Pi Alpha Xi
Initiation Ritual


Assembly (Optional)
Marshall or Advisor, addressing candidates: We have the permission of the President of the society to enter for the initiation. Marshall ushers in candidates and arranges them in front of the room facing the President in alphabetical order from left to right.
Calling the Meeting to Order
President: The meeting will please come to order *. We are assembled today for the purpose of initiating into the … Chapter of Pi Alpha Xi … number duly elected candidate(s).
Vice President: Welcome to all family and friends that are with us on this special occasion. Today as we gather together to recognize and reward the accomplishments of our newest members, let us pause and remember our role, not just as horticulturists, but as purveyors of beauty and stewards of the earth. Pause 3 seconds then continue.
President: Candidates - please remain standing.
We are gathered here today to honor Pi Alpha Xi members past and present and to welcome new members to the society. It is important for us to remember those who have made our gathering today possible. As we welcome our newest members, members selected for their high qualifications, we honor ALL Pi Alpha Xi members.
We look to these new members to continue our rich traditions – to foster fellowship, collegiality, cooperation and to promote Horticulture in every aspect of their lives. Welcome.
Advisor: I wish to present for initiation into Pi Alpha Xi the following candidates: … identify each by name.
President, addressing candidates: Candidates, do you come before the members of Pi Alpha Xi with an earnest desire that we receive you into our society and grant you its benefits? If so, answer "I do".
Candidates: I do.
President: Before proceeding with the initiation, it becomes my duty to explain to you the aims and purposes of Pi Alpha Xi the honor society for horticulture.
The purpose of this society is to promote high scholarship, to foster good fellowship among its members, to increase the efficiency of the profession, and to establish cordial relations among students, educators, and professional horticulturists. Moreover, those of us in ornamental horticulture have an ideal which has come down through the ages - the enrichment of human life through plants.
Do you hereby pledge yourself to uphold and promote the ideals of this society and take upon yourself the responsibility incumbent upon membership therein? Please respond with "I do".
Initiates: I do
President: It is my duty to charge you.
Are you willing to seek further knowledge of Pi Alpha Xi and to be loyal to the ideals of this society, and are you willing to render unto it such service as it may require? Please respond with "I am".
Candidates: I am.
President: The candidates, please be seated.
Motto or Name of the Society
Secretary: The name of our society, Pi Alpha Xi, represents the three Greek words meaning fellowship, scholarship, and a love of plants.
These are the fundamentals of our success in horticulture.
Some member of society points to characters on key as they appear during explanatory remarks.
Secretary: A closer study of this name discloses that Pi, the first letter was chosen to represent a Greek word Πολυμάθεια “Polymathia”, meaning "Scholarship".
This symbolizes the knowledge and achievement which Pi Alpha Xi is organized to foster. The philosophical Greeks tell us that "Education is a possession no one can take away" and that one "who perseveres succeeds at last".
A great teacher has said that the educated person should be at home in all lands and in all ages, counting nature a familiar acquaintance and art an intimate friend; that he should have gained a standard for the appreciation of other people's work and for the criticism of his own; and that he should lose himself in generous enthusiasm, cooperating with others for common ends. Who shall deny that one who lives out this program possesses both wisdom and achievement?
We may sum up this ideal in three short words: "Always to excel."
Secretary: A representation of an ancient writing instrument, the stylus, appears on our key to symbolize this scholarship in which we strive to excel.
Alpha, the second letter of our name, was chosen to represent the Greek word Ανθοκόμος “Anthokomos”, which describes one who "takes care of flowers." The traditions of Pi Alpha Xi, however, date back to a civilization much earlier than the Greeks', to that of the ancient Egyptians. Their sacred and eternal symbol, the Lotus of the Nile , has been chosen as our emblem. The Lotus, the flower of the gods, was a symbol because of it's likeness while floating on the Nile to Re, the Sun God King who daily traversed the sky. The Lotus was believed to have the power of rejuvenation, and in mythology is represented as holding the morning sun within the folds of its petals. It was for this reason that the Lotus became so universally worshipped and used so frequently in the ancient art and architecture of Egypt.
Thus, Nymphaea caerulea, The Egyptian Lotus, appears upon our key and upon our seal. In our designs the fully blown flower is accompanied by two buds. These buds typify a promise of good things to come from the propagation of our ideals. Appearing also on our key is a word signifying the Lotus flower, rendered in script of three ancient types. The colors adopted by our society have come from the pure cerulean blue of this noble flower and from the shimmering green of the tropical waters with which it has for so long been associated.
The two chief provinces of ornamental horticulture, namely culture and design, are symbolized by two other characters on our key.
The Egyptian hoe represents culture, while the ancient vase represents the use of ornamental plants as decorative material. Not only were Lotus flowers grown in Egypt for their beauty, but they were also woven into garlands for the altars of the gods. It is a significant fact that in all lands and since the earliest times flowers have blessed the heart of man. They have wreathed the cradle, the marriage altar and the tomb.
Xi, the third letter was chosen to represent the Greek words Zω “Zo” and Ομόνοια “Omonoia” meaning “to live” and “unity,” respectively. We interpret these words as symbols of the brotherhood among those who are members of Pi Alpha Xi and the fellowship among true gardeners. The ancient Greeks had a saying "There exists a tie of kindred among all wise people".
President: The following lecture will give you a better understanding of the historical background which forms the foundation for the thoughts which have already been explained to you.
