Benevolent Order of Deer
Ritual Degree of Fraternity


1913


Object, Aims and Introduction

To raise the standard of morality for men equal to that required of women.
To guard the honor of man and the virtue of women.
To aid in business and social matters.
To build manual training schools for the children of members whom death has overtaken.
To aid our members to secure employment.
To stand by our members in adversity as well as success.
To take our wives, daughters, mothers and sisters with us in the Order, insuring them equal benefits.
To take our boys and girls during the age of adolescence, when they so much need counsel, love and protection.
To stand for an equal social standard for the sexes.
We, the members of the Supreme Association of Benevolent Order of Deer, believing in the Divine Law as a rule of life on earth, and in order to instill in the hearts of its members a sacred regard for the purity of the home circle, cultivate a spirit of fraternal and brotherly love, care for the sick members, provide for the widows and orphans of our deceased members, humbly invoke the Divine guidance of the Supreme Father of life, in the Supreme session now assembled, do ordain and establish this Ritual for the government of this Order.
We invite all white persons of good character and over sixteen (16) years of age, (Where the age does not conflict with State law) who believe in a general uplift of society morality, to join in this work.
In presenting this Ritual to the members of the Benevolent Order of Deer, the Supreme Association has endeavored to furnish something that will prove attractive and instructive to the entire membership. The lessons taught during the ceremonies are impressed upon the candidates by the proper presentation of the work so thoroughly that he or she will become an active member and assist in exemplifying the great principles of our Association.

 

Commit to Memory

The officers must study and commit the Ritual thoroughly, so that the meeting may run smoothly without friction. The members of the Order cannot have confidence in officers who are continually stumbling, and who do not know what to do next. Therefore, it is very essential that the officers commit to memory the entire Ritual, as the ceremonies lose effect when read.
The President of the Subordinate Association is held strictly responsible by the Supreme Association for the safe keeping of all Rituals. The President may permit an elective officer to take a Ritual home to study his part, provided that he signs a pledge to keep the same under lock and key when he is not using it. The President may allow members to assemble in the hall, and use the Ritual (with the same precaution as in a meeting of the Association.)

 

Opening Ceremonies

There shall be a Bible open at the 5th Chapter of St. Matthew, and the altar shall be decorated with the colors of the Association, red, white and blue.
President, gives one rap, calls the Association to order:
If there are any here who are not entitled to remain, they will please retire. Officers will assume their respective stations. If any officer is absent, the President will fill the station by appointing someone to occupy that station.
President:
Messengers, you will ascertain if the wickets are properly secured from all intrusion and report.
Messengers passing to the ante-room and seeing that both wickets are closed, returning to the hall, they will pass to the altar and salute the President and say:
Brother (Sister) President, we find that the wickets are safely guarded from all intrusion.
President gives 3 raps, calling up the membership. All members standing while taking up the password:
Messengers, you will ascertain if all present are entitled to remain. The Messengers will take up the password or words, commencing at the Presidentís station and stopping at the Vice-Presidentís station, passing from there to the altar and saluting. In taking up the password, should the Messengers come to a member without it, they will report the same to the President and the President shall find out from the Secretary if said member is entitled to receive the password by saying: Brother (Sister) Secretary, is Brother (Sister) Ö entitled to receive the password? When informed in the affirmative he will instruct the Messenger to give said member the password. We find, Brother (Sister) President, all are entitled to remain.
President:
Brothers and Sisters, we have again assembled for the advancement of the objects and anus of our Association. Remember that discretion in speech is more than eloquence, and that actions alone, speak louder than words, therefore, let us guard our every act and word.
We will sing our opening ode.
Done.
Chaplain:
Almighty God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, and all things therein, we humbly beseech Thee to be with us during this meeting, to instill into every memberís heart, what Love, Purity and Truth mean. Bless this Association in every aim and object it has undertaken for the betterment of the Human Race. Bless every member, and may our hearts be sincere and true, and when it is our time to cross the River, may we meet in the Great Beyond to be forevermore with Him who said, "Whatsoever ye would that men shall do unto you, do ye even so to them," and live forevermore with those that have loved their fellow-man, pure in thought, purpose and character, Truthful at all time, to live forevermore a higher, better, and purer life. We ask for the sake of Him who said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven." Amen.
All:
Amen.
President, gives 2 raps, seating membership:
Brothers and Sisters, it is my duty to keep order and assist you in our work. I hope to have your cooperation while we attend to the duties of our Association.
 

