“Riding the Goat” Orange Order ritual revealed

Posted By: July 14, 2020


The Irish News. July 14, 2020

MORE details have emerged of a bizarre initiation ritual performed by the Orange Order during which members are whipped with branches and forced to swear gruesome oaths.

The ritual, which has seven stages, includes a part known as ‘riding the goat’ and is undertaken by Orangemen who want to rise through the ranks.

The ‘degree’ they aspire to is known as the Royal Arch Purple, which is not part of the Orange Order rule book in Ireland but part of the institution in Scotland.

Despite having no formal place in institution structures this side of the Irish Sea, the majority of Orangemen are said to be members.

And while the phrase ‘riding the goat’ often conjures a wry smile it actually has little to do with common farmyard animals.

Fresh details about the unusual ceremony resurfaced in an English newspaper article last month.

While the Orange Order has declined to talk about it, more information has since emerged.

Author William Brown’s 2003 book An Army With Banners – the real face of Orangeism, lifts the lid on the order’s most closely guarded secrets.

Mr Brown says that when the order was established in 1795 after the Battle of the Diamond in Co Armagh it adopted Masonic style characteristics.

In its early days, it had three degrees, including the Purple Marksman degree, which was heavily ritualistic.

The original structure, known as the ‘Diamond System’, was subsequently dropped and replaced with a new system.

Despite this, many Orangemen continued to engage in masonic inspired rituals and seek to join the purple arch degree.

Mr Brown reveals that the word ‘goat ‘ “conceals a reverse acronym, ‘The Ark of God’ referencing the ark of the covenant in which was hidden Israel’s most sacred relics”.

“The idea here is that the new initiate will receive enlightenment by introduction to the secret mysteries by means of a ritual that involves seven stages – the Oath; the Preparation; the Reception; the Travel; Riding the Goat; the Blood Curse; and the Enlightenment.

“Each stage of this Occult based neo-Masonic ritual contains gruesome and pagan elements, but its fifth stage ‘riding the goat’ is the ritual’s centrepiece.”

Mr Brown reveals that during the early stages of the ritual some of the candidate’s clothing is removed and he is blindfolded.

Later during the “travel stage,”  he is branded on his breast by a sharp heated implement symbolising a pricked conscience should he divulge the order’s secrets.

He is then forced to kneel and pray for deliverance before being walked around a room barefoot three times on a floor strewn with brambles or ashes.

The candidate is then violently whipped on the legs as onlookers bleat like animals in anticipation of the next stage – ‘riding the goat’.

During this phase of the ritual, the candidate is made to climb a three-stepped structure known to Orangemen as Jacob’s Ladder.

At the third step, the candidate reaches a coffin on which he is forced to kneel and asked to put his trust in God.

He is then suddenly and violently pushed backwards onto a canvass blanket held by purple archmen and tossed about roughly for several minutes to the delight of those taking part.

Mr Brown says that participants can be injured and there are examples of people dying due to the “traumatic experience”.

“Still lying in the blanket, the initiate is tossed, bumped about, and roughed up before being bundled in a sheet and carried to the north-west corner for the sixth stage of the ritual,” he said.

“This warns him of a barbarous three-fold blood curse that will follow if he violates his oath of secrecy.”

The candidate is advised that the penalty for divulging secrets includes having his throat cut, tongue removed and body buried in the sea.

His heart will also be pulled out and fed to the birds and other animals.

He will then be cut in half and the bowels removed and burned to ashes, “which are then scattered to the four winds of heaven”.

Mr Brown said: “This ridiculously gruesome blood curse is a direct plagiarism from freemasonry.

“The Royal Arch Purple degree bundles these blood curses together in one. The enthusiasm of the copycat is boundless.”

A spokesman for the Orange Order declined to comment.