on Freemasonry and Mormon Undergarments

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

By Ian Stewart

“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 freemason.org.