Is CoMasonry the Antidote – Part 2

comasonry2_featBy: Carlos Antonio Martinez, Jr.
Read  – Is CoMasonry the Antidote part 1
Read  – Is CoMasonry the Antidote part 3

SPECULATIVE ERA

1.  Alleged “Official Birth” in England:

Symbolic or “Speculative Masonry” began to gradually develop during the XVI and XVII in Europe, particularly – though not exclusively – in the kingdoms of England and Scotland.

As the official history relates, on June 24, 1717, four Londonese Lodges gathered to celebrate the Summer Solstice, and to “constitute” the First Grand Speculative Lodge (“Grand Lodge of London”); But, not without the most indignant protest of The Grand Lodge of Operative Masons, which, denounced the “Speculative One” of being Illegitimate and Apocryphal, for many of its subordinate lodges and very leaders (including Anderson himself) had never been affiliated with the Craft – let alone initiated – as “Accepted Masons”.

From that moment on, however, the Grand Lodge of London became the creating source of numerous lodges around the world, which, in turn, were progressively creating their own national bodies (Grand Lodges or Grand orients in every country), all inter-linked by bonds of Solidarity and Mutual Recognition.

In September 1721 (four years later), as a result of the heterogeneity provoked by great errors that existed in all the copies of the Ancient Constitutions, and, at the same time, due to the expansion of Speculative Masonry to Europe and America, the assembly of The Grand Lodge of London charged Pastor James Anderson, chaplain of a subordinate Lodge, with “ordering the old constitutions with a new and better method”. Anderson finalized the assignment in three months and presented his finalized work at the festivity of Winter Solstice of that same year – being thereupon revised by a commission integrated by fourteen erudite masons, shorthly thereafter approved by the same group on March 25, 1722, and subsequently published by William Hunter the following year. In the third article of these “new constitutions”, there is a concrete clause prohibiting women to join the Order. In that sense, Anderson is very clear in stating such prohibition; But, he is rather indifferent in stating the motivations that drove him to such a pronouncement.

2. Emergence in Continental Europe:

Simultaneously, Speculative Masonry started gaining terrain in Continental Europe, mainly in France. In addition to the Irish Lodges that were constituted in Saint Germain in 1690, Free-Masonry attained much strength at the beginning of 1720, under the leadership of the Duke of Wharton, and, posteriorly, under that of Sir John MacLean. The first “londonese styled” election, of which there is historical constancy, was that of Charles Radcliffe, Count of Dervenwater, in 1736, as “Grand Master of the Most Ancient and Most Illustrious Society of Franc-Masons in the Kingdom of France”. The Duke of Anton was the first French Grand Master of the Order in 1738. Later came the Grand Mastership of Louis de Borbon, Count of Claremont and Abbot of Saint Germain from 1743 to 1771, whom at one point was even called “Grand Master of All Regular Masonic Lodges in the Kingdom of France”.

The first french translation of the “Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of London”, better known historically as: “Anderson’s Constitutions”, was made by the Marquis de la Tierce in 1742, twenty years after its first publication in London. In his translation he mentions:

“The famous festivities of Ceres in Eleusis, of Isis in Egypt, of Minerva in Athens, of Urania in Phoenicia, and of Diana in Sitia, had much in common with ours. The celebration of these mysteries contained clear vestiges of the ancient religion of Noah and other patriarchs; they concluded their ceremonies with a feast and libations during which, at the beginning, no one knew of excesses or intemperances, until later when the pagans fell into them gradually. The source of these infamies, was the admission of people from one gender and the other at the nocturnal assemblies of the institution. It was to prevent these abuses that women were excluded from the Order”.

This, could be interpreted as either a tacit or veiled admission that indeed women were admitted to work in Lodge in the past; as a rather poor and quasi-baseless argument to discriminate against women; or, as a political pretext – as the very de la Tierce points out – to keep Queen Elizabeth from joining the Order and using it to her benefit, as she so did with other guilds.

It is possible that due to this draconian transition between the established observance of the real constitution of the Grand Lodge of London and the reissuing of its new general norms (“Anderson’s Constitutions”) which lasted approximately six years, the lodges under its jurisdiction  worked without rituals and unifying norms during the first half of the XVIII century, and this was, of course, reflected in the first Speculative or Symbolic Masonic Lodges of Continental Europe, many of which, due to their involuntary or voluntary disavow of Anderson’s Constitutions, welcomed the initiation of women.

