Penalties in Rituals
The information on this chart comes from various sources. If anyone has definite information for additions or changes on this chart, please send email to Paul M. Bessel so I can update this chart.
The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), and possibly other Grand Lodges outside the U.S., no longer use the “ancient penalties” in their rituals. It was suggested that it would be useful to have a chart to show which other Grand Lodges, particularly in the U.S., may be following the UGLE’s example, and which continue to use the “ancient penalties.”
Which penalties does the ritual use?
|District of Columbia||“Ancient” penalties|
Reported to use “symbolic” penalties
|Massachusetts||From a knowledgeable Brother in Massachusetts: The GL of MA in roughly 1978, did away with the ancient penalties in the obligation. The only penalties in the obligation are reprimand, suspension, or expulsion. There is ritual following the obligation in explaining the sign of each degree that reference is made to “the ancient penalty of this degree; wherein than sooner than violate his obligation the candidate swore that sooner than violate his obligation he would… (the ancient penalty).|
|Michigan||Suspension or expulsion mentioned as penalties|
|Minnesota||The only penalties in the obligation are reprimand, suspension, or expulsion. There is ritual following the obligation in explaining the sign of each degree that reference is made to “the ancient symbolic penalty of this degree; should I in the least, violate or transgress, this my (EA, FC or MM) obligation.”|
|New Jersey||“Ancient” penalties|
|New Mexico||“Ancient” penalties|
|New York||“Ancient” penalties|
|Pennsylvania||In 1996 the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania restored the Ancient penalties with the caveat that these penalties are of ancient origin and symbolic only. The penalties had been removed from 1984-1996 in an attempt to still the voices of our critics. In 1996 the Grand Master decided that we make our ritual and not our critics.|
|Washington||“Ancient” penalties. At the Grand Lodge meeting in June 1998 (see Proceedings for 1997/1998, pages 232-233), the following resolution was voted on and rejected (a 90% affirmative vote was required for adoption): Statement of Purpose: To make meaningful the penalties in the Standard Work while retaining allegorical penalties. Resolution: Whereas, there has been some criticism of our Craft with respect to the ancient penalties provided in the three Degrees, which may be thought to be barbaric and out of step with our present society; and Whereas, at the same time these symbolic penalties are so much a part of our ancient historical ritual that they need to be retained; modifying our work, however, to provide meaningful, realistic penalties for violating Masonic obligations, while still maintaining the ancient penalties in their allegorical sense; Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved that the Standard Work be amended by inserting the following language in the appropriate place in each Degree: ‘….binding myself under no less penalty than that of reprimand suspension, or expulsion, and forfeiture of all Masonic rights, benefits, and privileges, ever remembering the ancient symbolic penalty of having…”|