Ancient Order of Foresters – Initiation Ceremony

This ritual is from 1907.

When a Candidate is to be initiated, who has been duly approved by the Medical Examiner, favorably reported on by the Investigating Committee, and regularly accepted by ballot, he shall attend a regular meeting of the Court. At the proper time, the J.B. shall report to the S.B. and the S.B. to the C.R. that a Candidate, Mr ..., is outside the portal seeking to obtain light upon the mysteries of Ancient Forestry.
The C.R. shall therefore give *, which shall be similarly responded to by the S.C.R. The C.R. and S.C.R. thereupon arise the C.R. saying: Officers and Brothers, Mr. ..., a Candidate for initiation into the mysteries of Ancient Forestry, is outside the portal of this Court. Worthy Sub-Chief Ranger, can you assure the brethren that he is a sober and discreet person that he has no affiliation with any illegitimate Society claiming to work under the name of the Ancient Order of Foresters in any guise, and that he is, so far as your knowledge extends, eligible to be initiated a member of this Court.
After having examined the application, the S.C.R. says: Worthy Chief Ranger, the Physician of this Court has carefully examined the Candidate as to his physical condition, and has certified that he is eligible to membership. The brethren have exercised their prerogative, and you have examined the result of their ballot, and certified the same to be favorable. I therefore take pleasure in assuring you that the Candidate is worthy of admission.
The C.R. gives *, seating the S.C.R.
C.R.: My Brothers: You have heard our worthy Sub- Chief Ranger certify that the Candidate in attendance is worthy to associate with you on equal terms in this Court. But I now ask as a final safe-guard against the introduction of unhealthy or unworthy persons into the Order if any member knows of any circumstance which would debar the candidate from becoming a worthy and beneficial member of this Court and of the Order, that he forthwith proclaim the same or forever hold his peace.
Should any objection be raised, its merits must be discussed at once, and a vote taken upon its validity. A majority vote shall determine whether the Candidate should be initiated.
Should no objection be raised, the C.R. will proceed as follows: Officers and Brothers: The Candidate will be brought into the room blindfolded, and I bespeak for him your utmost courtesy and consideration. Remember that he is your guest, and in order that he may be properly impressed with the mysteries on which he is about to receive light, I particularly request that all private discourse cease, and that you devote your whole attention to the ceremony of initiation. The Secretary will retire and collect the balance of the initiation fee.
The Secretary salutes and retires, collects the balance of the initiation fee, returns, salutes, and reports at the altar.
After everything is in readiness, the C.R. calls to order. *
C.R.: Worthy Sub-Chief Ranger, is the Court prepared to proceed with the initiation?
S.C.R: It is.
C.R: Worthy Sub-Chief Ranger, you will now retire with the Woodwards and introduce the Candidate.
The S.C.R. and the Woodwards, with their battle axes drawn, advance to the altar, salute and retire. They repair to the ante-room and divest the Candidate of his coat and vest, blindfold him and tie his hands behind his back. The S.C.R. addresses the Candidate: Sir, I have been authorized by our Worthy Chief Ranger to enquire of you your name.
The Candidate replies.
S.C.R.: And likewise your place of residence.
The Candidate replies.
S.C.R.: I have further to enquire whether you have previously been a member of the Order, or proposed to become a member in any other Court?
If the Candidate should say he has, his answer must be at once reported to the Court, and his initiation not proceeded with until Rule 124 of General Laws has been complied with. If the answer of the Candidate is in the negative, the Sub-Chief Ranger will address him as follows: Sir, at your own request, you are about to be made a member of the Ancient Order of Foresters. It will be required of you that you solemnly affirm that you will divulge none of the secrets or mysteries you are about to be intrusted with, and that you will implicitly follow the instructions you will be given. For the Court which you are about to join, I can say, that no pledge will be required of you which will conflict with any of the duties you owe to yourself, your fellow man, your country, or your God. There is yet time to retire if you so wish. Are you willing to enter and conform to the laws and customs of Ancient Forestry?
If the answer is satisfactory, the S.C.R. takes the Candidate’s left arm. The Woodwards fall in behind. The S.C.R. gives *,
responded to by the S.B. throwing a chain against the inside of the door four times and * * by the S.C.R. and C.R.
S.B.: There is an alarm at the portal, Worthy Chief.
C.R.: An alarm! Who seeks to penetrate the glades of Sherwood Forest at this unseemly hour? Ascertain the case, good Will Scathelocke.
The S.B. opens the door and says: Our Chief Ranger, Robin Hood, bids me inquire the cause of this unseemly commotion in the glades of Sherwood Forest! What seek ye, and whom would ye find?
S.C.R : I am little John, and back of me are Will Scarlet and Midge, the Miller’s son. While wandering in the forest we happened upon a stranger, who could give no good account of himself, and we straightway seized and bound him, and have brought him hither, that Robin Hood, our Worthy Chief, might see and question him.
S.B.:  Has he a name?
S.C.R.: He has, but he refuses to give it!
S.B.: Wait ye outside the threshold until I have informed Robin Hood of his tale, and get his answer.
The S.B. leaves the door open and addresses the C.R.
S.B: Worthy Chief Ranger, the commotion outside the portal is caused by Little John, our Sub-Chief Ranger, and Will Scarlet and Midge, the Miller’s son, our Woodwards, who, finding a stranger in the glades of Sherwood Forest, have brought him hither to be interrogated.
