    28
    I suspect the "better man" bit was meant to be clever. Whatever...

    Why would a woman want to become a Freemason? How about to have access to all the lessons and tools that we are so proud of? Is there some reason women should not want this? Or that they should be denied this outright?
     
  5. Beathard

    Beathard Premium Member

    1,627
    18
    0
    My wife said she could live her entire life without being in "that room full of testosterone !"
     
  6. Beathard

    Beathard Premium Member

    1,627
    18
    0
    I think those of us that are male members of OES have an understanding of my wife is talking about. The levels of estrogen can be deadening.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2011
  7. Geeksgalore

    Geeksgalore Registered User

    45
    0
    0
  8. Beathard

    Beathard Premium Member

    1,627
    18
    0
    There are pseudo-Masonic orders all over the world. What's your point?
     
  9. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

    1,146
    619
    113
    Freemasonry is a fraternity, meaning it's for gentlemen only. Women have their options, such as Eastern Star, so I don't really see why they couldn't support that instead of joining a blue lodge.

    Sure we could change our obligations and allow women in but what about those of us who have already taken the obligation? You wouldn't swear on the bible and then lie in court would you? I think it's the same principle.
     
  10. Geeksgalore

    Geeksgalore Registered User

    45
    0
    0
    Maria Deraismes (August 17, 1828 – February 6, 1894) was a French author and major pioneering force for women’s rights.
    Born in Paris, Maria Deraismes grew up in Pontoise in the city’s northwest outskirts. From a prosperous middle class family, she was well educated and raised in a literary environment that led to her authoring several literary works but soon developed a reputation as a very capable communicator. She became active in promoting women’s rights and, in 1866, joined the Société de la revendication des droits de la femme, a feminist organization advancing the cause of education for women. In 1869, she founded L’Association pour le droit des femmes with Leon Richer.Following the ouster of Napoleon III, she understood the new politics of the day meant a more moderate approach under the Third Republic in order for feminism to survive and not be marginalized by the new breed of male power brokers emerging at the time. Deraismes’ work brought her recognition in Great Britain and an influence upon American activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton who met her in Paris in 1882 following Deraismes’ breakthrough membership in the Freemasons. A year later, she and Georges Martin organized the first Masonic lodge in the world to allow both men and women as members.
    Maria Deraismes was initiated—on January 14, 1882—into Lodge “Les Libres Penseurs” of Pecq, a small village to the west of Paris.
    She was the first female Freemason, symbolising initiatory equality.
    Eleven years later, on April 4, 1893, Maria Deraismes and Georges Martin, a well-known mason, created in Paris the first co-masonic Lodge. Out of this co-masonic Lodge came the birth of the Grande Loge Symbolique Ecossaise “Le Droit Humain”, establishing the equality of men and women, out of which, later, came the birth of the International Order of Co-Freemasonry “LE DROIT HUMAIN”.
    With other support of Suffragettes such as Hubertine Auclert, Maria Deraismes worked to achieve political emancipation for women, standing as a symbolic candidate in the elections of 1885. On her death in 1894, Maria Deraismes was interred in the Montmartre Cemetery. Her complete writings were published in 1895 and much information on her work can be found at the Bibliothèque Marguerite Durand in Paris.
    To honor her memory, a street in Paris was named for her, and a statue was erected in a small park. The town square in St. Nazaire was also named in her honor.
     
  11. Beathard

    Beathard Premium Member

    1,627
    18
    0
    Are you arguing against co-masonry? You are making a pretty good argument. Clandestine is clandestine.
     
  12. Geeksgalore

    Geeksgalore Registered User

    45
    0
    0
    I am not one to argue, even debate can cause ill feelings, everyone is entitled to their own belief structure, in my opinion as long as it does not hurt anyone!
     
