The Emulation ritual is one of the most widespread masonic ritual systems and comprises, in addition to the three Craft degrees, the Installation ceremony. It is practised above all in England, its country of origin, but also in many other, especially English speaking countries, and is therefore represented all over the world. Our German version is a direct translation of the English text which has been preserved unchanged for almost 150 years. This system puts the main emphasis on ritual and spiritual teaching in the Lodge itself and therefore does not include lectures outside Lodge working. All activities apart from instructions for apprentices and fellow craft are imbedded in the ritual.
The name "Emulation" originated in 1823, when the "Emulation Lodge of Instruction", later called the "Emulation Lodge of Improvement", was formed in London. The aim of this Lodge was to strictly preserve this newly unified ritual, to protect it from "adjustment" to changing fashions and to instruct interested masonic circles in its practice.
The ritual adopted by the "Emulation Lodge of Improvement" had a long prior history. At the time of the formation of the first Grand Lodge of England in 1717 there was no uniform ritual accepted by all its Lodges, so that even after the year 1717 the individual Lodges continued to work according to their existing traditions. The two main traditions at this time were the "Moderns" and the "Antients", of which the latter claimed to have preserved the ancient, genuine and undistorted ritual forms.
In 1751 the "Antients" formed their own Grand Lodge. The unification of this Grand Lodge with the Grand Lodge of England in 1813 brought about a reconciliation of the two traditions, which led to the formation of the "Lodge of Reconciliation", whose task it was to unify the "Antient" and "Modern" rituals. In accordance with time-honoured tradition, the resulting uniform ritual was never recorded in written form, but only orally transmitted in order to protect it from the uninitiated.
It is to be assumed that it was mainly the forms of the "Antients" that were adopted and - with the exception of minor local variations - accepted as a uniform system by all English Lodges, although this was not made mandatory by the Grand Lodge. Subsequently, a number of Lodges of Instruction were formed with the object of familiarising the English Lodges with the new ritual and instructing their brethren in its practice. One of the most successful of these Lodges was the "Emulation Lodge of Improvement", which continues to the present day to fulfil its task as guardian of the ritual.
Until well into the nineteenth century it was strictly forbidden to publish the ritual, which was therefore only transmitted by word of mouth. These rituals are still learned and performed by heart; the printed rituals and documents forming the basis of our work are regarded as only a learning aid, and also serve to prevent the unintentional adoption of divergencies in the ritual.