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The Square and Compasses. The symbols
employed in Co-Freemasonry are mostly
identical with those in other orders of
Co-Freemasonry is a form of Freemasonry which admits both men and
women. It began in France in the 1880s with the forming of Le Droit
Humain, and is now an international movement represented by several
Co-Masonic administrations throughout the world. Most Male-Only
Masonic Lodges, partucularly those in the US, do not admit women, and do
not officially recognise Co-Freemasonry, holding it to be irregular or
International Order of Mixed Freemasonry — Le
The International Order of Mixed Freemasonry Le Droit Humain was
founded in France in the late nineteenth century, during a period of strong
feminist and women's suffrage campaigning. It was the first Co-Masonic
Order, and also the first truly international Masonic Order. Today it has
members from over 60 countries worldwide.
French Masonry had long attempted to include women, the Grand Orient de France having allowed Rites of
Adoption as early as 1774,
by which Lodges could "adopt" sisters, wives and daughters of Freemasons,
imparting to them the mysteries of several degrees.
In 1879, following differences among members of the Supreme Council of France, twelve lodges withdrew from the
Grand Orient de France and founded the Grande Loge Symbolique de France. One of these Lodges, Les Libres
Penseurs (The Free Thinkers) in Pecq, reserved in its charter the right to initiate women as Freemasons, proclaiming
the essential equality of man and woman.
Maria Deraismes, co-founder of
Co-Freemasonry, Le Droit Humain.
On January 14, 1882, Maria Deraismes, a well-known humanitarian,
feminist author, lecturer and politician, was initiated into Les Libres
Penseurs. The Right Worshipful Master, Bro. Houbron, 18°, justified this
act as having the highest interests of humanity at heart, and as being a
perfectly logical application of the principle of 'A Free Mason in a Free
Lodge'. The Lodge was soon suspended for this "impropriety".
In 1890 the Lodge La Jerusalem Écossaise, also of the Grande Loge
Symbolique de France, petitioned other Lodges for the establishment of a
new order of Freemasonry that would accept both men and women. This
time La Jerusalem Lodge did not propose to initiate women itself, but to
create a new order working in parallel. The main proponent of this was Dr.
Georges Martin, a French senator, advocate of equal rights for women, and
also a member of Les Libres Penseurs.
On March 14, 1893, Deraismes, Martin and several other male Freemasons
founded La Respectable Loge, Le Droit Humain, Maçonnerie Mixte
(Worshipful Lodge, Human Rights, Co-Masonry) in Paris. They initiated,
passed and raised sixteen prominent French women.
Georges Martin, co-founder of
Co-Freemasonry, Le Droit Humain.
Shortly after, on April 4 of the same year, the first Grand Lodge of
Co-Freemasonry was established, the Grande Loge Symbolique Écossaise
Mixte de France (Grand Lodge of Mixed Scottish Rite Freemasonry of
France), which would later become known as the International Order of
Co-Freemasonry "Le Droit Humain". This was a radical departure from
most other forms of Freemasonry, for not only did the new order not
require belief in a Supreme Being (the Grand Orient de France had
discarded this requirement in 1877) — it opened its doors to all of
humanity who were "... just, upright and free, of mature age, sound
judgment and strict morals."
The Eastern Federation
Annie Besant wearing 33° Masonic regalia.
Several prominent members of the Theosophical Society joined
Co-Freemasonry, including Annie Besant, George Arundale, Charles
W. Leadbeater, C. Jinarajadasa and Henry Steele Olcott. Henceforth,
wherever they took Theosophy, they also introduced Co-Freemasonry.
The Order of Universal Co-Freemasonry in Great Britain and the
British Dependencies was founded by Annie Besant and officers of the
Supreme Council of the French Maçonnerie Mixte (known today as
The International Order of Co-Freemasonry, Le Droit Humain) on
September 26, 1902, with the consecration of Lodge Human Duty No.
6 in London. Besant remained head of the Order until her death in
1933. The English working, influenced by the Theosophy of its leading
members, restored certain Masonic practices not required in the French
working, notably that its members hold a belief in God or a Supreme
Being. The permission received from France to reinstate this in the
English workings is known as the 'Annie Besant Concord', and in 1904
a new English ritual was printed, which firmly established this
requirement as central to the work. The revised ritual was called the 'Dharma Ritual', also known as the
'Besant-Leadbeater' and more recently as the 'Lauderdale' working. The Dharma Ritual also attempted to restore
prominence to esoteric and mystical aspects that its Theosophically-minded authors felt were the heart of
Freemasonry, so that it became foremostly a spiritual organisation; Co-Freemasonry of this Order was therefore
sometimes called "Occult Freemasonry".
The Honorable Order of American Co-Masonry
In 1903 the first Co-Masonic Lodge in the USA was instituted under Le Droit Humain by the French professor
Antoine Muzzarelli in New York. He founded the first Alpha Lodge in Charleroi, Pennsylvania and more than 50
others within four years before his untimely death 1908. In November of that year, delegates of twenty-four of these
Lodges founded the American Federation of Human Rights in St. Louis. By 1924, nearly 100 Lodges had been
started under the guidance of Louis Goaziou, President, Most Puissant Grand Commander and Representative of the
Supreme Council in Paris.
