Degree of Ebon
IKC, under spotlight:
Brethren, the degree which you are about to witness lacks realism only in the
manner in which it is presented. The secrecy of this Degree prevents its direct
conversion of sign and speech into our everyday world but its ultimate success
to you and to the Order of Knighthood will be possible only if it is transformed
by you with a sincere knowledge of its existence into your life and your
surroundings. With this token of reassurance and encouragement and based upon
your belief in God, I hereby, in the name of, and under the authority of the
International Supreme Council of the Order of DeMolay, whose See is at Kansas
City, in the State of Missouri, and by virtue of the power in me vested as
Knight Commander of ... Priory, declare this Priory duly open for the purpose of
investing the “Degree of Ebon.”
SYMBOLIC ORATOR, under spotlight: From the beginning of time, all lasting societies have praised the virtues of honor, justice and fidelity to its own members. In a society such as this, having built upon these three measures, its members have grown and proceeded forward into truth.
Truth, honor, justice and fidelity are built upon and are direct products of maturity, or in a more modern terminology, adulthood.
From the entrance of a young boy into the portals of DeMolay, until his last final vow signifying his adulthood here this evening, we have incorporated into our thoughts and our teachings the virtues which all good men everywhere, from every walk of life, from every manner of expression, have condoned and have carried forward. We have sought to lead our members to a greater realization of the manhood which awaits them here this evening.
Manhood cannot be signified by the arithmetical progression of years until the magic symbol of twenty-one is attained. Maturity and years do not run parallel to one another.
We, therefore, contend that you, my brothers, have shown by word, by manner, and by action, your honor, your justice, your fidelity to yourselves, to your parents, to your country, and finally, from your Order built upon the foundation of belief in Almighty God, have you found truth. You have thus shown the four qualities that accents your qualification for manhood.
The degree which you are about to witness is symbolic of your manhood, even though you may not be yet classified as men under city, state or national law. We feel that your ideals, morals, and actions are fused into your hearts and souls and that they for the most part are your fixed patterns of your existence; they shall change no more. Tonight you have symbolically reached the threshold of your development as men.
In manhood, much is expected of you and much will be demanded of you by society. The former paths you have followed to our Priory this evening cannot be changed, nor can they be tread upon again. From the point of your development here this evening, as always, two paths shall radiate forward from our Priory. The paths are white over black, good over evil. Both these paths lead to your eventual death and the final judgment of your immortal soul. Both these paths cross the same bridge, the bridge of manhood. You have reached the bridge of manhood here this evening, not because of your age, but because of your honor, justice, fidelity and truth. You shall all cross this bridge of manhood, but the path you take that radiates from it becomes your decision and your decision alone. In this degree, through truth, you shall be shown which path to follow over your bridge of manhood. One or another path must be chosen for “None walketh the path that divides night from Sir Knights.”
SYMBOLIC HERALD, under spot: Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye, (2-1 with staff) The hour is noonday and the meridian sun has reached its zenith; the crossroads of life have converged at the footbridge of chivalry. A convocation of this Priory is about to meet at its keystone; underfoot run the restless river of life.
By virtue of agreement, I now declare this convocation duly opened. Turns and repeats first paragraph as he slowly exits.
Officers of Page and Squire enter and converse before Altar. No march or particular order in entering. As S. K. C. passes Altar, they turn without recognition and go to respective stations. As S. K. C. reaches East, all sit down together.
S.K.C. (lights start to dim during speech): My brothers, you will take your stations and this meeting will come to order. Before we open as our ritual decrees, I wish to welcome all Sir Knights present for both great and small, we have come here at the very threshold of manhood to meet at the Bridge of chivalry. The temptations, trials and tribulations that come before us and that will come are great, so we pause but for a moment in our lives to meet here as Knights, to welcome you here as Knights, and to pause here as Knights upon our beginning to manhood.
Senior Deacon, you will attend to the banner of our Priory and assisted by the Junior Deacon, you will kindle the fires in our midst for we seem to meeteth in darkness. Pause Brother Senior Deacon ... Pause Brother Junior Deacon ...
S.K.S.C.: My brother, they shall assist us not for their presence is waining.
S.K.C.: Sir Knight Registrar, you will read the names of our roll so that we may seek our brothers that cometh not. Pause Sir Knight Registrar.
S.K.P.C.: My brother, his presence becomes us not.
S.K.C.: Then you, my Brother Commander, will read the names of our roll.