From time immemorial flowers and ornamental plants have been associated with human activities. When primitive humans abandoned the life of roving savages and settled down to cultivate the soil, a garden seems to have been their first dwelling place. Here they could find food, shelter, peace and beauty - the main ingredients of a civilized life. It was in such a place, amid the green and flowering plants, that our pursuit of a cultured and urban civilization had its beginning. Ancients called it Paradise ; today a garden is still the epitome of peace, plenty, and security for the finer instincts of humanity.
Throughout all history, the cultivation of plants and flowers has exerted an elevating influence upon humankind. People learned to garden with ornamental plants almost as soon as they learned crop culture. The historical record reveals the early use of flowers and plant materials for festive, ceremonial and religious purposes.
Landscape design was practiced as early as the very dawn of written history. Florists, gardeners, botanists and their associates, the physicians, worked throughout the ancient empires of the east - in the Orient, in Egypt, Mesopotamia and India - as well as in the later classical countries- down through the Dark Ages and finally into the civilization of modern times. This is one of the oldest professions, and one which has constantly enriched the world and ennobled those who practiced it.
We cannot imagine the Garden of Eden or any of the enchanted gardens of history without their flowers and their groves. The ancient Egyptians used flowers to honor the mighty pharaohs, to present to guests, to adorn houses, and to pay tribute to the dead. We discover pictures, thousands of years old, and see the image of a powerful Assyrian warrior who dines beneath a leafy arbor, and we read about Nebuchadnezzar's Hanging Gardens , the glory of old Babylon . In Greece and Rome people linked their flowers and trees with the gods and held them in highest respect. In sacred groves, trees were dedicated to the deities. Flowers were offered in religious festivals, dancing maidens carried garlands of them, and victors were crowned with them. People in Rome had pleasure gardens around their villas, and commercial florists practiced their art. From ancient to modern times, flowers and gardens have continued to be associated with the lives of people, from the simple and lowly to the grandeur of royalty.
They have been transplanted from country to country, wherever humans have gone, often carried in the vanguard of civilization. The great and strong of all ages have lauded the beauty of plants.
Cyrus, the great king of Ancient Persia, planted tree parks with his own hands. Philosophers, scientists, statesmen, and soldiers, from Plato to Aristotle to Washington and Jefferson, have praised the virtues of gardening and proclaimed the glories of ornamental plants.
Poets and writers, from Homer to Shakespeare and down to the moderns, have also paid their tributes. Legends have grown up around these plants. Throughout all ages, though peoples and empires have come and gone, still the urge has persisted for these good things which grow out of the ground. This is enduring evidence of the fundamental need of humankind for the products of our horticulture industries.
Our work is essential. There is a special dignity in our profession because it was an early precursor of art, science and the craft of healing. Its practitioners have also been responsible for the planning of cities and parks, the adornment of temples, the discovery of natural laws and the introduction of many things which have helped to establish a better, richer life upon this earth. Their flowers have expressed deepest sentiment at times when no words could convey this quite so fully. Their trees and gardens have adorned people's homes, from the humblest dooryard to the most noble palace. Such are some of the accomplishments and deeper meanings underlying our ancient and honorable calling.
Formation of the Society and Chapter
The idea of an honorary floriculture and ornamental horticulture society came from an impromptu after-dinner discussion between representatives of several universities attending the International Flower Show held at New York City in 1923. A group of individuals from Cornell University lead by the late Arno Nehrling, developed the organization, wrote the first constitution and ritual and designed the insignia or key. The formal installation of the Alpha Chapter was at Cornell University on June 1, 1923. Today the society embraces all of horticulture and has grown to 39 chapters and over 13 thousand members. These chapters are located in the United States at 4-year institutions with programs in Horticulture.
Our chapter, the … chapter, was the … chapter to be established. The … chapter was founded … through the efforts of ….
Since …, our founding year, we have initiated … (number) members.
Today, the only way in which we may fittingly discharge the trust received from our predecessors is by living up to our noble traditions. As custodians of the knowledge and scholarship which we are privileged to possess, it is our solemn obligation to conserve the earth and to make it more productive and beautiful - to the end that all people might benefit. We who are members of Pi Alpha Xi, by reason of our learning and special attainments in the art and science of horticulture, are entrusted with the special responsibility of employing our skill and knowledge for the betterment of the world and unselfish advancement of our profession. This is a sort of "Hippocratic Oath" which we must accept out of respect for the traditions of our calling. To this, Pi Alpha Xi is dedicated.
Over and above all thoughts of commercial gain, congenial fellowship or individual attainment, stands the deep and ultimate goal of our society, the enrichment of human life through the advancement of our profession, the conservation and extension of nature's beauty, and the contentment of the human spirit.
Oath of Pi Alpha Xi
President: Candidates, please stand.
It now becomes by duty and privilege to administer the oath of Pi Alpha Xi Society. You will pronounce your name and repeat after me:
I, …,
/ do hereby promise to faithfully adhere
/ to the ideals for which Pi Alpha Xi stands
/ and I will strive with diligence
/ towards the realization
/ or the highest attainments
/ of which I am capable.
/ I will at all times
/ try to foster good fellowship
/ among members of Pi Alpha Xi
/ and will ever be alert
/ to find other persons
/ with worthy achievements in horticulture.
President: This concludes the formal initiation and now as President of the … Chapter of Pi Alpha Xi, I take great pleasure in welcoming you into our Society as members.
After receiving your materials and signing the Secretary's roll, the rest of the members will welcome you.
President shakes hands with newly initiated members.
Chapter: each member follows President in shaking hands and offering congratulations.
Secretary: please note that each initiate is to be assigned a permanent number which will appear on the initiate's certificate and the records of the society. Some chapters alphabetized the order of number assignment or even place special emphasis on number.