C.R.: A stranger, and in Sherwood Forest! Bring him in that we may hear what tale he has to tell!
S.B.: By command of our Chief Ranger, Robin Hood, you will advance over the threshold three steps.
The S.C.R., the Candidate and the Woodwards advance over the threshold three steps. The door is closed. The S.C.R. and the Woodwards fall back one step. The J.P.C.R. steps up lightly, places his left hand on the Candidate’s right shoulder and says: My friend, you are now just over the threshold of a Court of Ancient Forestry. You have come here fettered and half clad, and are now about to act a part in a drama which actually took place over seven hundred years ago, when Ancient Forestry had its practical inception. The explanation will be furnished to you in due season. So far as it lies in my power, I will befriend you, and will answer such questions as may be put to you. Be of good courage!
The S.C.R. and the Woodwords resume their positions beside the Candidate, the J.P.C.R. grasping his right arm. They walk slowly around the room twice to a slow march by the organist, and halt in front of the C.R.’s chair.
C.R: How now, Little John? Who is this stranger whom ye bring into the glades of Sherwood Forest? He is hot one of our band, and for aught we know, may be a spy sent by the Sheriff of Nottingham to pry into our affairs. Where found ye him, and what does he seek?
S.C.R.: Worthy Chief Ranger, while wandering and seeking news of Will Stutley, who, as you well know, went forth in search of adventure some two days ago, we fell across this stranger. He refused to give his name, but said he was seeking Robin Hood, and thinking he might be a spy, we bound him and brought him here that you might question him.
C.R.: You did well, Little John, to bring him here! Addressing Candidate: You seek Robin Hood, the out-law, you say? Know, then, that I am Robin Hood, and all around me are the Merry Men who have thrown off the thraldom of servitude, and the overweening oppression of feudal lords and purse proud prelates in civic courts, that they might enjoy the free air of heaven in these true Courts of Sherwood Forest. What do you seek with Robin Hood? Speak truly and fully, and if your mission be for good, so harm shall befall you!
J.P.C.R., speaking for the Candidate: As Little John has truly said, Will Stutley, one of your Merry Men, set out in search of adventure two days ago. He donned the gown of a curtial friar, and was sitting apparently in meditation at the door of the “Blue Boar” Inn, when a band of the Sheriff of Nottingham’s retainers stopped at the hostelry. By accident, they discovered his disguise, and not-withstanding that he made a vigorous resistance, they made him prisoner, and carried him off to Nottingham town. The Sheriff has sentenced him to be hanged by the neck when the clock strikes eight tomorrow morning, and unless he is rescued before that time, he surely will die on be gallows. It was to tell you this that the stranger cane here, and now that his tale is told, he fain would depart in peace.
C.R.: If this news he true, then indeed is poor Will Stutley in a serious plight. What shall we do, my Merry Men? Shall we go to Nottingham and beard the Sheriff in his den and take his prey away? Will Stutley, next to Little John, is the best bowman we have, and even if his rescue were impossible, we can ill afford to lose him. In unity there is strength, and with seven score good yeomen such as you are, banded in ties of unity that draw us together, there can be no such word as failure. What say you? Is Will Stutley to hang?
Members: No! No!
C.R.: Then get ye ready, and we shall go to Nottingham town at break of day, and save poor Will Stutley from the gallows.
S.C.R.: Gently, good master, gently! There is no man that I love more than Will Stutley, and I gladly would peril my own neck to save his; but what assurance have we that this stranger tells the truth? It may be that this is a photon the part of the Sheriff to beguile us from the recesses of Sherwood Forest, in order that he may be better able to set his minions upon us and do us damage. The stranger may be, and, indeed, looks honest enough, but, if he be speaking truthfully, why did he refuse to give his name, and why did he attempt to escape when Will Scarlet, Midge, the Miller’s son and I called upon him to halt? Methinks he is but a retainer of the Sheriff who to curry favor with our arch-enemy, has laid this plot that we might be taken unawares. If ye would take my advice, good master, ye would hang him from the limb of yonder tree as a spy, nnd here is the rope to do it.
Chorus of Members: Hang him! Hang him!
The S.C.R. and the Woodwards grasp the Candidate, and throw over his head a rope, provided with a running noose, and a knot at a proper distance to prevent it from being pulled too tight, They pull it tout, so that the Candidate may feel the strain upon it, and proceed to pull him off. The Officers must use cautious care and common sense at this part of the ceremony, so as to avoid causing injury or offence to the Candidate, and with practice and skill this scene can be acted in an entirely effective but perfectly unobjectionable manner.
J.P.C.R.: Hold! Would you hang a man who is not only innocent, but at great personal risk to himself has brought you word of the danger in which one of the chiefs of your band is placed? This stranger’s name is of no moment, and his running away when observed can be accounted for by his belief that you were the King’s Rangers. When he saw who you were, he came with you peacefully enough, did he not? Then why talk of hanging him? Time enough for that when you know he is a spy. Would it not be better policy to keep him here until you return from rescuing Will Stutley at Nottingham, and in the meantime, if he be willing, enlist him as a member of the band?
C.R.: Well said, good brother! Never shall it he said that Robin Hood permitted a defenceles man to be hanged as a spy without evidence that he is such. If he be willing to pledge himself to us, then will he prove himself a true man. What say you, straiger? Are you willing to take the obligation which hinds us here as brothers?
Candidate: I am.
C.R.: What say you, brothers? Are you satisfied that this stranger shall bind himself to us and our cause by the vow that we all have taken?
