META exists at the crossroads of art and science and of culture and nature. Tracing the uncommon threads between common topics, META presents its readers with views into the abyss of visual information and with experiments in associative reading. META invites you to browse according to taste.
You may ask, â€œwhat?â€ An archive, a Wunderkammer, a magazine guided by methods of research, collection, preservation, reprint and the linking of topics at their META level.
You may then ask, â€œwhy?â€ To play with information in all its astatic glory. META refrains from attempts at categorization, taking a gamble on dynamic navigation! META eschews the linear in favor of surprise. Each visit starts with a random welcome and ends with an even more random exit.
TIMOTHY J. ATTANUCCI (1979) was born in Boston, Massachusetts and studies German literature at Princeton and the Humboldt University, Berlin. For META, he contributes his musings on the irony mark in No Irony.
DAVID BETH (1974) is a writer and esoteric explorer, and the sovereign Grand Master of the Ordo Templi Orientis Antiqua. Learn more about his Gnostic involvement in XI. ARS DE REXâ€”Sexual Magic, the Art of the King, where he is interviewed by Ailen Roc.
SUMMER BRENNER is an accomplished writer of poetry and fiction, based in Berkeley, California. Her writing has extended beyond the borders of print into performative and musical realms, and she is also involved with literacy and community projects targeted at youths. For META, she reads from her critically acclaimed novel and discusses her motivation for the project in Driving I-5.
OLAF BREUNING (1970) is a Swiss artist, living in New York and working in photography, video, sculpture, installation and drawing. For METAâ€™s mini interview series, he shares some of his favorite things in accompaniment to a selection of photographic works. See Mini Breuning.
Illustrations by William Buchina
WILLIAM BUCHINA (1978) is an illustrator with a penchant for portraits of political tyrants. In addition, he is a graphic designer and creator of illustrated guides to English grammar. Some of his work is viewable here. He currently lives and works in New York. See his work in The Body of the Event.
DAVE BUNNELL (1952) lives in the small gold-rush era town of Angels Camp, California. This professional spelunker and photographer worked on an Imax film about caves, somewhere beneath Mexico. META interviewed him for Far Beyond Stalactites and Stalagmites.
PETRA CORONATO is probably the only author in the world who didnâ€™t only read Alexanderplatz, but also swept it. She is the owner of tongue tongue Hong Kong, a company founded in 1993 with dependences in Berlin, Vienna and Zurich, which recycles fiction profitably and unpunished to this day. In 2006, she commenced the ongoing photography project The Poetry of Document.
Writer Jeffrey Croteau is the Manager of the Library and Archives at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library in Massachusetts. Read another of his articles on American Masonic groups, ''Brotherly Deception'' published in Cabinet Magazine here. For META he co-authors a discussion on ritual and fraternity for the article Daughters of Job.
MICHELE DANTINIâ€™s (1966) work is characterized by its handling of trans-cultural practices and their socio-environmental implications. A widely translated essayist and performative lecturer, he holds a position as Professor of Contemporary Art History at the UniversitÃ del Piemonte Orientale, Italy. See Chronicles of Deaths Foretold.
PAULINE DOUTRELUINGNE (1982) lived in Beijing for four years, where she co-organized the 2006 Borderline Moving Images Festival. She lives in Berlin and curates projects that bridge European and Asian art. For META, she interviewed Chen Wei in Archeology of the Future.
GEN DOY is Lecturer at De Montfort University. She is the author of Picturing The Self, Drapery and Black Visual Culture. For META, Doy discusses the sensual politics of photography in the works of Claude Cahun.
Ferrante Denise Palma
DENISE PALMA FERRANTE (1975) is a multi-disciplined artist living and working in Berlin. She is also a self-declared anti-religionist. See Timkat 2009.
ADAM FOXWELL is an American audio engineer who has worked internationally, consulting on acoustical room design, sound isolation and mechanical noise control. For META, he presents a study on noise exposure in On the Hunt for Silence in Dubai.
JACQUE FRESCO (1916) is an industrial designer and social engineer, author, lecturer, inventor and Futurist. Based in Venus, Florida, he is developing the practice of Socio-Cyber-Neering. Read the META interview Back to the Futureâ€”The Venus Project.
Dr. BRUNO GLASER is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Soil Science and Soil Geography at the University of Bayreuth. For over several years he has been conducting Amazonian dark earth research from a soil science perspective including soil fertility, sustainability, and archaeology aspects. See Terra Preta .
