Women in Freemasonry

The conventional argument against women in Freemasonry is made on the basis of a point listed under the “Charges” pertaining to “Certain Qualifications of Candidates for Initiation,” which has, over the centuries, become ambiguously listed as a Landmark. That there must exist—of necessity and by virtue of the nature of and requirements for Initiation itself—certain internal qualifications pre-existent in all candidates for the mysteries of initiation is undoubtedly true. But this preparation and qualification is in the nature of an internal, spiritual one, and has nothing to do with gender. There is no landmark listed in our enumeration of the principal fourteen that pertains to gender; neither is there any other landmark that pertains to gender. The Landmarks are listed in the form of short, punctuated statements, setting forth the principles and purpose governing the work of the Lodge on High and symbolising—for human consciousness—a divine mode of the principles of government. Accordingly, things spiritual have to do with the spiritual life and concern the nature of the soul on its own plane—that soul being neither male nor female. It is sexless. It is a triple unity embodying and corresponding to the aspects of Deity Itself: atma-buddhi-manas, expressing as will-intuition-intelligence (or mind), and expressed in the Masonic Trinity as Strength-Wisdom-Beauty. Spiritual government is spiritual government, i.e., it pertains to the realm of the spirit and the soul on its own plane of existence. The objective of the exoteric aspect of the spiritual Path in the three worlds is to prepare the form for the descent of the spirit aspect so that divinity may be expressed on the physical plane. This would result in the world of form being governed by the spirit aspect, working “down” through it and thus bringing all things to order in conformity with spiritual law or life. To this purpose all the teaching and symbolism of the Masonic ceremonials and rites bear witness, allegorized through the work of the builders.

The so-called “Old Charges” were drawn up in a period in which the operative and speculative elements of Freemasonry were combined. Many Freemasons were actually operative masons and the “Charges” delivered to them pertained to codes of labour, the allegiances owed to their employers, and a basic moral code of behaviour. These Charges appear to be quite old and were contained in a Manuscript (written in the reign of James II, which extended from 1685 to 1688) said to have been in the possession of the Lodge of Antiquity in London. They are probably much older than 1685 and contain “Charges single for Freemasons allowed or accepted,” that is to say, “Charges and covenants to be read . . . at the making of a Freemason or Freemasons.” In those old Charges, number three (pertaining to the subject on qualifications for acceptance) says, “That he that be made be able in all degrees; that is, free born (i.e., not a slave); of a good kindred, true, and no bondsman, and that he have his right limbs as a man ought to have.” Other Old Charges collected in 1717 gave the qualifications as follows: “The persons admitted members of a Lodge must be good and true men, free born and of mature and discreet age, no bondsmen, no women, no immoral or scandalous men, but of good report.”

Now if the view of Freemasonry is that of the speculative arising from the operative art, then the relative truth of that position is necessarily limited to the uninspired and academic view that traces the origins of Freemasonry to the resurrection of certain old operative guilds and their modes of work. If the view is extended a little, for instance, that Freemasonry originated under the Jewish dispensation, possibly embodying an older tradition, and that somehow, because of the peculiar symbolism and allegories pertaining to temple building, became inexplicably interwoven with the craft of Mediaeval building and preserved through the guilds, then we have a slightly “mystical” view, though still quite limited.

If, however, the view is reversed to that of regarding the operative art of building to be essentially an external symbol or precipitation of an inner and speculative Freemasonry that is occupied with the task of enlightening, educating and raising the consciousness of humanity, then such a view must, of necessity, perceive the craft of building metaphorically. This latter view, i.e., viewing the craft of building through symbol and allegory, necessarily directs the consciousness to a metaphorical type of building process and carries the process inwards to one that is more subjective than objective. Thus, withdrawing the building process inwards, we are faced with another type of ‘builder’ other than the physical one: the subjective mind factor, the mental principle that is capable of conceiving the pattern of the design (the archetypal blueprints) and subsequently organising the substance of the mind (the symbolic “material”), the chitta, via thought-building. Therefore, rather than building an outer temple it is the inner Temple of the Soul (the Temple of Light) to which speculative Freemasonry directs our attention, illustrating the process, objectives, and spiritual goals of the soul through the symbolism of the art of building. Thus, speculative Freemasonry directs our attention to an evolutionary process of the mind or mental principle—i.e., the soul upon the plane of mind as the builder of the inner man—and thus presents the mind itself as the principle working tool. This mental principle, this rational element in us that is bequeathed to us from the soul itself and sets us apart from the subhuman kingdoms in nature, is common to both men and women.

