Knights of Venus of the United States
Ritual Degree of Perfection


KNIGHT COMMANDER: Senior Warden, you will retire to tile ante-room and ascertain if there are any candidates in waiting for the Degree of Perfection, and report their names to the Council.
Senior Warden retires and obtains names of candidates for Degree of Perfection. Enters Council chamber, passing door in usual manner, advances to center of room, gives salutation sign and reports as follows: Knight Commander, I find in waiting Mr. …, who desires to receive final instruction in our mystic tie.
KNIGHT COMMANDER: Master of Ceremonies, you will prepare the room for the proper reception of the candidate.
Master of Ceremonies will see that the brothers taking part are properly apparalled, and then advance to inner door and address candidate as follows, in tone loud enough to be heard by all present:
MASTER OF CEREMONIES: My brother, the ceremonies through which you are about to pass, are those you see enacted in every day life. Samael, the prince of evil spirits, whom you saw ascend from the infernal regions on your previous admission into our Council, and whom I regret to say, is still amongst us, is always on the alert for a soul to adorn his chambers. Gaze not on him, nor listen to his evil counsel, lest he tempt thy soul, and heap God’s heavy wrath upon thy head Let me prepare you for the journey. Samael concealed behind door.
Conducts the candidate to Lieutenant Commander and halts.
LIEUTENANT COMMANDER: The journey which is before you, is to you unknown. The Lord of Being created his servant free, if he doeth good, he gaineth heaven; if evil, he becometh an inhabitant of hell.
Conducted to Captain General and halts.
CAPTAIN GENERAL: A generous man is always ready to sacrifice himself for the benefit of his brethren. An intelligent man studies the secrets of nature, and draws therefrom, all that can promote human happiness. A prudent man does not waste his resources and never trusts to hazard.
Conducts to Knight Commander and halts.
KNIGHT COMMANDER: Do you believe that death is an incontestable thing, invincible and infinite? And when you see a dead body does not the perspiration come to you r brow, and a regret is born in your breast?
SENIOR WARDEN, for candidate: “No regret comes into my breast because I have familiarized myself to all human miseries and I esteem life as a little thing; but I say in the presence of the Corpse, ‘Dead! thou who were mighty as a God! Oh Death it is thou who reign sovereignly, and nothing can prevail against thee.’”
Conducts candidate to Prelate and halts.
PRELATE: Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the post of my doors, for whoso findeth me, findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the Lord. Conducts to Lieutenant Commander and halts and Samael steps from behind the door, unobserved by candidate.
LIEUTENANT COMMANDER: Flee from evil and cleave to that which is good. Receive my instructions and not silver; and knowledge, rather than fine gold, for wisdom is better than rubies, and all things that may be desired, may not be compared to it. Let not mercy and truth forsake you, bind them about your neck, write them on the tablets of your heart; so shall you find favor and good understanding in the sight of God
SAMAEL: Illusions, fruits of lunacy, that make men foolish, that do trust them most.
LIEUTENANT COMMANDER: My brother, think of heaven and heavenly things.
Move slowly around room.
SAMAEL: No, no my brother, think of honor and wealth.
What God can hurt thee? Thou art safe. Cast no more doubts. Come, I bring glad tidings from Samael.
SENIOR WARDEN, for candidate: Honor! Wealth My life’s ambition; when Samael shall stand by me, I am safe. I will cast no more doubts. Come Bring glad tidings from Samael, and tell me what sayst thy lord.
SAMAEL: That I shall wait on: whilst he lives, so he will buy my service with his soul.
SENIOR WARDEN for candidate: Already have I hazarded that to him.
SAMAEL: But thou must bequeath it solemnly, and give a pledge, or I will back to hell.
SENIOR WARDEN for candidate: Stay, and tell me, what good will my soul do thy lord?
SAMAEL: Enlarge his kingdom.
SENIOR WARDEN for candidate: Why? have you any pain that torture others?
SAMAEL: As great as have the human souls of men.
SENIOR WARDEN for candidate: Tell me, where is the place that men call hell?
SAMAEL: Under the heavens.
SENIOR WARDEN: Ay, but whereabouts?
SAMAEL: Within the bowels of these elements.
