Friday, December 31, 2010

Order of Women Freemasons

The Order of Women Freemasons is based in the United Kingdom and is the larger of the two Masonic bodies for women only. Its headquarters is at 27 Pembridge Gardens in London.


The Order was founded in 1908 as the Honourable Fraternity of Antient Masonry, and formed by a small group of men and women who seceded from the Co-Masonic movement. They disagreed with the theosophical precepts and the governance of the Co-Masonic organisation and wanted to return to the traditional workings of English Masonry. The leader and first Grand Master was W. F. Cobb, Rector of St Ethelburga’s church in the City of London. By the time he resigned from the Order in 1912, six Lodges had been consecrated. The second and all subsequent Grand Masters have been women.
The sanctions of United Grand Lodge of England against any of their members who associated with “irregular bodies” of Freemasons, including those admitting women, meant that there were few male candidates after 1910. In 1920 a petition was sent from the Order to UGLE for recognition as a bona fide Masonic body but this was refused. After that men were no longer accepted as candidates into the Order although there were still a few who, distancing themselves from their own Obedience, chose to remain in high office. In 1935 Peter Slingsby, the male Grand Secretary, died and the remaining male Grand Lodge officer, Deputy Grand Master Peter Birchall, was asked to resign. From this date the Order has been exclusively female. Relations with UGLE are now cordial.
In 1913 a small group who wished to introduce the Holy Royal Arch degree in an unorthodox manner were expelled from the Order and founded their own female Order, the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasonry.
The degree of the Holy Royal Arch was legitimately introduced in 1929 and the Mark Degree in 1946. Other Higher and Further Degrees including the Chivalric Degrees were introduced in the late 1940s and the 1950s. All these are administered by the same Grand Lodge as the Craft Degrees.
The Honourable Fraternity of Antient Masonry took as its subtitle in 1958 ‘The Order of Women Freemasons’, to make its single-sex nature more obvious, and it is by this name that it is known today.
The Order currently comprises nearly 300 working Craft Lodges, based in the British Isles, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Spain and Zimbabwe. There are approximately 7,250 members, at last count. The workings and Constitution of the Order parallel those of the United Grand Lodge of England.


The headquarters, Grand Lodge administration and Grand Temple are at 27 Pembridge Gardens, Notting Hill Gate, London. The building was given to the Order by a member in 1924. It is used as a headquarters and has an "extensive Grand Temple" plus "a second, smaller Temple".

Grand Masters

The current Grand Master is Zuzanka Penn.

Zuzanka Penn (in the center) with other office bearers

Grand Masters of the Order:
  • William Frederick Cobb 1908 – 1912
  • Marion Lindsay Halsey 1912 – 1927
  • Adelaide Daisy Litten 1928 – 1938
  • Lucy Bertram O’Hea 1938 – 1948
  • Mary Gordon Muirhead Hope 1948 – 1964
  • Mildred Rhoda Low 1964 – 1976
  • Frances Hall 1976 – 1989
  • Brenda Irene Fleming-Taylor 1989 – 2010
  • Zuzanka Penn 2010 -

Monday, December 27, 2010

Grand Orient de France

The Grand Orient de France (GODF) is the largest of several Masonic organizations in France and the oldest in Continental Europe, founded in 1733.

Freemasonry in France started when English merchants started lodges, with the first lodge being started in Dunkirk. The Grand Orient de France was founded in 1733.

French Revolution

The Lodge Les Neuf Sœurs was a prominent lodge attached to the Grand Orient de France that was particularly influential in organising French support for the American Revolution and later in the intellectual ferment that preceded the French Revolution. Benjamin Franklin was a member of this Lodge when he was serving as liaison in Paris.
Some notable French revolutionaries were Freemasons, including Voltaire, Marquis de Condorcet, Mirabeau, Georges Danton, the Duke of Orléans, and Hébert.
Louis Philippe II
Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, a leader of the Liberal Aristocracy, was the Grand Master of the Grand Orient at the time of the French Revolution.

The Catholic Encyclopedia alleges that the Masonic book La Franc-Maçonnerie, écrasée in 1746 predicted the program of the French Revolution, and claims to quote documents of the Grand Orient of France where Freemasonry claims credit for the French Revolution. However, the New Catholic Encyclopedia of 1967 says that modern historians see Freemasonry's role in the French Revolution as exaggerated.
In 1804 it merged with the rival Grand Lodge, the Rite Ecossais.
In France Napoleon III established a dictatorship over official French freemasonry, appointing first Prince Lucien Murat and later Marshal Magnan to closely supervise the craft and suppress any hints of opposition to the regime.

Differences with the United Grand Lodge of England

In 1877, at the instigation of the Protestant priest Frédéric Desmons, it allowed those who had no belief in a Supreme being - which the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) and related Lodges regarded as a Masonic Landmark - to be admitted.
It was this decision that has been the root cause of the schism between the Grand Orient (and those lodges that followed it), and the rest of Freemasonry. It is a schism in Freemasonry which continues to this day. It is argued that the definition is ambiguous, that Anderson's Landmarks are his own collection and interpretation of the historical landmarks, and that changes in both interpretation and practice have occurred before and since.
The decision was not universally approved in France. By 1894 many lodges had split off in protest and formed the Grande Loge de France (GLdF) In addition, a third Grand Lodge, the Grande Loge Nationale Francaise (GLNF) was founded by the United Grand Lodge of England in 1913 (GLNF is the only one of the three that is recognized as being "regular" by those Freemasons that follow the Anglo tradition of requiring a belief in Deity.).
The GODF believes in freedom of conscience, which allows them to admit atheists. On the other hand, those Grand Lodges following the English tradition require their members to profess a belief in deity. The Anglo-Masonic Jurisdictions withdrew recognition from the Grand Orient over this issue, and they now deem the GODF "irregular".

