Women in Freemasonry

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The subject of women and Freemasonry is complex and without an easy explanation. Traditionally, only men can be made Freemasons

in regular Freemasonry. Many Grand Lodges do not admit women because they believe it would break the ancient Masonic Landmarks. However, there are many non-mainstream Masonic bodies that do admit both men and women or exclusively women.

Furthermore, there are many female orders associated with regular Freemasonry, such as : –

  • Order of Women Freemasons 
  • Order of the Eastern Star
  • Order of the Amaranth
  • White Shrine of Jerusalem
  • Social Order of Beauceant 
  • Daughters of the Nile

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), Grand Lodge of Scotland and all the Grand Lodges in the United States along with other Grand Lodges which are concordant in that regular tradition, do not formally recognize any Masonic body that accepts women.

eillen-grayThe UGLE has stated since 1998 that two English women’s jurisdictions are regular in practice, except for their inclusion of women, and has indicated that, while not formally recognized, these bodies may be regarded as part of Freemasonry, when describing Freemasonry in general.

In North America, women cannot become regular Freemasons per se, but rather join associated separate bodies, which are not Masonic in their content. These offer an extended social network around the Lodge and includes the Order of the Eastern Star, created in the United States in the mid-19th Century for adult close female relatives of Masons, and Rainbow Girls and Job’s Daughters, both for girls.

Mainstream Masonic Grand Lodges justify the exclusion of women from Freemasonry for several reasons. The structure and traditions of modern day Freemasonry is based from the operative medieval stonemasons of Europe. These operative masonic guilds did not allow women to join, because of the culture of the time.

Many Grand Lodges purpose that altering this structure would completely change freemasonry. Furthermore, mainstream Grand Lodges adhere to the masonic landmarks laid out in the early 18th century and are deemed unchangeable. One of these landmarks specify that women are not to be made a mason. Finally, mainstream masons swear “not to be present at the making of a woman a Mason” in their obligations. Many masons believe that regardless of their opinions of women in masonry, they can not break their obligation.

I think when our predecessors came up with our obligations in the sublime degree, they have very good and unquestionable reasons why they have place there the line “…that I will not attend in or be present at the making…knowing them to be such.”                       Masonic Network Forum Post

For some Mason’s they have concerns that admitting women into the craft would have an adverse affect on the Harmony of the lodge.

You should consider that not only they are natural sources of distractions for us but among them, the risk is an escalation of rivalry/competition which usually happens in “profane” mixed groups. I’ve seen great friendships broken because of the action of one or more girls.   Masonic Network Forum Post

The brethren were right in their statements, that it will create misunderstanding among the brethren – whereby disharmonizing the lodge and weakens its foundation.   Masonic Network Forum Post

This emotive topic has generated much activity on the Masonic Network forum here are some of the other entries the brethren have posted

I am not hereby saying that women do not feel the need or want to improve themselves, but I believe that the masonic way of self-improvement in general isn’t that interesting for women – otherwise there would be many more female lodges around the world.

I don’t support women in Freemasonry. It’s a Brotherhood, not a Sisterhood or Personhood. It’s the oldest “fraternity” not sorority. Not everything has to be open to both men and women. We can still be equal and not have to attend each others private groups.

And of course many Mason’s would support Women joining the craft.

How can we decide that freemasonry is owned by men for the rest of history? God created man and woman in this material world with space and time, where we can only work with opposites. However, isn’t it a task of the freemason to find its way back to the divine paradise, where unity can be found? Isn’t it important to focus on all matters those unities us instead of matters that divide?

To close I would like to include a reply written by a female mason, Bro Karen Kidd, who won a Masonic Short Paper competition with this short essay

I am Regular. I know this to be true, though I’ve heard otherwise. That because various Masonic jurisdictions (such as the United Grand Lodge of England, the US Malecraft Grand Lodges and etc.) are not in amity with my jurisdiction, and because I’m a woman, I can’t possibly be Regular. I’ve also been counseled that, slander though this be, I should take it in good part and be grateful my Malecraft brethren speak to me at all.   And yet I know myself to be Regular because the Ritual and Masonic jurisprudence say that I am. So I am. By way of explanation, and within the context of this paper, I am about to use a word many find most unpalatable. I mean it in its legal sense.  I am no one’s bastard brother. I was conceived in the same place as are all the Brethren. Our progenitor is the same. I was properly prepared. I was received upon the same point. I was made in the b*dy of a L*dge J*st, P*rfect and R*gular. I meet the criteria Bro. Albert Mackey, and others, set down long ago: – I am acknowledged as a Free and Accepted Mason – I was initiated into our mysteries in that “certain manner” – I was made with the assistance of, and under the superintendence of, seven (and more) Master Masons – I share in common, with all Brothers, “the ready use of those signs and words which are used by the other brethren.”  This all occurred within my jurisdiction which, like all Masonic jurisdictions, claims no binding authority over the Freemasons in any other jurisdiction. Indeed, I have poured over the books and I can find no instance in which *any* Freemasonic grand lodge, supreme council or other supreme body ever claimed authority over any other such body. It is commonly accepted that no such body can make any pronouncement that is at all binding on any other such body. Logically, this includes any pronouncements about regularity. Any Masonic supreme body may enter into amity agreements with other such bodies. And they also may declare that they consider, within their own jurisdiction, those bodies not in amity with them to be “clandestine” and even “irregular”. This is their right.  However, their pronouncements about regularity outside their jurisdictions do not mean that those other Freemasons in other jurisdictions are, in fact, irregular. Indeed, the only Brothers any of these supreme bodies may accurately declare irregular are those in lodges within their own sphere of authority.  This means a Brother is Regular by virtue of being so recognized within his/her own jurisdiction. No Brother upon the Earth requires recognition by any other jurisdiction to be Regular. Each Brother is as Regular within their own jurisdiction as any other Brother is Regular within their own jurisdiction.   So I speak a truth – and for some, a mystery – when I say, “I am regular”.

The Masonic Network Public Blog

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On December 23, 2008, we launched the first Social Networking site dedicated to Freemasonry.

We have spent months working on this site and are constantly working on improving the system as well as adding new things that could be useful or enjoyable for our Brethren members.  

We have more than 100 active members and the number is growing day by day. On a typical day the Administration team receives more than 60 requests to join and we have dealt with more than 3000 requests since launching.

Our latest feature is a public blog open to all Masons and people interested in finding out more about Freemasonry, to show the world the truth behind our Brotherhood, to prove to the members of the public that nothing untoward happens in a Lodge room during our meetings and that for centuries Freemason’s have provided a helping hand to the communites we live in.

Hopefully the readers of this blog will understand why we are so proud to be Freemason’s.

For our first post we wanted to share something that a Brother on the network shared with all of us about a week ago:

The Silent Summons

A member of a certain Lodge, who previously attended meetings regularly, stopped going. After a few months, the Worshipful Master decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening, and the Worshipful Master found his brother at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for the Worshipful Master’s visit, the brother welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited. The Worshipful Master made him self comfortable, but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After several minutes, the Worshipful Master took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth, all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. His host watched all of this in quiet contemplation. As the one, lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow, and its fire was no more. Soon, it was cold and dead. Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. The Worshipful Master glanced at his watch and chose this time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember, and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately, it began to glow once more, with all the light and warmth of the burning coals around it. As the Worshipful Master reached the door to leave, his host said, with a tear running down his cheek, “Thank you so much for your fiery summons, my brother. I’ll be back in our Lodge next meeting.” — Author Unknown