Woman and Freemasonry

Dudley Wright

Open ye gates, receive the fair who shares
With equal sense our happiness and cares:
Then, charming females, there behold
What massy stores of burnish'd gold,
Yet richer is our art;
Not all the Orient gems that shine,
Nor treasures of rich Ophir's mine,
Excel the Mason's heart
True to the fair, he honours more
Than glitt'ring gems, or brightest ore,
The plighted pledge of love;
To every tie of honour bound,
in love and friendship constant found,
And favoured from above.  

INTRODUCTION

Secret societies have always held a fascination for both sexes, despite the fallacy that women cannot keep a secret. Women, it is claimed by Masonic historians and writers, have always been rigidly excluded from the ranks of Orthodox Masonry both Operative and Speculative, although, as will be seen in the course of the following pages, the barriers have been pierced on more than one occasion.

The first Book of Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of England, published in 1723, expressly stipulated that no woman should be admitted as a member of a Masonic Lodge. In this edition Dr. Anderson stated that

"the learned and magnanimous Queen Elizabeth, who encourag'd other Arts, discourag'd this; because, being a Woman, she could not be made a Mason, tho', as other great Women, she might have much employ'd Masons, like Semiramis and Artemisia."

Dr. Anderson also goes on to say:

"Elizabeth being jealous of any Assemblies of her Subjects, whose Business she was not duly appris'd of, attempted to break up the Annual Communication of Masons, as dangerous to her Government. But as old Masons have transmitted it by Tradition, when the noble Persons her Majesty had commissioned, and brought a sufficient Posse with them at York, on St. John's Day, were once admitted into the Lodge, they made no use of Arms, and returned the Queen a most honourable Account of the ancient Fraternity, whereby her political fears and doubts were dispell'd, and she let them alone, as a People much respected by the Noble and the Wise of all the polite Nations, but neglected the Art all her Reign."

In an edition of the Book of Constitutions, published in 1738, Dr. Anderson gives further particulars of this incident in the following words

"Now Learning of all Sorts revived, and the good old Augustan Style began to peep from under its rubbish. And it would have soon made great progress if the Queen had affected Architecture. But hearing the Masons had certain secrets that could not be reveal'd to her (for that she could not be Grand Master) and being jealous of all Secret Assemblies, she sent an armed force to break up their annual Grand Lodge at York, on St. John's Day, 27th December, 1561. But Sir Thomas Sackville, Grand Master, took care to make some of the chief men sent Free-Masons, who then joining in that Communication, made a very honourable report to the Queen, and she never more attempted to dislodge or distrust them, but esteem'd them as a peculiar sort of men that cultivated peace and friendship, arts and science, without meddling in the affairs of Church and State."

Queen Elizabeth is credited with being the only woman initiated into the Order of Buffaloes.

The pages of history show that in past ages women had their own secret societies. In some instances man was excluded as rigorously as woman is excluded from modern Orthodox Freemasonry. In others, men were admitted on equal, or almost equal, terms with the gentler sex.

The Eleusinian Mysteries were introduced by Eumelpus in 1356 B.C., and were founded in honour of Ceres and Proserpine, and anyone violating the Oath taken on admission and revealing the secrets to the uninitiated was punished with death. The like punishment was meted out to uninitiated intruders at the ceremonies. Into these Mysteries both sexes were eligible for initiation, and there was no age limit.

The Greek festival of the Thesmophoria held in the month of Pyanepsion (October) in honour of the goddess Demeter lasted for five days, and only women were permitted to take part in it. They had to undergo a solemn preparation for the Festival, preparation extending over nine days, during which time they kept apart from their husbands and purified themselves in various ways. The sanctuary, where the Mysteries took place, was at Kalamai. The days were spent in bathing in the sea, the Mysteries being celebrated at night. One of days was spent in fasting, when the women sat on the ground, wearing mourning attire and singing dirges. Swine were also offered in sacrifice the infernal gods. Participation in the Festival was limited strictly to married women who were full citizens.