MARA GOLDWYN (1976) calls herself an artist but does not show anywhere and would never actually introduce herself as such. She has an existential allergy to genres, categories and identity constructs. See Showing the Opposite Side of the Death Machine.
LINDA MAI GREEN (1987) is a photographer and curator based in Berlin. She also co-runs curatorial collectiveÂ Una Tittel.Â For META article A Bridge and Not a Goal, she interviewed artist Serena Porrati.
Artist CAI GUO-QIANG (1957) was born in Chinaâ€™s Fujian Province. While living in Japan between 1986 and 1995 he began to experiment with gunpowder as a medium, gaining international attention. He has gone on to exhibit world wide and to produce large scale pyrotechnic art works. See On Explosions.
Sculptor PATRICK HILL (1972) has exhibited widely in the US and internationally as an important representative of the contemporary Los Angeles art scene. David Kordansky Gallery provided META with images of Hillâ€™s work for Patrick Hillâ€”Sculpture, Associated.
ASDF Makes founder DAVID HORVITZ (1983) is a man of many ideas. One could say this American artistâ€™s medium is the Internet, though it may be more accurate to say that he works in interactive projects. See ASDFâ€”Read On.
RUA MINX is Donna Huanca (1980), an artist who deals with clothing as shelter, transportable homes for nomads and cultural and genetic traces. Her various projects have received a range of support, from the Dallas Museum of Art to StÃ¤delschule, Frankfurt; from the Incehon Womenâ€™s Biennale Korea to British Vogue. She launched METAâ€™s downloadable artist piece series with Mask Maker.
Artist PIETER HUGO (1976) has spent his whole life in Cape Town, South Africa, though travelled extensively pursuing his characteristic brand of documentary photography. A 2002-3 residency at the Beneton Group Communication Research Center, Fabrica, also led to work with Colors magazine. In 2006 he was awarded first prize in the World Press Photo competitionâ€™s Portraits section. Welcome to Nollywood explores a recent project carried out with the Nigerian film industry.
Idnert B. Zlatan
ZLATAN B. IDNERT is an audio engineer who has worked in the fields of modelling for outdoor noise propagation, building acoustics and ground borne vibrations. He has widely consulted on acoustical engineering projects. See On the Hunt for Silence in Dubai.
JAN KEMPENAERS (1968) is an artist and documentary photographer based in Antwerp. He creates mute images of semi urban-places. Regardless of geographical context, his photographs speak powerfully to the post industrial condition and of the technologized human subject. See Spomenik, the Monuments of Former Yugoslavia.
TAO LIN (1983) is an American poet, novelist and short story writer. He is the author of Shoplifting from American Apparel, Eeeee Eee Eeee, and Bed, as well as two poetry collections, you are a little bit happier than I am, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Linâ€™s second novel, Richard Yates, was published in September 2010.
See Tao Linâ€™s Crossword Puzzle.
TAMMY LU is a Canadian artist who makes drawings and artistsâ€™ books. She is the cover artist for the New Metaphysics philosophy series published by Open Humanities Press. See more of her work here. For META she did the drawings for METAphorism.
DAVID MAISELâ€™s (1961) photographs chronicle the complex relationships between natural systems and human intervention. His work is included in many permanent collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Maisel lives and works in the area of San Francisco. See Blooming Souls.
Alison Malone is a photographer and educator who uses both audio and visual documentation to explore subcultures that are overlooked and often misunderstood in American society. View additional work here. For META her photographic series of the same name inspired the article Daughters of Job.
SERGEY MAXIMISHIN (1964) photographed for the Soviet Military Force Group on Cuba from 1985 to 1987. A learned physicist, he worked in the scientific and technical expertise laboratory in the Hermitage Museum and has gone on to become an award winning press photographer.
See The Dostoevsky of Photography.
CONNIE MENDOZA (1971) is a media artist, working between Berlin and Barcelona. Fata Morgana and Other Optical Phenomena discusses her film, in which Mendoza travels back to her birthplace to trace the complex relationships of her childhood to Chilean history and space travel, thereby producing images that mediate the perception of time as a highly subjective matter.
