Wise Men of America
Ritual of the Initiatory Degree
At the appointed hour, or as soon thereafter as practicable, the Archon takes the chair and raps once with the gavel.
ARCHON: I will thank all present to come to order. All persons who have not received the Introductory Degree of the Order of the Wise Men will please retire. Candidates desiring introduction to the Order will await in the outer hall.
After this is done:
ARCHON: Warder, I will thank you to do your duty.
WARDER: Most Eminent, I have taken charge of the door and will permit none to enter or retire, except by permission of the Worshipful Provost, or by your command.
ARCHON: All officers will beat their stations. Scribe, call the roll of officers, in order that I may fill any vacancies by temporary appointment.
This being done, the Archon fills all vacancies, and all officers remain sitting in their places.
ARCHON: The Herald and Inspector General will pass round their respective sides of the Lodge, and examine all persons present in the quarterly password.
The Herald and Inspector General proceed to receive from all present the password, having first given it to the Worthy Chancellor, and if any one be without the password they will bring them to the altar and report them to the Lodge. The E.A. will cause the G.S. to examine the books in order to know if he or they are financial. When all is made right they report as follows:
HERALD: All correct on my side.
ARCHON, rising: All being correct I shall proceed to open … Lodge No. … in regular/special meeting.
Brothers will rise at the sound of the gavel, and give the sound of the Introductory Degree of the Order.
He gives two blows of the gavel, and the members rise.
ARCHON: All members are invited to join in singing our Opening Ode:
ARCHON: Brothers will attend to the words of our Prelate.
PRELATE: We invoke the Grand Archon of the world and the Supreme Ruler of all that exists, to look with kindness, and favour upon this small assemblage of His children.
Grant that we may have an humble sense of our littleness compared with the glory of God and the greatness of His works. But though we know that our labors are vain and evanescent when exerted in behalf of our own vanities and futile purposes, inspire us with that courage and hope which may show us how great a work we can achieve, when Our labours are directed to the service of God and the welfare of mankind. Let passion, selfishness and wrangling have no place in this assembly. Let peace and fraternal feelings reign among us. Amen.
ARCHON: Worshipful Provost, I will expect your aid in keeping order in the Lodge, and I now commit the door of the Lodge to your charge, assisted by the Warder.
PROVOST: I shall perform my duties, Most Eminent.
ARCHON: Herald, you will proclaim the opening of the Lodge.
HERALD: By direction of the Most Eminent Archon, I proclaim this Lodge to be open. Brothers will be attentive to the preservation of order.
The Archon gives one blow with the gavel, and the members are seated, and the Archon proceeds with the order of business.
Initiatory or Preparatory Degree
ARCHON: Herald, you will retire to the ante-room of the Lodge and report whether any candidates are waiting for initiation.
The Herald, making the usual sign, retires and after re-entering reports.
ARCHON: Bro. Scribe, have these candidates been duly elected.
The Secretary replies.
ARCHON: We are about to initiate into this Order the candidates … naming the candidate or candidates. The Inspector General will please take the preparation of the Lodge under his charge, and proceed with the initiation when all is satisfactory.
The officers and members prepare the room for initiation, under the care of the Inspector General, as he is to take charge of the candidates, and introduce them to the Lodge. He may, if there be but one candidate, act as Conductor himself, or he may appoint a Special Conductor to act under his direction. If there be more than one, he may appoint a Special Conductor for each, conducting the head candidate himself, or entrusting him, also, to a Special Conductor, as he (the Insp.Gen.) may choose.
INSP. GEN: Most Eminent Archon, I find the Lodge in readiness for initiation, and I propose to retire for the purpose of preparing and introducing the candidates.
ARCHON: Before doing so, the Secretary will please retire and require the candidate to pay his initiation fee.
The Secretary here retires and collects the fee, and having reported, the Archon continues thus:
ARCHON: Inspector General, you have permission to retire for the purpose of taking charge of the candidates.
The Inspector General now retires, accompanied by his suit; if any. On meeting with the candidate he accosts him thus. The language is used in the singular number, but each candidate will consider himself addressed.
INSP. GEN. to the candidate: Our Herald has announced you in waiting for the purpose of being initiated into the mysteries of our Ancient Order and of becoming part of our mystic Brotherhood. Were you not of good report you could not have reached this ante-chamber.
