Hail, Prophet, Neophyte no more,
Thy dreadful journey now is o’er;
Thou hast thy valor shown right well
In upper air, in deepest Hell.
So this reward is thine, my son,
This Priceless Jewel thou hast won;
‘Twill be a crown upon thy head—
The Fez of Black with Tassel Red.
No prince upon his royal chair
E’er wore a diadem so rare
As this Black Fez with letters gold,
The badge of Prophets young and old.
So wear it proudly, son, and smile,
Forget thy troubles for a while
And ever may thy watchwords be
GOOD FELLOWSHIP AND SYMPATHY
Every Prophet is given his FEZ in a revered ceremony with these admonitions:
Symbolism of THE BLACK FEZ: It is the symbol, or badge, that marks the wearer as a Prophet or Member of the Order. In the GROTTO, however, the color of the tassel marks the rank of the member. RED is the sign of a Prophet. PURPLE is the sign of a Monarch and YELLOW is the sign of a Grand Monarch of North America. There is a further tassel, colored SILVER, which is used by Supreme Line Officers while in that office. Fezzes with the fancy jeweled applique on the front indicates that the wearer is a Past Monarch or Past Grand Monarch.
Prophets; each of you remembers well when you were presented with a White Lambskin Apron, an emblem of innocence and the Badge of a Mason. Now you are privileged to wear the Fez of ORMAZD Grotto, the badge of a true Prophet. Let neither badge be worn unworthily. The emblems honor you. You can honor them by showing sympathy and goodfellowship to your brother Prophets who now welcome you into their mystic Enchanted Realm anticipating added joy for you and them.
The Black Fez alludes to “loathed Melancholy of Cerberus and blackest midnight born, in Stygian cave forlorn, ‘mongst horrid shapes and shrieks and sights unholy!” The Red Tassel alludes to the blood of our brothers shed through the centuries in dispelling the darkness of ignorance and bigotry.
The gold alludes to the Priceless Jewel of the Enchanted Realm discovered by every true Prophet in his quest through earth and air, even to the flaming depths of the infernal world, as portrayed in the drama of your induction. The Gold of the fez also alludes to victory which inevitably follows the conquest of darkness Victory summons heart-easing mirth as the reward of every Prophet for the purpose of our Order is written in smiles. The Grotto Fez thus symbolizes the banishment of gloom and we proudly accept joy and pleasure as the right and reward of our Mystic Realm.
Wear, then, your Fez with pride, joy and honor, but never wear it in a place you would not be proud to take your mother, sister, wife or daughter. Let joy be unconfined, but do not mistake the pursuit of joy for the acceptance of unwholesome pleasures which tarnish the gold of victory. Follow the path of righteousness and you will find the fullness of joy and pleasures for evermore.
Without the formalities that attend the Degrees in Masonry, GROTTO membership brings it’s members in close fraternal touch, and it breeds confidence between wearers of the FEZ. The Grotto has always been made up of men in every community, men whom you are glad to know, men who travel by preference on the sunny side of the street, and who play a fair game all the time. They hit the ball hard in business and pleasure, but they know when the brakes should be applied. They sow in kindness, to reap in FRIENDSHIP and GOOD FELLOWSHIP. The Grotto is the playground for Master Masons. When playtime is over there, we go back to the world as MASONS, charged to maintain a “Good Report” among our fellows.
Membership in the GROTTO gives us the right to wear its emblem and to participate in its good works as well as its pleasures. It give us an opportunity to know the finest fellows on earth, and we should guard well this privilege.
With membership comes the right to wear the Black Grotto Fez and the Grotto Pin, identifying yourself as a member of the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm – also known as the Grottoes of North America – the greatest fraternal order a Master Mason can join. With this fez and pin and your paid up membership card you are welcome to visit any of the Grottoes throughout the United States and Canada.
When you join the Grotto you immediately become a member of the Greatest Fraternity that Friendship ever Built. Among Grotto members are many Grand Masters and Past Grand Masters, Governors and Ex-Governors of the various states, numerous other Government officials and civic leaders. Four past Presidents of the United States, including Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Gerald Ford, have been proud members of the Grotto.
The fez was named for the city of Fez, in Morocco. Formerly, the city of Fez had a monopoly on the manufacture of that peculiar form of headdress because it controlled the juice of the berry used to color the fezzes. Since the discovery of synthetic dyes, they have been manufactured in various countries including France, Germany and Austria. At the turn of the last century Austria had become the chief center of the fez industry and countries where the fezzes were extensively used did not have a single fez manufacturing plant.
The shape of the cap is a truncated cone familiar to all the Prophets. It was made of black felt, having a red tassel inserted in the middle of the top and hanging down. The shape and the tassel of the fez worn by Grotto Prophets are of the same type as worn throughout Turkey. Fezzes in Tunisia, Tripoli and Morocco, are generally twice or three times as long and have blue silk tassels much longer and heavier than those found in America and Turkey.
In the early part of the nineteenth century the fez was made a part of the Turkish official dress by Mahmoul II, Sultan of Turkey. It was considered the special badge of a Turkish subject and he, even if not a Moslem, was obliged to wear it. Women as well as men wore fezzes but theirs were usually smaller and without tassels.
Soon after the inauguration of the new Turkish regime by the young Turks, a national misunderstanding arose between the Turkish and Austrian peoples, and the former vowed they would boycott all Austrian goods including the fez. Destroying the fezzes that they had and refusing to buy new ones, the people throughout turkey, for some months, covered their heads with Persian caps or with any headgear that they could improvise.
The fez was worn either with or without a turban by Moslems, Christians and Jews. The Turkish soldiers and other public officials except certain ecclesiastical dignitaries in Turkey, including the Sultan, wore their fezzes without the turban.
Among the Moslems, those who can trace their genealogy back to Mohammed wore green turbans, all others wore white or some other color dictated by local custom, personal taste or fancy.
About 980 A.D., when the pilgrimages to Mecca were interrupted by the Crusades, Mohammedans and those of the Moslem faith living west of the Nile, journeyed to Fez as to the Holy City. A manufacturer in Fez began supplying to the students, of the university, a scarlet tarbush, which was the insignia of the school. This was the means by which students were readily recognized. The fez, as the tarbush was called, was carried by pilgrims who wore similar pieces of headgear. The fez soon came to be worn all along the northern shores of Africa, and its use gradually extended east of the Nile.
For the first few years of existence, the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm had no official emblem to wear. Prophets desired to have an emblem that set them apart from others and a black Fez head covering was selected with a Mokena Head in the center, giving the name of the Grotto.
The minutes of a February 26, 1903 Stated Meeting of Azim Grotto, Bronx, New York states: “Prophet Charles E. Lansing, Past Potent Monarch, after some preliminary remarks, descriptive thereto, presented to those present, a drawing in color of a headgear appropriate for the Order. The same was received with favor and by motion, regularly made and seconded and carried, it was unanimously decided to adopt and wear them on serious and other appropriate occasions.”
In the minutes of October 29, 1903, it is recorded: “The Potent Monarch reported that the Fez worn by our members was, at the Annual Session of the Supreme Council held at Hamilton, New York on October 20, be adopted as the official headgear for all Prophets of the Realm,”