History of the A.A.O.N.M.S.

Ancient Arabic Order Nobles Mystic Shrine

The great Shrine organization of today traces its origins to New York City and to four dedicated men. The men were Dr. Walter M. Fleming, William J. Florence, Charles T. McClenachan and William S. Paterson. It was Fleming's idea to establish a fun fraternal order for men who had completed their requirements in the Scottish or York rite Masonic organizations.

Fleming presented his idea to William Florence, like Fleming a resident of Albany, NY, who became a world-renowned actor. Florence was later to provide the founding group with the key elements for the colorful Shrine rituals. Charles T. McClenachan, an outstanding lawyer, was in addition a well-known expert on Masonic ritual. The fourth founding member of the organization was William Paterson, a native Scotsman who had a successful career as a printer in New York City. Fleming, Florence, McClenachan and Paterson formed the nucleus of a luncheon club where the prime topic was formation of a new order.

On September 26, 1872, the original 13 met in New York's Masonic Hall, 114 East Thirteenth Street, for the purpose of formally organizing the Ancient Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America. The Shrine was born.

The 13 original members of the New York luncheon club were named as charter members of the New York Temple, named Mecca. The following officers were elected: William J. Fleming, Potentate; Charles T. McClenachan, Chief Rabban; John A. Moore, Assistant Rabban; William S. Paterson, Recorder; Edward Eddy, High Priest; James S. Chappell, Treasurer; George W. Millar, Oriental Guide; Oswald M. d'Aubigne, Captain of the Guard.

The new Shrine was not an immediate success in terms of membership. Fleming was especially active in recruiting new members, but by September 1876, there were only 43 Nobles, and 37 of these were from New York City.

The spark that was needed to make the Shrine prosper apparently was formation of the Imperial Council.

Noble Fleming conceived the idea.  At the meeting in New York's Masonic Temple June 6, 1876, about 309 members from Mecca Temple performed the ritual of an annual Imperial Session, and the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America was conferred on 25 neophytes.  At a later business meeting, Noble Fleming called for the formation of a parent governing body for the Order.

Fleming's recommendation was approved, and creation of the Imperial Grand Council of the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine was authorized.

Fleming, whose tremendous energy had helped carry the Order through its difficult early years, was elected to a three-year term as the first Grand Potentate. 

The first meeting of the Imperial Council was brief, but in addition to election of officers, it accomplished the following:

1. Established New York City as the Grand Orient or headquarters for the Imperial Council,

2. Approved a plan to install five Past Potentates from each subordinate temple as honorary members of the Imperial Council,

3. Created a committee to write statutes and regulations for governance of the Imperial Council and its subordinate temples,

4. Established a $50 fee for charters for new temples, $10 as an annual temple tax to be paid to the Imperial Council, and $10 as the minimum initiation fee for new members,

5. Adopted a resolution making it mandatory that all Shriners be members in good standing of either the Scottish Rite or Knights Templar.  (Recently the Imperial Council amended this resolution to allow Master Masons in good standing to join.)

6. Established the following temples; Mahammed in New Haven, Conn., Ziyara in Utica, NY, Pyramid in Bridgeport, Conn., and Syria in Pittsburgh.

Nobles McClenachan, Ehlers and J.H. Hobart were named to the committee on statutes and regulations.

The first official act of the Imperial Council was to grant a charter to Mecca Temple, bearing the date September 26, 1872. The council placed a limit of 33 on its own membership and ruled that only active life members who ere Potentates or Past Potentates could belong to the Council. The Imperial Grand Council would meet each year during the first week of February at Albany, NY it was decided.

Mt. Sinai Temple at Montpelier VT was granted a charter in 1876. At the February 6, 1877 meeting of the Imperial Grand Council in Albany, members made appointments bringing to 30 the Council membership. The Council also voted to present each new Noble with certificate, specified official jewels and costumes for the respective offices, and required each new temple to select an ancient Arabic or Egyptian name.

In 1877, charters were granted to Oriental Temple at Troy, NY, to Al Koran Temple in Cleveland, to Syrian Temple in Cincinnati, and to Cyprus Temple in Albany.

It was between the late 1880's and the early 1900's that the Shrine enjoyed great membership growth and vigorous program activity. Here are some of the highlights of that period:

1886 - Imperial Grand Council met in Cleveland and voted to drop the word "Grand" from the Council title.

1886 - The irrepressible Dr. Fleming stepped down as Imperial Potentate after 12 years, and was replaced by Noble Sam Briggs of Cleveland.

1888 - Twelve new temples were chartered and the Imperial Council met outside of the U.S. for the first time, at Toronto, Canada.

1890 - The Imperial Council enacted the famous three-blackball veto on Shrine membership and the term for Imperial officers was reduced from three years to one year.

1891 - The Council banned use of emblems of any other secret organization with those of the Shrine, and forbade wearing of the fez and jewel except for Shrine functions.

1891 - King Kalakaua of Hawaii was initiated in the Shrine January 14 in a ceremony at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.

1897 - The Council rejected applications for Temples in Mexico and the Sandwich Islands.

1899 - All but seven of the 78 temples were engaged in some form of charitable work.

1900 - The Imperial Council ruled that a Noble could belong to more than one temple.

1906 - Membership passed the 100,000 mark. The Shrine sent monetary aid to victims of the great San Francisco earthquake.

The famous Shriner's fez was the subject of new legislation in 1915. New regulations prescribed that the red Turkish fez with black tassel be adorned only by the name of the temple and the scimitar and the part of the jewel of the order including the sphinx head and star. The adornments were to be embroidered in gold or silver bullion or silk. Titles, names of units and other extras were barred from the fez.

The First World War seemed to mark a new era of civic and patriotic fervor by the AAONMS.  The hard work associated with establishment of the order was behind, and there was time for serious thought about issues of the day.

In 1916, the first Shrine pilgrimage to Alaska took place. In 1918, Shrine membership passed 259,000. The temples purchased nearly $1 million in Liberty Loan Bonds and subscribed $110,453 to the Red Cross.

From the beginnings, in 1871 (MECCA TEMPLE) through 1920 approximately, there was no single approved philanthropy. The Temples were generous, however, in supporting various local and national charities. In 1919, the Honorable W. Freeland Kendrick, Potentate of LU LU 1906-1918, and later Mayor of Philadelphia, 1924-1928, launched the idea that the Shrine should undertake something for “friendless, orphaned, and crippled children.” The following year (1920) at the Imperial Council Session in Portland, OR, Imperial Sir Kendrick introduced (and it was adopted) a motion to “establish a Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children.” An annual assessment of $2.00, from every Shriner to support the Hospital, was approved, and a Committee of Seven was appointed by Imperial Sir Kendrick to implement the program.

The Shrine Hospital System has grown to its current size of 19 Hospitals in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and three Burns Institutes. The name has changed to The Shrine Hospitals for Children. Every Shriner today contributes $5.00 of his annual membership dues to the Hospital System.

Freeland Kendrick (known as “Free” or “Freel”) became known as the “Father” of the Hospital System. He served on the National Board (he chaired it for many years) and served on the Philadelphia Hospital Board until his death, March 20, 1953. After serving as Imperial Potentate 1919/1920, Freel returned to LU LU, where he again served as Potentate for three years (1921-23).

In 1920, the Shrine took a public stand in favor of free and compulsory education supported by public taxes in America.

Dynamic growth continued. Membership passed 511,000 in 1922. Initial steps were taken to copyright all Shrine emblems and insignia.

With humor befitting the Shrine philosophy, the founders of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of North America on looking around, decided that America was a suitable place to rest the camels of the great caravan, that the shade of the old apple trees was cool and delicious, and that her Shareefs, Bashi-Bazooks and wail-dervishes were thirsty for knowledge."

Shriners Creed

Shriner's believe in God and that He created man to serve his purposes, among which is service to others in His name.

We believe that care for the less fortunate, especially children who suffer from burns and crippling diseases, is our institutional calling.

We are patriots, each willing to serve his country with fidelity and courage. We cherish independence under law and freedom with responsibility.

We honor family. We respect our parents, wives and children. We should install in our children the tenets of this creed and the heritage from which it emanates.

As individuals we pledge ourselves to integrity, virtue and nobility of character. Our intentions will be honorable, our relations will be trustworthy and our sprits forgiving of each other.

As brothers we offer each other fraternal affection and respect. Together we will support each other in adherence to this creed, so that we and our communities will be the better because of our fraternity and its principles.

As Shriners we look beyond ourselves to serve the needs of others especially children who cannot help themselves.  We believe Shriner's hospitals to be the world's greatest philanthropy, and we covenant with each other to support its "temple of mercy" with spirit, time, talent and means.

