Freemasonry and Gender Roles

Picture this- it’s Lodge night, your Mason isn’t due home for a few hours, the kids just got to sleep, and you finally have some time to yourself, to do what you please. Sounds relaxing, doesn’t it? Lodge nights always give me the eerie feeling of stepping back in time, when a woman stayed home with the children, and the man worked, say like, the 1950’s. There is a very good reason for this. Masonry, which became popular in the late 50’s and early 60’s, tends to reinforce the very traditional gender roles from that era.

Just what does that mean, anyway?

Gender roles are “the social and behavioral norms that are generally considered appropriate for either a man or a woman in a social or interpersonal relationship”. In other words, gender roles are the way that you act, because society tells you that you should, or it’s the agreement between you and your spouse, or it’s the way your culture says that you should act, based on your gender. For instance, the way that a woman from a very traditional Muslim family acts in public, is very different from how a man from that same family acts in public, and both act very differently  from the way that a woman from a loosely Christian household might act  in public. They aren’t right or wrong, they just vary from person to person for any number of reasons.

What does this have to do with Freemasonry?

The scenario above depicts very traditional Western gender roles that is, the husband goes to work, while the wife stays home and takes care of the 2.5 kids. Add a white picket fence, and its practically the American dream. Freemasonry gives us many things. It gives us tradition, ritual, a sense of self, a way to give back to the community, amongst other things. If you notice, however, one of the things it does not  give us is change. Freemasonry is very rooted in it’s ways, and tends to be very “this is the way it is, because this is the way that it always has been”.

No one can seem to agree on exactly when modern Freemasonry began, but it is agreed that it was around the turn of the 20th century. Let’s think about life in the early 1900’s. Radio and cinema were still in their infancies, many people still had servants, and save for a small group of women, the ladies of the house chose to stay home while the men worked.  When creating something as complex as Freemasonry, you will, of course, want to be able to integrate it into your life, as well as future member’s lives as easily as possible. Since women staying home was the norm at the time, perhaps this was a factor in the exclusion of women from Freemasonry during its creation. Staying home was expected of women at the time, it was the typical gender role, and Freemasonry simply stayed the course of society at the time.

These gender roles stayed true throughout the years, including during the 1960’s, when Freemasonry had its first big boom. Women were beginning to enter the work force more regularly, but in very submissive roles, such as secretary, and many women continued to stay home while the man of the house worked. Again, Freemasonry was easily integrated here, because it supported the gender roles that the society, for the most part, continued to dictate. In addition to a rise of Freemasonry membership, Order of the Eastern star and other women’s auxiliary groups saw an influx of members. Perhaps some of this can be attributed to the fact that women were becoming more independent, and more likely to work out of the home and do their own thing. The continued separation, however, continued to support the way that things always had been.

Many have said that we are currently in another membership boom for Freemasonry, and I am inclined to agree with that. What is different now, is that gender roles have changed, which causes some tension on the topic of women and Freemasonry. Women no longer stay at home and care for the home and children as the norm, in fact, this tends to be abnormal. Families now aren’t known to just be a man, a woman, and some kids, but instead made up of numerous combinations. Yet, Freemasonry supports the same gender roles. the same societal roles as it did during its inception the Mason goes to lodge, and the non-Mason, being excluded, does their own thing.  I feel that this is a growing issue in Freemasonry, and will continue to be an issue until more lodges choose to do something about it. Many have, doing things such as inviting the women to lodge dinner, having free wi-fi and cable in a lodge lounge, and generally trying to make lodge night as welcoming as possible to all members of a Mason’s family, not just the Mason himself.

So, this is a bad thing right?

Yes and no. Yes, I think that propagating traditional gender roles, whether consciously or not, is harmful to Freemasonry, and will turn off a lot of potential younger members. I also believe that all organizations should be somewhat flexible in “getting with the times”. I am not calling for a radical reformation of the way that Freemasonry works, I just think that small things could be done to make it a bit more welcoming for the rest of the family. This is most easily done on a lodge by lodge basis.

