by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners
My girlfriend, Lisa, has been enjoying "#bamaRushTok" on Tik Tok, where she has been given insight into several of the Two Thousand Three Hundred and Forty-Five young women rushing the sororities at the University of Alabama. She was a member of a sorority at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, so I think she can relate to many of what these young women are going through while sharing their experiences. She was recently watching several which revealed scenes from Bid day, which is when new members learn which house they will be joining. For a frame of reference, think about it as a process like the sorting hat scene in Harry Potter, except that in this case, it's not a magical hat doing the process, it boils down to a mutual selection process. Mutual selection starts with the Panhellenic council looking at each individual's ranking (for what sorority they want to join) as well as the scores the sororities gave each potential new member. These scores are based upon numerous factors including Grade Point Average, Volunteerism, and how well their personalities mesh with the other young women in the sorority.
Much like our ritual, the members of the sororities and fraternities vow to keep them a secret. However, much like "secret" ritual, I was able to find several sorority and fraternity initiatory rituals online. In reviewing the rituals, I was not at all shocked to see whoever authored the ones below was familiar with and/or borrowed from Masonic Ritual. PS: I'm going to purposefully keep the identity of the sorority and fraternity a secret, so any references to it have been removed and/or replaced with a substitute or substitute words. I also attempted to remove any modes of recognition, etc.
Below are snippets from the beginning of the Sorority ritual where the candidate is received into the sorority, it should seem pretty familiar. I have put my own commentary in BOLD ITALIC below:
E: Most worthy B****, someone approaches the door of our preparation room, giving the alarm.
B: You will attend the alarm and report the cause.
then approaches the door, gives the five distinct knocks, and opens the door.
E Who dares approach our secret place?
C … full name of candidate, a neophyte who has travelled alone, unguided and wandering in darkness, but who now desires to be brought to our paths, to be granted our light, by having and receiving part of the rights and benefits of our order.
E: By what reason does she expect to gain this distinction.
C: By the right of the fact that she is of the female sex, and having qualified herself according to the traditions and standards for membership as set for us by our Founders. By being a student regularly enrolled in … (name of College), by having received the favourable ballot of our chapter and by being vouched for properly.
E: Who vouches for her?
C: I do.
E: Is there any other reason why he should be permitted to enter into our midst?
C: By the right of the Pass, which she does not possess, but which I, as her C, hold ready to communicate.
C leaves Candidate, and advancing to the E, gives her the grip and whispers the password to her.
E: The pass is correct. You will wait until the B is informed of these conditions and her answer is returned.
Closes door, advances to the station of first pillow, and faces the B.
E: Most Worthy B, the interruption at the door was caused by … (full name of Candidate) who presents herself for Initiation into our Order, if found worthy.
B: Is the Candidate prepared, accompanied, and well-qualified according to the rules of our Order?
E: She is.
B: Then you will permit her to enter, but let her beware upon what she enters.
E returns to the door, knocks five times and says: It is the pleasure of the B that the Candidate be permitted to enter, but let her beware upon what she enters.
The C escorts the Candidate to the station of the first pillow, where she is met by the E . The E has gone to the altar where she has received the ****** from the B. The C assists the Candidate to kneel. The E presses the point of the ****** gently, but perceptibly to the forehead of the Candidate. If there are two Candidates, the E also obtains the ***** from the altar which she hands to the C to press against the second Candidate’s head.
E: Upon first entering our secret quarters you are met by the sharp point of a metallic ******, piercing your forehead. The moral of this is to teach you lessons of loyalty and upright conduct. If, at some future day, your sisters should see fit to entrust you the highest office of their chapter, may you then feel the presence and touch of this ****** in a manner wholly unlike the feeling it now produces upon your head. May its presence then be that of ease and pleasure, which can result only from Justice, Peace, Law, Truth, and Wisdom in your heart and actions. It is, furthermore, pressed to your head so that it may teach you, as it is now a torture to your physical being, may it ever be such to your moral being should you betray the guarded secrets of our beloved sorority.
The E then returns the ******* to the B who replaces it about the taper on the top tier. There is a pause here, but it does not detract from the service because everything is done quietly, deliberately and solemnly.
B: As true and loyal members of this sorority, we must never begin momentous undertakings without first invoking the blessings of the Deity. Therefore, all solemnly join me in the plea for help in this truly momentous task of acquainting this Candidate with the light of our paths.
The B repeats the following prayer: Vouchsafe Thine aid, Almighty father, to this our present gathering, and grant that this Candidate of this sorority may dedicate and devote her life to Thy service, and become a true and faithful sister among us. Bestow upon her Thy divine wisdom so that through the secrets of our Order she may be better enabled to serve Thy Holy Name. Amen.