The Grand Orient de France remained an important part of French society after the Second World War. One of the Grand Masters was Jacques Mitterrand, brother of the later Socialist President François Mitterrand

Politics and religion

Unlike the Anglo-Masonic Grand Lodges (especially those affiliated to the United Grand Lodge of England), the Grand Orient of France allows the discussion of political issues and religion in lodge. he Grand Orient itself takes political positions on certain moral issues. It sees as one of its missions protecting the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity (this also being the motto of the French Republic and the GODF). In addition, it expects its members who hold a public office to fight for its values. in order to forward its stated purpose of exerting an influence on ideas, the Grand Master holds regular talks with elected representatives, including the Prime Minister

Female membership

It was one of the first Masonic orders to allow some of its lodges to become adoptive (i.e. to admit women although it does not initiate them). In 1774, following the introduction of Rites of Adoption in several of its lodges, it issued an edict authorising them, the Duchess of Bourbon being elected first Grand Mistress of France.
For many years, the Grand Orient would not allow its lodges to initiate women, but did recognize and receive women who were made Freemasons in other jurisdictions. This changed in 2010, and currently the Grand Orient is in the process of not refusing the initiation of women.

Lodges chartered by GODF outside France

The GODF has currently the following lodges outside of France:
  • Atlantide Lodge, New York City-NY (1900)
  • Pacifica Lodge, San Francisco-CA (1986)
  • Lafayette Lodge no. 89, Washington, D.C. (1989)
  • Art et Lumière Lodge, Los Angeles-CA (1990)
  • Zora (Dawn) Lodge, Belgrade (Serbia) (1992)
  • Vernost (Fidelity) Lodge, Belgrade (Serbia) (2002)
  • Ujedinjenje (Unification) Lodge, Belgrade (Serbia) (2006)
  • Harmonija (Harmony) Lodge, Serbia (2008)
  • Force et Courage Lodge, Montréal (Québec) (1999)
  • Hiram Lodge, London (UK) (1899)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Order of The Eastern Star

The Order of the Eastern Star is a fraternal organization that both men and women can join. It was established in 1850 by Rob Morris, a lawyer and educator from Boston, Massachusetts, who had been an official with the Freemasons. It is based on teachings from the Bible, but is open to people of all monotheistic faiths. It has approximately 10,000 chapters in twenty countries and approximately 500,000 members under its General Grand Chapter. Members of the Order are aged 18 and older; men must be Master Masons and women must have specific relationships with Masons. Originally, a woman would have to be the daughter, widow, wife, sister, or mother of a master Mason, but the Order now allows other relatives as well as allowing Job's Daughters, Rainbow Girls, Members of the Organization of Triangle (NY only) and members of the Constellation of Junior Stars (NY only) to become members when they become of age.


The Order was created by Rob Morris in 1850 when, while confined by illness, he set down the principles of the order in his Rosary of the Eastern Star. By 1855, he had organized a "Supreme Constellation" in New York, which chartered chapters throughout the United States.
In 1866, Dr. Morris started working with Robert Macoy, and handed the Order over to him while Morris was traveling in the Holy Land. Macoy organized the current system of Chapters, and modified Dr. Morris' Rosary into a Ritual.
On December 1, 1874, Queen Esther Chapter No. 1 became the first Prince Hall Affiliate chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star when it was established in Washington, D.C. by Thornton Andrew Jackson.
The "General Grand Chapter" was formed in Indianapolis, Indiana on November 6, 1876. Committees formed at that time created the Ritual of the Order of the Eastern Star in more or less its current form

Emblem and heroines

The emblem of the Order is a five-pointed star with the white ray of the star pointing downwards towards the manger. In the Chapter room, the downward-pointing white ray points to the West. The character-building lessons taught in the Order are stories inspired by Biblical figures:
  • Adah (Jephthah's daughter, from Judges)
  • Ruth, the widow
  • Esther, the wife
  • Martha (sister of Lazarus, from the Gospel of John)
  • Electa (the "elect lady", from II John), the mother


There are 18 main officers in a full chapter:
  • Worthy Matron - presiding officer
  • Worthy Patron - a Master Mason who provides general supervision
  • Associate Matron - assumes the duties of the Worthy Matron in the absence of that officer
  • Associate Patron - assumes the duties of the Worthy Patron in the absence of that officer
  • Secretary- takes care of all correspondence and minutes
  • Treasurer- takes care of the financial aspect of the Chapter
  • Conductress - Leads visitors and initiations.
  • Associate Conductress - Assists with introductions and handles ballot box.
  • Chaplain - leads the Chapter in prayer
  • Marshal - presents the Flag and leads in all ceremonies
  • Organist- provides music for the meetings
  • Adah - Shares the lesson of Duty of Obedience to the will of GOD
  • Ruth - Shares the lesson of Honor and Justice
  • Esther - Shares the lesson of Loyalty to Family and Friends
  • Martha - Shares the lesson of Faith and Trust in God and Everlasting Life
  • Electa - Shares the lesson of Charity and Hospitality
  • Warder - Sits next to the door inside the meeting room, to make sure those that enter the chapter room are members of the Order.
  • Sentinel - Sits next to the door outside the chapter room, to make sure those that wish to enter are members of the Order.
Traditionally, a woman who is elected Associate Conductress will the following year be elected to Conductress, then the next year Associate Matron, and the next year Worthy Matron. A man elected Associate Patron will usually the next year be elected Worthy Patron. Usually the woman who is elected to become Associate Matron will let it be known who she wishes to be her Associate Patron, so the next year they will both go to the East together as Worthy Matron and Worthy Patron. There is no male counterpart to the Conductress and Associate Conductress. Only women are allowed to be Matrons, Conductresses, and the Star Points (Adah, Ruth, etc.) and only men can be Patrons


