Help Me Maintain OUR Website!!!!!!
There was a Fifth Degree added in1817-by some modern writers called Female elect-Sublime Dame Ecossaise, or Sovereign I1ustrious Scottish Dame, but it seems to be a recent and not generally adopted innovation. At all events, it constituted no part of the original Rite of Adoption. The First, or Female Apprentice's Degree, is simply preliminary in its character, and is intended to prepare the Candidate for the more important lessons which she is to receive in the succeeding Degrees. She is presented with an apron and a pair of white kid gloves. The apron is given with the following charge, in which, as in all the other ceremonies of the Order, the Masonic system of teaching by symbolism is followed:
"Permit me to decorate you with this apron ; kings, princes, and the most illustrious princesses have esteemed, and will ever esteem it an honor to wear it, as being. the symbol of virtue."
On receiving the gloves, the candidate is thus addressed:
"The color of these gloves will admonish you that candor and truth are virtues inseparable from the character of a true Freemason. Take your place among us, and be pleased to listen to the instructions which we are about to communicate to you."
The following Charge is then addressed to the members by the Orator:
''MY DEAR SISTERS :-Nothing is better calculated to assure you of the high esteem our society entertains for you, than your admission as a member. The common herd, always unmannerly, full of the most ridiculous prejudices, has dared to sprinkle on us the black poison of calumny ; but what judgment could it form when deprived of the light of truth, and unable to feel all the blessings which result from its perfect knowedge? You alone, my dear sisters, having been repulsed from our meetings, would have the right to think us unjust; but with what satisfaction do you learn to-day that Freemasonry is the school of propriety and of virtue, and that by its laws we restrain the weaknesses that degrade an honourable man, in order to return to your side more worthy of your confidence and of your sincerity. However, whatever pleasure these sentiments have enabled us to taste, we have not been able to fill the void that your absence left in our midst ; and I confess, to your glory, that it was time to invite into our societies some sisters who, while rendering them more respectable will ever make of them pleasures and delights. We call our Lodges Temples of Virtue, because we endeavor to practise it. The mysteries which we celebrate therein are the grand art of conquering the passions and the oath that we take to reveal nothing is to prevent selflove and pride from entering at all into the good which we ought to do. The beloved name of Adoption tells you sufficiently that we choose you to share the happiness that we enjoy, in cutivating honour and charity. It is only after a careful examination that we bave wished to share it with you. Now that you know it we are convinced that the light of wisdom will illumine all the actions of your life, and that you will never forget that the more valuable things are the greater is the need to preserve them. It is the principle of silence that we observe, it sho uld be inviolable.
May the God of the Universe who hears us vouchsafe to give us strength to render it so." Throughout this Charge it will be seen that there runs a vein of gallantry, which gives the true secret of the motives which led to the organization of the society, and which, however appropriate to a Lodge of Adoption, would scarcely be in place in a Lodge of the legitimate Order.
In the Second Degree, or that of Compagnonne, or Craftswoman, corresponding to our Fellow Craft, the Lodge is made the symbol of the Garden of Eden, and the candidate passes through a mimic representation of the temptation of Eve, the fatal effects of which, culminating in the deluge and the destruction of the human race, are impressed upon her in the lecture or catechism.
Here we have a scenic representation of the circumstances connected with that event, as recorded in Genesis. The candidate plays the part of our common mother. In the center of the Lodge, which represents the garden, is placed the tree of life, from which ruddy apples are suspended. The serpent, made with theatrical skill to represent a living reptile, embraces in its coils the trunk. An apple plucked from the tree is presented to the recipient, who is persuaded to eat it by the promise that thus alone can she prepare herself for receiving a knowledge of the sublime mysteries of Freemasonry. She receives the fruit from the tempter, but no sooner has she attempted to bite it, than she is startled by the sound of thunder; a curtain which has separated her from the members of the Lodge is suddenly withdrawn, and she is detected in the commission of the act of disobedience. She is sharply reprimanded by the Orator, who conducts her before the Grand Master.
This dignitary reproaches her with her fault, but finally, With the consent of the Brethren and sìsters Present, he pardons her in the merciful spirit of the Institution, on the condition that she will take a vow to extend hereafter the same clemency to others.
All of this is allegorical and very pretty, and it cannot be denied that on the sensitive imaginations of females such ceremonies must produce a manifest impression. But it is needless to say that it is nothing like Freemasonry.
