Royal Ark Mariner
The Ancient and Honourable Fraternity
of Royal Ark Mariners
The Ark Mariner Degree
In 1870 the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, Bro. Rev. Canon Portal, announced that the Degree of Ark Mariner, which had been worked in Mark Lodges since 1790, would come under the protection of the Mark Degree.
The Degree of Royal Ark Mariner has therefore been under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons since 1871, and is governed by the Grand Masters Royal Ark Council, every Royal Ark Mariner Lodge must be attached to a Lodge of Mark Master Masons and bear the same number as the Mark Lodge but not necessarily the same name.
There is no connection between the Ceremonies of the Mark Degree and that of the Ark Mariner Degree and indeed the Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners stands alone, unrelated to any other Degree in Freemasonry although the government of the Mark and Ark Mariner Degrees are inextricably linked.
There is only one ritual used throughout the Constitution, and the Regulations of the Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners are included in the Constitutions and Regulations of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons.
The Ark Mariner Degree has grown steadily over recent years, helped by the fact that the December Communication was altered in 1991 to become the Annual Assembly of Royal Ark Mariners, where the holders of Royal Ark Mariner Grand Rank are appointed.
A Candidate is said to be Elevated into the Degree of Royal Ark Mariners and he must be a Mark Master Mason before he can be Elevated.
There is little known of the origin of the Degree, it is however, like the Mark Degree, based on fact. The Mark Degree is based on the Building of the Temple at Jerusalem and the Ark Mariner on the Great Flood, as recorded in the Bible, relating to Noah’s building of the Ark by which mankind was preserved from the Deluge.
The legend of Noah and the Deluge were enacted in the Mystery Plays of the seventeenth century, the first authentic record of the Degree appears in the minutes of a meeting held in Bath in 1790.
We are reminded of the widespread practice of the Degree by the use of a wand with a dove bearing an olive branch used by the lodge deacons in our Craft Lodges.
The Ceremony of Elevation emphasises the importance of faith, family connections and how we can survive any catastrophe by working together and looking after those less fortunate than ourselves. We are taught how we should strive to reach the Ark, the haven of rest, as did Noah and his family at the time of the Deluge.
The three Principal Officers of the Lodge are the Worshipful Commander (Noah) and Noah’s two sons, the Senior Warden (Japheth) and the Junior Warden (Shem). The Regalia is easily distinguished by the motif and rainbow colours of the Apron.
In the Ceremony the candidate further develops the great point of Initiation, the making of a new beginning.
The explanation of the working tools and the manner in which the candidate is conducted to the ‘Haven of Rest’ from West to East is particularly significant and show the fellowship and friendship that lead to the Degree being called a Fraternity, there appears a very close association amongst members.
The Installation Ceremony in particular re-enforces the fraternal nature of the Ark Mariner Degree.
We should not be surprised by the importance of Noah in the history of Freemasonry, Noah was descended from Adam and his half-brother was Tubalcain, who is well known amongst masons for his skills in metal work.
* Installation meeting.