Can Both Men and Women Join Freemasonry Together?
The answer is YES and NO. Today we are going to dig into the wild world of Freemasonry. Today, we are going to look at “Universal Co-Masonry, The American Federation of Human Rights, Inc.” also known as “The Honorable Order of Universal Co-Masonry”. This is a masonic organization that allows men and women to become Freemasons together. We are going to learn about who they are and all about them. And yes, you are probably wondering if other Grand Lodges recognize this organization. The answer is no because most Grand Lodges only admit men or women only. This is one of the very few Masonic fraternal organizations that are actually co-ed.
Men and Women Becoming Master Masons Together
In Universal Co-Masonry, both men and women can become Master Masons. This Masonic fraternity is committed to serving humanity at all levels: local, national, and global. They are working diligently to increase our impact and share knowledge with all who seek it. Universal Co-Masonry believes that the true origin of Freemasonry is unknown, lost in time. There are a good number of historians with diverse opinions, each vehemently supporting his or her own belief.
Universal Co-Masonry believes they are making history every day, but their member’s effects will mostly be evident years from now. They believe that “The truth” will be colored by each perceiver. So, they can talk of some events in our history, but they never really know the underlying current that for years worked to precipitate the moment.
Here is what Co-Masonry thinks. Co-Ed Freemasonry
They believe that they must trust that there is a Plan of Evolution, and a Tracing Board, for Humanity, and that we are but a speck within the current of life – evolving and cooperating with the big scheme. They mention that since time immemorial, the symbols of Freemasonry have been passed down from the memory of those who came before us, each new generation adding or forgetting some crucial detail.
Co-Masonry openly states that Freemasonry has been distorted by the passage of time, each of the symbols (The Beehive, The Compasses, The Rough & Perfect Ashlars, and The Square) are essential to understanding the hidden mysteries of Freemasonry. Much knowledge has been lost to the Craft over the eons but with diligence and time its full stature will be restored.
Therefore, it is Co-Masonry member’s unending quest to restore the lost knowledge of the Craft so that its full splendor can be revealed. They feel that the lost the true meaning of the symbols that it preserves can be found on the pages written by the collective efforts of three Masonic authors: Manly P. Hall, Albert Mackey, and Albert Pike. These authors in their opinion help to restore their understanding of these mysterious images.
Furthermore, Universal Co-Masonry likes to highlight – Albert G. Mackey’s 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason from the book: Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, where he states: ” The origin and source whence first sprang the institution of Freemasonry, such as we now have it, has given rise to more difference of opinion and discussions among Masonic scholars than any other topic in the literature of the institution.” Though Universal Co-Masonry does not endorse the conclusions of Illustrious Albert Mackey, his writings are considered scholarly and detailed.
Connecting the dots of Co-Masonry – Men & Women Sitting In A Master Mason Meeting Together
The Honorable Order of Universal Co-Masonry believes they are the heir to the ancient traditions whose wise principles, moral force, and discipline it has maintained, has preserved the rules of the past used by the first Masonic Orders.
So, therefore, this order has also maintained the signs, grips, sacred words, and passwords of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish and York Rite, employed as a means of recognition by many of the Freemasons scattered throughout the world.
All of its members of the Order form but one family of ‘Brothers’ and are part of an Institution that permits them to be recognized by Freemasons. They believe by and of whatsoever Rite and to also recognize all Freemasons throughout the world.
Their Masonic Degrees consist of the thirty-three degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite plus four Royal Arch Degrees of the Ancient and Accepted York Rite. So, they contend that their membership has been reunited by the Order of Universal Co-Masonry under the structure of the Ancient and Accepted Universal Rite.
What is the “Ancient and Accepted Universal Rite”?
Well, this is a rite that they created and justify as a rite that is not a new rite. They want men and women to know that, that the Ancient and Accepted Universal Rite is not an invention or creation of Universal Co-Masonry.
It is the recombination set forth by Universal Co-Masonry, The American Federation of Human Rights, Inc. (their corporate entity) of that which has been divided and separated by time and circumstances. Further, their Supreme Council may, at any time, authorize the establishment of other Masonic bodies not currently practiced.
