The Master Mason;

Irregular and Clandestine Lodges.

As the Worshipful Master is enjoined not to admit visitors without proof of their having been initiated in a regular lodge, so he is required to admit that no countenance should be given to any irregular lodge or to any person clandestinely initiated therein, being contrary to the Ancient Charges of the Order.

The new Master Mason may well wonder if irregular or clandestine lodges still exist. The answer is that they most certainly do. Wherever the genuine properly chartered lodge exists anywhere in the world, the non-recognized or spurious lodge may also exist.

Even recognized, legitimate Grand Lodges may, because of some violation of the requisites, have recognition withdrawn. Examples might be the removal of the Holy Writings or engaging in political activity. In this event, no visitation is possible either by our members or their until the violation is remedied and recognition resumed.

Likewise, a new Grand Lodge may be formed in territory formerly open. Only after investigation of its legitimacy can the Grand Lodge be recognized, and visitation of its constituent lodges begin. An example of this arose when in Japan, lodges, chartered by the Grand Lodge of the Philippines, were the founding lodges of the Grand Lodge of Japan. A number of servicemen, raised in these lodges, found themselves unable to visit California lodges during the interval between the formation of the Grand Lodge of Japan and its recognition by our Grand Lodge. Now both the Grand Lodge of California and the Grand Lodge of the Philippines accord full recognition to the Grand Lodge of Japan.

The Master Mason contemplating a trip to foreign shores and anxious to visit legitimate lodges while avoiding the irregular, may ask where the information is kept of these regular lodges around the world.

The solution of the problem lies in the publication furnished every California lodge. Entitled “List of Regular Lodges Masonic”, it is issued by the Grand Lodge of California to its constituent lodges, with the admonition that this book is to be kept in each lodge for reference in receiving visitors and on applications for affiliation. There may well be an old copy which you can use, for it is re-issued every year. A check of this book before a trip to another country, or even another state, may prevent the embarrassment of wrongful visitations.

Clandestine Masonry takes many forms, from outright fraud to well meaning imitation of our ceremonies. So called “Co-Masonry” even admits women and is said to have elevated more than one to “Mater”. All of these are spurious and counterfeit. No trace can be found in truth of any assertions of legitimate descent form our Ancient Brethren. So, may prudence teach us to avoid this strange and mixed company lest the secrets of Freemasonry be unlawfully obtained.

As indicated above, recognition alone removes the bar against the visitation of an irregular lodge. It is a Masonic offense of the most serious nature to fraternize with or visit a clandestine lodge. Loss of one’s membership is too great a price to pay for a glimpse of what at best is still illegal and at worst a travesty on our ancient ceremonies.

Excerpted from “Handbook for Candidate’s Coaches” By The Committee on Ritual and Donald G. Campbell, Past Grand Lecturer. Grand Lodge F.&A.M. of California.