Degree of Fraternity

President:
Messengers, you will ascertain and report if there are any candidates waiting to be received into the Sublime degree of Fraternity.
Messengers salute President and retire to the ante-room and find out whether there are any candidates. Will re-enter the hall and after saluting the President, will say:
Brother (Sister) President: There await in the ante-room Ö giving the name or names of the candidates who seek to enter the door of our Fraternity.
President:
By virtue of the authority in me vested, I now declare the Degree of Fraternity opened for the transaction of business in this degree.
All members:
It is our pleasure, so be it.
President:
Messengers, you will see that the candidates are properly prepared, and with watchful eye and attentive ear see that each candidate thoughtfully repeats the obligation.
Messengers salute the President, retire to the ante-room and put a red robe on each Candidate and when ready to re-enter the hall. Knock at the door.
Guard of Purity:
Brother (Sister) Vice-President, our Messengers are at the wicket with candidates who wish to know the beatitudes of the Degree of Fraternity.
Vice-President:
Admit them. The Messengers enter and march around the hall with the Candidates, to the altar and stop.
President gives three raps, calling up membership.
Right hand Messenger:
Brother (or Sister) President, I present to you these Candidates who wish to pass through the solemn services of the Degree of Fraternity.
President:
What induced them to seek our Courts?
Messenger:
To be better qualified to live, and to better humanityís condition.
President:
How may we know that they are not imposters?
Messenger:
They are willing to stand the test of all who have gone this way before and to take upon themselves our Sacred and Binding Obligation.
President:
Who will vouch for them?
Messenger:
I will, Brother (or Sister) President.
President:
Candidates, before you take our Sacred and Binding Obligation, I promise you that it will not conflict with your domestic, political or religious duties, but by taking it, you may be called to aid the needy, uplift the fallen, counsel the erring, warn the tempted, visit the sick, bury the dead and console the sorrowing. These calls may come when the day is bright or the night dark. Therefore, are you willing to take our Sacred and Binding Obligation?
Those that answer "Yes" can take the Sacred and Binding Obligation. Those that answer ĎNo" must be excused and their money returned and the Messengers must conduct those that say "No" to the exit of the hall with brotherly love. The President will then say:

Messengers, you will conduct the Candidates to the Chaplain and he will administer to them our Sacred and Binding Obligation. The Messengers will conduct the Candidates to the Chaplainís station.
Messenger:
Brother (Sister) Chaplain, I present these Candidates who are willing to take upon themselves our Sacred and Binding Obligation.
Chaplain:
Candidates, place your left hand over your heart, raise your right hand toward heaven, give your name in full and repeat after me, our Sacred and Binding Obligation, and I charge you to answer me truly.
I, Ö, do solemnly declare and promise that I will comply with the rules and usages of this Association. That I will ever recognize the Supreme Associationís authority and will obey all orders, issued therefrom, not in conflict with my rights as a citizen. That I will not knowingly wrong or defraud this Order or any of its members, nor stiffer it to be done by others, if my protest and efforts will be heeded. I promise to assist and protect the members if this Order and their families, who prove themselves worthy of aid, so far as my ability will permit. I will not knowingly recommend for membership, anyone of unsound health, or immoral character; nor will I vote against anyone receiving the Degrees upon any personal grounds. I promise that I will not divulge or make public, its pass-words, signs, grips or secret work. I further promise that I will not misrepresent, slander nor gossip about a member of this Order, nor his family, nor will I silently hear anyone else do so, without uttering my protest in defending their names, and that I will make the Golden Rule my motto. "May God, the Father, who giveth needed strength, assist and aid me in keeping without reservation, this binding and solemn obligation."
When the Chaplain is through administering the Sacred and Binding Obligation, the Brothers and Sisters must all come to the altar and with clasped hands with the Candidates, form a ring around the altar and sing:

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
Before our Fatherís throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one─
Our comforts and our cares.

We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.
When we asunder part
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.
When through singing, the Messengers will conduct the Candidates the ante-room. While they are out, all lights must be turned off except a red light at the altar. Messengers will enter hall. The Brothers and Sisters will play and sing soft and low, the Degree Song, until the Candidates are seated near the altar.