S.K.P.C. goes to Registrar desk, picks up book: Sir Knights of manhood, you will answer here if your presence becomes us. Sir Knight Sacristan Pause Sir Knight Seneschal Pause Sir Knight Standard Bearer.
S.K.C.: STOP! ! Can they not answer? Pause Can anyone answer? Pause My brothers, this convocation is about to begin, but where are our Knights?
S.K.S.C.: The camp of the Squires are empty.
S.K.P.C.: Aye, my lord, and how baren indeed are the camp fires of the Pages.
S.K.C.: Yea, though the hour is noonday, still we meet in darkness, the blue sky hath changed its hue and now grays of indecision mark our meeting place. Cold indeed must be this wind from the north that bids the meridian sun be gone and how tempting with warmth must be the false fires that bid our Knights fare thee well. We have met upon the bridge of chivalry, upon the very threshold of manhood but we cannot begin our deliberations for the Knights we seek cannot be found. The clasp of true friendship that binds our brothers together has been forgotten and our naked hands grow cold in the absence of the warm clasp of friendship that was once theirs.
S.K.P.C.: In the camp of the Pages did I slowly see our numbers diminish until, yea, there were none left to take the places of those who fell in battle.
S.K.S.C.: Aye, my Lord, nor were there Squires enough to replace those who were lost in sinister lands.
S.K.C.: Then there are none to meet us here for they have fallen in the woods or have been lost at the crossroads that leadeth to this bridge.
Ebon enters unannounced, is spied by Squire Commander.
S.K.S.C. rises: HALT! Who vouches for you?
S.K.P.C. rises: HALT! Are you of our number?
S.K.C.: HALT! What be ye called?
EBON: My dear Knights, I come as a friend.
S.K.C.: Friend? Yea maybe, though I doubt it! Our deliberations are secret and you cannot be allowed to remain.
EBON: Remain here! Is this bridge not crossed by all? Then pray me, my Lords, and bid me welcome. My visit at this hour is not unexpected nor is it untimely.
S. K.P.C.: But you must answer our demands, are you of our number?
S.K.S.C.: No! He hath not been in the camp of the Squires - I will not vouch for him.
S.K.C.: Your name! What be ye to us?
EBON: Name! You confront me with a grave problem, my Lords, for I have been known by many names through the years. I have been known as I met at campfires, and in dark corners, in alleys, and behind closed doors. Yes, even on the road do people call my name and when they call, I come as slave, but I leave as Master. In the brightness of day does it unsuit my being but rather in the obscurities and misty by-ways is my name spoken with honor, with trust, with faith. I follow all men and meet them at every turn.
So my name is to you, my Lords, call me what ye may for already your Knights on the crossroads have named me.
So I call on you, my Lords, and I bid thee well, for truly you know me well call me EBON.
S.K.S.C.: But who will vouch for you?
EBON: Me? Who will vouch for me? Raises finger and points Who will vouch for you? I need no introduction nor credentials for I have more right to meet here than even you. My credentials are in order for I have been vouched for by the Knights that are and by the Knights that are to be - - me? Who will vouch for you? What say you when darkness claims your door of entry, for then I will vouch for you so you MUST vouch for me.
S.K.P.C.: If no one here knows you, can you be of our number? Have our Knights met you and accepted you into their fold? Have they told you our signs? Will you come with us and renew your vows at the campfire of light which once burned so brightly, kindled by the warmth of friendship and that now lies so baron under darkening skies? Will you become so that you are of our number?
EBON: I need no vows nor will I take any from three who know no numbers themselves. Numbers? Does not the majority rule? I come from your Knights for they have accepted me and have chosen me leader to come and bid thee welcome. I will not be of your number for you will not be of mine. All your Knights cannot be wrong. Why do you not follow them. Did they not bid thee come? Were you fools enough to believe they could cross the bridge alone and make all the right turns? Only fools meet here. I am of your number for numbers have always been my goal and numbers will always be my goal until none are left to call me ...
S.K.C. interrupts: Knights can be wrong! I know where my brothers have gone. They reached the bridge of indecision and did not cross. They left behind reason and took up a winding path that leads them into darkness, darkness that now tints our Priory. If they have elected you, these Knights of darkness, go back and bid them welcome to us. Bid them welcome to the light of the fires of friendship and the radiance of the seven great lights.
S.K.S.C.: Bid them welcome to manhood and the red robe of bravery and to the Sword of Chivalry. The horses but wait their golden spurs for a mere touch that will send them into missions of truth.
