Freemasonry, Boy Scouts and the Order of the Arrow

In the latter-half of the 19th Century the United States witnessed an explosive progress in the quantity of societies and organizations aimed at bringing individuals collectively and enhancing society.   It was the present of the occasions.“Reform” was key.  As an agrarian society developed into an city industrial one, individuals handled an rising sense of dislocation by banding along with like-minded people.  Not surprisingly, many of these teams had been geared toward youth.  Young individuals had been seen as more and more dissolute, falling to the temptations of the metropolis as the previous social mores that sure them fell away.  At the daybreak of the 20th Century dozens of youth groupsexisted.  Some of these had been social, some had a martial facet to them and many of them had been non secular.  Two teams that had been to have a profound affect on the improvement of the Boy Scouts of America had been Ernest Thompson Seton’s Woodcraft Indians (1902) and Daniel Carter Beard’s Sons of Daniel Boone (1905).  Both males had been naturalists, authors and artists with a penchant for the open air who sought to determine organizations that will fight the debilitating influences of the metropolis and assist restore to younger males self-sufficiency and virility.

In England, Lord Robert Baden-Powell (B-P) regarded these organizations with curiosity.  Baden-Powell was a veteran of the British colonial wars in South Africa.  In 1899 7,000 Boers laid siege to 700 British at Mafeking and B-P, brief on males, used uniformed boys as messengers, lookouts and orderlies.  217 days later he was relieved; Mafeking had not fallen, and he was thought to be a hero.  When he returned to England in 1903 he discovered that the guide he had written for his boys—Aids to Scouting—had been bootlegged and was being broadly utilized by boys for enjoyable.  He noticed a necessity and started doing what any good Victorian would—arrange.  By 1908 he had put his concepts to the check at Brownsea Island and remodeled his guide into Scouting for Boys.  He based mostly his guide on his personal martial experiences, Victorian notions of chivalry and responsibility, and a lot of what he present in the work of Seton and Beard.  Within a number of years troops dotted England.

The Transatlantic alternate continued.  An apocryphal story has it that American businessman William Dixon Boyce was misplaced in the London fog one evening and stopped to ask a younger lad for instructions.  The youth took him to his vacation spot and refused to be compensated, saying he was a Scout and it was his responsibility to help others.  Boyce was impressed, made some inquiries and returned to the States primed to transplant the motion.  On February 8, 1910 the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was integrated.  Seton wrote the first guide, based mostly in flip upon the B-P guide and his earlier work The Birch Bark Roll.  In these early days there was lots of debate about the route Scouting in America ought to take:  comply with B-P’s martial mannequin or Seton’s instance which was influenced by Native American lore and traditions.  The B-P mannequin gained out, albeit with vital “Americanization” of the language of the regulation and the promise.  It needs to be famous that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) didn’t at first maintain a monopoly on Scouting.  William Randolph Hearst had funded two extra militaristic teams referred to as American Boy Scouts and United States Boy Scouts.  Peter Bomus had began the Boy Scouts of the United States (which had merged with the BSA by the Fall of 1910) and William Verbeck the National Scouts.  The plethora of teams on this early interval is greater than an fascinating historic footnote; it signifies simply how a lot the notion of Scouting appealed to white America.  Seton as soon as claimed that B-P instructed him his unique intention had been to arrange youth for battle.  The concept that Scouting was in some way a response to the dwindling colonial pursuits of Great Britain—and that its’ even wilder success in America a response to the beginnings of colonialism on this nation (the Spanish-American War of 1899 being generally thought to be America’s first colonial battle)—deserves additional examination.  The unique Scout uniform, in any case, is basically that of a Rough Rider, or a doughboy.

