The Grand Orient of France (GODF)
The Grand Orient de France is the oldest French Masonic Grand Lodge. It had many great men such as Benjamin Franklin, Lafayette, Proudhon, Jules Ferry, and many others among its members.
This grand lodge is viewed as a part of the so called “liberal” Grand Lodges. In that sense, it is progressive and opened to evolution throught the time. It authorizes since 2011 its Lodges to initiate Women and receive the Sisters as visitors. However, these initiations and visits are at the discretion of each Lodge. There are now, since 2011, Feminine lodges at the Grand Orient of France.
The Grand Orient is defined as a federation of craft rites. It practices the French Rite – named “Groussier”, the Traditional French Rite, the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, the Rectified Scottish Rite, the Antient and Primitive Rite of Memphis-Mizraim.
History of the Grand Orient of France
The history of the Grand Orient of France merges with that of the Grand Lodge of France until 1773, date of “birth” of the Grand Orient …
In 1773 the Grand Lodge of France is splitted in 2:
- Part comes off and becomes the Grand Orient of France.
- The other part is called National Grand Lodge – (Also known under the names of “Grand Lodge of Clermont” or “Grand Lodge of France”1 ). That same year, the Duke of Chartres is installed as Grand Master of the Grand Orient.
The Grand Lodge of France and the Grand Orient of France tried to reunite in 1799, but without success.
In December 1804 the Grand Orient of France united with him the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. The Grand College of Rites (still in use at the Grand Orient of France) was created for this purpose the following year, so that the “scottish” higher degrees are controlled by the Supreme Council of the 33rd degree for France, as a constituent of the Grand College. This attempt was briefly challenged2 .
The Grand Orient created the Supreme Council of Rites in 1815, responsible for managing all the rites and High Degrees in use. Germain Hacquet3 was then appointed Sovereign Grand Commander.
Initiated in 1862, Marshal Magnan was named Grand Master of the Grand Orient of France by Napoleon III. He received the 33 degrees of the Antient and Accepted Scottish Rite within a whole day …
During the civil war between the Communards and Versailles in 1871, the Lodges of the Grand Orient de France climb on the barricades, banners flying, to end the hostilities.
1877 is a milestone in the history of this Grand Lodge … The Convent voted the amendment of Article 1 of the Constitution of the Grand Orient. On the advice of Pastor Desmond, to allow its members a total freedom of thought, the following sentence is deleted: “Freemasonry proclames the existence of God and the immortality of the soul”. At that time, the Grand Orient de France becomes irregular to the masonic rules enacted by the United Grand Lodge of England.The Anglo-Saxon Grand Lodges then broke their relations with the Grand Orient.
In 1913, two lodges of the Grand Orient of France, having as motivation to practice the Rectified Scottish Rite, separated from the Grand Orient and created the National Grand Lodge Independent and Regular for France and the Colonies. They were “Le Centre des Amis” and “L’Anglaise 204” Lodges. This new Grand Lodge will become the French National Grand Lodge.
Since 1877, the Grand Orient de France is a leader of the so called Liberal Freemasonry.
The Constitution of the Grand Orient de France
Here is the current Constitution of the Grand Orient of France.
Being an Institution essentially philanthropic, philosophic, and progressive, Freemasonry has for its object, search after truth, study of universal morality, science and arts, and the practice of benevolence. It has for its principles absolute liberty of conscience and human solidarity. It excludes no person on account of his belief, and its motto is ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.’
Freemasonry has a duty to extend to all members of humanity fraternal bonds that unite Freemasons throughout the globe.
The Freemason’s duty, under any circumstances, assist, inform, protect his brother, even risking his life, and defend against injustice.
Freemasonry considers the work as a basic duty of man. It also honors the manual labor and intellectual labor.
Freemasonry has signs and emblems which high symbolic meaning can be revealed only by Initiation.
These signs and emblems are leading, under determinate forms, the work of Freemasons, and allow them, over the entire surface of the globe, to recognize and support each other.
Initiation has several degrees or grades. The first three degrees are the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason which alone gives the Freemason Masonic full rights.
No one shall be exempt from graduate tests required by rituals.
Sovereignty shall be exercised by universal suffrage.
The Grand Orient of France today
The main French obedience today, with over 55,000 members, is undoubtedly the Grand Orient of France. This progressive Grand Lodge mainly works with the French Rite.Nevertheless, some of its lodges work at the Antient and Accepted Scottish Rite. A Grand College of Rites manages its “higher degrees”.
Modern, the Grand Orient receives and initiates Women. Thus, the Sisters of the Feminine Grand Lodge of France can “visit” the lodges of the Grand Orient. In this sense, it broke with the “Anderson’s Constitutions” and “regular” Masonic habits. Moreover, political and religious topics are allowed.
Secularism is the credo of the Grand Orient. His anticlericalism is unfortunately not a legend. When the Pope came to France in 1996, demonstrating its Grand Officers at Valmy to ban his coming. However, many Brethren of that grand lodge have spiritual concerns.
From 2010 to 2012, the Grand Orient of France opened itself to the woman initiation. Today, the Grand Orient of France is a mixed gender masonic body. Therefore, the lodges are free to receive or not woman as freemasons.
The Grand Orient de France is the “leader” of the liberal fringe of Freemasonry. It is recognized as the opposition to London and its sphere of influence in the world is growing year by year. It publishes a news magazine entitled “Humanisme”
Grand Orient of France
16 Rue Cadet
- This Grand Lodge is not the actual Grand Lodge of France which was born in 1894. [↩]
- The Treaty of Union between the Grand Orient of France and the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite was signed in early December 1804.It was contested by a minority the 6th of September, 1805 and adjustments to the treaty, sometimes called “concordat”, were signed on September the 16th, so 10 days after later. [↩]
- Founder Grand Officer of the Supreme Council of 1804, “American” as he was one of the brothers who brought back the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite to France, he held the office of Grand Master of Ceremonies in the first French Supreme Council. [↩]