Women and Freemasonry

(Woman, the Other Half of Man)

Dr. Russell N. Cassel

(a fifty year Mason)

Chula Vista Masonic Lodge No. 626,

1362 Santa cruz Court,

Chula Vista, California 91910

That woman is an indispensable link for the continuation of our human race is an undisputable fact.  It should be equally clear that woman's role in relation to Freemasonry is just as irrefutable and indispensable; for without woman, there could be no man. It is, of course, equally clear, and based on precisely the same logic, that without man there could be no woman.  Woman, then, is the other half of man; and in precisely the same fashion, man is the other half of woman.  If this were true, then, surely the role of woman in Freemasonry has equally important implications as the role for man.  But throughout history the role of woman has been sorely neglected and too often little understood.  It is in Masonry where freedom, equality, and truth are the foundation that women have found their fullness of freedom and equality in their everyday drama of life.

If man and woman are indispensable to each other in the fashion just described, it must be considered that they are equals, each one to the other. Man is not superior to woman, and, by precisely the same logic, woman is not superior to man.  Down the road, then, in the single journey through life, each must recognize the other in just that fashion.  This, of course, is true in Masonry, as it is in every other vicissitude of life. Whatever happens to one, then, has important implications to the other, and because of this woman's role in Freemasonry is no exception to the rule.  Just as sure as night follows day, in the true Masonic family woman is an important and equal member, how could it be different.

Family and Society

The basic unit on which the continuation of society rests, of course, is the family unit.  Here, of course, we make reference to a male and female seeking to find their mission as a team in the busy world of work and play.  We are not talking of the gay or lesbian family unit; for under such conditions, there can be no procreation of the race.  Without procreation of the child, there can be no society, and without society, there could be no tomorrow; only today.  Yes, of course, we can have single member homes, where children flounder as if lost in the wilderness, but always there was at one time a man/wife interaction, or there would be no children; hence no family.

Family and Masonry

Just as the family is the basic unit for the continuation of society; so the family unit is equally essential to both the growth and the continuation of Freemasonry.  When a man becomes a Mason, his family becomes a Masonic family, with each other family member being eligible to full and complete membership in a myriad of Masonic organizations.  First, of course, there are Masonic organizations to provide comparable activity to the wife and to the children of that Masonic family.  It includes other close relatives as well as a mother, a father, a widow, and even to include adopted children.

Women Masonic Memberships

There are three principal Masonic organizations designed specifically for the female member of the Masonic family: Eastern Star, Job's Daughters, and Rainbow Girls.  In addition, each Masonic organization provides for activity and even parallel organizations to accommodate the activities and needs of wives, mothers, widows, and daughters of Masons,i.e., Blue Lodge, Scottish Rite, Shrine, etc.. In addition, there are the male children, and they too are especially provided for in the order of DeMolay.

Order of Eastern Star

The purpose of the Order of Easter Star is to provide a means by which the wives, widows, mothers, sisters, and daughters of Masons might be brought into closer relationship with the Order of Freemasonry, might share in the benefits of Masonry to a fuller extent, especially in attaining assistance and protection when needed, and in the cooperation with Masonic lodges in their labors of charity, and in their endeavor to human progress.

The Eastern Star Order sustains an important and peculiar relation with the Masonic Fraternity; but the Eastern Star is not identical to Freemasonry; neither is the Eastern Star Freemasonry. The unique and intimate relationship of the Eastern Star to Freemasonry is maintained in the requirement that all male members must be Freemasons, worthy and in good standing, while all female members must be wives, mothers, widows, daughters, or sisters of Master Masons.

The Eastern Star derives from an earlier order known as "Adoptive Masonry", or sometimes-called "Female Masonry".  It had its origin largely in France where it was extensively spread to other parts of Europe, The term "adoptive" was employed because it was required that all orders of this class should be under the guardianship of some regular lodge of Freemasons.  The order emerged about the middle of the eighteenth century.