That we have inherited the Ancient Mysteries in the form of Freemasonry and preserved in a Jewish form, wisely framed by those Jewish Seers of old is undoubtedly true. That they framed those Mysteries within the allegories of building and the building art is also undoubtedly true; but that which they framed, according to the Ancient Landmarks, was that which they had received from those who had gone before them (and during their sojourn in Egypt and as many of them became initiates in the Egyptian Mysteries), of the spiritual truths of a far greater antiquity, having existed “since time immemorial.” It was those Jewish Seers who wisely added the metaphorical symbolism of building, i.e., the imaginative art of an inner building, (employing the nomenclature of building metaphorically), to the ongoing lineage and revelations of the Mystery Teachings. To what they had learned of Light from the Egyptian Mysteries, they added the building of a Temple of Light with the objective of producing the form for the descent of the divine Shekinah, i.e., the divine spirit in man. Thus, through the speculative art of inner building, discipline, and intuitive development, the form could be prepared for something spiritual to enter and divinity could be manifested upon the earth, which it did through the appearance of the Christ in form (and through a Jewish form), though they unfortunately recognised it not when it actually happened.

But alas, alas, the earlier spiritual view or intention has, over the centuries, become greatly distorted and materialised by the materialising tendency of the mind of man. The earlier labour in the quarries could be regarded as lost! But nothing of any essential value has been lost. The truth anent initiation is still present, and has been preserved in Freemasonry.

Now, however, we are in a different era and the lost must be found again! There is simply a need for a revision of perceptions and understanding. The basic argument for the exclusion of women in Freemasonry generally runs along the following lines, and we shall present them here in debate form. We shall separate the statements expressing the conventional views pertaining to “qualifications for admission” (in italics), and answer each point with our own position on these matters.

The Debate over Women in Freemasonry

Conventional Freemasonic view: It is an unquestionable Landmark of the Order, and the very first pre-requisite to initiation, that the candidate shall be “a man.” This of course prohibits the initiation of a woman.

AUM—We have found no “unquestionable Landmark” as such. An old “Charge” drawn up by men has stated this point, but this illustrates one of those ambiguities in which a “Charge” has become regarded as a “landmark.” But a “charge” is not a Landmark according to our definitions. Applying the principles of spiritual logic and reasoning, the “first pre-requisite to initiation” has nothing to do with gender; it has to do with an internal, spiritual preparation and achievement and pertains only to “man” as that word is derived etymologically from the Sanskrit root, manas (of-mind), and referring to the mental principle. Both men and women are presumably in possession of this faculty (for it is the basis for the rational element in all of us as human beings) and is one of the Spiritual Triadal principles or aspects. It is the sexless soul upon the plane of mind that undergoes initiation and not the individual personality—man or woman.

Until the latter part of the nineteenth century, however, there was some veiled truth in this statement pertaining to the non-admission of women, which had its counterpart in the Lodge on High. Until that period, a soul had to be in a male body in the incarnation in which he first gained admission to an inner Lodge of a Master of the Wisdom (an Ashram in the nomenclature of the Ageless Wisdom). At that time a soul already technically in such an inner Lodge could incarnate in either gender, but the incarnation in which admission was gained for the first time had to be in a male form. That has all now changed. Due to many factors, including advances in exoteric educational opportunities, a loosening of the grip of the tyranny of churchianity, and the passing or emergence from the peculiar and distorted restrictions imposed during the Piscean Era, it has since become possible for a soul to enter or be admitted to an inner Lodge in either gender when in incarnation, providing all of the spiritual requirements are in order and thus met.

Conventional Freemasonry is therefore “behind the times” in responding to this inner change, but it is interesting to note that approximately also at that earlier time there came about the first appearances of mixed Masonic Orders who were responding, even if unconsciously, to the inflowing energies of this inner change.

Conventional Masonic view: This Landmark arises from the peculiar nature of our speculative science as connected with an operative art. Speculative Freemasonry is but the application of Operative Freemasonry to moral and intellectual purposes.

AUM—Having dispensed with the conventional view that this controversial edict is a bogus ‘landmark’—a spiritual law or principle—it is, of course, easy to accept the basis of this regulation as one that is founded upon a tradition of practice in the operative Freemason’s art, requiring heavy physical labour and stemming from the type of consciousness in the Middle-Ages. But as previously stated, our view is reversed from the exoteric version, in that whereas the conventional view regards speculative Masonry to have grown out of the operative craft, we view the operative art in the opposite manner, i.e., as an external result, expression or effect of the inner and speculative science; the appearance in form of certain internal precipitations pertaining to cosmic and universal archetypal plans and patterns. Thus, in our view, the operative craft itself is but an external symbol of an inner spiritual reality, and that the speculative science therefore existed before the operative craft. The sequence is thus reversed. All things proceed from the inner being to outer appearances, appearances of phenomena being a precipitation of an inner impulse. The mediator during the stage of self-conscious individualised existence is that of the soul, the builder of the inner man. The primary working tool of this Entity is the mind factor in its triple divisions, through which it shapes and moulds and builds according to the inner pattern or design laid down upon the Tracing Board of the spiritual consciousness. Its objective is to cause the “condition of the material” to approximate and conform to right vibratory synchronicity with the quality of the material for the building of the Temple of Light; in other words, to raise states of matter to approximate states of consciousness.

