The Gischachsummen, part I: Akindred Spirits

Last updated: 29 December 2020

Although formed 106 years ago during the creation of the Order of the Arrow by founders E Urner Goodman and Carroll A Edson, the Induction sequence has changed in many ways into what we know of its form today. 2021 is a celebratory year in this manner; 50 years ago the Spirit of the Arrow booklets were introduced and formalized, and 40 years ago the elangomat/crew format became widespread. Over the course of this anniversary year, The Gischachsummen (One Who Enlightens) will dive deep into the history of our Induction and explore the works of Ray Petit, Jay Dunbar, Bill Hartman, John “Jock” Forrest, and the committed others who have shaped this experience into what it is today.

Our story begins in a smaller context: a 1959 Ordeal Ceremony conducted by Ump-Quah Lodge in Washington state, where in attendance was a young future Arrowman with a heart for service.

The Gischachsummen, part I: Akindred Spirits

Ray Petit was undergoing his Ordeal during that time in 1959, and he was far from impressed with the quality of that night’s ceremonies. Poor ceremonies are detrimental to the effectiveness of the Induction on candidates and drive away members without a sense of purpose and engagement. Ray, on the other hand, saw this missed opportunity as one of possibility. Ray saw the potential power of well-executed ceremonies–he had a vision of great actualization of the genius latent in the Ordeal he just completed. He formed the Ump-Quah Ceremonial Improvement Program – the first of many improvement programs he initiated – and in less than a year, the program inspired the lodge ceremonialists to conduct the Ordeal Ceremony entirely from memory.

Ray’s desire for improvement did not stop there. Ray continued his work with the Ump-Quah Ceremonial Improvement Program, and two years later as a freshman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Ray brought his other ceremonial improvement ideas with him, and organized Arrowmen at MIT into joining the Order of the Arrow Committee-Scouting Service Exchange (OAC-SSE) through the Alpha Phi Omega chapter. Together, Ray and these Arrowmen wrote many booklets and documents regarding ceremonies and the Induction designed to improve the individual candidate’s experiences. These resources laid the foundation for many of the resources we have today.

 

Ray Petit during his time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a member of the Scouting Service Exchange through the collegiate’s Alpha Phi Omega Chapter.

Because of these years when Ray sparked an awakening in the Order to the value and importance of its Induction sequence, Ray kept his vigil on July 3rd, 1965 and was given the name “Wulowachtauwoapin” (One Who Looks Beyond). In the same spirit that touched him many nights before when working in the Alpha Phi Omega chapter, Ray pondered and wrote; he wrote various short messages from the voice within each Arrowman, he gave advice for the candidate to use during the Ordeal. Ray drafted the first versions of the Spirit of the Arrow Booklets given to each Arrowman throughout the Induction today, designed to be an internal voice to lead the candidate to a deeper appreciation of their Ordeal as they were going through it.

It is here that another kindred spirit comes into the limelight. 3 weeks and nearly 3,000 miles away, James “Jay” Dunbar completes his Ordeal for membership in Na-Tsi-Hi Lodge 71. Jay goes on to start personifying Meteu for his council’s summer camp Ordeals for multiple successive years, and is elected Lodge Chief in 1968, advised by future National OA Committee Chairman Dr. Carl Marchetti. It was during the spring of his term as lodge chief that he was tapped for and kept his vigil, and was given the name “Tischitanissohen” (One Who Strengthens).

 

A young Jay Dunbar, personifying Meteu.

Seeing the benefit that the “MIT Boys” (as they were called by Dr. Marchetti) brought to the OA, the National OA Committee formalized the OAC-SSE into the Ceremony Advisory Group (CAG) to the National OA Committee on June 21st, 1969. During NOAC that summer, Jay was served as an aide to OA co-founder Col. Carroll A. Edson.

As part of his duties, Jay accompanied Col. Edson to the first meeting of the national committee’s subcommittee on ceremonies, chaired by Dr. Marchetti. At that meeting, Jay met Ray Petit, who we presenting a draft of a call out ceremony to the subcommittee. Immediately recognizing each other as kindred spirits, Ray and Jay became great friends, developed a strong mentor/pupil relationship, and worked diligently together on the improvement of the Induction across the nation. Jay joined CAG following that 1969 NOAC and was very instrumental in shaping the fledgling organization.

