[Square & Compasses]    

Letter of the month: May 2008

To: masonry-ask@MIT.EDU
Subject: Visitation to lodges in Europe
From: "Walter" <walter17_@excite.com>
Message-Id: <20080516050411.160577E42C@xprdmxin.myway.com>
Date: Fri, 16 May 2008 01:04:11 -0400 (EDT)

Mr. Dryfoos,

I have a question about visitation. Is it true that if you are part of a lodge that is F&AM, you must get permission to visit a lodge in Europe, but if you are part of a lodge that is AF&AM, you do not need permission?


Message-ID: <20080516091032.d9lhqkrd6jqosgkg@webmail.mit.edu>
Date: Fri, 16 May 2008 09:10:32 -0400
From: A Page About Freemasonry <masonry-ask@mit.edu>
To: walter17_@excite.com
Subject: Re: Visitation to lodges in Europe

Dear Walter,

Absolutely not true! The letters "F&AM" and "AF&AM" are left over from a dispute between lodges in London, back in the days of the first grand lodge. After the original grand lodge was founded in 1717, it claimed jurisdiction over all masons' lodges working in and around London.

Over the next few decades, there were disputes with other lodges in the area, who didn't recognize that claim and who founded their own rival grand lodge. These dissenters called themselves the "Antients" and mockingly referred to their rivals as "Moderns". So from the "Antients" (or "Ancients") we have "Ancient Free and Accepted Masons" -- AF&AM. From the "Moderns" we have "Free and Accepted Masons" -- F&AM.

This difference in names was carried over the the USA by the different groups that founded lodges in the various states. Each state's grand lodge today (and every lodge under it) is either AF&AM or F&AM, based on little more than historical happenstance. (There are also one or two states with other variations, like "FAM".) That difference has never meant anything here in the US, although I get letters asking about "3-letter Masons" and "4-letter Masons" all the time, which I have never understood.

I would be grateful if you could tell me where you heard this notion of needing permission to visit European lodges based on the name of your state GL.

If you are visiting overseas and you can check the lodge ahead of time, you could look it up in your lodge's copy of the Tyler's book or "List of Lodges". These books are printed and kept updated every year, and list *every* grand lodge and lodge in the world that is recognized by your grand lodge. You could see if the lodge you want to visit is listed there. You should not visit lodges that are part of unrecognized grand lodges. If you are already abroad and are invited to a lodge, you should try to contact your home lodge or grand lodge. A few years ago, getting information from your grand lodge was a long process, but now a simple email to the GL's office of the Grand Secretary can get your answer pretty quickly.

Lodge visitation abroad is a little more complicated than that, so you should try to learn all you can before you go. But it has nothing to do with AF&AM vs. F&AM, or at least, I can't imagine why it would. If you find out anything different, please let me know.

-- Gary L. Dryfoos
   A Page About Freemasonry
   now at http://MasonryPage.org/

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