The purpose of the order was to provide a means by which the wives, widows, mothers, sisters, daughters of Masons might share in the benefits of Masonry.  French Masons were noted for their gallantry and chivalry, hence their readiness to extend to their women some of the blessings of the Fraternity.  From 1760 to 1777 there were three such Adoptive Lodges established in Paris, all of them given splendor and influence by the active labours of men and women of fame, fashion, wealth, and literary attainments.

There were four degrees in Adoptive Masonry, three of them comparable in some respects to the three degrees of Blue Lodge Masonry, but in no sense did any of them have the same rites, and symbolism, and mysteries of the Blue Lodge.  The principles of virtue, honor, fidelity, industry, charity, and of fraternalism were inculcated very similar to those of Freemasonry.

Robert Morris introduced Adoptive Masonry into America.  The objects of the Rite are to associate in one common bond the worthy wives, widows, daughters, and sisters of Freemasons, so as to make their adoptive privileges available for all the purposes contemplated in Masonry; to secure to them the advantages of their claim in a moral, social, and charitable point of view, and from them the performance of corresponding duties.

Among the strong advocates of Adoptive masonry was Albert Pike, a most profound student and expounder of Freemasonry in all its phases.  He says in the preface to his ritual to the Masonry of Adoption: "Our mothers, sisters, wives and daughters can not, it is true, be admitted to share with us the grand mysteries of Freemasonry, but there is no reason why there should not be also a Masonry for them, which may not merely enable them to make themselves known to Masons, and so to obtain assistance and protection; but by means of which, acting in concert through the tie of association and mutual obligation, they may cooperate in the great laborsof Masonry by assisting in, and, by some respects, directing their charities, and tolling in the cause of human progress."

Robert Morris prepared the general outline of the ritual for the organization as finally completed under the name of the "Eastern Star", and had much to do in beautifying and adorning the Ritual adopted at the organization of the General Grand Chapter of the order of the Eastern Star, November 15th and 16th, 1876 at Indianapolis, Indiana.  The unique and intimate relationship of Eastern Star to Freemasonry is maintained in the requirement that all male members must be Master Masons, worthy and in good standing, while all female members must be wives, mothers, widows, daughters or sisters of master Masons.  The five degrees of the Eastern Star are depicted by the lives of five Biblical Heroines:

  1. Jephthah's Daughter.

  2. Ruth.

  3. Esther.

  4. Martha.

  5. Electra.

Jephthah's Daughter.  As recorded in the 11th and 12th chapters of the Book of Judges, enough is given to glorify her as one of the noblest heroines of Biblical history.  Jephthah, leader of the Israelites east of Jordan in war against the Ammonites, promised God that he would make a special offering of his daughter if he should win the war.  Upon returning home from the victory, he was met by dancing girls and a celebration, and where he announced the vow he had made to God, that his only daughter, Adah, would be dedicated to perpetual virginity, by which she was forbidden marriage and the bearing of children.  Adah in filial devotion to her father, with heroic courage, in self-dedication to the Lord of Hosts, expressed a noble and generous dedication to her fate.

Ruth. She was the second point in the Star used for ritual purposes, was a young woman of Moab, and one of the most beautiful characters of sacred history.  The reason for Naomi, mother-in-law of Ruth, going into the foreign land of Moab was a severe draught in the vicinity of Bethlehem and a dire famine.  Instead of adopting the idolatry of Moab, they influenced their neighbors to respect the true God and the religion of the Israelites.  Naomi's two sons both married young women of Moab, both having converted to the God and religion of the Israelites.  No children were born to those two sons of Naomi.  Naomi and her two daughters-in-law were left widows and continued to live together in perfect understanding and sympathy.  After an absence of ten years Naomi decided to return to her native land of Bethlehem, and Orpah listened to Naomi and remained in Moab, but Ruth insisted on going back to Bethlehem with Naomi where she married a nobleman, and became an ancestress of king David and Jesus Christ.  The nobleman she married was Boaz, in whose fields she laboredto support her and Ruth, the mother-in-law, for some time.  Ruth is credited with writing the following poem in response to Naomi's desire to return home to Bethlehem:

Entreat me not to leave thee, Or return from following after thee:
For whither thou goest, I will go;
And where thou lodgest, I will lodge;
Thy people shall be my people,
And thy God my God:
Where thou diest, will I die,
And there will I be buried;
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If ought but death part thee and me.

