Not only do the graduation ceremonies of universities have interesting ritual qualities, but the matriculation ceremonies do also. The commentor Jonovitch on the Times and Seasons blog also made a reference to one of the opening scenes from the movie Mona Lisa Smile. This scene is from a 1953 matriculation ceremony, or a type of induction or initiation, of Wellesley College, a conservative women’s private liberal arts college in Massachusetts.
I’ve seen this movie at least twice, but this scene did not strike me as it did when I viewed it this last time in the context of the temple. The ritual qualities are salient:
- The students gather outside the door, while those of higher orders, their professors, gather within
- One student knocks 3-4 times with a gavel on the door to announce her presence
- The head officiator asks who is there
- The student outside responds that she represents every woman, a vicarious voice for all
- The officiator asks what is sought
- The student gives a correct answer, she seeks to awaken the spirit (the Egyptian breath of life) and dedicate her life to knowledge, knowledge that can only be found within the institution of higher knowledge
- The officiator allows the student to enter, noting that all others who seek to follow the same path may also enter
I am not as familiar with the ancient traditions of matriculation ceremonies as I have been with their graduation counterparts, and I haven’t been able to find much information about them. Can anyone tell me a good source to learn more about matriculation tradition and history?
It is interesting to me that the order of things seems backwards when compared with their partners from antiquity, such as in the Christian and Greek mysteries. Typically the final rites are those which allow those who have passed the tests, and who have endured the arduous journeys, to enter into the presence of the teleoi, or those who have been made perfect (Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, 465). The matriculation ceremony is just the opposite; the initiate begins with such an entrance.