Libertad Igualdad Fraternidad
THE ORDER OF WOMEN FREEMASONS
What Is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is concerned with moral and spiritual values.
It is based on the three Grand Principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, which are taught by a series of ritual dramas using the tools and ceremonies of a stonemason as symbols.
Brotherly Love - Freemasons are taught to be tolerant towards all people and behave with kindness and understanding towards all.
Relief - Freemasons practice charity and demonstrate their concern for others by charitable efforts and good works.
Truth - Freemasons strive towards the Truth which requires of them high standards in their lives and actions.
Freemasonry is not in itself a religion, but is a way of life; a combination of religion, philosophy, ethics, and a system of moral discipline.
Fundamentally it is a Brotherhood which teaches by gradual steps the spiritual way, and how to develop the highest attributes of the human character.
It is one of the oldest fraternal societies in the world, with an authentic history going back over three hundred years, deriving much from the Guilds of the Middle Ages.
Within our framework women of all denominations and nationalities learn their interdependence as human beings and their dependence on the one Supreme Being. There are facets to satisfy everyone who joins its ranks.
Constant advancement in understanding for the spiritual; the fellowship of good friends; the opportunity of self expression by participation in the beautiful ceremonies and ritual; sanctuary and peace within the Lodge from the rush and turmoil of the present world.
We raise large amounts of money for charity by means of social events, and these also give members the opportunity to get to know each other on an informal basis.
The Order has two Trust Funds, which are Registered Charities, and we have two residential Homes for members – Porchway House at Worthing, West Sussex and Northolme at Lytham St.Annes in Lancashire.
The Order of Women Freemasons is the oldest and largest Masonic organisation for women in this country and works on the lines of regular male Freemasonry.
We have some 6,000 members in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Spain and Zimbabwe. They are grouped into over three hundred Craft Lodges operating under a Grand Master and Grand Lodge.
Lodges meet a minimum of four times a year. The financial commitment is not heavy, although it varies from Lodge to Lodge.
Apart from the three degrees of Craft Masonry, members can join other degrees and Orders in Freemasonry. Those worked at present are:
Order of the Secret Monitor
Degree of Mark Master Mason and Royal Ark Mariner
Holy Royal Arch (Chapter)
Allied Masonic Degrees
Red Cross of Constantine (Conclave)
Holy Sepulchre and St.John the Evangelist
Knights Templar and Knights of Malta
Commemorative Order of St.Thomas of Acon
Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priest
Ancient and Accepted Rite – Rose Croix of Heredom and 30th to 33rd Degrees
Royal Order of Scotland
In June 2008 we look forward to celebrating our Centenary as an Order, when over 5,000 members and guests will gather for a special meeting at The Royal Albert Hall.
Freemasonry for women came to this country from France in 1902 in the form of mixed Lodges (Co-Masonry). In 1908 some Co-Masons decided to break away to start a new Order because they objected to control from France and to some of the ritual and influences found in Co-Masonry. They wanted to practise Freemasonry on the same lines as the male United Grand Lodge of England.
The Honourable Fraternity of Antient Masonry was founded on 20th June 1908 and its first Grand Master and driving force was a man - the Rev. Dr. William Frederick Cobb. However, since 1912, the Grand Masters have all been women. The new Order at first included both men and women, but eventually the decision was taken in the early 1920s to restrict entrance to women only and no longer admit men as visitors. Although a handful of loyal men remained in office, by 1935 we had become an exclusively female organisation and we remain so today.
Another Masonic Order for women split off from ours in 1913. This was called the Honorable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasonry, and so to avoid confusion in names we added "Order of Women Freemasons" to our title in 1958. This is the name by which we are known today.
From a beginning with three small Lodges in 1908 we have gradually increased in numbers and locations. The 1950s and 1960s were particularly active in expansion, especially abroad, and recently (2005) a Lodge was opened at Fuengirola near Malaga in Spain.
The present Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Brenda I. Fleming-Taylor, has been in office since 1989 and has been instrumental in bringing to the Order an openness and pride in our presence in the wider world.
The United Grand Lodge of England have, in a statement of 10th March 1999, acknowledged the regularity and sincerity of women’s Freemasonry although they do not officially recognise it and their members cannot take part. Many of our own Lodges meet in premises owned by the men’s Order and informal relations are cordial and co-operative.