Wise Men of America
Ritual of the First Degree


ARCHON: Herald, you will repair to the ante-room and ascertain if there be any candidates in waiting; if so, report their names.
After the report of the Herald is received the Archon says:
Inspector General, you will proceed to the ante-room and see that the candidate is properly prepared.
The Inspector General proceeds to the ante-room.
INSP. GEN. to the candidate:
It is necessary that you be blindfolded.
This is done. If there be more than one candidate, they all go through together, but the officers must be careful to designate them in the plural where the singular is used in this book. Each candidate is put under the charge of one or more special conductors (to be selected by the Inspector General or Archon,) who accompany the candidates, under the control of the Inspector General. The Inspector General gives the regular signal of the Degree. * * * * * * loud knocks on the inner door.
Who knocks there?
The Inspector General, with a candidate in charge.
WARDER, reporting to the Provost:
The Inspector General with a candidate in charge, desires admission.
Most Eminent Archon, the Inspector General with a candidate in charge, desires admission.
Worthy Astrologer, are we in readiness, and are the signs favorable for his reception?
All is prepared and the signs are favourable.
Then let him be admitted.
Enter within our portals.
The door is opened with a heavy sound. The candidate is conducted once around the entire circuit of the room, and halted when he returns to the Provost's Station, where the Inspector General gives seven blows with his staff.
Venerable Astrologer, we venture to disturb your repose and present to you a candidate for the mysteries of the First Degree.
Candidate, do you solemnly promise to preserve and keep the instructions of the First Degree, and not unlawfully impart them?
I do.
Provost's Charge to the Candidate
I take it for granted that you are a good and true man.
You must be so known among, your neighbors; otherwise, those who know you would not have permitted you to pass thus far in our Order. But in my capacity, as Astrologer, I take no human test as satisfactory. I have long studied the wisdom of the stars and the silent moving of the
spheres. On consulting the horoscope I found no unfavorable omen; otherwise, I would have forbidden your entrance here.
But if you have entered these portals with the hope that our mysteries would be imparted to you loosely and thoughtlessly, without any further ordeal than the slight one you were made to pass through on your first admission to our Order, be assured now, as you will presently be convinced, that your hope is a vain one.
An old adage says that truth is to be found at the bottom of a well. We are apt to value too lightly the experience, knowledge, or, in fact, any other acquisition that is gained too easily.
You will be caused to pass down a narrow, rough and toilsome descent. As the passage narrows, you will have to bow your head to avoid dangerous overhanging cliffs, and jutting rocks. One defiant step, one disobedient whim, may dash your brains to atoms, as you pass down the
treacherous abyss. Be cautious, be calm, be resolute but obey your conductors in all things, as you value life.
This ordeal is necessary, not only to satisfy us of the existence of those qualities of faith and fortitude, without which it is impossible for one to be a worthy member of this Order, but to detect my hidden or unfavorable omen, which my divination may have failed to discover previous to your admission here.
candidate is made to pass down a rough descent. He must not be made to go up any ascents; if there be any, he must be carried gently up and started down again; the idea being that he is descending a cavern, which becomes narrower and narrower as it descends. Presently he is told to bow his head and shoulders to avoid imaginary beams or jutting rocks impending over him and threatening his existence. As the passage narrows he goes upon his knees, and finally is told to go through a short and narrow passage upon his hands and feet. This may be made by two chairs thrown down and sat back to back, or in any other way the fancy of the members (if approved by the Inspector General), may suggest. But nothing herein is to be construed as to justify violence, levity, rough treatment, or any dangerous practices whatever, which are very reprehensible, and should never be permitted.
Having emerged, the candidate is placed upon his feet and brought quietly to the station of the Provost, and stands with his back to that station.
Venerable Astrologer, the Candidate has thus far passed the ordeal with safety.