So, what was divided and separated you may be wondering? Well, the first three degrees, the royal arch degrees, and the Scottish Rite degrees. Universal Co-Masonry believes that all these degrees of Freemasonry form the ‘one cohesive legend’ and that each part is essential to a Freemason’s understanding of their historical and symbolic significance.
These 37 degrees make up the “Ancient and Accepted Universal Rite”. These degrees are conferred on a merit and ability basis. Some degrees in this fraternity have specific requirements, such as time and examination, which are necessary to progress, but ultimately one’s commitment to the brethren and to the Order. The Order and its brethren will decide when to grant a member access to the higher degrees. Here are their degrees grouped and listed as follows:
First Group: Symbolic Masonry “Symbolic Degrees” – For Men and Women in Freemasonry
1 – Entered Apprentice.
2 – Fellowcraft.
3 – Master Mason.
Second Group: English Rite (or York Rite) “Chapter Degrees” – For Men & Women in Freemasonry Together
Mark Master Mason
Royal Ark Mariner
Holy Royal Arch of Jerusalem
Please note that to attain the 32nd Degree in Co-Masonry, their members must be a Master Mason for at least 14 years, have been elected Master of Lodge, and must have served the Supreme Council with satisfaction.
Lodge of Perfection “Ineffable Degrees”- Women & Men in Freemasonry
4 – Secret Master
5 – Perfect Master
6 – Intimate Secretary
7 – Provost & Judge
8 – Intendant of the Building
9 – Master Elect of Nine
10 – Master Elect of Fifteen
11 – Sublime Master Elect
12 – Grand Master Architect
13 – Royal Arch of Enoch
14 – Grand Elect and Sublime Mason
Chapter Rose Croix “Historic Degrees”
15 – Knight of the East
16 – Prince of Jerusalem
17 – Knight of the East & West
18 – Knight of Rose Croix of Heredom
Council Kadosh “Philosophical and chivalric Degrees”
19 – Grand Pontiff or Sublime Scottish Knight
20 – Sovereign Prince or Master ad Vitam
21 – Noachite or Prussian Knight
22 – Prince of Lebanon or Royal Axe
23 – Chief of the Tabernacle
24 – Prince of the Tabernacle
25 – Knight of the Brazen Serpent
26 – Prince of Mercy
27 – Sovereign Commander of the Temple
28 – Knight of the Sun, Prince Adept
29 – Knight of Saint Andrew
30 – Knight Kadosh
Consistory “Official and Ceremonial Degrees”
31 – Grand Inquisitor Commanders
32 – Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret
Court of Honor “Honorary Degrees”
33 – Grand Inspector General
UNDERSTANDING THE GOVERNMENT OF THE CO-MASONRY CRAFT – THEIR MASONIC AUTHORITY STRUCTURE
The governing body of the Order is the Supreme Council of the Sovereign Grand Inspectors General of the 33rd Degree. Presided over by the Most Sovereign Grand Commander, the Council is entrusted with the expansion and growth of Co-Masonry, while maintaining and preserving the tenants of the Grand Constitution. The following explains Univeral Co-Masonry’s hierarchy of their Order, after which a brief description of each section will be given:
Supreme Council of Universal Co-Masonry
The Supreme Council is the ultimate Masonic authority of the Order. Faithful allegiance and implicit obedience are due to it from all bodies, committees, and members within its jurisdiction from the 1st to the 33rd and last degree of Freemasonry. Its functions and prerogatives are therefore of the most extensive and important nature.
Members of the Supreme Council are those few that have provided exceptional service to the Order. By merit and ability, they have earned the right to govern the Order.
Grand Council of Administration
Below the Supreme Council is the Grand Council of Administration. In essence, the steward of the Supreme Council, the duties of the Grand Council of Administration are to maintain, preserve, and expand the temporal realm of the Order. This includes all assets, properties, buildings, and other items necessary to ensure the Work of Universal Co-masonry. The members of the Grand Council are elected by the general membership.