B: The Candidate will rise, follow her C, and fear no danger.
The C assists the Candidate to rise, leads her to the front of the altar, turns to the left, and guides her around the back of the altar in a clockwise direction being certain that she does not retrace her steps at any time. They return to the front of the altar and face the B. During this time, the officers step slightly forward in their semi-circle so that the Candidate and her C pass behind them.
B … (full name of candidate), you have not proceeded so far but that you can retrace your steps and go your way in peace. Before going further you must subscribe to a solemn obligation. It will, I assure you, in no way conflict with your civil and religious views as a believer in the Christian religion. Are you willing to proceed?
Candidate: I am.
B: Sister C, you will place the Candidate in position for the Obligation.
The C helps the Candidate to kneel and places her hands upon the Bible. The C always stands at the left of the Candidate, and just to the rear. Her position is that of a guardian to the Candidate, whom she is always in a position to aid and guide. The Candidate is then given the Oath by the b. The Oath should be read distinctly and in short passages, in order that the Candidate may fully understand the import of the Oath she is taking, besides being able to repeat accurately any given phrases.
The candidate then gives the oath, which I have excluded. We pick up right after the Oath was taken.
B: I believe … (full name of Candidate) to be earnest and sincere in what she has just promised. She is now bound to us by the strong ties of her obligation. You will release her hands and relieve her from her blindfolded condition.
The B remains in the position behind the altar until the C has released the Candidate’s hands and removed the blindfold. The Candidate is given a minute in which to become adjusted to the light. The C helps the Candidate rise, then the B steps to her left and comes forward to the front of the altar, where she gives the Candidate the password and the grip. The B in imparting the password cautions that is never spoken above a whisper. In explaining the grip, the B interprets that the little fingers are locked in friendship and that the member giving it places her left hand on top to seal it. The B gives the Candidate an opportunity to give the password and the grip. She then returns to her position behind the altar.
At this time, the candidate receives their symbolic lecture. I have attempted to remove again any names of symbols which will directly give away the identity of the sorority. I have only quoted the below which are most in line with Masonic ritual.
B: You will now give your attention to the explanation of the Vignette in order that you may know and understand what our symbols teach us and thereby be enabled to abide by the noble precepts prescribed therein.
MB, picks up ***** and holding them in both hands: Justice is represented to us by the *******, which show the accuracy and severity with which Justice is to be meted out and administered, which principles we are bound to further in the world around us. Justice is that boundary or standard of right which enables us to render to every man his just dues without distinction. This virtue is not only consistent with divine and human laws, but it is the very element and support of civil society. As Justice, in a great measure, constitutes the real good of every man of woman, so should it be the invariable practice of every member of this sorority, never to deviate from this principle.
MB replaces the ******* holding it in both hands and leaving it in the sheath: The ****** demonstrates that Justice sooner or later overtakes us, and, although our thoughts, words, and actions may be hidden from the eyes of man, yet that “All-Seeing Eye” which pervades the inmost recesses of the human heart will reward us according to our merits.
Tamins picks up ****** in her left hand with the open side facing her right; right forefinger passes around the outside of the **** indicating the right angle: Law is represented by the *****, which teaches the straight and narrow way, and admonishes us to walk uprightly in our several stations before man and God, squaring ourselves by the ***** of virtue and remembering that we are travelling up the level to that discovering country from which bourne no traveller returns.
Logographos, picks up ******, holding it in both hands and leaving it closed until time for reading: Truth is represented by the *****. It is the divine attribute and foundation of every virtue. To be good and true is the first lesson taught every member of this sorority; hypocrisy and deceit are the opposites of truth and should be unknown to us.
The below is taken from a Fraternity initiation ritual, I have included the Opening, Closing and the presentation of the candidate up to his obligation:
SGM, *: Brethren, we are about to open a regularly convened session of the Supreme Chapter of *****. Brother T, you will assume your duties. Brother SP, you will see that all other officers are at their respective stations, and properly clothed.
SGM: Brother SP, you will advance in due form and satisfy me that you are in possession of the proper pass. Done. The pass is correctly reported, you will now proceed to collect the same from all present and report to me.
SSP: SGM, your order has been obeyed. I find all present qualified to remain.
SGM, * *: Brother WM, where is your station, and what are your duties in this chapter?
SWM: My station is opposite to and facing the SGM. My duties are to assist the SGM and preside in his absence.
SGM: Brother S, where is your station and what are your duties in this chapter?