Ritual of the Shriners
This is the ritual of Prince Hall Shriners, 1973

Opening Ceremonies
Illustrious Potentate, one rap with gavel or sceptre: We are about to open ... Temple for business and ceremonies. Officers will take their stations.
Officers take their stations, but do not robe. Each officer, except the Illustrious Potentate, arises when addressed, and remains standing.
Illustrious Potentate, one rap: Noble Chief Rabban, that no interloper or spy may intrude upon the ceremonies of our Mystic Rite, it is my command that you summon your proper officers and receive from them our mystic pass; disperse them with alacrity in and about the Temple to receive the same from all within our portals, and communicate to you, that you may give me the assurance that no ignoble here intrudes.
Chief Rabban, one rap: Nobles First and Second Ceremonial Masters, have you the Mystic Pass?
First and Second Ceremonial Masters: Noble Chief Rabban, we have.
Chief Rabban: Approach and give it. First and Second Ceremonial Masters approach and whisper ....
Chief Rabban: It is the command of our Illustrious Potentate that you forthwith receive the Mystic Pass from each and everyone in or about the body of the Temple, and return the same to me that I may give assurance that no ignoble spy intrudes upon the ceremonies of our Mystic Rite.
First and Second Ceremonial Masters, each on one side of the Temple receive the Mystic Pass Each Noble arises and whispers. The pass is not required of the Illustrious Potentate,. Chief Rabban and Assistant Rabban, but should be required of the Outer Guard. If any be present without the pass, the Ceremonial Master announces aloud, “an Intruder.” The one without the pass is vouched for or expelled. Returning, the Second Ceremonial Master communicates the pass to the First Ceremonial Master and the First Ceremonial Master communicates it to the Chief Rabban.
Chief Rabban: Illustrious Potentate, our Mystic Shrine is secure and free from jeopardy; there are none present save Nobles of our Mystic Rite.
Illustrious Potentate:  It is well. Let us be clothed.
Officers vest themselves with their robes and jewels. Each member dons fez and white gloves. All are seated.
Illustrious Potentate, one rap: Noble Assistant Rabban, inform the Captain of the Guard, and he his comrade, the Outer Guard that ... Temple is about to be opened for business and ceremonies, and both take heed to permit no interruption while we are thus engaged.
Assistant Rabban, one rap: Noble Captain of the Guard, you will inform your comrade, the Outer Guard, that ... Temple is about to be opened for business and ceremonies. It is the command of our Illustrious Potentate that you both take heed and permit no interruption while we are thus engaged.
Captain of the Guard goes to the inner door, opens it, and instructs the Outer Guard. He then closes the door and gives **    * raps, which is answered by the same number from the Outer Guard.
Captain of the Guard: Noble Assistant Rabban, our Outer Guard stands instructed; we are under a double-guard; picketed by a tried and trusty officer without; one who knows his duty; vigilantly assisted by the Captain of the Guard within.
Assistant Rabban:  Illustrious Potentate, our sacred Temple is under a double and trusty guard.
Illustrious Potentate: Since all present are Nobles of the Mystic Shrine and our Temple securely guarded, let us form about the altar and unite in singing our opening ode.
All arise and form semi-circle, opening towards the Orient.
High Priest goes to altar on east side and faces the Nobles, when the first verse or more of the Shrine ode is sung.
“Joy is a fruit that will not grow
In nature’s barren soil;
The Saviour calls for you and me,
In His vineyard to toil.”
The last verse to be sung only at closing of the Temple
After the ode, the High Priest offers the following prayer: ”Father and Creator, who hast given us life and being, aid us to perform the duties which Thy law and our vows impose upon us. Thou hast vouchsafed to call us Thy children, and doth graciously permit us to call Thee Father. May Thy name be our glory and our confidence, our defense and guard, our ornament and strength, our dignity and the motive of obedience. May it confirm and sustain us in our good rsolutions, and make us steadfast never to desert the post of duty. Let our bodies be chaste, our thoughts pure, our words gentle, our lives useful and innocent, to the honor and commendation of Masonry and the Mystic Shrine. Make us patient of the evils with which we may be afflicted, lovers of the good which Thou commendest, haters of all vice which Thou forbiddest, and satisfied with all Thou sendest. Let us not be tempted with want, nor made contemptible by beggary, nor wantonly proud by riches, nor in love with anything in this world to the disregard of duty. Look upon us with mercy; forgive our imperfections, and accept with compassion the little service we may be able to render to the cause of justice, truth and common humanity. And to Thee be all glory and honor, forever. Amen.”
All: So mote it be. Amen, Amen, Amen.
Illustrious Potentate:  Noble Oriental Guide, you will now display the Holy writings and other appropriate emblems.
Oriental Guide opens the Bible (1st chapter of Job:  Koran 38th chapter) arranges them on the altar, Koran in front of the Bible, Bible and Koran in arch of two crossed scimitars on the Altar.
Illustrious Potentate: Nobles, behold the Orient and attend the signs.
Signs given.
Illustrious Potentate: **    *, Chief Rabban: **     *, Assistant Rabban: **     *.
Illustrious Potentate:  In the name of God, our Father, and by the existence of Allah, the creed of Mohammed, and the legendary sanctity of the Temple of Mecca, I now proclaim this Temple regularly opened for business and ceremony, and hereby forbid any discord that might mar our mystic rites. Noble Captain of the Guard, you will inform the Outer Guard. Captain of the Guard informs the Outer Guard.
Captain of the Guard:  Illustrious Potentate, the Outer Guard has your command and the Temple is secure.
One rap. All are seated.
Initiation, section 1
This 1st section is sacred:  No play should be permitted.
Temple darkened. Furniture: Altar of Obligation covered with black cloth, the Bible, the Koran and two crossed scimitars thereon. Left of east; Altar of Incense with burning Myrrh, right of east; Bier and Coffin, each half way between east and Altar of Obligation; Layer of Water in south; gong to the left of the Assistant Rabban in the south. The Black Stone placed In the southeast corner of the Temple (the extreme left of the Potentate). Officers in their respective stations and places; members seated.
Illustrious Potentate: Noble First Ceremonial Master, you will retire to the outer walls and ascertain if any Novices await our pleasure.
First Ceremonial Master comes before the Altar of Obligation, salutes the Illustrious Potentate with the sign of salutation and retires and secures the desired information, and returning before the Altar, salutes and reports.
Note: The last sign given in addressing the Illustrious Potentate is the sign of salutation.
First Ceremonial Master: Illustrious Potentate, there are without ... candidates in waiting; Novices, who seek admission to our Mystic Shrine.
Illustrious Potentate: Noble Recorder, have the petitions of ... been received in open Temple, and have they paid the required eas, been balloted for and duly elected?
Recorder: Illustrious Potentate, they have, and their characters have been canvassed and found to come within the bounds of good report. They have each passed the ordeal of the secret ballot of our Mystic Shrine unsullied and vouched for by Nobles of our rite.
Illustrious Potentate: It is well. Nobles First and Second Ceremonial Masters, accompanied by our Noble Marshal, you will retire without the Temple and prepare these Novices for reception in our Mystic Shrine.
hey go to Altar and salute, then retire and prepare the Novices by removing their shoes, coats, vests, and collars and clothing them with white dominoes and slippers; hand-cuffed or tied at the wrists. When the candidates are ready, the Ceremonial Masters take charge of them and give **    * knocks at the outer door. The response from within is a loud clatter of chains being with-drawn, the removal of several large bolts, after which the door is opened by the Oriental Guide.
Oriental Guide: What is the cause of this clamorous alarm? Who dares intrude upon the ceremonies of our Mystic Shrine?
First Ceremonial Master: One, two or three poor sons of the desert who are weary of the hot sands and burning sun of the plains, humbly crave shelter under the protecting dome of the Temple.
Oriental Guide: How may we know them to be worthy and not of treacherous or ignoble birth?
First Ceremonial Master: Their characters having been canvassed and coming within the bounds of good report, they have passed the ordeal of the secret ballot of our Mystic Shrine unsullied, and I espouse their cause and sanction their reception with the secret pass.
Oriental Guide: Give me the pass.
First Ceremonial Master advances and whispers, ....
Oriental Gulde: ’Tis well; let them enter.
They enter, preceded by the Marshal, Ceremonial Masters and their assistants, conducting the candidates, Oriental Guide leading the way.
Illustrious Potentate: **     *, all rise.
Gong sounds once, music. They march twice around counter-clockwise with music or singing, or both; the gong sounds each time they reach the east; when they arrive at the east after the second circuit, the Illustrious Potentate raps *; all are seated. Candidates and escort halt.
Illustrious Potentate: What strange intruders have we here Our pleasures were most perfect and should be sacred from this turmoil and display.
Previous to the entrance of the candidates, the Captain of the Guard has chosen a number of Nobles and they have dressed as Arabic soldiers with broad scimitars; they are stationed outside and drilled and ready for duty when wanted. The soldiers now rush in, seize the candidates and hustle them toward the dbor, when the Oriental Guide supplicatingly answers. Soldiers halt with candidates.
Oriental Guide: Illustrious Potentate, ‘tis I who have ushered in one, two or three poor sons of the desert, who being weary of the hot sands and burning sun of the plains, humbly crave that sacred boon of the weary and thirsty traveler:  a cup of water and shelter under the protecting dome of our goodly Temple. I do commend them to your favor, having found them worthy and not of treacherous or ignoble purpose, each having passed the ordeal of the secret ballot of our Mystic Shrine unsullied and vouched for by a Noble with our secret pass.