Apostolos Mitsios (1979) is a Greek psychologist, working as a systemic psychotherapist by day and as a freelance writer, preferably, by night. A former contributing editor at online design magazine yatzer.com, he is currently collaborating with the Projective Fairy Tale Test Society in Greece as well as various magazines all over the world. For META article, Death of a Performance, he interviewed artist Esther Ferrer about her intervention at the Cemetery of Art of Morille, Spain.
RACHAEL MORRISON (1981) is an artist, curator, and a librarian at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She is the creator of an art work and a documentary film about the blind telephone hacker Joybubbles, as she describes in 718-362-9578.
TIMOTHY MORTON (1968) is a philosopher and ecologist, and a teaching professor at Rice University. He also is one of the leading figures in the philosophical movement of Speculative Realism. For META he penned some pithy aphorism on the paradigm shift in metaphysics. See METAphorism.
Architect WILLEM JAN NEUTELINGS (1959) has taught at the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam and Harvard University. His firm, Neutelings Riedijk Architects, is located in Rotterdam. He wrote Spomenik, the Monuments of Former Yugoslavia on Jan Kempenaerâ€™s photo-documentation.
Nikolaj Nielsen is a Brussels-based journalist. For META, Nielsen considers the provocative film "Enjoy Poverty Please" by Dutch artist Renzo Martens in regards to the The Lucrative Business of Chaos and Aid. For more of Nielsen's writing, visit his website.
Andreas Ã–nnerfors (1971) is Associate Professor in the History of Sciences and Ideas based in Lund, Sweden. He has written extensively on organized fraternal sociability in Europe in the context of civil society, cryptology and conspiracy theories. In 2007 he re-enacted a female masonic ritual, contributed to the deciphering project of the copiale-manuscript and commented on the Oslo terrorist Breivik's imaginary world of knighthood in counter-jihadism. Watch a 2012 lecture on "Perceptions of Freemasonry from the 18th century to the Internet" here. For META he co-authors a discussion on ritual and fraternity for the article Daughters of Job.
Yoshua OkÃ³n was born in Mexico City in 1970 where he currently lives. In his often absurd and provocative art, OkÃ³n stages partially scripted scenes using non-actors whose own identities and histories make up the true, underlying story. See Octopus. OkÃ³n founded the artist-run space La PanaderÃa in 1994 and the artist-run space and school SOMA in 2009, both in Mexico City.
LISE PATT is the founder of the Institute of Cultural Inquiry, a peripatetic visual think tank currently headquartered in Los Angeles, CA. Over the years she has treated â€˜collaborationâ€™ as an artist medium, in the development of a non-profit organization that embraces â€˜collective camouflageâ€™ in their ongoing projects. See Inquiry into the Institute of Cultural Inquiry.
KONRAD PETROVSZKY (1977) is a historian specializing in the intellectual history of Southeastern Europe. He wrote a PhD thesis on early modern historiography in Ottoman Europe at the Free University, Berlin. He talks Romania and reenactment in The Body of the Event.
Italian artist SERENA PORRATI (1981) is now currently enrolled in the inaugural year of the MA in Art and Science Program at Central St. Martins in London. She lets META in on her Nietzsche in Turin archive for Linda Greenâ€™s article, A Bridge and Not a Goal.
SUSANNE QUEHENBERGER is a Cultural Studies student at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Her focus is climate change, specifically its potential to bring about societal restructuring and the role of art in this scenario. Since 2007, she has worked as an urban gardening activist. For META, she shares her thoughts on geoengineering in Artificial Skies.
Haitian-born, DC-raised MAX RAMEAU is a pan-African theorist, organizer and founder of the group, Take Back the Land. He has worked on issues ranging from economic development to ex-felons. He discusses the US housing crisis in Desperate Times, Desperate Measures.
MILO RAU (1977) is a journalist, essayist, historian, playwright, translator, teacher, film-maker, blogger, reenactor and director of IIPM (International Institute of Political Murder, or Institute for Theoretic and Artistic Reenactments). See The Body of the Event.
AILEN ROC studied various esoteric fields such as ceremonial Magick, Sexual Magick, Tantra, Astrology, Tarot, the Quaballah and different astral-levels along with Psychology. She is currently working on her own tarot deck and a book combining certain occult fields with elements of psychology. See XI. ARS DE REXâ€”Sexual Magic, the Art of the King.
ALAN SHAPIRO (1956) is a key contributor to the fields of idea philosophy, software engineering and social choreography. At 15, he began studying at MIT and has more recently published a book on Star Trek and given talks at the Transmediale and Ars Electronica festivals. In an interview with META, he explains why â€œBeing against work as it is constituted today is fundamental.â€ See A New Computer Science is Underway.
