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International Order of Freemasonry for Men and Women*
Le Droit Humain

British Federation

seeing in a different light

Annie Besant accord

In all of our degree ceremonies, short dramas enacted with the use of allegories, a set form of words and actions is used. These words and actions have come down to us from the earliest days of Freemasonry and incorporate all the lessons that there are to be learned about what is known as ‘the Craft’. The content of these rituals has remained unchanged, but the outer form has been adapted over the years to accord better with the spiritual values we seek to impart. In the British Federation of the International Order of Freemasonry as in many English-speaking countries in the world, the most commonly practised ritual is that called the ‘Lauderdale Ritual.’

This ritual, in the basic first three degrees, was given the name of ‘Lauderdale’ in 1992, when the 1960 edition was re-printed. Prior to that, between 1916 and 1960, the rituals had no name but they originated from the Dharma Ritual, written around 1905 for Le Droit Humain in India, under the direction of the Founder of Co-Masonry in Britain, Annie Besant. It was used by Lodge Dharma in Benares, India. At the very beginning, many members of the Order in London and in various parts of what was then the British Empire were also members of the Theosophical Society, who believed that Co-Freemasonry was a revival of the Ancient Mysteries, so the Dharma ritual was designed to bring into greater prominence that which those early members considered to be ancient mystery traditions. Various amendments were made between 1916 and 1960 and, on re-printing in 1992, it was decided to name the ritual the Lauderdale ritual because the headquarters of the British Federation had been located in Lauderdale Road, London, until 1936.

Other rituals were worked – and still are – namely the Verulam Ritual, which has similarities to the Lauderdale, the Scottish Ritual worked by the Scottish Lodge from 1927, the Irish Ritual worked by Erin Lodge in Dalkey, Ireland in 1928, and to-day by St Michael Lodge in Northern Ireland and finally Emulation Ritual worked by Lodge Reconciliation in Surbiton prior to its dormancy. Lodge International Concord works the Georges Martin ritual.

When Annie Besant formed the first Lodge in Great Britain in 1902, followed by other Lodges, a translation of the French ritual was used but it was soon found that this did not suit the British. The first transaction of Dharma Lodge in Benares, from 1907, reflects this in its notes regarding the early days of the Order:

In France, at the present day, the tendency in our fraternity is to dispense with the religious element and the large majority of [French] brethren, including those of our own Order, prefer a somewhat materialistic attitude. Our Supreme Council, however, in granting an English Constitution, recognised that different methods are required in different countries, and have consequently sanctioned our upholding for ourselves a belief in a creative principle under the title of ‘Great Architect of the Universe’.

This is often referred to as the Besant Accord and is the justification given for differences between Anglo-Saxon approaches to masonic practice and continental approaches. Put very simply, this means that for the English-speaking world liberal Freemasonry has developed along predominantly spiritual lines, distancing itself from the socio-political approach predominantly adopted in continental Europe. This is not by any means to say that the spiritual dimension is absent in continental liberal Freemasonry.

In 1908, the American Federation was constituted. Here too, the French rituals hitherto supplied by Supreme Council in Paris were proving discordant. Theosophical viewpoints had already stimulated a rise in pursuit of the ‘mysteries’ in British and Commonwealth Lodges, rather than the emphasis on social rights promoted by Georges Martin.

In 1914, as the Order grew and language and cultural differences became more pronounced, the national represent-atives of various countries sought the right to use different rituals and general regulations and, following approval from Supreme Council, made appropriate adjustments to take account of geography, language and the practices of other existing, solely masculine Obediences in their respective countries.

In the preface to the 1992 Lauderdale Ritual in Britain we read:

As Masons may belong to any religion, it is desirable to have on the Altar a Scripture of more than one Great Faith, but no attempt should be made to impose any particular interpretation of the Ritual upon any Brother of the Order. The Lodges should observe towards each other the old rule: ‘In things essential, Unity; in non-essential, Liberty; in all things, Charity’.

Surbofest 2017

SATURDAY 30th September - SURBITON

10.00am - 5.00pm


The big day - Surbofest Saturday, a full day of stalls, entertainments, the procession, live music, freshly cooked food, friends, festivities and fun.

Saturday 30th September sees the Surbiton Festival hit it's 26th annual event.