In the days of Ancient Rome, it was the custom for all applicants for public favor, office or promotion; to appear in the white robes of candidacy, emblematic of their purity of purpose. So now, as you have solicited the confidence of this Honorable Brotherhood, and desire to be received as a member, you will be clothed in a white robe.
The candidates are clothed in white robes by the attendants of the Inspector General.
May your connection with this Order and all your future life, be as pure and stainless as the garb you now wear. As you came into the world ignorant of all things, past, present and future, you are to be blindfolded, to illustrate your condition. It may refer to your actual condition then, or your emblematic condition now.
The candidates are blindfolded.
INSP. GEN.: You will advance with me, do as you are told and fear no danger.
The Inspector General gives seven knocks on the door of the Lodge chamber.
WARDER: Who knocks at our inner portal?
INSP. GEN.: The Inspector General with a candidate for initiation.
WARDER: I will report your application to the Worshipful Provost, under whose directions I have charge of this passage.
Worshipful Provost, an alarm is made at our inner portal by the Inspector General, with a candidate for initiation.
PROVOST: Let them be admitted.
WARDER: I am directed by the Worshipful Provost to admit you. Enter and be welcome.
The door is opened with a heavy sound, and the Inspector General enters with the candidate and proceeds slowly around the room, beating his staff at slow intervals; perfect silence should be preserved in the Lodge at this time. The members may sing an appropriate ode or song. After passing once or twice around the Lodge, halts before the Provost.
Now bound by honor's sacred laws,
Be faithtful to our holy cause;
Let truth preserve each members' fame,
Nor curses blast our hollored name.
Then welcome to our brotherhood,
A chief's welcome to the good−
Long live our Order's great renown
And with happiness each member crown.
Stand firm in truth while life shall last,
May no reproach on thee be cast;
No cloud obscure thy onward way;
Our trust no Judas e'er betray.
INSP. GEN.: You will heat our Worshipful Provost.
PROVOST: You are brought before me as pilgrims upon a mission of good. You have been told that our Order is one of honorable purpose. You have trusted this representation and submitted yourselves to the care of our Inspector General. 8ubmitting to his authority and confiding in his honor, you have allowed yourself to be blindfolded. You are in darkness as to the further trials and ordeals through which you may have to pass in the ceremonial of your initiation. Just so you are in darkness, and so are we all in ignorance of the great trials, the temptations, and the ordeals of misfortune; we have to pass through in this life.
A philosopher was asked from whom he received the first lesson of wisdom. He replied, from the blind man, who never takes a step until he has first felt the ground before him. I now place in your hand a staff which may serve you in a like way. Should your pathway appear doubtful; unsafe or difficult, apply the staff and examine with it the ground upon which the next step is to be taken.
The Provost here hands him a staff, and he is told to make seven steps feeling with his staff the ground before him.
The Herald now appears before the seat of the Provost and says:
HERALD: Worshipful Provost, I am the messenger of the Archon, who is informed that a pilgrim has been brought to your station. If this pilgrim is a candidate for our Order, the Archon desires that he may be sent to him.
The candidates are brought near the Provost, who says:
PROVOST: Stranger, you have heard the words of the Herald; I am about to part with you; I will now confide to you the grip and word of a pilgrim of our Order. Do you solemnly promise to communicate them to none but members of the Order, or to pilgrims in a manner authorized by its laws and usages?
The candidates answer affirmatively.
The Grip is given by an ordinary grasp of the hand, and passing the thumbs rapidly over the knuckles of your friend, from that of the little finger to the forefinger. The trial password is "SEVEN," and is to he given thus: When challenged to give the word, you must only consent to do so after having received the grip, when you will say "FOUR," the challenger will say "AND THREE," to which you will respond, "ARE SEVEN." The whole forming the phrase "FOUR AND THREE ARE SEVEN." You will now pass on your way,
They pass slowly around the Lodge room twice, and halt at the station of the Chancellor, where the Inspector General gives four blows (two slow and two quick) of his staff on the floor, which are answered by a similar knocking by the Chancellor upon his stand or desk with a gavel or his fist, or some instrument.