Illustrious Potentate: Noble Guide, know you the penalty of broken faith and do you stand forth as ransom for them all?
Oriental Guide: Illustrious Potentate, I do.
Illustrious Potentate: So be it then. Conduct them once again about our Shrine to our Noble High Priest, that he may imprint upon the tablets of their memories a knowledge of the duties they do here assume.
Candidates are conducted around to the High Priest and Prophet, who is robed and wearing a mitre.
High Priest: Strangers, are your motives for coming among us honorable, pure and free from hope of gain or pride of knowledge?
Candidates: They are.
High Priest: Have you a belief in the existence of a Deity, future rewards and punishments?
Candidates: I have.
High Priest: Have you a desire to promote justice and suppress wrong?
Candidates: I have.
High Priest: Have you a due regard for female virtue?
Candidates: I have.
High Priest: Are you willing to jeopardize your life, if need be, to punish the guilty and protect the innocent, and labor in the cause of justice, truth and common humanity?
Candidates: I am.
High Priest: Have you still a desire to unite with us in the inseparable bonds of the Mystic Shrine for the purposes to which you have assented?
Candidates: I have.
High Priest: If you have answered in sincerity and in truth these replies, I can assure you that no conflicting sentiment nor requirement here will mar your principles nor your duties in the outside world, be they what they may. Our alliance, or the rite of our Mystic Shrine, is ancient, honorable, benevolent and secret. It is devoted to the cause of justice, truth, and mercy. It is as ancient as the cornerstone of Mohammed’s Temple at Mecca; as secret as the Moslem vow that bound the tribes of Arabia to Allah or their God; as honorable as the Christian; and the tenets to which it is dedicated when assumed cannot be eschewed or cast aloof. We know no retrogression, justice is our escutcheon; charity beyond reason we do not expect; virtue must be regarded for its peerless worth and morality observed for the general good of all. We require absolute secrecy and desire all our discipies to hold an interest in our noble cause and a just observance of the tenets of our faith. Let the preliminary teachings be deeply graven upon your hearts. They are priceless when well observed and attributes that cannot be bought with paltry, sordid gold. By the existence of Allah and the creed of Mohammed; by the legendary sanctity of our Tabernacle at Mecca, we greet you, and in commemoration of the Arab’s faith in purity and innocence, we accept your answers as sincere, and you will now be permitted to proceed in the rites and ceremonies of the Mystic Shrine. The Oriental Guide and escort will now conduct you onward, while you will reverently lend an attentive ear to our preparatory service.
Gong, music. Candidates proceed from station to station.
Illustrious Potentate: Who is he who hath professcd to have conversed in person with the Supreme and maketh himself mightiest of the mighty? Mohammed, the Prophet of the Arab’s creed.
Gong. Music.
Chief Rabban: Who but Mohammed mingled his religion with his Houril and said: “Are not these the true sources of happiness?”
Gong. Music.
Assistant Rabban: What shall befall them who have reflected with abhorrence that which the Prophet hath revealed? Wherefore their works shall not avail; do they not travel through the earth and see the end of those who were before them?
Gong. Music.
High Priest: Why do unbelievers indulge themselves and eat beasts? Shall not their portion be a torment? Appeal to the Prophets for the truth.
Gong. Music.
Illustrious Potentate: To whom shall be meted out the boiling waters to drink, that they shall burst their bowels and shall be cast into molten lava to be consumed? The infidels who wait until the last hour of justice.
Gong. Music.
Chief Rabban: Let us be of the number of those who bathe in the fountain of incorruptible waters and rivers of milk, the taste whereof changeth not: and rivers of wine, pleasant and purifying to those who drink, and enter into the vineyards where fruits rare and plenty ever abound, and no evil exists.
Gong. Music.
Assistant Rabban: He who follows the plain declaration of his dictator will ever avoid those whose evil works have been dressed for them by the devil and who follow up their own lusts.
Gong. Music.
High Priest: There are Moslems among us; there are others who swerve from propriety: but who so seeketh Islam earnestly seeks true direction; but those who swerve from truth and justice shall merit and reap abundance of chastisement.
Illustrious Potentate: Let us purify one another. There are two highways to good and evil; attempt not the city of destruction. Ye all be possessed of the faculty of distinguishing and the power of choosing between wickedness and piety. The punishment of each will be equal to the measure of his sin.
Gong and music until the candidates arrive at the east, where they halt.
Illustrious Potentate:  Sons of the Desert, you have advanced through the preliminary ceremonies of the Nobility of the Mystic Shrine as far as it is possible unobligated. Before advancing further in our cause, you will be required to assume a most powerful and binding oath, inseparably uniting yourselves 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?
Candidates: I am.
Illustrious Potentate: Conduct the Sons of the Desert to our sacred and holy Altar.
Candidates are conducted around to the west and to the Altar of Obligation amid sound of gong, drum and music. They kneel at the Altar with bound hands resting upon the Holy writings, heads bowed. Illustrious Potentate strikes *** to summon all around the Altar.
Illustrious Potentate, to candidates: Repeat after me:
I, ..., of my voluntary desire, uninfluenced and of free accord, do here assume, without reserve, the obligation of the Nobility of the Mystic Shrine, as did the elect of the Temple at Mecca, the Moslem and the Mohammedan. I do hereby, upon this Bible, and on the mysterious legend of the Koran, and its dedication to the Mohammedan faith, promise and swear and vow on the faith and honor of an upright man, come weal or woe, adversity or success, that I will never reveal any secret part or portion whatsoever of the ceremonies I have already received, that are about to be communicated to me or that I may hereafter be instructed in, to any person in the world, except it be to a well known member of the Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, and I knowing to an absolute certainty that he or they be truly and lawfully such, and of good standing with such Nobility. That I will not be present, aid or countenance the conferring of the Order of the Mystic Shrine upon any person who is not a Masonic Knights Templar or a Thirty-second Degree Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite Mason, in good standing.
I furthermore promise and vow that I will not willfully write, cut, speak, or portray any detail that might be construed into even a clue to thc same, except for offIcial Temple work.
Furthermore, I do here register a sacred vow, promising, should I live to become a member, I will impartially cast a black ballot without fear or favor against friend or foe applying for membership in the Nobility of the Mystic Shrine, whom I believe to be disgraced, dishonored, a thief, perjurer, murderer, a lunatic, an idiot or a criminal. And should I, undismayed, pass safely through the Moslem test, and be found worthy of the confidence of my fellows, albeit, I do not actively espouse the cause, still L do promise to be silent, even if neutral, and not oppose the purposes of the Order.
I further promise and vow that I will obey the laws and submit to the decrees of the Imperial Council of the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of North and South America and Jurisdictions, Inc., and that I will not acknowledge. recognize nor be present in any other body of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine claiming to be superior in authority, nor be present in any Temple not holding constitutional authority from the said Imperial Council of the Mystic Shrine.
I furthermore promise and vow that to the full measure of my ability I will never swerve from justice nor duty. That I will respect virtue; protect the innocent; assist the distressed; promote the inculcation of honor and integrity, and dispense reasonable charity. That I will protect and defend the unsullied honor of any Noble of the Mystic Shrine, when absent, if assailed. And upon this sacred book, by the sincerity of a Moslem’s oath, I here register this irrevocable vow, in wilful violation whereof may I incur the fearful penalty of having my eyeballs pierced to the center with a three-edged blade, my feet flayed and I be forced to walk the hot sands upon the sterile shores of the Red Sea until the flaming sun shall strike me with livid plague; and may Allah, the God of Arab, Moslem and Mohammed, and the God of our fathers, support me to the entire fulfillment of the same. Amen, Amen, Amen.
Illustrious Potentate: In token of your sincerity, salute the sacred book, the Bible, upon which you lean and rest. Each Candidate ktsses the Bible.
Illustrious Potentate: Nobles, let us kneel and pray to our Heavenly Father to assist these Poor Sons of the Desert.
All kneel on right knee. The High Priest comes to the Altar on the east side and offers the following prayer.
High Priest: Our Father, who art in heaven, the only true God; look kindly upon these Poor Sons of the Desert, now about to become Nobles of this Order, and Thy servants. Aid them to perform punctually the vows they have assumed. Strengthen their good resolutions, and suffer not temptation to overcome them. Make them true Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, and teach them to exercise whatsoever powers they may possess with gentleness and moderation and for the benefit of humanity and to Thy glory. Aid them to be true and loyal; frank and sincere, and may this be to them and to all Nobles here below, but preparation for final admission into the mysteries of Thy heaven of perfect peace and happiness. Amen.
All:  Forgive us our trespasses, O Father, as we forgive those that trespass against us. Amen, Amen. Amen.
Illustrious Potentate:  Unbind these Sons of the Desert. They are now of Noble birth. The rays of the hot, flaming sun upon the sterile shores of the Red Sea are strong and more scathing than the hempen thong.
Illustrious Potentate seats the Nobles with one rap (*). Candidates arise and their wrists are unbound.