  13. Michaelstedman81

    Michaelstedman81 Premium Member

    789
    4
    38
    I went to the link that Bro. Geeksgalore provided just to do some extra reading. I ended up going to the website of the Order of Women Freemasons and read some stuff on thier site. And then went to the website for the Womens Freemasonry USA which is a group of women that claim to be freemasons and are "chartered" by the "women's grand lodge of Belgium"...lol

    Ya know, after reading the stuff that is on thier site I have to wonder what they "teach" there and what the ceremonies are like. I mean, do they say Hiram Abiff is a woman? Does Hiram Abiff have anything to do with their stuff at all? The first group that I looked at even has Knights Templar degrees...lol While I can't say anything about the Knights Templar because I haven't had the chance to go that route yet, I just wonder how much thier version is different from ours. Does anyone know of a source where I can read about what their ceremonies are like or have in them?

    When I do the "lol" in here, I am not intending to mean that I am making fun of them, or anyone for that matter, but I just find this really amazing and am just really suprised at a lot of the stuff that I just read. I had no clue that there were women "masonic" goups out there till several months ago when I saw a few women on a documentary DVD I got from Netflix stating that they were freemasons. And with all of this, I decided to look more into this on the internet and am shocked at what I found...lol

    Just curious, can I even be looking into this stuff for just pure knowledge without going against Masonry or my Obligation? Obviously, I wouldn't make contact with any of these persons or groups, but I am just meaning by looking on the net and finding the information.
     
  14. Geeksgalore

    Geeksgalore Registered User

    45
    0
    0
    Glad you got to do some extra reading Brother Michael. Women Masons have been around for a long time. They also refer to each other as "brothers" not sisters. GM Hiram is also very much part of their work, as well as everything else. Same passgrips, same tokens and grips. As in the Men's lodge, only women may attend a Woman's [] in each degree.
     
  15. Beathard

    Beathard Premium Member

    1,627
    18
    0
    That's why we need to do a little research prior to attending a lodge. We don't want to violate our obligations by attending a clandestine lodge.
     
  16. Michaelstedman81

    Michaelstedman81 Premium Member

    789
    4
    38

    Yea, I like to try to read about things that I don't have much exposure to or that much knowledge about. Especially things that interest me like Freemasonry. A while back I got a Netflix DVD that was a Freemasonry documentary. There were a few women on there that were interviewed that claimed to be Freemasons. This did little more than just give me the old rolling of the eyes reaction. I didn't look into it too much till last night. I just really can't grasp the reasoning behind all of this women trying to be Masons stuff.

    I mean, don't get me wrong. I am in support of every person, man or woman, trying to find a way to become a better person. But the Masonic organization was started by men as a group for men. I'll give a high five to anyone that wants to go out and start thier own group to help install good morals and values into peoples' lives. But when you take the work (inner and outer) of an already established group (and even the name), that is just a bit too far. I mean, can't they come up with something original instead of trying to pretend that they are something they aren't and could never be?

    Obviously, the idea to become a better man or woman is nothing new. Kudos to any woman that is wanting to start a group for women to become better women. They can call it "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Coach Purse" or something else (not trying to sound like a sexist or anything, just making the point with a hint of humor that they can call it anything they want). They can come up with thier own system of teaching the lessons. But instead these women literally claim to be members of an organization that is only for men. I mean, we all know know that Masonry has always been an organization for men. Why do that? I just really don't understand why it is so important to them to do that that they can't start their own organization and have their own stuff instead of trying to steal literally all the ideals from another group.

    Yea, that was one of the things that I read on thier sites that really blew my mind and suprised me.


    Thanks for posting that part. I was really curious to know what all they included in their teachings and work. I wonder how much of it is the same really. I know some of it is a bit different. Just looking at the "degrees" at one of the women's groups that are here in the U.S. The names of the "degrees" are quite a bit different than what I have in our legit lodges and organizations.