Lodge Light of Amen Ra No. 717

Our Order will be running a stall from 9:30am till 5:00pm where members of the public can ask us questions, and if interested later to attend the informal Festive Board at 5:30pm of Lodge Light of Amen Ra No.717. This would be a great opportunity to meet more members and discuss historical, philosophical and esoteric topics of mutual interest.

Our HQ is 8 minutes walk away.

(See map at bottom of page)


Freemasonry The Esoteric traditionFreemasonry - The Esoteric Tradition

It's now only increasingly rare individuals who behold something of a deeper nature in our Masonic ritual and teachings and are often considered as somewhat eccentric or individuals or 'fantasizers'; to be charitably tolerated as long as they do not overstep the mark with their fantastical interpretations.

This volume is devoted to those members of society who maintain that Freemasonry should be interpreted, experienced and lived as an authentic Initiatic School, as was doubtless intended by the creators of its complex ritual forms, brimming with symbols, allegories and hidden meanings.

From a metahistorical point of view, the true 'figure' of the Freemason will be portrayed as a sort of 'Archetype of Enlightenment',which is clearly recognisable and presented in the western tradition throughout history. From the Epoptes of the Eleusinian Mysteries, to the Hermetic of the first centuries B.C.; from the Magician and the Neoplatonist of the Renaissance to the Rosicrucian; from the Alchemist to the Freemason, the same goal of, an individual featuring a series of common characteristics and, in particular, a similar 'vision of the world', is manifested cyclically in specific historical moments. (Quote from the Lewis Masonic website)

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First impressions of a new member

What makes the British Federation such a special and unique Masonic Order? As a recently affiliated member perhaps I can humbly offer an answer to this question being as I am new to the order and, in theory, totally unbiased. Maybe not totally unbiased since I do have a point of reference to which I can compare Le Droit Humain: my previous Masonic reincarnation. Read More

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The Symbols of Freemasonry and the Greater Mysteries of Antiquity


New lodge forming in Bristol

Moves are afoot to form a new lodge of our Order in Bristol. Anyone interested in helping, either as a Freemason already or by initiation into this lodge, is welcome to contact us for further information, quoting “Bristol initiative”. Contact Us

Freemasonry, Esotericism, and Spiritual Development: An Interview With Piers Vaughan

Published Mar 18, 2017

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Ritual, Freemasonry, and Allegory: Julian Rees in Interview

Published Sept 24, 2016

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BBC Radio Wales


Listen to an interview with the former head of the British Federation of our Order, Brian Roberts 33° and BBC Radio Wales Listen

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Event Calendar

September 2017
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October 2017
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M.'.P.'.G.'. C.'. retires

Brian retirement


Two tributes to a very worthy Brother

The V ∴ Ills ∴ Bro ∴ Brian Roberts 33° has stepped down as M ∴ P ∴ G ∴ C ∴ of our Federation. His Mother Lodge, Lodge Maa-Kheru 975, could not let this occasion pass without marking it in a special way and in addition the Federation put on a surprise party for him on Saturday 1 July.

To celebrate his outstanding contribution to the British Federation during his time as MPGC over the past fifteen years, his Mother Lodge, Maa-Kheru No. 975, presented The V∴Ills∴ Bro∴ Brian Roberts 33° with a specially commissioned jewel.

Read full article in July issue of the Freemason Digest

Regular vs Liberal Freemasonry? What it's really about.

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To Pietre Stones website article

Freemason Digest July 2017

Freemasonry: A Journey Through Ritual and Symbol

Dr Annie Besant 1847 - 1933

Annie Besant
Annie Besant was the founder of the British Federation of the Order, the International Order of Co-Freemasonry, Le Droit Humain as it was known at the time. She was the first ruler of Lodge Human Duty No. 6 which still exists today.

The Besant Accord

- The Declaration of Principles grants the Lodges the right to choose their acclamation: To the Glory of the Great Architect Of The Universe and/or To the Perfection of Humanity.

 Read Background information


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The freemasons who allow women to join Read more

The Hidden Code in Freemasonry

Tracingboards by Lady Frieda Harris

  • 1* EA
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  • 3* MM


(es-uh-ter-ik)    "adjective

1.    understood by or meant for only the select few who have special knowledge or interest; recondite: poetry full of esoteric allusions.
2.    belonging to the select few.
3.    private; secret; confidential.
4.    (of a philosophical doctrine or the like) intended to be revealed only to the initiates of a group: the esoteric doctrines of Pythagoras."

* Previously known as the International Order of Co-Freemasonry.

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