Al Sirat Grotto
Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary defines Grotto as follows: "A cave, a vault, natural recess or a cavity in the earth; an artificially constructed cavern." This is precisely what the Grotto is not...
So don't allow the name to mislead you - for, after all, what's in a name? Certainly, the definition Webster gives does not apply in this case to this great Order.
We know why, how, and where the GROTTO - MYSTIC ORDER OF VEILED PROPHETS OF THE ENCHANTED REALM OF NORTH AMERICA-was founded. The chief moving spirit in the founding of this organization was LeRoy Fairchild. In the summer of 1889, a group of Master Masons, members of Hamilton Lodge #120 at Hamilton, New York, met to organize and hold informal meetings. What this group was seeking was fun and good fellowship. At their meeting on September 10, 1889, they honored the founder by calling it the "Fairchild Deviltry Committee." This organization was decided to be confined to Master Masons in good standing. The idea of the Order proved attractive, and many distinguished Masons joined. The Order could no longer be confined to any one locality, and in response to imperative requests, other groups were formed. On June 13, 1890, the Fairchild Deviltry Committee duly established and formed the Supreme Council, Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm.
Its purpose mainly was to add in greater measure to the Masonic fraternal spirit the charm of radiant cheerfulness and to maintain within the fraternity an impetus of good royal fellowship, wherein joyous companionship and helpful sympathy shall mingle graciously and become the distinguishing characteristics of the Order.
The late LeRoy Fairchild, who is revered by all Prophets of the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm as the founder of the Order, was an earnest, devoted Mason and an enthusiastic believer in the helpful influence of mirth. He loved his Brethren with an ardor of a true Mason and man and always sought to bring joy to their hearts by cultivating sunny cheerfulness and indulgence in healthy merriment and joyful laughter. He believed with all his heart that the beneficial influence of Masonry would be far greater if, along with the inculcation of sublime moral lessons, opportunities were afforded for the cultivation of a greater spirit of cheerfulness and goodfellowship amongst the members than was possible in the Blue Lodge.
A little fun now and then is the best tonic and the man who occasionally unbends is the man who lasts and gets the most out of life, The Enchanted Realm holds an inexhaustible store of the sunshine which warms with the glow of generous sympathy, dispels the gloom of fret and worry and gives a brighter outlook and kindlier feeling, while it strengthens the fiber for real serious work and so brings true blessings and beautifies the fellowship of the Prophets.
The founding and growth of the Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm is phenomenal in the history of fraternal organizations and prove that a really good thing will grow on its merits, even if it has no powerful combination in back of it to press it to the front.
The Grotto is the playhouse of the craft - the place where world-worn men can get together, forget their cares, and be, as it were, boys again. Within the portals of the Grotto, the stiffness and formality which keeps men apart melts away and they come into closer and truer relationship because of the breaking down of these barriers. In this way the Order is doing a noble job and is a powerful help in the cause of fraternity, for it supplements the work of the regular Masonic bodies with a spirit of cheer which lends a charm and grace to the severity of the more serious work.
The Ritual of the Grotto
The ritual is absolutely original so far as its use in the work of the fraternal organization is concerned. It is founded on a very ancient Persian manuscript discovered in a secret vault in one of the sacred temples of Teheran - the City of Mystery - and the action involves many of the most famous characters of ancient mythology.
Few organizations have been received with the enthusiasm that has been kindled in the breasts of those who have entered the Enchanted Realm of Veiled Prophets, and few have been launched upon a sea of popular scrutiny with more distinguished personnel or with surer indications of widespread success.
The ceremonies are entirely different from those of any fraternal organization. Our ritual has more possibilities in it than any ever written or used by an organization.
What the Grotto Teaches
Masonry proper is all work...solemn, serious and sublime work...there is not and never should be a line of the light and frivolous from the first step as we enter the outer courts, to the last in the Holy of Holies of its mystic temple. Truth, everlasting and unchanging, is the foundation on which it is erected and on this basis it unites its votaries by bonds of brotherhood which are mutually helpful and beneficent.