    Also, something I was curious about when it comes to clandestine groups, and now these women groups we are talking about. Do they have any obligation stuff regarding us? I mean, do the clandestine groups consider us to be clandestine???
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2011
  17. Michaelstedman81

    Michaelstedman81 Premium Member

    789
    4
    38

    This brings up a question for me. What if a Brother wanted to research in depth one, or all, of these women or clandestine lodges. Obviously, there is only so far you can go by looking things up on the internet or in books and not talking to someone. How would you go about interviewing one of these members without violating the Obligation? Would you just only ask questions and not give any information from your end? Would you just conduct the research with written information? Not even do the research at all since a lot of the valuable information would come from some sort of communication with a member? Even if the topic of research is for the betterment of the Craft? Just curious.

    Another sidebar question for your Bro. Beathard (or anyone else that wants to answer). Just to confirm my thoughts, the women masonic groups that we have been talking about in the last few posts (or at least the ones I have been posted), they are considerd "clandestine", correct?
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2011
  18. Geeksgalore

    Geeksgalore Registered User

    45
    0
    0
    Here is some more good reading for you Brother.

    Can women be Freemasons?

    The answer is YES.

    To understand the role of women in Freemasonry, it is necessary to go back into the history of the fraternity. It has been said that exclusion of women from the craft forms one of the "ancient landmarks" of the order. Is this true?

    The question is answered in five parts:

    17th Century: THE ANCIENT LANDMARKS
    Proof that women were made Masons in ancient operative lodges
    18th Century: WOMEN AS SPECULATIVE MASONS
    Women Freemasons prior to the formation of the Grand Lodge of England
    19th Century: THE DEVELOPMENT OF CO-MASONRY
    A brief history of mixed-gender orders of Freemasonry
    20th Century: CO-MASONRY AND FEMALE MASONRY TODAY
    Mixed-gender and all-female Masonry around the world
    FREQUENTLY-ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED
    And where you may enquire with further questions
    17th Century:
    THE ANCIENT LANDMARKS
    Proof that women were made Masons in ancient operative lodges

    Let us begin with the historical record. The following was sent to me by Brother Bill Edwards in 1995. It consists of a short excerpt from a long talk that the Very Worshipful and Reverend Neville B. Cryer, Past Provincial Grand Master of Surrey, Past Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of England, Chairman of the Heritage Committee of York, and member of the Quator Coronati Lodge of Research, gave to the Finger Lakes Chapter of the Philalethes Society in March, 1995.

    WOMEN AND FREEMASONRY
    BY V:. W.: and Rev. NEVILLE B. CRYER
    MASONIC TIMES, May, 1995, Rochester, New York
    In 1693 we have the York Manuscript No. 4, belonging to the Grand Lodge of York, which relates how when an Apprentice is admitted the 'elders taking the Booke, he or _shee_ [sic] that is to be made Mason shall lay their hands thereon, and the charge shall be given.' Now I have to tell you, that my predecessors in Masonic Research in England from Hughen and Vibert and from all the rest onward, have all tried to pretend that the 'shee' is merely a misprint for 'they.' I now am the Chairman of the Heritage Committee of York. I know these documents; I've examined them, and I'm telling you, they say 'she,' without any question.

    Of course, we have a problem, haven't we; to try to explain that. My predecessors would not try to explain this; they were too male oriented. The fact remains that, there it is, in an ancient document of a 17th century date. That this could have been the case seems all the more likely as that in 1696 two widows are named as members in the Operative masons Court. Away in the South of England, we read in 1714 -- that's before the Grand Lodge of England -- of Mary Bannister, the daughter of a barber in the town of Barking, being apprenticed as a Mason for 7 years with a fee of 5/- which she paid to the Company.


    Return to the top of this page

    18th Century:
    WOMEN AS SPECULATIVE MASONS
    Women Freemasons prior to the formation of the Grand Lodge of England

    Turning next to the subject of actual cases of women who were made Masons in speculative rather than operative lodges, there is quite a bit of evidence to support the contention that this was at one time permitted. The most famous (and best-documented) of these women Masons was Mrs. Aldworth, made a Mason in the 1700s. Here is a brief account of her Masonic career, as written in 1920 by Dudley Wright and posted to the internet in 1994 by William Maddox.

