E Clampus Vitus
Initiatory Ritual

Here followeth the true, authentic and clampotent Order and Ritual of Initiation, the sole and solitary Ceremonial and Liturgy of THE ANCIENT AND HONORABLE ORDER OF E CLAMPUS VITUS, carefully compiled, ostentatiously elaborated and prayerfully purged of both egregious error and hateful heterodoxy, to be celebrated and auspidously performed by and before the Brethren at the Imperishable Hall of Comparative Ovations, before or after the Full Moon, whenever the Bray of the Hewgag shall announce unto them the opportune appearance in the Diggins of some Poor Sightless Sucker, ripe for immolation on the Order’s effulgent Altar of Sacrifice.
Nihil Obstat G.N.R.
Imprimatur N.G.H.
The Order of Initiatory Functionaries
N.G.H.            The Noble Grand Humbug
C.                    The Clampatriarch

G.N.R.             The Grand Noble Recorder
G.I.H.              The Grand Imperturbable Hangman
G.M.                The Grand Musician
R.I.                  The Roisterous Iscutis
R.P.                 The Royal Platrix
C.P.                 The Clamps Petrix
C.M.                The Clamps Matrix
C.V.                 The Clamps Vitrix
D.F.D. #1        Damfool Doorkeeper Number One
D.F.D. #2        Damfool Doorkeeper Number Two
The Schedule of Initiatory Clampedimenta
All Initiatory Functionaries shall be suitably robed and hatted. They shall be hirsutely adorned and shall bear Clamparaphanalia as follows:
N.G.H.             Bushy red beard; the Leather Medal and the Clampregnant Scepter.
C.                    Long white beard; the Ineffable Staff of Relief.
G.N.R.             Effulgent sideburns; the Great Charter borne upon a pillow.
G.I.H.              Bushy black mustachios; the Chain of Punishment.
G.M.                Heavy black beard; the Horrendous Hewgag.
R.I.                  Grey goatee.
R.P.                 Red beard and mustache.
C.P.                 Red beard; long white candle.
C.M.                Red beard; long white candle.
C.V.                 Bushy grey beard; the Corruscated Candelabrum.
D.F.D. #1        Massive mustachios; the Blunderbusket.
D.F.D. #2        Massive mustachios; the Sword-of-Mercy-tempered-with-Justice.
The Scene and Settings of the Ceremony
At the horrendous Sound of the Hewgag, all Brethren of E Clampus Vitus, casting aside whatsoever other task or onus, will seasonably assemble within the Hall of Comparative Ovations, whereupon and wherein—at the behest of the Noble Grand Humbug—the Brethren and Functionaries will assume their traditional posts, as follows:
At the head of the Chamber will stand the NOBLE GRAND HUMBUG, with the CLAMPATRIARCH and GRAND NOBLE RECORDER upon his right hand, and the GRAND MUSICIAN and CLAMPS VITRIX upon his left. Halfway down the left side of the Chamber will stand the ROYAL PLATRIX, opposite whom will stand the ROISTEROUS SCUTIS. At either side of the Portal, at the far end of the Chamber, will stand the two DAM FOOL DOORKEEPERS, each leaning upon his respective Clamparaphanalium.
Without the closed Portal will stand the CLAMPS PETRIX and the CLAMPS MATRIX, their candles lit, together with the GRAND IMPERTURBABLE HANGMAN, in whose custody will be the miserable bodies of such POOR BLIND CANDIDATES for admission to the Order as may then and there be mustered for sacrifice, with Bewildering Blindfolds securely affixed before their eyes.
The remaining host of CLAMPERS will assume such posts within the Chamber as the NOBLE GRAND HUMBUG may direct, at all times maintaining seemly decorum. At the HUMBUG’s behest the lights will be lowered, the candles of the Corruscated Candelabrum will be lit, and due solemnity will suffuse the Chamber.
The Order and Liturgy of Initiation
N.G.H. raps with his Clampregnant Scepter for order.
N.G.H.: Let there be Order in the Hall of Comparative Ovations.
Let all the Brethren maintain seemly decorum.
N.G.H. solemnly raps again three times.
