Zeta Tau Alpha
Initiation Ritual

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The Conductor leads the Candidate to the door of the Initiation room, having ascertained either in the playing of music or by having sounded the whistle that all is in readiness. Conductor maintains contact with Candidate as long as she is blindfolded so there is a leading of security.
The Conductor gives five distinct knocks, representing the five points of the Crown. The Epimeletes answer by giving five knocks, in order to advise the Conductor that she is aware of the Conductor’s presence. The Epimeletes then leaves her place at the door, and walks to the end of the white aisle─the station of the first pillow.
Epimeletes: Most worthy Basileia, someone approaches the door of our preparation room, giving the alarm.
Basileia: You will attend the alarm and report the cause.
The Epimeletes then approaches the door, gives the five distinct knocks, and opens the door.
Emmeletes: Who dares approach our secret place?
Conductor: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.
Emmeletes: By what reason does she expect to gain this distinction.
Conductor: 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.
Epimeletes: Who vouches for her?
Conductor: I do.
Epimeletes: Is there any other reason why he should be permitted to enter into our midst?
Conductor: By the right of the Pass, which she does not possess, but which I, as her Conductor, hold ready to communicate.
Conductor leaves Candidate, and advancing to the Epimeletes, gives her the grip and whispers the password to her.
Epimeletes: The pass is correct. You will wait until the Basileia is informed of these conditions and her answer is returned.
Closes door, advances to the station of first pillow, and faces the Basileia.
Epimeletes: Most Worthy Basileia, the interruption at the door was caused by … (full name of Candidate) who presents herself for Initiation into our Order, if found worthy.
Basileia: Is the Candidate prepared, accompanied, and well-qualified according to the rules of our Order?
Epimeletes: She is.
Basileia: Then you will permit her to enter, but let her beware upon what she enters.
Epimeletes returns to the door, knocks five times and says: It is the pleasure of the Basileia that the Candidate be permitted to enter, but let her beware upon what she enters.
The Conductor escorts the Candidate to the station of the first pillow, where she is met by the Epimeletes . The Epimeletes has gobe to the altar where she has received the Crown from the Basileia. The Conductor assist the Candidate to kneel. The Epimeletes presses the point of the Crown gently, but perceptibly to the forehead of the Candidate. If there are two Candidates, the Epimeletes: also obtains the Square from the altar which she hands to the Conductor to press against the second Candidate’s head.
Epimeletes:  Upon first entering our secret quarters you are met by the sharp point of e metallic Crown, 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 Crown 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 Zeta Tau Alpha.
The Epimeletes then returns the Crown to the Basileia 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.
Basileia: As true and loyal Zeta Tau Alphas, 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 Basileia repeats the following prayer: Vouchsafe Thine aid, Almighty father, to this our present gathering, and grant that this Candidate of Zeta Tau Alpha 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.
Basileia: The Candidate will rise, follow her Conductor, and fear no danger.
The Conductor 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 Basileia. During this time, the officers step slightly forward in their semi-circle so that the Candidate and her Conductor pass behind them.
Basileia:(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.
Basileia: Sister Conductor, you will place the Candidate in position for the Obligation.
The Conductor helps the Candidate to kneel and places her hands upon the Bible. The Conductor 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. Tha Candidate is then given the Oath by the basileia. 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.
I do solemnly swear, in the presence of an all-seeing God and these witnesses, never to divulge any secret of this order, under any circumstances, anywhere, to anyone; and pledge my word of honor that I shall always endeavor to guard the same from the idle curiosity of all outsiders.
I further do solemnly promise to strive to bring my daily life into accord with the principles of our Constitution, and so conduct myself as to protect the fair name of Zeta Tau Alpha.
Moreover, I bind myself to seek advancement of this Fraternity by all lawful means. I promise to cultivate the friendship of each member and do all in my power to preserve harmony and love in this chapter.
I do solemnly promise to stand by any member of Zeta Tau Alpha, to befriend her, and to strive to help her as long as she shall conduct herself in a manner worthy of this Order. May God help me to keep these obligations!
Basileia: 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.
Officers rise.
