Just wanted to give a heads up. School is kicking my butt this semester, so posts from now until December will probably be few and far between. Don’t fret! I graduate in May, and will be able to return to a more regular schedule then, if not before.
Every so often, I get a concerning email. It’s usually from a wife or girlfriend, who has some concerns about Masonry. However, often these worries are something a bit above my pay grade. I wanted to take some time to talk about these concerns in general, and talk about what Freemasonry isn’t.
Freemasonry isn’t a secret society. If it was, they wouldn’t be in parades, handing out candy and driving little cars. They wouldn’t be giving speech therapy to kids, or have pediatric hospitals with their name on it in bright red letters. You wouldn’t be able to find out basically whatever you want to know about Freemasonry with a quick Google search. Instead, it is correct to say that Freemasonry is a society with secrets. As I’ve said before, these secrets are ways of recognizing each other through handshakes, words and phrases.
Freemasonry doesn’t want to take your SO from you. It is taught in Masonry that your obligations to your family, your work, your God, come first. Freemasonry is not out to steal your SO from you, even though it may feel like there is something going on in the Masonic family every night of the week. If you feel that your SO is spending too much time on Masonic stuff, say so to them. They might not recognize it. If you feel that you continue to have issues, I would recommend going and speaking with each other and a moderator, so that everyone can ensure they are being heard and understood. I would not recommend bringing the rest of the Lodge into it.
Freemasonry isn’t a religion, or anti-religion. In fact, it’s the opposite. In order to become a mainstream masculine Mason, you must profess a belief in a higher power. (Depending on your jurisdiction, the wording may be different, some say higher power, some say God, etc.) A lot of ritual and stories told within Masonry are based on Judaeo-Christian teachings; that is, a lot of things used within Masonry ritual is taken right from the Bible/Torah. That’s not to say a Pagan or Muslim cannot become a Freemason, anyone who meets the requirements can become one. There’s a lot of talk about there being a “Masonic Bible”, you can read more about that here. There did used to be issues between Catholics and Masons, and although Catholicism may still deter people from becoming Masons, there is nothing that is stopping a Catholic man from becoming one. All of this being said, there are some Masonic auxillary groups that require the members to specifically be Christian.
Freemasonry isn’t/doesn’t __(insert conspiracy theory here). There’s a million conspiracy theories out there about Masonry. That they control the government. That they are secretly lizard people. That they control politicians. That they control celebrities. That there’s such a thing as a 99th degree Mason. That they have some secret power or ability that only those that achieve the highest level degree are privy to. There’s a million out there. Allow me to assure you, most all of these have no foundation of truth. (The only one I can think of would be the politician one, in the 1800’s a lot of politicians were Masons. That’s how/why the Anti-Masonic party was founded, which later became the Whig party.) I’ve watched these guys struggle to organize a pancake breakfast; the idea that they run the government is laughable.
The best thing you can do is educate yourself. There’s a lot of information and misinformation out there about Freemasonry. Arm yourself with knowledge. My first recommendation (beyond here!) is Brother Hodapp’s Freemasonry for Dummies. I’ve read this cover to cover, and it is always the first book I use for reference. (Sadly our signed copy got lent out and never returned.) It’s probably the most dog-eared, highlighted, annotated, bookmarked book in our collection. The great thing about this book is that it has an extensive resource section in the back with recommendations for more places to look on specific topics. Funnily enough, another great resource is Wikipedia, there’s quite an extensive section on Freemasonry. If you need help for information on any specific topic, don’t hesitate to contact me.
This post is something that I’ve been thinking on for a while now. I know it’s not the easiest topic to discuss, nor is it everyone’s cup of tea, but if anyone out there is going to talk about it, it should be me.