Members: We are.
C.R.: Then will Little John and our Woodwards conduct the stranger to the spreading oak, where allegiance to the band is taken, and place him in position to assume the formal obligation.
C.R., S.C.R., Woodwards and J.P.C.R. accompany the Candidate to the altar where he kneels on his left knee. The S.C.R. removes the bonds binding the Candidate’s hands, and the Candidate places his right hand on his heart, the index finger of his left hand pointing upwards. The S.C. R. holds the rope so that the Candidate may still feel the strain. The Candidate repeats after the C.R. as follows:
Candidate: I, do solemnly and sincerely promise and declare, in the presence of the assembled brethren, that I will give a willing and implicit obedience to the laws which govern this fraternity and this Court that I will at all times yield a ready compliance with the orders issued by the Chief Ranger, so far as they are consistent with the laws of Ancient Forestry and the will of the majority of the members of this Court; that I will do all in my power to further the objects for which we are united, and will never attempt to sow dissension or create discord among the members, but, on the other hand, will do my utmost to preserve the harmony and brotherly feeling which are the chief support of the institution; that I will never reveal to any person not a member of the Order, any of the signs, signals, grips, passwords, or test words, by which Ancient Foresters are recognized, either by word, sign, or writing, and that I will use the utmost caution in ascertaining the Forestric standing of any stranger, before imparting to him any part of the written or unwritten work of the Order. To all of which, I do most solemnly and sincerely pledge the honor of a man who respects the value of truth and the sacredness of a promise.
The Candidate rises.
C.R.: Worthy Sub-Chief Ranger, if you are now satisfied that this stranger is sincere in his promises, you will withdraw the cord which is still about his neck.
S.C.R.: Worthy Chief, if it is your command that the cord be taken off, it shall be done, but as the stranger is to accompany us to Nottingham at daybreak to assist in the rescue of Will Stutley, will it not the better serve him as a reminder of his oath, that he should wear it about his neck, and will it not suit our purpose better, that, if he should prove a traitor, we can the more readily hang hun on the spot.
C.R.: As you will Brethren, the eastern sky is rosy with the promise of sunrise. See to your arms, that we may start for Nottingham.
Tune: “God Save the King”
Armed with a righteous cause,
Spurning oppressive laws,
Freemen are we.
When danger or distress,
Or tyrant’s hands oppress,
For wrongs we seek redress
In unity.
At this point the members pass about the room as if preparing for a start. The J.P.C.R takes hold of the rope and the Candidate’s right arm, and walks him slowly around the room (see diagram A) saying as they go:
J.P.C.R.: My brother, you have taken an obligation which satisfies me that you are an honest man. It is not enough, however, that I should be satisfied, but each brother in the Court must have his every doubt removed. We are now at the market place in Nottingham, and it lacks but three minutes to eight o’clock. Robin Hood and his band are prepared to effect the rescue of Will Stutley, and
I will leave you here, where the battle will rage the thickest, in the hope that, your story being true and your promises sincere, we shall meet again in the shades of Sherwood Forest, Farewell!

The Candidate is left standing between the altar and the J.P.C’s. station, facing the altar. (See diagram A) A bell strikes eight. The members constituting the Sheriff’s party begin to march slowly round the room, beginning at the door an going round by way of the Physician’s station, passing behind the Candidate, Will Stutley being in the centre, between two members, his hands loosely bound behind his back. He soliloquizes as follows:
Will Stutley: Alas and alack! I fear this is the end of poor Will Stutley. Yonder shines the sun which I am now to look upon for the last time. There stands the grim gibbet upon which I am to hang like a dog: I, who but a few short hours ago, stood a Saxon freeman in the glades of Sherwood Forest, breathing the free air of heaven, and owing allegiance to no one but God and my conscience. Struggling with his bonds. Oh ! had I but the strength to break these bonds, to throw off these cursed shackles, and stand for one short moment in the strength of my manhood, I would show these caitiff knaves that Will Stutly is a worthy disciple of Robin Hood. Ceases his struggles. But, no, I cannot break them!
Procession stops opposite the Candidate, between the altar and the Physician’s station.
Will Stutley: And now stand on the gallows alone! Yonder comes the hangman with his black mask and sable cloak! A few short moments, and I shall be swung into eternity. Farewell, sun! Farewell, green trees and verdant fields! Farewell, my companions of sweet Sherwood Forest! Oh! If ye did but know to what straits poor Wil Stutley is reduced, ye would be here and sweep these minions of an unjust law before you like chaff before the wind. Ah! who is that standing yonder at the foot of the gallows? A mist fills my eyes and I cannot see. Surely it is, it is Little John.
The C.R. blows a horn.
Will Stutley struggles with his bonds. There is commotion in the room as Robin Hood’s men engage the Sheriff’s party. Cries, shouts, etc., arise, the Candidate being jostled about in the centre. The battle surges over the room, the Candidate being carried with it. The Sheriffs men seem to prevail, and they finally lay hands on the Candidate, the leader crying:
Sheriff: Here is the robber; here he is! See, he has the rope still about his neck! Hang him, quick!
They pull him off round the room, followed by Robin Hood’s men. After considerable jostling the Candidate is rescued by Little John and his men.
Great caution must again be used, so as not to injure or offend the Candidate. The C.R. must see that the Candidate is not handled roughly. Any officer or member who handles a Candidate roughly in any part of the initiation ceremony, may be dealt with according to General Laws, for conduct unbecoming a member of the Order.
