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even though they had "merely" met as a dinner gathering of the four local lodges, this event still proved historical as it marked the formation of the first Grand Lodge in history. The year was 1717. This rapidly expanded into a regulatory body which most of the English Lodges joined, and it was soon named The Grand Lodge of England, or GLE. However, a few lodges resented some of the modernizations the GLE endorsed, leading to the formation of a rival lodge in 1751, called the "Ancient Grand Lodge of England". The two groups vied for supremacy for over half a century, until they at last united on the 25th of November, 1813, forming the United Grand Lodge of England. Freemasonry was exported to the colonies as early as the 1730's, with both the "Ancients" and the "Moderns", as well as the Grand Lodges of Ireland (formed 1725) and Scotland (1736), chartering offspring ("daughter") Lodges, and organizing various Provincial Grand Lodges. After the American Revolution (1775-1783) independent U.S. Grand Lodges formed themselves within each state.

Some thought was briefly given to organizing an over-arching "Grand Lodge of the United States", with George Washington (member of the Virginia Lodge) as the first Grand Master, but it was never accomplished. The oldest jurisdiction back in continental Europe is the Grand Orient de France (GOdF), founded back in 1728. However, most English-speaking jurisdictions cut formal relations with them in or around 1877, when the GOdF removed the requirement that its members have belief in a Deity, thereby accepting Atheists. This shows that Freemasonry has always been prone to schisms and divisions, with both grand competing ideologies and smaller city-based divisions flourishing.

An example of the latter, one among many, is the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra. This single Lodge, London-based, split off from the larger society sometime in the 1860's, yet remained active for many, many years. They eventually emigrated due to local rivalry, forced to re-locate to New York, sometime in 1898. Their tenancy proved brief, though, as the sudden and unfortunate death of their leader Dr. Carp, in 1901 forced them to flee westward yet again, settling this time in the city of San Francisco. This proved to be a baneful move, for they appear to have been annihilated at last by the 1906 earthquake, after which no traces of them could be found.

This is only one story of a single offshoot Lodge, but the nature of the Masonic movement ensured that there were dozens, if not hundreds, of such schisms and smaller groups leaving to fend for themselves on their own terms. Yet the interest in the esoteric was indeed strong enough to ensure that the various

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