Where we are tortured and remain for ever;
Hell bath no limits, nor is circumscribed
In one self place; for where we are is hell,
And where hell is must we ever be;
And where hell is, must we he forever:
And, to conclude, when all the world dissolves,
And every creature shall ha purified,
All places shall be hell that are not heaven.
But tell me shall I have thy soul, I will wait on thee and be thy slave and give thee more than thou hast wit to ask.
SENIOR WARDEN for candidate: Ay, Samael, I give it thee. Walk should be so regulated, at this juncture they are in center of room.
I almost fancy I divine,
A meaning in spectral smile.
Saith it not that thy brain, like mine,
Still loved and sought the Beautiful?
Loved Truth, for Truth’s own sake; and sought,
Regardless of aught else, the while,
Like mine, the light of cloudless day:  
And in unsatisfying thought,
By twilight glimmers led astray,
Like mine at length, sank over-wrought?
Captain General touches off the quick match in skull, while the above lines are being rendered. Samael skulks away to his corner, and descends amid red fire.
CAPTAIN GENERAL, walking toward Prelate: Poor child of earth! and couldst thou, then, have borne
Thy life, till now, without my aid: T’was I
That saved thee from imaginations idle;
I guarded thee with long and anxious care;
And but for me, even now thou wouldst have been
Idling in other worlds.
Arriving at the Prelate’s station, Captain General says: Prelate, I present Bro. … for final obligation.
Members form about candidate in shape of crescent.
PRELATE: My son, you have advanced through the preliminary ceremonies so far s it is possible, unobligated. Before advancing further in our cause, you will be required to assume a most powerful and binding obligation, inseparably uniting yourself with us, and when once taken, it can never be retracted or departed from; but I assure you, therein is not contained a sentiment exceptionable to all that may become an honest, upright man, be his beliefs what they may. Are you willing to assume such an obligation?
Obligation is given.
PRELATE: Senior Warden you will now conduct the brother to the Knight Commander for final instruction and reception into our mystic circle.
Senior Warden conducts the candidate to a chair in front of Knight Commander.
KNIGHT COMMANDER: My brother, I will now instruct you in the secrets of this degree. When attending your own council, you will gain admission to the ante-room in the same manner as previously instructed in the Initiatory Degree, where you will invest yourself with the regalia of a Knight of Venus, which is a white apron embellished with the emblem of our order. You will then advance to the inner door and give the raps, as previously instructed, when the Second Sentinel will open the wicket, and to him you will give in a whisper, the Knight of Venus password, which is … He will then admit you. Advance to the center of the Council Chamber, in front of the altar and salute the Knight Commander thus …, the same as in the previous degree, which refers to the penalty of your obligation. Remain standing until recognized by the Knight Commander thus … which signifies …
You will then take your seat. Should you wish to retire before the Council is closed you will advance to the front of the altar and salute the Knight Commander in the same manner as on entering, and when recognized, you will he permitted to retire. Should you visit any Council except the one to which you are attached, you will pass the outer door in the usual manner, clothe yourself in appropriate regalia and hand your visiting card (which you should always carry with you) to the First Sentinel, who will send it to the Knight Commander He will direct the Senior Warden to repair to the ante-room, give you the test oath and examine you in the unwritten work of the order. Being found correct, the Senior Warden will direct you to advance and give the raps, when the wicket is opened by the Second Sentinel, the Senior Warden will announce himself with a visiting brother, this the Second Sentinel will communicate to the Knight Commander who will direct that you be admitted. The Senior Warden will then escort you to the center of the Council Chamber facing the altar, when you will salute the Knight Commander and be introduced. You will then take your seat.