The commotion in the room ceases and the Candidate is led to the front of the J.P.C.R.’s station. Little John removes the bandage and says:
S.C.R: My brother, you have had a narrow escape from death at the hands of the Sheriff’s retainers. It will please you to know that we rescued Will Stutley, and that we no longer doubt your courage, or honesty of purpose. Your story was true in every detail, and the doubts which we entertained of your sincerity were unfounded. As I placed the noose around your neck, I as publicly remove it, and welcome you as a worthy member of our band. Removes the noose and shakes his hand. I will now conduct you to our Worthy Chief Ranger who will instruct you in the principles of Unity.
Conducts the Candidate in front of the C.R., where the S.W. has already placed a chair.
C.R.: My brother, for such I may now call you; you have acted your part nobly well, and have proved yourself worthy to associate with us, and receive still further evidences of our confidence. You have taken part in a drama which, seven hundred years ago, actually took place. Will Stutley, one of the lieutenants of Robin Hood, was captured by the Sheriff of Nottingham and condemned to be hanged. Robin and his rangers, to the number of seven score, repaired to Nottingham, and put to flight ten tunes that number of the Sheriff’s retainers by the sheer force of discipline and unity. The lesson to be drawn from the scene which has just been enacted is, that “in Unity there is Strength.” Sometimes this precept is illustrated by exhibiting a bundle of sticks, exhibits a bundle of sticks where one may easily be snapped in twain, but where the strength of Hercules would be insufficient to break the united bundle. The purpose of this object lesson us to teach you that concerted action is the key-note to success. As a Court, we can know no prosperity, can make no progress, unless our members work in unity and harmony for its best interests, and bear with each other’s faults and shortcomings which are the common inheritance of all mankind. In the Order, as a whole, each Court must work in harmony with every other Court in spreading the beneficent works of Forestry to the uttermost ends of the earth, so that all mankind, irrespective of creed, color or nationality, may finally be embraced in its membership, and call their fellows brothers. Worthy Sub-Chief Ranger, you will now conduct the Candidate to the Past Chief Ranger, who will instruct him in the principles of Benevolence.
Tune: “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys are Marching.”
To the members of our band, we extend a helping hand,
Blending sympathy with truest common sense;
And we strive to do what’s right, working thus with all our might,
Shunning charity, to show Benevolence.
Then learn well what the Order teaches:
Keep its lessons in your mind;
No false charity we preach, no excesses do we teach,
But a ready, helping hand you’re sure to find.
The S.C.R. conducts the Candidate around the room while the ode is being sung, finally placing him in front of the P.C.R.
S.C.R.: By command of Robin Hood, I present Bro. ... to be instructed in the principles of Benevolence.
P.C.R.: My brother, as you are doubtless aware, Robin Hood is regarded as the founder of Forestry, and with good reason. The moral principles which he practised in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries were crude in their conception, and somewhat harsh in their execution, but the cardinal doctrine of his motives and methods was to help the poor, to cheer and protect the unfortunate, to relieve and provide for the widow and the orphan, and to aid and assist the members of his fraternity when they were in need of succor. In these days of modern civilization, Robin Hood’s practice of taking from the rich to give to the poor would be called robbery, but in the feudal times in which he lived the emancipation of men from oppressive laws was still in its infancy and justice was hardly to be obtained. Robin Hood was therefore the apostle of a new philanthropy. Outlawed for his opposition to the tyrannical customs which prevailed, he proclaimed by his actions, right in the teeth of those who had cut him off from communion with his fellow men, the doctrine of the brotherhood of man, which Robert Burns, the ploughman poet, has so finely expressed in the sublime lines:
Then let us pray. that come what may,
As come it will for a’ that
That sense and writh o’er a’ the earth.
May bear the gree and a’ that;
For a’ that and a’ that,
It’s coming yet, for a’ that,
That man to man the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that.
With the emancipation of mankind from the thraldom of feudalism, with the development of Christian civilization and the march of liberty and fraternity, have come the opportunities of self help. It has been truthfully said that nothing is more uncertain than the proportion of sickness and death which falls to the lot of the individual, but that nothing is more certain than die percentage of sickness and death among a multitude of men. As a multitude of men, seeking to help each other, and to bear one another’s burdens, the Ancient Order of Foresters exists and has existed from time immemorial. It assumes the individual’s inevitable liability for sickness and death, and distribute it among a number of his fellow members, who willingly bear their share, knowing that their own turn will come in time.
This, then, is Benevolence: the refined robbery of Robin Hood, The word “Benevolence” is derived from two Latin words signifying good will, and is synonymous with benignity, humanity, tenderness and kindness. It does not mean charity: for charity, while a worthy virtue, and the corner stone of many societies, has no place in the Forestric vocabulary. We do not dispense charity. Whatsoever our members may receive, they obtain as a matter of right, for which they have paid, and for which they are expected to pay.
As a Forester, therefore, we expect you to display this most excellent teaching of our profession: the exercise of Benevolence toward your fellow members and their families.
P.C.R.: Worthy Sub-Chief Ranger and Woodwards, you will conduct the brother to the preparation room, and clothe him suitably to receive further light in Ancient Forestry.