The Basileia remains in het position behind the altar until the Conductor 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 Conductor helps the Candidate rise, then the Basileia steps to her left and comes forward to the front of the altar, where she gives the Candidate the password and the grip. The Basileia in imparting the password “Arista” cautions that is never spoken above a whisper. In explaining the grip, the Basileia 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 Basileia gives the Candidate an opportunity to give the password and the grip. She then returns to her position behind the altar.
Basileia: 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.
The Basileia removes the Crown from the altar at which point the Epimeletes leads the chapter in rising. During the following speech, the Basileia touches each point of the Crown beginning with the center one; to the first on her left; to the first on her right; to the bottom on her left; to the bottom on her right.
Basileia: The five points of the Crown represent the five attributes of our patron Goddess Themis, which attributes are Justice, Peace, Law, Truth, and Wisdom.
She then places the Crown on her head, using both hands. The Epimeletes leads the Chapter in being seated. Before each part of the Vignette is given by the various officers, the Basileia announces the attribute to be explained. The officer takes the symbol from the altar, steps to the front of the altar and holds it before the Candidate while explaining it to her.
Basileia: Justice.
Meion Basileia, picks up Scales and holding them in both hands: Justice is represented to us by the Scales and Sword of Themis, 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 Zeta Tau Alpha, never to deviate from this principle.
Meion Basileia replaces the Scales and picks up Sword holding it in both hands and leaving it in the sheath: The Sword 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.
Basileia: Peace.
Grammateus, picks up Bible, holding it in both hands and leaving it closed until time for reading: Peace, which is the key-note of the teachings of Christ, is represented by the Dove and the Olive Branch, and is the highest attribute found in the Bible. Opens Bible and reads Galatians 5:22, 23.
Basileia: Law.
Tamins picks up Square in her left hand with the open side facing her right; right forefinger passes around the outside of the Square indicating the right angle: Law is represented by the Square, 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 Sqaure of virtue and remembering that we are travelling up the level to that discovering country from which bourne no traveller returns.
Basileia: Truth.
Logographos, picks up Bible, holding it in both hands and leaving it closed until time for reading: Truth is represented by the Bible. It is the divine attribute and foundation of every virtue. To be good and true is the first lesson taught every Zeta Tau Alpha; hypocrisy and deceit are the opposites of truth and should be unknown to us. Opens Bible and reads Ephesians 4:25.
Basileia: Wisdom.
Basileia picks up taper with right hand from the second tier on her right and hands it to Meion Basileia. After the explanation, the Meion Basileia gives it back to the Basileia to replace on the altar.
Meion Basileia, holds taper in both hands: Wisdom is typified by the burning taper. Let us seek heavenly Wisdom that it may illuminate our minds, guide all our doings, teach us to be rational and intelligent beings, guarded in words and actions, and helpful to our fellow creatures, so that in old age we may enjoy the happy reflections consequent upon a well-spent life and die in the hope of a glorious immortality.
Basileia: You have had given you the five attributes of Themis─Justice, Peace, Law, Truth, and Wisdom. Study them carefully
Following this, the Basileia picks up the taper in her left hand from the second tier on her right, swings slowly left and steps back so the candle lights the Charter. She is careful not to turn her back on the Candidate, moving the candle to point to and light each object as it is explained. The Conductor turns the Candidate slightly to face the Charter.
Basileia: Pictured in our Vignette is the Bible, which we have so solemnly declared to reverence and obey, for it contains the principles of Love and Truth, the greatest treasures of all humanity and the highest attributes of God Himself. The Chain is the mystic chain of Themis which binds all chapters of Zeta Tau Alpha together. It now has … links include all charter grants when explaining the Chain your chapter making the …. May your link never be broken.
The Flower of … is the white violet which is the symbol of purity.
The Colors of … are steel grey and turquoise blue, which represent strength and truth.
The Cloud typifies the eternal presence of that High Power.
Following this, the Basileia moves forward to light the Banner, holding the taper in front of each section as that part is given.
Basileia: The Banner of Zeta Tau Alpha is divided into three parts. The letter “A” is the initial of our password “Arista” which admits you into the court of Themis. Here, by Themis, you are instructed in all those principles which make for a nobler and truer womanhood in the world. In the third field, is the burning taper of heavenly Wisdom illuminating our lives, and through us, the lives of others.