Illustrious Potentate:  Our Noble Oriental Guide will now conduct the Sons of the Desert to our purifying cavern in the south. It is the Fountain of Mecca. Let them there wash their hands in innocency, cleansing themselves of the snares of sin and vice that they may have had surrounding them, and let them be returned to us free from the stains of iniquity.
Candidates are conducted to the fountain with music. After washing, they are conducted to the east.
Illustrious Potentate:  My friends, it is with pleasure that I extend to you the greetings of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine and congratulate you upon having thus far passed the ceremonies of our Order; bear bravely up to the Moslem test and prove your fidelity to our cause. Although vague may appear the prospect in our ceremony and the aspect of our purpose, let me assure you that there is a deep and formidable meaning in it all, and when you shall have passed unflinching and undismayed our final test of your fidelity, nerve and courage, then will you indeed be worthy to espouse our cause; but mark well, should you ultimately decline to enlist actively in our cause, you are still bound by the strongest ties to remain neutral. Remember this and continue faithful unto death; but ere we impart to you our formidable purpose you must prove your fidelity and courage. We do not expect all to join actively in our work, but those who do not unite in the task must applaud our deeds, or by silence favor not an adverse faction to gain sway.
With this admonition, I yield up to our Noble Guide and his cohorts who will conduct you to the ante-room and blindfold you, and one by one you will be subjected to the Moslem test of courage. And should an unforeseen disaster come, we are duty bound to honor and protect those who are left near and dear to you. Ere you depart, we bid you God-speed and adieu.
High Priest, approaching toward the east and raising both hands: And may Allah protect and support you, that you be not cast into “al hotama” (hell). Now let our secret vaults open to their width, that the vapors of damp stagnation may pass away. Open the passage to the desert and disperse our trusty Arabs in full array for the Moslem test. Awayl
Candidates conducted out under solemn music to be prepared for the second section.
Section 2
Each candidate is in custody of an Arab soldier, and takes his turn for initiation. They are put through blindfolded; each one should be compelled to traverse the hot sands, devil’s pass. mock trial, hanging, and kiss the Black Stone.
In the Preparation Room they are told by the Oriental Guide: A rough and rugged road is before you; it is beset with an er an with difficulties. Your life will be threatened, and you may lose it. But remember, those who die in the faith, will be resurrected in glory; therefore summon to your aid courage: that truly great Masonic qualification which puts on a fearless and courageous attitude; which scorns the acts of a coward, who but apes the conduct of a hero. Therefore suffer yourselves to be initiated with all the forms and ceremonies of this ancient and honorable institution. Do you all assent to this trial of fortitude; that truly distinctive Masonic qualification?
Candidates: I do.
Candidates are then led into the room with hands pinioned behind them and blindfolded. They are put on the journey over the “Hot Sands,” with an Arab soldier on each side, pricking them with his scimitar to hurry them along, and when one falls down, a blow with the flat of a scimitar causes him to arise. After they have gone around two or three times, two are selected to escape enemies who they are told are approaching on a mission of murdering all who have not passed the “Bung Hole Test.”
The Bung Hole Test
The large metal cylinder is then produced, stretched out about 30 feet. Each candidate is asked if he was ever called a coward or turned his back on an enemy. He is prompted to say “No, I perform all I undertake, and never back down or out” They are then led to opposite ends of the big cylinder, caused to enter, and are told to hurry as the enemy is approaching. The center of the cylinder contains a strong network of cord or wire, preventing either from passing through. They meet in the middle and strive to pass each other while the Arabs pound on the outside with clubs and scimitars, till they are satisfied; when they ask thc candidates if they wish to go on or back out. They of course back down and out; when they come out they are given a lecture on their assurance and told to never be too sure of a thing until they have tried it. They are one by one stretched out on the floor to rest. While in this position, a small dog, or one who can imitate a dog, is caused to give a sharp yelp, just after a few drops of warm water has been squirted on the candidate’s face, and someone says, ‘Take that dog out; he has just urinated in the face of Mr. ...’ A general laugh takes place, after which the candidate is shown the trick.
The “Bumper” is next used. A slide, such as is used on playgrounds for children is put up, standing about six feet high at one end, with a sharp drop to the bottom at the other end. A ladder is placed for the candidate to reach the board at the top of the slide. This board is hinged so as to let the candidate slide. The candidate asceuds the ladder and is seated on the board, his legs hang. ing over the concave side of the slide. He is then told to take hold of a large rope, about two feet long, held up by a small string or thread, and is instructed under no circumstances to let go of the rope. When he has firmly grasped the rope, the board is dropped, and he is shot down the slide. thumping himself upon any obstructions which may be placed to receive him.
He is then conducted to the Illustrious Potentate, whom he is commanded to approach with humble and great reverence, stooping very low. his head near the ground, his buttocks elevated; he then receives the “Grand Salaam” or stroke of introduction, which is a blow on the buttocks with a paddle so made as to explode a torpedo or blank cartridge. He is then introduced to the Illustrious Potentate, but is told to stand perfectly still during the ceremony. The candidate is stood on a metallic plate, connected with a galvanic battery, which is turned on during the introduction. He is then taken to task for not standing still as told.
A social meeting is then in order, the candidates being personally introduced to the officers and menibers. A selected candidate is left talking to two of the best boxers. One of them says to the other, “I will bet you a dollar that I can guess nearer to this brother’s age than you can.” The other takes the bet, and the money is placed in the hands of another Noble. The bettors, after they have made some ridiculous guesses, ask the age of the person. When he tells his age, they quarrel about it; each gives the other the lie. A challenge is then given and accepted. A ring is formed, two of the candidates are chosen as Seconds, but as soon as the gloves are produced (large boxing gloves), the Illustrious Potentate appears, stops the fight, fines each of the fighters one hundred dollars, and declares that the seconds (candidates) must fight it out for their respective clients. That is, supposing A and B to be the disputants, A’s second must fight B, and B’s second with A. The ring is formed and the candidates meeting of course with some skilled Noble, get some rather hard knocks, which the Nobles and other candidates enjoy.
While the fighting is going on, some Noble makes complaint that he has been robbed, his pocket picked. He has previously put a package, or some valuable article in the pocket or clothes of one of the candidates. A general search follows; the missing property is found on a candidate who has not been exercised much, and he is at once charged with the theft, is pitched onto by two or three of the Nobles. Roughly hustled out of the room for trial, stripped of his clothing, except for a pair of drawers, he is then blindfolded, and after being led around the room, is seated on a large sponge filled with ice water; when the news comes that he has been forgiven on account of his good character, which has just been received by telegraph; he is lcd out and invested with his clothes.
While the foregoing is being enacted, candidates who have escaped the prize fight, etc., are conducted into another room, where they either find several members disguised as women, or find them discussing an expected visit of “Lady Nobles of the Shrine,” or they are told that such a visit is Jo be made that evening and a committee may be appointed to receive them in a proper manner.
Each candidate is stripped to shirt, drawers and slippers, blindfolded and led around the room several times when he is halted.
Oriental Gulde to candidate: This is the place where our brethren stop to sprinkle the devil’s pass with urine. You will contribute a few drops of urine to commemorate the time and place where all who pass this way, here renounce the wiles and evils of the world and promise to ever worship at the Shrine of Islam. Only a few drops will do.
The candidate begins to obey instructions and the blinder is jerked from his eyes; he then beholds before him a group disguised as women, with bonnets and capes, peeping over a screen. He is allowed to escape from the room while the onlookers give him the laugh.
Meanwhile, and during these scenes another drama is taking place. Some member goes out. calls the most timid candidate aside, and he is left alone with the member who should be his friend. The member then hastily endeavors to encourage him, and tells him confidentially that he wiji not be harmed; that it is all ceremony, etc., and although organized as a Vigilance Inquisition abroad, in this country it is entirely a social order. Then he gives him a password, sign, etc., hastily in confidence and in full.
When fully confided, he is discovered by some officer or member who becomes enraged at the member so disclosing, and they have some sharp words; the discoverer declares he will report the matter to the Illustrious Potentate.
The member replies, “Do as you please.” (This is all on the outside.) It is then whispered about and opinions are expressed so that the rest of the candidates can hear it that there will be trouble about such exposure because it is unlawful to give such information before the candidate is through the initiation. (This candidate is then left until the last.)
Meanwhile, the friend (member) who has betrayed the signs, departs to another room, is divested of his shirt, pants and shoes and at the proper time bound at the wrists, and made up to give him a ghastly appearance. iie keeps out of sight and awaits the coming ceremony, or clothes himself with a domino and mask and waits until required.
