The Lauderdale Ritual of Craft Masonry

As we saw in the history of the “Dharma Workings“, it was first published in 1904/5, reprinted in 1908, revised and enlarged in 1913 (“Third Edition (revised and enlarged) of the “Dharma Workings”), again so in 1916 (the name “Dharma” was no longer used), slightly revised in 1925 and again only in 1951.

The 1951 edition has on the title page: “Ritual Of The Three Craft Degrees (1925 Working revised)”. It turns out that this is the edition that was later also published under the name “Lauderdale”. Both “Lauderdale” (I have a 2013 printing) and ‘1951’ have odd little notes such as: “The words “he” and “his” shall always be used here.” and “During all ceremonies it is the duty of the Tyler to keep charcoal alight in the censer, ready for use when required.” Comparing “Lauderdale” to the 1925 shows many differences. “Lauderdale” has to be the 1951 edition.

The odd thing is that that 1951 edition was republished in 1960 without the name “Lauderdale”. It appears that “Lauderdale” was a ‘popular name’ that some later started to use in their editions, so the same text is available under different names. Nowadays “Lauderdale” is a widely used name which can be found in federations as far removed from one another as South Africa, North America, Norway and of course the UK. And -interestingly-: Australia. Other federations, such as the Dutch, don’t print the name “Lauderdale” in their editions, but they do refer to it in other sources of information sometimes.

The British federation of Le Droit Humain writes the following on their website:

The Lauderdale Ritual has evolved from the Dharma Ritual, dating from about 1904. The ritual is unique to Le Droit Humain. It has elaborate ceremonial, uses incense, and incorporates a candle lighting ceremony. It stresses the mystical side of Masonry, which was dear to Annie Besant and includes her specially written Mystic Charges.

Which, as we saw, is correct, but somewhat ‘incomplete’.

The Australian federation wrote on Facebook:

The current Lauderdale ritual worked in Australian Lodges was developed from the Dharma ritual by CW Leadbeater, JI Wedgewood and Russak-Hotchener with the participation or assent of Annie Besant and Georges Arundale and others. Unfortunately, little is known of this history of development. The Dharma ritual developed to include other “elements” over time.

They add a few more names to those who have been involved in the development of the ritual. As we saw, “Lauderdale” is basically the 1951 version directly stemming from “Dharma”. Leadbeater passed away in 1934, so he certainly hasn’t been able to work on this edition. He did however cooperate to the 1916 edition and he could have been involved in the 1925 edition.
Wedgwood passed away in 1951, so he could have been involved. I think it was Wedgwood who added the incense and opening to the 1913 edition. It is not impossible that he cooperated on later editions.
Marie Russak (1865-1945) also passed away too early to give her direct credit to the 1951 edition, but -like the others- she could have been involved in earlier editions. She appears to have lived at the Theosophical headquarters in India between 1906 and 1910, so she might have had some influence on Besant. Then again, the first edition is from before her time, the first edition with real revisions after (1913) and -moreover- likely took place in the UK.
Annie Besant passed away in 1933, so also she couldn’t have been directly involved in the edition that would later get the name “Lauderdale”.
It seems that all the names that are mentioned are more likely to have been involved in other editions than the one that got the name “Lauderdale”.

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