The Candidate is prepared by taking off his coat and vest. His left arm is bared to above the elbow. He is not hoodwinked or bound. It is necessary that all the lights in the Court-room be put out. At the altar will be placed two alcohol asbestos lamps, one at each side, filled with a preparation, for which the recipe will be found on the instructional pages of this ritual. The members must be grouped in horse-shoe shape round the altar, facing the S.C.R.’s. station, and must remain perfectly stilt while the Candidate is introduced and takes the obligation. The spirit lamps must not be lighted until the door is about to be opened to admit the Candidate. The C.R. stands ot the altar, within the horseshoe, facing the S.C.R’s. station.
So soon as the Woodwards have the Candidate ready to enter, the S.C.R. says: My brother, you are now about to be presented to Robin Hood, our Worthy Chief Ranger, for the purpose of taking a further solemn and binding obligation. Are you ready and willing to enter? The Candidate replies.
The S.C.R gives * * * * * on the inner door. When the members are ready at the altar, the S.B. will respond with * * * * *. The S.C.R. will then respond with * * and the S.B. with * *, whereupon the C.R. will silently swing open the door, and the S.C.R. holding the Candidates left arm and followed by the Woodwards will march in file to the altar, where they will stop (See diagram B).
C.R.: Bro. ...,if you are willing to take the obligation you will kneel at the altar on both knees, Candidate kneels place your right hand on your heart Candidate and all present do so, and raise your naked left arm with the index finger pointing upward, all present do so, as you see those around you do, and repeat after me.
I, ..., of my own free will and accord in the presence of the assembled brethren, do solemnly and sincerely promise and declare, in addition to the obligation heretofore taken by me, that I will conform to all the laws and obligations, now in force or hereafter to be enacted, by which the Ancient Order of Foresters as regulated and controlled, or in default thereof will submit to the penalties therein contained; that I will further so far as in me lies the purposes for which the Order is constituted, and that I will not make known its signs or passwords, either by word, sign or writing, except to the Brotherhood or in Courts legally assembled. Furthermore, I will to the best of my ability, so far as my means will permit and the circumstances of the case will warrant, exhibit in a practical way the principle of Benevolence towards distressed members of the Order, and will by all legitimate means at my command see to it, that no undue advantage is taken of any member, his wife, widow or orphans, in pecuniary matters, connected with the Order or out of it. I make this pledge upon the honor of a man who respects the value of truth and the sacredness of a promise, in the presence of the assembled brethren, and under the all-seeing eye of the Supreme Chief Ranger of the Universe.
C.R.: My brother, having taken this obligation, you will arise and be taken whence you came, and there further prepared to receive more light on the mysteries of Forestry.
The S.C.R. takes the Candidates left arm and conducts him from the room without saluting, followed by the Woodwards, the Officers and members remaining around the altar until they have retired. The J.P.C.R. thereupon follows him out.
The S.C.R. hoodwinks the Candidate and ties his hands behind his back and removes his shoes. When the Court-room has been lighted and is prepared for the Candidate’s reception the S.C.R. hands him over to the J.P.C.R., who says: My brother, you will remember that on a former occasion I befriended you, and answered for you questions which you could not answer yourself. So far as the usages of the Order will permit, I will perform a similar office for you again, but it will largely depend upon your own conduct how far I may be permitted to befriend you in your coming emergencies. I counsel you to submit yourself to whatever may be done to you, and if you will bear in mind that we are your friends and not your enemies, your reasoning powers will prompt you to acquiesce willingly in whatever ordeals may be necessary to bring you to a full fellowship with us. Are you ready to enter?
The Candidate replies.
The J.P.C.R. gives * * * * * on inner door. When the Court is ready the S.B. replies with * * * * *. The J.P.C.R. then gives * * and the S.B. * *. The door is swung open The J.P.C.R. and the Candidate enter, the J.P.C.R. on the Candidate’s left. The S.B. closes the door, and when the Candidate is three or four steps over the threshold, the S.B. seizes him by the shoulders during the colloquy. (See Diagram C)

S.B: Hold! By what right do you seek to gain admission to the secret swainmote?
J.P.C.R: Be still, and let us pass.
S.B. : Pass, you cannot, until you give me the word that gives you the privilege. Have you the Word of a Forester?
J.P.C.R.: I have.
S.B.: Advance and pledge it.
The J.P.C.R. gives word in a whisper with the grip.
S.B., releasing the Candidate: The Word is right! Pass on!
The J.P.C.R. and the Candidate pass around the room by way of S.C.R.’s. station, where the latter is standing. He grasps the Candidate by both shoulders, and shakes him, bringing him to a sudden stop.
S.C.R.: Hold! Who seeks to travel the road that leads to the secret swainmote? Have you the Word of a Forester?
J.P.C.R.: I am deputed to pass a stranger through the recesses of Sherwood Forest.
S.C.R., shaking the Candidate: Answer my question!
J.P.C.R.: I have the Word.
S.C.R.: Advance and pledge it.
The J.P.C.R. gives the word.
S.C.R.: The Word is right and you can pass on, but the stranger cannot pass until he, too, has given the Word of a Forester.
J.P.C.R.: He has it not, but will be in possession of it on his way back, and you must needs let him pass.
S.C.R.: Pass, he shall not, without the Word! Shakes the Candidate Give me the Word of a Forester!
J.P.C.R.: He has it not, but comes here by express command of Robin Hood himself.
S.C.R.: I care not for that! Shakes the Candidate Give me the secret Word, or it will be the worse for you!
J.P.C.R.: He cannot give it! He has it not!
