In April 2021, RW Bro Dr David Staples, the then-Grand Secretary and Chief Executive of the United Grand Lodge of England, appeared on Sky News to talk about UGLE’s first ever public report. At the tail-end of the interview, the host pitched this question at him:
“If you want to do it with the boys, you can. If you want to do it with the girls, you can. If you want to be in a mixed-lodge, you can.” – Dr David Staples.
What Bro Staples failed to mention was that at the exact time that he was saying this, members of his staff at UGLE were actively persecuting Brethren for attempting to do just that, i.e., attending co-Masonic or mixed lodges. I know: because I was one of the people so-persecuted.
When I pointed out the Grand Secretary’s statement to the bureaucrats at UGLE, I was told “Ah, no, what he meant was, you can be a co-Mason, but if so, you have to resign from UGLE.” I suppose what they mean is that co-Masonic organisations are ipso facto rival organisations to UGLE, which arrogates to itself the monopoly to administer Freemasonry within its own jurisdiction. Furthermore, UGLE believes that a Brother cannot remain both a member of UGLE and a member of an organisation which it does not recognise as a proper Masonic authority. I was informed specifically that it went further than this: not only could I not join a co-Masonic organisation, I could not even attend one of their meetings as a guest: the most I could do was attend a so-called “white table event” after the lodge meeting was finished.
The more philosophically-minded of my readers will start to notice a number of logical inconsistencies here, to wit:
Firstly, UGLE was effectively saying: “We recognise Co-Masons as Freemasons. We just don’t recognise Co-Masons as Freemasons whom we recognise.”
Secondly, it costs money to be a member of two or more organisations. If an individual is ready, willing and able to pay out their own money to do so, what business of UGLE is it to say otherwise? As a wise philosopher once said:
“It’s a bit like… you’ve got a favourite Indian restaurant that you go to every Monday night, and just as you’re leaving, the owner comes up to you and says: ‘Oh I saw you at the Chinese on Wednesday. You mustn’t eat in there. If you’re going to eat in here, you mustn’t eat in the Chinese.’ It’s utter nonsense!”
Thirdly, and most seriously: there is an implied disrespect against female co-Masons – who are not only the Brethren but in many cases also the partners of the male co-Masons – which ought not to have any place in a society of gentlemen.
As to my leaving of UGLE: I was caught in the position in which I enjoyed being a member of my mother-lodge and my mother-chapter. I regarded its members as my friends, and I particularly appreciated the peculiar ethos of both, which was both spiritual and esoteric, in marked contrast to most of the rest of UGLE.
Moreover, I had actually gone to a great deal of trouble in my dedication to my mother-lodge / chapter, particularly in my assiduity in becoming a Ritualist. I learnt to do practically all of the degree-work of both Craft and Royal Arch off-book, out of some notion that this was the kind of thing that the powers-that-be appreciated.
However, before I was ever a freemason, I had been a Golden Dawn practitioner, and hence believed without question in male-female equality, and that it was perfectly natural for both men and women to work together in an initiatory organisation. I therefore could not for the life of me see what was wrong with co-Masonry.
So there I was, minding my own business one fine spring morning in 2021, when I received a badly spelled, mis-worded, and wrongly dated letter from someone in Metropolitan Grand Lodge. I first thought they wanted to reward me for all my hard work by appointing me to a position of importance within Met GL, as by that point I had been a past master for some time and would otherwise have been up for “London Grand Rank.” Alas! When I deciphered its contents, I realised I was being accused of being a co-mason.
I later discovered that members of the Grand Secretary’s office had informed this poor functionary that they had found evidence of me attending a co-masonic meeting. Apparently, there are people in UGLE whose job it is to stalk Brethren over the internet and uncover evidence of them sneaking off to co-masonic meetings to enjoy themselves! Because I still wanted to remain a member of my mother lodge and chapter, I told them I was willing to never attend another co-masonic meeting, to which I was told that in that case the matter would be dropped.
But then they changed their mind, in effect saying “We don’t believe you.” I thus found myself subject to something called “disciplinary proceedings” which is the same punishment meted out to freemasons who have brought the Craft into disrepute by committing crimes like murder or armed robbery. This began in a farcical manner, as I was accused of being a member of every order to which I had admitted being a member whether or not it was technically incompatible with the Craft. It got to the extent where me being a member of an order was grounds enough to declare being a member of it incompatible with the Craft!
