In the middle of the 19th century, a number of societies were introduced, in which females could become active members. The “Order of the Eastern Star” and the “Order of the Amaranth” are just two such organizations.
In 1860, Brother James B. Taylor from Newark, NJ, attempted to compose the material to start a New “Society”. He learned that in 1653, Queen Christina of Sweden had combined a group of “Sir Knights” and “Ladies” together to have “gala” parties. She called this group the “Order of the Amaranta”.
The story goes like this…
“The person kneeling down before the Queen held up his hands between the Queen’s hands: she declared his duty in that Order, was to maintain and defend virtue and the honor of virtuous ladies, to endeavor to correct vice, to perform honorable actions, to keep his faith inviolable, in all matters relating to honor and virtuous performances; which the Court promised to observe. The Queen put upon his left shoulder and tied under his right arm a scarf of crimson taffeta, with a broad silver fringe; and the jewel of the order hung in the scarf, it was about the compass of half a crown; it was made of gold, a round wreath wrought and enameled like a laurel, and in the midst thereof two great AA reversed, set thick with diamonds, the two AA for the first and last letters of Amaranta, and about the wreath was written ‘dolce nella memoria’, ‘Sweet is the memory’, that is of a certain noble and famous great lady named Amaranta, who was an eminent pattern and example of the highest honor and virtue, in memory of whom this Court was instituted.”
Brother Taylor was so impressed with what he had read that he copied many of the symbols and much of the phraseology used therein. He even copied the name, the “Order of the Amaranth”.
Brother Robert Macoy, who was in control of the “Order of the Eastern Star” around 1870, decided that it might be advisable to add two or more degrees to it. Then, in 1873, he formed the “Rite of Adoption”, with the “Order of the Eastern Star” as the first, or initiatory degree, and “The Queen of the South” as the second degree and the “Order of the Amaranth” as the third, or highest degree. His plan was to have these degrees given separately but under the control of one body.
Both Eastern Star “Chapters” and Amaranth “Courts” were included in the Adoptive Rite Ritual. The Order of the Amaranth was officially organized June 14, 1873, in New York City as part of the Rite of Adoption. In the Rite of Adoption Ritual, it was said: “This Organization shall be known as the ‘Rite of Adoption of the World’ and shall consist of the degrees of the Eastern Star, the Queen of the South and the Amaranth.”
Brother Robert Macoy obtained the material that Brother Taylor had written about the Amaranth, and revised and perfected it into “ritualistic” form so that it could be used as the ritual for the third degree. From 1873 until 1921, all members of the Amaranth were required to join the “Order of the Eastern Star” first, and to maintain this membership to be able to stay members of the Amaranth.
In 1921, by mutual agreement, this requirement ceased. They are now completely separate organizations, though many are members of both organizations.
Under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Council, we have forty-three Grand Courts (each is Statewide), located in the United States, Canada, Australia, England, Philippines, and Scotland. Also, Subordinate Courts (local) in Hawaii, New Zealand and Ireland (there are a few individual states in the U.S. that do not have Grand Courts).
The “Order of the Amaranth” means many things to many people. To its early members, it meant the opportunity to build upon the strong foundation of TRUTH, FAITH, WISDOM and CHARITY. A fraternal Order having for its purpose, service to humanity, set to the music of fraternal love.
To its present members, the “Order of the Amaranth” means a challenge to build higher and stronger upon these foundations of fraternal love and service. It means the hand of fraternal friendship to those in distress. It means thinking and remembering about its members in their hours of sorrow and sickness. Most of all, it means the opportunity to serve our fellow human beings, to enjoy the close fraternal ties of mutual respect and understanding to enrich our lives with friendship worth far more than gold or silver.