Lodges for both Men and Women Freemasons
In each Lodge, universal suffrage is sovereign, but the sovereignty of the members of a Lodge must never be derogatory to the sovereignty of the members of another Lodge.
Members – Masonic Women and Men
All members must abide by the Grand Constitution, the Rules & Regulations of the Order, the decrees of the Supreme Council, and the Bylaws of their particular lodge. By virtue of the principle of fraternity which constitutes the foundation of Freemasonry, The Honorable Order of Universal Co-Masonry fraternally welcomes Masons of other Obedience’s which, like itself, labor for the progress of humanity along the road of material, moral, and spiritual betterment.
DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES
Co-Masonry is Laboring Under the Banner of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. Co-Masonry is therefore a fraternity including men and women of every race, nationality, and religion. They are wishing to do away with all cause for division and strife, it continually seeks the means which to help all human beings to unite and work together for the perfection of Humanity. Universal Co-Masonry wishes to share that they are in fact a ‘Masonic Obedience’ independent of all others, has not created a new Rite.
Understanding Co-Masonry’s Obedience.
Here is what distinguishes Co-Masonry Obedience from other existing Masonic Obedience(s) in other Grand Lodges and so on. Other Masonic Entities only admit men. The interesting news is that they have wished to completely ignore the Grand Lodges that only admit women.
Co-Masonry admits women and men on an equal footing. This organization proclaims equal rights for both sexes and absolute liberty of conscience. Thus, securing that women and men have:
- unlimited freedom in the search for truth.
- yet it demands the utmost tolerance from all its members.
- yet it demands the avoidance of political and religious discussions wherever these cannot be carried on with requisite tolerance and moderation.
- but it welcomes everyone who is upright, free, of mature age, sound judgment, and strict morals, whatever may be his or her convictions in matters of religion, philosophy, or politics.
CHARACTER OF A CO-MASONRY FREEMASON – Women + Men in Freemasonry
First, off it is important to note that Co-Masonry views its organization as female. Freemasonry is a great quest for Light, and her members are Knights and Protectors of that Light. Freemasonry instructs its members by the performance of ceremonial degrees, each with its own teachings, symbols, and message. Thus, the Freemason is taught by experience to serve God, help his fellow man (or woman), and better himself (or herself).
Co-Masonry defines a Freemason’s foundation in their Order as being founded on the principles of human solidarity, freedom of conscience, and the facts of Brotherhood. It places no restrictions on the search for Truth, and to secure that freedom, it demands the greatest tolerance from all members of the Order. A Co-Masonry’s Freemason in their opinion different because they have the freedom of thought, speech, and action belongs to all Mankind: regardless of race, religion, or gender.
Co-Masonry Freemasons assert the existence of a Supreme Power under the name of “The Great Architect of the Universe,” yet at the same time leaving Human Reason at perfect liberty to differ regarding His Attributes. Co-Masonry wishes to share it is not a religion and demands that each of its members to be tolerant to the beliefs of others no matter how different they may be.
So now that we know that the door to Co-Masonry is open to any individual, both men, and women of any race, religion, or creed, requiring only a strong moral character, a belief in a Supreme Being, and a desire to improve our world through service. Let us jump back to their declaration of principles.
BACK TO THE DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES OF COED FREEMASONRY / CO-MASONRY
Universal Co-Masonry seeks to destroy ignorance under whatever form, and its program may be explained as follows:
- Each Co-Masonry Mason owes obedience to the Order and to the laws of his or her country; he (or she) must live honorably, practice justice, love his (or her) neighbor, work unceasingly for the true happiness of humanity, and help human beings to emancipate themselves from the thralldom of passion and ignorance.
- From the first to the last, to whatever degree the aspirant may desire to be admitted, the first condition to be fulfilled is to have a reputation of unsullied honor and probity.
- Members of the Co-masonry Order owe to each other help and support in all circumstances and conditions of life.
- To think high, to speak the truth, to do well, to be tolerant to others, to search after truth, to practice liberty under law, fraternal equality, justice, and solidarity, are the duties which the Supreme Council of Universal Co-Masonry, prescribes for its members seeking to build to the Glory of the Great Architect of the Universe, to the perfection of Humanity, and to the service of the Head of All True Freemasons, the true Masonic Temple open to both men and women.
THE MISSION AND VISION OF CO-MASONRY
They really want to help advance the Evolution of Humanity and they believe to serve is the highest ideal. It is the Freemasonry Report’s understanding that this is most likely their mission statement and vision statement. This is quoted below is literally from their website ‘word for word’ from univeralfreemasonry.org.
“Unless we set for ourselves the grandest and loftiest ideals imaginable, the genius of humanity will never reach its full potential. As human beings we are engaged in a never-ending quest to achieve the unachievable, know the unknowable and explore the far reaches of existence. It is this quest that has pushed us to climb the highest mountains, dive to the bottom of the oceans, reach beyond the limits of our atmosphere and create technological wonders that push the boundaries of possibility. If ever we become content and satisfied with the mediocre, the average or the temptations of the status quo, the ingenuity of the human race will vanish.
Universal Co-Masonry recognizes this quality in human beings and has declared as its mission the quickening of human evolution. Evolution, with its slow yet steady march across millions of years, has produced extraordinary wonders and a natural world so perfect in its completeness that it is beyond comprehension. It is, however, the unique duty of those with eyes to see and hears to hear to assist in unfolding the Divine Plan that Nature has revealed to us. Within the intricate symbolism of Freemasonry there can be found a blueprint for the expansion and transformation of humanity into the free, creative beings we have always been meant to be.
It is through Masonic ritual that the potential of the human mind to contemplate, imagine and create is developed and refined. Freemasonry is not merely a system of self-improvement or self-help designed to make good people better. Self-improvement is a side effect of the true purpose of Freemasonry: service to humanity. In this service there is no rest, only the reward of a job well done and the promise of more work.
The specific service to humanity that Universal Co-Masonry has decided to undertake is to combat Ignorance in all its forms. Ignorance, along with Ambition and Fanaticism, is the greatest of the three tyrants that have oppressed humanity from time immemorial. Universal Co-Masonry envisions a day when all human beings live harmoniously in liberty and prosperity, freed from the chains of physical, mental, and spiritual poverty.
All human beings, regardless of age, sex, race, or religion, are necessary to the fulfillment of this mission. Freemasonry has no room for the petty and the arbitrary divisions that have held back humanity for centuries. All Universal Co-Masonry requires of its potential Co-Workers is a deep belief in a Supreme power and the sincere wish to do good, speak truth and live as an example to humanity so that we may one day be free from the bondage we have imposed upon ourselves.”
NOW LET US LOOK AT THEIR GRAND CONSTITUTION OF CO-MASONRY / COED FREEMASON
Co-Masonry’s Grand Constitution is the ultimate authority in the governance of Universal Co-Masonry, also known as ‘The Order’. Through this fundamental document, members of Co-Masonry receive the principles and direction necessary to function in unity and harmony.
Their members adhere to this as well as the General Rules and Regulations is essential to the optimal functioning of Masonry, as all members, from ‘Neophyte’ to ‘Grand Inspectors General’. All in Co-Masonry must obey and respect it.
Co-Masonry gets its authority vested in the Grand Constitution that all Lodges and other Masonic bodies in the Federation Act. Therefore, Co-Masonry’s sublime manifest teaches the brothers the duties owed to the Craft and to their fellow brethren, including:
1. To live honorably, practice justice, and love their neighbors.
2. To work unceasingly for the true happiness of Humanity.
3. To think high, speak the truth, and do well.
Co-Masonry shares that it is ordained and established to promote the evolution and progress of humanity. Their Grand Constitution of Universal Co-Masonry also grants rights to its members of the Order. All members are entitled to:
1. The liberty of thought and conscience.
2. The pursuit of Happiness.
3. Equal rights without distinction of sex, religion, or creed.
4. The blessings derived from the virtues of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.
5. Support from the members of the Order in the circumstances and conditions of life.
6. The attainment of the highest degree of moral, intellectual, and spiritual development.
7. Unlimited freedom in the search for Truth.
In addition, their Grand Constitution grants members the ability to debate social, philosophical, political, and religious questions in Masonic, as well as, profane settings, to pursue intellectual enlightenment, a greater understanding of themselves, and fulfillment of their Freemasonic duties to Humanity and God.
HOW TO BECOME A UNIVERSAL CO-MASON? MEN & WOMEN IN FREEMASONRY TOGETHER
Co-Masonry promotes itself as Freemasonry for people who wish to improve themselves spiritually, mentally, and physically, as a parent, friend, member of their community, and ultimately as a servant of God.
Co-Masonry also mentions that through participation in a Masonic Temple, a new member can be given an opportunity to learn important truths concerning morality and spirituality, including one’s relationship with God and his fellow man. While also learning to understand the perspective of others in an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual support. Whether they be Christian, Muslim, or Jewish; black or white; male or female; rich or poor – all who gather within the doors of a Co-Masonry Temple are equals.
To become a Co-Masonry Freemason, a person merely has to find a temple building and then knock on the door then asking for membership in the Order. Aside from asking for a petition, you will also have to fulfill the following requirements to become a Co-Masonry member:
- You must be a man or woman of lawful age (21 years old).
- You must profess a belief in a Supreme Power.
- You must be willing to attend all regular Lodge meetings; emergencies excepted.
“Whenever you find yourself fighting ignorance and intolerance, you will find yourself living in the teachings of Freemasonry.” – The Very Ills. Bro. Magdalena I. Cumsille, 33rd, The Most Sovereign Grand Commander.
TRAINING AND EDUCATION OFFERED BY CO-MASONRY – LEARNING HOW MEN AND WOMEN CAN BE IN FREEMASON LODGES TOGETHER
Co-Masonry offers several Masonic Seminars. This is a series that was started in 2019 to better inform interested persons about Universal Co-Masonry. The Seminar consists of 12 lectures which are about 1.5 hours.
The series covers the basics of Freemasonry, the background of Freemasonry within Western Esoteric Tradition, and the many different philosophical and historical aspects. The aim of the Seminar is to give a solid foundation about Freemasonry in General and Universal Co-Masonry in particular without divulging any of the secrets or rituals of this ancient philosophy.
Each session is taught independently of the others in the series so individuals can sign up at any time in the year. The following is a list of the topics covered and when they will be offered within the calendar year.
- Seminar I – January Topic – What is Freemasonry?
- Seminar II – February Topic – Freemasonry as a Western Esoteric Tradition
- Seminar III – March Topic – Symbolism and Ritual
- Seminar IV – April Topic – Freemasonry as a Philosophy
- Seminar V – May Topic – Freemasonry as a Science
- Seminar VI – June Topic – Freemasonry as an Art
- Seminar VII – July Topic – The Three Grand Principles
- Seminar VIII – August Topic – Ethics and Morality of a Freemason
- Seminar IX – September Topic – Freemasonry as a Political Philosophy
- Seminar X – October Topic – The History of Freemasonry
- Seminar XI – November Topic – Masonic Landmarks
- Seminar XII – December Topic – Misconceptions about Freemasonry
THE DEBATE ON CO-MASONRY.
The Freemasonry Report wants to briefly discuss the debate of this topic. Most ‘regular’ Grand Lodges do not recognize this organization because of its membership standards. In the United States alone, the number of Grand Lodges is staggering from Free and Accepted Masons to Prince Hall and beyond. And each Grand Lodge has its own standards of regularity. The interesting fact of the matter is that most Grand Lodges only admit ‘Men’ and direct their members not to sit in lodges or temples where a woman is made a Mason.
With that being said, there are, ‘women only’ Grand Lodges in the world. Yet, no other Masonic entity in our research asks and/or offers other Freemasons to sit in lodge with them. This is in essence bypassing the other Grand Lodge’s By-Laws, Constitution, and/or Ruling and Decisions but most importantly its authority. Universal Co-Masonry’s practice of allowing other Masons to sit in lodge with them, which are normally called ‘irregular’; ‘clandestine’; and/or ‘un-recognized’ causes much debate in many Masonic social groups.
Thank you for reading this blog article on Men and Women in Freemasonry together.
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