3. Pseudo-Initiatic Androgynous Societies of Masonic Appearance:

In the Pre-Revolutionary French Society, there were many organizations created by the growing Bourgeoisie that participated in the process of creating the “Civil Court” which came to gradually substitute the “Imperial Court”; these organizations were circles, clubs, cafes, academies, literary societies, scientific societies, spiritualist societies, alchemical societies, chambers, halls of lecture and singing, etc. The vast majority of these societies were not only bi-gender, but, were also sponsored by women of great economical, social and political power – mainly the “philosophical halls”, a world of initiates that was dominated by the “Court of Seals” of the Duchess of Maine (1676 – 1753), Director ad vitam of the “Order of the Bee”; the hall of the Marquee of Lambert (1647 – 1733); the “Bureau of the Spirit” of Claudine Guerin de Tencin (1681 – 1749); the hall of the Marquee of Deffand (1697 – 1780); the “Kingdom” of Maria Teresa Geoffrin (1699 – 1777) and the “Philosophical Hall” of Julia de Lespinasse (1732 – 1776).

The pseudo-initiatic societies denominated as: “Androgynous” or “Hermaphrodite” that appeared along the XVIII century, have their origins in like organizations created at the end of Louis XIV’s rule, and other social entities of more profane roots where the openness of membership to both genders was not only normal, but, encouraged. These organizations can be divided in two groups:

Secret Societies which were gallant, licentious, fun-seeking and recreational, platonic and charitable.

“Orders” that parodied Free-Masonry and sought to become their competitors and/or substitutes – something that they did so well, that between 1730 and 1740 public powers/officials mistook them for actual Masonic Lodges in a number of occasions. Among these “Orders” were: the “Con-Fraternity of Figs” in Vienna, the “Order of Liberty“, “Order of Felicity“, and “Order of Anthropocentrism” in France. The “Order of Felicity” proliferated and got to be sponsored by high personages of French politics, economics and society at large. On the other hand, the “Order of Anthropocentrism” took its name from maritime language, a fact, which, in the eyes of the profane world, got them often misidentified with Masonic Lodges of naval origin – aside from having passwords and methods of recognition which made reference to bodily parts of men and women, and, that, as such, had erotic, sexual and licentious connotations.

The “Order of Knights and Nymphs of the Rose” was also famous; its membership was mainly constituted of aristocrats and well known free-masons, such as: the Duke of Chartres (then future Duke of Orleans) who was also Grand Master of the Grand Orient of France.

The “Order of Knights and Ladies of Perseverance” equally pseudo-initiatic, but, less “loud”, was created by notable figures such as: the daughter of Stanislav II, Augustus Poniatowski, Last King of Poland, Elizabeth Lubomirska and her daughters, the Countesses Rzewuska and Potocka, all members of the Masonic Lodge of Adoption “Catherine the Northern Star” which was conjoined with its male counterpart of the same name, constituted under the auspices of the Grand Orient of France, and propelled by Ignatius Potocki. Other notables who held membership in this Lodge of Adoption were the Duke of Chartress, the Count of Artois (future Charles X), the Prince of Ligne, Charles Joseph, future Marshall of Russia, the Austrian Duke of Lauzum. Knight Hospitallier of the Order, and a number of prestigious intellectuals.

During the kingdoms of Louis XV and Louis XVI appeared other pseudo-initiatic organizations of Masonic appearance, such as: the “Order of Medusa“, the “Extirpators of Palisades“, the “Knights of the Dove“, the “Order of the Green Apple“, etc.

Since 1730, aside from these more or less “light societies”, in all of Europe we are able to find fraternities (bi-gender or not) which, amused themselves parodying Masonic secrets and rituals out of mere jealousy, contempt, rivalry and/or imbecile humor.

The “Order of Mopses” is perhaps the most famous of the afore-mentioned organizations which used to mocker Free-Masonry. It was born in Strasburg in 1738, after the official prohibition of Masonry emitted by the Empress Mary Therese, as a consequence of the Papal Bull “In Eminenti”. It was presided by Wilhelmina, sister of Frederick II, King of Prussia. With the exception of the Grand Mistress Ad Vitam, all the Sisters may occupy all the “stations”. In every Lodge, every position or office has two titleholders, a man and a woman. Every six months the presidency of the Lodge is alternated between a Man and a Woman, and their ceremony of Initiation is carried out in accordance with the Inductee’s gender, be it by male or female officers.