There is less ceremony, but more symbolism, in the Third Degree, or that of Mistress. Here are introduced, as parts of the ceremony, the tower of Babel and the theological ladder of Jacob. Its rounds, however, differ from those peculiar to true Freemasonry, and are said to equal the virtues in number. The lecture or catechism is very long, and contains some very good points in its explanations of the symbols of the degree. Thus, the tower of Babel is said.to signify the pride of man-its base, his folly-the stones of which it was composed, his passions---the cement which united them, the poison of discord-and its spiral form, the devious and crooked ways of the human heart. In this manner there is an imitation, not of the letter and substance of legitimate Freemasonry, for nothing can in these respects be more dissimilar, but of that mode of teaching by symbols and allegories which is its peculiar characteristic.
The Fourth Degree, or that of Perfect Masoness, corresponds to no Degree in legitimate Freemasonry.
It is simply the summit of the Bite of Adoption, and hence is also colled the Degree of Perfection. Although the Lodge, in this , is supposed to represent the Mosaic tabernacle in the wilderness, yet the ceremonies do not have the same reference. In one of them, however, the liberation, by the candidate, of a bird from the vase in which it had been confined is said to symbolize the liberation of man from the dominion of his passions; and thus a far-fetched reference is made to the liberation of the Jews from Egyptian bondage. On the whole, the ceremonies are unrelated, they are disconnected, but the lecture or catechism contains some excellent lessons. Especially does it furnish us with the official definition of Adoptive Freemasonry, which is in these words :
It is a virtuous amusement by which we recall a part of the mysteries of our religion; and the better to reconeile humanity with the knowledge of its Creator, after we have inculcated the duties of virtue, we deliver ourselves up to the sentiments of a pure and delightful friendship by enjoying in our Lodges the pleasures of society-pleasures which among us are always founded on reason, honor, and innocence.
Apt and appropriate description is this of an association, secret or otherwise, of agrceable and virtuous well-bred men and women, but having not the slightest application to the design or form of true Freemasonry.
Guillemain de Saint Victor, the author of Manuel des Franches-Maçonnes, ou La Vraie Maçonnerie d'Adoption, meaning Handbook of the Women Freemasons or the True Freemasonry of Adoption, which forms the third part of the Recueil Précieux, or Choice Collection, who has given the best ritual of the Rite and from whom the preceding account has been taken, thus briefly sums up the objects of the Institution :
"The First Degree contains only, as it ought, moral ideas of Freemasonry ; the Second Degree is the initiation into the first mysteries, commencing with the sin of Adam, and concluding with the Ark of Noah as the first favor which God granted to men ; the Third and Fourth Degrees are merely a series of types and figures drawn from the Holy Scriptures, by which we explain to the candidate the virtues which she ought to practice" (see page 13, edit~n 1785).
The Fourth Degree, being the summit of the Rite of Adoption, is furnished with a Table Lodge, or the ceremony of a banquet, which immediately succeeds the dosing of the Lodge, and which, of course, adds much to the social pleasure and nothing to the instructive character of the Rite.
Here, also, there is a continued imitation of the ceremonies of the Masonic Institution as they are practised in France, where the ceremoniously conducted banquet, at which Freemasons only are present, is always an accompaniment of the Master's Lodge. Thus, as in the banquets of the regular Lodges of the French Rite, the members always use a symbolical language by which they designate the various implements of the table and the different articles of food and drink, calling, for instance, the knives swords, the forks pickaxes, the dishes materials, and bread a rough ashlar (see Clavel's History, page 30).
In imitation of this custom, the Rite of Adoption has established in its banquets a technical vocabulary, to be used only at the table. Thus the Lodge room is called Eden, the doors barriers, the minutes a ladder, a wineglass is styled a lamp, and its contents oil-water being white oil and wine red oil. To fill your glass is te trim your lamp, to drink is to extinguish your lamp, with many other eccentric expressions (Clavel's History, page 34).
Much taste, and in some instances, magnificence, are displayed in the decorations of the Lodge rooms of the Adoptive Rite. The apartment is separated by curtains into different divisions, and contains ornaments and decorations which of course vary in the different degrees.
The orthodox: Masonic idea that the Lodge is a symbol of the world is here retained, and the four sides of the hall are said to represent the four continents-the entrance being called Europe, the right side Africa, the left America, and the extremity, in which the Grand Master and Grand Mistress are seated, Asia. There are statues representing Wisdom, Prudence, Strenght, Temperance, Honor, Charity, Justice, and Truth. The members are seated along the sides in two rows, the ladies occupy'ing the front one, and the whole is rendered as beautiful and attractive as the taste can make it (Recueil Précieuz, paqe 24).