Another member, preferably a slender, fragile. smooth-faced young man, is selected to be robed as a woman or Arab girl, in flowing robes, gathered tightly at the waist, bare arms and neck, female wig or striped silk handkerchief about the head and otherwise disguised as much as possible. He is covered with a domino and masked to enter the Temple, and seated with a lightweight or spare member:  one not too prominent or well-known. This member has on a domino beneath which he has his coat, vest and white shirt; under the shirt is buckled a wide, soft-padded belt, f astoned around under the arm-pits with two straps passing over the back from front of shoulders, and two from the shoulder blades; behind all four, unite in a ring or swivel at tlfe back of the neck, ready for harmless execution by hanging at the proper time.
These disguised members, being all prepared, sit around in dominoes and masked, in some obscure corner to await the ceremonies. Officers and members all robed and masked.
The Layer, Altar of Incense and all the furniture are placed about the Temple on each side. In the north a scaffold is erected of two upright and one horizontal joists; painted black and strong enough to support a man when suspended; a hole is in the center of the horizontal bar and a pulley on the right corner for the rope to slide over, also a strong peg on the center of the right perpendicular bar or post on which to fasten the rope after elevating the man, with a clasp on the end of the noose in the center to hook into the ring at the back of the culprit’s neck.
The gibbet should be high enough to enable the executioners to raise the extremeties about thrac fact from the floor and leave a space of two or three feet above the head. A member with white robe, skull and skeleton-faced-mask stands in front of the scaffold, robed in black, to elevate the culprit. (Scaffold may have black curtains about it, if desired, to conceal the executioners at the side.)
Furthermore, a headsman’s block is placed in the south covered with black. A headsman with a curved blade battle-axe, clothed in scarlet robe gathered about the waist, with belt and scimitar, wearing scarlet mask, presides at the block. Beside the block lies a false head on the floor with a black cloth covering it. The head may be made up to resemble one of the members, if desired. A small bowl or dish should also be In readiness on a stand for the ceremony of bleeding.
All being now in readiness, the trip over the rough, sandy desert is begun.
The candidates are hoodwinked, and in bare feet, enter one by one, after three loud alarms. At first they proceed onastrip of carpet, then upon a spread of corn husks, then a strip of sheeting; or a long, narrow, shallow pan, strewn with pebbles and sand. (Alcohol has been poured over the sand and pebbles, and they are well heated.) Then follows a ladder with close rounds, folded camp-stools, a roller and any rough road which may be conveniently prepared. During this time pandemonium reigns; drum, fife, rattle, bugle, gong and every din-making instrument which can be procured, is in use. The candidates are given about all they can stand, and are then conducted back to the outer door. They are again brought in one by one, amid the din, over-powered, thrown into a hammock or canvas, folded in and swung from sIde to side or bounced upward, carried hastily about and finally placed in some apartment to await the other candidates. When all have passed this ordeal, collect them together in the anteroom, remove the relics of the desert and at once place the Temple in order for the last ceremony or third section.
All being in readiness, officers should he at their posts, executioners at scaffold, skeleton masked in front of same, headsman at the block, etc. In front of east, seven seats are prepared for seven men called the “Council of the Inquisition”
Before the alarm the Potentate calls the “Council” together. The Potentate occupies the center chair, one Rabban on each side, the remaining chairs being filled by other officers or members; the High Priest occupies the east, wielding the sceptre; all masked except the Potentate and the High Priest; room quite dark Ceremonial Masters are outside with candidates clothed in white robes or dominoes, with shoes on and not hoodwinked.
Section 3
First Ceremonial Master strikes outside, loudly upon the door with wooden mallet.
Oriental Guide, inside, returns the alarm, opens the wicket and says: Why this clamorous alarm?
Ceremonial Master: One, two or three candidates pursuing the secrets of the Mystic Shrine.
Oriental Guide:
Have they the Mystic pass?
Ceremonial Master: They have it not, but I have it for them.
Oriental Guide: Give me the pass.
Ceremonial Master, in a whisper:  ....
Oriental Guide: Let them enter.
Chains are drawn; gong sounds low; soft music; door is opened. Candidates conducted to the west, seated in front of the Chief Rabban.
Illustrious Potentate:  My friends, having passed through the ordeal of traversing the hot sands of the desert undismayed, you are now returned for the final ceremonies. But we find ourselves compelled most unexpectedly to hold a secret inquisition to judge and execute upon a traitorous element within our Temple such penalty as may be decreed. I must, however, stay those proceedings to briefly Invest you with the knowledge of our secrets.
If it be your desire to decline an active part; you are sacredly bound to secrecy and silence.
Our mission is to succor the distressed, relieve the oppressed, protect the innocent and punish the guilty; to equalize station, establish harmony in all creeds, crush fanaticism and intolerance and perpetuate the welfare of mankind.
Crime is running rife over the land; our laws are deemed inadequate for the emergency, and we are exponents of a vigilance inquisition to promptly  execute and punish the malefactor, the thief, the murderer, the despoiler of innocence and virtue, the violator of obligation and desecrator of the Masonic vow. Our purpose is to strike terror in the heart of the criminal class by bringing them speedily and without mercy to the block or to the bow-string of the Mystic Shrine.
To arrest, judge, and execute within the hour, and thus take the law within our own grasp and summarily punish the malefactor. Blood for blood and life for life, and as our fleet-footed justice overtakes and punishes the evil-doer, aye, even in the heat of misdeed, it will be a lesson to those who remain and know not the fate of the departed.
The day is not far distant when the name and the escutcheon of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine will strike a pallid terror to the wild devouring element of crime, and the thankful prayers of the unprotected will attest the justice of our cause.
I will now invest you with the salutations, signs, grip, and passwords of our Order.
Illustrious Potentate proceeds to instruct the candidates in the signs, grip and passwords of our Order.
Just as the Illustrious Potentate finishes these instructions to the candidates, the Captain of the Guard discovers a member with a disguised female in the Temple and he at once shouts: Most Noble High Priest and Prophet, a spy, an intruder, a traitor is in the Temple.
All arise; confusion. Ceremonial Masters, Guide and Priest proceed to where the member and female are sitting, trying to hide themselves.
Captain of the Guard:  Most Noble High Priest and Prophet, I have but now discovered an intruder accompanied by a woman; both without the secret pass, who have gained admission into the Temple.
The woman is pointed out and the mask snatched from her face.
High Priest and Prophet: By our faith, we are betrayed
Both are seized by the Guide and Ceremonial Masters, and they are surrounded by the excited inquisitors, who shout: To the executioner with them!
Illustrious Potentate: Hold! Stand aside! Strip our mantle from that female form; bind and hold her fast.
Domino and hood taken off and the woman stands, held fast, white-robed and dismayed.
Illustrious Potentate, pointing to male member: Strip and hang that spy without delay.
Officers roughly strip member to shirt and pants. He has been previously painted pale and haggard, and is prepared for execution as before directed.
Illustrious Potentate: Stranger, have you no defense? If not, you must meet the death of a spy.
Culprit shakes his head. No.
Illustrious Potentate: Then let the culprit be executed.
He is hurried to the scaffold, the executioner, in skeleton mask, adjusts the noose. A loose piece of rope being placed about his neck, to appear real.
High Priest and Prophet, kneeling before the gallows:  Thus do we yield up thy life for our own security, and may justice, peace and mercy abide with thee.
Executioner places on the black cap; High Priest and Prophet arises and holds up handkerchief; as he lets it drop and gong sounds and the victim is suspended in the air. He struggles an instant and then hangs silent and apparently lifeless.
Illustrious Potentate:  Thus perish our enetales. Noble Guide, seat that miscreant woman by the block and cut a deep crescent upon her naked breast. We cannot take her life.
Oriental Guide: Illustrious Potentate, she has already swooned.
Illustrious Potentate: The better still; she will not know her pains. Cut the crescent on her breast and drag her from our Temple. She’ll not forget the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.
She is dragged in a chair to the block, a bowl brought, her breast is bared and a knife is seen in the hands of the headsman. The bowl is held in front and an officer stands behind holding under the arm of the woman a rubber bulb with a stem, containing about a pint of red wine; a cut, a groan, and the blood (the wine) flows into the bowl. The bowl is set on the block, a red stained towel is also thrown down; and she is borne from the Temple, in the chair to an outer chamber.
High Priest and Prophet, taking up the bowl: Most Noble Council of the Inquisition, now, in testimony of the justice of our cause, let us in this maiden’s blood, seal the alliance of our bond of secrecy and silence, and let this day’s bloody work in the deepest recesses of every Noble’s heart be buried.
High Priest and Prophet and seven inquisitors drink.
Curtain in front of scaffold may be drawn and the executed let down for rest. The officer who detected the member exposing the work, now arises. The member is without and fully prepared.
High Priest and Prophet: Illustrious Potentate, I now demand censure or punishment upon a member, Noble mentioning name, upon whose case this inquisitor’s tribunal has deliberated; accused he is of treason in our midst, exposing our secrete to a friend and candidate within our very Temple.