B-P’s Scouting motion had emphasised campaigning, camp life, monitoring, chivalry, lifesaving, citizenship, and so on.  He devised the promise and regulation, the signal, salute and handshake.  Each grade of Masonry, of course, has its personal guarantees (obligations), hailing indicators and handshakes (grips).  One might additionally level out that the hierarchy of Scouting, a system of ranks culminating in the Eagle, is much like Freemasonry, a system of levels that in the Scottish Rite culminates in the Double Eagle.  There are seven ranks in Scouting; seven steps determine prominently in the Middle Chamber Lecture of the Masonic 2nd Degree.  Philosophically, a Scout’s responsibility to God and Country, his brotherhood and the slogan “Do flip each day” is one thing with which any Freemason would concur.  B-P himself was not a Freemason, however his good good friend Rudyard Kipling was, and it’s identified that Kipling influenced B-P in the formation of the Cub Scouts.  B-P himself said that he couldn’t be a Freemason as a result of he didn’t wish to offend Roman Catholic Scouts, however he appeared to have accredited of it, and Freemasons of him.  In Australia, for instance, there are 4 Lodges named after B-P, one of which he visited and signed its Bible.  Furthermore, B-P was a Knight of Grace of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem.  Freemasons acknowledge a bond with this order and each Saint John the Baptist and John the Evangelist are the Patron Saints of Craft Masonry (Craft, or Blue Lodge Masonry, refers to the first three levels).  The image of John the Evangelist is of course the Eagle; the Boy Scout Eagle is superimposed upon a fleur-de-lis, the worldwide image of Scouting. 

The fleur-de-lis, by the way, is an emblem utilized by almost all civilizations previous and current, from 3rd millennium B.C. Assyria to modern-day Quebec.  It has been variously interpreted as an iris, lily or lotus and stated to face for purity, mild and perfection.  It has been related to each Christ and the Virgin Mary and used as a army emblem by Joan of Arc and models of the United States Army.  It’s affiliation with the French monarchy dates again to the Merovingian King Clovis, who was stated to have acquired the image immediately from God upon his baptism.  Another story is that Clovis, on his technique to battle the Aquitaine King Alaric close to Poitiers, was led by a doe to a hidden ford in a river.  After crossing, he positioned one of the yellow irises rising on the banks in his helmet.  He was finally victorious.  Perhaps one story is the metaphorical retelling of the different.  When precisely the fleur-de-lis was adopted as a heraldic emblem by the French kings continues to be a matter of divided opinion, however it seems on cash and scepters as early as the 10th century.  One writer states that it was most likely below Saint Bernard’s affect that Louis VII (1154-1180) adopted it as a private emblem, having by that point acquired a robust non secular significance.  Incidentally, Saint Bernard can also be stated to be the main inspiration behind the Knights Templar—the highest grades of York Rite Masonry are referred to as Knights Templar.

Back in America, there are different affinities.  The Church of Latter Day Saints, whose Temple Ceremonies are based mostly upon Freemasonic ceremonies, was the first non secular physique to formally acknowledge the BSA, in 1913.  The Lone Scouts of America, begun in 1915, grew to become a BSA program in 1922.  William Dixon Boyce commissioned one F. Allen Morgan to develop checks by which Lone Scouts might earn levels.  Morgan stated Seton, Beard and Freemasonry influenced him.  In 1924 the Lone Scout program was totally absorbed by the BSA, however Lone Scouts continued to earn levels till the mid-1930’s. 

In New Zealand, one other Boer battle veteran and good friend of B-P named Major David Cossgrove (most likely not a Freemason) began one thing for older boys referred to as the “Empire Sentinels.”  Sentinels had been organized into “Towers” and the scheme had three levels based mostly on non secular responsibility, patriotism, sacrifice and work, every with a corresponding “Watch,” or ritual.  A fast record of different particulars, gleaned from letters between Cossgrove and B-P, exhibits that the concept had very direct Masonic affinities: The Tower is opened on the third Watch and dropped to the first or second as required; Sentinels enter the Watch utilizing a password and a salute; the alarm is a sequence of knocks; halters and blindfolds are used; the phrase “So Mote it Be” is used; there are 4 principal officers; the Watch works in darkness with the symbols of every Watch illuminated.  Substitute the phrase “Lodge” for “Tower” and “Degree” for “Watch” and one finds virtually no distinction from describing the workings of a Masonic Lodge.  In a letter to B-P dated 1919, Cossgrove writes: “….the scheme has already been taken up enthusiastically in Africa, America and in Austria, I imagine, and shall be right here when our younger warriors return and settle down….”[1]  He is presumably referring to younger males overseas in the British colonial military, and the angle of his letter does a lot to help the idea that Scouting was given impetus by colonial psychology.  They had been, in any case, the Empire Sentinels.  But the place, if Cossgrove was not a Mason, did the Masonry of the Empire Sentinels come from?  That stays a thriller.