That being said, I think that viewed in the correct light, the traditional gender roles that Freemasonry promotes can be a very good thing. Go back to the scenario at the beginning of the article. Now, imagine that you are a woman in the 1920’s. Your husband leaving for lodge on a regular basis give you two things you might not usually get at that time independence, and autonomy. In fact, organizations that excluded women around this time, helped women actually join the workforce, and eventually join (some) of those organizations. In part, being excluded and away from your husband when all the chores were done and the kids were asleep, forced women into a kind of sink or swim scenario, either they had to gain the confidence to be seen as a separate person, or they could hide back in the shadows. The former is what a lot of women chose, shown by the boom of the women’s auxiliary and independent groups.

Speaking more modernly, I feel that the exclusion for one partner in a relationship can also be healthy for that relationship. If you know that your partner is going to be gone for 4 hours every Wednesday, you can plan things that they might not want to do with you, or things that you only want to do for yourself. When T is at lodge, for instance, I will often go to the gym, then come home and cook myself a nice meal, not having to worry about having to share, and then watch a horror movie, or play some video games. I think that the regularly scheduled time apart helps get rid of the “omg I want to strangle you right now” feeling that we all get in relationships sometimes.

These are just my thoughts and observations, as with anything on the internet, please take it with a grain of salt. That being said, I would love to hear what anyone has to say about the topic. I do not mind at all if you do not agree with me, I just ask that you remain respectful!

The Lady Freemason

Did you know that there has been five women inducted into  masonry*? While not well known, and seemingly never talked about, all five of these women became Freemasons before the existence of co-masonic lodges. Interestingly, though, perhaps not surprisingly, there is no record of women becoming regular masons since co-masonic lodges were invented. I would like to speak about each of them in their own due time, so, it makes sense to start with the first recorded woman to join a regular masonic lodge, the Honorable Elizabeth Aldworth.

Elizabeth in her Masonic regalia

In or around 1711 (Some accounts say as early as 1710, some as late as 1712), Arthur St. Leger, 1st Viscount Doneraile, was holding lodge in his home, to confer degrees, as well as take care of other masonic business. His home was undergoing some renovations, I believe they were repairing some of the walls. Wanting his home to be presentable for his brethren, the bricks for the walls were stacked up hastily, particularly in the wall that adjoined the lodge room to the house’s library; we’ve all been there, you have company coming over, and you want your place to look nice, you do something to make it look nice, and hope that no one accidentally bumps into it and realizes its not as nice as they believed.

Don’t trust these brick walls.

Before the lodge meeting had begun, Arthur’s daughter, Elizabeth, was reading in the library. Eventually, she dozed off; while she slept, the lodge meeting begun in the room next door. Elizabeth was awoken by voices at one point, and, realizing it was not just her father having friends over for drinks, decided that she wanted to know more about what was going on in the next room. So, she did what any curious young woman would do- she put her ear up to the wall, hoping to hear more. When that failed (bricks are not easy to hear through), she realized that the bricks in the wall were loose, and decided to remove one of them in hopes of spying on the men next door.

She was silent, captivated by the degree work going on for some time, supposedly observing the majority of the ceremony. It was only after the candidate received his obligation that she realized the weight of what she had just witnessed, not only for the candidate, but also for himself.

Front of Elizabeth’s masonic jewel

Elizabeth realized at this point that she should probably leave the library. Unfortunately, there was only one exit from the library, which was into a hallway that shared the only exit to the lodge room. Knowing that she would not be able to hide in the library forever, and believing in her abilities as an 18th century ninja, she decided to go for it. As soon as she opened the door to the library, she bumped into her father’s butler, who was serving as Tyler, sword and all, causing her to scream and faint. The Tyler altered the men to her presence, and after she was revived, with a little questioning the masons discovered that Elizabeth had witnessed almost the entire degree. After much debate, the men decided that the best solution to this, was to induct Elizabeth into masonry, herself receiving the degree that she had just witnessed.

And the back.

