Order of the Amaranth


The Supreme Order of the Amaranth was founded in 1873 in New York City as a fraternal order for Master Masons and wives and female relations (either blood or adopted) of Master Masons. There were 59,000 members in 1993.
The Order of the Amaranth is an example of Adoptive Masonry, the system whereby women are not allowed to become “real” freemasons but are permitted to organize and run subordinate lodges, provided they can secure the patronage of a (male) Master Mason.
It is also an illustration of the capacity for schism that is exhibited by so many fraternal orders: It was originally intended as the third of the degrees in the Order of the Eastern Star, but was rejected by that order and there­fore set up on its own account in June 1873. Until 1921, applicants for the order had to be members of the Eastern Star, but, since then, Masonic connections have been enough.
The order has little or no connection with the Royal and Exalted Order of the Amaranth, allegedly founded by Queen Christina of Sweden in 1653, nor with the short-lived Order of Amaranth founded in New York City on June 14, 1873, by J. B. Taylor.

As with many female auxiliaries, especially in the United States, there is a stronger Christian flavor to the ritual than is to be found in the parent organization, which subscribes essentially to deism. In addition to Christian hymns, the initiation involves singing a verse of “Home, Sweet Home.” As is usual in adoptive masonry, a Master Mason must be in attendance at initiations, where the candidate is given bread and salt, crowned with a wreath, and tapped on both shoulders with a wreath, somewhat after the fashion of a knightly investiture.
The Amaranth ritual is about Truth, Faith, Wisdom and Charity.

The order seems to be in decline. In the 1960s, there were more than 85,000 adherents; by the middle of the 1970s, they were down to 83,000; in 1988, only 75,000; and a year later, just 70,000. In 1994 there were just 44.000 members left.