It was within that context, in 1736, that Andre Michelle, Knight of Ramsay pronounced his over-misogynous speech before the General Assembly of Masonic Lodges in Paris, and which he later repeated in 1737. His public address had the eventually-failed objective of causing Free-Masonry to be under the control of the Monarchy and the Roman Catholic Church, in order to counterattack the incredulity and socio-political discredit in which the Craft had fallen, due to the turmoil and disorder provoked in considerable measure by these Pseudo-Initiatic Institutions of Masonic Resemblance and, of course, by the misconduct of actual Free-Masons.

All this agitation caused a great deal of tension between the Puritan and Orthodox Masonic Jurisdictions of England and their French counterparts. From then on, the English Free-Masons demonstrated an unbelievable efficiency in generating tidal-waves of anti-feminine literature aimed at justifying the non-admittance of women in Lodge. They had three basic arguments which had been tangibly proven in France, at the hands of the previously referenced “Mixed Pseudo-Initiatic Orders”. Such arguments were: the congenital Feminine Indiscretion which made the respect to Masonic secrecy Impossible; the disorders, conflicts and eventual loss of harmony that could be provoked by the “Beautiful Gender” in a Masculine Lodge; and the risks of being accused of Immorality, Lasciviousness and Libertinism by civil and ecclesiastical authorities.

From that moment forward, one of the most colossal anti-feminist campaigns was launched in all of Europe. These campaigns were clearly manifested in Literature, Music, Theater, and, of course, the Media… What’s new?!

In reaction to this, in 1774 the Grand Orient of France legitimized the Lodges of Adoption (Bi-Gender and Feminine Masonic Lodges). Pierre Louis Gouillard Aine, Parliament’s Attorney, Dean of the Faculty of Law in Paris, Royal Auditor, Officer of the Grand Orient of France and Venerable Master of Sophia Lodge prepared a document containing numerous points in defense of Female Free-Masons. Some of those remarks and arguments were:

“The association of both genders is founded upon Natural Law and one cannot separate from this Principle without rebelling against the tenets of this Immutable Law”;

” What a most satisfying spectacle to see a Lodge formed by Brothers and Sisters animated by the desire of practicing the fundamental virtues of our Institution”;

“Which Philosopher – even the most austere – can refuse the pleasure of contemplating in the same place the two most perfect artworks that were ever sculpted by the hand of Nature?!”

Then, he gives historical proof that indeed Women are capable of safe-keeping the most delicate secrets:

“… when being admitted in many of the Mysteries of Antiquity, like those of the Druids, to whom they were Deservers of all Confidence and Respect, even more so than that which they professed toward men, by having been assigned to the office and dignity of Prophetesses and Sages that were considered the elite of the nation …”

He continues on advocating for the innocence of Sisters in Lodge:

“Some of our Brothers, oblivious to the principles of Art and under false pretenses  of creating a Lodge of Adoption, have gathered incorrigible females with whom to abandon themselves in orgies and the most uncontrollable excesses of libertinism; But, precisely because we have had the disgrace of nourishing in our bosom those unworthy monsters that I call “men” (for I wish not to call them Masons), these spurious brothers, abusing  a title of which they are totally unworthy of, have succumbed to the most execrable superfluities; Can we actually think that the solution is to throw women out of our Temples?, No! Undoubtedly what must be done is to take measures against the perpetrators of these transgressions”.

He then suggested a number of regulative measures to stop the abuses in the Lodges of Adoption – such as the following two:

“To summon, by consent of the majority of the Brethren, to participation in all meetings and special gatherings, which will be indistinctively presided by either the Venerable Master, or one of the Wardens of the Adopting Lodge”;

“Scrupulous Examination of the conduct and state of all female candidates”.

And with this final comment, our French Brethren voted in favor of admitting women into our Order:

“… profiting from lessons of Wisdom that shall be vividly engraved in the hearts of men, when imparted by an amiable mouth which by the sweetness of its accents, shall make the austerity of precepts disappear, and will force us to think of ourselves and to practice virtue …”

From this very moment, many masculine lodges under the jurisdiction of the Grand Orient of France began to auspice Lodges of Adoption, and, at the same time, to enrich the arguments in defense of Free-Co-Masons (Women Free-Masons), thus creating the Perfect Unification of Human Energies and Labors toiling for the material, moral, spiritual and intellectual progress of Humanity.