EBON: Missions of black truth, for there can be no other. I have so decreed it. The bridge of indecision is crossed by all, but two bridges can be crossed that lead through life. Friendship is a farce, a thing that holds back a man who has to accomplish so much in life. Comradeship has no purpose with my Knights. The seven Great Lights can be extinguished with but a single breath while your red robe of bravery has been more often covered with the blood of sin than that of honor. The sword of chivalry has been more often weilded as an instrument of cruelty.
I know Knights as few people know them. Through the years I have watched them, cowards and heroes, little men and big men. They all, from no matter what walk of life, break into two classes for none walketh the line that divides Knights. Success on one margin and fools on the other, and which is right? Success in life, is this not the most important? Get ahead any way you can in any manner. Make men bow to you least you bow to them.
Greed, is this not human? Lust, is this not natural? Thus deceit ruleth the world, ye Knights.
I bid thee follow me! You will not be disappointed. Success is yours, jealousy and greed are satisfied. Follow me into the road of life. I will lead thee well and I promise you, you will not be alone.
Follow me to the oasis of darkness! Cross the stream of life and be the landsmen of coal. Why sitteth on the Eastern Throne of indecision when the only road you take leads to the blackness of the West and the end of life. Success waits here in my guidance. Satisfy the wants of the body! Follow me, my Knights, I wait within and without, follow me!
S.K.C.: We came to meet at the threshold of manhood but now I am sick at heart. What is wrong, my Brothers? Have we no place to turn, only one path to follow?
S.K.S.C.: The road we take is narrow indeed that leads to the Westering Sun. As Commander in the West, I accede to the leader of the Pages for he instructs the beginning Knights in the precepts of our Priory.
S.K.C.: My brother in the South, cannot you counsel us?
EBON (As S.K.P.C. begins to arise--interrupts): But he can counsel you not. Ye three be but stubborn to the truth of life but I am patient. I shall always wait as I wait now, within and without.
S.K.P.C.: In the camps of the Pages, I instruct our beginning Knights in the way of a DeMolay. If indecision marketh our deliberations, we turn to the Prior.
S.K.C.: As the Prior returneth not, my Brother, ask ye the question of God!
As S.K.P.C. opens Bible on Altar, Ebon slips out unnoticed. Lights on full as Bible is opened. S.K.P.C. reads 15th Psalm from Bible. Halfway through, other Knights enter from rear, led by Prior, who stop unnoticed by S.K.P.C. When S.K.P.C. concludes he remains kneeling and without noticing Prior behind.
PRIOR, standing behind S.K.P.C. with other Knights behind him not in order: Our Father, at the Bridge of Chivalry, we pray to Thee as we journey into manhood and to forgive us for forgetting that we are DeMolays. Accept as our pledge, our sacred honor and guide us when we go astray. To the Glory of God over darkness and to his Dominion of light.
ALL: To the Glory of God over darkness and to His dominion of light. Amen. Others go to stations. Prior remains at Altar.
PRIOR: We have returned (Remorsely) but the night and Knights we left behind may never return.
S.K.C.: You, my Brothers, have returned and have crossed into manhood. You have seen the light and you have traveled in the darkness, as all men do. You no longer need our help at this bridge of Chivalry, but there are others who have not crossed into manhood and those who have attained that goal and lost it. So I therefore call on you, Symbolic Knights of Ebon, to assist me in the training of our candidates. Candidates brought to West of Altar.
My Brothers, when you first came to our Priory, we received you into our ranks because you acceded to us upon your honor as a DeMolay, to carry our teachings into your daily lives. As the door of manhood rushes closer upon us, indecision marks our degression and weakens our teachings. The times are rapidly approaching when we must throw open the door to adulthood, cross into the threshold of manhood and help to carry on our shoulders the burden of the world. As children in God’s Kingdom, there can be but one path to follow, one corridor to step in, one light to pursue. In the end, our good lives will lead us across the bridge of life built by swords and roses, into the Kingdom of Truth, where the Sun neither rises nor sets, and the sword of Chivalry forms a Golden Cross on the emerald sky. But the bridge of life is not easy to cross, nor is the road that leads to it always distinguishable in a modern world which no longer yields to the protection of ancient Knights in Armor. For we are modern Knights, but, like the Knights of old, we must stand forth on truth, honor, and justice. We must rededicate ourselves to manhood in the hope that we can make the river of life run into the golden sunshine. We must pledge anew our promise to God, to look to Him whenever indecision marks our path and pray to Him to help us turn at the crossroads of life so that we may go to the Westering Sun in a chariot of truth. Do you desire to dedicate yourselves to God and the trials of manhood?