SITU STUDIO was founded in 2005 while its partners were studying architecture at The Cooper Union. Operating at the intersection of architecture and a variety of other disciplines, Situ Studioâ€™s work has been enriched by close collaborations with geologists, writers, engineers, biologists, activists and artists. See Out of Control.
GARY SMALL, M.D., is the Director of the UCLA Memory and Aging Research Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He is the author of iBrain Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind. See This is Your Brain on Technology.
COSETTE THOMPSON is a French-American human rights consultant and freelance writer based in Arizona, USA, where she directed Amnesty International for many years. Her current interests focus on the contribution of artistic expression to the field of human rights and on the protection of threatened languages. See Sentenced to Read.
van Haarlem Dr. Michiel P.
DR. MICHIEL VAN HAARLEM (1964) is the Managing Director of the LOFAR Foundation in the Netherlands, a part of the ASTRON Institute. The astronomer discusses the next generation of telescopes in METAâ€™s Harmony of the Spheres.
Vanden Eynde Maarten
Belgian-born MAARTEN VANDEN EYNDE (1977) lives and works between Rotterdam, Brussels and Saint Mihiel. His projects span all art media, focussing on topics of ecology, archeology, biology and zoology. In 2006 he founded Enough Room for Space for â€œthe creation of physical, virtual and mental space for cultural initiatives by initiating and coordinating events and residence/research projects worldwide.â€ He enlightens META on plastic in Plastic Reef.
Swedish photographer ULRIKA WALMARK (1970) traveled across North America, Israel, Palestine, Iran, India and South Africa from 2003 to 2007, collecting portraits for her project The person behind the person. She now lives in Berlin.
Artist CHEN WEI (1980) works in Beijing and Hangzhou, incorporating influential objects and happenings from his past into the realities of modern China. He is represented by the Platform China Contemporary Art Institute in Beijing. See Archeology of the Future.
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|This is Your Brain on Technology|
|Daughters of Job|
|Death of a Performance|
|Out of Control: Experiments in Participation|
|Terra Pretaâ€”Amazonian Earth|
|A New Computer Science is Underway|
|Claude Cahunâ€”A Sensual Politics of Photography|
|The Clothing of Nature|
|On the Hunt for Silence in Dubai|
|Far Beyond Stalactites and Stalagmites|
|The Body of the Event|
|Sentenced to Read|
|Spomenik, the Monuments of Former Yugoslavia|
|XI. ARS DE REXâ€”Sexual Magic, the Art of the King|
|Tao Linâ€™s Crossword Puzzle|
|The Art of Showing Art|
|Photography and the Invisible|
|Patrick Hillâ€”Sculpture, Associated|
|Showing the Opposite Side of the Death Machine|
|Desperate Times, Desperate Measures|
|A Bridge and Not a Goal|
|This is Your Brain on Technology|
|The Poetry of Document|
|Stories of Life and Love in Todayâ€™s Actual Arctic|
|Fata Morgana and Other Optical Phenomena|
|The Nine Lives of Kaufhaus Jonass|
|The Harmony of the Spheres|
|Back to the Futureâ€”The Venus Project|
|Inquiry into the Institute of Cultural Inquiry|
|The Lucrative Business of Chaos and Aid|
|Welcome to Nollywood|
|Chronicle of Deaths Foretold|
|The Dostoevsky of Photography|
|Archeology of the Future|
Photography series by Alison Malone
By Jeffrey Croteau, Dr. Andreas Ã–nnerfors
Ours is a culture of rituals: initiations, graduations, births, unions, deaths and the passing through stations in life are events marked with celebratory rituals that often rely on age old traditions. Weâ€™re not always aware of ritualsâ€™ provenance, and often think of them as â€œnaturalâ€ activities. In preliterate, pre-publishing times, however, our forefathers performed specific acts as symbolic manifestations of the transfer of knowledge: beliefs, affiliations and convictions were ascribed to and expressed through emblematic â€œperformancesâ€.
One such transfer of ritual comes from freemasonry. As medieval artisans began to organize into vocational guilds and travel across Europe seeking to work and to enhance their crafts, they needed a means of identifying and transferring their level of skill and knowledge of their trade. For those who built the great cathedrals of Europe, this became of special interest. The stonemasons became organized and developed ornate rituals and rites for identification of brethren, for protecting the â€œtricks of the tradeâ€ and for promoting apprentices to masters, for example.
