Talk:Anglo-American Freemasonry

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The elephant in the room here is ritual. Before the great schism there was already a huge gulf between the two traditions. The Anglo-American lodges followed the ritual form of the Ancients, the Irish, the Scots, and the traditioner lodges of the Premier GL. The Continental lodges had the ritual of the Moderns, from whom the Grand Orient de France claim descent. The difference is obvious inside the lodge - the Continentals have no deacons, and both wardens in the west. There are small but highly significant differences in the Third degree. References are another matter, since ritual is not in the public domain. It needs mentioned, but at the present moment, I'm not sure how without producing a couple of paragraphs that look like OR. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 23:36, 7 June 2013 (UTC)

I would not talk about ritual in this article... for one thing there are a few US Grand Lodges that descend directly from the Premier GL (the Moderns) and still essentially use Moderns ritual (with changes over the years).
It is really a mistake to make any sweeping statements about Masonic Ritual... since every GL is free to adopt what ever ritual it wants to adopt (and in some cases, each lodge is free to do so). The reality is that every GL in the world has changed its ritual over the years... No one is doing it the way it used to be done. Today's ritual is a bit of a dogs dinner, with GLs freely borrowing bits and pieces of ritual from other GLs, and even making ritual up out of whole cloth (and everyone happily pretending that "the ritual" dates back to time immemorial... that it remains pure and unchanged.) Blueboar (talk) 02:00, 8 June 2013 (UTC)


Currently the article states: "Anglo-American Freemasonry is a term used for the Freemasons who are recognised as regular Freemasons by the United Grand Lodge of England."

I have a problem with pegging this on recognition by UGLE alone. For example, UGLE does not recognize many Prince Hall Jurisdictions, yet they are solidly with in the Anglo-American tradition of Freemasonry in terms of landmarks (belief in Deity, men only, no religious or political discussion, etc. etc.) In fact, adherence to the core landmarks means far more than recognition by any one GL. Recognition can be withheld/withdrawn for all sorts of reasons ... the real distinction between Continental and Anglo-US lies in understanding why recognition was withheld/withdrawn (Deviation from the norm in terms of the landmarks)

It is certainly fair to say that UGLE is the "elephant in the room"... The other GLs do hold UGLE in great respect and do tend to follow its lead. But they do not march in lock-step. To the extent that recognition factors into the definition, I would say it is more like:

  • "The Anglo-American tradition in Freemasonry is a loose network of overlapping chains of mutually recognized Grand Lodges that (for the most part) trace their descent from one of "original" British Grand Lodges (the Premier Grand Lodge of England, the Antients Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and the Grand Lodge of Ireland); with mutual recognition based on adherence to certain core values, rules and membership requirements (known as Landmarks)."

Another definition would be "All of Freemasonry, except Continental Freemasonry, and Fringe Freemasonry". (For Fringe Freemasonry, see: here and here) Blueboar (talk) 12:15, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

So Crowley counts, or was he fringe? And the Rosicrucians? What about the exclusively Christian Scandavians and Germans? And Female Freemaosnry, surely that's not fringe (and its certainly not all Continental)? Or those who call themselves Antients and Moderns? Essentially you're saying that Prince Hall is really Anglo-American - and that's not a bad point. However saying that everything that's not continental is Anglo-American, except the fringe freemasons means that the fringe gets defined so widely it's no longer really a fringe. JASpencer (talk) 14:17, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
For Crowley... Read the BC&Y article... he is definitely classed under Fringe Freemasonry. The exclusively Christian Swedish Rite does indeed qualify as being in the Anglo-American branch (as we say later in the article). You have a point about Women-only Masonry and Co-Masonry (they would not qualify, and I should have listed them under the "Except").
The Rosicrucians are harder to peg, because a lot depends on exactly which Rosicrucians you are talking about. The historical Rosicrucians predated Freemasonry and so can be left out of the picture as being "not Freemasonry (of any branch)". Modern Rosicrucian groups are semi-approved "appendant/concordant bodies" that fall into all the different factions in Freemasonry (there are Anglo-American Rosicrucian groups, Continental Rosicrucian groups, Fringe Rosicrucian groups, Women/Co-ed Rosicrucian Groups, etc.) Blueboar (talk) 14:56, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Another issue is the implication that the Swedish Rite is a sub-branch of English masonry... as far as I know and can track it the Swedish Rite is inspired and influenced by various continental High Degree Rites (may I suggest "Den Kongelige Kunst", ISBN 987-87-87074 Parameter error in {{isbn}}: Invalid ISBN.-30-8?), not from the rituals used by UGLE and the Lodges chartered from UGLE. Yes, the Lodges that follow the Swedish Rite tend to recognise and be recognised by the same Lodges as UGLE do. No, they are not a sub-branch of UGLE - nor do they look to UGLE for leadership. WegianWarrior (talk) 15:02, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
OK... perhaps I was being overly simplistic in my second definition... So, let's go back to the one I first proposed - "The Anglo-American tradition in Freemasonry is a loose network of overlapping chains of mutually recognized Grand Lodges that (for the most part) trace their descent from one of "original" British Grand Lodges (the Premier Grand Lodge of England, the Antients Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and the Grand Lodge of Ireland); with mutual recognition based on adherence to certain core values, rules and membership requirements (known as Landmarks)."
Any problems with that? Later in the article we can expand... explaining that it is dominated by the British, American, Canadian and Australian Grand Lodges, but includes GLs from all over the world. It is the overwhelmingly dominant form of Freemasonry in India, and those parts of Asia and Africa that were part of the old British Empire. It has a very large (majority) presence in Mexico (an export from the US). It has a significant (but minority) presence in other Latin American countries (note: things are changing fast in South America... while Continental Freemasonry was very strong in the past, Anglo-American GLs have been growing in recent years. They may actually be in the majority in Brazil and possibly Argentina... We'll have to check that). In Europe, it may or may not include the Swedish Rite (depending on how you define things... it certainly is closely tied, sharing the same core landmarks). In the rest of Europe (taken as a whole) it runs neck and neck with Continental Freemasonry (in the majority in some countries, but in the minority in others), and it forms a distinct minority in France and Belgium. Blueboar (talk) 15:54, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
I like that definition - it explains much more than what the article currently says. As for the Swedish Rite, we could state something like The Swedish Rite, while not directly descended from the British Grand Lodges, shares the same core values and core landmarks and are often/sometimes considered part of Angle-American Freemasonery.. WegianWarrior (talk) 06:47, 9 June 2013 (UTC)

