Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Fraternal World


Fraternities. They get a bad reputation. This can likely be attributed to members ignoring the founding principles set forth in their rituals. Each fraternity ritual is created to serve several functions. The teachings of it should mirror the morals and character of the founding fathers and the ideals they wished future members to exemplify. Ritual puts this into action. Ritual also creates a connection that spans time as all members go through the same initiation.

The fun part is the esoteric nature of these ceremonies.
The revealing of the fraternities "secrets". Among these secrets are entrance passwords, secret mottoes, a grip(secret handshake) and explanations of the fraternities true name, symbology and purpose.

If the ritual is good it can be life changing and even a deeply spiritual experience. My initiation left me with a feeling of purpose and helped teach me to be a better man. I've collected some illustrations of Greek Fraternity symbolism from early University of Maine yearbooks. The artwork is fantastic, and truly macabre. Most of these were steel engravings. Enjoy.


What's with all the death imagery?
Well... to be reborn(a brother, or anything for that matter) first you must die.
Also, symbols of death illustrate the seriousness of admittance into the organization and that revealing secrets is often "punishable by death". The imagery also reminds the initiate that life is short and worth living to the fullest.













3 comments:

Anonymous said...

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Mantan Calaveras said...

I have to say, I find the idea of the fraternity kind of vulgar. It's a form of collectivist spirituality that creeps me out. And when you start to go into some of the stranger initiation rights of these groups, you see what is practically a form of brainwashing.

Now, brainwashing techniques can be employed by the individual in order to change their inner emotional states, the "ego-death" experience brought on either through psychedelic drugs or traditional mystical practices such as yoga is an example.

But as soon as you place this activity in the context of a group, you get subversion of the individual, and all the potential for horror that comes out of collectivism.

Better to be the lone hermetic philosopher in the wilderness, than an infantile brother in the womb.

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