She was initiated that evening, with the lodge being presided over by her father, as well as her brother, and future husband. She was probably around 17 at the time. Elizabeth did not take the role of mason lightly. She had a full masonic costume, as well as her own apron and jewels. She also wore a small trowel on her left shoulder, often. She was known for her charity. More than that, however, is difficult to be known. It is said that she sat as Master of her lodge, but this cannot be confirmed. Early in her masonic career, she admitted to only having received the F.C. degree, however,  she may have received the information of the master mason degree at the same time. There is more issue with exactly which lodge she was a member of. On her tombstone, and on many accounts, she is notated as being a member of lodge no. 44, however, this lodge was not charted until 1735, which does not match up with the rest of the accounts. There have been a number of attempts to ascertain which lodge she was a member of, but they have all been in vain. It very well may have been a private lodge, or perhaps the numbers were just mistaken throughout the years. What we do know for sure, is that she did exist, and she was in fact, the (first) lady Freemason.

Elizabeth passed in 1775, her story, however,  story is incredibly well documented. This is a pamphlet that was made of her biography after her death it was printed in 1860, and was actually  a reprint of the original, which was published in 1811. Both her apron, as well as her jewel currently reside in the Provincial Grand Lodge of Munster.

I think the coolest part- Elizabeth’s apron.

Four other women have been initiated into regular masonry- all more or less by the same method- hide somewhere you shouldn’t, view the degree work, get caught, and have the men decide they have “no other choice” but to make you a mason. I am curious then, when exactly the bit in the obligation came about, where it states that a mason will not knowingly make a woman a mason- I found that obligations started around 1735, well after our dear Elizabeth became a mason, but who knows what it included at that time. There were women that were made masons after the inclusions of the obligation, so the bit about not making a woman a mason may not of come around under later. I would not, however, recommend this to any woman that wishes to become a mason- I cannot imagine they will go this route these days!

*It is worth noting, that this incident occurred before the unification of the Ancient and the Modern masons, so the use of the word regular here is not truly appropriate, this is not the case however, for the later women iniated into masonry.

Order of the Eastern Star: A Primer

This week is a little crazy- my birthday is tomorrow, and I have two exams, as well as working during the week, so I apologize if you have seen this before (you will if you followed me here from Reddit), but my free time is a little short this week. We will be returning to your regularly scheduled programming next week, with an article on the first known woman to become a regular mason. (Yes, you read that right!) One last bit before I get started, in case you don’t read this- I started a twitter account for this blog, check it out at @themasonslady , and say hi!

What is the Order of the Eastern Star?

The Order of the Eastern Star (or Eastern Star, or OES), is the world’s largest fraternal organization that can be joined by both men and women. It is a member of the Masonic family, but joining does not make a member a mason. It’s more of an axillary group, that supports masonic lodges, masonic youth organizations, as well as their own agenda. Like all Masonic organizations, they support membership when in need, both financially and emotionally. They also provide a framework for introspective thought and philosophical discussion on ethical and spiritual topics.

Who can join OES?

In order to be eligible to receive the degrees of Eastern Star, a woman must be a: wife, daughter, adopted daughter, mother, widow, sister, half sister, granddaughter, stepmother, stepdaughter, stepsister, daughter-in-law,grandmother, great granddaughter, niece, great niece, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, or aunt of a Master Mason in good standing. (Basically, if you can prove you are in some way or another related to a Mason who is paid up, you’re in.) Former members of Job’s Daughters and Rainbow Girls are also eligible to join. Men wishing to join the order must be Master Masons. All members must be at least eighteen.

How do I join OES?

Step 1) Find a chapter in your area.

Step 2) Ask for a petition, fill it out, return it.

Step 3) Interview with members of your prospective chapter.

Step 4) ????

Step 5) Profit.

But, what do they *do*?

I can’t answer for other chapters, only for what goes on in Nebraska. In Nebraska, OES is the majority supporter for the Masonic youth organizations- Job’s Daughters, Rainbow Girls, and Demolay. They also operate the Masonic-Eastern Star Home for Children – a place for kids who are either wards of the state or are having other troubles. They also provide scholarships to college students and support other minor charitable efforts in their respective local areas.

What about the degrees? Is there memory work?

There are five  degrees, received in one night. There is no memory work required for initiation. There is, however, memory work involved if you would like to be an officer.

Why did you chose to join?

