A month ago, I had dinner in San Francisco with the master of the Santa Cruz co-masonic lodge and her husband (also a member). I was feeling out what they are doing and trying to get a sense of co-masonry. I’ve now gone through the traditional three “blue lodge” degrees in masonry (almost a year ago now) and have been considering whether to continue in it or not. I enjoy the ritual and the principles of Freemasonry but it is clearly dying. I’m not sure if I want to fight that uphill battle, especially when the existing masons, largely senior citizens, often want to fight any of the changes that would change masonry tooth and nail.
In contrast, Co-masonry (which allows both men and women to be masons together) is a growing concern. They are opening new lodges in places and generally seem very intent on the degrees and the principles behind them. They also work the entire range of degrees (derived from the Scottish Rite) within one organizational system. The general tone, from what I can tell from having spoken to quite a few of them online, seems higher and more involved. They are also generally much younger.
This Sunday, the Santa Cruz lodge is having a semi-open event and I was invited to attend. So I’ll be driving down there Sunday morning to spend the afternoon with them. I have an application so it is a matter of making a decision about what I want to do. If I did join, I would formally resign from mainstream masonry and I would never discuss its details, ritual or otherwise, with co-masons or others. I believe this is in keeping with the oaths that I took. Crossing the streams would be bad…
Some might ask why I even care, as someone who is primarily focused on Buddhist practice, but I do enjoy masonry, the heritage associated with it, and its ritual work. I also enjoy, frankly, fraternity. I used to be an Odd Fellow before resigning during my first marriage and that is an aspect of Odd Fellowship that I do recall with great fondness.
For those interested, the organization’s website is at http://www.comasonry.org (strangely).