The General Grand Chapter headquarters, the International Temple, is located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C., in the former Perry Belmont Mansion. The mansion was built in 1909 for the purpose of entertaining the guests of Perry Belmont. This included Britain's Prince of Wales in 1919. General Grand Chapter purchased the building in 1935. The secretary of General Grand Chapter lives there while serving his or her term of office. The mansion features works of art from around the world, most of which were given as gifts from various international Eastern Star chapters.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Order of the Amaranth

Amaranth was based on Queen Christina of Sweden's court. Christina had created the "Order of the Amarantha" for the ladies and knights of her court. In 1860, James B. Taylor of Newark, New Jersey drew upon this order to create a new fraternal society. In 1873, Robert Macoy organized Taylor's society into the Order of the Amaranth, part of a proposed Adoptive Rite of Masonry. Eastern Star was to be the first degree, and until 1921, Amaranth members were required to join Eastern Star first.

In the Order's teachings, the members are emphatically reminded of their duties to God, to their country and to their fellow beings. They are urged to portray, by precept and example, their belief in the "Golden Rule" and by conforming to the virtues inherent in TRUTH, FAITH, WISDOM and CHARITY they can prove to others the goodness promulgated by the Order.

Amaranth is organized into Courts, under Grand Courts at the State level. The primary body is called the Supreme Council (which has some subordinate Courts directly under it, as well). Women members of the Order are addressed as "Honored Lady", while men are referred to as "Sir Knight"

The officers of a Court are:
  • Royal Matron - presiding officer
  • Royal Patron - enforces the rules of the order
  • Associate Matron - assumes the duties of the Royal Matron in the absence of that officer
  • Associate Patron - assumes the duties of the Royal Patron in the absence of that officer
  • Secretary- takes care the courts business
  • Treasurer- takes care of the courts money
  • Conductress - leads candidates through the degree of the order
  • Associate Conductress - assist the conductress
  • Prelate - leads the Court in prayer
  • Historian - keeps records of the court
  • Marshal in the East - escorts the royal matron, displays the flag of the country
  • Marshal in the West - assist the marshal in the east
  • Musician - provides music for the meetings
  • Truth-
  • Faith-
  • Wisdom-
  • Charity-
  • Standard Bearer - displays the banner of the order
  • Chairman of the Trustees - Revolving Committee a three year term, with a new trustee elected every year.
  • 2 yr Trustee -
  • 3 yr Trustee -
  • Warder - Sits next to the door inside the meeting room, to make sure those that enter the court room are members of the Order.
  • Sentinel - Sits next to the door outside the court room, to make sure those that wish to enter are members of the Order.
The order's philanthropic project is the Amaranth Diabetes Foundation. The flag of the appropriate country is prominently displayed at all meetings.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lodge Liberté Chérie

Liberté chérie was one of the very few masonic lodges founded within a Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War.

The Lodge

On the 15 November 1943 - seven Belgian Freemasons and resistance fighters - founded the Masonic Lodge Loge Liberté chérie (French: "Beloved Liberty Lodge") inside Hut 6 of Emslandlager VII (Esterwegen). The name of the lodge was derived from La Marseillaise.
The original seven Freemasons of Loge Liberté chérie were:
  • Paul Hanson,
  • Luc Somerhausen,
  • Jean De Schrijver,
  • Jean Sugg,
  • Henri Story,
  • Amédée Miclotte,
  • Franz Rochat, and
  • Guy Hannecart.
and they later Initiated, Passed and Raised Brother Fernand Erauw, another Belgian.

Messrs. De Schrijver and Story arrived well after the establishment of the Lodge and were not the founding members, but members only.

Paul Hanson was elected Master. The Brethren met for Lodge Work in Hut 6 around a table, which was otherwise used for cartridge sorting. A Catholic Priest stood watch, so that the Brethren could hold their meetings; and protected their secrecy.

Hut 6 was used for foreign Nacht und Nebel, (German: "Night and Fog"), prisoners. The Emslandlagercamps were a group of camps whose history is represented by a permanent exhibition in the Documentation and Information Centre in Papenburg. Altogether 15 camps were established on the Netherlands border, with central administration in Papenburg.

Luc Somerhausen described Erauw‘s Intitiation, etc., as just as simple ceremonies. These ceremonies, (to whose secrecy they asked the community of Catholic Priests for assistance, "with their prayers"), "...took place at one of the tables... ...after a very highly simplified ritual - whose individual components were however explained to the initiate; that from now on he could participate in the work of the Lodge".

More than hundred prisoners were in Hut 6, and locked up nearly around the clock - allowed to leave only for a half-hour walk per day, under supervision. During the day half of the Camp had to sort cartridges and radio parts. The prisoners of the other half of the Camp were forced to work under dreadful conditions in the surrounding peat bogs. The nutrition was so miserable that the prisoners lost 4 kg body weight each month, on average.