The grip of a Knight of Venus is given thus: … The grand hailing sign, or sign of distress, is given thus … Should you be so situated that you cannot give the sign, you may use the mystic word …  Neither this sign nor word is to be used only in case of imminent danger or dire distress. Any brother seeing the sign or hearing the word, is bound to come to your assistance if the probability of saving your life is greater than that of losing his own. We have but one emblem, which may be worn on the person in the shape of a pin, ring, charm, button or badge, and you are positively prohibited from wearing any other design purporting to be an emblem of the Order unless by authority of the Supreme Commandery. The gavel is the symbol of authority of the Knight Commander, and its sound must always be recognized as imperative. Four raps (gives them *  *  *  *), calls up the Council. Three raps (gives them *  *  *), refers to the Captain General whose station is in the south, and is third iii rank. Two raps (gives them *  *), refers to the Lieutenant Commander, who ranks next to the Knight Commander. His station is in the west. One rap (gives it *), calls the Council to order or seats the members when standing. When rising to speak in the Council you will always salute the Knight Commander thus …, and address him by his official title. The voting sign is simply raising the right hand … All the mysteries and secrets of our Order are now in your keeping - guard them well - but it yet remains for you to learn something of the Order and its Ancient rites, customs and ceremonies.  
Upon your first admission into the ante-room you were divested of your outer garments in order to remind you of an ancient Caritish custom of stripping the candidate before introducing him to the Grand Copt, as he there was compelled to undergo a severe physical examination. You were blindfolded for a two-fold reason. First that you might attend more closely to what was said to you; and second, if you failed to pass the examination you could be taken from the Council chamber without being able to discover any of our secrets, as you were then unobligated. The black robe you wore, indicated darkness, which with the Carites, was a symbol of secrecy, and hence it was adored and hailed with three cheers. The Ancients compelled the candidate to be kept in darkness for three days. Everywhere among the Carites, the number three was deemed the most sacred of numbers. A reverence for its mystical virtues is to be found even among the Chinese, who say that numbers began at one and are made perfect at three, and hence they denote the multiplicity of any object by repeating
the character which stands for three times. In the philosophy of Plato, it was the image of the supreme being, because it includes in itself, the properties of the two first numbers, and because, as Aristotle says, it contains within itself a beginning, a middle and an end. The Phytagoreans called it perfect harmony. So sacred was this number deemed by the Carites, that we find it designating some of the attributes of almost all the gods. The thunderbolt of Jove was three forked, the sceptre of Neptune was a trident. Cerebus, the dog of Pluto, was three headed; there were three Fates and three Furies; the sun had three names, Apollo, Sol and Liber, and the moon three, also, Diana, Luna, and Hecate. In all incantations, three was a favorite number, for, as Virgil says, “numaro Deus impari gaudet,” God delights in an odd number. This explains the three stars on our emblems. You were then led over a rough road, to faintly remind you of the tortues undergone by our ancient brethren, in order to become members of this society, for their system of initiation was arduous and sometimes even bloody, especially with those they suspected of treachery. Their temples were covered with representations of monstrous serpents, tigers and all sorts of uncouth and horrible figures, compounded of men and devils.
Among the ancients, secret ceremonies were practiced in honor of certain gods and whose secret was known to initiates alone, who were admitted only after long and painful trials, which it was worth more than their life to reveal. Among the Carites the ceremonies of initiation were all funereal in character. They celebrated the death and the resurrection of some cherished being, either the object of esteem as a hero, or of devotion as a god. Subordination of degrees was instituted, anti the candidate was subjected to probation, varying in their character and severity ; the rites were practiced in the darkness of night, and often amid the gloom of impenetrable forests or subterranean caverns; and the full fruition of knowledge, for which so much labor was endured and so much danger incurred, was not attained until the aspirant, well tried and thoroughly purified, had reached the place of wisdom and light.
After being conducted over the rough road you were caused to kneel in prayer; for no one should enter upon any important duty without first invoking the blessing of Almighty Dod. You were then obligated in accordance with the ancient form. The terms of the Carites were somewhat curious in this particular. The candidate swore, in addition to the usual points relating to secrecy, that he would never have any carnal knowledge of his mother, sister or daughter, nor of the wife, mother, sister or daughter of a brother Carite, but would always extend his protection toward them; that he would not assassinate a Carite, or rob him of gold or other property, but rather relieve him, and that he would not associate with any person who had polluted himself by commission of these or any other crime.
