By Carlos Antonio Martinez, Jr.
The pre-revolutionary condition and philosophy of illustration of the era, propitiated the strengthening of the Principle of Equality between a man and a woman, and so it came to pass that both genders became lawfully eligible for membership in the Craft.
To admit a Woman in Lodge, is more than “opening the doors of our Temples to the Lovelier Gender”. It is to interrogate our Inner Tribunal of Consciences over the Eligibility of Women for Induction, in other words, to reflect on their potentials and their undeniable intellectual and spiritual qualifications as human beings; Yet these reflections cannot be carried out in Lodge so directly and openly – it is preferable to induce them by making reference to the “High Priestesses” and “Female Initiates of Ancient Mysteries”, through whom it is tacitly presupposed therefore that Women are “thinking beings”.
In spite of the efforts of many Free-Masons to place women in conditions of Equality, the Official Masonry at the dawn of the XIX century, at best, accepts the Adoption but not the Initiation; this meaning that women may become “adoptive daughters” of Anderson, perhaps even “his sisters”, but never his equals.
Now, in the arts and written press of France, serious, noticeable, and rather loud public discussions over women joining Free-Masonry began to take place, and to become the habitual topic of debate in almost every social gathering of the period.
In general, we can state that the arrival of English-Styled Masonry in France caused problems, and provoked an uproar in the aristocratic-bourgeois sociability of Paris and other parliamentary capitals dominated in part by women. Since 1730, the year in which the first Feminine Masonic Lodge appeared, there were published a number of literary works that fervently manifested the discontent of Ladies who saw themselves marginalized by “Regular Masonry”. In fact, however, not a single one of those pamphlets and/or books was written by a woman; thus leading us to assert with much certainty, that “The Enchanting Gender” was not considered odd or foreign to the mobilization and activism of many Male Free-Masons who favored the admission of women to the Royal Art.
At the same time, we must be honest, and for the sake of historical accuracy mention that there were Male Masons whom, over-looking the fundamental principles of the Order, invited to their banquets, dance halls and post-official gatherings, numerous loose females, dancers and courtesans, with whom they committed excesses that brought forth a terrible loss of prestige to our Institution in the eyes of the government, the roman catholic clergy, and the society at large; However, since the legalization of Masonic Lodges of Adoption by the Grand Orient of France, there were countless Male Free-Masons who defended the Legitimate Right of Women to participate in Masonic labors; and these actions, of course, provoked an immediate reaction in their detractors. As every day went by, more and more, the arguments over Women in Free-Masonry became a personal dispute between members of the Craft in general – whether they be sympathizers or adversaries of Co-Masonry. Eventually, the debate, or, better stated, the war of ideas between the defenders of the “enchantment of women”, and those concerned-accusers who denounced the “dangers of their weaknesses”, created the propitious soil for the germination of what in due time came to be known as: The Global Feminist Movement.
STATE OF CO-MASONRY IN OUR DAYS
Masonic Organization in Mexico and Latin America:
Given the fact that during the last 150 years Co-Masonry has gained greater notoriety, relevance and power in the Masonic World at the south side of El Rio Grande in the American Continent, and most of Europe (with the exception of the so-called “United Kingdom”) has long embraced the spirit of True Universal Free-Masonry, I will focus this section of my article in that part of the Western Hemisphere where the most retrograde and deplorable conservative-religious societies still exist, Mexico, Colombia, and Latin America as a whole.
Despite having been duly constituted as Independent Secular Republics, and, as such, having earned their Freedom and Sovereignty among the nations of the world – through the leadership and struggles of Free-Masons precisely, Mexico and most Central and South American countries, have proven to be quite an on-going challenge for the Craft and, most particularly, for the aspirations of women.
For a very long time, in Mexico, Colombia, and other Ultra-Catholic/Patriarchal Latin American countries, the membership of women in Free-Masonry has been considered one of the greatest taboos that, more than anything else, divide rather than unify.
The equivocated interpretation and enforcement of the Landmarks, which, per the so-called “Regular Masonry,” bars women’s admission and equal participation in the Craft, not only ignores the role of Guilds of Women Spinners, Seamstresses, Weaveresses, Women Glass-Stainers/Cutters/Blowers, Sculptresses, Women Engravers, etc. in the Arts of Architecture and Construction, but, it also captures one of the fundamental prejudices of the Puritan English Society of the beginning of the XVIII century, to whom a woman was considered a “thing”, in the juridical meaning of the word, and, as such, she was legally deprived of any and all rights, except, of course, of those dispensated to her by her Master, or better stated, her “Proprietor.”
French Free-Masonry, sponsored in considerable measure by Opulent Ladies of the period, since its very official foundation in 1740, marks a pivotal moment in the consolidation of a more egalitarian society, by taking on the challenge of recognizing the rights of their compatriots of like gender, and with that the possibility of being initiated in a Masonic Lodge. To our contemporary dismay, unfortunately, the prejudices of “Victorian Morals” remain in force at the dawn of the Third Millennium, and they still are the principal cause of Discord and Disharmony among the different visions and bodies of Symbolical Masonry around the world.
