Universal Co-Freemasonry, by Arthur Edward Waite

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Universal Co-Freemasonry, by Arthur Edward Waite

Postby admin » Tue May 08, 2018 9:15 pm

Universal Co-Freemasonry [Excerpt from "A New Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry"]
by Arthur Edward Waite
1994

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Universal Co-Freemasonry.--The story of La Maconnerie Mixte in Great Britain and other English-speaking countries is merged in modern Theosophy. It migrated to India and came under the influence of Annie Besant at Benares, where the DHARMA LODGE, NO. 101, was founded, to be followed in due course by other Lodges at Bombay, Adyar and East Rangoon. La Maconnerie Mixte was first translated into English as Joint Freemasonry and was introduced as such into Great Britain in 1902 by the "Grand Officers of the Supreme Council," who -- on September 26 of that year -- consecrated the first Lodge under the name of HUMAN DUTY, No. 6, London. Whether the Supreme Council was that of France and how a Masonic Lodge can be "consecrated" without invoking the Grand Architect of the Universe must remain open questions, so far as my own knowledge is concerned. Whosoever were concerned in later proceedings took care to rpovide their personal commentary on the thesis of Dr. Martin by affirming in Art. I of their "Principles" that JOINT FREEMASONRY "asserts, in accordance with the ancient declarations of Freemasonry, the existence of a creative principle, under the title of the Great Architect of the Universe." About 1905 the English title was altered to that of UNIVERSAL CO-FREEMASONRY in Great Britain and the British Dependencies. Maria Georges Martin was recognised presumably as President and titular head, but V__ Ills __ Ssr __ Annie Besant, 33 degree, was not only Vice-President but "Grand Master of the Supreme Council" -- possibly that of Adyar. Later on she became also "Protectress" of the Order, so arrogating to herself the Masonic status of King Edward VII. At the present day the sign of the sisterhood has been changed and Annie Besant together with the rank and file of women in Co-Freemasonry style themselves Brothers.

Dharma Working.--The Ritual of the first THREE DEGREES has been printed and reached a second edition in 1908. It is called the Dharma working of Craft Masonry. The variations from our own form are at once numerous and slight, but novelties are also introduced, a few of which may be tabulated: (1) The rubrics are much fuller and make for clearness in working. (2) The ENTERED APPRENTICE is taken three times round the Lodge and is brought back on each occasion to the centre. (3) The second circumambulations is opposite to the first, or against the sun, the third being the same as the first--otherwise following the sun. (4) In the SECOND DEGREE, after the circumambulations, the Candidate is placed in the centre and passes through five stages or experiences, corresponding (a) to work on the Rough Stone, (b) the Arts, (c) the Sciences, (d) the Humanities, and (e) apparently rest after work, with the idea of work to follow. (5) In the THIRD DEGREE the Obligation is shortened, more especially in respect of certain covenants on the virtue of chastity, while some of hte wording differs in other clauses. (6) The language differs throughout in many places of the Rituals and some of the prayers are changed. All essential points, however, remain -- it being understood that -- subject to these variations -- the text follows the Scottish working .... Recent rumours, however, speak of drastic changes.

