Los Angeles: DeVorss & Co., 1940. First Edition. Hardcover. Small 8vo. , 13-43 pp. Limitation not stated but this copy is numbered "948." Original dark maroon pebbled cloth. Loosely inserted promotional leaf for "The Trowel" and Chela's "The Way to Civilization." Very good. Item #2438
Forgotten Freemasonry for Women. The author of this curious work, writing pseudonomymously as "The Chela," was the Director and head of the now-unknown Order of Ancient Active Masons; it is very possible that she was the sole member. From the introduction: "This little book contains the first seven of the thirty-three degrees of Ancient Active Masonry. It is the foundation of "The Order," and is now presented to become the foundation of World Peace and real Brotherhood."
It would appear that the Order of Ancient Active Masonry was an unacknowledged Masonic Order that allowed women to join. By 1942 The Chela was giving lectures "by request" at the Masonic Hall in Coronado (see: Coronado Eagle and Journal, no. 21, p. 4, May 28, 1942: "The Chela wishes it to be understood that she is not offering a religion. 'There are many fine religions in the world and no new ones are needed,' she states. 'We deal with those inner essences of man that are so little known. As alchemists we explain them and their operations for or against the fundamental laws of life. Naturally when you work with law, you must use the original law book—the Bible.'"
The Library of Congress, Catalog of Copyright Entries. Part 1. Group 1. Books (1940, New Series, vol. 37, No. 1, p. 311) identifies the author as Elta Leta Hoskins, of San Diego, CA. But this name is not exactly correct; born in 1894 as Alta Leta Loomis, the author also used the names Leta, Alta, and Ella. In 1940 she wrote "The Way to Civilization" of which no copy seems to have survived, and in 1941 a metaphysical novelette entitled "The Rug of Destiny" (1941) for which see Adams, "Books and Authors of San Diego" no. 741. Our copy contains a loosely inserted promotional leaf in which reference is made her forthcoming publication "The Two Ages: Reincarnation and Incarnation." No copy of this work has been found. In 1913 Elta married Lawrence Vivian Hoskins (d. 1947). She died in San Diego in 1983.
Of "The Trowel," Worldcat lists only the copy at NYPL.