Like other fraternal groups, the Grange has secret rituals, ceremonies and passwords to inspire members and recognize levels of achievement.
Grange rituals are based on the Bible, farming analogies, and the seasons.
“You can read a lot into the ritual work,” said Spokane dentist Larry Lawton, a 20-year Grange member. “It makes a lot of sense, and teaches you to lead a life of temperance, humility and hard work.”
There are seven different ceremonies, each conferring a higher degree of membership and teaching life lessons.
Symbolic farm tools, displayed at the beginning of each Grange meeting, are used in the first four degree ceremonies.
Those ceremonies, conferred by the neighborhood Grange, focus on the seasons. Spring represents birth, summer is childhood, autumn symbolizes young adulthood, and winter is a time to reap the harvest of the previous seasons.
The tools are a reminder to cultivate the mind.
At the county or “Pomona” level, the fifth degree is received with the lesson of perseverance.
“We teach that if it’s not worth working hard for, it’s not worth having,” said Bob Joy, Grange state master.
The state Grange confers the sixth degree, focusing on death.
The seventh degree is received only at a national Grange gathering. It’s a long, colorful ceremony dramatizing entry into heaven and the lesson that life, like agriculture, is a continuous cycle.
Washington Grange members will have a chance to attend the ceremony and receive the highest degree at the Spokane convention this week. The fourth degree is necessary to take part in most Grange meetings.
“The gatekeeper will tell you what degree the meeting is operating in. If you don’t know the password, you can’t come in,” said Lawton, adding, that once business is finished, the meeting might drop in degree to admit more members, or open to the public.
, DataTimes MEMO: See related story under the headline: Farm-raised values
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