The Ritual of Installation Ceremony
The Ritual of Installation Ceremony.
presented by R.W.Bro.Ratnaswami P.Dy.G.M, at the Seminar on The Relevancy of The
Ritual in M.M Degree and in The Installation Ceremony held in Chennai on 6 th
February 2005, jointly conducted by Lodges Srinivasagopala (No.190) Om
Vigneswara (No218 ) Lodge Chennai (No.317 ), Lodge Millennium (No.327 ) Lodge
Engineers (No.340 ) and Inaugurated by W.Bro.Ashok Mohan W.A.R.G.M and
moderated by V.W.Bro.John Reginald G.Chap]
The ceremony of Installation is not
confined to Freemasonry alone. Historical evidence shows that ancient Romans
installed their kings, priests and even their magistrates. The expression
Installation is derived from the Latin word stallum , which means a seat.
Installation therefore means placing in the seat. There is another view that the
origin is from the Latin word installare meaning to establish in a new
role or place, which view postulates, the establishment of the Master Elect in
his new role as the ruler in the Craft to open the Lodge and employ and instruct
the brethren in Freemasonry and to direct the Lodge.
Ritual teaches us that from time
immemorial, it has been an established custom among Freemasons, for each Lodge,
once in every year, at a stated period to select from amongst those who are Past
Wardens, an experienced craftsman to preside over them in the capacity of Master
and that the brother so selected must be presented to a Board of Installed
Masters, that he may receive from his predecessor the benefit of Installation.
Originally, an experienced and well skilled craftsman was chosen to preside over
the meetings, the vestige of which is found in the Installation Ceremony of the
Lodges under the United Grand Lodge of England and some other Constitutions, in
which the Installation Ceremony commences in the degree of F.C. The ceremony
itself was not standardised in ancient times. We have very meagre evidence and
data about the ceremony of Installation prior to 1717. In fact, several Grand
Lodges did not have any particular ceremony for the Installation of the Master
of the Lodge. Bro. Harry Carr has pointed out that the ceremony of Installing
Master was not there in Scottish Lodges for a long time. W.Bro.Grant Macleod
reports that prior to 1850, Masters were installed in the presence of all the
brethren and the P.Ms stood around and whispered a word to the Master Elect.. He
asserts that the Ceremony of Installation of the Master was brought from England
and introduced in 1872 in Scotland and that prior to that P.Ms of Scottish
Lodges had to retire at the time of the inner working, while attending the
Installation meetings in the Lodges under the Grand Lodge of England, causing
them some embarrassment. The Installation ceremony appears to have been
developed in England after 1717.By about 1722, Duke of Wharton, the then Grand
Master of the Grand Lodge in England. was constituting New Lodges in which
ceremony, he was installing the Masters of those New Lodges. The first edition
of Anderson’s Constitutions mentions about the ceremony of constituting New
Lodges including the Installation of the Master and his Wardens and the same
mentions that the Grand Master, “ Shall in due form install them”. Bro. Albert
G.Mackey has pointed out that the practice then was, that either the Grand
Master or some other P.M authorised by him installed the W.M, who thereafter
installed his wardens.
The portion of the ritual referred to
above mentions that the Master Elect is to be presented to a Board of I.Ms. The
inner working and the Esotery was evolved over some time. As numerous M.Ms are
present here, I am confining only to the historical aspect of the Esotery. The
earliest reference to the Esoteric aspect is found in the Three Distinct
Knocks, an exposure published in 1760. It is also seen that William Preston
in his Illustrations of Masonry published in 1775 has observed that the
portion of the ceremony by Installed Masters alone took place in a separate
room, which was later developed as the Esotery of the Board of Installed
Masters, which we have adopted, when the Grand Lodge of India standardised the
ritual for the Installation of Master. It will be useful to refer here that even
now several Grand Lodges in U.S permit the Installation of Masters in an open
meeting attended by friends and the family members at which meeting obviously
there will be neither any Masonic nor esoteric ceremony in the strict sense.
After the initial address, the
Installing Officer draws the attention of the Master Elect to the various
qualifications, which are essential in every candidate for the Master’s Chair,
which indicate that the candidate should be of good report, true and trusty,
exemplary in conduct, courteous in manners, easy of address but firm and steady
in principles and be able and willing to undertake the management of the work.
He stresses that the Master Elect should be well skilled in the Ancient Charges,
Regulations and the Landmarks of the Order. It therefore becomes necessary to
understand what the Ancient Charges and the Land Marks are. Both are topics
about which separate seminars can be held. I shall however, having regard to the
time allotted to me, make a short reference to them.
Prior to the formation of the First
Grand Lodge in England in 1717, the various lodges then functioning were
following Gothic Constitutions and they had considerable latitude in the ritual
work and there was no uniformity. Rituals were not printed and were taught
orally giving rise to variations both in the text and in practice.
Grand Lodge of England appointed in
1921 James Anderson, “ to digest the Old Gothic Constitutions in a new and
better method”. His report was evaluated by a committee of 14 learned brethren,
who suggested a few amendments and the Grand Lodge considered the matter and
approved the Constitutions prepared by Anderson with a few amendments. The same
contained the History of Freemasonry, Ancient Charges and Regulations. The
Second Edition was published in 1738.
