(Ladies of the Lodge)
They do not pay subscriptions, they do
not get a vote, and they do not attend our Lodge meetings. They sometimes join our assemblies. However, their influence in our Freemasonry
is enormous. Of course, I am writing
about our ladies. Our Freemasonry would
be substantially different without their support.
I suppose I am old enough to have
heard most of the advice and comments about women and none have reduced my
affection for them. When contemplating
marriage: to “make sure that you have a good look at her mother first”. On living: “you cannot live with them and you
cannot live without them”, and on retribution "Hell hath no fury like a
woman scorned". (Paraphrased from The Mourning Bride, William Congreve,
1670-1729). So with that sort of advice
where do they fit in?
Where women fit in Freemasonry seems
to depend on a lot on how we Freemasons view the Fraternity. Freemasonry can fulfil many useful roles and women
seem to fit best where a Freemason sees it as a fraternity with a unique
opportunity to spend quality time with good men including some that, in the
normal course of events, one would never meet.
It is where a Freemason sees an opportunity with his brethren to do
things useful for mankind. It is where
he can be happy and come home happy and relaxed, no doubt talking about who he
has been with, what has been achieved and what is planned. A mate at home will be interested in his
activities, delighted to see him happy, learn who he has been with in lodge,
happily seeing him attend the next meeting and anxious to meet some of his
brethren. So the essential ingredients
are the relationship between the Freemason and his woman, her knowledge of and
appreciation of his activities, empathy and trust. Her support will be cemented when she
participates in lodge activities and attends some of its functions.
If a Freemasons sees Freemasonry
largely as a career, and an opportunity to achieve some perceived superior
standing among men that he would never have achieved during his employment,
then the same level of support by women will unlikely to be attained. The activities to achieve these ends may lead
to self-satisfaction but seldom, if ever, real happiness. Their misguided ambitions will be likely to
consume them as well as destroy other Freemasons who would normally remain
contented members. Women who find
themselves in such circumstances will be likely to have more self-respect than being
a “Masonic widow” to the alternative of being treated as “a handbag”, propping
up a light-weight or a phoney who only sees it as being about himself – but not
often seen in the Craft.
There are other ways to destroy a
woman’s support of Freemasonry. For
example, if a wife is not confident that her man is actually attending lodge
when he leaves home, or if he makes such a mystery of it all she feels that he
has dark secrets that he should be sharing with her.
We are fortunate in Lodge Devotion
with the support that we get from our ladies and our new Worshipful Master and
his lady set an example to be emulated.