After some arguing back and forth, they apparently dropped some of the wilder of their accusations, and focussed on the charge that I was a co-mason. Given that they had thrown my previous offer back in my face, I could not see what else I could do to escape the inevitable. Hence, I found myself expelled from UGLE.
It did not happen immediately: it took some eighteen months from first being arraigned, as it had to be escalated to the top of UGLE for it to be finalised (this is the usual procedure for Brethren caught in this position). In the meantime, my prosecutors cheerfully told me that if I didn’t want to wait for my case to go to appeal, I could always resign from Freemasonry. This would have involved me having to sign a declaration that I no longer considered myself a Freemason, which I refused to do on principle.
I was even told that after my final hearing that there was still a chance to apply to something called a “Panel for Clemency.” I was told about the procedure for doing so, but they neglected to inform me on what grounds Clemency could actually be considered.
If I were to speculate as to why UGLE did its volte-face after my initial offer and institute disciplinary proceedings notwithstanding, I can only say that it was blindingly obvious that it occurred at the same time I publicly resigned from another Society over a different matter entirely. I have no evidence, however, that senior members thereof put their chums in the Grand Secretary’s office up to harassing me, so one must assume that it was all just a very unfortunate coincidence.
In conclusion, I must admit I regret no longer being able to attend the meetings of my mother lodge and my mother chapter. My Brethren therefrom are all very dear to me, and I had invested a lot of my time and effort in my sixteen years of being a member, so if I had had the opportunity I would have remained in UGLE just for them. However I can’t say I regret being forced to leave UGLE per se, as I had little love for its bureaucratic structure even before these events started, and I have even less now.
UGLE no longer regards me as a Freemason. Instead, I regard myself as a Mason Free to attend as many co-masonic meetings as I choose, and to explore my Masonic interests not just in Craft and Royal Arch, but also Rose Croix, KT, Rosicrucianism and other degrees, in an environment which is in accord with my conscience.
Worshipful Brother Alex Sumner,
a.k.a. Excellent Companion Alex Sumner, PZ.
For more information about Co-Masonry around the world, please visit The Grand Lodge of Modern Mixed Masons.
4 responses to “Why I left UGLE”
You missed all the fun when there was an inquisition of myLodge (founded by SM members) by Grand Lodge bigwigs (no one expects the Grand Lodge Inquisition). They were looking for members of the Golden Dawn to fling them out over fears they might be practising magic.
At the time, the Lodge was using an older ritual where the altar was put in the middle and it was ordered back to the orthodox rite.
Those who were GD members apparently lied through their teeth about membership, and the Inquisition floundered. Of course, there were a few there (still are, as far as I am aware).
My point is that if you are under oath to one organisation you are pretty much not allowed to break it. So them asking you to do that would make your oath to them invalid too. After all, if you broke your GD oath you could equally not feel bound to the masonic one.
I am pathologically incapable of breaking an oath, and only a little less so of lying. Were it not so I might have found a way to weasel myself out of this, but alas I could not.
As regards the GD I believe powerful help is nowadays available to help Brethren who are also Fratres, but that doesn’t help co-masons per se.
Dear Alex and Nick,
What I am going to ask you might not seem relevant to this article, yet it was indeed this very blog entry that encouraged me to ask what I wanted to ask much sooner.
Nick, I have come to see only a small amount of all the drama you have tolerated yet, much to my surprise, you seem untainted. I personally love to READ about these kinds of dramas, like the ones between Regardie & Crowley, Mina and Dion, William Gray and his students, Mathers & ‘the Rebels’, Alex and UGLE (LOL!), etc. they are, to the observer, delicious, but living them is not and can never be pleasant, to say the least.
Alex, you survived the Saturn opposition Saturn of your relationship to UGLE and although I personally have no regard for Freemasonry in general, I wish you had stayed and said the right things (i.e., lied) so that when transpersonal planets all change signs, you could lead UGLE in a much better, more humane direction. It might have had no impact on me personally, but it would make the inner plane situation of the West, a more delightful an air to take in… (it is absolutely UGLE’s loss, by the way!)
This brings us to my long-standing question: “What magic can and cannot do?”
I am not the type of person to give up at the sight of even formidable obstacles yet I find myself questioning, day after day, what is the point of all the struggle. I do not know if it is the infamous and “terrible Thirty-second Path of the Tau” or it is just how real occultism looks like all the time.
