The Royal Ark Mariner degree in Freemasonry has had a chequered history. The earliest mentions of the workings date from the 18th Century, sometimes as a separate order, while in other documents, clearly worked by Mark Lodges. After a period of decline in the 19th Century, an effort to set up a Grand Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners stalled, and the degree was absorbed (and later formally transferred) to the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons. This is the reason that Royal Ark Mariner lodges, with no symbolic links to Mark Masonry, are all "moored" to a Mark Mason lodge.
There are however, clear links to Craft Masonry, in that both the Royal Ark Mariners and Craft Masonry both concern themselves with builders. Hiram Abiff, architect of King Solomon's Temple, is the central figure of the Craft, while in the Royal Ark Mariners, it is Noah, builder of the Ark. An important figure in many world histories, Noah built the Ark to escape the Flood that would engulf the world.
The Ark itself therefore features greatly in the symbolism of the degree. Within the Royal Ark Mariner degree, the physical shape of the Ark is of enormous significance, and it is perhaps no surprise to the newly Elevated brother why the "Master" of a Royal Ark Mariner lodge is called the "Commander".
The Dove is another important symbol of the degree. The return of a dove released by Noah to find land, with an olive branch in its beak to prove the Flood had receded, is an integral part of the story. Within the Royal Ark Mariner degree, the dove plays an important part in certain Signs of the degree.
The Rainbow is the most visible of the symbols, appearing on the Royal Ark Mariner Apron and Jewel, and in other Signs of the degree. It marks the perfect bow of the Covenant, appearing after the Flood.
In a further important link with Mark Masonry, Craft Masonry and Royal Arch Masonry, the Triangle once again has clear significance in this degree, marking Wisdom, Strength and Beauty.
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