We had our Conclave recently (basically DeMolay Grand Lodge). One of the events that happens after the banquet, during the dance, is the crowning of the new state sweetheart, as well as singing to the outgoing one. The traditions my state has developed over the years I would not exactly call kind. You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’ is sung to the outgoing sweetheart, surrounded by the majority of the guys, usually while she cries. Before the new sweetheart is actually crowned, all of the candidates stand together while the Jeopardy! theme is played, the crown bouncing from person to person. A friend who recently got engaged to a Master Mason and senior DeMolay witnessed this for the first time, she was so flabbergasted she almost walked out the door. And yet, I have no doubt that this tradition will continue for years to come.
As a feminist, as, most any woman really, I think that the first emotional reaction when learning about Freemasonry is anger, with thoughts of, “Why can’t I do that? Am I really that different? What gives them the right?” Unfortunately, I feel that learning that women cannot become Masons is only the beginning. I’ve been asked many times how I deal with it. I would consider myself a feminist, and I will be the first to admit that there have been many rage educing moments within Masonry for me. However, I do not feel that Masonry and feminism have to be mutually exclusive.
Recognize it for what it is
Freemasonry, as we know it today, was unified in 1717, (and constituted about 100 years later). At that time, women not only couldn’t vote, but also couldn’t own property, and weren’t even really citizens in the United States. Everything was tied to your husband. You’ve seen Pride and Prejudice? Basically that. The revivals in Masonry in the 1920’s and 1960’s did not see many great changes for women. Yes, we could vote and own property, but any woman wearing pants in public was surely up to no good.
Lodge was a way for the man of the house to “get away from it all”. This tends to be the reason less often these days. I would attribute a lot of that to social and technological changes. That being said, it needs to be recognized that Freemasonry has always been the guys’ “safe space”. I personally, have no problem with this, and support it, as long as there an equal “safe space” for women. Unfortunately, I would not really say that this is the case. Many of the organizations people cite would not exist without masculine Masonry (OES, Daughters, etc), or are not as widespread as many of us wish (Order of Women Freemasons, Order of the Weavers).
In many ways, I feel that Masonry has never really left these bygone eras. Bits and pieces of ritual have changed over time, but overall, it’s the same. This, unfortunately, the social culture of many Lodges and OES Chapters is like walking into a time machine. In my state, women in OES were not allowed to wear pants to meetings up until 2014. Yes, I’m quite serious. Even at T’s Lodge, full of young men in their 20’s and 30’s, the women set up the meals, and clean up after the men begin their meeting, with naught a thank you in site. I of course, can only speak from my experiences, but this often is the aura of the Lodges and Chapters in my area.
Find the good bits
One of the best things you can do, not only with Freemasonry, but anything really, is to educate yourself. Find out why something is the way it is, if someone has ever tried to do anything about it, what the results were.
My research for the blog has found me sifting through numerous websites and books. I’ve learned so much I never would have otherwise. I find the women that have become masculine Masons particularly interesting, espcially because their exisitance tends to be covered up or denied. Freemasonry is not a secret society, but is a society with secrets; they have many secrets. Many of these can be found simply by looking.
Getting involved is another great way to find the postitives of Masonry. Many Daughters of the Nile Chapters have dancing or singing groups, start an OES Stitch’n’Bitch. Many Shrine clubs can be joined by the Shriner’s lady, and some of them are even ladies only. It often seems on the surface there is nothing there for us as women, but really, it just takes a little digging.
Be the change you want to see
I think that a lot of the trick is to make it all work for you. While I’m all for tradition, I rarely wear anything but pants to a Chapter meeting or Lodge dinner, unless its a special occasion. A small group of us have made a gaming club at our local Shrine, open to anyone who wants to join. T and I are DeMolay advisors, and feel that one of the best ways to make changes is to not only make them happen yourself, but help the future Masonic leaders grow and learn about all they can.
If there’s something about your Lodge, Chapter, or even Freemasonry as a whole that you don’t like, change it. There are, of course, more subtle ways to go about it, but sometimes the direct approach is best. If you’re gonna go out there and try to make big changes, know that every thing in the Masonic family happens at a snail’s pace. It took almost 5 years to raise the dues in our state by $1.50 to give 50 cents to each youth group. Don’t get frustrated. Don’t give up.