Nothing in this view or position therefore has anything to do with gender. Both men and women are equal to the task of self-discipline and its resultant spiritual progress; both are capable of moral conduct and intellectual development; both have and are products of minds and both can think and consequently inwardly build (in the light of the soul) through the medium of the substance of thought.

Conventional Masonic view: Our predecessors wrought according to the traditions of the Order, at the construction of a material temple, while we are engaged in the erection of a spiritual edifice—the temple of the mind.

AUM—True, if one’s view is entirely limited to regarding speculative Freemasonry as having emerged from the operative craft, and a worthy note of transformation; but the speculative nature of Freemasonry is couched in a Jewish nomenclature and the Jews themselves were never ‘builders’ of material edifices anyway. They employed ‘craftsmen and artificers’ from other ‘nations,’ even according to the allegories of the rituals. If we are to accept the view that the Jews passed on the ancient mysteries (during their dispensation after what they had learned from the Egyptian Mysteries) and allegorized them in the nomenclature of the building craft, we must also understand that their contribution was already speculative—arising from their fertile imagination and creative minds; their minds ever being oriented to the erection of a spiritual edifice and thus preparing a form for the descent of the divine Shekinah, thus re-casting the Ancient Mysteries in the nomenclature of the builders.

It is true that “our predecessors wrought at the construction of a material temple” if one regards the “predecessors” as early humanity; but if one adds the esoteric component, then the ‘predecessors or ancestors’ are, on the one hand, the lunar lords of the sixth Creative Hierarchy, the ‘ancestors’ who provided the scaffolding into which the material for the form was poured (for they are the builders of the outer man); and on the other hand, we have the solar lords, the ‘ancestors of the spiritual man,’ the fifth Creative Hierarchy (which the Jewish Seers understood and codified or allegorized and hid within their recasting of the Mysteries along the lines of the theme of the Builders) and this is also clear to see in their esoteric and kabalistic Teachings. These solar lords shape and mould the ‘building’ according to the inner plans and archetypal designs laid down upon the T.B. Esoterically, our real predecessors are, on the one hand, “those who have gone this way before us” and have achieved the goal, i.e., of initiation and adeptship; and on the other hand, the Being Who is the Source of our original Being and Individual Spiritual Identity, the Unit of the Fourth Creative Hierarchy and that ‘ray of the Absolute’ within us—the Monad. Our real identity is this spiritual Being Who ever existed prior to any appearance of what we call ourselves in form. Thus, it is also true with the sequence of Freemasonry: The Grand Master existed prior to the existence of the Grand Lodge on High; the Grand Lodge on High existed before the existence of the Lodges on Earth.

Either way, there is nothing pertaining to the erection of a spiritual edifice, a temple of the mind as a Temple of Light, that states that only a man can do it, or that a woman cannot do it. Both men and women are already expressions of and endowed with the potentiality of the manasic principle; and both, being in possession of this rational element, presumably possess the faculty that enables them to think and then to inwardly build—through the power of thought—the inner Temple of Light.

Conventional Masonic view: They employed their implements for merely mechanical purposes; we use them symbolically, with a more exalted design.

AUM—And what a beautiful design and system it is! Nevertheless, enough has already been said about the reversal of our views upon these matters, and there is still nothing said in all of this as to why a “woman cannot do it”!

Conventional Masonic view: Thus it is that in all our emblems, our language, and our rites, there is a beautiful exemplification and application of the rules of operative masonry to a spiritual purpose.

AUM—It was ever so, only the operative art is merely symbolic of a pre-existing spiritual purpose; and there is still nothing proven in all of this as to why a “woman also cannot do it”!

Conventional Freemasonic view: And as it is evident that King Solomon employed in the construction of his temple only hale and hearty men and cunning workmen, so our Lodges, in imitation of that great example, demand, as an indispensable requisite to initiation into our mysteries, that the candidate shall be a man, capable of performing such work as the Master shall assign to him. This is, therefore, the origin of the Landmark

[?] which prohibits the initiation of females.

