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On Freemasonry and Mormon Undergarments

At the International Conference on Freemasonry,
a study of sacred undergarments shines light on fraternal esotericism.

“It sounds like a weird thing to say,” begins Professor Nancy Ross, “but if you’re Mormon, your underwear plays a role in your community.” Odd, maybe. Interesting, definitely.  And, from the perspective of those that will gather this April at UCLA for the ninth annual International Conference on Freemasonry, quite possibly relevant.

Ross, a professor of interdisciplinary studies at Dixie State University, is among several scholars and academics who will present at the conference, organized by Prof. Susan Sommers and this year titled Hidden Meanings: Esotericism and Masonic Connections. Ross’s research is on attitudes and taboos related to religious garments, specifically the long underwear that Mormon women are required to wear—but to never discuss with outsiders.

The subject matter may sound somewhat far afield from Freemasonry. But in important ways, it mirrors the secret, cloistered fraternal knowledge that defines Masonry, Ross explains. “There’s this whole coded insider language,” she says. “That creates an interesting mix of conditions in which people experience those things. It’s a specific kind of cultural signaling.”

Among the other subjects that will be discussed at the conference are “Freemasonry and Neoplatanism,” on the philosophical underpinnings of speculative Masonry; the founding of London’s Quatuor Coronati lodge in the 1880s and the birth of the “Estoteric School” of Masonic research; and an economic theory of the birth of Masonic esotericism.

The one-day conference is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door. Get more information at

Hidden Meanings:
Esotericism and Masonic Connections

Freemasonry offers everyone a pathway to self-improvement, fellowship, and community. For the committed few, it holds the promise of even more.

For more than 300 years, Masonic teachings and symbolism have attracted those in search of deeper, secret meanings about the natural and even supernatural world. These esoteric pursuits, shrouded in mystery and mysticism, have endured through the centuries and even today continue to fascinate seekers around the world.

On April 10, experts and scholars on Freemasonry will meet online to discuss the eternal quest for esoteric knowledge and its broader relationship to the craft. The ninth annual International Conference on Freemasonry is a rare chance for Masons and non-Masons to dive deep on metaphysics, antiquity, and the occult.

Conference Schedule

9:30 AM – Welcome and Introduction | Susan Mitchell Sommers 

9:40 AM – Introductory Remarks | Arthur H. Weiss, Grand Master

10:00 AM – Hidden Meanings Overview: The Golden Thread |
Susan Mitchell Sommers 

10:30 AM – Freemasonry and the Esoteric: Elitism, Insecurity, and Unenlightened Self-Interest | Ric Berman

 11:15 AM – Freemasonry and Neoplatonism | Jan Snoek

12:15 PM Lunch

1:30 PM –  Stephen Freeman of Antigua and London: A Respectable Rosicrucian |  Susan Mitchell Sommers

2:15 PM –  Hidden and Visible: Mormon Garments in Community | Nancy Ross

3:00 PM – The Esotericism of the Esoteric School of Masonic Research |
Henrik Bogdan

3:45 PM – Concluding roundtable: The Seen and the Unseen: Discussing the Undiscussable | John L. Cooper III, Past Grand Master, Susan Mitchell Sommers, Nancy Ross, Adam Kendall, William Moore and Shawn Eyre

The UCLA International Conference is sponsored by the California Masonic Foundation and the Grand Lodge of California.