Sometimes you’ve just gotta suck it up
Or bite your tongue. Or coincide an argument. I’m not going to lie to you: if you are a woman involved in Freemasonry, and consider yourself a feminist, there will be times when you are blinded with rage due to the fraternity. Sometimes you just have to smile through your gritted teeth as you clear the dishes of men too lazy to do it themselves. It sucks, but, like many things in life, that’s just the way that it is. As many times as Masonry has pissed me off, I could not imagine giving up everything I’m involved in because of that.
So, there’s some a big post on the back burner, I need to mull it over a bit, and think about how I want to word it. In the mean time, I wanted to share with you a project I started a while ago- interviewing other Mason’s Ladies. If you or someone you know would like to share your Masonic story. please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
(Identifying information has been removed.)
Name: J. B.
Current Location: Seoul, South Korea
How were you made aware of Masonry? Do you come from a Masonic family?
I come from a very masonic family, more so on my mother’s side. My great grandparents were in masons, shrine, and Daughters of the Nile (great grandmother). My Grandfather and great uncle were also Shriners (It was an exciting year when my great uncle because imperial potentate of the Shrine. I still remember attending the Shrine circus and seeing my Great uncle as ringmaster during his year as potentate in British Columbia). My uncles and my cousin also became masons when my great uncle became imperial potentate (gotta support). My father was also a mason and would have become a shriner had he not passed away at an untimely age due to cancer. My Grandmother is a past queen of Daughters of the Nile and a Past Matron of the Order of the Eastern Star (I had the pleasure of using her gavel when I was honored queen in 1993 and am using is once again as Worthy Matron). My Mother was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and Amaranth (unfortunately she quit when I moved to Korea as she was tired of dealing with the gossipy cattiness that inevitably follows an organization filled with a plethora of personalities).
When I turned 11 years old (Job’s Daughters range in age from 11-20), my Grandmother and Grandfather took me to an open installation of Bethel #31. This was my very first time ever seeing anything masonic. During the reception, I had my grandmother on one side of me and my grandfather on the other and they asked, “So what do you think? Would you like to join?” Of course, the immediate answer would be yes. From that point on, I have been a diligent member of masonic affiliated organizations.
What is your perception of the current state of Masonry where you live? That is, how to you, personally view the Masonry around you? If applicable, how has it changed over the years, or from location to location?
I am lucky enough to be associated with both PHA and non-PHA masonic groups here on the Korean peninsula. For non-PHA lodges, there are two grand lodges represented: Grand Lodge of Scotland and the Grand Lodge of the Philippines. They have no female organizations available here at this time. For PHA the two Grand Lodges that I know of represented are: The Grand Lodge of Washington and Jurisdiction and the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma. The PHA groups here are mainly military based and the non-PHA groups are mainly expat. I can clearly see that there is a small rift between the PHA and non-PHA groups. This is slowly changing. This year we have attended (Boyfriend and I are PHA Eastern Stars) the open installation of Macarthur Lodge of the Grand Lodge of the Philipines and have also attended various barbeques and other functions with Lodge Han Yang of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Unfortunately, the Grand Lodge of Scotland and the Grand Lodge of Washington PHA do not currently recognize each other making it more difficult to interact on a more official level. Brothers of the lodges are currently working toward rectifying this situation.
As an expat member of a mainly military Chapter of the OES, it is very different for me to me involved in such a high turnover due to people leaving to a new location every couple of years for their career. Even with this, we continue to thrive and have a strong sister and brotherhood.
As a mason’s “wife” of a non-PHA lodge, it feels very much the same as it did in Vancouver. I feel very involved and have gained great friendships with many of the men and their wives. I am also aware that I feel more of a connection with the brothers than some of the other wives due to my masonic upbringing. I firmly believe that wives being involved in masonic affiliated organizations can bring very greater understanding and closer relationships.
Overall, I would say that whether as a child or an adult, whether PHA or non-PHA, whether in North America or Korea, the fundamental values remain the same: strive to be a better person and perform acts of charity. It is an honor and privilege to say that I am a part of masonic organizations.
