GOUSA - Recent News

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Masonic Light is Getting Brighter in Mobile

After a slow start our Triangle is picking up steam and starting to get noticed by even some of the hardcore mainstream and Prince Hall Masons in Mobile.

Brothers are beginning to ask questions as to what this is all about. Many have never heard of any type of Freemasonry outside of the Grand Lodge of Alabama and are curious as to what this means to their involvement in their local mainstream and Prince Hall lodges.

We want to address some of the more common questions we have received in an effort to help you understand what becoming a member of Regulus Lodge and the Grand Orient of the USA means.

1. Can you explain what the Grand Orient USA is?

Yes, the Grand Orient USA, commonly referred to as GOUSA, is very similar to the Grand Lodge you are used to in theory but has differences. GOUSA operates in amity with many Masonic obediences around the world and in the US.

2. Why do you call your lodge a Triangle?

A "Triangle" is simply a lodge that is forming. It takes 7 Masons (all do not have to be Masters) to form a "lodge". The primary reason for this is the conferring of degrees and since Regulus is new it is still in the process of obtaining the required 7 Masons. We are very close to obtaining the required members as of this post to making that a reality though.

3. Is Regulus Lodge recognized by the Grand Lodge of Alabama?

No, this highlights one of the primary differences between GOUSA lodges and mainstream AF&AM lodges like the Grand Lodge of Alabama. The Grand Lodge of Alabama is what is considered an Anglo-American Masonic Lodge and as such is a "closed" system, which means they only recognize themselves as "regular". Grand Orient lodges are members of the "open" Masonic system used by almost every other Masonic obedience around the world. This means they recognize many obediences including co-masonic lodges, Prince Hall, etc.

4. What are the requirements for petitioning Regulus?

This is where you will see the second biggest difference between the two systems. Petitioning a Grand Orient lodge is not for the faint of heart, they guard the West Gate very carefully. Here is a short list of common petitioning requirements:
  • Must be 21 years of age or older
  • Have read the preparatory reading materials
  • Have submitted a letter stating why you seek admission into the order
  • Have submitted a Petition for acceptance
  • Have interviewed with three brothers of the order
  • Have submitted an essay discussing the importance of brotherhood and virtue
  • Must be able to commit to regular participation in the order
If this short list does not scare you then by all means send an email to reguluslodge [at] gmail.com

5. Do I have to demit from the Grand Lodge of Alabama first?

No, remember the Grand Orient system is an "open" system which recognizes all Masonic obediences as regular.

If you have additional questions please do not hesitate to contact Regulus.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Grand Orient USA "The Beginning"

Grand Orient USA Galaxy What is today the Grand Orient of the United States of America began on December 27th, 2005. Several lodges declared their independence from the Anglo-American Masonic system and formed a confederation of sovereign lodges under the banner of "United Grand Lodge of America". In so doing, they sought to restore the original Free-Masonry practiced by the founding fathers to the American continent, and return to the traditional Enlightenment and cosmopolitan ideals expressed in the earlier Masonic lodges. This event allowed the original streams of Masonic thought still existing in Europe to once again flow freely into American lodges.

In November of 2007, several more lodges declared their independence from the Anglo-American Masonic system and the Council of the Order was convened to formalize our relationship with our brethren in France and throughout Europe. The Council voted unanimously to change the name of the United Grand Lodge of America to the Grand Orient of the United States of America to better, and more precisely, identify it with the existing currents of 'Modern' Free-Masonry throughout the world.

On June 27th, 2008 the Grand Orients of France and the United States signed a Treaty of Amity fully recognizing one another as sovereign Masonic powers.

The Grand Orient of the United States of America is a masculine Masonic fraternity that works together with mixed-gender and female Masonic organizations throughout the United States and Europe. Together, these systems represent the most progressive form of Free-Masonry in America where all people regardless of race, creed, or gender can meet together as equals.

Our aim is the brotherhood of all humanity through a universal chain of union extending around the globe. If you are already with us in spirit then you are welcome to join with us in Masonic lodges throughout the world.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Freemasonry & The Age of Enlightenment

Freemason, Masonic, Grand Lodge, Grand Orient USA

A small, but influential group of philosophers, scholars, and writers promoted after 1685 the cultural movement of the Enlightenment, the critical spirit which sought to apply the reasoning and experience so fruitful in the natural sciences to understanding humans as individuals and in society. This critique of religious traditions and philosophical authority became the most important component of modern European secular (as contrasted to religious) culture. Indeed, Enlightenment political ideals of human rights, the economic philosophies of liberalism, and cultural practices of tolerance have triumphed in spectacular fashion in the twentieth century.

