“Professor Rawson, with the true devotion of a man of science, noted down every important discovery he made in the Palestinian libraries, and every precious fact orally communicated to him by the mystics he encountered, and some day they will see the light. He has most obligingly sent us the following communication, which, as the reader will perceive, fully corroborates what is above written from our personal experience about the strange fraternity incorrectly styled the Druzes:
“34 Bond St., New York, June 6, 1877
“… Your note asking me to give you an account of my initiation into a secret order among the people commonly known as Druzes, in Mount Lebanon, was received this morning. I took, as you are fully aware, an obligation at that time to conceal within my own memory the greater part of the ‘mysteries’, with the most interesting parts of the ‘instructions’; so that what is left may not be of any service to the public. Such information as I can rightfully give, you are welcome to have and use as you may have occasion.
The probation in my case was, by special dispensation, made one month, during which time I was ‘shadowed’ by a priest, who served as my cook, guide, interpreter, and general servant, that he might be able to testify to the fact of my having strictly conformed to the rules in diet, ablutions, and other matters. He was also my instructor in the text of the ritual, which we recited from time to time for practice, in dialogue or in song, as it may have been. Whenever we happened to be near a Druze village, on a Thursday, we attended the ‘open’ meetings, where men and women assembled for instruction and worship, and to expose to the world generally their religious practices. I was never present at a Friday ‘close’ meeting before my initiation, nor do I believe anyone else, man or woman, ever was, except by collusion with a priest, and that is not probable, for a false priest forfeits his life. The practical jokers among them sometimes ‘fool’ a too curious ‘Frank’ by a sham initiation, especially if such a one is suspected of having some connection with the missionaries at Beirut or elsewhere.
The initiates include both women and men, and the ceremonies are of so peculiar a nature that both sexes are required to assist in the ritual and ‘work’. The ‘furniture’ of the ‘prayer house’ and of the ‘vision chamber’ is simple, and except for convenience may consist of but a strip of carpet. In the ‘Gray Hall’, (the place is never named, and is underground, not far from Bayt-ed-Deen), there are some rich decorations and valuable pieces of ancient furniture, the work of Arab silversmiths five or six centuries ago, inscribed and dated. The day of initiation must be a continual fast from daylight to sunset in winter, or six o’clock in summer, and the ceremony is from beginning to end a series of trials and temptations, calculated to test the endurance of the candidate under physical and mental pressure. It is seldom that any but the young man or woman succeeds in ‘winning’ all the ‘prizes’, since nature will sometimes exert itself in spite of the most stubborn will, and the neophyte fail of passing some of the tests. In such a case the probation is extended another year, when another trial is had.
Among other tests of the neophyte’s self-control are the following: Choice pieces of cooked meat, savory soup, pilau, and other appetizing dishes, with sherbert, coffee, wine, and water, are set, as if accidently, in his way, and he is left alone for a time with the tempting things. To a hungry and fainting soul, the trial is severe. But a more difficult ordeal is when the seven priestesses retire, all but one, the youngest and prettiest, and the door is closed and barred on the outside, after warning the candidate that he will be left to his ‘reflections’, for half an hour. Wearied by the long-continued ceremonial, weak with hunger, parched with thirst, and a sweet reaction coming after the tremendous strain to keep his animal nature in subjection, this moment of privacy and of temptation is brimful of peril. The beautiful young vestal, timidly approaching, and with glances which lend a double magnetic allurement to her words, begs him in low tones to ‘bless her’. Woe to him if he does! A hundred eyes see him from secret peepholes, and only to the ignorant neophyte is there the appearance of concealment and opportunity.””
H. P. Blavatsky