After your obligation you beheld Samael ascend from the regions of Hell: stirring the caldron of never-ending fire. This was to remind you of the penalty of your obligation should you ever presume to reveal any of the secrets of this order. It was Samael who entered the Garden of Eden riding upon the back of a large serpent and tempted Eve. The great scheme of this prince of evil spirits was to rob man of the happiness he enjoyed in Paradise, and try by that means to counteract the design of God and the Creation The serpent with its tail in its mouth was an emblem of Eternity with the Carites; and it read to the initiated a striking lesson on the certainty of death, teaching them the universal fiat of nature that every one who is born into the world must return to the place from whence he came, and be resolved into his original dust.
The descent of Samael in the Second Degree, after being baffled in his infamous design to gather into his fold one more soul by the good angel represented by the Captain General teaches us a lesson that the evil spirit is ever on the alert.
My brother, the Ancients and their gods, have long since retreated behind mysterious clouds and innate, through which they appear, but dimly, to us and maintain their place in the dominion of fancy. By means of the plastic art, they gain distinct forms, by which their embodied power and majesty becomes to mortals, an object of veneration. Venus, the Goddess for whom this order is named, was the goddess of pure Love, virtue, chastity, justice and mercy. Quite a different interpretation was put upon it in later times, when sensual indulgences was the master feeling, but our Goddess is not responsible, neither is our Order responsible for the licentiousness and lechery that is now abroad in the land.
When a Knight of Venus bears of any man who hath fallen into public disgrace, he should have a mind to commiserate his mishap and not to make him more disconsolate. To envenom a name by libels that already is openly tainted, is to add stripes with an iron rod to one that is flayed with whipping, and to every well tempered mind will seem most inhuman and diabolical. Even the man who does wrong and commits errors, often has a quiet home, a fireside of his own, a gentle, loving wife, and innocent children, who, perhaps do not know of his past errors and lapses, past and long repented of, or if they do, love him better, because being mortal, he hath erred, and being in the image of God, he hath repented.
That every blow at this husband and father, strikes full upon the pure and tender bosoms of the wife and those daughters, is a consideration that doth not concern, or stay the hand of the base and brutal informer. My brother, if men weighed the imperfections of humanity, they would breathe less condemnation. Ignorance gives disparagement a louder tongue than knowledge does, wise men rather know than tell. If we even do know vices in men, we can scarce slow ourselves in a nobler virtue than in the charity of concealing them, if that be not flattery, persuading to continuance, and it is the basest office man can fall into, to make his tongue the defamer of the worthy man.
There is but one rule for a Knight of Venus in this matter. If there be virtues, and he be called upon to speak of him who owns them, let him tell them forthwith impartially, and if there be vices mixed with them, let him be content, the world shall know them by some other tongue than his, for if the evil doer deserves no pity, his wife, his parents or his children, or innocent persons who love him, may.
Where we want experience, charity bids us think the best and leave what we know not to the searcher of hearts; for mistakes, suspicions and envy often injure a clear fame, and there is least danger in a charitable construction.
A word of slander once spoken can never be recalled, nor the damage done ever be repaired. It has gone forth on its errand of destruction. Its waves of undulating poison float upon the gentle breeze, and, borne hither and yon, impregnate the purest atmosphere with noxious ordors. A slander uttered in secret, a falsehood repeated in our most private chambers, can never be destroyed, for the “very walls have ears.” When the insinuation is once made no power can counteract its influence. The spoken slander, no matter how secretly it may be said, cannot be counteracted, though you proclaim its falsity from the housetops and retract every word aloud in the streets. Like the thistledown, the seed will lodge somewhere and bring forth evil fruit. Man should judge others as he judges himself; believe others honest and sincere as he believes himself; find for their actions the excuses that he readily finds for his own, and look always for a good rather than a bad motive. God made them common to all, and he who denies justice to his brother is unfit to live.
Truth is a divine attribute, and the foundation of every virtue. To be good and true is the first lesson we would teach you in this theme we contemplate, and by its dictates endeavor to regulate our conduct; influenced by this principle, hypocrisy and deceit are unknown in the Council; sincerity and plain dealing distinguish us, while the heart and tongue join in promoting the general welfare, and rejoicing in each other’s prosperity.
My brother, I now bid you welcome to all the rights and privileges of our order, and trust that we may never regret your admission among us. You will now take your seat among the brothers.