Esther.  The Biblical character chosen as the third point of the Star was a Jewish maiden of true beauty and nobility of character who became the wife of Ahasuerus, King of Persia and Media.  The historical setting of Esther's position as his queen was the period following the permission of the Jews to return to Palestine, when few of the Israelites took advantage of the decree.  Esther's family elected not to return to Palestine under the edict of Cyprus.  When the king was divorced and sought a new Queen, Esther, without permitting her Jewish identity to be known sought to appear among the maidens of the realm from whom the king should choose a successor to Queen Vashti. She refused to be adorned with Jewels as all the others were, and Ahasuerus was so enraptured with her charm that he chose her at once and had her crowned as queen.  Haman, a most honored and trusted officer of the king sought to reveal her identity as a Jewess.  Throwing herself upon the mercy and favor of the King and by a series of astute and dangerous maneuvers, she prevented the decree of destruction of all the Jews of the Persian Empire, and secured the execution of Haman and his entire family.

Martha.  She represents the fourth point of the Star, had a brother named Lazarus and a sister named Mary.  She lived in the little town of Bethany near Jerusalem, and where Jesus was often a welcome and beloved guest.  Lazarus became dangerously ill, and the sisters sent for Jesus to come to their home to heal him.  When Jesus arrived at their home, Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days.  Jesus called him forth from the tomb, restoring him to life.

Electa.  A woman of gifts and devotion who lived near Ephesus represents the fifth point of the Star.  She represents the glory and benedictions of patience and submission to the will of God under the stress of wrong treatment and deadly persecution.

Masonic Youth Groups

Three different Masonic youth groups are available for members of the Masonic family.  Each one of these are international in scope, and are available for the sons and daughters of all Freemasons.  Each one of these needs the sponsorship of a Masonic Lodge to exist.

Order of DeMolay.  A fraternal order for young men between 14 to 21 years of age.  It was founded on 1 March 1919 by Frank S. Land and nine teenage youth, in Kansas City, Missouri with the goal of creating brotherhood among young men during their formative years.  Each chapter is sponsored by men who are Master Masons.  DeMolay is not a Masonic organization, and all boys within the age limits may be considered for membership.  The stated purpose is to build a better citizen and future leaders.  Its activities are designed to benefit the individual member, the chapter, and the local community.  The order has nearly 155,000 members in 2,500 local chapters, and in seven different countries.  The order was named after Jacques DeMolay, the last grand master of the Knights Templars, who was burned at the stake under orders of the Pope in 1314.  There is a monthly newsletter, the Cordon.  DeMolay Headquarters is located at 201 East Armour Boulevard, Box 901342, Kansas City, Missouri 64190.

International Order of Job's Daughters.  An auxiliary of the Masonic order for girls between the ages of 11 to 20 who are related to a Master Mason.  The purpose of the order is to provide the spiritual growth and character development of its members through charitable endeavors and scholarships.  It was founded in 1921, and has grown to 100,000 members.  The headquarters is at 233 West 6th Street, Papillon, Nebraska 68046-2210.

International order of Rainbow for Girls.  A girl fraternal organization founded in 1922 by W. Mark Sexson in McAlester, Oklahoma.  The purpose of the organization is to instruct girls in an ethical way of life. Membership is open to girls from ages 11 to 20 who are related to members of the Masonic Order, or who are the girl friends of relatives of Masonic members.  Members who marry or are 20 years of age or older are called majority members.  Others are known as active members.  There are about 300,000 active members, and maybe one million majority members.  Headquarters is located at Box 788, McAllester, Oklahoma 74501.