S.C.R.: Then he must die! For the third and last time, with this instrument of death at his throat, pressing the back of a knife to his throat, I ask him for the Word of a Forester, without which none can pass in either direction.
J.P.C.R.: Nay, him you shall not slay, for I am his friend, and have brought him here! I shall defend him. Attempt to block our passage, and you shall be successful only over my body! Unhand him, I say!
The S.C.R. and J.P.C.R. struggle together. Finally the S.C.R. falls to the ground at the Candidate’s feet, where he lies still.
J.P.C.R., taking the Candidate’s left arm again: My Brother, before passing you through the portal of the Court, I promised to befriend you to the extent of my ability. The proof of my sincerity lies at your feet! His refusal to recognize a higher authority has laid him low. We are now about to pass into the presence of one whose power in the present emergency is supreme, and to whatever he may do, you and I must bow in submission, if we value our obligations. We will now step over this body, they step over S.C.R., and we are now approaching the spreading oak which forms a canopy to shelter from the bent of the sun and the inclemencies of the weather, the hind to which you have hitherto sworn fealty. Robin Hood himself is in the centre, and gathered around him are his followers. Listen!
The following ode may be sung by all the members in the Court-room, but a more pleasing and impressive effect would result if it were sung in the ante-room, by a complete quartette.
Tune: “Royleston”
Blest be the tie hat binds
Our band of brothers here,
By acts of friendship true we work
In Unity sincere.
To cheer the widow’s heart,
We ask no recompense;
The orphan’s tears we wipe away
By true Benevolence.
No strife demeans our Court,
We work with one accord,
To cheer the sick and aid the weak,
While dwelling in Concord.
That Court is doubly blest,
Which keeps these precepts three,
And crowns its efforts for mankind
By truest Sympathy.
The Candidate and the J.P.C.R. pass once round the room and halt in front of C.R’s station. (See diagram C). As they walk the J.P.C.R. says.: A few steps farther, and we will be in the immediate presence of Robin Hood! I counsel you to be of good courage!
C.R : Who comes here?
J.P.C.R.: One who has a right to come, accompanied by a brother who has been duly instructed in the principles of Unity and Benevolence, and who seeks light in the principles of Concord.
C.R.: Are you in possession of the Word of a Forester?
J.P.C.R.:  I am.
C.R.: Advance and pledge it. Word is given by J.P.C.R. in a whisper with the grip. The Word is right! Has the stranger the Word?
J.P.C.R.: He has it not.
C.R.: Then how did he gain admittance?
J.P.C.R.: Through the courtesy of the Senior Beadle at the outer portal and by disabling the Sub-Chief Ranger at the inner portal when he sought to block his passage.
C.R.: By what means did this stranger, bound and blinded as he is, succeed in doing this?
J.P.C.R.: Through the readiness of a friend to relieve him in his distress and by that friend’s exemplification of the Word of a Forester.
C.R.: Do you claim the tight for him to sit in this secret swainmote?
J.P.C.R.:  I do!
C.R.: By what token do you ask this right?
J.P.C.R.: By the tokens of Unity, Benevolence and Concord, and because be has taken the solemn and binding obligations of the Order.
C.R.: Stranger, do you ask this privilege for yourself?
Candidate: I do!
J.P.C.R.: And I vouch for us worthiness!
C.R.: Then let the bandage be taken from his eyes that he may see what will befall him, should he violate his obligations.
At this point the Secretaries and Treasurer present their spears at his breast, the Woodwards at each side poise their axes as if to strike, the C.R. and the S.C.R. draw their bows and point the arrows at his heart, the C.R. from the front and the S.C.R. from the back, and the Beadles raise their bludgeons in the act of bringing them down on his head.
The J.P.C.R. removes the hoodwink from the Candidate’s eyes, and steps back so that the Candidate stands alone. The Officers maintain their positions during the following colloquy.
C.R.: Behold the penalty of transgression! In view of the vows you have already taken, do you promise to be faithful to all your obligations on your journey with us through the forest of this life ?
Candidate: I do!
C.R.: It is well!
All the Officers withdraw their weapons and remain standing around him.
C.R.: Worthy Junior Past Chief Ranger, you will release the Candidate from his bonds, and reconduct him whence he came; that he may once more be properly clothed; after which you will return him to this station for further instruction.
All other Candidates who were merely obligated and have witnessed the conferring of this degree upon the Condidate, will here be placed in line by the S.C.R.; then the J.P.C.R and Candidates retire, without saluting, followed to the door by the other Officers in double file, as follows: S.C.R., Treas., Sec., Sub.Sec., S.W. J.W. (See diagram D).
When in readiness they will return to the room where the Candidates are stationed in front of the C.R. The first verse of the Initiation Ode is sung:
Tune: “God Save the King”.
Brothers! attention keep,
Whilst our Host Worthy Chief
Gives you the charge.
Bords of society
Friendship and Sympathy;
Honor and Secrecy,
Let all Unite.

C.R.: I am now authorized to address you by the name of Brother, and to welcome you, on behalf of this Court, into our honorable Order. You have bound yourself to us by a solemn obligation which demands reverence and respect. It becomes you, therefore, from the present hour, to honor our principles by an unblemished course of conduct, whereby you will reflect credit upon your own character as a man, and add to the dignity and stability of an Order with whose progress your own interests are now associated.
I shall now proceed to make you acquainted with the Grip, Word, and Signs o the Order.
The Grip of a Forester is given thus ....