Ancient Masonry.-- In the year 1908 there was some kind of feud in London, which resulted in the foundation of an independent Society under the denomination of ANCIENT MASONRY, one reason being that the Co-Masonry of Annie Besant involved an irresponsible headship, in opposition to Masonic principles. The new foundation abandoned Dharma workings and had recourse to those in use by the EMULATION LODGE OF INSTRUCTION. It works only the THREE CRAFT DEGREES, its Candidates being initiated, passed and raised -- whether male or female --precisely as those who enter Masonry under the obedience of the GRAND LODGE OF ENGLAND. The Rev. Dr. W. F. Cobb, Rector of St. Ethelburga's, in the City of London, who had been made a Mason under the obedience of GRAND LODGE but was no longer attached, became the prime mover in this work of reformation and was presumably at the head of the concern. The present Grand Mistress -- who is, however, termed Grand Master, following Mrs. Besant's classification -- is Mrs. Halsey, a kinswoman of the Rt. Hon. T. F. Halsey, Deputy Grand Master of England. Dr. Cobb has retired. The members, both male and female, are said to be enthusiasts, who maintain the character and spirit of the several Lodges at an exceedingly high grade, and the Ritual working is regarded as excellent. There was a time when Master Masons, not excepting Grand Officers, attended Meetings somewhat freely and are reported to have been much impressed, but an edict went forth from GRAND LODGE in the usual belated fashion and has put a stop to this practice -- at least, in part. The so-called ANCIENT MASONRY is a small body in comparison with Universal C-MASONRY, but there is no question that, from everything ascertainable respecting modes of reception, its members -- men and women -- are to all intents and purposes as much Masons as if they had been admitted to membership in Freemasons' Hall itself -- the question of recognition and this only excepted. As regards LA MACONNERIE MIXTE, I have failed to obtain information about its welfare during the years of the Great War, except indeed that la Grande Maitresse, Mme. Maria Georges Martin, passed away on November 4, 1915, Dr. Martin himself following her on October 1, 1916.

Diffusion.--The following particulars are drawn from a Directory of Lodges and Chapters under the Obedience of Annie Besant. (1) HUMAN DUTY, No. 6, London. (2) H. P. B. Lodge, No. 14, Bradford. (3) CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUZ, No. 18, Edinburgh. (4) HERMES, No. 20, London. (5) GOLDEN RULE, No. 21, London. (6) MANCHESTER Lodge, No. 22, Manchester. (7) EMULATION Lodge, No. 24, London. ( HARMONY Lodge, No. 25, Southampton. (9) PLATO Lodge, No. 31, Leeds. (10) UNITY Lodge, No. 35, Bournemouth. (11) VERITY Lodge, No. 38, Brighton. (12) FIDELITY Lodge, No. 49, Bath. (13) ARBOR VITAE Lodge, No. 50, Letchworth. (14) DHARMA Lodge, No. 101, Benares. (15) SANGHA Lodge, No. 102, Bombay. (16) SHANTI Lodge, No. 105, Bombay. (17) RISING SUN OF INDIA, No. 107, Adyar. (18)BODHI Lodge, No. 108, East Rangoon. (19) SAN FRANCISCO Lodge, No. 358, California. (2) HELIOS Lodge, No. 360, Los Angeles. (21) UNITY Lodge, No. 359, Oakland, Cal. (22) MELBOURNE Lodge, No. 401, Melbourne. (23) VICTORIAN Lodge, No. 403, Melbourne. (24) SYDNEY Lodge, No. 404, Sydney, N.S.W. (25) BRISBANE Lodge, No. 405, Brisbane. (26) ADELAIDE Lodge, No. 406, Adelaide. I presume that the Lodge numbers are those of the Original Roll belonging to the French Obedience and the enormous gaps between represent in this case the issue of intervening charters which are not under Theosophical influence. It will be seen that LA MACONNERIE MIXTE, its derivations and developments are a power to be reckoned with and that the conventional titular description of "Clandestine Masonry" would be imbecile in reference thereto, or indeed to "Ancient" Masonry. I have seen also reports of an AMITY Lodge, No. 220, Durban, South Africa, of a STAR IN THE EAST Chapter of the ROYAL ARCH, without number of location, of a ROSECROIX Chapter, Tolerance, No. 2, London, and another at Edinburgh, being ST. ANN, NO. 3. Whether the other Lodges enumerated about are confined to Craft workings I do not know.