After the first ritual meeting, with admission of the new brother, further meetings were thematically prepared. One was dedicated to the symbol of the Great Architect of the Universe, another “The future of Belgium”, and a further, “The position of women in Freemasonry”. Only Somerhausen and Erauw survived detention, and the Lodge stopped “working” at the beginning of 1944.

The Lodge members

Lodge Master, Paul Hanson was moved, and died in the rubble of his prison, during an Allied air bombardment on Essen, 26 March 1944.

Jean Sugg, and Franz Rochat, belonged to the "Philanthropic Friends" Lodge (Les Amis Philanthropes, Lodge No. 5 of the Grand Orient of Belgium).

Dr. Franz Rochat, a University Professor, Pharmacist and director of an important pharmaceutical laboratory, was born on 10 March 1908 in Saint-Gilles. He was a worker in the underground press, and the resistance publication "voice of the Belgians". He was arrested on 28 February 1942, arrived at Untermansfeld April 1944, and died there on 6 April 1945.

Jean Sugg was born at the 8 September 1897 in Ghent and was of Swiss German origin. He co-operated with Franz Rochat in the Underground Press, translated German and Swiss texts, and contributed to clandestine publications, including, La Libre Belgique, La Légion Noire, Le Petit Belge and L'Anti Boche. He died in a concentration camp on 8 February 1945.

Dr. Amédée Miclotte was a High School Teacher. He was born on 20 December 1902 in Lahamaide, and belonged to the Lodge "Union et Progrès". He was last seen in detention, on 8 February 1945.

Jean De Schrijver, was a Colonel in the Belgian Army. He was born on 23 August 1893 in Aalst, and Brother of the lodge "La Liberté" in Ghent. On 2 September 1943 he was arrested on charges of espionage and possession of arms, and died in February 1945.

Henri Story was born on 27 November 1897 in Ghent. He was a member of the Lodge "Le Septentrion" in Ghent. He died on 5 December 1944.

Luc Somerhausen, a journalist, was born on 26 August 1903, in Hoeilaart. He was arrested on 28 May 1943 in Brussels. He belonged to the lodge "ACSO III" and was Deputy Secretary of the Grand Orient of Belgium (Grand Orient de Belgique).

Fernand Erauw, an Assessor at the Audit Office, and Reserve Officer with the Infantry, was born on 29 January 1914, in Wemmel. He was arrested on 4 August 1942, as a member of the “Secret Army”. He escaped and was finally arrested in 1943.

Guy Hannecart (1903–1945) a lawyer and leader of "La Voix des belges". He was also member of the lodge "les Amis Philanthropes N°3"

Survivors Erauw and Somerhausen met again in 1944 in the Oranienburg Sachsenhausen concentration camp, and remained inseparable from then on. In the spring 1945 they were involved in the “Death Marches”, and although Erauw was 1.84 m tall, he weighed only 32 kg on 21 May 1945 — in the Saint Pierre Hospital in Brussels.

In August 1945 Luc Somerhausen sent a detailed report to the Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Belgium, in which he delineated the history of the "loge Liberté chérie". Luc Somerhausen died in 1982 at the age of 79. The last witness, Fernand Erauw, died at the age of 83, in 1997.

The Memorial

A memorial, created by Architect Jean de Salle, was raised by Belgian and German Freemasons on Saturday November 13, 2004. It is now part of the memorial site of the Esterwegen Cemetery. Wim Rutten, the Grand Master of the Belgian Federation of the "Le Droit Humain" said during an address: 
"We are gathered here today on this Cemetery in Esterwegen, not to mourn, but to express free thoughts in public." - "In memory of our brothers; human rights should never be forgotten."

Friday, November 19, 2010


It was founded on January 22, 1961 as an initiative of the Grand Orient of France and other eleven sovereign Masonic powers which, before the growing intransigence and the exclusivities of certain obediences, agreed to appeal to all Freemasons of the world to congregate, respecting their sovereignty, their faiths, their rites and their symbols, in a real and indissoluble Chain of Universal Union.
It is an association registered in Paris and ruled by the French law of July 1, 1901, for recognized associations.
CLIPSAS is an international liberal freemasonry organization from all over the world. Cohering with the ethics proposed by its founders, we are proud of submitting our fidelity only to the message of tolerance, fraternity and union.
Its objective is to congregate Freemasons, men and women, who consider that ABSOLUTE LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE is the humanity's great victory over itself.
The most important advances in the recognition of the Absolute Liberty of Conscience, which comprehends by definition the liberty of association in the direction of reconciliation among different metaphysical conceptions of Freemasonry, CLIPSAS Member Obedience Lodges are free to open their works with or without the Bible, under the aegis of the Great Architect of the Universe or not.
CLIPSAS is the Center of Fraternal Union of the Freemasons who consider that the liberty of conscience is a victory of the humanity over itself and, far away from being a factor of disunion; it leads, thanks to the free confrontation of opinions, to the suppression of all barriers.
Surpassing the simple relations of fraternal connections, the Obediences of CLIPSAS felt the need of studying together the problems that determine the future of the man. For that reason, Clipsas organizes an annual Colloquium in order to discuss the subjects that worry the modern world after they have been discussed throughout the year in the Member Obediences.
Very constructive syntheses are produced from those common reflections done by Freemasons from different continents and varied cultures.
The General Assembly is the supreme organ of CLIPSAS. It is composed by especially designated representatives, usually the Grand Master himself, and all the Freemasons can participate, men and women, even apprentices, from every Obedience.
To manage the association in Assembly meetings, every three years a Board of Directors composed by a President and six Vice-presidents is elected.
The Presidencies of CLIPSAS:
Georges BEERNAERTS 1961-1962
Charles CASTEL 1962-1964
Walter HEINZ 1964-1966
Paul VAN HERCKE 1966
Robert DILLE 1966-1970
Victor MARTINY 1970-1973
Pierre BURTON 1973-1976
Jaak NUTKEWITZ 1976-1979
André MECHELYNCK 1979-1982
Nicolas BONTYES 1982-1985
Silvain LOCCUFIER 1985-1987
Guy VLAEMINCK 1987-1990
Jean-Robert RAGACHE 1990-1993
Marc-Antoine CAUCHIE 1993-1996
Marie-France COQUARD 1996-1998
Javier OTAOLA BAJENETA 1998-2000
Marc-Antoine CAUCHIE 2000-2004
Gabriel NZAMBILA 2004-2007
Jefferson Isaac Joăo SCHEER 2007-
Marc-Antoine CAUCHIE 2008-2011