Here the C.R. shall give the Grip.
It is intended as a memorial of the dependence upon each other of our first parents, who, when expelled from the Garden of Eden, through the sin of disobedience, became, in more than a figurative sense, the first Foresters; the wilderness of the world before them, with all its dangers, difficulties and temptations. We are taught by this to recognize the duty of walking hand in hand through the forest of this life, and of helping each other to surmount its struggles, and to bear up under its disappointments.
The Word of a Forester is symbolized in the letter S * * * and points to it. The three colors, Scarlet, Gold and Lincoln Green, typify the virtues inherent in Forestry, namely, Unity, Benevolence, and Concord, and the letter stands for the word of a Forester, which is the corner stone on which the whole structure is reared. The Word is .... It expresses the active interest we take in the welfare of our brethren, and our readiness to share their burdens and relieve their distresses. It is the same the world over, and is never changed. *.
The Salutation Sign of a Forester is given thus, ....
The Woodwards will here takes one step backward, and after the sign has been exemplified, they will resume their position near the Candidate.
C.R.: It is emblematic of the act of our first parent, Eve, in plucking, eating and offering to Adam the forbidden fruit, and is intended to remind us of the duty of obedience and submission, and the penalties of transgression.
It shall be imperative upon the C.R. to give the correct sign.
The Password for the current quarter, which is always given in a whisper, accompanied by the Grip, thus, is ....
The C.R. will here give to the Candidate the current quarterly Password.
C.R.: In addition to the Salutation Sign, and Grip, we have other Signs of Recognition with which I will now acquaint you. Should you at any time when among strangers, desire to ascertain if there is a brother Forester present or near you, you are at liberty to make this sign, .... Should your challenge be recognised by an Ancient Forester, he will answer you thus, .... You will then advance toward each other, when you will say to him, ...? He will respond, .... You will then ask him, ...? He will reply ..., and extend his hand, which you will accept and permit him to give you the grip of a Forester, which, if correct, you will return.
C.R.: I now present you with a copy of the General Laws, also the By-laws of this Court, which I trust you will study carefully, so as to be conversant with the Laws of the Order.
I will exemplify this work with the Sub-Chief Ranger, for your benefit.
The C.R. leaves dais, and he and S.C.R . stand in front of the Candidate and exemplify the work.
C.R.: You will notice that the sentences begin with U., B., C. and S., which refer to the three virtues of the Order, and the symbolic letter S. Worthy Sub-Chief Ranger, you will invest the Brother with the apron and teach him its symbolism.
S.C.R., facing Candidate and holding the apron before him: As the Grip in which you were heretofore instructed is a symbol of the dependence upon each other of our first parents, and the Salutation Sign reminds us of the penalties of transgressing the commands of the Divine Creator, so is the apron, with which I am now about to invest you, symbolical of the aprons of fig-leaves with which Adam and Eve clothed themselves when the sin of transgression made them self-conscious of their nakedness. The apron is in the shape of an inverted triangle, and is formed of four lesser triangles. Those on the corners in Scarlet, Gold, and Lincoln Green represent the virtues of Unity, Benevolence and Concord, while the triangle in the centre contains the symbolic letter S in gold upon white or silver field. This apron you will wear only in the Court-room. Its symbolism will ever remind you of the obligations you have taken, and that, as a Forester, we expect you so to conduct yourself that no reproach may be brought upon the Order, and no contempt upon yourself.
Invests the Candidate with the apron.
From this point the ceremony may he concluded by some Past Chief Ranger or superior Officer who is present, provided always, the Chief Ranger is disposed to depute such duty to another.
C.R.: Brother, you have been invested with the apron of Forestry and are now admitted as a member of our Society, and entitled to the privileges of the Order. On behalf of this Court I offer you, then, the right hand of fellowship.
Here repeat the Grip.
C.R.: From you we expect in return, a ready compliance with our customs, and an honest obedience to our laws. We are united together, not only for the wise purpose of making provision against those misfortunes which befall all men, and of assisting those who require our aid, but for the moderate enjoyment of friendly intercourse, and the temperate interchange of social feeling. We look, therefore, to find exemplified in you a strict regard for all the obligations of life: that you should be charitable in judgment, forbearing in temper, and lenient in condemnation: knowing that, in return, these qualities will draw forth our esteem and awaken our regard. We encourage no excess in our meetings, and enforcing no creed in religion, or code in politics, we permit neither wrangling nor dissension to mar our harmony, or interrupt our proceedings. In your outward acts and dealings as a Forester, we expect you to be sober, upright and conscientious: willing to help, ready to relieve, obedient to the laws of our country, and respected in the circles in which you move. In your domestic relationship we look to find you: if a husband, affectionate and trustful: if a father, regardful of the moral and material well being of your children and dependents: as a son, dutiful and exemplary, and as a friend, steadfast and true. These qualities will command the admiration of mankind, and in you, as a member of our Society, they will dignify our Order, consolidate its power, and extend its benign influence.
We welcome you among us, then, upon the principles of Unity, Benevolence and Concord, and we trust that in your future course through life you will be impressed with a due sense of the expectations we have formed of you, and of those duties and obligations which it should be the aim of every member of the Order to recognize and fulfill.
Worthy Sub-Chief Ranger, you will now conduct the brother to the worthy Junior Past Chief Ranger for further instruction and examination.
