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"On Holy Ground: History of the Honorable Order of American Co-Masonry, the American Federation of Human Rights", tells a story little known outside Co-Masonic circles and not especially well-recalled even there.
Co-Masonry, the branch of Freemasonry that accepts men and women, in its second Century in North America, is one of many "silences" in history. Seldom written until now, North American Co-Masonry, for the most part, is the history of the Honorable Order of American Co-Masonry, the American Federation of Human Rights, today the largest Co-Masonic Body on the continent. "On Holy Ground" begins with a brief retelling Freemasonry's story; traces women's early entry into the Operative Masonic guilds and Speculative otherwise all-male Freemasonic Lodges; explains women's unfair exclusion from the Craft; and the rise in Europe of Co-Masonry, which finally swung the doors open to female initiates. "On Holy Ground" introduces the reader to the earliest Co-Masons and the founders of their Orders throughout the world.
"On Holy Ground" also is the story of the Order's response to external pressures, two World Wars; economic downturns; philosophical self-definition and internal strive, division and perseverance. Above all else, "On Holy Ground" is a recollection of the Order's tenacious and very North American hold on its promised autonomy that lead, in the mid-1990s, to the establishment of the Order as it is known today: "a Masonic Obedience Independent of all others."
Amply illustrated, with many color images - most never before published outside the Order - "On Holy Ground" boasts an appendix filled with writings and reflections of many leaders in the Order. Tucked near the end is a rare treat for Masonic Scholars: the text of a speech given before a Co-Masonic Lodge in New York City by author, mystic and, ultimately, Freemason Manly P Hall. The text of Hall's speech has not been published in more than 80 years.