CHANCELOR: Who desires to pass?
INSP. GEN.: The Inspector General of the Order of the Wise Men with a pilgrim on his way to the station of our Most Eminent Archon.
CHANCELOR: What is his desire?
INSP. GEN.: To be consecrated as a member of the Order.
CHANCELOR to the candidate: I offer you the grip of fellowship; will you give me the password? CANDIDATE: Four.
CHANCELOR: And three.
CANDIDATE: Are seven.
This ceremony is repeated with all the candidates, if there be more than one. If there be but one, the candidate gives the words aloud; if more than one, the Inspector General will instruct the candidates
to give the words only in a whisper.
CHANCELOR: You will now listen to the words of wisdom, and let them sink deep into your mind. When practicable, the following paragraphs should be read in loud and varying tones of voices, by different members selected for the occasion. Do not read the numbers.
1. In six days God created the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh he rested and blessed it, as well as all that was created. Thus in seven days all was accomplished.
2. In the ancient mysteries were seven chambers or caverns through which it was necessary to pass in succession. The number seven is reckoned as the perfect number.
There are seven candlesticks, the seven virtues, the seven, deadly sins, the seven champions of knighthood, the seven sleepers, the seven sciences, the seven wonders, the seveu trumpets, the seven hills, the seven altars, the seven seals, the seven colors, the seven days, the seven stars: And in every perfect system there are seven stages of instruction.
3. Remember the seven stages of man's life from infancy to the grave. Misspend not the part that belongs to you.
4. Before punishing your enemy reflect seven times, lest rashly you do him an undeserved wrong, which you may repent yourself.
5. When you are tempted to throw a stone in anger, try if you can pick it up without bending your body; if not stop your hand.
6. Reflect seven times before doing a wrong, this will give conscience the mastery.
7. Be useful−usefulnes, will alone procure permanent happiness.
CHANCELOR: You will now pass on your way to the Most Eminent Archon.
The Inspector General with the candidates, etc., proceed round the Lodge room once, gravely and slowly, and halt at the Archon's chair and says:
INSP. GEN: Most Eminent Archon, I bring you a pilgrim who has travelled with me from the threshold of the Lodge; he passed the station of the Provost and Chancellor; he is a candidate for our Order, and I recommend him as worthy; he is now before you for further instructions in the mysteries of the Seven.
ARCHON: Before doing so it will be necessary for the candidate to take an obligation not to reveal our private work and to obey the lawful authorities and the recognized usages and laws of our Order. Are you willing to enter into such an engagement?
The candidate answers yes.
ARCHON: You will then be conducted to the Provost for that purpose.
The candidate is led to the center of the hall, where he is met by the Provost, and all the members forming a circle around him.
A bible and skull are on the stand and seven lights burning.
PROVOST: Let the bandage be removed from the eyes of the Pilgrim.
The cover is removed from the eyes of the candidate. The Provost then says:
PROVOST: You are now restored to light and liberty for the purpose of taking a solemn obligation to the Order.
The reason for this is, that in so serious an undertaking, partaking of the nature of a sacred contract, you should be free and able to see and discern what is around you, and to know what you are doing. Near you is a sad, and perhaps chilling memorial, to remind us of the folly of earthly vanity. The obligation we propose to administer contains nothing that is immoral or illegal. If you consent to take it, place your left hand upon this Bible and human skull, elevate your right hand to heaven and repeat after me:
I, …, do most solemnly promise that I will not reveal any of the secrets and mysteries of the W. M., unless in the manner authorized by its laws. I will support and maintain the laws; rules and regulations of the Order, and respect the lawful authority of its officers.
I will never propose or recommend as a candidate for admission into this Order, any person who is not in good standing in the community, and who will not, in my opinion, truly practice its duties and principles.
And I do further promise, and solemnly affirm, that I will yield a willing and faithful obedience to the officers, laws and usages of this Lodge and Order and that I shall use every effort to attend punctually all the meetings of this Lodge; and be faithful and true to all its principles, objects and purposes. And I do further promise, in the presence of these my brethren, that I will obey all summons of my Lodge, or Order, when issued by the proper officers, either written or verbal; be faithful and true to these, my brethren, never forget them nor forsake them; but shall ever lend a helping hand so long as their character is without blame.