While there is no such thing as a proof that the Empire Sentinels blueprint was “taken up enthusiastically in…America,” there’s a lot of proof, way more copious, of one other scheme that was.  On July 16, 1915, two Scouters named E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson based the Order of the Arrow at Treasure Island, the summer time camp of the Philadelphia Council.  Edson was a 32° Scottish Rite Mason; Goodman solely grew to become a Mason after the OA was based but in addition finally attained the 32°.  The writing of the ritual, nonetheless, was entrusted to a different, unknown 32° Mason.  (Interestingly sufficient, the Masonic affiliation of its founders is omitted from the official OA historical past from which the following particulars had been culled.  There is, in reality, not one single reference to Freemasonry all through the guide.)  By 1922, the yr the first Grand Lodge of the OA was shaped, ten Lodges had been identified to be in existence.  This was additionally the yr of the first OA “crisis.”  In September of that yr a biennial nationwide BSA assembly was held to debate varied subjects; one of the first objects on the agenda was the existence of camp fraternities and secret societies, which some current felt should be discouraged.  Carroll Edson rose to their protection by saying:  “If we discover…that we will successfully use ceremony and symbolism in furthering Scout beliefs of private service, why ought to the complete physique…say you shan’t do it?”[2]  Edson was not solely articulating the raison d’être of the OA however reveals a very Masonic level of view.  Most definitions of Freemasonry converse of it as an group which makes use of “ceremony and symbolism” to instill in its members the function of the Craft.  In any occasion, the OA was not banned and allowed to proceed if its progress was not actively promoted—one other similarity to Freemasonry, which historically doesn’t promote itself by way of recruitment.  An fascinating innovation of the OA is that non-members elect Arrowmen; it could be the solely group of its sort that follows such a follow.

By 1934 there have been 45 energetic OA Lodges and the BSA formally accredited the OA to be used nationwide. As half of this approval, nonetheless, a number of modifications had been required of the OA by the BSA.  According to the official historical past, “The BSA requested these modifications to keep away from confusion with different usages of these identical phrases.”[3]  For “other usages” substitute “Masonic usages.”  The modifications included utilizing “tribe” as a substitute of “lodge,” “national” as a substitute of “grand,” “honor” as a substitute of “degree” and “admonition” as a substitute of “password.”  These modifications have continued into the current with one exception.  In 1936 the use of “lodge” was re-approved, ostensibly to keep away from confusion with the use of “tribe” by Lone Scouts. 

What occurred in 1934 was a “de-Masonification” of the OA nomenclature, however the primary Masonic construction stays.  The Order of the Arrow consists of three honors:  Ordeal, Brotherhood (identified in 1927 as the “blood-rite” diploma!) and Vigil Honor.  These correspond to the three Masonic levels of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason.  In the OA, every honor has its personal handshake, hailing signal, and “password”.  (For the Ordeal this known as the admonition.  The Brotherhood member responds to a ritual query.  The Vigil Honor has three watchwords.)  Each honor has its personal obligation and ceremony that intensifies the teachings of the Order.  In Masonry, every diploma has its personal grip, step, signal, password and obligation.  We have already famous that they’re each organized into Lodges; in the OA one National Lodge enforces regularity.  For Freemasonry there’s a Grand Lodge for each state.

And what of the OA initiation ceremonies?  First, the Lodge is opened after it has been decided “all current are members.”  This is completed by demanding the handshake and password of the honor to be carried out from these current.  In the Ordeal, for instance, the admonition is whispered into the ears of a member by a chief referred to as Kichkinet whereas arms are clasped, and the member responds by whispering its’ definition.  The Lodge is then opened throughout which period the signal of the diploma is given.  The candidates are introduced and Kichkinet is shipped out to greet them.