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Grand Orient Egyptian

The creator of the Egyptian Freemasonry of Egyptian Rite was the Count Alexander of Cagliostro (1749-1796), born in Tunisi. He must not be identified with the mystifier Giuseppe Balsamo (1743-1795), the palermitano recruited by the Jesuits to personify and to throw the disrepute on the true Count of Cagliostro.

Alexander of Cagliostro was initiated to the secrets of the Egyptian Freemasonry by the mysterious Master Altothas in 1776, year of the foundation of the Illuminati Order. And few know that the summit of the Illuminati Order was constituted by six members: four were known (Weishaupt, von Knigge, Goethe, Herder) and two were secrets (Franklin and Cagliostro).

In effects a secret connection existed between the Illuminati Order of Weishaupt and the Egyptian Freemasonry of Cagliostro that was officially founded in 1785, year of the suppression of the Illuminati Order. Besides, Napoleone Bonaparte was initiated by Cagliostro to the Egyptian Freemasonry and the Masonic Rites of Memphis, of Misraïm and of Memphis-Misraïm come down from it.

Between 1810 and 1813, in Naples (Italy), the three brothers Bédarride (Michel, Marc and Joseph) received the Supreme Powers from the Order of Misraïm and they developed the Rite of Misraïm in France. They made it official in Paris in 1814. The Rite was composed of 90 degrees, taken from the Scottish freemasonry, from Martinism and other Masonic currents, and the last four degrees received the name of "Arcana Arcanorum."

In 1815, in Montauban (France), the Mother Lodge of the Rite of Memphis was constituted with the Grand Master Samuel Honis as head, whom followed, in 1816, Gabriel-Mathieu Marconis. In 1838, Jean Etienne Marconis de Nègre, son of this last one, took over the Rite of Memphis. The Rite, for J. E. Marconis de Nègre, was a continuation of the ancient Mysteries practised in the Antiquity, in India and in Egypt. The Constitutions of the Rite said: "... the masonic rite of Memphis is the continuation of the Mysteries of the Antiquity. The Rite taught the first men to pay homage to the divinity... ". The Rite of Memphis reached the 92 and 95 degrees.

In 1881, the Italian general Giuseppe Garibaldi reunified the Rites of Memphis and Misraïm and became the Grand Hierophante of both. After the death of Garibaldi, in 1882, the Rites entered in a "dark" period up to when, in 1890, various lodges of both Rites were federated and the Rite of Memphis-Misraïm appeared. In 1900, the Italian Ferdinando Francesco degli Oddi became Head of the Memphis-Misraïm and was replaced, by the English John Yarker, in 1902. The Rite reached the 97 degrees.

In 1902, the German Theodor Reuss established the Sovereign Sanctuary of Memphis-Misraïm in Germany and in 1913, after the death of Yarker, he became the International Head of the Rite. In 1924, T. Reuss passed to Eternal East and the succession was interrupted, except in the O.T.O. (Ordo Templi Orientis), the neotemplar order founded by Reuss, in 1905, in Germany. In reality, the O.T.O. had included the Rite of Memphis-Misraïm, although in a reduced version, where its principals degrees were incorporated.

In 1909, Theodor Reuss delivered a licence to the famous martinista Gerard Encauss (Papus). The successors of Papus were Charles Detré (Tedé), Jean Bricaud, Constant Chevillon, Charles-Henry Dupont and Robert Ambelain. In 1939, Jean Bricaud passed to the Eternal East and was followed by Chevillon. In 1944, Chevillon was murdered by the French collaborationists of nazional-socialism and was followed by Dupont. And, in 1960, Ambelain succeeded Dupont.

On November 14, 1973, the Italian Francesco Brunelli (1927-1982) was named by Robert Ambelain responsible for the Rite in Italy. On November 22, 1973, Francesco Brunelli (Nebo) - Grand Master of the Martinist Ancient and Traditional Order and of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis-Misraïm - was received with all honors in the Grand Lodge of Italy, to Palazzo Giustiniani. But the activity of the Rite in Italy and in the Grand Lodge of Italy was anecdotal in the seventies.

