Home End times headlines The secret ceremonies and rituals of female Freemasons

The secret ceremonies and rituals of female Freemasons

The secret ceremonies and rituals of female Freemasons


Many people perhaps do not even know that female Freemasons exist.

The male Freemasons – who started meeting officially 300 years ago – have always gained greater attention. They are currently led by the Duke of Kent.

But between the two female societies – the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons and the Order of Women Freemasons, which split in the early 20th Century – there are nearly 5,000 members.

The Order of Women Freemasons meets regularly in lodges, or temples, around the country.

During ceremonies, the women dress in white robes, with regalia worn around their necks to represent their place in the hierarchy.

The service we see begins with a procession down the centre aisle.

Members of the organisation bow as they reach the front, where grand master Zuzanka Penn sits on a grand chair that looks similar to a throne.

Prayers are said during ceremonies, and at times it has the feel of a religious group, although Ms Penn is keen to stress this is not the case.

“In order to be a Freemason, you have to believe in a supreme being,” she says, but it can be of “any faith at all”.

“We will have people who are very religious, and people who are not as observant – but of any race, any faith,” she says.

Most of the women in the societies are aged 50 or above – something they are keen to change, targeting university freshers’ fairs as a way to recruit younger members. More from the BBC