 

The Object Lesson in Fraternity

In some part of the hall near the altar have several members seated around a table in earnest conversation about several prominent characters, the President of the United States, Mayor, etc. One will rise and say:
Brothers and Sisters, I saw a man yesterday who made me weary. I have never met a man who seemed to be so lacking in all the qualities that go to make a man. His talk was as disconnected as the North and South poles. He ought to have been bled in the frog of the foot or given a overdose of shoe string bitters. Great laughter and cheering by the rest. Let one in the Company, who has been listening, call him Defender, rise and say:
Defender:
Brothers and Sisters, we should deal gently with the strangerís name. "Birds of a broken pinion cannot soar. The sorrows which wear in the weeds of mourning often are the hardest to bear." To make you more cautious in your criticisms of those you do not know, let me inform you that the man yon have just laughed at, lost his reason a few weeks ago. He was once a brilliant star in the intellectual world, but the future holds forth no recovery. All hang their heads in shame. After this loving rebuke has passed from their minds, in a few minutes another stands and says: Brothers and Sisters, I know of whom I speak. I am not speaking of a crazy man. We have in this Association a man who passes for a saint, but it is time some one tore off his mask. He has received the applause of the people who worship him as a little God. He is a first class parody, a high handed grafter, a hypocrite of the deepest kind. It is time Mr. Ö using the name, although he is a member of this Association, had his hide aired and was taught a lesson in exposure. Great applause and cheering by the rest.
Defender, arises:
Comrades, forgive me for speaking again: think not of me as a man born in the objective case─but friendship is more to me than an admiration society, a service for selfhood, and "Amen" today and a "Crucify" tomorrow. The man whose name was just trailed in the dust is a friend of mine. Then turning and facing the one who had just spoken, Defender, with great indignation, savs: Sir, if Mr. Ö using the name were here, he would make you prove your charges or swallow them instantly, or be known as an assassin of moral character, a coward who is brave when the brave are absent. Pardon me, Mr. Ö using the name is here. I am his friend: apologize instantly. Great cheering by all. Many go to the traducer and insist on him apologizing. The Traducer rises slowly to his feet and walking over to the Defender, says meekly: Defender, would to God all me run true as thyself. I more than apologize for my rash statements and beg of you to prescribe what restitution I should make. Cheers by all.
Defender: Brave man, the deed is not only forgiven but forgotten. To resent may be manly, but to forgive is Divine. Comrades, fraternity means that it takes two to make, correct, and ever make a mistake again. We are brothers and sisters for better or worse. If I am weak and you are strong, to you the greater deeds belong. Dead men cannot smell flowers, dead brows need no crowns, dead lips need no kisses. Great cheering by all.
The Messengers will conduct the Candidates to the Chaplainís station.
Messenger:
Brother (Sister) Chaplain, I present these candidates to you for further instruction in the Degree of Fraternity.
Chaplain:
Candidates, you are now entering the Fraternal Degree of our Association. Fraternity means brotherly love. Love, and lo e alone, is the fulfillment of the highest law of human happiness.
The Savior of Mankind taught to do good, to love thy God with all thy heart, and the neighbor as thyself. What a happy and beautiful world this would be if all people would follow this law. All linked into one Universal Brotherhood. One of the ideas of this Association is to try to exemplify this noble teaching─to help a brother or sister in distress, to throw a shield of charity, brotherly love, and protection so as to ward off the arrows of hatred and malice. And to lend a helping hand to a brother or sister struggling up the rough mountain-side of human experience. This organization is intended to add materially to the number of our real and true friends. Friends that believe in us, because they have faith in us and know us, and have a true and noble friendship for us, because they have faith in our real worth of character. Friends that will speak a good word for us under all circumstances, and stand by us when the horizon seems dark. Friends that stand by us through evil as well as good reports. Such friends we will try to make for you; to have such friends, you must show purity of character, and nobleness of purpose, which is the highest aim of this Association. You are your brotherís and sisterís keeper, to guide, help, and warn them from the pitfalls of life. The old law, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," has passed away and given place to that nobler and higher commandment to do good to all alike. Remember that pure thoughts, virtuous aspirations and high ideals help to the realization of our noblest and best aspirations.
Messengers, you will conduct the Candidates to our President for final instructions in this degree.
Messenger:
Brother (Sister) President, we present these Candidates for the final instructions in this degree.
Guard of Purity, walks to the altar hastily and salutes the President and says:
Brother(Sister) President, here is a message for you and it is marked important.
President:
Brother (Sister) Guard, you may hand me the message. The President reads the message silently and says: Brothers and Sisters, I think that you should know the contents of this message before I proceed with these candidates. Therefore, I will ask the Secretary to read it aloud. Handing the message to the Secretary. The Secretary rises and reads the message aloud: To the President of the Benevolent Order.