related question[edit]

OK... I have changed the definition per our discussion above. Next question:

I know we copied this from the main Freemasonry article, but I have never been happy with it. I don't think "looks to X for leadership" is the right way to phrase the relationship. Certainly not when you are talking about the Anglo-American Branch. The Anglo-American branch certainly respects UGLE as a sort of "Mother GL"... and they do pay attention when UGLE speaks on an issue... but it is much more a "group consensus" mechanism. Indeed, on many issues it is the larger US jurisdictions that "take the lead", with UGLE following (as happened with Prince Hall recognition).
Not sure how I would phrase all of this... but I don't think "looks to X for leadership" is it.

Looking to the UGLE for leadership is demeaning, especially to older Grand Lodges. What about "consists of lodges and Grand Lodges whose ritual and founding principles are animated by the same general concept of Freemasonry as the UGLE, GOoS and GLoI". Fiddlersmouth (talk) 13:29, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
I think the new "definition" in the lede already say that. Really the only reason we mention UGLE in this sentence is because we mention GOF in the next sentence. The underlying problem is that GOF dominates Continental Freemasonry in a way that UGLE does not dominate Anglo-American Freemasonry. The article tries to make a parallel that does not really exist. Blueboar (talk) 14:19, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Maybe the point about GOdF is also overstated. A century back, the idea of liberal Freemasonry was the GOdF's to sell, now I'm not so sure. I think it's more correct to think of GOdF and UGLE as paragons - exemplars of the branch of Masonry they express. Maybe characteristic is a good word. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 15:28, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
For now, I have taken both "which looks to X for leadership" statements out. There is no rush... we can think about it further until we find something we like. Blueboar (talk) 01:15, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

Linking to Regular Freemasonry[edit]

I have added the term "Regular Freemasonry" as an alternative name... with the caveat that this is a self-description (similar to how we note that Continental Freemasonry self-describes as "Liberal Freemasonry" and "Adogmatic Freemasonry"). On linking to that term, I discovered that it was a redirect to Freemasonry#Regularity, the section in the main Freemasonry article that covers the topic. However, that section points to a more extensive "main article" on the topic - Regular Masonic jurisdictions, which might be a better article for the redirect to point to. Thoughts? Blueboar (talk) 14:35, 9 June 2013 (UTC)

As an aside... I have been working on a potential article on the whole Regularity and Recognition issue... still needs a lot of work (especially sourcing)... Again, similar (overlapping) topic, but looked at from a different angle. I would love your comments and suggestions on it. See: User:Blueboar/drafts - Masonic recongnition and regularity. Blueboar (talk) 14:35, 9 June 2013 (UTC)


Something to point out if we can find the sources to support it... the number of jurisdictions in each branch does not tell the entire story... The Anglo-American branch is also in the majority (by far) in terms of membership. With the exception of GOF, most of the Continental bodies are relatively small... while most of the Anglo-American bodies are relatively large (and some are comparatively HUGE). A significant majority of Freemasons (world wide) belong to Anglo-American style bodies. Blueboar (talk) 16:48, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

So far, I've only been able to get a count of Grand Lodges/Orients. Numbers of masons,where available,seem to come by country/continent without being broken down by jurisdiction. The jurisdictional breakdown is not ideal, but better than nothing. Saying that, I'm still looking. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 19:23, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
Agreed... I'll keep looking too. Blueboar (talk) 01:33, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
I know the Grand Lodge of North Carolina publishes its membership data (in September for the preceeding calendar year) regarding existing-deaths-demits-explusions+new members+returning members=current members. I would assume the other grand lodges do the same. Finding all that data, might be difficult. Eric Cable  |  Talk  12:28, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
Unfortunately, some Grand Lodges and Grand Orients don't publish their membership numbers (especially the smaller ones, who might not want to draw attention to how small they actually are). I suspect that the best we will be able to do is find a reasonable estimate. Blueboar (talk) 20:43, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

Prince Hall[edit]

Question... I think we agree that Prince Hall GLs are within the "Anglo-American branch"... but what do we mean when we say "Prince Hall GLs"? There are (after all) Prince Hall derivation GLs that are NOT recognized by the "mainstream" GLs (UGLE/GLoNY/Etc.). In most (but not all) cases this lack of recognition has nothing to do with landmarks, membership requirements, ritual, etc. (The most common reason for lack of recognition is that the mainstream GLs have decided that they should only recognize one Prince Hall GL in any single jurisdiction... and they have already recognized some other Prince Hall GL) Yes surely most of these non-recognized PH bodies fall within the broader "Anglo-American branch".

Whether a GL falls within the Anglo-Americian branch is really determined by it adherence to common landmarks... whether it is recognized by "mainstream" Freemasonry or not is a sub-categorization. Blueboar (talk) 12:42, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

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