What is your favorite aspect of Masonry? Your least favorite?
Favorite: The camaraderie, the ritual work, and the virtues for which we all strive to embody.
Least favorite: the gossipy catty nature of some members within the order.
How has Masonry changed your relationships (SO, family, friends) for the better? Has it changed it for the worse as well?
I feel as though I have answered this within all my other answers. Overall it has always changed it for the better. I have always been a part of masonic organizations and don’t know what my life would be like otherwise. I would certainly say however, that I would not change a thing.
If you could change one thing about your lodge/chapter, what would it be? Why?
Selfishly, I would wish that my sisters and brothers could remain in-country (Korea) longer. Our ritual work suffers due to the high turn-over rate however, the true reason is that I miss them very much when they are gone.
Were you involved in Job’s Daughters or Rainbow growing up? Looking back on those programs, do you have a positive, or negative view on them? How did they impact your life today?
I was a Job’s Daughter growing up and had a very positive experience. I was very unpopular in school due to my, shall we say… eccentricities – I was weird and embraced it. I never cared because I had an amazing group of friends in both Job’s Daughters and DeMolay of whom many I am still friends with today. Jobies were my true friends and where I felt at home. I know that many people may have had negative experiences due to the, as I have said before, gossipy and catty nature of people – especially girls. I however, feel very thankful for my upbringing. Jobies taught me not only decorum and virtues to strive toward, but also accounting, Robert’s Rules of Order, organization skills, public speaking, and most importantly how to lead in a diplomatic community. Today, I still have a large community of friends that stemmed from my time in Jobies. More importantly, my closest friends (even though I only see them once a year or every other year) were also those I grew up with within masonic groups. My boyfriend (of whom I have been living with now for 6 years) was a DeMolay from Golden Ears Chapter. We were buddies for 15 years before we ever started dating.
My Boyfriend, is the current (now past) Right Worshipful Master of Lodge Han Yang #1048 of the Grand Lodge of Scotland located in Seoul South Korea and he is also a member of Lodge Southern Cross #44 of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia. As a masonic “wife,” I have had the privilege of meeting many amazing men and women here in Korea and wouldn’t change it for a minute. One of the nice things about dating a mason is that I know that the men he is hanging out with have certain values and morals they strive to achieve and therefore I always feel comfortable knowing he’s out having fun with them. More often than not I am invited along for the fun. I realize that there are many masonic wives that do not have the same view as me and worry when their husband comes home late into the night. I think that my view is different because I am very aware of and involved in masonic organizations and therefore have a better understanding of what they are doing any why. I firmly believe that the wives with issues would feel much more secure if they were also involved in masonic affiliated orders.
If you have children, do you encourage them to be involved in Masonic youth programs, why or why not? If you do not have children, will/would you?
I absolutely would encourage my children to be involved in Masonic youth programs. I think my reasoning is pretty clear based on my own experiences. Over and above the feeling of belonging and the wonderful skills I learned, I was also kept too busy to get into any trouble. I never got interested in drugs, teen pregnancies, stealing cars or anything else that bored teenagers may decide is a good idea. My mother knew all of my friends’ parents and never really had to worry. I would go out late on many weekends to dances and such, however we always had 1 parent to every 5 girls. Jobies also provided a community of parents for my mother to get involved in.
Have you ever experienced misogyny from Masons? How did you react, and if in public, how did the others around you react? Did this incidence(s) change the way that you view Masonry? Why or why not?
I certainly have experienced misogyny from Masons (more so since I’ve been in OES in Korea). There are a few members of lodges here who feel that women have no place within any masonic affiliated groups. I usually don’t have any time to react before another Mason will break in information regarding female Masons in France etc. etc. Though it saddens my heart to meet men that feel negatively toward women having any involvement, I am quickly lifted by the much larger number of men –usually more educated on masonic knowledge – who come to the rescue and put them in their place. It hasn’t really changed my view on masonry at all. Confucius said, “To study without thinking is futile, to think without studying is dangerous.” I know that in every walk of life there will be people who “think without studying” and it is their own downfall, not mine.