Over time, guilds gave way to social groups, and the practices of the â€œoperational masonsâ€ became adopted on a wide scale by larger orders of men who carried the culture of organized sociability beyond the realms of craft-based commonalities. Certain principles and values have been imported through the centuries, and have become widely dispersed and re-interpreted for the countless forms of fraternal societies which have developed since the founding of the first official Grand Lodge of Freemasonry in London in 1717. Many fraternal orders today, of masonic and non-masonic tradition, still value ritual as a powerful link to history. Women societies, too, apply the ideas of strength through community and ritual enactment to any number of sororal societies.
META was granted a special insight into the aesthetics and history of the Jobâ€™s Daughters, an international youth group for girls, founded in the United States in the early twentieth century. During their first decade, Jobâ€™s Daughters grew quickly: in 1930, at the tenth annual meeting of the Supreme Guardian Council, it was reported that Jobâ€™s Daughters consisted of 297 chapters, known as Bethels, in 21 states and the District of Columbia. In 1960, forty years after its founding, Jobâ€™s Daughters International was comprised of 141,588 members in 1,518 Bethels, each with an average of nearly one hundred members. Jobâ€™s Daughters membership peaked around the same time as membership in Freemasonry organizations in the United States. In 1959, Masonic membership hit an all-time high with 4.1 million members. Two years later, in 1961, membership in Jobâ€™s Daughterâ€™s peaked at 145,625. Today Jobâ€™s Daughters International is a youth group for girls, existing in thirty-one states in the U.S. as well as in Australia, Brazil, Canada, and the Philippines. Its current membership stands at 11,194.
Photographer Alison Malone returned as an adult to this youth group where she had spent formative years as a member. Upon viewing her striking photographs, we had to know more. The result is a parallel discussion of the history of the Jobâ€™s Daughters, a contemporary example of a sororal society which draws from the early traditions of fraternalism, and a deeper look into the question of ritual. Among other points, ritual as experience-based learning is discussed by Jeffrey Croteau, the Manager of the Library and Archives at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, and Dr. Andreas Ã–nnerfors, Associate Professor for the History of Science and Ideas at the University of Lund in Sweden. Croteau provides a detailed history of the Jobâ€™s Daughters, and Dr. Ã–nnerfors supports with a broad discussion of the roots and function of ritual, ending with a selection of imagery from a 2007 re-enactment project undertaken to explore the nuances of a ritual written for an eighteenth century female organized society.
â€œAnd in all the land were found no women so fair as the Jobâ€™s Daughters: and their Father gave them inheritance among their brethren.â€ â€“ Job 42:15
Jeff Croteau: Inspiration for fraternal groups comes in many forms. To a 38-year-old woman in Omaha, Nebraska in 1919, it came from the Bibleâ€™s Book of Job. Ethel T. Wead Mick, known affectionately as â€œMother Mickâ€ (1881-1957), conceived of a fraternal group for girls based on the Biblical text. She officially founded Jobâ€™s Daughters on October 20, 1920, taking the name from a passage about Jobâ€™s three daughters: Jemima, Kezia, and Keren-happuch.
The Book of Job famously tells the story of religious faith in the face of tragedy and suffering â€“ a man who has everything and loses it, yet never blames God for his misfortune. In the introduction to the groupâ€™s 1935 ritual, Mick made explicit that Jobâ€™s story provided a model for the young women who would join her organization:
â€œIn all ages the Book of Job has been played in our lives by trials, tribulations and suffering, therefore it seems fitting to allow the ancient drama of suffering to be illustrated to our mere young womanhood, by lecture form and drama, so as to impress the fact that lives are not lived without hardships, but to remain steadfast and upright and fearing God as Job did, will eventually receive its great reward with knowledge, power, strength and abundance of wealth and a family that gives joy.â€
Mick specifically refers to the â€œinheritanceâ€ of Jobâ€™s Daughters and applies it to her own organization, writing, â€œJobâ€™s Daughters are the relatives of Masons and their fathers have given them inheritance.â€
The groupâ€™s stated purpose at its founding, which varies little from the organizationâ€™s present-day objective, was â€œto band together girls [â€¦] for spiritual and moral upbuilding, to seek knowledge, to teach love of God, love of country, love of home and family, and reverence for the teachings of Holy Scripture.â€ As with Freemasonry, Jobâ€™s Daughters is not a religion, but a fraternal organization, which draws on Judeo-Christian tradition for inspiration. The organization states this succinctly:
â€œAlthough Jobâ€™s Daughters is religious in nature, it is not a religion (or cult) nor is it a substitute for religion. The only requirement for membership related to religion is the belief in a single Supreme Being (i.e., monotheism). This is the same for almost all Masonic related bodies. Members are encouraged to worship and practice the faith of their own choosing (i.e., attend their own churches, synagogues, etc., regularly).â€
Group membership was originally exclusive to girls between the ages of 13 and 18 who were daughters, grand daughters, sisters, half sisters, first or second cousins, or nieces of a Master Mason or his wife or widow, related either by blood or marriage. Over the years, both the age range and the relationship requirements have broadened. Today, the organization is open to girls aged 10 to 20, and new members need not be immediately related to a Mason. Instead, they must only prove that they have an ancestor who was a Mason or simply bear relation to one of the groupâ€™s â€œMajority Membersâ€ â€“ those members who have aged out of the organization.