The Basileia replaces the taper on the altar and takes up the framed colored copy on the Coat of Arms in her right hand. She comes from the right side of the altar and holds it so that the Candidate may see it clearly, pointing out the various parts with her right forefinger as they are explained.
The ritualistic meaning of the Coat of Arms, which is secret and which is now being revealed to you for the first time, is a beautiful story of:
Long years ago, when knighthood was in flower,
And noble youths rode forth adventuring,
Each on his armor bore some talisman.
The emblem of his noble lineage,
The symbol of his own purposes.
Thus past and future, welded, held him true,
In a uncompromising loyalty.
So you receive, in this heraldic form,
The glorious past of our Fraternity
And your devoir to keep the emblem pure.
This is the shield, armor of those who dare
To fight the wrong and champion the right;
In quarters four, see how each becomes
A square, the square of loyalty and truth.
Bearing two colors, of a kindred hue
The argent, silver gleam of purity
And azure, the talisman of Heaven’s truth.
In two and three, a cinquefoil of the first
Five-pointed, like the golden crown of Themis,
The violet whose virgin purity
Is the fair flower of true womanhood.
Here are nine billets drawn in sable bend,
The noblest guerdon that a knight might win.
So these to us forever represent
The noble heritage our Founders gave,
Above a crown in d’or, and radiant,
Five gleaming points that grace fair Themis’brow.
Her symbol this, and her five attributes,
Justice, Peace, Law, Truth, and Wisdom here are held.
This is a chain of five links fesswise drawn,
Symbol of unity and loyalty that binds
Each chapter with each other sister group;
A bond no human power can ever break.
To right and left, a blue and silver scroll,
Protecting mantling of the warrior’s shield,
Forever guards our secret ritual.
Last stands our motto, bearing up the whole,
Zetei Ta Arista, the noblest seek!
Be not content with any lesser goal
Than this, the noblest things of life.
So shall you prove yourself a worthy knight!
The Basileai turns to her left and returns to her position behind the altar replacing the framed copy of the Coat of Arms.
Logographos steps to the front of the altar picking up the framed colored copy of the Honor Ring, holding it in het left hand and using her right forefinger to point out the symbolism.
Logographos: About the turquoise stone and silver band of the Honor Ring of our Fraternity is gathered all the beautiful and deeply significant symbolism of Zeta Tau Alpha; the Crown, the Coat of Arms, the open Book. It is a guerdon of the highest honor to which some distant day you may aspire, te token of our love and faith in those who, having gone into the larger services of life beyond these college walls, continue to serve and to inspire by their unfailing vision and sustaining leadership, the life of this Fraternity.
The Logographos returns the Honor Ring picture and resumes her position.
The Grammateus removes the Badge from the top altar tier and holding it in her left hand, steps to the front of the altar facing the Candidate to explain the Badge. Her right forefinger points out the symbolism.
Grammateus: Oud Badge is in the shape of a shield with a smaller black shield raised upon it, on which is the name in Greek of our patron Goddes, Themis. In the center of the shield is a crown, the five points of which represent the five attributes of Themis, which attributes are Justice, Peace, Law, Truth, and Wisdom. The Greek letters Zeta Tau Alpha are arranged around the crown, and they are the initial letters of our open motto is “Zeta ta Arista,” which means, “Seek the Noblest.” Our secret motto is “Let us be united in love.” This pin shall be worn only by those regularly initiated into this Fraternity.
Basileia says to Conductor: You will conduct the Candidate to the Logographus and permit her to prove herself in possession of these secrets, and return to the station of the Basileia for further instructions.
While the Basileia is saying this, the Logographos moves to her position at the table of the Logographos where she remains until the end of the service. In giving her instructions and explanations to the Candidate, the Logographos uses a normal tone of voice, whispering only the password. The Conductor guides the Candidate to the table of the Logographos. The Logographos then asks the Candidate to give her the grip and the password, offering assistance is necessary. Upon receiving these correctly, the Logographos shows the Candidate how to write her name officially and explains that the correct form is the Rubric way, that it was done in the days of old to identify family connections, and that it is never used in open correspondence. She shows the Candidate, on a plain piece of  paper, that one … writing another would sign her name thus, with a line pointing toward the heart, at the end of either the first or last name.
