Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Appendant bodies

There is an interesting discussion going on over at the Freemason Pride message board involving appendant bodies. A link was posted to a blog entitled the Supreme Council of the Rite of Clermont which claims to be the revival of a defunct appendant body of French origin. Obviously, this Rite, if it is even actually practiced stands very little, if any, chance of being recognized by mainstream American Masonry. But I think it raises a very important issue. The York and Scottish Rites have been "the only game in town" for a long time. While their teachings are important and can definitely enrich the Masonic experience, perhaps it is time to allow new players on the field. Up until now, there have been very few attempts at forming new appendant bodies. One notable exception is the recent Rite of the Rose Cross of Gold debacle. While I do not know if these Brethren intended to form a whole new appendant body that would compete with the existing Rites, it certainly was something new and exciting. Unfortunately, they were dealt with in a shameful and unmasonic manner by their Grand Lodge. For more complete details of this fiasco, I point you to this post over at the Burning Taper.
For the past 100 years or so, the whole of Freemasonry has existed in relative tranquility. But in the early history of our Craft, this was not so. Competing Grand Lodges and appendant bodies formed quite frequently. Some sputtered out and died, while others took hold and exist to this day as fully recognized and legitimate entities. Perhaps it is time for a revolution, or at the very least evolution. I do not advocate abandoning our ancient traditions, but maybe it is time to inject some new blood into our dying Fraternity. If enthusiastic Brethren desire to revive an old Rite, or perhaps create a new one, then as long as it conforms to the Ancient Landmarks, I say so mote it be! What harm would this do? At the very worst, these bodies will sputter out and die, as so many systems have in the past. Maybe, however, one will take hold, and become the next equivalent of the York or Scottish Rites, thereby contributing to the overall spread of more Light in Masonry. While this may not be the overall answer to the problems our Craft is facing today, I certainly believe that it can be part of the solution.