Grand Musician, sound the Hewgag.
G.M. stentoriously sounds the Hewgag.
Grand Noble Recorder, what is the occasion of this riotous assemblage?
G.M.R.: Noble Grand Humbug, without yon impenetrable portal there attend certain Supine Suckers, without honor, shame or sense, who have nevertheless signified their aspiration to become members—even Brothers—of our Ancient and Honorable Order.
N.G.H.: Have these brazen individuals made fitting and appropriate supplication?
G.V.R.: Verily, sir, they have.
N.G.H.: Have they deposited the prescribed treasure?
G.N.R.: Their gold dust is securely within our custody.
N.G.H.: Are they attended by the Clamp Functionaries thereunto privileged?
G.V.R.: They are indeed.
N.G.H.: Clamps Vitrix, have these pitiable wretches been duly interrogated?
C.V.: Verily, sir, they have.
N.G.H.: And are their responses satisfactory?
C.V.: Such, sir, is the report I have received.
C.: Well, sons, what the Heck are we waiting for?
N.G.H.: Yea, Brethren, what might in anywise necessitate delay?
G.N.R.: Naught, sire, save the Hewgag’s mournful Bray.
C.: In due course let her Bray, but first make due obeisance to him from whose unpublished, nay unwritten words, arises our Brotherhood’s Clampotent liturgy—Our Worthy Patron Vitus.
All Functionaries bow and tip hats. N.G.H. raps thrice with his scepter.
N.G.H.: Rise, Brethren of E Clampus Vitus.
All rise.
C.: Give unto him the Sign of the Well Jackass. All give the sign with vigor.
N.G.H.: Let us repeat his words—CREDO QUIA ABSURDUM. I believe because it is absurd.
ALL: CREDO QUIA ABSURDUM. I believe because it is absurd.
N.G.H.: And our benevolent motto—PER CARITATE VIDUARIBUS.
N.G.H.: For the benefit of widows and orphans, but more especially of widows.
Let us repeat the majestic Password—THE HEWGAG BRAYS.
N.G.H.: And the memorable Response—BEFORE OR AFTER THE FULL MOON.
N.G.H.: Brethren of E Clampus Vitus, it is for you to signify whether the Hewgag shall be sounded and these miscreant malefactors immolated. What say the Brethren?
ALL: Satisfactory!
G.N.R.: And so recorded.
N.G.H.: Royal Musician, the Brethren have spoken. Sound the Hewgag.
G.M. vociferously sounds the Hewgag.
Damfool Doorkeepers, throw open the Portal and let these emaciated s—o—b—s in.
The D.F.D.’s open the Portal, whereupon enter C.P. and C.M., with lighted candles, followed by G.I.H., clanking his chain, and thereafter the assembled P.B.C’s., marching two-by-two. The C.P. and C.M., followed by G.J.H., escort the P.B.C.’s. slowly and solemnly three times about the Chamber, the assembled Clampers meanwhile mournfully chanting the Order’s Official Chant of Doom. At last the procession halts before the N.G.H.
N.G.H.: Grand Imperturbable Hangman, who are these grotesque impotents you thus parade before us?
G.I.H.: They are Poor Blind Candidates, O Humbug, who have long groped in Darkness, and who now yearn to see the light by admission into the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus.
All Functionaries bow and tip hats.
N.G.H.: Roisterous Iscutis, what say you to this importunity?
R.I.: They seem lost in darkness, but I say let the Suckers in if they can pass the tests.
N.G.H.: And you, Royal Platrix, what is your clampotent judgment?
R.P.: I say let the Clampastards have it.
N.G.H: What say the Brethren?
ALL: Satisfactory!
G.N.R.: And so recorded.
N.G.H.: Clamps Petrix, have you anything to add?
C.P.: Oh, horrors of Humbuggery!
N.G.H.: And you, Clamps Matrix?
C.M.: Oh, wonderment of widows yet unwon!
N.G.H.: And you, Clamps Vitrix?
C.V.: Oh, joys of Californication!
All Functionaries bow and tip hats.