AUM—Since no one has ever found it, the very existence of King Solomon’s Temple as a material edifice is questionable. In speculative Masonry, King Solomon’s Temple has ever stood as a symbol, a symbol of the Temple of the Soul, the Causal or Egoic Body, wherein reigns the ‘king,’ the soul. Sol-Om-On is a compound name made up of three names of the sun, (symbolising the solar lord, or soul) from three ancient languages. The nature of the “sun” in the Egyptian Mysteries stood for a recognition of the Central Spiritual Sun, and not the ignorant interpretations of the profane and “learned gentlemen” who translated the hieroglyphs to mean literal “sun-worship,” being in themselves, non-initiates of the mysteries. A recognition of the sun in its triple and esoteric divisions was a part of the Egyptian Mysteries, and they understood this brilliant symbol to be an outer manifestation of solar Logoic appearance, that is the outer and Physical Sun, the Heart of the Sun, and the Central Spiritual Sun, which finds its correspondence in man as the Sun of the Personality, the Rising Sun (of the soul and indicated in the horoscope as the rising sign or rising sun), and the Blazing Sun of the Monad. The Jews learned this from the Egyptian Mysteries and wisely codified it in their Mysteries under the name of King Sol-Om-On (standing for the soul or Monad), the central Spiritual Sun.

The consequence of the “therefore” in the conventional statement above is questionable from the angle of valid reasoning. If the view of Freemasonry is that of a material one pertaining to the operative craft, then the exclusion of women on account of the physical labour involved may be admissible. But even in conventional speculative Freemasonry, the spiritual element is admitted and superimposed upon the operative one, drawing upon the latter only in the form of allegories and symbols—and no manual labour is ever involved in modern speculative Lodges anyway!

Presumably, conventional speculative Freemasonry is already more than an ‘imitation’ of a literal interpretation of manual labour, and this by their own admission, and to this simple aspect of logic, all the rites enacted, the allegories dramatised, and the set up of a Freemasonic Temple testify, for they are all regarded as symbols, and even by the modern conventional Mason! A symbol is an outer and visible sign of an inner and spiritual reality. A ‘symbol’ is not a symbol of a symbol. The operative art is already a symbol of an inner activity. The problem appears to arise in mistaking the symbol for the thing symbolised. The so-called “indispensable requisite to initiation” into the Mysteries of Freemasonry “that the candidate shall be that of a man” (excluding women) is therefore based upon fallacious reasoning fundamentally. But of course, all depends on the initial premise upon which one bases one’s argument, and—perception being interdependent with existence—then depending on the view—either the material or the spiritual one—then both are relatively true to the perceiving consciousness.

Nevertheless, we have found no Landmark disqualifying women from Freemasonry or from participation in the Ancient Mysteries or from approaching Initiation, for all of these principles concern souls and not forms. We have found this stated only in a Masonic “Charge” that has become ambiguously called a “landmark,” but one that appears to have carried over from the guilds of the operative manual craft. And so it can be equally argued that this operative ruling has no intelligent basis in true speculative Masonry.

Both men and women are products of minds and souls, creatures of karma, for they are but outer appearing forms of a sexless Entity, the Soul, and the form changes from life to life depending on the purposes of the soul. Both are products of manas intrinsically, and presumably, being in possession of the rational element of self-conscious awareness and thought, can think, plan and act accordingly.

Summary and Conclusion

This forgoing debate has been permitted publication to illustrate the ambiguity that arises in the absence of clear definitions and valid reasoning, and to help make clear the position of AUM on an important matter of Masonic controversy. We hope that it will stir up a healthy debate within the world-wide Masonic community and eventually lead to a more enlightened and intelligent progress.

In addressing this controversial issue in the foregoing, however, we wish to make it clear that we do not join the noisy throng over the “battle of the sexes” and have no interest in it whatsoever. We are simply following through on an edict passed on by the Grand Lodge on High, and have incorporated it into our Masonic edifice as an “amended regulation” on the one hand, and something that is perfectly natural on the other. It is so natural for us that we do not even think about it as being anything “other” or controversial, and have moved beyond its considerations into the spiritual work at hand.

The problems of conventional Freemasonry will not be solved by the inclusion of women, however. It is only in the combined and group effort of the members of a Lodge, given to a deeper understanding of the meaning of Freemasonry and arriving jointly at a unity of thought about their Masonic labours and the work performed upon the Temple floor, that progress will be made. Our members understand themselves to be Freemasons first, and any distinctions of gender play no part whatsoever in our acceptance for admission or our considerations of each other. We meet on the Level as Souls.

We simply advise our members: if you perceive a wrong in society that needs righting, then you are at liberty to right it; but at the same time, keep all divisive issues out of our AUM Masonic work. We meet on the Level as Souls and Freemasons first and all other considerations are of no import whatsoever in our group work.