    WOMEN FREEMASONS
    BY BRO. DUDLEY WRIGHT, ENGLAND
    THE BUILDER, August 1920
    Although the Antient Charges forbid the admission or initiation of women into the Order of Free and Accepted Masons, there are known instances where as the result of accident or sometimes design the rule has been broken and women have been duly initiated. The most prominent instance is that of the Hon. Elizabeth St. Leger, or, as she afterwards became, on marriage, the Hon. Mrs. Aldworth, who is referred to sometimes, though erroneously, as the "only woman who over obtained the honour of initiation into the sublime mysteries of Freemasonry."

    The Hon. Elizabeth St. Leger was a daughter of the first Viscount Doneraile, a resident of Cork. Her father was a very zealous Freemason and, as was the custom in his time -- the early part of the eighteenth century - held an occasional lodge in his own house, when he was assisted by members of his own family and any brethren in the immediate neighbourhood and visitors to Doneraile House. This lodge was duly warranted and held the number 150 on the Register of the Grand Lodge of Ireland.

    The story runs that one evening previous to the initiation of a gentleman named Coppinger, Miss St. Leger hid herself in the room adjoining the one used as a lodgeroom. This room was at that time undergoing some alterations and Miss St. Leger is said to have removed a brick from the partition with her scissors and through the aperture thus created witnessed the ceremony of initiation. What she saw appears to have disturbed her so thoroughly that she at once determined upon making her escape, but failed to elude the vigilance of the tyler, who, armed with a sword stood barring her exit. Her shrieks alarmed the members of the lodge, who came rushing to the spot, when they learned that she had witnessed the whole of the ceremony which had just been enacted. After a considerable discussion and yielding to the entreaties of her brother it was decided to admit her into the Order and she was duly initiated, and, in course of time, became the Master of the lodge.

    According to Milliken, the Irish Masonic historian, she was initiated in Lodge No. 95, which still meets at Cork, but there is no record extant of her reception into the Order. It is, however, on record that she was a subscriber to the Irish Book of Constitutions, which appeared in 1744 and that she frequently attended, wearing her Masonic regalia, entertainments that were given under Masonic auspices for the benefit of the poor and distressed. She afterwards married Mr. Richard Aldworth of Newmarket and when she died she was accorded the honour of a Masonic burial. She was cousin to General Antony St. Leger, of Park Hill, near Doncaster, who, in 1776, instituted the celebrated Doncaster St. Leger races and stakes.

    This picture of Elizabeth Aldworth dressed in her Masonic regalia was published in Robert Freke Gould's "Concise History of Freemasonry." The original from which the engraving was made is said to be a portrait painting in the possession of her descendents. The image was scanned and sent to me by Sandra Hesse.


    In his talk to the chapter of the Philalethes Society, cited above, Neville B. Cryer described the well-known particulars of the initiation of Elizabeth St. Ledger (later Elizabeth Aldworth) as a Speculative Mason -- and he noted that this occurred in 1712, before the Grand Lodge of England was formed -- and thus before it was declared that the exclusion of women was an "ancient landmark," and a stop was put to female participation in the Craft.

    Numerous other examples of females joining Masonic lodges could be given here (Cryer and Wright cite several each), but lack of space forbids. The pattern set by Elizabeth Aldworth -- of rare and exceptional cases of women being made Masons -- was the norm from the time of the establishment of the GLoE until the 19th century advent of Co-Masonry, a mixed-gender order of the Craft.