While it is as Prophets we open the portals of the Enchanted Realm to Master Masons, we are nonetheless loyal to Masonry. We carry with us the solemn lessons we have learned within the Lodge and we are guided by the precepts of Masonry while we revel in the good cheer of the Prophets.
The Order of Veiled Prophets, while proclaiming the loyalty of its members to Masonry, makes no pretense of being a Masonic Order, nor does it claim to confer a Masonic degree. Its membership is exclusively Masonic and its purpose is to supply the element of play in such a way that work and play will be blended without marring the solid beauty of Masonry. The Grotto is said to be essentially Masonic in character.
The requirements for membership in the Order of Veiled Prophets is that a man must first be a Master Mason in good standing, and that he must continue to maintain his good standing in the Blue Lodge in order to retain his standing in the Order. In no way does the Grotto infringe upon the rights and ceremonies of Masonry or of any other Order.
The Grotto leads its votaries through an Enchanted Realm where the spirit of mirth touches the hearts and evolves cheerful companionship, in the joy of which they are brought near together in helpful sympathy, which is nonetheless true because the eye beams with delight and laughter goes with a Prophet's greeting when hand clasps hand in its mystic fellowship.
For a few years the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm had no official emblem to wear. Word got around that the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets were permitted to wear an emblem that set them apart from others and a black Fez head covering was selected with a Mokanna Head in the center, giving the name of the Grotto. Naturally, this attracted attention.
The minutes of a February 26, 1903 stated meeting of Azim Grotto, Bronx, New York, states: "Prophet Charles E. Lansing, Past Potent Monarch, after some preliminary remarks, descriptive thereto, presented to those present, a drawing in color of a headgear appropriate for the Order. The same was received with favor and by motion, regularly made and seconded and carried, it was unanimously decided to adopt and wear them on serious and other appropriate occasions."
In the minutes of October 29, 1903, it is recorded: "The Potent Monarch reported that the Fez worn by our members was, at the Annual Session of the Supreme Council held at Hamilton, New York on October 20, adopted as the official headgear for all Prophets of the Realm."
The Veiled Prophet
WHAT IS IT? AND WHY CALLED VEILED? Because it has so many strange and mystic rites. Never was there ever witnessed, even in the mystic rite of the heathen religion of the dark ages, anything as wonderful and weird as the ceremonies presented by the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm . . . The Grotto. Veiled to the profane, but lifted often to give the inquisitive Neophyte a chance to gaze upon the "Veiled Mokanna" - the wellknown ruler of fiction whose presence in our midst seems to stimulate and excite the magic brain of those enthusiastic Masons who, while apparently dreaming, have been awakened by the lifting of the veil and seeing the fabled visions as they tread the mystic way, come to the front, eager to sound the glad tidings and make the welkin ring like so many chattering imps as they turn another page of life's weird mysteries.
What Grotto Membership Means
The man who comes to the Grotto had his Masonic origin in a Blue Lodge, where he was taught to revere the name of GOD and pray for guidance. He came on through the Degrees where his knowledge of the dignity of Masonry was explained and the GROTTO was provided for him as a place where he might join with his Brothers in letting human instincts for fun, pleasure and amusement prevail.
The GROTTO was not and is not a place for Masons to exercise practices that would not be tolerated in the Masonic Bodies, or which are taboo among gentlemen. The GROTTO stands for all of Masonry and wholesomeness in life. It stands for letting in the sunshine on discouragement, grief and woe and it stands for substituting hope for despair at all times.
Without the formalities that attend the Degrees in Masonry, it brings members in close fraternal touch and breeds confidence among FEZ's wearers. The GROTTO has always been made up of men from all walks of life...men you are proud to know men who travel by preference along the sunny side of the street and who play a fair game all the time.
Membership in the GROTTO gives a man the right to wear its emblem and to participate in its good work, as well as enjoy all its pleasures.