CO-MASONRY:

It is said that in or about 1879 several Chapters under the obedience of the Supreme Council of France, ANCIENT AND ACCEPTED SCOTTISH RITE, revolted from that authority, the tendency to disturbance being as usual fomented by the GRAND ORIENT. Whether this Obedience approved what followed I have no means of knowing, but the Chapters in question reincorporated themselves under the title of LA GRANDE LOGE SYMBOLIQUE DE FRANCE, according to the particulars before me. This statement does not appear to mean that they passed under the authority of LA GRANDE LOGE DE FRANCE. It is impossible, however, from the confused evidence to determine this point certainly or to decide what Degrees were conferred by the new body, but they were presumably those of LE RIT FRANCAIS and not of the SCOTTISH RITE. The central jurisdiction appears to have governed Lodges and not Chapters. One of the separated Lodges -- the nature of whose dissatisfaction is shewn by its title of LES LIBRES PENSEURS -- held its meetings at Pecq, a village in the Department of Seine et Oise. On November 25, 1881, this Lodge resolved that Mlle. Maria Desraimes, a writer on humanitarian subjects and the rights of women, should be admitted into Freemasonry. The proposers were M. Hubron, the W__ M__, and six other Master Masons. The initiation took place on January 14, 1882, in the presence of Brethren drawn from all parts. From her subsequent history Mlle. Desraimes must have been also passed and raised, but there are no particulars in the sources to which I have had access. The Lodge was suspended, but whether by the Authority which it had helped to create or by some other Grand Obedience does not appear.

La Maconnerie Mixte.-- More than ten years passed away, during which I am unable to give any account of the lady's Masonic history. It seems certain that there was no Lodge in which she could have held Office and much less have passed the Chair. This notwithstanding she was approached in the early part of 1893 by Dr. Georges Martin, a Mason holding the Thirty-Third Degree of the A__ and A__S__R__ and described by himself as feministe en meme temps que macon. He had championed the rights of women on many occasions and in particular, being a physician himself, their capacity for admission to the medical profession. At the period in question he was coming forward once more on the same mission, but this time asserting their title to be made Masons. With this object he resolved on establishing LA MACONNERIE MIXTE and hence had recourse for assistance to the only Woman-Mason within his knowledge. The result was that on March 4, April 1 and April 4, 1893, Mlle. Desraimes, acting under his influence and presumably with his cooperation, successively initiated, passed and raised sixteen female Candidates, otherwise -- in his view -- a sufficient number for the constitution of a Lodge of Women. It appears to have been founded accordingly, whereupon Dr. Georges Martin demanded and acquired affiliation, in which manner the new foundation became literally a "mixed" Lodge, the location of which was Paris. A Constitution was framed under the title of GRANDE LODGE SYMBOLIQUE ECOSSAISE MIXTE DE FRANCE, borrowed evidently in the main part from the schismatic body mentioned previously. Its one Lodge at the moment was called LE DROIT HUMAIN, and its original activities appear to have been restricted within the limits of Blue Masonry. But in 1900 the Thirty Degrees of the ANCIENT AND ACCEPTED SCOTTISH RITE were superposed on those of the Craft by Dr. Georges Martin in conjunction with other Inspectors-General. A Supreme Council was established to govern the Order, to preserve the Constitution and to issue Charters, Warrants and Certificates. The titular head, Maria Desraimes, died ten months after the foundation of the First Lodge and was succeeded by Maria Georges Martin as President and R__W__ Mistress, or Venerable. In 1901 she appears to have become Grand Mistress of the Order and President of the Supreme Council.

***

La Maconnnerie Mixte proved a successful experiment, and at the end of 1912 it is on record that there were 12,000 members in all parts of the world, including one hundred Lodges in the United States. England, India, Africa, Holland, South American, Oceania were embraced by its map. As regards Masonic status in France, at the date in question, no recognition of its activities was extended by the GRAND ORIENT and affiliation to Mixed Lodges was forbidden. On the other hand, the GRANDE LOGE DE FRANCE received men who had been initiated in Mixed Lodges by a process termed regularisation, while the SUPREME COUNCIL went further, permitting its members to affiliate and receiving joining members from the Mixed Lodges, so only that they were males. It might apparently have exceeded this limit by establishing official relations and receiving Sisters, but it was hindered for the time being owing to "international treaties." Such is the commentary of Latin Freemasonry on the knavish assertiont hat it is impossible for any woman to be made a Mason.
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