Contemporaries who were religious or frightened by the French Revolution already in the eighteenth century condemned the Enlightenment as morally chaotic and politically subversive. Marxists brushed it off as "bourgeois ideology." In the last twenty years, many historians and philosophers have launched a full-scale attack on the Enlightenment from a "post-modernist" perspective. They have condemned it for its Euro-centrism and universalism in a world where the European model is no longer unquestioningly accepted, for its naive belief in progress, and most damagingly, for its steadfast belief in universal foundations of truth and in the universal reliability of scientific method.

As we enter into the 21st century Freemasonry stands alone as the last bastion of hope against the darkness imposed upon mankind by the Post Modernists. It continues to point the way to a higher and more enlightened existence for all people through virtue, knowledge and tolerance.

In 1660 the largely Masonic "Invisible College" gained the verbal support of the King, and Sir Robert Moray became its president. Two years later the King sealed its charter and it became the Royal Society, the first modern scientific think tank. The motto of the society was "Nullius in verba" which is translated as "Nothing by mere authority". Thus began the Age of Enlightenment, which opened the way to our scientific and technical advances.

The philosopher and member of the Royal Society, John Locke, in his 1690s Letters Concerning Toleration, laid the foundations of law which now protect freedom of thought. Locke argued for the separation of religious authority from civil authority, so that a person's religious persuasion could not be held against them in court. This is now considered a fundamental human right. Much of Locke's philosophy influenced and was influenced by Freemasonry and the Royal Society.

The French Freemason and philosopher, Voltaire, espoused Locke's work and Masonic ideas in Europe in the early 1700s. Later, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, would clearly define the aims of the movement.

The age of Enlightenment was humanitarian as well as cosmopolitan; enlightened despots promoted social reform, and movements such as Freemasonry, built on humanitarian ideal of a universal brotherhood, spread rapidly throughout Europe and numbered among its adherents kings, poets and composers.

The pursuit of learning and love of art became more widespread, particularly among the expanding middle class. This made demands on writers and artists that affected both subject matter and presentation. Philosophy, science, literature, and the fine arts began to address a general public beyond the experts and connoisseurs. Novelists and playwrights began to depict everyday people with everyday emotions. This had far-reaching effects in the world of Freemasonry.

In Living the Enlightenment, Margaret C. Jacob (Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles) argues that the hundreds of Masonic lodges founded in eighteenth-century Europe were among the most important enclaves in which modern civil society was formed, creating in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Britain new forms of self-government in microcosm, complete with constitutions and laws, elections, and representatives.

Some of the greatest names of the American Revolution were Masons: Ethan Alien, Edmund Burke, John Claypoole, William Daws, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, John Paul Jones, Robert Livingston, Paul Revere, Colonel Benjamin Tupper, and George Washington. Of the 56 signers of The Declaration of Independence, eight were known Masons and seven others exhibited strong evidence of Masonic membership. Of the forty signers of the Constitution, nine were known Masons, 13 exhibited evidence of Masonic membership, and six more later became Masons.

There were many other Masonic influences in early American history: (1) Lafayette, the French liaison to the Colonies, without whose aid the war could not have been won, was a Freemason; (2) the majority of the commanders of the Continental Army were Freemasons and members of "Army Lodges"; (3) most of George Washington's generals were Freemasons; the Boston Tea Party was planned at the Green Dragon Tavern, also known as the "Freemasons' Arms" and "the Headquarters of the Revolution"; (4) George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States by Robert Livingston, Grand Master of New York's Masonic lodge, and the Bible on which he took his oath was from his own Masonic lodge; and (5) the Cornerstone of the Capital Building was laid by the Grand Lodge of Maryland.

On 8 December 1730, Benjamin Franklin printed in his newspaper, The Pennsylvania Gazette, the first documented notice about Freemasonry in North America. Franklin's article, which consisted of a general account of Freemasonry, was prefaced by the statement that 'there are several Lodges of FREE MASONS erected in this Province'... Franklin himself became a Freemason in February 1731, and Provincial Grand Master of Pennsylvania in 1734. That same year, he ushered into print the first Freemasonic book to be published in America, an edition of Anderson's Constitutions.