All these events gave full or partial pretext or foundation to the “surfacing” or “devising” of an Anglo-Saxon System of Masonry which calls itself “REGULAR” and refuses to “recognize” others, and a “LIBERAL” F-R-E-E-MASONRY, integrated by all those other Sovereign Grand Bodies and Jurisdictions that are “Irregular” in the eyes of our English Styled/Controlled Masonry – An absolute contraposition which seems irremediable still in our days.

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About Masonic Traveler

An artist by nature and vocation, Greg pursued the sublime degrees of Freemasonry in 1994. A 3rd degree Master and a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason, Greg is the author of the ebook What is Freemasonry and the print book Masonic Traveler.

Read more about Greg Stewart.

Comments

  1. Most atheists are of the opinion that they see “no reason” for God to exist. Now, that is a very understandable position. In my opinion anyway.

    I belong to many atheists and freethinkers groups and I have always found those situations to be stimulating on an academic level.

    Speaking of academia, it is of not that some 85% of academics identify themselves as either athiest/agnostic. It is my argument that to bar the west gate from that level of scholarly expertice is pretty suicidal.

    But hey, that is my take. For more info on who atheists are and what they believe in the Richard Dawkins forum is a great place to start.

    Fraternally,
    Raum

  2. Fr. OMNI says:

    “I am sorry if you need the validation of every other western mystery tradition to show you that segregation in Freemasonry is an outdated and inhuman practice that has zero to do with the Craft.”

    And it is unfortunate indeed that you have taken my comments and twisted them to your agenda, which is on a subject with which you clearly have little experience, since you have not commented intelligently on any of the points raised; only to degenerate them into a complete misinterpretation of tradition and heritage.

    You, in your hubris, believe yourself to be informed about Western Mystery Traditions. However, I have read your posts and you lack a fundamental requisite to even engage in the work: humility. Furthermore, the doors of the history and ways of many of these traditions will remain locked to you because of your rather biased and patently incorrect view of history. If I am wrong, then you have failed your readers because you have never backed up your overwrought and crypto-authoritative claims.

    You, sir, do not presume to know what I require for validation. Your statement is stupid and offensive and, along with your other “insights” belie the fact that you are neither neophyte or a student. If you were, you would see far more subtlety in our subject matter, rather than railing on issues that are neither true or important.

  3. I love the irony of my supposed lack of “humility” being the topic of a smug and assenine diatribe.

    OMNI, It may come as a huge surprise to you by I really don’t care your opinion of me. As far as it goes you are yet another who dissaproves of my very existence on fora such as these. Not the first nor the last. That’s how it goes.

    I’m still here. So, if you would like to unleash another rant against please feel free. Sir, the floor is yours.

    Fraternally,
    Raum

  4. and you lack a fundamental requisite to even engage in the work: humility.

    :laughs:

    Brad or Raum, or whoever you happen to be – if an infinite number of fora disapproves of your postings, it’s quite possible that they may all be wrong. But as the probability approaches 0, perhaps it’s a clue that you need to look why this is so typical and evaluate those reasons.

    And again, one big concern is that you are trying to lump all of these groups together in your insistence that they all should act the same. The paths to light are varied, and as we are all made differently, so should we all travel those paths which we find most compatible. Just as (I assume) you would never suggest that one religion is better or more true than another, why would you assume that your path is better than those others seek?

  5. Tom,
    Sorry, but the “prerred” path argument just doesn’t fly in this day and age and I think you know that, you just refuse to admit it. It is a fact that if someone posted on here that they “preffered” to be in a lodge with only other white people they would be chastized. Agreed? Why is gender segregation totally acceptable?

    Because “we” have always done it this way? Sorry, not good enough. Times change and what is acceptable to human beings change with them.

    Being born female is not an accident of birth, Masons need to stop treating it as such.