Illustrious Potentate: Let him be brought before us.
Second culprit brought in, stripped, as described, to shirt and pants.
Illustrious Potentate: Sir, you have been openly accused of treason and betrayal of our faith, not only here, but without our Temple’s walls. The Vigilance linquisition has tried, judged and sentenced you; what is your defense?
Oriental Guide: Illustrious Potentate and Inquisitors of our Council, let me appeal to this tribunal to temper justice with mercy, and in slight extenuation of this crime, let me offer this defense: being loose of tongue when plied with wine and most earnestly importuned by his best beloved friend, he, in part, did yield all us good nature, but intent on friendship and not meaning harm, frivolously related who and what we were and the object of our cause. And this his friend and companion, now comes to beard us in our lair and exonerate himself by the assumption of our vows. Therefore, I do opine, their punishment should be equal and each to assume the wrong or let the Novice assume it all, for ‘tis monstrous to leave his friend to perish for a crime prompted by himself.
Illustrious Potentate to candidate: Stranger Knight thus accused, arise. What say you to this grave charge?
Candidate answers. No matter what.
Culprit Member: By my Moslem oath, Illustrious Potentate, all that has been said by our Noble Guide is true. That I have erred I cannot deny, but all that I in confidence imported to him, I am informed that he loosely brawled about, hence I must suffer for his crime.
Illustrious Potentate:  Hold, enough! Most High Priest and Prophet, to you do I appeal for judgment. Although our Council has before decided, still do I appeal to you.
High Priest and Propher, advancing on the floor: Illustrious Potentate and Council of Inquisitors, our cause is sorely tried, our Temple and our Shrine in jeopardy, the crescent turns perpendicular, point and paint, and spills its mystic blood; the Hourii weep and justice drops her scale, for spies have gained entrance into our sanctuary. Our safety demands judgment on them both. Let the first in fault and his fellow go to the block together.
The Inquisitors all arise and exclaim: To the block! To the headsman!
First and Second Ceremonial Masters seize culprit member, conduct him to the block, then seize candidate and conduct him to the west, strip him to his pants and shirt, same as culprit member, and bind his hands.
Illustrious Potentate: Let the traitor suffer first.
Culprit member is hurried to the block, blindfolded and is made to kneel, head on the block. A wax or carved head lies out of sight beside the block, covered with a black cloth.
High Priest and Prophet, holding up sceptre: And now may justice, mercy, and peace abide with you. Strike!
The axe falls, culprit tumbles on floor; executioner stoops, lifts black cloth from false head and covers head of culprit, seizes false head by the hair, raises it to view and exclaim: ....
Candidate is hoodwinked and made to approach the block and lay his head upon it.
High Priest and Prophet:  Hold! executioner, mark this stranger’s neck with the scimitar, but do not slay him.
The headsman slaps the candidate on the neck with a damp towel and he is at once taken by force, thrown into the hammock or canvas, carried and p laced in a coffin at the east end of the catafalque, while the culprit member and the head are borne to an outer room. Officers all return.
Illustrious Potentate: Thus doth the evil doer and the malefactor meet with “Nemesis” at the inquisition of the Mystic Shrine. It now becomes our duty to deposit the result of our vigilance in the tomb, isolated from the eyes of a meddling world; a fit abiding place for the remains of the unfaithful. Most Noble Oriental Guide, lest the secret clasp of our mystic catafalque be prematurely known to our Novices, let them be again hoodwinked, that their hearts may be taught secrecy and their tongues silence, ere they are entrusted with the secrets of the Mystic Shrine.
Candidates are blindfolded. The coffin is then stood on end, or placed at an angle with head on chair, at end of table or tomb nearest the east; the block and executioner are placed on the west side. The culprit is again elevated by the noose, skeleton and executioner at his side, the woman seated in the north; officers and members gathered around the table, standing silent and still; black cloth and frame removed from banquet table and all is in readiness ror the finale.
If it be possible to use red lights only during the entire third section, this should be done. Lights would be changed to clear at this point.
Illustrious Potentate: Now let us rejoice that the proud idol of iniquity has been laid in the dust, and that justice has triumphed over sin and error. Ever thus let our light so shine before men that they behold our good works.
Gong. Hoodwinks removed; music and general jubilee at banquet. Candidate is provided with food, and eats and drinks from coffin, as also the culprit upon the gallows, and the female in the north. After the feast the meeting is closed in the usual manner.
Mystic Shrine Ceremonial
My friends or Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, the order with which you have become united was founded by Mohammed and has as its background the trackless desert of Arabia and the fearless, devoted, and barbaric Arab.
Arabic history and tradition tell us that after the fall and separation of Adam and Eve, they were united near the place now known as “Mecca.”
Adam prayed for a Shrine where he might worship. In due time, a Tabernacle of Clouds was given to him.
After the death of Adam, the Tabernacle was withdrawn, and his son, Seth, erected a Temple of Stone in that place; later Ishmael, with his father Abraham, rebuilt on this sacred spot of the Tabernacle of Clouds, the Kaaba or the Sacred Temple of National Worship.
Each year the true followers of the faith would make a pilgrimage to Mecca to worship at the national shrine.
Because of the presence of a lawless element in the city of Mecca, many of these pilgrims were robbed, beaten, and even murdered. Therefore, in the year of A.D. 647, Mohammed organized a group of fearless men as an inquisition or vigilance committee, whose main objects were to protect the week, dispense justice, and punish the criminals.
The order was firmly established in 1698, and since then has become one of the most highly favored secret organizations in the world.
Because of the ruthless manner which the group used to accomplish its aims, its leaders had to be careful in their selection of new members. Therefore, severe tests and strong obligations wcrc required of each candidate.
You have just passed through those tests and are now a Noble of the Mystic Shrine.
Today the Order is often referred to as the “Play-House” of Masonry, but I assure you that there is a serious side to all our activities.
The events or acts of our initiation, which to you may have seemed a bit of “horseplay,” were given to either impress you with the ritual or teach you a lesson that will prove beneficial in later life.
Let us take a moment to examine some of these events.
1. Crossing the Hot Sands.
In crossing the Sands, you represented and imitated the early Pilgrims, who had to cross the Hot Sands of the Desert to reach Mecca.
2. The Rough Road and Sands
The rough roads and sands also were a test of your courage and fortitude.
You also are taught that nothing worthwhile is accomplished without overcoming obstacles and hardships.
3. The Bung-Hole Test
Here, you learn to be cautious in promising to do things that you later find impossible to do. You promised not to turn back, yet you no sooner start on your journey than you have to back out.
4. The Devil’s Pass
At this point you were told to follow the example of other Nobles and sprinkle the Devil’s Pass with a few drops of urine to commemorate the time and place where all who pass this way renounce the wiles and evils of the world and promise to worship at the Shrine of Islam.
Since this is a male organization, it is one way we have of making sure we are not admitting any impersonators into our ranks. Thus, you had to display your male organ to give a few drops.
5. Prairie Dog
After crossing the Hot Sands, in the cool of the evening, you were told to lie down and rest. While in this position, a little “dog” came along and urinated in your face.
This was to teach you that all Nobles are on the sante level. Some may have pretty Fazes, long titles, and hold high positions in the Order. But, as a Noble of the Mystic Shrine, he had the same little dog, or a similar one, urinate in his face as he did in yours.
6. Return of Drunk for Fez
The enactment of the “Drunk” scene has no ritualistic significance but is given to show you what could happen should you allow yourself to over-indulge in intoxicating beverages. We do not prohibit the use of (Camel’s Milk), but we do not tolerate misconduct while wearing the Fez. You should conduct yourself at all times as a Noble, especially when before the public.
7. Boxing Bout
This act was, given in connection with the losing and finding of a Noble’s pocketbook. If you recall, our Order was organized as a vigilance committee, whose object was to protect the weak, apprehend, and punish criminals. We exemplified this by searching and were rewarded for our trouble by finding the “Thief.”
We also learn an important lesson from this act: A Noble was falsely accused of talting the pocketbook. We implore you not to be too hasty in making “accusations”, because they also may be false and you would be guilty of defaming the Noble’s character.
Since a Noble had made the accusation and an argument had ensued, the Potentate ordered the dispute settled by a “Boxing Match”, and each was allowed to select some one to take his part.
Let this also teach you that should differences arise between you and another Noble, try to settle them between yourselves instead of carrying the feud to the outside.
8. The Hot Seat Ice; and Washing
Again your veracity is tested as you sing a song stating that “You Shall Not Be Moved”, yet we find you rapidly rising and moving.
The cooling off on a cake of ice is to remind you not to forget your obligation of the Third Degree. But, should you become weak and indined to be a “Hot Papa,” then we recommend and guarantee the “Ice Treatment” to cure your ailment.
The “Washing” is another instance of “Humility,” as only a Noble would stoop to wash the “Hind Parts” of another Noble: doing something for him that had not been done for a long time.
9. Well of Zem Zem
