SAP1 (2)

The Use Of Wands

By Bro. J R G Harvey HDGC Grand Chaplain On behalf of John E Bingham LOL 844 Sheffield

The use of wands in John E Bingham LOL 844 Sheffield and some background on the origins, form and purpose of the wands carried by sponsors of candidates for the Orange and Purple degrees.

The practice of candidates for the Orange and Purple degrees being accompanied by sponsors carrying wands bearing ribbons of the appropriate colours seems to have almost totally died out in the lodges of the LOIE. Despite having made enquiries of brethren in all Provinces if their lodges still follow this practice, I have to date found none that do so other than LOL 844. This is not to say that there do not remain other lodges which still use them but simply, that I have been unable to discover any!

For example, in my own district, Yorkshire No 35, when assisting Doncaster LOL 33 in 2013 to initiate a candidate in which LOL 844s Orange Degree wands were used as part of the ritual, the WM of LOL 33 remarked that the last time he had seen wands used had been circa 35 years previously by Leeds LOL 81. I do not know if the most recent booklets “Introduction to the Orange Order” and “Advancement to the Purple Order” have in these latter years omitted this requirement but those in use in LOL 844 Sheffield clearly state that that a candidate for the Orange degree shall be accompanied by two sponsors, each bearing wands (although no prescription is made, either of the colour these should be or if they should bear ribbons) and that a candidate being advanced to the Purple degree shall be preceded by two purplemen each bearing purple wands with orange ribbons and followed by two sponsors, each carrying orange wands with purple ribbons.

For many years LOL 844 did not have sufficient members to be able to be able to provide two purplemen and two sponsors for a purple degree candidate and so the practice developed of candidates for the purple degree being accompanied only by two Purplemen but each of whom would carry a representative wand. One wand was purple with orange ribbons to represent those which should be carried by two purpleman and one orange with purple ribbons to represent the wands which should be carried by two sponsors.

In the course of my enquiries into the current use of wands, some brethren have claimed that the LOIE formally abolished the requirement many years ago. That is incorrect. The reality is that as is the case with other of our historic ritual, the practice has simply slowly fallen into disuse.

Whilst wands have always and continue to be an integral part of a sponsor’s regalia for Orange and Purple degrees in LOL 844, even here there has been debate over what length the wands should be, what specific form they should take and how they should be used. There is no guidance on any of these questions in any written publications by the LOIE on ritual and because their use has been almost completely discontinued there is no internal evidence from custom and practice either.

What we do know from the report of Lord Gosford to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland is that wands were carried on the first ever Orange parade on 12th July 1796 because in that report, he advised that the Orange men had marched through his demesne, “.in regular files by two and two with orange cockades, unarmed and by companies which were distinguished by numbers on their flags. The party had one drum and each company had a fife and two or three men in front with painted wands in their hands who acted as commanders”.

We know further that for at least 150 years following that first parade, wands were in regular use in the degree work and parades of the Orange Institution worldwide. For example, The Candidate is ushered in, in the condition already described, bearing a wand or staff in one hand – extract from The Protestant Truth Society booklet 'Orangeman or Christian: Which?' by Deputy Grand Chaplain of Grand Orange Lodge of England - Rev. Alexander Roger 1925