Eastern Star was very important to my great-grandparents; I never got to meet any of them, so this is a way for me to connect with my family’s past. I can now say I have walked the same path my great-grandmother did, almost 100 years ago. I also think that it is a great way to connect with T, as a lot of the rituals are similar to what they do in lodge. I cannot, of course, share any of the secret work with him, just has he cannot share his with me; I think its kind of nice to have my own masonic secrets.

Does there have to be a guy involved?

It’s not the way that I would have it set up, but yes. MMs are involved in a number of different ways. There’s two male only officer positions that they can hold- Worthy Patron and Associate Worthy Patron. My chapter current has a MM also sitting the position of Chaplin, Sentinel (Tyler), and I was lucky enough to have a MM who is a good friend of mine as Host (I’m not sure if blue lodge does this- he sat with me before I was called in, and after my initiation, to help me with the rest of the meeting, introduced me to people, etc). I’m not sure about the rest of the positions, I know that the points and matron positions must be held by women (obviously), but I don’t see why a MM couldn’t be say, treasurer, or secretary. Otherwise, MMs are full, voting members, but it does tend to be a bit of a role reversal, the MMs are there to support the sisters, the girls run the show here.

I was orginally upset about this fact, that a man must be there in order for a chapter of OES to be open. Now that I am a member of Eastern Star, I realize, I was looking at it all wrong from the beginning. In the Blue Lodge, the MM does his work, with support from his wife. In Eastern Star, the opposite is true, the Sister does her work with the support of her husband. MMs are present in the Star, but it is a support role, the women are truly the ones in charge here. Much of my offense was simply ignorance, but I believe it to be one of those things you cannot really get over until you are already in.

If you still disagree with this, there are women’s only orders within the masonic family.

Everyone asks me “Why would anyone want to join OES?”

There is kind of a huge stigma involving OES within the masonic family. When I told our masonic friends I was joining, everyone had something to complain about it, mostly about how boring it was, and how much marching there was. I ignored them, I wanted to find out for myself. Yes, it is true that watching grass grow would be more exciting than listening to a chapter open. However, I think that there is a lot of wiggle room for change, and that your chapter is what you make of it. I would love to change people’s thoughts about OES, and make it something more attractive, something at people will want to join. If you are reading this right now, chances are you are in the “next generation” of masonry. We are the ones that will bring about the positive change to this organization. I also believe that if we do not, it will be gone in the next 20 years.

I’m going to cut it a bit short and leave it there for now. I am planning on returning to the general topic of Eastern Star at a later point, but if you have any questions let me know, and don’t forget to check us out on twitter @themasonslady!

Women and Freemasonry: An Introduction

Ah, a topic close to my heart, women and masonry. Get comfy, this one might be a long one.

So, women can’t be masons, right?

Yes and no.

Lets start with the latter. No, women cannot join the (Ancient Free) and Accepted Masons, aka Blue Lodge, aka lodge, aka, the stepping stone of Scottish Rite, Shriners, and at least 30 other appendant bodies. Yes, I know. Let me share my perspective on the matter.

When I first met my boyfriend, and found out that he was a mason, my first reaction was to be jealous that I could not join, and be offended at the blatant sexism that was happening in an organization that he is so involved in. I snooped around, trying to find some loophole or backdoor that would let me into the secret boys club. You see, I am  a geek, and I tend to be the token female in many of my geek circles. Being shut out from the boys and having to “earn” my way into the level of acceptance that they hold each other to has been going on for years in my life. So, I was used to this, in a way, but not used to being 100% shut out, with absolutely no way in.

As my relationship grew, so did my level of involvement in the lodge. I began cooking meals for degree nights, helping the other women in the kitchen, cleaning up after family meals, going to the Shrine bar after lodge to drink with the boys, going on DeMolay outings, and more. My boyfriend recognized the level of interest I hold, and suggested I look into joining the Order of the Eastern Star.In a way, this was like finding out that I could not become a mason all over again. Women and men can join OES, and they are preceded over by a Worthy Matron and Patron. I again, found it rather sexist, but I was too interested to not look into it.

