The Royal Ark Mariner degree is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, rite in Masonry. As its name suggests, it is based on the legend of Noah and the Great deluge, an event of such importance as to have impressed itself on the religious dogmas and rites of all the nations which have succeeded it. We find allusions to it in the annals of every people and some memorial of it in their religious observances. These have served to maintain a veneration for the second parent of the human race and a great reverence for his historical vessel.
The ceremony of Elevation into the Antient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners is a truly initiatory rite. As in the Craft, it is based on the triumvirate of wisdom, strength and beauty, but, in this instance, it refers particularly to the wisdom of Noah in constructing the Ark, his strength of character and the beauty of his workmanship. But there are other significant messages and even for the experienced Mason, a powerful reminder of our reliance on a spiritual as well as material enlightenment.
The presiding officer in a Royal Ark Mariner Lodge is the Commander and the ceremony of his installation, or Enthronement, is widely considered to be one of the most impressive in all Masonry.
Currently there are 31 Royal Ark Mariner Lodges established within Victoria, of which 15 meet in the metropolitan area and 15 in country centres. The 31st lodge meets in Hobart, Tasmania. As in England, the fraternity is administered by the Mark Degree and the office of Grand Commander is filled by the incumbent Grand Master of Mark Master Masons of Victoria, who presides over the Royal Ark Council and is assisted at Enthronement ceremonies by a team of specially appointed Grand Mark officers. As in the Mark Degree, all Enthronement ceremonies are conducted each year by the Grand Commander or his appointed representative.
The rainbow ribbon which decorates the regalia of the degree provides a colourful spectacle to all its ceremonies. But despite its great age, it is essentially a thinking man’s degree, conducted in a friendly, intimate and rewarding atmosphere. Prior membership of the Mark degree is a mandatory requirement for Elevation.