    Return to the top of this page

    19th Century:
    THE DEVELOPMENT OF CO-MASONRY
    A brief history of mixed-gender orders of Freemasonry

    Here is a history of the Co-Masonic fraternity as supplied by Brother Wright and posted to the internet by Brother Maddox:

    CO-MASONRY
    BY BRO. DUDLEY WRIGHT, ENGLAND
    THE BUILDER, November 1920
    In 1879 several Chapters owning allegiance to the Supreme Council of France of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, at the instigation of the Grand Orient, seceded from that allegience and reconstituted themselves as La Grande Loge Symbolique de France. One of these Chapters, bearing the name of Les Libres Penseurs, meeting at Pecq, a village of Seine et Oise, in November 1881, proposed to initiate into Freemasonry, Mlle. Maria Desraimes, a well-known writer on Humanitarian and women suffrage questions, which they did on 14th January, 1882, for which act the Lodge or Chapter was suspended. Mlle. Desraimes was instrumental in bringing into the ranks of Freemasonry several other well-known women in France, with the result that an Androgynous Masonic body, known as La Grande Loge Symbolique Ecossaise was formed on 4th April, 1893 although its jurisdiction at that time extended over only one lodge, that known as Le Droit Humain, which came into being on the same day, and which, in 1900, adopted the thirty degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.

    One of the principal workers in the formation of this new Grand lodge was Dr. Georges Martin, at one time a member of the Lodge Les Libres Penseurs. The schismatic movement spread to Paris and Benares and afterwards to London, at which last-named place, in September, 1902, the Lodge "Human Duty," now No. 6 on the Co- Masonry Register, was consecrated. The title "Co-Masonry" in lieu of the earlier term "Joint Masonry" was adopted in 1905.


    Return to the top of this page

    20th Century:
    CO-MASONRY AND FEMALE MASONRY TODAY
    Mixed-gender and all-female Masonry around the world

    In 1903, Co-Masonry came to the United States. In 1918, according to Neville Cryer, Elizabeth St. Leger Aldworth's direct descendent, Alicia St. Leger Aldworth, joined the mixed-gender order. By 1922, there were more than 450 Co-Masonic lodges around the world, according to Masonic historian Arthur Edward Waite, writing in "The New Enclyclopedia of Freemasonry."

    Here are some 20th century female Masons in full regalia. These photos were printed in the Regina (Canada) Leader-Post newspaper on January 6, 1939. Thanks to Ray Salmon of Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada, for the scan.


    The original newspaper caption was as follows [with my comments in brackets]:
    With old appropriate ritual and formality, Mrs. Seton Challen (left) was recently enthroned for life as the most worshipful, the Grand Master of the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons, at the Masonic temple in London. [It is unclear from context whether this is London, England, or London, Ontario, Canada.] This 25-year-old organization [founded in 1914] works from the first to the 33rd degree, and claims to give women Masonry in its pure form and in its entirety.
    Mrs. Challen is a daughter of the organizer of the lodge, and is herself the last of the founders. At the right is the lodge's grand sword bearer [i.e. Tyler], Mrs. Phylis Sutton Vane, during the installation ceremony, which lasted three hours.

    There are at present Co-Masonic lodges in at least 50 nations, including the U.S., Canada, Britain, Australia, Greece, Holland, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Belgium, and Venezuela. Androgynous jurisdictions worldwide include Le Droit Humain, based in France, and the American Federation of Human Rights, based in the U.S.A. All-female jurisdictions include the Grand Loge Feminine de France and the Lady Masons of Great Britain.

    Although official "recognition" does not exist between bodies such as the United Grand Lodge of England and The American Federation of Human Rights, there are cordial relationships and mutual respect between Masons and Co-Masons, particularly on the internet.

    Neville Cryer ended his talk to the Finger Lakes Chapter of the Philalethes Society with a call for male Masonry to recognize female Masonry. "After all," he said, "if a woman is good enough to be the wife, mother, sister, or daughter of a Mason, she ought to be good enough to be his 'Brother.' The Men's order recognizes the coloured races, but refuses recognition to their own kith and kin." Until such recognition comes, women who wish to become Masons -- and men who wish to work "on the level" with women -- are encouraged to seek out a Co-Masonic lodge.


    Return to the top of this page

    FREQUENTLY-ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED
    And where you may enquire with further questions

    Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about Co-Freemasonry:

    A) Do Co-Masons believe in a Supreme Being?/Do they have an open VSL in lodge?/Do they operate clandestine lodges?/Do they allow men to join?