The rise of American fraternalism
Andreas Ã–nnerfors: Freemasonry and other forms of organized sociability had already been established in the US by the 1730s. However, the latter half of the nineteenth century saw a great diversification, as a large number of new fraternal orders were established in the US, including many independent female organizations. Whereas women were kept away from the Craft during the early development of Freemasonry, by the time of its spread to America, the dispersal from the singularity of the Masonic Order had made possible the adoption of fraternalism by woman, as it had become understood that women, too, should partake in the social and philanthropic activities central to many of the organizations.
JC: That Jobâ€™s Daughters was founded shortly following the first Masonic youth organizationâ€™s formation is no coincidence â€“ DeMolay International was established less than 200 miles away from Omaha in Kansas City, Missouri by Frank S. Land. And while Jobâ€™s Daughters is â€“ strictly speaking â€“ neither a Masonic organization nor a youth organization tied to a particular Masonic group, Mick was savvy in her pursuit of Masonic connections for Jobâ€™s Daughters from the beginning. According to the groupâ€™s official history, published in 1966, she had approached James E. Bednar who was Worthy Grand Patron for the Order of the Eastern Star in Nebraska at the time. Bednar, in turn, was close friends with J.B. Fradenburg, then Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Nebraska. With their support, Mick was able to secure considerable bona fides within Masonic circles as she organized the group, which afforded Mickâ€™s organization a legitimacy that it might otherwise have been lacking.
Interestingly, Mick was no stranger to organizations. In addition to founding Jobâ€™s Daughters, she was a charter member of the Nebraska Mayflower Association, and a member of the Daughters of 1812, Daughters of the American Revolution, and Ladies Auxiliary of Veterans of Foreign Wars. She was also a charter member of the Eastern Starâ€™s Aksarben Chapter in Omaha. Mickâ€™s husband, Dr. William H. Mick, was a Mason, and actively involved in helping her start her organization.
Jobâ€™s Daughters was at the vanguard of a wave of fraternal youth groups formed in the United States during the 1920s. Following the First World War, a number of fraternal groups for boys or girls were founded, such as the Order of the Builders (1921), the Odd Fellowsâ€™ Junior Lodge (1921), Rainbow Girls (1922), Order of the Knights of King Arthur (est. 1893, reorganized 1923), the Junior Court of Foresters of America (1923), Junior Order Princes of Syracuse (1923), Columbian Squires (1923), the Order of Chanta Sutas (1925), and the Sunshine Girls (1930).
The goal of most fraternal youth groups is usually twofold: to include fraternity membersâ€™ children in groups with similar ideals, and essentially to work as a â€œfeederâ€ organization that provides an early bond for youths and inspires later membership in the equivalent adult orders. For example it was hoped that members of the Junior Order Princes of Syracuse would later become members of the Knights of Pythias. In the case of Jobâ€™s Daughters members, known as â€œJobiesâ€, there is no direct affiliation, though a strong connection to the Order of the Eastern Star exists.
Sororal societies and the roots of ritual
AÃ–: The Order of the Eastern Star is the worldâ€™s largest mixed-gender fraternal organization . The order was founded in Boston in 1850, with clear parallels to earlier forms of Adoption Masonry, the official term first assigned to female masonry.