The Lodges of Adoption flourished greatly in France after their recognition by the Grand Orient. The Duchess of Bourbon, who was the first that received the title of Grand Mistress, was installed with great pomp and splendor, in May, 1775, in the Lodge of Saint Antoine, in Paris. She presided over the Adoptive Lodge La Candeur until 1780, when it was dissolved. Attached to the celebrated Lodge of the Nine Sisiers, which had so many distinguished men of letters among its members, was a Lodge of Adoption bearing the same name, which in 1778 held a meeting at the residence of Madame Helvetius in honor of Benjamin Franklin then American ambassador at the French court.
During the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution, Lodges of Adoption, like everything that was gentle or humane, almost entirely disappeared. But with the accession of a regular govemment they were resuscitated, and the Empress Josephine presided at the meeting of one at Strasburg in the year 1805. They continued to flourish under the imperial dynasty, and although less popular, or less fashionable, under the Restoration, they, subsequently recovered their popularity, and are still in existence in France .
As interesing additions to this article, it may not be improper to insert two accounts, one, of the installation of Madame Cesar Moreau, as Grand Mistress of Adoptive Masonry, in the Lodge connected with the regular Lodge La Jarusalem des Vallées Egyptiennes, on the 8sth of July,1854, and the other, of the reception of the celebrated Lady Morgan, in 1819, in the Lodge La Belle et Bonne, meaning-the Beautiful and Good, as described in her Diary.
The account of the Installation of Madame Moreau, which is abridged from the Franc-Maçon, a Parisian periodical, is as follows :
The fête was most interesting and admirably arranged. After the introduction in due form of a number of brethren and sisters, the Grand Mistress elect was announced, and she entered, preceded by the Five Lights of the Lodge and escorted by the Inspectress, Depositress, Oratrix, and Mistress of Ceremonies. M. J. S. Boubee, the Master of the Lodge La Jerusalem des Vallées Egyptiennes, conducted her to the altar, where, having installed her into office and handed her a mallet as the symbol of authority, he addressed her in a copy of verses, whose merit will hardly claim for them a repetition. To this she made a suitable reply, and the Lodge then proceeded to the reception of a young lady, a part of the ceremony of which is thus described:
Of the various trials of Virtue and fortitude to which she was subjected, there was one which made a deep impression, not only on the fair recipient, but on the whole assembled company. Four boxes were placed, one before each of the male officers.
The candidate was told to open them, which she did, and from the first and second drew faded flowers, and soiled ribbons and laces, which being placed in an open vessel were instantly consumed by fire, as an emblem of the brief duration of such objects.
From the third she drew an apron, a blue silk scarf, and a pair of gloves ; and from the fourth a basket containing the working tools in silver gilt. She was then conducted to the altar, where, on opening a fifth box, several birds which had been confined in it escaped, which was intended to teach her that liberty is a condition to which all men are entitled, and of which no one can be deprived without injustice. After having taken the vow, she was instructed in the modes of recognition, and having been clothed with the apron, scarf, and gloves, and presented with the implements of the Order, she received from the Grand Mistress an esoteric explanation of all these emblems and ceremonies. Addresses were subsequently delivered by the Orator and Oratrix, an ode was sung, the poor or alms box was handed round, and the labors of the Lodge were then closed.
Madame Moreau lived only six months to enjoy the honors of presiding officer of the Adoptive Rite, for she died of a pulmonary affection at an early age, on the eleventh of the succeeding January.
The Lodge of Adoption in which Lady Morgan received the degrees at Paris, in the year 1819, was called La Belle et Bonne or the Beautiful and Good. This was the pet name which long before had been bestowed by Voltaire on his favorite, the Marchioness de Villette, under whose presidency and at whose residence in the Faubourg St. Germain the Lodge was held. Hence the name with which all France, or at least all Paris, was familiarly acquainted as the popular designation of Madame de Villette (see Clavel's History, page 114).
Lady Morgan, in her description of the Masonic fête, says that when she arrived at the Hotel la Villette, where the Lodge was held, she found a large concourse of distinguished persons ready to take part in the ceremonies. Among these were Prince Paul of Wurtemberg, the Count de Cazes, elsewhere distinguished in Freemasonry, the celebrated Denon, the Bishop of Jerusalem, and the illustrious actor Talma.
The business of the evening commenced with an installation of the officers of a sister Lodge, after which the candidates were admitted.
Lady Morgan describes the arrangements as presenting, when the doors were opened, a spectacle of great magnificence.