How do you feel about the “men only” rule? Do you agree or disagree with this rule? Why or why not?
I can understand why many women feel they should not be prevented from joining a lodge just because of their gender, however I disagree. Girls enjoy having their “girl’s night out” where they go out with just the ladies leaving their husbands and boyfriends to do as they will. Men also enjoy this experience. Men should be able to have the freedom to be a part of an organization that is only men. Women should also have this same freedom. Masonic affiliated organizations allow for this via Daughters of the Nile, Ladies of the White Shrine, Job’s Daughters, Rainbow Girls, and I’m sure many more that I can’t think of at the moment. They also have organizations that both men and women can enjoy together such as OES, Amaranth, Heroines of Jericho (PHA), and much more. Masonic groups allow for men to have their men time, women to have their women time, and for men and women to come together. On top of this, women are also very involved in many of the open events the lodges have and husbands have the same opportunity within the women’s organizations. I also have absolutely no problem completely female lodges as they have in England (to me this is just another masonic affiliated group). I not agree with the idea of forcing all masonic affiliated groups to be co-ed. There is a completely different dynamic within the co-ed groups and if lodges were forced to be co-ed, there would be no place for the men to have their “men time.”
What advice would you give to a new member or a new or fellow Mason’s lady? What questions would you want to ask them?
My advice would be to be prepared for the gossipy catty nature of human beings and to never let it bring you down. Do your best to strive to uphold the virtues within your obligation and teach others to do the same. If you model it, they will follow. Remember all the good that comes out of these organizations and embrace the life-long friendships that will most certainly emerge. These organizations aren’t just about your chapter, court, etc, but about a connection world-wide. People will move away, you will meet visitors from all over, and you will have the opportunity to remain in touch for a lifetime. Remember the charity work that embodies the order and that your contribution is important, but so is your humbleness. It doesn’t matter how many people know that you work hard, what matters is that you do indeed work hard.
I guess the question I would ask a new member is, “are you prepared to do your best to follow and embody the virtues and morality found within your obligation? Are you prepared to make this a life-long commitment through the good and the bad knowing that the good will always inevitably be greater?” I would also offer a welcoming place for any sister or brother to visit in Korea.
I came across a very interesting video on CNN last night. The mother and uncle of Philando Castile, the young man who’s death recently sparked the protests in Dallas, that have, sadly, lead to more deaths.
I know that like many social topics, this is one that people feel very strongly about one way or the other. As this is not a blog about social and legal issues, I will not be sharing my opinion about what is going on, in hopes of staying as nonpartisan as possible.
However, in the midst of this tragedy, an unexpected Masonic topic came up, the one of brotherly relief. Many people are well aware that there are varying signs and phrases that Masons use, with varying degrees of secrecy. What I was not prepared for, however, was seeing one on CNN. You can see it at the end of the video below.
Please note, I would not normally share or talk about this, but because it was shown on a major news network, about a major news story, I felt that it was appropriate to mention. I will not talk further about what is said, other than that it is a call for help.
The concept is, basically, that if someone calls in help this way, that as long as they are a brother in good standing, you should not judge the situation, and do whatever you can to help.
That raises a ton of questions.
What is a brother in good standing?
Theoretically, it means only a brother who is current on his dues, and a member of a Grand Lodge that is recognized by yours. But what if they’re behind on dues? What if their GL is unrecognized? About eight Prince Hall Grand Lodges are still unrecognized by their mainstream counterpart in the United States. What if they are unable to be vetted for, for whatever reason? What’s more, what if the Brother has done something illegal, and is now asking for help? Does it matter what he’s done?
How can we not judge the situation?
The short answer: you can’t. As soon as you learn about the situation, any situation, you’ve already formed some sort of opinion on it. The question is if you can put aside your personal judgement to help someone who really needs it.
What falls under “whatever I can do to help”?
Just money? Just time? Both? Do you not have to assist if you are far away? Or are you obligated no matter where you are?These questions are never answered, this is something you must answer for yourself. Much like you must not pass judgement on the situation, you should make a judgement call about what is reasonable about how much assistance is warranted, both for the situation, and yourself.