Gibbon, in his History of Rome, records a female Order in the fourth century. It was customary for the Roman ladies annually to celebrate in the house, either of the Consul or Praetor, certain rites and ceremonies in honour of a goddess. In what the adoration consisted, as no man was ever permitted to be present, or even to be made acquainted with the nature or tendency of the function, it is impossible to say. At the appointed time the vestals came, and so cautious were they as to privacy that the house was carefully searched, all male animals were turned out of doors, and even statues and pictures of men were covered with thick opaque veils. The only attempt made to violate the caution of the Roman matrons at the celebration of this secret ceremony occurred during the Praetorship of Julius Caesar in 692. His third consort, Pompeia, was united to him more from policy than inclination, and notwithstanding the nuptial vow she had taken, she retained an admirer, Clodius, belonging to a noble family in the annals of that republic. Aurelia, the mother of Caesar, discovered the attachment of Pompeia, and to protect the honour of her son, by her vigilance prevented interviews between Pompeia and her lover. At the expiration of the consular year the secret festival was to be performed, as customary, in the house of Caesar, he being the chief magistrate at that time, and to his consort belonged the right of presiding at the ceremony. This was a triumph for Pompeia, who conceived the idea of concealing her favourite in the house and gratifying his oft-expressed wish of witnessing the sacred rites. Clodius, by arrangement, disguised himself in the garb of a female and at night proceeded towards the house of his admirer. A confidential servant who was in the secret whispered to Clodius that it was her mistress's desire that he should secret in her chamber. He repaired thither, but tired of waiting he wandered into an adjacent apartment, when he was accosted. Anxious to avoid conversation, he turned away, but was followed and a demand made for his name and the reason of his presence there. As he refused to give my answer or explanation he was arrested and prosecuted at the public tribunal. The Roman criminal code had definitely affixed the punishment of death for any man to be present at the ceremony, but by reason of his influence in the Senate, the certainty of his not having attained to the most distant knowledge of the Mysteries, and his open avowal that his object was solely that he might be kv6ired with a sight of Pompeia, he was acquitted. Pompeia's indiscretion was punished by Caesar's divorcing her, assigning, as a reason,"that his wife ought to preserve herself from the suspicion as well the guilt of crime."

With regard to the androgynous societies, L' Abbe Clavel, in his History of Freemasonry and Similar Societies, Ancient and Modern, published in 1842, says that:

"Freemasons embraced these Societies with enthusiasm as a practical means of giving to their wives and daughters some share of the pleasures which they themselves enjoyed in their mystical assemblies. And this, at least, may be said of them that they practised with commendable fidelity and diligence, the greatest of the Masonic virtues, and that the banquets and balls which always formed an important part of their ceremonial were distinguished by numerous acts of charity."

Androgynous Masonry included certain Degrees, among which may be mentioned the "Heroine of Jericho," which appears to be the most ancient, for which only the wives and daughters of Royal Arch Masons were eligible; the "Ark and Dove,"The Mason's Daughter,"The Good Samaritan,"The Maids of Jerusalem," and "he Mason's Wife,"all of which Degrees were conferred only on the wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers of Freemasons These were practised mainly in the United States of America, and their description does not enter within the scope of the present volume. It may also be mentioned that there is presumptive evidence that in days gone by women were admitted into the Order of Knights Templar.

The question as to whether or not women should be admitted into the ranks of Orthodox Freemasonry cannot here be discussed. As the author is proud to claim membership of Lodges within the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of England, any discussion on this point would be unbecoming.

In this connection, however, it may be permissible to draw attention to an article bearing on this subject which appeared in the Daily Telegraph of 14th April, 1920, in the course of which the writer said:

"One more masculine stronghold has, we are informed, fallen to the monstrous regiment of women. The Grand Lodge of French Freemasons has declared itself in favour of the admission of women to the craft. It is, of course, true that a female Freemason would not be a creature absolutely without precedent. There is respectable evidence for the initiation of a woman in that century momentous in the fortunes of Masonry - the eighteenth.

Misogynists may derive what comfort they please from the fact that the traditional woman Freemason was initiated, if anywhere, in Ireland. They can undoubtedly contend that to open the fraternity to women would be a revolutionary change of policy. That the decision of French Freemasons will have much influence on the craft in England is not probable. In France membership has been associated with religious and political opinions which are either antagonistic or irrelevant to the principles of English Freemasonry. The fact, indeed, makes the proposal to admit women gore remarkable, for hitherto women have nowhere given much support to anti-clerical or anti-theistic parties. Whether it portends a new orientation of the Grand Orient we will not now inquire. It would be impertinent to offer any advice to our Freemasons on a question of the constitution of their own fraternity. The most enthusiastic feminist may be content to admit that there is justification for the existence of societies confined to one sex. Such organisations have existed from the dawn of time, and women have eagerly maintained the exclusiveness of their own. But only an obscurantist would argue that the secrets of any fraternity are endangered by the admission of women. A social system which continually increases the number of women secretaries is sufficient evidence of the folly of that ancient libel.