During all of this time, I was discussing all of these feelings with T. He is terribly understanding about it all, but we kind of came to a mutual conclusion. It is healthy for partners in a relationship to have time apart, and masonry became very popular when far less women were independent in their own right. So while I may find some of the traditions to be sexist, it is still just that, tradition, something old. Perhaps our grandparents were onto something?

As for the yes- yes, women can join masonry. There are lodges that are referred to as irregular, clandestine, or co-masonic. Women can join these lodges, and can become a Perfect Masoness (the lodge’s equivalent of a MM). I cannot claim to know much about co-masonry. I do know, however, that it was originated in France, under the name Le Droit Humain, The International Order of Mixed Freemasonry. It has lodges in over 60 countries, and is continues to be fairly popular in Europe, especially France and Belgium. Today there are a number of organizations that run co-masonic lodges, including Le Droit Humain, The Eastern Order of International Co-Freemasonry, and The Co-Freemasonic Order of the Blazing Star. It can be very confusing trying to find locations of co-masonic lodges due to all of the different groups that run them. There are a number in England, and of course France, Belgium, and the rest of Europe. Those in the United States, however, tend to be in larger coastal cities. If you would like more information, this website has all of the links for every co-masonic, or women’s only lodges.

Before you run off to join a co-masonic lodge, I suggest that you stop and think about this. If your boyfriend, your husband, your SO, or even just a friend is a mason, a member of a blue lodge chartered by a regular Grand Lodge in your state or country, he is not allowed to discuss secret masonic work with you, even if you become a master mason (or equivalent). This is because regular, or mainstream lodges do not recognize lodges that accept women as members, solely because of that reason. This is not to say that you can no longer discuss masonry with him. Quite the contrary really, as many regular (“masculine”? saying regular just seems weird) lodges will invite co-masonic lodges for discussion, and there can be fellowship between the two lodges. However, if you are a member of a co-masonic lodge, and your SO is a member of a masculine (I think I like that better) lodge, you cannot attend regular meetings at his lodge. I am not sure if he is able to attend yours.

If you are thinking about joining a co-masonic lodge, do your homework!!! There are a number of “scam” lodges that exist, only there to take your money and give you a shiny title in exchange. If you are a member of a co-masonic lodge, please contact me! I would love to chat with someone that is an active member and get their perspective.

There are some unspoken hostilities between masculine and co-masonic lodges, some for good reasons, and some…  The best thing I could find on the topic came from the United Grand Lodge of England (commonly referred to as UGLE),

Brethren are therefore free to explain to non-Masons, if asked, that Freemasonry is not confined to men (even though this Grand Lodge does not itself admit women)

 So, what can I join?

There are a number of organizations that you can join that will get you more involved with masonry, that are associated with masculine lodges. Unless noted, you must be 18, and related to a MM. When they say related, it basically means, if you want to join, you will find the relation. I joined OES due to my great-grandfather whom I never met.

  • OES, or Order of the Eastern Star, probably the most widespread organization. I will be doing a more in depth post on this organization later, but I will tell you right off the bat, that it is open to women related to Master Masons, as well as Master Masons themselves. It tends to have a very negative reputation, but as a member myself, I enjoy it a good bit. You can also join if you were a Rainbow Girl, or in Job’s Daughters.
  • Order of the Amarath– Similar to OES, in fact, it used to be that you had to join OES before you could become a member of OA. Again, this is open to women related to MM and MM themselves.
  • Ladies’ Oriental Shrine of North America– Far less prevalent, these are the “lady Shriners”. Only women can join this organization. You must, however, be related to a MM or a Shriner.
  • The Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem– One of the requirements to join this organization is to profess a belief in Jesus Christ. Again, this is open to women only.
  • Heroines of Jericho– This and the next one are a bit different. These groups are related to Prince Hall masonry, which may or may not be recognized as regular lodges in your state or country. This organization is associated with Prince Hall Royal Arch
  • Order of Cyrenes– Similar to the Heroines, however this organization is associated with Prince Hall Templars.
  • Daughters of the Nile– This group is associated with Shriners, but is different from LOSNA in that their focus is fundraising, whereas LOSNA is more focused on sociability. Again, you must be related to a MM, Shriner, or a Daughter of the Nile.
  • Scottish Rite Ladies- This is not a national or international chapter, but instead depends on your Grand Lodge, or even the Scottish Rite chapter in your area. It tends to be more women getting together and having a good time, that is usually organized by the men (at least here in Nebraska). Must be related to a MM that is a member of Scottish Rite.
  • Order of the Weavers– This is where I get kind of jealous. The Dutch don’t really have any co-masonic lodges, so the ladies decided to make their own body that is associated with masculine lodges. How cool is that! If you have anymore information on this organization, please contact me!
  • The Widow’s Sons Ladies – Mentioned by a member of Reddit, this unique group is associated with the Masonic motorcycle group, the Widow’s Sons.