In 1981, Francesco Brunelli contacted the known Italian initiate Frank G. Ripel to restructure the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis-Misraïm and the situation of the Rite was the following: 99º or International Head of the Egyptian Oriental Order of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis-Misraïm, 98º or Incognito Superior (from the degree VIIº to the XIIIº of the Order of the Rosa Mistica), 97º or Substitute of the International Head, 96º or National Head, 1º-95º or Operative Freemason (from the Iº to the VIº of the Order of the Rosa Mistica). In the renewed Egyptian Oriental Order of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis-Misraïm of which we are about to talk, from 1º to 95º, the 6 Alchemical Operations are found and associated to the degrees 1º-3º, 4º-33º, 34º-42º, 43º-63º, 64º-74º and 75º-95º.

Frank G. Ripel was at the head of the Egyptian Oriental Order of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis-Misraïm between 1981 and 1999, when he put it in "sleep."

At the end of March 2003, Frank G. Ripel, being Grand Master of the O.C.I. (Order of the Enlightened Knights) had a contact with the Spanish Gabriel López de Rojas, founder and Grand Master of the Illuminati Order, O.H.O. of the Societas O.T.O. (Ordo Templi Orientalis), 33º degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, maximum degree of a pair of Egyptian Rites. When Gabriel López de Rojas learned that the Egyptian Oriental Order of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis-Misraïm of Frank G. Ripel was in "sleep", proposed to Ripel "to wake it up again" and he accepted, making it to revive, on May 1, 2003, with the name of Egyptian Freemasonry of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis-Misraïm.

by Galbix Red and Gabriel López de Rojas

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine

The Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, commonly known as Shriners and abbreviated A.A.O.N.M.S., established in 1870 is an appendant body to Freemasonry, based in the United States. The organization is best-known for the Shriners Hospitals for Children they administer and the red fezzes that members wear. The organization is headquartered in Tampa, Florida. Shriners International is a fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth. There are approximately 340,000 members from 193 temples (chapters) in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Republic of Panama, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Europe and Australia


Dr. Walter M Fleming
In 1870, there were several thousand Masons in Manhattan, many of whom lunched at the Knickerbocker Cottage at a special table on the second floor. There, the idea of a new fraternity for Masons stressing fun and fellowship was discussed. Dr. Walter M. Fleming, M.D., and William J. Florence took the idea seriously enough to act upon it.
William J Florence
Florence, a world-renowned actor, while on tour in Marseilles, was invited to a party given by an Arabian diplomat. The entertainment was something in the nature of an elaborately staged musical comedy. At its conclusion, the guests became members of a secret society. Florence took copious notes and drawings at his initial viewing and on two other occasions, once in Algiers and once in Cairo. When he returned to New York in 1870, he showed his material to Fleming.
Fleming took the ideas supplied by Florence and converted them into what would become the "Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (A.A.O.N.M.S.)". Fleming created the ritual, emblem and costumes. Florence and Fleming were initiated August 13, 1870, and initiated 11 other men on June 16, 1871.

The group adopted a Middle Eastern theme and soon established Temples meeting in Mosques (though the term Temple has now generally been replaced by Shrine Auditorium or Shrine Center). The first Temple established was Mecca Temple (now known as Mecca Shriners), established at the New York City Masonic Hall on September 26, 1872. Fleming was the first Potentate.
In 1875, there were only 43 Shriners in the organization. In an effort to spur membership, at the June 6, 1876 meeting of Mecca Temple, the Imperial Grand Council of the Ancient Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America was created. Fleming was elected the first Imperial Potentate. After some other reworking, by 1878 there were 425 members in 13 temples in eight states, and by 1888, there were 7,210 members in 48 temples in the United States and Canada. By the Imperial Session held in Washington, D.C. in 1900, there were 55,000 members and 82 Temples.
Shriners often participate in local parades, sometimes as rather elaborate units: miniature vehicles in themes (all sports cars; all miniature 18-wheeler trucks; all fire engines, and so on), an "Oriental Band" dressed in cartoonish versions of Middle Eastern dress; pipe bands, drummers, motorcycle units, Drum and Bugle Corps, and even traditional brass bands


Despite its theme, the Shrine is in no way connected to Islam. It is a men's fraternity rather than a religion or religious group. Its only religious requirement is indirect: all Shriners must be Masons, and petitioners to Freemasonry must profess a belief in a Supreme Being. To further minimize confusion with religion, the use of the word "Temple" to describe Shriners' buildings has been replaced by "Shrine Center," although individual local chapters are still called "Temples."
Until 2000, before being eligible for membership in the Shrine, a person had to complete either the Scottish Rite or York Rite degrees of Masonry, but now any Master Mason can join.


Some of the earliest Shrine Centers often chose a Moorish Revival style for their Temples. Architecturally notable Shriners Temples include the New York City Center, now used as a concert hall, Newark Symphony Hall, The Landmark Theater (formerly The Mosque) in Richmond, Virginia, the Tripoli Shrine Temple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the Fox Theatre (Atlanta, Georgia) which was jointly built between the Atlanta Shriners and William Fox.

Shriners Hospitals for Children

The Shrine's charitable arm is the Shriners Hospitals for Children, a network of twenty-two hospitals in the United States, Mexico and Canada. It was originally formed to treat young victims of polio, but as that disease was controlled, they broadened their scope. They now deal with orthopedic care, burn treatment, cleft lip and palate care and spinal cord injury rehabilitation. All treatment offered at Shriner's Hospitals for Children is offered without any financial obligation to patients and their families, and there is no requirement for religion, race, or relationship to a Shriner. Patients must be under the age of eighteen and treatable.
In 2008, Shriners Hospitals had a total budget of $826 million and in 2007 they approved 39,454 new patient applications, attended to the needs of 125,125 patients

Other events

The Shriners are committed to community service and have been instrumental in countless public projects throughout their domain. They also host the annual East-West Shrine Game which is a college football all-star game. Shriners also hold the JT Shriners Open which is held in Las Vegas.