Amidst this puritanical phase in Global Free-Masonry, a significant event took place in the less-suitable country, Mexico. Surprisingly and amazingly enough, by the standards of that period and society, the Mexican Masonic Organization, following the tradition of Vanguard Thinking which, since its official birth around the middle of the XIX century has been hoisted by “The Mexican National Rite,” has sponsored the formation of Bi-Gender Lodges, considering women in total equality of conditions, rights and capacities as those of their Male Brothers. There is also much respect to the autonomy, habits, and bylaws fomented among all different Lodges and Grand Orients or Jurisdictions, by recognizing and accepting with like enthusiasm the existence of Masonic Lodges which, are exclusively masculine or feminine.
Thus, in all the Lodges and Bodies amalgamated in the Mexican Masonic Organization, and particularly in the Grand Orients of Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia, the participation of women or men in The Order, is accepted – without being obligatory to Lodges that are purely masculine, or, exclusively feminine, respectively.
Moreover, in 1991, the Mexican Masonic Organization welcomed the official birth and constitution of the First Masonic Grand Lodge of Women of Mexico, also known as: “Grand Lodge of Insurgent Women”. Unlike a number of “Co-Masonic” and/or “Para-Masonic” Grand Jurisdictions of Latin America where women are recognized as “Lesser Sisters”, this unique Masonic Body has total recognition. and is endowed with absolute power and autonomy over its laws, decisions, and labors. In 1995, Argentina and Peru followed in their Mexican Brethren’s footsteps, by rejoicing in the emergence and formation of their respective Feminine Masonic Grand Lodges. Presently, with the exception of The Central American Isthmus, there are Co-Masonic and Feminine Grand Bodies in every country of Latin America.
CONCLUSION = GENDER IS IN EVERYTHING
“Gender is in everything; everything has a Masculine and Feminine Principle; Gender is manifested in all planes”, so teaches the ultimate of the Hermetic Laws. With this postulate, the “Thrice Wise Master” guides us through the different levels of Natural Evolution, observing in it how duality is fused into one, in order to create a new being.
This Principle, which relates to Procreation, also shows us the existence of centrifugal and centripetal impulses, which are the forces that support gravitation, be it at the level of minuscule particles, or, of immense Universes.
Of all the Cosmic Purposes, to engender Life is the most sacred and transcendental act. At the microscopic level, the force of attraction makes the negative corpuscles or electrons revolve around the positive-ones or protons. After their obligated courtship, they unite, and thus the creation of a new atom occurs. In the animal and human species the “dance of life” repeats itself with male spermatozoa being attracted by female ovules. When one of the male reproductive cells attains penetration, the miracle of conception takes place.
The same system of procreation reigns at the macro-cosmic levels. In the British Encyclopedia we find that
“… in remote times, the bombardment of comets to the earth could have had an important role in the formation of the atmosphere and the seas. Additionally, these comets could have supplied the organic molecules necessary for the development of life”.
The method of fertilization is then the same – be it electrons, sperm, or comets that fecundate protons, ovules or planets. In like manner, we must apply the Principle of Gender to “traveling” from the “known” to the “unknown” – supporting ourselves in the Principle of Correspondence: “As it is above so is below, and, as it is below so is above”. Only through such application of this Principle shall Free-Masons comprehend and harness its primordial significance and power.
So states Hermes Trismegistus:
The very creation of the Universe also obeys the Principle of Gender.
He adds further: “Gender is manifested in all planes.” This, my Brothers, means that all possibilities of creation – mental and spiritual – are governed by the same Universal Law or Principle. Until the luminous emergence of the “Thrice Greatest Master”, a little over five thousand years ago, this was an occult body of knowledge available only to the Great Sages and High Priests/Priestesses of Ancient Egypt. In it there also secrets of “High Magick”, for only the faithful implementation of this law can bring within our reach the key, with which to command the Sacred FIAT LUX by the power of the Wise.
Brethren, Co-Masonry is already part of our lives – whether we accept it or not; it is in our very Human Faculties; it is part of our natural mechanism, and, accordingly, part of our very Masonic Essence as “Individuals who were first made Masons in OUR HEARTS”. Even at more subtle levels, to procreate is the result of the union of opposites.
A Thought, which is activity and mobility, represents Masculine Polarity, while Emotions and Sentiments, as clear expressions of Receptivity and Repose, and incarnate the Feminine Principle.
In order to physically produce what we desire, we must unite these forces:
THOUGHT plus EMOTION equals MANIFESTATION.
Thus, all our individual and/or collective endeavors shall first be conceived in subtle planes. Then, if the Law/Principle of Correspondence allows, the Universe will support it/them and accommodate the circumstances of manifestation (Gestation Process), Once the necessary time has elapsed, we shall invariably see the materialization of that which we created.
Our membership is still declining, regardless of our Enthusiasm, Official Optimism, and the momentary “Increase” of alleged “quality brethren”. It is Time to open our Third Eyes and begin seeing!
THERE ARE PLENTY OF ELIGIBLE AND WORTHY WOMEN OUT THERE!
All it takes is Humility, Wisdom, and a Sense of Justice and Equality. Are we “Worthy Masons” not characterized by such Virtues?! Are we “Concerned Masons” not worried about the Future of our Institution?! Are we “Enlightened F-r-e-e-Masons” not the Children of Alchemy’s Hermaphrodite Being?! If you responded positively to these questions, there is no need for further disputes and/or discussions – there is only much Amelioration to bring into our Fraternity.
In short, Is Co-Masonry the Antidote?
I have no doubt!