What else can I do?

Don’t be afraid to offer to help out around the lodge if you are interested in being more involved! If you’re not into it, no big deal; I know your mason would appreciate your interest. It seems that there are dinners, dances, fundraisers, you name it, almost every night of the week here- we’re not a big city, but there’s 12 masonic lodges, plus a shrine and Scottish rite, star…you get the idea. Even if you live in a small town with only one lodge, there’s bound to be something to do at least once a month.

Offer to help cook or clean, or even just hang out with the ladies at your lodge while the meeting is occurring- that’s right, it’s your lodge too, make yourself feel comfortable there! Weekly (biweekly, monthly), meetings are a great place to meet new people with a common interest-it’s really all about socializing after all. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, they will be answered if possible. Ask to see the lodge room, often there will be antique pieces that the lodge owns (I always find that stuff fascinating), ask about symbols you see, ask lots of questions!

What if….?

One last bit of advice. If you are not comfortable with masonry, for any reason, whether your mason is a candidate or a 33rd degree mason, let them know. You might find that your worries were just because you did not know enough, or it might be for another reason. I cannot stress this enough. Masonry can take up a good chunk of one’s social life, and if you are uncomfortable with the amount of time that your mason is spending at lodge, tell him.

I cut this topic a bit short, because there is so much that can be said about women and masonry. I will be covering the history of women and masonry at one point.

Have a wonderful week!

The Mason’s Lady

I figured I should backtrack a bit, and cover some basic ground, so that everyone reading this has a general idea of what is going on. When you google mason’s lady, or women and masons, one of the first things to appear is some version of this: http://web.mit.edu/dryfoo/Masonry/Essays/ml.pdf unfortunately, it looks like it was last made some time in the 80′s, doesn’t answer a lot of questions, and does not give a lot of resources, unless your mason happens to be a member of Blue Hill Lodge in Massachusetts. I would like for this to serve as an update to that handout, answering more questions, and giving more general resources.

What’s a mason, anyway?

Masons, or freemasons (to distingush from bricklayers), are really kind of everywhere. Those guys in the little cars in parades are masons. Shriner’s hospital is completely owned, operated, and (mostly) funded by masons. The Loyal Order of the Water Buffaloes, Fred Flinstone’s fraternity, was based on masonry. A mason refers to a member of Freemasonry, a fraternal organization. They base  their work in philanthropy, specifically to better their members, which also involves bettering their community. This is masonry at its core. Their motto is “to make good men better”.

Who can be a mason?

Only men can be masons (yes, I know, I will save this for another post). FtMs that are legally male, can be masons, but their acceptance varies from lodge to lodge. They have to be of appropriate age for the state or country 18 for most, 21 for some. The man must come with recommendations, this is usually done via interview, even if he already has friends within the lodge. One requirement of receiving the degrees is that he must belive in a “higher power”. This does not mean that he must be religious, or even that he must believe in G-d, only that he believes in something greater than himself.

But, what do they do?

On average, most lodges meet once to twice a month. Lodges with more degree work to perform (more on this in a bit), will meet more often (T’s meets every week), whereas smaller lodges, or lodges with less new members will meet less- at least once a month for business. Usually the meetings are not that exciting, to give you an idea, they usually go on in the general business format of: open lodge, old business (reading of the minutes from last meeting), new business (communications from other lodges and organizations, pay bills, announcements), special events (voting, special announcements), close lodge. It’s not really as exciting as most people think it may be. However, masons are more known for their special events. Depending on your lodge, there may be picnics, dances, formal dinners, fundraisers, pancake breakfasts, group visits to the zoo, etc, throughout the year. The men are always encouraged to bring their family to such events. There are often city-wide, and state-wide events as well.

