Friday, September 4, 2009

Ancients and Moderns Today?

My older son is thinking of joining a lodge and going through the degrees in California, which, I understand, is a "Free and Accepted Mason" state, not an AF and AM state. Can you explain the difference? Would his degrees be recognized in Minnesota, for instance? Would there be a problem, if I wanted to participate in his raising? Are F and AM masons "clandestine"?

Historically, I think this goes back to the formation of the first Grand Lodge in England when there was a schism for about fifty years and one group called itself the "Ancients" and the other group the "Moderns." This was about the time that Masonry came to the colonies and some came as Ancients and some as Moderns. They merged back together to form the United Grand Lodge of England and that was pretty much the end of the distinction. But by then some Grand Lodges over here had started using the A. F. & A. M. designation and some using the F. & A. M. designation. Michigan is F. &. A. M. as is Wisconsin, California, New York, Ohio and several other states. Minnesota is A. F. & A. M. as is Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and several other states. For us out here west of the colonies, I think it had to do with where the first masons came from and what they had back at home.
Today, there really is no distinction between the two other than the historical designation difference and the rituals of the two are largely interchangeable. So as long as your son is joining a lodge under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of California, F. & A. M., with their Grand Lodge office located in San Francisco, then you would be welcome at the degrees and any of their lodge meetings. They are a recognized sister jurisdiction and not considered to be clandestine to those of us under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. But there are many clandestine Grand Lodges operating in California so you would want to be sure that your son joins a lodge listed in the List of Lodges Masonic, a book published annually by Pantagraph Press. The Grand Lodge of Minnesota mails a copy to every Minnesota lodge once a year so your lodge secretary should have the book.
By the way, congratulations on your son starting his Masonic journey, a proud day for any Mason.