On September 1, 1752, a new lodge of Masons held its first meeting in Fredericksburg and soon attracted members. Under Daniel Campbell as Master, a class of five was initiated on November 4. George Washington, one of this group, paid his initiation fee of £23s. as an Entered Apprentice. Later, Washington would comment to King David Lodge in Newport, Rhode Island, "Being persuaded that a just application of the principles on which the Masonic Fraternity is founded must be promotive of private virtue and public prosperity, I shall always be happy to advance the interest of the Society and to be considered by them as a Brother."

Traditional Cosmopolitan Freemasons are a continuation of the ideals and philosophy of the great minds of the Age of Enlightenment. The Grand Orient of the United States of America continues in their footsteps, keeping alive the Masonic ideal of a Universal Brotherhood of all humanity.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Grand Orient USA Facts & Fiction

There are many facts and fictions floating around the Internet regarding the new Grand Orient of the United States. Unfortunately, some brothers are simply striking out in fear against the new Masonic body because of what they read somewhere on the Internet. Others are simply speculating and drawing wild conclusions based on bits and pieces of information. I thought it would be helpful to provide some factual answers to the many questions being asked.

The Grand Orient of the United States is a part of the Traditional Cosmopolitan Masonic movement that began in Europe in the eighteenth century. It shares many things in common with Anglo-American Freemasonry but there are also significant differences between the two. Both forms of Freemasonry evolved out of the speculative Masonic movement that began in London, England in 1717.

Many Masons want to argue over which system mostly closely represents the original Freemasonry established in 1717. The answer to this question has eluded historians for almost two centuries because there is so little evidence available. Good arguments can be made for both sides but neither possesses enough evidence to convince modern university historians.

Others want to argue about whose Masonry is best. I think a better question to ask might be “which Masonry is best for whom?” It’s a similar case with Democrats and Republicans; people tend to side with the party that bests reflects their own ideas of what’s best. Unfortunately, American Masons haven’t had an alternative masculine Masonic obedience up until now.

The primary differences between Traditional Cosmopolitan and Anglo-American Freemasonry can best be summed-up in their perspective of the institution of Freemasonry itself. The Anglo-American Masons view Freemasonry as a religiously oriented fraternity dedicated to brotherly love, relief and truth. The Anglo-American Mason Albert Pike once stated that it was “the handmaid of religion.” The Traditional Cosmopolitan Masons perceive Freemasonry as a secular but spiritual fraternity dedicated to the Enlightenment principles of human liberty and equality resulting in the universal brotherhood of all mankind. This is expressed in their motto: “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.”

The oaths and obligation of the two groups are quite different as well. The Anglo-American tradition is to swear allegiance to the Grand Lodge and agree to its various rules. The Traditional Cosmopolitans are obligated to preserve human liberty and equality while striving for the universal brotherhood of mankind.

There are organizational differences between the two groups as well. The Anglo-American system is based on the election of a benevolent dictator (the Grand Master) who oversees the Craft for a specific term. The Lodges are represented at the annual meeting of the Grand Lodge and pass laws for the benefit of the Craft.

The Traditional Cosmopolitan system is governed by an Executive Board consisting of the Grand Officers. The Grand Master is the Chairman of the Board but cannot act without consensus of the Board. The Executive Board is elected by the Lodges to serve for specific terms (usually 1 or 2 years). The Lodges convene once a year to pass laws for the benefit of the Craft. There is also a “Supreme Court” in the Traditional Cosmopolitan system that has the power to pass judgments on Constitutional issues and to hear appeals related to Masonic trials.

Ritual-wise the Anglo-American system in America primarily utilizes various forms of the Preston-Webb ritual with a small number of lodges (less than 20) that utilize various forms of the Scottish Rite. The Traditional Cosmopolitan system practices a wide variety of rituals including the Modern Rite, Scottish Rite, and Emulation, just to name a few. All are held to together by an agreed upon universal recognition system.

The Anglo-American Masonic system is engaged in various charities and community projects. The Traditional Cosmopolitan system is engaged in human rights, environmental sustainability, scientific advancement, and issues that relate to freedom of speech and the press.

In regards to Masonic education the Anglo-American system utilizes a system of Research Lodges and their publications. In the Traditional Cosmopolitan system each lodge is a “research lodge” and all members are required to write both proficiency and research papers as a condition of membership.