The splendid works of charity which are the glory of English Freemasonry may suggest that ' women would be well fitted for membership of the craft. It might be argued, on the other hand, that a society composed of both sexes, however valuable, however s pleasant, would inevitably lose some of the valued qualities of a male fraternity. Just as affectionate and devoted wives have been known to thank Providence ' for the existence of their husbands' clubs, we suspect that many women would prefer the men of their families to enjoy the delights of the Masonic Lodge alone."

Though shut from our Lodges by ancient decree,
In spite of our laws, here woman has part;
For each Mason, I'm sure, will tell you with me,
Her form is enshrined and reigns in our heart.

'Twas wisely ordained by our Order of old
To fasten the door, which entrance denies;
For once in our Lodge she would rule uncontrolled,
And govern the Craft by the light of her eyes.  

CHAPTER I — ADOPTIVE MASONRY

The origin of Adoptive Masonry is placed generally in the seventeenth century, and its author is named as the widow of Charles I of England, daughter of Henry IV, and sister of Louis XIII of France. After the death of Charles I she is said to have been proclaimed "the protectress of the children of the widow," Freemasons in those days being known as "the children of the widow." She is said to have formed a society of women, to whom she communicated certain signs and passwords.

In 1712, in Russia, Catherine the Czarina obtained from Peter the Great permission to found the Order of St. Catherine, an Order of Knighthood for women only, of which she was proclaimed Grand Mistress. This was a quasi-Masonic body.

In the eighteenth century there were four Grand Mistresses of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, which was an emanation of early Masonry. They were the Princess of Rochelle in Italy, the Countess of Maille and the Princess de Latour in France; and the Duchess of Wisembourg in Germany.

The Chevalier Cesar Moreau states positively that Adoptive Masonry is of French origin.

"What other people," he says,"could have raised this beautiful monument of national gallantry to a sex who, in the East, are subjected to the most humiliating dependence; who, in Spain, are guarded in living sepulchres, namely, the convents; while, in Italy, this admirable half of humanity is in the same position; and, in Russia, the husband receives from the father-in-law, with his wife, the right to flog her at his pleasure? The French know too well how to appreciate the numberless merits of this charming sex to allow themselves to be influenced by any other nation in the happiness of proving to women that they are at all times their idols, from youth to age."

Clavel has recorded a curious anecdote respecting the origin of Female Freemasonry, which Dr. George Oliver finds it difficult to credit. He says that in the year 1741, a burgomaster of Holland having heard of some grotesque exhibition, which professed to be an exposition of Masonic secrets, caused himself to be proposed for admission that he might judge of the correctness of what he had seen; and that he secretly placed his daughter at a window to be a witness of his initiation. The plan succeeded and led to the establishment of Female Freemasonry.

In 1771 the Order of Perseverance was established at Paris by several nobles and ladies. It had little of the Masonic character about it, and although, at the time of its creation, it excited considerable sensation, it existed but for a brief period. It was instituted for the purpose of rendering services to humanity. Ragon says that there was kept in the archives of the Order a quarto volume of four hundred leaves, in which were registered all the good deeds of the brethren and sisters, and he claimed that the document remained in existence at his time. Thory says that there was much mystification about the establishment of the Order in Paris. Its institutors contended that it originated from time immemorial in Poland, a pretension to which the King of Poland lent his sanction. Many persons of distinction, and among them Madame de Genlis, were received and became its members.

The real date of the establishment of Adoptive Masonry in France, however, may be placed as 1775, when, according to M. Boubée, who is sometimes called the "Father of French Masonry," the French ladies, not wishing to remain indifferent to the good done by Freemasons, sought to form Lodges of Adoption, so as the more efficaciously to exercise charity and goodness.

At first the Grand Orient of France did not sympathise with the formation of these Lodges of Adoption, and for some time withheld its sanction, but eventually consented to take the oversight on the express condition that each meeting should be presided over by the Master of a regular Masonic Lodge. Immediately several ladies of distinction became active members and propagators, among the number being the Duchess of Chartres, the Duchess of Bourbon, the Princess Lambelle, the Countess of Polignac, the Countess of ChoiseulGouffier, and the Marchioness of Coutebonne.