If you would like to help RW Brother Clarence Castile, who asked for assistance in the video, a GoFundMe page has been created. However, I can’t help but feel he was asking for help on a much grander scale.
Sadly, I had to put my dog down this week. It may be morbid, but it got me thinking about death, and talking with my husband about what he wants to happen when he is gone. I think this is a very important conversation to have with your loved ones. We talked about whether or not we would want a Masonic or OES funeral. But what exactly does that entail?
When a man is initiated into Masonry, he receives a special lambskin apron that is pure white. The color represents many things, including the “washing away of sins”, the blank slate of his mind, and the lamb of G-d. Usually, the only time he will wear the apron is when he receives it. The apron is then tucked away in a safe place. When the Mason passes, he is buried with the apron on, or it is burned, in the case of cremation.
As for the funerals, there are three major types you will see:
Please note: this is a video of the Knight’s Templar Wreath Laying Ceremony. There is an actual funeral service, but it is fairly similar to this.
Many of the auxiliary groups have their own service rituals, but these are the most common that you will see. Often, a special prayer may be said when a member of a Lodge or Chapter passes, whether or not they have chosen to have a Masonic funeral. In addition, many groups have a special ritual evening that remembers all those who have passed in the last year.
Have you ever been to a Masonic funeral service? What did you think? Is it something you would choose for yourself?
This post will be short and sweet, but I am so excited I couldn’t wait any longer! As some of you may have deduced, I’ve been working on a bit of a side project for The Mason’s Lady, and the day to reveal is finally here!
There is now a Mason’s Lady Community Facebook group! I’ve spoken with a number of ladies who feel that they are the odd ones out as far as dating a Mason, as well as some Masons who wish that their SO’s had someone to connect with over the topic; this lead to the creation of the group.
I wanted something that could supplement my blog, as well as hopefully become something more. The idea is that this is a safe place to vent, speak out, support others, and ask questions in real time. I’ve posted a few conversation starters, so lets get the ball rolling and get to know one another!
For now, the group will be simple and light. At this time, the group is closed, so that the public can only see the members, not the posts within the group. I do also have it so that any member can approve membership, hopefully I will not have to change it in the future.
I want you to imagine something with me. Close your eyes, and imagine a Lodge; the people within it, its purpose, all of the wonderful things that those people accomplish. Imagine their families, the children growing up within the Lodge, and one day joining on their own. Now imagine, only a slight difference from reality. Instead of all of the members being men, imagine them instead to be women. What would be different? What would be the same? Would the organization crumble, or thrive? How would the men feel about being excluded; would they be offended, or would it not be a big deal? Could what this Lodge accomplish be far different from others?
What if I told you this was not necessarily a daydream? While there are a few women organizations in the United States, they are almost a direct copy of masculine (regular or mainstream) Masonry. Personally, I feel that if I were to join a Lodge, I would not want it to be masculine Masonry with different but similar words, I would want it to be something of its own, something that I can help shape its own legacy. Within the Netherlands (as well as one Lodge in France), this exists within the Order of Weavers.
The Order of Weavers was created shortly after World War II. The women of the country,as many did, enjoyed the newfound freedom of being able to take leadership positions and work outside of the home. They had noticed that Freemasonry had lent great support, both to the members, as well as their families. They were inspired to create something similar, but very much their own. Twelve women began the order in 1947, many of them were the wives of Freemasons. While starting out, they were supported by three Freemasons,though the Order of Weavers is not an official Masonic organization. The rituals were completed by 1950.
In many ways, the Order of Weavers is very similar to masculine Masonry. There are three degrees. The membership requirements are similar, a candidate must be a free-born woman, who believes in a higher power. Dogma, politics, and controversial issues are frowned upon for topics of discussion within the Lodge. They do not permit the opposite sex to join. They both teach similar morals and life lessons, and touch the lives of their members. Also, much like UGLE Freemasonry, the Order of Weavers has a split off organization that came about of disagreement. This is called the Order of Free Weavers, and the majority of their Lodges are based in France, with some in the Netherlands.