    Fraternally,
    Raum

  6. I mean preffered obviously.
    Fraternally,
    Raum

  7. Crosspost:

    Women and Freemasonry, From the Enlightenment to Today

    http://www.fabula.org/actualites/article31531.php

    Call for Contributions

    Information Published on Thursday, May 21, 2009 by Fabula (source: Cécile Révauger)

    Deadline: September 15, 2009

    University of Bordeaux and Museum of Aquitaine

    June 17-19, 2010, Bordeaux

    Women are still absent today from the majority of Masonic lodges. Few rational arguments can be made to justify such an exclusion. That of tradition, the most widespread, only applies to the Constitutions of Anderson, and do not appear explicitly in the Old Charges of the Masons. The lodges of adoption were sometimes considered as a substitute Masonry. It would be erroneous, however, to minimize their importance and the significance which they had in their time, as Margaret Jacob and Janet Burke have recently showed. These lodges of adoption, which were born in Holland, and then in France, at the time of the enlightenment, are certainly characteristic of the limits of participation of women at that time, because of their very elitist and aristocratic character. However, they conveyed a certain number of values, if only by their ritual, and accorded women an unprecedented place in the public sphere, comparable with the salons.

    Were these lodges satisfied to reflect the society of their time, or did they anticipate certain evolutions and contribute to the emancipation of women? To what point are they representative of enlightenment society? To a significant degree, these lodges of adoption disappeared at the same time as the enlightenment, to reappear in a quite different form in the following century in the United States (the Eastern Star). The Masonic world of the nineteenth century was almost exclusively male. It would be interesting to seek the reasons for such an absence of women. It is necessary to await the end of the nineteenth century, with women such as Annie Besant, Madame Blavatsky, Marie Deraismes, Clémence Royer or Louise Michel to find a feminine presence in the lodges, sometimes, as in the case of Annie Besant, in close connection with the Theosophist Society.

    We will endeavor to identify the evolution of feminine participation, on the one hand through mixed Masonry, which appeared at the end of the nineteenth century, and also through specifically feminine obediences, which date only from the twentieth. All these women fought for equality, but some hoped to reach it within mixed structures, and others by autonomous paths. We will be interested in the choices of manner of organization and of ritual, as well as the social composition, of the mixed and feminine lodges.

    We will inquire about their openness to society, or on the contrary about their wish for discretion, on the nature of their work. These obediences developed only in certain countries, we will try to see for what reasons. At the same time we will explain the Masonic organizations and their individual characteristics.

    We will try to determine the weight of the various factors in these areas: – The cultural, social and political factor: is there a direct link between the development of mixed and feminine obediences, social progress as regards emancipation of women, and the force of the feminist currents in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries? – The religious factor: can one observe different behaviors according to the religions? Is the question of feminine initiation posed in a specific way in the Catholic, Protestant, Islamic or Orthodox countries? – The Masonic factor: the line of fracture between Latin Freemasonry and Anglo-Saxon Freemasonry, dating from 1877 and the decision of the Grand Orient of France to grant a full freedom of conscience to its members and no longer to require belief in God. But curiously, it also translated into terms of exclusion or recognition of women, even if it is immediately advisable to qualify the matter with regard to obediences known as “Latin.”

    There exist several degrees of exclusion today: women can be regarded as noninitiables, as is still formally the case in the United Kingdom, the USA, and in all obediences which give allegiance to the United Grand Lodge of England. In other cases, the presence of women is accepted and even encouraged, but in structures that are not recognized as Masonic, although they are regarded as serving with the male lodges thanks to their charitable actions (the Eastern Star). Finally, obediences known as Latin are divided on the question of the admission of women. Some are mixed, others are discussing the question of co-Masonry, others still refuse it on principle.

    Can one speak about Masonic universalism, or is Freemasonry determined by gender? It will be advisable to inquire at the same time about the reasons for the exclusion of women, in all these forms, with all these nuances, and about the specific types of feminine freemasonry in time and space, from the first lodges to those of today in Europe, Asia and the Americas. We will also be able to inquire about the view which the feminists had about Freemasonry, and also about the lodges of adoption and contemporary Freemasonry. We will thus encourage a diversity of approaches and desire that the historical and geographical scope be the broadest possible, in order to understand the differences as well as the similarities, and to understand the evolution.

    Summaries of papers should be accompanied by a curriculum vitae (2000 characters in all) and must be received by Cécile Révauger before September 15, 2009.
    mail to: Cecile.revauger@wanadoo.fr

    Cécile Révauger
    Université Michel de Montaigne Bordeaux3
    Domaine Universitaire , 33607 Pessac Cedex France

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