THE PHOEI IX
INITIATORY RITES OF SECRET SOCIE TI ES The initiation into some sort of secret society is almost as old as mankind itself. In primitive days we find many great peoples using thi s sort of rite. The tribes of Australia had puberty institutions whose cerem onies concerned themselves with: depilation, head-biting, sprinkling with blood, drinking of human blood , immer sions in filth , scarification, smoking and burning of the body. The cer emonies were conducted by the elders of the tribe and the subj ecti on to such ordeals was designed to change the entire nature of the youth. This period of confinement was utilized as a time in which to convey to the novices a knowledge of tribal traditions, customs, and habits of respect and obedience to the older men. The Tuscarora Indians of North Caro.lina had even a more puberty initiation . There the youth was placed in a house of correction where he underwent severe physical tortures ; then he was taken into the ranks of men and made ready for marriage and af ter a period of instruction from the elders he was given a certificate from Niter, significant of rebirth. This certificate of membership was a stick ornamented with rooster and cassoway feathers. Moreover, it was required that all the laws relating to class and totemic divisions be learned plus the songs, marriage system and tribal government. In this training each lad was attended by an elder who instructed him every evening in his duties and gave him advice in so kindly, fatherly, and impressive a manner that it often softened their hearts and drew tears from the youths. By the time the initiation ceremonies were ended the young men were under their control to s~tch an extent that they thought their superiors were possessed with magical and mysterious powers. Such beliefs led to tribal societies and totemism, the latter having a deep spiritual trend accompanied by dramatic and mystical rituals. \i\Then we turn from primitive society to the middle ages we find again two great examples of the secret order in Mohammedanism and the Templars . The question as to who should be Mohammed's successor gave r ise to societies of wisdom. These societies held meetings twice each week at which all members dressed in white. There were nine degrees offered and the training for each was similar to the mediaeval university course.