N.G.H.: Well said, my Brethren. Hangman, conduct these withered souls to the Roisterous Iscutis for appropriate examination.
While the Brethren chant, G.J.H., assisted by C.P. and C.M., conduct P.B.C’s. about the Chamber, finally halting before R.I.
G.J.H.: O wise Iscutis, I and my official coadjutors bring to the Altar of Sacrifice these Poor Blind Candidates who have long groped in darkness. Prithee, interrogate them.
R.I.: Answer me these queries in a loud voice. Where were you born?
From what state or Country did you emigrate to California?
Do you belong to any secret organizations of a benevolent, political or otherwise outrageous character?
Are you at this time afflicted with any loathsome hallucinations of grandeur?
Have you irrevocably obtained your own consent to take the step you now seem determined to take?
Noble Grand Humbug, these seem likely Candidates.
N.G.H.: What say the Brethren?
ALL: Satisfactory!
G.N.R.: And so recorded.
N.G.H.: Conduct them now to the Royal Platrix for counsel and instruction.
While the Brethren chant, G.I.H., assisted by C.P. and C.M., conduct P.B.C.’s. about the Chamber, finally halting before R.P.
G.J.H.: Royal and revered Platrix, to you these purblind individuals look for guidance and admonition.
R.P.: Strangers, you are now in the Hall of Comparative Ovations of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus, an Order founded by the Patriarchs of Old and coeval with the human race; an Order whose significance has been illumined by some of the greatest names of history, ancient, mediaeval and modern. Our first Clampatriarch was Adam, who absconded from the Garden of Eden with the seeds and symbols of our Order hidden beneath his figlike apron, while Eve, our first Honorary Widow, sedulously abetted and ecstatically assisted his every impulsive Act.
All Functionaries bow and tip hats.
From such relics and reminders of that first blissful state of man all the subsequent glories of our Noble Order have indubitably sprung.
N.G.H.: What say the Brethren?
ALL: Satisfactory!
G.N.R.: And so recorded.
R.P.: Founded thus by Adam and brought to incredible perfection by our exalted Patron Vitus, the Order’s Clamphilosophy was early spread to the very ends of the earth by the Vituscan Missionaries. Into the land of California the Order’s truths were long ago insinuated by that clampotent Oriental Sage and Navigator, none other than the redoubtable Low Hung Whang, who was at all times assisted by his delightsome and clampfertile concubine, Hop Me,
All Functionaries bow and tip hats.
for love of whom he finally died debilitated, leaving the bewitching Hop Me to follow Eve as Honorary Widow.
All Functionaries bow and tip hats.
N.G.H.: What say the Brethren?
ALL: Satisfactory!
G.N.R.: And so recorded.
C.P.: Oh, horrors of humbuggery!
C.M..: Oh, wondernent of widows yet unwon!
C.K.: Oh, joys of Californication!
R.P.: Consider well, therefore, the magnitude of the step you seem ignominiously determined to take, and while there is yet time, should scruples intervene between your apparently fixed purpose and the mystery of the darkness into which you now seek to penetrate—WITHDRAW.
Answer me categorically— do you, or do you not, still desire to become a brother of the Order of E Clampus Vitus?
P.B.C.’s: We do.
N.C.H.: Hangman, conduct these obstinate individuals once again to the Roisteous Iscutis for further counsel.
While the brethren chant, G.I.H., assisted by C.P. and C.M., conduct P.B.C.’s about the Chamber, finally halting before R.I.
R.I.: Candidates, poor and blind though you still are, you have already learned of Vitus and of Low Hung Whang. But this Ancient and Honorable Brotherhood can never forget our valiant yet clampitiable martyr, Brother Dumbellicus, who, when set upon by the comely Priestesses of Venus, chained prone upon a bed of orchids and palpitatingly attacked by one of the most luscious and lascivious of women, rose manfully to the occasion—and bit off his tongue, thus retaining inviolate his pristine virtue. Should you, poor devils that you appear to be, successfully survive the ordeals that now await you, you will do well to emulate the perils and pastimes that beset Dumbellicus. And now, Grand Imperturbable Hangman, conduct these poor blind candidates to the Noble Grand Humbug for words of wisdom anent the mysteries and secrets of E.C.V. While the Brethren chant, G.I.R., assisted by C.P. and C.M., conduct R.B.C.’s. about the Chamber, finally halting before the N.G.H.
