In June, 1908 Annie Besant and Lady Lutyens, wife of the architect Sir Edwin, set up the first co-ed Masonic lodge. Though it was short-lived, it changed the face (and body) of Freemasonry forever. Soon, all-female lodges sprang up, first in England, then elsewhere.
While many American Masons still think (or refuse to acknowledge) there are no female Masons, the United Grand Lodge of England is going to whoop it up for the 100th anniversary of female Masonry, The Times of London is reporting.
On June 4, an exhibition opens at UGLE headquarters in Coventry Grove celebrating the centenary of female Freemasonry.
Currently, there are about 20,000 women Masons in England, and more across the globe.
Dr. Iris Monica Oktabsova, past deputy grand master of one of the oldest branches, Lodge Equity 16, trotted out the same ol' same ol standard line when asked by The Times what Freemasonry is: "Although we are not a secret society, we are a society with secrets."
A hundred years to prepare for the interview, and that's the best the PGM could come up with.
In the 1870s, The Times reported that Annie Besant had written "an indecent, lewd, filthy, bawdy and obscene book," referring to her book about birth control, The Law of Population. Now they're writing about how she helped form the first mixed-sex Masonic lodge.
The Times they are a-changing.
Image: Annie Besant as Grand Master
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