To the faithful performance of these; my obligations, I solemnly pledge my sacred honor.
The lights are blown out alternately by different members, in saying: "IN GOD WE TRUST." The last light (seventh) is held and put out by the Provost saying:
PROVOST: We trust in your good faith and sacred honor.
Let your life be thus extinguished rather than violate the obligation you have just taken.
All members say: "IN GOD WE TRUST"
PROV0ST: You will now be conducted to our Most Eminent Archon for further instruction in the mysteries of the Order.
ARCHON: I will now instruct you in the Private Work in general use by members of this Order, and how to gain admission.
The instructions in signs, etc. are here given to the candidate.
On visiting the Lodge meeting, you will find the outer and inner doors closed; at the outer door give anything to attract the attention of the Sentinel, and on being approached you will whisper one-half the Quarterly Password. This admits you into the ante-room; you then approach the inner door, give two raps below the wicket and two rolls of the fingers of the right hand above the wicket. The wicket being raised you will give the other half of the Password. On entering the Lodge you will approach the altar and address the stations as follows: with the right hand, by first pressing it on the heart, thumb under and concealed, exhibiting only the four fingers, meaning FOUR, then withdrawing the hand and pointing upwards with the two forefingers (spread apart), .meaning TWO, (the other fingers and thumb being in front and closed); then pointing downward to the ground with one finger (the other fingers and thumbs closed), meaning ONE. The whole, FOUR, TWO and ONE making up the number SEVEN.
ARCHON: It is not expected that you will acquire these signs thoroughly at this time; but by attention and frequently visiting the Lodge you will soon become familiar with them.
I will now refer you to our Chancellor for further explanation of the nature of our Order.
The candidate is then conducted to the Chancellor and seated.
CHANCELLOR: In a few brief remarks I will endeavor to give you an idea of the nature and tendency of out Order. Its distinguishing feature is a particular regard for the number SEVEN. This number, at all times and in all countries; has been considered to possess peculiar properties and virtues. I might recite to you at length from the Holy Scriptures, but the simple reference will remind you of numerous instances in which the number seven is conspicuous. It was also much referred to in the ancient mystical philosophy of Egypt, Persia and Greece. The Wise Men of Greece are known to all students of History; but the body of advisers or counsellors of the early Kings of Persia, known as wise men, is anterior to the former in date, and as we are unable to push further into antiquity, it is supposed to be the first instance of the use of the term "Wise Men."
Ancient legends tell us that these Kings were wont to submit all questions of importance to this board of counsellors for advice and deliberation; and so great was its reputation for wisdom and purity of purpose, that its decisions were never objected to. But the regular dynasty of the Shepherd Kings was for the time deposed, and by some means a usurper named Zohac obtained possession of the throne. Like all usurpers, he attempted to perpetuate and confirm his power by the most galling oppression, always against the earnest protest and respectful advice of the "Wise Men in Council." The scene of his downfall is pictured thus: a famous astrologer, one of the Wise Men, denounced him to his face, and proclaimed to him his forfeiture of the throne he had usurped and dishonored. The people had already risen; their motto, "In God We Trust," was inscribed on their banners. Under the head of Gayo, the Blacksmith, they overthrew Zohac and restored Feridon, the grandson of Isahar, and the rightful heir by succession, who enthroned, too, in the hearts of the people, lived to restore prosperity and peace in his country. Dr. Webster has supplied us with a large amount of information pertinent to our inquiries, from which we quite nearly verbatim, the following facts, on which the industrious student of the Order may enlarge his researches:
The Wise Men of Greece were a number of men among the Greeks of the sixth century, B.C., distinguished for their practical sagacity and their wise maxims or principles of life. Their names are variously given; but those most generally admitted to the honor are Solon, Chilo, Pittaeus, Bias, Periander, (in place of whom some give Epimenides) Cleobulus and Thales. They were the authors of the celebrated mottoes inscribed in later days in the Delphian Temple: Know thyself−Solon. Consider the end−Chilo. Know thy opportunity−Pittacus. Most men are bad−Bias. Nothing is impossible to industry−Periander. Avoid excess−Cleobulus. Suretyship is the precursor of ruin−Thales.