Over the next couple of years, various members of CAG (notably John Forrest, Roger Billica, and Bill Hartman) continued the creative services that Ray led in his time at MIT. It was during this time that Jay Dunbar was elected Area II-C Chief for the 1970-1971 term. At the National Planning Meeting in December 1970 for the following year’s NOAC, after being dissuaded to run for National Chief, Jay was elected to the role of Deputy National Conference Chief of Training, advised by none other than Ray Petit.

 

Top: Jay Dunbar. Bottom row (left to right): Mark Dougherty, Bill Hartman, Roger Billica, John “Jock” Forrest

Knowing the great asset NOAC could be in the improvement of the Induction, Jay and Ray immediately knew a large portion of the training provided needed to focus on the various aspects of the Induction. Prior to 1971, never before had such a breadth and depth of training program been compiled revolving around the Induction, and its success proved how valuable it was both to lodges and the OA as a whole. Nearly two hundred Arrowmen served as trainers for sessions on Ordeal and Brotherhood membership, the meaning of active membership, based on the “founding vision” of the Order, and the idea of a unified Induction journey. Importantly, the Ten Induction Principles (at the time the “Fully-Embroidered Induction”) authored by Jay and Ray were introduced at this conference, and a theme show, also authored by the duo, introduced a new tool: Spirit of the Arrow.

Enter: persona Mark Manning (played by Arrowman Mike Williams), the representative Arrowman designed to debut the titular booklets. Viewers of The Spirit of the Arrow show saw Mark go through his ordeal, pausing at the appropriate moments to come to the front of the stage to think, reflect, and read each booklet. Jay recounts the final scene with “Mark” below:

“We projected a brilliant yellow sunrise at the rear of the stage, and ‘Mark’ walked slowly up toward it to the accompaniment of Strauss’s grand ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra,’ a theme appropriately chosen by [Ray]. [We] knew the show had to capture a sense of the profound personal meaning the Ordeal has for so many Arrowmen, so the show had to have a sense of both quiet introspection and powerful inspiration.”

The Induction changed forever, as key lodge leaders walked away from NOAC with the knowledge and drive to make positive changes to their own Inductions, along with the help of the now-nationally approved Spirit of the Arrow Booklets. Here, for the first time since the founding years of our Order, major non-ceremonial changes befell our Induction.

 

The Fall 1971 cover of the Order of the Arrow Bulletin, helping introduce the Spirit of the Arrow Booklets.

Jay knew, however, that the show alone would not be enough. “The Show was powerful, and the booklets, properly administered, can be powerful tools to inspire candidates. But tools grow dull without care. Each generation of advisers and the youth they serve must be trained in the proper administration and purpose of the tools of the Induction: the Ten Induction Principles, the ceremonies, Elangomats, Spirit of the Arrow. Much can be lost even in a single year.”

For his multitude of services provided in the improvement of the Induction across the nation, Ray Petit was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award at the closing show of NOAC in 1971. Ray moved back to Washington state and continued his work with CAG and the OA. He attended one last NOAC in 1994 as a guest of the modern Inductions and Ceremonial Events (ICE) subcommittee, and passed from brain cancer on June 13th, 1999.

Jay Dunbar, alongside Jock Forrest, received the Distinguished Service Award at the closing show of the 1977 NOAC. Between 1975 and 1979, Jay authored the current pre-Ordeal ceremony, which after review within the CAG became official after NOAC 1979, and a pamphlet titled The Drum: a training aid for ceremonial teams. 

CAG disbanded following the 1992 NOAC, but many individual members still remain active in NOAC training, literature development, and in local lodges as ceremonial team coaches and advisers. Jay writes that his goal, as far back as his own Brotherhood ceremony in 1965, was to rewrite that text, but he realized that the pre-Ordeal ceremony had to come first. It took another 30 years of personal research and thought until he was finally able to write the Brotherhood ceremony and its “Tale of Uncas” that we have today, with assistance in review by Paul Lackie and Ryan Showman. Along the way, he also wrote the Brotherhood Hike, with assistance from former CAG member Matt Fisher.

Jay, along with a core group of close friends, continues to work on the improvement of the Induction in various aspects, including but not limited to serving on NOAC staff as a ICE trainer and ceremonial evaluator.

In the next part of The Gischachsummen, we will jump forward 10 years into the dedicated work of Eddie Simmons and adviser Bill Hartman, who for the first time in Tipisa Lodge was a true friend and brother to candidates of the Induction.

 

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