About the Royal Ark Mariner Degree
The Royal Ark Mariner degree is worked under the authority of the Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners. It is not part of Mark Masonry as such, but is governed by the Grand Master’s Royal Ark Council which in effect forms an extension to the Mark Grand Lodge in London.
The Royal Ark Mariner degree is based upon the biblical legend of Noah and the flood. Its origins are old and quite distinct from those of Mark Masonry, and the conciseness and depth of its message combine to give it an elegance rarely surpassed elsewhere in Freemasonry. It has a highly distinctive ritual which, though relatively short, has a wealth of deep underlying meaning and offers new insights into traditional Freemasonry. Under our Constitution this degree is only open to holders of the Mark Degree.
The ritual stems from the Old Testament story of Noah’s Ark and reinforces the theme of the Creator’s covenant with the faithful and the values of the Noachide faith. It takes up the symbolism of the rainbow, which also features in the regalia of the Order, as the outward sign of this covenant; and it offers a message which underlines the essential moral qualities of ancient Freemasonry in a new way. Today’s Royal Ark Mariner ritual was developed during the 19th century though in some ways it reflects the Freemasonry of the early 18th century and before, before the Hiramic legend became the central theme of the Craft that it is today.
It contains within it many symbols of Freemasonry found in other degrees, which are evoked in the rich and colourful Tracing Board of the degree. A careful study of its various elements offers a deeper insight into the Masonic tradition that might have been imagined when progressing through the Craft degrees.