What’s this about degrees?

The way that it works is as follows: a man chooses a lodge that he wants to join, either because of location, friends in that specific lodge, or whatever. He asks them for a petition, fills it out, and gives it back to a member. At the next business meeting, the petition is read, and shortly thereafter, a few members of the lodge set up an interview with the candidate. The interview is usually fairly relaxed, and serves as a way to get to know the candidate better, both in their personality and their intentions. The interviewers return to the lodge, and give the rest of the members a feel for the candidate. The candidate is then voted on, the decision must be unanimous in the lodge. He is then able to receive the degrees of masonry.

There are three degrees that a mason must receive before he is a full member of the lodge. Every lodge has different schedules, some may do it over three or more months, some in one month, and some in one day. It all depends on the canidate.The first degree is called the Entered Apprentice degree, or the EA degree. The second is the Fellowcraft degree, or FC degree. The third degree is the Master Mason, or MM degree. Upon receiving the MM degree, the man is now a full-fledged mason, and full member of the lodge.

I heard something about an Inspector Inquisitor Commander?

There are many branches of masonry. The lodge, or blue lodge, is the base, the core of masonry. This is where a mason will receive the first three degrees. There are thirty (yes 30!) more degrees available to receive beyond that, as well as other organizations to join. After the first three degrees, there are two branches to choose from, Scottish Rite, or York Rite. The progression for Scottish Rite is as follows: Scottish Rite->Chapter of the Rose Croix->Council of Kadosh->Consistory of Sublime Princes->Supreme Council. York Rite is: York Rite->Cryptic Rite->Knights Templar. In addition to this, masons can also join the Shriners, the Grotto, and a large number appendant bodies.

I keep hearing about masonic secrets…

Masons do have their secrets, its true;  allow me to assure you that none of it is to take over the world, or control the government (you should watch them organize a dinner…) Most of the “secrets” you can find online, if you are really interested, but I would recommend that you do not. Some thing are better left with a shroud of mystery, and whether you are a mason’s SO or a potential candidate, masonry is one of them. If you have questions about masonry, ask your mason (if you have one), you may be surprised about what he is allowed and willing to share with you.

What can I do?

The first, and most important thing you can do, is support your mason. Encourage him to be active in his lodge. Our grandparents were onto something when they got into masonry. Time apart is good for any relationship, and so is time with the same gender. Communication is important as well. If you feel like masonry is becoming more important than family or work, talk with him about it. It is strongly encouraged in the teachings that family and work should always come before masonic work. Be active in the lodge yourself. While you cannot attend the business meetings, you can ask to see the inside of the lodge room, and ladies are often  welcome before and after meetings. If your mason’s lodge has dinner before lodge, help out in the kitchen, offer to make a dish. Make a point to put masonic family activities on your calendar. Masonry is a family, and it can very easily involve the whole family.

I want to learn more! (Or, I want to join!)

During my research, I found that this http://ephcanada.info/MLC2012/Ladies/02-Welcome%20to%20a%20Mason%27s%20Lady.pdf was a fairly well put together resource, that does go more in-depth into topics that I did not cover.

A very valuable resource that I use on a daily basis is the freemasonry subreddit, found athttp://www.reddit.com/r/freemasonry You can use this to ask questions, read articles, and connect with people online.

There is no overall governing body for masonry. Each state or providence is run by a Grand Lodge. If you are interested in learning more about masonry in your area, I suggest that you go to the website of the Grand Lodge of your state, which will have a listing of all lodges in that state. You can then find one close to you, and contact them for more information. A comprehensive list can be found athttp://gwmemorial.org/links.php

You can, of course, feel free to contact me, either here, on reddit at /u/jynxbunni, or at my email: msjp820@gmail.com

Have a great day! Women and masonry is next week!