Disaffected of Lodges from Le Droit Humain
Between the mid-1990s and early 2000s a large number of lodges defected from Le Droit Humain, which they
charged with infringing upon their constitutional rights. On 2 January 2001 Le Droit Humain formally expelled four
senior members of the British Federation over these disagreements. Following these expulsions, about 70 members
resigned. From these was formed the Grand Lodge of Freemasonry for Men and Women. This body no longer uses
to term "Co-Masonry". Members call themselves "Freemasons" instead.
The disaffection of the British Lodges was the latest in the past two decades. This process began in North America in
1994 when "Le Droit Humain" withdrew recognition of the American Federation of Human Rights (see below) and
incorporated another American Federation, chartered in Deleware. The Eastern Order of International
Co-Freemasonry formed later, as did a few other smaller orders.
Other lodges, including those in Australia and South Africa and some US lodges, opted to remain affiliated with the
Supreme Council of the International Order of Mixed Freemasonry Le Droit Humain, and continue to exist as the
British, Australian, and American Federations of the order, governed by the Representative of the Supreme Council
in France, known as the Most Puissant Grand Commander, who holds the 33rd and highest degree of the Order.
The American Federation of Human Rights / American Co-Masonry
In December 1993, when demands from the Supreme Council in Paris conflicted with the International Constitution
and the National Constitution of the American Federation of Le Droit Humain, which mandated independence in
internal affairs and adherence to United States law, a large part of the membership decided to withdraw from Le
On April 11, 1994, the Supreme Council of American Co-Masonry, The American Federation of Human Rights, was
reformed by members of the Grand Inspector General of the Thirty-third Degree. Also known as American
Co-Masonry, this now-independent obedience, which has its headquarters in Larkspur, Colorado, has since become
the largest Co-Masonic organization in the United States.
The Eastern Order of International Co-Freemasonry
In 2001, following growing concerns over erosions to the Annie Besant Concord by the administration in Paris,
many member lodges of the Eastern Federation resigned from Le Droit Humain, severing all ties, and reconstituted
new governing bodies. Lodges in India, New Zealand, parts of the US, Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico
and Spain reformed as the Eastern Order of International Co-Freemasonry; lodges in the UK reformed as the Grand
Lodge of Freemasonry for Men and Women.
The Grand Lodge of Ancient, Accepted and Esoteric Freemasons
The Grand Lodge of Ancient, Accepted and Esoteric Freemasons is a virtual Grand Lodge for men and women
operating over the internet.
The Ancient, Accepted & Esoteric Freemasons was initially chartered by the Grand Orient de France on May 14
1928. On November 17 1976 Grandmaster Juliet Ashley established the Sovereign and Independent Grand Lodge of
Ancient, Accepted and Esoteric Freemasons as an independent Masonic organization. This order's name was
changed to "International Sovereign and Independent Grand Lodge of Ancient, Accepted and Esoteric Freemasons"
at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on June 22 1977. At that meeting the Grand Lodge also established Acacia
Lodge #1 A:. A:. & E:. F:. as the first Lodge of Master Masons under the new jurisdiction. From 1992 the Grand
Lodge ceased to operate within a physical temple, and from 2003 they began rewriting the rituals for self-initiation
and lodge initiation using one or more initiating officers. They have offered internet initiations for Entered
Apprentices since 2004.
The order confers Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason degrees, as well as York Rite and Scottish Rite
degrees and several other advanced rites. Degrees are practiced in their regular and ancient form, and are
accompanied by esoteric teachings.
The Co-Freemasonic Order of The Blazing Star
The Co-Freemasonic Order of the Blazing Star is an independent order of freemasonry based in the South West of
England that admits men and women equally. It sees its main emphasis as cultivating the spiritual and esoteric
aspects of freemasonry, and offers a true initiatory system of training and development of the 33 degrees of ‘The
Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite’ for the benefit of humanity and the world. It currently operates an ancient Irish
working in the craft degrees.
In November 1997 a group of senior masons formed an independent Supreme Council to revitalise and regenerate
masonic ritual and practice with an explicit emphasis on the symbolic, esoteric and spiritual teachings, initiatory
training, and the ‘inner’ workings forming the basis of the ritual work. To distinguish the new order from other
masonic bodies, the name ‘Order of the Blazing Star’ was taken. The Blazing Star is a universal symbol, and is found
in most masonic rituals. The principals, rituals and traditions are still based on those of the Grand Scottish
Constitutions of 1786, revised and agreed by the national Supreme Councils of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish
Rite at Lausanne in 1876. In May 2007 the Supreme Council decided the name of the order should more closely
reflect its heritage and work and thus ‘The Co-Freemasonic Order of the Blazing Star’ was established.
Recognition of Co-Freemasonry by other Freemasons
Co-Freemasonry is not formally recognised by any of the larger Male-Only Masonic Grand Lodges in the US
inasmuch as intervisitation or other Masonic interaction is not permitted.