N.G.H.: You are now about to be initiated into the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus, through the instrumentality of its imposing and solemn ceremonies. Incredible as it may appear to you, this venerable institution has been held in admiration and esteem by great and good men since that time whereof the memory of man wotteth not to the contrary—not only by Adam, our original Clampatriarch, and by Low Hung Whang, of whom you have heard, but by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Clay, Kit Carson and the late lamented Emperor Norton All Functionaries bow and tip hats—to mention but a few of the illustrious host—while in California the Order has been revered and respected since the earliest days of the American era.
In those early days, Chapters of this Order sprang up like wildfire and flourished from end to end of the diggins. Even today, once each year, on the anniversary of his discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill, our erstwhile Clampatriarch, James W. Marshall, turns over in his grave no less than three times and gives the Clamper sign. To him, and to all things memorable of those elder days, we adjure your admiration and interest. I need hardly add that in California the Order has risen to its highest glory and has made its deepest impression on mankind.
C.: What say the Brethren?
ALL: Satisfactory!
G.N.R.: And so recorded.
C.P.: Oh, horrors of humbuggery!
C.M.: Oh, wonderment of widows yet unwon!
C.K.: Oh, joys of Californication!
N.G.H.: You have been instructed as to the venerability and significance of E Clampus Vitus in order that you may observe and perform its ceremonies with due understanding and becoming decorum, knowing that you are about to follow in the footsteps of so many great and upright men. Our ceremony, in which you shall now partake, may be traced far into ancient times, and its Ordeals represent significant epochs in world history. Of these Ordeals there are three, to which all candidates must submit.
Are you ready to do so?
P.B.C.’s: We are.
N.G.H.: The first Ordeal is PASTORAL. Our worthy and Roisterous Iscutis, Grand Farmer of the Order, will place in front of each of you a reaping hook of olden times, ground to the sharpness of a razor. Each reaping hook will be set eighteen inches from the floor, and it will be necessary for each of you to step over it with your left leg.
When the order is given, step high and clear, for it is a bad omen if blood be drawn.
Roisterous Iscutis, proceed with the first Ordeal.
R.I.: Each Poor Blind Candidate will roll up his left pant-leg. Then, step high as I count. One, two; step.
N.G.H.: Royal Platrix, as our Grand Surgem, will you advance and ascertain whether blood has been drawn.
R.P. examines P.B.C.’s.
R.P.: The report is negative. No blood, no gore, no claret, not a single drop, Noble Grand Humbug.
N.G.H.: What say the Brethren?
ALL: Satisfactory!
G.N.R.: And so recorded.
N.G.H.: Our second Ordeal is MARTIAL. It is the march—instituted by King Saul when he commanded David to take his musicians and march up and down in front of the armies of Israel before he slew Goliath—even as you will now march up and down in the presence of these assembled Brethren.
Grand Musician, provide these Candidates with martial strains.
G.M. sounds Hewgag in march time, and P.B.C.’s execute several steps in place.
What say the Brethren?
ALL: Satisfactory!
G.N.R.: And so recorded.
N.G.H.: Our third Ordeal is SENSUAL. You will dance as King David danced after he had committed the heinous sin with Ukiah’s wife. It was a rampant and tempestuous dance, passionate, heedless and impetuous.
You will now execute this celebrated dance before the assembled Brethren.
Grand Musician, provide them with the appropriate strains.
G.M. sounds Hewgag in jazzetime, while P.B.C.’s dance in place.
What say the Brethren?
ALL: Satisfactory
G.N.R.: And so recorded.
N.G.H.: Clamps Vitrix, you will now propound the fateful queries. Give truthful answers under pain of mortal obloquy and odium.
C.V.: Will you feed the hungry?
P.B.C.’s respond.
Will you clothe the naked?
P.B.C.’s respond.
Will you be a father to the orphan?
P.B.C.’s respond.
Will you be a husband to the widow?