Pardon me for interfering in your affairs, but I am assured that you are being imposed upon by this candidate Ö giving the name or names of the candidates you are about to admit into your Association. I have talked personally with the Candidate and he told me a great many ways whereby being a member of your Association that he will tell me all the secrets of your Association. I feel certain that he will be sick on your hands immediately and you will have a large doctor bill to pay beside the sick benefits, for he has weak lungs, and I believe that tuberculosis has already set in to do its deadly work. I have only hinted at a few of the least harmful things to your Association. I think a hint to the wise is sufficient.
President:
Brothers and Sister, you have heard the reading of the message, what shall I do with it? I certainly think it demands our immediate attention.
Vice-President:
Brother (Sister) President, Brothers and Sisters, I am certainly disappointed if this message is true. I am in favor, if we find it to be true, to take the candidate out of this hall the back way and by so doing we will show to the world that we are not to be imposed upon.
Past President:
Brother (Sister) President, Brothers and Sisters, I think it would be unbecoming of us as members of this Order to have the Candidate leave this hall the back way and forever bar him from other organizations. This message within itself will ever be a reminder that he should not talk too much. I am in favor of giving the Candidate a chance to explain.
A Member, rises sand says:
I think the message is explanation enough and several other members from different parts of the hall can say: I think so too.
President:
I would like to hear from our worthy Chaplain on this subject.
Chaplain:
Brother (Sister) President, Brothers and Sisters, I will admit that the message has some grave charges in it, and that we will have to be convinced that they are not true before we can proceed further with the candidate. If we find that the message is false on one point, I am in favor of paying no more attention to it, and considering it unworthy of our attention. Therefore, I suggest that we test the lungs of this candidate and find out for ourselves whether or not he has weak lungs. We have a lung tester that has never failed. It is recommended by the Physicians of our Association.
President:
You will proceed to test the candidateís lungs.
Captain will bring the tester. He should see that it is in good working order. Have flour or some harmless powder in the tester so when he blows it will fly in his face. Have clean water so when he draws it will fill his mouth. If the candidate fails to blow or draw hard enough, the Captain can say "Harder" until the candidate blows hard enough. After the test is over, the Captain can say:
Brother (Sister) President, I find the candidate with strong lungs.
President:
Brothers and Sisters, if you are all satisfied I will proceed to instruct the candidate.
Members:
We are satisfied.
President:
Pay strict attention while I explain this degree. The color of this degree is red. Emblematic of the red blood that courses all human hearts. This, we should ever bear in mind, that we all sprang from the common parent and will meet again on the common level at the grave. All well regulated halls have two doors or wickets, as they are termed, an outer wicket and an inner wicket. At each of these wickets is stationed a guard; at the outside wicket will be stationed the Guard of Fraternity, and at the inside wicket will be stationed the Guard of Purity. On wishing to enter the hall of a Subordinate Association you approach the outer wicket and will give one distinct rap, or pull of the bell, if there is a bell. The Guard of Fraternity will open his wicket and you will communicate to him the Universal Password (which is Ö) so low that no one but the guard can hear it. This will admit you to the anteroom, where you will clothe yourself in the color of the degree in which the Association is opened, for this degree is red; you will then give three low and distinct raps and the Guard of Purity will open his wicket and you will communicate your name and number of the Association, of which you are a member, to him. He will close his wicket and will report you to the Vice-President, and if there are no objections, he will reopen his wicket and you will communicate to him the explanation of the Universal Password (which is Ö) and the password of the degree in which the Association is opened, which for this degree is Love; to be lettered at all times, when used for working purposes, thus: L. O. V. E. Then the Guard of Purity will open the door and admit you to the hall; you will then approach the Altar and give the sign of this degree, which is: lock hands and fingers and hold in front, parallel with elbows.
The answer is the same as the sign, and is used on entering or leaving the hall while opened in the first degree; it means fraternal love. The President will answer the sign in the same manner. You are at liberty to take your seat or retire from the hall, as the case may be.
The Messengers will conduct you to the ante-room and will assist you to work your way into the hall.
Messengers conduct the Candidates to the anteroom, and assist them to re-enter the hall and give the passwords and signs.

 

Closing ceremonies

President gives three raps:
Brothers and Sisters, we are about to close this session and return to our families and friends in the outer world. Let us ever be mindful of the truths taught by our Association, and always bear in mind the three cardinal principles: Love, Purity and Truth, and so conduct ourselves as to add credit to our Association.
We will sing our closing ode.
After singing this, the Chaplain will pray.
Chaplain:
Our Father who art in Heaven, we thank Thee for Thy protecting care over us. We ask Thee to be with each member of this Association, until we meet again. We ask Thee to impress upon each memberís heart the supreme importance of living a pure life in fraternal brotherly relations with all mankind. We ask it for Christís sake.
All:
Amen.
President:
I now declare this Association closed until our next regular session. Giving date and hour of next meeting.


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