A profusion of crimson and gold, marble busts, a decorated throne and altar, an abundance of flowers, and incense of the finest odor which filled the air, gave to the whole a most dramatic and scenic effect. Music of the grandest character mingled its harmony with the mysteries of initiation, which lasted for two hours, and when the Lodge was closed there was an adjournment to the hall of refreshment, where the ball was opened by the Grand Mistress with Prince Paul of Wurtemberg.
Lady Morgan, upon whose mind the ceremony appears to have made an impression, makes one remark worthy of consideration: "That so many women," she says, "young and beautiful and worldly, should never have revealed the secret, is among the miracles which the much distrusted sex are capable of working." In fidelity to the Vow of Secrecy, the Female Freemasons of the Adoptive Rite have proved themselves fully equal to their brethren of the legitimate Order.
Notwithstanding that Adoptive Freemasonry has found an advocate in no less distinguished a writer than Chemin Dupontés, who, in the Encyclopédie Maçonnique, calls it "a luxury in Freemasonry, and a pleasant relaxation which cannot do any harm to the true mysteries which are practised by men alone," it has been very generally condemned by the most celebrated of French, German, English, and American Freemasons. Chemin Dupontés, by the way, published in 1819-25 his Encyclopédie Maçonnique or Masonic Encyclopedia at Paris in four volumes. Gaedicke, in the Freimaurer Lezicon, or Dictionary for the Freemason, speaks lightly of it as established on insufficient grounds, and expresses his gratification that the system no longer exists in Germany.
Thory, in his History of the Foundation of the Grand Orient (page 361), says that the introduction of Adoptive Lodges was a consequence of the relaxation of Masonic discipline; and he asserts that the permitting of women to share in mysteries which should exclusively belong to men. is not in accordance with the essential principles of the Masonic Order. The Abbé Robin, the author of an able work entitled Recherches sur les initiations ,Anciennes et Modernes, or Inquiries upon Ancient and Modern initiations, maintains on Page 15 that the custom of admitting women into Masonic assemblies will perhaps be, at some future period, the cause of the decline of Freemasonry in France. The prediction is not, however, likely to come to pass; for while legitimate Freemasonry has never been more popular or prosperous in France than it is at this day, it is the Lodges of Adoption that appear to have declined.
Other writers in various countries have spoken in similar terms, so that it is beyond a doubt that the general sentiment of the Fraternity is against this system of Female Freemasonry.
Lenning is however, more qualified in his condemnation, and says, in his Encycloadie der Freimaurerei, or Freemason's Encyclopedia, that while leaving it undecided whether it is prudent to hold assemblies of women with ceremonies which are called Masonic, yet it is not to be denied that in these Lodges of women a large amount of charity has been done.
Adoptive Freemasonry has its literature, although neither extensive nor important, as it comprises only books of songs, addresses, and rituals. Of the latter the most valuable are:
1. La Maçonnerie des Femmes, or Feminine Freemasonry, published in 1775, and containing only the first three degrees, for such was the system when recognized by the Grand Orient of France in that year.
2. La Vraie Maçonnerie d'Adoption, or The True Freemasonry of Adoption, printed in 1787. This work, which is by Guillemain de Saint Victor, is perhaps the best that has been published on the subject of the Adoptive Rite, and is the first that introduces the Fourth Degree, of which Guillemain is supposed to have been the inventor, since all previous rituals include only the three degrees.
3. Maçonnerie d'Adoption pour les Femmes, or The Freemasonry of Adoption for Women, contained in the second part of E. J. Chappron's Necessaire Maçonnique, or Essential Freemasonry, and printed at Paris in 1817. This is valuable because it is the first ritual that contains the Fifth Degree.
4. La Franc-Maçonnerie des Femmes, or The Freemasonry of Women. This work, which is by Charles Monselet, is of no value as a ritual, being simply a tale founded on circumstances connected with Adoptive Freemasonry.
In Italy, the Carbonari, or Wood Burners, a secret political society, imitated the Freemasons of France in instituting an Adoptive Rite, attached to their own association. Hence, an Adoptive Lodge was founded at Naples in the beginning of the nineteenth century, over which presided that friend of Freemasonry, Queen Caroline, the wife of Ferdinand II. The members were styled Giardiniere, or Female Gardeners ; and they called each other Cugine, or Female Cousins, in imitation of the Carbonari, who were recognized as Buoni Cugini, or Good Cousins. The Lodges of Giardiniere flourished as long as the Grand Lodge of Carbonari existed at Naples (see also Eastern Star, and Adoptive Freemasonry, American).
[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership
Development] [Education] [Masonic
This site is not an official site of any recognized Masonic body in the United
States or elsewhere.
Last modified: February 07, 2014