P.B.C.’s respond.
Will you at all times emulate the glorious example of our martyred Brother Dumbellicus, and if you should find your virtue weakening—bite off your tongue?
P.B.C.’s respond.
Would you, if you were in the desert without water and espied a wild ass and were fortunate enough to catch her—would you mount her, knowing full well she did not belong to you?
P.B.C.’s respond.
N.G.H.: What say the Brethren?
ALL: Satisfactory!
G.N.R.: And so recorded.
N.G.H.: Grand Hangman, escort these candidates to the Royal Platrix and remove the blinders from their respective eyes.
G.I.H. does so, assisted by C.P. and C.M.
Royal Platrix, it is now your privilege to reveal to these no longer blind candidates the enigmatic secrets of our Ancient and Honorable Order.
R.P.: Candidates, will you hold these revelations inviolate?
Candidates respond in the affirmative.
Then, standing as you now stand, in the presence of these assembled Brethren, and before that Power which alone can fully disclose to you the profoundest secrets of our Order, you will each repeat after me this solemn pledge.
I do aver Repeated by Candidates
On my honor as a man Repeated
That I will not disclose Repeated
To man Repeated
Woman Repeated
Child Repeated
Or Widow Repeated
Either verbally Repeated
In writing Repeated
Or by gesticulation of any part of my body Repeated
The secrets Repeated
Signs Repeated
Or passwords of this Order Repeated
Or the wonders of any portion thereof Repeated
Now to be disclosed to my view. Repeated
N.G.H.: What say the Brethren?
ALL: Satisfactory!
G.N.R.: And so recorded.
R.P.: The Grand Imperturbable Hangman will now instruct you in the Order’s signs and passwords.
G.I.H.: When you wish to enter a Hall of Comparative Ovations, signify your desire by knocking three times on the outer door thus He raps three times and clanks his chain, thereupon giving the password to be revealed to you hereafter.
If you meet a person in the street, or anywhere outside a Hall of Comparative Ovations, and wish to ascertain whether he is a Brother of this illustrious Order, signify your own membership by placing your right thumb next to your person, preferably your ear, describing a semicircle with your fingers.
He illustrates.
Imitate my example. They do.
If the person thus accosted responds with a similar sign, you may be assured that he is a Brother of the Order.
Now for the secret sign, given only to a Brother Clamper known to you as such, as you approach one another. It is the symbol of the Well Jackass.
He gives the sign.
Imitate my example. They do.
There is still another secret sign, known as the sign of distress, and while no widows are apt to respond to it, it will at all times and places bring Brother Clampers from far and near to your assistance. It is the symbol of the Ill Jackass.
He gives the sign.
Imitate my example. They do.
It is my fervent hope that fate will never demand that you shall ever again be constrained to display this distressing sign.
C.: Amen!
G.I.H.: Our secret password is to be guarded with the utmost care. It I shall now reveal: THE HEWGAG BRAYS.
The G.M. sounds the Hew gag.
Repeat the password.
G.I.H.: To this there exists a still more secret reply. Guard it with all possible virility, for it is: BEFORE OR AFTER THE FULL MOON.
Repeat these mystic words.
G..I.H.: Noble Grand Humbug, it is for you to afford these candidates the final honor.
N.G.H.: Nothing remains, my new-found Brothers, to complete your initiation into our Ancient and Honorable Order’s mysteries, save for you to receive from your Brethren the ineffable Staff of Relief—a rite reserved for those alone who have successfully survived these arduous Ordeals and who have been instructed in the Order’s secrets. But first, I ask you to stand reverently before our worshipful Clampatriarch, whose words you should mark well and venerate.
C.: Strangers ye are no more, my sons. When first you entered this horrendous Hall, I pondered to myself what manner of dubious devotees be these who huddle thus before me. Later, after you had successfully passed the three arduous Ordeals, I found my virtue weakening and started to bite off my tongue. I was saved from that ignominious fate only by the manner in which you manfully mastered the signs and passwords of the Order, and thereupon I became convinced that you might well be entrusted with its innermost secrets.