For context I want to state that I am 25 years old and my magical skills are equal to that of a Zelator at best and Although I say it myself, with the addition of astrological prowess, but that’s it. I’m not an adept, I have not received a physical Initiation (which I believe is the only way to be truly initiated) in a fully contacted temple, I have not practiced grimoire magic, have not done Enochian. I have just read the Nick’s GD Reading List and reached before the Minor Adept titles. (I obviously also did the tasks, meditations, practices, etc. mentioned in those books)
At first, I thought maybe if I was initiated, I would be a better magician. Some days, it would occur to me that it is the grades obtained through true Work that makes all the difference. Now I see I crave them like this because I want something to explain this discomfort, something to ease the imposter syndrome I feel sometimes (I mean, the Pentagram and Hexagram rituals, tarot reading, The Middle Pillar are so overused it makes you question it altogether!)
Also, because having no GD temple in Tehran, it makes being a member, even of the Outer, so much more alluring.
But then again, quitting is not really an option. At the risk of sounding self-important, I must say whenever I try to walk away from the Path, I am forced back with even more dedication! I do not know why this happens, why all sorts of mental problems, sleeping problems occur and why every aspect of life spins out of control when I try to quit. This is why I am seeking an answer to my question because I really need to manage my expectations. If I feel this way, this early on, what would say, seven years later, look like?
Nick, I am aware of what you think regarding Nita Hickok and exhaustion of Service being the cause of her cancer not a psychic attack getting through. Josephine McCarthy is much like you in reminding Neophytes the demanding job of being a magician. I am under no illusion that magic is going to be easy…
I was happily ignorant, a dabbler, messing with Wiccan/Voodoo/Folk spells I had found online for harassing people only for personal amusement, for getting what I want before checking by Divination if its what Divinity wants, for calling Names of Angels every day without purpose, I even spilled my own blood only because it looked fun on TV not knowing I was playing well above my grade, tapping into Geburah, not having walked the 22nd Path. I played with Death, asked (I did a nasty ritual) for the demise of someone on a Full Moon, thinking I was entitled…
I paid the price! I was severely punished, I lost my house, I was banished to the slum, I became mentally unstable, severely depressed. I came to leave with my grandparents who were overly controlling and nosy, in whose presence, you could not even draw a card for they would find a reason to enter the room, and what a perfect symbol! Limiting Old grumps were agents of Saturn! I was punished not only for my selfishness and narcissism but for messing with things I had no understanding of. After a few years, I was led to High Magic (came across a Levi book, then a Crowley book, which did not really help but were a good start and through Waite and Dion, got to GD at last!), finally understanding cosmos has not come into being to indulge my EVERY whim. It provided a framework for magic to be not ravaging, not so self-serving. I needed a system…
Contrary to Wicca, you do not find in GD practices, not clearly at any rate, what one is to do when one is truly and urgently in NEED of something. Being overwhelmed with the fear of magic going wrong like those days, I do not know what can I expect from it. Alex, I know of your success with the “Taromancer” method but I am unsure if it works for EVERY problem.
Sorry for this lengthy, perhaps uninvited, entry, all I said above comes down to one question “What magic can and cannot do?”
I believe you two to be leading authorities, at least in my opinion. To me you are the Hermit, I have come a long way, saw your LVX and I and maybe every Neophyte is in need of detailed (Hermit = Virgo) analysis of personal uses of magic.
Can it cure an illness or prevent one? Can it help me in my love life? If I were to access your Magical Diaries/Records right now, would I find unexaggerated RESULTS of an Adept in real/concrete world (in Malkuth of Malkuth not Astral Treasures like New Agers, LOL!)? Can it bring better friends or obtain better work situations? Can Magic help me immigrate when all the doors seem closed? Can it increase one’s luck in general? Can it provide a clear advice, not some vague and coded message like those usually received from the inner contacts or Tarot cards?
As for money, Nick has written a lot these last few years so it is not where my question truly lies. “Can we achieve the above by magic? What can we expect” asks every initiate who just seriously started magic/occultism and is confused more than ever…
I appreciate both of you and your inputs in advance.
As GD people Love to say (LOL!): “in LVX,”
– An initiate from Tehran
I would just point out that if you’re in Iran it’s probably best not to advertise the fact that you’re studying the occult, or are interested in Freemasonry for that matter. Apart from Morocco, most Islamic countries do not allow the Craft to be practiced on their sovereign territory, so I dread to think what the situation must be like over there.