Then the Symbolic Prior will cause you to kneel at the Altar on both knees, to place your right hand over your heart and your left hand perpendicular to it.
All Officers do sign during obligation.
PRIOR: You will say I, pronounce your name in full, and repeat after me.
“I, ..., rededicate myself to God, to DeMolay, and to my approaching manhood.
I promise I will carry the teachings of my chapter and my Priory into my daily life and that whenever the crossroads of life confuse me, I will seek help from Above and any Sir Knight present.
I promise that I will never avoid nor refuse to counsel any person who needs my help in making a decision for the good of my Order, my country, or my family.
Insofar as is humanly possible, I do solemnly swear to these vows. So help me God.”
You will arise, my Brothers.
S.K.C.: Symbolic Knights of the Degree of Ebon, you will attend me at the Altar. All officers form a straight line across East except S.K.C., S.K.S.C., S.K.P.C., S. PRIOR who remain at Altar.
My brothers, your obligation binds you to the realism that transfigures our degree to your personal lives. While this ceremony has many teachings directly connected to it, the realization that we have reached the beginning of adulthood is its prime purpose. In adulthood, much is expected of you by your society, by your parents and by your country. With added responsibility must come added knowledge of the good and the evil that is among us. You may seemingly fulfill the wants of your parents, country and society, but if you do these out of lust, greed and dishonor, then you have truly failed, for if God and love were not your motives, then you became as a black shadow in a hazy foreground. Adulthood is not easy and it is not glorified by an approaching white charger or any outward symbol or sign of your ability or authority to command your thoughts, your deeds, and your immoral soul, but to you is handed the greatest inward confidence any one could bestow, the spirit of DeMolay.
I will now cause you to be instructed in the sign and emblem of this degree.
PRIOR: The sign of this degree is made by placing the right hand over the heart to remind you of fidelity, fidelity to DeMolay, to your brothers, and to your manhood. The left hand is placed perpendicular to the plane of your right. It thus forms a cross. For it is this cross which led the Knights back to their Priory when they had forsaken its teachings and gave up their manhood to satisfy the wants of the body and not their soul.
S.K.P.C.: From the Camps of the Pages, I present you the word of God, points to Bible the ultimate in the way of instruction. Remember well who will dwell in His Holy place and who will abide in His Tabernacle.
S.K.S.C.: From the Camp of the Westering Sun, I present you the emblem of the Degree of Ebon.
The emblem is in the shape of a shield which reminds us of our Knightly heritage.
The Bridge of Chivalry is the road we all must cross to a happy and more meaningful life. It is the duty of all Gods’ children to build a bridge of Chivalry so that people of the world might cross to a happier and more successful living. This bridge of Chivalry, is it not the bridge of life? This bridge of life, must it not be crossed by all? For those who cross it, He has offered eternal life. The bridge on our emblem is the kind we meet every day when ever we make a decision. The toll across it is not always free, nor are its planks always sturdy, but its structure, built upon goodness, shall never fall.
Above the bridge is the Meridian Sun whose furthermost rays point to the middle of the bridge of Chivalry and reminds us that we are at the mid-point of our development.
The crossed sword and rose remind us of force and kindness. These two measures of extreme divergent quality are binded together by the golden circle of infinity. They tell us that in the modern world of deceit and hate, mixed in somewhat unequal portions with love and kindness, force, rather than good deeds may be necessary to insure a bridge of chivalry and Knightly honor to those who desire to cross it.
The three pronged trident represents the force of evil and the lower blackness of the shield its domain. It is a powerful force but not quite powerful enough to erase the bond between the Spirit of DeMolay and God. For that reason, it extends on either boundary of the Golden Circle of Infinity but can never cross it.
S.K.C.: Symbolic Knights, you will retire. All march out leaving S.K.C. and candidates at Altar.
This concludes our degree, our signs, our symbols. Henceforth, you will call yourselves men. Remember the former path of life well, for as you go forward you will meet the obscurities and darkness of the Ebony Fog that will tend to cause you to turn. But is it not the Ebony Fog that bids the Sun be gone, and is it not the Sun that tells the night adieu?
I now leave you here at the Altar to find the path that radiates to your future.
By virtue of the authority in me vested as/by the Illustrious Knight Commander of ... Priory, Holy Order of the Fellow Soldiers of Jacques DeMolay, I now declare this Priory closed. Retires.