In Freemasonry the Lodge is opened in the identical method.  Membership is set with the grip and phrase, whispered into the ear, arms clasped, and the Lodge is opened on the signal of the diploma.  The candidates are introduced and the Junior Warden is shipped out to greet the candidates.

In the Ordeal ritual, the OA candidates are performed by an “elangomat” (good friend) to the ritual circle the place they meet Kichkinet, who turns into their conductor and prepares them by symbolically binding them with a rope by which he leads them into the circle.  They are led clockwise round the circle and challenged three extra occasions by different chiefs—Nutiket, Meteu and Allowat Sakima—the place the identical questions are requested and answered.  Kichkinet, Nutiket, Meteu and Allowat Sakima characterize the information, the guard, the medication man, and the mighty chief.  They alternate three ritual faucets on the shoulders, earlier than Kichkinet is requested: 

“Who are these strangers who search admission to our circle?” 


“How do they count on to acquire this privilege?” 


“Have they handed the ordeal with out flinching?” 


Here Nutiket lets them enter, however Meteu and Allowat Sakima inquire additional:

“Have they been given the admonition?” 

Answer:  “They haven’t, however I, their good friend, have acquired it, and will give it to you     

for them”

“What is the admonition?”[4]

In Freemasonry, candidates are led by a steward, already “bound” by rope and blindfolded, into an identical state of affairs.  The Junior Deacon, who exchanges three ritual faucets on the Lodge door with the steward, meets them.  A problem follows.  Although the language is totally different from that of the OA, the essence is the identical.  Who are these strangers?  How do they count on to acquire the privilege of entry?  Have they the password?  They don’t, however their information does and provides it for them.  They are then turned over to the care of the Junior Deacon and led clockwise, round a sq., and meet the identical problem three extra occasions.  In these cases the three ritual faucets are banged out on mallets and answered by staves banged on the flooring.

After their circuit of the Lodge, Allowat Sakima orders the candidates positioned in “the correct place to obtain additional data,” [5]simply as the Worshipful Master orders in Freemasonry.  They do that by taking three steps ahead, mimicking the steps a Masonic candidate makes.  When they’ve acquired the Obligation, they’re instructed to drop the rope they’ve been carrying and taught the hailing signal, handshake and admonition.  They are then offered with the sash that marks their membership in the Order.  The sash is worn over the proper shoulder, is white, and represents a pink arrow.   In Masonry the candidate, when he has acquired the Obligation, is launched from the cable-tow and given the indicators, token, grip and phrase of his diploma.  He is then offered with a white apron, which in the Entered Apprentice diploma is worn with one nook tucked up in order to kind a triangle.  In each Freemasonry and the OA, there then follows an evidence of the ritual.  Following that, the Lodge is closed, with every principal recapitulating his function in the Lodge.  Both OA and Craft Lodges comply with this process.

There are variations.  The OA candidate doesn’t take his Obligation upon a Volume of Sacred Law, (i.e. a Bible, Torah or Koran) nor does he take the Obligation blindfolded.  Much of the dramatic and symbolic impact of this second of Freemasonic ritual relies upon upon the removing of the blindfold, however the impact will not be totally absent in the OA.  Three candles positioned in a triangle round the Volume of Sacred Law characterize the mild in Masonry, and the OA candidate takes his Obligation in entrance of a campfire, which in a small pre-Ordeal ceremony the evening earlier than, remained unlit.  While present ritual handbooks require nothing particular of the campfire aside from it’s in the heart, a reconstruction of the unique 1915 ceremony says the hearth needs to be made in the form of a triangle.  (Some Lodges proceed this custom immediately.  Incidentally, Masons use the triangle to characterize Deity and the sash of the Vigil Honor has a triangle with three small arrows inside superimposed upon the bigger pink arrow of the Ordeal sash.)  Three candles, nonetheless, are additionally current; they characterize the Scout Promise and are positioned in the North.  Furthermore, as a result of OA ceremonies normally happen after dusk in a distant location, the impact of being introduced into the circle is in itself much like being introduced into the mild.