A Landmark of Freemasonry agreed by the 50 largest masculine Grand Lodges in the US is that the initiation of
women is forbidden and members take a binding obligation not to countenance the initiation of women. Very few
masculine Grand Lodges outside the US maintain either as a "Landmark". Most notably, the United Grand Lodge of
England has no such prohibition.
Certain Grand Lodges of Co-Freemasonry, those under Le Droit Humain, also follow the lead of the Grand Orient de
France in removing references to the Supreme Being from their rituals and initiating atheists; this is a further point of
separation from typical Masonic Lodges which hold belief in a Supreme Being to be a Landmark requirement.
Notwithstanding the prohibition of interaction in a ritual context, the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the
oldest of the Grand Lodges, whilst not recognising Co-Freemasonry, states that it does hold informal discussions
from time to time with Women's and Co-Masonic Grand Lodges on issues of mutual concern, and that
Brethren are therefore free to explain to non-Masons, if asked, that Freemasonry is not confined to men (even
though this Grand Lodge does not itself admit women).
The Grand Orient de France did not initiate women for many years, but it does now and it recognizes Masonic
bodies that do. Thus, it allows visitation by women from those bodies.
•The International Order of Co-Freemasonry Le Droit Humain 
•The International Order of Co-Freemasonry Le Droit Humain — British Federation 
•The Internation Order of Co-Freemasonry Le Droit Humain - American Federation 
•International Order 'Le Droit Humain' Australian Federation 
•The International Order of Co-Freemasonry Le Droit Humain - South African Federation 
•The Eastern Order of International Co-Freemasonry 
•International Masonic Order "Delphi" 
•The Honorable Order of American Co-Masonry / American Federation of Human Rights 
•Grand Lodge of Freemasonry for Men and Women 
•The Grand Lodge of Ancient, Accepted and Esoteric Freemasons 
•Lithos Confederation of Lodges (Belgium) 
•The Co-Freemasonic Order of The Blazing Star 
•Gemischte Großloge der Schweiz (GGLS) (Switzerland) 
•Mixed Freemasonry in Israel 
•Grande Loja Tradicional de Portugal (Great Traditional Lodge of Portugal) 
•Grande Oriente Maçónico de Portugal (Masonic Great Orient Portugal) 
Women's-only Masonic Organisations
•Women's Lodges in the USA chartered by the Women's Grand Lodge of Belgium 
•Grand Loge Féminine de France 
•The Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons 
Huffmire, Casey R. Women and Freemasonry in France and Germany (http://sophie. byu. edu/sophiejournal/New/Huffmire-format.pdf).
Mackey, A. C. Adoniramite Freemasonry, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and its Kindred Sciences (http://www. standrew518. co. uk/
ENCYC/MacEncA1. htm). Retrieved 2006-07-13
Mackey, A. C. Eastern Star, Order of the, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and its Kindred Sciences (http://users. 1st. net/fischer/MacEncE1.
HTM). Retrieved 2006-07-13
The Grand Lodge of Freemasonry for Men and Women, Great Britain (http://www. grandlodge. org. uk). Retrieved 2006-11-30.
A Grand Conclave (http://www. grandlodge. org. uk/press release1. htm), from The Grand Lodge of Freemasonry for Men and Women,
Great Britain. Retrieved 2006-11-30.
History of the Ancient, Accepted and Esoteric Freemasons (http://esotericfreemason. com/candidate/history2. html) Retrieved 2007-09-15.
What About Women in Freemasonry? (http://www. masonicinfo. com/women. htm) - last accessed 2006-02-12. The UGLE have also
advertised Freemasonry for Women (http://web. archive. org/web/20001210172300/http://london-lodges. org/forwomen. html) on their
old london-lodges.org website.
"Where it can be found" section of the history of the Grand Orient de France (http://www. godf. org/foreign/uk/histoire_uk_03. html).
http://www. droit-humain. org/
http://www.droit-humain. org/uk/index. html
http://www.delphiorder. org/eng/index. htm
https://www. lithoscl. org/
http://www.masonic. ch/GLMS/index. htm
http://en.freemason. org. il/
http://www.womenfreemasonsusa. com/index. html
•Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry — Co-Masonry (http://www. phoenixmasonry. org/
mackeys_encyclopedia/c. htm). Retrieved 2006-07-02.
•Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry — Women (http://www. phoenixmasonry. org/mackeys_encyclopedia/
w. htm). Retrieved 2006-07-02.
•The Builder, November 1920 (http://www. phoenixmasonry. org/the_builder_1920_november. htm), containing
the article Woman and Freemasonry by Dudley Wright. Retrieved 2006-07-02.
•The Builder, August 1921 (http://www. phoenixmasonry. org/the_builder_1920_november. htm), containing the
article Co-Masonry by Joseph H. Fussell. Retrieved 2006-07-02.
•History of the Ancient, Accepted and Esoteric Freemasons (http://esotericfreemason. com/candidate/history2.
html) Retrieved 2007-09-15.
•Freemasonry for Women (http://www. luckymojo. com/comasonry. html) by Catherine Yronwode. Retrieved
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