On the 11th March, 1775, the Marquis de Saisseval, assisted by several distinguished Brethren, formed the Lodge of Candour under the Constitution of the Grand Orient of France. Fourteen days afterwards — on 25th March, 1775 — this Lodge gave a fete d'adoption, when the Duchess of Chartres, wife of the Grand Master of the Grand Orient, was present. There was also present the Duchess of Bourbon, who then consented to accept the position of Grand Mistress of Adoptive Masonry. Her installation took place on the following day, in the Lodge of St. Anthony in Paris, when the Duke of Chartres presided in his capacity as Grand Master.  Nearly a thousand persons, the elite of French society, are said to have assisted at this function. In 1801 Adoptive Masonry established itself in Holland, where it reigned until 10th June, 1810, when it was peremptorily inhibited.

The Adoptive Rite consisted of four Degrees — Apprentice, Companion, Mistress, and Perfect Mistress. The first Degree was purely symbolical and introductory, intended rather to improve the mind than to convey any definite idea of the institution. The second Degree depicted the scene of the temptation in Eden, and the Companion was reminded in a lecture of the penalty incurred by the Fall. The third Degree alluded to the Tower of Babel and the confusion of tongues as a symbol of a badly regulated Lodge, while Jacob's Ladder was introduced as a moral lesson of order and harmony. The fourth Degree, that of Perfect Mistress, represented Moses and Aaron, their wives, and the sons Aaron. The ceremonies referred to the passage the Red Sea by the Israelites, and the Degree said to symbolise the passage of men from the world of change and discord to a pure land of rest and peace.

The officers of a Lodge of Adoption consisted of Grand Master, Grand Mistress, Orator, Inspector, Inspectress, Depositor, Depositrix, Conductor, and Conductress. The sash and collar were blue, with a gold trowel suspended. The principal officers were provided with gavels or mallets, and each member was attired in a plain white apron and white gloves. The Brethren, as distinct from the Sisters, wore, in addition to the ordinary regalia, each a sword and a gold ladder of five rounds, this latter being the jewel of Adoptive Masonry. The business of each Lodge was conducted by the Sisters, the Brethren being looked upon as assistants only. Different descriptive hangings were provided for the various Degrees. In the first Degree, four curtains divided the room into four sections. The west represented Europe; the east, Asia; the south, Africa; and the north, America. Two thrones were erected in the east for the Grand Master and the Grand Mistress; before them was placed an altar, while to their right and left were placed eight statues representing Wisdom, Prudence, Strength, Temperance, Honour, Charity, justice, and Truth. The members sat in two rows, to right and left, at right angles to the two presiding officers — the Brethren, armed with their swords, in the back rows, and the Sisters in the front rows.

The Adoptive Lodges found many opportunities for the practice of beneficence, in which, particularly, they excelled. The records of the Adoptive Lodge of Candour show that frequently collections were made for the poor and distressed. In 1777, the Duchess of Bourbon presided at a meeting of this Lodge when there was a collection for a brave soldier of the Anjou regiment who had thrown himself into the frozen Rhone and rescued two drowning children. In 1779, through the agency of members of this Lodge, a poor nobleman, without profession or resources, obtained from the King a pension and a lieutenancy. This Lodge was disbanded in 1780, in consequence of Court movements. The Quadruple Lodge of the Nine Sisters was another prominent Adoptive Lodge, which held several fetes for philanthropic purposes. In 1780 a Lodge of Adoption was formed by the Lodge Social Contract to celebrate the convalescence of the Grand Master, the Duke of Chartres. This Lodge had for its first Master the Abbe Bertolio, who was assisted by the Princess Lamballe as Grand Mistress. Among the initiates of this Lodge were the Viscountess of Alfrey, the Viscountess of Narbonne and the Countess of Maille. In common with many others this Lodge was broken up by the Revolution.

Adoptive Masonry was seized by the comprehensive mind of the first Napoleon as a means to consolidate his power, and it rose into favour again on the re-establishment of the Empire. In 1805, the unfortunate Empress Josephine was installed Grand Mistress of the Loge Imperiale d'Adoption des Francs Chevaliers at Strasbourg, when she initiated one of her ladies of honour, Madame F. de Canisy. M. Boubée says that at no period in the history of Adoptive Masonry was there so brilliant a gathering. It was the first occasion on which French Masonry had been honoured with the presence of a sovereign.

The Rev. Dr. George Oliver, in his Revelations of a Square, gives an interesting account of a visit he paid to a Lodge of Adoption in Paris in 1808:

"The ceremonies are conducted with the utmost decorum. We are, of course, totally ignorant of the dark room, as none but females are admitted to that penetralia, and the preparations are conducted only by females; but when they are completed, and the trials come on, the Novice is conducted through the process by a lady and gentleman together.