The Order of Weavers, is of course, still very different from Masonry. The three degrees are called Spinner, Weaver, and Designer (sometimes also called Creator?). While the formatting of the ritual work is based off of Blue Lodge, that tends to be where the similarities end. The Grand Lodges are instead called Colleges. The Order of Weavers tells their own stories, and teaches their own lessons, ones quite divergent from Freemasonry. The concepts behind the rituals, however, are similar. The end result is still to create a better person. In the end, the biggest difference between the two organizations, is that the Order of Weavers does not have the great pedigree that Freemasonry does.
There are currently 16 Lodges of the Order of Weavers, 15 being in the Netherlands, and 1 in France. This is actually the same number of Lodges of Le Droit Humain. They currently boast 500 members.
So, what’s the big deal about this organization? Sometimes, I day dream about bringing the organization to the United States. It would be quite the undertaking. However, if anyone is interested in gaining approval from the College, flying to the Netherlands, receiving the degrees, going back home, and doing all the work to begin a Lodge, please let me know! I think I am up to two people right now.
Please note, that there is not much information out there about the Order of Weavers, so some of this is pieced together a bit. If you have different information, or are a member of the Order of Weavers, I would love to hear from you.
What do you think about the organization? Would you join, or be interested in learning more? If you’re a Mason, what do you think about the Order? Would you be okay with your SO joining?
So, something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while is sharing questions that I get via e-mail and PM, as well as the answers that I give. This is the first one that I have chosen to share. The sender did not respond when asked if I could share her email, so instead I’ve summarized her questions, and posted my reply. If you have any questions you would like to ask, please feel free!
How can I value something [Masonry] that doesn’t value me for what I am, a woman? How do you feel about that?
In your blog you speak as if you and your partner hold in the highest regard the brotherhood, and without questioning? Why not question? Why not doubt?
Addressing your first question, about the exclusion of women. This is something that I have struggled with greatly the entire time that I have been with my husband. On the one hand, I want to be included, and my sex and gender shouldn’t matter. On the other, I respect their right to exclude me, and understand why its done; I see it as creating a “safe space” something that men need just as much as women. I’ve asked my husband before if he would be okay with me joining a co-ed Masonic Lodge. There are none in our area, but he said it would not be an issue. He did, however, say that he feels that his obligation would bar him from communicating with me at least Masonically, if not also put a damper on our communication about Masonry. That would make my life very difficult, as he is often the first person I turn to when writing this blog.
Many people have asked me, “Why not just join Eastern Star?” I have, and it is not the same. As it is not a mirror image of Blue Lodge, and is not exclusive of males, that safe space feeling tends to fall short. I would say that the closest thing that currently exists within the Masonic community would be Daughters of the Nile. It’s not quite right though. I feel that the answer lies in a different organization, called the Order of the Weavers. It mirrors Blue Lodge very similarly, but is quite different in its own right. Unfortunately, there are currently no chapters in the United States, and the organization only operates in the Netherlands. It would be quite the project to get a group of people together to go there, receive the degrees, get the blessing to start a new chapter, and then head back to the States and start the first US chapter. This would take a decent sized group of very dedicated women to pull off.
As for the values, there are two things to remember: Freemasonry is hundreds of years old, and came about well before women were independent in any sense; just because a group excludes you from membership, does not mean that it does not value you. For the former, Freemasonry has been largely unchanged the entire time that is has existed. With this goes the gender and societal roles of women. I often feel that the organization is outdated and behind the times. However, just because you cannot be a member, does not mean that you cannot be involved. I’ve heard from lots of women who have started their own “wives club” of sorts within the Lodge, who get together for all sorts of activities, both related to Masonry, and not. Masonry can uphold traditional gender roles, this is true, but in this day and age I feel that there is much more flex within them, and many more lines to be blurred and boundaries to be pushed.