Masonic Homes

Each of the separate Masonic jurisdictions maintain a home for Masonic members of need.  It may be the cheapest insurance against family tragedy possible.  In California two such homes are presently being maintained: (1) One at Covina, and (2) another at Union City.  After a person has maintained membership in a Masonic fraternity chartered in California for five years or more, they and their family become eligible for the facilities of one of those homes where they are considered as guests, and treated that way.

Laguna Mountain Shrine camp

High up in the Mountains, 6200 feet above the rolling sea and Mission Bay, where tall tree filled forests, the deer playground, with a trickling creek winding through the small Shrine village of cottages and huts, is the Shrine Camp that beckons the weary Mason and his family for a weekend retreat.  In summer it might be for camping near the lighted washroom and water facility, and in winter for a skiing rendezvous with nature.  A perfect setting for a weekend, holiday, and special activity retreat, both for the Master Mason and his family, and or friends.  For those who desire a more permanent retreat, maybe a 2 or 3 bedroom cottage, complete with all of the comforts of home, and where extended living is even possible for a select few who dare to escape the humdrum of the busy cities below.  Here special programs are provided periodically on a year round basis, with all of the splendor of Shrine planning and scheming.  Where truly finding the "boy in the man" is in full Shrine Bloom, and never is there a dull moment in the pageantry that unfolds.

Masonic Education

Masons are made, they are not born that way, and always they come of their own free will; they are not solicited; not even by a father to son.  There are three separate degrees that constitute the teachings and learning essential for becoming a Mason.  The basic theory underlying the educational and training program is intended to present the symbolic idea of man's pilgrimage on earth.

Entered Apprentice Degree

The first degree being a representation of youth, a period of learning about purification of the affections, and a preparation for advancement to higher spheres on this earth.  Here the faculties are directed toward the Great Architect of the Universe with the ultimate goal being a search for truth.

Fellow-craft Degree

The second degree represents the period of adult life, of manhood including learning and work.  Here there is a cultivation of the reasoning faculties where emphasis is placed on liberty, equality, and Justice.

Master Mason Degree

The Third degree is symbolic of mature life, of ripened experiences, a time of continued activity, but of decrease in toil and laborious endeavour.  It deals with trials and suffering, and of inevitable termination in death.  It is a time of waiting by the wearied workman for the word of the Grand Master of the universe who will summon the Master Mason from labours on earth to the eternal refreshments of heaven.

Goals of Freemasonry

The goals of Freemasonry are founded solidly on freedom, equality, and truth.  Always, it entails love, which is characterized by charity and giving to others.

First, there is the making of a perfect Brother; for brotherly love is the keystone of a caring and committed individual.

Second, is the creation of a perfect husband, for the Masonic family is at the center of all activity?

Third, and not the least of importance, Is the creation of a perfect father, for the children are always an important concern in every Masonic home.

Masonic Advantages

Freemasons are a special kind of people, because they are taught and embrace the principles that make them caring, honest, and committed.  They make the kind of husband, brother, son, or citizen that one can be proud of.  Marriages are not broken by husbands that are typically involved in Masonic activities; rather they are strengthened.  Families are not typically separated because of involvement in Masonic activities; rather they are made the more cohesive and binding.

Women Deserve Masonic Husbands

Women deserve to have Masonic husbands, because of the kind of behavior embraced by Masonic principles.  Women coming from Masonic families have learned of the honesty, caring, and commitment of Masonic people.  Every woman has the right to expect her husband to become a Mason, if he is not already one.  Women from Masonic families know this, and typically insist that their husband become a Freemason at an early date.

Security and Safety

Women who wear Masonic jewelry, or have Masonic identification on the cars they drive, find Masonic Brothers at every turn of the road waiting to assist and provide for their safety and welfare.  A car break down on a lonely road displaying a Masonic emblem brings trusted help from all Masonic Brothers who chance to pass by and notice the Masonic emblem.