My sons, I am deeply gratified that such is the consequence of these, our ancient ceremonials. Figuratively, therefore, I embrace you and welcome you to our Symbolic Brotherhood.
However, there is yet another secret, not as yet revealed to your ken—the secret of the words E Clampus Vitus From time to time persons not privileged to enter this Hall of Comparative Ovations will ask of you the meaning of these mystic words. Answer them truthfully, “I do not know,” for to no one, not even to me, has their significance been unveiled. This, then, is the magnificent and innermost secret—the secret of the meaning of our Ancient and Honorable Order’s name and style—which secret, I pray you, keep ever inviolate.
If at any time you, or any of you, should be struck by the paucity of information that has come down to us of the Order’s present Dispensation in respect of the doings and carryings on of the Brethren of yore, you have but to recall that during the Conclaves of our earlier Brethren no one was ever in any condition to take the minutes, and that after the conclusion of such assemblages no one could ever remember what had happened. Be assured, however, that this lamentable predicament applies no longer within this fraternal circle. Today, by solemn Decree, each Clamper has been constituted Chairman of the Order’s Most Important Committee, and with responsibility thus adroitly divided our history will indubitably survive.
Consider well, therefore, your responsibilities in the important post to which you thus will shortly be promoted. Consider also your weighty responsibilities under our Majestic Constitution, the sublimity of which is evidenced by the fact that, though it affords the most harmoniously possible fundament for our achievements, it contains but two brief Articles, to wit:
ARTICLE I. All members are Officers.
ARTICLE II. All offices are of equal Indignity.
And now it is my privilege to state that though merriment frequently surrounds our esoteric conclaves, there is a far more weighty and impressive side which should never be neglected. For we of E C V are gathered as well to revere the past, to delve into the doings of the early days, to discover the truths of our Californian background, and to recall the Brethren of the elder days. It is for this reason, and to symbolize this aspect of our fraternal efforts, that we have raised throughout the diggins divers monuments to the forgotten miners and to our illustrious Brothers of old. Let them never be neglected by E Clampus Vitus!
And now for the Ceremony of Passing the Staff of Relief, by means of which alone full admission to the Order may be gained.
Steel your nerves, O embryonic Brethren, for there is more to this than ye yet wot.
Hangman, advance and receive from me the Staff.
G.I.H. advances. C. raps with the Staff three times upon the floor.
This, sir, is the Staff of Relief. What shall I do with it?
ALL: Pass it on to the next Brother.
C.: It is prepared, ready and annointed. Proceed, sir, with this final immutable rite and ceremony.
G.I.H. takes the Staff and faces P.B.C.’s. From them C.P. and C.M. select five who, with C.P., C.M. and G.I.H., now form a circle in the censer of the Chamber, one of the P.B.C.’s; being upon the right hand of G.I.H.
N.G.H.: What say the Brethren?
ALL: Satisfactory!
G.N.R.: And so recorded.
G.I.H.: Brothers, you are now joined in the unscrutible circle of E C V, and this, my newfound Brethren, is the ineffable Staff of Relief. It is of ancient origin. Note well its symbolic contours. Three times it shall be passed about this circle. Three times each Brother shall hold it, reverently, within his hands, to the end that each of you may personally have opportunity to draw from it its mystic power, may note its fraternal function and may determine your ability to handle it properly.
Pay close attention, for it is the privilege and duty of all good Clampers to be proficient in the passing of this Staff. I will rap with it three times upon the floor thus.
He raps three times and faces the P.B.C. to his right.
Then I will say to you, “This is the Staff of Relief. What shall I do with it?” To which all others who stand within this circle shall stentoriously reply, “Pass it on to the next Brother.” And soon, each to the other, three times about the unscrutible circle. Take the Staff in your hands, Brother. Tremble no more. Face him who stands upon your right hand, rap three times upon the floor and repeat the words of which I have advised you. I shall again perform the rite and place the Staff in your waiting hands.
And remember, it must three times be passed about the entire circle.
He does so, and they follow, even unto the final denouement. The ceremony of initiation is thus concluded with the passing of the Staff of Relief, and each newly-accepted Brother may now affix his name and style to the Great Register of the Order.