The Seven sciences of ancient authors are grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geography, astronomy and music. Pope says:
Good sense, which is only the gift of heaven.
Though no science, fairly worth the seven.
The seven lost Pleiades, or seven stars in the neck of Tauros, were long looked to as a beacon and safeguard to manners before the invention of the compass.
Seven religious champions are known to students of ecclesiastical history: St. George, the Patron Saint of England; St. Louis, of France; St. James, of Spain; St. Anthony, of Italy; St. Andrew, of Scotland; St. Patrick, of Ireland; St. David, of Wales.
The Island of the Seven cities was an imaginary island, the subject of one of the popular traditions concerning the ocean, which were current at the time of Columbus. It is represented as abounding in gold, with magnificent houses and temples, and high towers that shone at a distance. The legend relates that at the time of the conquest of Spain and Portugal by the Moors, when the inhabitants fled in every direction to escape slavery, seven Bishops, followed by a great number of people, took shipping, and abandoned themselves to their fate on the high seas. After tossing about for a time they landed upon an unknown land in the midst of the Ocean. Here the Bishops burned the ship to prevent the desertion of their followers and founded seven cities. This mysterious island is said to have been visited at different times by navigators, who, however, were never permitted to return.
The Seven Hilled City is one of the names by which Rome has, for many ages, been designated. It was originally built upon seven hills, several of which have, in course of time, so far disappeared that they are hardly recognizable.
The seven sleepers were, according to a very widely diffused legend, seven noble knights of Ephesus, in the time of the Decian persecution, who, having fled to a certain cavern for refuge, and having been pursued, discovered and walled in for a cruel death, were made to fall asleep, and in that state were miraculously kept for nearly two centuries. Their names are traditionally said to have been Maximian, ,Malchus, Martenian; Denis, John, Serapion and Constantine. The 27th of June was religiously consecrated to their memory.
The Koran relates the tale of the seven sleepers deriving it probably from the same source as the former legend and declares, that out of respect for them, the sun altered, his course twice a day that he might shine into the cavern.
But the seven sleepers are commonly understood to be those before mentioned, who were put to death in Asia Minor, in the third century, in the reign of the Emperor Decius. More than two centuries after, toward the year 479, their bodies having boon found in a cavern where they had
been enclosed, they were taken out and exposed to the veneration of the faithful. The legend, in speaking of their death said, following the usual forms, that they had fallen asleep in the Lord. Some took occasion thus to say that these holy martyrs were not dead; that they bad been laid in the cavern where they had fallen asleep; and that they at last awoke to the great astonishment of the spectators. 8uch is the origin of the legend of the seven sleepers. At Ephesus the spot is still shown where this is said to have taken place. The Persians celebrate annually the feast of the seven sleepers, and their names are regarded as powerful talismans against the decrees of fate.
The romance of the seven ages is of great antiquity, and probably of East Indian origin. Versions exist in Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, German and other languages. In English there are two metrical versions, and also one under the title of the "Seven Wise Men."
In one of the versions, the seven sages are represented as the advisers of a Roman Emperor, restraining him from a hasty and violent judgment, and leading him by delay to a correct one. They were also instructors of the Prince, his son.
The seven wonders of the world is a name given to seven very remarkable objects of the ancient world, which have been variously enumerated. The following classification is the one most generally received: 1. The Pyramids of Egypt; 2. The Pharos of Alexander; 3. The Walls and Hanging Gardens of Babylon; 4. The Temple of Diana at Ephesus; 5. The Statue of the Olympian Jupiter; 6; The Mausoleum of Artemisia; 7. The Colossus of Rhodes.
It would he easy to continue at length the multitude of such legends and of the qualities attributed to the number SEVEN in different ages and parts of the world; of the seven objects of worship of the 8axons, the Sun, the Moon, Tuisco, Woodin or Odin, Thor, Friga or Frea, and Seater. But such researches would fill a large volume and we leave them to your individual study and investigation.
It may be asked, why do we call ourselves by the title of "Wise Men".