Antient Charges & Regulations have
nothing to do with the Old Charges, which are the old manuscripts, from which
history and practice could be ascertained. Ancient Charges and Regulations
however are a set of 15 regulations which appear in the first pages of the Book
of Constitutions of the UGLE. Though they are said to be "Summary” they are not
a summary of any other Charges or regulations. Every Master-Elect has to signify
his unqualified assent to those charges and promise to support them, before he
is obligated as W.M. Grand Lodge of India has adopted the said practice and
Let us now consider Landmarks. Bro.
Lawrence in Masonic Jurisprudence has defined Landmarks as “ certain
immovable and unchallengeable principles and doctrines which go right behind law
and regulations and which no law or regulation can alter or modify." Bro.William
Preston holds that Landmarks are boundaries set up in order to check all
John S. Simons has given a
comprehensive definition as follows:
"We assume those principles of action to
be landmarks, which have existed from time immemorial, whether in the written or
unwritten law, which are identified with the form and essence of the society,
which the great majority agree, cannot be changed and which every mason is bound
to maintain intact under the most solemn and inviolable sanctions"
The most incontestable point is that the
landmarks embody the unalterable and inviolate rules of the Masonic
organization, theory and esoteric tradition as a set of sacred principles, which
can never come under review. This rule of inviolability is the last and crowning
landmark in the better-known enumeration, written by Albert Mackey, according to
which “the landmarks can never be changed”.
B.E. Jones however has urged in his
"Freemason's Guide & Compendium" that although every Freemason has to observe
the Landmarks, there is no authoritative definition of what is a Landmark, nor
are they named and enumerated in Constitutions of many Grand Lodges. Mackey's
list contains 25 Landmarks. Some Grand Lodges have added more Landmarks and some
have reduced the number. The following are the principal ones.
A belief in the existence of God as the Grand Architect of
That a "Book of the Law" shall constitute an indispensable
part of the furniture of every Lodge.
The modes of Recognition are the most legitimate and
unquestioned. They admit of no variation.
No visitor, unknown to the brethren present, or to some one
of them as a Mason, can enter a Lodge without first passing an examination
according to ancient usage. no visitor, unknown to the brethren present, or to
some one of them as a Mason, can enter a Lodge without first passing an
examination according to ancient usage.
The equality of all masons.
The Landmarks can never be changed. Nothing can be
subtracted from them-nothing can be added to them.
After the Master Elect assents to the
Ancient Charges and Regulations, he takes an obligation as regards his duties as
the Master of the Lodge and undertakes not to make or suffer any deviations from
the established customs and the Landmarks of the Order and to support the
excellent rules and regulations assented to by him.
Thereafter, the I.Ms alone constitute a
Board of I.Ms in which Master Elect is installed as the W.M of the lodge.
Brethren all are admitted thereafter and after proclamation, W.M is saluted and
then the warrant of the Lodge is entrusted to him with an admonition that he
must pass it on to his successor pure and unsullied. W.M then appoints and
invests his officers.
Three addresses then follow. It would be
interesting at this stage to notice about the origin of these Installation
addresses. It is seen that Preston’s “Illustrations” First Edition of 1772,
contains the “Manner of Constituting a Lodge” and that contains, the Ceremony of
Installation. Addresses to the Wardens and Brethren are mentioned therein.
Address to the W.M is not found in the first edition and that indicates that
address to the W.M was not part of the Installation Ceremony then. Thomas Smith
Webb’s “The Freemasons Monitor “of 1797 and 1802 do not also contain Address to
the W.M. It is only in the Webb’s Monitor of 1805, the address to the W.M is
mentioned for the first time. Claret’s Ritual of 1838 ( I Edition) also contain
the said address. The acceptable inference is that the address to W.M was
evolved by 1805.
A comparative study of the Ritual of the
Installation of the W.M followed by different Grand Lodges is interesting and
helps us to understand as to how the evolution took place. In a few Grand
Lodges, we find that W.Ts of all the three degrees are explained to the W.M,
after he is placed in the Eastern Chair of the Lodge, which is referred to as
the Oriental Chair, Chair of K.S and Chair of the Lodge. Some Masonic Scholars
feel that such a practice runs counter to and ignores the basic qualification of
being an experienced craftsman, well skilled in the Noble science and that
explaining the W.Ts to the W.M is analogous to teaching alphabets to a graduate.
Our Grand Lodge has rightly omitted that practice.
Some of the Grand Lodges in U.S conduct
tests to find out the proficiency of the candidates for the Master’s chair in
certain parts of the craft rituals. Experience as a warden, no doubt is of
immense help in shaping up a candidate for Master’s chair, but that may not by
itself be sufficient. Some amount of training will be very beneficial. In fact
most of the institutions like Rotary and Lions impart some guidance and training
to the incoming Presidents and Directors and other officers. W.Ms have to
perform many duties besides performing the rituals and require many skills. I
appeal to the R.W.R.G.M to develop a training programme for the wardens to shape
them to be efficient W.Ms. These programmes can be conducted by W.A.R.G.Ms for
the wardens in their respective areas twice an year.
I thank the brethren and the Lodges, who
have organised this seminar and more particularly W.Bro. Bharat V.Epur, the live
wire and the moving spirit behind this seminar.