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.