Honest Business Transactions

When buying merchandise from a Brother Mason, the honesty of the business transaction is guaranteed, when the Masonic affiliation is known.  In far off lands or at home, when dealing with a Masonic Brother, or Masonic Family, one is always assured of honesty in the transaction.  Masons care about their honesty in business transactions, and when they know the transaction involves another Masonic family member, every effort is made to deal on "the square," which means in a strictly honest fashion.  There can be no exceptions to this rule, and every Mason knows it.

Basic Masonic Principles

Freemasonry is essentially a science of symbolism; a system of morality grounded in the belief of a Supreme Being, the greatest of the three great lights of masonry; and its chief objective is the search for truth.  It has the power of cementing Members into a common brotherhood, where trust and commitment are a basic requisite.  Always it includes virtue, fidelity, industry, charity, as well as fraternity.

Contributions to Civilization

Men of the highest eminence, monarchs, patriots, statesmen, dignitaries in religion and educational institutions, and recognized leaders in every movement for the advance of humans, for the progress of civilization have counted it both an honor and a privilege to have a place in Freemasonry and to devote their energies to the promotion and security of the Fraternity.  Membership in Masonry contributed much to the qualifications and proficiencies of their service to humanity and to society.  The far-reachinginfluence of Freemasonry favoring freedom, liberty, justice, and righteousness are exemplified in the U.S. Constitution borrowed in large part from Anderson's Masonic Constitutions of 1723, and which is identical in its structure.


Freemasonry is an "ancient and honorable" institution that existed centuries before the first Grand Lodge in England in 1717.  Documents have been preserved showing that the Craft was widely known as far back as A.D. 926, where there were hundreds of Lodges for some eight centuries prior to the Grand Lodge in England in 1717.  The Rites and Ceremonies, the symbols and tenets of Freemasonry throughout the world today are practically identical with those in the early history of those countries.

Social Character of Masonry

There is perhaps no place in human relations where social qualities and relations are cultivated to a higher degree than in a Masonic lodge.  Here artificial distinctions of rank and wealth, commonly accepted as necessary in society, are laid aside, and the members meet on one common level of brotherhood and equality.  Virtue and talent alone receive recognition, and the object of all is to see who can best work and agree.  Here friendship and affection are earnestly inculcated and assiduously cultivated, and the mystic tie that makes every member a true brother, the perfect husband, the perfect father, is accomplished.

The Honourable Mrs. Aldworth

She is known as the "Lady Freemason," because she received the first two degrees of the Blue Lodge while a young woman.  She was the daughter of Lord Doneraile of Doneraile Court in County of Cork, Ireland, and was married to Richard Aldworth, Esq. in 1713.  By some ruse she observed and heard a Lodge confer these two degrees, and as a final solution of the dilemma, the Lodge conferred upon her these two degrees.

Madame De Xaintrailles

A lady who was initiated into the First Degree of Masonry by a French Lodge, under circumstances which are difficult to justify. She was the wife of a French General, who had donned masculine attire and attained great fame in military service.  Waiting to receive the Adoptive Rite, she was given the unusual honor of receiving the Entered Apprentice Degree in a regular lodge.


A character in an opera written by Mozart, a Freemason, the last year of his life in 1791, The Magic Flute.  Written two years after the French revolution, a time when Masonry was under attack by the Catholic Church.  It required great courage and conviction for Mozart to present a work in which the ideas of equality and fraternity were so clearly expressed, even though disguised in a fairy story, and which depicted Masonry through the 33rd Degree.  Mozart went farther than his Masonic Brothers of that day, and even of today, by extending the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity so as to embrace the whole of humanity, women as well as men.  In The Magic Flute Pamina is admitted to the company of the enlightened on equal terms with Tamino.  Goethe, himself a Freemason, said "That the majority of spectators will enjoy it, the initiated will understand its higher meaning." The opera is full of Masonic symbolism, verbal, visual and musical.  The spoken dialogue is often directly taken from Masonic ceremonies.

Now the truth has been spoken, and you know it,

Russell N. Cassel, Colonel, AF Retired