Page images
PDF
EPUB

This Fraternity was the model of the later Hermandad of the municipal communities, which were formed in Castile, under the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. It was established in 1486, with the approbation of the king, at a time when the nobles paid no attention to law, and had no respect or fear for the usual tribunal of justice, but robbed defenceless villagers and industrious citizens, and rendered the lives and property of the people everywhere unsafe.

The disturbers of the public peace were arrested by the secret Brothers, carried before the judges, and punished. Neither rank nor station protected the offender against the tranquillity of the country, nor could he find safety even in the churches. The mysterious power of this terrible but righteous Brotherhood, penetrated every place—through barred and bolted gates, and armed sentinelsmand often struck its blows in the royal presence itself.

The nobility, who saw their turbulence restrained, and their judicial power limited, by this institution, opposed it with all their power, but without success; for the king protected it as a powerful means of preserving public peace.

The institution was also introduced into Aragon in 1488. The Santa Hermandad-Holy Brotherhood—a name which has occasioned some to confound this society with the Inquisition, or to consider it as depending upon that establishment-had, like the earlier institution of which it was a continuation, the object of securing internal safety, and seizing robbers, and all disturbers of the public welfare.

Of the utility of the Spanish Brotherhood there cannot be a doubt, and its beneficial effects in those stormy times were immeasurable. Its ideas were justice, absolute justice in the administration of the laws, and equality in society before God.

ADOPTIVE, OR FEMALE FREEMASONRY

As considerable attention has recentıy been given to this branch of our subject, we subjoin a few paragraphs which relate to this form of Masonic affiliation.

THE FRENCH RITE.

From the various French writers, collated by the indefatigable Dr. Mackey, G. Sec. of the G. L. of S. C., we prepare, with some condensation, the history of French Adoption.

By the immutable laws of Masonry, no woman can be made a Freemason. But our French Brethren, with that gallantry for which their nation is proverbial, have sought, by the establishment of societies, to enable females to unite themselves in some sort with the Masonic institution, and thus to enlist the sympathies and friendship of the gentler sex, in behalf of the Fraternity.

These societies they have styled maçonnerie d'adoption. The Lodges of Adoptive Masonry they term loges d'adoption, because each of them was adopted under the guardianship of some regular Masonic Lodge.

Early in the eighteenth century, various secret societies sprung up in France, in imitation of Freemasonry, but admitting female members. The ladies very naturally extolled these new organizations, and more loudly than before inveighed against Masonry and its exclusiveness. To preserve themselves, the members of the Royal Art opened their own doors to females, by means of certain degrees, then invented for that purpose, and thus, in their own defence, wielded the weapons of their opponents,

In 1774, the Grand Orient (Grand Lodge) of France accepted the control of the new Rite, entitling it “ the Rite of Adoption." They ordained rules and regulations for their government, providing that none but regular Masons should be allowed to visit them, and that each “ Lodge of Adoption” should be held under the sanction and warrant of a regularly constituted Masonic Lodge, whose presiding officer should govern it, in conjunction with a female President or Mistress. The first Lodge under these regulations was opened in 1775, in Paris, under the warrant of St. Anthony Lodge, in which the Duchess de Bourbon presided, and she was installed “Grand Mistress of the Adoptive Rite."

This Rite had four degrees : Apprentice, Companion, Mistress, and Perfect Mistress. The first was introductory, designed mainly as a preparatory course for the emblematic degrees to follow. In the second, the temptation of Eve was represented, and its serious results pointed out, increasing in its sad consequences even to the Flood. The third, included the history of Babel. The fourth, the passage of the Israelites through the wilderness.

To each degree there was a catechism or lecture. In the third, Jacob's ladder with five rounds was introduced, which was the proper jewel of a Lodge of Adoption. It symbolically represented the virtues which a Mason should possess, while the Tower of Babel typifies a badly regulated Lodge in which disorder reigns. The journey through the wilderness represented the passage of man through an evil world.

The officers of an Adoptive Lodge wer) a Grand Master and Grand Mistress, an Orator, an Inspector and Inspectress, a Depositor and Depositress, a Conductor and Conductress_nine in all. The fourth and fifth act as Senior Warden, the sixth and seventh as Junior Warden, The last two are the Deacons. All the business of the Lodge is conducted by the Sisters, the Brethren only acting as assistants.

The Lodge-room was tastefully decorated in emblematic style. In the first degree (Apprentice) the room was made by curtains to represent the four quarters of the globe; the division at the entrance being Europe ; in the middle, on the right, Africa ; on the left, America ; and at the east, Asia. In the Asiatic locality, were two splendid thrones for the two higher officers. Before the thrones was an altar flanked on both sides by statues of Wisdom, Prudence, Strength, Temperance, Honor, Charity, Justice and Truth. The first six officers have mallets, used as in a Symbolic Lodge.

The members and visitors sit in straight lines, Sisters in front, Brothers in the rear, the latter having swords in their hands. It was admitted to be a beautiful and attractive sight.

French Adoptive Masonry is still practiced as a distinctive Rite. From the birth of the organization, in 1775, Adoptive Lodges were rapidly diffused throughout all the countries of Europe, except England, but are now chiefly, if not solely, confined to France.

THE AMERICAN RITE.

This consists of an initiation in five degrees.

Nine Principles are selected, as Landmarks, or unchangeable Regulations, as follows:

I. The “Star of Christ,” or “Evening Star," is the basis of the five Degrees of the American Adoptive Rite.

II. This Rite contains nothing in its ceremonies and lectures that can afford a clue to the ceremonies and lectures of any other Rite.

III. Its lessons are eminently Scriptural and Christian.

IV. Its obligations are based upon the honor of the female sex; and framed upon the principle that, whatever benefits are due by the Masonic fraternity, to the wives, widows, daughters and sisters of Masons, corresponding benefits are due from them to the members of the Masonic Fraternity.

By the term Adoptive Masonry, we imply that system of forms, ceremonies, and explanatory lectures which is communicated to certain classes of ladies, who, from their relationship by blood or marriage to Master Masons in good standing, are entitled to the respect and attention of the entire Fraternity.

These ladies are said to be adopted into the Masonic communion, because the system of forms, ceremonies and lectures above referred to, enables them to express their wishes, and give satisfactory evidence of their claims, in a manner that no stranger to the Masonic family can do.

ADVANTAGES OF THE ADOPTIVE SYSTEM.

1. As the adoptive privileges of the lady entirely depend upon the good standing and affiliation of the Brother through whom she is adopted, this system will be a strong inducement, it is thought, to keep a Brother, otherwise inclined to err, within the bounds of morality and the membership of his Lodge.

2. A general diffusion of this rite will probably tend to supersede the other so-called female degrees, as being, at the best, but trivial, and, henceforth, superfluous and useless.

« PreviousContinue »