So-called adoptive freemasonry emerged in eighteenth century France in a milieu where masonic rituals developed around the motifs of the Book of Genesis. The motif of the Garden of Eden was deemed as an appropriate basis for the rituals of female freemasonry. Herein, however, the â€˜original sinâ€™ was treated in a special and potentially controversial way, incorporating the symbolic of the yoke of guilt that in the Christian tradition had been loaded upon women for centuries. In a vital element of the ritual, the candidate is asked to open up a box with a gavel. A hidden mechanism within the box opens the lid, a heart pops up and the master proclaims: â€œShe has made a heart of it,â€ which implies that the female master is able to turn sin and darkness to life. With this, guilt is overcome and transformed to a quality of mastery over life.
Dating back to antiquity, rituals were developed for purposes of initiation and progression, regarding the attainment of knowledge or insight. In a time of widespread illiteracy and lack of written/printed accounts and normative texts, rituals served a function of knowledge transfer and reproduction through a bodily, â€˜engrammaticâ€™ effect, knowledge is inscribed into the body by means of physical engagement and sensory experience.
Rituals of passage are an anthropological feature found in most human cultures marking, for instance, the transition from childhood to adolescence, marriage, childbirth and death. Rituals of installation refer to those serving to endow a person with a certain role, function or power, such as a crowning, to swear a presidential oath or to be installed as bishop in a diocese. These fundamental functions of ritual were transferred to the realm of knightly and religious orders (both male and female) during the Middle Ages, to craft guilds and to the university. When fraternal and sororal orders were established within the associational world of early modern Europe, they continued the earlier ritual tradition. This development peaked throughout the Enlightenment period, transforming its ideas into perceivable and frequently gender-transgressing practice. A distinctive feature of eighteenth century sociability as compared to previous periods is its voluntary character, based upon interest and participation, thus related to the emergence of a public sphere and civil society.
While eighteenth century freemasonry no longer predominantly served the purpose of initiating candidates into the â€˜secretsâ€™ of a practicing craft, as was the case with earlier, so-called â€˜operationalâ€™ freemasonry, their initiatory rituals were still focused upon special forms of oral knowledge transfer (catechetical, through questions and answers) and clear links to the hermetic foundations of Western esotericism.
The rituals of fraternal/sororal orders have multiple sources: ritualized Christian typology, Biblical stories that are adapted for performance, influences of Greek and Roman philosophical thought and references to hermetic philosophy.
Rituals of the early craft guilds frequently incorporated performed versions of the myths of the guildsâ€™ origins, passed down as craft legends. These legends were in part incorporated as apocryphical elements, i.e. elements that are not canonized in the Bible. In the case of Freemasonry, this refers to an extended version of the account of the Construction of the Temple (in the Book of Kings), where the figure of the Architect (Hiram/Adoniram) is particularly highlighted and his murder and death forms the dramatic peak of the ritual play.
JC: The Order of the Jobâ€™s Daughtersâ€™s first initiation was held on May 6, 1921 at the Omaha Masonic Temple. Like DeMolay, Rainbow Girls, and Eastern Star groups, Jobâ€™s Daughters groups usually hold their formal meetings in Masonic lodge rooms, where business is conducted and new members are initiated.
AÃ–: In the majority of Masonic rituals, the lodge is enacted as a sacred and secret space, significantly different from the outside, â€œprofaneâ€ world. The lodge is likewise referred to as the performance of ritual as such; as the duration of enactment in time and space. In order to create such an atmosphere, many orders of initiation throughout history have used material surroundings, symbols and sensory experiences. In the traditional eighteenth century rites of adoption freemasonry, for instance, the candidate was blind-folded, she held her hand over a flame and climbed a staircase. Material items such as swords, chains and tools were used throughout the ritual. Members dressed in particular colors (white and black) and wore symbols denoting their degree and status. Symbols like the apple tree from the Garden of Eden were displayed three-dimensionally. Candles were used to illuminate the room, which was sometimes held in complete darkness. Other symbolic emblems were painted on a canvas that was placed on the floor of the lodge or displayed as an illumination in front of a lamp.
Whereas there were few purpose-built lodge buildings during the eighteenth century, freemasonry of the nineteenth century, particularly in the US, also manifested its existence through architecture. Impressive lodge buildings in different architectonic styles (mostly neo-classical but also neo-gothic) were erected mainly in city centers. The lodge also occupied an important function as ballroom or concert hall and thus contributed to urban sociability.