Once a year, the fraternity meets for the Imperial Council Session in a major North American city. It is not uncommon for these conventions to have 20,000 participants or more, which generates significant revenue for the local economy.

Many Shrine Centers also hold a yearly Shrine Circus as a fundraiser.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Brotherhood of David & Jonathan

The first references to this Order are known to be of Dutch origin and there is an interesting document written in the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century which states that the Order of David and Jonathan was brought to the New World about the year 1658 by Dutch settlers of Jewish descent who settled in Newport, Rhode Island.

Looking at the history of the Netherlands, the northernmost part of the Netherlands, Holland, was essentially Protestant in its religious persuasion in the 1550s but an unfortunate dynastic marriage caused first a strong Austrian and then a Spanish influence. Both Austria and Spain were strongholds of Roman Catholicism and in those days of extreme religious intolerance was consequently abhorent to the Dutch Lutherians. Inevitably this led to the formation of underground secret societies with the object of freeing the Mother-land from the fetters of their overlords.

As we can read in the Old Testament books of Samuel, just as David was persecuted by Saul, so were the Dutch Protestants harassed by the Catholics. A revolutionary brotherhood was formed with modes of recognition suited to the hours of darkness as well as in daylight, and signs and symbols were chosen from the David and Jonathan story in the Bible.

That was in the late 16th century; and it occurred again a hundred years later when Louis XIV of France invaded the Low Countries again in a Catholic crusade against the Huguenots; the same modes of recognition were employed to cause confusion amongst the invaders.

Many Dutch Protestants emigrated to the New World to find a new life with greater liberty than seemed possible in Holland at that time and it is probable that the Order travelled with them. Any opposition to the way of life of the Dutch settlers immediately drew forth a resurgence of the David and Jonathan cult which had served the Netherlanders so well in the past.

The Secret Monitor grew in America as a side degree conferred by any Mason who had received it himself. It was brought to England in around 1875, by Dr. Issachar Zacharie when he returned from America following his service as Chiropodist-General to the United States Army during the Civil War. He settled back at 80, Brook Street, London, where he built up a busy and successful practice as an orthopedic surgeon. In London he became a member of the Bon Accord Mark Lodge and there he met a number of other brethren who had become Secret Monitors during their Masonic progress in other countries. At his invitation, they all met at his house on 5th. May, 1887 and resolved to form a Conclave to be called the Alfred Meadows Conclave (Alfred Meadows was a distinguished surgeon). Under the leadership of Dr. Zacharie a Grand Council was formed later in 1887 and the ritual was extended when a further two degrees were added, one of which pertained to the Chair of the Supreme Ruler.
The degrees gained in popularity, but this success was to bring about a series of unfortunate events, for in the meantime the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees had been empowered by an American body of similar name to confer their version of the degree. Regretfully a period of over 37 years elapsed, during which both orders were conferring a Secret Monitor degree, but the matter was finally resolved in 1931 when C.W. Napier-Clavering was in the favourable position of being Grand Supreme Ruler of the Secret Monitor and also Grand Master of Allied Masonry. He then implemented an agreement transferring all rights to the Grand Council of the Order of the Secret Monitor and the degree was removed from the list of degrees of the Allied body.
The Order comprises the following degrees:
1. Secret Monitor
2. Prince
3. Supreme Ruler
Structure and Qualification.
In this Order, assemblies are termed Conclaves, each with a Supreme Ruler at its head. The Visiting Deacons (of which there are four) are Officers with a special function peculiar to this degree. It is laid down that they should afford assistance and support to a brother in time of sorrow and distress and they should also search out and warn him if he is exposed to danger, secret or apparent. This duty is no sinecure as each of the members of a Conclave has a number between 1 and 4 against his name in the Conclave list and the appropriate Deacon is required to contact his members prior to each meeting and is called upon to report on that Brother if he is not present at the Roll Call.
The structure is as follows:
First Degree
1. Supreme Ruler
2. Councillor
3. Guide
4. Chaplain
5. Treasurer
6. Secretary
7. Director of Ceremonies 
8. Visiting Deacons (Four) 
9. Assistant Director of Ceremonies
10. Organist
11. Assistant Secretary
12. Scroll Bearer
13. Guarder 
14. Stewards 
15. Sentinel
Second Degree
1. David (Supreme Ruler of the 1st Degree)
2. Jonathan (the Immediate Past S.R.)
3. Abishai (Guide of the 1st Degree)
4. Adino (1stVisiting Deacon)
5. Eleazar (2ndVisiting Deacon)
6. Shammah (Guarder of the 1st Degree)
7. Lecturer (A Past S.R.)
There is only the single qualification of Master Mason for prospective Candidates for this Order.
The Regalia of the First Degree comprises a jewel in gilt, being of two equilateral triangles interlaced with three arrows and charged with the letters D and J. It is suspended from a ribbon in the colours of the Order, i.e. purple-orange-purple.
Officers wear a crimson sash, four inches wide and having a gold fringe below the frog, which also features two interlaced triangles in metal gilt.
In the Princes (Second) Degree an identical jewel is worn but it is suspended from a ribbon of equal stripes, orange-purple-orange.
A Supreme Ruler wears the jewel of the Order suspended from a collarette in the colours of the Second Degree, together with the appropriate sash bearing the initials SR in silver. He also wears a purple robe with orange or gold facings.
The Degrees
The legend of the First Degree is narrated during the Induction Ceremony and tells the story of the remarkable friendship which existed between David and Jonathan. During the ceremony the Candidate is instructed in a certain course of action to be adopted when a brother is about to do anything which might prove injurious to himself and it teaches a beautiful lesson on Friendship and Fidelity.
The Admission ceremony to an Assembly of Princes is also derived from the Book of Samuel and narrates how Saul sought the life of David. It further relates an interesting legend of the methods contrived to thwart the efforts of the jealous King.
By reading the Old Testament books of Samuel, all the names of the Conclave Officers fall into place.
The last named degree is unusual when compared with the other Orders of Freemasonry, in that the ceremony of Installation constitutes the Third Degree of the Order pertaining to the Kingship of David and is fundamentally concerned with the headship of a Conclave. Embodied in the ritual of this degree, however, is the ceremony of commissioning, which gives rank and status within the Order as a whole, a certificate being issued to that effect.
The full title of the Order is "The Order of the Secret Monitor, or Brotherhood of David and Jonathan, in the British Isles and its Districts and Conclaves Overseas". It has its headquarters at Mark Masons' Hall, 86, St. James's Street, London, and the head of the Order is termed the "Grand Supreme Ruler".
There are now over 500 Conclaves spread between some 30 Provinces or Districts. Each Province or District has a Provincial or District Grand Supreme Ruler at its head.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Freemasonry in Thailand

