In 1870 two Mason’s gathered at a local Manhattan social establishment on 6th Avenue called Knickerbocker’s to discuss their recent Blue Lodge experiences and to offer insight into many of the world’s problems over a few glasses. The Brother’s felt they needed some spice in their lives and wanted something to break away from the memorization and set ritual found within the Blue Lodge. Thus, began the birth of the Shriner’s. An organization which stressed fun and fellowship but, kept the core principles of Blue Lodge Masonry at its foundation.
Brother’s Walter M. Fleming, M.D. and Billy Florence, a prominent New York City Thespian (Actor), set down and brought from conceptualization to reality the fraternity as it exists today. A Fraternity based upon a Near East themed lifestyle. This was done after attending an Arabian Diplomatic party. Remember, in the late 1800’s the Near East was mysterious and highly in vogue. Dr. Fleming wrote the initial by-laws, rules, and organizational structure while Brother Florence created the first Shriner’s Ritual and Ceremonial. Being a noted actor, Florence felt heavy dramatization, pomp-and circumstance would underscore and instill a stronger bond and connection to the fledgling fraternity infrastructure while being fun and uniting fellowship amongst members. Thus, Shrine Ritual and Ceremony was born.
The early Ritual and Ceremony was based on the storyline that a group of believers embark upon a caravan, across the burning sands of a desert, to eventually come to a beautiful oasis offering relief from the trials and tribulation of their journey. The journey is to portray who we are, what we do, and why we do it.