The narrative of craft degrees in contemporary contexts
AÃ–: Freemasonry inherited its basic threefold degree-structure from the practices of craft guilds: apprentice, fellow and master. Starting from these, certain degrees for office holders were developed. Within parallel or consecutive systems of â€˜higherâ€™ degrees, the degree-structure was further refined. In some Masonic degree systems (particularly higher degrees) there is an idea that a given amount of time has to pass by before a higher level of knowledge is reached.
JC: From the beginning, Mother Mick insisted that the three initiation ceremonies be called epochs opposed to degrees like with the initiation rituals of Masonic orders. Unlike many other groups, non-members â€“ that is, parents or adult guardians â€“ are allowed to witness initiation ceremonies. This was laid out in the very first version of the Constitution of Jobsâ€™ Daughters and is still the case today. As with other fraternal or sororal organizations, Jobâ€™s Daughters groups are organized into local chapters - the Bethels - and are governed by officers with the highest office being â€œHonored Queen,â€ analogous to the Master of a Masonic lodge.
Regalia and secrecy
JC: Not all Jobies dress in the orderâ€™s particularly striking regalia for meetings, as this is reserved for the Bethelâ€™s officers and choir. Floor officers and messengers wear white robes with a white cord, and the top three elected officers â€“ Honored Queen, Senior Princess, and Junior Princess â€“ adorn their white robes with a purple cord and wear purple velvet capes and crowns. Choir members wear white robes with purple cords. The robe is described by the organization as a â€œwhite Grecian robe,â€ and, in an introduction to the 1935 edition of the groupâ€™s ritual, founder Mick explains her motivation as a (rather confusing) mixture of Greek, Roman, and Judeo-Christian references:
â€œThe Grecian is the costume which the people wore in the days of Job. In mythology, Minerva was the Goddess of Wisdom, War, and Fine Arts. She was the tutelary deity of Athens, Greece, and is said to have sprung from the head of Jupiter â€“ fully armed for battle.â€
The ancient-style costumes are also meant to evoke Greek ideals of democracy and equality, values that are still stressed by the organization today.
Surprisingly, the organization itself considers their printed ritual to be neither private nor secret. In fact, in a document provided to members for the purpose of inspiring the initiation of their friends, the ritual is put forth as a recruitment tool:
There is a popular myth that people who are not members of Jobâ€™s Daughters cannot read the ritual, but that is NOT TRUE!!! The ritual often gives prospects and their parents a better idea of what we do and what we stand for. The only literature that prospects may NOT view is our Proficiency Work. This includes the signs and responses of our Order, the Obligation, the Salutation Sign, and any Proficiency Work pertaining to the Purging Ceremony. None of the Proficiency Work is in the Ritual, so feel free to show your Ritual to your friends!
AÃ–: When working with eighteenth century rituals I realized painfully that our approach to knowledge is extremely text-centered. Traditional historiography has not developed sufficient methods for exploring texts that are not primarily written to be read, but that are written as scripts or a musical score, with the intention of their being performed. As I was particularly interested in the rituals of female freemasonry and what impression they might have made upon a female eighteenth century candidate, I decided to experiment with re-enactment as a method to uncover the layers of the â€˜Un-outspokenâ€™ that according to Gadamer â€œturns the Outspoken to the word that can reach us.â€ I asked the student theatre group of Lund university to re-enact the ritual that I had transcribed from an archive where it had been buried for more than 200 years. The result was extremely fascinating. Being forced to understand the underlying performative pattern of ritual was one major challenge. Another was to grasp the distance between the language of â€˜nowâ€™ and â€˜thenâ€™, and finally to reflect upon the meaning of the ritual in general, and what an eighteenth century women might have learned from this. The experiment also led me to the conclusion that ritual constitutes a significantly different epistemological approach than text-based forms of knowledge-formation. Witnessing female agency both from the side of the lodge officers and from the side of the presumed candidate (predominantly perceived as male forms of association during these times) was truly mind blowing and helped me considerably to understand the empowering function of ritual.
View these following photographs from the ritual re-enactment performed at Lund University in Sweden in 2007.
SITU STUDIO is a reserach, design and fabrication firm based in Brooklyn. Their space-altering, site-specific architectural installation reOrder augurated the Great Hall project in the Brooklyn Museum. For reOrder and other projects, see Situâ€™s website.
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