The latter is very interesting as well. While there are no oaths sword to uphold womanhood within ritual (that I am aware of). It is expressed in different ways. There is a special dinner that some Lodges put on every year (others less often) called Ladies at the Table. It’s basically an evening to celebrate and honor all of the women who support the Lodge throughout the year. T decided to put one on the year that he was Master of the Lodge. It was a great time to have all the men come together and really show their appreciation for what the women do (and put up with) for Masonry. Within DeMolay, the young men’s organization, which is based on Blue Lodge, honoring womanhood is mentioned within their obligation. They also have a special ritual called the flower talk, specifically given for the sake of moms and other women that support Masonic youth. You can watch that here. So, I guess my point is, don’t ever think that you are not valued as a women within Masonry. I think that often the opposite becomes true. Masonry teaches men about many topics, and I have seen many a man come out on the other side as a kinder, more respecting, and chivalrous individual.
Moving onto your second question. When I first started dating T, I was much like you were before you were with your Mason. Most of my ideas about Masonry were largely based on conspiracy theories and Internet rumors. I had no idea just how involved he and his family are. Luckily, our relationship was built on open communication, and because of that, I trust him fully.
I think the two biggest factors in me trusting the brotherhood are experience and Google. I joined OES early on in my relationship with T. After you join a Masonic body, you realize just how mundane it really is. And when you see that the organization that uses the inverted pentagram mostly just pays bills and sends condolences, it gives you perspective. I have also since become a DeMolay advisor, and am privy (as are all the parents) to the ritual, that is based on Blue Lodge’s. In addition to this, I have seen first hand what Masonry does. It does make good men better, but it is so much more than that. To know that I have a huge community that has my back whether they agree with me or not is truly amazing. I can’t think of anyone within my Masonic family that would turn me down in a time of need. I’ve been lucky enough to see the life of a child changed by Masonry, not only through its youth programs, but also the hospitals that they run.
When all else fails, Google is your friend. All of the rituals are available online with some careful searching. None of those secrets are really so secret. Have I read the entire ritual cover to cover? No, I’ve not. But I feel that just knowing that it is available to me is comforting on many levels.
I would not say that I am without doubts on Masonry. However, these tend to be on specific issues rather than the organization as a whole. For instance, the exclusion of homosexuals in Mississippi and Tennessee, as well as the exclusion of trans-men in other states I definitely do not agree with, but it never causes me to doubt the entire organization.
I am also, not without question. Questioning Masonry is actually what lead me to create this blog in the first place. Questioning Masonry is often the drive to continue on with it. We cannot learn without knowing what questions to ask. I enjoy sharing the answers to my questions here, which is what makes up a large portion of the posts on The Mason’s Lady. I think that when we stop questioning, we become compliant, and that leads to many issues.
Finals week is upon me, so of course, all of my downtime is spend vegging out and watching cartoons, so join me! Please remember that these are all simply based on Freemasonry or other “secret societies”, and are not intended to be accurate. Sometimes writers and/or artists are Masons themselves, other times it is simply what they imagine it to be. Enjoy!
I have no idea what this is or where it comes from, but it certainly is silly, as well as mildly NSFW. If you happen to know the source, please let me know!
The Flintstones start us off with the Loyal Order of the Water Buffalo. If you’re interested in watching specific episodes with the order, check out this link for a list.
While not directly Masonic, in this Disney short, Donald Duck learns about geometry. It’s a bit like Disney does the middle chamber lecture. I remember watching this in high school math class!
From the “Good Neighbors” episode of Spongebob Squarepants. I believe there is also an oath and song in it, but I cannot share that here.
An interesting cartoon from 1931 called Bimbo’s Initiation. Remember that clubs and lodges of all types were very popular at this time.
If you’re looking for a smart cartoon with lots of Masonic symbols, Gravity Falls is for you. There is some question if the creator is a Mason, but it has only been reported that his uncle is.
The Simpsons has a lot of Masonic and “Illuminati” references. This is from the Episode Homer the Great.
Have you seen any Masonic images or symbols or even more in another cartoon? Please share!