SS: My station is at the right of the SGM. My duties are to keep a record of the doings of the chapter, attend to all correspondence, keep a register of the membership, collect all dues and pay same to ST, notify brethren of meetings, draw and sign orders for all proper demands upon the ST, and make a written report to the annual meeting of the Supreme Chapter.
SGM: Brother T, what are your duties in this chapter?
ST: My duties are to faithfully keep in a public depository, approved by the Supreme Council, all funds of this chapter, and pay the same out only on vouchers properly endorsed by the SGM and SS, and to make a written report of all transactions at the annual meeting.
SGM: Brother Ty, what are your duties in this chapter?
STy: My duties are to have charge of the door, announce arrivals, guard against intruders, and admit no one except by order of the SGM or SWM.
SGM Brother SP, where is your station and what are your duties in this chapter?
SSP: My station is in front and at the left of the SGM. My duties are to prepare and escort candidates, carry messages, and perform such other duties as the SGM may order.
SGM: Brother JP, where is your station and what are your duties in this chapter?
SJP: My station is in front and at the left of the SWM. My duties are to receive and introduce visiting brethren, assist the SSP in preparing and escorting candidates, carry messages, and perform other duties as ordered by the SGM or SWM.
SGM: And my duty as SGM of the chapter is to preside at all regular and called meetings. To see that all orders of the chapter are executed; sign all vouchers drawn upon its treasury; refer to the Supreme Council all matters regular and accidental which require its sanction, appoint regular and special committees, and nominate such officers as are thus provided for by the constitution or by-laws; and last, but not least, to have general oversight of such matters as concern the Fraternity, its chapters or individual members, using all available resources for the preservation of harmony, and strengthening of its bonds; and so secure a power which shall be helpful in elevating us as individuals to that ideal position to which our noble and beloved profession calls us.
* * *. Brethren in ******, give the sign of knowledge. Done. By virtue of the power vested in me as its SGM, I now declare this the Supreme Chapter
of ******* regularly opened and ready for the transaction of such business as may properly come before it.
SGM: BSP, you will retire and see if there are any candidates in waiting.
SSP: SGM, I here present the name of a candidate I find in waiting.
The Supreme Scribe reads the records.
Supreme Grand Master: Brethren, we have in waiting to be initiated, If there are no objections, we will proceed to confer the degree.
Brother S, you will take with you the P, retire, collect the usual fee, and administer the preliminary oath.
The chapter will be at ease until the sound of the gavel
The S and Ps retire to prepare the candidate for admission.
At this point, the S gives the candidate the preliminary oath, which I have omitted.
When the S re-enters the robin the chapter is called to order.
SS: SGM, your order has been obeyed and the candidate stands fully pledged, awaiting your further orders.
SGM: It is well, you will instruct the SP to present the candidate.
SP, with candidate properly clothed in white gown, and hoodwinked, approaches the door and gives signal.
STy: SGM, there is an alarm at the door.
SGM: You will attend the alarm.
STy: Who comes here?
SSP: The SP of this chapter with ***** …, an honorable gentleman and practitioner, who desires to share the knowledge and strength of this Fraternity.
STy: What qualifications can he present for our consideration?
SSP: He is a man of good character, earnest and sincere in his endeavors to gain knowledge and advancement in his chosen profession. He promises faithfully to stand by and uphold the principles of ******, and strive ever to be a worthy member.
STy Has he been advised of the nature of the ordeal he is required to undergo?
SSP: He has.
STy: Has he promised secrecy whether or not he passes the ordeal?
SSP: He has promised under oath
STy: Does he know what ******* signifies?
SSP: He believes this to be an honorable Fraternity organized for laudable purposes.
STy: Yes, my brother, and to be worthy of membership in this Fraternity, you must also have Knowledge, and you must have Strength, both moral and physical, to enable you to do justice to yourself and to those who may place confidence in you. To Candidate: Are you in accord with that sentiment …?
STy: Brother SP, you may pass with the candidate.
SP and JP with candidate pass the various stations, return to the SWM and salute.
SWM: Brother SP, why do you approach my altar?
SSP: Brother WM, I have the pleasure of presenting ***** …, who has been examined and permitted by the Supreme Ty to pass into your province. He seeks further enlightenment. He is in search of Knowledge, and desires to be fortified by Strength, and believes himself imbued with a sense of Justice that will enable him to worthily maintain membership in the Supreme Chapter of ********.
SWM: ****..., the Supreme Chapter of **** is a very select and exclusive body, which raises and upholds a high standard of manliness and professional conduct, to which all candidates for membership must qualify and subscribe. I will report to the SGM and will inform you as to his answer. Brother SP , you may conduct the candidate from the room.