Other variations needs to be talked about right here.  For instance, the OA Lodge will not be a sq., however a circle.  Additionally, the challenges made in an OA Lodge happen in the South, West and North, the North being the place of the mighty chief Allowat Sakima.  In Freemasonry the challenges happen in the South, West and East, the East being the place of the Worshipful Master.  It is tempting to say that the East, by its very exclusion in the OA, is emphasised.  In the 1915 ceremony Kichkinet was referred to as “Guard” and acted as “guardian of the trail.”  Nutiket was referred to as “Sachem” and acted as outer guard.  “Sakima” was interior guard, and “Medeu” was head of the Lodge.  His place in the north was defined thusly:  “As in the heavens, the north star is fastened and all the different stars revolve round it, so stands Medeu in the north for the lodge circle to revolve round him.  He, alone, opens, directs, and closes the lodge.”[6]  (Interestingly sufficient, the Chief Sentinel in the Empire Sentinels scheme was positioned in the north.)  In Freemasonry, a special astronomical metaphor is used to clarify the Worshipful Master’s place and duties in the East, however the language is strikingly related.

 In the 1915 ceremony the closing bears a sharper Masonic character than present follow; the characters’ capabilities are defined in a language and vogue way more reminiscent of Freemasonry than one finds in present ritual, and in different elements of the ritual one finds reference to “rites,” “mysteries” or “our mystic circle,” however no longer.  The transfer away from this Masonic character might be a end result of the de-Masonification of 1934, however the unique ceremony certainly lies nearer to the founders’ inspirations.  Interestingly, the letter of introduction which accompanies this earlier ritual is dated “October 1, 1915 + 60” (i.e. 1975), a relationship technique which brings to thoughts Masonic strategies of relationship.  According to Craft Lodge relationship, for instance, the present yr is 6003 A.L., i.e. 2003 A.D. + 4000.  What is obvious from the two strategies, regardless of their variations, is {that a} new timeline begins with the founding of the Lodge. 

The OA rituals are a lot less complicated than these of Freemasonry, however the primary construction is the identical:  the Lodge is ceremonially opened, the ritual carried out, a recapitulation of the ritual is given and the Lodge is ceremonially closed.  In 1927 the OA Grand Lodge proposed a sequence of questions to check the Brotherhood candidate’s data of the construction and significance of the Ordeal ceremony in a vogue clearly modeled on the “questions and answers” a Masonic candidate should know earlier than advancing to the subsequent diploma.  The OA ceremonies, nonetheless, not like Masonic rituals, grow to be shorter and less complicated as one progresses; the Brotherhood ceremony retains the construction summarized above, however the Vigil Honor abandons all of it collectively.  Thus the highest honor of the OA is ritualistically the least Masonic; it seems to derive from Seton.  The OA seeks to instill the worth of Brotherhood, Cheerfulness and Service into its members and in that there is no such thing as a disaccord with the expressed values of the Craft.  Both teams share frequent values, are historically male and share an identical hierarchic construction.  In the OA we do not discover any specific interpolation of Masonic values; somewhat, there’s an intensification of values already current in Scouting.  The Masonic values are virtually incidental.  What is extra necessary, nonetheless, is the very Masonic automobile Goodman and Edson selected to speak these values.  They understood the energy of ceremony and symbolism as a method of instilling concepts.  Not surprisingly, a candidate for the OA have to be a extra superior Scout, 1st Class or greater, which requires a lad to be a barely older adolescent.  The OA is an intensification of the Scouting expertise, a ceremony of passage for younger lads embarking on the path to manhood.  Like many others earlier than them, Goodman and Edson drew upon a well-known and confirmed system, Freemasonry, for his or her inspiration. 

A cursory look over the historical past of fraternal organizations in America will reveal that the majority of them have drawn closely on Freemasonry.  From school fraternities to the Knights of Pythias, one finds the Masonic stamp.  On the extra esoteric aspect of issues, in England we discover Freemasonic influences in the rituals of the Golden Dawn, the O.T.O. and Gardner’s Wicca.  In America we discover Freemasonry behind Mormon rituals and in a number of irregular and crypto-Masonic practitioners of ritual magick, some of them practising alongside reliable traces of inquiry opened up by Freemasonry.  Perhaps it shouldn’t be shocking that BSA literature ignores the apparent Masonic traits of one its hottest establishments.

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