"On this special occasion it was thought that the Candidate did not possess sufficient fortitude to endure the trials, and she was warned that if she had any doubts as to her power of endurance she had the opportunity of withdrawing. However, she indicated that she was quite willing to proceed, and she was accordingly conducted through the usual trials of fortitude and endured them with the courage of a martyr, and even at last, when placed on the summit of the symbolic mountain, and told she must cast herself down thence into the abyss below, where she saw a double row of bright steel spikes, long and sharp. They were real, substantial spikes, and she would have been killed if impaled thereon.

"The word was given to throw herself down, and with a suppressed shriek she made the required plunge. So unexpectedly sudden was her obedience that the guide, who had charge of the machinery, was scarcely allowed time to touch the spring before she fell recumbent at the bottom of the abyss. The machinery is so contrived that at the very moment when the final leap is made the scene changes to an Elysium of green fields and shady trees, bubbling fountains and purling streams, and beneath the velvet herbage is placed a bed of the softest down, to receive the fair body of the exhausted Novice as she falls. In the present instance the lady fainted, and lay for a time without motion, but was soon restored and tranquillised by the application of essences and perfumes, and the soft and soothing influence of delicious music.

"Being afterwards introduced into the Lodge, her constancy was rewarded by witnessing and forming a part of the most beautiful and captivating scenes I ever beheld."

Adoptive Masonry found its way into Italy, and the following description of an initiation ceremony appeared in an Italian paper, Correspondence, published in Rome, in 1862

"In a room hung with black was raised a table covered with black cloth; on the table was a skull and above it was a lamp, which shed a funereal light. Eight personages: a Worshipful Grand Master, a Worshipful Grand Mistress, a Brother Orator dressed as a Capuchin, a Brother Inspector, a Sister Inspectress, Brother and Sister Deacons, and a Sister Guarder. These dignitaries wore on their breasts each a wide violet ribbon, to which was suspended a little gold trowel. The Grand Master held a hammer which served as his sceptre and marched at the side of the Grand Mistress.

The Brethren and Sisters all wore the regulation apron and white gloves. A Candidate was about to be initiated. The Grand Master clapped his hands five times and asked one of the officers: 'What are the duties of a Masonic aspirant? ' The answer was given: 'Obedience, labour, silence.' The Brother Orator then took the Candidate by the hand and conducted her to the dark room, when, having bandaged her eyes, he read her a homily on virtue and charity. When the bandage was removed she found herself surrounded by the Brethren in a circle, their swords meeting above her head. After another homily, pronounced by the Grand Master, he asked her if she had well reflected before entering a Society which was unknown to her, and then the proselyte took the oath or obligation, as follows:

"I swear and promise faithfully to keep in my heart all the secrets of Freemasonry and engage to do so under the penalty of being cut in pieces by the sword of the avenging angel.' The Grand Master then explained to her the signs and gave her the password of the Order. Then, taking the initiate by the hand, he gave her, in a respectful manner, the five kisses of peace, and handed to her an apron and a pair of gloves."

In 1736, Pope Clement XII launched his famous Bull against the Freemasons, and the people, becoming alarmed, formed another Society on similar lines, but one which would not subject them to the thunders of the Vatican. This Society was known as the Mopses and, according to most writers, it did not become an androgynous Order until 1776, but, in 1745, a work was published at Amsterdam entitled, Le Secret de la Societe des Mopses, which had as frontispiece a plate depicting the reception into the Order of a female, while another female sat in the supreme chair. The Lodge-room was in the form of a square, or, 'rather, a lozenge, seeing that the cardinal points were at the angles. During the ceremonies the Brethren and Sisters stood in a circle, intersecting the lozenge at each angle, so as to leave the officers of the Lodge without the circumference. There were four great Lights, disposed at the angles. The Master, or Grand Mopse, was placed in a great chair, or throne, before a table in the east, and the two wardens were stationed in the west. In the centre of the Lodge was a Mopse, or the figure of a mastiff, with its head towards the east. On the pictorial design of the Order were two emblems of friendship, viz. two hands joined in fellowship; and a hand holding an open purse, from which another hand was extracting the contents. An altar was placed in front of the Wardens, on which was inscribed a heart within an oval, incense being kept burning upon the altar; on each side of the altar was a hand, as if grasping the altar in love. Females were admitted to all offices within the Order, with the exception of the Grand Mastership, which was held for life by a male. Subordinate to him were the two Grand Mopses, the one a male, the other a female, each governing the Order for six months in alternate succession. The Order grew and flourished, and by the admission of women they evaded the terms of the papal denunciation. The heads of the Germanic Union countenanced the Order and extended their patronage to the scheme, and at Frankfort the Lodges were composed of persons of rank of both sexes.