When Hagar and her outcast son, Ishmael, were crossing the desert and were about to perish from thirst, an angel revealed to them a “Well” of pure water. This today is known as the Well of Zem Zem, sacred in the eyes of the Faithful, as they believe all who wash in this water become cleansed of their sins.
Since we only want the pure and hardy in our Order, we send you to the Well to be cleansed. Since the Arab travels on a Camel, we provided a Camel for you to ride. However, because the Camel was a bit lazy, we had to whack him a little. Now, we humbly apologize if some of those blows meant for the Camel reached you, as we were only trying to help.
10. Eating Of The Dung
It is the custom of the tribes of Arabs that when crossing the desert, the Chief would go ahead and blaze the trail by dropping his dung.
The tribe following were so devoted to their Chief that they would eat his dung.
You witnessed a Noble using the “Pot”; then you were given a similar “Pot” and told to eat a mixture that appeared to be “Dung.” You were also assured that the mixture contained nothing to hurt you.
This was a test of the courage and confidence you had in us as Nobles. Should a Noble or Officer give you advice and wise counsel, listen as he will not lead you astray, but will help you.
11. Grand Salaam
This “Test” was injected to instruct you on how to salute the Potentate. The Salaam is the way the Arab pays homage to his Superior, or shows respect, as we “bow” or “raise our hats.”
However, a lesson is also taught; having been told you were a Noble, and to bow to the Potentate, you bent over and placed your “Hind Parts” in the faces of the Nobles sitting behind you, and something happened to you. Let this teach you that should you suddenly receive an award, or a great sum of money, don’t let it go to your head and show your “Hind Parts,” as something may happen to you again.
12. Mock Trial and Hanging
This event was to impress upon you the purpose of our Order: namely, to apprehend, try, and execute all wrong doers.
When we searched and found the pocketbook, we apprehended the culprit. The Court scene ezemplifled, the trial, and the hanging, the execution.
The hanging also exemplified the signs used in our Salutation to the Assistant Rabban. Pulling up the rope three times and pulling in the slack.
13. Kissing the Black Stone
When Ishmael and his father, Abraham, built the National Shrine near the place where the Tabernade of Clouds han heen. an angel presented them with a dazzling White Stone, which they inserted in the wall of the Temple, and each year the worshipers would journey to Mecca to kiss this Stone. Today so many have kissed the Stone that it has become black, and is known as the Kaaba Stone or Black Stone of Casper. Our Ritual stipulates that you, in token of your sincerity, seal your obligations by kissing the Black Stone of Casper.
No doubt many times you have stated that you would not “Kiss” anybody’s “Hind Parts” to gain a favor. Well, it seems that you wanted to be a Shriner so bad that you were willing to kiss “The Black Stone of Casper.” “Shame on you.”
Outline of Moslem Tests For Mystic Shrine
Moslem Tests Required
1. Crossing the “Hot Sands” and the “Rough Road.”
2. The Devil’s Pass.
3. The Mock Trial and Hanging.
4. Kissing the Black Stone.
Tests should be selected that impress the Novice with the necessity of having courage and humility, and with the importance of secrecy in the apprehension, arrest, judgment, and the execution of the lawless. He should also be admonished to remember the helpless and those in need.
Teats With Ritualistic Value
1. Hot Sands and Rough Road.
2. Devil’s Pass.
3. The Grand Salaam; changing method of approach, by instructing Novice on way to address Altar.
4. Mock Trial and Hanging; execution of a traitor.
5. Well of Zem Zem. (and Purifying Cavern) Fountain of Mecca.
Tests for Entertainment
(Lessons derived from each)
1. Disguising member as a female.
2. The Hot Seat, Electrified Plate, Carpet, or Camel.
3. Eating of Dung or Drinking Toast to Potentate.
4. Sitting on Cake of Ice or Wet Sponge.
5. Boxing Bout.
6. Novices, place in Canvas.
7. Stolen Pocketbook; divulging secrets to a woman.
8. Appearance of a Drunk.
Tests Used in The 1957 Imperial Council Ceremonial
1. Crossing the Hot Sands and Rough Road.
2. Bung Hole Test.
3. Devil’s Pass.
4. Prairie Dog.
5. Finding the stolen Pocketbook.
6. Ejection of the “Drunk.”
7. Boring Rout.
8. Return of Drunk.
9. Hot Seat.
10. Ice Test.
11. Washing with Sponge.
12. Washing in Well of Zem Zem.
13. Eating of Dung.
14. Grand Salaam.
15. Mock Trial and Hanging.
16. Kissing of the Black Stone.
Closing Lecture describing each Test
Shrine Lecture on Initiation
Nobles, you have just completed your rugged trek across the hot sands of the desert in search of the great Moslem capital, Mecca, which unfolds in the wilderness of the Arabian desert, halfway between Yemen and Syria.
This city in which you now stand is the Holy City of Islam. This city is so situated in the Desert of Arabia that only by constant trials and tribulations; by passing through hazards, sand-storms, being beset by thieves and experiencing other catastrophies and surviving; were you able to walk therein. It is as if Nature had cooperated with the Moslem faith to guard the secrets of this hallowed spot from the unsanctified.
The Altar
In the heart of this city is the great Mosque, BAIT ALLAH (House of God) (the Altar), which is situated, according to Arab tradition, in the center of the world and immediately beneath the throne of the Almighty. Upon the BAIT ALLAH, Altar, are a Bible and Koran.
The Koran is the unique history of our founder Mohammed. The work is absolutely unique in its origin and in its preservation, upon the authenticity of which no one has ever been able to cast a serious doubt. The Koran is the actual text as dictated by Mohammed himself, day by day and month by month, during his lifetime. It is the reflection of this master-mind, sometimes inartistic and self-contradictory, more often inspiring and lyrical, and always filled with great ideas which stand out as a whole.
The Black Stone
The Black Stone is really a number of fragments, twelve, to be exact, united by dark cement and held together by a silver band. The whole is oval and about seven inches in diameter. What these stones or fragments are made of no one seems ever to have definitely established. Tradition asserts that the original stone came from Paradise and was handed by the Angel Gabriel to Abraham and Ishmael when they were building the Kaaba.
At the time it was snow white. Its present color is the outcome of having been kissed by the millions who yearly make the pilgrimage to Mecca. This, however, does not clear up the question of its composition
The obstacle to so doing is that the vast malority of the men who go to Mecca accept the Black Stone as a holy emblem and do not worry about its geological history. Those travelers who have examined the stone with curiosity as well as reverence differ in their opinions.
Some say that it is a chip of rock from the Abu Kobeis hills to the east of Mecca. Some say that it is a meteorite (a body, usually composed of iron, which has fallen upon the earth from outer space.) Others insist that it is of volcanic origin. None of this is of any real importance, in spite of the controversies which the subject has given rise to on various occasions. Whatever it is made of, the stone has been there for a long time.
Mazimus Tyrius, writing in the second century after Christ, tells of Arabians praying to a God which they represent as a rectangular building in which there is a Black Stone. Some of you may ask, “Why do we use the Black Stone, and why is it so sacred to us?” In ancient times the sacred Stone held a place of great honor. The Black Rock of Mecca is still an object of Mohammedan veneration.
Stones have their own characteristics. If the Stone was a big one, it impressed people by its massiveness. Perhaps it had some peculiar shape, looked like a man or a superman. If it was a little one, it could be carried in the pocket or set up on the tent. Little or big, It was solid, substantial; it did not change like a bush or a stream, and man had not made it. It was part of the creation, as it came fresh from the hand of God. And because this Black Stone was a present from Heaven, it has been revered by Shrinedom to this day.
Christ said to Peter, “Upon this rock I build my church.” This allegorical statement was similar to our symbolic Masonry of today. Christ was impressed by the sincere, loyal and reverent way in which Peter had followed Him, so he likened to withstand the storms of time.
We, as true Arabs, should stand firm in our convictions that coming generations will have faith in us and build their tomorrow on our solid foundation of fraternal stability.
Mecca, the City of Mohammed is known as the capital of Shrinedom. Mohammed chose this city as its capital because it was where the BENU KINANA had formed a settlement around the Kaaba, the sanctuary of a number of confederate tribes belonging to the district.
The feast annually observed in the days before the full moon of the month DHUL-HIJJA at Mecca presented strong attractions for all inhabitants in the vicinity round about.
Thus Mecca grew into a great meeting place.
The sanctuary and the Feast of Mecca caused it to grow into a great meeting p lace. Mecca unfolds in the wilderness of the Arabian desert, halfway between Yemen and Syria, in a land wasted by winds and secular rains, a aavagc valley enclosed between two sharp and arid chains of rock mountains, making its position so secluded that not until the pilgrims are looking down into its streets do they know that they have arrived at the sacred city.
Long before Mohammed, Mecca was considered a sacred city because of the holy sanctuary in its center.
In the middle of the court stands the Kaaba. The Kaaba is a windowless, cube-shaped, flat-roofed building made of grey stone, forty feet high. Enveloping it is a huge black brocade cover, like a tea cozy, on which verses from the Koran are embroidered in gold. Every year the cover. which is called KESOUA, is renewed. The Kaaba is the focal point of Islam toward which Moslems all over the world turn five times a day to pray. The Kaaba has been an object of worship since the dawn of history; Arab legends suggest that the first Kaaba dates back to Adam. This one was destroyed by the Deluge, and another was rebuilt by Abraham and Ishmael. After that it fell into the hands of idolators who built other editions, until Mohammed came and restored its ancient dedication to one God.
Well of Zem Zem