Silly persons may say, how cal1 you call yourselves "Wise Men?" Is it that you think yourselves wiser than others? Not at all. In calling ourselves the W. M., we simply mean an Order to perpetuate the teachings and emulate the virtues of the Wise Men of old, as related in our legends, and to build up and continue a society founded upon these traditions. Our name, in this respect; is like that of other organizations. Does the name of Mason imply that the members know more of house architecture than other intelligent persons? No. Does the name of Knight Templar imply that they are this day a band of Knights engaged in a warlike struggle? Oh, no. It only means that they preserve the name and hand down the history and traditions of the Knights Templar of old. Are the Odd Fellows more odd and singular than other persons, because of their name? Not at all. It is just so with our name. In the initiation has been given to you an outline of the nature and tendencies of the Order, of its particular regard for the number seven, and the most prominent duties made incumbent on you as a member, were impressed upon your mind in brief but expressive sentences. Our greatest duty is that of charity and the relief of distress. This is the most pressing, appealing to the best feelings of our nature, and almost daily presenting occasions for its practice.
We are bound together by ties of Brotherhood. We stand by and assist each other in the path of life. Our Lodges are organized to protect the worthy and distressed of our Order; to protect from the ills of want the suffering widow and orphan; never to turn a deal ear to the helpless and deserving. Let us never forget the duties of charity and benevolence, which are the great purposes of our Order.
Let us go forth to the world and practice these noble lessons, and thus do credit to ourselves and honor to the Order. You will now be conducted to our Most Eminent Archon.
INSP.GEN.: Most Eminent Archon, the candidate is again before you.
ARCHON: Brother, you will now be divested of the robe which you have hitherto worn, and I present you with the regalia of the Order which you are entitled to wear. As it should be your pride never to soil or dishonor it, so it should more particularly be your study never to soil or dishonour the good reputation which has recommended you to fellowship here.
The Archon gives two blows of the gavel and the members rise.
And now, in the name of the Supreme Lodge, and by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Charter of … Lodge No. …, I hereby declare and proclaim you to be duly and fully invested with the honors and rights of membership in the Order of W. M.
You will now retire to the ante-room and work your way in, accompanied by the Inspector General, to convince us that you have recollected the essential part of our instructions.
The candidates retire with the Inspector General, who precedes them, each entering separately, and after making the usual sign in the center of the hall and before being invited to a seat, the Archon calls the members to their feet by two blows of the gavel, and says:
ARCHON: Behold your brethren of the Lodge, all bound together by the highest ties of friendship and confidence. We welcome you to our sanctuary. Here you will ever find friends to welcome you, so long as your conduct and character are without blame; and should the day of misfortune or distress unfortunately dawn upon you, you will find them ever ready to comfort, relieve and assist you.
The Archon addressing the members, says: Brothers, I present to you our newly initiated friend, and in order to enable each of you to give him a personal greeting, the Herald will please declare a brief recess.
HERALD: By order of the Most Eminent Archon, I declare a brief recess for general introduction.
After a sufficient recess, the Lodge is again called to order, and the newly initiated candidate takes his seat among the members.
ARCHON: Brothers, it now becomes my duty to adjourn this Lodge until our next regular meeting, which will take place on … the … unless sooner assembled in special meeting, according to our rules. I will thank the officers and brothers to give attention and assist me in closing the Lodge.
The Archon gives two raps of the gavel, which calls all to their feet.
ARCHON: I will thank all brothers present to join in singing our closing anthem.
Dismiss us with thy blessing, Lord.
Help us to feed upon Thy Word,
All that has been amiss, forgive;
And let Thy truth within us live;
Though we are guilty, Thou art good,
Wash all our works in Jesus' blood,
Give every burdened soul release,
And bid us all depart in peace.
ARCHON: I will call upon the Prelate of the Lodge and ask all reverently to attend while he invokes a blessing on our parting.
PRELATE: Grand Archon of the Universe, we again ask Thy blessing, and particularly invoke Thy peace and favor until we next assemble. Banish all discord, jealousy, and improper motives from our hearts. And while asking remembrance of our Order and its needs, we pray Thee to remember also the poor and distressed without its folds. Incline our hearts to good acts, and assist us with strength and means to perform them.
PROVOST: Warder, inform the Sentinel of the closing of the Lodge as, soon as it is proclaimed by the Herald.
ARCHON: Herald, you will perform your duty.
HERALD: I now proclaim this Lodge duly closed, and the brethren may retire.