In 1805 the androgynous Lodge of Free Knights and Ladies of Paris held high festival at Strasburg. Lady Dietrick officiated as Grand Mistress, assisted by the Empress Josephine. Two years later the Lodge of St. Caroline held a festival in Paris, which was celebrated with great magnificence under the presidency of the Duchess of Vaudemont. The Prince Cambaceres, then Grand Master, was present, together with many of the nobility, both male and female, including the Princess de Carignan; the Countesses de Giraudin, de Roucherolles, de Laborde, de Bondy, etc.

CHAPTER II — THE FENDEURS

The Order of Fendeurs, or Forest Masons, possessed legends claiming a high antiquity. One professed to trace the Order back to the time of Alexander the Great, which was the ground for the introduction of a Degree called the "Knight of Thebes." The Fendeurs were, in all probability, a branch of the Carbonari, or Charcoal Burners, a political league which made its appearance in the twelfth century.

There was a revival in 1747 by the Chevalier Beauchaine, when the Order became so popular that ladies and gentlemen of the highest distinction and rank considered it an honour to be permitted to join it. It had a successful career until the restoration of the monarchy, when it was disbanded.

The Chantier, or Lodge, was held in the daytime. In summer it was held in a broad garden walk, adorned with trees, and in the winter in a large room adorned with branches of trees, or hangings representing a forest and the various occupations of the Fendeurs. When the sun set on their labours, they lighted a moving transparency of the sun in the east and a number of coloured lamps concealed in the branches.

The seat for the Master, or Père Maître, as he was called, was placed in the east, and was a great block of wood, called the Block of Honour. In front of it was placed a log of oak, with a woodcutter's axe and two wedges, one of iron and one of wood. To the right was a large tree stump, on which were placed the Constitutions of the Order, a stone cup, and a small black loaf for every Candidate for initiation, together with an envelope containing five sous, a pair of white gloves, a russet-coloured sash edged with green, a small gilt axe on a ribbon, a box whistle on a rosette, and a carpenter's apron. Behind the Master's seat was placed a holly bush.

To the north were placed as many blocks as there were candidates, a crown of oak leaves being placed on each block.

In the south and north were arranged in the form of a circle as many faggots as there were Fendeurs present, while bundles of wood and beds of leaves or turf were also carelessly arranged.

Two blocks of oak, before each of which was placed a large log, were in the west. Beside each log was placed a wooden axe with a long handle, as well as two wedges, one of iron and one of wood. In the centre of the Chantier were placed a number of saws, axes, wedges, with chips, branches, and leaves.

At one time, says Ragon, in his Manuel complet de la Mafonnerie d'Adoption ou Maconnerie des Dames, four huts were erected towards the east.

The hut to the right of the Master was made with three poles stretched apart, and held one to another by hoops. At the point of junction was a little vessel of water. It was furnished with straw mats and became the but of Cousin Hermit, dressed as a monk. He had for seat a stool, and in front a block on which was a stone money-box and a book of meditations. In front of the block and underneath the water was a cushion for the Candidate to hear on his knees the exhortation of the Hermit. To give proof of his charitable disposition he was told to put the five sous, which had been given him, into the money-box. Holding the cord leading to the bucket, Cousin Hermit said: "Be washed and purged from all the filth which accompanies the Briquet and may the protecting virtue of the Fendeurs be your guide and safeguard," and at the same time he upset the water over the Candidate.

The second but belonged to Cousin, Winedresser. It was made of leaves and well covered in. At the top projected a stick which was covered with a cabbage as a sign. Inside were two tressels and a barrel of wine for the refreshment of the Cousin by order of the Master. The honour of occupancy of the third but was reserved for the most frivolous member of the company, who took the name of Mère Cateau and the costume of a woman, with a peasant woman's mob-cap, a jacket, a red or blue petticoat, a fichu, a white apron, and a great golden cross and heart. Near to it was a wooden stool, a bucket full of water, a board crossed over it, some linen in s[MISSING]


Note: An extended version of Bro. Wright's study of Woman and Freemasonry, with excerpts from the Adoptive Ritual, is available in The Builder Magazine Vol. 6 No. 8.