Thailand began to open up to the west in the late 19th century.  King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) was the first Thai king to travel abroad and to begin to understand the importance of the west as a trading partner.  As a result, westerners began to arrive in the kingdom as part of diplomatic and commercial missions.  History has shown that these are the necessary seeds for the growth of Freemasonry.
Unfortunately Thailand proved rocky ground for the Craft.  Perhaps it is due to the fact that unlike most other nations in the region, Thailand was an absolute monarchy that had never been colonized.  It had (and still has) distinct and rigid classes of society.  The central Masonic concepts of democracy, treating men of all social class on the level, and the Judeo-Christian basis for the Craft’s legends must have seemed unnatural and strange to the devoutly Buddhist local population.
Between 1878 and 1905 there were four failed attempts to start an English lodge.  The brethren in Bangkok faced the most amazing string of bad luck.  The individual failures are too painful to detail here. The reasons ranged from waning interest on the part of the few founding members in the first attempt to the death of the Master-elect in the final attempt.
In 1907, a new generation of brethren petitioned and was granted a warrant from the Grand Lodge of Scotland.  But of course the troubles hadn’t ended yet.  Expatriate lodges are renowned for high turnover as assignments end and new ones begin.  Thus when the charter eventually arrived from Edinburgh, several of the officers had left and the charter had to be reissued.  Lodge St. John was finally consecrated on January 24, 1911 with the reissued charter.
The lodge attracted a very international following including British, Thai, German, Swiss, American and other brethren.  This diversity was shortly to become critical to the fate of the brethren in Bangkok.  In World War II, Thailand remained neutral.  Shortly after the Japanese entered Thailand at the start of World War II, the Japanese secret police raided the rented premises where the lodge met.  Records, regalia and other items were seized and brethren from Allied countries were interred.  Thankfully the international flavor of the lodge enabled the neutral Thai and Axis German brethren to save some of the early records.  They were also able to help the interred brethren better cope with their incarceration.
A growth spurt hit Freemasonry in the kingdom between 1991 and 1997, when five lodges were formed.  A second Scottish lodge, Lodge Pattaya West Winds was opened in Pattaya in 1991, more than 80 years after Lodge St. John.  This was followed by the kingdom’s first Irish lodge, Lodge Morakot.  The National Grand Lodge of France (GLNF) founded Lodge 7 Niveaux de la Sagesse in Chiang Mai in 1994 and Lodge Tantawan Fleur du Soleil in Bangkok in 1996. 
After the recovery from the 1997 financial crisis, a second growth spurt occurred and seems to still be in progress.  Lodge Lane Xang was a Scottish lodge originally formed in Laos, but that went dark in 1976.  The brethren of Bangkok reopened the lodge in Thailand in 2000.  In 2001, the English finally succeeding in establishing a beach head with Chula Lodge in Bangkok a mere 123 years after their first attempt.  This was followed by the opening of Light of Siam Lodge in Phuket in 2004. 
In 2005, the GLNF formed a second Lodge Hoa Sen Lumière d’Asia in Bangkok while the Irish branched out to southern Thailand with a lodge in Songkla. 
The Dutch established their first lodge in South East Asia with the consecration of Loge Erasmus, No. 297 in Bangkok on January 7, 2006.  The lodge works in English and includes brethren from The Netherlands, Thailand, and assorted other countries.  It has become a focal point for Dutch masons from all over southeast Asia and even Australia.
In February 2006, the Scottish founded the first Thai language lodge.  Lodge Ratanakosin, No. 1833 SC refers to the name bestowed upon what is now Bangkok by the first king of the Chakri Dynasty in 1782.  The name translates as “Bejeweled City of the God Indra.”  The Standard Scottish ritual is being translated by a team of very distinguished Thai brethren.  The lodge works in Thai and English.
Now Thailand supports lodges from six Grand Lodges offering ritual in three languages.  Freemasonry may have had a rocky start in Thailand, but we hope that the strong and very diverse system in place continues to grow and flourish for years to come.
 Article taken from