Having emerged from, the cave of mysteries, you are now upon the bank of a dark, deep and silent stream, which it is necessary to leap over. One false step may cost you your life. Have faith, have courage. Place your hope beyond the stream; do not fall within its destructive vortex. Remember, if you fail it is the River Lethe, the River of Death. Leap now−leap with all your might!
The candidate leaps as far as he can upon the floor, and is caught as he alights by the conductors, who prevent him from falling.
Venerable Astrologer, the candidate has passed in safety.
Then I pronounce him worthy. Let him be conducted to our Most Eminent Archon.
He is conducted twice around the Lodge room, and then halted, at the Archon's Station.
Let the bandage be removed from the eyes of the candidate, and let him be clothed with a blue apron, and seated before me, to receive the instructions of the First Degree.
Archon's Instructions to the Candidate
The color of this Degree is blue.
Signal: At the outer door, any signal to attract the Sentinel; if not known, the visitor will give the Sentinel the outer door password for the quarter; or if travelling, his Travelling Card, which will admit him to the ante-room.
Signal: At the inner door, one knock, and after an interval, six more; making in all seven.
Pasword: G. A., the initial letters of Good Acts, to be given at the inner door, or to the Herald, or Inspector General, on opening.
Sign: Pointing with the right hand to the ground, then raising both hands to heaven. To be made to the Archon and Provost.
The legend of this Degree gives an example of integrity unpersuaded and unawed, and an instance of its proper recognition and due appreciation.
It appears that Kai-el Ko-az, King of Persia, being taken captive in Mazanderan, while invading that country, was beset by entraaties from some, as well as threats from others, to impart the secret of the Wise Men. The High Priest of Zahma, who besought these instructions, was so struck with the answer of Kai-el Ko-az refusing to impart them, that he recommended the King of Mazander to spare the life of so wise and noble a prisoner, though he came as an invading enemy; which was accordingly done.
You will now be conducted to our Worthy Chancellor.
The candidate is conducted to the Chancellor and seated before him.
It is the duty of my office to give expression to a few brief reflections, such as the ceremony of your initiation to the First Degree may elicit; and such as seem to us proper to be particularly impressed upon your mind at this time.
Your mind may not have received any particular application of the ceremonies through which you have passed, to your previous ideas of the purposes of the Order.
If you have detected, or imagine that you have detected, any apparent levity or desire to impose an unnecessary physical ordeal on the part of those through whose hands yon have passed, know now and forever, that such ideas are foreign to our Order, and are not sanctioned by it; the desire of the Order is, by means of a simple allegory, or suggestive ceremony, to make a solemn impression of wholesome truth upon the mind.
You were brought into the Lodge, at the beginning of your journey, stood erect, as in the pride of youth and manhood. Such is the bearing of plan before he knows, by bitter experience, the trials and troubles of life.
Your further progress represented the advance of man in life; you presently learned of impending dangers overhead, and learned to bow to coming vicissitudes. Thus we all, as we advance in life, learn the values of humility; and the proud and arrogant bearing of our youth is subdued.
Then as the descent narrowed, you were prostrated, to illustrate the helplessness of age and the approach to the end of life.
It was then a fit time to reflect upon the dark and narrow valley of the Shadow of Death, through which all, sooner or later, must pass.
When at last you emerged from the narrow passage, you stood figuratively upon the banks of a stream−the stream which separates time from eternity. Without faith and courage it is impossible to pass its dark and restless current in safety. You were told to have faith and courage and to take the final leap with energy and determination. With a determined purpose you were safe, but had you swerved or stepped aside, instant ruin and destruction awaited you.
This is emblematic of the plain course of duty, which, if steadfastly followed, will bring you a happy age and nappy eternity; but once swerved from, will bring ruin and destruction upon you.
Thus, you see, we have a moral in our ceremonies, however trivial or simple they may appear; and if they failed to impress their design upon you, it was at least the intention of the Order that it should be done.
You will now please take your seat among the members.