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Information on Masonic Obediences

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Information and comments on the Grand Orient of France

Information and comments on the Women's Grand Lodge of France

Obedience, Impotence!

On freedom of expression, French Masonic obediences are divided!

A new obedience: The Grand Lodge of Europe and the Mediterranean (G.L.E.M)

Various reflections on obediences in Freemasonry

Obedience is the name used to designate an association made up of Masonic lodges; each obedience takes on a specific name which once had a meaning: for example, an Orient has a geographical connotation; normally there should only be one grand orient per nation; a lodge has a specificity and therefore a large lodge should correspond to the same specificity for several lodges; but today, all of this is given way behind ambition and competition! The first known obedience was the Grand Lodge of England created in June 1717.

It is not insignificant to remember that the term obedience contains a notion of obedience; it is clear that today this notion is "outdated"!

The first French obedience was the Grande Loge de France, created in 1738 and which took the name of Grand Orient de France in 1773.

The obediential spin-off was mainly done from quarrels secondary to interpersonal conflicts, self-interested ambitions or different practices.

Today, the number of French obediences rises to more than forty-five.

It is difficult to understand and justify the aberrant number of obediences and the difficulty of relations between Freemasons around the world in a world that is very reactive today.

Everything happens as if the pleasure of being "between oneself" prevailed over the implementation of an international functional organization which allows the lodges to work and to implement the training essential to Masonic education.

While the European dynamic goes beyond national selfishness, European persuasions remain frozen in their own development.

By agreeing to initiate women, Le Grand Orient de France (GODF) has opened up to a new sociological reality full of potential; this obedience which is the most important could very well bring together other obediences by guaranteeing them the freedom to exercise their rites and by accepting a greater "ecumenism".

Is the proliferation of obediences not the symptom of a crisis in the functioning of lodges and obediences?

If we consider that the minimum that can be required of a lodge and a Masonic obedience is to allow the exercise of freedom of conscience, to apply tolerance and mutual respect and to guarantee the possibility of being free in a free lodge, it is incomprehensible to imagine that the multiplication of obediences has a Masonic justification.

Wanting to find themselves in a community of thought, flattering the ego of candidates for the grand master's degree, obeying considerations of international politics and settling accounts in interpersonal conflicts are the profane reasons most often encountered!

It is truly distressing to see the recklessness and irresponsibility of all those who thus contribute to harming the credibility of the Masonic order.

The Order and the Obediences

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Freemasonry is not a society of thought, nor more a worldly club, nor a fraternal mutual aid, nor a charitable association. It is an initiatory Order, a manifestation among others of the primordial Tradition. As such, it is anchored in the practice of appropriate rituals based on the carefully orchestrated putting into action of symbolic acts in a sacred space-time.

Masonic rituals, contrary to the Tradition they convey, are however rooted in History. They refer to the Royal Art, which is the art of building, and the symbolism of construction naturally occupies a prominent place. To these references are added borrowings from other manifestations of the Tradition, of a hermetic, gnostic and alchemical nature. Freemasonry therefore appears as a mosaic of components of various natures which constitute Rites, each of which carries its own coherence.

The initiatory transmission of the Masonic manifestation of the Tradition is based on the dramaturgy of the rituals which the "catechisms" of course, account for with relative precision, but which require, in order to acquire a status of efficiency, the active participation initiates in a sacred space and place and according to perfectly defined rules and customs.

The Masonic Order is one thing, the Obedience is another, but the Order can only survive through the Obediences in their role as groups of Lodges.

Each Obedience has a specific color through its administrative structure, the Rites it federates, the mix or non-mix of the members, the place it intends to give to absolute freedom of conscience and the principle of recognition. It is a regulatory power, able to issue patents and to constitute an administrative framework, but it can in no way claim to identify with the Masonic Order of which it ultimately constitutes only a simple transmission belt. By definition, and the History of Freemasonry bears ample witness to this, the Obediences are infinitely divisible. Likewise, by definition, and the perpetuity of the initiatory transmission of Freemasonry testifies to this just as widely, the Order is indivisible, whoever grumbles about it.

The Obediences in question

Can we today in all serenity question the role of obediences?

This seems essential to us if we do not want to see the Masonic question confined to an eternal justification of their existence!

We all dream of an obediential structure that stands out for the ability to externalize the high moral and philosophical values that drive our lodge work. The desire to be able to make a strong and respected voice heard is also expressed.

The temptation is sometimes great for the grand-ess-teachers to participate in political debates in the media without realizing that in doing so they are plunging their heads into an unsavory backwater.

Today, our obediential structures seem to me unsuitable: the members of the council of the order are nice but what can they do if not representation. The grand master does not have the means that his function would justify; the administration of the obedience is admirable but is it up to the needs of an association of tens of thousands of members.

The lodges are asked to participate in the life of the obedience but most often it comes down, in the best case, to less than five brothers and sisters who manage to "follow the movement" so much it takes time and availability.

The very principle of obedience would suppose that it is an aid to the operation of the lodges, but apart from the real estate problem where the real estate companies play their role, for the rest the lodges are very often alone in the treatment of all the problems they have to take on; convents with several hundred members are a masquerade of democracy.

This observation should encourage us to try to reform, not to make obedience a lambda association, but to adapt the obediential tool to a need for harmony and coherence with our ideal of perfection. Naturally, this presupposes dispassionate debate and seeking a consensus acceptable to the vast majority of members of the obedience; only a conventual work spread over several years could claim to do so.

Of course, the current denominations, as they are, play a significant organizational role. Outside of the Federation of Free and Sovereign Lodges, the vast majority of lodges operate through obedient real estate logistical support; another positive aspect, the inter-obediential agreements facilitate inter-lodge visits.

All this also explains why obediences have essentially become management centers where we ensure that the financial results are positive!

But today it is clear that they are unable to constitute a moral authority capable of carrying Masonic values outside the field of conflicts of interest!

Everything happens as if obedience power became confidential and reserved for a minority of members of a seraglio of "good-thinking" who function according to appearances without putting "their souls" into it!


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