The Candidate then signs her name below that used for demonstration after which the Logographus will have her sign ger full legal name in the Initiates’Signature Book. This shall not be the secret signature.
The Logographus then gives the Candidate the official knock─two shorts, pause, one long─and whistle, which is the official call.
In giving the whistle, the Logographus explains what the call is─whistle─… and what the answer is─whistle from another member of the chapter located in the far end of the room─”What do you want with me?” The Candidate is then returned to the station of the Basileia in front of the altar.
The Basileia turns to her left and comes forward to the front of the altar where she removes the Badge from the top altar tier and holds in in her left hand facing the Candidate. If another Candidate is being initiated at the same time, the Meion Basileia comes forward at the left front of the altar and removes the other Badge from the top altar tier, holding it and facing this Candidate until the indicated time for pinning at which point she pins it upon this Candidate. It is also permissible to have a mother or other designated member pin on the Badge at the indicated moment stepping forward from her position as the nearest witness to the altar to do so.
Basileia: I now present to you this Badge. It may be that in the coming years, upon your head may rest the laurel wreaths of victory; from your breast may hang jewels lit to grace the diadem of an Eastern potentate; nay, more than this, your ambitious feet may tread round after round up the ladder that leads to fame in our mystic circle, and even the purple of our Fraternity may rest upon your shoulders; but never again until your enfranchised spirit shall have passed upward and inward through the Pearly Gates shall any honor so emblematic of all perfection be bestowed upon you as this, which I confer tonight. Let its pure glittering face be to you an ever-present reminder of an unblemished purity of life; of rectitude of conduct; a never ending argument of nobler deeds, for higher thoughts, for purer actions. And when at last your weary feet shall have reached the end of their toilsome journey, and from your nerveless grasp shall drop the working tools of life, may your reacord be as pure and shining as this fair emblem I place in your hands tonight. She places Badge in Candidate’s hand, holding the hand closed until the end of the speech. It is yours to wear throughout an honored life. Wear it, my sister, and─
 “So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go, not like the quarry slave at night
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him and lies down to pleasant dreams!”
The Basileia then pins the Badge upon the Candidate, instructing her that it is always worn over the heart. The Basileia returns to her position behind the altar.
Basileia: You who are just entering a new field, embodying new interests, duties, and pleasures, will always be aided in every way by National Council and individual members, but such aid is often insufficient; so let us stand, bow our heads, and invoke the aid of One who is far stronger than earthly friends, seeking His help through our entire life.
Our Father in Heaven, when we think of all that lies before us, we feel that in our own strength we are unable to cope with the many pitfalls in our way. We do earnestly beg, that in Thy Divine compassion, Thou wilt guide and keep us in the way Thou wouldst have us tread. We humbly ask that Thou wilt fill our hearts with love and loyalty to all our sisters so closely bound to us. Help us to keep all our vows so solemnly made in thy presence this night. If it be Thy will, let our beloved Zeta Tau Alpha prosper, and make us each a better, nobler woman by reason of her influence. These things we ask in the name of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, knowing that whatsoever is worthy, asked in His Name, finds favour in Thy sight. Amen.
Chapter remains standing, with bowed heads while the New Initiate is led from the room. Her Big Sister may walk out with the New Initiate and the Conductor. During this time, the chapter sings “To Themis.” The playing of the “Initiation Hymn” is resumed upon the ending of the song.
Just prior to the last Initiation of the evening, those who have just been initiated are brought into the room, having been instructed by the Conductor to gain entrance by the knock, password, and grip and to address the Basileia in the required manner. When the last Initiation is over and the Initiate taken out, the members of the Chapter file out. The “Initiation Hymn” is played throughout, until only the officers of the Chapter remain. Robes are removed and the Ritual Committee, re-admitted by the Epimeletes, puts the chapter robes in order and returns all robes, symbols, etc. to their proper places.