Sydney Ritual

The archives of the Dutch federation of Le Droit Humain has two little booklets, one of the first and one of the second degree. The image above says:

Ritual of the first or Entered Apprentice degree
Fairly complete translation of the Sydney Ritual

The booklet appears to be typed on an electrical typewriter on very thin paper and has, as you can see, a bit of an odd format. It does not look like it was really used in a lodge. My guess is that one or a few people were interested in the ritual that Wedgwood and Leadbeater came up with and translated it for members whose English wasn’t strong enough.

As we saw before, the fourth edition of “Dharma” (though no longer using that name) was printed in Sydney in 1916. This is most likely the edition that Wedgwood and Leadbeater made and which was used to initiate Leadbeater. The preface of this edition says: “certain verses from the V…s.S.L. and some well-known Masonic hymns have been inserted for their use.” The Dutch translation also starts two hymns. The fourth and fifth English editions have two to choose from, but they differ from the Dutch one (!). Then comes another remarkable similarity. “Introcessional” in the fifth edition is in Dutch the slightly awkward “introcessie”.

Unfortunately the Dutch translation isn’t dated, but perhaps the remark about it being a translation of the “Sydney rituals” is dating enough. The text begins with “Voorbereidende ceremoniën” which is a logical translation for the “Preliminary ceremonies” that are mentioned in the fourth English edition. It gets even better. The Dutch translation continues with: “Er behoort een zeer zacht getemperd licht in den Tempel te zyn.” This is much like the sentence: “There should be a very soft subtle light in the Temple.” which is a change compared to the third edition in which the lodge should be in total darkness.

The most remarkable difference between the fourth and fifth English editions and the Dutch translation is that in the Sydney printing an image of the “head of all true Freemasons” hangs behind the Worshipful Master and below the blazing star, while in the fifth edition it moved to the North wall.

A bit of history of Leadbeater’s and Wedgwood travels may shed some more light on this ritual. This story can be found in a special edition of the periodical The Light Of Luxor.

“Mr. Leadbeater arrived in Australia in 1914 on a lecturing tour for the Theosophical Society.” “He decided to remain in Sydney, and for the first two years he publicly lectured on Theosophy each Sunday evening in addition to weekly talks to students.” “In 1915, The V. Ills. Bro. J. I. Wedgwood, 33°, (the then Grand Secretary of the British Federation) came to Sydney to consult Mr. Leadbeater on proposed amendments to the Co-Freemasonic ritual.” “As an instance The Very Illustrious Brother Leadbeater 33° instance of the thoroughness of their work, Bro. Wedgwood told me that they had consulted 52 Craft rituals, past and present, and the new ritual was published in Sydney in 1916. To all appearances this ritual work led to Mr. Leadbeater joining the Order”.

So Leadbeater started working on the “Co-Freemasonic ritual” in Australia at the request of Wedgwood who had travelled there from London for that occasion. Afterwards Leadbeater was initiated by Wedgwood, who was only Worshipful Master for that very occasion.

This story does teach us that before 1913 revisions (including the incense ceremony) were made without Leadbeater. That incense may have come from Wedgwood who was inspired by the use of incense in the Old Catholic Church that he had joined in 1913. Wedgwood and Leadbeater would later found the Liberal Catholic Church.

It seems logical to refer to the fourth edition with “Sydney” as it was printed there. Yet, as you can see above, the name “Sydney” is not printed on the title page.

Oddly enough, the British federation of Le Droit Humain says:

The Sydney Working came into being in 1925 and is not based on a documentary historical past; it was created by a member living at the time in Sydney and he claimed that it was communicated to him. The Sydney Ritual is based on Hindu philosophy and anyone familiar with books such as Veda or Bhagavad Gita, would feel very much at home with it.

Thus suggesting that it was the 1925 edition (printed in Glasgow) might have been the “Sydney” rituals. It seems much more likely to me that the edition printed in “Sydney” was referred to by that name, which never became an ‘offical’ name.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *