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.
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
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.
recommendation was approved, and creation of the Imperial Grand Council of the
Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine was authorized.
tremendous energy had helped carry the Order through its difficult early
years, was elected to a three-year term as the first Grand Potentate.
meeting of the Imperial Council was brief, but in addition to election of
officers, it accomplished the following:
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
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
the following temples; Mahammed in New Haven, Conn., Ziyara in Utica, NY,
Pyramid in Bridgeport, Conn., and Syria in Pittsburgh.
McClenachan, Ehlers and J.H. Hobart were named to the committee on statutes
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.
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
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
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.
Membership passed the 100,000 mark. The Shrine sent monetary aid to victims of
the great San Francisco earthquake.
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
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.
continued. Membership passed 511,000 in 1922. Initial steps were taken to
copyright all Shrine emblems and insignia.
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."
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
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
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.
Approach and give it. First
and Second Ceremonial Masters approach and whisper ....
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.
Illustrious Potentate, our Mystic Shrine is secure and free from jeopardy;
there are none present save Nobles of our Mystic Rite.
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
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.
Illustrious Potentate, our sacred Temple is under a double and trusty guard.
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
nature’s barren soil;
The Saviour calls for you and me,
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.”
So mote it be.
Amen, Amen, Amen.
Noble Oriental Guide, you will now display the Holy writings and other
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.
behold the Orient and attend the signs.
Illustrious Potentate: ** *, Chief Rabban: ** *,
Assistant Rabban: ** *.
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
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.
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
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.
Noble Recorder, have the petitions of ... been received in open Temple, and
have they paid the required eas, been balloted for and duly elected?
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.
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.
What is the
cause of this clamorous alarm? Who dares intrude upon the ceremonies of our
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.
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
Give me the pass.
First Ceremonial Master advances and whispers, ....
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.
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.
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.
Noble Guide, know you the penalty of broken faith and do you stand forth as
ransom for them all?
Potentate, I do.
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.
Strangers, are your motives for coming among us honorable, pure and free from
hope of gain or pride of knowledge?
Have you a belief in the existence of a Deity, future rewards and punishments?
Have you a desire to promote justice and suppress wrong?
Have you a due regard for female virtue?
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
still a desire to unite with us in the inseparable bonds of the Mystic Shrine
for the purposes to which you have assented?
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.
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.
Who but Mohammed mingled his religion with his Houril and said: “Are not these
the true sources of happiness?”
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?
Why do unbelievers indulge themselves and eat beasts? Shall not their portion
be a torment? Appeal to the Prophets for the truth.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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:
..., 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.
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.
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.
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.
In token of
your sincerity, salute the sacred book, the Bible, upon which you lean and
rest. Each Candidate ktsses the Bible.
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.
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
Forgive us our trespasses, O Father, as we forgive those that trespass against
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.”
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
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
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
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
First Ceremonial Master strikes outside, loudly upon the door
with wooden mallet.
Oriental Guide, inside, returns the alarm, opens the wicket and
Why this clamorous alarm?
candidates pursuing the secrets of the Mystic Shrine.
Have they the Mystic pass?
They have it not, but I have it for them.
Give me the pass.
Ceremonial Master, in a whisper:
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.
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.
be your desire to decline an active part; you are sacredly bound to secrecy
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
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.
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.
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
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:
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:
executioner with them!
Hold! Stand aside! Strip our mantle from that female form; bind and hold her
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
Stranger, have you no defense? If not, you must meet the death of a spy.
Culprit shakes his head. No.
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
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.
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.
Illustrious Potentate, she has already swooned.
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
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.
Let him be brought before us.
Second culprit brought in, stripped, as described, to shirt and
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?
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
Illustrious Potentate to candidate:
Stranger Knight thus accused, arise. What say you to this grave charge?
Candidate answers. No matter what.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.”
prayed for a Shrine where he might worship. In due time, a Tabernacle of
Clouds was given to him.
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.
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.
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.
have just passed through those tests and are now a Noble of the Mystic Shrine.
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.
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.
take a moment to examine some of these events.
Crossing the Hot Sands.
crossing the Sands, you represented and imitated the early Pilgrims, who had
to cross the Hot Sands of the Desert to reach Mecca.
Rough Road and Sands
rough roads and sands also were a test of your courage and fortitude.
also are taught that nothing worthwhile is accomplished without overcoming
obstacles and hardships.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Return of Drunk for Fez
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.
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
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
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.
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
Hot Seat Ice; and Washing
your veracity is tested as you sing a song stating that “You Shall Not Be
Moved”, yet we find you rapidly rising and moving.
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.
“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.
Well of Zem Zem
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.
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.
Eating Of The Dung
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.
tribe following were so devoted to their Chief that they would eat his dung.
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.
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.
“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.
Mock Trial and Hanging
event was to impress upon you the purpose of our Order: namely, to apprehend,
try, and execute all wrong doers.
we searched and found the pocketbook, we apprehended the culprit. The Court
scene ezemplifled, the trial, and the hanging, the execution.
hanging also exemplified the signs used in our Salutation to the Assistant
Rabban. Pulling up the rope
three times and pulling in the slack.
Kissing the Black Stone
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Mecca grew into a great meeting place.
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.
before Mohammed, Mecca was considered a sacred city because of the holy
sanctuary in its center.
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.
of Zem Zem
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.
flung herself on the parched ground and pushed her baby under a thorny acacia.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
are under double guard, we will proceed to close. Noble Chief Rabban, what is
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
Assistant Rabban, does any work of charity or benevolence remain undone that
is within our powers to do?
Illustrious Potentate, none.
Noble Chief Rabban, what remains to be done?
Potentate, our duty everywhere; our duty always; evil and wrong never.
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?
I was a Son of the Desert
Then you are a Noble?
I sought protection under the dome of the Temple.
you to become a Noble of the Mystic Shrine?
That I might worship the true God, respect virtue, protect the innocent,
assist the distressed, and promote the inculcation of honor.
you admission to the Temple?
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.
What are the cardinal principles of the Mystic Shrine?
Justice, prudence, fortitude, morality and secrecy. They are priceless when
well observed, and are attributes which cannot be bought with paltry, sordid
What binds you to ous Noble Order?
Having assumed the sacred obligations of the Order, what did you do to make
them more binding?
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.
It is well. Let us unite in singing our closing ode.
more hot sands for us to tread,
journey is ended now;
the grandest Potentate,
shall forever bow.
We shall forever bow,
Before the grandest Potentate,
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.
Noble Oriental Guide, secure the Holy Bible and Koran.
The High Priest and Prophet then raises his band and says:
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.
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 ** *.
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.
I swear. At same time giving
sign or secrecy.
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
South America and Jurisdictions, Inc., closed.
Captain of the Guard, you will inform the Outer Guard.
Captain of the Guard:
The Outer Guard stands instructed.
Illustrious Potentate gives one (*) rap.