    The answers to these and similar questions are contained in the Principles of Co-Freemasonry, as listed by Brother Dudley Wright and posted to the internet in 1994 by William Maddox:

    THE PRINCIPLES OF CO-FREEMASONRY
    BY BRO. DUDLEY WRIGHT, ENGLAND
    THE BUILDER, February 1921
    1. Co-Freemasonry asserts, in accordance with the ancient declarations of Freemasonry, the existence of a Creative Principle, or Supreme Being, under the title of "The Great Architect of the Universe."
    2. It maintains an open "Volume of the Sacred Law" in every lodge, when duly formed for Masonic purposes.

    3. It maintains the ancient landmarks of Freemasonry.

    4. It withholds recognition from all irregular and clandestine meetings, or lodges not holding proper charter.

    5. It imposes no restrictions on the free search for Truth, and to secure that freedom exacts tolerance from all its members.

    6. It is open to men and women, without distinction of race or religion, who are free, of good report, and abide by strict morals.

    7. It pledges its members to obedience to the laws of the country, loyalty to their nation or national sovreign, silence with regard to Masonic secrets, a high standard of honour, and ceaseless endeavour to promote the welfare of humanity.

    8. Every Freemason is bound faithfully to observe the decisions of the Supreme Council to which he or she owes allegiance.

    B) Why was Co-Freemasonry started?

    Those who do not fully appreciate the seriousness of purpose that links the origins of Co-Masonry to the Female Suffrage movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries may enjoy this quote from the August 7, 1907 Certificate of Incorporation of The American Federation of Human Rights in Washington, D.C. (and as such on file as a matter of public record):

    "The particular business and objects of this society are to demand equal rights for both sexes before the law, to labor according to the Constitution and General By-Laws to be made and adopted by the society for the mutual improvement of its members by combating ignorance under all its forms, the building of human character, the pratice of solidarity, the upholding of high standards of honor and of social justice with a kindly feeling towards all, and a ceaseless endeavor to promote the moral and material welfare of the human race, and to that end, to organize and to conduct throughout the United States of America, branches or Lodges of Co-Masonry..."
    (Similar language persists in modern AFHR articles of incorporation, all of them also on file as matters of public record.)

    C) Are Co-Masonic rites the same as American male Masonic rites?

    According to Masonic historian Arthur Edward Waite, writing in "The New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry" (1922), American and British male Masons would recognize and follow Co-Masonic work with ease, for the allegories and symbols are universal throughout Freemasonry. However, in keeping with its European origin, Co-Masonry makes use of a European-style Chamber of Reflection prior to initiaiton -- which the majority of British and American male Masonic lodges do not.

    D) I am interested in joining. How can i locate the Co-Masonic lodge nearest to me?

    For more information on Co-Freemasonry in the United States and around the world, go to the google search engine and enter key phrases such as Co-Masonry, Co-Freemasonry, Freemasonry Women, Women Masons, and so forth.

    And, finally, as suggested by a dear friend in male-Masonry, here is one last tongue-in-cheek question:

    E) So...what about the preparation of the candidates, huh?

    Sorry, my obligation forbids me to reveal that! ;-)



     
  19. Beathard

    Beathard Premium Member

    1,627
    18
    0
    Co-masonry lodges are not recognized by the Grand Lodge of Texas, therefore they are clandestine. No amount of plagiarism and sloppy copy and paste from co-masonry friendly sites can change that fact. We can discuss them. We can research them. But as far as Masonic communication goes, it is a direct violation of the obligation (at least in Texas.)
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2011
  20. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

    2,353
    25
    38
    In regards to Co-masonry, the discussion is pretty moot, like Beathard says, but it's fun to talk about :)

    In my opinion, as hashed out through my friends, is that while the ritual may be valuable to women, there is more to a lodge than the value found in the ritual lessons. An all-male fraternity has many purposes and values that would be lost by the introduction of women.
     

Share My Freemasonry