Seven smaller buildings are disposed around the Kaaba. The most important contains the Well of Zem Zem. This is where Hagar, when she was expelled from the tents of Abraham through the instigation of Sarah, decided to die. Wandering over the desert, she had reached the stony valley of Mecca. Her provisions had given out; her gourd was empty. Frenziedly, she ran to and fro, looking for water. Then, nearly dead from thirst.
she flung herself on the parched ground and pushed her baby under a thorny acacia.
“Let me not see the death of my child,” she cried, as she covered her head with her mantle. But, before what seemed inevitable happened, an angel appeared and showed Hagar that she was within walldng distance of a well. Hager could no longer walk, but she crawled over to the water, which saved her and Ishmael’s lives. This Zem Zem is the same identical well, so called because of the bubbling sound it made when Hagar found it. If we are to believe the Book of Genesis, it is probably one of the oldest existing wells of the world.
As you journeyed from the main-land to the gates of Mecca, you were forced to cross the hot sands of the desert which was emblematical of the rough roads of life over which everyone must trod.
Your way of life will not be smooth or clear always but rather hard, rough and rugged. The sandstorms of confusion may at times hide your pathway; the hot sands and scorching sun will cause you to be wearied in well-doing.
Thus, we are taught that only those who have the indisputable and necessary appreciation for the tenents of the Order, those persons who can exercise the cardinal principles of Justice, Prudence, Morality and Secrecy will be able to rest at the Temple of Mecca and drink from the Well of Zem Zem.
One must always bear in mind that Shrinedom, in its original concept, had as its purpose the great task of lending refinement, culture, education, and spiritual and moral integrity to those who practiced its principles and cherished its refined qualities; hence our whole ritualistic system is based upon these kindly attributes together with an unflinching faith in Allah.
Eating supposed dung is emblematical of the distasteful things in life. There are a lot of things in life we do not like, but if we are to succeed, we must be able to take the bitter with the sweet.
As you came down the Devil’s Pass, your mind reflected to certain Masonic degrees in which deposits were required and differ only in what is deposited. The memory of what you deposited is to teach you to always renounce the wiles and evils of the world and promise to ever worship at the Shrine of Islam, where the air is rich with the wisdom of Allah, and refined by the deeds of venerable Patriarchs gone before.
Another important lesson was given you in the form of the cylinder into which you were asked to enter. The lesson taught is all-important to you as a man and a Mason, and it has its real application in life. You attempted to go through the cylinder but were forced to back down. This shows that “You cannot always carry out your aims and purposes in life, that situations, sometimes, will arise making it necessary for you to back down; but if you are a real man, you will never back down until every means at your disposal has been exhausted.”
Washing the buttocks represents man when he is not able to care for himself, teaching you to always remember that you may some day become helpless in life (old age). When you were young, you could gird yourself and go when and where you pleased, but when Father Time takes his toll, you are helpless and must be cared for. Always remember the helpless and those in need.
The greatest lesson given to you today was that of the “Dog,” which expressed humility and meekness. One may be up today with evidences of prosperity abounding, but tomorrow the picture can be changed so that you can be down so low in health or other misfortunes that you cannot defend yourselves from any means of humiliation.
To this end we must respect the feelings of others and practice meekness and humility, “For he who humbles himself shall be exalted, but he that exalts himself shall be abased.”
Today you met a man, whom you thought to be a woman, to teach you that you cannot always believe what you see. Deception is one of the greatest stumbling blocks of humanity. This lesson is to inform you to never try to be what you are not. Those of you who have lived a loose, wild, and careless life take heed to the lesson taught you today.
You are required to give the sign of taking in the slack, because it alludes to a part of the obligation; this is to remind you to draw in the slack places in your lives, release the loose ends, and start anew as one who is now a member of the Nobility in the courtyard of Allah.
And, as you go forth as Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, carrying the colors of red, which word denotes charity to all mankind and more especially to the household of the faithful; combined with green, which denotes everlasting life, something that is forever growing in wisdom, strength and beauty; be true to your trust, faithful to the cause and active In the uplift of manldnd that Allah may delight to extend His blessings upon you and yours forevermore.
Allah Be Praised.
Illustrious Potentate: Nobles, I am about to close this Temple. Noble Captain of the Guard, Captain of the Guard arises and salutes when ouf work has ceased in the Temple, what is your duty?
Captain of the Guard: To see that the Outer Guard stands instructed, and our sacred Temple is duly guarded.
Illustrious Potentate: Attend to that p art of your duty and inform the Outer Guard that we are about to close ... Temple, and order him to permit no interruption while we are thus engaged.
Captain of the Guard instructs the Outer Guard, through the wicket, then gives the usual raps, which are replied to by the Outer Guard.
Captain of the Guard: Illustrious Potentate, our sacred Temple is duly guarded; the Outer Guard has your command.
Illustrious Potentate: By whom are we guarded, Noble Captain of the Guard?
Captain of the Guard: By a Noble of this degree, and a trusted officer, without, armed with a three-edged sword, the proper implement of his office, vigilantly assisted by the Captain of the Guard within.
Illustrious Potentate: Knowing we are under double guard, we will proceed to close. Noble Chief Rabban, what is the hour?
Chief Rabban: Illustrious Potentate, the night draws near, and it is time to rest. Even so approaches with the same rapid step, the night of death and the hour of judgment.
Illustrious Potentate: Noble Assistant Rabban, does any work of charity or benevolence remain undone that is within our powers to do?
Assistant Rabban:
Illustrious Potentate, none.
Illustrious Potentate:  Noble Chief Rabban, what remains to be done?
Chief Rabban: Illustrious Potentate, our duty everywhere; our duty always; evil and wrong never.
Illustrious Potentate: Even so wrong and error reign over all the world, and only here and there truth and the right are victors. Chief Rabban, are you a Noble of die Mystic Shrine?
Chief Rabban: I was a Son of the Desert
Illustrious Potentate: Then you are a Noble?
Chief Rabban: I sought protection under the dome of the Temple.
Illustrious Potentate: What induced you to become a Noble of the Mystic Shrine?
Chief Rabban: That I might worship the true God, respect virtue, protect the innocent, assist the distressed, and promote the inculcation of honor.
Illustrious Potentate: How gained you admission to the Temple?
Chief Rabban: I sought the commendation of a Noble, who recommended me to the Temple. My characier having been canvassed and coming within the bounds of good report, being worthy, and not of treacherous or ignoble purpose, I espoused the cause of the Mystic Shrine, and my leception was sanctioned with the secret pass.
Illustrious Potentate:  What are the cardinal principles of the Mystic Shrine?
Chief Rabban:  Justice, prudence, fortitude, morality and secrecy. They are priceless when well observed, and are attributes which cannot be bought with paltry, sordid gold.
Illustrious Potentate: What binds you to ous Noble Order?
Chief Rabban: My sacred obligation.
Illustrious Potentate:  Having assumed the sacred obligations of the Order, what did you do to make them more binding?
Chief Rabban:  I was conducted to the purifying cavern, the Fountain of Mecca, where I washed my hands in innocency, thereby cleansing myself of all the snares of sin and vice that may have surrounded me; and In token of the sincerity of my Intentions I sealed the same by kissing the Black Stone of Casper.
Illustrious Potentate: It is well. Let us unite in singing our closing ode. ***
No more hot sands for us to tread,
Our journey is ended now;
Before the grandest Potentate,
We shall forever bow.
We shall forever bow,
Before the grandest Potentate,
We shall forever bow.
All arise and form a circle, the Illustrious Potentate and the two Rabbans inside of the circle and in their proper relative positions, the High Priest and Prophet at the west of the Altar, inside.
Signs are given, led by the Illustrious Potentate.
Illustrious Potentate: Noble Oriental Guide, secure the Holy Bible and Koran.
The High Priest and Prophet then raises his band and says:
Our Father, who art in heaven, in whom we trust, and move and have our being; Oh, Thou who willest that man should enjoy all the benefits which Thy munificence holds out to him, deign to receive our prayers and to shed upon the Nobles of this Order Thy precious gifts. And now that we are about to quit this sacred retreat and mix again whiz the world, help us to serve Thee faithfully, devoting to Thee our hearts, obeying Thee in all things, remaining true to one another. Receive our thanks and gratitude for Thy favors and continue Thy goodness unto us now and forever. Amen.
All:  So mote it be. Amen. Amen. Amen. Illustrious Potentate and Rabbans return to their stations, others remain standing about the altar.
Illustrious Potentate **     *.
Chief Rabban **     *.
Assistant Rabban **     *.
 Illustrious Potentate: Go In peace, and may God and all the angels guard us in all the walks of life. But before we part, let us swear not to reveal any of this day’s transactions that should not be known.
All:  I swear. At same time giving sign or secrecy.
Illustrious Potentate:  By virtue of the authority on me conferred, I now declare this ... Temple, No. ... of the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of North and South America and Jurisdictions, Inc., closed.
Noble Captain of the Guard, you will inform the Outer Guard.
Captain of the Guard:  The Outer Guard stands instructed.  

Illustrious Potentate gives one (*) rap.





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