Candidate is then conducted into a side room and the door left open.
SWM: SGM there is without ******. …, who has passed two provinces of our chapter and now desires to enter, that he may satisfy us of his worthiness to become a member of *******.
SGM: Brothers, you have heard the announcement of our SWM. ******… comes to us well recommended and has been favorably reported upon by our Board of Censors. I know of no objection to his admission. Brother WM, you may admit the candidate who is searching for Knowledge, Strength and Justice.
If possible introduce music.
March the candidate in directions to form a …, then around the hall, then form a …, and afterwards a …, stopping in front of the WM
The SWM leaves his station and approaches the candidate.
SWM: ******* …, among the things that came early to your knowledge was the direction of the rising sun. To the best of your ability now, please face the east. Doctor, you have lost the points of your Compass, which of course, is not strange under the circumstances. The lesson it teaches is this—that trifling things may render us, in a measure, helpless, and some times entirely so. It is also significant that at times we find ourselves in need of the kindly offices of a guiding and helping hand. In ******* we pledge ourselves to each other to be as watchful of a brother’s interests as of our own, and to stand by each other in the time of need. As you are at present unable to proceed alone we will endeavor to lead you in the right direction.
Brother SP, conduct the candidate to the station of the SGM.
The SP raises the hood-wink.
SGM: ****** …, will you please examine this substance before you and tell me what it is?
SGM: In your daily use of this substance, did you ever stop to consider its wonderful qualities, which make it stand first among the metals of the world? This precious metal, with which we are so closely allied in our work, is a fit emblem of the noble character that each member of our Fraternity should strive to maintain, and so deserve to have it said of him—“That man is as pure as gold.” Such high honor is not, however, obtained without trial and discipline. Gold is refined by fire and must remain in the crucible until all the dross and baser metals, which have been incorporated with it, are driven out. Pure gold has nothing to fear from the fire. In like manner a man with a noble nature withstands the fire of affliction, adversity, or even of misrepresentation and calumny, and will be able to thwart his adversaries by the purity of his character. He will endure the pressure of continuous labor and the hammering and beating of vexatious cares and petty annoyances without breaking with impatience or passion. Gold, then, with its myriads of rare qualities, its purity, its usefulness, its strength, its ductility, its beauty, its luster, its fineness and its precious worth, goes to symbolize a noble character, such as we all should sincerely endeavor to emulate.
Pledged to each other as brothers, as we are in this Fraternity, the best that is in us should govern our demeanor towards each other and make us true both in spirit and in deed. Believing that, united we are strong. What strength to influence for good, can there not be in a brotherhood whose standard of character and worth is so elevated, and whose members may always be associated, by the community at large, with honor and integrity, with worthy deeds and clean purposes? My brother, does this sentiment coincide with your belief and purpose in life?
BSP, you will conduct the candidate to the altar for the obligation.
If the Past SGM is not present the WM gives the obligation.
The obligation then takes place. I have omitted it as well.
SGM *: If there is no further business to be transacted at this session of the Supreme Chapter of *******, we shall proceed to close. Brother WM, have you any other business to present at this session?
SWM: I have none, SGM.
SGM: Brother S, have you any further business on your desk to present?
SS: There is nothing, SGM.
SGM: If there is nothing in the hands of the brethren we are prepared to close. * * *. We are now about to separate until our next regular meeting at the call of the Supreme Council. May our conduct be such as shall command the respect of the profession, and the continued confidence and united support of all brothers in ******.
By virtue of the authority vested in me as the SGM of this Fraternity, I herewith declare this session of the Supreme Chapter of ****** regularly and duly closed.
The Ty will take charge of the property.
END OF RITUAL
So, there you have it. What do you think of the similarities? Now, of course, I can't confirm this is still the ritual they are using currently. I find it just another example of how wide-reaching our Fraternity's influence is. Now if only we could figure out how to bring in Two Thousand Three Hundred and Forty-Five members yearly into our Grand Lodge? Maybe we need to start a viral Tik Tok campaign?
WB Darin A. Lahners is our Co-Managing Editor. He is a host and producer of the "Meet, Act and Part" podcast. He is currently serving the Grand Lodge of Illinois Ancient Free and Accepted Masons as the Area Education Officer for the Eastern Masonic Area. He is a Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph. He is also a plural member of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL), where he is also a Past Master. He’s also a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, Salt Fork Shrine Club under the Ansar Shrine, and a grade one (Zelator) in the S.C.R.I.F. Prairieland College in Illinois. He is also a Fellow of the Illinois Lodge of Research. He was presented with the Torok Award from the Illinois Lodge of Research in 2021. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.