The Anglo-American system does not recognize women as legitimate Freemasons. The Traditional Cosmopolitan system recognizes women as legitimate Freemasons and is divided into three distinct groupings: Masculine, Mixed-Gender, and Feminine. Each group is represented by its own Grand body and all are recognized and in amity with one another.

Thus far I have tried to cover the differences between the two systems to foster a better understanding of the differences between the two systems. Now, I would like to focus specifically on the Grand Orient of the United States.

The Grand Orient of the United States was started by progressive Anglo-American Masons that had many ideological and moral objections to the Anglo-American Masonic institution. They found themselves more ideologically and philosophically aligned with the Traditional Cosmopolitan system of the Grand Orient of France. After forming a new Grand Orient they approached the Grand Orient of France for recognition and a treaty of amity. This was granted on June 27, 2008, and the Grand Orient of France gave them Patents for the various Rites and degrees of Traditional Cosmopolitan Freemasonry.

The Grand Orients of France and the United States are masculine Masonic obediences that initiate men into Freemasonry, but their lodges are open to both men and women from both mixed-gender and feminine lodges. This is a reflection not only of their progressive nature, but of their commitment to equality among all human beings. It also recognizes the need for people to be able to form groups (lodges) based on their own social needs.

The Grand Orient of the United States is still in its infancy and is a small organization when compared with its Anglo-American counterparts, but it is becoming actively engaged in the community and the world. Its members are discovering ways by which they can contribute to the betterment of humanity around the globe. Some examples of this include participating in the BOINC computer sharing project sponsored by the university at Berkeley and the National Science Foundation, along with support for NOVA, Amnesty International, the Nature Conservancy, and LinkTV. These organizations reflect the ideology and philosophy of the Grand Orient, and were selected by its lodges.

Obviously the new organization won’t be contributing a million dollars to any of these organizations this year, but these organizations need the help and support of people who believe in what they are trying to accomplish. By helping them the Grand Orient furthers the cause of Universal Masonry.

Some have accused the Grand Orient of being overly secular or atheistic. This simply isn’t true. While every member is afforded absolute freedom of conscience as it relates to religious and spiritual matters, this is not indicative of the promotion of atheism. The Grand Orient is open to men regardless of their beliefs about god and religion so long as they are good moral men. It focuses on the character of the man, not his personal beliefs. The vast majority of Grand Orient Masons are religious men but they exercise tolerance in not judging the beliefs of others.

In conclusion, American Masons now have the ability to choose a form of Freemasonry that most closely indentifies with their own personal values. Both systems were born out of the same speculative Freemasonry than began in 1717, and both seek to better the individual as well as society. Neither system is perfect nor will it ever be, but both strive for perfection. The future of American Masonry will be built through diversity, tolerance and understanding. It is much like America itself with a growing diversity of cultures and people all working together to form one great union.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cosmopolitan Free-masonry Comes To Mobile

Mobile Alabama is growing in more way than one. Over the past few years Mobile has seen a tremendous growth spurt because of many seaport endeavors moving here after their access was destroyed in other locations by the Hurricanes. The health care industry is growing as many of the "Baby Boomer" generation, who retired here, are beginning to need more medical services. Let's not forget the prettiest "white" sand beaches anywhere in the world.

But, what sets Mobile apart from many of the other cities today is the emergence of a little known fraternity, cosmopolitan Free-masonry. For those not aware of the history of cosmopolitan Free-masonry, we suggest you do a search on it. It differs in many ways, and similar at the same time to what most Americans understand Freemasonry to be. One of the largest differences is the lack of discrimination between the races, as cosmopolitan Free-masonry does not dictate which lodge you can join, solely based on the color of your skin. While it still is a male only organization it further differentiates itself from classical Freemasonry by recognizing female masons from other obediences as "Brothers".

Don't get the wrong impression though this is NOT your fathers Freemasonry, it is your Great Great Great Great Grandfathers Freemasonry. The rigors of initiation are long and the background checks are extensive and all encompassing. For the new candidate there is required study material that you must first overcome, followed by convincing the other Master Masons of your knowledge in written form. If you make it this far the rest of the process just gets harder as you must also convince the other Master Masons you truly belong among the elite few who have what it takes to make real change.
Regulus Lodge (Traingle) is located in Mobile, Alabama and a member of the Grand Orient USA. For more information on how you can become a member email: reguluslodge [at] gmail.com.