Grand Master’s Message – June 2007
When I became Grand Master of HFAF (Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons) in January 2006 it was the fulfilment of a long journey which began 52 years ago when I was initiated into Doric Lodge no 11.
But to begin at the beginning, both my parents were freemasons and as a child I soon became used to the sight of my father going to his Lodge meetings and studying his ritual book. Indeed I met my future husband at my father’s Ladies Night when he was the Master of his Lodge. But I also took it for granted that women could become freemasons.
In the early years of my marriage and following the birth of my children l became aware of needing an outside interest, particularly as my husband spent a lot of time away from home on business.
My mother proposed me into Doric Lodge no 11 and within a few years I had taken Office and achieved the Chair of King Solomon (an expression used by freemasons when they become Master of their Lodge), in 1966. At that time our Lodge had more than 150 members.
Freemasonry has given me a wonderful interest in life and has brought me numerous friends from all walks of life, whom otherwise I might never have met. After the war many women became interested in joining freemasonry and they were busy times for our fraternity. I found myself greatly inspired by the wonderful ritual and excellent teachings I received.
Freemasonry is based on three great principles, Brotherly love, Relief and Truth. To practise ‘Brotherly love’ we must maintain harmony and mutual respect between individuals, no matter what their station in life; ‘Relief’ is about giving to those whom society has failed or who have been victims of disaster, not just financially but also personally; and ‘Truth’ the need to recognise the Divine quality which underpins all life and which is to be found in the ‘centre’. Freemasonry is about self-knowledge and when we are Initiated we can all be empowered to begin this great spiritual journey towards the ‘centre’.
Freemasonry is not a religion but it requires a personal belief in a Supreme Being on the part of every candidate. Whether we be Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist we are all taught respect for others, to practise charity and to live our lives by good moral standards. Housewives, doctors, secretaries or solicitors we can all be united in our striving towards these great ideals.
The brethren in our fraternity come from all walks of life and we are always happy to welcome new members. We meet in various parts of the country and in 1989 we consecrated a lodge in Gibraltar and in 2005 two lodges in mainland Spain in the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca areas.
As well as lodge meetings our members also hold social events to raise money for our charity through which we are able to support many worthwhile causes such as Teenage Cancer Trust, Hospices and Air Ambulances.
Of course not everyone aspires to the Chair of the Lodge and many brethren are equally happy just to witness our impressive ceremonies.
When we pass through the entrance to our beautiful temple, we are overwhelmed by a feeling of peace and tranquility. For a few hours the cares and employments of the busy world are forgotten, as we concentrate on the task in hand the promulgation of our beautiful ritual in ceremonies which have evolved over the centuries.
Most Worshipful Bro Sheila Norden – Grand Master
A Message from the Most Worshipful the Past Grand Master Eileen Gray CBE
(written in 2001)
“Having been a Lady Freemason for more than 50 years, l am delighted that younger generations are using the most modern technology to disseminate knowledge about our our Order, the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons.
No longer can Masonry be referred to as a secret society – it never was. But it has served the press to believe so and to propagate that image from time to time.
Our Fraternity is open to women of any age, race or creed. The first question asked of any applicant is “Do you believe in God?” The answer must be in the affirmative, but how one worships is a matter for the individual. Freemasonry is not a religion though its teachings have a moral tendency.
It is difficult to describe the immense satisfaction one gets from being a member, suffice it to say that it is an organisation of exceptional amity and support, both between members and to the outside charities who benefit from its generosity.
We have Lodge Meetings where behaviour is of necessity formalised, but Festive Boards and Socials (which are often held to support charitable causes), make for a programme as varied and as interesting as you wish to make it. Commitment both in attendance or participation is entirely up to the individual.
The reason why Women Freemasons have decided to “go public” is twofold:
The Commons Select Committee told representatives of Men’s Masonry, who were the subject of investigation by the Committee at the time, that having established their status and their charitable accomplishments, they should be more open with the public and dispel the “secrecy” image. Because many of our members are married to Masons, we have generally adopted the UGLE lead on such matters, although it must be emphasised, the United Grand Lodge of England has no jurisdiction over us.
Secondly, despite nearly one hundred years of women’s participation, we thought it high time to dispel the notion that Freemasonry exists only for men. Even among women married to Masons we have perceived a lack of awareness of our Order.
All those who are already Masons, need no telling how much Freemasonry means to them and how it has enriched their lives. But to those who are not yet members, but who find themselves attracted by its Precepts, I say to you “Go ahead, and make the first move, you will not be disappointed.”
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