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Encyclopedia > Women and Freemasonry

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 the Order of the Eastern Star, the Order of the Amaranth, the White Shrine of Jerusalem, the Social Order of Beauceant and the Daughters of the Nile. This article deals with organization in Craft or Blue Lodge Freemasonry. ... Masonic Landmarks are a set of principles which many Freemasons claim to be both ancient and unchangeable precepts of Masonry. Issues of the regularity of a Freemasonic Lodge, Grand Lodge or Grand Orient are judged in the context of the Landmarks. ... General Grand Chapter logo The Order of the Eastern Star is the largest fraternal organization in the world that both men and women can join. ... The Order of the Amaranth is a fraternal organization composed of Master Masons and their properly qualified female relatives. ...

Contents

Recognition

The UGLE, and others concordant in that regular tradition, do not formally recognize any Masonic body that accepts women. The 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. World map showing North America A satellite composite image of North America. ... This article deals with organization in Craft or Blue Lodge Freemasonry. ... General Grand Chapter logo The Order of the Eastern Star is the largest fraternal organization in the world that both men and women can join. ... The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls (IORG) is a youth service organization which teaches leadership training through community service. ... Jobs Daughters International is a youth organization for girls aged 10 to 20 who are related to a Freemason. ...


Justification for exclusion

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 medievel 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.[1] Many masons believe that regardless of their opinions of women in masonry, they can not break their obligation, which is made in the name of their god. The Masonic Square and Compasses. ... The Masonic Square and Compasses. ... Masonic Landmarks are a set of principles which many Freemasons claim to be both ancient and unchangeable precepts of Masonry. Issues of the regularity of a Freemasonic Lodge, Grand Lodge or Grand Orient are judged in the context of the Landmarks. ...


Female Masons in Regular Masonic Bodies

There have been a few reported cases of a woman joining a regular masonic lodge. These cases are extreme exceptions and are thoroughly debated by masonic historians.


Elizabeth Aldworth

One account of a woman being admitted to Freemasonry in the 18th century, is the case of Elizabeth Aldworth (born St. Leger), who is reported to have surreptitiously viewed the proceedings of a Lodge meeting held at Doneraile House—the private house of her father, first Viscount Doneraile—a resident of Cork, Ireland. Upon discovering the breach of their secrecy, the Lodge resolved to admit and obligate her, and thereafter she proudly appeared in public in Masonic clothing.[2] In the early part of the 18th century, it was quite customary for Lodges to be held in private houses. This Lodge was duly warranted as Lodge number 150 on the register of the Grand Lodge of Ireland. Mrs. ... A viscount is a member of the European nobility whose comital title ranks usually, as in the British peerage, above a baron, below an earl (in Britain) or a count (his continental equivalent). ... Statistics Province: Munster County Town: Cork Code: C (CK proposed) Area: 7,457 km² Population (2006) 480,909 (including City of Cork); 361,766 (without Cork City) Website: www. ... The Grand Lodge of Ireland is the second oldest Grand Lodge of Freemasonry in the world. ...


Co-Freemasonry

Main article: Co-Freemasonry

The systematic admission of women into International Co-Freemasonry began in France in 1882 with the initiation of Maria Deraismes into the Loge Libre Penseurs (Freethinkers Lodge), under the Grande Loge Symbolique de France. In 1893, along with activist Georges Martin, Maria Deraismes oversaw the initiation of sixteen women into the first Lodge in the world to have both men and women as members, from inception, creating the jurisdiction Le Droit Humain (LDH). Again, these are regarded by Regular Freemasonry as irregular bodies. The Square and Compasses. ... The Square and Compasses. ... Maria Deraismes, born August 17, 1828 – February 6, 1894, was a French author and major pioneering force for womens rights. ... The position of women within Freemasonry is complex. ...


Le Droit Humain and a number of other irregular masonic organisations have a presence in North America which are open to women either in an androgynous or wholly feminine manner. These orders work similar rituals to regular Freemasonry and their work contains similar moral and philosophical content to regular freemasonry.


In the Netherlands, there is a completely separate, although Masonically allied, sorority for women, the Order of Weavers (OOW), which uses symbols from weaving rather than stonemasonry.


The Grand Orient of France and other Masonic bodies in the Continental European tradition fully recognize Co-Freemasonry and women's Freemasonry.


Notes

  1. ^ [1] accessed Aug 15, 2006
  2. ^ The Hon. Miss St. Leger and Freemasonry Ars Quatuor Coronatorum vol viii (1895) pp. 16-23, 53-6. vol. xviii (1905) pp. 46

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