The S.C R. and Woodwards will then proceed with the Candidate to they P.C.R., the S.C.R. saying: Worthy Junior Past Chief Ranger, by direction of our worthy Chief Ranger, I herewith present to you Brother ... for further instruction and examination.
J.P.C.R.: Brother, I will now examine you in the Salutation Sign, Recognition Sign, Countersign, Grip, Word, and Password.
Thus having been done, the J.P.C.R. proceeds: In addition to these, we have Signs and Signals of Distress, in which I will now instruct you. Should you be in danger or distress, and need the help of a Brother Forester, you may use the Distress Sign, which is made by .... The answer to this sign is made by .... Should you be unable to attract attention by the use of this sign, you may use these words, .... Should this sign be observed, or these words be heard and understood by a true Ancient Forester, he will answer you either by sign or in these words, ..., and immediately go to your assistance. Should your attention at any time be attracted by this sign or these words I charge you in the name of friendship and Forestry, go quickly to the assistance of your brother in danger, and render him such aid as may be within your power.
I will now instruct you how to enter or retire from the Court while in session.
You will advance to the inner door and give * *     * * , and to the Senior Beadle give the Password for the current quarters you will then enter the room and advance to the centre and salute the Chief Ranger, giving the Salutation Sign, thus ..., using the words “Worthy Chief Ranger” and if correct, he will answer it, and you will be at liberty to take your seat. If you wish to retire before the Court is duly closed, you must salute the Chief Ranger in the same manner as on entering.
The Voting Sign of a Forester is given thus, ....
I will also exemplify to you the use of the Gavel, the symbol of authority’. One Rap (*) calls the Court to attention, or seats it when standing. Two Raps are for the Officers to assume a standing position (* * Officers arise). Three Raps will summon the whole Court to arise (* * *, Court arises and remains standing until the Candidate has left the room.)
With the various tests now in your possession, you will experience no difficulty in proving yourself an Ancient Forester, or in gaining admission into a Court of Ancient Forestry.
The Woodwards will accompany the S.C.R. and the Candidate as far as the portal, and then return to their stations.
The new brother having been instructed by the S.C.R. in the ante-room, the caution being taken that no strangers are present or within hearing, he will give the usual alarm, etc. for admission. On being admitted, he will salute the C.R. and remain standing at the altar in the centre of the room. The S.C.R. will be admitted at the same time the Candidate is and follow a few paces in the rear, and slightly towards the left of the latter, saluting the C.R. at the same time as the Candidate. The S.C.R. will then proceed to the right side of the Candidate, and thus remain until the circle is formed.
Tune: “God Save the King.”
Brothers I have nought to fear
True honor’s court is here,
Love, truth and joy!
Benev’lence here abounds,
Concord our evening crowns,
While every heart resounds,
God bless our cause.

S.C.R.: My brother! We are not associated here merely to glorify and do honor to each other, but to cement still firmer our fraternal relations, and so unite our influence, that while our social pleasures are increased, and our individual security against adversity augmented, we may also exert a combined influence in elevating the character and exalting the dignity of the human race.
In your intercourse with us, remember that brotherly love is the pervading spirit of our institution. In discussion, let your language be temperate; in demeanor, let your conduct be respectful. Let your whole deportment be an example of moderation and good behaviour, without which no institution can permanently prosper; and in the fraternal interchange of deeds and sympathies, may we ever have cause to look upon you as a true Ancient Forester, standing among us and walking before the world with all the excellence of an upright man.
The J.P.C.R. and the C.R. will here enter the circle.
J.P.C.R.: This circle which surrounds us is a type of our endless bond of brotherhood. Now let us add our new brother to our fraternal circle, placing the new brother in the circle line with the other members, directly opposite the J.P.C.R.’s chair, with the hope that be will remain faithful to all our obligations on his journey with us through the forest of life.
Response by the officers: Be faithful!
C.R.: This is our fraternal circle, and I cannot look upon these goodly pillars, and doubt the stability of our noble Order. Brothers: Let our emulation be: Who shall prove the most upright pillar, the staunchest support and the brightest ornament in our Forestric band!
Response by all: So let us strive!
Welcome Ode
Tune: “Nettleton,” 8s and 7s.
Welcome, brothers, welcome ever,
To our Court in Friendship’s name;
Here we greet you kindly, brother,
Trusting you will do the same.
All our hopes are one in union
All our strength may we unite;
Then let us meet in sweet communion,
Ready ever to do right
Here we meet in joy and gladness
May we always happy be,
Free from sorrow, grief and sadness,
In the bonds of Unity.
May our Order always prosper;
Grow in strength and common sense
Help the sick, that none may suffer
While we have Benevolence
May our Courts prove always blessings,
To each brother thus afford
Peace instead of wanst distressing,
While we dwell in sweet Concord.
During the singing of the Ode, the Officers of the Court in the following order, viz , J.P.C.R., C.R., S.C.R., Treasurer, Secretary, S.W., J.W., and S.B., followed by visiting Officials will march pass the new member, each one extending his hand, giving the new member the Grip of a Forester and expressing a welcome greeting to him. The Officers and visiting officials, after greeting the candidate, will proceed to their respective stations in the foregoing order, and remain standing until the singing of the Ode is finished; the circle of the members of the Court meanwhile remaining intact. The ceremony having been concluded, all the members and visitors will remain standing, while the C.R. proceeds as follows:
Foresters’ Fire (nine only)
C.R: Brethren: The ceremony of Initiation having been concluded, you will please become seated, and resume the business of the Court. *.